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Barcelona Language Exchange Stories

Clark Gilford (Oklahoma, USA) and Laura Sibelo (Barcelona, Spain) met in Barcelona during Clark’s second semester abroad. Here is what they have to say about themselves and the experience.
Clark Gilford


Tell us a little bit about yourself


My name is Clark, a 21 year old American student who studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. I attend the University of Oklahoma, majoring in psychology and minoring in Spanish. I desire to study medicine while being an asset to my local Spanish-speaking community. In my free time I enjoy reading, listening to music, and exercising.


Why did you and your partner decide to participate in the one on one Language Exchange Program?


I knew that I needed the practice. I’ve been studying Spanish in high school and college for four years and my short time in the city has added ten years to what I thought I already knew. Language, like everything, demands practice. My partner thinks she will use English in her career as a physical therapist and/or nurse.  Laura says that many published articles are in English and knowing the language in itself opens many doors of opportunity in the world.


What activities have you done with your Intercambio?


We met more or less 10 times during the semester. We would go on walks in different parts of the city. It could be anywhere. We did many extremes, from eating local Catalan, Basque, and Spanish tapas with European pastries to simply carrying an ice cream from McDonalds or coffee from Starbucks. We constantly taught each other more about each of our cultures. We explored the streets, markets, churches and even our tastes of music.


Do you feel your Spanish has improved with this experience?

Absolutely! Laura has helped me a lot to understand not only the experience of face-to-face communication, but also the contexts of Spanish. I also helped her with a little of both formal and colloquial language from an American perspective of English. Little by little, I could talk Spanish fluently while she was getting more comfortable with English every time.


Laura Sibelo


Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Laura and I'm 22 years old. I am from Barcelona, Spain. Last year I finished my degree in physiotherapy and now I'm working as a nurse. In my free time, I like to read, listen to music, and I hiking. I also love to discover new places in Catalunya.


Why did you and your partner decide to participate in the one on one Language Exchange Program?


I have been studying English for almost 5 years, but I never had the opportunity to speak with a native speaker. So, when I found out about this opportunity, I thought that it could be a good chance to practice my conversational skills while meeting new people. Clark came to Barcelona to study Spanish with a study nursing abroad program, but he also wanted to meet and practice his Spanish with locals. It is the best way to understand the local culture and learn the language.


What activities have you done with your Intercambio?

We met around 10 times within three months. The emblematic Cafè Zurich located in Plaza Catalunya became our meeting point, and from there, we decided where to go. We liked visiting different places in Barcelona and we enjoyed exploring the city while we practiced English and Spanish.


Do you feel your English has improved with this experience?


Yes, absolutely! Now I feel more confident speaking English with native speakers. 


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