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Barcelona Language Exchange Stories: Un Intercambio Cultural

My name is Emma Lancaster and I am a 20 year old student from Cincinnati, Ohio. I study Kinesiology with a minor in Spanish at the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio. Before I came to Barcelona, I had a passion for Spanish. I thought that it was a beautiful language that I dreamed of one day knowing. Little did I know that the 6 years of Spanish studies throughout high school and college was little when compared to the language as a whole.

For two of my classes I was required to participate in an Intercambio exchange with Spanish students from La Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Sant Gervasi. I cannot explain to you how nervous I was! I had been practicing my Spanish within the classroom with other American students, and so being required to go speak the language with native speakers was a very intimidating idea. I knew that it would be a great experience, but at the same time I felt extremely nervous.

 My new two Spanish friends :)

When the time came for the Intercambio to begin, I was seated next to one of my classmates and across from two middle-aged Spanish men. This was not what I was expecting! But it turned out to be great conversation. Not only was I able to learn more about conversational Spanish, my confidence in the language was able to improve. Despite what I originally thought, the native speakers were eager to help me and were VERY encouraging when I made a mistake. The same happened in reverse, as we were able to help encourage them. Throughout our conversations, we talked about how our cultures are the same and how they are different, Catalan pride, Spanish and American food, soccer, football, baseball – you name it, we discussed it!
Time to meet someone else! After 15 minutes we all changed groups

After talking to four native speakers in total, I had a new-found excitement for castellano. I learned a lot about how to speak, but more than that I learned about the culture in which I am living these 4 months. I am so excited to continue to participate in intercambios like this one, and I definitely recommend them to anyone who has the chance to. They are incredible for learning a language, but also for learning about a culture and more importantly, about yourself!
 EOI and CEA students, good partnership!

Emma Lancaster is a Fall 2014 CEA Barcelona student from the University of Miami.

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