This semester studying abroad in Alicante has been an amazing experience, and something I will never forget. I took four classes, and they were all supposed to be in English except for the Spanish class. I decided to challenge myself and take one of the other classes in Spanish. I am a native Spanish speaker, but being in an all Spanish-speaking class was still a challenge because our dialects are so different, and they all speak so fast. I did not expect to have any language barrier at all, and what also made it more challenging was the fact that I had taken some subjects within the class previously in the States -- so my mind was constantly trying to translate it to Spanish.
The professor was amazing; he understood that I am a student from the U.S. so he always did his best to ensure I was able to understand the class. I was assigned to a group for the entire semester with Spanish students. They were so good to me and never complained about having to explain things two or three times -- they did it with pleasure. I learned Spanish from Spain, and they learned some English from me. One person in particular made it easier, since she spoke English. This gave me a different perspective on the Spanish school system. I knew it was going to be different, but I expected to be placed in classes specifically for international students. It did not surprise me that the Spanish students were so willing to help me through the semester. I took this class twice a week and always looked forward to it!
I missed a few things when I fell ill, as well as when I traveled outside the country. Regardless, they saw how much I wanted to learn and they reached out -- they understood and were appreciative of me keeping them updated with my plans and my health status. I will never forget how helpful and attentive they were with me. They never made me feel bad for asking questions or for not understanding something.
Thania Inoa De Jesus is the Fall 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at Albright College.