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Ashley Cialone_photo

Colorado State University

Granada, Spain

Summer 2019

Ashley Cialone, Alumni Ambassador

Alumni Ambassadors
1. What are your tips for learning the language?

This is what I would tell prospective students: “I’m going to be honest. Studying in a new country where they do not speak your first language is terrifying at first. However, do not get discouraged. By far, the best thing you can do is stay with a host family. They will take such good care of you and teach you all of the colloquialisms of the language without even knowing it. You will be forced to practice the language every day, and it may be exhausting at first, but after a few weeks, it feels so normal. I would recommend going to the country with an intermediate level of the language already. That way, you have foundational knowledge and do not become overwhelmed. Taking language classes while you are abroad is also key because the native professors offer new insights that you would likely never come across in the United States. Intercambios are also very helpful because you get to meet locals and practice the language in a relaxed environment. The amount of conversational improvement you can make in one month is incredible. Imagine two or more months. Being able to finally say you’re bilingual is such a huge accomplishment.”

2. How did you find ways to experience the local culture? 

Experiencing the local culture of Granada, Spain was one of my favorite aspects about studying abroad. I stayed with a host family, so I got to see first-hand the values and traditions of families in Spain. I also had to be very conservative of water and electricity use, and I even continued to be more conservative after returning to the United States. I would go out with friends or locals often because nightlife is very important to the culture of the people of Granada. We would go out for tapas, gelato, or go to a mirador of the Alhambra to enjoy the beautiful views and each other’s company. My friends and I also went to intercambio(exchange) events every Monday to speak with locals in Spanish and in English. It was also amazing to have professors who only spoke Spanish. They each shared unique insights and demonstrated their national pride. Speaking the language every day with professors, my host family, and my friends really helped me to immerse myself in the language and the beautiful culture. We also visited historical sites, like the Alhambra, to see the incredible architecture that was only a 20-minute walk from where we lived.

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