College of Charleston
1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?
If you’re trying to learn a foreign language while you’re studying abroad, don’t be afraid to immerse yourself completely in the language! It may seem overwhelming at first, but it WILL get easier and this is the best way to learn. My CEA site and university offered “intercambios,” where you are paired with a local student. This is a great way to make local friends AND learn the language. I had a Spanish friend who I would make every attempt to speak to in Spanish, and if I made a mistake or ever had any questions I knew I could ask her for clarification. Another way I found that really helped me to improve my comprehension was to listen to reggaetón music! They speak really fast and (full disclosure) are not speaking the prim and proper way that you were probably taught. It’s a fun way to better understand colloquial Spanish. If you aren’t looking to learn Spanish, keep an ear out for what the locals listen to!
2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?Anyone who has lived in Spain will tell you the Spanish people live and breathe their favorite phrase: “No pasa nada” (“Don’t worry about it”). For me, as someone who makes a catastrophe of everything, this was, at first, an infuriating mindset to be living amongst. I would feel guilty for hours over forgetting to tell my host mom that I wasn’t eating dinner, but she was never upset. I would anxiously sprint to class if I was just a few minutes behind, but my professors often were usually ten minutes behind me. I would worry that the wait staff wanted us to leave if my friends and I took too long to eat, but the Spanish tend to extend meals to as long as two hours.
After sometime around the Spanish, however, I learned that perhaps life is better if you savor it. You should never be in such a rush that you can’t stop for a café con leche. You should never be afraid of getting tapas alone (sometimes that’s the best way to do it!). Most importantly: You should never take anything too seriously.
I used to despise eating alone, and now it’s something I enjoy. That might seem silly to some, but to me, that was huge. No, my anxiety isn’t cured, but studying abroad helped me to see that some of the daily things that I illogically worry about aren’t worth my energy. Eating alone? No pasa nada.