University of Tennessee
Kaitlyn Reif, Alumni Ambassador
1. If you learned another language while you were abroad, what tips and tricks can you offer future study abroad students?
The most important thing about learning another language is to swallow your pride and to just practice, practice, and practice. Everyone says that submersion is the best way to learn a language, and it truly is. I 100% underestimated how difficult it is to learn another language, so living in Spain was a good reality check for me to realize how little Spanish I truly knew. To learn another language, you need to accept failure immediately, and I mean this in the best way possible. Accept that you are going to mess up, say the wrong words, and even forget words, but do not get embarrassed or discouraged. Making mistakes is part of learning, and you need to know that you are not going to be a perfect, fluent speaker right off the bat. Try, try, and try again. Do not be scared to practice another language because locals do appreciate you trying and learning. Many times, the locals were just as bad at English as I was at Spanish, so it was fun to try to communicate in one another’s language. Practice makes perfect, so do not be shy!
2. What was your favorite course while abroad?
I surprised myself with how much I loved my archaeology class. This class was about the ancient societies that developed and thrived around the Mediterranean. I already love history, but as I mentioned, I initially did not know much about Europe. This class helped me with learning the geography of Europe and its history as well. As I traveled, this class helped me with the history of the cities that I visited. I honestly do not think that I would have enjoyed Athens or Rome as much as I did had I not taken this class and learned about the history behind these ancient towns and their people. My archaeology class was only about 20 students and was split with about half of the students being locals and the other half being study abroad students from many different countries. I enjoyed getting to know my classmates just as much as I did learning.