Transition From Spanish Class To Spain
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My Transition From Learning Spanish In Class To Speaking It In Spain

It was very tricky adapting to the language and culture at first but by only speaking Spanish and immersing myself into the culture it became the trip of a lifetime.

My Transition From Learning Spanish In Class To Speaking It In Spain
Madison Lucille

If anyone had told me that I would be fluent in Spanish four years ago, I would have never believed it because I never found myself capable. I truly thought that the only languages anyone could speak fluently were the ones they grew up with. This was until I took Spanish I in freshman year and then continued the following courses Spanish II, Spanish III, Spanish IV, and AP Spanish over the next 3 years. Before I knew it I was speaking fluently and was signing up for a study abroad trip to Salamanca, Spain. It wasn't until I go there that all of my confidence in my Spanish speaking skills completely vanished.

Not only did my host mom speak absolutely no English but she also spoke Spanish about a hundred miles a minute with her words slurring together. As difficult as I was, I was forcefully immersed in the culture which brought me towards fluency much faster. I was able to get through the process easier by only speaking Spanish and following the culture in every way possible.

Even though I had no choice but to speak Spanish with my host mother and teachers, it was very tempting to speak English to my friends I made on the trip. Talking in my native language gave my brain a break and made me feel more at home. As much as I wanted to be comfortable in a place so far away, I knew that I would feel a better sense of accomplishment if I spoke Spanish to everyone around me. At first, it was very difficult because I realized I didn't know every single word and I didn't have total confidence in speaking it in front of someone who had spoken it their entire life. I improved this by writing down every word I didn't know and looking it up in the afternoon.

I also practiced phrases that I knew I would need to use a lot when in class or at dinner with my host mom. Even after just a day of doing this I already felt much more sure of myself when speaking to people and most sentences I didn't even have to form in my head before saying them out loud. The sensation of speaking a foreign language, knowing that you're saying it right, and then receiving a positive response about your abilities is truly an incredible feeling that was only capable through diving head first into the Spanish dialect.

Adapting to a new culture is hands down the best experience I have ever encountered. It is essential towards getting everything you can out of a study abroad program. Spanish culture differs from American culture in various ways. For example, in Spain people eat dinner around 9 p.m., stay out until about 5 a.m., add eggs to all of their dishes, and throw their trash on the ground when they are done with it. I was not very interested in immersing myself in the culture at first because I like things a specific way such as the food I eat and my daily schedule. Living in Spain totally turned those things around. I had to switch my whole dining schedule, my food selection and what time I did everything while also coping with jet lag.

The thing I discovered was that living a completely different lifestyle for a short period of time is very refreshing. I can be very stuck in my own way of life at times and having this transition made me aware of all the different choices I can make instead of being stuck in the same schedule. By the time I returned back to the U.S., I had to switch back to the American lifestyle while also keeping in mind that it is possible to switch it up if I needed to. By engaging in the Spanish culture fully, I was able to expand my knowledge of different lifestyles.

I am very appreciative that I had the opportunity to learn about a whole new language and culture. All of the lessons and values that I learned while spending my summer in Spain will stick with me forever and will continue to inspire me to try new things.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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