I had an unbelievable time studying in Spain. Not only did my Spanish language skills go through the roof due to living with a Spanish host family and operating daily in the language, but I also went on many adventures. From Lisbon, Portugal to Barcelona, to Valencia for a festival of fire called las Fallas, and to the famous Carnaval in Caceres. I also made it to the Canary Islands and even jumped out of an airplane. It was certainly a blast and I think about and miss my Spanish family, friends, and good times in Spain on a regular basis.
Study abroad, it sounds so exciting.
A whole year away from everything and everyone sounds so scary. It
was exciting and never scary. I spent one whole year in Spain taking
classes, partying (la fiesta), napping (la siesta) and traveling.
There are so many aspects to a culture other than your own that open up
a person’s life anew. My experience in Spain is unforgettable.
My experience in Europe was amazing. During the school year I was able
to travel to London, Belgium (twice), three cities in Germany, four cities
in Italy and I also spent a month living in southern France. Travel
is key to study abroad.
My advice is, don’t let your language abilities stop you from going. Immersion and experience are the best and led to knowledge and ability gained in life. When I got off of the plane in Spain and took a train to my town, I couldn’t even ask someone, “Where does this train stop?” nor “Do you speak English?” It was all there in my brain, I mean the text books taught me how. But speaking, no text book will ever teach you to speak or how to comprehend when someone else is speaking to you. In fact, no book will really touch the true value as experience, experiencing the culture first hand.
You begin your quest comparing the foreign place to your norms; this is different from the United States in this way and that way… Well I left feeling like I wasn’t as different as when I arrived. The accomplishment of comfort in a place originally so foreign is an amazing feeling.
Well needless to say after 2 months of being in Spain my language abilities doubled. It just clicked and I was understanding, the culture and the language. I left Spain able to have a political argument with Spaniards at the bar or joke around with the server at my favorite café. I think back to how strange the town was to me and I to it when I first arrived. But by the time I left it was hard to think I was leaving behind my cafes, la plaza, friends, the culture and a home.
Go! Study Abroad! There is no excuse in the world big enough to hold you back from the experience of a life time.
San German, Puerto Rico
I attended La Universidad Interamericana, at
the campus (el recinto) of San Germán. San Germán is
the second oldest town in Puerto Rico and consists of two pueblos, cafés,
a little supermarket, a pizza parlor, and the oldest church in the western
hemisphere, La Porta Coeli. No classes are held on Friday, therefore
Thursday afternoon my friends and I would pack into our cars and venture
off to explore different parts of the island, several beaches (all completely
different!), and then rest up at someone’s home and fill our bellies with
authentic Puerto Rican dishes before heading back to school. The
hills of Muskingum are minute compared to the ones in San Germán.
The campus looked like a rainforest with all of the lush plants, flowers,
fruit trees, and lizards that always seem to cross your path. Studying
abroad in college is an excellent opportunity to break out of your comfort
zone, grow as a person, and travel for cheap. I recommend a semester
on this gorgeous island to anyone who enjoys a passionate culture and radiant
Working with Migrant Children in Ohio
For the past seven summers I have had
the opportunity to work with over 300 Mexican migrant workers each year.
These workers spend six months out of the year in my hometown, Hartville,
Ohio, tending the fields and preparing the ground while planting and harvesting
leafy lettuce, radishes, green onions and other crops. There are
approximately fifty families that migrate to this small community in northeastern
Ohio and that is where I come in. While the parents are at work,
the children have to be cared for, therefore programs are set up for them
to help aid in their education, and also give them a place to go to have
fun while their parents are at work.
Over the years I have been a part of all of the organizations that are available for the migrant children as well as some programs which are available for the adults. For the first couple of summers I helped my mom out while she was a teacher for the summer school program, which is a program, set up by the government for students ages six-twelve. The past three summers I have had the opportunity to officially work for the program and was a teacher’s assistant for the Intermediate class. My job included teaching English lessons as well as tutoring in math and science.
Another program I am involved in is the after school recreation program for the children. This program is run through the Hartville Migrant Council which is made up of Hartville Migrant Ministries, a nondenominational collection of churches. I volunteered with the program for five years before being hired as the assistant-recreation director. I now work hand in hand with the director of this vital ministry, for the migrant children. This program runs after school until 5:00 p.m., which is when the parents get off work. It is available for any of the children ranging in ages five through fifteen, with attendance usually around forty kids. We participate in different activities such as bowling, swimming, Boy and Girl scouts, roller skating, miniature golfing, as well as Bible Lessons. We look at this program as time for the kids to have fun, and just be themselves, in a community that is not their “real home.”
Other programs that are available for the migrant families in which I am a part of are a head start program operated for children ages 1 month-five years, ESL classes and Bible Studies for adults, as well as a weekly thrift sale to buy household items and clothing for 25 cents each. Being part of the Hartville Migrant Ministries is to reach out to these individuals who are in a foreign land and most of whom do not speak the language. Having my background in Spanish has helped to communicate with these amazing people through each program. Another opportunity I have had was traveling to Mexico this past Christmas to visit a couple of the families that travel all the way to Ohio each summer. I got to see what “their” lives are like, because of them seeing “my” life every summer. They introduced me to the authentic language, food, as well as the culture. I was able to travel with them and learn a lot about Mexico in the process.
No matter what I end up doing in my life, I will never forget the years I have spent with the Mexican migrant workers and their families. I have learned so much about the language over the past years which have not only helped me educationally, but also have helped me to be able to communicate with the people that I love. They have changed my life and touched my heart forever.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Spain for four months during the spring semester, ‘04. After learning Spanish in Spain, I would have to say that there is no other way to really comprehend a language other than studying abroad and surrounding yourself with the language, the culture, and the people. I made wonderful friendships, traveled around Europe for a fraction of the costs here in the US, and learned an enormous amount of culture, language, and history.