Since September I have been studying Spanish for my Spanish major in Seville Spain. After finishing the first semester and going home for Christmas break I’m now preparing to return to Seville for my last semester abroad. While I’m studying abroad in Spain I hope to gain fluency in Spanish so that I can be a more culturally educated person competent in communication. Mastering a foreign language is a ubiquitous goal for many students studying abroad, but many underestimate the effort and commitment a full language emersion requires. Last semester I started my year abroad intending to be fluent by the time I finished the school year but after weeks of only being around American classmates I realized that a full language emersion requires much discipline and motivation to accomplish. My experiences last semester have better prepared me to accomplish my goal because I know what to expect and how to avoid being only around Americans. This semester I’m most excited to engage more with the Spanish language and see what opportunities arise from being around locals more. Last semester I spent most of my time adjusting to Spain and traveling with American friends but now I want to be primarily focused on speaking Spanish. I’m nervous about having a hard time finding consistent Spanish contacts to talk with every week but I’m confident that locals are eager to practice English as well. To overcome these obstacles I’m going to find volunteer opportunities that require me to talk to locals so that I can practice Spanish. This semester I optimistic and motivated to accomplish my goals and go back to Western fluent in Spanish.
From my previous posts you may have noticed that research is something I have been struggling with. I’ve done some broad reading on the history of the Czech Republic through Nazi occupation, the Soviet era, and the separation of Czechoslovakia. I still have a lot to learn about the Czech Republic’s past, but for now I at least have a little bit of background. I stumbled upon someone’s personal blog who seems to have married into a Czech family and offers a lot of practical advice about the dos and don’ts in Czech culture.
I figured I would start this blog out now with one of my certificate posts, and a sort of introduction more than what you can find in the about.
My name is Brenna, and this fall I will be entering into my second year at Western Washington University. My current plans (as we all know how finicky these things can be to finalize) are to double major in French on the main campus at Western, and Cultural/Travel Play-writing (still working out all the technicalities of it right now) at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which is a small college that is a part of Western.
During this past year I was completing my fifth year of French language courses. I had already taken four years in high school you see, and after high school I just knew that my continued education path had to include the language. I had fallen in love with it. So between the prospect of my sixth consecutive year of studying French and trying to figure out how to work Traveling/Cultural Exploration into Play-writing; I decided it was time to consider studying abroad. Which led me to the Lyon, France program through University Studies Abroad Consortium aka USAC.
One thing led to another and I was accepted and beyond excited to work out the specifics of my Independent Study Program (ISP) for this very blog, and even more-so, to get to move to France.
Now we are T-minus 30 days, 9 hours, 58 minutes and 10 seconds (yes of course I have a countdown app installed on my phone, are you kidding?!) until I take off, and honestly the nerves are starting to kick in. Of course I’m beyond thrilled to have this incredible opportunity to live in a new country and experience a new culture first-hand, but there’s that little bubble of silly doubt too. What if no one will want to speak French with me, and my language skills don’t really improve? What if something goes wrong with my flights and I don’t get there on time? What if I don’t like escargot? Okay… that last one is only slightly real, I’m still deciding if I’m brave enough to try it. But I know that all of these worries will diminish when I get there, I meet my host family, and I start my classes. Because that’s what this is all about, putting yourself out there, and being brave enough to take on these doubts and experience the world. I’ve done the research on local customs, I’ve taken precautions, I’ve asked for help when I need it. And now? Now it’s time to go out and live. Well… in 30 days, 9 hours, 50 minutes and 34 seconds it will be anyways.
It’s a little over a week until I will depart on the biggest adventure of my life thus far. I will be boarding a plane to travel half way across the world, to a place that I have only dreamt of. I have studied, read about and seen movies about this place but now I will be stepping foot on the very land itself.
It is surreal for me to think that I will be in Spain and destination of my dreams. I had fallen in love from afar when I first saw Real Madrid play in person and from there on I took an interest in the city. I began to study Spanish in high school and immediately took to it and later on after three years I knew I had a passion for the language and the land from which it came.