Why Everyone Should Consider Studying in Spain
After a glance at the last year and a half of my life, one might say that I’m not on a “typical American” path. After an amazing summer study abroad experience in Cádiz, Spain during the summer before my junior year of college, I decided that I wanted to further my education abroad. I had such an amazing experience with MundoLengua and literally could not have asked for a more personal and enjoyable program. As I began my final undergraduate semester at Monmouth University in New Jersey, I began looking into international graduate school. Because I minored in Spanish and loved the time I spent in Spain, I gravitated towards Spanish graduate programs. A few months later, after repeating the process of completing applications and writing cover letters, I was accepted to the communications program at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Just one tiny little issue…
Look, my Spanish was pretty good at the time; I had just graduated with a Spanish minor and my study abroad experience helped me a lot to understand that language had a real purpose outside of a classroom. The “issue” I previously mentioned was that my program would be 100% Spanish. I knew there would be a big difference between a Spanish class in the US and a Master’s-level class in Spain. Oh, did I mention that the class was half native? I knew this was going to be a real challenge, but sometimes in life, you just have to jump in the water and figure out how to stay afloat.
The first few weeks of class were quite the adjustment. Classes were three hours long and taught at a native Spanish level. About half of our class was comprised of natives, while most of the rest were from other parts of Europe. Everyone spoke better Spanish than me; I had to work very hard just to be able to participate in class and conversation. And Thursday was our long day, which meant six hours of class with a break that was about ten minutes long. For the first few Thursdays, I would get the worst headaches after class and would usually sleep over ten hours that night. I don’t know how to describe the feeling other than “my brain hurt”. I remember the one Thursday when my classmates and I went to dinner after class and we spoke in English because I literally could not understand or speak another sentence of Spanish. After that night, I vowed to improve my Spanish so that I’d never be forced to speak English again.
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there; I eventually built up a tolerance to six hours of Spanish. Before I knew it, my Spanish was improving at a rate that I couldn’t believe. Because of my graduate classes in Spanish, living with two Mexican roommates, and speaking Spanish whenever I was socializing or ordering at a restaurant, I was able to start thinking in this foreign language. During my time abroad for graduate school, my Spanish transitioned from a semi-useful skill to a way of life. Spanish very much became this living, breathing thing that allowed me to connect with another part of the world. In September of 2016, I graduated from the Autonomous University of Barcelona with a graduate degree in Media, Communication, and Culture. This particular graduate program was created in the 1980’s, yet I am the first American to ever graduate from this program. I made some great friends, traveled a lot, and learned more Spanish than I ever could have imagined.
Studying abroad in Cádiz taught me that Spanish could be more than something in a book or a subject confined to a classroom. After a few weeks in Cádiz, I learned that Spanish was the key to another world. I hesitate to speak on behalf of all native English speakers, but we have it pretty good when it comes to language. English is the language of the world, so learning another language usually isn’t necessary for us. However, I believe learning another language (any language) is extremely important. I never get tired of seeing people’s faces light up when I order in Spanish at a Mexican restaurant in the US. I love being in Spain or Mexico and speaking the native language. I feel closer to a large proportion of the world and I believe others can have a similar experience.
Obviously I have a soft spot for Spain and the Spanish language, but I believe a similar end can be achieved in almost any non-English speaking country. The beginning will be difficult; this I can promise you. Yet after that initial period of acclamation, a new level of learning and appreciation can be achieved. All you need is a positive attitude and determination and the rest will come naturally, I promise.
MundoLengua can help you in achieving this goal! There is a university integration program (P.I.U) that is offered for students studying abroad. Among the 4-5 classes per term, students can opt for up to 2 courses from the P.I.U. This program is especially designed for students who wish to integrate themselves fully into a Spanish university. Students enroll directly in regular classes with Spanish students.