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2 posts from January 2011

01/31/2011

Culture Shock!

It’s been three weeks already and my experience so far has been quite interesting to say the least. The flight here was no joke - I literally traveled for 24 hours. Though, I’m sure my stay here will be well worth it. Alicante, the city itself, has been pretty good so far. Minus the overcrowded buses and cold, rainy weather I can’t really complain. Alicante has great scenery with many large hills and miniature mountains that have great views of the city.

During our orientation they go over many things concerning our stay here in Alicante, one of which is culture shock. Now I have been outside the country many times before so I was sure that wouldn’t apply to me. Boy was I wrong! For those of you staying with a host family this may apply to you. Electricity usage here is expensive so they advise us not to leave lights on when we are not using them. I completely understand this but being a so-called “typical American” for me it takes a little getting use to. Making sure my light is off every time I leave my room or not using light in the daytime because I have a window isn’t really at the top of my priorities. Though, this of course will vary from person to person. Another thing is although it’s not required to have any prior knowledge of Spanish it’s definitely beneficial. Living with a host family will prove this. Even for those living in a dorm because they may know English but their friends probably don’t. So it may seem a little awkward if you’re in a group and the only person you can converse with is the Spanish helper. As far as the host families go, they mention this in orientation but I’m going to reiterate it. When your host Madre, or anyone for that matter, tells you something in Spanish DO NOT just nod and shake your head ok. Even if u think you understand but didn’t catch that last part. Make sure you clarify with them what they’re saying. I made the mistake of guessing that my host mother was going out to lunch with a friend alone only to be proven otherwise after she started yelling, in Spanish of course, why aren’t you ready we are leaving in five minutes. A simple misunderstanding but completely thrown out of proportion. So communication is key; but it is difficult to communicate in Spanish, right off the back, when your main reason in coming here is to do just that. I have yet to find a solution to this little problem but I will be sure to find an answer and share it as time progress.

Oh and another thing about learning Spanish. While I was applying all I could think of is how fluent I was going to be when I returned. Though, every time I ask is it possible? Has anyone done it? I always get the same answer “ you get what you put into it. ” Sorry to say but I hated that answer. To me, I could put my all into to it and still not be able to communicate or at least not as well as the next person. So here’s my answer to that question. I have no doubt everyone in the program will pick up a mass amount vocabulary and common phrases. However, it’s all about being able to have casual conversations in Spanish. Consistently practicing speaking is necessary and here is when the “it’s what you put into it” comes into play. Limiting your time speaking English and working with a Spanish student so you can practice will make a big difference. I believe it will help if everyday you pick a subject and talk about it. Taking note of the vocabulary you need in order to express your feelings. I guarantee by the end of the month you’ll be amazed on how much you pick up on outside of class. I’m looking forward to amazing myself.

 

Well I think that’s enough for one day so until next time.  Luego!

01/10/2011

Fall 2010 LIC Farewell Message

Almost three weeks have gone by since we said our final tear-filled farewells on December 22nd, and I realize now as I am writing this final blog for our Fall 2010 LIC program blog (and tears are beginning to fill my eyes again) that this semester will be just as unforgettable for me as it probably will be for all of you (the Context Crew), for various reasons. First of all, as you all know, we all experienced this program together for the first time (you all as participants and me as Director) and as I told you in the Closure Ceremony, I could not have dreamed of having a more interested, unified, motivated, hard-working, funny and FUN group of students. I want you all to know how much I appreciate your dedication and hard work this semester, as well as your spontaneity and sense of humor.

 

The last ten years of my life have been filled with heart-wrenching goodbyes and because of this, I have developed an aversion for long goodbyes, so I will try to keep these final words succinct. Thank you for the bouquet of flowers and the framed group photo. It was so thoughtful of you all. My house smelled like roses for two weeks, and every time I am feeling challenged or down, I can look up from my desk (onto the top of the cabinet across from my desk) and see all of your smiling faces to motivate me! Thank you for honoring me by breaking into the final “Con-text, Con-text, Con-text” farewell chant during our final Closure Activity group lunch, I was so touched! Thank you for opening yourselves up to this experience as completely as you have done; I think we have all learned so much this semester because of it! Y por último, y creo que es más apropiado que os lo diga en español, esto no es un “adiós”, sino un “hasta luego”…