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3 posts categorized "Randy Nolden"

04/20/2011

It's not over yet

The semester is almost over with just a few more weeks. Were actually wrapping up classes now. All the final projects and long papers are just a small price to pay for all the memorable moments we had here. This week starts spring break and I can't begin to explain how excited I am. The UK, south of France and italy are just a few places on my list to visit. I can't believe how time flies. Though, I'm not too worried because I still have much to look forward to before my wonderful experience abroad is over. Looking back I've come to realize that this truly is a dream I'm living and I'm making sure I take full advantage. 

02/05/2011

Three Weeks Already!

Espanol Intensiva is now over! Three weeks has pass and I am completely overloaded with Spanish vocab/grammar. At this point even when I’m speaking English I find myself throwing Spanish words in-between. Just a little background on me I’m originally from “Chi-Town” Chicago. I’m a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the last time I took Spanish was in high school. I took two years, and of course, I remember nothing. I always wanted to learn Spanish mainly because many of my friends spoke it and also that I’m fascinated with Spanish speaking women but that’s another story. So when I got here all I had was a few common phrases like “Tengo hambre” and a small vocab that included “comida” y “carne asada”. “Carne asada”  because I love steak burritos, can’t get enough of them. Pero ahora, I know so much vocabulary right now its crazy. It’s funny also because I don’t even know how to use half of them in a sentence. The intensive course was very useful and it does take effort. Even though I claim to know at least basic Spanish, determining whether or not a “palabra” (palabra=word) is feminine or masculine was definitely the last thing I remembered. None the less, I made it through. I’ve gotten a little better at understanding people also because now I no longer have a blank stare on my face when someone talks to me. I still sit there for like 30 seconds, google translating in my brain, figuring out what they just said. But at least its not 5 minutes with a dumb look on my face saying si si knowing I have no clue what they’re talking about. Though, for some reason I still don’t really understand males when they talk. I don’t know why but talking to a female it’s easier for me to follow than a guy. Maybe its because I listen to my profesora (female professor) talk for 4hrs a day and the fact that I only live with a host madre. Whatever it is I need to fix it because only comprehending about half the population doesn’t look too good then again I’m not really complaining. Going out with Spaniards to parties and bars is hilarious. It’s just always funny to point out the differences between Americans and Spaniards. Especially the way they dance and the type of music the listen to. I’m really excited for our weekend trips to start. Our next one is in two weeks and we’re going to Barcelona. That will probably be the next time I blog so until then.

Adios!

DSC01621
Small Group Pic on the Guadalest y Villajoyosa Excursion

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!