Week 1: Madrid, Spain
On Saturday I flew to Madrid, Spain to begin my studies in Spanish language and culture. Although I had prepared to study abroad by completing the modules and practicing the Spanish language, I was still a little nervous and unsure of what to expect. But since my arrival on Sunday morning, I have dove into a completely different culture and been navigating the language pretty well.
One of the things that seemed to surprise me about Madrid was when I walked into the city I realized how clean it was and there were people actually cleaning the streets. You don’t see that a lot in the U.S., at least in southern New Jersey. There were also people in the public parks who were gardening and that was their job, to keep the garden clean. The city is really beautiful. I was also surprised how hard it was for me to get into a good sleeping habit. I wasn’t able to sleep well for a good four days because of being jetlagged and just getting used to my surroundings in my new home. I’m happy to say that sleep is improving.
On Monday I met my host family. We went to their home where I got unpacked and set up with everything that I would need throughout my stay. My host family has been very accepting of me and also very welcoming. My host mom has treated me like I was one of her own daughters. My host sisters have invited me in as one of them as well. I like listening to one of them sing songs in English; it sounds so sweet.
I have enjoyed meeting people traveling to Madrid in this program. We have exchanged information like where we were from and what our schools are like. I consider them friends and plan to keep in touch with when I return home. There were people from all over the U.S. Hearing all about their lives and where or if they have traveled outside of the country before was really interesting.
I am doing quite well with the local language here in Spain and I am still learning more vocabulary with each day. The local language in Spain is sometimes difficult to follow and understand because they have different words for things than we use in the U.S. The local people can also speak really fast sometimes so I can get a little lost trying to figure out what they are saying, but it has been going better than I thought. My host sisters have even taught me some Spanish slang!
Taking a Spanish language class in Spain, I feel, is more helpful than trying to learn Spanish where you’re not surrounded by it all the time. There are definitely some pros and cons when it comes to learning a new language in a country that only speaks the language. Some pros are that you are able to focus on the language and use it consistently. The repetition helps to improve your language skills and you are able to remember vocabulary because you are constantly using it. Cons of being in country and learning the language might include if you do not understand something or need to know something but can only ask the question in your native language and then not being understood. I had been a little worried about that when I learned that I would be riding the metro and other forms of public transit. This has all worked out very well, though, and I think this language class has helped me with any of little language mistakes that I have made.
'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!