All right, I guess it is about time to get to the “study” part of the study abroad program. For those of you who don’t know, I am a Journalism major at the University of Arkansas with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations. This semester is my hiatus from Journalism (although I miss the Lemke department a lot) and I am mainly focusing on my two minors: History and Spanish with a business orientation.
With three classes, a total of 9 hours, I will be completing the requirements for my Spanish (with a business orientation) minor.
Advanced language is challenging my grammatical fluency and demanding a new level of attention to idiomatic phrases and increasing vocabulary. My teacher is a small (and slightly terrifying) native madrileña named Carmen. Carmen always wears a scarf and bright blue eyeliner under her eyes. On the first day of class she said, “Welcome to B2.2. You are not in this class because you speak perfect Spanish. You are in this class because you speak almost perfect Spanish. Let’s talk!” Of course she said all this in Spanish, also. Cue small freak out. I don’t speak anywhere close to perfect Spanish and at that very moment, I contemplated if she would notice me if I snuck out right then and there. But I didn’t. With only 10 students in my class she is constantly challenging us to speak up and make mistakes. And day-by-day, she gets a little less terrifying.
On to the next, Conversation and Composition. This class is GREAT! We just sit and talk. Then go home and write papers. My professor, Daniel, is a petite, bald and incredibly funny man. Again with less than 10 students in the class, we get to do a lot of talking (and joking around).
Last Spanish class, Spanish for Business. The unique aspect of this class is that it is not about vocabulary, or grammar, or even speaking. It’s about business. In Spain. And we just happen to be speaking Spanish. We are currently studying Spanish culture, business habits and traditions, and Spanish-born companies, such as Inditex (one of the largest fashion retail groups who brought you Zara). After that we will be studying Advertising in Spain (hey, guess I will get to use my major) and then Human Resources. By the end of the class I will have conducted a job interview in Spanish and developed a Spanish resume. So hey, if the states don’t give me a job maybe I can viva España again some day!
Now the history minor. In one class (thankfully taught in English), I am learning European Studies: Culture, History and Integration starting from the renaissance, until the development of the European Union. It was not until my arrival to Spain that I realized how American-centric our news is in the states. My professor asked the American students, do you read news about the European Union in the states? I thought hard. While Greece is a hot topic right now, I would say European Union news is not a hot-button issue in the U.S. In fact, I would go as far to say the almost all the world news we read in the states is presented because there is U.S. interest in that country (i.e. Middle East, ISIS updates, ect). A lot of what I will be learning is overlapping past knowledge but I am excited to learn it without an American bias. It is always interesting to explore other perspectives.
Then last but not least, my International Relations class is probably my favorite class. What better place to take an International Relations class than internationally? This class is comprised of students the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Holland, Turkey, China, South Korea and more. It is so rare to have a class, especially International Relations, where so many parts of the world are represented. Additionally, for our Human Rights unit, we are privileged to have a guest professor by the name Silvia Escobar. Ms. Escobar is the former Spanish ambassador for Human Rights and was on the Spanish Delegation for the United Nations. This class is one I will remember forever.
Although the “study” tends to get neglected from the lime light of study abroad stories, it is definitely an amazing part of the experience. There are just not quite as many pictures to show.
STUDY abroad: Check. To hear more about the abroad (and less about the study), check out my next blog, Hiking through History.