It’s official, I have returned to my hometown after 60 amazing days in Madrid. Although I am happy to be back in the states, I am definitely missing the great city of Madrid and all that it has to offer. My time abroad has taught me a lot about both myself and the world. For example, I learned to become very independent while in Spain. At first it was a bit of a shock because I was in an entirely different continent for the first time in my life. I quickly learned to appreciate the many perks and challenges of living in a foreign country. One of those challenges was the language barrier. Upon arriving in Spain, I had some class experience with Spanish but virtually no speaking experience. I thought I was good enough at Spanish to communicate effectively but I quickly learned that I was certainly a beginner. I tended to struggle with simple vocabulary which restricted me from speaking freely. For instance, early on during my trip, I wanted to ask my host mom how to turn on the fan. Sadly, I didn’t know how to say fan or the verb to turn on. I was forced to use a hand signals to figure out how to get my point across. Over time, my Spanish continued to improve and as I progressed I learned the importance of context clues when you are trying to communicate in a different language.
Spanish is a very challenging language. There are some words that can have several different meanings and it can be hard for a beginner to understand what is being said. That is why context clues are so important. When I communicated with my host family, each of us put an emphasis on providing context clues in order to help each other better understand what the other person is saying. If you can put an emphasis on context clues, it can make it drastically easier to both speak and comprehend.
In addition to context, feedback also helped improve my Spanish. Every time I would speak with my host family, I would say words incorrectly or say the wrong word. Instead of not correcting the mistake, my host family would correct me. This feedback helped me improve my Spanish throughout my stay. In addition to feedback at home, I also received feedback at work. Since I worked at a startup with very few employees, I would receive feedback directly after finishing a task. For instance, when I finished a task, I would simply send it to my boss and he would tell me directly what was good and what needed revisions. I think this direct feedback was very effective. It was more efficient because I would get the feedback directly after finishing my task. Also, it added a personal touch to it which made me feel like my employer cared about my improvement. I think that this helped my motivation to continue to efficiently throughout the year and I thoroughly enjoyed my internship this summer.
This past summer has certainly been the best summer of my life. I have been fortunate enough to live in Madrid for two months and travel to many different places including Portugal and Ireland. I have eaten lots of amazing food, seen breathtaking sights and met many amazing people along the way. I will certainly miss the vibrant Spanish culture–specifically the paella and gazpacho. I will miss walking through the streets of Spain, going out with my friends, having dinner with my host family and that feeling of getting outside of my comfort zone. One thing I learned from this trip is that I will certainly continue to travel. It has been an amazing two months and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Stay tuned for one last blog post. Until next time.