THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE CLASSES
We caught up with Christina (Vilanova University) during one of her CIEE Catalunya and Spain Through the Arts classes to ask her a few questions about her overall experience taking culture classes:
The CIEE staff had the opportunity catch up over a hot coffee with Maria (Vilanova University), Lucia (Barnard College), Abigail (George Washington), and Mitch (University of Minnesota).
How has your experience been so far?
Maria: I was nervous about my university classes but particularly my Management of Sanitary Institutions Class is just so interesting – it’s a small class with local students, and I’m learning lots of new technical terms in both English and Spanish from the professor. Actually I love all my teachers here! I really lucked out.
Lucia: I've been here since September, so on the one hand it was sad to see all the first semester guys leave, but also I’ve had the chance to adapt more and totally get over the culture shock etc. Plus it was pretty special to be here for Christmas!
Mitch: All my CIEE teachers have really interesting backgrounds and so every class is full of little anecdotes and stories to pass on! My UPF classes are great too because my Strategic Management class is only with the local students, which is great for my Spanish and getting to know the culture.
Abigail: I just love it – if I could work here I think I’d just stay. My Spanish is improving every day too (apart from the rolling Rrrr!), some days I have all my classes in Spanish and I start forgetting English!
How would you describe the experience of being an American in this foreign land?
Lucia: It’s fun to see the stereotypes that people have of Americans and satisfying to break them and show what we’re really like. Actually, defending your country against preconceptions makes you appreciate it even more!
Maria: As a Nicaraguan-American here I have double the preconceptions to deal with – what Spanish people think Latin America / the US is like. One of my favorite classes in CIEE is all about discussing the Capitalist System from a European point of view, it’s amazingly interesting as an American to hear these perspectives!
How’s your life here outside the classroom?
Maria: I’m living in a homestay with four children of various ages, so there’s never a dull moment! The youngest is a cute 4 year-old and speaks a total mixture of Catalan and Spanish and doesn’t seem to notice the difference, which is interesting. It’s also fun having dinner together every day - it definitely helps in breaking out of the bubble.
Mitch: I learn a lot of Spanish in the classroom but find the best way of learning is out on the street and speaking with taxi drivers.
Finally, have you had the chance to travel?
Abby: I’ve been travelling a LOT this semester; I basically saved up all my money by not going last semester, and recently went to the South of France. Monaco was crazy, Rolls Royces at all the hotels etc, never seen anything like it, and I also went to Nice where my mom studied abroad years ago.
Mitch: I’ve been away pretty much every weekend – Madrid, Alicante, Sicily, and I’m off to the Canaries to catch some sun this week!