July 14th, 2012 by mandi
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One question that usually comes up when I’m talking to people about my trip is this: “How fluent are you in Spanish?” And honestly, I think that’s a pretty hard question to answer. I’ve been taking Spanish since seventh grade (I think that’s about eight years), so I’m definitely not a beginner. On the other hand, I’m not a native speaker, either. I guess it’s just really hard for me to tell exactly how good my Spanish is. It’s one thing to get a good grade in a Spanish class full of native speakers of English, and it’s another thing to be able to live and communicate well in another language and culture.
But am I nervous about having to communicate entirely in another language all the time? Absolutely not. Any time I’ve done any cross-cultural travel in the past (my family went to Hungary twice for mission trips, and I also went to Costa Rica for a week in high school), I have felt very comfortable adjusting and learning to communicate in a new setting. Languages come easily to me, and it wasn’t too difficult for me to pick up new words and phrases. What’s amazing to me is that this natural inclination towards languages isn’t a result of anything I’ve done – for some reason God made my brain so that languages just make sense! I don’t know how all that works, but I do know that I’m really thankful that the Lord has gifted me in this way. In general, I love learning languages, and I’d love to know several of them someday. Spanish is just the first one in this process.
So, I’m not sure exactly how fluent I am in Spanish or how you can even measure that, but I do know that I can be confident in the language skills I already have and eager to learn anything new I encounter!
July 10th, 2012 by mandi
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This is the city that will be my home for four months. So incredible!
In the next few weeks, I feel like there is so much to do to get ready for my trip! It’s a little overwhelming at times, actually. Countdown to takeoff: 29 days!
But in the midst of all the crazy details swimming frantically around in my mind, there are definitely good things happening, too. A few days ago I found out about some additional scholarship money I will receive from WMU’s Lee Honors College for my study abroad adventures, and that makes me 1) so thankful for the support of my university in my endeavors overseas and 2) even more excited to go. Also, last week I had a very relaxing week with my family in the Upper Peninsula on vacation.
Yesterday I took care of a ton of details in preparation to go. I set up a new bank account that I can use over there, applied for a credit card, figured out details for my apartment when I get back, and ordered some pretty sweet luggage. Today I bought a camera that will help me keep you updated with photos from the trip. Later this week I’m planning to shop for clothes and get my immunizations updated. There’s so much going on!
Oh, and addition to everything else this week, I also declared another major. I guess that’s something important that doesn’t happen every day. Now, along with my major in Spanish Secondary Education, I’ll also have a major in Mathematics Secondary Education. I’m incredibly excited about it! (Yep, I’m one of those weird people that enjoys math.) But I can put some of that excitement on hold for when I get back from study abroad.
Okay, I think that’s it for today!
June 26th, 2012 by mandi
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Hello! My name is Mandi, and I’ve completed two years here at Western Michigan University. I’m studying Spanish and secondary education, with a minor in math, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at WMU so far. For my third year in college, though, I won’t be at Western. Instead, I’ll be experiencing something unlike anything I’ve ever done before: study abroad.
My departure date is a little over a month away, and I can’t wait! I leave on August 8th for four months in Burgos, Spain. While I’m there, I’ll be taking classes at the University of Burgos, living with a Spanish family, working on my language skills, and exploring as much of the country as I can. Since I’ve lived in the Kalamazoo area my whole life, this is definitely a new adventure for me. I’ll be on the other side of the world, far away from most of the people and places I’m familiar with. When I think about this new undertaking I get very excited! At the same time, though, part of me wonders what in the world I’m doing. I’m really thankful that about 18 other WMU students will be with me in Spain. It will be nice to have a few people I know well there with me, especially on those days when I start to feel homesick. For now, though, I need to focus on the rest of my time here in the United States. Over the next few weeks I’ll be hanging out with family and friends, working on travel plans, and trying to fit my entire life into one 50 pound suitcase. ¡Qué divertido!
I’ll keep you updated with future experiences as the date gets closer! Look forward to hearing some awesome stories from Spain!