“It’s been really interesting discovering who I am in a different language, because it’s really difficult to get your true personality across in a language that you’re unsure of.”
~Emily Savarese, ’17
Junior Emily Savarese (pictured above, far right) is currently studying on the Skidmore in Spain program (based in Madrid and Alcalá) and I had the pleasure of interviewing her via email this past week. This semester, she’s been blogging for OCSE and cataloging her experience via a photo diary, taking us on tours of Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia, and tapas-making classes with her friends (featured above). Here’s what she had to say about her time off-campus so far:
Hi Emily! First, a little background: what class year are you? What is your major/minor?
I am a junior Education major and Spanish minor.
In what ways is your program related to your focus of study? How is it shaping the way you interact with your studies?
I’m in Spain, which relates to my minor, but other than that I’m not taking any education courses so this is more of a branching out experience for me. I have, however, spent time in some Spanish schools which has shaped the way I look at our school system. The schools here are run in a very different manner, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but has definitely made me realize what things I want to bring back with me.
What is the living situation on your program? (Homestay, apartment, dorm-style, etc.) How has that impacted your semester and your interactions with the host culture?
I live in a homestay with just a host mom. She’s retired and has 2 children that occasionally visit, but for the most part it’s just the two of us. I’ve absolutely loved living in her home. It is by far the place I get to practice Spanish the most, because she doesn’t speak a word of English. It’s been really interesting discovering who I am in a different language, because it’s really difficult to get your true personality across in a language that you’re unsure of. She is definitely the piece of this country I will miss the most—she welcomed me into her home and into her family.
Have you encountered language barriers? If so, how have you maneuvered through those situations? (Any funny lost-in-translation moments?) If you live in a city where English is not the first language, have you attempted to learn the native language?
When I first got here I had some trouble with Spanish because I hadn’t used it in a while. It was interesting to go from being so independent at home in the U.S. to so clueless in a new country with a different language. As a group, we’ve come to learn to just accept that we’re going to make mistakes and move past it. None of us are perfect but the silly mistakes have certainly been entertaining. This experience has definitely helped me learn to laugh at myself and to be confident in myself, even if I’m not perfect.
How is blogging for the Skidmore OCSE office going so far? Does it play a role in how you interact with the city at all?
Blogging has been fun! I’ve made an effort to capture different aspects of the cities I’m in, both Alcalá and Madrid. Blogging has given me more of an incentive to get out and explore my surroundings—potentially even more so than I might’ve without.
Be sure to check out more of Emily’s photos and adventures here!