“There are many ways to learn a language, but the most effective way is to immerse yourself in a culture that speaks the language and forces you to communicate with it every day. It’s an incredible experience because no two people speak the same language the same way.”

Time flies! Especially when you’re one of our student bloggers, who have embarked on their adventures off campus this semester.The fall semester is coming to a close and with that, I interviewed one of our student bloggers to see how he feels about his time abroad.

Jeff Dingler is currently studying abroad in Madrid through the Skidmore in Spain program. He is a Spanish minor at Skidmore, so he was excited to practice his conversational skills while abroad. He has been writing about his time off-campus in his blog, “Innocents Abroad” which he has paired with the Mark Twain quote, “The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad.”

You can checkout his blog here!

  1. Is your program related to your focus of study? If so, in what ways? How is it shaping the way you interact with your studies? What inspired you to go on this program?

I’m a Spanish minor, so the Skidmore in Spain program is definitely within my focus of study. There are many ways to learn a language, but the most effective way is to immerse yourself in a culture that speaks the language and forces you to communicate with it every day. It’s an incredible experience because no two people speak the same language the same way. I can’t tell you how much my Spanish has improved in just four months. I wish I could stay another semester!

  1. 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 stayed with a host family this semester. My host family was great and very kind to me: they were always patient and encouraging of my Spanish, they invited me to family lunches, they even lent me a thicker winter jacket when it got really cold in the last couple of weeks. There can be some inconveniences or adjustments living with new people in a new place, but it’s worth it. Outside of my grammar class, my host family was the biggest source of knowledge and practice in the Spanish language. Plus, they were so cool!

  1. Have you experienced any homesickness? How have you dealt with that?

Honestly, I’m not sure how to respond to the homesickness question. There have been moments when I wanted to return to my apartment in Saratoga and there have certainly been challenges living in a different culture with a different language, but I’ve loved every moment here in Madrid. My scholarship to Skidmore paid for this study abroad, so for me it’s always been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something to enjoy to the fullest. If I ever wanted to leave or felt homesick, all I had to do was remind myself that I was in Spain and I had no clue when I would return. This usually put things in the right perspective.

  1. How has blogging for Skidmore OCSE been this semester? Has it played a role in how you interact with the city? 

Blogging has been great! I’m shocked at how much I did and saw this semester. I don’t normally keep a journal, so it was nice to have something that documented my thoughts, experiences and emotions while I was traveling through Spain, exploring Madrid, or just struggling with the language. Blogging for Skidmore was a fun job that allowed me a lot of flexibility with my schedule as well as freedom to write about what I wanted. I would definitely recommend it to other students!

  1. How are you feeling about coming back? Anything you’re specifically looking forward to/will miss most about Madrid?

I’m looking forward to a cold, snowy winter with my friends and some fresh apple cider donuts. I’ve been living in Saratoga Springs for the last year and a half (minus this study abroad), and Upstate New York has been very good to me. However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was conflicted now. I enjoyed Spain and its people much more than I thought I would. I’ve made some real friends here, and I want to return in the near future. But mostly, I’m going to miss the city and its people. Madrid is a wonderful and unique place.