During my junior year of college, I spent seven weeks in
Europe. The first five weeks of this adventure were spent with a host
family in Valencia, Spain. During this time, I spoke only
Spanish. My host family spoke no English. I attended two classes
a day, studying Spanish literature from the Seventeenth Century to the
present day. All of my communication throughout this time period was
in Spanish. The last two weeks of my trip were spent visiting
different countries. My itinerary included other parts of Spain,
France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.
This trip was extremely beneficial for me in many
aspects. First, I began to understand what it was like to have a
limited knowledge of a language. On a daily basis, I became frustrated
with my abilities to communicate in a foreign land. I developed an
understanding of what it is like for those who visit or move to the United
States from another country. It was even more difficult when I visited
cities outside of Spain. In Spain, I could communicate decently.
However, I do not speak French, Italian, or German. I frequently had
to communicate based on English and hand signals. Secondly, I gained a
deeper understanding of other cultures. The Spanish culture is quite
different from our own. I was forced to change my thinking to
accommodate that culture, rather than my own.
This trip was a wonderful experience for me. I learned
so much about different types of people and cultures, as well as improved my