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Indiana University Bloomington
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Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

Lynn Farrell
Summer 2001

I had the amazing opportunity to study in Salamanca, Spain this past summer for six weeks on the Indiana University overseas study program. There were approximately 30 students in the group from IU, and we all became very good friends over the course of the six- weeks f lived with a married couple and their thirteen-year-old daughter. They also have two older children who were around the house occasionally. My Spanish family was incredibly nice and very used to having an exchange student around the house. We ate lunch and dinner together as a "family" every day, and my "mom" packed me a lunch when I went on the university-sponsored excursions around Spain. Classes were somewhat difficult, but they gave me a chance to speak even more Spanish than I did with my family, and they also gave me a chance to see my American friends during the day. I feel that my Spanish improved tremendously as a result of this program. Though I am not as fluent as I had hoped to be, I realize how much I have improved and how much more comfortable I am speaking and writing the language now than I was just 3 or 4 months ago.

I realized early in the program that it was to my advantage to spend as much time with my Spanish family as possible (in other words, to spend as little time with my American friends as possible). Dinner time was my favorite time of the day because it was late in the evening and relaxed enough that we had time to sit around the table and talk most nights. My family liked to tease me about different things regarding the American culture, and we even sat around the table one right and told jokes in Spanish (most of which I did not understand, even when explained, because the English translations of the punch lines did not quite match up). One thing specifically that my family thought was fanny was that my friends and I would always meet under the large clock in the plaza whenever we were all going out together. In Spanish, the word for clock is the same word for a wristwatch. So, whenever I would tell them I was meeting my friends under the clock, they would put their arms up so as to hold their watches over their heads.

I think that my favorite aspect of the program, besides having the opportunity to travel and see Europe, was simply speaking the language on a regular basis. When I look back at my pictures and other memorabilia, the thing I miss most is getting to know the intricacies of the Spanish language, including the slang and other aspects that make Spanish so different from English. I would like to have the chance someday to travel again, or even to find a profession here in the United States in which I could further practice my Spanish.