Why Am I Here???: My Spain Story…

I bet some of you have questions: Why did I leave the U.S. in the first place?…Why did I choose to go to Spain?…Why Salamanca in particular?…Perhaps this will help to clear things up…

I think I’ve had a since of adventure ever since I was this little:

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O.K., maybe not that little–but, you know what I mean!!…Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always enjoyed traveling (esp. to amusement parks), and I’ve always wanted to go out and explore new places and meet fascinating people…

But, I guess you can say my longing for exotic international adventures began because of this show:

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Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it–I adored The Crocodile Hunter, and Steve Irwin (may he rest in peace) was my hero!!…Sure, plenty of people would say that he was just some crazy Australian dude, but to me he was amazing, and all those crazy adventures he had in the rainforests of Borneo, and the Serengeti, and all those other places totally fascinated me…To this day, I still want to visit the Australian Zoo…

Around the time I was 8, another show that would change my life started airing on television:

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Yes, you heard right–Dora the Explorer…This show is absolutely groundbreaking–never before in the history of U.S. television was there an educational program designed specifically to teach children a foreign language–and it’s how I started learning Spanish…Well, I mean, it wasn’t like straight-up Spanish education, but I did learn some basic words and phrases, such as rojo, pequeño, and lo hicimos

This basic knowledge was supplemented a little more for a few weeks in 5th grade when I took some little Spanish mini-courses–but, really, the only thing I really remember about it is this song:

Then came middle school…Now, in my middle school, every 6th grader had “Explorations”–that is, 6-week courses designed to give us some sort of idea of what we might like to study in high school and beyond–esp. in regards to foreign languages…It was kind of a joke really, because: 1) We only had 3 foreign languages–Latin (which is dead), French, and Spanish, and 2) Besides basic phrases and cultural knowledge, we never learned any hard grammar–But, hey, I can write a whole ‘nother post that details in full the many failings of the American public educational system in regards to foreign language learning (or just education, period)…Sorry, where was I–oh, yeah!!…I remember being in Latin (of which I remember very little), and Spanish with the lovely Sra. Pruitt (neé Brown)–and I loved it so much, I took a semester-long version of it in 7th grade…

Around this time, I began watching…

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This is one of my favorite shows on the Travel Channel, and it’s what started my yearning to travel through all of Europe (I literally want to explore pretty much the whole shebang)…Eventually, I started watching other travel shows, and by then, I wanted to literally hit up every continent…It’s like the lyrics to my favorite Panic! at the Disco song, “That Green Gentleman”–I wanna go where everyone goes/I wanna know what everyone knows…

Then came high school, and in my county, it’s required that students take at least 2 levels of a foreign language…I refused to learn French (still do–it’s a matter of principle), and Latin didn’t really interest me, so I stuck with Spanish…I can’t remember exactly whether I took Spanish I my first or 2nd semester of freshman year, what with the fire and everything (no, really–a fire burned my school down [Google Eastern Guilford High School, or YouTube it]), but, this is when I started to actually learn grammar and everything…Admittedly, I was confused at first with the verb conjugations and adjective agreement and everything because we don’t really have that in English (for instance, yo comí=I ate, tú comiste=you (inf.) ate, él, ella, Ud. comió=he/she/you (form.) ate, etc), but after a while, I got used to it…

Now, I don’t remember that much about my first two teachers of high school Spanish, but I do remember my last: Sra. Barone…I first took her class for H. Spanish III, which I think I mainly took to have the elective…But come the first day, I fell in love with the class and her…She’s just so fun-loving and silly–but also really great at hammering in the grammar, and because of her I actually became proficient with the language, taking H. Spanish V with her senior year…And we all know the many benefits of language learning:

  • You can stealth insult monolingual idiots who don’t understand you.
  • Eavesdropping is always nice
  • More, erm, interesting ways of expressing yourself (¡Jobar!).
  • It’s fun being able to communicate with more people on God’s green Earth!!
  • Learning other languages become easier (Spanish has helped me with German).
  • Disney songs become more interesting (and perhaps prettier)
  • Musical numbers become simply epic (this is for you, Marshall)
  • And, other assorted benefits
  • KAPLAN_BENEFITS_INFOGRAPHIC

Not to mention, she’s been to Spain several times, and she always used to tell us about where she’s gone, and she was really good with integrating that sort of cultural connection within the language instruction (we even had tertulias)…I just want to say I love you Lisa Barone, and I can’t wait to visit you again when I get back!!!!…

Eventually, I matriculated into that bastion of the Southern Ivy League, Wake Forest University…Here, every student is required to take up to the 200-level of a language…I took the placement test, and got placed into SPN 212, Exploring the Hispanic World…At first I though, Dang it–I should’ve dumbed down, but that class has probably been one of the most game-changing courses in my college career–namely because of my profe, Dr. Ana León-Tavora (dear, if I misspelled your name, please tell me)…She’s just this crazy sevillana who’s just really fun!!

Eventually, I took SPN 216 (Introduction to Hispanic Studies) with her 2nd semester second year, and besides my First-Year writing seminar (shout out to you, Dr. Andrew Burkett!!), that class taught me how to properly read, analyze, and write about literature…Come time for registration, I decided to maybe take Conversation, or maybe another literature course, but Ana stopped me and suggested, “Well, why don’t you just minor in Spanish???…You enjoy it.”…And then it hit me–I did enjoy it, so I decided to take her advice and pursue the minor…

Thing is, while I had originally intended to pursue a Psychology major, all the upper-level classes got filled up, so I was like, all right, I’ll just see how registration goes next semester…So, first semester sophomore year, I ended up taking SPN 317, Literary and Cultural Studies of Spain, with Dr. José Luis Venegas–I mean, it’s required for both the minor and major…But going through it, I realized that Spanish is what I wanted to study primarily, and so, 2nd semester sophomore year, I declared the major!!!!

Now being someone who wants to explore the world, study abroad was one of those things that I knew I was going to do in college…Freshman year, I applied to study at the Worrell House (Wake’s house in London) Spring 2012…Alas, I was rejected–and devastated, because London, besides Rome, is the European city I most want to visit (screw Paris–London’s more interesting!!)…But somehow, I turned my attention to Wake’s program in Salamanca, where they say the purest Castilian Spanish is spoken, and that it’s  la ciudad para estudiar…

Not to mention, since it’s a Wake’s program, all of my regular scholarship money would transfer and cover all of my expenses–and, every credit I took over there would transfer and help me complete my major…Plus, as an International Studies minor, it’s mandatory that I go abroad at some point…

Therefore, I applied Spring of sophomore year, and the rest, they say, is history, :-)…

As to why I started this blog, I figured it would be an awesome way to detail my experiences and observations here…See, I’ve been reading expat blogs for going on 2 years now, and I always said that if I ever lived abroad I would do it–so there you go!!…I’m particularly inspired by Kaley of  http://ymuchomas.com/, a young woman who’s currently living with her husband in Spain…I find her insight humorous, but she also keeps it real about the awesomeness and not-so-awesomeness of being an expat–and I would hope to be as great an expat blogger as she is someday…

So, there you have it–my Spain story, :-)…You know, I guess it’s like my other favorite lyrics from that Panic! song: Things have changed for me/But that’s O.K./I feel the same/I’m on my way–well, only, maybe not the same, but different in a good way, :-)…

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5 thoughts on “Why Am I Here???: My Spain Story…

  1. Lisa Barone

    Rosa Beatriz! So happy that you are having the time of your life in Spain. Thanks for the shout out! My only regret is that I only had you for levels 3-5. You are certainly one of my most accomplished students of my entire career! Can’t wait to see you upon your return!

  2. Pingback: Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Apparently Iberian Airlines)???/Reflections… | thepumpkinshead

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