Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
To start off, my name is Steven Kellner and I am going to be a sophomore at the University of Michigan. I have been studying the spanish language since I was in seventh grade and have always taken a liking to it. I have traveled to places like Spain, Mexico, and Belize before, all of which speak spanish to some degree. However, when I visited these places, I was too young in my study of spanish that I was unable to really communicate with the native population in their tongue. Now, I wish to increase my knowledge and grasp of the language by speaking, listening, and taking note of how the people actually comprehend their language.
This will no doubt be a learning experience for me, I want to take advantage of all the opportunities that this program provides. I know there are trips and other things to do, and I would like to do them all. At least, my main goal is to go to Portugal once. Also, the time I will spend living with a host family will be very interesting. I enjoy meeting new people and this will be a great way to do so. I think that I am good with kids and this is an opportunity for me to meet new children and introduce them to things that I like to do like sports and music.
I do not get nervous too often, and I am more excited about this opportunity than scared. I am really looking forward to meeting many new friends and people from Spain who may not have ever seen some of the things I have. My time in Salamanca will be both new and fun for me because I like to try new things. I look forward to this trip and having fun.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Because of spring term papers I have only recently been able to relax and enjoy my time here in Madrid. Madrid is a beautiful city with an atmosphere unlike anything I have experienced before. It is my first time outside North America and I am soaking in every second of it. One thing that has surprised me here in Europe is how expensive everything is. I thought that since the euro is so much stronger than the dollar that everything would only cost fewer euros, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. A bottle of water in the US costs about $1 and here in Madrid it costs 1 euro. Besides the ridiculous exchange rate, Madrid is a beautiful place and I am thrilled to be here. From my experiences in spain I hope to improve my proficiency in the spanish language and culture.
Anyways, the reason that I think this experience is so great is because you not only are told about and read about the culture, but experience it first hand. I hope to catch and learn all the little things, like how Madrileños say “Dame” (i.e., “Give me” - very direct) instead of “Quisiera” (i.e., “I would like”). I also hope to experience more of the music and art here. Already, I’m grateful that I was able to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibition and the Stradivarius instruments in the Palacio Real, and I’m very excited to go to the Prado tomorrow. Additionally, I hope to improve my speaking skills, and it’ll be interesting to see how much more comfortable I become speaking in Spanish. One of my old Spanish professors said that he hopes that when I am in Spain, I will open my mouth and roar, and I hope that is the case, haha. I also hope to make a lot of new friends along the way, including all of the U of M students here with me and also my host family in Salamanca. So yes, lots of hopes, but Madrid is definitely living up to all of them. I’m looking forward to the rest of my stay here and also in Salamanca!
I have been having the greatest time the last few days here in Madrid. I am so overjoyed to finally be here after months of waiting. I surprisingly don’t really feel out of place here…I can’t for Spain to really feel like a real ‘home’. I have been to Europe before, but Spain is so unique and I hope to embrace that aspect and run with it. I want to learn as much as I can from the culture and country and try to live like a real Spaniard. As most everyone else, I am really hoping to build up confidence in my speaking skills. Also, I hope to gain a better understanding of vocabulary. It seems all the vocabulary tests in high school have failed me, as I have forgotten the most basic words….. I can’t wait to continue to learn and embrace life here in Spain. I am so excited for Salamanca! :)
If you were in Taipei and were lost, asking someone on the street for directions would more often than not just warrant you a strange look. Here, when I got lost (which was so, so, so many times), there was often someone who was willing to very rapidly (repite por favor?!???) tell me how to get to Sol, or at least the nearest Metro station.
Madrid has got so much to offer. The food is to DIE for, even though I'm not sure if my heart can handle eating such rich, luscious food day in and day out (that's a compliment!).
Although I have to admit that the bidet scared me a little/a lot when I first saw it in the hotel bathroom, I've gone from thinking it as strangely scary to being quirky and useful. For washing my feet.
By the way, I'm sure you guys all already know this, but siesta has to be the best thing that has ever happened to me. Why hasn't the States caught onto this?
And the architectures. The buildings. If they aren't the prettiest things ever...
We have none of those beautiful buildings in the States!!! Oh wait, sorry, forgot we had the Magic Kingdom. Just joking though, the States are pretty, just in a different way. I mean, have you ever seen gorgeous Rococo architecture on the sides of insurance company buildings in the States? Nope? Well they have that in Madrid. : -)
Okay, so Madrid is rightly awesome. But I'm not here just to sight-see and have fun and eat/sleep all day. I've also got things I have to do before I leave.
I've ALWAYS had issues with speaking with native speakers. In class, I had no problems with reading literature and doing workbooks, but when it comes to actively using it, more often then not it's the other person speaking while I'm gaping like a fish and scrambling to find at least one thing to say correctly "en español". So what I'm hoping to find in Spain is an opportunity to use Spanish and to gain confidence in speaking it.
I'm also hoping to get better circumlocution skills. There's no need for any explanation on that.
And you know the rolling 'r'? : -) I'm aiming to be able to make it at least once before I leave. I'm very serious. Dead serious. It's so ridiculous that others can't tell the difference between a dog and the conjuction 'but' when I'm speaking.
Wish me luck on that!
Here we are - our first week in Madrid - and I am already having the time of my life! I have been looking forward to my trip to Spain with many high hopes. I'm more than excited to soak up as much of the culture and language as I can throughout the next 6 weeks. Some of the things that I will keep in mind this summer are:
1)Try as many different foods as possible - Spain is famous for it's cuisine and I need to find out what the hype is all about! Good thing I am not a picky-eater..
2) Have a completely open-mind, at all times (good for soaking).
3) Form a good relationship with my host family. If I had to pick one thing, this is what I am most concerned about for sure. Will they speak ANY english??
Despite my minor worries, I know this experience will be unbelievable. Madrid is a beatuiful, outstanding city, and Salamanca will be here before we know it :)
I am very excited to finally be in Spain and experiencing the language and culture firsthand! It's very different from home, but I am beginning to enjoy the differences more and more each day. Studying abroad provides endless possibilities for learning and personal growth, and I don't want to miss out on anything. Like everybody else, I hope to further my language skills. While I'm here, I plan on becoming as fully immersed as possible in the culture and language, because that is how fluency and proficiency really develop. I will admit that I'm a bit nervous about living with a family, but I plan on going in with a good attitude and an open mind. It will be eye-opening and a lot of fun. By the end of the program, I hope to be able to switch easily between thinking in English and thinking in Spanish, which will in turn help to improve my speaking skills. Another thing I truly hope for this summer is to meet and connect with as many new people as possible. Madrid is an amazing place, and I can't wait to arrive in Salamanca and see other parts of the country.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Hmmm, tough question. One of my passions is studying abroad. As a teenager, I found the experience to be life-changing and therefore chose a profession that would allow me to always be connected to it. It has been 3 years since I last participated on a program and am looking forward to learning more about myself and the fellow members of our community. I hope to gain a greater insight on student interests and concerns so that I can become a better teacher. In the end, even though I might not be able to process it for some time, this experience will teach us all a great deal.
Also, on a less serious note, I want to eat mad amounts of jamón serrano....:-)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
We will use this blog to document our experiences in Spain during the summer term of 2009. Be sure to visit frequently for updates on the participants.