So, I have been taking classes in the morning in order to further improve my language skills here. One thing that I like about Salamanca is the amount of international students that are here. In my class we are two Americans, one French girl, one Italian girl, two Koreans, and another Chinese student all in the same class and all in their 20’s. We are all brought together by our desire to improve our language skills and I really do like the class. However, my favorite time in that class is where we all get a chance to talk about current events and social, or political, differences inside of each country. It really gives us a chance to see a country from a different perspective.
The most fascinating discussion that we have had is one pertaining to economy. As many people know that the economy in Spain is really in a dire situation. The only news is bad news and it seems to only get worse. This sparked a conversation about finding jobs and the personal economic situations pertaining to each individual and their countries. As I heard each individual explain their specific story about trying to find work it made me start to think about what exactly were to happen if my government decided to go to war against anyone of these specific countries which being from where I am from is not that big of a stretch.
In my country, for the past 10 years there has been this constant talk about China. How China, “owns” the United States and how every US citizen should fear that China will, or has, become the next big super power and that they are a constant threat to American business security.
While sitting in class and listening to my fellow classmate, a chinese male who is the same age as me, talk about the same exact thing that everyone else had just expressed, His desire to find work, start a family, hangout with friends, it really got me thinking about what on earth are they talking about when they say these people are a threat to me? They simply are not. Everyone wants the same things, money, security, family, and to have fun. The sad part is that, if a war were to break out between the two countries, there are a number of people just like us that would not meet in a classroom but instead through the scopes of their rifles.
Borders mean nothing, to think otherwise is ignorant.
When I first told people my plans to go move to another country I was always surprised by the reactions that people gave me. I can recall the reaction of “ YOU ARE CRAZY! ” from my father and the hysteria of my mother upon hearing the news that I really am not going to Spain for only a year like I had told them, but instead, I would be going abroad indefinitely. After telling people my plans they would always ask me this next question, “How long are you going to be there for?” followed next by surprise when I told them my answer of a shoulder shrug and that “I really have no idea”. In reality, I really didn’t want to look into it deeper than that because the thought of me selling my car, buying a one-way ticket, and traveling 4,000 miles away from home across an ocean that my great grandparents risked their lives in to get me to where I am today, really did scare me a lot.
I was also surprised with the restrictions people seemed to place on this little plan of mine. I think that the thought that someone moves away from the US seems like a really odd concept to many Americans. Throughout primary and secondary schooling we are always taught about how hard the immigrants in the 19th and 20th century had to fight in order to have a better life and that often the United States was their goal.One thing that I think about quite often is about the bigger picture, what am I doing with my life. SOLUTION: from the many people I have spoken with, many article I have read and other information gathered on the topic there is no plan for someones life. Things just happen, and then because of that another thing happens based on the choices that you make. This linear path that people seem to associate with adulthood and old age is usually pieced together in hindsight while ignoring other facts and events that may not support this linear path.
I don’t regret coming here at all. I am not nearly as obsessed as I was before about leaving the U.S. and finding work abroad. However, this could be because I already do live and work abroad. I do miss home a lot and having to live in another country and see that your friends’ and family’s lives still go on when you are not there is pretty difficult. However, everyday it gets easier, everyday you meet new people, and every day you get used to the little differences, such as everything being closed from 2- 4 or not having a car and needing to walk/ take a bus everywhere.
An American Living Abroad.
On Tuesday I finished handing my paperwork for my student visa in Spain, I will be studying in Salamanca, Spain for the upcoming year at their international school. A lot of people at my university in the US have asked me how I am affording all of this, since I am not rich. Courses in Spain that are conducted by institutes, academies, and universities in Spain are surprisingly cheap in comparison to programs conducted by American schools. I have compiled a list of various programs in Spain here and will be following this article with the steps involved in obtaining a student visa.
Short Courses: 2 weeks- 2 months
There are a number of schools in Spain and Spanish courses for foreigners is a huge business. In Salamanca alone there are 12 different schools. If you just walk down Gran Via and Plaza Mayor or a few other major streets you will definitely see a language school with a sign that says “Curso de Español para Extranjeros”. Most credible schools will have a web page with a variety of courses including their prices and duration.
Many schools only offer 1-3 month intensive courses in Spanish. These courses are great if that is all the time you have and really economical compared to courses sponsored by American Schools, but keep in mind they wont be accredited by North American universities.
If you are looking for a short course look at The Instituto Cervantes website for accredited centers. Here they list all of the centers that have language courses that this Spanish Language learning Authority deems worthy.
Long Courses (6 months- Academic Year)
- If you are looking for more than just a month in Spain there are a number of Spanish Universities that have international courses in Spain. Three of which I have placed here since those are the ones I am familiar with. I am sure there are more and the list will continue to grow:
University of Salamanca
University of Granada
University of Barcelona
For any amount of time you wish to spend dedicated to learning Spanish there are going to be courses that will help you do that. This list will be on going and if you know of more programs that are not listed I would be glad to add them.