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.
Every year thousands ,although I wish it were more, of American students choose study abroad. Many go with various expectations. However, I find that many students get the wrong Idea going into it and often they are left disappointed upon departure back to their home. So let me clear some things up for any student or parent’s of students that are studying abroad in the upcoming years.
“When I get back I am going to be so fluent in my chosen language that I will speak like a native.”
While yes there are cases where students go abroad after years of studying and become very comfortable and fluid in the language. Many students who go abroad have only studied the language for 2-3 years and it would be outrageous to think that in 3 months, or even a years time, that you would be able to learn and have enough practice with the language to be able to speak like a native.
Fluency, is a word that should be taken out of the language learners mentality. It gives the false impression that you have reached this level where you no longer have to work on the language and can conduct yourself in all topics, No. Language learning is an ongoing process that never stops and the learner needs to continuously work on adding new words and remembering old ones. It becomes a lot easier as time goes on and yes there becomes a point where the language feels natural to you, but is there a point where you can say, “Today I am fluent, but yesterday I was not?” No.
Parents and friends: Don’t expect them to be able to go abroad for 3 months and then come back and be language gods.
Students: Just enjoy yourself and accept that language learning is an ongoing thing, that there are going to be awkward moments when you have NO idea what they are saying, and just strive to be a better speaker than you were the day before. Don’t be discouraged by little mistakes, even natives make mistakes when speaking.
So I have been here in Graz, Austria for about a week and a half, still with my German lacking the proper level. The things that I do like about Austria are: the amazing scenery, mountains, and how the city just seems to perfectly fit around all the rolling hills.
The only thing it is missing is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is from a little outside of here, to start yodeling from on top of the clock tower pictured above.
The purpose of this blog is not to give descriptive summaries of cities that I visit, although sometimes that may happen, but instead the purpose is to give a first hand account of an American who has come to Europe to not just visit, but to live. Hopefully I can be of help to other Americans who want to do the same.
- Day 1- Graz, Austria (eldergleeclub.wordpress.com)
- Bis später! (beautifulncrazylife.wordpress.com)