People keep giving me that look when I tell them that I’m going to Barcelona with IES Abroad for six weeks to take a class in Spanish conversation. It’s that look of skepticism and confusion, sometimes even with a little bit of disgust mixed in, that people show when they see or hear something completely unexpected. You see, I’m extremely introverted. I often ignore people or pretend that I’m too busy to talk in order to avoid having conversations. Even when I’m pressed into speaking with someone, I’ll keep my sentences brief and simple to avoid showing him the awkwardness of my sparsely-used spoken English. So, you can imagine the shock visible on my acquaintances faces when I tell them that, for half of the summer, I’ll be graded on oral proficiency in a language that I haven’t even mastered. Their brows furrow and their eyes tighten, as though they’re attempting to peer into my brain and search for a logical reason for why I would choose to spend my time and money on a study abroad program whose structure is inherently disadvantageous to someone with my personality. They give me that look (I tried to imitate it below) because they think that I’ll be too reticent to better my speaking in Spain.
I don’t really mind that look, though. People gave me that look when, during my senior year in high school, I told them that I would be studying engineering despite being much more proficient in Spanish than in Calculus or Physics. People gave me that look when, during my freshman year of college, I told them that I would be pursuing minors in Spanish and Japanese despite having no experience in the latter and an already full course load in engineering. Now, when I see that look, I just see an opportunity to exceed people’s expectations and grow as a person. I’m really looking forward to blowing people away with my spoken Spanish upon coming back.
As for the reason for why I would choose a program like this, I think that it’s because I’m an introvert. I’m really jealous of people who have a way with words and people who can easily speak eloquently and freely. Maybe being unable to do so has given me a better appreciation for the art of conversation and an exaggerated desire to learn it. So, the number one thing I hope to gain from being abroad is the ability to talk to people a little more easily, even if it’s only in Spanish. I leave in two days, and I haven’t started packing, so I should also learn to be more proactive. One goal at a time, I guess.
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<p>I am a student at Northwestern University student studying Electrical Engineering, Spanish, and Japanese. This summer, I will be experiencing the great city of Barcelona, Spain and reporting back on all my wonderful findings right here. I hope to inspire a few people to try adventuring out of there comfort zone, too.</p>