Williams International

Emily Spine '11: "Intercambios en Española"

Emily Spine in Spain
Name: Emily Spine
Class: 2011
Majors: History and Africana Studies
Citizenship: USA
Countries Visited Abroad: Spain, England, The Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, France, Belgium

I studied abroad in Seville, Spain. Spain was the perfect choice for me, because I had studied Spanish since 6th grade and wanted to put it to good use. Furthermore, its location in Europe provided a better chance to visit lots of other countries at the same time. Going abroad during college was a feasible choice given the generous financial aid that Williams offered. There could not have been another perfect opportunity for me to travel this far after college and so I took full advantage of it!

I expected my study abroad program to have much more emphasis on making Spanish friends (otherwise known in Spanish as “intercambios”). They provided an “intercambio” program, but it wasn’t very well-run and many “intercambios” simply wanted to meet American girls, which was creepy to me. I expected my Spanish to improve a lot, and while my listening and reading comprehension improved, my speaking ability did not. It would have been better if my program had actually placed more emphasis on the language pledge like Middlebury programs do.

For me, study abroad was a time for exploration. I was able to visit many different places and experience tons of different things. I think I had really romanticized Spain and Europe before I arrived. Once I was there, I saw that Europe’s countries aren’t shockingly different from the US in the ways I had expected. I also grew personally, becoming more reliant on myself, especially due to the large amount of traveling that I did.

The first day that I was living with my host mother (señora), she asked me to shake out the tablecloth. Since I did not understand a word in the whole sentence she said, I stood there not knowing what do while watching her walk into the kitchen. She asked me to follow her which I understood and did but without the tablecloth. As soon as I got into the kitchen, she started laughing hysterically at me and very slowly with gestures, she explained what she wanted me to do.