April 4, 2014, by Guest blog
The benefits of making connections in Spain
‘Making connections’ whilst on the year abroad can be based on various factors such as improving language proficiency, meeting new people or improving your understanding of a new culture. These can be classed as different types of experiences and I feel that during my year abroad I have been able to benefit from all of them in some way.
It is definitely a real advantage living in the country where the language is spoken as you are exposed to it continually which means there are many opportunities to practice and improve. During my year abroad, I have learned a lot about the language and I think it is inevitable to pick up on local idioms and really get a sense of the way in which native speakers communicate. My time in Spain and having the opportunity to live in two different cities has allowed me to do this, as dialects and linguistic expression is of course quite varied across the country. In my previous blogs I have mentioned my initial difficulty of understanding the Andaluz accent when attempting to communicate with locals or understand some of the lecturers at University in Granada. However, despite the challenges of this, it was a great way to connect or be immersed in the culture which is ultimately a learning experience.
Whilst in Granada, I also had the opportunity to visit other cities in southern Spain which included Cόrdoba and Seville. My travels to these cities can be described as ‘connecting’ with different environments and something that I noted during my visits was that even though both cities are located in Andalusia, the traditions still vary. For example there are días festivos o fiestas (festive days/ festivals) only celebrated in Seville but not in Cόrdoba or Granada and vice versa. These experiences meant that not only did I have the opportunity to compare the differences between cities in Spain but also between the life that I was used to in England, which I have commented on in more detail in my Cultural Challenges blog. Part of the experience of ‘making connections’ was and still is as the Year Abroad continues is meeting new people. In my case, doing two different placements as an Erasmus student at University in Spain has allowed me to meet Spanish natives as well as Erasmus and international students from all over the world. This has contributed to the culture aspect of my time abroad and as the Year Abroad experience continues I hope to learn much more during my time in Spain. This includes making connections or developing my understanding of the language, culture and traditions.
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