To Spain we go
Learning a second language is tough. Students have to learn new vocabulary and conjugations, and determine how to formulate a sentence with a subject and a predicate. Essentially, as college students, we are forced to relearn certain material from our childhoods in the form of another language.
We even have to read about the culture of these foreign places and dissect how their society is similar to and different from ours. Through all this, some students opt out of continuing their secondary language after they have met their degree requirements, while others become intrigued by the thought of another culture and continue their learning.
Over the summer break, PUC offered students a chance of a lifetime by sending some on an Experiential Learning trip to Spain. The trip offered students a chance to observe another culture and interact with a completely alien society outside of the United States.
Students traveled eight hours and lived with Spanish "parents" for five weeks. They lived the Spanish lifestyle firsthand and were able to experience something many of us will not be able to say we did.
Margarita Contreras made the journey to Spain and thinks the trip is a great opportunity for people to experience another culture while continuing their education. She said she would definitely do it again if given the chance.
Christina Zokvic, a secondary Spanish education major, seized the opportunity to experience this lifestyle. She reflected on the Spanish lifestyle and how their society differs from ours. For instance, unlike Americans who generally eat their biggest meal in the morning, Spaniards typically choose to have their biggest meal during lunch. A typical Spanish breakfast only consists of a piece of toast and a cup of coffee.
She told me how everyone participates in siestas (which are middle-of-the-day naps) and how no one is ever on time for anything.
"Class was scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m., but since they were on ‘Spanish time', class didn't start until 9:45 a.m. every day," Zokvic said.
Aside from the laid-back lifestyle of siestas and Spanish time, life in Spain is similar to life in the United States. People tend to unwind at night, socializing at the plaza or in various nightclubs.
There is a theory regarding experiential learning. David Kolb, an American educational theorist, believes that learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through transformation of experience. There are four steps to his theory:
The first step is concrete experience, or "do" step. This is the action of traveling abroad.
The second step is reflective observation, which is the concept of taking in everything that is happening around you.
The third step is abstract conceptualization, the "think" step.
The final step is active experimentation, which is the concept of interacting within the culture.
Most students will never travel abroad for the purpose of absorbing culture and knowledge. Those that do, however, take much more from the experience than what they could from any lecture or book.
"There are so many things in the world to see. Why would you want to stare at a chalkboard and a teacher in the front of a class for 16 weeks when you could be seeing some of the most beautiful things in the world?" Zokvic said.
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