09 Oct Centro MundoLengua Struck Balance with Study Abroad
A student shares her impactful study abroad experience that hit all the right notes
Study abroad programs vary greatly… some are more academic, others focus on a purely social aspect, some are completely independent, others plan every action of every day to the minute, some thrust you into an entire group of foreign strangers, others keep you within the same group of people from your home country… the list goes on and on. At Centro MundoLengua, our goal is to provide balanced study abroad programs full of enrichment from every aspect. We seek the perfect equilibrium for our students at all levels, and according to Grace Li, we have achieved just that. Grace studied abroad with us this past summer in one of our Pre-AP Spanish programs, and she concludes that “Centro MundoLengua struck balance.” She shared her story with us and we want to share it with others! Read about her impactful study abroad experience that hit all the right notes below.
A quote goes, “I had a change of heart with a change of scenery“, and my trip to Spain was just that. It starts off with a great program. As outlined in the description and in other blog posts, every day is filled with activities. Centro MundoLengua has managed to not only create an itinerary that allowed for one to enjoy Spain, but made the environment so that these activities were able to foster a rare synthesis of comfort in a new environment. This was done by having great tour guides (Hi Rosario!), a great classroom dynamic (Lidia!!), enough free time, and security.
It started off with a great host family. Understandably, anyone who is traveling to a foreign country would be nervous about what is to come, but especially if one was to stay with a new family. I remember getting my host family‘s name on a sheet, the address, their number, as well as a quick description of them. I assume the description was given with the intent to familiarize the student and help quell nerves, but it didn’t do anything for me. Except for knowing that the family had a dog. After a long day of travel, I got off a bus and was greeted with a wave of heat and a mass of host families waiting to greet us all. Mario called up our names along with the name of the host, and after two cheek kisses, my peers were off. I was greeted with a wonderful smile and a barrage of questions from a couple (that I would get to know and love), and I was in. The first day was culture shock at its finest, and after the first couple of questions (that of which I answered in slow Spanish), it began to settle in.
My host family was everything that they could have been and more. The host family was an integral part of my experience in Spain – they offered me a taste of Spain, conversational Spanish at the dinner tables, and everything else. Much of my Spanish skills developed at the lunch table, as this was where I was most comfortable speaking conversationally. The host family was understanding, slowed down, and corrected my Spanish without being rude. I would have my trusty Google Translate in one hand while eating with the other. Any language barriers were overcome through careful miming and laughter. I slowly lost the apprehension and fear of making mistakes, and after that barrier, the words came out. Thank you, Vanesa and Daniel, for all the laughs and good meals.
Centro MundoLengua struck balance. It struck balance in the classroom – with learning while also taking full advantage of the location in Spain, having students go out into the streets and ask questions. It struck balance with activities – with days of walking and learning about sites while having days on the beach. Even during the activities, we were given a lot of freedom. While at Cadiz, I had the pleasure of meeting another tourist from Morocco. She and my friends spent the entire time talking to her, even going to her favorite tapas place and ordering her favorite dish.
The freedom that Centro MundoLengua gave us allowed for me to explore the city with my friends at my own pace. I would have helado every day at various locations, walk around the small side streets and get lost, talk to vendors, make friends with café workers, and bask in the amiability of the Spanish peoples.
Written by Grace Li, a summer study abroad student from Cranbrook High School that participated in our Pre-AP Spanish program