21 Mar Fill in your gap year with Spanish culture Posted at 14:55h in Learn Spanish, Student Stories by centromundolengua 0 Comments 0 Likes Isabel Vicente is a Gap Year student from New York (USA). During fall semester 2022, she took part in a 4-month long Gap Year program at Centro MundoLengua in Seville. She decided to fill her gap year with Spanish culture. This long-term program is designed for students who want to improve their Spanish conversation and comprehension skills, while also experiencing all aspects of Spanish culture firsthand. In her own words, she had the best time of her life. Now that she is back home, we have interviewed her to share her insights about her experience as a Gap Year student in Seville. “I am very sad that my time in Seville has finished, but I am leaving with amazing memories, new friends and a second family”. What made you choose Centro MundoLengua for your Gap Year Program? To be honest I wasn’t actually supposed to study in Seville. I had everything planned to study in Barcelona and a month before I was supposed to leave I got a call telling me the program got cancelled. While devastated and panicking, I spent as much time as possible looking for other programs in Barcelona, but all the deadlines had passed and they were all full. Therefore, I decided to expand my search to other cities in Spain. I came across MundoLengua, reached out and explained my situation. They fortunately had space for me and accepted me into their program at the last minute. What attracted you the most about Centro MundoLengua? One of the things about MundoLengua that caught my attention was the atmosphere. Moreover, Centro MundoLengua really caught my attention with their group activities and trips. I found them all incredible opportunities to meet new people and make friends. What would be your recommendations for someone thinking about spending a Gap Year in Spain? If the only thing stopping you from coming to Spain is the language barrier, I say do it anyway! I personally believe if you want to learn a language, full immersion is the best way. And for me, the best way to do that was to take this Gap Year in Seville and live in Spain with a host family. You may be thinking that to study abroad in Spain you need to know Spanish, but that is far from the truth. I have met many people who came to Spain with little to no knowledge of Spanish and they left with a good understanding of the language. I believe that knowing more than one language is extremely important. It gives you an opportunity to connect with new people, to expand your horizons, and to gain perspective within the world. What is one thing every future Gap Year participant should know before their program begins? One thing that threw me for a loop was the different meal times. In Spain, the normal lunch time is around 2:30pm-3:30pm, which is very late for an American. Dinner is at around 9:30pm, which is also late. Europeans also tend to stay up way later than Americans. For example, my host family and I stayed up until at least 11:30pm watching TV every night. This was fine because most days we take la siesta from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. This doesn’t always mean we slept, but it is a period of time to relax and stay at home. All of this was very new for me and it took a while to adjust. Describe a typical week of your Gap Year Program in Seville? I started every morning going to school for my Spanish lessons. As my Spanish got better, my classes got more advanced. The classes were very personalized. We also had activities every Friday which were super fun and a great way to get closer to the people in our group. During the 4-months of my Gap Year program, I travelled to many different cities and towns. MundoLengua did a great job planning trips and activities for us to do as a group. Everything was perfectly organized. We had many activities, but they also gave us free time to explore the new cities on our own and at our own pace. How has your Gap Year experience changed your life? During the first few weeks I was living in Seville, I was very homesick. It was hard for me to get out of the house for anything other than class. As I got busier and made new friends, I started to feel more at home. Something that also helped was to keep a journal. This is something I enjoyed to do because this way I could remember and help me make the most of my feelings, memories and time abroad. My Gap Year in Seville has helped me realize the cultural differences between my country (USA) and Spain. One thing that really stood out was the lack of personal space. For instance, instead of shaking hands when first meeting a new person, in Spain the common thing to do is to kiss on the cheek. During this period I have also realized how delightful the culture of walking is. In most cities in Spain it is easier to either take public transportation or walk or bike to your destination. So unless you are going far, you will most likely walk. With my Gap Year experience, I definitely have become a more self-aware and more confident person.