Lauren’s Lounge: Breaking the Language Barrier

¡Hola! Estoy in Sevilla. ¡La ciudad es muy bonita y a mi me gusta mucho! If you don’t know any Spanish, that means “Hello! I am in Seville. The city is very beautiful and I like it a lot!” As I wrote in my first blog post, last week I left the United States to begin my semester in Seville, Spain. I flew from Philadelphia to Madrid and then I took the train from Madrid to Seville. I am living with a roommate in a homestay (my “Señora” is muy simpatica—very nice!) and yesterday was my first day of classes.

So far, the biggest potential source of stress I have faced while abroad is, as I expected, the language. Since I haven’t taken a Spanish class since high school (I switched to Italian for a year in college), it has been almost three years since I last spoke Spanish in a classroom. Then there’s the fact that speaking Spanish in a classroom is very different than speaking it out on the street or in my homestay. Some native speakers talk very fast; others have strong accents or use a lot of slang. It can definitely be hard to understand what people are saying, and even harder to think of how to respond.

However, my Señora is very understanding and so are my professors, and like me they are concerned more with getting students to make an effort to speak the language, even if they don’t get everything right. I think it is going to be a great semester.

30 million people in the United States speak Spanish, and millions more all over the world. Then there are Mandarin, Hindi, and Arabic—rounding out the top 5 as far as numbers of native speakers in the world. Speaking a second language (particularly Spanish in the United States) can make it easier to communicate with more people and people who may be from different places and cultures than you, which is a good way to get to know people and a great way to be a leader!

I’m looking forward to learning and practicing more Spanish this semester. Do you speak a second language (or a first language, if English is your second)? Are there times when it has helped you communicate?

¡Hasta luego!

-Lauren Mateer
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
Learn more about Lauren here.

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