by Marlee Stein
My name is Marlee and I am a sophomore at UIUC. I am currently a Spanish and Psychology major and unlike the majority of Spanish 232 students, I have yet to study abroad for an extended period of time. My passion for Spanish comes from my mother. My mother studied abroad in Barcelona her junior year of college and made many lifelong friends. To this day she is still friends with them, and our families have created a strong friendship. Growing up I was pen pals with the youngest daughter of my mother’s friend. Our families have visited each other a few times, and our connection really inspired me to want to learn the Spanish language and experience more of the Hispanic culture. My sophomore year of high school I went to the south of Spain and stayed with a home stay family in a very small town, Guadix. One day, the group I was traveling with took a day trip to Córdoba and saw La mezquita. Instantly I was in awe, to this day it is my ultimate favorite place. The intricate detail of both the contrasting religions and cultures was truly spectacular. The entire tour was done in Spanish, while I knew a good deal of Spanish I am in no way fluent. After seeing La mezquita I wanted to learn the language so I could fully understand about this beautiful place. Other than my brief home stay I have never spent an extended period of time abroad. I am eager to hopefully study abroad spring semester of my junior year. I am extremely nervous to study abroad because other than this class and Spanish 208, I have not had a lot of practice with using the Spanish. Thus, I am very excited to be taking this class, because it is giving me the tools to improve my fluency.
I love working with children and am interested in volunteering abroad with children, so I chose to work in a bilingual classroom at Booker T. Washington. The majority of the children are very eager to help me with my Spanish. Since I volunteer in a third grade classroom, the children are all fairly fluent in English so I don’t get to use as much Spanish as I would like. I try my best to ask them reading comprehension questions in Spanish to make sure they know the meaning of words they are reading. I hope as the volunteering goes on I get to use my Spanish more, because now it is slightly frustrating. I will update you in a few weeks if there is improvement and about my experiences!
Hasta Luego, Marlee