Friday, March 16, 2012

Student Reflection: Susannah Koch

by Susie Koch

My name is Susannah (Susie) Koch and in my blog posts this semester I will share with you my experiences working in the community and in utilizing Spanish.  I have been taking Spanish classes since the end of middle school. Once I had started language classes I quickly realized how much I appreciated and was amazed by the human brain’s ability to be able to communicate in one language, let alone two or more. This interest also shows my interest and love of the anatomy and physiology of the body. I am currently pursuing a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Spanish, and I am pre-med and plan to attend medical school starting the summer of 2014. Although my classes in middle school and then in high school increased my love and passion for the Spanish language, my Spanish class senior year of high school did the opposite. The teacher showed little passion for the subject and did not challenge us in order to help us improve. I felt as if my knowledge was stationary and that my ability to communicate was actually decreasing as the year went on. As I started college at the University of Illinois the fall of 2009, I decided not to continue on with Spanish because my love of learning another language had been so drastically altered the year before.

Freshman year went by in a blur of difficult science classes and I found myself looking for a release. I started to explore my options as an undergraduate student and discovered all of the study-abroad options that our amazing school has to offer. I decided that I was going to go abroad for a semester and that I wanted to go somewhere Spanish speaking because I already had some knowledge of the language and the culture. In order to study abroad in Spain I needed to complete a number of Spanish classes at UIUC, and therefore, I started my Spanish class journey for the second time. I spent four months in Granada, Spain last semester and could not have had a better experience. Studying abroad is such a unique experience and something that I believe all students should pursue if possible. I am so thankful for that semester because it helped me take a step back and reflect on my life. For the first time in years I was actually able to relax and fully enjoy the classes I was taking because the material was not overwhelming. I am a better person because of my time in Spain and if all I had come away with from that time were the friends that I made, that alone would make it worth it.

My time in Spain re-sparked the love of language I once valued so much and pushed me to pursue a second major in Spanish. I did not know what to expect when I signed up for SPAN 232 this semester, but I am really enjoying the structure of the class and the core values that we are learning. I hope to improve my ability to speak in terms of confidence because my lack of confidence when speaking Spanish really hinders my improvement and experiences. Only time will tell, but I know that I will take away a lot from this class!

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