Monday, April 2, 2012

Student Reflection: Brianna Anderson

by Brianna Anderson


My name is Brianna and I am a senior majoring in Reproductive Studies and Spanish. The picture is of me overlooking the city of Granada when I studied abroad in Spain.

I first began studying the Spanish language in my freshman year of high school. Like many of my friends, the main reason I took Spanish was because I knew that most colleges required at least two years of a foreign language and that those two years would be waived upon completion of four in high school. What I did not know at that time was that Spanish was something I would actually be interested in. After four years of learning the fundamentals of Spanish and a brief overview of the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries, I decided that I would continue to develop my understanding of the language and pursue a minor while in college. The first Spanish course I took at the University of Illinois was SPAN 204: Practical Review of Spanish. That course was one of the most beneficial courses I have taken—through the course of one semester, everything I had learned grammatically about Spanish was summarized and practiced.

One opportunity I wanted to take advantage of during my college years was to study abroad. While a semester-long or a year-long program was not optimal for my schedule, I was able to participate in a summer abroad program in Granada, Spain. The program lasted for two months and was an experience I will never forget. I lived with a host family consisting of a host mother and a twenty-seven year old host sister and was fully immersed in their culture during the time I was with them. Following that program, I spent a month volunteering in Cusco, Peru. I worked in a small clinic in the outskirts of the city, helping a nurse in what was the equivalent of an emergency room. We mostly gave injections to the inhabitants of the town, but there was the occasional moment of excitement. I had many chances to practice my Spanish here and learn about the Andean culture—one so different than the Spanish culture I had just came from. These two experiences were very different but enabled me to grow nevertheless.

When I returned from my study abroad program, I had enough course credit to have completed the minor program. I did not enroll in any Spanish classes the fall of my junior year, but soon decided that I wanted to continue my Spanish education and after speaking with my advisor to ensure I would be able to complete all of the requirements for my other major, declared Spanish as my major.

The change from a minor to a major left me with a need to take several additional Spanish courses. I had been on the culture-based track as a minor and decided to stick with those classes to fulfill the remainder of my 300-level electives. But then I was left with the need to find a 200-level elective. Originally, I had signed up for Oral Spanish, simply because I had not heard of any of the other courses. Shortly into the semester, a friend with whom I had studied abroad told me about SPAN 232. I was intrigued by the idea of a service learning course and added it to my schedule. For my community work, I tutored with the SOAR program and continue to work with the same organization now that I am a student in 332. More about that next time.

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