Student Reflection: Matt Campion

Matt planting trees in Costa Rica
by Matt Campion

Hola!! My name is Matt Campion, and I am senior in LAS. I am graduating in May with a degree in political science and a minor in Spanish. I took Spanish for four years in high school, and at the time, felt that was adequate. However, upon coming to the University of Illinois, I decided that I was still very interested in Spanish and felt that it would be a very useful language to continue learning. Beginning in the fall of my sophomore year, I started the process of getting my Spanish minor beginning with Spanish 141. Twenty-four Spanish credits later, I have greatly improved my ability to understand and speak the Spanish language. It wasn’t until my junior year when I really decided to get serious about Spanish and applied to study abroad in Costa Rica for a month in the summer. Even with all the classes I had been taking, I really wanted to immerse myself in a culture that only spoke Spanish. I felt this would be the best way to learn and experience the language. My month abroad was a terrific experience, especially after living with my host family. They were the nicest people, and really made an effort to help me practice Spanish. This Costa Rica trip was also focused on volunteering in the community, and we had the opportunity to work at two different facilities for the elderly and mentally challenged. We also worked at an orphanage located in the heart of San Jose. Upon returning to campus in the fall, I was able to take three Spanish classes; two focusing on cultural history and one on oral skills. It was like immersion on campus because I did not have an English speaking class until Wednesday nights each week. I felt that this was also a really good way to practice Spanish and I learned a great deal last semester.

I actually completed my minor last semester, but my friend told me he was taking this class and I thought it might be a good opportunity to apply my Spanish. To me, the ultimate goal is to be able to speak Spanish fluently in a regular conversation and help bridge the gaps between those that speak Spanish and those that don’t. This class is a great way to start that process. I hope to gain a better understanding of the Champaign community and its school systems as well as work with students in improving the math and reading skills. 


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