Spain is a place of multiple foreign languages and ancient culture, but for two senior Global Scholars and teacher education majors who studied in Madrid last summer, the eating schedule was the biggest adjustment.
“It literally seems like the people in Spain are just eating all the time,” said Jill Christensen.
“The culture took some adjusting to,” added Amanda Liaromatis. “The times of the day that they do things, especially eating, were very odd to me.”
The two seniors were part of this summer’s study abroad trip to Madrid. Both have taken Spanish courses for years, but never before had the opportunity to visit the language’s homeland. Along with the other students on the trip, they studied “Topics in Hispanic Culture” with Dr. Adolfo Cisneros.
The students mostly stayed in Madrid during the week, but took weekend trips to smaller cities and villages like Escorial, a town built around a royal monastery.
“Getting out of the city and into the countryside was nice,” said Liaromatis. “The landscapes and old architecture were very pretty.”
“We adventured a lot,” said Christensen. “We went to the museum, the beach and a flamenco dance show.”
Despite the difficulties of adventuring in a foreign country, the two felt up to the challenge. The orientation session before the trip and the guidance of Dr. Cisneros helped them prepare for the otherwise unexpected.
“We were well-prepared,” said Liaromatis. “It was structured, but there was enough freedom to do everything we wanted.”
The study abroad trip fulfilled one of the last requirements the two seniors had in the Global Scholars program. Global Scholars are required to go on at least one study abroad trip, take a foreign language and attend cultural events such as Oktoberfest by the Peoria riverfront or a speech given by CNN foreign affairs analyst Peter Bergen. Christensen and Liaromatis also gave a presentation on the trip to a group of professors in Campustown.
Both students feel the program and their involvement in foreign language have prepared them to be better teachers. Christensen hopes to become an English as a second language instructor, and Liaromatis wants to communicate with parents who may not speak English. Both also hope to one day return to Spain.
“I want to go back. I want to go to Barcelona and explore the rest of the country,” said Christensen.
“I would love to go back. I encourage other people to study abroad,” said Liaromatis. “It’s a great experience.”