In Grade 9, I was fortunate enough to participate in a week exchange trip to Cartagena Spain from my international school in London. I had been taking Spanish over the years so it was a great learning opportunity to absorb Hispanic tradition as a part of my learning. When we arrived in Cartagena, I was introduced to my host family and it was a great way for us to exchange names and get to know each other more. Expect the biggest challenge was for me to convey my expression in Spanish which was a touch challenge I faced. It was a struggle at first, seeing that my conjugations and verb choices were quite off to what I intended to say, however I had managed to learn different expressions and verb uses from my host family so it was a experience for me to learn new vocabulary that was out of our classroom, thus I had been able to expand my knowledge across my potential. Attending classes in the mornings to learn Spanish, I had encountered the way that Spanish was taught in a authentic Spanish like environment instead of learning it in an IB school, and the main differences I encountered were the pace at which the teachers spoke. Simultaneously, it was a lesson for me to really understand the true, authentic ways that Spanish was being taught from a Spanish teacher. The word use and vocabulary was way beyond what I had learnt at school, hence it was very difficult to catch along. Yet, I was able to practice my speaking ability over and over again, to the point where I was able to comprehend vocabulary at a faster rate. My conjugation techniques were well enhanced, thanks to this Spanish teacher who had taught me different effective approaches to learn new vocabulary. Eventually, my sentence structure was more coherent and I was able to communicate it a more smoother tone. Day by day, I grew more confident to the point where I had realised that I had started to think in Spanish on a daily basis! it was incredible to see that just in a week time, so much could be accomplished and gradually flow through in my thinking system.
Apart from the language itself, I had been able to expand it with their Customs and traditions. Cartagena was renowned for it’s “Semana Santa” parades, a Holy Week in Spain, to be the annual tribute of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhood. Going out late at night, I was able to absorb the hispanic like lively atmospheres of recessions that carry the Christ across the city streets. Most importantly, I was able to learn the Spanish way of Christian tradition which enlightened my mind to see unique approaches in celebrating Christianity.
Overall, this one week experience in a Spanish environment broadened my mind by understanding the cultural values of Spanish that take place in both learning and social environments. Taking the language to other social aspects like religion really developed my thinking ability to not only learn about the language itself, but appreciate the traditions that lye behind it. Thus, it made me realise that languages has more to offer than to just learn the idiom for academic qualification purposes.