Rethinking Stereotypes & Critical Thinking

4th of july SpainHappy 4th of July from Seville

 

 

To be totally honest we all have a certain judgments long before we actually get to know someone or something. To be confronted with the action of not knowing what you know can be a good and a bad thing. Having a person study in Europe and to live under the roof of another European that is from the U.S is going to be a task for that person. All in all sometimes is for the better good of truly understanding what its like to live in a world where its not actually where your from it the ability to actually use your instincts to control oneself. Like for myself I am so used to cleaning up after myself after eating a meal, sometimes I would see my host-brother leave a mess and dishes around. I never said anything because it wasn’t my house but when he confronted me about my dishes being left I was slightly upset about it. Don’t get me wrong I am an only child and yes spoiled I guess, but the view the lifestyle of another son that lived under his mother’s roof and is in college gets me to wonder how do they move on.

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I had many conversations with my host-mother about moving out and getting a place with my long time girlfriend. She really never understood why many American parents actually let there children do that, I told her it’s the sense of working for yourself because our parents are not going to be around forever and to really stabilize yourself with friends or your significant other can actually make your mind grow. They may never know why we do things or never understand why I left my dishes in the sink to be cleaned later that night but all in all the sense of keeping an open mind with all the major stereotypes we have to offer or say can never go untold. It is up to us on how we deal with such things being able to confront one anther in a healthy matter can go a long ways, it’s the same as if our host-brothers came to the U.S to study many things would change and that’s the only way I believe that someone can truly understand how something works, is to be able to experience it first hand and accept the fact that everyone is different no matter where you go. I met new people while in Spain and it was amazing how everyone had there own thoughts about living and going to school here in Spain.  Maybe its the fact I am not  in school but going to work, something different from my aspect but hey its all apart of who we really are.

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Everyday my family treated me with the upmost of respect and did many things for me, I would do the same for them if anyone of the family were to come and see us. We just have to give one another a chance to get to know how we work.

 

 

Thomas Cortes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross-Cultural Learning & Integration

After seven and a half weeks in a country where I never thought I would actually be is coming to an end I can proudly say that I am grateful for the things that I have done and who I have become internally. To be honest I don’t think for anyone it would be easy to get used to a new culture where its about 4,000 miles away from home. Its having the heart and faith to endure the long weeks ahead of a new adventure that matters within yourself. Is okay to be scared, I’m sure even being a tourist for about one week would be scary but in reality to me living here in Seville, Spain for these seven long weeks has made me out grow the nerves and actually adapt to my surroundings. It wasn’t something that I handled on my own it was with the love and support of my parents that I actually only got to talk to once every two days because of my pre-paid phone, that I had to pay on a daily bases. Another person was actually my cane to my adventure, Ms. Sierra Even my girlfriend. We had our ups and downs about how long we had left and that we missed home but the fact of the matter was all we needed was each other and that’s what made the difference in understanding what battling a new country was all about.

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As we all know when we work in the U.S many of us get paid every two weeks where as in Spain the people do not get checks until the end of the month. To me that was a little weird because I love money and when I work long hard hours I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the cash. No matter what everything that you see now from your own eyes is something that needs to be seen by your actually eyes, explaining the pros and cons can be deceiving and my opinions about the trip wouldn’t matter until you have experienced the daily life in another country such as Spain. I don’t mean my last comment in a bad way just the fact being able to tell a story that needs to be experienced isn’t my criteria.

DSC00153Sierra and I at the center of the Plaza de España

First of all need a car in Seville? Don’t worry you can walk or rent a bike, honestly things aren’t as far as you think. Living in a city like Seville has opened my eyes to things like not depending on a car to get to my destinations. It was healthy on my body and I actually got to see great scenery. The only problem with using the bikes was that many of the people living there owned a card to rent and sometimes you were stranded without a bike. Overall I was blessed with the capabilities of actually understanding how a different culture worked and now can bring it back home to use it when I would like to.

I was lucky never to have bills, only the need to put euros on my cell phone because it was running out of minutes but other then that the cross-cultural learning was something that I’ll never forget.

 

Thank you for listening….. Thomas Cortes

DSC00092DSC00192DSC00115Trains only ran through the city.

Blog #8- How This Experience Has Changed ME!

Here is the last hurrah!

After living in a completely different culture, in a new country for 2 months, and coming back to the United States took a toll on my body and mind. Adjusting back into my life here is eye opening. Being abroad has made me grow as a person, friend, and cook.

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Cordoba

Before studying abroad, I felt self-assured in life even though I was still in my junior year of college, I felt confident in who I was and of how I acted, and I felt like a very independent woman, and mature. After being abroad I questioned all of those things, not in a bad way, but how being in Spain changed all of those things and put them in a different aspect. Being independent in college is one thing, your family is a phone call away and a few tanks of gas away as well, but in a different country, miles and miles away, it changes things.

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My independence grew immensely, making me strive for new limits and even pushing me past the breaking point, not being able to call on my cell phone but adjusting to a Skype call every now and then with my family. I don’t want to say I questioned myself, but I questioned my motives, my values, and just questioned what I want in life. I can tell you now I don’t have many answers, but I do know that I’m getting closer to where I would like to be, and each day is another step towards an attainable goal. Through this experience, I appreciate everything more in my life, the house I rent, having a yard, having nice neighbors, having good friends, and having the most amazing family in the world. My attitude towards life became more positive and brighter, through a different perspective.

Returning to the U.S. not only made me adjust back to my life here, but also adjust to my family’s life. They moved from Minnesota to El Paso, Texas, big move for them, and for everyone else around them. Knowing I didn’t get to see them all summer and coming back and there gone is something I am still adjusting to. Leaving for 2 months seems like not a long time, but the people and things we leave behind don’t stay the same either, they change. What is life without change? That is the thing that remains constant, change. For me, I find the positive in those things and I’m thankful for the life lessons I learned while I was in Spain.

Being in Spain I had to learn and figure out my way around Seville, adjust to the culture manners, and adjust to speaking the language everywhere I went. Returning to the U.S. caused me to see the many differences that our country and Spain have.

I was really never aware of the world outside of the U.S. and this experience has led me to wanting to know more. The knowledge I have gained and awesome memories I have from being abroad are priceless. It’s truly unforgettable. The best is to travel while your still trying to figure out who you are, what is out there, or where you want to go in life. The best time to travel is in college, where your able to just pack your bags and go somewhere without the worries of a professional career at the time. This chance of a lifetime was so worth it. I’m truly blessed to have had such a wonderful opportunity with the help of my parents. My parents, my professor, and my boyfriend fully supported my decision in going abroad and provided great encouragement, and for that, I’m thankful.

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Study abroad, you won’t regret it one bit. You too will be able to experience things that are indescribable and that will keep you speechless and craving adventure.

-Sierra Even

 

Blog #7- Putting My Experience Abroad Into My Career

Hello!

Studying abroad has affected my life in many different ways. It has been the trip of a lifetime. This experience has not only helped with my Spanish speaking and is getting me closer to completing my Spanish major, but it will help me in my career field. I plan on attending law school after graduating this spring from VCSU, and it will definitely be an advantage since I will be a bilingual lawyer. Studying abroad has not only opened my eyes to a different culture, but to also see my country in a different light. Seeing things in Spain has made me want to help people even more. It has affected me personally, creating and seeing new things for the first time, and appreciating the things, people, and opportunities in my life. You will never be able to understand the amazing things that studying abroad does for you, until you travel to a different country.

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Plus I also got a chance to experience another country for a short period of time, Portugal.

Even after that opportunity, I got to experience the country of Belgium, even if it was only for a day.

It feels great to be back in United States.

-Sierra Even

Blog #6- Stereotypes & Critical Thinking

Well hello there!

This week is the last week of class here in Seville.  I have made many friends while being here and met a lot of people. The time has flown by, it went too fast.

cali in Spainmy girls in SPAIN

My school

My school

A couple students and one of my professors.

A couple students and one of my professors.

Being in Spain made me realize all of the stereotypes that we, Americans, not only have about them, but the stereotypes they have about Americans. Most everyone I talked to, had very imaginary stereotypes about Americans, they compare us to the ones they see in the movies. They view us as always in with the party life, since most students that study abroad go out every weekend and party in the country they are visiting. Their views about Americans really shocked me. Some of the stories they have told me about occurrences with Americans were shocking as well. In my opinion, there view is solely based on the students that study abroad and the movies they seen, mixed with the occurrences they’ve may have had with Americans.

Being in Spain, I thought the people were going to be very modern since it is in Europe. Spain is more historic based, which was one of the amazing things I loved about it. The culture is different, meaning the manners and values are different of that in America. Saying excuse me, or pardon me, is not a custom like it is in America. On the street if someone runs into you, they don’t care, they keep walking, whether or not they took your shoulder with them. When I bought food at a supermarket and came home, my host brother asked if he could have one of the apples I bought, I said sure since I bought 4. The next morning there was only one left. I wasn’t mad, just was in shock of how different our cultures were. I know other students studying abroad have similar things happen to them. Thinking past these things is what I learned to do, everyone is raised differently and everyone has their own story that we may not know about. I enjoyed my family and how accepting they were, I hope I changed any stereotypes they had about Americans. I also got to cook a little American food for my family and Thomas’s family.

Dinner with my host mother & Thomas

dinner with my mother

Being able to experience the different stereotypes and learn from them is a huge plus on this trip. Trust me, there are similarities between the cultures and that is what I loved the most, being a completely different country, far apart, but still having something in common.

When you go to a different country, you too will be able to observe the stereotypes through people’s stories and of course your own experiences.

Write again soon,

-Sierra Even

Blog #5- Compare & Adapt to the Culture

Hello again!

This week is a bitter one, since we are missing the 4th of July celebration and our families in America. We still managed to celebrate it in our own ways. Finding an ”American” store was the perfect touch.

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4th of July in Seville, Spain

Studying abroad is a great experience and it really opens up a person’s eyes. There are many differences that I have learned, observed, and adapted to. That being living here and buying the food is actually fairly cheap compared to in the U.S., but that isn’t considering the conversion between euros and U.S. dollars. Another big thing was having a European cell phone, similar to a track phone; I had to recharge it with so many credits. I would always put 5 euros on it and I would get 4.17 credited euros since they get commission for recharging my phone. Those 4 credits would go by fast, a few minutes talking, a couple texts. Paying for that phone was more expensive than any other phone company in the U.S. monthly.

I lived with a family, so through the program that I went through, I paid the a certain amount to live their. It was different because you have to ask what day they wash clothes, what food you can and can’t have, and other little things. I got lucky with the family I had because they were very nice. They said anything in the fridge I could eat and help myself to, since that is what I was paying for as well, but its nice to be told that so you know you’re not crossing any boundaries.

Everything was easy to adapt to once I arrived in Seville, but I just wish someone would have explained Seville’s lifestyle and informed me about it, this way I was prepared to take on everything. I know that is part of the experience, but knowing what my transportation was going to be like or how much I would have to spend on my phone. I guess the program was a little misguiding, but I didn’t expect it to be perfect. The culture is very laid back I would say.

It was very easy to commute on train, when I wanted to go to the beach, which was about an hour and a half away. It was nice to be able to take the train and visit new towns and experience different cultures for about 25 to 35 euros.

This experience has really allowed me to grow not only as a spanish speaking student but as   a whole, independently, and as a young woman. It has taught me to be thankful for what I have and reminded me of how blessed I am here in America.

Until next time,

-Sierra Even

Blog #4- Making the experience fun & unforgettable is in the traveler’s hands

Hello! Hola!

After being here for 6 weeks, the time has flown by faster than I imagined. You won’t understand how exciting this trip has been, until you travel abroad to a different country. It is a experience that no one can take away from you. You get to choose how you want your experience to be. 4 days ago I found out that all of the memory on my new 32gb memory card was taken up by tons of photos of this breathtaking experience.

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Alejandra’s mother cooked us food

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A wonderful family

One of my main expectations I set for myself was about my Spanish fluency and how I wanted to work towards the top level of my speaking. Well coming to Spain has helped boost me closer and closer to that level, I’m even close to where I want to be, but without taking everyday as a learning experience here in Spain, this goal would be next to impossible to reach. In order to reach this goal, successfully, I have to keep practicing, everyday. You know you are in a completely different country, talking a different language, when you go to speak your original language and mix up the two different languages.

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One of the many classrooms in my school- The Giralda Center

Another expectation was explore Seville as much as possible, well that is a goal definitely met. I have seen things that no other city in the United States would have to offer. I have not only explore the city of Seville, but other cities as well. Cadiz, Arcos de la Frontera, Bornos, and this coming week I will explore Malaga and Cordoba. Plus, two weeks from now, we will explore Brussels, Belgium on our way back home to the United States. Being on this trip and going through the motions is not acceptable for anyone studying abroad in a country here in the world, but actually making the experience fun and unforgettable is in the traveler’s hands. The experience is what the traveler makes of their trip.

As a way to increase my vocabulary, is just stepping outside in Spain, talking to a salesman in a store, ordering a coffee or ordering food, asking a question at the gym, speaking up in class, all of these thing have played a significant roll in expanding my vocabulary. I’ve pushed myself by practicing by using flashcards, even the smallest things go along way.

Well after all of the expectations I had set for myself, the one theme I wanted to stick with was always stay positive. For many people this theme is hard to get a grasp on, for me especially. Traveling abroad is way out of my comfort zone, I mean many people would feel that way since it is a different country, but I’m comfortable with where I’m at in the United States, around family and friends; you could pretty much call me a ‘home body’. I never thought in a million years that I’d be studying abroad in Spain. Trust me, I’ve hit plenty bumps in the road since being here, but one thing to keep in mind was to always have positivity, but this couldn’t even be possible without my best friend Thomas Cortes, he truly helped me see a different side to Spain, and help open my eyes to this great experience. I had my days though, missed my family, second guessed myself, but then Thomas would help me stay positive and without him on this trip, I don’t know where I’d be exactly. I’ve appreciated the diversity in Spain and the lifestyle, along with the different customs and it has made me appreciate my life in the United States, even the smallest things, and no I’m not talking about my cell phone.

Another thing that was a plus on this trip was the amazing people I met at my school. I made many friends in my classes at my school. I made memories that will last forever. This experience has been one of the best yet that I’ve ever had. Being on this trip, I’ve conquered the unexpected thus far, and keep on having awesome experiences. This week is my last week of classes, I went from 4 weeks in class A2 and moved up to class B1. I’ve learned so much in the past month at my school and for that I’m thankful. But my learning will not stop here in Spain, there will be much more.

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My friend from Iceland

I hope you consider traveling to a different country or at least hopefully it’s a thought! :)

Write again soon,

-Sierra Even

Its worth every penny!

Hello again VCSU T.A followers

 

Its been a while since I’ve written a blog, however it’s because I have been totally busy with my internships and excursions. (no biggie, small vacation delay). As I look back on my goals that I had set for myself at the beginning of May I can honestly say that I have grown strong in my Spanish. Being pushed in school is a different story then when you are in a Spanish speaking country, not being able to look toward your Professor for help but in away that I was able to push the buttons in my own brain to speak the language I was born into. My host family has told me that if you are able to understand and speak Spanish here in Seville, you can do it all. The slang is the most difficult part of the Spanish here in Spain, using there own terms to talk to one another, for example- Please = Por fa, not Por favor. I have made amazing friends here and its crazy to think to that we can have friends from total different worlds. My co-workers have been amazing to me at the all boys private school, and I shall stay connected with them through e-mail and Facebook.

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I knew going into my internships it wasn’t going to be easy. Everything in Spanish isn’t something that I’m used to back in Valley City. To be totally honest I am beyond proud of myself that I have completed both my internship in Spanish because it gives me the opportunity to cultivate myself with other students in school back in Valley City. Nobody knows if they are going to like something they plan to do in the future, and being that I would like to be a school guidance counselor someday it has made me keep in open mind to the world we live in.

From May 27th till July 8th as I write this current blog, it has been a wild ride with my host family, and when I say wild I say its as a great thing. Being invited for lunch the first day here was the most nerve racking thing for me, because I didn’t know what to say. As the days went by all I could do was talk to them to practice my Spanish as well as to get to know them much more. It also has had a an impact on my Spanish because they have taught me what is right and what is wrong with my Spanish.

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No matter what my time here in Spain will always have a spot in my heart. This trip has powered me to use something that was trapped for many years, my ability to speak Spanish fluently. I am thankful for all that have helped me through this journey and I cant wait to get back to the states to fulfill my destiny with the knowledge I have gained.

Till next week VCSU T.A followers.

DSC00265US BEING…US

 

Thomas M. Cortes

Un Mes en Espana

Hello yet again to all VCSU T.A followers

Living in Seville, Spain for about a month now I have experienced much more then I expected. Nothing wrong with learning ten times more then what you set your goal to be, keeping an open mind was my plus. We all know the culture from the U.S and the culture from Spain itself is totally different and you can’t compare it to where we live. It’s a great experience being able to explore places that you haven’t even seen yet. The first day when we arrived we were issued a “sevici” card. This is only authorized in the city of Seville and it allows you to rent a bike for free, well I mean the first thirty minutes and after that you are charged. A lesson we learned the first time we used them. The ability to use a bike to get around is amazing because paying for a taxi everyday to go home or go to a park to relax isn’t something I can afford these days even when the euro is worth much more then the dollar. All in all the transportation do have their similarities; such as a bus that takes you around the city of Seville, also they have taxis. Nothing else that I have seen have the same criteria’s as the U.S. Communication isn’t what you think it is, yes I understand that the U.S is very diverse in different cultures but here in Spain it’s the same way. The Spanish here when spoken is much more difficult when it comes to understanding a person just because the fast pace they use and also only in Seville do they cut words in have to create a language of their own. Believe I’m pure Mexican and even I had a hard time understanding the first two weeks. Dining out was also something that I wanted to experience here because it reminded me of the movies that we watch when people are in Europe, speaking another language to order food, drinking wine and so forth. Now that was something that caught my eye and I am truly going to miss dining out.

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Every morning, every afternoon and every night that I am in the city of Seville I notice that everyone is well dressed and never looking like they didn’t have time to wash clothes. To me I see this as a well-contained group of people that love to represent themselves well. For example many men have on suits or even collared shirts on. As for the woman it goes the same for them when heading to work they are well dressed. No matter what everything here is different, just imagine the bank being open for only four hours of the day, yes it was a struggle as well to retrieve money here not knowing that the bank was only opened for a certain amount of time. Monday through Friday all places of work are closed at exactly two-thirty till five-thirty just for lunch and relaxation time. As you can see its pretty laid back here in Spain when it comes to work, in the U.S however that wouldn’t sly with your boss always watching your every move. To experience that was awesome to be honest. The food differences here are an amazement and can only be explained by the experience of yourself. Its not like ordering eggs, bacon and toast for breakfast its actually only eating the toast. After that not eating till around 11:30am for a snack, afterwards not eating lunch till 2:30, to me that was not acceptable because I love to eat and needed to figure something out. The biggest and craziest thing that I learned so far about eating in Spain was that “dinner” isn’t served till around 10:30pm. Now that’s something I’m sure you’re thinking right now, how in the world is that even possible.

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As for my job at the boy’s private school, I was grateful to have met many caring professors and students. The three weeks that I had at the school had made me into a different person, not for the worst but for the better. The experience was something that I will cherish forever. Being able to work with the school counselor and work everything in Spanish was a job well executed. To me that was awesome to be able to do things that school counselors do for the kids, but all in Spanish. I will truly miss my four favorite students as well and my co-workers.
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Until next week!!!

Thomas Cortes

Blog #3 – Different Culture

It’s been awhile since my last blog. This week makes it a whole month since I left the United States. After being here that long, I now know how the culture functions here in Seville and what the aspects are here compared to the ones in the U.S.

The transportation is pretty much the same, buses, taxis, cars, except for a lot of people travel on bicycles, which I’m not used to seeing. That’s how I get around Seville, is on a bicycle, through the program/company called Sevici. You are able to rent a bike at a bike station and the first 30 minutes is free and then you park the bike at the nearest bike station (there are a 100 bike stations for Sevici in Seville) and you wait 2 minutes to check out another bike. It is very convenient, fast, and easy to do. One of the differences that has to do with transportation is the small streets. The streets in neighborhoods are so extremely small that only one smart car could fit down it. This is not normal in the U.S., our streets are very much drivable and suited for normal sized cars.

The type of food in Seville is very different from the food in the U.S. Also here they each lunch at 2-3pm and eat dinner at 9:30-11pm. In the U.S. the timing is different for the meals too.

My instructor for my class is similar to the ones in the U.S. by some of the techniques she uses. There are differences though as well, I feel as if the class isn’t always into the topic she is talking about. I don’t feel as confident answering questions just because if I do get an answer wrong, I feel like when she corrects me, she isn’t doing it in a very polite way, but she seems like a nice lady.

My family is very wonderful and they have taught me a lot of things. The mother is outstanding, she helps me learn spanish by correcting me and teaching me the proper way to say things. She understands me even if I do mess up when I’m trying to speak to her. She is very welcoming and caring and I’m so blessed to have found such a wonderful family, even though I had to go through another family first, to find this one. The son knows a little English, so just as much as I want to learn spanish, he wants to learn english, so it helps to teach each other the languages. He is very genuine as well.

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My host mother & host brother

Here in Seville, the most common sport is Futbol meaning Soccer. Since I have to workout while I’m here, it is very difficult to practice basketball, since it is hard to find a basketball court outside. The basketball courts they have here belong to clubs, which cost a lot of money. In the U.S. we have many outdoor basketball courts, so it was very difficult adjusting to that here in Seville.

In Seville, I’ve observed many experiences that had to do with people being late. Our director was late a few times and it just made me think that here Seville they don’t care if they are running late or tell someone to meet them at a certain time. At my spanish school, many students show up an hour late or only come for the 2nd half of class, which shows they don’t care to be on time. I know in the U.S. people aren’t always on time but for the most part time does matter in the U.S., its a country where people run around like chickens with their heads cut off, making sure they make it to a specific meeting or to a specific class, time is valued more in U.S. then it is here in Seville.

Well that is enough comparing and contrasting the cultures. Have a great week.

I will write again soon.

-Sierra