Here at the SPI office, we’ve been getting some great posts from our Global Ambassadors on why they’re excited to study abroad this summer. We’re especially thrilled to publish this great post from one of our Global Ambassadors, Sara, who is no stranger to travel and cultural immersion.
Born and raised in Colorado, Sara’s past travels include Asia, Australia, and Europe, and have provided her with a mindset that knows no borders. She plays the Viola with the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra and is finishing up her Junior year of high school. This summer, Sara will be in Biarritz, France and is looking forward to sharing new experiences and making great memories as she is immersed in the French language & culture.
I’ve spent a lot of time out of the country, traveling with friends and family. And every time I’ve been amazed with what I’ve experienced. For the past three years, I’ve spent my summers abroad, in Korea, Australia, England, and France.
In all these countries, I was exposed to a completely new world and, in all these countries, I was able to enjoy an unparalleled understanding of cultures around the world and, I believe, ultimately leads to greater sophistication in their lives back home.
Spending time in a country that speaks a different language is one of the most important ways to gain knowledge of the world through some else’s shoes. It prompts one to experiment with different modes of communication and helps one indulge themselves into this unknown world. While I was in Korea, I must have looked ridiculous. I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know the customs of their society. I would frantically wave at something I saw on a shelf to show the shopkeeper what I was interested in, count on my fingers to indicate prices, and perform creative gestures to ask for either food or or the bathroom. This was a constant occurrence since I happen to be staying with a family who also did not share a language with me.
While one might find an experience like this to be inconvenient or taxing, I found it to be one of the most important experiences I could have had.
Instead of having short conversations, repeating phrases and hearing the same remark over and over again, I was able to interact with the people in this new culture and create a lasting impact on myself, and perhaps even the befuddled shopkeeper. However, communicating like this, through body language, also helped me learn little bits of the language. I was able to learn slang and more dialectic phrases, something learning in the classroom or from a book can’t offer. Constant immersion gave rise to constant learning.
Going to France this summer, I intend to use the skills I already have speaking in French to help me learn more personal aspects of their culture and community. I want to experience everything this foreign destination has to offer. I want to wake every morning knowing that the day will transform into an unforeseen adventure. Friends, destinations, languages, and knowledge transform a person to be a wise participant in the world.
On point, Sara! Thanks for the great post! We can’t wait for you to study abroad with us in Biarritz this summer. Pretty soon, you’ll be walking along the plage and strolling through jardins, perfecting your accent and meeting new people from around the world.