Today’s guest post is from Spanish major Emory Mathes ’21, who studied abroad in Spain during the summer of 2019 with Dr. Bender‘s faculty-led program, Spain Today: Madrid, Pamplona, Barcelona. Emory is a Spanish major, pursuing a dual-degree in Spanish & Communication Sciences and Disorders (Speech Pathology) in the College of Health and Human Sciences. She is also a Spanish Ambassador and a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Spanish Honors Society. Read all about Emory’s experience and coursework for the 6-credit “Spain Today” summer program below!
As part of Spanish 772, Emory created a 1-second-everyday video to document her trip. She recorded 2 different 1-second video clips during each of her 33 days in Spain, which means she can re-live her trip in about 60-seconds, anytime she wants. Read on to see the video and learn how it fit with her project and experience in Spain.
(The deadline to apply for the 2020 Spain Today Program is February 15.
Contact Dr. Bender with questions or for more information).
Why did you choose to do a faculty-led summer study abroad program?
I felt like a faculty-led summer program would be a good way to dip my toes into the study abroad experience without having to miss an entire semester at K-State. More importantly, this was my first extended trip abroad, so I was comforted by the fact that it was led and organized by an experienced (and really cool) Spanish professor (I had Dr. Bender for Spanish 550). I also liked the idea that I would get to spend time abroad with other students who go to K-State, most of whom I did not know before we left.
Why did you make the 1-second-everyday video and how did it fit with your Spanish 772 project? (see below)
This was not my first time using the app, during 2018 I filmed one second a day for nearly the whole year. Looking back, it’s a great way to document special memories and it was a challenge to myself to find goodness in each day, even the days where not much happened. In Spain, I wanted to film one second a day to be able to compare it to my life in the US. My project for Spanish 772 was a loose version of an ethnography that looked at some of the most prominent cultural differences in Spain based off of my experiences abroad. It’s a visual diary and a way to incorporate my love of photography and capturing moments in the day to day!
What was something that surprised you about studying abroad, or specifically living in Spain?
I was most surprised by the laid-back lifestyle in Spain. Most of the people I encountered were extremely adaptable and easy going, they did not seem in a rush and certainly did not act like their life was over if they missed the bus. I think this works in extreme opposition to the norm in the US where it seems as though most people (myself included) adhere to a rigid daily schedule that frowns upon relaxation and free time. This brings me to my next point. Spaniards value social/familial relationships and using their free time to cultivate their meaningful relationships. I experienced this first-hand during the phenomenon “sobremesa,” or the extended after-dining hours spent chatting and drinking with my host family, their friends, and extended family.
What were a few big things that you learned — related to Spanish language and culture, to your own (US) culture, or about yourself — during your 5 weeks in Spain?
During the 3 weeks we spent in Pamplona with our host families, I learned how to navigate the bus system like a pro and I even had my own personalized bus card! That said, I really learned to appreciate what a good public transportation system can do for a city. I wish it was more normalized to take public transport in the US for its economic and environmental significance. Spaniards also walk EVERYWHERE so I have tried to get used to walking more places, especially in a smaller place like Manhattan. More importantly, I learned the value of adaptability and maximizing free time to enjoy the things that are truly important to me. In my life at school, this means trying not to plan every moment of my day down the minute and using my free time to spend time with friends and exercise because those are things that help make me a healthier and happier version of myself.
What recommendations do you have for students interested in the Spain program, or another faculty-led summer program (like summer in Mexico)?
I recommend just going for it! Honestly, I had a lot of reservations about going abroad because of the time and money expense but I do not regret it at all. I would have regretted not going so much more. In addition to being extremely fun and informative, this trip is going to help me complete my dual-degree in 4 years instead of needing to stay in my undergraduate studies for an extended period of time. I also suspect that many people rule out studying abroad as part of their college experience because yes, it is expensive, but there are plenty of scholarship opportunities available. For me, the pros outweighed the cons and I think it is a least worth considering. I also do not think you need to be pursuing a degree in a foreign language to desire a trip abroad. I think it would fit into more programs than people believe!
As a Spanish Ambassador, Emory is happy to talk to K-State students about Spanish courses or studying abroad — get in touch with her via email (eamathes) or Instagram (@itsemory). She’s happy to give advice and insight on the Spanish major or study abroad experiences.