#4 Investing in your Experience
“Experience is a personal creation.” Five words that so accurately sum up
the study abroad experience!
Think back to the goals you set for yourself for the abroad experience.
Perhaps you were focused on language acquisition, creating international
friendships, succeeding in a dynamic internship, or developing a wonderful
relationship with your host family.
Perhaps you’ve abandoned one or more of these goals, and set some new
goals for yourself. Either way, are you achieving these goals? If you are,
great! It probably means that you are making a concerted effort to
actively engage in the learning experience in and outside of the
classroom. It also probably means that you are taking some appropriate
risks – using your language skills outside of the classroom and so on. Can
you describe your strategies for accomplishing your goals — the risks you
are taking, and the benefits of being successful?
Then let us know how your “Investing in My Experience” game goes!
Many of you may remember me saying, “Oh yeah, 4 months, I think I’ll be fluent by the end of it”. I now know, that is just not going to happen.
My French has greatly improved – I can read easily, understand conversations and some movies pretty well (depending on how fast they speak), but when I need to speak there is still a lot lacking and I usually need a moment or two to think. It doesn’t yet come naturally.
My new strategy is to continue my studies this summer when I return home. Like last summer I am going to try to study French an hour a day, as well as speak only French to my grandmother. Having a fluent family member a mile away will be a great aid!
In addition I am hoping to fit French into my schedule at school next fall and subscribe to netflix so I can rent French movies. I am slowly, but surely reaching my goal of fluency, but it is a very long way off and I will not reach it by the end of April.
As far as risks go, I would say the biggest one I’ve taken was choosing to live with a family who didn’t speak English. I’m very glad I decided to do this though; it has been a great experience! My host mom is such a kind and generous person- I am so thankful to have been put here. The only complaints I have are living far from downtown and that we don’t laundry near as often as I need it. Those are both minor problems though and I have benefited a lot from talking with her, watching a tiny bit of TV (not as much as I should) and hearing her converse with her daughter. There have been some dinners where we definitely run out of conversation topics, but we have also had some very good conversations and even when I can’t fully express myself in words she seems to understand. Patricia (host mom) often cooks French meals for me, keeps me informed on current events in Pau and offers to help me with homework. I really got lucky here and though I doubt we’ll keep in touch (I am her 6th student), I know I will miss her when I return to the states.
I think I’ve taken a lot of risks aside from this during my stay in Europe. It has been an adventure and I cannot believe I have only a month and a half left! The countdown is beginning… =(