Assistant Professor Luis Arevalo recently received an amazing letter from Spanish graduate, Chloe Lichtenberg, who is currently working in Spain as a rural teacher. Her letter emphasizes how much the Spanish Program at DSU benefited her, and how her two study-abroad experiences prepared her for life after college in another country. Read her full letter below, along with attached photos.
Subject: Greetings from Spain!
How is the new school year coming along for you? Happy October! It is my favorite month for several reasons: school is in full swing, it is hispanic heritage month, fall is beginning, and it’s my birth month! I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.
My friend Cameron said he met you the other day, I’m so glad, because I have certainly told him all about you as well as the Spanish department. As I settle into daily life here in Logroño, La Rioja, I recognize more and more just how much the Spanish Program at DSU benefits me. When I eavesdrop on the bus rides, it’s as if I can visualize the phonetic transcription of people’s accents, they are so beautiful! Even more so, listening to (and understanding!) the content of their conversations is extremely satisfying, as it is a peek into the various cultures of Spain. I am constantly reminded in my daily interactions of the ‘cultural competency’ we discussed in SPAN 4560. I still have a lot to improve in order to feel competent switching between cultures, but I am at least recognizing the differences and slowly assimilating.
As to how my daily life truly is, I began working two weeks ago. I work in a Colegio Rural Agrupado (CRA), which is a rural area of four towns with four schools. Each school is tiny, with the biggest one having fifteen students total. I work three days a week in their English classes and spend the other days of the week exploring the city, doing housework, reading or doing art, and traveling. So far I have been able to visit parts of La Rioja, local bodegas de vino, Asturias, and San Sebastian. I hope to make it to France and Southern Spain soon.
Working in the small schools gives me an opportunity to observe culture in a way I never have. Considering the strong influence schooling has on a person (and society as a whole), I have gained insight to the Spanish customs as well as been forced to reflect on how my schooling affected me as a child. Just by being themselves, the children reveal so much. I love it!
I also want to emphasize just how much my DSU study-abroad experiences prepared me for life after college, especially life in another country. It is very possible for the everyday traveller to see things from a touristic perspective–but what a limited one that is! While studying abroad I was able to experience culture through the eyes of an expert, who provided opportunities and challenges I wouldn’t have otherwise known how to seek on my own (I’m referring to Guatemala with you!) While studying in Oviedo, Asturias I experienced Spain through the eyes of a native family. I was fortunate to have a talkative host mother who explained everything to me day in and day out. These perspectives are nearly impossible to replicate in solo travel, especially without having experienced them before! While I’m missing having a cultural expert/professor and a host family by my side, I’m learning to create and satisfy my own curiosities. With that being said, if any students are hesitant to participate in study abroad, feel free to give out my email address and I can answer their questions.
I miss you all at DSU! Let Leo and Lucia know I am thinking of them. I attached some photos here of the past few weeks, I hope you enjoy!