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Mi Invierno

Posted: August 9, 2013

Frank attends intensive Spanish language class this summer and talks about ways he plans to use his language skills.
Frank hard at work on his Spanish homework

Frank hard at work on his Spanish homework

Summer just got caliente. Over the past two and a half weeks, to fulfill my foreign language requirements for my concurrent English major, I was taking the intensive Spanish 003 course. I had taken four years of the language in high school, and not having practiced it over the three years since then; I was terrified to find out how I’d do when just thrown into this class. I thought, “I’m definitely getting an F. There’s no way I’ll remember this. There’s no way I’ll remember this.”

To my surprise, and relief, I remembered it. Maybe being immersed in it for four hours a day forced my brain to bring it back. Within the first three days of class, I felt pretty much caught up with the students who had been laboring through Spanish 001 and 002 over the prior month. Then, a new fear developed: “How am I going to do this for four hours a day, with homework every night, over the next two weeks?” The time couldn’t have gone by faster, and the homework was very manageable. I had fun in the class. Our teachers, Lauren and Chris, were wells of knowledge of the language and Hispanic culture in general, and my classmates, the summer mindset clearly in effect, were fun, laid back, and more than willing to participate. I was amazed that something as repetitive as learning a language could feel so dynamic.

Now I’m wondering how I can be dynamic with my use of this education. While I don’t think this class was a waste, as I now have a better grasp on a language so prevalent in our culture, I would hate for it to be irrelevant to my ERM and English majors. So how can I make the most of what I’ve been given?

While I’m here at Penn State, I have a few options, and I think they could be rewarding for any budding Ag Sci student with an interest in a more global approach to his or her education. One route I could take is the Spanish for the Agricultural Sciences program. I’d take two courses to improve my Spanish, especially pertaining to agricultural vocabulary, and then I’d take a Costa Rican immersion experience, where I’d spend a month at the end of the spring semester living with a native family and learning about their culture and the agricultural sciences in that Spanish-speaking country. The other, perhaps most readily available option for me is the ERM course that involves a spring break learning experience in good old Costa Rica, which my friend Emily experienced, and immensely enjoyed, last semester. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that one.

I’m just not surprised that I could count on Ag Sci to have great opportunities to expand my education and communication in such a way. And who knows? There’s a large Spanish-speaking population in my hometown of West Chester. I may just need a grasp of the language if and when I’m working there. But whatever happens during my last school year and into the coming years, I’m now un poco más preparado. ¡Hasta luego, amigos!

--Frank