One of the best things about studying another language is you begin to appreciate the ease and simplicity of your first language.
I thought my first class of the semester was a Spanish diction class because it was called “Oral Communication.” As expected from every exchange student, I got lost and entered the class late.
Everyone was writing frantically in their notebooks and I felt like I was in an episode of Charlie Brown. Although, I could pick up a few phrases such as: do not be nervous, memorize, speak clearly, do not cry.
This is when I realized I was not in a Spanish phonetics class.
I have spoken in Spanish before — to other people who had no idea what I was saying. Giving a speech in front of 30 native Spanish-speaking college students does not compare to my past experiences.
Right then, you could have told me to teach a class in algebra and it would have been less intimidating.
This is not to say I am unable to speak Spanish, but I am still learning. So, if anyone starts crying or complaining about nerves in my speech class, I have no pity. None.
My next class was Puerto Rican literature. My professor talked as if she was there when Puerto Rico became a territory of the U.S. and it was the worst day of her life (she very well could have been there).
Her bent over stature, reading glasses that made her eyes look twice the size of her head and lines that made a constant frown whenever she mentioned “Los Estados Unidos” (The United States) made me want to say I was from England or Sweden when she called my name.
Apart from needing to tan and buy Rosetta Stone, my time in Puerto Rico has progressed pleasantly. Luckily, the exchange students at my university are supportive. Over the past two weeks, we have become close. We come from all over the world but have found solidarity in our exchange status.
I have come to appreciate the international students and exchange students from Wichita State. It takes a lot of courage to come to a new place with a new language, new people and go to school. Next time you see one, tell them they are amazing for me.