Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Firsthand language experience propels student toward future career

Audrey Trout

“I have taken many classes that have helped me in this experience, especially those helping me realize how to interact in different cultures and be aware of different cultural norms."

Audrey Trout became a better Spanish speaker because of a study abroad semester in Spain.

Trout, a senior from Huntington Ind., majoring in communication studies with a TESOL certificate, embarked on her journey overseas on Jan. 22 and returned prior to graduation on May 10. The senior studied in Seville, Spain, with the Semester in Spain program through Trinity Christian College near Chicago.

Her main responsibilities aid her as she continues to become a fluent Spanish speaker and more culturally aware of the Latin community, which include attending Spanish classes and participating in trips to different cities.

"While I am here, I am taking four Spanish classes," she said. "Each class lasts about four weeks with the basics grammatically and conversationally increases in difficulty throughout the course. We also have day long ‘field trips’ where we visit cities close by to learn about Spanish history and culture outside Seville."

Trout is thankful for this chance to improve her language skills, but this has also proven to be a valuable opportunity to experience a new culture. She has wanted to take part in an experience like this because she knew it would be a valuable learning opportunity and would open her eyes to a different way of life and give her a chance to interact with those of a different culture.

"My Spanish has improved immensely, but I now also understand how a different culture operates by being immersed in it," she said. "I've learned how to effectively communicate through language barriers as well as succeed in an environment that is completely different from the one I have grown up in."

On top of the valuable language experience and cultural lessons learned, it has helped confirm Trout’s desire to work with those of different cultures.

"This experience has showed me that I would really like to work with people who are from a culture different than mine, but possibly closer to home," she said. "This experience has also encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and try something different than what I am used to."

This opportunity has also put to the test the skills and concepts she has learned in the classroom at HU.

“I have taken many classes that have helped me in this experience, especially those helping me realize how to interact in different cultures and be aware of different cultural norms," she said. "Being a TESOL (Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages) minor, I now get to be on the other end of language learning and living in a place where everything is foreign and new. This past year, I learned that an aspect of culture is language, and I have enjoyed seeing what I have learned in the classroom play out in real life."

Trout has learned many valuable lessons through her time in Spain. The GoLearn program, through the Enterprise Resource Center, helped make this experience possible. She recommends that other students take advantage of their services.

"The ERC was an easy and helpful process to help me not only decide what program to choose as study abroad but they also helped prepare me for my time abroad."

For more information, visit her blog for news and photos at: http://bekindlivefree.blogspot.com/2013/01/week-one-part-one.html.