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Reflecting on two months in Spain

by Katherine Sehgal

After living in Spain with a host family for 2 months in the summer of 2022, I learned a lot that helped broaden my perspective on the world. Before studying abroad with KIIS, I had never been out of the country. Now, I was about to take a leap of faith and go to a country with a different native language and a different culture. I went to Spain with my friend Claire, who I met in college almost two years prior to the trip. We were both so excited to experience a new culture because we had both never left the United States. Claire and I are majoring in Spanish and hope to be bilingual. Studying abroad was the perfect experience because we expanded our language learning skills, learned about a new culture, and adapted to a new lifestyle.

A lock found near the aqueduct in Segovia, Spain.

Studying abroad with KIIS helped us improve our Spanish in many ways. By staying with a host family, we were able to learn a lot about the nuances of the Spanish language in Spain compared to what we had learned in our classes. Additionally, we traveled outside of our homestay city (Segovia) and had to use our Spanish with many different citizens in Spain. By taking classes, I also improved my Spanish because some of my classes, like my Advanced Oral Spanish class, were very applicable to my experience outside of the classroom. While I think you need to be immersed in the language for more than two months to become fully bilingual, I know I am going back to class this fall with a broader understanding of the language and more confidence in myself!

Reminiscing on one of my last nights in Segovia!

I also learned about a new culture while studying abroad. Spain’s culture is very different than in the United States. One of my biggest takeaways was how much slower the life felt in Spain. There is more time spent in the day to rest and socialize. While the U.S. is fueled by work and drive, Spain’s schedule reflected the importance of refueling. Claire and I went to class from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. After class we had time to do some homework or relax. Then, we ate lunch at around 2:30-3. After that, there is time for a siesta or we would go to the pool. There is a lot of freedom with what you do during the siesta. Dinner was not until 10:30 for us, and it was usually something lighter before bed. Many people would go out to the restaurants to get drinks and socialize at around 8 or 9. Another cultural difference was greeting people. In the United States, people usually keep their distance unless they know someone, but in Spain when you meet someone you are greeted with a kiss on each cheek. Learning all the cultural differences broadened my view of the world and the people around me!

Walking back from the market in Segovia that took place every Thursday!

While studying abroad, we had to adapt to a new lifestyle. Like mentioned above, our schedule was very different than in the United States. Adapting to a different time zone (we were six hours ahead!) and a different way of life was difficult at first, but I ended up finding a new love for this schedule and plan to adapt my life in the U.S. to mimic some of the changes I made in Spain. For one, the food in Spain is less processed and healthier than in the U.S. I plan to try and use healthier options to fuel my body like I did in Spain. I also ended up really enjoying the times for eating and plan to eat something later in the night and lighter for dinner. Speaking a different language was difficult while abroad but I hope to keep improving my skills and practicing while in the United States, so that when I go back and visit Segovia again, I’m prepared to adjust right away. I made so many relationships and learned so much while studying abroad; it is an experience I will never take for granted!


Katherine Sehgal

KIIS Spain I and II 2022
Telecommunications, Political Science, and Spanish
Ball State University

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