Mary Zakowski

Recipient Profile


Language: Spanish

Location of Study: Salamanca, Spain

Program of Study: Salamanca University’s Summer Spanish Program

Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures; College of Arts and Letters

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A brief personal bio:

In the style of the typical Notre Dame introduction: my name is Mary Zakowski, I’m a sophomore living in Breen-Phillips Hall, and I’m majoring in PLS with a supplementary major in Spanish and a minor in Business Economics. That’s just a rough outline, though. I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin with my mom, dad, older sister, and two younger brothers. On campus, I’m a member of Harmonia A Cappella, Club Tennis, and Mock Trial. I work as an usher at DPAC and as a student-athlete tutor. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano, singing, and reading.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

My SLA Grant will help me in the near and far future. The spring semester of my junior year, I will study abroad in Santiago, Chile. Spending over a month studying Spanish in Spain will help me prepare for taking more advanced courses at Pontificia Universidad Católica; it will also help me communicate with my host family, which will make the transition of living with them easier. Studying in a Spanish city renowned for its historical roots and its education will also expose me to a culture that contrasts with the modern and diverse city of Santiago, thus broadening my perceptions of Spanish-speaking cultures and lifestyles. Additionally, the differences between the Castilian Spanish of Salamanca and the Chilean Spanish of Santiago will help expand my Spanish comprehension and vocabulary. Upon return from my time abroad, I will fulfill the requirements necessary for receiving a supplementary major in Spanish. After my undergraduate studies, I plan on attending law school, where I intend to specialize in family law. In the US legal system there is an increasing need for Spanish speaking lawyers and judges, so the ability to speak Spanish fluently will allow me to work with and help out more families.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

After my studies in Spain, I intend to have much greater confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities. In my Spanish studies so far, there are certain grammatical structures that I feel very insecure using, such as reflexive verbs and the imperfect subjunctive tense. I hope to increase my confidence in using these tenses both by the amount of casual Spanish conversations in which I will participate, as well as the classes I will take through my program. I also feel the need to greatly improve my Spanish comprehension before I live in Chile for four months, so I hope to get better at that as well. Although I have tried to watch TV shows in Spanish, I can hardly understand anything if I don’t have on the Spanish subtitles. Thus, I really hope that after living in Spain for six weeks, I’ll be able to understand conversations with much more ease.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

1. By the end of the summer, my comprehension will be at a level in which I will be able to easily understand sentences spoken in Spanish that contain familiar vocabulary, and I will be able to use contextual clues to understand sentences with unfamiliar words.

2. By the end of the summer, I will be better at noun-verb agreement and use more indirect and direct object pronouns while conversing in Spanish.

3. By the end of the summer, I will be able to speak in a much more organic way rather than a rigid and clearly foreign one.

4. By the end of the summer, I will be able to translate Spanish texts of many different styles and registers into English.