Antigua, here I come!

¡Hola, mis amigos!

From June 3 to July 31, I will be living in Antigua, Guatemala, taking Spanish classes and traveling around the city and–with any luck–the country. My classes will be in groups and one-on-one, and I and other students in the program will be staying with a host family. I am looking forward to meeting many amazing people who are both studying the language and are native speakers! Besides Spanish classes, I hope to take cooking and salsa dancing classes, hike in the surrounding mountains, and explore the nooks and crannies of the small but beautiful city of Antigua. 

I am filled with excitement–and a bit of trepidation–as I look forward to my time in Antigua. I grew up listening to my parents’ stories of their times abroad, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I cannot prepare myself for the challenges that will inevitably occur as I immerse myself in a new culture. On top of being thrown into a new language, I will be exposed to different social standards, new foods, un-American flexibility in timeliness, and a distinct environment. All of these factors will challenge me to absorb the culture in ways that no classroom–no matter how much we read various essays and listen to Latino music–can provide.

Being immersed in a foreign language means more than picking up and using an entirely new vocabulary (though that is one massive benefit of an immersion experience). Every language carries cultural connotations that are inseparable from it, yet can only be recognized in their country of origin. As a small example, slang, the words and phrases that arise from the language’s respective culture, is something that I will only be able to pick up among native Spanish-speakers. No textbook can truly teach me the current slang, even though slang is just as much a part of the language as proper conjugations and definite articles are. Living in Guatemala will therefore expose me not just to the language but also to the culture that is associated with it. 

As I learn about the culture of Guatemala, I will be able to dive into its history, food, and the lifestyles of its inhabitants. I am thrilled to be living with a host family for an extended period of time in Antigua because my stay will give me a true sense of who the people are, not just a list of fun facts about the country. I am also excited to explore the region surrounding Antigua, which consists of mountains and (active!) volcanoes. A native of Colorado, I am no stranger to mountains and love to hike. These mountains, however, will undoubtably be very different from my familiar Rockies, so I cannot wait to have many adventures in them.

Of course, during these adventures, I will be using–and more importantly, misusing–my Spanish-speaking abilities. These mistakes will become opportunities for me to develop and absorb the language. Even if I decided to barely speak at all–which I assure you I will not do–I would still have to speak to address simple needs I might have, forcing me to expand my vocabulary and use difficult grammatical structures. Besides my own use of Spanish, I will be listening and responding to Spanish all around me. I will not initially understand everything and will even start out understanding very little, but as time goes on, I am sure that I will pick out words and phrases more intuitively. The beauty of immersion is that I will be learning and practicing Spanish constantly, whether I am in the classroom, at a restaurant, or with my host family and new friends. By the end of the summer, my Spanish will have improved exponentially!

These are the hopes and goals for my summer. Next time you hear from me, I will actually be living what I laid out in this post! I can’t wait to share all my stories with you as I embark on this great adventure in the beautiful country of Guatemala. (I promise there will be many pictures in my subsequent posts!)

¡Te veré en Antigua!


One thought on “Antigua, here I come!”

  1. I love how you’re embracing making mistakes as part of the learning process. Can’t wait to read your next post! Safe travels!

Comments are closed.