After taking Spanish 101 for the first time, Kelly Bjordahl knew that she had to make it to Spain.
“My language skills absolutely improved,” said Bjordahl, currently a junior. “I don’t think it’s possible to go with 102 skills and not improve.”
Last fall, she traveled to Seville, which is in the south of Spain.
In Spain, students don’t live on campus, so Bjordahl lived with a 75-year-old woman who was her home stay. The woman knew no English whatsoever.
“I learned how she lived,” said Bjordahl. “She did the cooking so it was good to get acquainted with the culture and lifestyle.”
While most of her friends were Americans also studying abroad, Bjordahl spent a lot of her time wandering the town of Seville, exploring and learning.
She said one of the best parts was finding where the locals went, as those were usually the best places.
One of the most shocking things she realized was that at one point, where she stood, no one around her spoke English.
“It’s then that you have the greatest urge to speak English,” Bjordahl laughed.
Other culture shocks included siesta, or nap in Spanish.
“The businesses close from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the afternoon,” said Bjordahl. “That was hard to get used to, if you want a late lunch or to go shopping in the afternoon it’s nearly impossible.”
She said their pace in life was much slower than here in America. In Spain there’s no rush to get anywhere, according to Bjordahl.
“Dinner was very late, like around 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. even,” she said. “The woman I lived with, at 75 years old, would stay up till 2 a.m. regularly.”
Bjordahl said that everyone she met was very friendly and welcoming to Americans, something which she wasn’t sure of before arriving.
The thing she misses most about Spain since she returned is listening to the Spanish language.
“It was very hard coming back,” said Bjordahl. “On the plane coming back I was listening to everyone speaking English and it was weird. I felt like I was eavesdropping because I could understand what everyone was saying.”
For Bjordahl, traveling to Spain was an experience she will hold with her forever.
“It was amazing. I learned a lot about the world and about myself,” she said. “Be sure what you want to do and then do it. I feel like the study abroad program at Pacific can be a challenge, but stick with it. It’ll be worth it.”