Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Planning and Counting

After almost 3 years of planning and preparation, my departure date is just around the corner!  When I first began the college selection process, I was one of the lucky few that already had decided on a major.  Knowing I wanted to major in Spanish Education, the topic of study abroad came up fairly quickly.  No sooner had I set foot on the beautiful Illinois Wesleyan University campus than I began researching study abroad programs.  At a university where almost 50% of the student body participates in some sort of study abroad, I had plenty of options to choose from.

Because I am a Hispanic Studies major, I am required by the university to spend one semester studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.  To narrow it down, I already knew I wanted to go to Spain.  After getting a taste of the Spanish culture during a short trip in high school, I just had to go back.  Eventually I happened upon the CIEE Teaching Development Program, and I knew it was the perfect program for me.

The program is located in Sevilla (that's SAY-VEE-UH for you non Spanish-speakers), the fourth-largest city in Spain and the capital of the AndalucĂ­a region.  As far as square-mileage goes, it is about the size of Detroit, with a population comparable to the city of San Francisco.  The CIEE study center is in the heart of the city in a beautiful palace that was built in 1725.  My homestay family lives about a mile outside the city center.

I'll wrap up this first post with an overview of my program.  The Teaching Development program consists of 3 core classes and a teaching practicum.  The core classes I will be taking include: Cultural History of Spain, Psychology of Learning a Second Language, and Professional Teaching Development.  The classroom teaching opportunity that goes along with this is a 12-week program.  During the first six weeks, I will be working as a teacher's aide in an English class.  The following six weeks will require me to teach my own small class of English as a Foreign Language.  Although I have already spent two semesters in classroom and tutoring environments as a part of my home university coursework, I am beyond excited for these new opportunities.  

Among my family and friends, I am famous for my countdowns.  Waiting for this trip has been the most agonizing countdown by far.  I can still remember first being accepted into the CIEE program and telling my mom, "6 months from now I'll be in Spain!"  Then when I got home for summer vacation it turned into, "4 months from now I'll be leaving for Sevilla!"  As I sit here writing this entry, I am thrilled to say--much to my mom's dismay, I'm sure--