Spanish teachers study abroad


Courtesy of Ms. Brodell

Ms. Christina Brodell, Spanish teacher, sits at a Moroccan tapas restaurant in Granada, Spain with a friend.  It is this moment when she knew she could speak Spanish.

“It’s such a rewarding, fulfilling moment,” Brodell said. Brodell studied in Valencia, Spain and lived in Huéscar for a semester during college.

Brodell’s dream had always been to speak Spanish fluently. However, Spanish was difficult for her, so her teacher suggested that she study abroad.

Mrs. Sally Belter, another Spanish teacher who studied abroad, went to Granada, Spain while pursuing her college degree. “I did it because I was a Spanish teaching major, and it was a requirement of my program. I was kind of nervous to study abroad because I’m a total home-body, but I’m so glad I decided to do it because it was just an amazing experience,” Belter said.

Belter experienced a similar Spanish moment. She was out to dinner with her dad and naturally took over the ordering and small talk with the waiter.

For both Belter and Brodell studying abroad was difficult at the beginning. Brodell stated there was no English at all, so a lot of gestures were used to communicate with people.

“There are a lot of things you don’t really understand until you’re in that situation. I remember having to negotiate my cell phone plan in Spanish and just standing there almost crying. I never thought I would have to know the words for roaming fees,” Belter said.

Sometimes Belter and Brodell would experience miss communication from other students studying abroad and these were learning experiences for them as well.

For example, a girl in Belter’s program dropped a plate the first night she was there and was embarrassed. The girl said, “Estoy embarazada,” which translated means “I’m pregnant.” For the next week, the family treated her like royalty until they finally figured it out.

Besides the language adjustment, there also was a cultural adjustment. “School is just kind of different there,” Belter said. There were times where Belter’s professors took them out for coffee for four hours and Belter actually learned more in these situations.

Brodell explained that studying abroad required her to be engaged all the time because you are constantly learning new things.

“I was so lost at first. I loved it, but I was so lost that classes gave me structure, and when I studied it meant something,” Brodell said. Studying abroad gave Brodell reason and motivation.

Both Belter and Brodell agree that their experiences abroad gave them friendships that will last them a lifetime.  “That just totally bonds you in this way that you don’t really get that anywhere else,” Belter said.

Through their experiences they gained greater appreciation for the language. “After I studied abroad, I think I was better, but I wasn’t confident, and I was better at recognizing certain things. I was better at listening and hearing things in context, but more than anything study abroad gave me the desire or passion to really want to continue this. That’s just where I fell in love with this language,” Brodell said.