Shock and Awe

When I was younger, I would write. I would make absolutely no sense but it was fun to do. As I grew older I wrote things but never finished them. When I was in college I would write (papers for school, a small unsuccessful eating blog, newspaper, etc) but I went pretty unnoticed.

When McKendree asked me to write a blog I was thrilled. They asked me a year in advance since I knew my plans years ahead, and that whole year I was thinking of all the possibilities of writing a blog. It was the best way for my family to check on me and see how everything is going. The one thing I did not expect: other people reading my blog! I did not expect to receive “requests” to hurry up on writing another post, the feedback people leave me on the blog or Facebook, and I definitely did not expect one of the nicest emails from a McKendree graduate.

My sister Jessica is the writer. She always has been. Reading her stories made you escape into her world and forget everything around you. How could I ever compare? To know that people are enjoying what I write (either laughing with me or at me) is the best experience of this whole trip. I can’t tell all of you what it means that you’re reading this and sharing this dream trip with me.

In a way I would like to make my I-would-like-to-thank-the-academy speech now. In reality without my parents and sisters I would not be here. My sister Stephanie went to Germany in college and my sister Jessica went to Italy. They paved the way for me to make it to Spain. Without my parents I would be at home at this time…well I would be sleeping due to the time difference…having another summer in Trenton. My friends and family, thank you for never questioning me and just patting me on the head saying, “whatever makes you happy.” I would also like to thank my professor Dr. Capron and my high school teacher Mrs. Crow for keeping this dream alive and teaching me any of the Spanish that I claim to know. Last but not least, I would like to give thanks to my McKendree team! Without you guys I may have been here but not for academics! I want to thank Dr. Dennis and Dr. Bahr for letting me barge into their offices explaining that I want to go to Spain and someone would have to let me do it! (Don’t worry…I asked in a very nice…obviously persuasive way) đŸ˜‰ Lastly, to Sarah Klucker and Michael Embrich: I definitely would not be here without Sarah because she held my hand the whole way through. She also is responsible for partnering with ISA to give other students my opportunity around the world. Michael is responsible for setting this blog up, allowing me to share it with you!

With every speech, someone misses someone. If you’re reading this, then I thank you. In some small or very large way, you have helped me get here. I will be forever grateful.

Grab your Kleenex please and wipe up those tears that I made you cry with the most touching speech you will ever read…time for my true post about Spain!

I don’t have much to say right now because I haven’t done much this week. I’ve experienced the post office, but that will be for a whole other blog. I have to return today…dun dun dunnnnnn.

I would like to talk a bit about the mental battle that is occurring in my head. I find it truly fascinating because it was pretty unexpected. When I arrived to Spain I lost my luggage so I was instantly thrown in the ring of speaking Spanish (which by the way, Sarah, I found my luggage!) I’m not sure why I thought it would be easy, I could speak in the classroom, why not here? The first couple of days in Valencia were pretty mentally draining. I walked away from about 4 days in a row with a headache from focusing so hard on every word.

My brain started to fight Spanish. I felt myself getting lazy and not wanting to translate and to just want to speak English. At this point, the devil and angel popped up onto my shoulder. The devil would say, Screw Spanish, go for English! Then the angel would politely tap me onto the shoulder and say, ARE YOU CRAZY? You’re in Spain. Speak Spanish!

After days of living with these guys on my shoulders I finally just gave up. I ran to the beach and jumped into a volleyball game with 5 Spanish guys. (Who did not play well…) Only one of them spoke English and he had to really fight for his words. I explained to them that I didn’t like speaking Spanish because I felt like a caveman. They helped me understand that I was doing well and they felt weird trying to speak English. It clicked!

My mental battle was over. I was so used to being good at everything, or at least trying to. When talking made me vulnerable I didn’t want to do it anymore because I felt so stupid. Now I realize that the only way to do it is by making all of the mistakes in the world. I have to talk to anyone and everyone and I have to listen. The point of me coming to Spain was to improve and learn Spanish. Why did I think that when I stepped off the plane I would magically be 200% fluent?

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3 thoughts on “Shock and Awe

  1. Thanks for the touching speech, Caitlyn!
    Remember that ‘speaking’ is the hardest skill in a language. It requires that you think very fast and that you have a wide variety of language. This takes work. And you have to be patient, but it will come. In a few weeks, you will catch yourself in an effortless Spanish conversation. It will blow your mind! Keep up the good work and the good attitude, chica!

  2. So cool!!! You are an excellent writer Caitlyn, especially in a touching speech where you’re patting all of us on the back for the work you’ve done yourself!!!! đŸ™‚ Great job persevering with your Spanish. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to train yourself not only to speak in another language, but also to be comfortable with the learning curve associated. Especially when you can be accused of being a bit, teensy-weensy bit of a perfectionista! Hang in there. You do all Americans a great service by exercising your humility and pushing yourself to speak the language of the culture where you are living and learning! Kudos to you!!!!!! Hope Italy was amazing! can’t wait to see pics.

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