Meet Anna Potter from the University of Montana! During the Summer of 2019, Anna participated in the Linguistic Horizons Intern & Study Abroad in Spain program. She participated in both five week sessions. During the first half of the program, she studied Spanish and during the second half, she interned at a local non-profit organization. Here, Anna tells us about her experience abroad in this blog post as well as in this video interview!
Tell us about you!
“I am a student from Montana whose first abroad experience was to A Coruña, Spain. Now I miss the beach and all of extremely kind people of Spain as I finish my degree.”
Which degree are you pursuing?
“BA in English Education and Spanish Minor.”
What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?
“My favorite memory was experiencing the San Juan Festival in Summer 2019. Watching the sun go down on the beach, surrounded by a myriad of extremely welcoming Spaniards and fellow students was an experience that I will never forget. “
What advice would you give future Linguistic Horizons students?
“I would assure future Linguistic Horizons students that all of the work that you are doing now to prepare for your study abroad experience will be worth it and so much more. “
How did your experience abroad impact your life?
“I gained confidence in myself, my Spanish skills increased exponentially; and, now I have the desire to travel around the world.”
What was your experience like?
“I interned with a non-profit that assists refugees and their children.
Observing the work environment there provided a lens to understand the culture and politics in Spain. First of all, Spaniards work very hard. Despite having the ability to take a siesta from 2-4pm for lunch, my coworkers and I started work at 9am, worked until 2pm, and then returned at 4pm to work until 8pm.
Not only was the duration humbling, but observing the immigrants, neighbors, and customers that entered and exited was enlightening.
The organization stretches their thin, non-profit budget to help refugees and their families from many countries in Africa and South America. They provide food, housing, job opportunities, schooling, and childcare to families in need. In addition, the non-profit is majorly supported by profits from the thrift store that operates in the front of the building! Their mission and hardworking staff work extremely hard to provide love to all of the people that they assist. I was particularly enamored with the efforts of Mar, the children’s activities coordinator. She works with the kids year round, 5 to 6 days per week, for 9 hours a day, completely voluntarily. Compared to her, I felt like I was doing the absolute minimum, feeding and teaching fifteen 3-6 year olds for five hours a day for a few weeks!”
How was your Spanish when you started the program versus when you left?
“I knew basic vocabulary and verbs after six years of studying Spanish in high school and college; and, I could decently read for understanding. However, I could barely understand or speak. Now, I can speak quickly and coherently, with confidence, and listen and understand Native speakers!”
Anything else you’d like to share?
“I am so thankful to the host family that I lived with. Their generosity and the impact they had on my learning and experience are astounding.”
What was the highlight of your trip?
“The highlight of my trip was traveling to Portugal and Vigo, Spain near the Islas Cíes. There are so many remarkable environments around the Iberian peninsula; even being able to see and be at the beach every day in A Coruña was a blessing.”
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