Reflection on language

I had the advantage of already speaking Spanish because I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household. But still, I have learned a lot in Mexico, and it was also one of many reasons why I chose to do my exchange semester there. I knew that I already spoke Spanish well, but I spoke a bit like a child, as my vocabulary was different to someone who lives in a Spanish-speaking country. You do not know the slang or colloquial language, so there is a difference between the Spanish you speak at home and the one in the academic and formal world. It was very interesting to see how important the language is in a culture, and also how many different varieties of Spanish there are in Latin America. The Spanish we speak at home is Colombian, and when in Mexico, I was confronted with many words that the Colombians and I do not know. I adapted really fast to some Mexican expressions, as I wanted to be integrated in the culture and society. For me it was very important not to attract attention, because I knew that that as soon as it became known that I was a foreigner, the prices would become higher and also the security would be a bit different. So what I did was meet some Mexican students, chatted with them, and I also tried to speak only in Spanish with my roomies (all of them were from Europe, except one, she was from Argentina, so we were obliged to speak in Spanish). The university in Mexico City is a lot more intense than the one in Berne, so I had to write a lot of essays and writing papers (in total I wrote 12 essays and 3 final papers, which amounted to a total of around 70 pages in Spanish). Writing all these papers helped me to access and learn the academic vocabulary in Spanish, and I also saw some progress at the end. I know that this exercise is really helpful for my future career, as I now know how to master a language in every way (speaking, writing, reading). Although writing all these papers was really stressful, in the end I am very thankful for this experience, because my language skills have improved. Finally, I took on a lot of the Mexican vocabulary, and my family in Colombia made jokes about me and told me that I am now speaking like a Mexican girl J Learning a foreign language helps you to understand a culture, gives you the opportunity to get in touch with other people and be part of their society and habits.


Linh Ramirez

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