This post is by Katie Heldt, a Spanish and Biology student from University of Oregon. During the Fall 2015 semester she participated in the the CIEE Teaching Development Program and currently she is participating in the CIEE Liberal Arts Program.
"You're going to Spain for a full year? Why?". Out of all the responses I got upon telling people I would be doing the Teaching Development Program with CIEE in Sevilla, Spain, that was the least supportive reaction, as well as the reaction I chose to focus upon. After spending almost five months over 5,000 miles from my home in Eugene, Oregon, I've realized exactly why.
I spend my days in the most compelling classes I've ever taken, volunteering by teaching English at Colegio Sagrado Corazón, and tutoring for three of the sweetest students I have ever had the honor to meet. My nights are filled with cooking delicious Spanish dishes with my roommate, Noelia, playing with our foster kitten, or going out for a few copas with friends in the lively streets of Sevilla. My whole life has been translated into Spanish.
I'll admit it; the idea of constantly living in my second language stressed me out beyond belief before I arrived, especially attempting to communicate my many ideas about pedagogy in a fluent, comprehensive manner. The professors and staff at CIEE immediately quelled those fears with their obvious faith in me as a student and a teacher. It may sound cliché, but the CIEE Teaching Development Program was the best decision I have made to this day. The program is the only of its kind; I receive full-time support from my pedagogy classes while I'm given limitless freedom to explore my ideas for teaching. Not only is the academic side astoundingly perfect, but also CIEE has given me so many experiences I will never forget, from riding a camel in Morocco to swimming in the sea in Cádiz.
The biggest reason I know why I'm living in Sevilla for a year is the people. Never have I felt so real and so known as a person. Southern Spain is famous for its fiery, passionate people who take siestas by day and dance flamenco by night. While this image is a bit exaggerated, I've found the passion for living to be completely undeniable, a passion that has changed my way of working, playing, and living entirely for the better. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a quote from Henry Miller that rings truer with every day I spend here: "One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things". While I only have a few months to live in Sevilla, I know Sevilla has found a home in my heart (sappy, but true). I will never say "Adios" to Sevilla; I will only say "Hasta pronto".