In America, time is of the essence. Meeting deadlines is a must. People are on the go. There’s no time to rest.
Laura Slavsky, a recent Alma College graduate from Marquette, knows this lifestyle all too well. However, it wasn’t that long ago that she was immersed within a culture completely foreign to her personal experience.
“The idea of time in Spain is unique,” says Slavsky. “Time is seemingly ‘slower’ and less important. That’s a big difference in comparison to the United States, where we base our value off of our productivity.”
Slavsky, who studied environmental science and Spanish at Alma College, took advantage of Alma’s Venture Program to visit Segovia, Spain, for a semester abroad. She lived with a host family, took classes in Spanish and participated in two service-learning projects in the city.
“When you live in another country for a quality period of time, you get a feel for what life in another culture is truly like,” says Slavsky. “Being abroad taught me a lot – both about myself and how to deal with new circumstances as well as in my classes.
In some areas of Spain, there is a daily siesta, which quite literally translates to “rest” in Spanish. Stores close, people stop working, and everyone takes time to rest. The relaxed schedules often mean dinners in Spain are usually much later than most people are used to in the United States — even as late as 11:30 p.m. for Slavsky and her host family.
“I learned how to participate in a culture that differs from that of which I grew up with,” says Salvsky. “My experience in Spain allowed me to learn how another part of the world views things, from big-scale global problems to small-scale ideas like siesta and eating meals late.
“Because of the laid-back lifestyle, I expected my return home to be a challenge in terms of my productivity,” says Slavksy. “However, I only felt a slight reverse culture shock — mostly because life in the States is still what I am used to.”
Slavsky’s Venture supported her passion for travel and collecting real-world experiences. It also provided her will a sense of comfort with her improved Spanish-speaking ability when she had the opportunity to travel to Chile during a Posey Global experience.
“My Venture got me to Spain, which laid the groundwork for my Spanish and travel experiences,” says Slavsky. “It gave me a ton of confidence as I looked for other study abroad opportunities at Alma College.
“I encourage all students to take the opportunity to study abroad,” says Slavsky. “Find something you are interested in or passionate about, and seek out a trip that allows you to gain real-world living experiences.”