above: Plaza De Los Tores, Málaga, Spain

Last year, I took my first two required spanish courses here at UofM (Spanish 103 and Spanish 231), and quickly realized that the classroom is no place to learn a foreign language. Given this information, I knew that in order to get out of Michigan with a decent handle on Spanish, I had to travel abroad.

I looked into a few programs offered through the University, but ultimately felt like they all cost way more than they were worth–so I set out to get the same benefits of those programs without wasting my money.

Fortunately, my Dad has some friends in Málaga, Spain that were willing to put me up when I first arrived while I figured out what I was going to do. The first week I was there, I just spent time with my dad's friends enjoying Málaga and practicing my Spanish while I found a local school at which I could take a class to formally learn more of the language.

For the latter two weeks that I was there, I took a Spanish class with people from all over Europe who were also there to learn Spanish; we had people from Morocco, Italy, Russia, Germany, Iceland, and Scotland, among other countries. While I was taking this class, I also paid to live with a local woman. She fed me home-made Spanish food everyday, and spoke nothing but Spanish, so basically, if I wanted to eat, I had to be able to communicate.

Immersing myself in the language was definitely the way to go; when I got back to Michigan for Fall semester, when I took my last required Spanish course (Spanish 232) I was the only person who could understand what our professor was saying to us. Everyone else in the class looked to me to translate.

At the end of my time in Spain, I flew to Hamburg, Germany and spent 5 days with my good friend Rasmus, who I met my Junior year of high school when he was there for a year as a foreign exchange student. To cap it all off, I stopped off in New York for a few days en route back to Detroit to visit my friend Steve, who had a summer internship out there.