Friday, July 16, 2010

My Language Journey Part III: College Experiences

In college I established my identity as a Latina and a Spanish-speaker. I attended college in a small town, far from home. This was the first time in my life where a majority of my peers did not look me, sound like me, or even had similar experiences as me. Fortunately, my roommate was a close friend I had known since middle school. This made my transition much easier.

My communication with my friends shifted from an all-English environment to one that included code-switching. I noticed that I used more Spanish with other Latino classmates and friends on campus. It seemed that we used the Spanish language to stay connected to our roots and to feel like home. I further maintained this connection by choosing to major in Spanish and Elementary Education. Although I had no formal instruction in Spanish, I felt very comfortable in these courses. The courses in Spanish literature were my favorite because they exposed me to different Latino perspectives, and it was through these courses that I realized that being Latina was much more than being Mexican.

As part of my program I was fortunate enough to study abroad for a semester in Argentina, where I lived and studied in Buenos Aires. During my senior year I was also a teaching assistant for an introductory Spanish class. With this class, I was able to visit Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for spring break. These experiences further shaped my own identity as a Latina and introduced me to the diversity among the Spanish-speaking world.

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