I majored in Hispanic Studies by chance; it was never my original intention. Although I knew that English would be my first major, I took a college Spanish class because the language was useful and enjoyed the intro course so much that I took more classes. Eventually I decided that I wanted to go abroad to a Spanish-speaking country – and by that point I knew I wanted to declare my major.
Although I have learned so much through my on-campus involvement with Hispanic Studies, the experience that influenced me most in this discipline was my semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain. I made lifelong friends, and my Spanish improved immensely in the immersion environment of living with a Spanish family and taking all my classes in Spanish. My other activities included travelling to other cities and countries in Europe; this travel not only opened my mind to other cultures but also helped me understand more about my own culture by comparison. I worked weekly in a nunnery and soup kitchen in Sevilla as well, giving out food to the economically disadvantaged. This activity made me feel connected with a whole different level of city life and gave me a focus on something other than myself during my months abroad.
To me, Hispanic Studies has taken on the importance of a greater cultural sensitivity that transcends merely Hispanic and Latino cultures. Because of my major, I have gained increased appreciation for others’ cultural practices. I also have a passion for encouraging bilingualism in Americans whose families speak Spanish, and I take part in this passion by volunteering for a program that encourages bilingualism in children at a local elementary school. While I am still discovering what I want my future plans to be, I am going to spend this summer completing an internship in the D.C. area, and hope to eventually use my Spanish and writing skills as a foreign correspondent or travelling journalist for a U.S. publication.