Scholarship winner

Bursting My Culture Bubble

by Bethanne D.

Hola! My name is Bethanne, and I live in a beautiful part of Colorado. I have been studying Spanish for about five years now, and this year I am lucky enough to experience a once in a lifetime trip to Costa Rica. There, I will immerse myself in a whole new culture, while practicing my Spanish.

I was born and raised in a tight knit community, and even though I feel incredibly lucky to live where I do, I constantly experience what I call the "culture bubble." In my community, everyone knows everyone, and the culture is, for the most part, unified. Meaning I am rarely exposed to different cultures other than my own. Since I began my journey of learning the Spanish language, I have crept to the outer edge of my culture bubble.

Your cultural identity is who you are. It is a way to express your values and your traditions. Not only is it important to know and understand your own cultural identity, but also to immerse yourself in other cultures, and understand their value and traditions as well. By understanding other cultures, you can open your heart and mind to many possibilities. The knowledge of cultures, communities, and lifestyles other than your own is extremely powerful. You can also understand yourself and your values in a different way, and you can view other people with fresh eyes as well. As I continue my journey of learning the Spanish language, I am excited to do just that. In the spring I am lucky enough to be able to go on a trip to Costa Rica. I will literally dive right into the culture, and at the same time will also be practicing my language skills as well.

Learning a new language takes an incredible amount of time, patience, effort, and persistence. Starting from square one, is frustrating and difficult. However, the rewards are overwhelmingly beneficial. The job opportunities open endlessly when you throw in a foreign language to your resume. It also is outstandingly beneficial for memory and listening skills. You learn how to struggle, and how to pick yourself up after you have fallen flat on your face. The importance of making connections when learning a foreign language is also crucial. As one studies a foreign language, their vocabulary, and basic grammar of their primary language increases. They sound smarter. I have experienced all these benefits, and I am far from fluent.

The highlight of my every day is when I go to Spanish. I get to learn about amazing cultures, including Spanish artists as well as modern traditions and rituals. I have the opportunity to engage in something that is so much bigger than myself and is so much more than simply learning a language . The dances, the art, the novels are all inspiring, and it amazes me every day, at what I can learn. I get to challenge myself and learn vocabulary, grammar, and all the twists and turns a new language holds. As I previously mentioned, when I go to Costa Rica, I will practice my language and be immersed in the culture at the same time. Our program is fortunate enough to have a homestay, where I get to understand the Costa Rican culture firsthand and practice my language in real life situations.

I am looking forward to one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I hope that I can have the trip of a lifetime and get to know the Costa Rican people. I hope that I will be able to engage myself in the Spanish language and the Costa Rican dialect. (and maybe get an A on my speaking final while I'm there). And most importantly, I hope to pop my culture bubble. To open my mind to the endless amount of diverse culture that is in the world, and specifically Costa Rica.

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