|Jeffrey Proctor Spotlight|
North Muskegon, Michigan
Senior majoring in Spanish and English
Subjects studied in Querétaro: Lengua y Cultura IV, Culturas en Contacto, Sintaxis, Cultura Mexicana
When I arrived in Mexico, I was told by the locals that I spoke Spanish well, but it was two or three months into the program when they told me I spoke like a Mexican. I took that as a compliment, regardless of what it was supposed to be. I didn’t realize how much I had learned until I met a few Americans in the city who had just arrived and had never studied Spanish. The language skills I developed from spending time with my friends there makes me think about going to Brazil, where I know nobody and only a few words of the language.
There were about 25 students in my 7 a.m. Lengua y Cultura IV class and I ended up being the only American. There had been other Americans enrolled in the class until they found out the class began at 7 a.m. I traveled with the majority of my classmates and many of their friends to the states of Chiapas, Tobasco, and Oaxaca. We were stuck on a bus for about 50 hours over four days and five nights. I spoke Spanish the entire weekend, which greatly advanced my Spanish-speaking abilities over the course of my semester abroad.
I became more patient—there’s that slight difference between Mexican time and American time—about fifteen to twenty minutes. In America, I live in an “isolation” of sorts, friends waving at friends. In Mexico, I accustomed myself quickly and well to the saludo mexicano—a handshake and a hug between the guys, and a kiss on the cheek with the girls. I’ve also learned that I need to be more assertive and more socially engaging. I try to be these things more and more every day without being overbearing and a loudmouth. It’s a difficult mix, but possible.
While in Mexico, I learned a Brazilian martial art—capoeira—the philosophies of which I plan to incorporate more fully into my daily life, though it turns out I already was living according to many of the tenets of the art. This was also my main pastime for the duration of my stay in Mexico. It’s a game/dance/martial art I signed up for on January 27 and immediately gained 50 new best friends. Many of my best friends are from capoeira and I still keep in touch with many of them. (Their website is located at http://ancapoeira.com/)
Besides coming closer to graduating, I have identified the next languages I am going to study: Portuguese and French. Something I relearn every semester, with every class; studying is hard work, and I need to work hard to make the grade.
As a student who studied Spanish only three years before landing in a foreign country for an extended period of time, I find myself a different person than when I left. And the rest of my world hasn’t exactly changed with me, which is difficult, but it’s all for the best. If nothing ever changed, then why would I have gone to study in a foreign country?