Over the summer, Costa junior Kristen Cordero spread her wings and flew to Madrid, Spain to explore the culture and language through the Education First Program.
Cordero visited Madrid for five weeks through The Education First Program (EF) for a language tour, which she said allowed her to focus on mastering Spanish. EF is a program that allows students to travel internationally and learn new languages, while being surrounded by culture unique to each city.
“I wanted to go out of the country by myself for the summer and I thought I might as well improve my Spanish while I’m away,” Cordero said. “I felt like Madrid was best for me [because] I liked the city and I thought the architecture was really pretty.”
Cordero enrolled herself in the A2 level Spanish class, an international Spanish level which equivalates to a beginner-intermediate class in the United States, Cordero said. In school, teachers only spoke Spanish, in effort to improve students’ grammar and vocabulary skills, Cordero said.
“[The] A2 [class] was challenging and there was a lot of vocabulary that I didn’t know,” Cordero said. “I became more comfortable with the grammar that I have already learned. When we went in the classes, it felt natural talking to my professor, not forced.”
Most students in the program ranged from eighteen to twenty years old, but Cordero also took classes with people as old as eighty years old. The program had no age or language requirements, which gave Cordero the opportunity to meet interesting people that she would never have met otherwise, she said.
“It made me learn how to interact with people older than me, so I felt like I became more mature,” Cordero said. “I met people with different backgrounds, so it was cool to learn their perspective of life.”
A typical day for Cordero consisted of waking up in the morning and going to school for four hours. After her school ended, she would to lunch with her friends and then explore Madrid, sightseeing or going to restaurants. Occasionally, she traveled outside of the city, but she said she prefered to stay in Madrid because there were more activities to do, such as visiting museums.
“I had five weeks there so I could really spread everything out and I didn’t have to cram anything in,” Cordero said. “Half of the people would stay with a family, but I feel like you get closer with the students staying at the residence building because [you] get your own type of family bond. We would all have dinners sometimes together and it was really cool.”
When she wasn’t brushing up on her language skills in class, Cordero was learning how to navigate herself through Spain by communicating with people in Spanish and making connections with new people.
“The program doesn’t really help you outside school, so you have to learn a lot of life lessons, like what to do when the Metro is closing and you have to get back,” Cordero said. “I’m so used to just having my Mom and Dad there. I was in situations where I had to really think and grow up and I didn’t have my parents to rely on because they were a thousand miles away so I had to do things by myself.”
Cordero plans to travel to Austria this summer through EF. She hopes to continue her studies in Spanish, and possibly travel to Spain again soon. She is also considering studying Spanish in college, and possibly majoring in it.
“My dad is interested in buying a house near Barcelona once I go to college, because like me, he also wants to improve his Spanish,” Cordero said. “If he does in fact purchase a house there, then I will definitely visit again.