DEPUE — There were some surprises when it came to living in Spain for 2008 DePue High School graduate Karina Gavina.
Gavina recently returned from a three-month study program in Spain, where she completed 16 college credit hours through Western Illinois University. Gavina is a junior at Western, double majoring in Spanish and broadcasting.
In some ways, Gavina may have had an advantage when it comes to the mastering of Spanish. Gavina comes from a Spanish-speaking family and didn’t learn English until she started preschool in DePue. Her parents still speak Spanish, with just a bit of English, she said.
Gavina said most people think Spanish is the official language of Spain, but in fact, Spanish is one of four official languages. The other official languages are Catalan, Gallego and Vasco. To make it bit more confusing, Spanish is referred to as Castellano in Spain.
Another surprise about living in Spain was learning the Spanish food was not as spicy as she expected, Gavina said. When a college friend came to Spain for spring break, Gavina asked her to bring some hot sauce with her to put on the Spanish food. Another food surprise was Spanish tortillas are probably a couple inches thick, not thin like the ones Americans eat.
The people in Spain do observe a “siesta” type break in their day, from 2 to 5 p.m., but then they go back to work for a few hours in the evening. Gavina said. The thing about the siesta time is that she and her friends would want to go shopping during that break, but the stores were all closed.
During her time in Spain, Gavina studied in two different schools in two different towns. One college had eight classrooms and was more like a high school setting. The rest of her study time was spent at a university, similar to what would be in the United States. At the university, she was in class with students from all over the world.
Classes were from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and were conducted completely in Spanish. The classes were especially beneficial when it came to grammar and writing in Spanish.
During weekends, the WIU students and professors went on various field trips and outings, including taking trips to Rome, Paris and the Canary Islands.
Gavina was one of 17 students from Western, including Rosa Sandoval from DePue, on the Jan. 29-April 29 study program. With her 16 credit hours completed in Spain, Gavina hopes to finish all her requirements for her Spanish major in December and plans to graduate from Western in May 2012.
Gavina said her goals are to work in a bilingual television station, not necessarily in front of the cameras but the behind the scenes. She’d also love to return for another stay in Spain.
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