When I decided to study a Master´s Degree abroad I dreamed about making it in the U.S. Thanks to a UAH professor, I heard about Instituto Franklin-UAH and how they offered bridges to study in the U.S., and I heard they worked along with an American university, Southern Illinois University or SIU for short, in Illinois. What a great day when they told me I got the scholarship! But the truth, is the process was one of the most tedious things I´ve ever done.
At SIU, we are studying a Master in Spanish, we have Spanish and Hispanic Literature and some Linguistics and Methodology courses in order to get ideas on how to teach and address our students. We are also Spanish teachers, so our students often don´t know any Spanish, or just the basics. We teach them Spanish as a Second Language. The students here are different, they´re quiet and they´re shy, they´re difficult in terms of participation, but once you get along with them, it´s the most enjoyable and fun job in the world and it´s also super gratifying.
In the courses we study, our teachers are the kindest people in the world (most often). Education here is different, the load of work is amazingly enormous, and sometimes it´s really too much, the fact that we are graduate students puts lots and lots of work in our shoulders. Sometimes it´s even hard to have a social life, it´s not a balanced type of life. All the Hollywood college movies have nothing to do with the reality here (although there are sorority´ parties which are as wild as the Hollywood ones).
SIU is very beautiful, although our building is the ugliest, its natural surrounding makes it better. The best thing is running into squirrels and deers (babies too) just walking across campus. People are kind, although it´s not the same as in Spanish-speaking countries, our cultures are super different. The cultural shock is something I hadn´t thought of before coming, and it hit me very hard, but once you live here for a while you get used to those differences. Something I do really like about SIU is their promotion of diversity and cultures, they organize every week an “International Coffee Hour” where you can meet people from all parts of the world, which is a good way to make friends.
In conclusion, leaving your life and country behind is and will always be a huge step and, believe me, it is not easy (even though I did not come alone, I came with my partner), it takes time, but in the end you adapt. The thing I like the most is teaching to my students, they are usually nice, and we all get to know each other, it can be super fun! Another thing is that coming back to Spain, or whichever your home country is, with a two year experience teaching Spanish as a Second Language and with a Master´s degree from the U.S. is something lots of people wish for, so if you´re one of them, I encourage you to be brave and do it, it´s not easy, but someday it´ll be worth it.
Firmas invitadas. Adriana Valcarcel Master of Arts as Graduate Teaching Assistant at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. 2017-2018