Hillary Seyram E. Agbattor, Jennifer Asiedua Ansah and Nana Ama Gyamfua Gyamfi are Spanish Language students at the University of Ghana, who were granted scholarships to live and study in Spain for the 2020/2021 academic.
They are based at the University of Salamanca (Universidad de Salamanca), located in the city of Salamanca, west of Madrid, in the autonomous community of Castile and León.
Language students at the University of Ghana, every academic year, are offered the opportunity to travel to the country of the native speakers of the language they are studying to enable them to improve their understanding and speaking of the language.
Hillary, Jennifer and Nana Ama, however, took advantage of this opportunity to travel to Spain to learn, interact and became better speakers of Spanish. They left Ghana in November 2020 and are expected to return in August 2021.
Aside from studying Spanish, they were also interested in exploring Spanish culture, meeting new people of different orientations, and also experiencing what it means to live outside Ghana.
“Besides, Ghana seemed a little frustrating so let’s say I needed some fresh air,” Nana Ama jokingly said.
They, therefore, made it a point to visit different places in Spain, and according to Hillary, they made a habit of going on excursions to know other places, interacting with people they meet and making new friends.
They also revealed how friendly most of the Spaniards they met were, and how they have been able to easily blend in.
“On my way to class one day with my colleagues, we were playing music and all of a sudden an elderly man approached us and we began dancing in the middle of the road,” Nana Ama laughed as she recounted that memorable moment.
Amid all the fun and amazing experiences, Hillary, Jennifer and Nana Ama have had to deal with racial discrimination at a point.
“At first, because of my skin colour, when people saw me, they tended to move away but with time they got used to the idea of seeing me everywhere,” Hillary said.
Aside from racial discrimination, they also had to deal with the cold weather and how lecturers were conducted at the University.
Jennifer and Nana Ama noted how challenging lectures when they first got there because they were now mastering the understanding of Spanish.
“Initially, I faced difficulty trying to hear what the lecturers say as they speak extremely fast,” Nana Ama said.
They went on to highlighted how different the mode of teaching in Spain is from Ghana.
“The mode of teaching was a little bit different. And also, everything is in the Spanish language,” Jennifer said.
Hillary also stated that “they [the lecturers] don’t give out slides and when it is explained in class that was it so you have to be on your toes trying to find new things to add up to what was taught… And there are no tutorials… And the marking scheme is completely different… Most tests and assignments were marked over 10 instead of 100 and effort was appreciated… Marks were given for effort.”
Nana Ama, on other hand, indicated the freedom that was given them which they did not experience in Ghana.
“There is this form of freedom in the class which in Ghana, I know doesn’t sometimes doesn’t exist… They allowed us to use laptops in class which is not done at the University of Ghana. The lecturers too are super friendly,” she said.
Hillary, Jennifer and Nana Ama also shared the lessons they picked after living and studying in Spain for almost five months.
While Jennifer got to recognize the importance of punctuality, Nana Ama learnt to see things from a broader perspective… “I learnt to think from a broad perspective due to the freedom in the class and not limit myself to whatever I’m taught.”
Hillary, however, got to realise that people aren’t what they seem… “I know it sounds clichéd but for a black girl living on a white man’s land, who by the way has a reputation for being racist, that was a great lesson because most of them were very friendly.”
Even though they are still living and studying in Spain, what they have experienced so far has convinced them that they made a very good decision in taking the exchange opportunity. They are, however, encouraging others to seize the opportunity when its available.
“Studying and living abroad would really improve upon how you see the world, and give you more idea on different cultures,” Jennifer said.
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