During the first semester of my year abroad, I spent 5 months studying at UNAM in Mexico City. Looking back, I see in as both a turbulent but very exciting time. I experienced almost the worst weather the world could throw at me: hurricanes, tropical storms and earthquakes, along with a few stormy moments myself when I couldn’t imagine living there for months. Yet also, (as often happens in life) these all cleared up and I ended up having a fantastic time and certainly didn’t want to leave!
I discovered the John Speak Language Trust in 2015, when I was researching which scholarship options were available to me, and I remember thinking that although I wasn’t eligible at that moment, I should keep it in mind for the start of my year abroad. Luckily, I never forgot about it (it being one of the few scholarships available for language students, and it being based from Yorkshire, my home county).
Without the scholarship from the John Speak trust I think that my semester abroad would have been very different. I chose Mexico as I feel I have an affinity to Latin America, and without the help from the scholarship I may have not been able to travel to that side of the world. It made a huge difference to my experience in Mexico, being able to live without the stress of money affecting my studies, and being able to travel to other parts of the country to see centuries old Mexican traditions such as day of the dead, or the beautiful contrasts of nature Mexico has, from deserts to waterfalls, beaches to mountains. With respect to how it helped me in my daily life, it meant I could enjoy what Mexico city has to offer, take part in weekend activities with my wonderful Mexican friends, and study in peace knowing that I didn’t have to worry about not having a job! I think this was one of the most important things, because it can be quite daunting for some people to live in a place and not be able to work for a regular income.
I must also mention the monthly reports and how they were crucial in tracking my improvements in written Spanish, but they also acted almost like a diary for me. They allowed me to reflect on the previous month which was an enjoyable monthly routine, and they also allowed my family and friends to keep up to date (in detail) about my life in Mexico. It is also great that these will stay on the website for future students to read, and hopefully if anyone is considering Mexico, my experiences can help them!
I spoke in my application about the importance of communication between cultures, and experiencing different cultures through the people, their traditions, and their way of life. After living in Mexico I do feel that I used my time to improve my Spanish in these ways, and I can’t thank the committee of the John Speak Language Trust enough for their investment into this part of my education. I must add that not only has it been an education of studies, but also of life. I am so grateful to have received the scholarship and will try my hardest to promote its benefits to students in the future, as it is wonderful that it promotes language learning and studying abroad.
If any future language students are reading this case study, and they are interested in hearing more about how the scholarship helped me on my year abroad, or have any questions about applying etc, I would be happy to be contacted and I’ll try my best to help!
!Muchísimas gracias a John Speak!