Studying Abroad: Residency, not Tourism

By Brandon Truett – API Granada Peer Mentor

Brandon attends the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and studied with API in the Spanish Language and Culture Program at The University of Granada, in Granada, Spain during the spring 2010 term.

In one of my courses, Producción oral y escrita, or more affectionately known as poe (n. poh-ay), I learned the colloquial uses of Spanish by practicing conversational Spanish; throughout the course, we kept a dictionary comprised of words and phrases we learned from Spanish friends, host families, or simply heard in the streets. Our professor thought it necessary to teach us the familiar Spanish that normal people spoke as opposed to the stilted, textbook Spanish, which didn’t account for the Andalusian dialect that is decidedly different from Latin American uses. So, for the first twenty minutes of each class, we shared words and phrases, asking for clarification from the professor.

During one particular discussion, my professor asked us if we considered ourselves turistas or viajeros; both were terms that we had been called by local Granadinos. The former implied that we were merely tourists and the latter endowed us with a sense of residency––that we did not conform to the stereotype of the oblivious American tourist. Our professor pointed out the fundamental difference: the turista takes the form of the American who proudly struts about in university regalia and constantly has a camera strapped to his/her neck, looking through the viewfinder rather than experiencing what’s directly in front of him/her; the viajero seeks to assimilate, to delve into a different culture and emerge with a new sensibility.

She encouraged us by indicating that we tended to be viajeros for the sake of taking the leap by attempting to learn Spanish; she critiqued the turista because this person enters the country for a week or so and leaves with a superficial comprehension of the country, if any at all. I think that in study abroad, we are viajeros because our stay is quite extended, and we endeavor to learn a language or just to step out of our comfort zones. In deciding to study abroad, I feel that one has already crossed the distinguishing line into the realm of the viajero; however, the choices you make while abroad will determine which term you’ll resemble.

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Comments

  1. Argentina has many cities that are worth visiting. I would say the “must go” ones are: Villa Carlos Paz, Rosario, San Rafael y Bariloche. When I travelled there, I stayed for a week in a hotel boutique in rosario. If you go there, THE place to visit is the “Flag Monument” which is really nice and classic. I had a blast, I hope I will go back.
    Cheers,
    Rachel

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