Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The End of the Semester

It is the end of the semester. I knew it would come fast, but it still managed to surprise me.

For our last gira, we IFSA-Butler students went to Playa Conchal in Guanacaste for two days (November 19-20). Playa Conchal is extremely unique because sand doesn’t exist on the beach; instead, it is grains of shells worn down so that they appear to be coarse grains of sand. It is a really calm, isolated bay and the water is a beautiful deep blue. We did group activities on the beach, kayaked, spent time in the pool, had long chats and reminisced, danced, played games of cards and of course laughed a lot. It was a short trip, but full of memories.

These last few weeks at the university have been full of final projects, presentations, and exams. The school system in Costa Rica is really big into final projects and presentations at the end of the semester. I personally found this to be rather irritating. I am not accustomed to having so many projects in addition to finals. Unfortunately during finals week I had three exams and a presentation in one day—Monday. I suppose it was a blessing to have all of the work done, but it sure made for a crazy day.

Since I am done with all my classes and everything, I can’t help but compare my Spanish abilities from the beginning of the semester to my abilities now. At the beginning of the semester I think I understood about 30% of what was said during my classes and it was so exhausting. By the end of the semester I understood about 75%-80% of the information that was said in the classes. I am thinking mostly of my biology classes, because those were the classes that were the most difficult. In other classes (easier classes) I understood up to 90-95% of what was said.  I say this because there are always words or phrases that I don’t know, but the context of the conversation keeps me on track.

I think I have noticed the greatest improvement in my ability to listen and understand Spanish. Obviously I can speak and read better, but because I spend so much time listening, that is where I have seen the biggest improvement. It still baffles me sometimes when I am listening in Spanish and then I realize how little I have translated into English in order to understand. Sometimes I don’t have to translate at all. I really want to improve my speaking and reading abilities next semester.

I feel incredibly accomplished for completing classes in Spanish and am very excited to stay for Christmas break and another semester.

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