Kaitlin Hutchcroft

Senior

Knoxville, Illinois

Educational Studies and Spanish Double Major

Kaitlin is studying abroad in Barcelona to expand her knowledge of Spanish for her future teaching career.

Describe your day-to-day experiences.

My typical day-to-day experiences include attending classes through the Knox in Barcelona program at the University of Barcelona. I am currently living with a host family, which consists of two host sisters and my host mom, Encarna. They are the best family I could have imagined to spend my time with while abroad! They have made me feel like I am truly a part of their family and have already helped me improve my Spanish speaking skills. We normally eat two to three meals together each day. This allows me to hold conversations in Spanish while also getting to know my host family on a more personal level. In the evenings, my host-madre and I enjoy watching Spanish television series and movies.

What inspired you to pursue study abroad?

I was motivated to study abroad because I am a Spanish major, and I wanted to drastically improve my Spanish speaking skills. I have learned, not only through the advice of other people but through my own personal experiences, that the best way to become fluent in a language is to be immersed in an area in which the language is spoken habitually. Yet, I was also inspired to study abroad because I love experiencing different cultures and ways of life. I believe that to be the best, most well-rounded, and informed person that I can be, I must have diverse experiences, which include traveling to foreign lands. I particularly chose to study abroad in Barcelona because I had heard such great stories from other students who had studied abroad there in the past.

Alyssa Kennamer '14 in the art studio

Can you give an example of how your experiences at Knox have benefited you in Barcelona?

Taking the Spain Culture class with Professor Fernando Gomez taught me a lot about the history of Spain, as well as current politics in the country. In this class, I was introduced to the varying autonomic regions of Spain. One that I took a special interest in during the course was Catalonia because of its recent fight for independence from Spain. Since living in Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia, I have learned more about the politics behind the struggle for independence and now have a better understanding of this controversial subject. Overall, I remember Fernando emphasizing the fact that Spain is a very diverse country. Living here has given me the opportunity to understand and personally experience the different cultures that make up this nation.

How do you think studying abroad has impacted your professional and personal development?

During this experience, I have also been able to help Catalan and Spanish native speakers improve their English skills by teaching my native language and participating in intercambios. For example, I am currently teaching three Catalan children English on a weekly basis. In this way, I am preparing myself for my future career in education. After graduating from Knox, I hope to find a job teaching English in a Spanish-speaking country. In terms of personal development, studying abroad has taught me to be more independent and self-reliant. It also requires an extreme amount of responsibility, of which I am learning to take on and embrace.