When I studied abroad in Málaga, Spain, I lived with my host mom, Tere. She spoke little to no English, and living with her was the first time I had ever been put in a situation where I could not rely on my English, so I was fully put out of my comfort zone.
Studying abroad in Málaga was the best experience for me. I finally began to be independent in my language speaking abilities, and was put in situations far outside my comfort zone.
On the first day of classes at la Universidad de Málaga, we needed to provide some printed documents for the office. I had no idea how to even say “to print,” (I always remember it now… “imprimir”) so standing at the printing shop across the street was a real challenge. I struggled, I was embarrassed by my inability to communicate on such a simple level, but I accomplished what I needed using my Spanish the best I could.
After that experience, I grew more comfortable with the challenge of using my Spanish. I went to get my haircut, grab a coffee, go shopping and interact with Spanish-speakers.
My three months spent in Málaga helped my Spanish advance immensely. I credit my comfort with travel, immersion into new cultures, and strong desire to continue studying Spanish due to my first study-abroad experience in Málaga.