My name is Danika and I am a senior at UM with a double major in Psychology and Spanish. I spent the spring semester living in Cali, Colombia where I took classes with native speakers on all sorts of topics including sociology and economics in order to improve my Spanish skills and discover Latin American culture. My Global Theme and Challenge were related to Culture and Politics.
I lived with a host family and 10 other exchange students, something that gave me comfort in my first time living away from my family. Being in a culture far different from my own tested my patience (Colombians aren’t much for timeliness and fast pace) and increased my understanding of the different life experiences around the world. I was met with the utmost kindness and respect from my classmates and professors who always made sure to check in and see how I was doing.
I came to Colombia thinking I was fluent in Spanish, but learned quickly that I was intermediate at best. After a couple trying weeks, I began to pick up on the accent and different words used by the Caleños and my language ability increased tremendously. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to make mistakes in order to improve and be able to communicate with the people around me.
My experience taught me to go after my dreams and goals without fear of failure and embarrassment. I was able to visit Machu Picchu during spring break (a bucket list item), hold a baby crocodile in Panama, and explore some of the immense, incredible country that I was fortunate enough to call home for five months. Te amo para siempre, Colombia!