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Roshni Patel, University of Texas

13 Aug 2016

I recently had a conversation through TalkAbroad for my introductory Spanish course here at The University of Texas at Austin. As a Spanish beginner, I knew I would have some trouble communicating. However, my partner, Allan was accommodating and even helped me construct my sentences whenever I showed trouble with recalling vocabulary words. Not knowing what to expect, I found this experience both enriching and educational. It provided a completely new perspective; I have never met anyone from Nicaragua and choosing a country I had the least familiarity with made the experience all the more memorable.

The video chat combined language immersion, communication skills and friendly exchanges. This is a platform where complete strangers can become acquainted with one another through their engagement and conversation. I not only learned a few things about Nicaragua, I got to know my partner, Allan, as well. We have so many similarities, such as our desire to travel, we both love pasta, and have families in other countries. Allan even showed me a picture of his younger brother wearing a spider-man costume! I was not expecting my conversation to go as smooth as it did and I felt as though I did not have to try as hard as I prepared, as this was a simple conversation between two individuals getting to know one another.

During my call, I was having some Wi-Fi trouble and for a brief period our call was going in and out. I had to restart my computer and log back on. Worried I did not get to finish the conversation, I contacted support and they set me and Allan back up to finish our conversation. I thought it was really considerate of Allan to wait for me and I truly appreciated that. With that minor setback out of the way, we were able to continue our conversation and Allan went on to tell me how he was graduating from college soon and that he and his friends are planning a trip around Europe. As someone who has a love for travel, I could not contain my excitement for Allan, as this would his first time in Europe. I could tell he was elated to be going on such an adventure.

It’s through experiences like these that one truly is able to understand and see the similarities we have with people who live in other parts of the world. Most of us share the same struggles, have the same passions, and love to engage with others who may not be exposed to our cultures. This is why my TalkAbroad experience will be truly unforgettable. Not only was I able to practice my Spanish with a native speaker in a foreign country, I also got to learn and see life from Allan’s perspective, showing me how similar we are, regardless of the differences that are present.