TEFL Student Gains Experience in Murcia, Spain

Kent State Study Abroad Student: G Clingman

G Clingman is a third-year Kent State Student double majoring in English and Spanish while also working toward their Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. Though they have been studying at KSU’s main campus for the last two years, G is swapping Acorn Alley and the Esplanade for the historical streets of Murcia, Spain.

“I actually hadn't planned to travel to Spain and instead was going to complete a semester long TEFL teaching practicum in Florence, Italy. However, a new TEFL program opened in Murcia, Spain, and I decided to study here so that I could complete my practicum and speak in Spanish,” G said. Normally, Kent State students who work for their TEFL certificate earn their qualification by completing a program in Florence. G said they are the second person to be a part of this program at the University of Murcia. As a result, there have been some complications, but G is falling in love with the city, which they deem smaller than Madrid or Barcelona but still bursting with lots to do.

Arriving in Murcia on January 7th, after an eight-hour flight and a six-hour drive, G was the first Kent State student in the city for the semester. While exhausted and lost, they had to handle two heavy suitcases and a malfunctioning SIM card. “That was an incredibly humbling experience to feel so utterly alone, calm myself down, and ask for help.” One of the things they have gained from their experience so far while traveling in a foreign country and speaking a different language is learning how to be comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. Aside from what they learn in their classes, there is much to learn outside of the classroom when breaking cultural norms and dealing with miscommunication-induced embarrassment. “Being in Spain has definitely helped me to feel more comfortable with not knowing everything.”

Despite some of the hiccups, G is adjusting to the day-to-day norms of Murcia and Spanish classroom culture. Things are a little different than in the United States. For one, G says they walk almost everywhere--there is no need for cars. If you do not feel like walking, there is always the tram or bus. They also say that classes emphasize group work and that start times for classes are more of a suggestion for professors.

When they are not in class or completing homework, G is taking advantage of their proximity to historic and culturally significant sites. “Every weekend, I take the bus or train and travel somewhere new. I've been to Madrid, Cartagena, and Elche. I want to see as much of Spain as possible,” G said. They mentioned that they have fallen in love with the Spanish lifestyle and are considering working in Spain after graduation. “Here, the people work to live, not live to work, and the slower pace of life has given me time to take trips and spend time with friends.”

G plans to visit Valencia and Barcelona in the coming semester. One thing they have learned about themselves during this trip is that they want to travel for the rest of their life. “I would encourage anyone, but especially language majors, to study abroad because it… forces you to figure out how you respond to stress and who you really are.”

Learn more about the University of Murcia program here!

POSTED: Thursday, May 19, 2022 07:50 AM
UPDATED: Friday, July 12, 2024 06:34 PM
Arden Miller, Kent State Department of English and OGE Spring Intern