An update from current Spanish major, Stephanie Rodriguez.

What always drew me into learning Spanish was my culture. Both of my parents were born and raised in Mexico so the language is spoken daily in my household.  I wanted to make sure I could learn more about Spanish and learn about it in a more educated and proper way. I love the language and feel as if it can transport you into understanding of different cultures, and I hope to pass this language along to others.

Life as an Illinois State University student in Spanish is extremely welcoming. I know all of my professors on a more personal level and they are all so willing to help and be there for their students outside of just teaching us. Over the years also I have grown closer to my classmates as we tend to have at least one Spanish class together per semester.

The Languages, Literatures, and Cultures department seems more like a family to me. The classes definitely have a different feel over my other classes; they are more lively and close feeling.  Taking Spanish here at Illinois State tends to feel more like you are joining a close community where everyone helps and cares for each other.  I do work, however. I am currently employed at State Farm,where I am able to utilize my Spanish speaking skills and plan to grow within that company through a variety of job positions with Spanish.

When you pick a foreign language as a major you do have to put in extra work simply to be able to get your mind to think in that language to fully understand it. Illinois State has an amazing staff of professors that give you more opportunities outside of just class to learn the language. They also make it so comfortable to participate in class and not be embarrassed when you say something incorrectly.  They simply correct you and you know it is because they want the best for you.

With the classes feeling more like a friendly gathering it is more welcoming to come and be excited to learn the lesson for the day. I have yet to take a class in the language department that I haven’t fallen in love with. I also have made some of my best friends through studying Spanish.  Especially being Mexican-American I have met students who live a life similar to mine culturally so it is comforting when you are away from home to still have people to relate and to share those roots with. These are friends I plan on keeping for a long time.

Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to study abroad. Financially it wasn’t something I could’ve taken part in but my friends who have had the chance to do so have come back with such a deeper look into the language and culture. I think this experience is one you should take if you have the opportunity to be able to see what you learn in a classroom come to life.

Post graduation, which is approaching fast for me, I plan to stay at State Farm. There are roles within the company I am working towards growing into once I am done with school. These roles allow me to be able to bring my knowledge of the language and culture into use in the company to be able to assist customers feel more comfortable and at home with our services.