Álvaro Suárez Ortiz
University of Córdoba
Álvaro Suárez Ortiz, a translations major, came to Smith via a program called Preshco (Programa de Estudios Hispánicos en Córdoba). Having already finished graduate school, he is studying at Smith for supplemental education and to simply have the experience of living in a foreign country.
Álvaro finds Spanish foreign language education as being mostly theoretical and formal, so he appreciated the chance to become more familiar with colloquial and informal English. Álvaro commented that often, when people found out where he was from, they liked to engage him in Spanish as opposed to English. He found himself conversing in his mother tongue with other Spanish speakers on campus and so wasn't afraid to lose his fluency. In fact, the diverse mix of language and international students came as a bit of a culture shock to him as Spain is predominantly monolingual.
As he was learning both English and Arabic, living in the United States was a great opportunity for him to become more familiar with both the language and the culture. He was also continuing his study of the Arabic language at Smith College.
When discussing his prior university class experience, Álvaro talked about how different it was compared to the hands-on learning approach at Smith. While Álvaro appreciated the sense of independency and self-reliance that his university in Spain provided, he also commented that classes were often lecture and note-based and had few direct interactions with professors. Álvaro values Smith professors' stress on one-on-one interaction in the classroom. While he did express concern that, at times, Smith students have the potential to become coddled due to the amount of consideration they receive on campus, he also noted that he prefers the American university education system.
By Sarah Liggera '17 and Kaitlin Scholand '17, Global STRIDE Fellows