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Spotlight on Food and Culture

Sarah Jane stands on a hill with a Spanish city in the background.My trip abroad changed my life in more ways than one.

Studying Spanish grammar and literature in Alicante, Spain, for five weeks in the summer of 2006 educated me not only in another language, but also in the ways of a different culture and lifestyle.

Some students may have a difficult time adapting to life in a new country, but my host family's hospitality made my transition smooth and painless.

Conchi, my señora and surrogate mother for the month of June, prepared three meals a day for the family. At mealtimes, her husband, Primi, helped me learn Spanish.

Our conversations centered mostly on fruits, vegetables, and the differences in Spanish and American cuisines. Through talking with him I learned new words and Spanish history.

Primi always encouraged me and answered my questions. He even loaned me one of his favorite books so I would have a Spanish language book to read.

A Healthy Lifestyle

By the time the five weeks had passed, I felt healthier and more energetic. In addition to Conchi's healthy cooking, I ate fresh fruits and vegetables from the area every day.

I walked long distances each day to my classes, to shop, and to meet friends, so at night I slept soundly after drifting off to sleep to the sounds of the street under my bedroom window.

This wonderful opportunity was only possible because of my University of Tennessee teachers. When another trip was canceled, I decided to sign up for the Alicante trip at the last minute.

I e-mailed two of my Spanish teachers and they put me in touch with the professor who organized and led the program.

My trip abroad was such a great experience. It's hard for me not to wish I was back there, especially now that the Tennessee weather is getting colder ... I just can't help missing those beautiful Alicante beaches.

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