Peyton Deruiter, Michigan State University

It was Friday, September 16 at 11:00 when I got the text. “Your TalkAbroad conversation will begin in two hours.” Two hours. Ok. Two hours before I die of nervousness or embarrassment. Or both.

Whether it was obvious or not in the previous statement, I’ll repeat. I was nervous. Nervous to the point of tears. I am a college freshman in my fourth week Spanish 202 and have taken four years in high school. In all reality, I should be able to hold a somewhat comprehensive conversation. In all reality, I can hold a conversation, but my mind was quite convinced I would not be able to.

I logged on about 10 minutes before the session was supposed to start and promptly broke into tears. Yes, slightly pathetic, but I really felt that nervous. When the window popped up at 12:55, five minutes to my 1:00 appointment, saying I could join the conversation, my eyes were still wet. Not needing to add to my impending embarrassment, I quickly wiped my eyes and connected.

The next half hour was filled with some embarrassing moments, some lost trains of thought and a lot of mumbling on my part. However, the conversation was overall fantastic. I talked with Monica Sanchez Blum, a 22-year-old student in Bogota, Colombia. She was an angel. She took all my jumbled sentences and fragments and somehow understood them, responding with patience, kindness and interest. We did a lot of introductory stuff, but that was one of my favorite parts of the conversation. I loved getting to know someone who lived in a completely different country and spoke a completely different language, yet still had so much in common with me. It isn’t often I get to interact, in a different language, with someone across the world and I really loved learning from her. For my class, we talked about what it means to be a good person. ¿Qué es una buena persona? She brought up things I had not thought of before and showed me some new ideas. I loved it!

When we said our goodbyes and I logged off, I fell back on the couch and felt, simultaneously, a deep sense of relief, pride and joy.

Relief because it was over.

Pride because I had just conversed for 30 minutes completely in Spanish.

Joy because it had been so fun! Much more so than I expected.

Some of that pride, however, was knocked down after I heard myself on the recording. Oh boy, can I improve. But I also love that we have a recording. At the end of the semester, after I finish my last conversation, I look forward to going back to my first conversation and laughing at my awkward Spanish and comparing it to my much improved Spanish. I thoroughly enjoyed my TalkAbroad experience and I am happily anticipating my next conversation!