On How I Have (and Have Not) Studied for Spanish this Summer

As my senior year was winding down, I knew one thing for sure: my summer was going to be fun and it was going to be productive. But in all honesty, it was perhaps a little underwhelming in both of those departments.

Don’t get me wrong – I had fun! (You can read all about the best shenanigans and my favorite memories here!) I truly enjoyed myself all summer long, even if I didn’t have all the adventures I had envisioned in May while I forced myself to cram for AP exams and finals. Actually, I had my fair share of unexpected adventures as well – spontaneous plans with friends, random concert tickets falling in one’s lap, and spur-of-the-moment weekend trips will do that to a person!

And I was pretty productive, too. However, I didn’t live up to my own high expectations from the beginning of summer. I was excited to prepare myself for freshman year of college and to strengthen my Spanish skills, seeing as I will be starting in an advanced level course and am majoring in the subject! Anyway, I had extremely high expectations – as in, studying every day and teaching myself lots and all that jazz.

I didn’t reach those expectations. But I didn’t totally fail.

You see, through four years of taking high school Spanish (AKA three summers) I never once studied over breaks, despite the recommendations and reminders to do so and even my own guilt about never breaking out the books to brush up on the language.

And this summer had higher stakes, at least in my mind. I’m nervous about being in such an advanced level course. I’m sure it will be difficult and challenging in many ways on its own, but I’m also worried that I don’t belong in such a high level yet or that my pool of Spanish knowledge will be so different from all the other students’ pools of knowledge or the expected pool of knowledge (I know career vocabulary, not hobby vocabulary – woe is me!) that I won’t be able to handle it.

So at the very least, I wanted to brush up on my skills and understanding of my pool of knowledge so that I will be ready to take on more information as necessary when class starts, rather than trying to settle back into Spanish and review what I know during the first couple of weeks, like I successfully did in high school each year. I wanted to prepare myself.

Needless to say, I’m a little disappointed with myself for not following through with my expectations better. I wish I were more comfortable with my Spanish – but then again, I always wish that because I’m not fluent and I have a long way to go yet.

However, I can’t say I failed or truly let myself down, even if I do feel disappointment. I did better than I have during past summer. Here’s the progress I did make:

  • I compiled all of my Spanish notes and important work from the last four years into a nifty binder – it is complete with my home-made visual study tools, Spanish I-IV notes, a sparse-but-still-there section for new and self-taught notes, various reading materials, and my own writing that I am particularly proud of.
  • I reviewed over two years of vocab and grammar notes.
  • I’ve spent a decent sum of time reading Spanish labels and directions of household products for practice, or simply thinking about how to translate random phrases in my head (“Tengo hambre, pero no tenemos mucha comida en la casa. Puedo ir a la tienda luego.”) I also like to narrate my own life in Spanish from time to time, eavesdrop on Spanish-speakers’ conversations in public, and try to avoid all English subtitles on TV or in movies. These things are only occasionally successful, but I’m proud of my constant efforts.
  • This is lame, but I think it’s worth mentioning: I’ve had a couple of dreams that have incorporated some Spanish and my dream-self at least attempted to translate. At least once, Dream-Katy tried to translate a language that was very much not Spanish and felt horror and shame at my failure – even though, you know, it wasn’t even a language so of course I didn’t understand. Silly Dream-Katy…
  • I’ve used the Duolingo app quite a bit this summer, as well. It’s very easy to use, fun, and helpful! I recommend it for anyone trying to brush up on vocabulary – it even offers quite a few other languages if you’re not interested in learning Spanish. (I apologize for the plug, I’m not even sponsored or anything – I’m sure I had you fooled into thinking that…though I wouldn’t be against it, if you catch my drift, marketers of Duolingo.)

So you could technically describe my summer as underwhelming, but just because it didn’t meet my expectations doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great summer. If you combine the times where I was suddenly swept off to hang out with my best friends, to go to an awesome concert, to explore Nashville, or to enjoy any other time I had with my friends and family with the the amount of times I felt productive, fulfilled, or successful…well, then I’d have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my “underwhelming summer”.

Thank you for tuning in! Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Summer Highlights

Summer is winding down for me – I’ll be moving into my dorm and starting the adventure that is college very soon! So I wanted to take a moment to share with you my five favorite moments of this summer.

1. Grad Party/End-of-Year Bonfire. Every year, my sister and I host a bonfire to bid farewell to another school year gone by. In other words – we burn all the notes and homework that stressed us out for the whole year and roast marshmallows over it with a group of our best friends. It’s glorious. This year was especially fantastic – it was finally my last year of high school, and my friends and I were able to enjoy one last full-blown shindig before going our separate ways. In addition, relatives came over earlier that day to help me celebrate and the entire day was simply a success!

2. Back-to-school/Dorm Shopping. Because I’m a total dweeb, I’ve always loved back-to-school shopping! By now, I’m a little shopped-out (after getting all the necessary school supplies, text books, clothes, and dorm furnishings and supplies) but I had a weird amount of fun doing this shopping. It makes me excited for what’s coming, I get to stand in the midst of organization/office supplies for long periods of time, and it just gives me a feeling of productivity to get prepared. Who doesn’t like all of that?

3. Trip to Nashville. I love to travel and when I got the chance to cling to my sister (who had legitimate, professional obligations in Nashville) and roam around Nashville for a couple of days with my mother (as my sister was fulfilling said legitimate, professional obligations), well what can I say? I seized the day! We visited Cheekwood Botanical Garden (AKA: the most fascinating place ever, the most beautiful estate ever, my dream house), the Tennessee State Museum (where we spent a VERY long time on just one very interesting exhibit, leaving little time for much else!), and various yummy restaurants! And fear not – my mom and I were true to our dweeby selves, sitting in Centennial Park enjoying the weather and a few books for quite some time! I had lots of fun!

4. Concerts. Don’t tell the others, but I think this is actually my favorite! In one week, I had the pleasure of going to TWO concerts! I couldn’t help but think ‘this is what it feels like to be a cool person‘ constantly. First, was the long-anticipated Gary Clark Jr concert (he gets his own tag on this post because seriously this meant so much to me). It was fantastic. The concert exceeded my already impossibly high expectations. My ears were still ringing when one of my best friends offered her extra ticket to the Walk the Moon/Fitz and the Tantrums/Twenty-One Pilots/Panic! at the Disco concert. That, too, was a total blast. I’m so glad I got to go to both of these concerts and I will never, ever forget these memories!

5. Cardinals game. Every summer, my family goes to Cardinals games. We’re big baseball fans and I always look forward to spending an afternoon or evening at Busch Stadium watching the greatest team play the greatest game. This will always go on any list of summer highlights or favorite memories – it’s a classic!

Although I have spent a good portion of my summer around the house, watching Netflix or oversleeping, I am pretty pleased with how I’ve spent my break. I like relaxing and staying in sometimes. And I like going out with friends and family, listening to great music, watching a great game, or just hanging out. All of it was worth my time, honestly. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to the same ol’, same ol’ and hello to whatever is heading my way.

Thanks for reading. Tell me about your summer in the comments below!