Student experiences two cultures at once

Junior has trouble transitioning upon return back home


Photo contributed by Jaclyn Speiser

Junior Jaclyn Speiser (Left) and Roncalli graduate Katie McCarthy (Right) look out at the view of Mayan ruins in Uxmal, Mexico. Speiser says she had a hard time transitioning back when she returned home in Indiana.

Chad Smith, Reporter

Sweating in the hot sun, Junior Jaclyn Speiser struggles to connect with the outside world from the Yucatán Peninsula, left on her own with a flip phone, a Facebook and hardly any other working forms of communication.

In a foreign country with few familiar faces, she is forced to make due with what she has.

“I didn’t have my phone at all, so it was hard to talk to my family,” Speiser said.

From early June to late July last summer, Speiser spent six weeks in Mérida, Yucatán learning about Spanish culture and language. The trip not only impacted her communication skills and abilities while she was in a foreign country, but also when returning home.

While in Mexico, Speiser experienced hardship in not only speaking a different language, but also not being able to communicate well with her friends and family. As a part of the requirements for her trip, she was not allowed to use her personal phone. A preprogrammed flip phone with limited capabilities was given to her instead.

“I only talked to them (my family) once a week, and it was through Facebook,” Speiser said.

Due to this lack of communication, Speiser says she didn’t always know what was going on at home.

“My cat was really sick, and I didn’t know that until I came back,” Speiser said.

During her stay, Speiser roomed with a host family of four other people. None of them were allowed to speak any English, forcing her to do the same. She also had to attend school while there, but says her host mother was able to help her, a change from her typical home life.

When she returned home, adjusting did not come easy. Speiser says it was hard to talk in English when she first returned, making numerous grammatical errors. Mixing up sentence structures from Spanish to English was just one common problem she had while talking with friends.

One person who experienced this firsthand was SHS senior Israel Bolaños, who was with Speiser when she returned home at the airport.

“She kept going from English to Spanish often,” Bolaños said.

Although the transition back to English was rough, Bolaños also says that she is now more comfortable when speaking Spanish. Speiser agrees, as she is now able to more effectively communicate in Spanish, gaining newfound skills.

“(I learned) how to be more confident,” Speiser said. “I wasn’t very confident talking in Spanish at first, and now I have more confidence, even if I’m making mistakes.”