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Laura, a first hand experience!!

Hi, I am Laura and I lived in Diriamba for 2 months, which was definitely not enough time to do and experience everything that I had intended.   Between preparing and teaching classes, spending time with my host family, and traveling during the weekends, I never had a dull moment.  Living with a local family was a unique and memorable experience because it enabled me to become more enriched in the Nicaragüenseculture.   My family was so excited to immerse and include me into their personal traditions and daily activity that I assimilated quickly to the different customs.  This includes taking the local transportation, walking to the local market, eating in the comedores, purchasing snacks in the pulperías, or simply hanging around the central park. Furthermore, there is always a festival or some type of activity that is happening in Diriamba, or surrounding cities, all that are well worthwhile to not only go see as a spectator, but to participate in as well.

Spanish is my second language, which I primarily learned in school and picked up from various family vacations so I was not sure what to fully expect when arriving to Nicaragua.  When I arrived, I felt pretty confident with my Spanish-speaking capabilities. However, the Spanish dialect in Diriamba is different than what I expected.  Many people do not put the S on the end of words, and there is an additional  form, vos.  This form of vos is not to be confused with vosotros, as used in Spain. Therefore, it was a relief that my host family was patient with helping me to learn, to understand and further develop my language skills. Now, I can definitely say that I am more proficient and confident with my Spanish-communication skills.

Teaching was an amazing experience because it enabled me to further enrich myself into the culture and spend time with local children.  I find this to be a very important aspect of the teaching experience- to broaden the children’s’ perspective and knowledge about other cultures and customs around the world, in addition to demonstrating that although physical traits may differ, people generally are the same.  Form a different perspective, teaching English was so rewarding because the kids, although shy and timid about learning a new language, were nonetheless eager and enthusiastic.   I was able to see the development that the kids made from each class by being greeted in English on the street by students and increased participation in the class as their confidence grew.

Traveling during the weekends to other cities of Nicaragua is also a noteworthy experience.  By using the local bus transportation system, I was able to travel around the country economically and practice my Spanish as well. In addition, I was able to see and visit areas in Nicaragua that are beautiful and unique, but not known for tourism.  This also allowed me to become more culturally aware of different economic and government infrastructures, traditions, and life styles.

After my 2 months were up, I definitely was not ready to leave. Currently, after having left Diriamba two months prior, I still remain in contact with my host family and do plan on returning to visit.  The experience was wonderful and I would not trade it for anything.