Study Abroad Alumni Interview: Katrina Blankmeyer and Brian Kinghorn

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Katrina Blankmeyer, Finance, '18

Brian Kinghorn, Finance and Economics, ‘18

Business in the Global Economy: Views from Spain 

Spring 2018 

Katrina and Brian in SpainWhat do you miss most about Spain? 

Katrina: All the beautiful architecture, the rich history, cathedrals, and museums. The United States is such a new nation; we’re just a baby. When walking to the Palace, the León Center, etc, I would walk by an ancient Roman wall that they had built! 

Did having Spanish heritage influence the way that you were soaking in the culture?

Katrina: We’re both half Filipino so historically that has significance. I have very, very distant relatives, like my great great grandfather, who was a Spaniard. I definitely would say I had my Spanish and my Filipino lens in comparison back to back, to be like ok well this is kind of the influence of where my food came from, and I also noticed the influences of the infrastructure. For example: how the Spanairds laid out the design of their homes and the similarities and differences between them and the Filipinos.

Brian: We saw a lot of stuff in Spain that really influenced the culture in the Philippines because they were colonized for so long. I learned that somethings that I always thought were Filipino were Spanish. For example I stayed with my host grandma, and she made this pasta for dinner that I always thought was a Filipino pasta because I’ve only ever had it in the Philippines. But it was actually a Spanish pasta.

How did your Spanish langauge skills affect your experience?UW Tacoma study abroad students at a lab visit in Spain

Katrina: It forced me to really think really hard back to the Spanish I learned in high school. I brought a dictionary and books with me, but that wasn’t quick enough. In my host family we kind of made a deal that I would try my best to speak to them in Spanish and they in turn would try to speak back in English. It ended up being a sort of learning exchange. Being forced to practice speaking Spanish, as opposed to just learning it in a classroom, took me into an out of body experience — I would say my heart raised a little bit!

Having had that experience, how has it infomed the way you think about [non-English speaking] people who are newly immigrated to the United States, or just people here who aren’t native English speakers? Did it make you more understanding? 

Katrina: Oh yeah! If someone is having a hard time speaking/understanding English I would just talk slower, more clearly and concise. Patience is definitely a virtue!

What do you wish you would have known before you studied abroad?

Brian: The temperature! I would have studied the weather better. It isn’t enough to just go on the weather app once, actually research it. Maybe even ask your host family about the weather beforehand.

Katrina: Do your research and get your phone situation taken care of so you don’t have to be dependent on other students. Also if possible cut down your expenses before you go so that you can splurge a little while your there.

UW Tacoma students in front of Spanish castleHow did study abroad change your perspective of the world and yourself?

Brian: I would say that one of the things I learned is to take it easy. In Spain they have a very different work schedule, and lifestyle, it’s a lot more laid back. We are forced to work 40-50 hours here and we’re not any richer. Their social norm is a lot different, they really value family time and friendship.

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Written: 
April 19, 2018