Se habla español

Anna Sainz, spanish speaker in SFUAD. Photo by Rose Abella

Anna Sainz, spanish speaker in SFUAD. Photo by Rose Abella

Having trouble understanding directions. Not being able to work at a 100 percent. Having problems meeting new people. Those are the problems that most  of the 81 students who are currently on the Study Abroad program have when moving to a new country—but those are also the challenges that brought them here.

Mexico native Anna Sainz, 21, is one of them; she started at SFUAD this semester. While Sainz knows how to speak English, she has some difficulties when expressing what she’s trying to say. Originally from Mérida, Yucatán, the graphic design student decided to come to Santa Fe University of Art and Design during the start of her 7th semester after concluding the opportunity was too big to pass up.


“At first I wasn’t really interested in the program,” she says. “But then I realized it would be a nice opportunity to have a change of pace, to learn new things, but it was also a great challenge to me, because I would finally start to learn how to speak English properly.”

But as soon as she arrived as Santa Fe, the problems began. “I realized I didn’t had an English level as good as the rest and I got really nervous when I tried to talk. I could understand classes fairly well, but when a professor got sick and talked a bit lower I couldn’t get a thing she was saying so I had to ask other people after classes what it was about.”

To help with this issue, the SFUAD International Development office has a unique program that  includes mandatory English classes for those with lower grades on the language test portion of their applications.

Melissa Lewis, director of Student Services, recommends students who have issues take the help offered by the University. “Along with the English class we also have bilingual assistants in the library who will help students with their homework and assignments six days a week,” she says.

Anna Sainz, graphic design student in Alexis Hall. Phot by Rose Abella

Anna Sainz, graphic design student in Alexis Hall. Phot by Rose Abella

Sainz says those English classes “have helped me a lot on the integration process while on Santa Fe. I can ask my professor anything I’ve got troubles with, but also I get to practice with people who have the same issues as I do so we solve them together.”

It’s been a month since classes started and Sainz is satisfied with her experience, even if there have been some problems on the way. “I’ve been able to meet people from here, which has helped me a lot. Now if I know I’m saying something wrong, I just have to listen to how they pronounce things and I’ll just copy them the next time I say them. That encourages me like you have no idea, because now I know I can get better.”

Sainz knows this experience; no matter how difficult, will be a good one when she returns to Mexico.

“I left so much behind, but I know all these hardships will make me be a better professional. For now I wish this semester never ends.”