Spanish Interview!

Spanish Interview!

Megan Gustafson, Administrator/Reporter

As a Spanish IV student, and contemplating to study International Business in college, I was recently given the chance to interview one of South Shore’s middle school students, Adrianna Nicholson. Adrianna was born in Colombia, South America and moved to the United States as a young child. Her mom and some extended family still live there which allows her fairly frequent visits, often during the summer.

Colombia is located in the Northwestern part of South America alongside the Caribbean Sea between Panama and Venezuela, and borders the Pacific Ocean between Panama and Ecuador.  It is a tropical country rich with culture, customs, food, holidays, even weather which varies quite drastically, at times, from our own.  I am most intrigued by these differences as understanding of diversities will allow me to be more effective in the world of business and when traveling the world. The traditional language is Spanish, but English is also a popular language and therefore many people in Columbia converse in English. This is very relieving to know, because even though I have been studying Spanish since I was little, I tend to make mistakes, a lot of them!

One of the most important factors to consider when traveling internationally is food.  Everyone has to eat, right?  So, “how it is compared to the US?”  She said the food, especially the soup, in Colombia is much better than the US. I love soup! I wonder what is their specialty? Mine, of course, is ramen noodles. But Adrianna’s favorite dish is called plantains. Plantains are closely related to bananas, similar in looks, texture and taste.  Having grown up in Northern Wisconsin, I understandably have not been exposed to this food and was interested in this exotic dish.  Curiosity must be satisfied, so I did a little research.  Plantains are basically fried bananas, with cinnamon and brown sugar on top.  Sounds really good!  I’ll definitely try some in my travels!

Customs must be well understood if one is to travel in peace and have an authentic experience.  “How are customs different in Columbia?” I asked.  Adrianna said that meeting and greeting people is quite different.  Generally, in the U.S., when you meet someone in a formal setting or are introduced for the first time, you shake hands. Well, in Colombia, men do that, but the women often grasp forearms instead.  Once people in Columbia are on a familiar basis, men will embrace and pat each other on the shoulder – known as an “abrazo” – and women kiss once on the right cheek.  Familiarity in the U.S. is sometimes hard to describe as it can vary from age group to region.  Sometimes it’s a simple wave of the hand, a casual “hey” or a fist bump (I am not much of a fist bumper, unfortunately). Other times it can depend on the amount of time that has passed between visits.  Sometimes we hug or nod our heads.  Another custom that is celebrated in Colombia is a girl’s 15th birthday, called a quinceanera.  Having no special celebration when I turned 15, I needed to know what this was all about, which called for some more research.  When a girl has this party, she wears a white dress and guests usually give her gifts of gold.  That’s it! I must turn back the clock!  Or maybe, does my 18th birthday count? That was last month, but I can always have a late quinceanera party, right? It’s hard to pin down fashion what with the world getting smaller thanks to social technology, but there are still traditional dresses and Adrianna was kind enough to bring in one from her childhood.  It is not a quinceanera dress, but one worn for special occasions as a youth.  Some holidays in Colombia resemble our own, including Christmas and New Years, but Columbians celebrate their Independence Day on July 20th.  In the U.S, Independence Day is on July 4th. Another Holiday celebrated in Colombia that Adrianna told me about is called All Saints’ Day, also know as All Hallows (like Halloween). This is celebrated from November 1st-3rd. I am so jealous, 3 days of Halloween? All Saints’ Day is a celebration of all Christian saints, particularly those who have no special feast days of their own, in many Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches.

I was told many different things about Colombia that probably wouldn’t fit on this page, so I will talk about one more interesting fact. The weather is quite different in Colombia than in the United States. Here, the Winter Months are around December to March, and Summer is June through August. Students there have school during their “winter” months (our summer), and they have off their “summer”, or dry months (our winter). Adrianna also told me that summers in Colombia are really hot, and winter mostly consists of a lot of rainfall. I researched that April, May, September, October, and November is typically when this occurs, so the winter is a little different than the US. The dry months (summer) is the same as our winter months, December, January, February, and March. Sounds like Colombia has much more summer than in Northern Wisconsin, maybe I should move there so I can escape the cold temperatures!

Colombia, like many other countries, is very different than the United States, and is richly cultured. I would like to thank Adrianna for this interview! This information about Colombia gets me really excited to explore business around the world!