Vale vale vale

By Marie Kimball (CAS’23)

“Vale!” Hearing this expression in my home, in class, and on the streets was confusing at first. Throughout my time in high school and at Boston University, I had been learning Mexican Spanish. Now that I was in Spain, there was a lot of new lingo I had to learn, including “vale,” which pretty much means “OK.”

For my fall semester of 2021, I decided to study abroad in Madrid, Spain, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

On the very first day a bus dropped me off at my host family’s house, and this probably would’ve been the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life if I hadn’t just been on two different planes for ten hours. So actually, I was about to fall asleep and didn’t have anything else on my brain. But, I had never lived with a host family before, and didn’t know what to expect. Well, it was one of my favorite parts of the experience. I lived with a family with three young children, and between the lively family dinners, movie nights, and weekend strolls around the city, I grew very close to them and was sad to leave.

My classes were fantastic, as well. BU Study Abroad students in Madrid attend the Instituto Internacional, in which students from many American universities take classes in both English and Spanish. My three classes were about literature and women’s history, and all of them were in Spanish. Professors who had lived through the Movida of the 1980’s and Franco’s regime from 1939-1975 all shared their firsthand experiences with us while we learned from their expertise. It was a great experience.

While in Madrid, I also had an internship at La comisión para la investigación de los malos tratos a mujeres, or what was essentially Spain’s commission against gender violence and prostitution. Not having just gotten off of a plane this time, I was extremely nervous my first day. Tackling a job in my second language was a daunting task, but every day was better, and by the end I felt like I had developed meaningful relationships with all of my thoughtful and patient coworkers. My coworkers and I still text on what’s app to check in!

Also, I met great friends with whom I travelled within Spain and throughout Europe on the weekends. Between visiting Toledo, Segovia, El Escorial, Barcelona, Italy, and Portugal, I had so much fun, and learned so much about different cultures. That I had this opportunity to travel still seems surreal. It was incredible.

Finally, I learned more about myself than I had in the previous few semesters combined. Living in a different culture from your own, without any familiarity (at first at least) with the people around you allows you to unlock parts of yourself you couldn’t before. For instance, I learned how to spend time with myself, and began to love it. I spent plenty of time with myself, going to different museums and cafés, or even just walking around the city to explore and think. I enjoy being with myself like never before. Also, from all of the new experiences I’ve collected, I have a better perspective every day. This one is harder to explain, but I feel as though I have my priorities in line more now, and have achieved more balance in my lifestyle.

And it’s true that you might read all of this, and simply say “vale, vale.” However, I hope you take my experience as reason to study abroad yourself. You won’t regret it!


Photo credit: Marie K.

KHC: Preconceptions vs. Reality

By Marie Kimball (CAS’23)

A few weeks before freshman year, there wasn’t much on my mind except going to work a few times a week and spending time with my friends. Sure, I was heading to college soon, but it hadn’t totally dawned on me that my life was about to change in a pretty big way. I only had a couple preconceptions floating around my head that would worry me occasionally. And don’t get me wrong – I knew that Kilachand was the best choice for me, and was very excited, however I had some preconceived notions about the stereotypical honors program that were bugging me. The best part is that soon after I got to school and to Kilachand, I realized that all of my preconceptions about honors programs never came to fruition. Kilachand stands out – I’ll explain why.

First, I was worried about a lack of balance. In other words, I understood that at Kilachand I would probably be completing a heavier workload than the typical student, in the amount and content of the work. I feared this would leave me with inadequate time for everything else, like socializing with friends, hitting the gym, taking alone time, and of course, sleep. After a few weeks in, I realized that this would not be the case. Sure, the workload of the typical Kilachand student is a bit more and a bit trickier, however it is manageable. As a junior now, I’m in two clubs at BU, have a part-time job, spend lots of time with my friends, get alone time, and get eight hours of sleep a night. Kilachand academically challenges its students in a healthy, efficient way. I’ve learned so much all the while maintaining my sanity and enjoying my college experience. Kilachand enhances my college experience, no doubt about it.

Second, heading into school I understood that Kilachand is a community, and that I would be spending a good amount of time with the other students in my grade. A worry creeped in that the environment might be competitive and cutthroat, like what I have heard in the news or seen on TV about honors programs. I like being challenged academically, but not at the expense of my well being. Learning in a toxic environment is never ok. Boy, was I wrong! My Kilachand friends and fellow classmates are collaborative and passionate. I am not only comfortable in my Kilachand classes, but also, I truly enjoy them. Kilachand classes are often my favorite each semester. My classmates are thoughtful and funny, and professors are supportive and quite accomplished.

Basically, over the past couple of years my Kilachand experiences have proven my prior preconceptions of an honors college experience downright wrong. From day one, the professors, advisors and students of Kilachand have enhanced my education and overall BU experience, and for that, I’ll always be grateful. To sum it up, Kilachand is the best!! Feel free to reach out to me to chat more about this or any other part of the Kilachand and BU experience.

A Day in the Life

By Marie Kimball (CAS'23)

8:00 AM: I wake up, open the blinds, and answer some of my texts. I’m quick to shut my alarm off as my roommate is still sleeping. I go wash my face and brush my teeth, and then come back to my room to make some cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. Then I get dressed for the day. It looks like it's going to be a windy one, so I’ll make sure to bundle up. On the way out I stop into the Kilachand Offices, say hi to whoever might be in there and chat for a second, and grab some green tea.

9:00 AM: I arrive to Spanish class located in the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. We have presentations today about creating audio descriptions for those who speak Spanish and are blind, so that they can understand all of the movements on the screen despite being unable to see them. My classmates are creative, and we have some laughs while improving our Spanish.

10:30 AM: I take a 10 minute walk over to history class on the upper floor of the George Sherman Union. On the way I stop at the Starbucks in front of Warren Towers to grab, you guessed it, some green tea. Making it just in time to class, I walk in and my professor is discussing a largely unknown incident which occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. U.S.S.R. Vice Admiral Vasily Arkipov prevented his captain from firing a nuclear weapon at U.S. ships above, which were essentially creating a blockade around Cuba.

12:00 PM: With my friends Kristin and James, I head over to the nearest dining hall to grab some lunch. We chat about our days so far, and talk about the Co-Curricular yesterday, in which Hakeem Oluseyi, renowned astrophysicist, spoke.

1:00 PM: I walk over to Mugar Library in order to work on some homework and finish up a paper. At City-Co I grab a smoothie to stay energized. During the last 20 minutes of my stay here, I check in with my manager at the cafe at which I work, and arrange my schedule for the next few weeks.

3:00 PM: I head over to the School of Theology, where my Kilachand Seminar in Marriage and Family Law is being held. We discuss topics ranging from same-sex marriage, CRISPR technologies, and international adoption. A wide variety of opinions regarding ethics and politics are voiced.

4:30 PM: I walk back home to change and then hit the gym. There is a local crossfit gym which I love going to. Hopefully today I can hit a personal best on my deadlift.

Marie 1 IMG_0324
Looking east down a quiet Commonwealth Avenue toward the famous Citgo sign in Kenmore Square and the Prudential Tower in the distance. Credit: Marie K.

6:00 PM: I arrive home again, shower, and change into comfy clothes. I hit the dining hall with my roommate, Lauren. Tonight there is BBQ turkey, and butternut squash soup, so we are both excited. We run into a few other people in our Kilachand writing studio, and decide to all sit together and unwind after the day. On the way back to my dorm, I stop by Faculty-in-Residence Professor Woodward to catch up for a few and grab some of his famous nachos.

8:00 PM: I get back home and head up to the 9th floor of Kilachand to put the finishing touches on that paper I was working on earlier, as well as to begin a project I have due next week for an anthropology class regarding modern eating habits.

10:00 PM: I return home to watch an episode of the Office with my suitemate Sarah and eat some ice cream.

11:30 PM: I wash up my face and brush my teeth, and before getting to sleep chat with my roommate a little bit about a party we might go to this weekend. Oh, also, don’t forget to email your Kilachand advisor to set up an appointment, as registration for classes next semester is in a few weeks. I say goodnight to Lauren, and then fall fast asleep after another long, exciting, interesting, and fun day as a BU and Kilachand Honors College student.