Sensational Semester In Spain

OHS Spanish teacher broadens her horizons while studying abroad in Spain


Photo Submitted By Melissa Bradford

Melissa Bradford takes in the scenery in Toledo, Spain in January 2016. “It was a really good immersion experience in the real world,” Bradford said. In addition to having the opportunity to visit cities in Spain like Toledo, Bradford also trekked to Rome, Venice, Morocco, Berlin and London during her time in Europe.

It is not uncommon to stumble upon individuals with unique experiences and skills in the student body of OHS. However, what many people fail to acknowledge is the variety of ambitious adventures and particularly fascinating abilities of the staff body. Among these includes one second-year Spanish I and III teacher, Melissa Bradford.

She embarked on a semester-long trip to study abroad at an additional campus at her college in Madrid, Spain. Having taken this trip during the second semester of her sophomore year at Saint Louis University, Bradford was a young, eager Spanish-major seeking to build on her prior linguistic knowledge and cultural awareness, and she was pleasantly surprised.

But one prevalent question lingers, how did she adjust to living on an entirely different continent? 

“I definitely did not feel comfortable at first. It took me a couple months into that experience, though. You’re kind of forced to come out of that comfort zone. Myself and one friend from my sorority stayed in the same host family, so we had a ‘mom’ and ‘dad’…They had an extra room and worked with the university, so they constantly had people staying with them, and we were just their people for that semester. Their role was really more a place to stay, and they gave us breakfast and dinner. Then lunch was on our own,” Bradford said. “They (host family) also had two cats, which was really fun.” 

Along with growing to accommodate new housing and environmental circumstances, Bradford endured significant culture shocks.

“…In the United States, when you are walking down the street and you make eye contact with someone, you smile, right?” Bradford said. “…They do not do that in Europe. So really, the Americans are just walking around grinning at everyone. It just looked a little goofy.” 

Bradford spent her semester in Spain as a student, so she underwent enlightening educational experiences, not just on campus, but also by interacting with the Spanish culture and natives, which is precisely what characterized her trip. 

“I was in the city of Madrid, the capital. I was kind of staying in the most fun part. It’s called ‘Plaza Del Sol,’ and it’s the city center where all the fun things happen, it’s always bustling,” Bradford said.

Her expertise abroad helped her to realize her passion for the language itself, and to further broaden her horizons. 

“It was eye opening,” Bradford said, “how much of what I thought was limited language could actually have a lot of effect.”