A Whole New Audience: Being a Communication Major in Spain
Communication isn’t just the actual task of writing or speaking as the name may suggest. It also has a lot to do with understanding the target audience. In this globalized and connected world, it is so important in the communication field to be aware of cultural differences and how that affects a person’s perceptions.
As a Mass Communication major with a minor in Spanish, I am learning to put myself in the shoes of a wide variety of people. In my opinion, there is no better way to do that than to learn a culture and language that is not my own. It challenges me and is at times uncomfortable but I am able to make myself aware of what differences are making me feel that way.
My classes at CEA, specifically Advanced Spanish and Communication and Global Competence, encourage this type of reflection. Each day we go into class and our professors ask us what cultural differences we have noticed or what experiences we have had in Spain and on our weekend travels. They encourage travel to other countries so that we expand our “database” as my one professor refers to our personal bank of knowledge about the world. Understanding cultural values is important when dealing with a global audience in the communication field. An advertisement that is a hit in one country may not make sense in another country and may even be offensive. The more you know about a demographic’s language, history, and culture, the more effective your advertisement, public relations campaign, or article will be.
In Spain, for example, during siesta (around 2 – 5 p.m.) there are not many people on the streets. However, the Spaniards stay out much later than we do in the United States. Sometimes even until sunrise! When it is not siesta, Spaniards prefer to be outside the home socializing on the streets with friends and family, enjoying the weather, and eating tapas. These differences in their daily lives would be helpful to know in order to create a successful campaign in Spain.
Every day I am thinking about how to relate to the people I am surrounded by. I am learning to adapt the way I communicate based on my audience. Being a communication major abroad is more than just going to class and being taught about cultural differences. The best way to become a more globalized professional is to experience it first hand.
Nicole F. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Mass Communication & Spanish at Towson University.