As her plane was slowly taxiing toward Madrid-Barajas Airport, Shanna Davis fingered the Spanish-English dictionary in her hands, debating on whether or not to toss it back into her carry-on bag. “I’m just really looking forward to having a chance to put the Spanish I learned in high school to use. Really immerse myself in the culture, you know?” Confidently tucking the book in the seat-back pocket in front of her, she boasted “I got an A both years I took it.”

The moment the 26-year-old traveler stepped out of the jetway and into the bustling airport, she was overcome with the excitement of being enveloped by this new exotic world she had dreamed of since junior year. Unsure of her surroundings, Shanna leaned in toward a customs agent. “El baggage claim?” she asked loudly, slowly enunciating each syllable. “Gracias,” she responded to his hand gesture. “Me gusta tu country! Is muy beautiful!”

Still unable to find the baggage claim after wandering in the direction of the agent’s pointed finger, Shanna sought assistance, interrupting a British couple in mid-conversation to ask, “Hablas Ingles?”

By Kendra Coleman