Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Omans


Kevin Omans is a Korean-American adoptee who loves studying abroad to learn about languages and cultures. In his free time, he likes to play the piano, sing, and compose music.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I really wanted to improve my Spanish language skills, but I was having a difficult time fitting classes into my schedule. I had looked up SOL before through the internet and saw that they offered an intensive Spanish language course for 6 credits in 4 weeks in Argentina. It fit my university's calendar, and I knew I was ready to go.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program provider helped me by arranging the host family, choosing the language school, and organizing certain meet-ups and excursions.

I didn't have to organize much considering that it was a short program, but I did have to find my own flights. Since there were other places that I wanted to go to, my friends and I often planned different days out. This way, we were able to hit up a lot of museums and cultural areas. Additionally, when I got sick, SOL really helped me find a clinic, and I was able to get treatment.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I wish I had known that while many people call Argentina, and more specifically, Buenos Aires, the "Paris of South America", it still is the New World. The story of immigration really resonated with me, and I was lucky enough to be able to discuss this in class with my Argentine professor and my Venezuelan host family.

On a completely unrelated note, I also wish that I had known that Argentine food isn't very spicy; however, this is Buenos Aires! I definitely recommend trying Argentine food while also exploring the city for cuisine of many different kinds from people who may not be Porteño (people from Buenos Aires) but have made the city their home.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day of a participant would include waking up, commuting to school (usually through taking the city metro system), and then getting to take intensive Spanish courses with an instructor in a small, group setting. There's a short break in between classes, and then, students are usually free to explore the city.

The school also offered several extra-curricular activities including excellent Argentine film nights. SOL, the provider, also offered several excursions.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was that people would not be very accepting of either my sexuality or my race. I did face some people who would call me racist things in Spanish or try greeting me in random Asian languages mockingly, but nothing that I wouldn't come to face with in certain areas of my country (the US).

I did feel slightly threatened sometimes, but this was rare. As for my sexuality, while I'm not the most out person, most people were accepting of it, and it didn't seem to affect how people treated me. Young people especially seemed very tolerant of non-straight sexualities and gender identities.

Was the Argentine accent hard to understand?

Honestly, it took me a few days to get used to it. I remember learning about this accent in class, with the ll in ella and y in yo being pronounced like the French j or the s in measure, but it sounded more to me like the sh in shoe.

After a short amount of time, however, I could understand it just like other accents of Spanish. It was harder getting used to new vocabulary! I didn't know that gaseosa was a word for refresco before Argentina.

I also heard that it was hard sometimes for Argentines to understand me because I practice Spanish with a lot of people from Chile and the Caribbean, but as long as I slowed down and enunciated clearly, they understood me fine.