Lucas Rubin, who is pursuing a dual degree in Spanish in LSA and Voice Performance in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) said his background in music, including singing opera, has helped him immensely in his study of Spanish.   

“Having an ear for music and an ear for language are one in the same,” Lucas remarked.  “That has been a really transferable thing for me.”    

“A lot of my training as a musician has lent itself so well,” he continued.  “So much about linguistics is about perceiving speech, tone, dialect, accent, intonation, etcetera.”

Lucas began studying Spanish in sixth grade, and continued his study throughout high school.  He said he knew he wanted to study Spanish when he came to U-M, as he really enjoyed it and he valued the opportunity to connect and communicate with others through the language.

“I was a Spanish minor from the beginning here at U-M,” he said.  “Then, in the spring of 2020, I had the chance to slow down.  I knew I wanted language to be a bigger part of my life and my education and my professional aspirations.”   

It was then that Lucas decided to pursue the Spanish major.  Along with that, it meant completing all the requirements for a degree from LSA with his existing Voice Performance degree requirements through SMTD.

This Spring 2022, Lucas studied abroad in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, through the U-M Center for Global and Intercultural Study.

On the program, Lucas and his classmates took Spanish linguistics courses with RLL faculty members Professor Nicholas Henriksen and Professor Lorenzo García-Amaya, as well as a course with a local professor from the University of Santiago de Compostela's Cursos Internacionales.   As part of the program, the students also hiked sections of the Camino de Santiago, a historical pilgrimage route.   

“The Camino is physically demanding, especially through the mountains,” Lucas remarked.  “It was hard and really cool; it was really nice to bond with my peers.  Out there on the Camino you’re so removed from the rest of the world, it is very reflective.”

“You meet people from all over the world, you get to ask them why they’re doing it,” he said.  “It is fascinating, there is something super-convivial about the experience.  It definitely has a magic to it, it is hard to explain.”

Lucas recommends studying abroad to anyone who is able to do it.  “Using the language and living in the language is the number one thing you can do for yourself,” he said.  “You find yourself applying literally everything you learned.”

Lucas also seeks out ways to utilize his Spanish language skills while in Ann Arbor.  He has been volunteering as a Classroom Assistant with Professor Teresa Satterfield’s En Nuestra Lengua (ENL) program since October 2021.  Lucas said the program helps children who have grown up speaking both Spanish and English to gain greater proficiency in reading and writing in Spanish.

“The program has a cultural focus,” Lucas remarked.  “There is a huge emphasis on pride, of being proud of who you are, where you are from;  your family history, and language.”

Lucas does a variety of things at ENL, including assisting the primary classroom teacher with any technology needs, serving as a liaison between high school volunteers and the teacher, helping the students with various projects they are working on during class time, and communicating with parents.   

“As long as they’ll have me and as long as I’m able I want to be involved,” Lucas said.  “It is an amazing program; it is a privilege to be a part of it.”

Through the Spanish Club at U-M, Lucas has been volunteering his time for the past two years to tutor fellow students who are completing Spanish language coursework.   

“I’ve really enjoyed that, I really like helping people and it is a really good way to brush up on your grammar,” he said.    

Additionally, Lucas regularly attends RLL’s Tertulia weekly coffee and conversation hours.

“What I like about Tertulia is that it is the application of Spanish,” he said.  Utilizing his Spanish language skills “in everyday settings” is something Lucas said he valued about his study abroad experience as well.

After his upcoming graduation in December 2022, Lucas plans to continue on studying Spanish Linguistics at the graduate level, and also plans to return abroad.

“I’ve learned a lot here,” Lucas said.  “I have a greater sense of who I am and what I’m interested in and I’m sure there will be great opportunities ahead.”