JOANNA DIMAS- To be honest, during the first weeks of my time in Madrid, I forget what school was for a moment. I felt as though I was on a vacation, simply trying to integrate myself into the Madrileño culture. However, when classes started, I struggled (a lot) getting back into the flow of my academics. I know that academics in Madrid are different from Tufts and far more manageable, but I struggled.
Having early classes on Mondays is difficult for me, especially having to commute by bus. I am by no means a morning person, so I really am being challenged. Secondly, I struggle reading in Spanish. Although I am a heritage speaker, reading and comprehension is not my strong suit. Growing up, I spoke and listened to native Spanish speakers, but I never had to read in Spanish. It really wasn’t until high school that I truly started learning academic Spanish. I also feel like I never have time to do my homework. I currently have an internship, I lead multiple English conversation classes at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, I am a student blogger, and I want to travel. But what has been most difficult is trying to find a place to study. It seems like people in Madrid do not put a big emphasis on doing work here. The libraries here are fairly small and cafés are occupied more for social gatherings.
But despite my rocky start with my schedule as a student, I really appreciate the professors. I admire how my Spanish Grammar class is catered to my learning as a heritage speaker and thus far I feel like my Spanish writing has improved. The literature classes I am taking are going well so far, I especially like my women’s studies class. Never have I enrolled in a woman’s studies class, let alone learn about about feminist writers. What I really admire about my professor is that she acknowledges the different topics of intersection within women’s studies, such as race, class, sexuality and education. And by far I love my Sketchbook class. We get to explore different cities in Madrid such as the Atocha Garden and contemporary art galleries like Just Mad. My classes in Madrid are different, but I really appreciate all that I am learning so far.
I am looking forward to my final projects. I am currently reading Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I will be focusing on the topics of Xicana identity and the female immigrant experience in the U.S. With my literature classes I will be able to read books that I have wanted to explore for my own personal growth. And I know that by the end of the semester, I will love to read for pleasure once more. School has been difficult for me, but I know returning to Tufts will be even more difficult. For now, I just to have to handle my assignments week by week.