JACOB BARBA- So let’s talk classes.
I’m a History and English major. You may be thinking that Spain might not be the best place to pursue an English major. You might be right. However, I’m lucky enough to have access to a university with a multitude of offerings with plenty of opportunities. Anyway, anything here can help my Spanish minor.
I’m taking four classes right now: Transatlantic Literatures, Advanced Spanish Language Studies, Literature and Culture in English-Speaking Countries in the Nineteenth Century, and Latin America Today (since 1973). They’re all taught in Spanish, except, thankfully, for the English class. The first two classes are actual program classes, while the last two I take in the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Today, we’re going to focus on the first two, because the Autónoma deserves its own post. Later, I promise.
Advanced Spanish Language Studies is pretty simple to explain. It’s a Spanish class, and it’s advanced. Man, writing a blog is easy.
Actually, the class is pretty fun. It’s taught by Enrique, a bundle of fun in the shape of a person. My class is particularly small, so it’s cozy with plenty of opportunity to talk and learn. We sit in class while Enrique jumps between topics seemingly at random, with only a casual glance at a few sheets of paper to show that he meticulously planned out the lesson. We learn about grammar and vocab, of course, but we also go through Spanish politics, Spanish culture, and cool places to visit.
I already have learned a lot in this class. I’ve gone over much of it before, but something about this class makes the words I’ve learned stick in my mind. Maybe it has something to do with my immediately practical use of all the vocab. We don’t learn the words for elephant or spacesuit helmet. Instead, we learn Eminently Practical Words, such as the word for elevator, or that thing that you use to call up to a person’s apartment. I don’t even know the word for it in English, but in Spanish I know it’s called a portero, and knowing that increases my comprehension so much. I finally, after eight years of studying Spanish, understand how to use the word “todavía”. Still, by the way. It means still, as in “I still do not understand the subjunctive mood at all.”
My other program class, and probably my favorite class right now, is Transatlantic Literatures. I could call any class where I got to read Latin American literature a good class, but this one has an added bonus in that the professor, Bethania Guerra de Lemos, Ph.D., is a great person to teach these authors. She’s from Brazil, and her Brazilian-accented Spanish is just so nice to hear. It’s one of the most distinctive things I’ve experienced about Spain. It’s sort of like she’s speaking Italian, except for the fact that I can understand her. It’s a sound to remember.
Aside from the professor, the class has great readings. I mentioned Latin American works earlier, but we also read plenty of Spanish authors. It’s a class about different perspectives across the Atlantic, after all. We’ve already gone through a few chapters of Don Quixote, as well as a poem and a short story directly related to Don Quixote, and we are right now working through a play called Luces de Bohemia, written by a man called Valle Inclán. He’s pretty crazy. Lost one of his hands in a bar fight and had a long and wild beard, almost like a scrappy Santa Claus. His plays are equally outrageous, full of hyperbole and crazy. Given what we’ve read so far, I’m really looking forward to what we do next in this class.
So those are my program classes. I wish I was able to take more, but I just don’t have the room in my schedule. If I were staying for a year, I’d take as many as possible. Since I’m not, I’ll just have to enjoy them while I have them.