Help! I need somebody… not just anybody!

When we first arrived in Spain and started getting barraged with academic-related information, Susan and Mayte stressed that we should get a tutor. And then they did it again before classes started. And keep doing it now as classes progress. “It’s never too late to get a tutor! We pay for it! And the tutors love it!” we keep hearing. Personally, I may or may not have completely dismissed them: I’m more than comfortable speaking Spanish, I’m a pretty good student, and at Tufts, I AM a tutor. There’s NO WAY I’d need a tutor!

Then I started my class at UAM—a Spanish literature course with a notoriously tough but fabulous professor. A couple weeks in and I was doing pretty alright, I felt pretty good! Then my professor announced we’d be having our midterm in two weeks and gave us the questions on the exam (I know, WOAH), and I realized that I’d somehow missed a big chunk of the material I was about to be tested on. Maybe that chunk happened to come from the two days I missed when I got lost on the Renfe (oops), or maybe my bilingual note-taking skills needed a little help. So in a frantic attempt to step up my academic game, I went on Moodle (which is UAM’s Dropbox/Blackboard/trunk) and searched for our class roster. From it, I emailed a name I’d heard praised in class but that was only pictured once on the roster (I’d heard Irene and Esperanza—but there were two Irenes and one Esperanza), and hoped for a reply.

The next day, I got a fantastic response from a girl I now call my lifesaver and tutor. Turns out, my bilingual note-taking skills weren’t the only problem—the things I expected out of my exam from my experiences in the states were completely different from what I should expect out of an exam in Spain. And in my bilingual efforts, I lost precious vocab words I needed to ace my exam for a professor who insists students use the “rich vocabulary the Spanish language has to offer.” Had I not gotten Esperanza to be my tutor, I would have probably failed!

But it doesn’t end there. Prior to getting a tutor as my last academic resort, I was the only person from my program in my class—a class that is full of kids in the major who have known each other since they got to college and are thus incredibly click-y. So I would get to UAM, sit in the back of the class by myself, and leave immediately after class. Now, I sit with Esperanza and her friends, who are quickly becoming my friends, too. We’re making plans to hang out and since the whole group is taking English, they’re really excited to hang out with us kids from the program!

Needless to say, I am SO GLAD I have Esperanza to guide me through my only non-program academic endeavor. She’s made the class much more fun and much less intimidating! So here’s where I give some much deserved props to Mayte and Susan for always reminding us of our option to have a tutor, and for always being so willing to help us find one! ¡Mil gracias!

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