Well, it’s that time of year again: like an all-encompassing seasonal pollen allergy, I’m receiving irritating daily reminders that it’s time to register for courses back at Tufts.
What is Tufts?
I am pretty firmly rooted in the “never-going-back-ever” camp but Susan, our program director, only laughed at me when I asked if I could finish my degree here. I think she thought I was kidding. So in the spirit of filling up my SIS shopping cart, having a mandatory topic about my classes to address in the blog, and shirking my responsibilities back in Medford, here is a bit of a rundown of my classes in Madrid:
A Spanish grammar course is requisite of every non-native speaker in the program, so I can say that we braced ourselves for a review of the preterit and imperfect tenses that were the bane of my eighth-grade Spanish career. However, our professor Enrique has easily presented the material in the most dynamic and engaging way that subjunctive could possibly be taught. Enrique has caused a lot of ripples in the Tufts-Skidmore Spaom community for his incredible likeness behaviorally to Steve from Blue’s Clues. He also incorporates movies, debates about current events, and explications of everyday life in Spain into our classes.
I’m also enrolled in a class called Is Spain Different? Which deals with the state of the Democracy and current political climate after the transition from Franco’s dictatorship. Jury is out on whether Spain is different, but it’s a really cool course. We have a lot of field trips that allow us to actually pick the brains of politicians and experts in the community. I also had the chance to go into Professor Lobera’s class for fourth-year students at el Universidad Autonoma de Madrid to discuss perceptions of race and prejudice in the US versus Spain, which was easily one of the most fascinating things I’ve had the chance to do, if not for the content than just for the chance to see how heated their in-class discussions become.
After that welcome respite from graduation requirements back in Medford, I digress—I also had the chance to knock out some of those mandatory art distribution requirements here in Spain through my Prado class, as well as Sketchbook. I love having the opportunity to see the museum in detail, as I am perpetually the one stuck behind four or five paintings (or rooms) back. This class-mandated speed of “take your sweet, thorough time” is right up my alley, and has helped me become much more well-versed in the works of Titian, El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya—I can at least pretend to be cultured.
My Sketchbook class is great; it takes us across the city to different locations in order to draw, but has also become meditative time with myself, my music, and my toddler-like fine motor skills and questionable depth perception. We recently finished our nude portraits of a live model, and mine bear a slight resemblance to a bare Mr. Potato head that has been dented and chewed on by a dog. But I’ve been getting better!
I’m also lucky enough to be molding young minds of my own…Indeed, some crazy, misguided person is allowing me to give English lessons at UAM. My pupils are between 20 and 26 years old, and the most frequently stated “hidden talent” during our name game was “drinking beer with friends.” One of their recent vocab words was the phrase “getting lit,” so it seems like we’ve really adopted the Montessouri method and molded the education to the students. They are so lovely though, and working with them is a pleasure. The next mission is to actually hold class in a frozen yogurt shop.