My Last Post is About Program Classes

500 words. 500 words are all that separate me from the end of my tenure as a student blogger. 500 words, as it so happens, is 150 words longer than the longest paper that any student on the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program ever needs to write in the mandatory grammar class. Students write eight mini commentaries of 350 words each, and I’ll write this one final blog about my classes.
This semester, I have taken three program classes and four classes overall. I enrolled in the obligatory Spanish class, a literature class, and an art-history class. Combined, they only account for eight and a half hours out of every week, but my other class occupies the remaining 159 and a half. The program offers a course called “Is Spain Different?”, but I opted against taking it for credit. Instead, I’m auditing it in the real world. My fourth class has been life, and my life over the past three months has taught me that Spain is different.
The nice thing is that my formal classes have equipped me with the tools to better understand those differences; in “Advanced Spanish Language,” we have committed un montón of new words to memory, and I have been repeatedly struck by how useful the vocabulary is. For instance, the day after learning the words for a locker and a padlock, I used them in the process of joining a gym. We don’t just learn solitary words, though; we learn key phrases and idiomatic expressions, too. Thus, when my host brother Mario said a famous actress was “like a train” and my host mother Marisa responded that he was “like a goat,” I pictured neither a locomotive nor a barnyard animal.
I won’t reveal what I actually pictured, though. That’s for new students to learn next semester. They’ll also learn a ton of useful grammatical structures from a whole new perspective, and perennially foreign concepts like the subjunctive might finally begin to click into place.
There are some things, however, that remain incomprehensible to me. For example, how is it possible for human beings to have painted the jaw-dropping works of art that line the walls of the Prado Museum? Thanks to my “Discovering the Prado” class, I ask myself that question twice a week as I stand mere feet from the masterpieces. If left to my own artistic devices, I could do no more than botch a stick figure, but now, after a semester of learning to analyze the formal elements of paintings, I can at least comment more coherently on what the great masters like Goya, Velázquez, and Peeters were doing in their works.
Oh, how gloriously they capture the light! Check out those conic-frontal perspectives. And what about those interesting takes on classic iconography? Okay, so maybe I won’t have a long career as an art critic, but the class is about so much more than just art. It’s about history, about the wars, crowns, and controversies that have shaped the museum. It’s a class about a Spanish museum, and it’s a class about Spain.
If that class is about a Spanish museum, then my “Transantlantic Literatures” class is a Spanish library. Finally, I’ve met Don Quijote, the idealistic, spastic knight who continues charming Spanish hearts. Finally, I’ve read Garcia Lorca, and I can begin to understand the anguish that the literary world felt when fascist guns cut short his life in 1936. Like all of my program classes, my literature class has a passionate professor at the helm; this particular professor has tears in her eyes when she shares with us the stories of colonialist slaughters and societal injustices, but she is quick to point out the element of hope that is present in literature even at the darkest of times.
For me, this semester was not the darkest of times. Far from it. My three classes taught me a lot. They taught me about love, about friendship, about confidence. They taught me about wars, rebellions, and social ills. They taught me Spanish, and they made my semester interesting. Plus, they weren’t so demanding that I didn’t have time to enjoy my fourth class. You know, the one I’m calling life.

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