The program classes at Tufts Skidmore Spain are great. They have offered a great chance to learn about specific parts of Spain and its culture and get to know my fellow program students better. However, when I came to Spain I wanted to take the opportunity to immerse myself academically, more so than just living in the city. Luckily with the program I can push myself into the life of a local college student a bit more. You can take a class at one of two local universities in the area. This semester I am taking a class at UAM or Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. This is a large public university in the northern corner of the city (different from the US, public universities are considered more prestigious than private ones, because you have to acquire the proper test grades for your course of study). Through trial and error, and checking out a few different classes I found myself in Arte desde 1945, a class on modern art in the Art History Department. I may be a bit biased because I love art history, but it is fantastic. I’m the only Erasmus student in the class, but I still feel comfortable following along in lectures and answering questions.
In addition to the fun, immersive challenge of taking the class, in Arte desde 1945 it is fascinating to hear about very famous, well-known American painters in a Spanish university and what kind of cultural impact they have in a global context. What kind of 1950s-70s American culture has taken residency? Lectures have included more strictly European artistic movements and collectives I may not have heard about in an American university art history class. Arte desde 1945 is also an interesting viewpoint into Spanish university culture, where protocols like yawning or eating in class, asking questions or the timeliness of the students and professor can differ from the States.
Overall, this class is definitely a challenge, but an exhilarating one. I’m nervous for my finals exams and projects, but that’s how I feel back in Boston. Hey, maybe things aren’t so different after all.