Reflections of a Local Traveler_by Aja

We have officially completed the first week of classes, schedules are close to being finalized, and all the new and returning students seem to be settling in wonderfully. As a full year student, it has been so exciting to meet new people and create new friendships and connections with the Spring students. It is really amazing to experience the new wave of energy and excitement this semester’s students have brought to the program center during the first week of classes. 
One of the most exciting parts of the first week has been my first few visits to the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, where I will begin taking classes this semester. As a Spanish and Art double major, I have so many different options for classes between the UAM, the program center, and private art studios. Last semester, I took Spanish for Heritage Speakers, a class offered at the program center, which will count toward my Spanish major. This semester, I will be taking one of my Spanish classes at the UAM. Being that my two majors are such different fields of study, my classes this semester are a bit spread out around the city. I bounce around from art studios and classrooms a lot. I have one Studio Art class at a private studio, one Art History and one Literature class at the program center, and a class at the UAM. I am a huge fan of the amazing public transport system here in Madrid, and my commute to and from classes has become one of my favorite parts of life here. While planning my schedule and classes, I made sure I would have enough time to enjoy and relax during my various metro, bus, or train commutes around the beautiful city of Madrid. 
The best part about pursuing a double major while studying in Madrid is that I get to have a variety of academic experiences. Taking Studio Art classes at private studios here is very different than the Skidmore art class experience; the classes are typically diverse in age, interest, and in art experience. Art classes have provided great opportunities to communicate and converse with locals, practice my Spanish skills, and learn more about the city from the people who know it best! Most of the time, the other students in classes I’ve taken are not familiar with the Tufts-Skidmore program. I really appreciated this aspect of my Ceramics class last semester, which I took at El Alfar studio. Every time I was in class, it was complete linguistic and cultual immersion. Not only was it nice to take a break from a learning environment where I was only in classes with American students, but talking to people of all different ages was a really rewarding part of my time there. Some of the other ceramics students have lived in Spain their whole lives, some moved here from Central and South America to study and now are living here, and others were from other cities in Europe. I learned so much about Spain, about the culture here, and about the history of Madrid just from having conversations with the other students in class. I also naturally picked up a lot of new vocabulary and slang just having casual conversations with everyone there. 
I am really looking forward to what this second semester will bring, and to all the new experiences that I will get to have this Spring in and out of the classroom. 

Aja Golman, student blogger primavera 2020

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