Amanda Bennett: A Year in Zaragoza, Spain

Classes in Spanish, Except English October 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — psychohistoria @ 4:15 pm

“¡Ay, niña, qué buena pinta tienen!” Carmen, my host mother, is complementing the éclairs I’ve just finished making. The cream filling is cooling and I’ve readied the puffs for completion, and since we don’t have any bar chocolate handy for frosting, I’m planning on topping them with Nutella. However, to prevent myself from prematurely pouring the lovely cream into the puffs, I’ve decided to write a little something to force patience.

My mother asked me about my classes a few days after they started. I have waited to write about them because my first impression was not very rosy: the classes were boring and the homework unstimulating. However, since the first few days, everything has improved exponentially.

The English teacher, who gave us an in-class essay on the first day, has really grown on me since that not-so-happy first impression. Our first book for English wass Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which I read during sophomore year. The fact that I was rereading the literature made English less enjoyable, but I enjoyed listening to the comments of virgin readers with the foreknowledge of what will happen. Our current book is Song of Solomon, which I’m enjoying much more.
Geography of Spain is the topic which is starting off my Spanish History course. Since many students don’t have advanced levels of Spanish yet, geography is something relatively language-light, although memory-heavy! We have already memorized all 50 provinces and the 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain. The teacher is the same as for my Political Science class.
My Spanish Journalism class will produce two newspapers by the end of the year, and so far we have brainstormed topics and talked about the process. I am the only student with experience working for a school newspaper before. The layout of the paper is my group’s task, which happens before the article assignments here (the opposite of the Scroll). I recently wrote an article to send back to the Scroll, and the journalism teacher helped me think of topics to write about since I only had a few days to complete the article. I’ve enjoyed the readings for the class so far: memoirs and interviews with famous Spanish and American journalists.
My Spanish class, Humor, hasn’t tackled anything about jokes or puns yet; we’re currently focusing on vocabulary and some grammar review. The class prepares us to take the DELE exam, which is a professionally-recognized test for proficiency in Spanish as a foreign language. I absolutely love the professor – she is very kind but also controls the class well.
In Mediterranean and Spanish Art History, we’ve learned the format for critiquing a work of art (which involved learning a lot of art-focused vocabulary), and are looking at prehistoric art right now. During our trip to Albarracín, we explored a pine forest with some prehistoric paintings, and were able to identify the period and appreciate the paintings more. The professor has a doctorate in art history, although he has started off very slowly – my class contains some of the most basic Spanish speakers, which makes things difficult.
Finally, Political Science is my favorite class so far. Our homework assignments have varied between reading handouts regarding ideas such as power, authority, legitimacy, and force, the history of governments, and the newspaper. The professor is very animated and excited about the class, which makes it a lot more fun.
The class day begins at 9 o’clock and ends at 5:15, with a 35 minute morning break, one or two free periods, and an hour and a half for lunch, which we take at a local high school within walking distance. I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to school and back. On my way home I pass this brilliant bakery, and I always stop to look in the windows, making for a sweet finish to the long class day.

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