Amanda Bennett: A Year in Zaragoza, Spain

Cafe and Alas October 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — psychohistoria @ 9:47 am

“If I told you that instead of class today, we were going to go get coffee and tortilla, what would you think?” asked my journalism teacher. Nobody said anything. In my mind, I thought, “Breakfast class!” but I knew, should I speak aloud, that the Spanish words wouldn’t have the same meaning.
Our teacher was trying to tell us what happenings qualify as news. “It would be out of the ordinary, right?” she tried. I thought back to my friend’s French class, which met almost every Friday in the Koch Café.
As the journalism teacher moved on to another example, I, per usual, lost myself in comparisons to Deerfield.
Here in Spain, we memorize a lot. We have to: vocabulary, geography – classroom basics which we never learned in the United States. We all have the mental capacity of 16- or 17-year-olds, but the language skills of a kindergartener.
An additional problem is that our language levels are extremely varied. I arrived in Spain after completing Spanish V, an AP course. Other students just finished a public-school Spanish two – intelligent students, but trapped by a lack of language even more drastic.
Regardless, we all feel this linguistic claustrophobia. Today, discussing Greek art in Mediterranean Art History, the word for “wings” escaped me.
“The statue has the parts of birds that they use for flying,” I said, trying to make an insightful distinction between the Classical and Hellenistic periods. I remembered the word (alas) thirty seconds later. However, from now on, I won’t ever forget it.

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