Non incautus futuri

A Washington & Lee junior and Marine Officer Candidate in Spain

Observation

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So, I’ve reached that part of the program where I get to take a real class, with real Spaniards!

TV informs me that my fellow students will all look like this.

Before I could sign up for my UA class, I had a weeklong observation period where I’d show up, audit the class, and figure out if it was going to work out. One particular day, I was auditing a class called “Analysis and Redaction of Spanish Texts.” I figured it was some sort of survey of Spanish literature. Anyway, here’s how it all went down:

5:20 PM: I successfully find the building and then the classroom. I feel accomplished. My successful use of the Campus Map has redeemed my navigational disgrace in Toledo. I go inside the classroom — I’m the first one there. Perfect. I pick a seat in the back.

5:25: People are drifting in. One girl, then a bunch of girls. Then more girls. I have a good feeling about “Analysis and Redaction of Spanish Texts.”

5:30: The classroom is FULL of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. There is one other guy in the class, but he appears to be with his girlfriend. Several of these women cast glances my way. I am not sure if it is because I am something of an oddity in this female-dominated room, or because I am extraordinarily handsome. I decide to believe the latter.

5:31: I like this class.

5:35: The class has begun. The professor gives a little slideshow and talks very quickly. I lean forward and listen as carefully as I possibly can. It takes a lot of energy, but I’m catching about 95 percent of what he says.

5:50: The professor has handed out worksheets. No big deal.

5:51: The worksheets are in valenciano. It’s a dialect of Catalán, a regional language quite different from Castilian Spanish. WHAT??!

5:55: The students around me are working busily. I stare at my paper and sound out the words, trying to find Castilian meanings for the Valencian sentences. Llengua de parlants o oients reales (pot haver-hi una certa abstracció). Presta atenció a l’oral colloquial.  I have no idea what this means.

6:15: The girl next to me is helping me read. I feel like Adam Sandler in “50 First Dates,” except I really can’t read. I am the classroom dunce.

6:16: I don’t like this class.

The other class I observed, Contemporary Hispanic-American Literature, went much better. There were about 80 students in the class (bigger than any W&L class I’ve ever had — there were people spilling out into the aisles!) and many of them were foreigners (several Italians, a couple Americans, some French, and a Belgian to my knowledge).

The entire two hours were spent with the professor lecturing. There was very little student input, which apparently is typical in Spanish universities. But the material was fascinating and the professor seemed really knowledgeable. She speaks really quickly, but I’m able to follow about 98 percent of it. I think I found my UA class…

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Written by Lee

September 19, 2011 at 14:26

Posted in Spain

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