Hittin’ the (Spanish) books

As I look through some of the things that I’ve documented throughout my journey so far, I realize that I have yet to talk much about my classes and academic investments. This semester I’m taking 5 classes, and they total to 13 credit hours. Also, I’ve been tutoring a woman named Mercedes in English for some pocket change. Here’s the run down:

On Mondays and Wednesdays I have 3 classes and tutoring. I start my day with my culture class, which I have found to be very interesting. Not to mention, this class is more discussion-based, which I tend to prefer. The professor is knowledgeable yet fun and I find that my first hour and a half always flies by. Next I have advanced grammar. This class isn’t my favorite because it’s a lot of nitpick-y tedious rule learning, but luckily most everything is review. Although, grammar does come easily to me and the things that are slightly new or different are interesting because the grammar that we learn is exactly what is used in every day speech here. Then, we have a lunch break, which is followed by our literature class. I like this class a lot too as it is also very discussion-oriented. Furthermore, studying literature gives us a great excuse to widen our vocabulary.

After school ends and I come home for lunch, I walk about 10 minutes to Mercedes’ piso to help her with her English. Mercedes is the sweetest 30-something year old woman, studying to become certified as a bilingual teacher. The test she is studying to take is an oral test, so so far we have mainly just been engaging in normal conversation. She tells me about the Spanish school system and the American TV series that she watches, and I tell her about my experiences here and my life at home in the United States. It has been so much fun to chat with her, and her English is very strong. I am confident and hopeful that she passes her upcoming exam, she certainly deserves it!! Furthermore, passing the exam would allow her to get a job closer to home, and spend less than 12 hours out of the house for work every day. I can imagine that gets exhausting.

Then, on Tuesdays, I don’t have class!! Holla. Come March, I will be sitting in on a math class on Tuesdays just to listen, but until then I don’t have formal class. I do, however, have the service component of my service learning course. This consists of me hosting a free conversational English class at the Immigrant Center in Alcala de Henares, a resource for anyone who wishes to use their services. The first week, nobody showed up (which I had mixed feelings about). Although, this week I had five students. One was a teen from Romania, and the rest were middle-aged adults from the Madrid area. All of them were super friendly, and all but one could understand and speak very well. I could tell that the student who was having more trouble was feeling uncomfortable, and I think we may arrange to meet outside of class instead to do a sort of language exchange. I’m really excited for the rest of the semester with my new pupils, and I hope that I can make the class beneficial for them!! Starting February 7th, I will also be “tutoring” for another family on Tuesdays. I say “tutoring” because I’ll really just be playing with a 2 year old and 4 year old in English as a way to help them develop their language skills without them even knowing it.

On Thursdays, we have our oral proficiency class and our service learning theory class. Oral proficiency is only a 1 credit hour class, and we spend it discussing topics that interest us regarding Spain. For example, last class period we talked about fashion and weddings and other social get-togethers. The professor we have for this class is from Spain, so it is always interesting to hear what she has to say about Spanish culture in contrast to American culture. Then, in our service learning theory class, we just talk about our experiences with our service projects each week and the best way to move forward.

With no Friday classes, I finish the week early and usually with minimal homework. Who knew life could be so wonderful, am I right??

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