How was your first day of school? Fine. Exhausting. A lot of syllabi. A lot of Spanish. Nothing new.
Except I’m in a whole other country. And in a castle. Right. That.
School in Spain: you have to go until you’re 16, there are some vocational programs, there are some catholic schools, etc. At 16 though, junior and senior year become some intensive college prep and then you try to get in to a public college because they are better than the private ones. They also cost less than 10% of what Northwestern costs. Bueno.
(There’s a fascinating social problem with almost what you could call ‘overeducation’ here. Everyone has a degree, most a masters, but unemployment is at 25%ish and no one can find a job simply because they don’t exist. However, we’ve met multiple engineers with jobs. Moral: don’t study Journalism, especially not if you’re contemplating living here forever. Note to self, change my major. Now.)
Now orientation has commenced– three weeks of many grammar worksheets, cute little ‘I Spy’ assignments around the city and a whole bunch of Youtube videos about Spanish culture. Much to the American student’s surprise, there is music in Spanish besides “Gasolina” and Juanes’ collection. We’re practicing how to lisp and mispronounce words so we fit in with the Andaluz culture here in the south – it’s sort of like the South in America – Northern people treat it with strong air of condescension compensated for by a global love for our weather and Costa del Sol beaches. And Cruzcampo beer, brewed on my street.
Our program’s office is on Paseo de las Delicias, in the same building as a McDonalds (pronounced: Mahkh Doughnelds) were they have free Wifi (pronounced: weefee). Here we have access to printing, internet, walls of books and some people to help us figure out why my Vodafone prepago plan is costing me a trillion euro and what the difference is between ser and estar and where the catalogue of cursos for the School of Filologia is.
Philology. That’s our home department en la Universidad de Sevilla. None of us have ever heard of philology. I’m pretty sure now that it’s an intensive pursuit of language backed by linguistics and cultural history. This is nice for me because I very much like history and culture and I’m here to learn Spanish. It also means I can take a class of Spanish cine and watch movies for the next few months and get a 300-level Spanish credit for it!
But, picking courses is near impossible when the website is in Spanish and most of the words are like ‘filologia’… If I can’t read the website, how am I going to understand a professor, with his silly Andaluz accento, in a class of Spaniards? Somehow, I will, apparently.