I thought this day would never come. But it came. So fast.
A week ago, we all got an email from awesome David about the “Fiesta de Despedida.” Students, staffs, professors, and host families were all invited. After taking our last IES class final (spanish oral exam) we walked over to Hotel NH, the venue for today’s fiesta. Everything was very classy at the NH. Gourmet canapés/wine/beer and even zumo de naranja!! We mingled around while eating and drinking. I introduced my dear host mom to my professors. We took pictures together.
People who only took IES classes said goodbye to Salamanca (or will be saying bye in 24hrs.)
People who take classes in Universidades stay little longer to take final exams. I have my European Union law exam on Tuesday and political economy on Thursday. My EU law exam just terrifies me because one, it is LAW and two, it is an oral exam. I’m hoping that being in a hermit mode till Tuesday will get me thru the test. Espero que sí!
Speaking of university finals, I just want to give you some tips on taking classes at Universidades. Although more challenging than IES classes, I would definitely recommend taking a class or two at local university. My spanish was horrible when I got here, and I seriously thought about not taking any classes at the universities here. But you should keep in mind that your spanish would improve quickly and it would not be as hard as you’ve imagined.
1. When choosing courses: better if
-you have background knowledge in that subject
-you are really really interested in the subject (for me, my EU law class is so interesting I took the risk of taking third year student’s class; IES usually recommends taking first year classes)
-other folks at IES take the same class with you (but this is not that important)
2. Communicate with your professors
I’m used to “liberal arts college style” prof-student relations–that is, hanging around during office hours and lots of emails and personal chats and stuff. But you can’t really expect that here. It depends on professors, but they are usually not as prompt as American professors in replying to emails, not “that” available/accessible.
But you still want to talk to them. Catch them after class and explain your situation. How you feel about the class, how you are interested in talking to them, all your concerns and interests. If you show them that you are a hardworking foreign student, they will be willing to help you out.
3. Make Spanish friends in your class
Spanish friends are not only for fiesta but also for study. Many of them are super friendly and willing to help. Ask them if you don’t understand something. My wonderful friend Maria in my EU law class has been willing to help me all the time and I just don’t know how to thank her! I wish she could come to the States to study abroad so that I could help her out with English classes.
4. Try harder than los españoles in your class.
Because I had trouble understanding spanish when I first got here, I recorded lectures with my phone. Now that I’m studying for my finals, I am replaying the lectures and realizing every moment “oh when did I learn that??” Classes from the first few weeks are completely gone from my memory and recorded lectures are my savior. Of course, once your listening improves (which happens during the first one and a half month or so) you don’t need to rely on recorded lectures. So if you are worried about your spanish, think about recording the lectures during the first few weeks.
Good luck everyone with finals!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Janice is a junior from Claremont McKenna College, majoring in Government and Literature. Although Janice was born in California, she grew up in South Korea for almost twenty years before she came back to SoCal for college. Janice loves chocolate ice creams, Dostoevsky, ribbons (blue and pink), Korean food, (her) diary and black dresses. She also likes to write stories, cook, bake, and bask in the sun. Janice has never been to Europe and is super excited to spend her semester in Spain.</span></p>