Let me make one thing clear: I have been speaking Spanish for a very long time. Not like “since middle school” kind of long, but “since I was in diapers” long. So, I think that warrants some confidence in my knowledge of the language considering I come from a very non-Latin/Spanish family. But why bring all this up? I promise I’m not trying to overcompensate for anything, I am simply trying to make sense of a very puzzling situation.
This fall, aside from my classes at my IES Abroad Granada center, I enrolled in a class at the University of Granada (UGR). As with the rest of my classes this semester, the course is taught entirely in Spanish — which, up until now, has never been a problem for me.
It’s no secret that when you grow up being taught Latin American Spanish, Spain Spanish is going to be a bit more challenging to speak and understand. Especially when you move to a city in the heart of Andalucia — a region known for its particularly tricky-to-understand accent. Yet, bar the occasional need for someone to repeat themselves, I’ve been able to navigate this new style of speaking with little to no issues. I understand all of my IES professors, I can easily order food at restaurants, and can pick up a solid conversation with just about anyone I meet out on the town. Which brings me to my puzzling situation:
I can’t for the life of me understand anything my UGR professor says!
Alright, that is a slight exaggeration, but seriously I can only pick up bits and pieces; and it’s bugging me so much because this has never happened to me before. What’s more is that the class I’m taking is literally a Psychology of Language class. Clearly, the universe is playing a sick joke on me.
Now, you might be thinking I’m just not trying hard enough, because if I can understand everyone else I should be able to understand this professor, right? Well apparently not! Trust me, I've tried focusing all my brain power, tried closing my eyes and just listening, tried taking clues from his notes, nothing works. At one point I thought “maybe it’s his mask, it would be better if I could read his lips.” But then he took his mask off in one class. Still nada. I even tried asking some of the local students, and even they said they had trouble understanding him! At this point, I was giving up hope.
That’s a lie—I did give up hope. For a brief moment (aka a class or two) I resigned myself to not understanding and could feel myself simply tuning out. But then I remembered that I had wanted to take this class for a reason, and I wasn’t gonna let one guy’s accent define my Spanish knowledge (not to mention I remembered grades exist and that I didn’t wanna fail the class). So! I sent him a few emails, caught up on the readings, and am ready to tackle the rest of the semester with a different attitude.
I am here abroad for a lot of reasons, but improving and building on my Spanish was one of the main ones. I’ve got to take this challenge and run with it, and not let this one class negatively affect my overall academic experience. Plus, maybe I can turn this whole Psychology of Language irony into some useful research about accents and speech (something I’m actually quite interested in). Overall, I know I went on a brief rant there, but I hope someone can take my experience and apply it to their own struggles. However, I equally hope nobody else has to deal with this, because man is it rough. But nothing that I can’t handle!
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<p>Hey Y'all! My name is Katie and I am so excited to be studying in Granada, Spain this fall! I go to Occidental College in Los Angeles and am a psychology major with a double minor in linguistics and journalism. I am very active in my school's dance community and have choreographed twice for our all-school showcase called Dance Production. As a dancer, I can't wait to learn more about Flamenco and explore new music from the area. I love going on long walks, trying out new foods, and I'm very much a movie nerd. I'm looking forward to sharing my adventures with you, and hope you enjoy reading along with me!</p>