So I’ve finished my AND second days of school in Spain and I have to say it’s not that much different than school in the US. Given the fact that there is no English spoken here, although I’m very accustomed to classes completely in Spanish, the same basic atmosphere lingers and as usual the first days aren’t that important. We just went over the syllabus and expectations of the class room. So far my class schedule is the following…
1:00-3:00 Phonetics and Phonology of Spanish
7:00-9:00 Culture and Society in Present Day Spain
11:00-1:00 Spanish Syntax
1:00-3:00 Spanish-American Literature
Not a bad schedule I’d say! Only two classes each day, no class on Friday, and my earliest class isn’t till 11:00! I’m likin the “start school late” policy here. :) I do have one late class that doesn’t start til 7 at night, but honestly here 7:00pm is early as hell!! By the time class is over and I walk home, I’ll be just in time for dinner! If not a little early for it! I really enjoy the concept of time over here. I wish more places had a schedule like this.
Now what do these classes entail you ask? Well let me enlighten you…
First class, Phonetics and Phonology. Basically this class is all about why Spanish sounds the way it does and why words are created the way they are. It’s all about pronunciation, why some vowels are stressed or unstressed, occlusive, fricative or deleted consonants, the way you hear certain things depending on what language you grow up with, and the ways in which one has to overcome certain barriers to really know a language; barriers such as the development of certain muscles used in the mouth to pronounce certain words. A hard concept to explain to those who don’t major in a language, but none the less it’s way cool. Think about it. You can totally tell if someone isn’t a native English speaker. They have a particular difficulty pronouncing certain sounds in a word. AHHH! I love this stuff. I’m just a nerd though. Language=Love.
Second class, Culture and Society in Spain. This class is more of an anthropology class than anything. It deals with the idealisms of ethnocentrism and relativism, which are the ways in which a society views itself against the world. In this class we should learn why Spaniards do the things they do and why their customs are way different than the US or anywhere in the world for that matter. For example, when you greet someone here you give them two kisses on the cheek. Doesn’t matter if you are meeting them for the first time and they are a complete stranger to them. You kiss no matter what. However if someone were to do this in the US one, you’d probably get smacked, and two people might think you want more than just a business relationship. I’m excited for this one too. Should explain some of the oddities I find myself surrounded by every day. :)
Two down, two to go…Third class, Spanish Syntax. :))))) This class made me feel a lot better about not knowing my way around because even the teacher came in late and said he couldn’t find the classroom. :) Ok, so my nerd self is gonna come out here. This class is pretty much all grammar based. Another semi complicated concept to explain to non-language majors, but I’ll do my best. So syntax explains why a sentence is created the way it is. Why the subject goes here, the direct object there, the adverbial phrase here, attributes, and so forth. It also explains the flexibility or rigidness of a certain language. For example, Spanish is sooooooooo much more flexible than English. English can be a very “blunt” language, if I may, simple because of the direct way things are done. Sentence example!
I gave him the book.
Simple right? Can’t really say it any other way..
Him I gave the book. Book I gave him. Ehh…you can get it, but it sounds funny.
Now for Spanish. Very literal English translation…(taken word for word) then actual sentence
Le di el libro. Him I gave the book. AKA: I gave him the book
Lo di a él. Book I gave it to him. AKA: I gave it to him
Se lo di. Him it I gave. AKA: I gave it to him. (lo replaces libro, se replaces him)
Se lo di el libro. Him it I gave the book. AKA: I gave him the book
Se lo di el libro a él. Him it I gave the book to him. AKA: I gave the book to him.
Hopefully after all my hard work we can see that a Spanish sentence has a lot more options on where to place, in this case, direct and indirect objects. However, in English the sentence remains the same basic format. Spanish has this nice little trick of being able to repeat objects without sounding weird. English not so much. I probably didn’t make much sense there, but my nerd inside made me give an example. I love grammar. :)
AND FINALLY…Fourth class, Spanish-American Literature. For once this class title pretty much explains itself. Literature from the Spanish, in America. So pretty much everything that was written after 1492 when Christopher Columbus crisscrossed the ocean blue. *Real name= Cristóbol Colón. I really don’t know why all the English history books insist on changing someone’s name to make it more American or whatnot. It’s not like we meet someone named Margarita and start calling her Daisy. It’s just not done. But this poor guy wasn’t allowed the same fate. A bit annoying to me, so from now on I will forever refer to him as Colón.* ANYWAYS. (focus) Fortunately this class doesn’t go all the way back to 1492, but instead focuses on 1880 til the present. Authors such as José Martí, Rubén Darío, Jorge Luis Borges, and Gabriel García Márquez are just a few of the famous artists we will be seeing this semester.
I can’t wait to actually start learning about all these subjects. I have a basic understanding of how the school system is run here in Spain, but I’m sure I’ll find out more as time goes along. It’s weird to think that all my friends back home in the States are getting ready for midterms when I just finished my second official day, but that’s just another reason to love Spain even more.