Monday, July 29, 2013

First Day of Classes in Argentina!

As I walked into the classroom of students for my Basic Spanish class, the third basic Spanish class I have taken in my educational career and surely the last, I was surprised to find that most of the students surrounding me were Americans. At least I thought that they were all Americans. They looked like me, were dressed mostly like me, and were conversing in English.

When the attendance sheet was passed around we each had to write down our country of origin. I happened to be sitting on the far side of the room and got the sheet after the majority of the class had filled it out. To my surprise, there were only 3 or 4 American students in the room besides myself. Filling up the list was Italy but there were also students from Germany, Holland, Canada, Norway, and Denmark. Keep in mind this was just a class of 20 or so students.

Universidad de Belgrano (it's 18 stories tall!)
It was a kind of incredible feeling to not be able to tell the difference between us. Even when we were in the hallway with Argentinian students mingling through, it was almost impossible to separate who was who. There's something special about being in a place where you are just a person, rather than a flag.

As far as the actual class went though, I feel like I'm actually going to learn Spanish this time. The biggest difference is that we have to speak it, out loud, several times throughout the class. In high school and even in college I can count the number of times I was forced to speak Spanish aloud in class on one hand. Even after just one class I can feel more confident, that may also be the fact that I've had to use Spanish on a daily basis. This time around I also am truly willing to put in the work necessary to learn. I think it's difficult to understand how disabling a language barrier is until you personally experience one, from the foreigners end. I hope that after leaving Argentina I can continue studying Spanish and possibly learn more languages (a pipe dream it seems at the moment, but I'm confident it can happen).

Overall, class here is very similar to in the United States. Unlike popular belief, you have to show up on time. You also still have homework and aren't allowed to talk or text during class really. The only real difference is that they use chalkboards instead of dry erase boards.

But my advice to anyone you still has a chance to head my wisdom, take language classes seriously. Don't learn the information for the test and don't be afraid to say it out loud. You sound much less stupid than you think and someday you will regret not actually trying if you don't. You always have the chance to try again, like I am! But this would be significantly easier if I had just put some effort into freshman year Spanish!


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