I learned this week that Salamanca is commonly described as a city of "arte, saber y toros." Art, because of the architecture of the old buildings; knowledge, due to the presence of two notable universities (USAL is one of the world's oldest universities, along with Oxford and Cambridge; Christopher Columbus used the library here before he left of his voyage to the Americas-luckily, the university has updated its maps since then, haha); and bulls because...well, it is Spain, after all.
I began working in the English department on Tuesday. I worked with English II students during their conversation hour. My role is to speak, in English (maybe one of the easiest jobs I will ever have, no?). The department wants the students to be able to hear a native speaker. We discussed living in a city versus living in a village. Only one of the professors in the entire department is a native English speaker. Thursdays I will work with the writing section.
I will also help a professor of English I plan her lessons and grade papers (unfortunately, our class schedules are the same, so I am unable to help in the classroom).
I had one of those experiences of which parents dream, a moment where I could say, "you were right, I was wrong." But this time it is my Spanish professors from the States who will appreciate this lesson I learned. The professor and I discussed after classes a common problem in any class: there are students who like to talk, and students who do everything in their might to avoid talking. It was clear that there are 2-3 students in every class that are comfortable speaking, and therefore dominate the conversation, almost out of necessity. I did confess that I have always been the timid student who avoided speaking in class in order to avoid embarrassing myself. It wasn't that I was uninterested or was trying to prove something, I am just introverted and therefore shy at the opportunity to speak in a large group, in a foreign language. However, I also admitted that if I could change that about my past, I would. I needed that practice, thinking quickly, participating in conversation. Now, living in Spain, it is a bit painful when I am in conversation. I desperately want to participate (knowledgeably), but haven't exercised that ability. I am paying for it now; it is a bit more difficult to avoid speaking Spanish here, though!
The Philology Department is in buildings that used to be a palace. The "cafeteria" (more like a restaurant/bar) of the department is located in a dark, narrow, brick-walled room that used to be the stables of the palace. My professor and I had a cup of coffee in between classes; well, actually, we were twenty minutes late to the next class. It is strange getting used to the different concept of time!
It is snowing here tonight, and though it is a wet snow with little chance of accumulation, it is making me think of home. I hope you all are safe and warm.