Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Salamanca: La ciudad de arte, saber y toros

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.



  1. "LUUUCCCKYYY" re: your job! How fun. And you're a cute American girl. I am sure all the Spainards dreading their English II courses the way we dreaded our Spanish II actually are a little excited now. Well, the boys, anyway. Love you! Ana

  2. Not sure why it's forcing me to reveal my little spoken of blog. Maybe because FINISHING it is my New Year's resolution... And you can see the last date reads August something! Oops. Accountability. Never fun!! Love you, a.

  3. Thank you, Dad and Ana. ¡Feliz día de San Valentín! I love you both.