Day 1 as a student at La Universidad de Salamanca

courtyard of University of Salamanca with statue of Fray Luis de Leon¡Que día!

My head is whirling! 7 hours of classes today; I feel like I have been run over by a bus – a very Spanish bus!  My language class is great; I am the only “Kiwi” in there amongst Americans, a Canadian, Japanese, Chinese, an Italian  and a Swiss girl.  Our teacher, Isabella, has an excellent manner with everyone and certainly keeps the class working at a good pace whilst also at a pace that we all seem to be able to cope with.  We are looking at “Hipotesis” or probability which is a little confusing to say the least.  However, we are getting lots of practice and I don’t think I am far behind everyone else.  I need to brush up on my knowledge of tenses though!
My History class was interesting; Concha (short for Concepcion, and as she said, who would want to be called Concepcion?!)  spent most of the hour getting us to introduce ourselves.  We had some good conversations and opportunity to practise speaking but only managed 10 minutes or so of history. She also talks really loudly which is quite hard to cope with – maybe I’ll get used to it!?  We are the only students in the class so it has been tailor made for us which is good but it also means we don’t get the interaction with other students.

detail of carving in sandstone on building in Salamanca, Spain
detail of carving in sandstone on building in Salamanca, Spain

No rest for us as we go straight to our next class at 1pm.  Spanish Literature; only 3 of us in this class that we have slotted into half way through the course. It is interesting but challenging.  The rest of the students have an excellent level of language skills and as the course is halfway through they also have the background knowledge that we don’t.  However, Antonio, our teacheris very good and because it is a holiday tomorrow and some students have chosen to “hacer el puente” (basically take an extra day off to make a long weekend) he did a one-off lesson looking at a couple of love poems. (Lorca and Fernandez) which gave us a general introduction to the topic and an idea of the level we would be working at.
2pm saw us all together again for an hour and a half of “Pedagogia”.  I may have been fairly tired by this point but I found this session totally irrelevant and frustrating especially after a morning of inspiring and interesting classes. The teacher, Pilar, talks very loudly and although she seems to have prepared a raft of activities ( we were given a hefty tome of resources), we didn’t get to do any of them. She just talked ten to the dozen about the activities contained therein.  We have all been teaching for a good while and are experienced teachers – what we need is plenty of language activity practice – hands on stuff!  Unfortunately, after a quick run home for “lunch” (3.30pm!) we had to be back for another hour and a half with her!

panoramic image of la Plaza Mayor, Salamnca, Spain

By 7pm we definitely needed a beer so a few of us headed to the Plaza Mayor to find the sun and some cerveza and share our experiences of the day.  I was glad to hear that I was not the only one with the same frustrations about the last two sessions!
Back home for dinner which was delicious but I am still not tuned in to the Spanish timetable and at 11pm I am ready for sleep!

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