We have now completed a full week of classes. On Monday we all took a test to assess our ability to write and read Spanish. We were nervous about the test and what would be on it. The first five questions were answers or responses to questions, and we had to write the question. Some of them were easy like “Soy de España” and the question would be “¿De donde eres?” or “¿De donde es usted?”. One of the answers was “L-U-I-S”. I thought the question might be “How do you spell Luis?” so I wrote that as best as I could. After the test I thought it might have been funnier to write “Repitamelo” which I think means “Repeat that to me” as if I was an ignorant American and the Spaniard had to spell his name out to me. On another section of the test we had to write answers to questions. One of the questions was “¿Sabe usted donde está el banco?” or “Do you know where the bank is”? I wrote something like “There is one on every corner” because it appears there are banks everywhere in my neighborhood, or at least ATMs. I told my host mother this story and she laughed pretty hard at that. After the written part we stood in line and waited to talk to a professor. They would be assessing our speaking ability. After we all finished taking the tests we exchanged stories about our experiences. Some people had in depth conversations, others like myself stumbled through three sentences. I’m not sure what the professor assessed from our conversation, but I was placed in an advanced class.
Our first day in class was Tuesday. I felt completely overwhelmed. It was as though I understood the meaning of maybe 30% of what the professor was saying and was lost the rest of the time. I have always wanted to experience taking classes in a university setting conducted in a language other than English. My experience was exactly how I expected it to be, the feeling of being lost and unsure of exactly what was going on.
My first class of the day is the advanced class. My professor is Enrique or Quique or Kike. He is easy-going, funny, thoughtful, passionate and is fun to be with. His facial expressions are great and he likes to use present day information when creating examples. On Thursday he explained how the word que in porque is like a catalyst in a reaction and referred to the Boson-Higgs news from the day before. As to his being funny, someone asked if Spanish speakers from Seville speak differently from those in Asturias. He replied that they tended to drop consonants and proceeded to exaggeratedly mumble as though he were speaking Spanish without consonants. He then explained that people from Cadiz are even worse and that if you can understand people from this area, your Spanish comprehension is top notch. My other class is with Professor Duran. We have a very intimate class of 6 for Hispanic Readings. We have been reading a short story by an Asturian author. The first day I tried to read the homework I felt like I only understood five per cent. However in less than four days I, with the help of a good online dictionary, have been able to complete a story written entirely in Spanish. I didn’t think it was possible. I was wrong. After a week of classes I am looking forward to the weekend but I am truly enjoying each day here at the University of Oviedo.