Tag Archives: classes

The very very basics… Bonjour!

Classes are finally over and I get to live again. I get to learn all the things I want to learn during the entire summer and not the ones my textbooks impose on me. I get to start this summer with a clean slate.

Almost two months ago I decided to learn French for numerous reasons, but mostly because it has been a language I have always thought about but never really taken seriously. Now that I study literature and want to learn about the world, French appears to be everywhere. From the French names I can’t pronounce and the cuisine I’m unfamiliar with to the provinces and cities I have yet to explore in France. I have never been to Paris, and even though it seems to be on the top of everyone’s travel list, it’s not really on the top of mine. But it’s still there, because even if I’m not one of those true romantics, there’s still a certain magic that showers the city of love that I’m in love with.

That’s what I think about when I hear the language. French sounds like magic, it sounds like gloves holding a glass of cognac next to a gentleman with a mustache and a naked woman in a black and white image smoking a cigarette while  laying on top of her lover. French has a certain way of being silly and mysterious, It sounds like my next target.

I started the evening by typing “how to learn french” in Google, even though I’ve clearly learned throughout the years how to look for resources by picking up techniques for learning languages. I clicked on the Babbel site an started their basic lesson…

1. Bonjour!

2. Bienvenue!

3. Comment tu t’appelles?

4. Je suis Monica.

5. Ça va?

6. Bien, Merci.

From this lesson I learned that I’m going to be watching french films throughout the summer and that I’m going to start by focusing on how the language sounds. Once I get the phonetics right, everything else should be able to flow.

Bienvenue to my journey!

The King abdicates on the first day of class? (June 2, 2014)

It was finally here. The first day of classes had arrived and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was in Spain and even though all I wanted to do was explore the entire country, I was excited to experience school abroad. Naturally, I got lost and eventually found the classroom. Everything seems so silly now that I think about it, because the buildings are actually pretty small. But because everything was new, it seemed like a huge labyrinth at the time.

I woke up earlier than I should’ve, because that first day of classes you’re excited and your body suddenly becomes an alarm clock, after not being able to even hear an alarm for the first five months of the year. I arrived early to find my class and walked around the buildings taking it all in. I was studying in Spain. It was a big deal.

defiende la educacion

My first class of the day was called, “Obras Maestras de la Literatura Espanola a Traves del Cine” which roughly translates to “Masterworks of Spanish Literature through Film”. It was from 9:00am to 11:30am and we were to discuss the syllabus and medieval literature on the first week.

As the classroom, full of mostly girls, was enchanted by the captivating accent and attractiveness of the Spanish professor, we all received breaking news early that morning. Our professor pulled up the Spanish newspaper and the headlines were the same in the English and French papers as well. Everyone was taken by surprise and we were there experiencing a historical event:

The King of Spain had abdicated!

History:

In 1969 Franco chooses Prince Juan Carlos to be the next head of state expecting him to continue the authoritarian regime. Juan Carlos becomes King two days after Franco’s death on November 22 of 1975 and his father abdicates in favor of his son in 1977. Soon after enthronement, Juan Carlos introduced reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime and begin the Spanish transition to democracy.

During the break between classes I could hear faculty members and students discussing the topic. People were reading the newspapers or switching between channels to encounter the same news in every one of them.

My second class was called “Spain and the European Union” and naturally we discussed the breaking news of the day. I learned a lot that day about the monarchy. The King doesn’t really have any political power anymore, however he does have complete immunity, which I found was insane.

I went home after class to eat lunch with my host family and discussed what everyone else was discussing as well. We watched the news on T.V. while eating paella and I learned about the different views that Spaniards have about the monarchy. While the older generations that have been through the Franco regime in one way or the other, believe in the importance of the monarchy and see it as a fundamental part of Spanish culture, the younger generation believes in change and mostly do not believe in the purpose of having a monarchy anymore. The younger generation want to have a say in the future of their country.

paella

The next week or so would be full of conversations about the King and the future of Spain…

Source: wikipedia

Rambles of a first day: Alcalá de Henares (May 29, 2014)

From Barajas Airport to the Alcalá de Henares
From Barajas Airport to the Alcalá de Henares

Upon arrival we got our luggage and bags, went to the plaza across the street and met and left with our host families.

plaza alcala

First thing I noticed when I got to Alcala is the greetings. Spaniards kiss twice, once in each cheek. That kind of took me by surprise, but it was easy to get used to. To the point that even back home, we (UCF students that went on the program) still greet ourselves with two kisses.

Warning: Another thing you are going to notice a lot in this city are cigüeñas or storks in historic buildings. These are protected and the city makes sure they are well taken care of, meaning that they provide “them with an easy-to-reach special supply of twigs and branches for their nests, as well as making sure they suffer as few disturbances as possible”(AlcalaNow).

al14

My host family is super nice and chilled. We live 15 minutes walking distance from the university in an apartment. The homes here are small but cozy. The elevator to go to our floor is extremely small, I know my roommate and my friend Barbara would definitely opt for the stairs.

I have no curfew, a set of keys, a room and bathroom to myself. The house rules are pretty standard and I have a pretty cute bunk bed and a nice view.

Bunk bed
Bunk bed

Working Space
Working Space

I got to meet my host sister when she came back from school and Luna, the beauty in the picture below.

luna
Luna

Laura is three years younger than me. She is super nice, funny and loves languages. She’s also been to Portugal and Italy and has been telling me all about it.

Alcalá is such a beautiful place.

uni

After I took the siesta (yes! I did take the siesta, that’s why I’m still awake right now), we took a walk around the city so I could learn the route to school and just for me to know where places are at.

There is a bus stop right in front of the apartments. One bus takes you around Alcalá and the sort and the other one takes you to Madrid, to the central station, where you can take buses that go to the rest of Spain.

Alcalá is small but it has a little bit of everything. There are a lot of restaurants, bars, tobacco stores or estancos, “chinos” (which are like convenience stores owned by Chinese people where you can buy pretty much anything), supermarkets, and bookstores. You can also find cathedrals, museums, plazas, and a lot of people.

calle alcala

So far, I really like everything and soon I will write more about it and post a lot of pictures. Tonight however, I’m about to go to sleep because tomorrow is going to be a really long day…

Tomorrow is orientation day, early in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we are going to take a trip to Madri”th”.

Extremely exhausted
Extremely exhausted

Good night!

Source: http://www.alcalanow.com/storks-alcala/