I’ve spent most of my time this week doing homework and studying, so I will take this opportunity to share a little bit about my classes. I’m taking Track III Spanish, Survey of Latin American Literature, Contemporary Latin American Cinema, and Dance, as well as auditing the Track III/IV conversation class. All of these classes are taught entirely in Spanish.
At first, I was overwhelmed by this realization — especially when it came to literature. Because I love literature. I thought to myself, how am I going to comprehend this in a meaningful way??? The first day of class we read and analyzed a poem. It was incredibly difficult, and I think it’s safe to say we all left feeling a little frustrated and defeated. There is so much more identity and nuance to language — especially in poetry — than the word that appears on the page.
And I’m not going to lie, it is exhausting. But the truth is, it’s getting better. Reading in Spanish has been so profoundly beneficial to my acquisition of the language, and I am so grateful now to have been forced to face my self-doubts and fears. True, it is nothing like reading works in English, and that is something that I am learning to accept.
My Spanish class, as well as the conversation class, are taught by an amazing, amazing woman named Marcela. We all love her so much. Every time I leave class, I feel so full of information, not just about Spanish, but about so many different things ranging from Chilean slang to French pastries to Mapuche art to the rights of homosexuals in Latin America. Her energy as a professor is inspiring, and I hope to one day do for students what she does for me, for all of us.
Cinema class has been absolutely fantastic. Last week, we watched a documentary called Nostalgia for the Light, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is about the concept of memory, and of time in a strange way; it is about Chile, astronomy, the Atacama Desert, and the desaparecidos. I am learning so much about certain aspects of Latin American culture and history through these films, and I get the bonus of learning and practicing Spanish throughout it all.
And of course, there is Dance. We are learning salsa and bachata right now, and it is unbearably fun. It is very hard to adjust to partner-style dancing for me, and I don’t think my stubborn self will ever really get the hang of it, but wow, it feels so good to dance.
All of my professors are incredible. And I am so happy now that all of my classes are in Spanish.
I also started volunteering last week! I am now teaching English once a week in a vulnerable neighborhood in the northern part of Santiago. I have only been twice, and though I am still uncertain how I feel about the methods being used, it has already been quite a learning experience. Learning a language is difficult, and in this I can relate to them. Learning Spanish has made me think about English differently — really, has made me think about it at all. I love talking about language, and working through the barriers, and I am getting hands on experience doing what I ultimately want to do — teach — in such a unique and engaging environment.
Ok, that’s all for now.