Monday, January 19, 2009

Work, Classes and Other Official Business

Alright, so I know that several of my blog-followers have been asking me about classes. Yes, I am indeed taking classes and not just sight-seeing, though the program allows plenty of traveling and sight-seeing time for us by having classes only Monday through Thursday, giving us three-day weekends almost every week (I say almost because we have class on one Friday to make up for classes we will miss when we go as a group to Barcelona for three days).

As far as what I'm taking, my schedule is as follows:
~Art in the Prado Museum: I have this class 2 days a week; every Monday morning we are in the classroom and almost every Tuesday afternoon we meet in the Prado museum so that we can actually see the things that we are learning about. This is somewhat of an art history course that will focus on Goya, Velazquez and El Greco, the three most important Spanish artists on display in the Prado (Picasso's famous "Guernica" is housed in the Reina Sofia, which is dedicated solely to contemporary art). I think I will do ok in this class (which shouldn't be a huge amount of work) so long as we stick to history and avoid a lot of actually artistic technique stuff. Aye.
~Spanish Culture and Civilization:This class also meets 2 days a week and is the class that will require the most work. We have two group projects, a midterm and final exam, two short papers, an oral presentation and we are required to go to at least one Spanish movie and *maybe* a theatre production as well, though I'm a little fuzzy on that one. The projects should be interesting - one is about a street in Madrid, the other is about a specific topic with ours (I got a good partner for both) being gastronomy and the Mediterranean diet - though they require us to go out and talk to random Spanish people. We'll see how that goes.
~Studies in Cultural History: This class meets one day a week and is basically a Spanish history class, focusing on the end of the 19th century through the end of the Spanish Civil War. We have 3 teachers: one who will teach the majority of the classes and does the history stuff, another who will do 2 classes on art and another who will do 3 classes on literature. We have 3 papers (one on each of the topics), but no tests and one of the papers can be in English while another is only 2 pages.
~Inventing Spain:This class meets 2 days a week and is taught by Chuck, the IWU professor leading our program (all IWU students here are required to take this course). We are basically talking about the formation of Spanish identity since the end of the Franco dictatorship. This class is pretty much as easy as they come - we are required to keep a journal, which I'm already doing, and at one point we have to do a short interview with a native Spaniard and write about it in our journal as well as read this novel-like textbook. Chuck isn't even sure if he is going to do any tests. Hallelujah. I should still learn quite a lot here, though.

While here, I have the opportunity to teach English to Spanish children (they say children, though the age range can be quite wide). I started doing this this evening; I am teaching for a family with 3 kids: Fernando, 18, Mónica, 14 this Wednesday, and Marta, 11 this Friday. Fernando is getting ready to go to university to study to become an industrial engineer and is in the midst of preparing for what are pretty much the Spanish equivalent of the ACT or SAT, so I will not be working with him until those are over in another month or so. For now I go on Mondays at 6pm for an hour and a half - 45 minutes each with Mónica and Marta. When I start working with Fernando I will work with him for an hour on top of that. I get paid 12 euro an hour (you can figure out the exchange rate), so I´ll be taking home a minimum of 18 euro a week, which is pretty darn good considering pretty much all I have to do is talk to them in English. I think that next week the mother, also Mónica, is going to give me a list of objectives that she would like me to try to meet with each girl. The mother is very nice and the girls are extremely sweet; Mónica and I spent her time talking about everything in Spain and Madrid that she says I absolutely have to do. She has already told me that I have to go shopping with her. Marta´s English level is a fair amount lower so it is a little harder to get her to speak in only English. She has this collection of printed Kleenex (apparently these are big here? She has all sorts of them, from ones with cartoon characters printed on them to ones for specific holidays) and she gave me some of them at the end of the time today. I certainly didn´t expect to be putting Kleenex in my Spain scrapbook, but it was super sweet.

SO! Now no one can say that they don´t know about the more official aspects of my life here in Spain...=)

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