Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let the Pre-Dartmouth Brain Training Begin!

{{Hoy vas a descubrir que el mundo es sólo para ti}}

My official training for my brain for Dartmouth has now begun. Starting last week, I added Catalan into my schedule and I began my classes in Spanish Cinema and Works Written by Women the week before. Now I have more work and I love it! I got to pick every single one of my classes, so they all cover subjects that interest me and I want to learn about. And it's fun because the different types of classes introduce me to a wide variety of people. All the students in French are from Barcelona, mostly in the end of their university career or adults taking this class on the side during their free time from their job. My fellow Catalan-students are all South Americans, the majority in their 20s who need to take it for university studies (since classes in universities in Catalonia can be taught in Spanish or Catalan, though you can answer in whichever language you are more comfortable working in), and some are older adults who are taking it for better work prospects. My fellow students for Women Writers and Spanish Cinema are almost all from the U.S. (a few from other countries in Europe, along with a few Japanese and Chinese, but I was surprised by how few non-Americans there are!). I get to learn about quite a few cultures every day!

My schedule, however, is slightly unevenly distributed at the moment:

Monday: French 1 (2 hours)
Tuesday: Basic Catalan (3 hours), French 1 (2 hours), 2-hour pause, Women Writers (1.5 hours, in Spanish)
Wednesday: French 1 (2 hours)
Thursday: Basic Catalan (3 hours), French 1 (2 hours), 2-hour pause, Women Writers (1.5 hours, in Spanish)
Friday: French 1 (2 hours); every other Friday I have Spanish Cinema (3 hours)

Because it's only my Tuesdays and Thursdays that are super busy, I still have lots of other days of the week to explore Barcelona and meet up with my friends from different courses. Tuesdays and Thursdays, however, are the days that most challenge my brain because of all the languages I have to run through without much of a pause. In Catalan class I'm learning Catalan, but during the pauses or when we ask a question about something we don't know, it's all in Spanish. Then I go directly to French (talking with friends in Spanish between the two classes), where we ask our questions or clarify things in a mixture of Spanish and French (as much French as possible, but it's hard!). After I have my Women Writers class, which is carried out in Spanish, but everyone speaks English amongst themselves. When I go back home, Guillem, Carla, and I speak a mixture of English, Spanish, and Catalan around the house, we watch the news in Catalan, Catalan comedy programs, a Catalan telenovela, and/or Spanish programs. Anything in Catalan has subtitles for me, but even within those programs they often switch back into Spanish when they do a political gag making fun of Spanish politics. Those are big brain-exercise days!

I'm very happy with the amount of work I'm doing. I still have plenty of time to explore the city, do my studies, and meet up with friends, balancing the cultural part of my stay here with the intellectual part. Prove that Dartmouth students can indeed do everything! ;)

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