What's Going On In School
Ironically, I haven’t written in some time about the biggest part of my experience as a foreign exchange student in Spain: school. As I sit in my language and literature class absolutely confused by Spanish syntax and sentence structure, I think it’s important to note that I really do want to give up sometimes. The only reason I have been able to cope with such a drastic shift in my academic life is because of my company; my teachers have worked relentlessly to devise methods to teach me the material while helping me improve my level of Spanish, and my friends do their best to explain almost everything to me.
The picture above shows my notes chart for a biology test that I turned in to the teacher for a bonus point. We were tested on this topic a few weeks ago, and now we are learning about DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and all that jazz. DNA in Spanish becomes ADN; this has consistently confused me because I am so used to writing DNA. The chart I made above outlines the classification of living things including binomial nomenclature and the different domains (Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya). My biology teacher (Juan Antonio) specifically asks me to stay back with him after class and talk to him about the topic in Spanish; that is when I practice speaking with him, using all the Spanish biological terminology.
In philosophy, I have my own term-long project because I came with absolutely no background/prior class experience with philosophy. My teacher (Diego) sent me this book written by a Spanish philosopher (Savater), and it gives a detailed history of philosophy till now. I use this book not only to learn about the history of philosophy but also to learn new words and practice reading in Spanish. At the end of the term, I have to submit a final project (almost like a book report) that includes summaries of all the chapters, some artwork, an analysis of the main themes, and my opinion on the book (all in Spanish, of course).
In chemistry, the teacher (Carlos) gives me the option of either doing the test with the class or doing my own research project on the topic (all in Spanish) which I later present to him. The example above was my outline for the research project of the last unit which had to do with chemical reactions; currently, we are working with thermodynamics. The picture below shows my thermodynamics research project.
My chemistry teacher Carlos liked my projects so much that he even laminated my very first one to save as an example for future students. Projects are usually scarce in the Spanish education system and they usually involve large constructions and elaborate preparations. He said my project was the perfect example of making do with the little I have and using simplicity as an element of learning.
In Spanish language and literature, my teacher (Pedro) found me another book to read as a term-long project. This book, called La Tesis de Nancy, documents the journey of an American girl studying abroad in Seville, Spain (it’s all in Spanish). Pedro thought this book would be perfect for me because he described me as having the same passion for Spain and Spanish as the protagonist Nancy; in fact, Nancy is so inspired by Spain that she writes her doctoral thesis about the rich culture of Seville. This book is no walk in the park; I often need Pedro to explain to me many sentence structures and meanings.
In terms of English, there’s not much to say. I usually help my classmates in this case, and we are learning about passive/active sentence structures. In my math class, my class is currently studying derivatives. Given I am a bit ahead in the calculus track, my math teacher here (Macarena) sends me videos of a famous Spanish YouTube professor (Profesor10) and I do exercises that she sends me; she then sits down with me at the end of every class to review the exercises.
This week alone in school has been so eventful. I have final projects in almost all of my classes to show the teachers my progress with Spanish. Then again, I only have a few more weeks in class with all my friends and teachers; this one’s gone by too quickly :(