Wednesday night we headed over to explore the university and find our classes, and today (Thursday July 2) we had our first day of classes!
01.07.2015 - 02.07.2015 90 °F
Okay, so. Wednesday night, after a bit of a nap, we met with our trip leader, Alberto Ferreiro, to go over our schedules, get our ID cards, and get ready for the academic portion of the trip. We got our excursions schedule, which includes a three-day stay in Aveiro, a beach city in Portugal! It's really exciting to get to cross another border.
The university is centered around the Cathedral, so the views are incredible. Although some of the buildings seem quite old, they were pleasantly modern and air-conditioned inside. The walk there seems like longer than it is, to me. It's just about ten minutes but it's all hills lined with tiny shops, so we're climbing and there's a lot to see. The weather last night was overcast, even a little frio (cold) and we rejoiced. Today it cooled down to a high of 91 (higher than originally expected but still a lovely change) so I'm a little more comfortable in general.
Classes started this morning. I have Advanced Grammar from 9-11 with a professor that's probably in his 50s. I think I'm going to enjoy his class and learn some valuable skills, but it's also a bit stressful because he doesn't speak english, which means that I'm never learning with 100% certainty. Learning with doubt is scary. The class has a few Americans, a few Chinese, and a few Brazilians. We only have our Spanish in common so there's no bottom-line to default to, and this also makes it so that we can't explain things to each other. We conclude with two pages of homework, which I did this afternoon in about 45 minutes.
From 11-12 is Conversation & Essay Writing. The professor is young, in his early 20s, and probably a grad student. He's nice and understanding but he speaks too fast for my ears to stay caught up with, and doesn't slow down when he explains things. I'm a little worried about this class because there are students of all levels. Most are like me- given a few moments to think we can speak almost any thought. There are a few lower than me and probably three or four students close to fluency. I don't know how they plan to grade this class if we're all coming in at different levels and from different backgrounds. I met a Scottish girl named Joanna with whom I think I'll be friends- she is at about my level exactly and swears a lot, which I think is great.
My 11-12 class is a third-hour elective, we also have two other classes: a history course with Alberto that meets only on Mondays, and a more casual conversation class that meets from 5-6 in a rotating series of bars, cafes, and restaurants. This is the first class others from my program have been in- there are five of us, and three from a school in North Carolina. Our professor is also young, a woman in her early 20s. We get to choose the topics and and she helps us by guiding the conversation and adjusting what we've learned for regional differences. She's quite a sweet woman and the class doesn't feel pressured at all- I think I'm going to enjoy it greatly.
In other news, Spain is starting to get to me. I'm hardly sleeping because of the noise and heat, and hardly eating because I have an allergy to eggs and seafood. I've never been tested for the allergy, but eating or something even smelling it can make me sick. Protein that's not seafood (or freshly carved off the leg of a pig) is hard to come by here, and eggs seemed to be mixed into everything. I've been eating a bit of bean salad, red peppers, and a small piece of bread for each meal. My allergies also came down hard on me today. On top of all of that, the terrorist attack danger rose to "high" in Spain, according to an email I got from the Embassy, and although it's probably nothing to worry about, some part of me is going to worry about it. But for now I have an hour and half before dinner (9pm) to rest, and if I'm feeling well, I think it will be a good night to go out for some casual drinks and tapas en La Plaza.