Today was day 4 of our intensive grammar course, and tomorrow I have a midterm on the grammar concepts covered so far. Most of these thing are things that I have learned in the past, but that are relevant to the life here, and therefore used on a daily basis. I think that the only way to properly learn a language is to be immersed in it and be forced to use it or lose it.
I've made friends here from other countries that easily speak 3-5 languages fluently, and they just don't understand why it is so hard for us Americans. Hopefully by the end of this semester I will be closer to being able to have a command of the Spanish language. I have been here for 13 days, and already I have spoken with many Spaniards, I'm comfortable striking up a conversation, and I have become more confident in my use of grammar.
I submitted my course schedule for the semester which starts on September 27. I'm going to take a literature course about the women writers in the 20th century in Spain, and Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course in Spanish, 100 years of myths and Stereotypes about the United States in Spain, and then a course about Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Spain.
For Elon I only need one of the two history courses, but the administrators here are seeming strict about making each student take four classes. During add/drop I am going to try to drop one of the two since all of our grades transfer back to Elon. I figure if I take three instead of four classes I will be able to focus more on each class, and hopefully receive better grades.
Interestingly, my friends and I have found that in trying to speak Spanish all the time, our English has gotten worse. Of course its something that is not going to last, but we always get a good laugh when we try to say something in English and the words come out jumbled. So far I have been having a blast with my friends here, and interestingly despite the group of students from Elon not really knowing each other before we left, a group of about seven of us have become very close.
It wasn't intentional, and we do talk a lot to other students too, but I think its worth noting that we all have a little more in common as we are the types to choose a school like Elon (small, southern, preppy etc) and we all chose a city like Seville (smaller, artsy, old). Elon may not have brought us together as friends, but this trip sure has. Both boys from Elon are in this "group" of us (Scott and Adam) and then the girls are me, Paige, Quin and Christine, and then there is Sahar who is not from Elon, but we all wish she was. We have all been spending a lot of time with several of the other boys on the trip too, some from California (and coincidently enough, one from Clark, the town next to me and Paige).
Paige has family connections in the hotel industry, and so we have been planning a trip to Morrocco for the end of October. Normally because Morrocco is a semi dangerous place, students travel there we companies like Discover Seville or We Love Spain. Paige's dad's best friend has set up a weekend for us to stay in his apartment, travel on day trips with our own security personnel, and go out to dinner in the cities we travel to. We will be safe, together, and best of all it will be extremely low cost. The group of us has also begun planning trips to Portugal, France, and possibly even Greece.
Through CIEE we also have something called interest groups. There were five choices and each takes a trip to a different city, and focuses on different aspects of Spanish life. I chose the group focused on sports (soccer) and nature. Our trips include a trip to see a Seville FC soccer game, a bicycle ride around the city, trips to play sports with spaniards, and a weekend trip to Madrid in November. The student leader of this trip was one of the guides during orientation named Nacho, who is very fun to hang out with, so I think with him we will have a good time.
I think that if I feel as comfortable with the language as I do after only 13 days, I can't wait until I spend more time with my new Spanish friends where they don't let me speak in English. Most people say that you need at least six months to become fluent (and my Spanish friends don't understand why I won't just change my plans and stay for next semester) but I'm going to do my best to live and learn and be Spanish for the next four months so I can come home as close to fluent as possible.
Anyway, I told my friend Victor I would go celebrate with him and his friends tonight because Daniel is giving his last presentation for his major. Time to go change then go out for a beer!
Here is the group of Victor's friends: