Week 4: An Overview of Settling In

Hola a todos, sorry for the long lag between posts!  This is the understatement of the century, but, it has been more a little crazy settling in to Granada and my university classes.

Not quite sure how to explain it, this feeling of being suspended between 2-3 languages while simultaneously trying to learn the layout of a new city, the stops in the bus system, the location of grocery stores and paper stores and post offices, the names and backstories of a hundred new people both Spanish and foreign, attending exchange student orientations all over the city that do nothing to clarify the incredibly confusing new system of registering for classes, and being integrated into life on campus.  Then add on finding out that I had to start classes a week and a half earlier than anticipated… Yeah, it’s been an adventure.

The culture in Spain is very much conducive to going out all the time, and I won’t lie — the first two weeks here, I slept very little and went out basically all night.  I just could not justify staying in when I had so much to explore, so much to learn, so many people to visit!

However, the end of the first two weeks culminated in a school trip to Sevilla and Córdoba for two days (pictures to come), and it was there, in a hostel full of exchange students, that I had the first deep sleep since about a month.  And it wiped me out.  My body, after such excitement and change and emotion, just gave up.

That led to the hard week, Week 3, which included a day at school where I just had to go to the bathroom and cry.

Taking classes in another country is hard.  It’s really, really hard.  It doesn’t matter how good your grades were in Spanish class in your home country — unless you were born into a bilingual family, your language skills will never be quite what you need them to be when you go abroad.  It’s just a fact.

The upside of the incredibly complicated and irritating system of registration here (which must be done in person) is that we all had between two days and two weeks to try all the classes we wanted and decide which were the best fit.  I tried five classes, but I have ended up keeping only three.  They are as follows:

  • Fonética y Fonología del Español
  • Griego Moderno Inicial
  • Historia del arte Musulmán

I’m not sure how the other international students are surviving in their upper level courses.  All of mine are 1st-year classes and I still have almost no idea what’s going on in the lectures.  I did try to take a 4th-year course that looked amazing, a musicology class called Músicas del Mediterráneo; however, the profesora wasn’t going to give us an inch of wiggle room, I could see that right away, and I decided that the class didn’t merit the effort I would have to put into it.  Although I want to challenge myself scholastically, I did not move across the Atlantic to be stressed out in the same exact way I was in New Mexico — I do want to enjoy Spain and travel around a bit as well.

So everything is working itself out.  I have reached out to my professors for help and they are very understanding since they deal with Erasmus and exchange students every year.  I am also making friends among my classmates and we are forming a support network for each other.  One of the amazing things about Universidad de Granada is that it serves over 70,000 students, both under- and post-grad, and a healthy percentage of these people are from everywhere in the world.  So chances are, if you are struggling in Modern Greek (which I am!), there is certainly a native Greek speaker within a stone’s throw to help you out.

Speaking of picking up other languages, I may just leave Spain knowing some Italian.  Turns out the Italians and I just have some sort of special affinity… maybe because I have always used my hands when I talk?  Whatever it is, we get along great, and I adore the sassy lilt they all have when they speak Spanish, English, German… really anything sounds good with an Italian accent!

I have so much to share, so I will try to accomplish a little bit each day.  I need to learn more about photo sharing here on WordPress, then I can make these posts a little more exciting to the eye. 😉


One Comment Add yours

  1. shirley1947 says:

    Hi Jade, It’s understandable that you will take a while to settle in and get used to their system, let alone another language. You seem to be enjoying yourself and as you say, it’s not worth getting stressed out when you want to learn so much. Just keep doing what you are doing. It sounds exciting.


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