So it has been over a month since I arrived in Spain, and just over two weeks since I started my classes. Things have been moving along so fast, I cannot even believe it has already been a month! I’m already sad in a way, although relieved too. I still have so much to do still.
School is well… school. All the classes would be a breeze if only they were in English. Adding that foreign language factor, these courses are hard. They are not has easy as I had thought, although I knew that Spanish would make things difficult. Meanwhile, I have friends laughing over their cooking courses in Italy. So jealous.
School is Kind of Different Here
I could write a long post about the differences between the European Education System and ours, but that might just bore you to death. Let me just say, the styles and teaching methods are extremely different, as well as the grading system (something that not all the kids here, including myself, are too enthusiastic about). Being told it is not uncommon in Spain to fail at least two or three of your classes before you graduate is not something an American student likes to hear.
So Much Graffiti – Even in places like school grounds I see graffiti everywhere. Madrid in general has a whole lot more graffiti than what I have ever seen in New York City. It is so strange to see it, especially sloppily written on school property. In the United States, much less at my college, is it ever done! Carlos III is fairly small and clean compared to other universities. For example, when I visited the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, which is one of the largest public universities in Madrid, the amount of graffiti left me with my mouth open. It was not even nice-looking graffiti, and there were faint words underneath which had been an attempt to wash away the political rallying cries.
People here know their politics
It makes me want to get involved! The majority of the young Spaniards I have talked to have very set opinions about the government, their education system, and the terrible economic situation that is going on in Spain. As you can see from the graffiti above, it translates: TODAY IN GREECE, TOMORROW HERE! Working class on the offensive, Young Communist!!! While I do not agree with that political way of thought, it is interesting to talk about politics with the people here. They are so much more knowledge about their own government than the average American their age. Over drinks (and usually cigarettes), they debate and discuss it. I have been asked so many times questions along the lines of, “What do you think of Obama? What does America think of Obama? Why are you going to bomb Syria? What is…” I feel bad, not knowing half as much as they do about my own government, let alone knowing anything about theirs. It is something I hope to work on when I return home.
Some of the technology here is really outdated…
It is strange seeing those giant white 90’s computer monitors in the classrooms. Of course not every classroom has a computer like this, but the fact that they have them at all? There are some things in Spain that seem far advanced to what exists in the US. One thing is the stoves. They are… really great; better than a gas stove or an electric coil that are most common in the US. Other things just seem to never work properly. For example, there were so many issues (and still are) with our matriculation into the University system, that no one could register for their classes. We were all notified that the system had collapsed and no one knew when it would be back up. Wonderful. Let me not even get started on the convoluted system of trying to print your paper…