17 September 2008

Second day of classes!

Good news: I think my sleep habits are beginning to improve! Last night I went to bed around 11, which is super early for me. I didn't have class til 10:25 this morning, but before that, I had to make a deposit towards our optional trip to Lisbon next month. It didn't take long, because IES' bank is on the same Metro line as my neighborhood, and then it's only one transfer to get to school.
Today was the first day of our Spanish class. Straight off, our teacher told us that our assignment was to find a Spanish boy/girlfriend. She listed the advantages of this for some time, before basically telling us, "Just kidding- but seriously. . ." She also told us that she is going to use a lot of jokes and exaggerations to help us remember things, and warned us that her style of comedy is not politically correct. "Americans and Spaniards think the same things. The only difference is, the Spanish say what they think, while the Americans do not." So she should be pretty colorful.
Creative Writing went well- that teacher's really fun. She was reading our names off of a roster which included our pictures, and when she asked which of us was Claudia, she looked at the girl with her hand raised, then back to the roster, and said, "Wow, you're much prettier than in this picture. Much, much prettier." Then she said the girl's full name. . . and we realized that it wasn't the same girl. Bit of an awkward moment there.
She asked us what names we preferred to use, and was sometimes fascinated by our American pronunciations (there's a Te'Niija in the class, so that should provide a challenge for her). She was thrilled when one of the students preferred to be called Mateo instead of the usual Matt, and said, "You're in Spain! Why not?" so when I saw that I was not the only Elizabeth in the class, I said, "How about Isabela?" and she just about flipped, talking about a children's story about puppets in which the beautiful grand empress is named Isabela. "It sounds European! It sounds Italian! It sounds Spanish!" she continued, as my face got redder. She's very nice, though, and very expressive (as I hopefully conveyed). And she doesn't believe in grading, or deadlines. My kind of teacher.
Then I had a real adventure with my Prado class. The adventure was not so much in the Prado as in the finding of it. To make a long story short, I was supposed to meet a girl at the exit of the Banco de España Metro station, but it turns out there are four exits. So I went around to each of them, looking for this girl, thinking the Prado was just around the corner, but I gradually realized that the Prado was just around the corner. . . and through a park. I finally gave up on this girl, but then I had to ask several passers-by how to get to the Prado, and I ended up running to meet my group, because our meeting place was on the far side of the building. But I made it, sort of sneaking in to the back of our group, and the girl I was supposed to meet was already there.
But that teacher is brutal. I think he said he actually is a tour guide a the Prado, and he is not one of those teachers who, when you get an answer wrong, will be like, "Well. . . you're on the right track. . ." No. When he pointed to a three-part painting and asked us, "What is this?" I raised my hand and answered, "A triptych" when called upon.
His answer was a crushing, resounding, "No."
I don't even get that. Not a triptych? How was it not a triptych? Because it wasn't hinged? How do we know it wasn't originally hinged? So that was traumatizing. It's a good thing I got over it pretty quickly, because otherwise who would have told the class that this painting http://www.artbible.info/art/large/352.html by Tintoretto depicted Jesus washing the disciples' feet? As if the halos and foot-washing weren't a giveaway. . . seriously, classmates, step up your game. . .
Overall, the Prado is pretty cool, I guess. We didn't see much of it today, just a few rooms. I've got all semester to become better aquainted with it.

[For anyone wondering: right now my approximate return date is Decemeber 21. That is not concrete, however.]


Anonymous said...

You are learning so much about the culture - and you already have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin.

Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz! I'm thoroughly enjoying reading all about your exciting escapades in Madrid. I'm glad you are having fun. I've been printing updates for Gran mom to read since she doesn't have a computer and she is loving it. Keep up the good work and have a great time! We'll see you at Christmas.

Anonymous said...

OK- I'm going through story withdrawal. . . how was the weekend trip, what did you see and do? I was at the hospital for 28 hours over 3 days time, keeping out of trouble! I do check in to see the latest- need. more. stories.