Wednesday, September 26, 2012

University to Universidad

My school at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) has a beautiful campus and great atmosphere. The teachers are really nice and the class sizes, for the majority, are prefect. But there are a ton of differences from UNC. First of all there is about 17 buildings two of which are small cafetieres (which sell beer inside of them)  and the library. One day, a few days before school started, I was trying to register for classes but I couldn't log into the website to get any of my information or anything. I was so confused at first I started to panic because at this point I thought I wasn't a student there. I'm about to have a very long vacation I thought. But after I talked to about three or four people in the library they showed me I was in the system and that I just had the wrong information to log in. Here is where the scavenger hunt began.

They told me I needed to go the class room in building 10 to get it changed. I went there and was told I needed to go to building 3 for information. Once I got there they told me an even different building! This went on for about two hours. Going from building to building being told to go over here and back over there until I think I went to just about every building. Everyone seemed so nice and was trying to help me, but it seemed like no one knew what to do. I thought I would never get this figured out.  I was so frustrated after walking around the whole campus for two hours in 30-32 degree Celsius heat with my back pack on I just gave up. The next day I went to a computer lab and there was a girl working at the desk. I told her about my problem and it was fixed in matter of ten minutes. I swear I went to that same building, same room and everything the day before.    

The majority of my classes are pretty small with 20-25 people in them which is great for me since I'm still learning Spanish while the larger classes seem to be more difficult for me because I feel like there are more distractions and a bit harder to pay attention. It has been quite difficult taking all my classes in Spanish. One reason is because how hard it is to take notes. I understand what the professors are saying (for the most part) but once I start to write down notes I get lost because I'm writing what they were saying and can't keep up with what they are currently saying. It's a tad frustrating but I can already tell a difference from one week to the next. But I have started recording the lectures and listening to them after words then taking notes. Also I've made friends with my class mates who are all native Spanish speakers (not all from Spain though; Mexico, Boliva, and others) and they have been helping me with notes and studying. Another reason it is a tad difficult is because I am taking a business class and some of the terminology is quit hard to understand because the words are longer and not ones I'm used to in everyday conversations.

I can talk decent Spanish but I am very far from perfect. For this I've been trying to change everything in my life. I am no longer learning how to speak Spanish but learning how to give up English. That was one of my major flaws when I first came here. I would try to practice Spanish when I could but when I would go back to my apartment I would watch movies or TV in English. This wasn't helping me at all. One day I stopped reading my book in English, stopped watching TV in English, and dropped English music as well. I download podcast in Spanish, read the local paper, and listened to Spanish music. I can definitely tell an improvement as I started dreaming in Spanish a lot more then I ever have but there are still a lot of times where I can tell I need some more improvement. I haven't watched anything in English since I gave that up but I must say that I miss my music from time to time and switch back. I'm just at a point where I need to surround myself in everything Spanish so I can make the transition to think easier in a different language so I can actually take notes during class and not get lost. Poco y Poco.

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