Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer School, Like You've Never Had It Before

It was still dark when I woke up, and for someone who hasn't woken up before 8:30 for almost a whole school year, 6:00 was way too early. The light switch in my room glows in the dark, so that's cool. Got shown how to use the shower, it was relatively easy despite my previous concerns, and I had some breakfast comprised of a plate of fruit, some eggs with some peppers in them and some sauce on top, and a bowl of cereal. Wasn't quite ready for the spice right off the bat but I went with it anyways. Not usually much of a breakfast person but I've had to learn to be since I usually don't get food again until about 2 unless I buy my own later in the day. With a mouth that was still burning a little, I said goodbye to the grandma, the only one awake this early, and walked to one of the other girl's house so we could walk to the bus stop together. Only took about 10 minutes to get to the bus stop once we figured out what road it was on, and then we waited for our bus. Definitely something to be said for being the only group of white people among the throng of people waiting for the bus. Bus after bus came through the stop as it was a pretty large connecting stop. The funny thing is, there's not much room for the buses to pull over to pick people up. That doesn't matter though, the buses will just stop in the middle of the 3 lane road and wait for people to pile in or file out. Cars will honk every once in awhile but it really doesn't seem like much of a deal for most people.

Got on the bus after waiting for about 20 minutes, paid my 8 pesos (little less than 50 cents), and we were off. Squeezed between about a million people we took the 25ish minute ride to our university. If it were an Oregon bus, it probably would've taken 40 minutes, but luckily for us in Mexico you don't even have to stop fully to let people on or off the bus! About 10 rolling stops later it was our turn to get off, but unfortunately our stop was still about a 5 minute walk to the school. Interestingly enough, this isn't because the stop is a couple blocks away or anything like that. Our university used to be an airport, and it's literally, not figuratively, built on a runway. I mean it's got buildings and sidewalks and other cool road things now, but it still takes quite awhile to walk from one end of a tarmac to the other. Recovering from this little surprise, we realized we were now 10 minutes late for class. The other half of our group found another way to school so the 6 of us or so walked, but now with haste, to the building where our classes were.

First class for me was Mexican Civilization, and because school isn't in session here, it was just 6 of us in that class.We mainly just learned names and talked about what we'd be doing for the next 5 weeks. Learning stuff about Mexico more or less. All of my Spanish classes at OSU/Linn Benton have all been Spanish speaking only, at least in terms of the teacher, so I've been exposed to that before, but there's just something different about classes here. Not sure if it's the different accents the teachers have or what, but it's definitely a little bit harder to understand than my classes back home. Nevertheless, after an hour and a half my first class was over, but the next one didn't start for another hour and a half.  I took this time to walk around the campus a bit, but eventually found a place to sit at an outdoor cafe under a tent with some chairs. Since that day I've spent every break I've had in that spot actually. I talked with some of my classmates and tried to figure out what my next class was going to be, but overall it was a pretty chill time.

Second class was Advanced Writing, but this class only had myself and 2 other people in it. I think that this class is my favorite, at least for now, because it's main focus is sharpening grammar skills and general use of more complicated sentences, something I think is real helpful when it comes to real world application. Also even though I can't speak Spanish the best, I feel like I'm generally knowledgeable when it comes to grammar so it's where I feel the most comfortable. We mainly just talked to get to know each other this time, but by the end my brain was so tired from all the Spanish I was using a listening to! I was going on almost 3 hours in one day and the most I've ever had to do before was a 50 minute class. In any sort, it's a lot of work. But it's been worth it.

Third class was Advanced Communication, and like the others, was mostly spent getting to know each other and figure out what we're gonna be doing for the rest of the time here. Like the second, this class is also just me and the same 2 girls, so the one-on-one time with the teacher is super great. This class has turned out to mostly be about improving conversation through talking about world events and problems, but again, it's been really helpful to have to be able to find new and different avenues to talk about a subject because that's exactly what you have to do when you're talking to someone in day to day life.

Class was actually pretty hard, and by the time we were done I was ready to sleep for a very long time. Spanish is hard. Having to speak Spanish all the time is really exhausting when you're not used to it. Which I guess is why I'm here, to immerse myself in the language so I'm forced to use it. Not exactly the easiest thing to do, but it's really helped a ton. I think that because I have to be so dependent on my Spanish for so long and so often, I've made more progress in this short time than I ever have in one of my 10 week classes at home. Even though at times I feel pretty discouraged with how much practice I still need, I do think I've been able to look back at situations I've been in and can see that I'm getting better, if only slightly, at communicating effectively with others in Spanish.

Still got a lot of time here left, and still have a lot of stories I haven't shared yet, so I'm gonna keep pumping this out as long as people are reading them! Be back soon.

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