So after almost a month here, all of my classes began last Tuesday. (At the time of this writing, I have been here just over a month). The first month was just an intensive Spanish language and culture class with other students from Carolina. I now have two classes at EUSA/CINECU, where UNC in Sevilla is housed with only other program participants. One of these is called Spain Today and the other is called Spain and Islam. The professors that UNC has hired for the program here are absolutely fabulous. Fernando, Rafa, and Angeles all rank among the top professors I’ve had since beginning college–and that’s saying something when all they can speak is Spanish! Their ability to communicate effectively to us and their knowledge is incredible. They also served as our tour guides when we went on excursions as a group. It was completely normal to attract a large following of tourists behind our group listening to them. Hats off to them.
The real adventure, however, has been my two classes at the University of Sevilla. I am taking one called Human Geography and one called Universal History of the 20th Century. Thankfully, I’m already fairly well versed in the latter material. Once again, all of the professors are very nice and willing to help, but I’ve had to seek that out. The first couple of days, I’ll admit, I was confused out of my mind. The university system is very different here and it is somewhat difficult to integrate foreign students into it. We are not yet officially registered in our classes nor do we have network credentials from the University, making it impossible to access their virtual learning environment where one of my professors posts a lot of texts and resources. Thankfully, she’s been accommodating and printed things out or emailed them to me.
The first day was, well, interesting. One classroom was nearly impossible to find. Who knew you’d put a Geography and History classroom by the Language ones. Not me, at least. Nevertheless, I was able to find both eventually and both professors gave me permission to take me final exam early because the Spanish semester doesn’t actually finish up until January, after Christmas break. Not exactly feasible to come back to take exams… In my history class, I’m not sure I understood anything either professor (they are splitting the semester) said. Talked too quickly, too quietly. I now sit closer and have been fine.
Books. Well those are another story here. The professor gives you a list of about 50 books that comprise the bibliography. These are supposed to be resources you can consult throughout the semester to clarify doubts you may have. But then they also sort of suggest you buy a “manual” or two to help you throughout the semester. Still a bit confused because I am used to a professor telling me what to read, not to have to seek out the supporting material on my own. I did buy a text book for my geography class today and even read a chapter. Hopefully it helps out. I’m sort of banking on going to all of the classes (not typical for Spanish students) and knowing most of the content I need to know. I can hope, right? And in the end, basically everything comes down to your final exams anyway.
But all in all, I think I understand my classes now. Really impressed with the quality of professors here. By and large, I’d say it is higher than what I’ve seen at Carolina, and I think that’s saying something when you think about the quality of instruction at UNC. Today in the hall, the director of the Human Geography department who I met on the first day and had to get permission from to take my exam early and then emailed with some other questions recognized me and even remembered my name. We had a nice chat. Definitely a much more relaxed and intimate academic environment than what we’ve grown used to, at least in my opinion.
The professors are nice, I know what I need to do for each of them, I have a syllabus for all of them. What can go wrong now?
Went to Paris last weekend, I might put up a blog post about that, we’ll see if I have time. Definitely a fun weekend though. Barcelona next weekend. It looks like I’m never going to stop.