Argh!! I’m returning crazy, as they say in Spanish. The combination of the rules from Edinburgh, the fact that I’m only here until February, and the lack of first semester courses in my school here mean my timetable is getting pretty annoying.
I have four courses down, Literatura Espanola Moderna (which is really good but so far all we’ve read has been by non-Spaniards – good because I can find it online in English – or by not modern Spaniards), Comentarios de Textos Literarios, Lexicografia del Espanol (look up Lexicography, it’s a course about dictionaries. Yeah they exist! But it’s actually really interesting), and Fonologia y Fonetica Historica del Espanol (I’ve never even studied anything like that in English). The first two are second year courses and the second two third year. That adds up to 18 ECTS credits which is just about enough (the DELC handbook recommends 20 but 15 is the minimum), but seeing as my Spanish is much better than my Portuguese, I want to get more credits down here as a kind of buffer zone in case I fail something there.
So what else can I take? Well there’s a third year grammar course which sounds really useful, but I went to the first class and it was very difficult. Normally I wouldn’t be put off by that, I like a challenge, but it’s 3 hours a week, and one of those hours clashes with my other classes. I’d have to go to the other class because it’s a seminar, and part of my mark is based on contribution to the class which I can only do in those classes. Furthermore in their infinite wisdom, the University has taken 2 consecutive Mondays off, one for a national holiday and another for the inauguration of the course (so to start the course, we don’t have classes), and obviously it’s a good idea to have that on the same day that we’ll be missing the next week too, brilliant. The other two hours of grammar are on Monday, so I’ve essentially missed 2 weeks of the class. Having clashes apparently is not unusual. I saw a mature student’s timetable and every space that was filled clashed with at least one other class, usually more, with huge gaps between. The class timetables are contructed with normal students in mind, obviously, so they fit in well with obligatory annual classes which I can’t take. But because they only have classes in the morning, everything’s really close together so there’s not much chance for someone who’s only here for a semester.
The other thing I can do is Traduccion General Espanol/Ingles. This actually doesn’t fit in with the rules from Edinburgh because it’s not to do with Spanish or a Spanish-speaking country, but someone else who’s here from Edinburgh has emailed with the situation and they’ve approved it. It’s worth 8 ECTS too which is a bonus. But that clashes quite badly too, and it’s limited to 10 places for Erasmus, unlike any other course, and seeing as we’re at the end of the second week now I think they’ll all be gone. I think that’s just discrimination and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. From what I hear the teacher of that course ignored all the Erasmus in the class and said he wasn’t there to correct Spanish, which seems to me nothing more than bigotry, especially coming from someone teaching a foreign language, you’d think he’d understand. If one of my teachers in Edinburgh said that to an international student I’d be straight on the line to the VPAA, but then there’s no union here.
So I wouldn’t recommend Malaga for a single-semester placement, if you can’t study your second subject here as well. Other people are doing fine because they’re doing things like History of Art, French or Sociology or something, but because they don’t have Portuguese here, I’m a bit stuck.
The other thing is matriculating. After I’ve finalised courses I have to get my learning agreements signed by the coordinator, send the Edinburgh one to Edinburgh, and with the other one go the the International Office. Instead of assigning appointments, you have to go at 9 in the morning to get a number, and that is your place in the queue. You can then go away and come back, but you don’t know exactly when your turn will be and if you miss it, you risk losing it and starting over. And just to infuriate us a bit more, the Office is only open in the morning so I’ll have to miss classes. I’ll think about that next week.
This is turning into a bit of an essay, but I don’t want to leave on a bad note. Despite what I’ve written, I am really enjoying myself. I have a lot of Spanish friends in Edinburgh and some of them were visiting parents in nearby Granada last weekend (only an hour and a half by bus), so I went for a trip and had a brilliant time. Lots of recreational drugs were involved (all legal of course), and it was good to catch up. Now that some of the other Erasmus are also getting fed up of going to the same clubs, I’ve been able to branch out and bit and found a few rock bars that will be my new spiritual homes. They’re very difficult to find because the city centre’s a labyrinth and they tend to be a bit more laid back on the public relations front, but they do exist! In an attempt to meet more Spaniards, I did a tandem last week, which was really good and I look forward to doing more. There are a few adverts up around uni looking for native English speakers, and there aren’t many of us here, so I think I might get myself organised and do something about that and that might be a way into the Spanish clique. Obviously all the native students here have been here a while, they all know each other, they have more or less all their classes together and they can’t be bothered speaking slowly with the foreigners, so it’s been difficult to meet people so far, but I’m confident that’ll get better.
Ooh ooh one more thing about Granada (sorry, you’ve probably all stopped reading by now but this is worth it!)! I was in a mirador (a tiny square with a really nice view) where there was a spontaneous party with all kinds of music and dancing and beer flowing from the trees. It was really weird so I asked someone what it was all about and he took me to one side and explained. Basically, a guy lost his little toe 15 years ago in a motorbike accident. The government gave him compensation and with that money he decided to throw a party, since losing a little toe is hardly a big disability. Since then it’s become a tradition, they buried the toe and take it out each year for this party. Below is a really crappy photo of a coffin they have for the toe on a handheld hearse! After a while, they went on this big ceremony through the city, stopping for chants and songs (!viva la menique!!), and where the accident took place for a big speech (and a bit of a striptease from the guy who lost his toe :s), and go and bury it again. Boss!
Word of the day: patience!