Early this afternoon, my mind turned to my Spanish class, which started today. I got myself ready to head out, and then realized, “Oh, I should bring a notebook.”
It had been a while since I was a student. I was rusty.
But I was also really excited. Though it’s just a two-month course, it felt like what it technically was: the first day of school. Being 22 and not 12, I packed one already-used notebook into my backpack and made sure I had one pen (instead of half a dozen notebooks and an assortment of writing utensils, as in years past). I checked, as you do on the first day of school, to make sure I looked good, preparing myself to meet some cute girls and hopefully make a good impression—before remembering that I’m not an adolescent anymore and, much more importantly, I’m very much in love and not looking to start a cute little school romance.
I arrived at the university early in hopes of getting a few questions answered before the class. Not only did I not get any information; everything was a bureaucratic mess there. Ten minutes after the class was supposed to start, enough of us clueless foreigners had found our way to the room where the teachers would give us information, so they started to tell us which levels we had placed into. (No, they didn’t bother to announce this, or even post the list anywhere.) They didn’t call my name. So I decided to take the list of classes and put myself into the level I wanted to be in, the fourth out of five).
The class was a lot of fun, if only because I was a student again. And this time around I was a lot more confident, thanks to age and the absent pressure of grades or a rigid program of study. The teacher was very friendly, probably too talkative, but seemingly a great guy. The students in the course will change some over the next few days, as some bump up to the fifth level and some drop down to the third. I’d like to move up to five, since I can handle it and because it’s more conversational than grammar-focused, as my current class is. But I need to take two levels of Spanish if I want a student visa to last me into 2012, when I can get another tourist visa, so I’ll almost certainly be staying in level four.
One very anecdotal note from the first day; you can see if you’re struck by what I was struck by. Of the 14 students, one other was American. One was Australian. One was Irish, and two were German. One was Brazilian. One was Indian. Three were Korean, two were Japanese, and one was Taiwanese. All of us are in Colombia. (For what it’s worth, everyone appeared to be in their 20s, or maybe early 30s, except for the Irish guy, who looked about 55. )
One other note: The Brazilian clearly understands Spanish as well as any of us, but she made more mistakes than anyone else. She kept using Portuguese grammar (“Yo gusto la comida Colombiana“) and pronunciation (English “hopa”/Spanish “jopa,” instead of “ropa”). More importantly, she spoke an incredibly beautiful set of sounds from a language I have not been exposed to nearly enough and long to understand and speak fluently one day. Esperançosamente. But I guess I should focus on Spanish first. The class should help with that.