By Raechel Presner
One optional part of the Granada program I decided to try is taking classes at the music Conservatory. Along with getting to be in an all-music environment, my Converatory class has given me my main opportunity to interact with Spanish students. While the social opportunities are a huge plus, taking a class in which you are the only American can be scary. My first day at the Conservatory, I barely found my class, and my profesor has an 'granaíno' accent, so I understood maybe half of what he said. (If you've overhead Dominican or Puerto Rican Spanish in the streets of the Bronx you can relate –the 'granaíno' accent sounds nothing like them, but can be equally confusing.) The key, of course, was to get to know other students in the class, who I can check in with after class to make sure I don't miss anything. The final project for the class is a minimum 12 page academic paper with a 20-minute presentation/defense in class – an assignment which would feel totally doable in a class at Fordham taught in English, but I know is going to be a challenge.
I'm also doing an internship with an online newspaper, Granadimedia, and I suggested for my first article I write about the study abroad experience. Something I'd been wondering was why there is a majority of American students at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas (CLM) where we study. After interviewing one of my professors, I found out that Europeans who study abroad tend to enroll directly in the university in the foreign city. Many European universities are linked through the Erasmus program, so that students can easily exchange and count their study abroad credits toward their degrees back home. This sort of thing is easier to arrange here, since in many countries University-level education is subsidized by the government, so that it is free or nearly so for students, and for-profit private insitutions are in the minority. The CLM is affiliated with University of Granada, but has an independent status, so the tuition coverage that Spanish and European students receive doesn't apply, making it a relatively expensive option, but more convenient for American universities, which aren't included in the Erasmus network. While the story originated as an exploration of differences in approaches to study abroad, it turns out these differences are rooted in the educational systems of the States and Europe.