Thursday, March 13, 2008

And the Ass is...

So I had one of those “omg that was the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me” moments yesterday. I’m still completely embarrassed when I think about it, so I’m not going to post the whole story for the world to read here. Let’s just say it involved some feminine hygiene products and me twirling around in my chair acting like an…well…you get the idea.

Tales From the Spanish Classroom

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, have never read this blog before, or don’t ever talk to me you probably know that I’m taking Spanish. For the past 15 years I have avoided foreign languages like the plague. It wasn’t a requirement in high school, and once I got to college I put it off. Then I stopped going to college. Then I started. I put it off. Then I stopped going to college. Then I started. I put it off.

Anyway, so I decided this time, since I plan on actually graduating from St. Kate’s and not just using it as a little diversion from real life as I have done with previous schools, I would get the foreign language out of the way right away. I have actually started Spanish a couple of times. Both times I dropped it after the first class. There’s just something about someone standing in front of the room on the first day of class and talking in nonstop español that annoys the crap out of me.

I know they say that totally immersing yourself in a language helps you learn it faster – and maybe that’s true for the vast majority of people. But not for me. I find that it just stresses me out and makes my mind start spinning, and eventually I start hyperventilating and feeling nauseous. It’s not a pretty sight. I knew I was going to have to push past that at St. Kate’s and survive the first class in good enough shape to show up for the second.

So it’s the first day. I go into the classroom. Classmates are all just sitting there. Teacher walks in. She seems nice enough…and then she starts talking. Good Lord. Here we go again.


Room is spinning.

“Soy Profesora Smithberg. Bienvenida al comienzo español”

Holy crap…I wonder where the nearest bathroom is…

“Otras palabras que no recuerdo porque estaba hablando en español.”

Can I make it to the bathroom before my morning bowl of Life spews all over the girl in front of me?...

Just then a woman walks in, stops after a few feet, turns and starts to walk out. The teacher stops her, and the woman explains that she was supposed to be in Spanish I…beginning Spanish…obviously she has somehow warped to another time and found herself in some sort of advanced Spanish class. The entire class erupts into laughter, and I realize I’m not the only one who was thinking that maybe a college education wasn’t all that important anyway if it meant enduring two trimesters of this.

Because I’m in weekend college each class is 3 ½ hours long. Just to let you know, 3 ½ hours is a LOOONG time to spend sitting in a classroom getting conjugation and sentence structure shoved down your throat no matter what language you’re learning it in. While most weekend classes are held every other weekend, language classes are every weekend. It’s quite an annoyance, and I’m finding that Spanish is taking over my life. In the car, on the train, in my sleep, in meetings, in the store…random words or verb charts will cross my mind. Half the time I don’t know what the word I’m thinking about means. I just know that at some point over the last 10 weeks I crammed it into some empty corner in my head and for some reason it has decided to take a stroll around my brain for hours at a time. You know how annoying it is when you get a song in your head and can’t get it out? Try getting a word or verb conjugation chart stuck. Not fun.

In my endeavor to better understand this loco language I’ve enlisted the help of Luis. He’s from Mexico, immigrated here several years ago, and now tutors in the evenings. He’s fabulous. Honestly. Twenty dollars an hour to get a huge shot of confidence? Totally worth it. I meet with him once a week, and right now we’re working on my speaking skills which definitely need all the help they can get.

I’ve done well in the class so far (currently getting an “A”), the teacher is great (and no, she doesn’t just speak in Spanish the whole time), and I have gained a deeper appreciation for those crazy people out there who learn two or three or more languages.

So now I just have to finish. There are 26 classes total (13 per semester) and I’m done with ten… if I can just get through the last 16 without puking all over the girl in front of me I’ll consider the experience a success!