The “studying” in study abroad

Matthew Boles is a student at The University of Florida and an ISA Featured Blogger. Matthew is currently studying abroad in Sevilla on an ISA Custom Program.

Given that I am taking classes here in Sevilla, Spain, I wanted to take some time to talk about my classes.

I am taking two classes: one taught by a University of Florida professor and one taught by a professor for the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo. Ana, the UF professor, is teaching a class about bilingualism in Spain while Coro, my other professor, is teaching a conversation course.

I really like both courses. There are quizzes and exams, but both professors understand that we are here to explore and become a part of the culture. Therefore, some of the assignments reflect that. For example, we all went on a tour of the “Plaza de España,” which is a huge plaza that was constructed for the 1929 World Exhibition. My homework for the conversation class was to write a summary of the tour.

My UF class has 10 students, and my conversation class has six. Everyone participates in both classes because we have the chance. It’s hard to speak regularly in a Spanish class of 30 students in the U.S.

Both courses are two hours long every day, but we usually have a break after an hour. I need the 10 minutes or so to relax and become focused again for class.

Even though neither one of my courses is about culture, we still talk about the culture because it’s important. For example, I had no idea that people in Spain eat twelve grapes on Jan.1 until we talked about customs during holidays.

I’m sure you’re wondering, “How hard are the exams?” I do have to study and read chapters from a textbook, but they are really not that bad. It’s more to make sure that we are paying attention in class and not sleeping. After all, we are studying here.

Something here that I have notices is that GPA does not exist. That seems weird to me, but I’m sure GPA seems like a weird concept to people who live in Spain. In fact, my professor told me that many students in Spain are content with just passing the course. The grading scale is different; it is from one to ten. A score of five or above means the student passed.

Something else that I have noticed here is that the universities do not have prestige over other universities. For example, obviously there is a difference between a degree in business from Harvard or any other ivy-league school and a business degree from some other school. But that is not the case in Spain. Many people here will live at home and go to the university in their hometown.

Also, there is a negative connotation of private universities in Spain. Our teacher explained to us that people in Spain who go to a private university, generally speaking, were denied from a public university. So they basically are paying more to say that they went to college.

I really do enjoy the way the classes are set up for us here in Spain. I can tell that I am improving every day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply