While all you Blue Hens back home trudged to class for the first time on August 27th, I, unfortunately, did not have that pleasure. Instead, my sophomore year in Granada, Spain commenced on October 1st.
As a child, the first day of school was always exciting. The start of a new school year always meant new classes, teachers, and activities. For me, it also came with a carefully selected outfit and a family dinner consisting of Chinese food. (Of course, those were always my favorite parts). As I have gotten older, many parts of this special day have changed. No longer is there solely unadulterated excitement; the first day of school brings with it a sense of dread about the work to come. And of course, now that I am in a foreign country, this first day was especially different (but not the carefully selected outfit part, of course).
The first and most profound change between my first day this year and first days of years past is the language. All of my classes this semester are in Spanish (yikes). While the language barrier has decreased over the past four weeks that I have been here, taking classes completely in Spanish is an entirely new experience. I can tell you that there will be no daydreaming for me this semester, because I simply cannot zone out and still manage to understand the professor!
My first day of school also showed me how different college in Spain is from college in the US. One major divergence is the length of the classes. Considering that the semester starts later here, the classes need to be longer. Therefore, all classes are two hours long. Quite a big change from the 50-minute classes at UD! This length will certainly take some getting used to. Another difference is the grading scale. Instead of letter grades, the Spanish use numerical grades from 1-10. Just another difference to adjust to over the course of the semester!
So while my first day of school was filled with changes, one thing that never fades is the initial anticipation of discovering what the semester will be like. For me, the anticipation is inevitable; I always look forward to finding out more about my classes and who will be teaching them. Although many times the anticipation fades after the first homework is assigned, for me, there is something truly special about the first day of school. No matter where you are, the classes you are taking, or who your professors are, the first day of school is a new beginning, a time to start over.
As for my new beginning, it was a success! I believe that I will enjoy my professors and learning about the Spanish language and culture. Yes, the two-hour classes will be a struggle sometimes, but hey, who can complain about school when one of the buildings has a view like this?