Hola! Things are getting a bit busy for me (finals for my June classes are on Tuesday) but I’ve set aside some time to give you three salient thoughts about my experience here in Spain so far:
- Spanish stage fright is real: One of the things I’ve been slowly training myself out of is the temptation to freeze and become super self-conscious in situations where I have to truly speak (not just “vale” or “gracias”) in Spanish. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process, and in most cases where my grammar and/or pronunciation hasn’t been perfect I’ve still been able to make myself understood; usually the fear of messing up (which will happen regardless) has been a bigger obstacle than the limits of my in-an-emotional-vacuum Spanish knowledge.
- Knowing some history makes sight-seeing better: I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to have the opportutnity to explore Madrid and Alcalá while taking a Spanish history class (and vice-versa). From the museums, to the monuments, to the paintings, to the very structure of the cities, my cultural explorations have benefitted from a newly gained knowledge of Spain’s extensive past. I mentioned my trip to el Museo Arqueológico Nacional last time, and one of my favorite exhibits was that of the pre-Roman era. It’s one thing to read about cultural interchange in the early Mediterranean, and totally another to see that manifested in the proliferation of such varied artifacts as Egyptian amulets, early Greek earthenworks, and stelas with Phonecian writing in Spain’s archeological record.
- Cervantes was a total genius (admittedly a change of direction from the previous two): As much as learning Spanish history has transformed my interactions with Spanish art and culture, reading some Cervantes (an abridged version of the Quixote for my second June class) has gradually been reshaping my experience with…almost all other works of Western literature that I’ve read. I’m not joking: not only is Don Quixote the source of innumerable references and archetypal borrowings, it also reads like the bible of metafiction. As a literature major/unabashed book nerd, it’s been an exhilarating experience and I look forward to reading the full Quixote in the not too distant future.
Hope you enjoyed reading! I’ll be back with another post next week. The pictures for this week are three statues of writers from el Barrio de las Letras in Madrid. They are (in order of appearance): Frederico García Lorca (my personal favorite; it’s beautifully melancholy), Lope de Vega, and Cervantes (the first public statue for anyone who wasn’t a king or saint in Madrid).