I had a really interesting conversation with one of the orientation guides about the way that students are evaluated here in Spain. When students are in their senior year in el colegio (high school), they have to take a placement exam, similar to the SAT back home, but it’s a lot more intense. The exam is cumulative and covers anything that the students could have possibly learned throughout all their years of schooling. To make it even more stressful, this is the only exam that universities look at in student applications. Based on these scores, the government tells the student what majors they can choose from, as if they know who is qualified to work in a specific field. This is mind-blowing to me. I can’t imagine being told what I can or cannot study, and what if you don’t even know? Being “undeclared” doesn’t exist. Students that might know 100% what they want to do might not be able to pursue that career because their score is compared amongst everyone else's, and if it doesn’t make the cut, they either have to choose a different field of study, or wait to take the exam again. A lot of students will take the exam again and try to switch, but this sets them back. They end up being in school for a lot longer than just four years. We’re very fortunate that we are able to choose what we want to study, and this realization just makes me that much more happy with my decision to be a Global Studies and Spanish double major!
Now that the “studying” part of abroad has begun, I haven’t had as much free time to explore and travel; however, I have participated in two program trips to Córdoba and Granada! The trips that the program hosts are so nice, and they provide so much! We get free transportation, guides, and some money for meals…what a deal! It was so nice to revisit one of my favorites cities, Córdoba. During a Spanish exchange that I participated in back in high school, we visited this beautiful city and I fell in love with the beautiful gardens in the Alcazar de Los Reyes Católicos. It brought back so many memories to be there again. We also visited La Mezquita de Córdoba, and had some free time to eat and walk around. It was a perfect little day trip!
One of the coolest things we got to see, besides the amazing views of the mountains, was a convent where nuns reside to this day. They never leave, but people can come and knock on the door to buy some sweets. It’s like they have their own little factory. The process is very formal. You have to knock on the door and wait for someone to come down, and when they open the door, you don’t see their face. You just see a turnstile, and you hear her recite a prayer, which you have to respond to correctly. Then, she turns the turnstile so you can see all of the sweets you can buy. It was pretty crazy to witness this whole exchange and not even come into contact with the nun!
A little added bonus to the trip was that I got to meet up with my friend Erika, my roommate Julie’s best friend from home, because she is studying abroad in Granada! It was so nice to reunite with her and take on the city at night. She was a great host, and I’m so happy we got to kill it in Spain together! I guess that’s all for now!
Os echo de menos muchísimo!