Friday, March 19, 2010

semestre #2

Disclaimer: Since my computer is always in Spanish-mode, nearly every English word I type online is underlined in a red squiggly as a spelling error.  Since I am too lazy to change the language to English every time I write something in English, it is very possible that there will be spelling errors in the following. Lo siento.  Here we go:

Since Reunidas midterms are right around the corner (they start on Monday...) I thought it's about time I tell everyone what sorts of classes I'm taking this semester.

I'll start with Reunidas. (Reunidas is a conjunto de programas norteamericanos: WisconsinIndianaPurdue, Cal State, Tulane, Boston College, Marquette, and some others?  Our profesors for these classes are all professors from the Complutense, but all the students are northamericans.  This semester Reunidas classes started on February 1 and final exams are the last week of May)
Sintaxis comparada II: I took sintaxis comparada I last semester, so it's the same type of class, just different material. We do lots of translations and learn useful spanish-things.
Etnología de América: Kind of like Anthro 104 all over again, minus the Sulawesi.  This class is reeeaaallly slow and boring, but it'll count towards some type of Spanish culture credit I needed.  Our first five temas included: Culture, Ethnography, Language, Economics, aaaaand... shoot, I can't even think of our current unit. That's bad news. Some studying is in order... Our trabajo (paper) for this class will be an ethnography of some cultural aspect of Madrid, whatever we want to write about.  It appears as though you do some "field work", interviewing madrileños and maybe some outside research, then write your findings. I was thinking about doing religion/the secularism here, since I did tons of research on that for my religion class last semester. Or something about the living status - how kids live with their parents until they're 30 or so.  That's the norm.  It'd also be interesting to do something about all of the graffiti on all the buildings or in bathroom stalls.  Girls here have full-on abortion debates on the walls of the bathroom stalls, or ask for guy-advice, or draw pictures, or debate the ethics of bull fights... they cover everything.
Cervantes: My professor is a passionate Cervantes fan, highly enthusiastic.  Thus classes are never boring, but I'm sure if anyone else were teaching it, it could be a terrible, uninteresting class.  Luckily that is not the case.  However, since Cervantes was all for 'la libertad', our professor also gives us lots of freedom in our papers and exams.  This I do not like.  For example, for our midterm on Monday, we'll receive 4 texts (the beginning and end of two of Cervantes' novelas ejemplares) and choose one. And write. Write about what, you may be asking.  Write about whatever. So... that'll be interesting. I have no idea what he's looking for.  He gives no specified length (we have that freedom too) nor requirements.  Just "write about whatever you want to that's related to the text you pick".  Ok.

And now my Complutense classes.  Complu classes started at the end of February, and final exams are throughout the month of June.  Unfortunately, my finals are quite late in the month, June 21 and June 23, but oh well.  Hopefully I can fit some travel in between Reunidas finals and my Complutense finals.
Historia y filosofía de la lógica: (Does that one require a translation?  Meh: history and philosophy of logic).  My professor's really nice and he talks at a perfect speed, and very clearly.  He writes on the board, too, so I feel like my notes are pretty good.  On Thursdays he lectures on philosophy of logic, and Fridays are history of logic.  I like the philosophy lectures better - fun to think about how we know what we know... how can you actually prove something's true... what does it even mean to be true... that sort of stuff.  It's all new info though, so I should really start studying, and learn bit by bit this semester.
Historia y teoría de la ciencia: (history and theory of science)  This class is interesting, but I don't think I'm grasping what everyone else does during lectures themselves.  This is ok though, because I have made a friend in class, Esther, that lets me borrow notes and photocopy them every week.  Then I read through Esther's notes with my tutor, and my tutor explains everything so to me - so well, too!  The semester started out with what is the history of science, what is the philosophy of science, do we need both, then looked at different figures (Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Nietsche, etc.) to see what they thought about the separation between history and philosophy of science - which were necessary to study the evolution of science.  (Do we need to only study the facts - who discovered what when? or should we study the historical context, the influences on these scientiests and learn why certain concepts were developed when and where they were discovered, and not elsewhere)

Both of those classes deal with a lot of meta-, so that keeps it interesting.  My grade for each class will just be one final exam in June.  My history of science exam will be some type of essay I think, and I have no idea the format of my logic exam.  I'll ask details when the timing gets closer.

Also, the format of most classes here in Spain is quite different than in the US.  They don't use textbooks with classes - there goes a valuable resource.  Rather, you go to class where the professor talks for an hour and a half straight, and you write it all down.  And you study your notes.  That's it.  Some classes have required or optional supplementary readings, either in a photocopied packet that you have to go purchase at the photocopy window, or could be books - but not textbook books, just normal books.  My logic class has no books at all (in fact, we still haven't even gotten a syllabus.  I had to ask my prof to write one for me, because I needed to turn one in this past week to get credit for this class in Madison).  The science class has some required readings every unit - it'll be maybe three or four books, and a chapter or two from each book.  So I go to the library and get a book at a time.  But like I said before, they're just normal books, not textbooks, so they're a bit harder to learn from.  It's not nicely outlined in units, concepts you will learn in this chapter, vocabulary, comprehension questions, like textbooks are.  So that's something that still takes some getting used to.

Anyway, I've barely done any studying all semester, so I should go start learning what we've been taught these past two months for midterms.


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