Thursday, October 15, 2015

Spanish and Laughter in San José by Alex Schmiechen

I was recently in San José for two weeks learning Spanish at CRLA (Costa Rican Language Academy). I lived in Lourdes, a neighborhood in San José, with a Costa Rican host family. We had class at CRLA for about five hours a day, five days a week. My class was the smallest class I’ve ever been in – me, one other girl from my program, and my professor – so I was a little apprehensive. I was nervous because small classes are often very intense and intimidating! However, my experience at CRLA went very well and it was one of the best Spanish classes I’ve ever taken.
            My professor, Rodolfo, was a 55 year old balding, jolly, helpful, and philosophical person. He was very relaxed and our classes often felt like friendly yet deep conversations. Our classes usually first consisted of an hour-long conversation about just about anything, in order to get us warmed up and ready to speak Spanish. We discussed about topics ranging from vegetarianism to the definition of an “error”. One day, Rodolfo asked us what we thought an “error” was; we spent a good part of an hour discussing about how society defines an error, how science classifies an error, what is even considered “correct” in the first place. Later, our professor finally told us what he thought an error was; he said that it was an opportunity to learn. This goes to show just how relaxed and kind Rodolfo was. He didn’t want us to feel bad or become embarrassed whenever we made mistakes, he really just cared about the learning process.

            Much of our time in class at CRLA with Rodolfo was also spent laughing. He would often have us act out medical scenarios, since we were focusing on learning medical Spanish. My classmate and I would often try to come up with the most ridiculous patient-doctor interactions possible. Symptoms ranging from explosive diarrhea, missing limbs, and spontaneous vomiting were common, along with treatments usually including exploratory surgery. Oftentimes, we would barely be able to talk because of laughing so hard; Rodolfo often said that my classmate and I should be on a comedy show because of our remarkable imaginations. I learned a lot in this class and had a ridiculous amount of fun.

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