Tag Archives: spanish

Short Term is here!

Hey all. It’s that time of year again… Short Term! 

After completing my thesis, I still had three papers to work on before I could head home for spring break. The first was for my Latin American history class. The course focused specifically on Latin American independence, and in the final paper we were asked to discuss whether independence brought about significant change to Latin America, or whether there was a more gradual shift from colonial rule to national sovereignty. I concluded that when we talk about change we have to talk about what type of change and for whom. Things changed really differently for the indigenous population in comparison with the elite Creole population, so I tried to center my arguments on the nuanced evolution of change in Latin America during the independence period.

Okay, I just read that back and it sounds a little boring. I swear it’s a readable paper and makes sense. As a history nerd, I think I have a tendency to delve a bit too deeply into a paper like this. If you’re still with me, I promise to keep the other paper descriptions short!

 For my Spanish final paper, I wrote a comparative essay on two short stories that we read in class. Because the course emphasized race, afro-spirituality and Catholicism in the Caribbean, I decided to write my paper on the construction and development of character identity in these stories and on how those characters represented the larger picture of the development of national identity in the Caribbean (in Cuba, specifically).

I also focused on identity in my final English paper. In this assignment, I looked to two short stories by Sherman Alexie and Junot Díaz to compare how identity was formed, molded and manipulated through narrative voice.

Anyway, you probably didn’t need to hear the long rambling descriptive explanations of my final papers, but I hope it interested some of you. As you can see from the varying topics I wrote about, each Bates class provides you with an opportunity to focus in on and tackle some really cool, unique and interesting material. 

Anyway, after finishing up the papers, I headed down to Florida for a fun week in the sun with some friends and in just a few short days, Short Term begins. I am taking a class titled “Gender and Tobacco.” I’ll have more information as soon as I take my first class. It’s a Women and Gender Studies (WGS) course and I’m really looking forward to it!

Until next time… 


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The full Bates experience…

Hey all. School has been as busy as ever but I’ve been enjoying myself. There have been more papers for my ‘Age of Independence’ Latin American history class as well as for my ‘Fiction in the U.S.’ English class. My thesis on race relations and social hierarchy in colonial New York City continues to move along (slowly but surely) and my Spanish class, though a lot of work, has been a true learning experience as of late. The class focuses on the formation of national identity in the Caribbean, specifically in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Using poems, novels and other pieces of literature as lenses, we examine how race, catholicism and african spirituality affect the national discourse in each nation we study. The class has been a lot of work – papers, tests, oral presentations, preparations for a final project – but the material typically keeps me engaged enough to distract me from the difficulty of the work… it’s an ideal college class – both challenging and thought-provoking.

In between classes and work, I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to the job search, which, unlike the hunt for the perfect college, is a lot more open-ended and intimidating. I’m looking at it as another new experience and embracing it, which has made the search more fun than stressful. There’s also been time for IM Ice hockey. The team I play on won the IM Championship last week, capping off a successful run of two championships in three years. Bragging rights are the ultimate prize, but the free t-shirt all champions receive is a nice perk.

Working on the school newspaper, relaxing at my yoga class and taking the occasional trip off campus for a meal away from commons take up the rest of my time during the week. As I write this, in fact, it’s approaching 2 a.m. and I am in the newsroom finishing up the sports section for tomorrow’s issue. Time to get back to work! Until next time…

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Academic Life at Bates…

Hey all. As I write this, I’m sitting on my couch under a blanket in my pajamas. It’s February break and I’m back in New York relaxing, enjoying my mom’s home cooking and catching up on some much needed rest. Sweatpants, slippers and sweatshirts have been the clothing of choice for the past few days: I call it the “SSS” collection, perfect for when you want to be as comfortable as possible. Still, while I eat homestyle food and ponder trademarking an “SSS” clothing line from the comforts of my couch, I have to focus on a lot of academic work.

Due the first monday of break was the second chapter of my senior thesis. It was only a draft, but completing it meant countless hours of researching, note-taking, working on proper citations and of course, writing. I spent much of the first weekend of break writing up chapter two while doing some extensive editing. I love the topic for my thesis. I’m focusing on race and class relations in colonial New York City through the lens of a slave uprising known as the New York Conspiracy of 1741. It’s essentially an in-depth research paper, which will ultimately be about 50 pages or perhaps even more. It’s a daunting project to work on in just one semester, but taking it little-by-little makes the process easier. I try not to get too stressed about it because, well, how many times in your life to you get the chance to complete a comprehensive study on a topic of your choosing?

Stack of thesis books:

In addition to thesis, I have several papers due the week I get back. For my Age of Independence in Latin America class I need to write a paper about the second set of wars for independence in Latin America. Between 1808-1826, most of Latin America became independent, one way or another, from Spain. My paper is focusing on some of the factors (both external and internal) that led to the creation of new nations as well as on the ideological differences between the wars for independence and the earlier set of revolts, rebellions and uprisings that didn’t ultimately lead to independence. As a history nerd, I’m enjoying writing this paper.

For my English class, Fiction in the U.S., I have to find a peer-review critical essay that focuses on a piece of literature (novel or short story) that we’ve read in class. In a short paper, I need to summarize the essay, while also using my knowledge of the material to critically analyze the peer-reviewed work. This paper isn’t due for a week, but I think I am going to focus on James Baldwin’s, “Sonny’s Blues.” It’s a fantastic short story. Read “Sonny’s Blues” here if you’re interested in checking it out.

For my Spanish class, Spanish Caribbean Literature, I am writing a paper based on a documentary on Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. In the paper, I’m analyzing how the documentary presents Castro as an individual hero of the public. Castro is a deeply complicated man, both intelligent and ruthless. I’m excited to be writing about this topic, though the fact that it has to be written entirely in Spanish does make it extra time-consuming.

On top of this academic work, I’m in the midst of an intense job search. I’m casting a wide net and keeping my options open. I was accepted to interviews for two separate jobs yesterday. This is exciting, but it also requires a lot more preparation as well as logistical planning (both positions require extensive traveling). In the meantime, I’m continuing to look for more positions!

So, while I continue to sport the “SSS” collection, there is plenty to do. Until next time, it’s back to work!

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Finals Time Approaches…

Hey all. After a wonderful Thanksgiving break, it’s time to start focusing on final exams, presentations and papers. Tomorrow marks the first day of the last week of regular classes. Finals week will take place Dec. 13th-18th. I have a 12-page Spanish research paper due this Friday which will be a bit tough, but otherwise my finals aren’t looking too daunting. I have a take-home exam for a politics class and then two in-class exams for my other classes.

In a strange way, it’s comforting to know that everyone else gets stressed by final exams and papers, too. Seeing other students studying into the late hours of the night while chugging caffeinated drinks, has a relaxing effect on me. It inspires me to be on top of my work, organized and calm. With that said, I’ve still stocked up on snack food and soda to prepare myself for the many hours of work and studying that are ahead of me in the next two weeks.

I will try to post a picture of my finals study area next week. I typically form a cocoon of books, papers, notes, bags of potato chips, soda, etc. around me. I just sit in the middle of it all, under the glow of one small lamp, and slowly plug away at all the work… I try my best to make studying an enjoyable experience.

Besides schoolwork, there’s a lot to keep me busy. On Saturday, the men’s basketball team played host to rival Bowdoin College. Bates students packed Alumni Gym for the game. As a means of intimidation, students dressed in all black clothes to represent a “black out.” The Bates Bobcats prevailed with a resounding 86-65 victory. The Bates supporters chanted throughout the contest and at times you could barely hear yourself think. I was fortunate enough to catch a great offensive posession for Bates that ended in a dunk and wild cheering from the crowd. Check it out below. You can read more about Bates Athletics here. Until next time… Let’s Go, Bobcats!

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Man, I’m glad I go to Bates…

Hey all. Today I had one of those “Man, I’m glad I go to Bates’ moments. As a Spanish minor I am automatically put on the Bates College Spanish Department LISTSERV. This means anytime there is any news from the Spanish Department (presentations, films, new classes, schedule changes, etc.) I will hear about it. It’s a great resource because it helps to keep me in the loop about everything going on within the department.

The part I like the most is that any new jobs/work opportunities presented to Bates and related to Spanish are put on the LISTSERV. That means, I can be sitting on my couch 300 miles from Bates and learn about a new job opportunity to teach Spanish to local elementary school students in the fall. Thank you, Bates! Keep those job opportunities coming…

Until next time…

(News Photo: http://www.madisonpubliclibrary.org/new/index.php/2009/06/17/job-seekers-workshops-at-the-central-library/)

(Bates Photo: http://www.unirugs.com/bates-college-74593-spirit-p-80.html)

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Spanish Graffiti

Hey all. Things are going pretty well in Spain thus far. I made a trip to Madrid this past weekend and am heading to Cordoba on Sunday to see my girlfriend who is studying there. It will be great to see her and should be a very nice visit. I will provide you with a more thorough update of everything in Spain in my next blog, but for now I thought I would share some interesting photos from Spain.

You’ve already seen the historical side of Spain in some of the pictures I’ve posted: Cathedrals, palaces, and monuments, revered for their historical significance and architectural beauty. But there is another side of the art scene in Spain: Graffiti. I find this strange juxtaposition of history and modernity to be really interesting. Some call it street art while others see it as defacement and vandalism. Whatever your view, you can’t deny or ignore it’s place in Spanish society. Check out some of this pictures I snapped in Granada and Sevilla:

Dónde está la llave? Where is the key?

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Sevilla and beyond…

Hey all. Two weeks have passed since I first arrived in Europe and I now feel as though I am settling into a routine. I no longer rely on my map (getting to and from my homestay is not a problem) and if I don’t know exactly where I am, I feel comfortable enough wandering until I find myself on a familiar street. I’ve also fully adjusted to the six hour time difference and have now been sleeping much better than when I first arrived.

There is very little to complain about in this great city, though I must say that the intensive Spanish grammar class I am currently in is a bit of a drag. I’d rather be out speaking to Spaniards in the streets than learning about sentence structure and the like, but I suppose learning the uninspiring grammar techniques will help me down the road. The grammar class is just a minor part of the experience and concludes this Friday so I am making the most of it and trying to absorb as much information as possible in the next few days.

I think my language skills are getting better everyday. Regular conversations with Concha (my Señora) and other Spaniards, classes taught entirely in Spanish, and daily readings of Sevilla’s local newspaper have all helped me to improve my Spanish abilities. I am a long way from fluency, but it seems I am taking steps in the right direction…

This past weekend, the study abroad program (CIEE) sponsored a free trip to Granada which was quite fun. It was nice to get a little change of scenery and Granada is really a beautiful city. We saw the Alhombra which is a huge Moorish palace dating back to the 1300’s. The palace is a mix of Islamic and Christian artistic design and has beautiful views looking out over the entire city of Granada.

I am happy to be back in Sevilla and am looking forward to many adventures ahead. Until next time…Check out some of the pictures I snapped in Granada. Hasta Luego…

View of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range with a palm tree in the forefront:

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