Classes at the university are very intimate. My smallest class has 5 students and the largest has 15. I believe that this may be due to the fact that my classes are given at a satellite campus as opposed to the actual university, but I am not exactly sure. Also, my classes are highly focused on discussion. Some of my smaller classes even change the tables so that the classroom resembles a conference room. One of the major differences I have experienced has been the lack of tests/quizzes. In all of my classes, the only exams are midterms and finals. Other than that, and the fact that 3 of my 4 classes are 2 hours long, the workload is pretty much the same as at Claflin.
Aside from school, there have been some pretty cool things going on. I have the opportunity to volunteer with an organization called Gota de Leche, which provides breakfast to students at the Pio XII secondary school. The concept of volunteerism is something relatively new to Spain, particularly in Andalusia, which is the province where Sevilla is located, and community service is more often about observing a different community as opposed to doing actual work. Spain, along with a few other European Union member countries, is in the midst of an economic crisis, and one of the first things I noticed during my service was just how strongly the crisis has affected the minority populations of Spain. When I thought of a breakfast program, I thought immediately of the U.S., where breakfast consists of eggs, grits, bacon and things of that nature. However, Spanish breakfasts are different. Usually, a Spanish breakfast consists of toast and coffee, tea, juice or cocoa, and that was the breakfast we were serving to these children. When I realized the reality that there were families who could not afford to give their kids 4 breakfast cookies and a small cup of cocoa, it hurt my heart, and that was just my first morning. I am really excited to continue working there and getting to know the kids.
Another cool thing has been that I have gotten to travel! Thus far, I have visited the Spanish cities of Madrid, Toledo and Malaga, each of which is starkly different than the other. Also, this past weekend, I was able to leave Spain and visit Lisbon, Portugal! So far, Lisbon has been my favorite city. However, it has given me a great appreciation for having a basic/intermediate understanding of the Spanish language! Because I have been able to communicate and understand about half of what I need to in Spanish, I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be in a place where you have no ability to communicate! I must say that it was quite the experience!