September 18, 2006

Primer clas

L´Auberge EspagnolToday, I went to my very first lecture at the UAB. Which, as it turned out to be, became my very first lecture in Catalan as well!

Here at universities in and around Barcelona, or more broadly speaking, at Catalan universities, lecturers have a right of choice of language. Any professor can decide for him- or herself whether they will speak Catalan or Castillian (which is Spanish as we know it from Manu Chao).

In practice, the number of Catalan lectures turns out, if we are to believe la Autònoma´s numbers, to be some 60%. These figures already gave me a slightly uncomfortable feeling before arriving here. Now my fears are becoming reality! A professor spoke for an hour in Catalan and I didn´t understand more than a shit and a half of it! I was struggling not to fall asleep at the same time, as an introduction to Economía Política can be quite aburrido (boring) if you can´t understand it.

My model film, L´auberge Espagnol, with which I compare about everything that happens to me these days, only mentions the problem in passing, in a scene where an Erasmus student gets told off for asking the lecturer if he can please speak in Castillian. But this is romanticised, I don´t even dare to ask him to change his language if all other students are first-language Catalan speakers! A little handy guide that I was given upon arrival, entitled something like 10 tips for survival in Barcelona, phrases it something like this: “When we asked young foreigners arriving at the airport what Catalan is, most of them failed to give a correct answer… The fact is that Catalan is totally different language, spoken daily by some 7 million Spaniards.”

It´s scary and unreal, but I can still laugh about it. Will get back to you on this one when exams approach.

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