Sometimes, like when a group of people from my program are walking along, talking about getting drunk every night like it’s the new pastime, I am ashamed to be an American. And other times, I just really wish we could go to other countries and not make ourselves look like miniature traveling Bushes. Let me provide you with an example.
One of our professors assigned us a pretty lengthy expanse of exercises for homework on Monday. It was pretty difficult and many of the exercises didn’t correspond to the lessons in the book. But I figured, well, it’s something we should know or something. I wasn’t happy about doing it, but I pulled out my English/Spanish dictionary, my Spanish monolingual dictionary and even my slang book (though it didn’t help me a damn bit!) and I got busy trying to tackle the homework. I wasn’t about to go into class without something.
Well, today in class while we were going over said homework, a chick raises her hand and says, “Umm, what are we supposed to do when we can’t find the information in the book? I didn’t understand any of this.” Here, my eyes start to roll, but I’m okay. The professor does his best to address the issue that there will be times when he assigns homework that doesn’t correspond directly to stuff in the book, but it’s stuff for us to work at (his emphasis, not mine) and learn. For instance, the homework we had done the night before was on colloquial expressions using the verb “dar”. Things we need to know if we ever want to remotely appear less like walking textbooks and more like native speakers.
Second girl. “Well, are we going to be tested on this stuff?”
Professor answers, if it’s in the class, we’ll be tested on it.
Same girl. “I don’t think it’s fair that we’re given homework that doesn’t correspond to exercises in the book and that we’re tested on those. How are we supposed to learn? I couldn’t find any of this stuff. Blah, blah, blah, blah BLAH!!!”
By this time, my eyes are rolling pretty heavily and I’m annoyed to all the heavens. I didn’t spend 3 hours doing the damn homework assignment for these little twits to come into class and say, “It wasn’t in the book, therefore I didn’t do it. I don’t understand it. Let’s just move on, shall we?”
The debate continued for a good 20 minutes until I couldn’t take it anymore. I raised my hand and blurted out, “Ummm, the majority of the phrases were in the dictionary, and we all have dictionaries, don’t we?! Look it up! It’s not that difficult.” (Bad translation probably, but you get the gist)
I don’t think anyone liked that comment. And I’m pretty sure while the ding dongs are out drinking, they’ve got a picture with my face on it for their drunken dart game. Anyway, finally the professor says, (this whole dialogue was in Spanish mind you), “Fine. If you all don’t want to do exercises that aren’t in the book, we won’t. If there’s no corresponding exercise, I won’t assign anything.”
To my absolute HORROR! this brings about a sigh of relief and a murmur of “thank gods” from the spoon feds in the classroom. I honestly was looking dead at the professor shaking my head rapidly like he had a gun to my head and was asking if I was ready to die. “Please, don’t do this, Mr. Professor Man. Not all of us are dumb, lazy Americans.”
Every day in class I am astounded by the lack of will, lack of desire and lack of concern on the part of my fellow classmates. From the chick from Berkeley who likes to argue with the professor and try to talk over her to the dingy chick that’s always mysteriously “sick” and has to leave class (typical sorority girl too, go figure), I’m just OVER these people.
I keep trying to figure out what was their motivation for coming. It obviously wasn’t to learn Spanish. The majority of the students are perfectly content speaking to each other in English. Was their motivation a means to travel Europe? Many of them, I know, could have gotten their mommies and daddies to send them to Europe and have probably already seen much of it.
Is it because it “looks” good to have a Spanish degree these days or the ability to speak Spanish? Well, guess what, boys and girls, you won’t learn diddly except how to find the bathroom and ask for another beer at the rate you’re progressing and also with the lack of respect that you seem to have for the language and the professors.
I came here to become fluent in Spanish first and foremost. Traveling was an added bonus. I am in school and as far as I’m concerned, all else comes second. Someone forgot to tell these dorks about the school requirement. And that’s getting on my last everlovin’ nerve.
Many of them should have went to study in England where the language is similar to one they already know and they wouldn’t have to exert so much effort using what little brain capacity they have. Leave room for those of us who came here because of a love for the language.