Name: Jill Metzger
Year: Class of 2009
Hometown: New York, NY
Major: International Studies
If you’re at all like me and took Spanish classes in high school, fell in love with them and dreamed of going abroad in college, then a minor in Spanish Language and Culture (or any other language for that matter) is a great avenue to pursue! Even if you’ve never taken a Spanish class before and want some broad exposure to the language, the minor is also a good place to start. I ultimately decided on doing a Spanish minor instead of the Spanish major
because I only declared my International Studies major at the beginning of my sophomore year, and wanted to make sure I could fulfill all those requirements first. But, because I had such a fantastic experience with the Spanish classes I took in high school, I wanted to continue with the language so I would not lose the level of proficiency I had developed. There are 3 main reasons why I chose this minor and why I would recommend it to anyone interested in all things Spanish! (Picture 1: The Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid during the Noche en Blanco festival. This is a festival that lasts throughout the night in Madrid until early in the morning. They created a “cloud” around the base of it. I’m not really sure what it means but it was really cool!)
1. The requirements (not too shabby…)
Depending on what level—beginner, intermediate, advanced—you place into, the requirements for this minor are fairly easy to complete. Once you have finished the advanced level classes, all that is really left are Introduction to Spanish Literature and your choice of upper level courses that fit in with the course number designations as specified by the requirements checklist. You are not locked into any particular courses, which is great and allows you to be flexible. All of this said, I felt that this minor would complement my major in International Studies, as it would for almost any other major
in the social sciences or humanities (AND the International Studies major requires a concentration; mine is Spanish Language – very simple!). I studied abroad in Madrid with the JHU in Spain program and as a result could easily fulfill some of my minor requirements in addition to my major requirements. (Picture 2: This is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in the Basque country of northern Spain. The museum is a work of art in itself!)
Each semester, the German and Romance Languages and Literatures Department offers an wide variety of those upper level courses that are required to complete the minor. They range from courses on literature and philosophy to film and culture. One of my favorite classes was a seminar taught by Professor Egginton that I took in my junior spring called “Formations of the Unconscious: Buñuel, García Lorca, and Dalí.” Professor Egginton is one of my favorite professors. For a non-native speaker, he spoke some of the most beautiful Spanish that I’ve ever heard. In the class, we analyzed the works of filmmaker Luis Buñuel, writer Federico García Lorca, and artist Salvador Dalí all in the context of Lacanian psychoanalysis (which sounds pretty heavy, and trust me, it is). Each class discussion was thought-provoking and I always left class having learned something new. What was great about this class is that it presented a comprehensive view of Spanish culture in a totally unconventional light. Another fun class that I took this past fall was a course on the films of
Pedro Almodóvar taught by Professor González, who knew so much about Almodóvar and the film theory behind his works. We watched nearly all of Almodóvar’s works and discussed all the quirky and often bizarre thematic elements in his films. I had seen a few of his movies before, which piqued my interest in taking the class so I could learn more about Almodóvar and the motives behind his filmmaking. (Picture 3: The Aqueduct in Segovia built by the Romans thousands of years ago. It is still in use today.)
As a side note, these upper-level courses for the Spanish minor are always guaranteed to be small. The size limit is usually capped off at about 15 or 20 students at most. A small class size is something I really appreciate and I think most Hopkins students would feel the same way. My major is one of the more popular majors on and attracts a large percentage of the student body, and thus, bigger lecture-style classes. Taking a minor where classes are almost always small is a good change of scenery!
As much as I enjoy learning Spanish from a purely academic perspective, I believe there is a fundamental importance to having knowledge of a foreign language from a vocational perspective as well. (Picture 4: The Parc Guell in Barcelona of Antonio Gaudi. Probably one of the more popular tourist destinations.) If you’re applying for summer internships, almost any employer is going to appreciate language skills and count it as a plus (especially for those future International
Studies majors looking to intern with government agencies, international companies, or places abroad!). As a soon-to-be college graduate, having foreign language skills on my resume is a nice feeling. Language is a valuable skill to have, whether it is in a professional environment or if you’re ever traveling abroad. Having spent 4 months in Spain, I can say with certainty that you’ll feel a new sense of confidence when you can actually communicate with native speakers beyond the basic “Hello, how are you, where is the bathroom, how much does this cost?” type of dialogue. It’s well worth it!
Click here to access more information about the Spanish Language and Culture Undergraduate Program of Study.
To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the Spanish question thread._______________________________________________________________________________