Name: Ali Browder
Hometown: Wilmington, DE
No hay nada mejor que el castellano
When I tell people that I’m a Spanish major, the usual response is “but don’t you already speak Spanish?” Yes, I do. But the Spanish major here at Johns Hopkins is so much more than learning the language.
Spanish majors at Johns Hopkins have the opportunity to take politics, history, literature, cultural seminars, and film classes all within the department. Most of the classes are taught in Spanish, but a few of the upper-level courses are taught in English. I have studied everything from vampires to dictatorships to Santa Theresa de Ávila all in these upper-level classes. Although language is not the main focus of these courses, the papers are still written in Spanish and professors always take the time to give students corrections on their writing. Spanish majors first take an introduction to literature course, a broad survey of Spanish and Latin American literature, and then they can study literature from any time period or country in the Spanish-speaking world. Beyond the introductory literature class, students are required to take seven upper-level courses. Given the variety of classes offered, Spanish majors have the flexibility to specialize in what interests them. Spanish majors also have the unique opportunity of joining the National Spanish Honor Society after taking these upper-level courses.
One of the courses that I am currently taking is Professor Sieber’s Teatro español del Siglo de Oro, or Spanish Theater of the Golden Age. In this class, we read a play a week and then in class we discuss the play. I had studied some of the plays in previous classes, but what makes this class so interesting is how in-depth Professor Sieber explains the historical background and the themes of the plays. He often argues something that no one in the class noticed while reading the play, and by the end of his explanation we are all convinced that manos do not mean manos or that don Juan is gay. He always adds quite a bit of humor to his lectures, especially chistes verdes.
Beyond that, mastery of the Spanish language remains an integral part of the Spanish major’s time at Hopkins. Spanish majors must take six semester-long language courses, but this requirement is not as demanding as it seems, as many students can test out of the first four or five language classes. In fact, some students finish the language requirement in their first semester at Hopkins. While continued language study is not required, there are many excellent classes for students who have finished the six levels. Students can take an advanced writing class, a conversational Spanish class, or advanced grammar classes, such as Perfeccionamiento (Perfecting). The courses in the Spanish for the Professions series also include a heavy grammatical component, so they are also excellent choices for the student who wants to continue mastering the language. Business Spanish, Medical Spanish, Translation, and the like all heavily emphasize grammatical concepts. I highly recommend that anyone who has time in their schedule take advantage of all of these classes.
Spanish majors at Hopkins have many opportunities to improve their language skills outside of the classroom. The department hosts many lectures by important international authors. Last spring, the Chilean author and professor Antonio Ostornol visited Hopkins and gave a reading of his latest book. This spring, my favorite author, Argentine Andrés Neuman, will be visiting Hopkins. While the department brings these wonderful authors to students, Spanish majors also have the opportunity to learn more about the Spanish-speaking world by taking classes abroad (and having the credits count towards the major!). Many students spend a semester or two in Spain, Argentina, and Chile. I will be spending next semester in Logroño, Spain.
I am a Spanish major because the department is so fantastic. Some of my favorite classes so far have been Modern Spanish Culture, Advanced Composition, Perfeccionamiento, Traducción, Senior Seminar: Literaturas y culturas del Cono Sur, and Don Quijote. Actually, it was in that senior seminar that I learned a lot about vampires. The professors in the department are so knowledgable, and they teach far more than what is specified on the syllabus. Once I graduate from the program, I plan to study for my doctorate in Spanish literature. I eventually want to be a professor, and my time here has given me the confidence to want to pursue graduate studies in the discipline. I can’t say enough about how wonderful the Spanish program at Hopkins really is._______________________________________________________________________________