Today’s blog post comes to us from University of Alaska Fairbanks student & #APIabroad blogger Claire Ketzler. She’s studying abroad with us in Bilbao, Spain.
STUDYING ABROAD AND LEARNING ART
Art is international, and Spain is no stranger to the arts. In Bilbao, Spain there is a community of artists and viewers alike. Bilbao is the home of the Guggenheim Museum, which exhibits both contemporary and modern art. There is also Puppy, who is made out of thousands of flowers and guards the museum throughout the year!
The art world of Bilbao is a new experience for me. I am studying with the Studio Arts Program at Universidad del País Vasco. Here’s a bit about my experience so far.
TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
Before I officially registered in courses, I had to try different classes and decide what was the best match. I first started classes about a month ago, and since then I’ve dropped two! I found out that sculpture and a high-level drawing class were too much for me. Now, I’ve found the classes that are a perfect fit.
Depending on the class, some of the teachers may speak no English or very little. For example, one of my art classes has a teacher who doesn’t speak English. I am trying very hard to learn Spanish, but I still have a lot to learn. This can prove to be a challenge in this class because we can’t communicate with each other fluently.
This is where other students help greatly! I made a few friends in my class, and they help me and the teacher to communicate. When the teacher explains to the class the project, I sometimes struggle to understand everything. This is when my new friends are willing to help. They are locals to Bilbao and speak English and Spanish fluently. I am glad to have local students who will help me.
I try talking to Spanish students in Spanish, it is great language practice. Making friends with bilingual students is a good way to get involved in learning more about a language. Although, not all of my classes are in Spanish.
Two of my classes are taught in English. This is more comfortable for me since it is my native language. I know I am not missing any details or projects required in the class. Both teachers are native speakers in Spanish, so I can talk to them in Spanish sometimes. I don’t hide myself from Spanish all the time!
THE CLASS ITSELF
My art classes are different from previous art classes I took. Although, the teaching style is very similar to what I learned back in Alaska. The class sizes are similar, even if the students and teachers speak a different language. There are other ways that the classes are different.
I am learning more about Spanish artists. My art classes involve curriculums that teach about Spanish art which goes in hand with culture. I enjoy getting more immersed in Spain’s culture as well as learn about new artists! This widens my vision of art around the world.
Alongside my art classes, I am attending a Spanish language class. It is a challenge because it is an intermediate class, but I want to challenge myself! If I stay in my comfort zone and only speak in English, then I will never become fluent in Spanish.
This is very important in not only classes but every day living in Bilbao. Going out every day is a class itself because I need to speak to everyday people, such as bus drivers or shop clerks. The more I push myself in Spanish classes the closer I get to language fluency.
ENJOYING ART AND MORE
My time so far in Bilbao has been an experience, the right amount of learning and confusion. I look forward to exhibiting my art in an upcoming art class. Additionally, I will continue to learn more about Bilbao’s art, culture, and language. If I don’t embarrass myself once and a while, I’ll never learn anything! There are new people and artists to help along the way.
All in all, the art classes are exciting. Every day I discover something creatively different. My art style and knowledge are changing in the best kind of way.