Erasmus Experience

Text written by Elena Valenzuela Campaña

“Erasmus Experience: The Person Who Goes Is Not the Same Person Who Returns”, talk by Ylenia González Rodríguez.

Ylenia gently offered us the last Small Talk session of this academic year at the EOI. She is studying a Degree on Lenguas Modernas, Cultura y Comunicación, and she absolutely has a knack for communication, since she used a nice English along with an intelligent sense of humor to get into rich detail about her Erasmus experience in Belgium. Her talk left little behind, for the whole information was perfectly arranged, while she was so honest to show us both the bright and the dark sides of her stay.

First, Ylenia talked about the requirements, costs, fees, and procedure to apply for an Eramus Scholarship, about the facilities where students are hosted… technical information mixed with her personal feelings and points of view. Then she explained why she chose Belgium, or why she wanted to study abroad.

On the bright side, she mentioned the friendships (these special fraternity arousing when students are alone in the same place and situation), the fun, the parties and travels; but also growing up by facing, for the first time, the daily duties that her parents usually do to run a home. Ylenia now appreciates how coping with all this stuff has made her be more grateful, responsible and aware of the importance of earning a living.

On the dark side, she remarked the loneliness during the first days when you have not met yet the other mates, the fears of apparently hostile scenarios, dealing with a highly demanding University there, or handling the same prejudices that Europeans have for Spaniards.

So, it was fun to see how Ylenia confirmed that yes, we Spanish people are so different from our neighbors; not so serious, but easy-going and fun. Bullfighting is also still there, and we could just let it be. But there is a perception we should think about: why good manners, like speaking quietly in public places or correctly addressing a teacher, were abandoned in Spain when they are still so important for the rest of the world. We are not worse than the rest, and however, we are badly misjudged because this rude first impression.

Having lived this blend of feelings and experiences, Ylenia absolutely convinced the audience, as she had promised, that the person who goes is not the same person who returns. We have no longer the military service, nor the gap year they take in Britain before University, but we have Erasmus to live, as Ylenia did, one the most exciting lifetime experiences.

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Concierto Desparpajo

Justo antes de escuchar a Vivaldi

El 4 de abril, celebramos la V Edición de Concierto Desparpajo, una actividad realizada como colaboración entre la Escuela Municipal de Música y la Escuela Oficial de Idiomas. Pudimos escuchar un total de 10 canciones interpretadas por la agrupación de violonchelos, grupos de música de cámara y combos musicales, todas ellas precedidas por una presentación en inglés o en francés.

PUZZLING MYSTERIES AND MYSTERIOUS PUZZLES

Text by Miriam Marín

On March 18th, we had the opportunity to attend a very interesting talk offered by Oxford University Press. In this case, Milena Papantousia talked about some curious mysteries around the world. The talk was divided in three parts: Mysterious places, strange animals and puzzles that humans invented to have fun.

The first part showed us some of the most famous places in the world because they were linked with some awesome mysteries. The Bermuda Triangle is well known because, in that part of the planet, there have been some unsolved disappearances of both planes and boats. Nobody knows how they can disappear without a trace. Some other places are known because scientists are still thinking about how humans could build those structures (Stonehenge), sculptures (Easter Islands Heads) or huge designs (Nazca Desert) and why they made them.

The talk continued with some weird animals that some people swear to have seen like the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti, Bigfoot, the Kraken, etc. Milena showed us some videos in which we could see some really odd animals, maybe because they suffered some genetic anomaly. This might be an explanation of why ancient humans considered some animals monsters, but, in other cases, they could talk and build the legend about animals that are extinct nowadays.

To finish, Milena talked about why humans need mysteries and she went on to speak about some of the puzzles we have created throughout history to enjoy our lives like riddles, quizzes… Today we have another kind of puzzle called Escape Room. It seems that Escape Rooms have their origin in The Crystal Maze, a TV show that started to broadcast in 1990 in the UK. It is similar to Dungeons and Dragons, with a host acting as the Dungeon Master. It requires not only mental but also physical skills. This program became so popular that people were ready to be entertained in the same way as the contestants of that TV program. That way the first Escape Room opened in the UK.

Do you like riddles? Have you ever been to an Escape Room? I am sure that you will enjoy these mysterious puzzles either participating or reading about some of the examples you have read in this article.

Being an Intern at EOI Valdemoro

Text by Ylenia González

My name is Ylenia González and I am studying a Modern Languages, Culture and Communication degree at the University Autonoma in Madrid. Currently, I am doing my internship in the Official Language School of Valdemoro so as to practice the English teaching to adults for the first time, which is my goal in the near future.

I started the internship at the beginning of February and I am going to stay here until the 30th of April. Firstly, when I arrived, I was asked to prepare some tasks in the computer which consisted on twofold activities. In the first one, I had to look for interesting TV channels, radio stations, etc., from Anglo-Saxon countries. The second task was related with the so-called linguistic mediation. This kind of mediation is currently one of the skills assessed in the Official Language School examinations. What I had to do was to search for information about the benefits of this skill in English exams.

Then, I was proposed to carry out some conversation classes, divided into different levels, for students who really need to have some support in this skill. Each class has a duration of one hour approximately and I help them to prepare their monologues, interactions and accents in order to success in the final exam in May. In addition, last March 13th, I did a small talk about my Erasmus experience in Antwerp, Belgium for five months. I pointed out several main points like its costs, duration, university… In general, I tried to express myself as well as I could and I think that I showed the happiness and maturation that I feel after ending my studies abroad.

Finally, I have been really happy since I started my internship in this school due to the amazing teachers and students who share this experience with me. I am more and more sure that I want to become an English teacher in the future. And this great experience has helped me to reaffirm my decision.

Aulas Europeas: English for Teachers

Text by María Bravo

I am a Secondary school Maths teacher, but when I cross the threshold of the Official Language School, I am a student and my teacher is Fernando.

European Classes are an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences. I think it is a good way to improve your English if you are a teacher, because you feel free to speak. Probably, you will make a lot of mistakes, but the teacher and the classmates will try to help you and make you feel good to try again.

Every class is different; one day you can sing a song, another you can watch parts of films, practise listening, review grammar or vocabulary, do a spelling bee competition, etc. That is to say, it is a very complete course. It is important to take into account that you enjoy every class, because almost everything is fun.

So, if you are a teacher, you like English and you want to improve this language, don’t hesitate to join us; you will not regret it.

Language Exchange

Text by Arancha Mena Rodríguez

I am going to talk about my videoconference experience with a student from Finland. First of all, our school sent an email to us (my new friend from Finland and me). In this e-mail, we introduced ourselves. It was the beginning for us. After that, we tried to find the best time to talk. It was very easy because her timetables are the same as mine. We decided to make a video call by WhatsApp. We talked for about 30/40 minutes. When our conversation started, we introduced ourselves. We spoke in English and Spanish and it was very easy for us to understand each other. We talked about the topics which the school gave us, but we felt very comfortable and both gave details about our personal lives. I’d like to finish by adding that I’ve got a new friend from Finland, and now we are connected. We’ve talked again and we enjoy sharing little things about our everyday life. I recommend this language exchange to my Spanish classmates. Thanks!

First Reformed

Film review by Carlos Toledano

First Reformed is an American movie written and directed by Paul Schrader and, as in other films of his filmography, religion and obsessive characters are in the background of the script. The film was acclaimed by critics and was nominated for a number of awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and it stars Ethan Hawke as Reverend Ernst Toller.

Reverend Toller is the main character of this film. He is in charge of the First Reformed Church, a small church in the state of New York with a rather scarce parish, ruled by the neighbouring Church of Abundant Life, which has the majority of the parishioners of the region, and represents how economic interests can distort even religion. Toller is running an experiment which includes writing down a journal with all his thoughts for a year, after which it is supposed to be destroyed. He is a former military, and he is still facing the death of his son in the Iraq war, for which he feels somehow responsible because he encouraged him to enlist as part of a family tradition. At First Reformed, he meets Mary, a pregnant parishioner who asks the Reverend to advise her husband, a radical ecologist with suicide thoughts who rejects his son because he thinks that climate change is about to destroy the world. When he commits suicide just before one of their meetings and Mary shows Toller a suicide vest she has found hidden in their garage, all his old despairs and past dark thoughts start coming back to his mind and make him doubt about his future an even his faith.

First Reformed is one of those films which does not intend to engage the viewer with great special effects or spectacular scenes. Quite the opposite. What makes this film so different from others is that it is filmed using fixed and long shots (sometimes maybe too long), in an almost square aspect ratio similar to old TV, to make the viewer pay attention to the characters themselves, showing the despair and the thoughts of a lonely and tormented character and his relationship with terrorism, seasoned with some of the economic interests of both big companies and religions. The film ends with an open ending which gives the viewer the freedom to choose different interpretations. My only criticism of the film would be precisely that it focuses deeply into the character personality but it doesn’t delve into the abovementioned sub-plot about the relationship between big companies, pollution, politics and economic interest of religions, which, in my opinion, could give more action and freshness to the script, because, in some moments, it can be overwhelming and a bit slow.

To sum up, not only is this a complex, deep and absolutely gripping film, but it also tackles real problems in nowadays society. It will surely make you think on your way home from the cinema theatre.

Mahershala Ali

Text by Lucy Popa

As you might know, Green Book is the new film that won the Academic Award for Best Picture. The story is set in the United States, in 1962. Dr. Don Shirley is a world-class African-American musician who decides to embark on a concert in the racially segregated south. To accomplish his purpose, he hires Tony Vallelonga, an Italian-American bouncer, to be his driver and “bodyguard”. It is a wonderful drama with many comedic scenes. Even though there is a lot to be said about this movie, I would like to focus on one of the main actors: Mahershala Ali.

Regarding his character in this movie, he did an amazing job playing Don Shirley. Unlike Tony, Don is a well-off, educated, highbrow pianist. He speaks eight languages and is a well-mannered man who, apparently, knows how to keep his composure in all kinds of situations. His success as a musician allows him to live in a fancy house, drive an expensive car and much more. Despite it all, he feels sad and lonely.

This character is so well drawn in many ways. Let’s take the funny scenes for instance. Ali had to put on a poker-face more than once when Tony said something absurd. Those faces made me laugh my head off each time! It is quite like dry humor, except Shirley isn’t trying to be funny. Mahershala Ali emotes very well too. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when Shirley shouts out in the rain “Then what am I?” You can really feel his loneliness and despair there.

The way Shirley plays the piano describes somewhat his emotions along the movie. As I see it, in the beginning, he plays it professionally with neutral feelings or maybe some kind of motivation. Then, we see an intense concert, in which you can almost taste the anger and helplessness that fills the air. Nearly at the end, when he plays the piano in a random African-American bar, he does it with passion and absolute happiness. Ali was very convincing every time.

Mahershala Ali won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in this movie. He won another Academy Award for playing a drug dealer in the drama film Moonlight (2016). This way, he became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar for acting and the first black actor to win two Academy Awards in the same category.

His breakout role was as Richard Tyler in the science fiction series The 4400 (2004-2007). His first major film release was in the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). He gained wider attention for playing in the series House of Cards (2013–20199), the final two films of The Hunger Games film series and  in the Netflix superhero series Marvel’s Luke Cage (2016).

Mahershala Ali’s future looks bright and shiny. I am sure we will be lucky to see him again doing a splendid job as an actor! Until then, Green Book is a must and if you have already seen it, have a look at the other films and series I’ve mentioned above. I am sure you will not be disappointed!

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