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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Brian Sloan on August 27, 2014
"I really didn't like this prompt."

Back to School

I had studied some Spanish before coming here, but "Hola, me llamo Brian" doesn't quite cover what you need to know once you set foot in the motherland. I'm not quite sure what possessed me to make this crazy decision, but from the moment I left the aeropuerto, I was lost in a sea of Spanish. Thankfully, English is fairly universally spoken, so I'd managed to navigate Barcelona without too many hitches. Navigating college, however, was to be a task of a whole new magnitude.

Thankfully, my first class was math. Unfortunately, it was in Spanish, and my language skills weren't up to the task that day. I dutifully wrote integral after derivation down in my notes, but with no understanding of the context, I realized it was going to be a long night of hitting the text book. And the dictionary.

I'd made the mistake of signing up for a full load of classes, and at the end of the first hour I already knew that wasn't going to happen. Simply being here meant that I was taking an extra crash course in conversational Spanish, so the unit load was just overwhelming. I'd heard from friends before that living in a foreign country would help speed up your comprehension of the language, but I'd never appreciated the fact that the increase in apprehension wasn't due to any immersion factor--it was a simple necessity of survival.

Another thing was being gawked at or otherwise treated like an outsider--which I clearly was. I'd become accustomed to that type of treatment in elementary school, but after years in college with an established identity and friend circle, it was foreign again, and quite uncomfortable. People were friendly, but friendly in the way that you might talk to a toddler. And I know, it was necessary, seeing as my vocabulary was about on par with an 8 year old, but still, as an intellectual adult, it grated on me.

There are a lot of ways in which you can prepare for a new situation, but as the soldier's favorite saying goes, no battle plan survives first contact. And I was sure that the experiences I had today were just the tip of the iceberg. I rubbed my stinging eyes and prepared for a long night of catching up.

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