The (Study Abroad) Spanish Test
Welcome to my study abroad Spanish test. Carefully read all instructions before beginning.
Photo: Mirtha Alcayaga, 2016.
This test will measure your ability to be a vocal citizen of the Hispanophone world. It will take place in universities, discos, bakeries, terminals and bedrooms. You will be tested during first dates, popular assemblies and soccer games. There are no multiple choice questions and no blanks to be filled. True and false are but a matter of perspective. Please respond to all questions thoroughly. If you do not know the answer, guess. Or get homesick and cry. Use Spanish and, only when necessary, the miming equivalent of stick figure drawings.
Question One: Your host mother is preparing a welcome meal. As requested, list all the foods you like and don’t like. (Hint: Almost each country has a different word for “bean”.)
Question Two: At your first university party a potential group of friends is cracking jokes about a student politician of which you have never heard. Chime in with a wisecrack about the Socialist party without interrupting the conversational rhythm.
Question Three: Seeing your upright thumb, an elderly couple kindly picks you up on a small-town road that smells of horse dung. Explain exactly where you need to be dropped off in order to catch your bus departing in thirteen minutes.
Question Four: The son of a disappeared mother, now a community organizer, is explaining his life’s work to you and your classmates. Ask at least one thoughtful question without making him force a polite smile and want to roll his eyes.
Photo: Roberto Villaseca, 2015.
Question Five: Your ever-curious host brother asks another impossible-to-answer question. Explain what will happen if Donald Drumpf becomes the President of the United States over mango juice and a bowl of cazuela.
Question Six: A community radio station based in the local elementary school has invited you on air to tell a ghost story. Scare the kids, but don’t scar them.
Question Seven: The mother of your program coordinator passed away. Craft a condolence email attentive to tone, but do it quickly so you still have time to proofread your paper on intercultural education.
Question Eight: Your eight-year-old host cousin wants to play “School” again. Impersonate a Chilean kindergartner receiving failing grades for no reason.
Photo: Daniel Bergerson, 2015.
Question Nine: An avant-garde one-act play about Santiago’s hypothetical post-revolutionary future is unfolding before you. Even though it was clearly written for the city’s literary elite and no one else, develop three on-point comments for the following café conversation.
Question Ten: A young teacher explains the demands of a student march in the Congressional Plaza of Buenos Aires. Decide whether to participate or not and prepare a soundbite regarding your stance on the issue.
Question Eleven: Your best friend is having an especially unbearable episode of Crohn’s disease-induced pain. Improvise a fantastical half-hour tale to take her mind off her intestines.
Question Twelve: Your host mother is dropping you off at the airport for the last time. Express the gratitude that you should have made clear over the past months in just a few minutes.
Photo: Daniel Bergerson, 2016.
Oye, ¡Gracias por todas las memorias! ___________.
A. Me encanta tú. (I love you.)
B. Te quiero. (I love you.)
C. Te amo. (I love you.)
D. None of the above.
(Thanks to the first episode of Crash Course World History for inspiring the test instructions.)
Read more on travel, education and history at The Dandruff Report.