I was determined to dig a hole for myself during the early semesters of my undergrad. Drunk off of the success of my first term, I (in my infinite wisdom) decided that I could handle an honors philosophy class, an intro to chemistry class (a 300-student monstrosity being taught at the delightful hour of 8AM), and the first semester of Spanish. And as if this wasn’t the pinnacle of deranged lunacy, all three classes were on the same day and back to back.
Things went poorly for me.
I spent the summer licking my wounds (which were many). I knew that I needed four semesters of foreign language credit to graduate, but the first attempt with Spanish had gone less than brilliantly. It wasn’t a just matter of failing. I had failed so spectacularly that my Spanish instructor (to this day) recognizes me when we pass on campus. And adding insult to injury, I still needed four semesters of foreign language credit. Something had to be done to prepare me for my next attempt.
It was Mom’s idea to take a class at Richland. No, it wouldn’t transfer over (or so my advisor in the English Dept. told me), but it might help mitigate the semester-long feelings of terror and confusion. This too wasn’t a absolute success, despite being a much easier class, and there was no way I would take a second stab at Spanish in the fall semester. I had earned the dubious distinction of scholastic probation (at A&M, it was referred to as going “sco-pro”) through my stupidity and shortcomings with foreign language. I would have to have a stronger semester if I wanted to stay at A&M, and foreign language was still a major question mark.
But already I’ve gotten ahead of myself in our little story time. As I mentioned just seconds ago, the first attempt in Spanish was marked with unending confusion on my part. And while some of this confusion was because of a poorly planned schedule (I tried to do way too much too quickly), there was the inescapable fact that my brain couldn’t effectively work out the many facets of a foreign language. But equally inescapable was what I have already stated a couple of times: I needed four semesters of foreign language credit to graduate.
It was time to get advice. The learning psychologist I had met as a high school student agreed to sit down with me over the winter break. From her, I was introduced to the idea of giving Latin a try. As she put it, “it’s the language for dyslexics.”*
So I tried… and gloriously failed. Despite sleepless nights of reviewing vocab, I had swung twice at foreign language classes at A&M and missed both times. Any more misses, and I could look forward to being that sad senior who’s kept from graduation by one class.
For a variety of reasons (too many to really explain here), I decided that I should give a second stab at Latin. I owned the textbook, and the professor was a very good teacher (a lady I will forever respect), so I promised myself that the summer would be spent reviewing every day. That didn’t happen, but I did review. I returned to Latin class (my first class of the fall semester) determined to master the language.
It’s been nearly two years since that horrendously hot August day. What I am going to show you all is, I think, proof of my progress with the language. I still haven’t mastered Latin, though I certainly have fallen in love with it’s elegance. Now, having spent a great deal of time winding you up, I would ask that you take a few seconds to read this very short two line Elegy.
Per Fluenscam secta Dei mihi erat via tantum?
Fluenscam ut vidi cor mihi plenus erat.
Was path through the river flowing down God’s only way for me?
That I saw the river, for me the heart has been satisfied.
*(Probably not her exact words… it’s been a few years since that meeting).