At 3:34 p.m. yesterday I sent in my last paper of the term. Funny how simply clicking “send” on Gmail brought such relief.
Four papers, four exams, and 200 paintings in the Prado later, I’m ready to enjoy my last week in Spain without academics.
However, as I walked for the last time from the smoky halls of Facultad B, I couldn’t help feeling a bit of nostalgia for the building in which we’ve spent so many hours this semester.
After getting off the Metro at Ciudad Universitaria (University City), a 15-minute walk will get you to La Facultad de Filosofía y Letras B. Facultades are like little colleges. Facultad B is home to all the history, art, philosophy, and music students of la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. And it’s home to all of us foreign students.
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras B
The outside of the building is pretty enough.
The inside of the building is a little more… well, gray and dismal. I think this photo actually makes it look better than it is. There are very few windows in the main areas, just harsh florescent lighting. The place was an icebox in January and February; we could literally see our breath during class. But even when it’s 85 outside, the Facultad still has a cold feeling. There’s no decor anywhere, no potted plants, no couches, no carpet. Think of Marquette’s Alumni Memorial Union, then strip everything pretty from it. The place is very bare bones, but it’s fully functional. I guess they decided not to “waste money” on shiny things like that Father Brooks mosaic on the second floor of the AMU. Such is public education.
Normally there’s students running all over the place. But these photos were all taken during finals week, when students hide in the library. That might be why there’s no smoky haze in the air (although you’re not supposed to, students frequently smoke inside the building).
- The main staircase leads up to the computer lab, which is probably the most popular place for all of us Internet-addict foreign students to pass time between classes.
A typical classroom.
- Plan Bolonia protest posters.
Notice all the posters. They’re protesting Plan Bolonia, or the Bologna Process, a plan to streamline education at the university level throughout all of Europe. Most Spanish students are against it (for many reasons, but mainly because the price of education will rise), and those in Facultad B are particularly vocal.
- The cafeteria, normally this is buzzing with students.
And then there’s the cafeteria. It’s a zoo between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m., with students rushing to the bar to take a cafe con leche quickly before class. All the seats are occupied during lunch time; it’s perfectly acceptable to plop down at any table, even if you don’t know anyone already sitting there. The food isn’t bad, either. There’s tons of bocadillo (sandwich) selections, and about 3 euros will buy you a three- to four-course meal. Daily menu choices range everywhere from a salad to paella.
- To order: Insert coins, press what you want, collect ticket, bring ticket to bar. Easy enough, right?
- In case a bocadillo isn’t enough, order some alcohol with lunch. Here are just the beer options.
Many students have a cerveza or a tinto de verano with lunch. In fact, there’s always empty beer bottles scattered all over the building, on the steps outside, in the parking lot, and in the surrounding woods. What a cultural difference alcohol is. So I will say that many of us ordered an Amstel after all our finals were over on Friday, and leisurely drank it in the cafeteria. And then we tried to imagine ordering a beer from Marquette Place. Ha.
But alas, even though Marquette won’t serve me an Amstel, the overall chill of the place makes me miss my home university.
Adios, Complutense. I learned a lot from your professors, made some great Spanish friends in your classes, and drank your Amstel. But my last seven days in Spain will not be spent anywhere near your campus.