Optometry in Spanish

When the list of class electives came out, I looked right away for the Spanish class. I’ve been excited to take it since I enrolled at the Illinois College of Optometry. I’ve always imagined myself moving back home, and one of the neighborhoods in the Twin Cities (Minn.) has a huge Hispanic population (I wrote my Spanish thesis on this very neighborhood.)

At first, the class wasn’t open to 2nd years. I figured it was a sign that I needed to pay attention to my actual classes. But then, the class opened to 2nd year students! I got super excited. However, I still debated taking the class for an entire week. I asked my mom multiple times if I should take the class, and she said I should. After accidentally e-mailing the entire student body, I was enrolled.

I didn’t debate taking the class because of a teacher I didn’t like, or because I didn’t enjoy Spanish. My dad is from Mexico, my mom is fluent, and I majored in Hispanic Studies. I miss hearing Spanish, reading Spanish, and speaking Spanish. The things I hate about Spanish classes, though, are the presentations and the stomach-churning knot I get when being called on in the middle of class.

Today, I can say this might be the best Spanish class I’ve taken (besides the Spanish Soap Opera class because I got to watch Spanish Soap Operas.) I love Spanish class when grammar and spelling don’t count for much. I also love learning the terminology and phrases that I could potentially use on a regular basis. I think it is important for people to realize that this course is not for fluent speakers. I am by no means fluent, and a lot of my peers in the course have had minimal or no interaction with Spanish.

Exámenes de Visión

Exámenes de Visión

I’ve even had a few interactions with patients and have had to speak Spanish to them. At a vision screening at a local school, we were unaware that the majority of people would speak little to no English. The majority of my peers were from Canada, so the closest thing they spoke to Spanish was French. I ended up interpreting for most patients with very simple Spanish words. I also had a patient who spoke little English, and had to perform the exam in Spanglish.

These were both encounters before I started the Spanish class. I am excited to someday have a Spanish patient who I can actually to do a full exam on in Spanish. I love becoming more comfortable with my Spanish, especially in the exam room.

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