From the 6th to the 12th of June, I attended the Schola Latina at University College Cork, an immersive Latin summer school. On the night before the course started, we had the opportunity to meet the other participants in a pub whilst speaking English. The group was varied, including undergraduate students, postgraduate students of different ages, teachers and of course academic staff.
Before we started our classes the next day, we had to promise only to speak Latin for the duration of the course and when interacting with fellow students away from the campus, unless everyone made it clear they were happy to speak English for a bit. I had never spoken Latin before, so it was a completely new experience and I was a little nervous. We also all had to pick a Latin name. I chose Sulpicia, after the poetess whose verses were preserved with those of Tibullus. Once we started lessons, my nerves soon abated. I was able to understand almost everything that was said and was able to respond in some way (although especially at the start, there was occasionally some French thrown in!). As the week went on, I was more and more able to express myself.
We had a busy schedule, with classes from 9 till 6 every day (apart from the Sunday when they were from 1 till 5), but the programme was so diverse that the time flew by! We also had generous lunch breaks and the weather was lovely all week, so we got to enjoy that as well. Every morning, we were given an epigram and one or more adagia to learn by heart. We also had a session on grammar, covering among other things dativi, orationes conditionales and similitudines et differentia. On the first day we also had a tour of the college.
On most days we read one or more texts on the topic of gender, the school’s theme this year, including a letter by Isotta Nogarola, Sannazaro’s Salices and a passage from Petrus Forestus’s Observationes et Curationes Medicinales. We often rephrased what we read, using different Latin words. It was interesting to read and understand texts without translating them. We also had sessions with ‘Ludi’ in which we played different games, including Latin Scrabble, a Latin version of “Who am I?” and vas vocabulorum (there are two teams and there is a container with Latin words. In each team the players take turns and have a couple of minutes to describe as many words as they can. The other members of their team guess the word. The team that has most points at the end, wins). In other lessons we described what happened in a video clip, or what we saw in pictures. We had a music session on the Saturday, during which we sang traditional Irish songs and some pop songs in Latin. On the last day, we each gave a short speech about something that interested us; some people talked about their hobbies, others about their research, one of us even wrote his own fairy-tale! This showed how much we had all learnt.
It was a lovely experience, being part of a group of people that is so excited about Latin and speaking a language I work on so much. I think using it actively, really helped to consolidate my knowledge of Latin. I hope to come back in anno proximo..!
University College Cork