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Humans of Oxford | Las compañeras: Professors and roommates

By Kevin Vestal, Staff Writer

When she first started teaching at Miami University, Susana Madinabeitia Manso asked Laura Llamas Fraga to move in with her. Laura was ecstatic.

That is, until Susana changed her mind in order to separate her apartment from her work.

Undeterred, Laura disguised herself as a macho-man, "Lauro," and aced Susana's interview. The two roommates became fast friends through yoga and cycling, but Laura struggled to contain her secret.

Except that's not actually how they became roommates. That's just what they tell their students.

In order to teach the past tense to their Spanish 201 and 202 classes, Laura and Susana show short videos of themselves on wild escapades.

Their first video revolved around cooking tortillas, but their recent stories are more dramatic.

In the second episode, students laugh along as "Lauro" rescues Susana from an impending train in a dream sequence set to Enrique Iglesias' "Hero."

"Laura comes up with the ideas while I have the editing skills," Susana said.

Susana and Laura are roommates in real life and vacationed together in Puerto Rico over spring break - a welcome reprieve from grading exams.

Although both hail from northern Spain, the two met at West Virginia University and later bonded over racquetball.

"She was really good at studying and memorizing, and she helped me," Laura said. "That's how we became good friends."

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The two were overjoyed when they were both hired to teach at Miami University, although they were disappointed to learn the school wasn't in Florida.

The two constantly push each other to try new things and be better instructors, even at the expense of mild embarrassment.

"Between teacher and student, there is a power distance," Laura said. "Then you see the teacher doing stupid things and it breaks that barrier."