Wednesday October 7, 2009
Ohhh what an early morning again. I had class at 8:30am (half an hour earlier than my intensive class) so I got down to breakfast before it even opened. Luckily Julia was quite quick with the pan tostada. My first class was Civilizacion y Culture de Espana. There were about 5 AIFS kids in that one! The teacher, Pilar, seems really nice but I can tell it will be pretty difficult as well. I had two hours off, and then I went to my second class of the day, Geografia de Espana. The teacher, Miguel Angel, walked in and I thought he was a student. He is actually probably about 30 or so, but since there are some older students at the CLM he definitely could fit in. We did a practice test and such, which was pretty entertaining. I seemed like one of the smartest kids in the class because we had just talked about some general things about Spain in my Civilization y Cultura class. For example, yes, there IS a place in Spain that is like a desert…I just happened to be there the day before…San Jose. And, the distance between the tip of Spain and the top of Morocco is about 14km. Obviously. That class seemed pretty fun, but I knew I was probably going to drop it since I don’t get any significant credit for it from UST. I’d rather spend my time studying for my other classes that WILL count toward my minor. Plus, I don’t think I could spend another day in that class with all the girls swooning over Miguel. Sure, he can’t speak much English, but he could still understand what they were saying about him…talk about being awkward. All of my classes are completely in Spanish. When I was signing up for the classes back at UST during the registration process that I thought I was going to take, I initially had my grammar class in Spanish, and then the rest in English. After being here, Paula and others suggested that we just take them in Spanish, so I thought I’d try. I’m pretty good at understanding things, but I’m just worried about writing and speaking. The teachers only speak a little bit more slowly than they normally would…at least that’s what they all say. However, Miguel Angel was talking pretttttttty fast.
After classes I had to rush back to Jardines because I was already half an hour later to lunch. Since there are so many kids living here now, we actually have to eat in 2 shifts, so it works out that some of us have classes that go into lunch time. I spent the time after lunch trying to fix my computer…but with no success. My own personal tech-assist, Will, ran some tests on it, and it ended up that my hard drive had some error. Ugh, I really hope I can get all my photos off of it at some point! Now it’s just sitting in my room mocking me as I use Will’s old computer that overheats within 2 minutes.
That evening, I didn’t feel like eating at Jardines, so Will decided to take me out to a movie (well, he HAD to pay because that was the only way he was going to get me to go see this semi-scary movie). Will ate at a Dunkin Donuts on our way to Neptuno Cine to see Distrito 9 (District 9). How American of us. The movie was actually not that scary, just a little gory at points. It wasn’t actually that difficult to understand, because the aliens in the movie had Spanish subtitles, so we could just read those. After the movie, we made our way back toward Jardines. We stopped by the Cathedral to sit and people-watch. While we were sitting there, about 6 big white vans pulled up and people in suits and ties got out and started talking very loudly with each other. I was a bit confused, but figured they were probably planning something for in front of the Cathedral…since there always seems to be things going on out there. Turns out I was right! (See Friday…)
Thursday October 8, 2009
I had another 8:30am class…no fun. This time it was even worse because it was my grammar class. This was one of the worst experiences yet here in Spain. The room was TINY and I was literally sitting…on the sidelines of the classroom. Everyone else was set up like a normal classroom, but since there were so many people, the few of us on the side were pushed up against the corner, and basically looking at the teacher’s back. THEN, as always, I was first on the attendance list. The teacher, Susana, talked SO fast, and the window was open (and of course there was a lot of road construction going on) so I couldn’t hear anything. She just kept yelling and yelling but I couldn’t figure out what she was saying. It was super awkward and embarrassing and I didn’t know what to do. She got mad at me for asking the kid next to me what she was saying…but he had no idea either. After that, I had already decided that I wanted to switch out of her class. The rest of class didn’t get much better. The rest of the kids after me at least knew what she was asking (what group are you with, where are you from, how many years have you studied Spanish, etc.) so they all looked like they had no problem understanding her. HOWEVER, the 2 other kids she decided to ask different questions to got caught in my same situation and looked as silly as I’m sure I did. Ugh. Still, I wanted to get out of there. Then we did this practice exercise, and when anyone said something wrong, she’d just go “NO. SIGUENTE.” (No. Next.) I knew I wouldn’t be able to learn in that sort of environment because I was so nervous I’d get it wrong. Anyway, I had a class right after that one (this was a class I didn’t sign up for but that is required by AIFS…and will count for my 301 course at UST). This was my POE class (oral and written class) that had been scheduled oh so nicely into my schedule…I had planned I that I would have 2 hours in between classes again on Tuesdays/Thursdays, but since AIFS scheduled me in this one I had 6 hours straight of classes. Of Spanish. I didn’t mind much because I really liked this teacher, Maria (I like her name too). She was super nice and understanding…much in contrast of my time with Susana. There were only 10 kids in that class (2 from AIFS) so we just talked a bunch and went over this article she wanted us to talk about. It was really relaxed and I’m sure I’ll be able to learn a lot in that class! She doesn’t make people feel bad when they mess up. I mean, I know I conjugated things incorrectly, and she would answer anyways, and then would go on to explain how to say it in a better way (aka…the right way). Luckily, my class right after that, Literatura was with Maria as well! Even though I have to survive through 4 hours of her talking (she talks relatively fast as well…) I don’t mind! The literature class seems pretty hard, but I need it for my minor so I’ll have to do my best! A lot of kids in that class are really good at speaking. Normally, even in my classes in English back home, I get nervous talking in class. However, I think that since I have Maria for my POE class I am more likely to talk since she understands where I’m coming from and I know her a little better. I talked on the first day! Yay for participation points! The homework from this class was suuuuuper hard because it was a reading and I only knew about 2/3 of the words! Eek!
I was basically Spanish-ed out by the time I got back to Jardines (late…again) for lunch. THEN I remembered that we didn’t have school on Friday, so that made it a little better. Regardless, I went to the AIFS office and put in my request to change Grammar classes. NO MORE SUSANA, POR FAVOR.
Later that evening I went with all of the Jardines kids and a lot of the Spaniards from here to this bar really close by called Café Piaf. (Not Pilaf…because that’s what I thought the first time.) Florian arranged this because it was trivia night there…in Spanish and in French. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a lot of fun! I understood a lot of the questions, but luckily we had Lewis on our team to help us understand certain words! We didn’t win, but I’m convinced the group of Germans cheated. Just kidding, it was still fun!
Friday October 9, 2009
I got up rather early again to go on the AIFS organized trip to the Cathedral and Royal Chapel. It was so weird that I had been living so close to the Cathedral but still didn’t know anything about it or hadn’t been in it. It was good to finally go! Daryl and I left a bit early from the residence to get pastries before we met up with the AIFS group on the Cathedral steps. Surprise, surprise—there was a huge festival being set up in front of the Cathedral! I knew it was a long weekend, so that made sense, but something seemed a little off about this festival…with the large, large grills with meat and a tiny pig I literally watch get shoved onto a spit…all of the little shops selling jewelry, etc. Paula confirmed my suspicions that it was a Renaissance festival when she showed up. SCORE. I thought I had missed out on the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, but it came to me here in Granada! I’ll come back to the festival…but first, the tour!
The Cathedral was a LOT bigger than I thought! I should have expected this since it IS the second largest cathedral in Spain! It was hard to take pictures in there because no flash was allowed… We started out in the priests' dressing room, which was sorta funny. Paula laughed when kids started taking pictures in the multiple mirrors…Myspace-style. Inside the Cathedral, there were a few organs which Paula said are only played a couple times a year, once which is in November, so I’ll be sure to go! Paula told us about how this Cathedral (made up of 3 different altars) was different than a lot of other ones because it was made to shuffle through large amounts of people at a time. In the Royal Chapel we saw the tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel and their children. There was also a small room with a lot of artifacts from the king and queen’s reign. For example, we saw King Ferdinand’s sword and all a jeweled box which was said to have been given to Columbus. It was all really interesting, so I might even head back some other time since we’re so close to it!
After the tour some of us decided to wander around the Renaissance festival since it was RIGHT there. It was a ton of fun seeing all the hippies out and about, and all of the workers dressed in their Renaissance clothing. As I said, there were ENORMOUS amounts of meat being cooked…the photos don’t even do it justice. There were tons and tons of vendors spread out around the cathedral and in Plaza Bib Rambla. It was such a fun atmosphere I decided to wander around even more after everyone else went back. I was aiming to get a few small gifts for people back home from some of the vendors that seemed more legit (some stuff looked ACTUALLY hand-made, some not so much). I had seen this one stand that I really thought looked cool earlier (but they hadn’t quite set up yet), so I went back. I was browsing around when the guy behind the stand started talking to me. Apparently he told me that if I wanted to try anything, I could, but since I had my ears pierced I had a difficult time explaining that I couldn’t, haha. Then he goes “Ahh…hables un poco espano, si?” So, my cover was blown…no, I’m not a Spaniard, I only dress and act like one. We talked for a little bit in a mix of bad English and Spanish about the CLM and such and he also told me a little more about the festival. I finally decided on a pair of earrings (that he once again suggested that I should try on). He took quite a while getting the earrings in the tiny bag and then when he finally handed me my change, with it was his name and number on a tiny piece of paper. Gaspar. Isn’t that the name of the guy in Beauty and the Beast or something? Haha, I also realized later that I totally got a discount on the earrings. Sweet! Maybe he could be my intercambio!
That night a few of us went back and just sat on the steps of the Cathedral and people-watched. We were sitting in front of this one place that was serving all sorts of (expensive) meaty empanadas and bocadillos when all of a sudden this huge, hairy guy on bouncy stilts came wandering by. He looked like something out of Narnia! He was like a…faun or whatever they’re called. He said he was Zapatero’s son…which I don’t believe, haha. He had a huge drum and decided to play along with the music that was playing at the little food place in front of us. I got some good videos and photos of him…they’re pretty funny! Then, he went under the canopy of the little food place and started serving people! He had to duck down though because he was too tall on his stilts! He then proceeded to grab a bag pipe that they randomly had there and play it. I got a video of that as well.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I got to sleep in! Yay! This was the first Saturday since we’ve been here that we haven’t had something planned for us to do by AIFS…then again we had the tour of the Cathedral and Royal Chapel on Friday.
I spent most of the day at the festival again. Lewis and Florian hadn’t been there yet so they went with us. They bought necklaces and we all got these giant gummy candies. YUM. Daryl and mine was watermelon flavor. Will was convinced his was plaster flavored…toooooooo bad.
We ate lunch at Jardines but then went out for tapas for dinner. Tapas turned into olives, so we decided to go back to the festival to get some MEAT. I decided it was too expensive, but people got pina coladas, mojitos, rib tips, brats, etc. I just enjoyed the smells! Sorry Scarlet, but I’d take rib tips over blood sausage any day.