Hello, and welcome back! Sorry for my weeklong hiatus, I’ve been pretty busy putting the “study” back into study abroad. I got a little too used to bumming around for a week after my intensive Spanish class ended, but now with a full schedule, a volunteering job, and upcoming travel plans, I haven’t had a minute to breathe.
Where to begin? I suppose I’ll bore you all with some background information on my classes. I’m currently enrolled in The Civilization and Culture of Spain, the History of Spain, Spanish Art History, and level 3 (yeah, that’s right I got bumped up a level) Spanish. The Spanish class is technically two different courses, however they’re back to back for three hours so I’ll just consider it one for the purposes of blogging. I haven’t been having too much difficulty, however there are a few words here and there that I might know better had I stayed in level 2, but, I’m better than that, and I love languages so I decided “why not!” and switched my schedule around. My history class is taught by the world’s funniest man. I have yet to figure out if he’s 28 and looks like he’s 40, or he’s 40 and looks like he’s 28, but regardless I still love him. He loves introducing each topic followed by “well,what the hell is this?” or “oh shit.” His English is really great, with the exception of a few words that I LOVE hearing him say. My absolute favorite would have to be exam, pronounced “eggsum.”
My art history teacher is already on my shit-list. I can’t tell if she’s stupid, or condescending, or both but I’m leaning towards both. If my school knew just how ridiculous this art class was, I would not be getting a 300-level credit. I guess I shouldn’t complain, but I hardly have the patience for her teaching style and the way she smiles as she tells someone their answer is incorrect. Oh, and her tacky sweaters.
Easily my favorite class is Civilization and Culture, taught by the one, the only– Maria Jose! (my level 1 Spanish teacher). She’s just so full of energy and makes everyone feel so comfortable. This class is also the most useful (aside from Spanish itself) in regards to life here in Spain. We really get inside the brains of the Spaniards, which makes their foreign ways of life a bit less foreign. I could tell you the history behind the symbol of the bull, manners regarding smoking, and why PDA here is so overwhelming. I won’t actually tell you because then I wouldn’t feel as special, but if you’re curious, feel free to ask!
So for everyone who thinks classes do not exist during study abroad-I hope this has proved you wrong. Indeed, the courses are easier, but I’m in school just as long, if not longer than back in the states. But we can move on to more exciting things! For example, my wonderful Monday night at the Arabic baths courtesy of my program. The baths were located on a really sketchy streets, and were totally unappealing from the outside, but once we got inside we were sold. For about an hour and half a small group of us alternated between seven different pools with varying temperatures. Only one of the pools was cold, and needless to say no one lasted more than five minutes. There was also a tea room, but the most important aspect of the night were our 15 minute massages. We actually had to pay for these but they were only 7 euros, and I knew I’d never find that deal again. Now, I should say that I was a bit leery of this considering I don’t even enjoy the chair massagers while getting a pedicure, but I put on my big girl panties and sucked it up. Excellent choice Gina, excellent choice.
Then it was Valentine’s day. Cool.
This past Thursday was my first day volunteering at El Colgeio Virgen de Gracia- a semi-private Catholic (duh) elementary school. I walked there concocting every possibility of what could go wrong, and left wondering why my 2 hours was up so quickly. I loveloveloved it, and already made a tentative list of which children I’m going to kidnap. I started in a classroom of six-year-olds all dressed up in their school uniforms, trying to speak English. Ugh, they were the cuuuutest! They called me “teacher” and “Cheena” and it was adorable. I spent 30 minutes pacing around the room and making sure their workbooks were correct. They’re in the middle of practicing clothing and colors and were super eager to show me their progress. I would ask the occasional “what color is your shirt?” and “can you show me your socks,” just to make sure they were on top of the ball (and as an excuse to talk to them, those little nuggets.) I even got a few hugs! Next, it was off to the 11 year olds who spent the entire time playing a game of 21 questions. They wanted to know my favorite animal, my favorite food, if I liked Granada, where else I’ve traveled, and perhaps the best question of the day: “Do you see sex in New York?” which translates into “do you watch Sex and the City?” That one took me a while to process. I had to cut them off, not only because we would have nothing to talk about in the upcoming weeks, but also because it was time for my last stop of the day-the seniors. Being in a classroom of rambunctious high school seniors is actually rather intimdating. I realized we weren’t that far apart in age, and they are old enough to form opinions of me. Eek. *crawls back into shell.* That day, they were giving presentations in English on various topics such as pollution, family vacations, and public smoking. I was the “judge” and I would give them constructive criticism on their pronunciation and overall presentation. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (stop it, I’m not always a bitch) but the teacher told me perfect 10’s do not exist, and to tell the truth. Carlos, the teacher would ask them how they thought they did on a scale from 1-10 and then told me “I ask them what they think they deserve, but I don’t actually care.” Don’t worry- he was kidding, he has a great sense of humor.
Almost there, kiddies. Keep reading! Saturday afternoon was busy. First a tour around the Cathedral of Granda, followed by exploring Parque de las Ciencias. What is there to say about the Cathedral? It was pretty, as are all of the churches in Europe. Sorry for my lack on enthusiasm, I’m just beginning to lose track of what I’ve seen, who’s buried there, when it was built, and why it’s famous. It’s Greek to me (or should I say Spanish? BA-DUM-CHA!) But, yeah, it was probably the 10th church I’ve seen thus far and I know there are many more to come. Parque de las Ciencas is a huge science museum in Granada that only costs 6 euro, and has room after room of artifacts and cool scientific things ( sorry in advance for my sub-par scientific language.) We saw an outdoor birds show featuring some eagles, a dinosaur exhibit fully equipped with large, moving [fake] dinosaurs, and a human bodies exhibit. However my favorite part was their M.C. Escher exhibit. Escher was a Dutch printmaker known for his mathematical ingenuity in relation to his artwork. You know those prints where the negative space is actually just another figure? Yep, that’s Escher. I was in all my glory as I frolicked around checking out each print on the ceiling, walls and floor of the building. The museum wasn’t really “hands-on” and kid friendly, but it definitely gives the New York Hall of Science a run for it’s money.
Aside from that, my life has been normal. Actually it’s been far from what you might think to be normal- but it’s starting to feel like it to me! This next month is going to be chockfull of traveling, so make sure to add this to your bookmarks bar if you haven’t done so already, and keep your eyes peeled!