I know what your thinking: “Well finally!!” Yes, I am updating my blog por fin. As our friend Joaquin would say about me not being on top of things: “What a pity” (We taught him that “what a shame” is less awkward).
Gains: A new Spanish friend named Joaquin, more weight and a possible volunteer opportunity!
Pains: Americans. They NEVER want to speak Spanish together. It’s the most frustrating thing. Sometimes I just sit at home by myself and fume over it (that’s an exaggeration :) Also, my bed is getting to be unbearable. I was trying to be tough and take it as a learning experience, but apparently I’m weak because I no longer sleep through the night anymore.
Missed Connections: There are certain things you just have to laugh about. I will share the story later in my blog, but I tried to go skiing last week. Missed some connections along the way. Oh well.
Trains: This past weekend we traveled to Ronda! What a beautiful city. I expect Ireland to look like it. See my pictures and decide for yourself! Also, I BOUGHT A TICKET TO ROME!!!! AHHH!!! It’s terrifying to put money down. We are going March 26-30. Ireland is currently in the works. My sister Laura wants to come with us which I am super excited about!
Wow. A lot has happened in two weeks. Where should I begin?
I think I left off by mentioning that my friend Hannah and I made a friend at the intercambio. Hannah is from NJ, and we are the most like minded, which is pretty refreshing! I really enjoy spending time with her. Anyways, we have been desperate to make Spanish friends since we have been speaking so much English with our group! Hannah chatted with Joaquin at the intercambio, and I chatted with this other somewhat touchy guy. When I got the opportunity, I left that conversation and started one up with Hannah and Joaquin.
Let’s stop for a second so I can preface this story. *Please, read this story until the end. Don’t think I’m crazy after you read it! It’s going to sound very risky and somewhat stupid for a while!*
Anyways, Joaquin was telling us how he was going to go to this “strange, sophisticated” party on Friday. That’s how he described it with his broad, yet also limited, set of English adjectives. I was not interested in going to the party but was interested in making a friend. Hannah, however, was interested in going to the party. She expressed her interest to him, and he brushed it off. Later, before we left, she expressed her interest about going to the party to him again, and he told her to let him know if she wanted to. At this point, I butted in and said “how is she supposed to let you know?” In turn, he gave us his number to contact him. Trying to exchange phone numbers without straight out asking him was like pulling teeth.
Anyways, as the weekend rolled around we decided to contact him. We made plans to meet him at one of the main plazas in town. He said he was going to invite some friends, and Hannah and I invited 3 other friends (including Kay, our mother hen guard dog). Keep in mind that before we met at the corner, Hannah and I estimated Joaquin’s age to be about 23-25. Well, when we showed up at the corner that night, Joaquin was with a group of older guys (in their 30s). I had a little freak out and said to Hannah, “what did we get ourselves into?” We went to tapas with them, which was fine, and then we headed over to the party. When we entered the apartment building, we had to go up in an elevator to get to the flat. I was pretty nervous at this point. Hannah leaned over and said that she was only getting in the elevator with Kay, Joaquin and I. We let the other girls go in the elevator with the other guys first (I know, we are bad friends. This was life or death though). In my mind, I was playing out what would happen once we got to the top and walked out of the elevator: someone was going to put bags over our heads and sell us into the sex trade. I was sure this would happen. As we got into the elevator, I had one hand stuffed in my purse gripping my pepper spray. Once that elevator door opened, I was going to Mace everyone.
Luckily, I didn’t have to. The party was just a meet-and-greet type of a party. It wasn’t some crazy college party. What I learned from (and the skiing situation) is to never to have a guy describe anything if you want to know what something will really be like! The age group was about 28-45, and people just walked around talking to each other. It was really interesting, and I enjoyed meeting different people and hearing their stories! A lot of the people were unemployed and were couch surfers. We also met two guys from England. One of them asked what state I was from, and when I told him Montana, he goes “oh, like Hannah Montana! Do you guys all ride wrecking balls there?” What a pity. In turn, I explained to him that instead of having swing sets growing up, we all just had a wrecking ball in the backyard. Sarcasm will probably be the death of me. All in all, I ended up being glad I took the risk and went to the party. I would have never had the opportunity to meet half of those people and hear their stories. When I think back on my study abroad experience someday, this will probably be one of the stories/events that come to mind first!
Recounting the stories from the past weeks is hard! I think I will explain the main stories first, then talk more about personal experiences. The week after the party, Hannah, Hayden and I decided to go exploring up the river. We just walked up it for about an hour until we reached a town called Piños Genil. There, we walked up into town and stopped for a Coca Cola. It was fun and refreshing! We also saw a donkey on the way there, which Hannah just couldn’t believe. Apparently they don’t see much for farm animals in NJ.
Last Monday, we went to Paddy’s again for intercambios. No Spaniards really showed up, so we just sat and spoke English. I was bummed. However, on Wednesday, Joaquin invited Hannah and I to tapas. After classes, he took us to his favorite tapas bar. Hannah and I were still a little nervous to hang out with him, especially since it was just us three this time. I told her that if he is really a creep, we would surely know after this experience! Anyways, the tapas we got were SO good! Some of the best I have had here yet. He also introduced us to this non-alcoholic drink that is super popular in Andalusia, but I can’t remember the name. It was something like “salacere..something.” I tried to remember because I has pieces of the Spanish words for “to leave” and “brain” in it, which is exactly what the word was doing in my brain. The drink tasted like drinking a caramel apple sucker! We ended up sitting at tapas for three hours with him, talking for half of it in Spanish and the other half in English. It was so great. He is definitely not a creep – we feel very safe. And my creep radar is usually pretty strong and accurate. This week, we are going to go hiking with him on Thursday. We have somewhat of a bet going on for his age. We honestly have no clue, but are hoping no older than 31. I probably will end up embracing my bluntness and ask.
The day after tapas (Thursday), I had plans to go skiing with some friends. We were supposed to meet at 7am to catch the bus to the bus station. Well… I woke up at 7:23. Yep. My friends already caught the bus to the station, and the bus to the mountain was going to leave at 8am. I jumped out of bed, got my things together, and ran to try to find the bus stop. However, Hayden gave me horrible directions to the bus stop. He told me to go a few blocks to the left, but didn’t mention that I needed to cross the river. I called him asking for better directions, and he told me I needed to catch bus 10 at the stop across the river. He said to make sure it didn’t pass me as I headed to the stop. As he said that, guess what happened. Bus 10 drives past. I sprinted! ..and missed it. At this point, I didn’t really know what to do, so I jumped in a taxi. I asked the taxi driver if he thought I would make it in time, and he said he wasn’t sure. We got to the bus station at 8am, and the taxi driver pointed to where the bus would have been and told me I missed it. I jumped out of the taxi and ran into the bus station. Well, turns out the bus hadn’t left. However, since I ran into the bus station and not to where the bus actually was, I ended up missing it. My friends saw me as the bus drove away. As I am writing this, I think my blood pressure is rising again! Well, there was another bus to the mountain at 10am, so I sat at the station for 2 hours deciding if it was worth it to go. The whole time I was asking Hayden what it was like, and hoping he would honestly advise me whether it was worth it to come or not. Yeah, I am never asking a boy for a description of anything again! He told me he would probably would get on the bus and come if it was him. So I bought the ticket and took the bus up. Side note: Europeans smell! They have a stench! I have never smelt a bus that stunk so bad of people! Carrying on. What Hayden failed to tell me is that it was POURING down rain on the mountain. Pouring. I got off the bus and decided buying the lift ticket wasn’t worth it. Luckily, the bus was only 10€ roundtrip. However, the bus didn’t return until 4pm, so I hung out at Sierra Nevada all day. About two hours after I had arrived(and while I was trying to read and translate a menu I found in order to keep myself occupied), my friend Loren decided he didn’t want to ski anymore and hung out with me for the rest of the day. I taught him how to play Rummy. All in all, I was initially disappointed that the day didn’t go as planned, but life’s an experience. I can just chalk this up to one of them!
This past weekend, my program went to Ronda. It is about an 2 hours south of Granada by bus. The city was beautiful! It was pretty cold though. Our program hired a guide to take us around for the day, which is good and bad. It gets boring after a while, and I wish that I would have had more time to explore the city on my own. I think I am definitely a traveler who likes to explore on her own! The giant bridge in town is incredible, and the vistas are preciosas. I learned in Ronda that I really don’t like Spanish ham. It grosses me out, especially because it is so fatty. It’s too bad that they have so much pride in it, and it’s basically all they eat for meat besides chicken. I don’t even like ham in the States! On the way back from Ronda, I made a friend on the bus….. he slept on my shoulder. Awkward.
A lot of what I talk about probably makes this experience sound like there is nothing bad about it. However, I have found myself more frustrated in the past two weeks. It is incredibly hard to constantly speak Spanish, especially if you don’t have many Spanish friends. Many of the kids from my program don’t really care how much their Spanish improves, as I have mentioned before. I am realizing that if I don’t become more proactive, my Spanish isn’t going to improve much. This situation is very hard to navigate. If I isolate myself from English speakers, I have very few friends and little to do. Also, my few Spanish friends probably don’t want to spend every waking moment with me. This is my biggest dilemma right now, and I am still not quite sure how to resolve it correctly at the moment.
Also, there are things that I really miss. I miss beef. So much. I also miss having more of a variety in what I eat. The food is good here, but it is pretty bland. Sometimes I crave different flavors. Another thing I miss is my bed. Even my dorm room bed was more comfortable than the one I have now. I think I am going to give in and buy a pillow and see if that helps. The pillow I have now is very thin, flat and stuffed full of feathers so there is no give. I just can’t handle my neck hurting anymore. Every night, it falls behind my bed, and when I realize it in the middle of the night, I sit up to grab it and smack my head on the headboard. Every. Single. Night. I also miss my car. I don’t have as much freedom to do things here without having a vehicle, which gets annoying at times. There are other things I miss, like long hot showers or normal deodorant, but I try not to dwell on them. Alright, venting session is over.
Well, I am going to give my classes one more week before I tell you about them. I feel that three weeks is fair to give me a good feel for them and not judge them prematurely. However, I did have a 30 MINUTE PRESENTATION IN SPANISH yesterday. It was assigned the Wednesday before, so we had to rush! It was a group project, and many of the group members were traveling over the weekend. Luckily, we actually did a pretty good job!
This concludes my post for the week! I can’t do this every two weeks… they posts get too long and there are too many stories to tell! Hopefully, you will see the next one on Sunday or next Tuesday!