It’s that day again! Time for a new post :) To start out:
Gains: My Spanish is improving! Also, I am becoming friends with my host sister and her boyfriend, and they introduced me to a super cheap tapas bar!
Pains: Speaking Spanish in public. People speak so fast here, and also Spaniards from southern Spain have their own type of slang. For example, instead of “todo” they say “to.” Also, public restrooms.. very few exist. Oh, and my back after sleeping in my bed.
Rains: It has rained almost every day this week. It has been fairly cold. A different type of cold than Montana cold.
Trains: No traveling yet! Trying to plan a trip for the first weekend of February.
This week of classes went by pretty slowly. Four hours straight in the same classroom is exhausting! I am still enjoying the classes, but we have moved onto things that are more difficult for me, like listening to conversations and reading comprehension. I think the most difficult thing for me is speaking in front of the class. I don’t even like to speak in my English classes! Personally, I feel that each of us U.S. students have large egos, and we judge each other based on how our speaking skills measure up to one another. I prefer to talk only with Spaniards because they are a lot more understanding than English speakers! As for teachers, my first teacher is kind of intense… Friday, she told us all to jump out the window, one after another! After awhile, she said she decided she would just jump out the window herself! However, things got less tense after she taught us this alien game (it’s difficult to explain but similar to the game “signs” in a way). We got some good laughs out of that, and if you messed up the game, you had to give her something that belonged to you. In order to get it back, she made you sing, dance, etc. in front of the class. One guy had to shout “I need a woman” in Spanish from the window! It was funny. My other teacher is more laid back, which is refreshing after the first two hours. One thing that shocked me was last Tuesday, we got on the topic of whether or not we believe in God. She went around the classroom and asked each of us if we believed in God. Interestingly, at least half of my class does not. If that happened in the U.S., I would have had a different teacher on Wednesday! It is so interesting here how people do not have to be politically correct. They say a lot of things very bluntly, and it isn’t taken as offensively.
When class is over for the day, I make my 25 minute walk home just in time for lunch (PS: I have cut my walking time in half! Gotta love shortcuts :). I never know who will be over when I get home! One day, my mamá’s son Javier was over with his girlfriend Ixchel (I have NO clue how to spell her name – it’s Mayan). Another day, my mamá’s brother Javier came over, and then a different day her sister Sole and her husband Rafa came! A lot of the family lives in smaller towns near Granada and come often to see Trinidad (my grandma). Sole and Rafa were super friendly, but both are “compulsive smokers” as my mamá calls them. I used “but” there because due to this, they smoked in our apartment. It was SO bad… and took the rest of the day to air out. I locked myself in my room this day and had to keep my window open even though it was cold outside.
As you will see in the pics I added, we did some exploring last Sunday! We went up by the Alhambra to explore the grounds and the gardens. It was SO pretty! We explored for 3.5 hours and probably only saw 1/4 or so of the area. That means we have a lot more exploring to do! We ended the fun day of exploration by watching the sunset. We couldn’t find a good place to watch it and almost decided to head home, but my friend Hannah was determined to find a spot! We found a perfect spot just in time! It was brilliant! Then, we ended the day with a Nepolitana :)
This weekend I was able to avoid the discotecas. Friday night, we went out for tapas at this tapas bar my host sister loves. For only 2€ (about $3), we got “pre-tapas” (which consisted of french fries and salad) and a drink, then our actual tapas (seen in photos – I had Carne con Salsa), and then, since my sister’s boyfriend knows the waiter (he goes there a lot), we got free dessert (cream puffs in pics). Seriously, so much food! The next day, everyone in our program found out about it and was asking where it was! Sometimes, being in the program reminds me of the track team days…enough said. Saturday, I went shopping with my friend Nancy. It was fun! We went to these bazaars on a street in town that sell a lot of Indian souvenirs and beautiful leather bags. Also, here is where the gypsies hang out. It’s kind of scary! The streets are super narrow (like the size of the hallway in your house), and the gypsies try to hand you rosemary. If you take the rosemary, they will read your palm and make you pay them. They are super persistent in trying to get you to take the rosemary and sometimes follow you. One gypsy had a crazy eye, which really creeped me out! This is also the day when I found out that very few stores have bathrooms. If they do, you have to pay to use them. I was in a situation where I was in dire need to use the facilities, so I sneakily followed some girls into the Burger King bathroom. I will spare you the details and leave the rest up to your imagination, but it was my WORST idea ever! Last night, my host sister, Laura, made a delicious pizza with ham, green peppers, onion, tomatoes and cheese, and her boyfriend (Julian), Trinidad and I watched “Criadas & Señoras.” Ten points to whoever can guess the English title! It’s “The Help.” Well, Julian, Laura and I watched it. Trinidad listened to it when she was awake. (Funny story: the other day we were eating lunch, and if I understood her right, she told Sole that in Montana people can’t work because it’s the land of snow and ice, like a refrigerator. I was in the middle of telling a story when she said this, and both of us just cracked up). This morning, my friend Nancy and I tried out a church named Iglesia Evangélico de San Pablo. It was a very long service, and of course it was all in Spanish. The congregation was very small and mostly made up of people in their later years. I think I at least am going to keep church shopping.
Ok, for those of you who will understand this inside joke (sorry to most of you who don’t), when I found out my mamá’s son’s name was Javier, I freaked out a little. He is 39 just so you know. I couldn’t help but think of Uno, Dos, Tres, Mario, Luigi and Donkey Kong. Yeah, no. I am meeting another Javier Tuesday. Why did you choose the name Javier? Everybody and their mother is named Javier!
Hmmm… what else. Oh, my family is SO perfect. I love them! It is such an answer to prayer how great they are. A lot of my friends aren’t in as good of situations, or their families just straight out have no interest in them other than the fact that they are paying to live with them. On Thursday, I sat down to dinner with my mamá at 9:30p.m. and didn’t leave the table until midnight. She told me her life story, which was fascinating. She has gone through things that no person should have to endure. I really admire her – she is a VERY strong lady. I also would love to spread some UnitedLuv here :) Oh, if you could send George Clooney right on over that would be great as well… she loves him. My sister Laura is a type A perfectionist very much like me. Need I say more about why I enjoy her? Then there is Trinidad (Trini), which I’m sure I will just keep telling stories about. She can crochet well even though she can’t see! Impressive, no? As for my room, I love it except for that it is cold (I am writing this while wearing my long underwear and wool socks under my slippers) and my spring bed is SO hard. I wake up every day with a sore back. Oh well, I guess it’s better than sleeping on the floor. I think it gives me bad dreams though… one night this week, I woke up in a panic because in my dream, I had returned home and study abroad was over. I was so disappointed because I hadn’t even learned Spanish. I kept telling my real mom that it couldn’t possibly be over because I only had two posts on my blog. I was relieved to wake up to my hard bed :D
Currently, I am trying not to get sick or get robbed. All my friends are getting sick (one has tonsillitis) and another lost his wallet with his credit cards in a taxi (he was drunk and took a taxi alone I guess). I have been starting to feel sick the past few days. My friends and I are also trying to plan where to travel. We have a four day weekend in two weeks, and we are going to try to go somewhere in Europe. We are considering going to Ireland but not sure yet. If you have any advice, comment please!! I would love to hear where other people have traveled and what to see!
To sum this all up, I will continue my lists. If you have anything you want to know specifically, leave a comment, and I will elaborate in my next post! Love you all!
15. Hello Kitty is in, and they have a store filled with Hello Kitty stuff. I think she stopped being cool when I was 5.
16. When you buy a drink in Granada, they bring you free food, and sometimes it’s a surprise!
17. Stoplights and crosswalks are in the middle of the roads here, not at the corners. Pedestrians also love to play “chicken.” I think J-walking must be legal here, because even though there are police are everywhere people just run out in front of cars when they feel like crossing the street!
18. The school day. Classes are sometimes 2-3 hours long, and college students don’t have breaks between them.
19. They put butter on their sandwiches instead of mayo or mustard. My mom also likes to put ketchup on her rice. Weird, I know.
20. People actually use umbrellas when it rains. They also have “umbrella etiquette” when they walk near each other, where they lift their umbrellas up and down in passing.
21. Most restaurants don’t accept anything except cash.
22. Police cannot arrest you if you are smoking weed even though it’s illegal (I just thought this was interesting).
23. They have their own words for everything and do not use Mexican Spanish. For example, in Mexico, a computer is a “computadora.” Here, it is an “ordenador.” I had no clue what they were talking about when they used this word for the longest time… I thought it had something to do with the oven! Haha
New Food this Week: (this is for you mom)
- Pan dulce: this is like a cupcake without the frosting and thinner. They eat them for breakfast, but I take them as a snack to school.
- Lentil soup with potatoes and carrots, with mini pickles to dip in it. Trini hates lentils, and she will make sure you know it!
- Green bean tortilla
- Pasta Horno: a pasta dish with tomatoes, Penne pasta, sausage (pig), chicken, herbs and cheese that’s baked in the oven. One of my favorites!
- Salad with olive oil and salt. We have this almost every day.
- A pork and onion with sauce dish. Interesting.
- Preserved sweet peppers (maybe in vinegar). Not my fav.
- Bacaloa: this is a type of fish that my mom made in a sauce. I really don’t care for it because it is almost fishier tasting than cod, but my mamá she said she likes to make it a lot – joy.
- Spanish cream puffs topped with chocolate pudding and whipped cream!