Well, so begins another week! I don’t have any wild and crazy adventures to report from this weekend, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I got to spend some time getting to know my fellow classmates better and exploring local shops and cafes, so that was great. Other than that, I spent a ton of time working on my literature homework! On the bright side, I think I might actually be starting to get a handle on it, but that doesn’t mean its any less of a time commitment! I’m getting into a pretty good routine though, so that’s nice.
Last week was actually pretty busy. We had our first human rights club meeting, and it was cool because there are people in there from a bunch of different places so they had some pretty unique perspectives. We might organize some volunteer events with the refugees here, which would be nice. Then we had a meeting about the upcoming Morocco trip and I’m super excited about it. Its not until the end of October, but it sounds like its going to be a great experience. I’m not really sure about the living conditions there, but the people just told us, “it will be different than we’re used to” and to make sure we get a good night’s rest before we go because we might not sleep very well…whatever that means. While we’re there our guide is going to be a dude from the Peace Corps, so that should be fun.
We also had a “Master’s Reception,” which was a little awkward but turned out to be pretty fun. It was a combination of the English and Spanish programs, and I think there are less than 15 students combined. So at first it was just me and like four professors, but they’re all really nice so it wasn’t that weird. They even served champagne! The dean and some other administrators stopped by too, but I don’t really remember much about them. It was cool finally getting to meet some of the other students though, but there were only like a total of 5 there including me. I have to admit, it felt pretty awesome being engaged in a conversation with some of my cohorts and profs then to so effortlessly switch to English when two of the English profs came over. Oh and I actually had a really exciting thing happen! I was talking to some administrator lady and she said I had an accent! I was kind of surprised and asked her what kind of accent it sounded like; she said she didn’t know, but that I didn’t sound like most of the students that come from the US. I told her that I had spent a little time studying in Costa Rica, and she seemed to think that was it. Come to think of it, that actually happened to me a lot in Nicaragua too. I guess I will forever speak Spanish like a Tica 🙂
The Spanish here is actually not as different as I thought it would be. Sure there are some slight variations in that they use other colloquial terms and an extra verb tense, but nothing that really hinders communication. Although there is one word that I had always been taught was an expletive that is completely acceptable here. In Spain you would use it as “take the bus/train/etc” or perhaps “ride the bus” might be more accurate, but in Latin American the verb is pretty much equivalent to the F word. I had to stifle a giggle when I saw it on a quiz in my composition class. The professor actually ended up giving a little lecture about it and how its different here. Other than that its mostly uniform. The accents are of course a little different, but they’re not too bad. I guess people here talk a little fast, but I’m definitely noticing improvements in my listening comprehension. I can pretty much understand everything on a given TV station, and I’m following my lectures with relative ease. Speaking can be hit or miss, but so far I’ve managed to get around and I don’t think I’ve made any seriously offensive errors or anything.
I’m still enamored with this city. I’ve always said I wanted to live in a big city for a little while and I love it. Again, it seems pretty calm for a big city, but there is always something going on and people are always out and about. I guess there’s a bar or something nearby because I can always hear commotion outside my window. Sometimes it might be a crowd drunkenly singing and other times it could be a person playing classical violin. I think what I love most though is the public transport! I haven’t completely mastered the bus system yet, but the metros are great and it so easy to get around. On top of that, I love being able to actually walk places, which I could never really do where I’m from. Seriously I can be like anywhere around the city in like an hour or so on foot. I also like how there always seems to be something to do. I was going to go to an exhibit from a French artist today, but I ended up getting lost and not being able to find the place. I ended up going back to the Prado and getting lost in there because that place is seriously amazing.
The food here on the other hand, well its alright. Most of it is pretty typical stuff that I would normally eat in the US I guess. They definitely don’t seem to cook meat as extensively as we do though. Most times people have ordered burgers, they’ve been super pink in the middle, so I have to remember to add “well done” to my vocabulary. What I don’t like, though I anticipated it, is all the sea food! I mean it’s cool if you like fish, but sometimes I wish we’d have pepperoni or something on our pizzas instead of tuna; pizza here in general has been sub par, which is why I can’t wait to go to Italy. The Spanish tortillas are super delicious though. They are very different than what you’d use to make a burrito; its more like an egg-potato pie thing. I also really like the croquetas here, which are like little fried things stuffed with what I imagine are pureed potatoes and chicken or ham. Oh and Spain for sure has the market cornered on pastries! They have fast food here too (I’ve seen McDonald’s, Burger Kind, Taco Bell, and KFC), but it’s a little different. I haven’t been to one, but apparently it doesn’t have the same stigma as in the US and its not considered as bad. In fact all of the McDonald’s I’ve seen are solely referred to as McCafe’s and the interiors look much classier than the usual one’s in the US. The main thing I’ve noticed is the Taco Bell posters that advertise a quesadilla and three beers for 3 euros! So yeah, I’ll have to try that some time.
Well, I suppose I should get some sleep…
Hasta la proxima!