I'm starting the third week of my full on semester classes, and they are going increasingly well. I think that Morris ought to offer non-language courses in foreign languages, because let me tell you- I have yet to doze off because I'm constantly on my toes being lectured at in Spanish. Even my film class demands constant attention! Needless to say, I am loving school. My schedule's a lot different than any I've ever had in Morris. I've got plenty of free time to wander the city, chat with my senile Spanish Granny or play with the puppy my host sister bought with Scholarships money. What the life! My classes are really interesting, and it really helps that I can talk to my host family about the material covered in class to get other opinions about it and for further clarification. For instance, I'm learning about the beginning of the Guerra Civil of the 1930's here, which was the end of the Segunda Republica and the beginning of the Franco Era. I heard some stories about the war from Maria Luisa (Granny) who was 12 when the war broke out. She lived with her older sister at the time, who was married and I guess lived in a safer house. Granny's blind and even though it's not the most Christmas-y of stories, blind old ladies telling stories that involve finger guns are awesome. *pew pew pew* Marieta, my host mom is a good source for stories about growing up in the later part of the dictatorship. She studied in France for some time as a young woman, but couldn't get her own passport without her dad essentially co-signing for her. She is an adamant socialist now, and I'm looking forward to the political discussions we'll be having. My professor in this class specifically said she would be assigning minimal homework so that we could get ourselves out into the Spanish culture to learn for ourselves what it means to be Spanish. It is really fascinating, as I learn new things everyday, that this country not so long ago was ruled by a dictator. I think the reason that people don't talk much about this bloody dictatorship is because many Spaniards are also not talking about it. It's as if the country's taken an oath of silence. People are still wildly divided on the issue as well, there are many people who will defend Franco, and just as many who want to see his memorial tomb destroyed. I highly recommend reading the book 'Ghosts of Spain' by British journalist Giles Tremlett for a more in depth history, it's a great read. My history geek is having a total hay day here because all of my classes, except one are historical in one way or another. I'm by osmosis learning a bit about the royalty of the Enlightenment era through the paintings of Goya in Art History, learning about the much more ancient history of the Iberian peninsula and Arabic culture from my Islamic culture class, and in my film class we're watching movies about the second republic and the history of Flamenco. WOOOHOOOOO Can anyone say Liberal Arts student? Someone should pay me for this.
Now that school has started, as this entry's title suggests, I am indeed finding my groove. I had a few ups and downs of adjustment and culture shock over the past month, but I think now I'm finally feeling at home. I go running every morning, whether in Parque Federico Garcia Lorca or alongside the river that runs through town or towards the gardens near Alhambra or in the middle of all the streets where the ladies in heels and fur look at me like I'm the devil... It's pretty fun. I have discovered a few really great bands from Spain and put their music on my iPod so even my running soundtrack is Spanish! Which is good, because it's like pulling teeth to get my American friends to speak Spanish and I can't find Grey's Anatomy online in Spanish. (if anyone can... please tell me!)
The food situation leaves something to be desired for me... my host mum's not a real culinary genius (Mama Jo- I am CRAVING your enchiladas right now.) and the portions are about what I would expect for weight watchers or geriatrics (on the bright side, now I'm not so worried about gaining weight) I get a lot of weird bean mixtures and bony meat... but the Paella is wonderful (I eat shrimp now I guess). I have an intercambio (a Spaniard who I hang out with to practice my Spanish and they practice their English) named Sara who has promised to teach me how to make Tortilla Española and some other staple foods. She was my friend's roommate and is SO helpful to talk to! We get along pretty well so I think we're going to be good friends by the time I leave. Back to food, because I'm waiting for dinner and starving, I haven't had anything remotely spicy since I got here. The Spanish are not real hip on that I guess. I even broke down and ordered off the spicy menu of the Mexican restaurant. Tasted like Aunt Marge's Tacos, spicy to Norwegians and laughable to Mexicans. I was thoroughly saddened. A friend of mine found a corner store that sold Siracha hot sauce, probably going to get myself some. There are bountiful amounts of chocolaterías, pastelerías and cafeterías with the most delicious pastries and desserts I've had the pleasure of eating. They're cheap too. That is dangerous. But I walk everywhere and have a good running schedule so who gives a rip! My favorite thing in the whole world is a chocolate Neopolitino- think chocolate filled croisant but even better. Heaven you can buy for 50 centimos if you know where to go.
So now that I've perhaps got you a little hungry for a snack, I bid you farewell.
ps: more Music to share!
pretty great if you ask me!
the book I mentioned: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghosts-Spain-Travels-Through-Countrys/dp/057122167X