My boss was finally back at work today. He is very smiley and jolly. He has his radio playing all day and he sings and whistles along (to Spanish and English songs) it´s hysterical. My project for the summer is to research information on renewable energy. I´m not sure exactly what he wants, I will ask on Wednesday, but so far I have learned a lot about solar, geothermal, hydraulic, and wind energy. This is not really a topic that interests me that much, but it´s better than sitting on facebook all day. Today has also been my first experience with being sick in a foreign country. I ate mcdonalds yesterday and I think that´s what did it. I haven´t had greasy mcdonalds food in months and it definitely did not sit well in my stomach. Oh well, I am feeling better now.
My history class continues to be interesting. We finished talking about Franco today and have moved on to present day demographics. Basically, Spain is Europe´s Florida. Lots of older people retire and move to Spain´s mediterranean coasts.
I apologize if I spell things wrong or use improper grammar. Sometimes I mix up Spanish and English if I have just been writing or talking in Spanish.
So this weekend the students wen ton an excursion to Madrid. We visited the royal palace, took a bus tour of the city, and ate at El Museo de Jamon. Afterwards we had the option of going back to Toledo or staying for the weekend. So, about 15 of us stayed in Madrid at two hostels called Mad hostel and Cats hostel. I was in Mad and I shared a six person room with two other firls from Toledo along with a French guy, a Mexican guy, and a British girl. It was very interesting and fun to meet people traveling from other countries.
On Friday night we decided to go on a pub crawl. It started at 1am at the bar in Cats hostel. From there we went to two other bars/dance clubs that I don't remember the names of and ended at a Salsa club. I didn't stay too long at the salsa club because NO ONE knew how to salsa dance, not even the two Mexican guys who went on the crawl. Oh well. It was really fun. My friend Kayla and I had a good time dedicating our dance moves to MJ when they played Billie Jean.
Saturday I thought we would be in museums all day, but it turned out they weren't free until 6pm, so we spent the day in El Parque de Buen Retirio (park of good rest). It was a beautiful park, but I was not prepared for a day outdoors. I got very badly sun burnt on my back and you can clearly see a hand print and a distinct border of where I put sunscreen and where I didn't. Oh well, it's the first time I've gotten burnt on the trip and it was bound to happen eventually.
At 6pm we went to el Museo del Prado and saw some art by Goya and Rafeal and el Greco, It was pretty interesting, but a lot of it looked the same...depictions of the last supper, cruxificion, Mother Mary etc. Later we went to a vegetarian restaurant and it was the worst food I've ever had. I had this goat cheese roll with caramelized onions and it was a bad choice. There was too much of the cheese; it had a very strong flavor. After that we went to a dance club called Sol y Sombra and danced the night away. They played YMCA so we all got up on this stage and did the dance. It was pretty fun.
On Sunday we went to the open air market in the morning and then headed back to Toledo. Now I am procrastinating and avoiding finishing my first paper :)
The weirdest thing just happened at work. A bunch of people took a break and went downstairs to have coffee (and yes I did drink coffee and actually kind of enjoyed it). At the table were a bunch of bracelets, rings, and necklaces. The girls who work there were trying them on and buying some of them...at work! It was so weird. Maybe I´m wrong but I´m pretty sure that´s not ever allowed in the US. Someone who works here is a friend of a priest of one of the million churches here. So he brought all these necklaces and stuff the church people had made and was selling them to help raise money from the church. It was so crazy. That would never happen at a government agency in the US. Just thought I´d leave a little comment about a culture difference I noticed while at work.
Yesterday was a long but good day. I had my internship class at 8:40 and we talked about the different parts of Spain and the differences between the three generations of Spaniards one sees today. I like the class but I like my history class better. My professor for the internship is not as organized. I´m never quite sure what´s due for class and what´s an in-class activity.
After class, I met my intercambio student to talk. We have met up three times now. We speak English part of the time and Spanish part of the time. Her name is Mari Carmen, she is sixteen years old, and she speaks Spanish, English, and French. She eventually wants to go into turism. She has done the intercambio program for a while now, and actually last semester her partner was my friend Abbie from the U of M. Her English is pretty good, and I think my Spanish is getting better because of our talks as well. Some of the interesting things we´ve discussed in English have been the difference between ¨return¨ or ¨go back¨ and ¨come back¨ and the difference between shade and a shadow (in Spanish there is just one word, sombra). And in Spanish I learned that "I don´t mind" is "no me molesta" and "I dont care" or "it doesn´t matter" is "me da igual."
Later on in the day I went out for tapas with my friends Rachel and Alyssa. We had churros and chocolate, papas fritas, and queso manchego. They were all really good and we were very full afterwards. In the afternoon we attended a cooking class where we watched a cook make Tortilla Espanola and gazpacho. I wasn´t really a fan of the gazpacho but I will definitely be making tortilla Espanola at home (in Spain a tortilla is made of potatoes and it is thicker than I mexican flour/corn tortilla).
Finally, in the evening I took a Flamenco class, and it was really hard. I don´t think I will ever be showing off my Flamenco moves, cause I don´t really have any. Afterwards I caught the last bus home at 11:15 but missed my stop (probably cause I wasn´t wearing my contacts) and had to get off at the next stop and call a cab, because the next stop was a twenty minute walk away and it was late and dark out. So I was not very happy about that.
Today I am at work again. Hopefully they will actually have something for me to do. Later today a bunch of students are going out to watch the US vs Spain soccer game. It should be a lot of fun. We will cheer really loud for the US and make the Spaniards mad :)
Last night a bunch of girls and I went out to a dance club called Zafont. It was very interesting. It was outdoors and there was a stage and screens and a big dance area and then there were a bunch of bars stretching for about 3 blocks. It was a lot of fun. However, in Spain they don't go out until 2am and stay out till 6am. We left around 4:30 and were very tired.
Sundays are kind of lazy days here. All the stores and museums are closed. So most people just hang out at home, watch tv, sleep, and go to the pool. I have just been hanging out at home doing homework and sleeping. I also called home for Father's day; it was good to here from everyone at home. It will probably be a pretty quiet night tonight. I will stay at my host families house for dinner and finish up my homeowork and go to bed. I start my first day of work tomorrow at 8am-3pm. I'm excited but nervous also, it should be interesting to find out what I will be doing.
This afternoon host family dad took three of my friends and I to his best friends country home. It was beautiful. It is in the hills looking out at Toledo, and it´s pretty much what you think of when you think of a Spanish home. Stucco with bright colors and flowers everywhere, and a swimming pool. Swimming was really nice because yesterday was probably the hottest day yet since I´ve been here, and they said July gets even hotter! After swimming we all sat around and had tapas and wine and then headed back to Santa Barbara and the fundacion.
The first few days in Spain have been very interesting. I am living in a neighborhood outside of old Toledo called Santa Barbara. It takes me about 25 minutes to get to school by bus/walking. My host family is very school. They are a couple in their mid thirties (Carmne and Javi) and their cat (Noah). They are very laid back and pretty much let me do whatever I want. We have lunch together at 3pm and dinner is around 10:30pm. That was kind of hard to get used to, but it´s getting easier. The food here in Spain is pretty different. My host mom does not really eat meat or anything greasy, so we have a lot of salad, and fish once in a while. The oranges here are DELICIOUS.
The second day here was kind of stressful. My internet wasn´t working on my laptop, my email and facebook passwords got changed randomly, my cellphone wasn´t working, and I got lost twice. Oh well, everything is fine now.
Some fun things I have done have been going out with friends. We usually go to local bars/restaurants in the area and get drinks and tapas (appetizers). A famous Spanish summer drink that everyone has here is Tinto de Verano. It is half wine, half lemonade and is very refreshing. I also went out with my host dad and a bunch of his friends and they showed me some cool places in the area. The Spanish "friend system" is very interesting. People have very very close friends who they refer to as "family" and it is almost mafia-esque. It was interesting to see.
Today we took a tour of Toledo and saw a lot of interesting things. The arrquitecture ranges from the1000´s to present day, so there is a huge mixture of buildings. A building 200 years old is refered to as modern! Also there is a lot of arab influence. Many of the plazas and fountains have arab names and arquitecture.
Tonight I plan on going to a club called Circulo de Arte. It was a church, but was then converted into a museum, various other things, and currently is an art museum by day, club by night.