Highs and Lows of the Past Few Days

I knew I shouldn’t have posted about that job. It didn’t work out with my schedule, which as it turns out does not work out with ANYTHING. So I guess I should start with the lows.

Classes started yesterday, and so far have been disheartening, to say the least. My schedule (which I have already spent hours on) is still subject to change. We have a maximum number of 3 kids from our program that can be in any given class at the University. In my anthropology class, there are 5. I have the opposite problem with my religion class, which might get cancelled because there are only four people in it. Also, it’s hard to tell whether or not I am in the right level of French. I asked a girl next to me who said her level of French is pretty low, but when the professor asked, the years of French experience of the students in the class ranged from 1 to 7. I don’t want to waste my time in an easy class, but neither do I want to get myself into something too advanced.

When I thought it couldn’t get worse, I went to my 19th century art class last night and it was the biggest. mistake. ever. First of all, because it’s a night class, all of the “students” are in their 30s at least. Secondly, the teacher spent, I kid you not, an hour and a half reading and elaborating on the syllabus. I swore to myself that I was never going back. So basically, my schedule is up in the air. It also doesn’t help that I feel like a freshman again, with the added handicap of not having enough language skills to make friends. It seems like all of the Spaniards have known each other practically since birth. I talked to a few who were nice, but the second I open my mouth I’m branded as “foreigner.” One girl even started speaking to me in English because she thought I wouldn’t understand her Spanish (Which when you think about it wouldn’t make any sense – for me to go to a foreign university and take classes in Spanish you would think I would have to know at least a little?). It’s disheartening to say the least. Why can’t I just study abroad without the “study?”

On the positive side, I had a fantastic weekend. The Advanced Liberal Arts group (about 30 of us) went with around 15 Spaniards our age to the Sierra Norte en Sevilla. As the schedule explained “NO ES UN FIN DE SEMANA TURÍSTICO” (Rough translation: This is not a weekend to be a tourist). The entire purpose was to speak Spanish, the entire time, to everyone. We started the weekend with rubber bracelets proclaiming “Hablo español.” If you were caught speaking English by someone, they could take your bracelet away and at the end there were prizes for those with the most bracelets. 

Luckily for me, my intercambio went to the immersion weekend so I finally got a chance to meet her! (At the beginning of the year, I signed up for a Spanish language exchange partner. The goal is to meet once a week, speak for one hour in English, and speak for one hour in Spanish. It’s a win-win situation with language practice for both of us. Also luckily for me, I LOVE MY INTERCAMBIO! Her name is María Luisa and I look forward to many fun intercambio sessions with her.

Someone captured this picture of us. She wanted a trenza (braid).

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Although it wasn’t a “tourist weekend”, the place where we stayed was beautiful! The second day, we had free time for activities such as mountain biking and piraguas (kayaking). At night, we had dinner and after one of the Spaniards (I guess he’s a DJ in training) played music for everyone to dance to. It was really funny because a lot of the songs were the Spanish version of something you might hear at a barmitzvah (Cha-cha slide, hokey-pokey, etc) but they were new to us so we had a lot of fun making fools of ourselves following along.

The weekend wasn’t all physical activity. We also enjoyed a Cata de Vino (wine tasting) and a cooking class where we learned to make tortilla española and paella. All the Spaniards were incredibly nice. By the end of the weekend, I felt really great about my Spanish and the possibility of finding friends here.

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(P.s., for pictures here you don’t say “cheese” – instead you say “patatas!”)

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