Adiós Salamanca, por ahora....
I have a lot of mixed feelings about leaving Salamanca and Spain in general. For the last month, Salamanca has felt like a second home. I've gone on many mini-trips since I've been in Spain and it always feels like "coming home" when I arrive back to Salamanca. I love the Spanish culture in so many ways (except the eating dinner at 10 p.m. thing :-) The people are so open, friendly and loving. At first I was a little weirded-out by the double cheek kiss greeting and goodbye. Coming from the American culture of verbal hellos and handshakes, I'm used to much more distance. On the other hand, Americans do hug a lot more! I think the Spaniards get weirded-out a little by a goodbye hug. I tend to find a kiss on the cheek more personal than a quick hug, but the Spaniards disagree. It is so interesting learning about other cultures! I truly adore the people that I have met here. I spent 10 weeks with my classmates and professors learning a TON of Spanish. It was sad to say goodbye today.
Grammar class with our profesora, Milagros. What a precious human being she is and an excellent teacher. My friend Sarah and I commented several times that whomever marries her son and becomes her daughter-in-law will be one lucky woman. She would be a great mother-in-law. So sweet! Grammar was a 2 hour class and we covered SO much material it literally made my head spin. Spanish grammar is ridiculously difficult in my opinion, however I may just be a slow learner when it comes to languages. :-) There are a million rules and exceptions to the rules that you have to memorize and keep straight. Sarah and I are highly motivated students in that we both were driven to learn Spanish to better ourselves in our jobs and in general. Wow, even being completely motivated and working hard, we truly weren't sure we'd pass. I got my results today and thank goodness I passed. Phew, that could have been embarrassing!
Alix & Holly (lft) Kaori & Yuki (ctr) Me & Alex (rt)
This is my oral language practice class with our profesora, Sonia (white sweater in front). I loved this class! The goal of the class was to practice speaking, speaking, speaking.. We played games, had debates, had interesting discussions, did presentation dialogues and laughed a ton! Sonia was super funny and kept the class lively. I think I will miss this class the most. As you can tell from the picture, I was one of 4 people in the class who wasn't either Chinese or Japanese. Along with improving my Spanish oral language, I learned a lot about China and Japan in this class. Super fun and interesting!
This is Mercedes, my amiga española. I met her through a conversation exchange website. Here they call them intercambios. There are many Salamantinos who want to improve their English skills and there are many foreigners here that want to improve their Spanish skills. You get together and spend time speaking in both languages. It's free and a great way to connect with people in the culture where you are living. Mercedes was great! I got a ton of Spanish practice, mostly because she was afraid to speak English. She understands a lot of English, but is timid about speaking. I tried hard to get her to try speaking some English and she finally started to attempt a little this past week. Unfortunately I'm leaving now, but there's always skype! She took me around to several different tapa bars and we watched a fútbol game together at a bar. Wow, are Spaniards crazy about their football (soccer)! The Eurocopa is going on right now and the whole city goes crazy for the games. All the restaurants and bars have big screen tvs playing, even outside in the plaza mayor. It's a bigger craze than football in the US!
In Plaza Mayor after a Spain win (Mercedes in the middle)
Watching the game in the Plaza
Sarah and I
I connected with Sarah early on in the semester. We happened to be in the same grammar class. She is one of the only other people remotely close to my age AND she is from the US. We traveled to Morocco together and met up in Barcelona for a bit. It was nice to have a fellow American to talk to when we were feeling a little homesick.
2nd to last night dinner at a Chinese buffet. I also connected with Alex (his Spanish name). He is from China and will be living here in Salamanca with his girlfriend for the next 4 years. They are both going to attend the University. He is taking classes now to increase his Spanish level high to enter the university. He is such a sweet soul! I enjoyed chatting with him in Spanish everyday. Spanish was our common language, because his English isn't too hot. This Chinese buffet was amazing too! I wish I had known it was there a long time ago. It figures I find out about it my 2nd to last night in Salamanca. :-(
Tomorrow I leave Salamanca for Madrid. Then Sunday I'm off to France (Aix en Provence & Nice) to meet up with some friends for a few days. After that it's back to the US of A. I'm so sad to be leaving, but I'm looking forward to many things back home. Transitions are tough! I hope I can come back to Spain soon. My Spanish needs more time!