Hello again! I just completed my third week of classes at Salamanca Univerisity-Cursos Internacionales. I'm learning a ton about grammar and vocabulary, but I'm worried that I'm not getting enough oral language practice. I'm surrounded by too many English speakers. I found a website that is called conversation exchange. You put in what language you want to practice, what language you speak and where you are living. It gives you a list of people with their ads looking for a conversation exchange ie.. you help them with English conversation and they help you with Spanish conversation. No money exchanges hands, only time. Perfect! I have contacted a couple people and will start meeting with them next week. There is also a girl from France who lives at my house and we speak Spanish together and watch Spanish TV together once in a while. It's all American shows like Greys Anatomy, Castle, and Scrubs. The shows are in Spanish and we put on the Spanish subtitles which helps me immensely!
My daily routine during the week is pretty much set. I get up at 6 if I go for a run or at 7 a.m. if I don't. I catch the bus at 7:55 and get into town around 8:15. I walk a few blocks to a cafe right across the street from my classroom building. This is my very favorite part of my day. I drink a cafe con leche, attempt to read the Spanish newspaper. Ahhhh!
I head to class at a little before 9 a.m. and finish up at 1:15 p.m. After class, I head over to one of two of my favorite cafes with great tapas and wifi. I have a pop and a couple tapas. The food situation has greatly improved for me since I discovered the joy of tapas which are small appetizer type dishes. You get a free one with any drink order and the others only cost .90 Euros. Cheap! I eat a delicious lunch for only 3.10 Euros. Nice! I wish I would have taken some pictures of the tapas. I'll add some to my next blog. After I eat, I stay and study my Spanish, complete homework and read my book, Los Juegos Del Hambre. I already read it in English and saw the movie which helps tremendously, but it literally takes me 15 minutes to read a page. Every 3rd-5th word I have to look up in my dictionary! Ugh! Luckily I loved the book and movie, so my interest keeps me going. My goal is to finish before I leave Spain. 2 months left, I better get going...
Generally the weather here has been rainy and chilly. From what it sounds like, a lot like what it's like back in the Twin Cities. We have sporadic sun here and there, but it always starts out cold and windy and the sun usually makes an appearance in the afternoon. Typical spring weather. I'm ready for May and warm temps. This is a typical sight each morning on my way to class. Umbrellas are called "paraguas" in Spanish. Packing my paraguas was the best thing I did!
Rain Rain Go Away!
This past Monday was a "festival" day in Salamanca called Lunes de Aguas. The story behind it dates way back in history. If I understood correctly, it has to do with the prostitutes coming back across the river on this particular Monday after the courses let out. I know there is much more to it than that, but that's the gist of what I picked up. Nowadays, it's a time for friends to go down to the river and basically party. They bring the traditional hornizo to eat (a pastry filled thing with sausage or ham and cheese) and wine or other alcoholic beverage. Here's a little video clip (in spanish, but you get the point of it) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADwNPp8aOFM
I decided to meet up with some people from my classes. I went to the bridge near where my bus lets off and I called my friend to try and find her. Along the river where I was, it was very chill with several groups of friends hanging out and talking and eating on their blankets.
My friend called me and directed me to another bridge where they were. I walked over there and this is what I encountered.
Whoa!!! This is essentially a big huge college drunk fest. I liked the first spot better! :-) My age showing through. We stayed for a little while and then headed into the plaza for ice cream. That's more my speed!
This is Sarah, a fellow student who is from California. She is here studying Spanish for similar reasons as myself. We have hung out a little, but are speaking WAY too much English. We need to make a pact to only speak Spanish, but it's tough. You always revert back to your native language because it's just so much easier.
I'm heading to Toledo (Spain that is ;-) this weekend. It's a small city 45 minutes south of Madrid. There are no classes on Monday due to another festival. This one is celebrated in the entire province of Castilla y Leon. Boy, they find a lot of reasons to fiesta in Spain! We have already had 4 days off for festivals since I started 3 weeks ago. Next weekend (& a few school days) I'm heading to Venice, Italy to visit my friend Natalie. I'm very excited about that!
I'll update the blog after Toledo (pronounced toe-lay-doe). Hasta luego!