Monday, July 19, 2010

¡Vida España!

7:45- Wake up.

If my host mom works in the morning and has gotten up before me, then she’ll set out my breakfast. Most mornings I end up making my own: Simple but good coffee (did you know that I never drank coffee consistently before this? I also drink juice frequently, either orange juice or peach, grape juice. It is wonderful. Every morning I have two pieces of toast with either butter or jam or both. I miss the options and ingredients of Italy. I am usually hungry about ten minutes after I have eaten.

8:35- Leave for class. I live about 15 minutues from the center of Salamanca: Plaza Mayor.

This means about 25 minutes from class, I’ve made it in 15 (I’ve had to).

Salamanca is predominately filled with three things:

Cute dogs, Cute toddlers, and old people. There are more elderly people here than in Florida. I do not see how they are all still going so strong!

Everyone ten years or older here seems to smoke. They do not exercise, and all they eat is fatty meat from stores that smell like death by chemicals. But somehow they are still living and they seem to own ever bench, street corner, and sidewalk. Arm and arm together or with a younger family member, they walk at a snails pace through the streets. Sometimes there will be 3, 4, 7 old people talking and walking together. They don't care if I am behind them or how much of a hurry I am in. They walk the speed they want (/can) and take up the space they want. This goes for all Spanish people in Salamanca. If you want to have a fun get together will all of your friends, just walk into the middle of any populated sidewalk and start talking. At least the streets are not as narrow as in Florence...

(But even if I complain, the old people of Salamanca, as well as the culture of walking from place to place, are some of my favorite things here. Why don't we walk everyday with our grandparents, steeped in memory, through the streets of our hometowns?)

9:00- My first class is taught by a University of Michigan Professor. I think the class is called “Memorica Histórica” or something. Basically we learn about the Spanish Civil War by reading Spanish literature. It will count for 276, for any people knowledgeable about University of

Michigan Spanish classes. After two hours of this, I then go to my Spanish history class.

This one is only an hour and taught by a Universidad de Salamanca Profesor who is young but has a greying dirt mustache and beard. He tells us that Franco was short and fat and when he tells jokes about Franco (for which he has to teach us the vocab before hand so that we will understand the joke when it finally comes) he uses this high, little girls voice. I usually don't get the joke (even after all that) but I laugh just because of the voice.

At noon I have my art history class with a Spanish professor who has long curly red hair, the reddest I have ever seen. I think it's pretty. Since she is a HUGE supporter of our football team, she wore red for a few days straight: stretchy, all red outfits that look like they were meant for 6th grade girls, with fringe and all.

1:45- At home at last. I never know when my family is going to be home anymore. Some meals we eat all together (with the TV blaring) and some I eat alone. When I ask where everyone has been during the day, the answer's usually work, a friend's, or the pool. Everyone loves the pool here (again, because of the 100 or so heat that frequently plagues Salamanca). Lunch is between 2:30 and 3 everyday. My senora cooks every meal herself and they usually involve meat (usually pork). We always have water for lunch and dinner, and white baguettes that are good if I don't compared them to the bread in Italy. After lunch, is siesta time. Most of Spain takes part in this, and I frequently attend as well. As you'll see later, I don't get very much sleep here and my naps are a catch-22. I want to nap because I didn't get enough sleep, but if I nap instead of using the time for homework I then have more to do that night, and therefore get less sleep.

5:15- Time for my Spanish Guitarra class. I signed up for this class through the University because I've always had the dream to be awesome at the Guitar or the Piano. (I think the dream is really to be as sexy as hell, and playing the guitar is just a way to get me there.) I have class from Monday through Thursday from 5:40 t0 7:10. For the past week the nerves in my fingers have permanently been bruised. I think I have some natural musical talent but I am still in the 'WOW really terrible" category. I hope my one more week of class will be enough to send me into the "Santana? oh, no, just maple" category.

Maybe not.

7:30- Once I get home I either have the chance to continue my homework or go for a run. I definitely like running here more than at home. This may be because I have friends that go with me and because we usually end up running through one of the most gorgeous parks right by my apartment. I get back from my runs about 8:30 or 9. It is still very hot and light out at this point so it is a great time to run. BUT. My senora told me that I cannot shower before 11pm or after 1pm because the water is more expensive then (I messed this up the first week I arrived because I didn't understand why I couldn't shower during the day). I've been thinking of it like a phone plan where talking at night or on the weekends in cheaper. So I come back from a run, and sit until 11pm in a pool of my own sweat.

9:30- Dinner is really late in Spain. I've heard of families in some places that eat around 11pm or later. I've gotten used to the time but I don't prefer it.

I usually have enough work to last me until 1 am or so. My Salamanca classes require little work so all of it comes from my Michigan literature class.

If I go out, my night starts around 11 and can go until 3. Spanish people do not start their nights until 3am. The Foreigners own the bars from 11-2 and the natives show up after that. The music clearly changes from American music to Spanish music. I've heard that Spanish people sleep less on average than people from any other country and I believe it. They eat dinner at 10pm, go out at 3, but then start their days at a fairly normal time. I've been getting about 6-7 hours a night, some only 3-5. It is not enough.

My University of Michigan class is not held on Fridays. Although my Salamancan classes are, I have missed the last two and will be missing this Friday as well. The first weekend I was here, before my classes started, I took a 7 hour train on Friday to

Barcelona. Unfortunately the trip was not long enough but some of the highlights were seeing the Picasso Museum, swimming in the Mediterranean, and visiting one of Gaudi's famous churches: La Sagrada Familia.

I could not believe that it was a church when I first saw it.

More likely it was a huge volcano created by the shifting plates of the earth, or maybe Dr. Suess had created a piece of one of his dreams, where children and fantastic creatures could come and live forever in the youth and rhyme of life.

At the top of each spire of rock like wet sand stood proud caps straight from a Candy Land game.

Inside, the pillars were COLORS, leaning up toward a ceiling of

carved exploding suns and stars.

On La Sagrada Familia's facade, Gaudi melted his religious figures

and stories into the wet rock. Reading our guide book and trying to find all of his carved shapes was a difficult treasure hunt.

The next weekend, missing my classes on Friday, I took a trip through the University to Portugal. We were in the capital Lisoa for 2.5 days... well it ended up being a full 3.
Everyone has been asking me about Spain winning the World Cup. The Sunday that we returned from Portugal was the final. Up till this point I had seen three of Spain's games in Spain. Each game was filled with energy, nervousness, and lots of advice yelled in Spanish. Each scene swarmed with red. Each win came with cheering, honking, hugging, jumping, dancing, drinking, on and on. I knew that this night would just be this to an even bigger degree. The people of Salamanca would eat the streets. There would be partying for days, maybe years. ¡VIVA ESPANA!
We were told we would be back in Salamanca by seven pm, plenty before the game at 8:30. Can't you guess where this is going? Three hours into the six hour ride home, the bus breaks down. Very long, very boring, very devestating story short, we ended up sitting in a shopping center, two hours away from the Spanish border, and watched the entire game. We got home at 4:30 am and by that point, although the bars still coughed red onto the street, and the air still rang with song, I went home immediately and went to bed. The next day, I dearly wished that I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep because I was out celebrating with my country.
But luckily the rest of our trip to Portugal was great.
We saw some great views (you know how I love great views), ate local food, tanned at small beaches, awed at Portuguese churches, and even climbed castle towers.

This past Friday I skipped class to go visit my sister. Yes. Visit my sister. She is currently in Spain as well on a language immersion trip and for this past week she was in Madrid (which is only 2.5 hours from me by train!). I left at 5:50 am and returned at 10:30. We spent a day together, visiting the Reina Sophia, El Estadio Santiago Bernaneu (where Real Madrid plays),
and talking together. The last time I saw her was the second week of May. It was a rejuvenating day.

This Saturday, getting up again at 5:45, I went again with a group from the University to Toledo. Toledo had beautiful churches to offer, and a quaint area to explore. Of course my favorite part was the overlooking view.
It is towns like Toledo, like Lucca in Italy, that I could see myself living in for a piece of my life.
Salamanca fits into that category too.

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