Thursday, November 29, 2007

Escuela, Galicia, Escuela!

Two weeks ago i was in Oviedo for a whole weekend! It was the first time in a month! It was nice to relax and sleep in my bed for more then a week at one time! School is school. A lot of times its hard to get through 5-6 hrs of class everyday, all in spanish, especially since it is very different from the US. Sometimes I feel like im still in elementary school, and then i realize the level that i am at in Spanish is the level of a elementary schooler. Which is quite confusing at times because I am expected to write 5 page thesis papers in spanish yet my skills in spanish especially in communication are far less advanced! For example, we listen to songs and fill in blanks to questions that the song will say, or conjugate verbs from songs that we listen to. Also we play games that teach us grammar, phonetics, vocabulary. Dont get me wrong! I am learning a lot, but when i think about the structure of school and how i am expected to learn so much from games and songs and then have only 1-2 tests in 12 weeks its quite astonishing and confusing at times! The only class that resembles the way I would take a class in the US is my literature class. The problem is it goes SOOOOOO fast! We analyze 3-4 poems every class, and poetry is not even my forte in english, thus in spanish i struggle even more when i have to recognize metaphors and personification and much more! Anyways, i know i am learning a lot, but i am definately looking forward to returing to my comfort zone where i know what to expect in all of my classes each term. I have the library that i can retreat to anytime i want and i know when midterm weeks are and finals week!

Thanksgiving was really hard for me. I want to be home and with family. I wanted to cuddle up on the couch and watch football with my Dad and brother. Obviously i got through it, but i definately was emotional when it was midnight in spain and 3pm in the US and i knew that dinner would be ready in a few hrs yet I was thousands of miles away at a bar and no one in spain even cares or knows its Thanksgiving! My host mom thought i was just homesick, but i told her it wasnt even about being away for another month, it was about the fact that Thanksgiving is a time where we come together and share memories and its important in my family because usually im with my grandparents, aunts, cousin, uncle, etc. Anyways, my mom said she is going to do a thanksgiving redo and Hannukkah redo for me! So im excited for that! I think Thanksgiving just made me miss familiarity! I miss the little things and the comfort it brings me. I feel like i live in spain, but it still doesnt feel like home. Being in Spain has definately taught me so much about what i want and need in life though. And on Thanksgiving i felt more thankful for what i have been given in this life, more then ever. I told my mom a lot about this, but i dont think i have truly expressed it to anyone else yet. Its hard to articulate in words, but i can feel that Spain has brought on a positive change in me. We talk a lot about the experiences and openness studying abroad brings, in my intercultural prospectives class. Anyways, I learned in my class that I have 75% more then what the rest of the world has! Its astonishing! Just having the opprotunity to go on exchange and study in a foreign country is something only 5% of students experience (im not sure if thats students in the world or students in the US, but either way im lucky!)

On a lighter note....Last weekend my group went on their last program excursion. We went to Galicia which is the principality east and bit south of Austurias. I have to say I live Austurias much more! A lot of that might have to do with the days we went and the amount of time we spent at each locaton! For me, I have seen enough cathedrals! The first place we went to was this fortress defense area from 100 AC. Basically it was a bunch of old rock circles which were trenches and they were used for different types of protection and living areas. It wasnt very interesting. I could have looked at it for 5 mins and been ready to go especially since the wind chill was killing me and it started raining, but we had a tour for over 30 minutes of the area! After that we drove to La Coruna which is where we stayed for two nights. We went to see Hercules Tower which is right on the ocean. It had an amazing view! We went to the top of the tower and i enjoyed that, but the wind was so strong that i could only manage to stay up there for 10 minutes! The rest of the day we were free to do what we wanted...most of us went to dinner and retreated to hang out in our hostal rooms! Good thing i decided to relax and not check out the night life because the girls that went out had trouble getting in anywhere. Here you only have to be 18 to drink and a lot of people drink even younger, but for some reason the places people tried to go to they were carded and told they had to be 21. We dont ever bring our ID's out because you dont need them here, so no one had ID on them and they were all rejected. I dont know if you actually have to be 21 in a lot of the places in Coruna or maybe it was just because they are american! Who knows! The night life is definately not as good or the same as Oviedo, because its not a college city.

The next day was Sunday, thus everything is closed! Thats why it was frustrating because after we went to see Santiago de Camino and the cathedral we had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. Yet we couldnt really do anything because everything is closed!! The highlight of my weekend was the amazing amazing italian dinner i had sunday night! ohmygosh to die for! Maybe its because i really needed change from spanish food everyday, but the pesto pasta i had hit the spot! we found this amazing rosado wine and a bunch of girls enjoyed an evening at the restruant!

Monday we departed from La Coruna and on our way home we stopped in Lugo. Completely pointless to me and the rest of the group! We were all ready to get home. We checked out the cathedral and the huge wall that wrapped around the cathedral and part of the city, then we had 2 hrs to spare, and 1 of them was during siesta time, so there was no where to go! No shops, no cafes, nothing was open. Ohwell! Such is life!

The weekend was fine, it just definately wasnt my favorite place i have traveled in spain!

This week I had class, class, and class! Oh and our guest professor from Western Oregon University is taking all of us out in small groups for tapas and vino (small apetizers accustom to spain and wine). I signed up to go this week and it was a blast! Its all on AHA, so we didnt have to pay either! I really like Claudio, the guest professor, im taking his class, and you can just tell how passionate he is! He actually wants us to understand the literature we are reading! Thats the big difference between his literature class and the one that i never understand anything in. He doesnt go so fast that you cant even take notes. We read passages over and over and talk about the meaning and we read things that are more interesting. He doesnt race through the vocab that we dont know like my other teacher does! I am doing really well in his class! I have gotten 2 solid A's on both of the tests so far!

I am enjoying my second to last weekend in Oviedo by writing a paper, doing homework, hanging out with friends, and going to the Gijon open market on sunday!

On Tuesday we are having an end of the term party at a cafe with all of the families, students, and any professors that can attend. Caitlin asked my host mom the other night if she was coming. We werent sure because her daughter and granddaughter arrived last night from Valencia (which is on the opposite coast, in the east). Maria told Caitlin she doesnt want everyone to think she is depressed so she doesnt usually go. I dont know why people would think that unless she outgoingly said she was depressed. I think she just means that she is antisocial and doesnt like talking to people, because thats the truth! i know it sounds mean, but it is! She said she didnt go to the party last year because she was tired and the year before she had to work or something. Caitlin said its okay i understand if you dont want to go because your daughter is in town and Maria said no thats not the reason at all. So whatever, i wanted everyone to meet my host mom, mostly so they could see whats she like (even though i dont think she would show her true crazy colors in public because she wouldnt have the opprotunity to clean or something !). Ohwell there is not much I can do, maybe she will change her mind!

I have to pack monday for Portugal because i have the party tuesday night after class and then my flight leaves at 9ish from the Austurias airport. I have to take a bus to the airport, which takes 30-45 minutes, with my two girlfriends. I am excited to experience a new country!

Well thats all for now! Take care. Just a little more then 3 weeks and ill be back to reamericanize myself and tell everyone about my life changing experience in much more detail!

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