Thursday, October 11, 2007

El Fin de Semana (The weekend!)

Well i officially finished my first FULL week of classes here! I dont have class on Friday, but this week no one does because its a holiday. I am not sure what the holiday is celebrating but on my calendar its called El Dia de Hispanidad. My host mom referred to tomorrow as a fiest (party) but i dont think she meant it literally. Pretty much everything will be closed tomorrow, so i probably will go out tonight and relax tomorrow. Caitlin and I might walk to Parque Invierno (which means winter). Its a little further away then the main park in Oviedo which is called Parque San Fransisco. As a side note, I am not sure if this is just in spain or Europe too, but fountains are everywhere here, especially in parks. They light up at night, and the bigger the city, the bigger the fountains, or so i have experienced. And the playgrounds are just thrown into the middle of the city. Like in the US playgrounds are at schools, or in parks with lots of trees around. Not here, they are in the middle of the city.

I still really like my host mom. I feel like a guest still, which i think will change, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that she cleans 24 7. Her job outside of the house is cooking and cleaning for an older couple that cant get around themselves, but when she is not working, she is cleaning or cooking at our apartment! I feel bad, but i think thats just how she is. I will ask her how her day is and she will say that it was full of work work work and that her back hurts. I think to myself you dont need to scrub our bathroom everyday. I seriously swear she cleans everything, everyday. I wake up sometimes to go to the bathroom earlier in the morning around 8 or so and she will be scrubbing away or cleaning something. Shes a riot! Its just funny to me because she told Caitlin and i we couldnt shower past 9 or 10pm and we couldnt brush our teeth or wash our face past 10 or 11pm because it would wake our neighbors...yet she cleans like a maniac at the butt crack of dawn or bakes sweet bread at midnight. Either thats just how my host mom is or thats part of the new culture, but i dont mind, i just think its funny.

Another funny thing about my host mom is teaching her english words. She has written some she learned from other students on this little whiteboard she has on her fridge. For example she wrote sand which is arena in spanish (she learned that from someone else) but the other day she brought Caitlin and me our clothes including our underwear and she said that we had such small underwear. We said ya they are thongs (sorry to those of you who read this and think im over sharing, haha). Anyways, she said thong...but it was in the funniest pronunciation. Just like we cant say words correctly because our mouths arent trained to shape those sounds, she struggles too. Then we told her you can call them underwear. and she tried to say underwear, only it came out as unerweer. too funny. then she proceeded to writing underwear on her little whiteboard with the spanish word below it. as a side note, panties, are tights in spanish (like nylons)

Lets see, so far i really like my grammar and vocab class. I love my vocab teacher. He is a stout man and he has a 4 month old baby! his name is victor and he is a crack up. My phonetics class is boring, but maybe it will get better. And so far my romance/love lit class is alright but my other lit class has seriously just been a chronological outline of spains history up til present day. maybe its suppose to help us with the future readings about 20th century spain, but it has been super boring and i cant read my teachers hand writing. Here they dont do powerpoints or use over heads, they write on the chalk board or whiteboard and its random scribblings, not very well organized (depending on the teacher).

A side note concerning my phonetics teacher...apparently he kissed a girl on the lips that was in my program. Just to give you a description of this guy, he is super tall and reminds me of a ugly version of Ross on friends. I wasnt out that night, but i have heard first hand from the girl in my group what happened. I guess she had been drinking and he had been drinking way too much and he came to the bar that a lot of americans go to (and alot of people in our program go to before we go to a club). Specifically in Spain and maybe in Europe too, im not sure, it is common to kiss friends and family on both cheeks as a greeting. I guess my teacher thought he was a friend because he saw this girl in my group and kissed her on both cheeks and wanted to buy her drinks. i guess she made the mistake of letting him buy her drinks, but i dont know if no one else was paying attention or what, but if i saw that happening i would have stepped in. anyways, i guess he kept doing the kiss on the cheek back and forth and then he kissed her on the lips and later had a rose for her! CRAZY! NOT ALLOWED IN THE US! that crosses the line. I guess she was really drunk. Either way, im glad i wasnt there and im glad it wasnt me! A side note to the side dont worry about this, my teacher seems more harmless then a fly, so it surprised me, i think he just was acting out of character, but either way, its an interesting story!

Its suppose to be sunny this weekend so if its not too windy im going to try to go to the beach. I live near the ocean, but its a city away. Even if its not nice enough to go down to the ocean, ill probably check the city out (Gigon is the name).

thats all for now! adios!

Monday, October 8, 2007

San Sebastian: rain, clouds, and sun!

This past weekend was full of many new sites and experiences. The morning started out with Caitlin and I calling Ben at 830am (when our bus left at 845) and asking him why the hell he wasnt at our apartment to walk to the bus station. We woke him up with the phone call..hung up and practically ran to the bus station. The funny thing is the night before Ben had wanted to meet us earlier then we suggested to meet up so we were early for our bus...yet he was the one that over slept. Caitlin and i got to the bus station and got our tickets. Somehow, someway Ben made it in time, got his ticket, and got on the bus! By car it takes about 4 hours to get to San Sebastian but we were taking the bus (a slow bus at that because its cheaper and has more stops) so it took 6.5 hrs.

When we finally arrived in San Sebastian it was dumping rain and we were dropped off at the bus station, but it had no informtion desk. It was not the same as the bus station that we left from in Oviedo. After ten minutes we finally got a cab and showed him the address to our hostel. He couldnt drop us off right in front of it so he took us close enough and we managed to find our way to the hostel. This was my first time staying in a hostel but Caitlin and Ben told me they are not usually like the one we stayed in. It literally was someones apartment that they decided to use two small rooms and make a hostel out of it! Caitlin and Ben said that hostels they had been to had big common areas, or hammocks outside, or even a pool on the roof...but this one was in an old couples house. Although it was an interesting experience, it wasnt too bad. The first night there were four beds in our room so there was another guy staying with us from New Zealand. He was friendly and talked to us for awhile. He told his employer that if he didnt get 4 months off this year he was going to quit (interesting huh?) He designs surf shops for Billabong (a surfing brand) which sounds like a pretty sweet job because he said he gets to travel all over. Right now this was part of his 4 months off and he had been all over including Aspen, Colorado. I asked him about our accents because naturally we think that people from Australia and New Zealand have cool accents, and he said we definatley have accents, but he doesnt know if people from where he is from are enthrawled by them.

Anyways, the first evening it was pouring rain and we werent much in the mood for exploring, soaking wet so we went to an irish pub and had coffee with baileys. We ended up walking around a little and retreating to our hostel. The bathrooms were microscopic and it was one of those times where i wished i had flipflops for the shower and my own towel, but i bucked up and survived.

The next day it wasnt rainy, just cloudy. Bén´s sister is traveling around the world with a friend for three months so they met up with us and we went to the aquarium. It was probably 1/10 the size of a normal aquarium and it was almost 10 dollars american, which was annoying because we didnt know it was that small, but the acquatic life was fun to see and it was still a good experience. After the aquarium we went down to the beach and walked around in the sand. It was a cloudy day but San Sebastian is definately a surf town and probably spectacular for laying out during the summers. We explored more of the city and took pictures...

After we returned to our hostel in the middle of the day I found that my bed was now a bunk bed that had expanded and a girl was sleeping beneath. Later when she woke up we all chatted with her and she is from Newyork and Puerto Rico, traveling all over. She told us many crazy stories and she definately has guts to be traveling all alone for so long. I know for sure i couldnt do it. The couple that owns the hostel brought us pumkin soup for a tasted nothing like pumkin, more like cheese soup, but i ate some anyways.

Our last day, Sunday, was amazing! Blue clear skies and it got warmer as the day went on. Our bus was scheduled to leave at 5pm but we tried to pack in a hike up to this tall statue of christ before we left. It wasnt too far and we thought that it would be nice to get a great view of san sebastian and the sea (we didnt really care about the statue of christ. no offense, but seriously i have seen enough crucified christs and i have only been here two weeks!) Surprisingly there was a museum, cemetary, cafe, and the big statue up the mountain side. It was a nice hike on gravel ground or steps all the way up. I have some amazing photos of the view and it was definatley the perfect day to go up there. I was so happy that we were able to experience one night day in San Sebastian before we left. After we hiked back down we went back to the beach and put our feet in the water. It wasnt cold at all and i wished we had more time because we brought our swim suits and everyone was out enjoying the sun!

At around 4:30pm we headed for the bus station and caught our bus. Not even an hour after we were on the bus we stopped an area on the side of the road after going through a toll spot. Another bus was pulled over and there were Civil Guard men all around with huge guns and uniforms. A man from the civil guard got on the bus and came to the back where i was sitting. He picked out a man that was literally sitting directly in front of my seat! He started looking through all of his stuff and asking him a bunch of questions. It was something i cant even describe because i have never experienced that before! They took the man off the bus and we were stopped for almost an hour. The civil guard came back on the bus several times and one time he came to the back and started to ask me a question. That was a moment where i knew it was smart to act like i knew very little spanish and pretend to act and look as american as possible. i told him i knew only a little spanish so he said ok. We asked the girl sitting near us if stuff like this happened often on the buses and she said NO, never. We determined they must have been looking for someone and this man may have fit the profile. After almost an hour they let him back on the bus and we were on our way. SO CRAZY! everything was fine the rest of the trip and the man got off at the next stop, but it was a surreal experience.

I feel weird ending on that note, but i have to go to class! ill add more soon. take care!