Mi Busqueda para Espana y Yo

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

25 de Agosto

Grammar test went better than I expected! I was a little worried about it but I checked some answers right after I took it and I think I did better than I did on my midterm for it so we'll see!
The rest of my classes kind of went by a little slower than usual just because it's interesting but it's not worth anything so I'm not as motivated but culture was still interesting, we talked about Holy Week and how it's sooo big here in Spain!
Today we have an ISA meeting where we'll find out what time we leave for Madrid (I'm assuming really early) and then we get to do a guided tour with the new ISA director Teresa through the University!!! I'm so excited cus i"ve seen the actaul university on my own time but it's going to be so interesting to hear what everything means. I'm excited to see all the chapels and of course the library in the university. The library has a wonderful ceiling mural and is the 3rd most important library in Europe for Catholics! I love all the history of this town, I think I take in everything more than most and write everything just because I picked Salamanca on purpose because I knew of its history before in my classes so it means more. Everyone else picked it because it worked with their schedule or for the price. But me and this city are meant to be and I love learning EVERY detail of it! Oh, I forgot to tell you..I found the astronaut in the New Cathedral..you know how there's the lucky frog you have to find on the university's door? well someone after we landed on the moon put an astronaut as one of the decorations on the massive cathedral doors so we finally found it with the help of our german friend max!
(*Sidenote: I can't believe it's 4 weeks to this day I've been here. It seems like just yesterday. There's so many more things I want to see, learn, eat, do, etc here! I wish I could wrap Salamanca up and take it with me; most beautiful place ever. If I could vacation somewhere again I'd go somewhere else in Spain but definitely visit Salamanca, I feel like it's been a great home to me and I've tried to be great to it. I've talked Spanish the most out of my group and some locals or teachers have pointed it out! This whole experience has just changed me for the better, I can't describe it but I feel that I understand more about life and how to react to things and what's actually important and I'm forever grateful for this experience!!!!)
-I will write more about the day/night later when more happens, siesta time now! Love you!

24 de Agosto:Salamanca

It´s getting so close to being over and I¨m not ready to leave Spain (I´m ready to go home but I don´t feel like I can say bye to Salamanca but I will have to!) Yesterday (The 24th) was my first day of finals! I had my history and culture final! I studied for my history one a lot because I took so many notes and he gives so much information. When I was taking the history test I thought it was a little rough and a little tricky like one question was who was Andrew Lerroux and I chose that he was the President of the Republic but he´s actually the president of the government republic lol I was like come on. We got it back today, Emily got a 12/20 and I got a 15/20 and the way he was talking about it made it seem like my grade was a B and her grade got her a passing grade so i hope that´s right. I´m going to double check with him during my culture class after I write this when I get back that test. Hopefully that test went better cus I felt better about it but we´ll see..some questions were really easy and some were a little tricky, it´s the same teacher for both classes and I love him but he´s too smart for his own good. And he´s got piercing blue eyes so every girl just stares at them in class and no one pays super attention lol. After my classes, I had an interesting lunch! Lourdes (our house mom) had to go to a conference for her work from Monday - Thursday so Emily and I for lunch had to meet her daughter Lorena (the 21 yr old) at the house for lunch time and she walked us to their restaurant! It´s only like 5 minutes away walking and it´s called El Fogon..it´s set up where all the food is out there and you pick out what you want and it´s to go..it´s like a healthy alternative to taking fast food to go which is cool..she said they get really busy for lunch. It was so cool cus her daughter is the cook for their restaurant so she was so excited to pick food for us to eat for lunch so we brought that back to eat and it was delicious! Then we had our siesta, I talked to TIm on Skype for a litle bit and we went to the ISA Office to study for our grammar test then we decided as a treat for our hard work we would go to the best Chocolateria in Salamanca called Valor and get some chocolate con churros to go! Oh, I forgot to say that during our grammar class and our 10 minute break Vicki and I (the girl from Taiwan that´s really American bc she went to Miami Ohio and lived in NYC) went to Valor for coffee and she thought it would be cute to buy some chocolate for our grammar class because we love the teacher and the class, it was really cute! I think tomorrow I´m going to ask to take a picture with each teacher if that´s not too creepy..I just want to remember them! So we took our chocolate con churros home and itw as heaven! Mom you owuld have loved this place, best chocolate! I tried to buy you coffee or some kind of chocolate but I couldn´t but so the chocolate for dipping is really rich and good and the churros are the length of the churros in the States times four lol. We studied some more then got ready for our farewell dinner with the ISA directors and our Summer 4 group. Everyone got dressed up and we all met under the clock tower at the plaza mayor and walked with Sofia one ouf our directors for like 20 minutse I didn´t know where we were going! We finally get to this restaurant that´s kinda far for us but close to the Residencias and met up with Rodrigo!! We had the whole restaurant to ourselves so I guess it was worth the walk lol! And the dinner was free!! We got pepsi and water for free! They fed us all a plate of paella then a plate of mini steaks and fries AND a block of ice cream..I have never been more full in my life, I couldn´t eat everything and they would take my plate away because I eat so slow lol. It was really fun, we bonded with Rodrigo a lot and I´m going to miss him so much. The only weird thing was that Cameron and Lauren sat next to me and only talked to each other and no one else in our table but whatever, that´s their lost.if she wants to cheat on her 3 yr boyfriend rather than enjoy Spain and new people and get to know a person who´s lived in Salamanca his whole life (Rodrigo) then that´s on them. After dinner Rodrigo and I asked the waiter to take a group picture and it was so cute! On the walk back to our place and the residencias for some people, I found a photo booth randomly on the streets!!! It´s like the ones you see at at the mall so I had to stop and do it! But there were 6 of us and we were alll trying to fit in their. We were dying of laughter because we couldn´t understand the machine and I ended up picking a background that said te quiero with a heart for all 6 of us lol and we were all sooo squished! I´m keeping it as a souvenir (I realized the only thing I really want for my bday is a scrapbook so I can put all these memories in too!) We went back to our apartment after that (which is literally our apartment because no one´´s home which is pretty cool cus I feel more independent)! After we studied, we decided we could go out for like an hour and a half and still be back in bed by the time we usually are anyway. So Mark (who's last day is Thursday but his last night is Wednesday night!) met us downstairs then we walked to the clock to meet up with Corrado (portia's italian man), Connie and Bia (California girls), Nikolas (the Belgium) and Max & Alex (the Germans one) and we went to Gatsby (of course! it's like the grotto for me here except I actually do like it but I go there all the time..the guys love it cus the shots are strongest at Gatsby and there's a pool in the back that some drunk ppl jump in sometime. Ohmygod last night these 3 guys asked us at 4 different times if we would go in the pool with them..I dont know how many times I said no! Then when they finally took the no they came back and tried to dance, like they'd just stand behind me and pretend that they just happened to be that close for no erason and they were also dancing. I went home a lil earlier than I was going to because of those dummies. But the Europeans are so funny...they love the Americans song and they don't take dancing seriously they just like make fun of it like we were pretending to do all these funny moves like the sprinker lol. I love those guys..we just make fun of each other! They decided last night though that they would on several occassions get me in the middle and party boy me omygosh I waslike don't spill my drinks! Alex and Corrado kept buying us chupitos! First tequila then I was like I'm going home soon I can't do tequila so they're like fine "manzana" (apple) in a girly voice so we did apple lol but their apple is stronger. Man I would pick the one town in SPain that's famous for their chupiterias! lol I went home after that though so I could get up early for my grammar test!
PS. Update: Didn't do as well as I wanted for history and culture but got what I think is a B..i dont know their grading system is messed up lol
Miss you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

23 de Agosto: Salamanca

*Lourdes not being here
*Volleyball with the 2 Germans, Italian girl and guy and one Belgium
*Lasagna/Empanada dinner
*Poker with the boys at the Residencia very fun, awkward run in w/Cameron & Lauren

Friday, August 20, 2010

20 a 22 de Agosto: Semana en Salamanca

Hi! Friday is here and we're in Salamanca! This weekend is a peaceful one before our finals, we only have one trip and it's to Segovia and it's for a day on Saturday! Guess what? Segovia has a castle and it's the castle that either inspired or is the one the castle in SLeeping Beauty is based off, I'm so excited to see where Aurora/Briar Rose slept and got her kiss from haha!
We just had dinner and Paco (Lourdes' boyfriend who we've seen four times now) made it for us! It was soup and tortilla espanola! We thought she was sick because her bedroom door was closed and she was tired this morning but she came out in a dress and it turns out she wasjust getting ready for their date night, soo cute!
Before dinner, Portia, Emily and I went shopping. I thought we were going to shop for souvenirs but we just went shopping for ourselves but it's okay I didn't buy too many things, no shoes were bought! I bought a sleeveless sweater/vest that I've wanted all summer for the fall, a blue dress shirt that I've also always wanted and this brown dress with a lace skirt and a belt that was on a super sale..so it wasn't bad at all! I haven't had to withdraw money out yet! And I'm planning on buying the rest of my souvenirs either Sunday or Monday and I've already written it all out so I just need to go find them and buy them! So after I buy the souvenirs we'll see if I need to withdraw some money out but hopefully I'll be good! Lauren joined us after awhile and it got quite awkward. Well last night we all went out but Cameron and Lauren were flirty the whole time like they were holding hands and when I would talk to him, she'd get upset (he used to have a crush on me so that's why she cared) and the whole night it was like that where she'd hold his hands and sit on his lap. well Cameron's newly single but Lauren's had a boyfriend of 3 years but when we went to Cubic (the discotecta/dance club right by mine & Emily's place) and Portia and I left to get some Leonardo's (Leonardo's is Spain's only fast food place and it kicks McDonald's ass because they make it when u order and it's real food like hamburgers are real and the chicken nuggets are cooked in front of u as a chicken fillet that gets cut up into nugget size) and when we came back Emily goes to us you guys! go inside and look at Cameron and Lauren and we went inside and there on the corner of the dance floor making out!!! It was so awkward. More awkward today but I didn't talk to Cameron and I only did small talk with Lauren, I just don't get how they could have done that.
Anyway so today was a good day in class! I am glad though it's my last real week because it's getting hard to focus in all Spanish all the time in class. But there was an excursion for a lot of students to go to Madrid so when I entered my Grammar class today there were only 2 people (Vicki & Natsumi) and Marina (our teacher) in a circle and they were like join us! this is the whole class! It was crazy! She didn't even collect our homework and we didn't talk about Grammar at all haha. She just asked us what we were going to do for the weekend, what our majors are, if we were excited to go back home and Vicki (who I love! she went to school in the US for like 9 years and she's 23 so we get along really well, she interned for Calvin Klein) was talking about how she didn't want to go back to Taiwan and Natsumi didn't want to go back to Japan. I said I wanted to go back to my friends and family but I would miss the beauty and environment of Salamanca. Then we got to talking about where we're all from and I told her how I was born near Manila and I guess last year she taught Spanish in Manila! She said she loved it, very pretty and she said she loved the volcano and the beaches and she liked all the similarities and were explaining how close the language is to Vicki and Natsumi how cuchillo, cuchara, derecho, mesa and even kumu esta (como esta) are all the same! Then we got to talking about the Chinese & Japanese language and they started writing stuff down for us (I took a picture of what we wrote down)! I learned soo much about language, I was obviously sooo excited that I could talk about it! I found out that the Japanes language combines their original language with that of Mandarin so some characters are the same but some can have dif meaning. In China, last names come first then your first name (they have 2 first names). If you have sibilings then you guys share the first first name and only the second part changes. Also, the symbol can be interpreted into a really long word and there's a certain way you have to draw each chinese symbol. It was sooo cool! Then Marina was telling us how names in Spain are usually based on religious people but lately Spaniards have been havingg obsessions with celebrities like ones in America and her mom loved Kevin Costner so she named her brother kevincosner as the first name! SO it's like Kevincosner Rodrigo Perez lol! Then we took our little break and when she came back with a coffee, Vicki and I made the joke that we should take the class to the bar (we have this bar/cafe right next to our classroom and we always get coffee or water from it and so do all the teachers and students) and Marina said yes let's vale! (go!) so we had the rest of our class at this bar/restaurant and had coffee (I had green tea) with her. It was such a fun class,she was telling us that to fully be fluent we have to come back for longer than 4 weeks. She said our spanish is really good now but then we might lose it when we come back and that made me sad :\ lol My history and culture class went well too! After our siesta we went shopping and that was cool then after dinner we went out to the bars; it was fun but Lauren & Cameron kind of killed it..I had to walk Portia home myself because Cameron wanted to stay out later with Lauren when Portia lives farther and she already gets extra attention when we go out at night because she's black and people in Spain aren't used to that color so they give her extra attention. I still had fun, I danced a lot but I went home at a reasonable time because on Saturday we had to meet our group at La Fonseca (this place where the University used to have classes but now it's a gorgeous building where they have cultural events like concerts and flamenco dances) at 8:45 AM. We got there on time but of course the people that live at the Residencia didn't get there until the very last minute and they only made it because they took a taxi there lol. The bus was small this time (it looked like a special yellow bus haha) because they knew our group was going to be small now. So it was a 2 hour bus ride to Segovia but it felt like soo long because the bus driver was the worst bus driver we've had yet. He took every turn (and there were a lot because Spain has a lot of traffic circles) like Nascar style and you could feel every bump and turn in the car so good thing I took my Dramamine but we finally got to Segovia! We went through some streets with a lot of shops and we made our way to their city center. We walked past this area with little white tents where they were selling live roosters, so weird! But then Rodrigo stopped walking and we looked up and holy crap there were these enormous long aquaducts in front of us!!! I can't describe it in words, you'll just have to see the pictures I put up of it! It's 15 km and considered the best aquaduct in the world because of the way it was constructed (it's supposed to be the most durable) and if it had to, it could still work today! There's a legend on why it was made (because there's no actual history of how and why it was made) so legend goes that the devil built it! The devil built it for this maid and he was going to take her soul when it was completed but the maid changed her mind and prayed to the Virgin Mary and right as the devil was going to lay the last brick of the aquaduct the Virgin Mary appeared and she put the last brick so that he didn't complete and the maid's soul was saved so that's why there's a little statue of the Virgin Mary in the middle of this massive aquaduct! There's mountains overlooking Segovia and they're called Sierras Mujer Muerte (mountains of the dead woman) because it kind of looks like a dead pregnant woman the tour guide said haha. Then we went to look at the churches, cathedrals, and one synagogue. On the way there we saw a statue of the hero of Segovia and his name is Juan Brava and it was funny because we call that guy Mark from NY Johnny Bravo lol so it's the spanish version of him. Our first stop after the aquaduct was the Iglesia de Justo y Pastor (patron saints of Segovia) and it didn't really look like anything cool from the outside and even in the inside it's not that amazing but there are some great stories about it especially of the paintings in it. The arch at the top of the place where the priest stands has paintings on the inside of the arch that play out the story of the original sin with adam & eve. The mural/painting at the altar area is not finished and it makes it look like it got torn up or something but the guy didn't finish it and one part of it is only in red and is really plain cus it's the first draft. no one knows who the painter is and there's even a little sign above the virgin mary in the painting saying don't touch, will finish (haha clearly not). There's also a big Jesus wooden puppet in the front of the church in a glass case and the architect for that never finished him either because he doesn't have clothes and his face is very plain but the cool thing is his joints are movable like a puppet so that they can reenact events from the bible using him and he's movable. Then we saw the Catedral de Segovia but couldn't go in but it's verrry pretty and wanna know why it's very pretty? The person who built it is the same person who built the Catedrales in Salamanca! They have the same gold look to them, so breathtaking. It's also the last gothic style Cathedral built in Spain. Then we visited the last synagogue left in the area..the only reason it's still there is because it agreed to convert itself into a church during the Inquisition (where the Reyes de Catolicos killed off any jewish person who wouldn't convert into Catholicism). So it's a church now but the style is very different from that of a regular church. Then we visited the Castle of Segovia! It's called Alcazar de Segovia!!! It's BEAUTIFUL! It's the castle used for the Disney logo and most importantly it's the castle used for SLEEPING BEAUTY! It was so exciting to see it in person! At the end of the tour we got to climb the highest tower of the castle (152 winding steps) and Emily and I were joking that we were climbing it to find Aurora and save her! lol. I was so proud of myself for climbing that thing because it wasn't easy, the steps were super steep. The actual castle itself was really big! All the relics in it were from its original built (it's super old it was used as a summer house for the Reyes Catolicos who were the king and queen that told Columbus to discover America!) and the only restoration its gone through was from a fire back when. Felipe II was the last king to actually use it to live in before he moved to the El Escorial palace where I've also visited! It was also used as a prison for a short time and my only reaction was that it was a beautiful prison hah. It was a lot like the El EScorial where each room's ceiling and decorations were unique to that room. The living room of the Reyes Catolicos was to me the most beautiful. We got to take pictures so I can finally show you guys the rooms of these old palaces. They also had a room with a replica throne of the Reyes Catolicos so that was cool. After the visit to the castle and the climbing of the tower we got to take a break for lunch. We ate at this restaurant in between the Plaza Mayor of SEgovia and the aquaducts. We were going to try the cuchinillo which is the food Segovia is known for (mom, it's lechon and for paul, it's roasted pig with the apple in the mouth deal lol) but it was too expensive. It's funny because every restaurant we passed had a window that had an actual pig or more with it, it got a little creepy after awhile. I did the Plato Del Dia like I"ve done before (every Spanish restaurant especially during lunch has a plato del dia which offers either wine or water, a desert, and instead of an appetizer and an entree they offer two entrees since lunch in Spain consists of two plates or two entrees usually). I got paella for my first plate, second plate was pork with patatas and we had ice cream for desert. It was pretty yummy. I've loved EVERYTHING I've eaten in Spain and there's stll things I need to eat before I leave like churro con chocolate and the hornzo del Salamanca (this sandwich that is famous only in Salamanca!). After lunch we were all SOOO tired but we had to go to this one palace famous for its jardines (gardens) in a suburb of Segovia. So we get there, I can't even walk anymore and I"m so hot (one of the hottest days we've had here and there was no shade anywhere) and when we got to garden we found out the biggest fountains there (what they're known for) weren't turned on for that day so we had to go inside and take the tour of the Palace (it was a summer palace for some old kings) but I was so tired and so thirsty and since we were an unexpected group, we got stuck with touring with a lot of locals and the tourguide went at their rate so I couldn't understand aynthing and I was dying of heat. It was pretty, a lot of tapestries, paintings, and statues/figurines but I felt like I was overheating so I had to go to the bathroom at the end of the tour for awhile to splash some water on my face and I felt a little better. I did eventually make it out to the gardens of the palace and it was very pretty; a lot of fountains that overlook the country side. Once I got to Salamanca, I crashed. I went out after I got some much needed sleep because Portia wanted to go out too and I felt I had to experience a Saturday night in Salamanca!! Well the streets were packed, busier than any other nights and most nights are crazy. Portia and I were going to pregame by doing shots (chupitos) at Jacko's Bar, the bar underneath my apartment. We get there, it's packed! People were outside drinking. Jacko's has besides the huge shots, these enormous mixed drinks for 5 euros, bigger than any other drink I've drank..I had to hold it with 2 hands. We got a drink called orgasmo (Portia first ordered it saying organismo it was so funny). It was fun and busy but it was a lot of guys and everyone seemed young like maybe just 18 or maybe even some 16 i don't know. We sat there and just talked for about an hour, mostly about Cameron & Lauren's stupid asses and then at one point, the lights turned off and everyone just screamed and yelled like it was part of the party! Portia and I were so scared well I guess Jacko's and some bars do this at one point in the night and everyone just screams lol. So we left there and met up with these three guys: Corrado, Alex, and Nikolas (Italian, German, and Belgium). They're from Portia's residencia (dorm). They were really cool, for one thing they paid for everything which was a really nice change even though we felt bad and tried to pay, they just wouldn't let us. We went to Gatsby first and did some shots of tequila there (they love tequila, we hated it) then we went to the Chupiteria and we were going to order our own little shots then they order us the Diablo Verde to share!! Diablo Verde is a shot of Absinthe (the 80% one even) and this other shot called Canabis and all I know is it looked like it could kill me and it burned in my throat/tummy for almost the whole night lol. We went back to Gatsby and of course theye ordered tequila! I wa slike noo, we'll pick the next shot so we picked green apple vodka and they were like that's a girly shot! lol. Then we went to Cubic (the dance bar right next to my place) and there was a line but somehow we sneaked past it! We danced a little bit (and found out they kind of dance like us like with the fist pump and especially Alex danced like an American guy..I was even doing the robot with him) but then I was getting tired so I told them I was going to go home. I got some shit for it lol like I taught that guy Alex the phrase going hard and he goes going hard doesn't mean going home lol but I had to! But it was one of the more fun nights at the bar I've had cus I got to talk to people of other cultures and they were more like my personality, like they were sarcastic and funny!
Sunday was a very relaxing day! We got up around 9AM and got to go to Church..I really needed to pray so Emily was nice and went with me. I went to this little chuch called Capilla de San Sebastian across from the Catedral Nueva and there wer elike literally 5 people there! The church was beautiful but no one sang and they read the 1st & 2nd & gospel back to back so it only took like 20 minutes lol, it was crazy but at lesat I got to experience a mass in Spanish in Spain! Then we went to the souvenir shop and I got Mama and me some Universidad de Salamanca gear and they put your name on it for free so I got to write Ponce on it, it was pretty cool. After that we had an awesome lunch of course from Lourdes (I haven't liked a single thing that woman has made!) and this was especially awesome cus it was Paella from her restaurant! Super cool then we got this ice cream sandwich! It was a square of Ferrero Rocher flavored ice cream between these 2 vanilla waffles, delicious! After that, we tried to find this flea market by the river that always happens on Sunday but we couldn't find it. Instead we found the paddle boats! and some people playing like what looked like horshoes but it was intense and there was an announcer and a hot dog stand lol. We couldn't find the market but it was okay because we walked everywhere around the river and got tos ee a different side of Salamanca! Then we went paddleboating with Connie, Jiaxi, Portia & Mark later! That was sooo fun and such an experience!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 16 - 18: Salamanca

Lunes (Monday):
*went out for a little bit, cool bar: posada de las animas by san boal
*grammar test results

Martes (Tuesday):
*intercambio was great
*went out to the bars, a little wild

Miercoles (Wednesday):
*during my break, did a research survery for a doctoral student of the actual university. interesting survey.
*went into San Sebastian iglesia right next to school, small but very pretty..prayed for a little bit.
*watched Anchorman at the Residencias

Jueves (Thursday):
*played volleyball
*good lunch with Paco and Lourdes
*out and pregamed at residencia

Sabado (Saturday):
*went to Segovia for the aquaducts, gothic churches, synagogue, castle sleeping beauty, jardines de palacio

Monday, August 16, 2010

13 a 15 de Agosto: San Sebastian

Hello! I'm back in Salamanca now..got back from San Sebastian late Sunday night. Recap of the weekend:
On Friday, we saw the Residencias (the dorms) again and hung out with Portia! We painted our nails and just talked, one of the first times we've had just girl time so it was nice! Then we went out for a little bit at night. We went to Gran Via (a different street off the Plaza Mayor with places to go out but it's more for locals so we wanted to check it out). It was really fun, we went to a chupiteria called Daniel's first then to this place Canabra! I hope we go back to Gran Via later this week!
But anyway then on Saturday Emily and I said our goodbye to Lourdes in the morning (Lourdes got so funny when we almost forgot our bocadillas (sandwiches) because she made us a little bag of them and she wanted us to take it for the train!) We walked to the train station, about a 20 minute walk. The train station is actually inside what we would call a mall and of course across from it was the Spanish version of Dunkin Donuts, Rosco something! I got a little nostalgic. We got on the train around 10am. I was thinking it was not going to be a nice train and I prepared myself for it, no expectations. But when we got in I was actually surprised. It was just like an Amtrak train. Except the chairs were cooler, you could turn a chair to face the other way just by pushing it it was crazy! I sat next to Emily because we had assigned seats which is nice because Amtrak ur usually sitting next to a stranger. It was kind of a slow train but I had my Ipod on the whole time so I wasnt really affected by it. I ate one of Lourdes' sandwiches for my lunch. It was Emily's first time on a train (we took a taxi to get the train 2 days before and it was her first taxi ride too lol) so we took a picture of her and our train tickets, it was cute. I wish I saw stuff through her eyes sometimes because her culture shock is so much more than mine but it's okay! The train ride took like 6 hours but we finally made it to San Sebastian! I was a little worried about how far the station was from our hostel and how far the hostel was from the Semana Grande fiesta and the beach. Taxi takes us on like a 5 minute taxi ride and we walk to our hostel and it is near EVERYTHING! sooo many people were out! We went out to this main street like a block from the beach area and there were like 2 parades going on!! There was like a parade of flags but I think they were all Vasque Country flags (they want independence from Spain so they have their own flags) and there were cannons being shot off from like the government building. Soo many people out and there were all these things going on in the streets like these musicians and breakdancers! It was really cool but a little bit too many people. We walked along the beach (called The Playa Concha). It is really beautiful, no weird forts or umbrellas like Portugal..a lot more young people to, San Sebastian is really known for their surfing I guess so a lot of surfers and there's like little islands that you can see from the beach. We got some traditional Basque Country food while we were there. For lunch the first day I had what I guess you would call a Spanish hot dog. There was a stand with these cute little old ladies and they were making fresh tortillas and were grilling hot dog, chorizo, and bacon so we went up there because it smelled so good and they give you a huge tortilla and fill it up with all that meat and then there were chocolate bars there too and I heard her say in Spanish that that was desert so I was like perfect, I didn't want the ice cream that everyone else was getting later so I asked for the chocolate thinking she'd just give it to me but she put the chocolate bar in the tortilla too! I asked her "No no, solo un chocolate" then she told me in Spanish that the way they eat it in Basque Country is they wrap it in a tortilla and the chocolate heats up and it's basically like a Chocolate Quesadilla! lol. Then after we explored a little, there was a carnival off the beach so we walked around that for a bit too. We went back to the hostel and had dinner at a restaurant. We could hear the fireworks during dinner and all the people were running towards them, I don't think fireworks are as common here as they are in America lol. The hostel though was in this good street with lots of restaurant, bars, and stores so that was cool cus we were next to everything. It was like an apartment style place. The first floor had the receptionist. It was like alll surfers first of all that rent the place and own it lol. They were all young and had the surfer look going so that was cool because we even talked to some that night and they were cool (we met this one italian guy on our floor named Andreo and I said oh like Andreo Bonacelli lol and he's a surfer from Milan hah). The hostel was 5 floors and of course we had the last room in the top floor but that's okay it was good exercise haha. The cool thing is though we had a balcony!
After dinner (which was just wine and espagetti bolognesa) we went out. It was fine at first because it was still a little early Spanish time so it wasn't too busy. Then after an hour or two the streets and the bars got packed. It took us an hour to even order a drink and we could only stand by the bathroom cus there was nowhere to go. People were even drinking in the streets. After awhile we were like let's just go, It was packed. When they were showing New Orleans after the Saints won, well this was comparable because everyone was celebrating the Vasque Country wanting to be independent from Spain. It was like their patriotism day. So it was cool but it was too packed. The party went on til 7:20 AM cus we heard it while we were sleeping then there was about 20 minutes of quiet then the noisy clean up started.
But on Sunday, we were originally just going to the beach all day after we checked out but it started raining a little (first time it rained the whole time I've been here) so we decided we were going to go to this aquarium off the boardwalk by the beach. Well first we walk this entire boardwalk cus we could see the sign for the Aquarium so we just did the 20 minute walk only to see that the boardwalk cut off so we could see the Aquarium but you'd have to swim to get yourself the rest of the way there lol so we walked all the way back and all we had to do was turn instead of walk straight on the boardwalk. Well we finally got there and it was only 8 euros for student. We go to the 2nd floor because they told us that's where we should start. Well we get there and there's no fish or anything. It was like a museum and in the glass was all these ships and replicas of ships and basically a ship museum! So we were a little disappointed at first because it was cool for about ten minutes but how many ships can you look at? There was a hanging whale skeleton hanging up so that was cool but then they had all these little dollhouse size figurines of people killing whales or whalehunting, it got a little weird. Well Lauren went to the bathroom and down this one little turn was where allll the fish were!! It was actually one if not the best aquarium I've gone through. They had a lot of weird fish I've never seen before but the coolest thing was this part where they had all the fish, catfish, stingrays, etc, and SHARKS in this glass where you could walk through and it looks like they're swimming above you or to your side!!
Then after the aquarium we walked a little and saw these steps that go up the mountains of San Sebastian where the giant statue of Jesus sits on top of. So we start taking the stairs up thinking we'd only climb up to the first check point which was like this little fort that over looked the city. Then everyone just wanted to keep going so it turns out we walked all the steep pathways and stairs and made it alll the way up to the Jesus Statue!!! It was so exciting. This little fort surrounds him with cannons facing out. You could go inside the statue and take a tour but we were so tired we didn't do that. I did take many pictures of him! There's like a moat you have to cross to get to the statue's entrance! The last flat hill you can stop at before you get to the statue is like a little party going on! There were beer tents, a little music stage where just a bunch of random people were singing and playing guitar so we got a beer, listened to the music, and enjoyed the great view of the little islands, the city, the beach, and of course the ocean! I ddin't even mind that it was drizzling a little bit! Oh I forgot to talk about our breakfast. Well on SUnday morning we wanted to grab some breakfast. We stumbled upon this one restaurant where people were still drinking beer but then at the bar there were all these pastries, and appetizers spread out. We asked the waitress how we can get breakfast. She said you just ask for a plate, take what you want, then at the end she'll charge you and heat up the hot stuff. It was really cool. Except besides the omelets and pastries, everything was seafood! There were like octopus and squid pastries. The only seafood I grabbed was the shrimp cocktail lol. It was too early for so many cold weird seafood lol. After our adventure up the mountain, we got some rest on the beach where the skies cleared up just enough for us to enjoy the sun and clouds of the beach. Lauren, Cameron, and Emily swam to this little ramp where you could get on and do jumps into the ocean off it. It looked cool but me portia and mark weren't good enough of swimmers to do it. Lauren who used to swim in school said it was really hard you had to swim vigorously for at least 10 minutse straight no stop to get there. Then we had dinner at this place called Hollywood's. It took us so long to find it because alll the restaurants were PACKED since it was raining just a little. Everyone either gets in a restaurant or stands on the sides of the buildings. We were the only ones walking still through the rain lol. This place Hollywood's was the only thing not packed and it ended up being a nice break because it was like a glorified Applebee's and the menu was like American films!
Well that was my adventure in San Sebastian! It's a GORGEOUS place! I'd love to come back but probably not on the opening day of their biggest festival/fiesta! A lot of people but the view, the beaches, and the ambience is worth another visit. So beautiful!!! And I got a lot closer to Emily, Lauren, Portia, Cameron, and even Mark because of it!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Day 12: Salamanca

Hello! Today was the first day of classes for my 2nd week, my first Monday actually because I had a placement test last week and didn't start class til Tuesday. For breakfast I had some instant coffee and some cereal. It was corn flakes but their milk tastes different than the milk in the US, it's low fat but tastes a little sweeter..reminds me of this milk I used to drink in the Philippines Paul, mama what is it called? they came in the little milk plastic cans and had a red top?
My grammar class went pretty good..we started subjunctive and imperative verbs again which is a little dumb to me because the teacher even said they barely use it only for like literature lol. But it's okay, I'll just have to re learn it because I haven't touched Spanish Grammar since freshman year.
I don't know if I already told you guys but Rodrigo (the ISA director that's been with us the whole time) has his vacation this week and he's doing the Camino de Santiago and he's walking part of it for a week. I was telling him how I was going to do it and he said it's doable if you have a month but it definitely still tests your stamina and the point of it is to see the tomb of Saint Sebastian and it really is a religious pilgrimage. I wish I could even walk part of it but it's okay because I'm seeing sooo many things already! Also, he taught me that natives and people who were born and raised in Salamanca are called Salamantinas, I told him people from Chicago are called Chicagoans but that was too hard for him to repeat lol.
I learned a new word in grammar. Abrigado is the adjective to describe layers of clothing for winter. It's funny because Obrigada is thank you in Portugese and I just learned that word this weekend.
Also everyone in my Spanish classes in the U.S. say Mira when they want me to pay attention but here they say Oyi (hear this) and Fijate (pay attention you).
My history class and culture class went well. I found out today while we were talking about Spain's Departments and Ministries in their government that the Ministry of Education does not have a permanent curriculum for education. Like in the U.S. it's always 4 years in high school etc but in Spain there isn't a permanent rule so it messes some kids up, it's weird. Also, we talked about "hacer la mili" which is the term for joining the army. Some make a career out of it but they still have a rule in Spain anyway that if you're a first born man that you have to do one year of service so you know how to respond during a crisis. Also Spain's army is in Iraq and Afghanistan and our teacher (Enrique, who I love..he's always smiling and has a byciclist's body) said it's stupid because they don't say their part of the war just helping humanity but he said, try telling that to the soldiers dying there what the difference is. hah. We also talked about the origin of the tapas. The little cocktail size appetizers they serve with wine or beer in tapas bars. You are technically supposed to tapas bar hop, your dinner party buys one tapas and one round of wine to drink and eat at one tapas bar then you throw your napkin down if you like it then you guys move to another tapas bar and the other person buys the next round, etc. The origin of the tapas is back to the middle ages when the king alfonso got sick and could only drink but he wanted to also eat. well he only wanted to drink wine and eat on top of that. so someone put ham around the lid of his cup/glass of wine (tapas means lid) and he ate the wine glass size piece of ham with his wine literally. birth of the tapas. weird food history lol.
my teacher Enrique was on a tv show when it first came out in Salamanca that portrayed the history of Salamanca and he said he'll find ppl in France that come up to him and ask him about Salamanca, so cool.
Also, there's this statue in Salamanca that we passed after our futbol (soccer) game that one day and I took a picture because it was just weird. It's a big staute of an animal but it's missing a head. Well he told us today that that statue stands on the original location of Salamanca when it was just a samll territory of the Romans. You guys will see it when I post pictures.
Okay so that was my day in school but now for what I did afterwards. Well ISA sent us an email yesterday that we could participate in an intercambio (student exchange) at 6:30 so we went thinking it wasn't going to be a big deal. Because Spaniards dont' really do summer school so we were tihnking it'd be one person for all of us. Nope we got there and there were 15 of them and only 5 of us showed up so it was verrryyy intimidating. Plus most of them were older trying to get some schooling during their vacation. We went to a cafe and ISA bought each one of us one non alcoholic drink and they asked us (the foreign students lol) to sit down then the Spaniard students came to each table. I sat down last and I got these 2 older ladies (maybe 40 or above) who barely spoke any english. One knew a good amount of english but her accent was very thick so I couldn't understand her anyway and the other knew very verrryy little. My Spanish was def. more advanced than their English which was kind of cool cus I could be like a teacher and I felt like a speech therapist getting them to say the sounds they weren't used to. But when they didn't know how tos ay anthing they would turn and talk to each other really fast and then turn to me every 5 mins and be like "Entiende?" (do you understand) and I'd say yes and want to say a response but Spaniards they just talk over each other and talk loud so after awhile I just butted in and spoke a lil louder too and would talk in Spanish and I felt a little rude but in Spain that's j ust how they talk so they thought nothing of it. After speaking to them for about an hour in Spanish they were like you speak really fast and you understand our natural speed, you're very good (and that just BOOSTED my confidence up sooo much, I am on cloud 9) but then they said can you help us practice our English and I'd ask what I thought were simple questions but turned out not. Oh and also it's a lottt harder to speak slowly without sounding like you are making fun of them or talking down to them. I don't know how our teachers can do it, you have to be so patient and remember to use proper terms because that's what they're bein taught (like I said kids and they didn't know what it was, they knew children). But so I asked them if they had kids and one said yes 2 kids one 14 and one 16. actually her 14 yr old son joined us at the end but he didn't know any Spanish and he didn't speak Castelan (the traditional Spanish) that well. The other lady (the one who's English is very basic) was tellin me how her husband and her don't want kids but then they mae these gestures that looked liek they were fishing and grabbing something and after awhile I realized they were talking about fishing for a baby, like ADOPTION lol. Their names were Carmen and Carolina and I was obviously Camila so one girl pointed to each of us and said "Ka,Ka,Ka..KaKaKa" and she thought it was hilarious lol. They taught me some fun things like the @ sign is called arroba. Also this might be only cool for me but they explained when I was trying to explain which to the girl with the thick accent and she kept saying whi minus the -ch that people from the south of spain (like her) have an accent where they drop the last syllable or part of a word and it's hard for americans because we hang on and wait for the last part of the word and even over annunciate the last part of words and they just drop it. When ppl from my ISA group started leaving, the SPanish students they were talking to started coming to talk to me. I had 6 natives talking me all at the same time at one point..if that's not the best practice or cultural immersion then I don't know what is. Two girls were close to my age, 17 and 19 and spoke pretty good English. They told me that their high school is 5 years. I got all of their email addresses so I will add them on facebook and they got my email address. It was SOOOOO fun and challengging at the same time. I think one if not the most challenging thing I've done so far to test my Spanish. The one woman who has 2 kids and had her son there was telling one of the natives (this older guy) and my room mate Emily that I was very good in Spanish, very fast, almost could pass for a native!!! I was beyond flattered and it makes me jst want to work harder so I coudl talk to more. The one girl who was 19 talked to Lauren too and wants to meet at the Plaza Mayor on Thursday with Lauren and I at night so hopefully that will go just as good! And hopefully everyone I met I can be friends with on facebook and practice my spanish there. One woman's main source of learning English before this summer was to go on google, read english newspapers, and go on facebook so hopefully I can help her practice! So fun!! ahh Intercambio!
The other thing I did was finalize the plans with our group and ISA for the trip to San Sebastian this weekend, we have our hotel rooms and we are walkign to the train station tomorrow to buy our tickets.
I miss you sooooooooooo much.
It was very hard not to cry today when yo were telling me about Lolo and yours and TIm's cars. I feel like I can't help at all and I feel guilty for being here :( I really hope the car situation gets better :( Also, I talked to Ricky today on facebook and he seems okay and he said to get him something cool and unique as a souvenir. My director said a lot of ppl buy family like lil swords as souvenirs so maybe that.
Hasta luego! (Until later!)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Day 9

There’s some stuff I’ve written in my small note pad (that I bought from Museo Del Prado) that I keep in my purse and write stuff I want to remember. I want to update what I’ve written on there here:
I don’t know if I’ve already told you guys (I’m sure I have) but they are soo blunt and honest here. Especially my grammar teacher. I like her a lot. She reminds me of how Mommy would teach, kind of strict but still teaches you a lot and I feel like she wants me to learn. But she always is too blunt with the Chinese kids in our classes and she brought up Americans too. We were talking about their diet here and she said in the U.S.everyone’s fat and asked me if that was true and I said “Si es un problema pero es no un problema grande” and she said no it’s a huge problem and was telling the class that Americans needed to buy two seats because they were so fat and she said to the Chinese people that they were too skinny lol.
The homework has been pretty much the same as my earlier Spanish classes. My History and Culture class (that I love so far) doesn’t give any homework. He just talks non stop the whole class, doesn’t give you any notes but it’s so interesting to me, the history and politics, that I pay attention the whole time. In my Grammar class I’ve been getting more homework than other people in my groups but it’s good because I haven’t had grammar in so long. It’s a lot of handouts and exercises in the book. I asked her today for a handout of all the ways to conjugate because everyone else in my group got one from their class and I didn’t.
We get a 10 minute break between our 2 hour long grammar class and this girl Vicki (she’s from Taiwan but she went to school in America at Univ of Miami Ohio for 4 years and interned for Calvin Klein so she speaks really good English) took me to the coffee shop right next to the school. It’s like a restaurant but they’ll give you coffee to go so that’s nice since I don’t have time sometimes to fix the coffee at Lourdes’ house.
I don’t know if I told you about this but in my grammar class yesterday she brought up how to sound more native. She said “No te preocupas con los consonantes” (Don’t worry about the consonants) but focus on the vowels. The Spanish language only has one way to say all their vowels (a,e,I,o,u) but like in English we can say the letter a a lot of ways like in “ate” and “animal” and “aardvark” you’re saying you’re first a different in each of those words but not in Spanish. No one else was as interested as I was but of course it was like my phonetics class all over again so I was super interested and she kept going. She made everyone in the class play with their tongues and say it. So we said a with our mouths super wide and she went around and made sure everyone’s mouths looked good. The vowel I would be done with a really thin but long smile and o would be very exaggerated with your mouth puckering out. It was really cool cus I got to tell her how we say our vowels and our tongue placement for them in English.
*Another new word learned: Tabletas de Chocolate is a 6 pack of abs! Isn’t that funny? Because abs look like a chocolate bar.
*Another new word: Tener la cabeza a pajaros: Someone who gets very distracted and can’t focus, an airhead lol.
Okay so that was all the information I had in my notebook that I hadn’t put up yet. Now I can talk about today. People said that Thursday night was a big going out night so I wasn’t that surprised when I saw that not everyone was in class when I got there but then when it was 9:03 (we’re supposed to start at 9) and only 5 people including me were there I was VERY surprised. The teacher said a lot of them were on excursions but it’s weird because you can only miss 2 days and I’m glad ISA didn’t make us go to Portugal early and let us wait after class so we wouldn’t miss a day of classes. But it was helpful to only have 5 people in class because we all got individual help and got our questions answered so that was good.
We covered Probability/Sure statements like if something is a conditional statement and you’re not sure if its 100% true you’d use either the future tense, future perfect (with haber + infinitive) and if it’s a sure statement you’d use present or past tense.
In my history class we talked about the kings of Austria after the Reyes de Catolicos.
In my culture class we talked about Spain’s Constitution and some important laws. One law that everyone’s mixed on is the smoking law. They are going to ban smoking by December in public places and our teacher thinks it’s good cus he hates second hand smoke but obviously everyone in Spain doesn’t agree because they love smoking. During my break I went to the ISA office and I saw Andrew there (Mark’s room mate) and he said before he leaves he’d go to a mass with me because it’s daily cus I want to and so does he so hopefully we will.
After class we walked back home and Lourdes put our bags of food to go on our desk. There was a sub, 3 sandwiches, a banana, and a fruit for each of us. It was crazy. But we had time so we ate with her and her boyfriend Paco. he’s nice, he’s funny but he’s not used to speaking to foreign people you can tell because his accent is so thick like his lisp is thick and he mumbles his words together a lot but he’s nice. I went out last night for like an hour and he made a joke like can you walk the dog while you’re out? lol.
We met at this building called FonSeca, it’s a building where they hold like concerts and dance recitals for the university. I took my Dramamine and was about to be fully passed out but then after only like half an hour of being on the road, we made a stop at a rest stop with a cafeteria and a supermarket. The supermarket was really weird. They barely had any food, it was mostly candy and chocolate. One aisle was just for alcohol and they had 4 aisles of toys. One aisle was just for trinkets like fairies and little tea cup sets. It was so weird.
Then we got on the bus (on the bus they played Ice Age 3 but in Spanish and I could understand) and 2 ½ hours later we were in Portugal! Here we are here now! It’s pretty..a lot cooler because of the waters and I already saw a bridge with a gondola so I have have have to go on one and Emily said she’d go on it with me!
We’re going to meet right now to do a small tour of Portugal..it’s not as historic as Spain so I don’t see it being a long tour! I’ll update you on it as soon as I can!
Love and miss you!!!

Day 8: Salamanca

Class was quite long today. I just wasn’t feeling good. Someone outside in my first class had a zumafuna (those horns that they played in the World Cup games that sound like a bunch of bees) and it is a lot more annoying in person; it didn’t bother me on tv but holy crap did it give me a bad headache. I had to go to the bathroom twice just to close my eyes and get some darkness…I think it was a migraine. Last night we had dinner at an Italian Restaurant. It was a really romantic place inside but we sat outside (Mark of course had to take the lead and tell us where to eat) but it was nothing like an Olive Garden. It was a really authentic Italian restaurant. I ordered risotto con setas (mushrooms) and it was pretty good but Cameron got what he thought was lasagna but it was so weird. First off it came with chopsticks but there was no way you could pick it up with one and the only lasagna noodles in it was one on the bottom and one on top and it was really undercooked it was weird I didn’t know if you were supposed to eat the lasagna noodles or not . I also ordered an apple martini (I couldn’t resist baby lol) but I didn’t think it was strong as the ones in America but it comes in a HUGE glass so it did its job and we all shared some wine. So everyone was a little buzzed and wanted to go out so we did. Oh I met Mark’s room mate, Andrew. He goes to Virginia Tech and he’s been here since the first summer session and he leaves in a week. He’s really cool, we talked a lot during dinner and when we went out to the bars. I love my room mate and everyone in my groups but it’s nice to have someone who has my sense of humor. We just made fun of each other the whole time and everyone’s like, You guys just met and you’re talking to each other like this lol. He was very sarcastic and could actually pick up my humor, sometimes Emily or Lauren don’t get it and I have to explain that I’m kidding lol. So he was cool and we went to Irish Rover where they had karaoke night but the people singing were awful so we didn’t stay there long then we went to Camelot and danced for a bit and then we were going to go home but everyone wanted to go to one more so I kept yelling that I wanted to go to La Chupiteria but instead we went to the bar across from it and it seemed okay, kind of like a Y Bar in Kalamazoo though so yeah.
Class was pretty interesting even though I had a migraine. Grammar was alittle hard but I just have to review for it. A new girl sat next to me. She’s from Germany and moved down to our class from Superior. She said she’s never taken classes in Spanish, she just has a lot of friends that speak it so she speaks really good but is having some problems with Grammar. Spanish Grammar is just the hardest (everyone has to take a grammar class) so it’s the one that needs work. But in my history class we were talking about the Reyes Catolicos and then he brought up an interesting story: Queen Isabel met with Christopher Columbus for the last time before he discovered the U.S. here in Salamanca and Queen Isabel asked the professors of the University of Salamanca then to be at the meeting and they helped her decide whether to let Columbus sail or not. It’s crazy how old Spain is. The school’s older than America! Because of my migraine, I went back home during my break to try and nap. I felt so independent because I already know how to get to most of the places I need to and their streets are harder to navigate because each is a cobble stone road that all has shops to it so it all kind of looks the same but I found some landmarks that help me distinguish each street. It only took me like ten mintes to get home and as soon as I found my bed, I was a lot better! I took like a 25 minute nap and it helped me so much. Plus Paul called so that helped a lot. I went to my culture class after that and we talked about the politics and how Spain is divided up into 16 different autonomic communities with each city belong to one. It’s a little crazy with my History and Culture course because I can understand but it’s just crazy that I’m taking a history class and a culture class in a different language so I have to learn the information plus learn the language he’s speaking. And my teacher for that class, Enrique, just starts and doesn’t stop..he doesn’t even take a breath. Like Emily is thinking of changing into a different history class because he goes so fast and he doesn’t really change his tone so you can’t pick out keywords. But I’m passionate about the history and culture so I get really into it so that’s cool. After class we had lunch and there was a guy at Lourdes’ house when we came home! His name is Paco and he seems a little older but he might be the same age as Lourdes we just don’t know because she looks young for 50 lol. They didn’t really say who he was so I’m thinking it’s her boyfriend or something. Vanessa,her oldest daughter, also had lunch with us. She wore the same clothes she wore to lunch the day before. But she was extra dressed up and had extra make up so I felt like I was the kid out on a date with the parents haha. But he seems nice, he just talked really fast but soft so I didn’t try to talk to him too much. He did ask if I was Philippino and if my parents were both Philippino so I said yes but I live in the U.S. They don’t understand that you can be American but have a different nationality because I told him I lived in the U.S. and he was a little confused at first at how I could be 100% Filipino but live in the U.S. and Emily said she was German so they were like so you’re not from the U.S.? lol. But sooo funny. Lunch was going good, Lourdes acts more and more affectionate and responds well when we talk about our day and how we like the food but then this happened! So we had bistec (steak) and it’s just like how my Mommy makes it but their meat is lean and there’s not too much sauce or oil and we had peas it was peas with like oil and parmesan cheese I think but after that we had a watermelon. Well Emily tried to cut the watermelon with a knife instead of eating it with her hands and all of a sudden she goes “lo siento” really loud and I look down and see her watermelon’s broken in half but so is the PLATE!! she broke the plate..I laughed so hard and me and the guy Paco kept saying “muy fuerta” (very strong!) lol but luckily Lourdes didn’t get mad but thought it was funny too. Lourdes and Paco were cleaning their dishes and I told them I like the song on and he said he likes to sing and dance and he started to dance and play the air guitar lol and then Lourdes started to sing, it was funny.
We did our homework in the ISA office after our siesta and comida. Then it was time for our FUTBOL game. I wasn’t really that excited about it because I don’t even remember the last time I played soccer and I didn’t have clean socks so I wore my Pumas without socks. But once we got going, it was actually really fun! We had to wear orange mesh vests and we took a team picture with Rodrigo. We went to this park near the River of Trio, Salamanca’s river and it’s a cool area. We got beat 5-1 but the other team, Summer 3 did say that this was the most challenging game they’ve played! I kicked the ball like 5 times and stole the ball once! So that was fun..I played FUTBOL in SPAIN! It’s probably how people feel playing American football for the first time in America.
I have to do my homework now and pack for Portugal. It’s a 5 hour ride and we’re going after class tomorrow..I’m excited. I MISS YOU!!!