The past 4 days have been very eventful. This past weekend we went on a trip to Granada and then yesterday and today were my first two days of class. So, to keep things in chronological order...we left from the University at 8:30am Saturday morning. The drive is only about 3 hours to Granada, so it wasn't too bad. We stopped midway at a rest stop. When I think about a rest stop I think about a place to stretch your legs and go to the bathroom. That being said, I had to laugh when one of our guides got on the bus microphone saying we had 15 minutes to get a coffee, eat or go to the bathroom. To me, this is another example of how the Spanish mentality differs from the American mentality. All of the Spaniards went in to get coffee and sat down to leisurely enjoy it. The Americans went straight to the bathroom and then maybe got a soda or a pastry. The rest stop was really nice. There was a bar, which many Spaniards were huddled around at 10 in the morning. These people sure love to drink.
When we arrived in Granada we went straight to the hotel. It actually happened to be the same hotel I stayed in when I was here 4 years ago, so I got a kick out of that. Because there were so many kids we divided up and each group had a different schedule. After lunch my group when straight to La Alhambra and Generalife. La Alhambra is an old Muslim palace. It's quite possibly one of my favorite places in the world. I love the architecture and could spend hours there. El Generalife is a garden connected to La Alhambra.
This is a picture of El Generalife
One of the many pretty fountains.
With a nice view of La Alhambra in the background
Some friends and me with Granada in the background
A pretty arch.
Our guide told us that La Alhambra and El Generalife always have water running through its many fountains. If I understood her/remember correctly, the reason for that is because it's surrounded by the Sierra Nevada, which is always covered in snow and then provides the palace with the runoff water.
When we were touring La Alhambra is started to SNOW! I thought I came to Spain to get away from that. Granada is only a little north of Sevilla, but since it's surrounded by mountains it's quite a bit colder. Everyone told me that there is still winter in Spain, but I guess I chose not to listen and I didn't exactly bring clothing for this weather. It should start to get warmer soon though. This week it's supposed to be in the 60s. I can certainly live with that.
One of the reflection pools at La Alhambra
After La Alhambra we went to la tetería--tea shop. It was wonderful. Not only were we able to warm up, but the tea was delicious, too. We also had some pastries, but they weren't very good. Not chocolate=not very good in my book. After tea we had some free time to walk around. There are a ton of little Muslim shops. They had the most amazing lamps/lights. I wanted one so badly, but I wasn't quite sure how I would transport it back to the states. Maybe next time?
After our little shopping excursion we took a bus back to the hotel and had dinner. I stayed in for the night since I really wasn't feel well. On Sunday we went to several great look out spots where you have a great view of La Alhambra and the town. We walked down to La Real Capilla. It's the Cathedral where King Fernando y Queen Isabella are buried. I had already been there, so I had no problem walking through quickly. Then we had some more time to shop. In Granada tapas are free with the purchase of a beverage. We wanted to make sure to took advantage of this, so after shopping we all stopped for some diet coke/beer/wine con tapas.
A nice view of the city
We got back pretty early Sunday evening, so I was able to gear up for school on Monday. I had my first class, The Novel and Cinema, two ways to tell a story from 1-2:30pm. It seems like it's going to be a really fun class. It doesn't look like we're doing a ton of ready (Gracias a dios--thank god). We got out a little early so I had awhile to eat my bocadillo (sandwich) before my second class of the day. My second class was from 3-4:30 and it's called Composition and Stylistics. I have the same professor from the intensive session and I really like her, however, I'm not sure how much I'm going to like this class. I guess we will have to see. My third and final class of the day was over at the University from 5-7pm. My teacher is this Argentinean man who seems really nice, however class was all over the place! It was very hard to follow. I'm hoping it might have just been because it was the first day. He said that we don't have homework and that we only have to read one book, Animal Farm. He said he didn't care if we read it in english, so I think I'm going to. We even had a coffee break during class...again, leave it to the Spaniards. They drink coffee and alcohol like water. After class I went with some friends to grab tapas before my interest group meeting.
I signed up for the communications interest group. It sounds like it might be kind of interesting, but honestly, I was more excited about the trip to Portugal. The lady in charge is also a professor at CIEE. She was telling us that due to the "crisis" none of our field trips are set in stone. We were supposed to go to the set of this one TV show, but it looks like it's going to be canceled. We're also going to PR and Advertising agencies. I'm looking very forward to visiting the Ad agency. I can't remember which one told her this, but they told our teacher that they wanted to get beers with us after our tour. I think I can manage that.
Today I had my Tuesday/Thursday class. Originally, I was kind of dreading it. The class is called Women Writers of the 20th Century. I was afraid it was going to be a lot of hardcore feminist stuff and a ton of reading. Nope (Gracias a dios again). The teacher seems awesome. She said that she would prefer to have us read only a few things very closely than read a bunch of different things. She also said it's a humanist class, not a feminist class. We have two tests, which she called Examenitas (small exams) and she gives us 4 different possible questions and we only need to answer one of them. All in all, I hope I'm able to travel and really experience Spanish culture and maybe learn a little, too. Oh yes, we also had a pausita (small break) during our class today. She said it's "illegal", but that we're going to do it anyway. Life in Spain is so relaxed and thus quite enjoyable.
Since it rained all of last week, I wasn't able to wash my clothes. Most spanish homes don't have dryers so they hang everything to dry on the patio. I had given my señora all of my whites to wash while I was gone. I gave her my colors yesterday and woke up to them "drying" on the patio in the rain! This seems to be a common problem. A kid in my intensive session, Scott, told us last Thursday that his clothes had been "drying" on the roof since the previous Monday and that he was running low on clothes. I loved listening to all of his stories.
It's rare that names in Spanish start with an S, most of the time it's an Es. So when Spaniards try to say American names that start with an S they pronounce it with an Es. Our professor would always called him Escotty and everyone always laughed. Escotty told us about his señor, Jesus, who likes to take his students to karaoke. Jesus sounds like a man who likes to party. For one of our assignments we had to go to a bar, cafe, bookstore, etc to observe how Spaniards interact. Escotty told us how Jesus took him and the other kid he's hosting to the bar for lunch. (Our professor couldn't believe they went to a bar for lunch and didn't eat at home. She's kind of old school.) Well, Escotty, said that Jesus had just called him and told him to meet him there since he didn't come home the night before and that he was still quite borracho (drunk) at lunch. Then Jesus insisted that Escotty and his roommate joined him and all of his friends to do chupitos (shots). The next day I asked how many chupitos he had done with Jesus. He said that they did 4 round of shots and that was after 4 beers. Needless to say, Escotty was a little borracho for class.
So, about that pig leg in the kitchen. I was wondering what the shelf-life for those bad boys are and it has definitely passed. It has mold on it. That seems to be pretty common, but the surprising thing is that they still eat it! Note to self: do not eat the pork they serve until there is a new pig leg in the kitchen. The fruit is often really brown, too. So I pretty much avoid it. I tried a new fruit today! In spanish it's called a chirimoyo and in english it's called a custard apple. My señora told me it's a tropical fruit and she thought that might have been why I've never seen it--or heard of it before.
My younger "brother" Alvaro is in Rome with his class this week! I guess he finished exams last week, so now it's time to party. I couldn't believe it when he said he was going to Rome on a class trip. I told him that we would maybe go to Wisconsin or something. Southern Spain definitely knows how to live. I've heard that many northerners don't like southerners because they feel like all they do is party and never work. In April alone the majority of southern Spain takes 2 full weeks to celebrate La Semana Santa and La Fería. Everything closes down and no one goes to work. In Northern Spain they only get something like 2 days off. Needless to say, I'm glad I picked southern Spain!