12 September 2008

First week of classes and La Diada

I can't believe that I have already been here for almost two weeks. Time is going by so quickly! Though I am still unable to put into perspective that I will be here yet for 3 more months- and I probably won't appreciate that fact until it is over. I am absolutely loving the city so far. Of course there are things I miss at home, and it actually is hard to be in contact with people from home because a part of me wishes to be sharing in their experiences as well. But this is my adventure and so far it has been wonderful.

Our first week of classes was a short week, only Monday through Wednesday, and so far I love the one class I have started. It's weird because everyone else in the other programs within CEA has all of their classes already, but since we are actually studying at a university we go by their schedule, and Universitat Pompeu Fabra doesn't start until the 29th. So right now I just have language class, and after three days it is already helping me be more comfortable in my speaking because we absolutely have to speak Spanish always. Plus, we are reviewing a lot of grammar and situations in which we would use this grammar in order to obtain fluidity, which is one of my goals of this trip. That being said, I absolutely can't wait to start my other three classes- I get to learn all about the history of Barcelona, classic and contemporary artists of Spain, as well as Spanish media. The books are going to be so interesting!

There was a lot of beach time this week, and a little bit of ultimate, and I am really looking forward to this weekend because a club team here, Las Patatas Bravas (men) and Crema (women) have pick up on Saturday and practice on Sunday. I need a workout and some intensity! I'm so excited.

My roommate Brooke and I also met a girl who is staying in our Residencia for three weeks from Olviedo. She's studying biology at one of the hospitals here for a bit. On Tuesday night we cooked her Mexican food (or, as mexican as you can get without salsa, cheddar cheese, and sour cream) because we finally found pinto beans in the store! We had a lot of fun and I was happy by how much I understood her- between our Spanish and her English we are able to communicate really effectively. Then last night she made us tapas that are traditional in Olviedo- one was toasted bread with cheese spread on it and bits of turkey and mushroom on top (it is supposed to be ham but she knew I didn't like it and she couldn't find any quality ham). The other was this delicious salad with lentils and apples and a bunch of things in it. I love having the opportunity to talk with her, plus she is a lot of fun and is currently reading Kerouac's books on recommendation from her boyfriend. Very cool. No one has really heard of the beat generation outside of the United States.

I'm also pretty excited because I have been in contact with some couchsurfers in Barcelona and have plans to meet up with a few of them in order to talk about the city, practice Spanish and Catalan, and just get to know a lot people from the area. It will also be great when all of the Spanish kids move into the residencia!

On Wednesday Brooke and I went to La Sagrada Familia and went inside and up into the towers. It was absolutely incredible; I think I took about 150 photos! Gaudi was such an amazing man- this may sound silly but when looking at some of the things he has done and reading about how important the re-creation of nature was in his structures to him it gives me chills and I am overcome with some nameless, powerful feeling that I can't really describe. The church is so beautiful and I have already decided that when it is finished, whenever that may be, if it is in my lifetime I am coming back here to see it.

Yesterday was La Diada, Catalunya's National Day. It's comparable to the 4th of July, except that Catalunya isn't it's own country. There were a lot of celebrations and everyone had off of work. Near the Arc de Triomf, which is near my residencia, there was a big street festival going on, with games, performers, live music, and a lot of booths selling patriotic things. There was also a lot of literature about succeeding from Spain and creating the nation-state of Catalunya. There were books and pamphlets, as well as fliers for rallies and protests. Everybody was speaking in Catalan. Some of the pamphlets and such were kind of scary- extremely radical and sometimes violent. When we were more toward downtown later, we saw a lot of buildings defaced and tagged with revolutionary sayings, such as "estat Espana, estat terrorista" and "ni frances, ni espana, paiso soberana (sovereign)". It was kind of cool, but at the same time a little bit unsettling. We were able to go into el Palau de la Generalitat, which is located on the Placa de la Constitucion- all official buildings including el Palau del Parlament. It was open to the public because it is a big symbol of Catalunya, and it was a lot like going into the White House. In my opinion it was a lot cooler because the architecture and frescoes on the ceilings were much finer and more carefully created. Or maybe I just immediately like Europe better. Tough call :)

Today unfortunately it is really rainy, but we might go check out a museum or something. There are so many to go to! I'm also going to practice my Catalan- when I read it I can understand quite a bit of it because it is somewhat similar to Spanish, but it is mostly like French. I can't wait to be fluent in a bunch of languages!

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