Sorry for the delayed post, it has been a little tricky getting internet access here! But I am here in Spain and doing very well. I´ve been here for about a week and so far it has been wonderful, exciting, stressful, fun, and exhausting. Instead of doing a play-by-play of this past week, I´m going to just write my thoughts and observations so far.
My host family:
I love my Spanish family. I am living in an apartment close to the train station in Alcala with Reyes, who is in her fifties, and her daughter Izana, who is 22 and a violin student at the Madrid Conservatory of music. Reyes is a teacher and she works at a primary school teaching Spanish to immigrant students. Reyes also has a boyfriend, Alfonso, who is in his early sixties and is often at the apartment. I have my own room and total freedom to come and go as I please. They are all very patient with my Spanish and help me if I´m struggling to say something. However, they also get a kick out of it when I say something completely stupid, which is always funny.
So far I really like Spanish food...there´s a lot of eggs, cheese, sausage, ham, and pretty much everything is fried in olive oil. I eat breakfast at the house every day, and then one other meal, which for me is usually la comida. La comida (lunch) is the biggest meal of the day and is usually eaten at around 3ish and can last until 5. If you walk around Alcala during this time, most of the stores are closed and there is no one in the streets because everyone is at home to eat la comida and take a siesta. Since they eat lunch so late, Spaniards usually eat dinner at around 10 or 11. It´s a tough schedule to get used to, since at home or Tufts I usually am hungry for dinner at 5. The wine here is very very good, and I´ve also been drinking claras. Claras are made with beer and Sprite mixed together and they´re very popular in Spain.
This whole week we´ve been doing a ton of orientation activities. We´ve been listening to a lot of lectures by faculty members of the UAH in order to get an idea of classes and departments at the univeristy. We´ve also been touring the different buildings at the UAH and taking tours of the historical buildings and sights in Alcala. Another highlight has been our conversation classes, which are taught by Jorge Herreros, who is hysterical and looks like a stereotypical Spanish man: macho, mullet, and walks kind of like a toreador. In our conversation classes we basically learn how to be Spanish youth. Jorge has taught us swears, slang words, how to talk on the telephone, and everything you´d need to know about drinking alcohol in Spain and what drinks we should get. Overall, the program is really great. Our coordinators take such good care of us and are there to help us with anything at any hour of the day.
Alcala is a really gorgeous city. There are so many old buildings, tons of cobblestone streets, and huge beautiful plazas. It´s a small city, but it´s nice because it´s not overwhelming and I think it will be easy to really get to know it by the end of my semester here.
A bunch of us went to Madrid yesterday for the first time just to get a taste of the city. First of all, it´s very easy to get into the city...about a half hour on the train from Alcala to the Atocha station. Plus, our program give us transportation passes so all of our transportation in Alcala and Madrid (trains, busses, subways) is paid for. The city itself is breathtaking. It´s huge and every single building is absolutely gorgeous. We only walked around the center part of the city - La Puerta del Sol and la Plaza Mayor, but that was enough to make me love it. I´m definitely going to be spending a lot of time there because I want to see everything there is to see in Madrid.
I can definitely tell that my comprehension is improving. I can understand people speaking in Spanish a lot better than I could before I got here. I think my speaking is coming along a little more slowly, but I´m hoping it will start improving more quickly as soon as classes start. I´m really liking speaking so much Spanish, but it´s exhausting. Thinking about every word that comes out of your mouth takes a lot out of you.
Hopefully I will be able to update this a lot more as soon as classes start and I have access to the internet at the university. But for now, I am off to eat lunch and then get ready to go the theater in Alcala to see La Casa de Bernarda Alba (which I read in high school with Sr. Gomez) with Laura and her host mom. I´m also hoping to get some pictures up soon, but I haven´t taken a lot yet so it might be a week or so. Hasta luego!