Monday, February 15, 2010

Last week all the students had friday off, so a bunch of people went traveling to Granada and Ireland, but I decided to stay here. Since I don't have class on fridays, it was really no big deal. Monday through Wednesday were relaxing, and I didn't do much because I knew that the weekends are always really busy. On thursday, Laura, Caroline, Mary Claire, Maryella and I wanted to go see this concert. Dent May, some musician from Mississippi was playing at another dorm. But when we got there, we had totally missed it because it started a couple hours earlier than we thought. We were in the area Blasco Ibanez, which is the road that our school is on, and one with that we are not too familiar with. So we decided to grab a drink at a bar and meet up with my friend Jean Manuel. His two close friends were visiting him so we met them, but it was a little difficult to communicate. One of his friends only speaks French and no English, while the other speaks only French and a little English. Needless to say, we didn't have that much to talk about with them because we couldn't exactly communicate. So we went out separate ways and eventually found ourselves on a pub crawl with some English, Australian, and South Africans guys. It was extremely random.
The next day was pretty uneventful during the day since everyone was off traveling. That night we met up with Jean Manuel and his friends again, but thankfully this time we were able to dance (universal language). Saturday was even better. There was a free concert going on in the city of Arts and Sciences sponsored by MTV. It was right in the middle of all the modern buildings and gardens. Imagine the pictures from the last post, with all the buildings glowing purple, blue, orange, and yellow from the amazing light show. The Arctic Monkeys were headlining, which I don't really listen to, but they are apparently the biggest rock band in Europe. There had to be at least 20,000 people there! We were able to get really close to the front, too. Even better, I was able to see the stage perfectly clear because everyone is so short here! It's very odd, and I hadn't noticed the extent of it until I was at the concert, thinking I must be one of the tallest girls here. Walking on the street, I have noticed there are not too many tall people, which probably makes me stick out, but being in a crowd that large and being able to see forever is a weird/cool feeling. The concert was amazing, too. I have been to big concerts before like at Bonnaroo, but that was just ridiculous. I have jumping and dancing the whole time. It's funny because at rock concerts in the US people jump up and down, do fist pumps, and do the stereotypical rock motion with their hand. But what I noticed here is that when the crowd really gets into a certain part of a song, the jump up and down (pretty much in unison) and point their finger up like they are shaking it. It was pretty hilarious to notice everyone around me doing that. It's not a huge cultural difference, but it certainly is entertaining to notice. 
On sunday, my friend Mary Claire's mom and sister came into town. Her mom is a flight attendant so they are able to fly to a lot of exotic places. They took us out to tapas and drinks. We had the best mussels (not like I have tried that many) and it was in this sauce that was literally the ocean, and they tasted very fresh. We drank Agua de Valencia, which is now my new favorite drink. It was orange juice, white wine, and vodka. I normally don't really like orange juice because in the US, most of them are really processed and sugary, but ANYWHERE you go here, they will always have fresh squeezed orange juice. After all, Valencia is known for the oranges, and I must say they have kept up that reputation quite well.  
I am constantly learning new things everyday. Mostly they are things in the language and the culture that just don't translate. I met a man in a cafe the other day and I was captivated by the sound of his voice. It was so soothing and strong that I just had to talk to him. He was giving an English lesson to a Spanish woman. My friend Austin and I were sitting next to them and he asked if we were Americans and we chatted for a bit. Turns out, he went to Decatur high school in Atlanta, has been living in Spain for 23 years, and teaches English unofficially at this cafe. I went back there because it is a cafe frequented by my friends and I and we saw him again and again. He gave Caroline and I a free Spanish lesson. We asked him about phrases in English and Spanish that are totally different. I didn't how must you have to immerse yourself in a language to fully understand it. I have been learning spanish for many years now and I can write formally and read perfectly. Speaking is a totally different thing. He said that you will never fully comprehend a different language unless you grew up speaking it, but you can become pretty damn good at it. We learned a lot of common expressions that people say everyday, but that you could never learn in a classroom. 
Another thing we asked him is why is it that people (spanish, french, etc) think that American girls are crazy? I had heard this so many times now and I really wanted to know the reason. Every time we ask for a reason, no one can really say, but they know for a fact that American girls are crazy. We came to the conclusion that it is just another one of those cultural differences (what else?). We asked Ken, the american in the cafe, and he gave us a good analogy. He said that in Spain, everyone (everyone) eats lunch at 2 no matter what. Even if you are not hungry, that is just what everyone does. He asked me what time I usually eat lunch in the US and I just said that I eat whenever I am hungry and he said Ah Hah! That makes you crazy (to the spanish people). The United States is still a relatively new country and we are not instilled with so many traditions. In Spain, and elsewhere in Europe, they do things because they have been doing them for as long as they can remember and they are probably not even sure why. We are a country (America) where people pretty much do what they want. I always thought that the whole free speech/free religion/ free everything was a little overrated, but it is very true. We do what we want, when we want. American girls are the same. We are independent, ad we do what we want. Foreigners are not accustomed, and for this we are crazy. My Spanish teacher was talking today about how much she hates Italians. She said that they are machistas, and in general do not hold themselves well. But the most important was that she said they are not like Americans in that we seem knowledgeable, and for the most part are not ignorant people. How true this statement is I'm not exactly sure, but I would like to think that is has some truth in it. We are an interesting country that breeds interesting people. It is really awesome to be able to see our situation in such a different light. I heard people say that I was going to see everything differently, but now I am realizing not only a different perspective (nothing terribly bad, just different) of our country, but of all people in relation to the world. The world is certainly an interesting place.

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