Enjoy the link above for some great, 80s pump up music and a lesson in having fun in Spain (even though I believe the two singers are Italian). I did, in fact, go to the playa yesterday and witnessed the great beauty on this side of the Atlantic. More to come on that.
It's been awhile since I wrote my last post, and needless to say a lot has happened in my immersion experience. So, I'll try to organize my stream of consciousness and go from there.
1) Academic experiences: Surprisingly, they haven't happened yet per se! The registration process (or matriculación) has been interesting to say the least. I attempted to meet with my academic coordinator in la Facultad de Geografía e Historia this past week to finalize my learning agreement, which is a plan of classes I made earlier in the summer which I hope to take here. Unfortunately, she won't arrive until tomorrow, the 10th, so I've been in a state of academic limbo. Apparently, most history classes don't begin until the 17th anyway! Though I'm at a place where, if I was in the US, I would possibly be pulling my hair out, I understand, especially here, that there's no benefit to that. The international office has told me not to worry, and frankly all you can do is trust it will work out. I guess it's another reflection of the "Hakuna Matata" atmosphere I wrote about last week. As Michael Scott so famously said, "You have to play to win, but sometimes, you have to win to play" . . . Not really sure how that applies here, but such is life. Confession: I'm anxious to get classes started so I can start planning trips around Spain and Europe based on my class schedule!
2) One step forward, a half step back: my roommate, se llama Alejandro, arrived on Thursday, and before you think this will be a rant based on the title, let me clarify and say that Alejandro (who seems to go by Alej, which sounds like Alex) is very nice and I think we'll be very good roommates together. Up to his arrival, I had been feeling pretty good about my coming proficiency with Spanish. I could communicate with the other international students just fine, ask questions at reception, and order food at restaurants. However, when Alejandro and his dad first starting talking to me, they may as well have been speaking French. I think I gave them more blank stares than the American populace did to Ark Music Factory after Rebecca Black's "Friday" was released. Basically, both Alejandro and his father spoke very fast with thick accents, which made it very hard for me to respond in an intelligent manner. That said, I know living with Alejandro (who is from Vigo, Galicia: 40 minutes from Santiago) for the year will make my Spanish fluency skyrocket by the end.
3) On Saturday the 8th, I went on an excursion along with more than 150 international students to northern Galicia, provided by ESN (Erasmus Student Network) Santiago. Galicia is truly beautiful in its natural landscapes and architecture, even when the fog rolls in (which it did). We visited two faros (lighthouses) and also went to the playa (beach) for a few hours. Though many of the students said it was too cold, it felt almost like bathwater to me compared to the Pacific coast!
I've posted quite a few pictures on Facebook, but here are some of my favorites to give you an idea:
Now for some random fun facts before I sign off:
- Constant cannon fire means there's some sort of festival going on just outside Santiago. I guess it's similar to fireworks!
- The Cathedral of Santiago is amazing! Today I went to Mass in one of its chapels (where there aren't pilgrims and tourists milling about :) and I think I got a taste of what Mass would have been like for the early Christians: very small congregation, no additional instrumentation besides God's gift of voice, and worshipping within ancient stone. I think I'll have to memorize the liturgy and Mass parts on my own because missals don't seem to exist here. Challenge Accepted!
- The dining hall in my dormitory is both similar and different to Whitworth. Similarity: the machines used to purchase your food say "Sodexo" on the side. Difference: there is a section of the dining hall where you can buy alcohol, whether that's wine, beer, or something else. I haven't purchased alcohol from the cafeteria yet, but if it's as good as the food here, I think I'll be in for a treat!
Dios os bendiga,