Todo Que Aprendi en el Instituto es FALSA!!!

The title of this post means, “Everything I Learned in High School is WRONG!” As I keep going back to Spanish class here, I learn that everything I learned in junior high and high school is wrong.

Well, maybe not totally wrong, but wrong for Spain, anyway. For example, I learned that the word “colegio” can be used to say “high school.” But this morning, my professor told us “No no no no no! A colegio is a school for small children! A primary school! High school is ‘instituto,'” hence why my title says instituto and not colegio. Also, there’s the whole vosotros issue. Vosotros is the Spanish second person plural (“you all”), and in high school, we were told that practically no one uses it, so although we learned to conjugate verbs for vosotros, we rarely practiced using it. Instead, we used “ustedes,” which is used more often in Latin America. The difference between vosotros and ustedes is that ustedes is more formal, something you would use for a group of superiors, whereas vosotros is more informal, used for friends or family. In Latin America, they don’t make that distinction in plural forms, but in Spain that distinction does exist, so now I have to get used to using a whole form that I barely ever practiced! Luckily I’m fairly familiar with it so it isn’t going to be exceptionally difficult.

Now that you’ve had your Spanish lesson for the day, I’ll get into the other stuff that happened. This morning, before going to class, I had my meeting with Javier, the program director, to finalize my registration for classes. My schedule is really good, very open, and I have a lot of free time in the afternoon. I get to take flamenco, which I’m very excited about, a class on Islamic art and architecture, a Spanish class (obviously), a class on the different ethnic groups in Spain, and an internship, but we’ll talk more about that later. After my meeting with Javier I went right to Spanish. I’m really loving my Spanish class, because it’s not really just a Spanish class, but also an anthropology class. We went over things that are culturally acceptable and unacceptable, what is normal and what is strange. I forgot to mention yesterday that the first thing we did in class was learn about greetings in Spain. In Spain the traditional greeting is kisses on both cheeks, starting with the left cheek. Well, at least between women and women and women and men. For men greeting men, it’s hand shaking and a lot of patting on the back. We all had to walk around the class and practice greeting each other. “Me llamo Jess, ¿cómo te llamas?” “Me llamo Bill.” “¡Encantada!” “¡Igualmente!” Commence besos (kisses). It was a bit awkward but still kind of fun. Today we learned how to order things in a restaurant and how to ask for directions. I always knew the words that I could use to do these things, but it’s nice to know what is culturally normal to say when doing these things, so as not to come off as rude.

Then, of course, we took our little coffee break. Today I tried  the café bombón, coffee with condensed milk, and it was delicious. It was small, but packed with caffeine, so it really did the job of waking me up. I also noticed something interesting when I was in there that hadn’t really occurred to me yesterday. I ordered my drink, the woman brought it to me, and then left and started doing other things. In the US, I’m so used to immediately handing over my money as soon as I buy my drink. I was waiting around at the counter for about five minutes before the woman finally came back and asked me if I needed anything, and I told her I needed the bill. She told me how much it cost, but it still took her another couple of minutes to actually bring me the check so I could pay. I think that I was actually supposed to take my drink, drink it, and then go back and pay, as if I were ordering food in a sit-down restaurant or something. It was interesting to notice the difference between Spain and the US. When we went back to class, our professor gave us a list of questions, and we had to go out onto the street, find people, and ask them these questions. We had to ask if they were from Granada, how long they had lived there, if they could recommend any restaurants or tapas bars and where they were, and what they felt made Granada special. My friend Megan and I talked to Herminio, the maintenence man. He is so nice and so sweet! We learned through our little interview that his birthday is actually on Sunday, so he’ll have lived in Granada for 59 years. He told us that all of the restaurants in Granada were great, and that the tapas bars on one side of Plaza Nueva (where the center is) were great, and on the other side they were awful. Luckily the side I live on is the good side. My neighborhood is actually known for its great variety of tapas  bars which is great for me!

After we came back we discussed our experiences for a little while, and then class ended and I went to a meeting for people who were planning on doing internships. I had originally had every intention of doing the internship, but after the meeting I was less sure. They talked about how the unemployment rate in Spain is extremely high, so having an internship is a great privilege and a great responsibility. They then said that if we did an internship, we couldn’t travel on Fridays. That was what really got me. I’m in Europe. I want to travel. I want to experience Europe. If I can’t travel on Fridays, how can I do that? Obviously I’m not going to travel every weekend because, frankly, I can’t afford it, but I wanted to take a couple of weekends and explore. I talked to Natalia, the internship coordinator, after the meeting, and asked her if even if I finish my 8-10 hours Monday through Thursday, can I still not travel on Fridays? She then told me that Friday afternoon is mine, I can do whatever I want, I just can’t leave on a Thursday night and be gone all day Friday. That works a little bit better for me, so I think I still might do the internship. It is a great opportunity. It’s a great resume booster, not only to have an internship, but to have one in another country. I didn’t want to have to give up one opportunity for the other. But, if I can still leave on Friday afternoons, I think I’ll still go through with it.

Now, I’m back at my homestay waiting for almuerzo. It’s a little after 3:00 right now, which is a very normal time to have lunch in Spain. They typically eat a lot later than we do. Inma is running around right now getting everything ready, so I think we’ll eat soon. At about 5:30 I’m going to meet my Spanish class and we’re going to go on a walk to a neighborhood called El Albaicín, which is supposed to be beautiful. I’ll be sure to take my camera and take lots of pictures!

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