No Te Preocupes, No He Muerto

This title means, “Don’t Worry, I’m Not Dead.”

Holy mackerel it’s been a long time since I’ve posted! I have been all kinds of busy this past week, so get ready for a very long (or very short…depends upon how much I can remember) summary of what I’ve been doing!

Sunday was a really fun day. It was the Feast of San Cecilio, the patron saint of Granada, so there was a huge festival going on in this part of town called Sacromonte. It was so much fun. There was free food, a ton of friends were there, and they had flamenco dancers too! They were incredible! I can’t upload videos here, but I’ll see if I can put them up on Facebook soon. It was a long day, but it was really fun.

Monday was the first day of classes. I started off with Spanish class in the morning. I really like my class and my professor. We actually started off by playing a board game, just to do a review of some vocabulary and grammar. It was strange. I consider myself to be good at Spanish, but I realized that I didn’t know how to play a board game in Spanish. I didn’t know how to say game piece, or dice, or “I rolled a three,” or “It’s your turn,” or anything like that. But now I do! I also have to keep a “personal dictionary” for the class. Basically it’s a very small notebook that I have to use to write down any new words I encounter, that way I won’t forget them. I hear new words all the time, but if I don’t make note of them or practice them right away, I forget them. This way I won’t forget!

After my Spanish class, I had an interview for an internship with the Unión Iberoamericana de Municipalistas, a Spanish non-profit that takes a ground-up approach to fostering democratic development and government cooperation in South America. It’s a really cool organization. I met with a woman named Marta, who was really nice. It was interesting, I went to the interview with a black sweater dress, tights, boots, and a nice necklace. When I walked in, almost everyone was wearing jeans. I almost felt a little overdressed! But everyone was so nice and welcoming. My interview went really well and I start tomorrow! I’ll be working the Escuela Superior de Gobierno Local, a place where South American students can come and take classes so that they can develop the tools and skills necessary to foster and aid development in their own countries. I’m not sure what my job description will be beyond that, but I’m sure I’ll find out more tomorrow.

After I got back from my interview, I went up to the common area at IES to hang out before my Flamenco class. I ended up finding some other people who were in the class, so we all went down together. The class was really interesting. The class I have Monday afternoons is a history and theory class, so we learn about the history of Flamenco as well as some of the rhythms, or at least that’s what we learned on Monday. My teacher is super cute and super nice. She also switches off between English and Spanish, which is kind of nice, although I’d probably learn more if she just spoke in Spanish. Oh well!

That night I had my first actual Flamenco class. We learned how to do the arms and then did a review of the rhythms that we had learned in class. We also practiced Flamenco walking. Flamenco is really fun, but kind of strange for me. My upper body is like I’m doing ballet, by feet are more like tap, and my hips are like jazz. My body doesn’t know what to do with itself! But I’m catching on pretty quickly. Putting those almost nineteen years of dance to good use. I also have some really awesome Flamenco shoes. Now I just can’t wait to get the dress!

Tuesday was another day of class. In my Spanish class we got some kind of cool homework. We were given big worksheets with a bunch of gestures on them, and we had to take them home to our hosts and ask them what each of the gestures meant. Some of them were the same as in the U.S., like crossing your fingers for good luck or putting your hands on your hips when you’re angry, but some of them I had never seen before, like tapping your face with your hand to say that someone has quite a nerve, or kissing your thumb to assure someone that you’re telling the truth. Very cool stuff!

After that class I went to my anthropology class, “The Spanish Experience of the Other.” For the first class, it basically felt like I was back in Anthro 101. The professor did a lot of explaining in terms of what is anthropology, what is culture, etc. etc. I suppose it was good since a lot of people in the class may never have taken anthro before, but as a major it felt a little repetitive. Oh well, I think it’s going to be a fun class. We have to do field work which is going to be really exciting. I don’t know much about it yet because we aren’t going to be doing it until a little bit later, but it should be interesting.

My next class was my Islamic Art and Architecture class. To start with, our professor talked a lot mostly about Muslim theology. It’s funny, because I know a decent amount about Islam, I just don’t know how to say it in Spanish! Especially since most of the words that I learned about Muslim religion and theology are in Arabic, like Hajj or Shahadah. Oh well. It was still a really interesting class!

After class I went home to have lunch and relax for a little while before my last class. At this point, Inma doesn’t even ask me if I want more food anymore. She just motions for me to give her my plate and loads on more food. Oh well, at least it’s delicious! Finally, I had my last class, which is an Internship Seminar. Basically each week we’re going to talk about our internships, what it’s like in a Spanish workplace, differences we notice between the U.S. and Spain, and how we interpret what happens to us at work. I’m really excited for the class to pick up once we’ve all started our internships.

Wednesday was a regular class day, but I got to go on a field trip! Every Wednesday my Islamic Art and Architecture class has a field trip to some place in Granada. This week we went to a place called Plaza Bib-Rambla, which used to be a huge center when the Muslims were in charge of Spain. We learned some neat facts about what went on in the square and how society operated under the Muslim rulers. Now, it’s lots of shops and restaurants.

Thursday was a nice relaxing day. At this point I had a cold and had pretty much lost my voice, so after I finished class at 12:30 I just went right home to relax and take it easy so that I could get better for our trip to Ronda and Seville. Alas, I relaxed, but my cold didn’t improve that much. Oh well. What was really fun on Thursday though was that I got to see this contemporary dance company perform at a nearby theater. There is a theater class at IES which I would love to take, but I already have a full course load. Anyway, they had extra tickets to the show, so I snagged one up! It was a really cool show, like I’ve never seen before. Also interesting, the company was all male. At first I was hoping that eventually there would be some female dancers to add some variety, but by the end I loved it just the way that they did it. Very cool.

Friday, I had to be on a bus at 7:45 to head off to Ronda. Being on the bus that early wasn’t very exciting, but the trip was really fun! We stopped in Ronda at about 11:00. We split into small groups to take walks around the city. I ended up going in a group where my Islamic Art and Architecture professor was the guide, so that was great because she knew a lot about everything. However, this woman was on a mission! We were all trying to stop and take pictures, but man oh man she had places to be! She was constantly telling us to keep up! But we did get to see some cool stuff. We went into an old Arab bath house which was beautiful and really interesting. We watched a movie about how the baths worked which was really neat (and of course, we watched it in Spanish!). After a few hours, we boarded the bus and were off to Seville!

When we got to Seville, we went to the hotel and unpacked our things and then some of us went off for a walk around Seville. We went down to the river first and hung around there, and it was absolutely beautiful, especially since it was later and the sun was beginning to set. From there we went to a park where Spain had hosted the World’s Fair a while back. It had a beautiful park, some statues and fountains, even a little river which ran under the huge, beautiful building where you could rent paddle boats to ride around under the building! We went inside the building too to take pictures of the city from the top. It was such an incredible view.

When we left, we all started telling Javier that we were hungry and asked if he had any restaurant recommendations. It was about 7:30 at this point. He told us that everyone was going to know that we were American, because no one in Spain eats that early. He said that we were acting very American because first of all, we were hungry very early, and second of all, when an American is hungry, they have to eat right then! When Spaniards get hungry, they think, oh I can wait, but an American has to eat immediately! He found the whole thing very funny. A few of us went to a restaurant and got tapas (although in Seville they make you pay for the tapas, you don’t get them for free like in Granada), which was a total rip-off because it was a little pricey and they even made us pay for the bread (which they just placed on our table), so we went to Burger King. So satisfying.

After our dinner, we went to  see a Flamenco show, which was again incredible. It really reminds me a lot of tap dancing, because a great part of it is the sounds and tricks that you do with your feet. The dancers were incredibly skilled. I hope that after my four months in Flamenco class I’ll be as good as them! I’m sure that’s exactly how it will work out.

The next day I got up and had what we now all refer to as an “American Shower.” I’ve told you how my Spanish showers are essentially Navy showers. But, since we were in a hotel, I could stand in the shower under nice hot water for as long as I wanted. Man oh man did I bask in that shower. It was incredible. That’s one of the best parts of our field trips. Also a good part? Huge buffet breakfasts provided by the hotel. I had bread, eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, an apple, and fresh orange juice. Such a delicious breakfast.

We got back into our groups from Ronda to go explore Seville some more. First we went to Real Alcazar, which used to be a Muslim palace but was then Christianized after the Christians took over Spain. It was beautiful, and enormous. I could have easily gotten lost, especially since they even had a hedge maze! The maze has been there ever since the palace has, and it used to be used as a form of entertainment. We wanted to play in it, but of course my guide was on a mission! Our next stop was a tour of the Cathedral in Seville. Again, just beautiful. We hiked all the way up to the top of the bell tower, which if I am remembering correctly was 33 flights. But the view from the top was definitely worth it. Such a great view of the whole city of Seville. Also, the highlight of my day happened up in that bell tower. I was going up into a window to take a picture, and a woman asked me if I could speak English. I was so excited. Why? That means that I could pass for someone whose first language was not English! I felt so European! She asked me if I could take a picture for her and I said that I would be glad to. She then asked me where I was from, and I told her the U.S. Her response to that was, “Well, yeah, I figured that, your accent was a dead giveaway. I meant what part of the U.S. are you from?” Well, there goes the European illusion. It was fun while it lasted.

After a long day of sightseeing, we finally boarded the bus back to Granada. I was able to sleep for a decent amount of it, though I also read for a while too. I was so excited when we got back to Granada. Oddly enough, I was getting kind of homesick for it! It was nice to be back in my beloved Granada, where  the tapas are free and the churros con chocolate are the best you’ve ever had.

Today, I am having a lazy Sunday. Just  hanging out in my room, snacking on little things, basically waiting for lunch. I’m considering going out for a run later, but I feel really cozy here. Oops. Hey, I did a lot of walking this weekend. I think I can have a lazy day where I just sit around and eat! So, I think I shall continue with that. Hasta luego!

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