Weeks 3 and 4 in Spain

Hola Todos, It has officially been one month and two days since my arrival in Spain. As expected, I am starting to get into the swing of things over here. I’m meeting lots of people, exploring more of the area, and learning more about the language and culture all the time.

School started last Tuesday, Oct. 9, and it has been interesting thus far. On Oct. 1st we took a placement test for the school and based on that we were split into to groups: Hispanic Studies, which is the more advanced program, and Culture and Language, which is the intermediate program. Since it’s been about a year and a half since my last Spanish course in college, I did bad on the exam and got placed in the intermediate program. Which is probably a good thing, because I would’ve been in way over my head in the advanced program, and I’m staying for two semesters so in the spring I can do the advanced program. I’m taking five classes: Grammar, Oral and Writing, Economy of Spain and Latin America, spain.jpgBusiness Spanish, and History of Spain. Each class is two hours long and two days a week. No one has classes on Friday, which is nice so we have longer weekends for possible trips! The classes are all taught in Spanish the whole time, and most teachers don’t let us speak in English. It makes it very difficult, but we will learn a lot I’m sure. The classes are very small (12-20 people), and most of the students at the school are American. I think the most difficult thing for me about school is my schedule. I have class at 8:30 everyday(Mon-Thurs), and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have class straight through with no breaks from 8:30 to 2:30. It’s like I’m in high school again, except it’s more real work. Generally we do get little mini breaks every hour or two hours for about 5-10 minutes. Anyways, school is school no matter where you are in the world. It sucks, but I suppose I’d rather be sitting, learning in a classroom than working 6-8hours a day in a real job!

I have yet to go in the Alhambra, but I have seen some great views of it from the outside, and it is amazingly beautiful. Costanza took me with some of her friends to a Flamenco bar, where we crammed too many people into a room that was too small (but I guess that’s the authentic way to do it), and the performers, who consisted of two guitarists, two drummers (one who sat on a wooden box which doubled as his drum), one vocalist, and a couple ladies who danced. It wasspainsinger.jpg an amazing experience. It was very informal and impromptu. The performers joked and played whatever the felt like playing, and everyone participated in the music (mostly by just clapping). But singing and dancing were also encouraged. It was great!

Yesterday, Oli and I traveled by bus to the Southern part of the Sierra Nevada known as Las Alpujarras to visit the small mountain villages. It was quite an adventure. We took the bus from Granada to a little town called Pampaneira (3,474 ft) which took about two hours. All of the little pueblos in the area are white. The buildings are block shaped and made from a stucco type material that they paint white. The buildings are all very close together and each pueblo looks like a little compact group of white buildings with a single church steeple sticking up in the middle. Many of the houses have flower pot gardens, which really stand out against the white house. It’s all quite beautiful. In Pampaneira, Oli and I ate a nice lunch of some local dishes. After lunch we hiked up from Pampaneira to the next pueblo, Bubion. The trail was not very well marked and we got lost on the way. We found ourselves about 500 meters directly below the village. So we made our own path, hiking straight up the hill through meadows and bushes, following goat paths that would end without warning. We crossed a creek and eventually found our way back the correct path into the town. We didn’t spend much time in Bubion, because we wanted to get to the next pueblo, Capileira (4,711 ft). We asked for directions this time, but I think something got lost in translation, because once again we found ourselves following goat paths that led to nowhere. We hiked directly up the hill once again and after crawling underneath a barbed-wire fence, we found the road and followed it into town. Capileira was a quaint little pueblo, with outstanding panoramic views and many friendly people and cutesy little shops and cafes. All three of the pueblos are built along the edge of the massive Poqueira Gorge. The weather was beautiful when we first started our day, but as we climbed a thick fog rolled in and the temperature dropped considerably. We didn’t let it spoil our trip though. After a rest at a nice cafe in Capileira, we headed back down to Pampaneira to catch the bus back to Granada. It was quite a day trip. I have attached a few pictures for you all to enjoy.

I know this is a long email, but two weeks is a lot of time to fit into a short email. There’s more that I could still say. I’ve tried to give you the abbreviated version because I know you all are just as busy as I am. Thanks for reading!