Published: January 20th 2012January 20th 2012
the next few days…
Our first day of school started early at 7:00 AM to the sound of diesel engines and a cold shower, something is wrong with the hot water heater and that lost warm part of the day is very missed. Anyway, a great aspect about our apartment is that the metro station is only a three minute walk to get on a train that takes us across town in fifteen minutes. It was not entirely smooth though, we walked up out of the station, took a look around and realized we did not recognize a thing from when we scoped it out…. So back down into the metro we went and back two stops. Needless to say we were minutes away from the beginning of class at this point so once we got off at the correct station we were two Americans running through the streets towards campus. The Eixample (Ee-sham-pla) campus is in a modern, three story rectangular building constructed of white-grey stone. This campus is only for study abroad students and is very close to the hustling newer part of city center and is where we have most our classes. Christina and I have our first class, International Economics, together. The woman who teaches it is a Ph D. economics student and is from Spain. From what she said it is very apparent that she takes the current state of the Euro and Spanish debt very seriously and personally “You must be worried, you know what is going on right? What will happen? You must be worried. Oh right, I sorry, you are in young and in Barthelona, having fuunn.” She is very sweet and energetic, it should be a great class.
In this class, as in our others as well, we went through a schedule of what will be covered, teachers’ rules and “make your decision whether this class is for you or if you should switch or drop.” After this class, we split up for the day; Christina goes to her International Finance class and I go to my International Business class. After this class, it is lunch time and Christina needs to go to the San Paul campus for her Spanish class and I need to go there also to see if I can switch a class. It is 15 to 20 min trip including walking the two blocks to the station, waiting for a train, and walking another block to the other campus. On the way to the metro a very nice guy from my Intn’l buis class caught up with us and commuted along with us. He goes to Arizona State in Tempe (Phoenix) and is a talkative finance major and is in two of our classes. He lives with a host family (which is actually just a host woman) who makes him lots of food, including two sandwiches, one of which he offered to us but I was told it was polite to restrain myself from accepting.
After lunch, Christina went to her Spanish class, which is every day for one hour. I went to see if I could get my schedule changed and I am now in a different section of International Finance.
After class and the scheduled business taken care, of we went to the “big grocery store” that is by school. It has a tiny entrance but after you are through the small part (15 yards or so) it opens up to a big store with 8 check out registers and such. We found milk that is “normal” (The Spanish drink Ultra Ultra pasteurized milk that they don’t refrigerate. Two Spaniards were gawking at our milk on the metro “Leche Freska??? Humm, Freska?” he said to his wife), and other food for breakfast lunch and dinner. Another distinct aspect of the store is that it is two stores, so they have escalator ramps that the carts are made for!
Also, I must mention something that I found interesting on the flight in. As we flew into Brussels, the common sight of city lights is very different. Flying into an American city, there are lights everywhere, most houses have some sort of light lit up along with lights along the streets, in Brussels, entire blocks and neighborhoods didn’t have a single light on, making for a starkly different view of a spread out grid of only major streets. I assume it is due to more expensive power and well toothed efforts to limit light pollution.
For our Tuesday/Thursday classes, we have our first class together as well, Understanding the European Economy. The teacher seems to have a bit of Catalonian arrogance to him but he seems to know his stuff. This class is very small so I think it will definitely be a favorite of ours. The first day, we discussed the beginning of European integration, which began with the fall of Germany in WWII and reconstruction. My neighbor, and now friend, to my left is named Robert (Obert) and is from Germany. On our way to Spanish class together, it was interesting to hear his thoughts on our previous lecture, “It is always a very sensitive subject of course, but I thought he did a good job representing it from a Spanish perspective. It is interesting to me, however, that he did not happen to mention Spain’s Fascist régime as well, though, in comparison to the rest of Europe and said democracy…”
I am very much enjoying all of the German friends we have made. It also makes me a lot more comfortable speaking Spanish in my funny American accent (sin Spanish lisp) while next to a German trying to do the exact same thing. We are all, in the words of my delicate Spanish teacher, “quite unpolished”.
Last night was the big Futbol game (and of course by Futbol we mean soccer). Real Madrid was defeated by Barcelona in perhaps one of the most anticipated games of the year. Since we have arrived, we have seen a lot of evidence of this rivalry (not just in terms of futbol) between Catalonians and other Spaniards (Catalonia is the area of Spain that we are currently in, Barcelona, Girona and a few others). My International Business teacher, a half blood if you will, has a pure Catalonian father and a mother from Madrid (the normal reaction is apparently “GASP!” Don’t worry, I didn’t either at first). The Catalan language is actually older than Spanish and therefore very dear to the people who speak Catalan. With the rise of Franco, Catalonians were actually forbidden to speak Catalan to each other. Now, I guess they don’t typically like to speak Spanish to other Spaniards, as my IB teacher says, “You comea to Barthelona to a… learn Spanish eh? Haha well you will learn Catalan.” I love hearing all of the history behind it and hopefully we will gain a better understanding of it all.
This weekend, which begins whenever Alex comes home from Spanish, we are planning to do “touristy stuff” (not sure what they meant by this yet) with our German friends and whoever else we meet along the way. Though our program is mostly American, I have not met too many Americans, mostly German, Korean and Brazilian. A lot of the Americans came together in these large programs, and paid quite a hefty fee to do so, I might add. There is a big group from... CU BOULDER! Oh my gosh, it is not CU apparently, it is either Boulder, or CU Boulder. We had to say our birth city and I said, “Boulder, CO,” and a thousand people turned around all at once. Glad I came all the way to Barthelona to go to CU? No, I think Alex and I have done a good job branching out and meeting people from all over so hopefully we can keep that up and stay out of our comfort zone. In fact, today I was sitting on the wrong side of the classroom apparently. I was in a pocket between the Germans and the Koreans. Obviously I don’t look like the latter so he kept directing his questions of Germany towards me and the others. Needless to say, I really had nothing valuable to add in that respect.
So I guess in summary, we are both doing very well, with the exception of cold showers in the morning, but hopefully we can resolve this. I’m sure that after this weekend we will have much to add, and hopefully we will have time to write it all down for you. As always, love and miss you J
Como se dice, “the shower is cold”? La ducha es fría!