Brent Graham ’09 – I have been here for almost two weeks now and love everything about this experience. Sunday we took another paseo to the Alpujárra region of Granada in the Sierras south if the city. It was a great experience. While I didn’t much care for the drive there with its scenic drop offs that appeared to me inches from the bus tires, the cities that we passed through and stopped at were beautiful. Each was painted white and was beautiful as it sat perched on the side of the mountain. We even hiked down to a valley where glacial water had created a river. It was really cold but a lot of fun. It is also said to have healing powers. No wonder I feel so good. It was a very beautiful area.
We even got to eat a little of the local fair, and this is where for the first time culture shock began to set in. As many of you may not know Spain is famous for its ham. They have almost as many kinds of ham here as we have kinds of soft drinks back in the states. This was never more evident to me than at lunch that day. We had three courses and dessert. The first course was a soup with potatoes croutons and pieces of hard jerky like ham. The second course was a salad of tomatoes, green olives with the pits still in, a little lettuce and a bit of ham. The final course consisted of potatoes and you guessed it ham. This time there were two different kinds of ham, the jerky ham like what we had earlier in the soup but a large slice of it and a different kind and a piece of sausage that was made of ground ham. I have never loved ham and I am less inclined to eat it now as in many of the stores and restaurants there are legs of ham hanging cured from the ceiling. The Spanish pride in and love of ham is a little much for me.
The second thing that has got to me are the hours. I am going with my group later tonight to get tapas and then go to a discotec (more on tapas at a later date). The strange thing is that we are not meeting until 23y30 or 11:30pm. That is considered early here. The discotec that we are planning on attending will not open until 3 or 4 am and then will stay open until 8 or 9 in the morning. It would help if I had time for a siesta but by the time I walk home from the school and eat, I have only about 30 minutes to nap.
The final thing that I have had to get used to here has nothing to do with the Spanish culture but with my classes. I am used to Wabash. I have had few if any women in my classes and never have they outnumbered the men. This is not the case here. In all of my classes the women outnumber the men at least two to one. In my language class there are 20 people, me and 19 women, including the professor. It is a different experience and one that I am adjusting to slowly. On the first day of classes the professor was teaching us some hand signals such as there are a lot of people here, let’s go, he/she is crazy and I have to study. The last one when translated into English is literally put my elbows to the desk. On top of this she dropped her elbows back in a motion that is very similar to a motion in the states with a completely different meaning. I had no idea how to react. All of the women including the professor laughed while I managed a weak smile. It is not what I am used to but it has its own rewards and benefits. What I will say is that it is interesting to be the one giving all the masculine thoughts and feelings on subjects. I now know how our female professors and language interns feel sometimes.
I love being here and get caught up from time to time. I will try and write again before the weekend is over. We have a trip to the Alhambra and I should have some great photos and stories to share when I return. Hasta luego.