Sunday, September 5, 2010

Reflections on Week 1

I have now been here a whole week and this is the first time I have been able to sit down and actually type things out. It probably helps that the Internet has been weird; that way I actually read, study, and journal. I mean, what a weird concept…getting something done when there is nothing else to distract you!

Monday I had to get up ‘early’ to get to orientation by 10. It was difficult considering a) I’m not a morning person; and b) I didn’t sleep well the night before. Probably didn’t help that I had slept so much on Saturday night. So I was exhausted. One of the first things I did was make my Dunn Bros coffee I had with me in my French press mug. When I was taking it to the car with Begona, since she was driving me to school, she was like, “They will know you are a foreigner with that, since no one does that here.” I thought, well it isn’t like I stick out already. But I managed to drink it all on the way to class so I left it with her. She came with me on campus and then waited with me till they took us for the meeting. I am so blessed to have such a great family to live with while I am here.

At orientation, I got lost mentally. They do things so different here. You don’t sign up for classes until AFTER they start on the 6th; you go to them first and then decide if that is a class you would like to attend. So this week I need to go online and figure out how to pick out classes.

After orientation, they told us where to meet for the intensive Spanish class which would be at 1. Since I had like 3 hours to spare, I walked home and ate and rested for a bit. Then I walked 30 min back to campus. It is a beautiful walk through parks from the Plaza Huerto del Rey. I don’t mind walking, since everything is beautiful and I love watching the old men and women talking and taking care of their grandchildren.

The class was 5 hours long of only Spanish, with grammar and vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. I learned some expressions on Monday, and that night I was up late with Begona, Irene, and Laura and we were talking and laughing about all the strange expressions. Like how in Spanish instead of saying a long weekend they say it’s a bridge, and when it’s a break in school more than 4 days it’s an aqueduct; and the ones they love are ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ and learning something by heart.

I was the only American in class. There were 3 Italian boys (one of whom took a liking to me for some reason), 2 from Portugal, 2 from France, 1 girl from Russia, and like 6 from Germany. I was really lonely at first because when we had breaks every 50 min, everyone would go separate into their own language groups and speak their respective languages. I can understand what they are saying, but I don’t want to be pushy or anything. That is more American :P After a while though, they could see that I am social and like to talk, but am not pushy or anything. Wednesday I made a point to help Alexandra, a girl from Germany who is also studying Spanish like me. She didn’t know where something was so after class I walked with her to find it.

After classes, I would run a couple errands or take a different route home; just to do something different. The weather has been GORGEOUS, so I love just walking around and looking at stuff and people.

Some things have been frustrating though. Like I feel like a carnival attraction when I go out, feeling like everyone’s eyes are on me. It is frustrating not being understood and not knowing the right words off-hand to clarify myself. It is difficult not knowing exactly where I am going or what to do.

One of the more difficult things to adjust to is that people don’t just go to a coffee shop to study or anything. They go to socialize and that’s it. It is very difficult to adjust to being at home a lot if I want to read or be on my computer. I am a social person, so it is difficult to not be around people.

I am FINALLY adjusting to the time difference, and the difference of meal times. Took long enough. I would either be really tired or really awake. If I was tired and tried to take a nap, it would be for like only an hour. But today I was able to take a 2.5 hour long nap, and it helped so much!

Will blog about the weekend tomorrow. Need to sleep for my first day of classes!

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