Studying abroad has been the single most life changing experience. Being here has completely changed my view of the world. It has changed the way I view myself and my peers. It has completely rearranged and changed the way I plan to live my life, where I want to work, how I want to live, the people I will be friends with, the husband I will marry. In some strange and indescribable way being here has opened up windows I never new existed, pushed boundaries I didn’t know were there, and positively influenced me in ways I was ignorant of. And I am not afraid to say I am so proud of myself.
From the beginning I had my doubts. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to escape from American friends, I would always be labeled a tourist, I would never understand the culture. But slowly and surely I have adapted to the ways of life here. I understand how to lock my door at the top and bottom. I know that if I wait on the red metro line till Espanya it’s faster than if I take Catalunya. I know that if you venture deeper into the market the fruit is cheaper than in the front. I eat lunch at three and dinner at ten. I’ve witnessed how a city functions with two official languages and the pride of the Catalan people. I know how the European Union functions and how it became what it is today. I’ve felt the feeling of total accomplishment when I held a conversation for over two hours with a single other person. I know that in winter time people eat chestnuts and sweet potatoes off the streets and that hunting for mushrooms in the mountains is a common past time. And all these things, these random little things start to accumulate in your mind. They add up and pretty soon you feel like you’ve know these people for a long time and have a hard time imagining life any other way. And I’ve started to imagine myself living here. I’ve thought about job opportunities here and what neighborhood I would chose to live in. At what point my mind made this transition I am unsure but it’s obvious to me now. Before, I thought I probably wanted to work in a Spanish speaking country after I graduated and now I am sure that this is what I want.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
So even though Midterms are next week, I just came down with a sore throat, and my language partner didn´t show this morning life is still good. I have been studying for my exams in the rare chunks of free time I find, usually at night. Tomorrow I am meeting with Vito for coffee and then that night I am meeting up with Hannah and some couch surfer people that I have yet to meet to exchange traditional dishes native to Spain. I am making a lentil and sausgae dish that is RICO DELISH! (also and maybe just as important it´s cheap to make too). Next Saturday I have another food meet up for a soup lunch. Everyone is making a soup that they love and we are going to share all the soups and have lunch together in Jode´s (she´s from Belgium) apartment. And with the weather getting a little bit colder I am stoked!
Last night I was going a little stir crazy in my little room. I deep cleaned my whole room, folded the clothes in my wardrobe, reorganized my school work, read the newspaper, drank 4 cups of tea, and made an official list of all the vocabulary I have learned while here.
I was very proud of myself the other day. I was sitting in European Union (my fav class!) and our professor was trying to make an analogy so that we could better understand France´s relationship with the EU. So he said, ¨Francia es parecido de una rémora´ Then he asked if anyone knew what a rémora was. I knew. Remora is the fish that live in coexistance with sharks. You know the little ones you always see when you watch the Discovery channel just chillin next to the huge shark. Well, the point is I knew this obstract word. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my boss this summer. When we were talking one day I asked her how she became so good at Spanish. She told me she showed up in Mexico as a journalist and not knowing much Spanish. But after eventually living there for 15 years you become fluent. She said she knows the word for fill dirt. When you know the word for fill dirt you´re fluent. So maybe I still don´t know how to say fill dirt...but hey, rémora is a start right? All of this only reaffirmed my desire to work abroad for at least a year or two after I graduate.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Monce invited me this Sunday to her family reunion in Saradella. We took a train to the town. It turns out that this family reunion was really a celebration of Monce's 60th birthday! 30 of her closest friends and family were all there and I felt honored to be invited. She really is a sweetheart. They had rented out a big room of this cafe and set up a long table for the big delicious meal.
The meal was five courses and took place over four hours. (accompanied by red wine and bottles of champagne)
There were baskets of fresh bread and olives.
We started the meal with this pizza like dish. It was a flat pita bread with tangy tomato sauce, melted goat cheese, and olives. Next came the salmon cooked with rosemary and a salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. The salmon was very good. I had two helpings. Next was a mediterranean salad with figs, walnuts, grapes, and chunks of goat cheese in a fruity vinaigrette. Next, the main course was a beef plate with caramelized onions, potatoes, and carrots. It was very tasty and I was very full. For desert you could choose between flan in a sweet blueberry reduction, a slice of apple cake, or sweet orange bread. I chose the apple cake it was yummy and came with a dab of homemade whip cream.
Then out came the birthday brownie dusted with powdered sugar and the champagne. We toasted to Monce and sang happy birthday.
Monce's brother then passed out a CD that had 60 songs on it. One for every year she has been alive with classic Spanish songs and all her favorites. He played pieces of the different songs and Monce got up and danced to them. Everyone sang and clapped and friends got up and took turns dancing with her. It was really special.
Every respective family or friends had gotten her a present. How they did it was she stood in the center of the room and the family would come up and and say nice things about her and then give her the present. It was cute. She got emotional a couple times. Later I was talking to Monce's sister and she told me that Monce really enjoys spending time with me. I was glad.
After that was over people finished up with coffee and milled around. Monce passed out flowers and people ended the night with kisses and goodbyes. Monce and I took the train home. I was exhausted and stuffed (no dinner for me tonight) and very happy. Like I said I felt honored to have been invited I really enjoyed being there. I have to make a nice thank you card.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
HAHAHAHAHA Que Fantastico que Real Madrid perdio a Milan! Que Piensas Ronaldo????
Sergio, Pilar, and I settled into the living room to watch the Real Madrid v. Milan game tonight. We ate dinner quickly at half time and Pilar returned to join us in her pink flannel Pajamas. Sergio asked me who I was rooting for. I mistakenly thought he asked me who I thought would win and I said Real Madrid. He carefully and very seriously explained to me that we never root for Real Madrid. (I already knew this) I shouted 'They are the enemy!' And this made both of them happy.
The game was fantastic! Very exciting, very close, Milan won 3-2 in the last 4 minutes of the game. When Milan scored their second goal I heard fireworks go off in the building next door.
During the game I tried to teach Pilar and Sergio how to say my name. Pilar still doesn't know what my name is. She asked me yesterday what it was because she couldn't remember. I heard her tell someone on the phone 'I can't remember it because it's a difficult foreign name.' The closest my one professor can come to saying my name is, "Queelian" I just go with it.
Today I went to get tea with Vito. I enjoyed talking with him and I asked him a lot of questions about Italy. We talked a lot about food and and the beach. Two things we have in common and both enjoy. He has almost finished his degree for electrical engineering.
So besides the torrential downpour that I endured without an umbrella that left me pouring water out of my flats today was a pretty good day.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I've always considered myself a people person. I like entertaining people, telling stories, and you know be in the lime light. So this new goal of mine isn't really anything that out of the blue for me. I want to meet as many new people as I can. People are so interesting and everyone has some amazing story somewhere in their past. I'm going to start making a list of the new people I meet and friends I make.
Example: Miriam is a 25 year old Moroccan girl I met last night. She was training to be an Olympic swimmer before she got burnt out. She said life was too rigid and strict. She was always training. She couldn't go on family vacations because she was always swimming. So she switched to soccer. Who would have thought!?
So I decided in my mission to meet new people I had to take matters into my own hands. This goal is too important to leave to fate. So I posted an announcement on a 'BCN Nightlife' Couch Surfers group (possibly my new FAV website) saying 'Hey FCBarcelona is playing tomorrow night anyone want to go to a bar to watch the game with me?' Well I am meeting three people tonight at the metro and we are walking over to watch the game together. No of us have ever met any of the others. And the only thing I know about them is this:
Marc Sangles Vinyes is Spanish and 27. He speaks English, Italian, Catalan, and Spanish Fluently and is learning German, Greek, and French. He is interested in language exchange programs.
Next is Anneleen Nys. Her current mission is the 'Take over the world!" She is 22 years old and has traveled to Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Serbia, Tunisia. She is taking a sabbatical year and has spent most of it here in Barcelona. (what she needs a year off from I'm not sure) She grew up in Belgium and speaks Dutch fluently and Spanish, English, and French at an intermediate level.
Last is Dev Wadehra. He is Persian and from New York City. He is studying here in Spain for a few months working on his history and philosophy degree. He likes to meet new people from all over the world. aka...me!
I'll keep you posted on the next cool group I have drinks with. Hasta pronto!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Fall is officially here and although I find the brisk days refreshing I will always be a sunshine kind of girl. I swear I must be the biggest whimp in the world. My mild San Diego climate kept me sheltered from the ´real world´ the world of hail, sleet, snow, and real cold. I wore my under armour pants to a bar on Friday night! I wore them like they were legging and put a dress on top of them. Hannah, who is from Maine, noticed but didn´t make fun of me. I mean, the coldest it has been so far has been 50 degrees...not exactly bone chilling.
So with all this change in weather it started making me think of fall and all the cool things you do in fall...pumpkin carving, baking the seeds, apple cider, hot chocolate, baking cookies, candles, fireplaces, scarfs, you know the normal fall things. Well here the only fall like thing is the weather. No changing leaves, no streets lined with carved pumpkins, no Thanksgiving dinners. It´s a little bit of a downer.
So fall got me thinking about Christmas. And the winter season...and I want to say the thing I am looking forward to most about coming home is our annual Christmas party. My poor mother spends over a week cooking the most delicious gourment food. Chicken skewers with spicy peanut sauce, blue cheese tart with tangy cranberry topping, baked brie pastries with jalepeño jelly, corn and red pepper leek soup, Georgia of the Cove soup, breads, a giant succulent turkey, dips, and the deserts...oh god the desserts. Chocolate cakes, tarts, tangy, sweet, creamy, chocolatey crunch, it´s mouth watering. We spend two days baking the cookies alone. Every kind of delish cookie you can imagine, coconut, walnuts, almonds, sprinkles, lemon, ginger, frosted...YUM!
The house always looks fantastic. We clean everything, put out all the Christmas hollies, the candles, the special table cloths, the green and red pillows on the couch, and the bathroom towels are dainty and embroidered with little wreaths. Outside Dad strings up the classy looking white lights in rows over the patio. We hang big Christmas bulbs from the Ficus Tree and have both fire places going. We pile blankets up on the outdoor sofa and you can always smell the apple cider.
It´s one of the best days of the year...and right now...I WANT IT TO HAPPEN TOMORROW! I love Barcelona but they don´t get into the spirit like we do! Maybe it´s because we don´t have as many fiestas as they do...so when they happen we go all out. But I´m so excited for this Christmas season.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
So Monce and I met to go to the movies yesterday. Woody Allen wrote and directed a quirky twisted love quagmire of a movie and it had an improbable but very funny plot line. SPOILER ALERT Aka main character attempts suicide but fails when he lands on a woman (sending her to the hospital) and they fall in love.
After I treated Monce and I to drinks I saw that since our last meeting she had gone and printed out all sorts of information that I had told her about. She had a map of the USA so she could understand better the location of the place I was talking about, pages and pictures of Zion National Park, a picture to show me of her family, and she pulled out a paper that was in Catalan (aka I understood very little so she had to translate). The paper explained an excursion that was happening in mid November in a town South of Barcelona. It was a mushroom hunting excursion. It is 36 euros and it includes the transportation and a big Spanish meal and of course you're in the wilderness hunting. She wanted to know if I wanted to go with her. Once again I thought that was really sweet and told her I am definitely interested.
Next Sunday her family is meeting in a town not too far outside Barcelona. She explained to me that there will be a big traditional Spanish meal and invited me to come! I was so excited! This seems like an important bonding experience for Monce and I and also just a cool cultural experience. Plus I'd get to see another town outside the city and eat Spanish food! I'm down!
But all in all I think Monce really likes me. She told me she loves how I love and am interested in everything. I told her that I consider this a once in a life time opportunity and thus I want to do, see, experience, share as much as I possibly can. There is no time to sit around! There are so many things to do and see! But Monce is a sweetie and I'm glad we are friends and that I am getting to do these fun and interesting things with her. Que suerte!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I was looking through another BCA student's facebook album entitled "Espana Thus Far". One picture immediately gripped me, ripped me back 48 days, and brought bad a flood of emotions and memories. The picture itself has little significance to anyone else. It's simple enough too. It's a picture of the airline food.
I remember the girl sitting next to me on the flight she had just had a summer with her family in England, and I remember listening to Ratatat on the plane. I remember being too tired to function but unable to sleep, and thinking that in 9 hours I would be turning twenty. I remember picking the banana chips off the brownie and eating them separately, the hard bread roll, and the yogurt vanilla like pudding. I remember thinking that this food was better than any food I had had on a US airplane and using that as a general comparison for Europe. Europe's airline food is better than mine. Europe must then be better than the USA. I remember being upset that I forgot my power adapter in my suitcase so during my 9 hour layover in Paris I had no way to charge my computer.
Landing in Paris I was drained, exhausted, bitchy, tired, grumpy, and excited. People watching is so much better in an International Airport. But at this point is was more of a delirious stare down than watching.
And now, fast forward 48 days. I am here in Barcelona, sitting in my bed, drinking tea. I am listening to music that I have found in Barcelona. My room now has concert posters and pictures taped to the walls. I'm speaking Spanish better than I ever have in my life. I have new friends, a new social life, new food, new adventures, a new culture.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Ok so I really don't have much to say...but I'm not really doing anything currently and facebook is boring.
It's the weeekeennddd!!!! Whoooooooooo!!!!!!
I'm meeting with Vito tomorrow for drinks (he's my Italian intercambio) he told me he would be wearing white shoes. That way I can spot him out of the crowd...couldn't he think of something a little more noticeable? Like...I don't know...a yellow shirt? White shoes is kind of like saying oh hey I'll be the person breathing oxygen...
In other news, I forgot a fork the other day and ate my rice and tomato sauce using a small piece of fried chicken as a spoon. I looked ridiculous and Hannah laughed at me and took pictures of me while rice dropped from my mouth. No wonder I have no Spanish friends...
I am planning on going to a concert tomorrow night which should be fun. I heard about it on couch surfers. Then on Saturday night we are going big or going home. I'm headed to what's sure to be an awesome dancing club. It's free if you show up before 1:30AM and 15 euros after that (aprox. 25 dollars) so you can be sure I'll be arriving early. :)
I had practice tonight. We didn't play any soccer, only fitness drills. But they weren't really that difficult so I felt cheated. It's kind of like if I get dressed and drag my butt all the way to practice I wanna really work...not jog around and do nothing.
Oh, and it's officially fall here. It just got cold! (ok sorry PA people we are still talking about a Mediterranean climate...so cold is a relative thing) but I wore jeans and a long sleeve shirt today and I was chilly! I better start knitting that scarf I'm making a bit faster...
Hope everyones lives are lovely. I am booking my flight home for Christmas tonight! I'll be coming home around the 13th of December and coming back Jan 20th! whooo!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Alright, for the past two months...ok who am I kidding for the past two years Juniata´s photo contest has become somewhat an obsession of mine. It all started innocently enough, I liked photography and it was a fun thing to do. Pretty soon Juniata´s marketing department started asking if they could use my photos in publication material, postcards, and the new view book coming out. I was happy that my work was being appreciated and after writing a large chunk of the view book in addition to my photos I was asked if my Senior year I would be interested in working for the Marketing Department. I was thrilled! I even saved the email.
But I have to take a moment to vent about the photo contest. So forget about Barcelona for a second and just listen to my ranting....thanks.
HOW DO THEY EVEN CHOSE THE PHOTOS THAT WIN!!!!!!!???????? Let me explain by looking at the winner this week:
It´s a Mountain Day picture. No offense to Kolaver07 but it´s pretty average. Ok my technology challenged Grandpa could have taken this...
Now this is the picture that I submitted that didn´t win:
I mean if you want to start talking about feats that defy gravity....GIANT tower of humans wins out over man on rope. It just does.
Now I don´t want you to think that I am biased simply because it is my own picture. Here is another picture that defies gravity and oh yeah, it didn´t win either (and I think it should have):
Are you starting to see the inconsistencies here? Sure I´d love to win the photo contest but I´d also be content if the winner deserved the winning.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So my new favorite activity in Spain is language exchange. My first language exchange was done through the University. They have contacts in a language school and set them up with their International students aka me and my friends. The only problem...or maybe it's not a problem...but at any rate my exchange partner, Monce, is older maybe 60?
So I decided I wanted more language partners my own age! So I posted an announcement on loquo.com (spanish craigslist) saying hey I'm a 20 year old American college student looking to practice Spanish if you want to practice English we could meet at a cafe or park. I'm looking for someone my own age!
So after getting over 40 emails flooding my inbox...most older guys saying well I'm 32 but I look younger jaja...no. That is how I met Julia, my 20 year old Sevilla friend! We are currently FB friends. But I love the language exchange opportunity because it's such great practice for me. It's been a way to meet locals, break away from awkward American tourist groups, and learn about interesting cultural things! So I also set up another meeting with an Italian guy on Friday...and I started to wonder...can you have TOO MANY exchange partners?!?!! My opinion? No!
So I responded to a 23 year old native Barcelona guy who is studying Law at the same University as me. Well I got a message back from him this morning saying he searched for me of facebook (which is annoying because I don't know their last names....so the fb stalking is more or less a one way street...) but anyway. And get this, we have a friend in common! Lindsay Brothers. The intern I met this summer that was so sweet and helpful to me. She even hosted me a going away Sangria party! She studied in Barcelona the year before me.
The world gets smaller and smaller everyday...
Monday, October 12, 2009
Shrooms are very popular here in Barcelona, but not with the younger generation trying to take a trip. I'm talking 50 year old or plus little of Catalan ladies who are in love with mushrooms. They go off on weekend excursions or day trips to the mountains armed with guide books and search for mushrooms. Now I don't exactly fit the criteria of a 'mushroom hunter' ...young american girl...but I am intrigued to the max! And I want to join the shroom frenzy! Pilar made me run to the street corner on Saturday morning to buy a shroom book before they all were sold out.
I first heard about these mushrooms when one of the other BCA students told me his mom was going on a four day mushroom excursion to the mountains, then with Pilar and her mushroom book, and then today with my second language partner, Monce.
If I had to guess I would say Monce is in her late 50's. I was wondering what we would talk about and after we covered the basics, my family, the USA, school, her job exct...we began to talk about hobbies. And there the mushrooms cropped up again. I told her I was completely fascinated by the mushroom hunting going on and if there were places near Barcelona where I could go mushroom hunting. She was thrilled that I was excited by this and quickly agreed that after we got a bit more rain we could drive to the mountains and start the search. She said she knew a good mountain an hour away. Monce explained that some women are obsessed with finding these mushrooms and she enjoys more being in nature and walking. I like that, that way pressures off if I suck at mushroom gathering...
Monce loves walking and after we got tea at a typical Barcelona cafe she showed me her neighborhood. It reminded me a lot of La Mesa. It's like a little city inside a huge city it has that smaller, tranquilo, calmer feel to it. It turns out we really don't live that far away from each other because we ended up walking back to my apartment after. Monce and I spent 2 and a half hours talking together and agreed to meet next Saturday to see a new Woody Allen movie. These Barcelona people love Woody Allen!
Other news: Juniata asked me to write an official blog for the school. I guess more people have seen this than I originally thought... :) And Cribsy I hope the tests went well!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
This weekend has been especially good for me.
So I subscribe to various online zine/cultural reader kind of things (thanks to Lindsay!) that tell me every month some of the cool under the radar things that are going on in Barcelona. That's how I found out about John Lennon's birthday celebrations. I also read about this flea market that was last night.
Hannah and I excited for the flea market agreed to meet at metro Paral-lel at 8:00. We found each other and armed with the street name and a map we set out to find this place. I imagined it in a big open square and figured we couldn't miss it. So we are zigzagging through these narrow dark streets looking for this flea market. When we found the street we started to think this place didn't exist when I noticed a small sign above a poorly lit doorway. There were a few people milling about outside but for the most part the whole block was deserted. We ducked inside to find the golden nugget of flea markets.
We were immediately hit with a wave of heat emanating from the throng of people inside. Inside the entry way you could make out from the top of stairs a large well lit room of probably 60 feet by 60 feet with no windows. Laid out on platforms were heaps of old vintage clothing, books, old albums, sunglasses, retro anything, funky jewelry, and nik nacks and pins. It was awesome!
I came away with a funky pair of bright purple sunglasses (2 euros), a hot red mini skirt in great condition (4 euros), a retro teal plaid button up shirt (3 euros) and a embroidered red leather purse (2 euros). My big excitement of the night was finding a used Harry Potter book for 4 euros! I was so excited to read it in Spanish that I snapped it up only to discover outside it was in Catalan! Sadly I returned to the vendor and told him I couldn't read Catalan and he laughed and said, "No pasa nada" and gave me back my money.
Hannah and I left the stuffy flea market to go over our purchases on a street stoop. We were so excited by our finds and the deals. It was so much fun! We walked around the neighborhood for a while and found a bar that had the Portugal world cup qualifying game on and stopped to watch that for a while. All in all a great night.
Lindsay (where would I be without you!???) told me about this great site called Loquo.com. It is exactly like Craigslist but for Barcelona. So Friday I posted a language exchange add. My english for your spanish. I said I was looking for someone my age to go get drinks and practice Spanish with. Well I got over 20 responses! Most we older guys telling me they looked younger than they were...uh huh sure. But one girl, Julia, said she was 19, originally from Sevilla, and studying here. Perfect! We friended each other on Facebook and today met for drinks.
I was so excited to meet with her because I have yet to make that all elusive Spanish friend. In my University classes the Spanish kids stick together in a tight knit group and don't talk to anyone else...So we walked to a cafe and talked for over two hours! We talked about classes, going out, Europe, and culture. We bonded over Ratatat, Casablanca, and our love of English accents. It was fantastic. When we paid for our drinks we walked back to the metro together. When we had to go our separate ways we kissed goodbye and she told me that she had a lot of fun and that would like to meet again and get to know me. I said, "Of course!" We agreed to talk over facebook and meet again soon! A SPANISH FRIEND!!! POR FIN!!!!!!!
Tomorrow is Pilar's Saint Day, so we are going to have a ton of amazing food. I am going to go buy her flowers in the morning. Then later in the afternoon I have another language exchange partner an older woman that I spoke to on the phone. And on Friday I am meeting with ANOTHER language exchange partner, a 23 year old Italian guy who seems excited to practice his english. So I'm excited about all the Spanish going on currently. I knew I'd break away from those Americans eventually!
Current Moral? Very High.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
There is just no way around it. I love food. I love trying new foods, blending different spices, combining new flavors, cooking food, smelling food, tasting food, baking food, stirring, chopping, sautéing, slicing, dicing, mixing, frying, steaming food. And the food in Spain has lived up to all expectations.
I believe there is a very special relationship between what we eat and who we are. Food is the most important, quintessential, foundation of our survival and over the centuries it has developed into so much more, a past time, a pleasure, and an enjoyment.
One of my favorite things about culture is the distinct and regional dishes. I love trying somewhat out of the ordinary dishes. In Mexico I went out in search of cow brain, tongue, and intestine tacos, cow stomach soup, and ….no the cow utter tacos found me. Here in Spain I’ve been exposed to all sorts of different sea foods, types of lobster only regional to Cataluyna, muscles, crawdads, shrimp, squid, cured meats, black sausages, exotic fruits, like Ehirimoya and special types of tomatoes.
I firmly believe in growing your own food (when possible), cooking your own meals, and thoroughly taking the time to enjoy the food you make.
One of my favorite activities with Pilar happens in the kitchen. She brings back whole squids and teaches me how to cut and clean them. On Monday is Pilar's Saint Day. So it's a big deal and we started cooking yesterday in preparation for it. The piece de resistance of this sure to be delicious meal is stuffed squid. The inside is stuffed with pieces of squid, shrimp, hard boiled egg, and foie gras. I take pictures of the different steps of the recipe and write little notes, names of ingredients, and commentary in my little books. “Un juevo duro para cada calamar. Frie las patitas y gambas en aciete”.
I now have recipes for Paella, chicken broth, stuffed eggplant, croquetes, stuffed squid, Tortilla Espanola, baked fish with lemon, meatball and mushroom stew, various pastas, and a lemon chicken.
I'm looking forward to returning to the US to cook for my family and friends some of the traditional dishes here. I think that any exchange of culture brings us closer together and allows us to understand people better. But, if my brother was here...he would starve. There is no way he'd go for some of the things put on his plate.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Ok so realizing where my last blog left off I thought I'd leave off on a happier note for the weekend.
I went to practice yesterday and it went really well. The girls, who I initially thought were all 15, are actually a bit older. Some are 17 some 16...it's still a mix. They just don't breed em big out here! Everyone is so small. Pilar comes up to my chin. And I looked totally ridiculous the one day that I went out with all her little friends. It was this tall American and six little old Catalan women who came up to various body parts but none above my nose. But back to soccer...
The girls are much better than I was hoping for. I'm getting some great exercise and learning new things. The coach is good. He knows what he is talking about and the drills we do are legit. Our first game starts this Sunday. I won't be playing since I'm not officially on the team yet. But I am looking forward to where all this will go.
Tonight I am going to John Lennon Plaza to celebrate John Lennon's 69th birthday. There will be live music, festivities, and street beer (which now that I am working out I will be staying away from). But it's sure to be a good time!
Happy Friday everyone! whoooo!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
This week marked my fifth week in Spain. I have shed very few tears here and only on two occasions.
One, after my awful first day of school and only then it was just a few tears rolling down my face on the metro. The other occasion happened this morning when I woke up.
I was so frustrated about soccer and the sexism that occurs a few hot tears escaped. I am so sick of people telling me girls don’t play soccer. Soccer is a man’s sport. I am sick of the inequality. Sick of the sexism. Sick of playing on dirt. Sick of the street boys not wanting a girl on their team when its obvious I am better than them. Sick of the boys teams having 20 times more players. Sick of the boys teams having the good practice times. Sick of it. No, fucking fed up. (Sorry mom for the language. But I'm making a point).
I don’t understand how Spain can be so advanced liberally with things like gay marriage and then so unfair and unjust to half their population. I don’t know what to do but these feelings have left an anxious knot in the pit of my stomach and I can’t shake it.
This morning I went to the park to go juggle some more. I want to learn more moves. It has officially become a goal of mine. I want to become better so I can show them. So it will be so blatant that they have to admit it. Girls can play soccer.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I realized I haven't said a ton about my host mom yet. Pilar is in her 60's and has a regal grace to her that only age can produce. She is small and comes up a little above my shoulder (just like all her other friends...I feel like a giant!) She speaks not one word of English and I like it that way. She is a masseuse and I want to ask her if she could teach me a thing or two. She has a very kind heart and is a good person. As a general rule she gives money to amputees with more than one body part missing. Today I found out that her dad only has one arm (which may explain that).
I thought this weekend we had particularly strong bonding experiences...
1.Last night I used this phrase in Catalan when I was describing the lemon cake she made. She was so thrilled she ran up kissed me and beamed. Her friend that was over was horrified (well that may be a bit strong) because I guess you arent supposed to say it in polite company "only among friends" and started to tell Pilar this but she was instantly silenced, Pilar was proud and I was thrilled.
2. This morning I was explaining to Pilar the book I am reading about a hermaphrodite that lived as a woman for the first 14 yrs of life and a man the rest of his days. That convo led to gay marriage. Pilar said, 'who are we to say whats right and normal. we are all entitled to happieness.' wise words. Which was surprising coming from someone in her generation...even though she was shocked when she learned my dad ironed his own shirts (and not my mom)
Well then that convo led to marriage which led to her divorce which led to a melt down and crying session...her husband left her for a young brazilian he met on the internet and equals a total skeez. She was depressed for two years (still 15 yrs later upsets her) and he even had the audacity to ask her for money. It was very sad and slightly awkward for me. I think I did a mediocre job of comforting her. She even showed me wedding pics.
3. Two of my friends and I decided we will have a mom daughter night out on friday and go out for drinks. I thought it seemed like a great idea and so did Pilar! She is excited because the other two moms are divorced too.
4. Pilar and I are dieting together. She thinks shes getting fat. And I told her I thought I could slim down a bit too and so I eat my cereal, my big lunch, and then for dinner we are sticking mainly to fruit and increasing the veggie intake. I finally gathered the courage to tell her I didn't like the latest cereal she bought. It was some sugary chocolate kids cereal. (Well we haven't opened the box yet) but she was fine with it and all is well!
Tomorrow means classes again but for the most part I am really enjoying them. I watched the Barca game this weekend with two friends at a bar full of local color and a great ambiance. We were definitely the only Americans in there...and the only women!