My luck so far in this country has been almost unbelievably good. This week classes started, and it is safe to say I have one of the best schedules I’ve ever had in college, and some of the most interesting classes. My schedule reads as follows: 20th Century Spanish History, Modern Art, Conversation with a focus on Spanish Cinema, and Translation. As far as times go, I’ve got nothing before 11am (some days I don’t go until 12:30pm) and afternoon classes which allow me on some days to be done at 3:30, and others 7pm (leaving me just enough time to get tapas with friends before going home for dinner). Let’s not forget, also, that I don’t have Friday classes. I’m also REALLY excited to learn about all of these subjects, and so far class discussions have been filled with lots of cultural conversation that may not pertain to the day’s topic, but are fascinating nonetheless; never before have I been in an art class that in 30 minutes can go from Romanticism to Jung and Plato and then finally to instructions on how to buy, prepare and eat eels. And hearing about my professor’s grandmother and her death in one of Franco’s concentration camps gave me goosebumps. Plus class size is TINY compared to UVA, with my largest class having 15 kids (since there’s about 45 of us in the program all together). All in all, I’m really pleased. Should be a good academic year.
Apart from classes, the program provides various extracurricular activities that I’ve signed up for. One being a service learning internship that places students in fields of study to get a better sense of career life here. For example, some students can sit in with a child psychologist once a week and observe their work with patients and in the office, while others can help artists build the enormous falles (floats, essentially) that will be paraded around the city for Valencia’s biggest holiday (Les falles).
As far as my interests go, I requested to be placed either in an internship with a publishing house (which would be PERFECT since I’m looking towards getting into that field after graduation) or an online magazine where I’d be editing translations (also good, since I’m also ultimately hoping to be a literary translator). I find out about where I’ll be next week, so cross your fingers! Seeing as how I was the first one to turn the sheet in (I practically sprinted to the front desk after the interest meeting to do so), I should get something I like. The second extracurricular I started was an intercambio (exchange) with a local university student. His name is Diego, and we were matched up according to similar interests and we meet once a week to speak in both Spanish and English. We met for the first time last night and it went well; really friendly, and ended up inviting me out with all his friends, allowing me to get some real time with Spanish people my age!, which was a totally new experience. It’s safe to say I didn’t really dominate any conversation, but I really enjoyed seeing what kids my age here do for fun. Needless to say there are some cultural norms that are the same everywhere.
The UVA kids continue to be fun, and I’m enjoying getting to meet new people. This week we celebrated a week in Valencia (my second, actually) by all going out to supper together. Hilarious, actually, because we ordered paella, which NO ONE in Spain eats after 2pm; it is a LUNCH dish.
Suppers here are lo más light and consist of many different little courses. So I can only imagine what the waiters and chefs were thinking when they had to whip up an enormous portion (to give you the idea of the size of the platter: 1 of the skillets of paella filled 7 plates) of it so late in the day. I also spent the week planning a few trips with the kids in the group, and I am officially going to Italy (Rome and Florence) for our first break in October. SO EXCITED. Also managed to get both plane tickets for less than 100 euro, and now all my friend and I have to do is find some hole-in-the-wall hostels for the week and we’re set. Also looking forward to winter break, when I’ll be headed to (if all goes well) Morocco and Egypt with the other 3 students that are here for a full year. Again, pretty excited. It truly is easier and cheaper to get around in Europe, and I’ve got the time, so why not?
Other than that it’s been a normal week, and it’s starting to feel a lot like home; well, I’m getting my routine for the semester figured out. On all other fronts it’s totally different and I love it. But isn’t that why I came?