Friday, September 28, 2007

Oh, life...

I suppose it's nigh time for an update...

La Mercè 2007: The Festival of Barcelona. Every year, around the 24th September, Barcelona bids farewell to summer with city-wide celebrations. Basically, it's a FAT party that lasts four days with over 600 events and extravaganzas. Um, good times?

+Friday night, we hit the opening ceremonies at Placa Sant Jaume with a parade of sorts complete with giant people, mystical creatures, pyrotechnics, and un GRAN multitud. Then in our failed attempt to find a particular jazz concert, we stumbled upon a glorious stage playing Latin music. ::cue the resounding trumpets of sheer happiness:: I almost cried it was so beautiful. When couples of all ages filled the open space in front of the stage, whirling and twirling and salsa-ing as if it were as simple as breathing, I practically died. So hot. [I miss our Sunday night salsa crew!]

We also walked through a packed out plaza of hippies drinking, smoking (we all know what...), and listening to reggae--it was so stereotypical, it was surreal. I busted out a few more dance moves--elbows, octupi, Irish jigs, etc.--as we passed by a stage of "world music" and one of something reminiscent of Irish folk jigging music. We didn't even know what language they were singing in, but joined the crowd, jumped around for a few minutes, and then moved on. Quite fun. We spent another hour or so ambling down Las Ramblas, observing all the other late-night/early morning festivities. I think Barcelona gives New York City a serious run for its money as the "City That Never Sleeps."

+Saturday night. We partied hard. Too hard. I don't want to talk about it. The end.

+Sunday night. We had our requisite Sunday night dinner, in which we go to a different friend's apartment each week, cook dinner, and watch movies. We made a comfort meal of grilled cheese (I will say that Spain is not particularly conducive to such meals. It was ridiculously difficult to grill two simple slices of white toast with cheddar cheese in the middle...) and champagne. Er, yeah. Watched a bit of the Rebelde novela, with Ryan carefully commentating everything to us on the side, and then headed out to see some more concerts (which went until 5 in the morning every day of the festival!) and a fair, complete with junk food stands and outrageous rides. We went down to the Forum, and while I don't even know the names of any of the bands we saw, we did reprise some of the jigging action from Friday night. That's fast becoming a specialty pastime.

Gins and Joes. My first visitors! Uncle Ed, Auntie Ruby, Uncle Marcon, and Auntie Susan were in Barcelona for two days before their Mediterranean cruise, so Sierra and I got to spend all Monday with them, developing our tour-guiding skills (still very much developing, I must say, but I have a collection of useful mental notes going now. Which means YOU should come visit.). We explored La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, La Pedrera, as well as much of Avinguda Diagonal in a discouraging attempt to find somewhere, anywhere! to eat (Monday was a holiday, posing some serious problems). We ultimately waited life out in the hotel room, as Auntie Ruby caught me up on CEC happenings and showed us how a bidet works, then dined at the Expo Hotel Restaurant. Visitors are nice, not only did they come bearing gifts from home, they treated us to a real meal (such a rarity these days). Gracias por todo! [I somehow managed to come away with no pictures with them. Poop.]

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Tuesday was the fateful first day of real class. School here is...different. And days are LONG; Tuesdays and Thursdays, I'm at school from 9AM to 8PM plus the two and a half to three hours round-trip it takes to get to and from school. While things haven't been terrible, I've certainly had more passing moments this week of "What am I DOING here?! I just want to go home..." than in all our time in Spain put together. Not necessarily in a homesick way, but more in a wishing for familiarity way. But then, how much more do you learn when outside of your comfort zone, right? We'll see how this year goes.

I'm currently taking three classes. One Spanish grammar class that is so ridiculous, it's painful. I'm in the process of dropping it for another linguistics class, despite the fact that it could mean an easy A. I just don't think writing personals advertising for a boyfriend, concocting riddles about trees, and discussing present tense conjugations in Spanish is worth my time. I'm also enrolled in "Latin America: International Relations, Politics, and Development." Hella scary professor, who is insistent about teaching the class in Catalan. Great. (Did I mention I don't actually speak Catalan?) Our written exam of a final at the end of the semester in February is worth a whopping 75% of my grade. The other 25% is based on a oral presentation in which I must teach the class on a topic of the teacher's choice for an hour and a half. What have I gotten myself into?! My other class: "Economic Crisis and Perspective in Latin America" seems slightly more promising in terms of survival. My professor is pretty chill and I basically want to be best friends with him. Haha. Unfortunately, both of my major classes only have about 7-8 people, making it exceedingly challenging for me to hide. UCSD has taught me more about blending into a lecture of 300 than seriously participating in a small section. I need to get over my chicken-ness. Stat.

Enough talking. Here's the good!

A good friend put it like this:
"Such interesting things happen when you go abroad."
I'm not sure I can add much else to that...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tenim piso

God is good.

AHHHHHHH. The day has finally come! We have officially moved into what shall be our home until next July. Words cannot even begin to express how delightedly happy we are. It is so good to be settled permanently, especially in such a nice place. We're a bit pooped to detail our day and living situation in excited words, but may these pictures appease you for now.

The front door (the open one) that took
us five million years to unlock and open...

La cocinaThe living room.Hallway of rooms:
(we are two of six people who live here)
Our ROOM!!!One of the banys.Teeheehee...The view from the balcony
(to which our room affords private access)

By the way, did you see all that blank wall space? Send us photographs! Of San Diego, of life, of your faces!
Help us make home, HOME.

Our address:
Facultat de Lletres--Edifici B--Campus UAB
Despatx B11/180
08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Valles), BARCELONA, SPAIN

And if you send a package, you must write "SIN VALOR COMERCIAL" to avoid being charged taxes.