Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"Wet paint. DO NOT TOUCH."

I exited my linguistics class with my new Canadian friend Keith, discussing Spain's penchant for racial stereotypes and general disregard for political correctness. As our professor wrapped up the class, he proceded to ask, pointedly looking at Keith and me, if he was speaking Spanish too quickly. Professor Alcoba turned to me, "I bet you understand perfectly because San Diego is 85% Mexican immigrants." Then he looked at Keith, who is black, and tangented, "Say, do you play basketball?" My turn again, "Lorena, is everyone in San Diego as serious as you or is that just because you're Chinese?" Ummm? (On the very first day of class, he asked me if Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was not my absolute, all-time favorite movie.) Mmhm.

As we chuckled over the awkwardness of being North American (much less black and Asian) and in Spain, the scene we suddenly encountered couldn't have affirmed it more. A huge mob had gathered in the hallways, people were squished in every crevice with nowhere to move or go. I attempted to shove my way through the crowd to the nearest door, only to come upon a guy dressed in a white body suit and a grey cloth wrapped around his head with only his eyes visible, standing guard holding a wooden board. My first instinct was something along the lines of a fresh paint job and that I should just try the next door. Discovery of that guy's twin posted at the next outlet led to finally noticing a plethora of Catalans dressed identically, blocking all doors and even elevators. Paint job, school hijacking...pshhh, same thing.

I was pushing people out of my way and navigating the stretch of hallway while listening to a voicemail from Sierra. She apparently was outside of the building, trying to get in to go to class. Meanwhile, I was trapped inside unable to get out. Finally, I just went up to one of the white-clad creatures and demanded to know how I was to go about exiting the building. He rattled off a slew of instructions in Catalan at lightning speed. I didn't understand anything he had said. But he refused to repeat anything in Castellano for me; typical Catalan pride. Eventually, I just took advantage of being small and the occurrence of a little scuffle at a door to slip out. Whew. That was fun.

I still don't know what was going on in there. Some strike about being Catalan or something. Nothing really new. Just last Tuesday, I got to school, prepared for a full day of classes. Half an hour into waiting around for our professor and the rest of the class to arrive, some kind soul deigned to pop in and tell us clueless foreign students that due to a demonstration assembly, all classes in the building had been cancelled for the afternoon. That was that. And today, as my linguistics class filed out after my professor's demure display of his knowledge of North American 'culture,' the Spanish students in our class informed us that there is to be a HUGE manifestaci√≥n on Thursday, strongly advising us not to come to school. There are going to be crazy picket line armies of mullets that will block any students from alighting from the metro, much less entering the campus. Sweet. Four-day weekend for me. 

And that's school for ya. Just another day at the good ol' UA of B...

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