Monday, May 13, 2013

La Primera Día de mis Clases!

Today was our first day of classes here, but we didn't actually have classes. We had placement exams to figure out our sections for when we start classes. There were 4 tests. The first one was grammar, with sentences with words missing and multiple choice for the word to put in the blank. The second part was also some more grammar but in a different form that involved reading and comprehension. The third part was a listening part. And the last section was a writing part. We had to write about the last movie we saw and describe it and why we liked it, but we could only use 80-90 words. No more than 90, and no less than 80. It was kind of an interesting constraint, but it worked. I thought the tests went well, but we'll see tomorrow when we get our placements! Then we met with our dance teacher and just talked a little bit about the culture of Spain.

This is a really interesting statue Allison and I came across on our walk home from school. It's exactly what it looks like... a zipper. Haha! I have no idea why it is a statue or why it is in the middle of a roundabout, but there it is. 

I came home, had lunch with my family at 3:00pm, and then Allison and I decided to go to a phone store here. Her host dad really wanted her to get a phone today so he'd be able to contact her if he needed, so we went at about 4:30. My family had an extra very basic flip-phone they said I can have/use here, so I just needed to buy a SIM card for it. We went in the first phone store we saw, but they could not give me a card because my phone was a different brand. (Basically, we walked into a Sprint store needing a Verizon SIM card.) The woman working told us that the store for my movistar phone "está en el otro lado," which means, is on the other side. And she pointed to the right. Allison and I walked around for probably 10 minutes up and down the rows of businesses and could not find the store! Turns out, it was directly next door to the first store. DIRECTLY. It was so stupid. Haha. So I got a card for my phone for only 12,40 euros which is really nice and I am able to call/text other phones in Spain. It'll be nice to have that, and also to have it as an alarm clock. I did not have another alarm so this morning I had to have my mom wake me up at 7:30. After the phone adventure, our group had a walking tour of the center of Avila and some of the cathedrals with one of our profesoras. She speaks very quickly so sometimes it was hard to understand, but she explained a lot about the history and culture of the buildings and walls. We got to go inside the famous cathedral of Santa Teresa and it was so beautiful. I haven't put the pictures on my computer yet, but when I do I'll upload a few to here and Facebook! While Allison and I were walking back to our houses, suddenly a huge boom of thunder cracked out and it started to rain. Neither of us had our umbrellas with us so we hurriedly walked to her house, which is closer to the center than mine, and got inside. I waited there for a while and got to meet her family. They are very nice and she has host siblings that are 12 and 16. The rain just kept getting stronger so I used their phone to call my house and had my dad come and get me. Luckily we live pretty close together so it wasn't a big deal. Tomorrow morning when we walk to school it will probably still be raining, so we will need to bring our umbrellas. Not a great moment to live across town from the school, but we're washable :)

Many of you are probably wondering/asking about the culture here and some things that are different. Everything here is much smaller than in the United States. For example, at the supermercado, the packages of food are much smaller, and other things like bottles of shampoo and soap come in much smaller containers. It is weird for me to buy them in such small containers because I feel like it's not practical, but it's the only option! The housing situations are much smaller too. The people here in the city live in apartments or houses. However, an apartment in the United States would be considered a house here. So the apartments here are much smaller than in the US. The rooms are much smaller too, and my shower is super little! It's so weird, but I'm getting used to it. The beds are also small. I don't think mine is even a twin, but I'm not sure. My bed also has fleece sheets on it, which is very interesting. I asked someone else if theirs did too and they said yes. That was one really  nice thing about being back at school with everyone was that we were able to talk about our families and our experiences and see what is the same/different and how everyone is doing. 

The food here is also very different, obviously. Not just different foods, but different foods at different times of day. I've explained how they eat lunch at 3pm and dinner at 9pm, but the food types are different as well. For breakfast, they eat many sweet things, many desserts. Things with chocolate, sugar, cakes, cookies, etc. That is their breakfast. The bad thing about that is you get hungry not long after eating, because it has no sustenance! Lunch is the big meal, with 2 or 3 courses, and then fruit, and then dessert, and then coffee. And then for dinner before bed, they tend to have what we would consider more breakfasty foods like eggs, bread/toast, tortillas, etc. I have liked everything I have eaten here so far and really enjoyed most of it. One interesting thing they do here is warm up milk before drinking it, and eat cereal out of mugs instead of bowls.

The roads are super different as well. Many of them are cobblestone or brick, but are very uneven so when you are driving on them it is SUPER bumpy, and they are not very nice to walk on either. There are roundabouts EVERYWHERE and so it's really difficult to cross the roads sometimes. You can only cross in the crosswalks, which don't go through the roundabouts, so sometimes you have to take a very circuitous route just to cross the street. They also have very small cars. I have not seen one pick-up truck here at all, and when I tried to explain trucks to my family they had no idea what I was talking about. Our explanations and communications are getting much better with each day. Today I explained how in my high school we had school today even though we usually don't on Mondays. I explained a snow day and that we need to make up the day on a Monday and my parents both understood with no problems! I was proud of that. We were watching TV tonight and CSI: Las Vegas was on. It was very interesting to watch in Spanish, and kind of funny because most of their shows here are Spanish voice-overs of American episodes. So the characters had different voices and the speech doesn't match their mouths, but it's fun to watch and I'm starting to understand more and more of it in the TV where they speak very quickly. One last fun interesting thing about here.. the voltage is different in their outlets, and so are the plug-ins. I have adapters to plug in my devices, but I do not need a converter because most electronics are distributed world wide and can handle the higher voltage. However, I have noticed that my devices charge SO much faster here than they do in the US! It's really nice actually. My camera battery only took about an hour to charge yesterday, compared to the many hours it takes at home. 

Wow, this post got super long but I just felt like I had a lot to say I guess!! I should head to bed now, I really need my sleep!! Adios :)

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