Long time since I have been back. Most recent crisis: My hard drive is busted on my laptop. I took it to MAC (they only have three in Spain and luckily two are in Sevilla) and they told me it is definitely the hard drive. This was the first time the language barrier has completely gotten in the way. I had no idea how to say hard drive, and disc drive, etc. But we got through it and I should have a new hard drive in about ten days. The most upsetting part is I have lost all pictures from my trip, minus the 100 on here. Also, lesson plans that I have written in the past two years were also lost. There is a tiny possibility they can recover some things: SO PRAY PLEASE! And please, learn from me, get an external hard drive. That is the first thing I am buying when I get my computer back.
I am currently at the study center computer lab. I have an interest group meeting, which is the group with which I will go to Morocco. Tonight, we are talking about Spanish food and ¨gastronomia.¨ Everyone is hoping we actually get to eat. Last week we had a ¨debate¨with Spanish students about stereotypes. To summarize how Spanish students our age TRULY feel about Americans: overweight, loud, no good looking men, shy, some are friendly, and drunks. We should work on this.
I can tell you why we have this stereotype: Prime example....This weekend we were in Lagos, Portugal (most amazing place ever by the way). The second night we went to a bar. There were Australian bar tenders who began playing American music just for us. Pretty soon the bar was packed and all the locals were enjoying watching us belt our lungs to ¨Sweet Caroline¨ and other classics. When we had first arrived, we noticed a small collection of thongs hanging from the ceiling, to which I was told, if you give up your ¨undies¨ you get free drinks. I shrugged it off as repulsive and outrageous. No, leave it to an American girl in our group to join the club. She took them off and then was handed pitchers of beer for the rest of the night. Not only was everyone tired of hearing about it the next day, but she was about to pass out the next day as well. Really though, that is how you improve the American stereotype.
Onto other stories about Lagos...I would post pictures (which I will do eventually when I get them from my friends), but for the time being my words will suffice. Lagos is on the southern coast. You are surrounded by crystal blue water, and cliffs the size of city skyscrapers. The cliffs have caves going through them and beaches cutting along the edges. Highlights include:
1) Sangria boat cruise where we went out a few miles, jumped off into the water (which I surprisingly did despite my fear of sharks), and then took mini boats into the caves. The light from above illuminated the inside and the tranquillity was overwhelming.
2) The food. The second night we went out for seafood. I ordered swordfish, which was by far the best I had ever had. I had never seen a group of people so excited to see green beans, carrots and potatoes, which was served with our fish. It was my first time eating boiled potatoes, carrots and green beans in over a month.
3) Surfing. Well, trying to surf. We took a two hour lesson, on the west coast. It was a surfing beach, where no one just swam. The waves were HUGEE! Our two hour lesson was more of a game of charades, because well, we don't speak Portuguese and well, our teacher didn't speak English or Spanish. Following our lesson we were in the water for two hours. I completed a repeated cycle of seeing a wave, flopping onto my board, paddling hard, going into a push up position, pulling my legs up, getting up on my knees, not standing up once, and getting plummeted into the water. I currently have two bruises on my hips, three on my legs, and one on my ribs. I have proof I tried, and proof I wasn't very good, but I had a blast.
Leaving Lagos was so sad. We all had the times of our lives, had a real hotel (including longggg, warm showers), had met knew people, and had gained a summery glow. We all want to return someday. (Father, I know you are on board, start planning)...
Other than my crazy adventures, I have been dedicating the ¨majority¨ of my time to classes. Low down on my classes:
1) Literature: insane teacher, Magdalena. Genius, has a doctorate from NYU, speaks great English. She gets as anxious about being in class as we do. Today, we went to speak to some nuns and then went and got coffee as a class. Don't worry, we have already read one book, by Unamuno.
2) Journalism: We have assigned topics for the magazine. Mine is definitively abortion and the morning after pill which is now purchasable without prescription to 16 year olds. I have mentally prepared myself that I will be rejected, yelled at, or maybe beat up by those I ask about this topic. (We have to talk to random people in the street). We go next week to 3 mil viviendas (google it). It is gypsy neighborhood in the southern part of the city. It has over 3000 apartments specifically built for the gypsy neighborhood. Busses, taxis and police (unless necessary) do not enter the neighborhood. Violence, drugs, and poverty are extremely prevalent. We will be going to the high school and speaking to some of the students. Half are of the gypsy neighborhood, and half are not. I am extremely excited, as I know it is something completely different from what I have been exposed to, and I know I will learn a lot form these kids.
3) Phonetics: Awful class. The other day, we were learning about how words break up into different syllable. Well, in English I learned the clapping trick, which isn't sufficient in Spanish. We were taught different types of words. She asked for an example of a ¨Aguda¨ word, whose accent falls on the last syllable. I could not think on my own, so I was glancing at an article from the class to find an example. In front of the whole class she says ¨Victoria am I boring you?¨ Despite the fact that she was, I tried explaining that I was looking for a word as an example, which she did not buy at all. I am her favorite student as of the second day.
4) Art History: It's art history. Not much to say. He is an old guy, who comes off as being really cold, but I think and hope is really sweet deep down. We shall see.
This weekend I am off to Barcelona with some girls. It will be my first hostel experience, and first trip with planning on my own. I have an itinerary (clearly taking after you, Mommy) for our three day trip. My next post will have info on how that itinerary goes, and hopefully some pictures from my newly fixed computer.