Thanks for all your emails. I love hearing from you guys. Due to the discrepancies in the last email concerning the dog with 10 anuses: I know that you all are cheating with your Spanish. And on top of that, I know that you all are using the same crappy English/Spanish translator. I actually don’t know how to use enes or tildes (the Spanish accents) on my computer. So, there should have been an ene above the letter n in anos. (An ene is the little wavy line.) Because then it would mean years! Not anus! The dog is 10 years old.
Aaanyways… I have now been speaking mostly Spanish, missing English and attempting to learn a few words in Catalan for over a week now. Barcelona, excuse me, Barthelona, is one of, I believe, five “states” in Catalunya, a region in northeast Spain. Street signs are written in Catalan, restaurant menus are written in Catalan, the locals speak to each other in Catalan… So, no matter what language I try to use, I am still screwed. Yup, it’s fun.
Hey, John and Dad, guess what? I found a Lebanese restaurant RIGHT below my flat. (Well, I didn’t really find it so much as pass by it when I was moving into my new home, but it’s there.) Actually, mi mama, Consuelo, is friends with the owners. They are two brothers from Beirut. Aaaaand I found an Egyptian store right down the street. Both of these places have or sell hookah. Muahaha…. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, eh?
My roommate and I found a liquor store down the street and I bought a six-pack of 1 1/2 liter water bottles for about 2 euros. I am excited that I finally found cheap water! I’ve also been drinking lots of tap water, which the locals do not recommend for us, but I have not gotten sick and I feel absolutely fine. (Knock on Spanish wood.)
Things are getting more expensive. Starting to think maybe I should have studied in Argentina instead. hahaha The euro has gone up from $1.25 USD when I left AZ to now $1.60. That’s a big jump in a short period of time. So, I may have to quit school and come home early. I have kind of been living off cheese and bread. Although, for dinner (la cena) Mama Cello makes us something different every night. She is very sweet. Ensalada, then chicken, then soup, then hamburger patties… My roommate, Nikki, and I are getting along very well with Mama Cello and her old dog, Tor. Thank goodness Cello takes care of his 10 anuses, because that was NOT in the program description when I signed up for this gig! Although, Nikki and I do take turns washing the dishes after dinner every night, so I’ll be able to help out more when I get home, Dad. (That’s IF I come home, Dad!)
My Spanish is improving every day. I’ll actually start writing in Spanish and have to switch back to English for these emails! I have had to use the backspace key on just about every other sentence so far. I am required to do everything in Spanish at school (that includes THINKING!), so naturally, my mind is quite confused. I was learning a bit of Arabic before I left, now I speak Spanish and am trying to learn a wee bit of Catalan. My brain hurts. And it’s not just from the alcohol…
…Which reminds me. We have been going to some pretty cool bars. We went to this one called Dow Jones and it’s stock market-style. Drink prices change on the TV screens every minute. Sometimes, the market crashes. If you buy several of the same drink, the price goes up. But something else goes waaaaay down. It’s awesome. You would totally dig this place, Nick. I would buy a beer for cheap, the price would later go up, then I would want to sell what’s left of it to the guy next to me for even more than I bought it for. Hah.
Last night, we “made a friend” at an Irish Pub, Dusk. His name is Chris and he’s from England. He was workin’ the accent. People are from all over here, it’s crazy. One time, I asked someone for directions in Spanish, only to find out they only speak Italian. Or French. Or Polish… Like I said, no matter what language I try, I’m screwed.
Even the school supplies are different here in Europe. Three-ring binders are only two-ring. Guess that makes the hole punchers different too! Notebooks contain graph paper instead of college-ruled or wide-ruled. I only have a Spanish class for the first two weeks. I placed into Intermediate IV (of five), so I was excited about that. It’s weird not being able to ask my professor questions in English. It’s good for me, really.
Hair styles are deeeeefinitely different here as well. Guys wear mullets. They’re so ugly it makes me want to carry around scissors. (Sharp end down, of course.) Girls cut their hair into so many layers, it’s curly all over the place and shaggy. But, almost every Spaniard I’ve seen is in shape. America really is full of BIG people. Now I understand why many countries make such a big deal about our obesity issue. The only fast food restaurants I have recognized so far are Burger King and McDonald’s.
I am getting used to sleeping in a twin bed again. Tor sleeps on the floor next to me almost every night. I love it. Reminds me of my dogs back home… By the way, Mom and Dad, I rode three different metros yesterday and early this morning and didn’t get lost ONCE! I’m gainin’ on it alright. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Nikki and I decided I am in charge of directions from now on, because she always guesses to go one way, and then I tell her it’s the exact opposite. So, that’s how she’s getting around on her own: she goes the opposite way of what she thinks is right.
I miss you all and wish you could be here. I am very happy I came. I am learning so much about so many different aspects of life. I almost feel like I’m here to study people and culture, not the language. It’s a packaged deal I suppose. 🙂
Love you all! Take care.
Abrazos y besos, hugs and kisses, from 9,000 miles away,
Original journal entry September 14, 2007