Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Salamanca

We are now traveling by bus from Toledo to Salamanca to meet our families and get settled in before school starts tomorrow. I had a preconception that Europe’s terrain was mostly settled whether in the form of huge, bustling cities like Madrid or small villages. I am finding out that Spain actually has a really beautiful countryside covered in trees and barely spotted with little old houses and buildings. The view of the mountains is magnificent; I also didn’t realize that Spain had so many mountains. That’s what impressed me so much about Toledo, that no matter where you stood, you were either looking down on the entire city or looking up at ancient monuments and neighborhoods that sit on the hillside.

Luego (Later)…I’M IN SALAMANCA!! It finally hit when I was unpacking – I’m here for a whole semester, thousands of miles away from home in a place where I can barely understand what’s going on. Actually, I think my Spanish improved more in this one day than in the past 7 or so years that I’ve been studying it, so that’s encouraging. When we were touring the other cities the past few days, it was difficult for me to exchange even a few sentences with the shop clerks and today I have had several real conversations in Spanish with my seƱora and Gina. In fact, this morning I didn’t even know that I was able to do that, and it just kind of happened (like everyone said it would). It’s still really difficult to understand everything and it’s frustrating when I just don’t know the vocabulary to express myself, but I was really surprised today about how much I actually do know and how much I am learning from context clues. I can’t get too comfortable, though, because I’m also finding out that there are a lot of simple things that I don’t know yet, for example, I just now learned the words for “key” and “frog” and a few other simple words like that.
It’s really nice having Gina, especially right now, because our Spanish strengths and weaknesses are almost exactly opposite, so we can always help each other out. I get along with most of the people in my program, and it’s nice knowing that we all have each other as a kind of support base while we’re here. Hopefully it won’t take too long to make Spanish and other international friends. Other than Gina and I, there are two more students living with us – Paco is a Spanish student studying at the university, and Ane from Germany just arrived. Our host-mom makes her living by housing students whether they are international or just from another part of Spain. So far I like her a lot, she is so friendly and helpful, and if lunch was any indication, she cooks very well also.
I’m getting really excited about this semester. Before now, it hadn’t really occurred to me that I’m finally studying in Spain. I just felt like a tourist in a strange place. The last few days, it seemed like it was going to be impossible to be here and actually learn the language because I was always so lost, but now I can imagine myself settling in and being comfortable here. Don’t worry, I still know where home is. I miss all of you, I hope everything is going very well.
Hasta luego!


Mom said...

Hi Baby - I love reading about your travels and experiences in Spain. Keep up the good work - there are lots of people reading about your adventures. XOXO Mom

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