12 January 2010

!Hola de Santiago de Compostela!

There is so much to say about what has happened since I left Saturday morning, but I will try not to ramble and hit the highlights.

The three flights were very long but altogether uneventful. I met a really nice old couple from Texas on the way to Newark. They were headed to Tel Aviv, but they're plane was delayed so their layover turned out to be as long as mine. They, along with the book Straight Man by Richard Russo, much people watching, and walking around the gigantic airport, kept me entertained during my 10 hour layover. On the flight to Barcelona I sat in a row with another American student who watched a movie the entire flight and a man who spoke only Spanish but did not seem interested in talking to anyone in any language. I spent those 7 hours trying to sleep since I still had very little to occupy my time. After a 2 hour layover in Barcelona I finally made it to Santiago de Compostela.

Someone from the school picked me up--she had a little sign with my name on it, just like in the movies--and took me to my host home. I live in the part of town called La Zona Vieja, which is the old part (think centuries old). It's absolutely beautiful. All of the buildings are made of stone, as are the streets. It's almost like being in a Harry Potter book in Hogsmeade. There are shops lining the streets, and people live in little apartments above the shops. We live above a little Fujifilm store where you can get pictures developed or buy a camera or film. You actually have to go into the store to get up to the apartment. It's really cute and very cozy. My host family is small--just Antonieta and her 10-year-old son Nicolas. They have been wonderful to live with so far. When I went up to my room, my friend Alex who lived with Antonieta last semester had decorated a bulletin board with pictures of friends from home. It was a little touch of the US, and it was a welcome comfort.

When I got here it was snowing, which is rare. It rains a lot, but they rarely see snow because it doesn't get cold enough. Because it doesn't usually get cold enough to snow, every building I was in was freezing. It has started to warm up since Sunday when I arrived, and today instead of snow we got the typical rain. It will rain for a little while, then the sun will come out, then it rains again. Everyone here just deals with the rain. People still go out with their boots, coats, and umbrellas and brave the weather.

Santiago is a small city, so everything is within walking distance. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the university where I have my classes, and any sort of store I could think of is close by. So far I have walked a lot, and I have enjoyed being able to do anything I want without needing a car.

As far as school goes, yesterday we took a placement test and were separated into two classes. There are 8 people in my class: 2 Belmont students, 4 students from Brazil, 1 from Japan, and 1 from China. It's a unique experience to learn about people from other countries in a language that is secondary to everyone involved in the conversation. In the morning we spend 2 hours studying grammar and then have a 30 minute break. After the break, we come back and change teachers for a class focused more on conversation and learning about the history of Santiago and Galicia. We go home for lunch at about 2:30 (Everything closes down in the middle of the day and people go home to eat. It's fantastic.), and then some days we meet again around 4:30 to see or do something in the city. For example, this afternoon we met in one of the plazas by the cathedral and our teacher took us on a tour of the cathedral and its plazas, giving us the history of Santiago.

Speaking solely Spanish is a very strange experience, but I really enjoy it. It's often frustrating because I can't always say what I want to say, but I have already seen improvement and it's only my third day here. I am looking forward to a great semester!

If you would like to see the photo album so far, you can click here.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. It is absolutely beautiful. It sounds like you are going to have a wonderful experience. I'm glad everything is so close so you can easily check everything out. The catherdal is fabulous!!! I love all your pictures. It's obvious you are related to me, I take pictures of everything, multiple times! Love you--keep us informed!