Intercambio-ing

I apologize it has been so long since I have written. Not that I think any of you are that offended, but I also do not like when I forget to write because although nothing life changing occurs, I am learning new things everyday that I would love to share! But it seems like these weeks keep flying by and before I know it, it’s the weekend and I am off again. Since my parents have left, things have been pretty mellow. Halloween was nothing special on my end but I was surprised by all of the costumes that I saw in Madrid. Coming here, everyone talked about how they really did not celebrate the candy-grabbing holiday in Europe, but I am here to tell you naysayers that it is alive and growing in popularity every year. The biggest difference between the European and American costume bonanza is made most distinct in examining in the objective of the costume. Whilst American college girls view it as an excuse to wear the least amount of clothing as possible and boys seek the easiest costume to store as much as alcohol as possible, Spanish youth look for the most striking and scary costumes. We’re talking about fake blood running down the face and devil horn galore. Anyways, I would still see the holiday as a very American tradition, but we may see some competition from our European counterparts in the near future…

This past week was marred with new experiences beginning on Monday night when I had job training at a bar called Maloney’s. Now I know what you’re thinking… Why would I be getting a job when I have a month and a half left here and should be taking in the Spanish culture? Well the truth is, I did not realize it was job training until I got to the bar and the owner started showing us where the drinks are kept, how to clean the freezer, and the proper way to slice a lemon. Turns out, the owner needs bartenders to work during the week so thought that it would be a good night to show me and two friends the lay of the land in case a night comes where he was short on workers. Details aside, it was quite the night and I surprisingly learned a lot from how to make sangria to the proper way to fill a beer glass from a tap. He even called the next day to see if I could come in for work, but let’s just say that I am not that desperate for a job… Maybe something I will regret come Christmas time.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were all standard madrileño days, minus the Mexican restaurant me and Taylor visited Tuesday night for dinner to get quesadillas. Ironically, it was called Colorado Express and it did just the trick to satisfy my Mexican craving. Funnily enough, yesterday I was chatting with a friend who has found the sole Taco Bell in Madrid (and been there five times since) at a mall that is accessible on the metro, and I’m not going to lie, I think I am going to have to go within the next week. It’s not that I even like Taco Bell in the states, but it’s just one of those things that sounds like it would hit the spot right about now.

Visited Cave Bar on Tuesday with my friends from Brazil. I love hanging out with them because, while they speak Portuguese, English, and Spanish all pretty well, when we all hang out together, we only talk in Spanish. It’s a great way to practice and if all else fails and I cannot understand exactly what they’re trying to say, they can usually explain it in English. I had a similar experience in a bookstore yesterday when a French man started talking to me in Spanish and, although he spoke English as well, he said his Spanish was better than his English and, thus, wanted to talk to me in that! Then he went on to try to dissect how we define what language we speak better, whether it is “how we say beautiful things” or what. I went on to tell him, for me, it comes down to having the vocabulary to say what he refers to as “romantic and beautiful things.” Maybe not the wistful answer he was looking for, but I was not in the mood for his French banter.

Last night I went to my first Intercambio which are arranged by my school weekly. An intercambio is a function where students from the Spanish campus of my school and my program can meet up in the designated café/pub/etc. to talk and practice language. Most of the time, you end up talking in Spanish while they talk in English but that is the point of the night I guess? But my favorite part was when we made the transition from the café to a bar down the street to play the time-honored game, beer pong (or Beirut for all you Coloradans). This game is virtually unheard of in Spain, only known to bar owners trying to lure American frat-boys to buy jarra after jarra of cerveza to make some dinero (pitcher after pitcher of beer to make some money). Anyways, I ended up partnering up with my British friend (who also did not know of the game) and it ended up being a ton of fun. They loved the game and I really would not be surprised if you could find them back for another round tonight.

Speaking of my British friend, last night was “Bonfire Night” in Great Britain. Although he explained the meaning of the tradition to mean a million times, I still do not really get it and for the sake of not offending all my British readers (ok I don’t think I have British readers but maybe one day) I am not going to go into the history, but rather leave you with this picture. Apparently the bonfires are HUGE in Britain and they roast sausages and baked potatoes (YUM) while burning handmade figures of Guy Fawks. We basically did that too…

guyfawks

Our mini-bonfire

And here we are today. This next month and half is going to fly by. Every weekend I am busy except my final weekend, and am already thinking of planning a one-final-hurrah-trip (OFHT, for short) that weekend. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself (or my bank account) so we will have to wait and see! I am headed to Germany, Paris, Barcelona, and Vienna so there is still lots in store and more intercambio action to be had!

For those of you who do not know, my grandpa immigrated from Germany to Canada (and later ended up in the United States thanks to my wonderful grandma) when he was just a young lad. All of his immediate family still lives in some part of Germany and so I figured it would be interesting to go and visit them and get a little taste of German culture so that is where I am off to tomorrow. Not sure if my German vocabulary (mostly consisting of food names) is going to get me very far but we shall see. Gute nacht! (I think that means goodnight?!)

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Filed under it happens, learning, nightlife

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