1) Mexican Food: I didn’t realize how much I liked Mexican food until it was an ocean away. I’m talking sizzlin’ pans of fajita chicken and steak, chips with hearty salsa, and the delicacy of Red Cactus tacos. The moment I get home, I’m going to commit the sin of gluttony all over Mexican restaurants everywhere. Okay? No. Necessary? Yes.
2) Access to electricity: If I had a water balloon for every time my laptop was about to die, I would be able to punish every cat on the planet for when they peed on the carpet.
3) Wireless Everything: Phones. Internet. I was born in Generation Now, and I’m not ashamed. I love being connected. I love having access to everything and everyone at a moment’s notice.
4) Shoes: I’ve rolling two loafers and a pair of Sperries deep, and its just not right. A girl said I looked like a Southern frat-boy the other day. It was then I there that I realized importance of a fresh pair of kicks — preferably Air Max’s or Creative Recs — in everyday life.
5) Unnecessarily Loud Speakers: As I walked the city streets today, I was turning heads, not because of my dashing good looks, but because I had my headphones turned up so loud that my eardrums were crying tears of joy. I couldn’t help it. There are few things I enjoy more than just being swallowed in the sounds of a quality song, and it was simply necessary to do so today. I’m going to just warn my future wife now that we’re going to have top of the line speakers in our basement permanently connected to turntables and a computer. Standard? No. Necessary? No doubt about it.
For all my beloved back home, please do all of the above as often as possible for me. And take pictures of you enjoying their presence in your life so that I can live vicariously through you.
So in theory, I’m here for one reason: to learn the Spanish language. Do I have a reason to learn the language? Other than just tighting around speaking to other Spanish speakers, no. However, that is not to say one won’t arise.
Anyway, for the first 3 weeks-ish, I had made progress, but by no means enough. There are a lot of Americans around, a lot of English being spoken, and only so much time can be spent in a book learning verb tenses.
But this week it all changed. Following the sister-in-law encounter and blind date, there were like five other instances of great Spanish. Let’s see…
1) Attended an extra conversation course on Tuesday between classes. Incredibly beneficial, lot of fun, and a few cute girls to top it off. (No, Grandma, I’m not dating anyone.)
2) Went to this thing at school called Speed Intercambios, where you go around talking to someone new every 5 minutes — of the opposite origin. Was reluctant to go because c’mon that’s just weird, but had nothing to do. Good times.
3) Went the next day to meet up with Alejandra, one of my actually Intercambios who is a Freshman at UPO, and spoke with her and her friends. Beginning to feel like less of an idiot each time.
4) Taking the Metro home after school, this girl asks me if I’m American. I politely say yes, and she begins to talk to me in Spanish. She’s moving to Chicago to learn English next year and had some questions. Solid 20 minutes convo.
5) Met up with Luis, my intercambio who is a Sevillan cop, along with his friend and two American girls. Went to this modern lounge, cafe, bar place and spoke of just about everything — from the cruelty of bullfights to how to distinguish when to say “Either, or” or “Neither, nor”, a skill set I guess I’d always took for granted. Next time, Luis is going to show me some spots in the city. Excited about it.
6) Had a DJ tryout last night at a bar called Esencia — which will get its own post eventually, I got asked to come back each week — and was fielding requests in Spanish, most of which I didn’t have because they were Spanish songs. Then, on my walk home, I hear someone call “Amigo!”. I turn around skeptically, excepting to get hassled, however its an overserved Spanish girls who is carrying an umbrella when it isn’t raining outside anymore. For the next 20 minutes, she works to get me to go to the discotec with her. I politely decline — I had my computer on me. It was another 20 minute conversation.
Well played, this week, well played.
On Tuesday, I have 7.5 hours of class. I was on campus from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. busy the whole time — I attended an extra conversation course and intercambio event during my breaks.
Fast forward a few hours to 9:30 where I was riding the Metro with Clayton to attend our blind Intercambio date that our señora had hooked us up with. It was a group of 8 people, 6 who were Spaniards, 1 Polack? (Polish), and 1 Brit. They were all about mid-twenties, and all except the 2 were looking to learn English.
So we grabbed a beverage and just talked, switching languages when we couldn’t explain something in the other. It hour or so passed and we had to leave, but it was an awesome time. Now, every Tuesday at 9:30 we’ll be heading to O’Neills to do the same — next time bringing a few friends with us so there are more English-natives.
We roll home, and I get a call from a great human being named Kirsten. “Come Out!” she says. “Be there in 20!” I say.
So I get dressed fresh and head out to Betis, the more or less American street full of bars with cheap drinks and good times. I walk in the bar, and see a friend of mine from class. Start talking, and then keep talking. While walking to the other side of the bar, I see this blonde girl with a frown on her face. So, like any good human being, I tell her to “Smile”, and keep walking. She calls me back over, and says the one thing that strikes fear into every American man: “Español?”
Since when are their blonde Spanish girls? I make a clutch five-minute conversation and bail to catch up with my friends. I figure you gotta get out while the gettin is good.
To sum up the rest of the night, met like 20 people, connected like 40, and even saw two of the girls from my blind intercambio date. Top notch night, straight beast mode, and classes are much better now that I know people.
And just to make clear, this was a Tuesday night.
Last week was no good. I hadn’t met too many people, wasn’t improving my language skills, and was overall just dec. This week was a whole ‘nother ballgame though. Where shall I start?
I get back from Carnaval, but my mood remains. I simply couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. But then, as were eating dinner, Manoli’s sister-in-law starts talking to us boys — a good thing except for the fact that I couldn’t understand a word. She takes note of this and goes off on me saying that I haven’t improved, and it’s pathetic because that’s the reason I came here. This somewhat upsets me because 1) my language has improved a ton, and 2) because I can’t help it that she talks at 300 mpg with an Andalusian accent.
Dinner ends, but we keep talking, and somehow the conversation takes us to American materialism. I begin to explain the status arms race, and how people place value on superficial things rather than relationships etc. They are glad to hear an American speak on the subject and encourage me to return home with a new mindset. Conversation ends, and I’m back in her good graces.
Then I mosey upstairs and go talk to my señora’s niece, Maria Gena. She’s studying, as always, but we begin to talk about what’s really important in life. So I speak my mind and tell her that grades shouldn’t be what you pride yourself on, and that other intangibles are more important. She rebuts, and chat for a while longer, and the part. Another rogue conversation with depth — in Spanish.