I’ve Got My Ticket, And I’m Going To Go…

It’s strange…It seems like just yesterday that I had just gotten to Spain, so excited for all the exploration and adventure that was to come…But in less than 24 hours, I’ll be back in Greensboro, N.C. again–not in Europe, not in Spain, and not in Salamanca…

Hence, for the past few days, I’ve been trying to aprovechar (take advantage of/enjoy) what little time I have left here before I go back…

The day before last, I went to the Clerecía…Built in from 1617-1755, it was the residence/college of the Jesuits…Nowadays, it’s the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, and it’s not strictly devoted to religious study anymore (although there’s still your fair share of theology students)…

While I had climbed to the top of the towers here the beginning of the semester, I had never actually walked through the place–and so, I took a guided tour (touristy, yes [but it was the only way I could get access to certain areas])…Unfortunately, the guide was rather rude, but other than that, it was quite enjoyable…

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Continue reading

Why Am I Here???: My Spain Story…

I bet some of you have questions: Why did I leave the U.S. in the first place?…Why did I choose to go to Spain?…Why Salamanca in particular?…Perhaps this will help to clear things up…

I think I’ve had a since of adventure ever since I was this little:

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O.K., maybe not that little–but, you know what I mean!!…Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always enjoyed traveling (esp. to amusement parks), and I’ve always wanted to go out and explore new places and meet fascinating people… Continue reading

Betty Is A[n Indie] Punk Rocker: Sala Potemkim…

So last night, I had what’ll probably go down as the BEST night I’ve had in Salamanca–and all because I went to this place:

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Sala Potemkin!!!!…

But what makes Potemkin so special???…It’s a nice little dive bar where there’s live performances of alternative music–punk, indie, folk, blues rock, metal, you name it…I found out about it a few weeks before coming to Salamanca when I read a description of it in Lonely Planet: Spain–and for a weird indie girl like me who LOVES alt. music and subcultures, this sounded like the dopest place in townt!!…Plus, I’d never been to an intimate live show in a club before, and I’d always wanted to–therefore, I was determined to go to this place!!… Continue reading

Mi Horario Diario Universitario (My Daily Scholastic Schedule)…

O.K., so maybe some of you are curious as to what my academic courseload is like here in Salamanca…Well, let me give you a lowdown…

While walking to my classes every Monday through Thursday (thank the Lord for classes only four days a week), I walk through streets that look like this…

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Eventually, I reach El Edificio de San Isidro (The Building of San Isidro), which looks something like this…

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This is where my regular educational grind takes place, and my schedule looks like this…

History of Spain: M 11:10-12:25; W 10:30-11:45

O.K., so it’s pretty obvious what this class is all about–learning about the history of España from Prehistoric times up until today…I figured that while I’m in Spain, it would be at least a little useful to learn more about the place…

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…Dr. María Paz Pando Ballesteros, my instructor–Such a sweet woman, :-)…

Art and Architecture: M 12:35-1:50; TH 10:35-11:50

Again, this class is pretty self-explanatory…I enjoy art, so taking this class is a no-brainer…

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…Dr. Manuel Pérez Hernández–A humorous, soft-spoken man with a deep, relaxing voice, :-)…

Voices of Modern Spain: T 1:00-2:15; W: 4:40-5:55

A course that examines how various artistic expressions (literature, film, music, etc.) compliment our cultural understanding of Spain, from the late 19th century to today…Having previously taken SPN 317, the mandatory course for Spanish majors/minors that centers around a cultural-literary study of Spain, I’m at least somewhat familiar with the material–La Crisis de ’98, the dictatorship of Franco, the transition to democracy, La Movida–which fascinates me…

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…Dr. Javier Sánchez Zapatero–A really, really cool cat, :-)…

Female Latinamerican Writers: T 4:30-5:45; TH 4:00-5:15

Once again, pretty self-explanatory…Having taken a Women’s and Gender Studies class and a Transatlantic theatre class, I’ve had some exposure to feminine/feminist theory, and it fascinates me how much the historical exploitation/repression of women–a theme that, obviously, permeates through much of feminine/feminist works–corresponds to the exploitation/repression of the poor, marginalized people of Latinamerica (well, everywhere, really)…

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…Dr. Claudia González–Very thought-provoking (which I like), :-)…

A mis profesores: Si estáis leyendo este, no os doy lisonjas para mejorar mis notas/mi fama con vosotros (…bueno…)…¡¡Es que pienso verdaderamente que sois buena gente, :-)!!…

La Práctica (The Internship)…

Yesterday morning, an important milestone was marked in my life: it was the first time I worked it 9-5 (or 9-12:30, in my case) at my first internship!!!!…Now what exactly do I do???…Let me explain…

For the time being (that is, until the end of April), I work at the Museo del Comercio (Museum of Commerce) in Salamanca…Considering the name, it’s not hard to guess what kind of museum it is…

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…My place of occupation… Continue reading

A Night At Erasmus…

So yesterday evening, me and some members of my group went to the Erasmus Café for some intercambios…For those of you who don’t know, and intercambio (the word literally means “exchange”) is when you meet people who are native (or REALLY fluent) speaker of a language you’re learning and want to perfect, talk with them for 30 (or more) minutes, and then they speak with you in your native tongue for that amount as well, in order to perfect their skills…

Also, the Erasmus Café (really more of a bar) is a place whose namesake comes from the ERASMUS program (which in itself was named after a guy named Erasmus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desiderius_Erasmus)…It’s a program that gives out a certain number of scholarships to European students who wish to study abroad in another European country/university…Hence, the bar has a very broad international clientele

But, I digress…We ended up having one with 2 girls from Salamanca: Marta, and, well, the other girl’s name I can’t remember!!!!…It wasn’t a straight-up intercambio in that we spoke almost entirely in Spanish, but it was still good practice of our language skills nonetheless…

But, what was REALLY fun was the trivia game that went along with it!!!!…You see, every Wednesday night from 10-1, the Café puts on a trivia game for all who want to participate…One of the questions had a representative from each group guess how many bicycles were on the ceiling (yes, you’ll see what I mean when you see the pictures)…I, being the representative of our group guessed the closest (I said 20–there are 19 bikes on the ceiling), and we won a PIZZA–La Erasmus…And, at the end of the night, we ended up in 2nd place, and got a 2009 bottle of Orgasmus, which is the bar’s personal brand of wine…

All-in-all, it was a most amusing evening: good company, good conversation, and, of course, pizza and Orgasmus

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…The outside of the bar… Continue reading

Exploring Salamanca…

Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to explore Salamanca–A city rich in history and culture…I thought I might share some of the interesting places I’ve been to so far…

La Plaza Mayor:

Constructed from 1729-1755 and often considered the most beautiful plaza in all of Europe, La Plaza Mayor was made out of piedra de Villamayor, a type of stone that glows a golden color when the sun’s rays hit it–and this is why Salamanca is often called La Ciudad Dorada (The Golden City)…On it columns one can see various portraits of important figures from Spain’s history–royalty, war heroes, musicians, philosphers, writers (you get the point)…

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La Plaza by day…

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…and by night… Continue reading

Lost–But Not in Translation…

Yesterday evening, I had the most delightful (note: irony) experience of getting lost in a foreign city…Here’s how it went down…

Me and some other students were planning on hitting up a tapas bar (e.g. a quaint local establishment that serves an assortment of apertivos and drink)…I was going to go back to my casa to get some money, and I asked somebody (who shall remain anonymous) if they wanted to walk with me…They did, and I then decided to accompany them to their house so that they could get what they needed…

Alas, I neglected to also pick up my mapa when I got home, and my companion also neglected to pick up theirs, thinking that I had mine…Add the fact that neither of us had a phone with service in Spain, and we were in quite the pickle…

Thankfully, we managed to get back to La Plaza de España by asking some locals ¿Dónde está La Plaza de España? (odd isn’t it), and while we tried to find where the rest of our group was eating, we eventually gave up and went home, now that we knew our bearings…

Now, should you find yourself in a situation similar to mine, here’s some advice:

1) Be cool–If you don’t keep your wits about you, you won’t think clearly and probably get even more lost…

2) Ask locals for directions–Trust me–they know the city better than you do…

3) Keep your cool–I can’t emphasize this enough–panicking will only make you a conspicuous, potential target for sketchy people…And…

4) Stay with your group–Because really, you shouldn’t be traveling in a strange city by yourself at night…

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Las primeras impresiones (First Impressions)…

…After a long, tiring day of bustling through airports, I’m FINALLY here in Spain!!!!…I haven’t been here that long, but I can tell that I’m going to enjoy it here!!…

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…A view from my balcony…

First, there’s the city itself…While I haven’t seen that much of it, what I’ve seen has been simply beautiful…The architecture is amazing, and the ancient cobbled streets lined with stores and restaurants are simply pleasant to walk through and people watch–Don’t worry, there’ll be more photos to come!!!!

…Another thing to love is the food…Granted, I’ve only started to experience the joy that is Spanish cuisine today, but I can tell you right now that it’s AMAZING!!!!…My madre (who I’ll talk more about in a bit) made arroz con pollo (chicken and rice)–simple yes, but ultimately very delicious and full of sabor (flavor)…It would seem that the the hallmark of Spanish cuisine is taking very ordinary ingredients and turning them into something extraordinary–a tortilla de patatas (potato tortilla, but really more of an omelette)…

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…Made mainly from potatoes and eggs (among other things, according to the tastes of the cook), this is one of the most common dishes in Spain…Truly delicious, which again demonstrates the beauty of simplicity found in la comida española.

…And of course, I can’t forget my host parents, Lourdes and Manuel…At first, I was sort of afraid that they possibly wouldn’t like me, but it turns out that they’re two of the sweetest, helpful padres (parents) a girl could ask for…They strive to make sure I’m comfortable, not only with the house but with them as well, and they only ask that I give them respect in return–and it’s doesn’t hurt that they’ve told me that my Spanish is excellent!!…Overall, I look forward to spending the semester with them!!!!

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…Mis padres…