Hello, hello! Yup, can you believe it? I made it to Spain safe and sound. The journey to Barcelona last Wednesday was a rather long one (SF0-LON-MAD-BCN)– 20 hours door-to-door, but the important thing is that most everything went according to plan. I even managed to bump up my flight (using my broken Spanish) and get into the city an hour or so earlier than expected.
Barcelona is amazing! It’s a rather compact city, so I was able to see plenty in just two days. Plus, everything is very clean, tidy, and public transportation rocks (always a plus in my book). Man, before my trip, I had gotten myself all freaked out about petty theft and such. I hardly saw anything sketchy. I don’t know if maybe the city started becoming more aggressive about combating pickpockets or what, but seriously, I noticed way more sketch in Shanghai. Yes, the morning after I arrived, I procrastinated for a good thirty minutes before working up enough courage to go outside and roam the streets. But once I got out there, it was totally fine… Really, I felt like I had gone way overboard splitting out my money and documents into three separate places, etc.
Now the part of my trip that totally bombed? My fucking shoes. It’s ALWAYS the shoes. Had I known Clarks (Privos!) would fail me yet again (strike 2), I would have just worn my goddamn Sketchers man-shoes. You don’t even want to guess how badly my feet are fucked: mondo blisters (which I punctured at night)… maybe the lesson here is simply that my feet are abnormal. I have no idea what the problem is: maybe my feet are too wide for Clarks? I dunno. I just have deformed stubbs now. It’s a true shame, because I had even painted my toenails. Ah well, I can’t get it all right. So the status now is: I think the shoes are BETTER… granted, I had been wearing them nonstop for 10 days BEFORE the trip started (I probably should have known then, but I was in denial) so they have come a long way. But still… they aren’t the same as my beloved Birks.
But back to Barcelona. I can’t speak much for the food– I went to a few places but eh, not particularly memorable. A bit salty for my taste (I’ve been craving Bub’s food actually). But the city itself is very very nice. Really great architecture, some funky architecture (more creepy, freaky than anything else), and then just a little bit of everything in terms of geography: mountains, beaches, city, parks, marina, and the weather was quite good. I can really soak up that Mediterranean sun.
I arrived at my host family’s flat on Sunday night. I’m staying with a retired couple in their late 50s (but they remind me more of my grandma, who is in her 80s). But it’s very much like staying at a grandmother’s house: they turn off all the lights, the chandeliers are missing most of their bulbs. The bulbs that ARE there are CFLs. The handsoap is majorly watered down… it’s pretty funny. I consider myself pretty conservationist, but uh, grandmothers are a whole other level. Yesterday, the apartment was so dark when I got home that I rammed into an accent table (luckily, nothing was broken) in the hallway. Now I have a monster bruise on the hip. Another student is also staying with the couple. He’s an older Brit who has lived in Germany for three decades. He’s a lively chap– very chatty, and since he knows German and French, he just spews all the words out in trying to communicate with Senor and Senora. I kind of just keep quiet, but I’m trying to talk more. It’s a little intimidating– and a bit unexpected. Anyway, we eat breakfast and dinner (9 pm!) at the house. In between, I kinda just stay on campus or walk around downtown. The days are long that way, but there’s no cell connection or internet at the house (they don’t even own a computer!), so you know me… need to stay connected for as long as I can.
The classes are going really well. At first, I was bummed about not testing out of basic basic, but it’s ok. I’m making good progress. They are not kidding about immersion… it’s full on!
Ok, well the school is closing in about 15 minutes and it’s getting dark outside. I should pack up and get going. I’ll try to update again tomorrow and post some pictures.