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Friday, August 27, 2010

Letters from an Anonymous Friend - Letters from Spain, Part 2

Avila/Alba de Tormes

Welcome to another installment of Letters from an Anonymous Friend...where my long time college friend shares her stories of living and studying overseas, as well as babysitting teaching your kids in junior high. This is the second installment of her experiences in Spain over the summer, be sure to read Letters from Spain Part One.

On a different note, last year when I came to Salamanca and stayed for 8 weeks (way too long!) doing a different program, I had a lot of free time and learned a lot about myself. This year, being with so many other people for so many hours during the day, I feel like I’m learning a lot about other people. Some of the things I see are funny, some not so much, and some things are downright shocking. For example, my closest friend here calls herself an ardilla, or squirrel, because she’s always packing away food or napkins or something to use later. There is a medical reason for this (the food part, anyway), but it’s just funny to be sitting with her waiting for class to start at 7:15pm and she pulls out a hard-boiled egg, banana, and crackers from her backpack. I swear, the woman was a Girl Scout- she’s always prepared!

And then there’s the 40+ year old man-child who acts like he’s 4 years old. Early on, he tried to take my friend’s seat one morning (after everyone had been sitting in the same seat for a week) and pouted and stuck his lip out, saying in the most pitiful voice, “Please, Señoritas, por favor…” as if his big puppy dog eyes would change our minds. Already having moved his stuff back to his original seat (also in the front row), we said no again. He sat down, telling us that we were in the wrong to move his stuff and that he should be able to keep that seat. Finally, I told him that I would switch seats with him, but he said, playing the martyr, “No, I’ll sit here. It’s petty.” Well, we thought that would be it, but he tried again a few days later; this time, a few others got on his back and he moved again. After awhile, he displaced 3 other people and ended up sitting behind my friend and I, shuffling his papers loudly, moving around in his desk (which was connected to ours, so we felt it), and talking to the crazy lady who decided to sit next to him when we were trying to pay attention; he drove us crazy, especially my friend.

As of right now, the matter was brought to our tutora (mentor teacher) and there was a talk. That was 2 days ago. Since then, he’s moved himself in the very back and hasn’t bothered us since. It’s been heavenly!

As for the shocking aspect of learning about people… well, you can choose between the following: 1) One lady who snuck her husband into her dorm room for 3 weeks and had, uh, affectionate nights; this was not appreciated by the woman who shared the connecting kitchen as it kept her awake; 2) That same woman who snuck her husband in also decided to snatch someone’s test away and copy answers; 3) A 39-year-old
married man with kids is spending quite a bit of time with a 23-year-old know-it-all with her own boyfriend back home.

I feel like I’m in a freakin’ soap opera!!! Or a telenovela, since I’m in Spain. My friend here has convinced me to document everything (which I’m doing in my journal), and write it up as a telenovela later on. Who knows? She has even suggested a title:

Las Vidas de los Profesionales (Professional Lives, since we all in this program are
supposed to be professional).

But other than that I can’t complain too much. The heat and humidity are tolerable (though I’d rather take 120˚F in the dry Las Vegas heat any day), and I’m surviving the food (thank goodness they cook the chicken through; normally, they like their meats rare). I’m excited to come back home and have a chance to rest before starting another school year, but let’s not think about that just yet. I’ve got another month to chill. In the meantime, I’m enjoying Salamanca in most all its aspects; I love the sense of history that comes with this city, with this country. Americans would do well to learn their roots. I fear for the rising generation of Spaniards who are more Americanized than their fathers; they are no longer living in Franco’s shadow.

Anyway, I hope this is what you had in mind; edit it as you like. There’s always plenty more where that came from; society & culture never lack interesting tidbits, especially when they are not your own.

Take care of yourself and I’ll catch you later.

Paz, Amor, and Felicidad,

Gozosa, or as they say here: Alegría

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