March 07, 2010

Intercambios and Rainy Days

And another weekend down in Spain. It started off Friday with another intercambio! I met a couple of girls from my group and we headed out together to the Plaza de la Constitucion in the center of town. And even though it was raining, it was a great turnout. We crossed our names off the list, paid our 1 euro, and started searching the crowd for our partner. My partner was Ivan, a 29-year-old Spanish guy originally from Galicia, which is an autonomous community in northern Spain. Once everyone was matched up with their partner (and thoroughly soaked due to the rain), we all headed to a teteria.

Ok, let me start off by saying that I love teterias! I love the unique atmosphere and the huge selection of teas and milkshakes and coffee and pastries. Like last night we got Irish tea with milk. I've never had tea brewed in milk before but it was delicious! I think a teteria would be really successful in a college town like Gainesville. Just sayin'.

So we sat down on some pillows and started talking away. At first it was a little awkward just trying to get into the flow of the conversation and over the initial nerves. But after about 10 minutes, we just kept talking. We talked in Spanish, then English, then Spanish. I think he realized I needed more practice! Ivan is a U2 fan and wanted to go see them play in Sevilla in June but the tickets are already sold out. (Even in another language, they can sell out concerts!) He loves American movies such as Avatar and all Clint Eastwood films. He's also a big fan of Dexter and Lost, which he hates to watch with Spanish dubbing because he's used to the voices of the English actors. His girlfriend lives in Cadiz and he had a similar experience there when he went for Carnavale a few years ago.

I talked about all of things that I first noticed when I got here, like the toilets and the lightswitches. He was surprised to find out that I like Spanish movies, since he basically despises them. I also told him about my musical interestes, from U2, to the Killers, to Britney Spears. That last one shocked him a bit. :)

We also talked about our struggles with learning another language. I've heard from several Spanish people that the hardest part about English is the pronunciation. While every letter in Spanish sounds the same every time you use it, almost every letter in English has more than one sound. The hardest part for me has been verb conjugations and verb tenses. English has only three forms of conjugations for each tense while Spanish has six completely unique forms! And they have a completely different verb tense that doesn't translate in English called subjunctive. It's so confusing!

Before I knew it, my friends informed me that it was already 10:30. We had already been there for 2 hours! So we said our goodbyes and we all exchanged phone numbers to plan another practice session over coffee. Intercambios have become a great way to practice and apply what we learn in the classroom to a real-life conversation. I can't wait for the next one in 2 weeks!

Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early for our trip to Cordoba! Just like all of the other cities in Andalucia, Cordoba's history is a mix of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian influences. And just like every other day we've been here, it rained!

This bridge was built a really long time ago, like everything else in Spain. And the has probably never been this full!

Our first stop was the Mezquita de Cordoba, a mosque that was transformed into a church.

The mosque was built in several phases so each column and arch is a little different.

Muslim and Christian symbols together.

A statue carried during the week of Semana Santa.

The cathedral that was built in the middle of the mosque. No one in Cordoba wanted the cathedral built at the time so the architect went to the King. Without really knowing what the architect was asking for, the king OKed it and so it was built. Years later, the King visited Cordoba and said "Had I known what you wanted to do, I wouldn't have allowed it." But having the cathedral inside the mosque saved the building from being destroyed during the Spanish Inquisition!

Still smiling despite the yucky weather!

This is statue of some famous Jewish philosopher. (Sorry I can't remember his name, I was a bit sleepy by this point in the tour!) His feet are shiny because rubbing his feet once is supposed to make you smarter. But rubbing them twice will give you hemorrhoids! I didn't take my chances...

After the tour with our ridiculous enthusiastic tour guide, we were supposed to have a couple hours of free time. But we all agreed that an hour was plenty in that cold and wet place. What is the deal with the weather?! There are crazy floods all throughout Europe, there's all that snow in the US and earthquakes to top it all off. Hopefully Mother Nature will calm down for all of our sakes.

Tomorrow I'm off to Barcelona for a few days! I've heard nothing and I'm super excited! We won't have enough room in our bags to bring our laptops so I'll be MIA for a few days. I hope everyone had a super duper weekend. See you in 38 days :)

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