I've been talking so much about excursions and special events that I realized I've neglected to memorialize the most prominent part of my trip- the day-to-day life as a student in Salamanca and all my favorite little things.
On a typical day, I have three classes. My morning classes are from 9-12, and consist of two hours of grammar and one hour of conversation and writing. Since classes commence at 9, I typically wake up at 7:30 and roll around in bed in a relatively unmotivated fashion until 8. Getting ready is easy because the heat deems both "hair & makeup" unnecessary. I usually just use a tinted spf bb cream on my face, a little bit of mascara, brush my teeth, put my hair in a ponytail, throw on some clothes, and leave.
I usually skip dorm breakfast, because it consists of dry toast and warm juice. I'd rather spend that time sleeping/rolling around in my bed angrily. In the mornings I try to walk to class alone, just to get some time with my thoughts or to listen to music. I usually bring an iced tea to class with me, a must to get through two hours of grammar lecture taught by a man who doesn't speak English.
Conversation class is easier because it's just one hour. Our professor is young, definitely a Masters student, and is fond of nerdy printed t-shirts. He's the tall, gangly type. It's weird having a professor so close to my own age, especially in a conversation class, because on some levels I relate to them, and on some they're giving me grades.
After class I usually join up with the group and head back to La Residencia to spend 1-2 hours working on homework or my history essay before lunch. As of today I have one chapter left to read in my book before I start writing. After that is lunch, of which I eat very little, followed by a much needed nap. I usually nap 2:15-3:30, and for an hour after that commence rolling in my bed while simultaneously catching up on the news of the day and reading some long form articles.
This is when the Spanish day gets weird, because it begins to repeat itself. In the morning, you wake up slowly, march yourself to the university for classes, return for homework, hanging out, and food, and then take a nap. After the nap, you wake up slowly, return to university for your last class, meander around town a little, return for more hanging out and food, and then maybe go back out, or maybe just go to bed. It makes the days pass really slowly because in a way it feels like I'm living each day twice.
I definitely packed anticipating cooler mornings and nights so I have an excess of cooler-weather clothes. I'm still trying to wear these clothes in the morning just to put off doing my laundry (which is nearly impossible here). I had to wash all my underwear in the sink when I ran out- most people have done this. By the afternoon I'm definitely ready for dresses and shorts- I bought a super cute, very Spanish pair of shorts today for 10 euro. The fashion here is different- if you're going out, you look nice. Most women wear either nice sundresses or lightweight, patterned pants or shorts. Patterned pants and shorts are HUGE here. I kind of want to get behind that trend but I'm also grappling with how poor I feel.
I definitely did not anticipate spending money the way I am. When I thought of what I'd spend money on, I mostly budgeted for drinks (of the wine, sangria, and cocktail variety) and a little bit of eating out money. Instead I'm spending about 3 euros a day on 1 euro cold drinks, like water, iced tea, Aquarius (a lighter, less sweet version of Gatorade), or my new favorite- Fanta Limon. (My computer doesn't have accents, forgive me). A few times a week I buy a breakfast pastry for 1,30, or an ice cream for 1 to 2 euro. Usually getting something cold is the goal here. It usually gets to 99 in the afternoons. I'm adjusted to the point where I'm like "Yup, here we go," but I'm not animated about the weather by any means.
I'm still working off a nasty sunburn from our afternoon at the pool on Saturday. The pool itself was fantastic- quite large (think a lap pool but twice as wide and thrice as long), very cold, and not at all crowded. But the sunburn, which I incurred despite three separate, thorough applications of 70 spf waterproof sunscreen, is still fading. As of today it doesn't hurt, but it keeps me perpetually warmer than I need to be, and results in a very warm bed when I wake up. I've been sleeping in soaking wet shirts to ease the discomfort.
For both budgetary and energy reasons I stopped going out on weekdays, save for frisbee in the park or the occasional free drinks run. American females could basically live on free drinks here- all you have to do is walk down the street with two or three others and you'll get multiple offers. Not even an exaggeration. We're not terribly keen on it though- it's usually (and by usually I mean like I've done it two or three times) a quick stop just to get some free drank before we go to the plaza or a club. There's also a shot bar, where all shots are 1 euro, that has the widest variety of flavors. There are even cannabis shots (you can have it infused in vodka or absinthe)- but Mom, Dad, don't worry, I stick to the watermelon and apple vodkas. Are you proud? It's only like a once-a-weekend thing. I haven't even spent that much money on drinks, as I told you, I swear.
Tomorrow is Wednesday, which means in three weeks exactly I'll return to the U.S. The day after is Thursday, which will mark three weeks exactly since I've been gone. Apparently, the trip is half over. And I think it's only going to get faster from here. I have three finals total, and the first is tomorrow- a 14 page written exam for my conversation and writing class. It'll be mostly fill-in-the-blank, I believe, and a few pages of writing. And the following Wednesday I'll have my final exams for both my classes- a short written exam for my grammar class, and a five-minute oral exam for my conversation class.
This Friday we're leaving early for Portugal, where we'll spend the weekend in a motel LITERALLY on the beach. White sand, lighthouses, drink & food shacks. I think this is the "classic summer vacation" part of the trip. There are no history lectures or "excursions" so it's really a little three-day vacation for everyone, professors included. I could literally not be more excited. And, it'll be super cool to travel through eastern Spain by bus and see the change in the countryside.
After we return late Sunday, we have one full week of classes left, and then one weekend (which includes a day long excursion on Saturday).
Monday my afternoon conversation class is meeting at the pool. Our profesora Lorena is really excited and we are too. Although I struggle to understand her accent a good deal of the time, I really adore her as a person. She's 23 and after having spent a few weeks with her, her humorous and sassy side has really come out. Even though communicating can be mentally exhausting (it is speaking in Spanish for a straight hour with no English to relate in) her class is probably my favorite part of the day. Last week we spent 35 minutes memorizing the entire Macarena song (IT. HAS. WORDS.) and singing and dancing to it, as well as doing solos. Today we played a "Guess Who" type game by holding up cards to our foreheads with a famous person on them, and asking questions to the rest of the group in Spanish to figure out "who we are". Some days class is more structured, and we talk about trends and traditions and cultural differences, but we have as much fun as we do serious conversations.
After that last weekend in Salamanca, we'll go to class Monday as a formality and Tuesday is our little "graduation"- mostly just getting certificates and saying our goodbyes. Tuesday afternoon we bus back to Madrid, where we'll stay together for three days. One day is an excursion to Toledo, another is cultural tours and stuff in Madrid, and the day in-between is a free day.
From there we part ways. Some (eight, I believe) will return to Salamanca for another two or four weeks of class, a large group is traveling to Barcelona for a few vacation-y days to cap off the trip, some are going home to Bellingham, and some, like myself, are doing a little bit more traveling.
I'll fly to Paris with D'Arcy and Kristin (Kristin and I are living in the same apartments next year!) for three nights and three days. We're renting a small apartment that's just a five-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. I'm looking forward to reading my book in the lawn beside it. They then fly out on the 4th of August for Rome, and I retreat to a hotel I have for one night near the airport for my flight out on the 5th. I'm not going to lie- I'm looking forward to the calm solitude of an evening and night in a hotel, with a room to myself. I leave Paris at 3 in the afternoon and arrive in Vancouver, 14 hours of flying later, at 6:30 in the evening. God damn, time zones.