Hasta luego Oxy y los Estados Unidos!
Blogger: Marilyn Bran
Hasta luego Oxy y los Estados Unidos!
This may be the longest blog I will write, but that is because I am packing it with stories and experiences from my time abroad! I am currently studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain, which is a really small town in the western part of Spain, close to Portugal. I chose this location (with the help of our International Programs Office) because of the small city, the lively nightlife, and because it is known to have the purest form of the Spanish language. Now, being a native Spanish speaker, I thought it was going to be easy, but NO - it is not easy! I learned Spanish at home and from a different country (my parents being from Guatemala) and a lot of Spanish words are useless in Spain because they don’t understand it.
But so far Spain has been A-MAZING! The program, IES, has a staff that makes you feel right at home and my host family is nice! The food here is tasty and delicious, especially the tortilla de patatas (translated to a tortilla made out of potatoes). My all-time favorite tapa (I will explain what it means later) are the Patatas Bravas or Angry Potatoes. Yeah silly name, but it’s delicious! Basically it is half cooked potato cut into pieces with this garlic and olive oil dressing called aioli and a chili sauce. YUM! So what exactly are tapas? Well they are small snacks given with a drink, which can be a coke, water, coffee, beer, or wine. The name comes from way back when the kings ruled with all their mighty power. One of the kings of Spain went to get a drink of wine and suddenly a wind blew in the bar. The vendor, in order to protect the drink from the sandy wind, put a slice of ham over the wine. The king was confused as to why he did so and when he asked the vendor, he replied, “to protect the wine; don’t want it to spoil.” See the phrase “to cover” in Spanish translates to “tapar” and so the Spanish word “tapar” stuck around and it was then shortened to “tapa.” Since the vendor covered the wine with the ham the king found it funny and clever and decided to eat the ham while also drinking his wine; and so he brought the action of having a snack that could cover the drink (as to protect it from sand or insects) to the town and from then it took off. In Spain, whenever you go to a bar and you ask for a drink, the vendor will ask if you want a “tapa” with that. Here is a little montage to TAPAS that was shown in my Spanish class. It may be hard to understand (it was for us!) so you can just look at the pictures J [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tsED75-Q9Q] There are also “pinchos” which are other types of snacks. Enough about food and drinks, now onto the actual city…
The actual city is a university city; there are two main universities in Salamanca: the University of Salamanca and the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca. The University of Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain and it has been compared to England’s Oxford University; it is also a public school. The Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca is a private, catholic university located around Salamanca. I recently started classes and I am taking 5 in total, 4 IES classes and 1 university class. I chose to take Motivational Psychology at the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca and my first day was intimidating! There were 4 of us IES students and the rest of the class (of maybe 30) were Spaniards, so they all knew the language well. Our first day was alright, but it was difficult to understand the professor, but hopefully with time it will get better. Our other classes are also in Spanish, which is challenging because you have to learn to speak and write correctly. We already have tons of reading to do and written assignments, so this semester is starting off busy!
If you are a native speaker, this place is great as a study abroad location because you get to improve your language, understand it better, and learn new words or sayings. Remember, this city has one of the purest and original forms of Spanish! But there are some obstacles…like I mentioned before, some words that you have learned may not be, let’s say, valid in Spain and other words have a different meaning. Here is a video that our Spanish teacher showed us (the lyrics should be under the video so try to follow it) [http://intentalocarito.com/videos/]. Basically, learning Spanish is difficult because it’s different in every country! But it’s ok, you get used to making mistakes.
Well this has been long! Throughout the semester I will keep adding to my long list more experiences in Spain and other countries I visit. Good luck to the first years at Oxy and to the continuing students. You can do it!!