Week three has been an incredible one, filled with many fun adventures and experiences. Rather than writing a personal reflection, I thought I would focus more on the things that took place this week.
Monday, as always, was my “light” day of the week. I only had two classes, each an hour long, so I was finished by 11:30. After my classes, we had our 20-minute descanso, or midday break. During this time, students fill the halls to converse or to grab a small almuerzo from the vending machines. Here, there are even “vending machines” that dispense small cups with your choice of coffee. I’m not much of a coffee person myself, but it is something worth bragging about.
Typically, I leave school immediately after finishing classes, but on Mondays, I enjoy staying around for a bit while everyone’s free. I never really eat a snack in between breakfast and lunch, but this Monday, I was hungry. I bought some random pastry thing from the vending machine. I still don’t know what it was exactly, but it was coated in chocolate and filled with chocolate. You can’t go wrong there.
I walked home with some friends who live near me. We took a completely different route than I was used to, but I went with it. We arrived at a small plaza and church, where they split off to head home. A week or two ago, if you dropped me off in that location and told me to find my way home, I would have been extremely lost. I would have just wandered around in whatever direction I could until hopefully I ended up somewhere near my home. Luckily now, however, my confidence in navigating this city has grown quite a bit. I made it home with no trouble at all.
On Tuesday, I had my first Spanish supermarket experience. It was magical. I’m a foodie at heart, so one of my favorite things about being in another country is experiencing the food. I find delight in walking through the aisles of the supermarket, seeing which foods are unique to the country and seeing which foods are the same as in America.
The main floor of the supermarket was filled mainly with fresh produce, meats, wines, and some personal items. Nothing too exciting. But the escalator took us down to the lower level, revealing a whole new delight for our American tummies. It was down there where the shelves were full of nonperishable foods, candies, coffees, and most importantly, snacks. I ended up finding some dulce de leche and Marie cookies, and that was enough for me.
The supermarket itself felt very big and fast-paced. When checking out, you chose a line (as normal), but each line has about four registers. You wait in line, and similar to an airport, a screen tells the person which register to go to. It was a little different, but hey, it’s the little differences that make life so exciting here.
Wednesday, either something really amazing happened or nothing happened at all because I honestly can’t remember much about it.
Thursday was my most eventful day of the week. It was my longest school day, consisting of four classes. Geography. Grammar. Literature. Culture. The classes were good, but the day kind of dragged on a bit. I finished at 1:50, and walked home just in time for lunch at 2:30. I worked on some homework and various things during the afternoon.
Thursday evening, my host mom walked me over to her daughter’s house, just an easy 5 minutes away. Her daughter has two adorable little boys, both in their first years of school. They are beginning to learn English, so the mom invited us to spend two hours every Thursday hanging out with the boys and practicing English with them. I go one week, and my roommate goes the next week. We even get paid a little bit to do so.
My first day with them was fun. The younger boy was really tired, and he clung to his “jaja” (grandma/my host mom). He wasn’t in the best mood. The older boy was a lot more interested in interacting with everyone. He led me into his room to see his book case filled with books in English and Spanish. He showed me his cars, trucks, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coloring book. We spent our time alternating between coloring and playing with the vehicles.
As for me, I’ve never been the greatest with first encounters. You’d think with being the oldest of six siblings, I would have plenty of experience with little kids, but not quite. It always takes me a little bit to know how to react around new children. Aside from that, I was going into a new Spanish setting. Would these children understand my gringa Spanish? Would I be able to understand them? How do I use their first language and teach them mine? Obviously, these are all little details. They aren’t problems at all, and I am genuinely excited for this experience. It’s just like anything other situation in my life. I’m going to be a little reserved at first as I take in my surroundings, as I learn about others and my place with them. Next time, it’ll be much easier for us to interact with each other. Los nietos are so adorable and entertaining. I honestly can’t wait to return.
We got home around 8:00pm and ate an early dinner. My host mom had been wanting to see the movie Passengers before it left theaters, and Thursday night was the perfect time to do so. She invited my roommate and I to come along. We drove to the cine, which was located in the mall. After purchasing our tickets, my mom took us to McDonald’s so she could by us ice cream cones. We walked around the mall for a bit as we finished our ice cream, and then we returned to the cine. My host mom adored having us with her. With an excited smile on her face and phone in her hand, she had us stopped in front of each movie display/poster for photos. Apparently, her and her friends enjoy taking crazy photos together, and she was keeping that tradition alive with us.
Passengers (the movie) was really good. The translations were clear and easy to understand. I found comfort in knowing that the “confusing” parts would have been just as confusing in English. Up until that moment, I had been eagerly wanting a Spanish movie theater experience, and now, I can finally check that off my bucket list.
We arrived home at midnight, so getting up for class on Friday morning was a challenge. The calming pitter patter of the rain on the roof accompanied me as I got ready for my day. My first rainy day in Valladolid. As I was leaving, a lady from our building stopped me. She said something about it being cold, and she looked at me as if I was crazy for not bundling up. I simple smiled and replied, “no. estoy bien.” This spring-like weather was nothing compared to Wisconsin’s winter. It wasn’t even cold outside in my opinion. My day was spent savoring the rainy day vibes of the city- the fog, the clouds, the light mist. I wish I could have seen more rain, but the small drizzle was peaceful as well.
Last night, my roommate and I did a little bit of shopping during the evening. It began to rain a little harder as we were out, so we headed home around 8:00. The rainy weather made us want churros con chocolate, and as we were deciding whether bring some home with us, we conveniently stumbled upon El Castillo, one of the popular churrerias. It was a sign from the heavens above. Of course, we stopped, ordered some churros “para llevar,” and had a mini feast when we got home. The churros were filling, and since my host mom wasn’t around for dinner, my roommate and I just waited until 10pm to enjoy the homemade veggie burgers that were prepared for us. I was pretty chilly during the night, so I bundled up in a sweatshirt, microwaved the heat pad that my host mom made for me, and spent the rest of the night under the comfort of my blankets.
All in all, this week was a good one. As usual, my weekend has been rather lazy. I spent my day writing and working through some devotionals. I’ve had a stronger desire and energy to get in touch with my creative side recently, and I hope that I can translate these desires into poems or something. We’ll see. There isn’t too much planned for week 4. I’ll be connecting with people back home, maybe participating in some events on campus, and partaking on whatever spontaneous adventures come up. I cannot wait.
As always, cheers. And much love,