Give and Take

Trip Start Sep 01, 2013
1
10
24
Trip End Dec 20, 2013


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What I did

Flag of Spain  , Madrid,
Thursday, October 3, 2013

This has been for sure my favorite week yet here in Alcalá! Its now been four weeks of class, and I feel like I have the swing of things down pretty well. Although I never felt very pressed by the amount of classwork I have, it certainly was a challenge at first getting accustomed to reading, writing, and speaking all in Spanish. I can now say after a month here, I feel pretty accustomed. Its taking me less time to read my assignments every night, I get confused less when listening to my spanish Mom rally off instructions for me, and every once in a while I hold a whole conversation seemingly without thinking about it or second-guessing myself once. 

As I mentioned in my last post, my Spanish mom, Julia, is currently unable to leave the house. Last Saturday she was shopping while it was raining and slipped on the wet sidewalk. She has a fractured ankle bone accompanied by significant swelling of her whole bottom leg. She also still has multiple bruises on both arms from the fall. She's currently wearing a hard cast on the foot. Fortunately, she doesn't let it hinder her from doing much. Although she is confined to the apartment, she moves around well in a rolling computer chair. She still cooks all meals, sweeps, and manages to do laundry. 

You might think her injury would put a burden on me too, but several good things have come out of the unfortunate event for me (hope that is not too bad of a thing to say). First off, because she needs help with things, her son, Alberto, who usually has been staying at his dad's house, has been hanging out here. Being 19, very close to my age, this adds an extra personality in the apartment, which has made things more interesting. When Alberto and Julia get into a conversation I might as well just leave because I have no chance of understanding anything they talk so fast!! They speak so loud too... and I'm pretty sure its not angry talk either haha. It has been good getting to know Alberto. He is still gone at school during the evenings while I have class more in the mornings, so we really only see each other at night. In watching TV and playing a video game together though, we have started to become descent friends. He tells me that me and my American friends should come play soccer with him and his friends sometime - Which would be cool! 

Fortunately for Julia, Either Alberto or myself is usually around the house. I've been helping Julia with house chores more often now (before this injury she wouldn't let me do anything). The past few days I have helped with dishes, laundry and cleaning, however. This makes me feel like a much closer part of the household. I've also been able to straighten my relationship with Julia by helping her when she needs a glass of water, her pain pills, answering the phone, or whatever small tasks come up. 

Moreover, because Julia cannot leave the apartment, She is constantly here when I am, which means I am speaking Spanish more. Before this week, Julia would work until 3pm, and I ate lunch by myself. Now however, we eat both Breakfast and lunch together and therefore talk much more. Its been a good thing for my Spanish! Also, I have met 2 of Julia's sisters and 3 friends in the past 4 days who have dropped by to check up on her. Although I don't talk much with the visitors, Its good to see new facing coming and going. In the first three weeks here nobody except one sister had been by. 

Julia goes back to the doctor next Tuesday and we are hoping for the best of news possible. For sure, it is believed as of now that she can't work for another 3 weeks or so. 

Several very good things also happened this week. The first one is that I began volunteering! Through the Institute (my school here) I signed up to help spanish children learn English in school. I am now going every Tuesday in the mornings to practice talking English with a class of boys and girls about 12 years old I'd say. My first day was this past Tuesday and it was a blast! The teacher really gave me free reign over the whole hour class. I stood in the front of class, asked them questions, and let them have their chance to ask me some back. They weren't shy, thats for sure. The first question I got asked was "Do you have a girlfriend?" When I told the boy no, I returned the question. He held up two fingers haha! I definitely know who the class clown is! The other question they all wanted to know was "Which futbol team I liked." When I said a team from England they all boo'd me and started shouting names of Spanish teams! It demonstrated to me how big of a deal futbol is to even small kids here! Next week the teacher said I could plan an activity or game of some kind to keep the kids interested, so I'm excited to see what stories come next! 

Finally, yesterday I saw my first professional soccer game!! Me and 15 other friends went to Madrid to see the Champion's League match of Real Madrid vs. Copenhagen. We arrived to the stadium two hours early and the streets were blocked off and packed with people. Vendors were all over selling jerseys and scarfs outside the stadium. When the doors finally opened, we made it up to our seats (nose bleeders), but were simply at awe with the view. The stadium was huge. Held 80,000 fans! The Copenhagen fans were all in the stadium early and had their fan section cheering more than an hour before the game. All game long they had the most interesting cheers complete with drums and low grunts made to resemble the vikings! By kickoff, the stadium was completely full with cheering, drunk, fans. Nearly every single one wore a jersey. Me and my Butler friends bought scarfs to try to fit in a little better, but it was still pretty obvious we were not used to the cheering and carrying on I'm afraid. Nevertheless, we had an amazing time at the game, and it wasn't too hard to see the action that was going on. I could even make out the intricate footwork of Christiano Ronaldo (Madrid Star). The game was a blowout, with Madrid winning 4-0. Everyone was happy at the end and it was incredible seeing how big of an uproar every goal caused! It will be an experience I will never forget. 

Tomorrow, I have a day trip Segovia, Spain. It is known for having some of the oldest remaining Roman Architecture in Spain and also one of the most famous Castles in the area! I'm very excited and will be sure to take plenty of pictures! 

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