|What a great week so far! On Monday I took my language proficiency test to determine what level I will take my Intensive Month classes at. I scored 5 out of 8, which is high intermediate. So when I start the fall semester next month, I’ll take classes at level 6, which is advanced.
We had a very traditional Spanish lunch that day. First we had morcilla. It is a blood sausage made of pork blood and fat, rice, and onions. We also ate cherry tomatoes and three types of cheeses, including my favorite, queso manchego! It is made from sheep’s milk in La Mancha region of Spain. Our second dish was a mix of cooked vegetables with a fried egg on top. For dessert, we always have sweet fruit, like mangos, honeydew melon, or orange plums. I thought plums were only purple!
After lunch Manuela showed me the way to take to class. There are two Centros de Lenguajes Modernas (Modern Language Centers) in la Universidad de Granada. The University of Granada is more of an open campus like U of M. Many of the university’s buildings are spread out across the city. The center I go to is a little farther from our house than the other, (a seven-minute walk versus three) but it is a much more interesting route. I walk through a park, then take the sidewalk on a busy street. The shops and restaurants are just opening as I walk among the commuters and traffic of mopeds. Women and men take them to work with a bulky helmet and their dress clothes on!
Along this street there is beautiful “graffiti” by an anonymous artisit who calls himself, or herself, El Niño. I can’t even call his work graffiti; they’re more like murals. They are all over Granada, but he has painted in other cities, too. El Niño de la pintura paints murals of people, with intricate designs and a message. One that I see on my way to school says, “Somos más que palabras.” We are more than words. *
I was starving that evening, so before dinner, I met Rose after her classes and we went to a tapas bar. For two euros each, we got a beer and split three tapas – potatoes in a creamy sauce, pieces of juicy pork, and fried sardines. Yep, I ate the fried sardines. ☺
Tuesday was my first day of classes. I have two, two-hour classes of grammar, writing and speaking in Spanish. In between classes most of us have a snack and talk outside in a courtyard-like setting. Manuela gives me two nectarines or orange plums to take. If I’m feeling tired, I’ll buy a hot coffee drink from the cappuccino machine in the lobby for 0.70 centímos.
Later that afternoon I took a walking tour to the Albaicín. It is the oldest neighborhood in Granada, dating back to the 1100s. Some sources say even earlier. The maze of white houses and narrow, uneven cobblestone streets are built in the mountains, the Sierra Nevada. My camera battery died at the beginning of the tour, so I will definitely visit again to take another 200 photos. ☺
In front of the famous St. Nicolas church, at one of the highest points of the mountainous neighborhood, we stood across from the Alhambra, Spain’s most-visited tourist attraction. I’ve heard SO MUCH about the Alhambra ever since I choose to study in Granada. The Arabic palace housed a village of 2,000 Muslims before it was taken over by the Roman Catholics. It sits on top of a mountain, over-looking the city.
Up until this point, I had only seen parts of it from afar. But now, it was just before my eyes. It was so real and beautiful and HUGE. I got the chills from staring at it. Around us, two men were playing the Spanish guitar, and gypsies had jewelry and castanets laid out to sell.
After the tour, some friends and I went to a teahouse. The ceiling was draped in satin and Arabic music was playing. There were hookah lamps on each table, and sequined pillows on the benches and chairs.
After some strong – but excellent! – chai tea and lemonade with fresh mint, my friend Breanda and I explored the Moroccan-like shops along the streets by the Albaicín. The stores sold leather bags, sequined slippers, hookahs, glass mosaic lamps, teapots, and pants that look like Jasmine’s. I’m looking for a pretty pair of blue ones to buy!
Later that night, after we ate a Spanish tortilla (potato omelet) for dinner, Rose, Allison, and I met up with friends for sangria.
Wednesday my roommates and I went to the movies with Marian and her friends. Since the movie started during dinnertime, Manuela made us sandwiches to eat while we watched. The theatre was in a mall. I had no idea there was one in Granada. This city seems too unique to have one! A few things to share: underneath the screen, there was a row of flowers; the popcorn did not have butter, just salt; and the theatre played both American films and Spanish films.
The movie we saw is by a famous Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar, who is known for creating very strange films. I’ve seen a couple of his films; this one has to be the most bizarre by far! If you are interested in watching the trailer, it’s called La piel que habito, or The Skin I Live In.
Last night my roomies, some friends, and I went to another teahouse. This one was even more elaborate than the other! Because I’ve been to several Middle Eastern restaurants at home, I wasn’t exactly in awe of the first tetería we went to. This one amazed me!
Tomorrow morning, my roommates and I are to Motril for the weekend. The city is right on the coast and is a one-hour bus ride directly south from Granada. We booked a hostel that is right on the beach!
This city is full of history and culture. It is a fun, bustling city, yet the pace of life is calmer and slower than in the states. Every morning, when I walk down the steps from my house to school, I take in the nature scenes of the Sierra Nevada and think about how much I love Granada.