Friday, June 20, 2014

Week 3 at Nerja (Zero Schei├čerei Given)

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. A free blog entry where I can write whatever I want to. I think I'm going to write a thought journal about my experience so far. I love Spain, but I hate the class. The class is extremely stressful because of all of the homework that is assigned but none of it is collected so I guess I shouldn't worry too much about that. All that matters to me is getting an A in this class because if I get anything less, I will not be able to receive my ROTC scholarship and I may or may not be able to attend Loyola any longer. I am currently in Nerja for the second time but while the sun and water are extremely nice, just like the last time, I am to preoccupied stuck in my head thinking about the final exam and how important it is for my grade. I left to go back to the hotel in order to study an hour about pronouns.

The excursions are extremely fun and I enjoy going on them but between my want to explore the city, the homework and the excursion itself, I am so extremely pressed for time. I take solace in my photography though, I like to capture the moments I have seen and experienced in different and creative ways. After that, I find it fun to edit and finalize the photos, eventually posting them online for people to see. Photography has been without a doubt, the most fun and enjoyable thing I have done here in Spain... Aside from the bars.

The students in the class are, for the most part, annoying to no end while class is in session. I have my group of friends which are much more dedicated in my opinion. My own merry band of misfits. The others will not attempt to speak Spanish in class, they will throw paper at each other during the class and overall, not take the class as a whole seriously. They will complain about going on excursions as if they thought they signed up for a vacation that served their 104 credit. I'm not going to lie, but this is a near vacation, but I believe it should be seen more as a cultural experience and chance to make new strong friendships. AMERICA

Week 3 at Nerja (Values)

The values here, like the education system, are very similar to the values Americans also hold dear. Of course, the differences that exist are more drastic than those found in the education system. Alcohol here is treated very differently compared to the US. Over in the states, alcohol is seen as more of a party drink, used to lower inhibitions and allow for more unruly behavior. In Spain, it is used more as a casual social drink. Here, Spaniards will meet for tapas around 10 and jump from tapas bar to tapas bar. Then, and only then they will go to the clubs; but only if they feel like it. In the US, the only option is to go the club or go to a bar and drink with friends.

Family is also taken very dear here, I know that family is also extremely big in America but it seems that in Spain, the Government actually forces family time into people's schedules with the use of Siestas. This is a time when everything from shops to schools will shut down so that workers and students may travel back home in order to have lunch with their families. Because of this fact, lunch is also the largest meal of the day. America doesn't have this time although the families that care will find time. I think this is the largest difference between the values of Americans and Spaniards.

Punctuality is another noticeable difference I noticed her in Spain. Over in the States, everything is punctual and moving. People in America are all about productivity and moving onto the next event in their life. Whether it be grabbing a cup of McCafe coffee on their way to work through the drive through or receiving the bill five minutes within asking for it. In Spain, the locals like to take their time and are not at all worried about any lateness they might cause because of it. “To go” is a foreign word in coffee shops, the waiters will gladly serve ten customers before tending to the check you ask for twenty minutes ago. Time is not as greatly valued here as it is in America, Spaniards are more than happy to take their time and not be in any rush at all.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week two in the wonderful land of Spaniards and Futbol (Stereotypes)

When I came to Espana I don't think I really had any big glaring stereotypes against anything. It's safe to say that I could be one of the most ignorant people on this trip because I didn't really look up anything beforehand. This probably caused me to have some stereotypes against Spain that were far from correct. One example of this was I expected to not walk a block without seeing a couple of kids playing with a soccer ball. Another example was that I thought the streets would for the most part be extremely dirty and everything would seem kind of third worldy. 

That last misconception I had about Spain might have been due to a video game I played a while back... which took place in Mexico. It's pretty obvious that my knowledge of Spain was pretty close to nill and none. It is safe to say that most of these stereotypes I had were wrong for the most part. I even sort of like the way the people live here. They don't have the best resources and luxuries but they are happy with what they have and they take so much happiness in the little things; especially futbol. 

As far as stereotypes about America, all of the ones I have heard have come from bar speak. The things I have heard is that Americans are loud... That one is true. Americans are mostly fat, are all rich or well above their means, and are uncultured or violent. It is funny to see some of the peoples reactions to when they see that we don't fit their expectations, at least not to the full extent. They are also somewhat surprised to hear us speak Spanish to them which is always what gets me because it makes me feel like I am doing something right.

Week two in the wonderful land of Spaniards and Futbol (Academics) w/ Link

    The academics here in Spain are both startlingly different and alarmingly similar. I think that the biggest difference that exists lies in how students are expected to select a major. Espana has their students take an aptitude test and based on that score, they are able to select from a list of majors they are eligible for. This is different compared to schools in America but similar to the way one enlists in the armed forces. The test for that is named the ASVAB. As for the standard workload, the professor will assign a large amount of homework and have them due all at separate times throughout the semester or all due at the end of the course. This of course differs from American schools where the teacher/professor will assign a homework assignment and expect it the next class period. 

On average for Spain, it takes four to five years to graduate just like American school systems. Also similar to America on some cases, the student will only take classes directly correlated to their major. This can be compared to trade schools and some colleges. Students also like to participate in sports in their downtime, also very similar to the US but in this case, the popular sport is futbol while the popular sport in America is football. Similar and different. I always thought it was funny that the most popular sports from the two countries share the same phonetic name but are two different sports, neither one inspired by the other. 

The students here also elect to either live at home with their parents while going to school(US Commuter Students) or a group of students will get a house together will performing their studies(US Dormitories). The school schedule is slightly different here though, the classes are just like ours but they have a scheduled mandatory siesta period. This is where the entire school system, along with shops will shut down so that people may have lunch with their families. While this can be achieved in America by scheduling your classes around this time, it is not a standard like it is here in Spain. This is by far my favorite custom here but I don't think I would exchange it for what it's like in America; just because I enjoy being productive during the sunlight and I want my classes to be done as early in the day as possible.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Week 1 Post

To start off this blog, I'm just going to say to get it out there that Spain is in my current opinion one of the greatest countries I have ever been to. Of course that list is not very long, it easily tops all the other places I have been. Probably because I am actually experiencing the culture and interacting with natives as opposed to being on some sort of resort. It also helps that the natives speak a different language to make the experience more fun in terms of communicating.

I have noticed that just being in country and constantly hearing Spanish has caused my Spanish speaking skills to increase. I have been actively trying to learn the vocab and verb forms that way I can talk with the locals but I feel that just hearing it 24/7 is naturally allowing me to improve. As far as culture shock goes I don't really feel culture shocked by anything anymore. I blame the military but what I did and still do feel is like an alien in the country. The tables have turned where the major language spoken is Spanish and nobody but my friends speak English. I imagine this is more than likely what foreigners to America feel like when English is not their primary language. Main differences I notice in the culture are the sizes of the meals. Breakfast is extremely small, lunch is extremely large and dinner is also akin to a small snack. Siestas are also a thing in Spain, everything closes down for lunch and then they take a nap to wake up and continue their day. These are the two main differences I see in their culture compared to ours but for the most part, we are exceptionally similar so adjusting hasn't been too much of a challenge. I also typically look forward for the next day so if I am put off by anything in particular I am always looking forward and driving on.