Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming to an end...

Right before coming to Europe in December, I had a plethora of ideas about my soon-to-be life abroad (most, I would soon find out, would be wrong). Sophomore year of high school I "studied abroad" in Cantabria for a month and much as I thought I could connect with my friends who had studied abroad during college, I had no idea.

One thing about Spain that I love more than any country is the culture. This country is so diverse it surprises me how it holds together. In Cantabria (the autonomia labeled in purple to the north of the map) the weather is very similar to that of what I'd imagine being Seattle (but colder during the winter). Everything is very green and the landscape is accompanied by large trees and hills it's also generally cloudy with a drizzle here and there that keeps everything green and, occasionally, people inside. The people speak a Spanish that is very similar to that which I learned in school as the western part of the region was controlled under the kingdom that became the most powerful and thus implemented their way of speech (i.e. modern Spanish is a result from their way of talk).
This semester I was very close to going to Argentina (due to cost and my obsession with their way of speech) however I ended up narrowing it down to Barcelona and Granada, neither of which located in Argentina. I decided Granada because I wanted to continue with my Arabic studies, the standard of life is vastly cheaper than Barcelona and the program offered a trip to Morocco. After being here for almost six months, I am positive that I made the best choice I could have. Granada, and Andalucía more vaguely, is what people think of when they think of "Spain". Andalucía is the most populated autonomia of Spain and the second largest. Much like the Southern United States, Southern Spain is an agricultural powerhouse (but also share some other things in common such as the highest birth-rates in the country, having a forma de habla [way of speaking] that is viewed as "uneducated" and having one of the lower GDP's in the nation). I've very much enjoyed my time here as people in Andalucía are much warmer than those anywhere else in Spain. I've also unfortunately picked up a little unwanted souvenir from my studies here as well: the accent. As much as I tried to resist, it was just impossible. A phrase such as: "Yo estaba estudiando allí pero tenía que ir a escuela al imprimir algo" has now (unfortunately) become "Yo ettaba ettudiando alla pero tenía que ir a eccuela a imprimi argo". Weird.

Regardless, I'm currently sitting in my room after just finishing a final with clothes sprawled throughout my room. I should be packing, yes. I should be working on my other paper, yes. However much that is the case, I cannot stop thinking about this experience. So instead, I'm listening to the most tacky (but SO awesome) club anthems that they play in the clubs here via Youtube. It's so strange having a retrospective on this entire 5 and a half months as it has changed me so much - I'm almost scared to go home for that reason alone. Since January 5th (which seems so long ago while at the same time feeling like just yesterday), I've never been so depressed in my life while at the same time I've never been happier. There are days when everything goes right: waking up to a happy Ana, going to school and following everything the teacher says, ordering a coffee and pastry and while waiting having a conversation with the waiter using subjunctive shortly followed by a pretérito plusquamperfecto. Then there are days in which I couldn't think of the word for something like coffee or something like that, I then get home and find Ana in a grumpy mood and while walking down the street I can't help but think that the 3 year old next to me speaks and will speak better Spanish than I could ever dream of. Another think I've realized about moods is how much weather actually dictates my mood. Fortunately for me, Granada just happens to be close to the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun).
There really is going to be so much I am going to miss. I never thought I'd say this, but I really will miss Ana. She's been lovely the past month. Perhaps it's the whole "distance makes the heart grow fonder" as I've been traveling like crazy and have only seen Ana maybe 60% of the past month. There isn't much wrong with our relationship I've come to decide. As one of my friends put it, "Could you really imagine after living by yourself in college for 3 years going to live with your grandmother... who just happens to be a SPANISH grandmother?!" I can tell I will really miss her, even though some of her "ideas" about certain things are abstract, talking with her and at times debating and defending what I believe in has really helped me improve with my Spanish speaking abilities.
I'm also going to miss the Spanish lifestyle a lot... however, at the same time I'm so READY to be back in the United States with our work ethic. A friend of mine here posted a Facebook status that I was thoroughly amused by the morning after we were at the club that overlooked the Alhambra until sunrise... As ridiculous as his status was, it described a lot:
i have mixed feelings about returning to a place where discos close before 8 am... and by mixed feelings i mean sometimes i like staying out until 730 in the morning but then other times i don't like staying out until 730 in the morning and right now those feelings are mixing together and so i have mixed feelings about returning to a place where discos close before 8 am...

Now in that quote you can replace the word "discos" with a lot of things. Along with the love/hate disco relationship, I have a love/hate relationship with: siesta (where everything is closed in this city from 2-4:30 or 5), domingos/Sundays where everything is close (perhaps from going out 'till 7:30 in the morning the night before), etc. I am, however, going to miss just how laisse faire Spain is. In the United States, I would never, EVER do the things I do here. Sitting on a park step drinking a 40 of Granada's provincial beer or other such activies. A friend of mine the other day even jokingly asked me something along the lines of: "Is it sad that when I see police I am more scared of sitting on the grass in the park than smoking a porro in front of them?" I'm also going to miss the "character" of Granada. The fact that this has been my life, walking through the old moorish streets on my way to school while on my way back home I see the towering mountains of the Sierra Nevada that still have snow on them despite the temperature reaching at least 85 degrees for the past 2 weeks. I'm going to miss la Universidad de Granada. It has such a strong student population (88.000 students strong) that really gives Granada its' charm. The nightlife is going to be something I'll miss a lot, too. Granada's "free tapas with a drink" policy is amazing and not to mention a cheap way to get full and tipsy :P
I'm also going to miss my friends here. Finally within the last 2 months I've fallen into the group I get along best with. It's a quirky group that always gets ridiculous and always has great stories the next day (i.e. "He's in the hospital... yes he's fine... no, he just got a bottle broken over his head for making fun of two people having sex on the beach" & "We definitely got kicked out of a shawarma place because she went behind the counter and was stealing the chicken shavings"). Haha, I'm sure I'll do one final post when I'm back in the United States making everyone aware of my culture shock, as having to drive again, be out of clubs by 2 and being able to drink (but having to show my ID each time) will probably take it's toll on me.

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