Imagine this: you're in a foreign country. You live barely a ten minute walk from the biggest shopping area in the city. It's all exotic (in a Spanish way). And you have afternoons free to do whatever you want.
What do you do?
If you answered anything other than "go shopping!" then you're wrong.
I mean, all things considered, I'm surprised I'm not broke yet. Though I have to give myself credit for restraining myself a few times. I just keep justifying my shopping sprees as the following:
1) They're presents for other people! (Not really, so don't get your hopes up, peeps.)
2) I never do this in America, so it's okay for me to do it here!
3) I work three jobs at school and one at home! I've been working my butt off for this spending money!
4) I really need this!
5) It's food- necessary for survival!
6) It's SO cheap!
I think there's more on the list, but those are the basics. Nevertheless, I am enjoying fitting the stereotype of rich American tourist.
Today I stopped by one of my favorite stores to pick up a present (YES FOR ONE OF YOU! I think. Depending on if that person in question is reading this.) Anyway, I've been in there many times because it has the best souvenirs and I am actually...dare I say it? Friends with the owner. He's a really old man named Vicente, or Vincent, since he likes to learn the English versions of names and objects. The store is right in the middle of the street, but it's very small so I think many people pass by it without noticing it. It's even smaller than my dorm room at school, and even if you guys haven't seen that, I'm pretty sure you can guestimate how small a dorm room is.
Vicente loves The Beatles, so he's always been blasting them throughout the store whenever I've gone in. He's such a talkative man, and knows me as the girl from Colorado (because he always reminds me that it means color rojo- the color red, in Spanish). I always find something I want to buy, and as I'm getting ready to purchase it and leave, he ends up somehow keeping a conversation going for twenty more minutes. He asks questions about the United States, and tells me about the strange people who come into his store. Today he told me I speak great Spanish, so I was once again reminded that I am not hopeless with the language.
Though that's my favorite store on the street, my friends and I often sit outside in the street for tapas and then go for gelato or froyo afterwards. It could just be because we're American, or maybe because we visit these places multiple times a week, but the workers all recognize us. I don't have friendships with them like I do Vicente, but at least they know our orders!
Right at the end of Calle Mayor is the giant Cathedral I mentioned a few posts ago. I usually stop in after shopping (to pray for forgiveness for my greed--hahahaha just kidding), mostly because I can never get enough of it. Each time I walk in, I see something new I hadn't noticed before, and it feels awesome to be in such a huge, historic place. Plus, the remains of two saints are there, so it feels extra special. Well, a few days ago, I realized I had become a regular.
See, there's this tour guide who guards the entrance to the church and he stops everyone who tries to enter. If you're there to visit, you can only stand in a certain area and look at the church from the door, unless you want to pay to look at it yourself or pay for a tour. For the first few days, this man would stop me each time, and I'd have to explain I was there to pray, or else he wouldn't let me pass. Only a few days ago did I realize that he no longer stops me, but recognizes me and nods me on through. I know this is a minor detail, but it really made me feel like I'm at home here!
So, yes, today was a productive day of shopping, eating, and church-going. I even busted out two essays! So if any of you were going to take me up on my previous offer, only the painter essay still needs a writer. Contact me for details.
It's weird to think we're already finishing up school. I really love it there, believe it or not. Sometimes it's just fun to stop and think that I'm in a completely Spanish situation. I no longer have to concentrate on what my professors are saying- it just comes naturally to me, and it's now weird when they speak English. And though my friends and I often just speak English or Spanglish, it's not uncommon just to switch to Spanish in the middle of a sentence, or yell Spanish greetings down the hallways. I mean, how awesome is that?!
Speaking of friends, I recently found out something cool about one of my friends here. I always knew she was from England, and I've been hanging out with her from the start of the program. Unfortunately it took me too long to ask if she knows any celebrities (a common question on my part) because...she does. Daniel Radcliffe, anybody? HARRY POTTER?!?!? Yeah, no joke here. They're pretty much buddies. This girl, Ayo, is so sweet and obviously very rich (she splits her time between Nigeria, Washington D.C., and England) and it turns out she lives in the same apartment complex-neighborhood thingy! She downplays it a lot, but when I asked her about how she knows him, she said they see each other out a lot and she's "taken a few pictures with him" and "he goes over to her friends' house a lot," etc. Six degrees of separation. I am *THIS* close to meeting him. Plus, she invited me to come stay with her at some point. This is happening, people.
Also, in the news today: one of my friends got mugged. He came to school with a black and bloodied eye, so of course it was the talk of the school. I asked him about it and apparently it started at a bar. He was chilling with two Spaniards, just chatting and being friendly. He said they were talking for about 3 or 4 hours, and then he thought it would be a good idea to leave with them. They were walking around a bit and ended up in a parking lot. He said the next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground after being punched in the eye, and they were driving off with his wallet. At 5am. And he had just withdrew 100 euro from an ATM. As bad as I feel for him, he was being a bit stupid. And he admits that. He wasn't very upset about the situation; he just said "It was a very expensive lesson."
Lessons learned: Don't go to a bar by yourself. Don't trust strangers. Don't leave with them.
I think I knew all those already, but maybe that's just me.
Oh, by the way, I checked the views on this blog of mine, and I've gotten 562 views since I started writing this. That's crazy! At least, I assume it is. I don't really know how statistics should look on blogs. And I don't know how that happened, but thanks for reading! And coming back. Or whatever it is you guys do. Because I just write.
P.S. In case you need a middle of the day pick-me-up, or just want to listen to an awesome song, here's my study music! Actually, it just came on and reminded me that I love it. Never gets old! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EJNR-0N0vo