Monday, September 20, 2010

Studying is Really Getting in the way of my Study Abroad Experience

I am sorry that I have not updated my blog in over a week.  This past week was MIDTERMS for our month-long intensive Spanish class.  I had two midterms, one for each of my classes.  And I actually had to study for them.  Thus, I do not have too many stories from the past week.  Last weekend, I went back to Parque de Buen Retiro to sit in the grass with some friends and "study." It was a beautiful day and we got minimal studying done. 
This is a picture of the lake at Buen Retiro.  You can rent little row boats and go out on the lake, but I have yet to do that. The water is really nasty and would most likely give me jam hands.

I ended up doing well on my midterms.  Well, I did REALLY well on my written test (97%) and not quite as well on my oral test (85%).  I am significantly better at reading and writing than I am at speaking.  I can formulate sentences in my head, conjugate verb correctly on paper in any tense, use complex parts of speech.  But, when asked a question, I turn into a complete and total spaz.  I simply cannot formulate answers fast enough and I revert back to very basic Spanish abilities.  Unfortunately, our oral exam consisted of our professors asking us questions in front of a panel who were grading our responses.  Terrifying.  However, according to my grades, I was able to hold my own.  

In Spain, the grading system is different from that of the US.  Instead of getting letter grades (A, B, C, D, F), we get number grades (0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest).  Getting a 5 or better is good.  We will wait to see how the grades convert back to the US. 

This weekend, 8 of my friends from the University of Denver were in Madrid and I got to play tour guide to show them around my city.  On Friday night, we went to dinner and then went to Kapitol.  Kapitol is a discoteca in downtown Madrid that is notorious for providing crazy nights.  It is a seven story club and each floor has a different theme.  We watched Spanish karaoke, visited the mojito floor, and danced until our feet felt as though they would fall off. 

It was a fantastic night (and morning...we didn't leave until around 5am, when the party was just getting started).  Now I really feel like I have experienced Spanish night life.  And I hope I showed my friends the real Madrid.  

The next morning, we went out to breakfast for the typical Spanish breakfast of churros con chocolate.  I have been searching for a place that serves good churros con chocolate, and on Sunday morning, I finally found it.  The chocolate is thick, almost the consistency of hot fudge.  And the churros were warn and delicious.  In Spain, they do not have cinnamon sugar on them like they  do in Mexico.  It was a nutritious and delicious breakfast. 

Later that morning, I went to El Rastro again to do some discount shopping.  I bought new sunglasses (5 euro), a ring that immediately turned my finger green, but is very cute (1 euro) and a scarf that you can see in the picture below (5 euro).  

Then I met up with some friends to go to Parque Oeste, where there is an ancient egyptian temple.  Madrid is full of parks. 

There is a gondola ride that goes from Parque Oeste to Casa de Campo (11 minute ride) that shows some great views of the city.  We were huge tourists and took the gondola ride on Sunday afternoon. 

Now we are in another week of school and classes.  We only have seven days of class left before finals, and I am still recovering from midterms.  I built my schedule for the semester (after the month-long intensive ends) and I got a great schedule.  I am in class from 8:30am until 11:30am everyday and then I have the afternoons free to explore Madrid.  I do not have class on Fridays, so I have been trying to plan out my travel.  I am going to Munich October 1-3, Salamanca October 22-24, Morocco October 27-November 1, France November 5-8, Dublin November 11-14, and Granada November 19-21. And I still want to find some spare time to go to Barcelona and Valencia.  It is going to be a busy next few months!

I will write again soon.  Hasta Luego!

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