Tuesday, October 5, 2010

La Corrida de Toros and OKTOBERFEST!

Hello! I am terribly sorry that it has been so long since my last blog post.  I have been very busy and blogging is more time consuming than I expected it to be.  To fill you in on the past two weeks, I have to start with one of the most disturbing and cultural activities that there is here in Madrid. La Corida de Toros (a bull fight) is the most stereotypical Spanish thing to do.  And since I fully support being a tourist, (and the flashing "American" sign that is constantly above my head) I attended a bull fight.  I had NO IDEA what I was in for.  I thought that the matador would shake a sheet at a bull for a couple minutes and that would be that.  WRONG.  During every bull fight, the matadors kill six bulls.  One at a time.

  First, they taunt it a bit and get it really angry.  Then a man on a horse comes out and stabs in in the back so that the blood starts to run.  

Then they put these colorful hooks in its back to make it more angry.  Then, the real matador comes out to finish him off.  And they do that exact same process six times!  During the first bull fight, I was mortified by all the blood and really felt sorry for the bull.  And I don't even like animals.  During the second and third fights, I thought it was pretty interesting to watch.  By the fourth, fifth, and sixth bull fights, I was bored and tired of watching the same thing over and over again.  It lose its shock factor I suppose.  But I took lots of pictures and affirmed my status as a tourist. 

I also visited Madrid's modern art museum, La Reina Sofia.  I enjoyed the modern art museum much more than the Prado museum, especially since I was able to see Picasso's Guernica.   I have studied this painting in school before and it was truly amazing to see it in real life.  The painting takes up an entire wall and it is an impressive sight.  Pictures were not allowed in the museum, so here is my sad attempt at discretely capturing Guernica:

Notice the arms of my fellow museum attendees.   The picture was taken from hip-height to avoid being yelled at in Spanish by the mean security guards.

School is going well.  I finished the month-long intensive on Wednesday and started my full course load today.  I am still getting a fell far my classes, but right now I feel like they will be hard.  I am taking Spanish classes with native speakers and I feel that I am not even close to their level.  
Also, On Thursday, I moved to a new homestay.  I had been having some issues both with my roommate and with the host family, so I was relocated to a new family and I love it here.  At my old house, I shared a tiny room with another girl and we had very different sleep schedules.  In my new house, I have my own room which is bigger than the room that I used to share.  Also, the food at my new house is amazing.  My host father is from Syria, so we have a variety of food.  I could not be happier with my new homestay. 

This past weekend, I ventured to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest.  I met up with a large group of DU students who are currently studying abroad all over Europe and we had an amazing time.  On Friday night, we walked from our hotel to Oktoberfest to get the lay of the land.  Oktoberfest is a city all on its own.  There are amusement park rides, stores, food, and of course, beer tents.  
The beer tents are giant temporary structures that hold 3,000 to 6,000 people.  In order to get a table in a beer tent, you need to arrive early and wait in line.  We got to the Augustiner beer tent at 6:45am, ready for the day.  We got a table in the tent and had our first beer at 9am, when they opened the doors. 
The rest of Saturday was filled with great food (giant pretzels and amazing half chickens) Meeting new friends (I talked to people from all over the world, including a couple who don't speak a word of English OR Spanish...) and a lot of laughter.  

Also, I bought a hat, which was clearly not a decision made while I was entirely sober.  It reminded me of the Harry Potter Sorting Hat and I loved it.  My mom says that I should never wear hats.  I am starting to agree...
 Next weekend I am off to Barcelona for a weekend trip with some friends from my program in Madrid and I am sure that I will have some good stories about Barca.  I promise not to wait too long before I write again.  Dos Besos!

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