Friday, June 28th
We received our diplomas the next morning. I turned in my final essay and my Spanish minor was complete! Our English teacher was acting pretty silly in class today. Some people from our group were waiting outside in the courtyard before class. Ana asked where everyone was and I said, “en la calle”. She walked up to the window, and leaned straight out over the street where the rest of our group was. This was one of the funniest things I ever saw during class. She was yelling, “Brentón, where is Brentón?”. When they got back, she pointed to the entire back row where our group was sitting and said, “Todos ustedes estaban en una fiesta”. We got a picture with the quirky lady and went on to Negocios for the last class of the day. I was really sad to leave Paz, she was such a great teacher.
I spent the rest of the day by myself shopping and taking in the scenery around me. I ate lunch with Paco, who told me it is such a blessing for his family to host students. He thought the best part was getting to experience so many cultures into their home. He said goodbye that afternoon, but I told him I wanted to get back early enough that night to say goodbye to Veronica as well. He probably knew that I was a young college student and I would want to spend my last night staying out late with the rest of my friends in Salamanca. I remember him saying that sometimes they feel bad that they can’t spend as much time with the students as much as the older families. I was incredibly thankful for his friendliness and loyalty to talking with me during my meals at the home. They could have just left me meals in the refrigerator when they were both gone at work, but one of them would always come home and have dinner with me during their break.
They gave me privacy during my stay in their flat and I never felt like I was intruding on their time. It was a nice balance. To be honest I was glad to have had a more independent living experience at the house; I wasn’t there much anyways because there were so many things to see outside. They gave me everything I needed and were always available to talk to when I needed something. I think they understood how exhausting and busy the life of an exchange student could be. After 5 hours of Spanish classes sometimes I just wanted to come home and sleep for two hours. They always had lunch prepared for me when I got back; this was a nice treat. After the meal though, they would give me some space to recharge.
Everyone seemed to be in a hurry to see everything that day. I know I had my “To do before Salamanca ends” list with me close at hand. I ended up perusing shops next to the plaza, bought “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in Spanish, and decided to spend the rest of my time at one of my favorite places in Salamanca- Casa Lis. I walked down to the bridge and took in the view for the last time. I went straight through to the café and ordered a frappe (a sort of frozen hot cocoa drink). It was really relaxing just listening to music and catching up on my travel journal in that beautiful place. When they closed I made my way back to the supermarket to buy a gift for my host parents. I got them some chocolate but wasn’t able to find a card. Apparently in Spain, you have to get them at a bookshop. I ended up using a friend’s postcard from Sedona and wrote a quick thank you note on it. I also left some U.S. money since they would be travelling to Miami in the fall to visit some friends.
The program rented out a restaurant for our last dinner in Salamanca. It was called Vida and Comida. I had never been to a fancier dinner before. We arrived around 9:00 and the dinner lasted till 1:00!! Coincidentally, most everyone was sitting next to the same people as on the first night in Salamanca. Just a month ago, we were making jetlagged small talk.
There was a lot of bread to be eaten with the wine. We were offered croquetas and octopus as appetizers. I unknowingly ordered merluza with squid ink for the entrée. I didn’t recognize the squid ink part in Spanish, but I had previously enjoyed Merluza, a popular white fish from the Basque region that Paco cooked for me a few times. I was a little nervous the ink would stain my teeth black!! I also tried part of a bull’s tail and it wasn’t too bad; it is a really popular delicacy in Spain that people pay a lot of money for at bullfights. At the beginning of the dinner there were Tumbas (traditional Spanish cantantes in tights and puffy sleeves), who entertained us with song and dance.
When I returned to my room, I ended up throwing everything into my suitcase at the last minute and it all magically fit; I didn’t even have to use space bags like the previous time. I was too tired to question this and went to sleep before waking up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the bus to Madrid the next day. I ended up leaving three pairs of pants behind in the room somewhere! At least my host mother got some new clothes and I had left a part of me in Salamanca:0