Monday, July 1
The long flight back to the States was a little strange because since we traveled with Iberia again, it didn’t feel like we were actually going back to America! All of the announcements were still in Spanish and the flight attendants spoke Spanish. Besides sleeping, I had a lot of time to think about the trip and what had happened in the past month!
I am looking forward to traveling to other Spanish speaking countries in the future because I feel a lot more confident in my speaking abilities. I am glad I took the time to improve my Spanish because it is the 2nd most spoken language in the world and may very well pass English in my lifetime.
Meeting people from all over the world and speaking a second language has made me much more confident. Being on this trip has also made me realize that too many opportunities are thrown away with hesitation. You have to take chances right as they come, and if you just wait till “the time is right” it will usually be too late. Embracing discomfort is a good thing. I can’t wait to see what new adventures lie around the corner:)
Sunday, June 30th
The next morning, I showed Holly the wonders of automatic espresso machines in the hotel room lobby and we walked to the metro station. This time we were taking the AVE to Toledo, a medieval city south of Madrid with a lot of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic history. These three groups existed peacefully together for so many years, passing power back and forth over time. We visited one of the most intricate cathedrals I had seen in Spain so far, and that’s saying something!
I had a blast showing my family around Madrid later that day. I finally got to see the museum of Prado, which I never imagined to be so large! There were 5 floors and a basement.
That night, my mom and I went to The Corral de Moreia, a famous flamenco venue. This was definitely the best way to end my time in Spain. The footwork and passion of the flamenco dancers gave me chills!! I was so glad to enjoy this art form in such an authentic setting. They did a lot of skirt flipping with their foot tapping, it kind of reminded me of tap dancing combined with castanets and guitar. The performance completely blew me away.
Saturday, June 29th
The next morning I quickly gathered my things and caught the bus for the last time. We saw the sun rise on the fields over Salamanca and it reminded us of when we had witnessed it at the beach just a week prior. At the airport we all parted ways. Waiting at the airport was me, Sol, Serpas, Jenna, Ruby, Erika, Michael, Kyle, and Alison. Patrick and Brenton had left to take a tour of the Real Madrid stadium (lucky them!). My family was due to arrive in Madrid about the same time the others were departing the country, so I waited along with them. I ended up running into Valerie, who was one of Cherry’s friends who had gone to the restaurant with us that one night. She was on her way to Barcelona and was waiting for a bus. Her knowledge of Spanish was impressive for just picking it up. She was so sweet and I am glad that I got a chance to see her again before she left.
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. 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 funny 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 taking in the scenery. I ate lunch with Paco one last time before that. I was incredibly thankful for his friendliness and loyalty to talking with me during my meals at the homestay.
I 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 by the river for the last time. It was great just listening to music and catching up on my travel journal in that beautiful place.
We went to a restaurant called Vida and Comida for our last dinner in Salamanca.
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 also tried part of a bull’s tail! It is a popular delicacy in Spain that people can win at some bullfights. At the beginning of the dinner there were Tumbas (traditional Spanish singers in tights and puffy sleeves), who entertained us with songs and dancing.
Thursday, June 27th
In business class we talked about tourism, one of the biggest industries in Spain. I learned about paredores, which are unique to Spain. There are many old castles and ruins around Spain, and these historical sites can be checked out like hotels.
That afternoon I met my friend Sol in the Plaza to get ice cream. Supposedly, you can’t leave Salamanca without sitting on the ground in the middle of the plaza with ice cream. It was about 7 p.m., a great time for people watching. We had a good time relaxing in the sunshine.
All around Salamanca, bar owners were setting up large television screens outside of the cafés and putting up Spanish flags-it was game time! Almost every outdoor restaurant in the plaza had a tv up and people were already crawling into the bars to get a spot.
Spaniards take their fútbol seriously. In an American sports bar, during a football game not everyone is as completely invested in watching the game. In Spain if there was a game on, it didn’t matter who was there for the business, fútbol came first. The bartenders were just as excited about it as the people.
When the win was official, Sol and I talked about how different our lives in Flagstaff were going to be when we got back. We both had really busy Senior years to go back to, and spending a month in the relaxing atmosphere of Spain was a welcome change. For always being on the go during the semester, I definitely enjoyed the laidback lifestyle of Spain. It was super different than the working environment in America.
Wednesday, June 26th
After our last final on Wednesday, we all went to a little cafe nearby to celebrate. That afternoon for lunch my host parents served me an interesting entrée. It looked like braised beef cut into little slices. It was much more tender than the other meat they had served me. I asked what it was and Paco started laughing. He said, “If I tell you what it is, you won’t eat it” I took a bite and it wasn’t too bad. After I finished the whole thing they told me it was cow tongue. They seemed very pleased that I was enjoying it and told me that they always serve it to their students in their last week.
Tuesday, June 25th
I woke up on my notes for Spanish Lit the next morning (should have known that it never works to study in bed). Did I mention how difficult it is to focus on schoolwork when you’re in another country? After a brief realization that I had not really done much outside “studying” abroad, I decided it might be a good idea to actually try to go to the library before the good ole final. It was either that or wish upon the fabled frog statue for mercy.
That night was Jane’s birthday, and some of us went out to celebrate with her. We found a place that was themed like a ship. We had a good time dancing and singing to 90’s music.