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The homeless

24 Jan

Brittany and I have familiarized ourselves with the usual homeless people we see in the Catalunya metro station. Every morning on my way to the IES Abroad Center, I always hear the homeless man playing his colorful makeshift drum. I also usually see the old lady wrapped in her bed sheet blanket.

When I head home from downtown, I encounter a different group of homeless persons. Usually at this time, I hear a short young woman playing in her accordion to the same tune she has memorized by heart. Sometimes, I think her husband plays the bamboo flute with her. Where I would see the old woman in the morning, I see a black man sleeping on cardboard at night. It seems quite odd to notice these people, but I realize it’s because they are the static faces amidst the new ones that come and go past me in the underground world of the metro.

Bieber fever.

24 Jan

This Sunday for lunch, we again had

Paella arroz caldo, mejillónes, camarónes, y pollo

Pollo con melocotónes y pasas

 

Over lunch, we talked about the rising interest rates that make it difficult to borrow money in Spanish. We also talked in Spanish about the manifestación that occurred last night, which was on las noticias while we ate. Last night, we witnessed a protest just as we were heading to a bar. The police wouldn’t let us past a certain point and we didn’t know what was going on. I asked a guard standing nearby and he said that a building had been taken over, but I didn’t know for what reason. I find out today on the news that it was about pensions. The protesters waved a stake lit on fire at the top of the building they took over, which was also where Via Layetana was located. The police arrested 40 of the protesters.

 

On a side note, Via Layetana is also my favorite local café to buy churros con chocolate, great snack por meriendar!

 

Today, we sang to Justin Bieber’s hit single “Baby,” which Eloy is in love with. I translated “Baby” in Spanish because Eloy wanted to know what Bieber was talking about in his music video. Brittany and I hope to find cheap tickets so that we can take Eloy for his birthday in April to the Justin Bieber concert.

We also took some iPhotobooth pictures. Got a little bit silly. You know

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Futbol España

24 Jan

 

The second weekend here in Barça:

I vowed to myself that I would avoid, at all costs, buying American fast food. But of course, that’s shot out of the window. We go to Burger King because the expensive tapas bar we went to prior did not suffice and the taste of anchovies still lingered in our mouths. You would think that chicken fingers in Spain would taste the same as chicken fingers in the U.S. but no. First the taste and now also the appearance, which Christina describes as “jenky.” I had never heard of that word until now, but apparently, “jenky” means busted-looking. I ate some jenky chicken fingers the other day.

A funny sight to see at night—black men lined up on Plaça Catalunya downtown, holding onto these ropes that are tied on all four sides to a blanket that is laid down on the street with eight or so fake designer bags displayed on top. When the designer bags aren’t on display for the passersby because the cops are lurking around, these men sling the huge blankets filled with the fake designer bags behind their back and stand nonchalantly along Plaça Catalunya.

 

Party hardy on Saturday because the metro runs all night and it’s one giant pregame on the metro, seeing some people drink screwdrivers in glass cups, clinking glasses, and cheering with each other.

Espit Chupitos Bar

The Harry Potter shot, which was one fire. Too crowded so we left to migrate to the bar next door and look who we find walking out of the bar next door—the bouncer from the Espit Chupitos Bar. I asked him what he was doing, buying cerveza next door, and he said, why, he was getting his dinner!

 

Barça vs. Racing at home

This time several friends and I decide to see the game live!

100,000 seats at Camp Nou

Earlier that day, Brittany and I went shopping for soccer jerseys. I bought an annoying neon salmon color jersey with Ibra…I can’t remember how to spell his last name for my life, but I know he’s one of the top forwards in the world. He used to play in the Bosnia team, and he doesn’t play for FC Barcelona anymore. We had our faces painted of a flag with the team’s colors and a dash of glitter.

The golden boy Leo Messi with the magic feet, wearing his bright orange shoes.

At the stadium, they sold tortilla, which is not what you think it is. Tortilla is actually an omelet, como tortilla española—consisting of eggs, potatoes, and sometimes tomatoes, o tortilla francesa—scrambled eggs.

A peculiar type of fans the Spanish are, they seem really quiet for owning a stadium that houses this many people. I expected them to cause more ruckus than what I witnessed at the game against Racing, but Brittany and Mike told me that the Spanish are normally a quiet crowd, unless it is Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. Only then do we see the true colors of rivalry come out. Christina told me about her experience watching a futbol game in Scotland where the stadium was built with walls to separate the home crowd, opposing team’s crowd, and the neutral crowd, so as to reduce the violence that would erupt during soccer games. really?!?

 

 

DESIGN.DESIGN.LOVE.DESIGN

24 Jan

Since I enrolled at Universitat de Pompeu Fabra, I have the option to take classes from all their schools, one of which was Elisava, the University’s Design School. Walking into Elisava, I immediately felt at home. It reminded me of Tjaden, Sibley, or Rand Hall at Cornell…otherwise known as the buildings housing the Art and Architecture Departments. Neon-colored tape covered the walls of the first floor, chairs dressed as celebrities like Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Obama lines the second floor. I wanted so badly to become friends with the students I encountered at Elisava. We mutually shared this infectious passion for art and design and I wanted to learn from them, hear their thoughts, ideas, etc.

I audited a course in Design Management, but found myself feeling LOST IN TRANSLATION.

When I first introduced myself to the professor, he spoke to me in English but warned that the class would be taught in Catalan and Spanish. I led myself under this illusion that I could handle that class, as long as I was passionate about design and desired to learn and challenge myself. When the class started, I found myself surrounded by about 40 or so Barcelonan students and a professor teaching graphic design and business concepts in Spanish.

This experience has fully helped me to understand how foreigners in the U.S. feel with the language barrier and to commend them for the struggles they manage to overcome, which astounds me. Where I stand now with my language proficiency, as much as I want to take this class and surround myself with these students, I realize I cannot meet my expectations nor can I devote the time and effort for the design lab’s demands. Quizas para mi posgraduado.

una tassa grande de Sangria, por pavor.

24 Jan

Brittany and I decided that a good way to try and discover Barcelona may be to choose a barrio, research the things we could do, and give it a whole day for exploration. So the first one we chose was el parc de Montjuïc

The National Museum of Art of Catalonia

Brittany and I took the L1 down to Espanya. Two parallel towers greeted us when we got out of the metro station. Walking down the street where the towers stood, we saw in the distance what looked like a castle. It actually was the National Art Museum of Catalonia. We began by walking to the far left so we could see several gardens, el teatro Greco, and then making our way slowly up until we reached the Fundació de Joan Miró.

We strolled along a path by the Mediterranean Ocean where we could see the ports. The water, so crisp and blue that you couldn’t even separate between the land and the water because the lines are blurred and the sailboats appear as if they’re floating on air. Along this walk, we had a genius idea to engrave our names on the cacti dotting along the path. We ended up prickling ourselves with the tiny little cactus hairs. It was a terrible time.

 

El Puerto de Barcelona

At the center, we walked inside the fort and found ourselves laughing over how it has become somewhat of a recreation center. We saw this tiny little driving course with many road signs like stop, yield, slow down, etc. And then we proceeded to see several people playing racquetball against the fort wall. Lastly, we saw a group of people playing archery.

At the top, we met up with our friend Sophie who joined us for a marvelous view of the city over lunch—olives, bread, and tangerines, oh and yes, an extra extra large glass of very strong Sangria.

Going back down, we headed to the far right so that we hit the Olympic Fields. I progressively feel warmer, not realizing how much the Sangria would affect me. I should’ve known day drinking was a bad idea, but after a long day’s walk up an incline, a drink was well-deserved…maybe just not that much. Didn’t make it out that night, pero no pasa nada.

Advanced Spanish III

24 Jan

Spanish classes are a trip.

On the first day, we played this game called Times Up where we had to describe famous persons in Spanish and the rest of our team would guess, then we were limited to describing these famous persons with one word, again in Spanish, and then even more limited to simply acting without words or sounds. The whole class would laugh hysterically at our feeble attempts to guess each others’ clues.

The second class, we watched YouTube videos on the sly careteros or pick-pocketers in the famous Las Ramblas street and other places around Spain. I guess the country considers this the most common type of crime, so much so that I have been told to watch out for petty theft more than fifteen times at least. Our profesora told us the law doesn’t put them in jail if they stole less than or equal to 400 Euros, which surprises me.

In our third Spanish class, we learned about the different saludos or greetings all over the world. Christina and I died laughing while trying to greet each other in gestos or gestures.

The gesture when you rub your pointer and middle finger on either side of your nose and say “estoy a dos velas” means I don’t have any money. Fun stuff!

Cumpleaño Feliz

24 Jan

Sweet bakery on my way to the metro.

All sorts of bread with filling from carne to postres dulces, no more than dos Euros. It’s a dilemma.

 

I think I’m getting skinnier. Hurrah!

My pants have become looser and looser, I only eat twice a day, and I walk a lot…much more compared to Florida,

But the food is so rich and greasy albeit cooked with olive oil. My roommate Brittany says to stop thinking about it. You’re in Europe. Do not calorie count. Embrace it.

 

Cumpleaño feliz Miguel Angel

Tienes dos años.

old woman wearing shades of olive green, at a park nearby, reading the Spanish version of Nora Roberts

Prior to the party, Brittany and I decided we should give our barrio a chance, so we walked around and explored it. We walked and walked for miles. All we could find were a few good eats, which I don’t even think that we’d bother going out of our way to since it isn’t on the walk to the metro stop. There were two bakeries that Sunday afternoon with a long line running outside the door, reminding me of the good old days when I worked at Bagel Land on Sundays when we offered the Sunday special sixteen for the price of a dozen. Other than these popular panaderías, this barrio excursion led us to discover that we were surrounded mostly by old people wearing clothes of the same color palette (shades of plum, brown, black, and olive green) and children under ten. The coolest building we saw on our excursion was none other than a cemetery.

 

I finally met the whole family! Alejandra’s eldest daughter Natalia is married to Sergio, a coffee machine repairman who has contracts with various universities, including Universitat de Pompeu Fabra. They have two children, Eloy y Marc. Eloy is a stylish eight-year-old who surprised me out of nowhere wearing one of those Asian/Muslim scarves, which they call pañuelo aqui. He and his father love to sing, especially to Daddy Yankee and Calle 13, but Eloy’s favorite singer is Michael Jackson. Marc was obsessed with Brittany, giving her besos and sitting on her lap, pinching her cheeks. Puppy love. The family also has a dog named Chispa.

For the birthday party, we ate

Empañadas de carne

Mejillónes con salsa arriba de todo

Paella arroz caldo, mejillónes, camarónes, y pollo

Pollo con melocotónes y pasas

Peras con almíbar de vino

Champán y vino rosado

La Familia Garcia