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This is me on exchange...
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Barcelona, Spain
January 7th, 2003

Pros: Tons of shops and restaurants!
Cons: none

Yesterday marked the end of week one in Barcelona! We have seen quite a bit of the city through a bus tour (great idea Justine!) and are trying to plan a trip to somewhere else in Spain for the weekend. Perhaps Madrid, but might be a little far. We would like to get to the Guggeinheim, which is in Bilbao (I think). I am still working on my geography.

Our hotel is on La Rambla, which is great since it puts us near tons of shopping and restaurants - although eating has been a challenging experience so far. We had food poisoning the first two days as a result of the hotel new year´s buffet. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, involves pork, which is going over really well with me :) We did find a great sushi place accross from the hotel. And we had a really nice dinner last night, except we have come to notice some strange customs. They automtically bring you a roll (you don´t have to ask), but they charge you for it. You have to specifically tell them that you don´t want it. And the stories about slow service in Spain are true. Dinner is a two hour experience. It is actually kind of nice because no one comes over to rush you can sit and enjoy your meal as long as you like.

I am a little worried though because the exchange coordinator told us that we should plan to accomplish one thing each day. He said not to make a list of five things (I then thought to myself, ten) to do each day. He said to put one thing on your list, and maybe, MAYBE, you´ll get it done. This isn´t sight seeing kind of stuff...this is getting a book from the library or going to the bank. Since everything shuts down from 1 to 4 for Siesta, it is tough to get stuff done in the afternoon. I may go crazy, but we´ll see!

We have gone for walks along La Rambla almost every day. It is always full of people. There are shops (little kiosks) along the centre selling books, magazines, flowers, and pets. It is so can buy fish, hamsters, rabbits, birds, and even chickens and roosters right off the street to take home as pets. Unfortunately Winston, there are no dogs, but there are some really cute cats!

School starts today, although I won´t have too many classes until next week. I have seen my rez room...think Saugeen. I have not met my room mate yet, but her name is Ana Maria and she is a Spanish student, which is great for me and learning Spanish. I think she is studying English and French, so hopefully between the three languages we will be able to figure out some way to talk to eachother!

'Adios...hasta la proxia capitulo!

January 13th

Some of you received this as an email, but I thought I would post it for everyone to read...

Well, I am finally in rez and on my own. Momma Coop left early this morning, and I don't think it has really hit me yet. I am on my own and I don't understand most of what is going on around me.

Today was my first real English! There are a few exchange kids who seem nice, so I am hoping that they appear in a few of my other classes. I am fairly comfortable getting around the city - can walk everywhere and the transport system is great. Barcelona is actually in a region of Spain known as Catalonia, and it pretty much operates as it's own district...sort of autonomous. I'm learning more as I go, but I don't think Barcelona is a typical Spanish city. Catalan people tend to be reserved and it takes a while to establish a relationship, or so I have been told. I will just have to wait and see how the next couple of weeks go to see if it is true.

My roommate, Ana, seems very friendly and although we have only been in the same room for a total of 40 minutes so far, she was really helpful in getting someone to help me set-up the internet. She just got on the phone and rambled something in Spanish (no idea what she said) and this guy showed, then he didn't know what was wrong, so she called some other guy (who speaks both English and Spanish perfectly...English is with a British accent - not sure how that works) and he got in here and played for a while. She had to leave, but they both stayed to figure it out. Very nice all around. However, only when they made the effort to speak 'mas lente' did I have any idea what was going on. This other guy, who I thought I had met earlier in the elevator, came along so that he and Ana could go to school together. I practiced a Spanish line in my head so that I could say 'hi, I'm Krysten...I think we met int he elevator yesterday.' Turns out he is the identical twin brother of the guy in the elevator...what are the chances!

So far, my Spanish has caused me to ask for a map instead of a ask when I was going to get hot, rather than when the weather would warm up...and to have to make suction cup noises in order to demonstrate to the sales clerk that I was looking for hooks that stick to the wall rather than drill into the wall...needless to say, the store did not sell what I needed, if he even had any idea as to what I was looking for. I have also learned the importance of accents...mama (without the accent) is breast and papa (without its accent) is potato, or Pope is the 'p' is a capital. I realized this when my mom and I tried to send a postcard to my gradparents and thought it would be fun to include a little Spanish. Luckily, they won't know the difference, but the postman mught get a good laugh.

Slowly but surely I am sure I will get there. I met a guy from Switzerland whose English is fairly good, but he has this strange habit of quietly repeating what you are saying ot him while you are speaking. I guess it helps him with the English, but it freaks me out because I can hear myself echoing all the time that I speak to him.

I will keep you updated of my adventures as they unfold...

Hasta luego!