Barcelona feels like a new city to me. For one, I’m getting around it in new ways. Before, it was just me and my feet, only taking the metro once my toes inflated from walking too much in the heat. And though I’ve certainly done some walking today, I have also been using the shared bike system. The brakes on my bike this morning sounded similar to those of an 18-wheeler and the front tire of one of my hot rods yesterday wobbled so significantly that I almost biked horizontally (okay. I exaggerate. But, you get the pic.) Yet, despite the fact that these bikes are so “well loved,” you know, they work! It makes for a more refreshing and faster ride around the city. (Given that you have a 30 minute limit, you can only pedal but so slow!)
I’m taking this transport to new places, too. This morning I pedaled down Ramblas (big mistake. WAY too many people) and found my language school, which is in Barri Gòtic. They asked me to come back in the afternoon, but let me know that right beside them, the Consorci for linguistic normalization (A.k.a. “Speak Catalan in Catalunya, da** it!”) also offered extra classes, in case I wanted to log some extra hours. Why would I want to do that? Well, I’ll only be in class 5-6 hours a week and since the Consorci classes are municipally sponsored, you can usually take them for a steep discount. I decided to check things out, even though I knew that the likelihood of an available summer class was low. The first thing I had to do was take a “prova de nivell” to see where I stood. Considering I have used Catalan berry leetle this past year, I was nervous. But, I tried to reassure myself by thinking of the reading I’ve done in Catalan recently. (I can remember from one of my undergrad psych classes something about this technique: imagining yourself as being capable and you’ll test better.) After writing an enthralling “letter to the mayor” about why we should turn the empty city space into an urban garden and talking to the profe in Catalan, I got my feedback. The reassuring thing was that I tested exactly where I left off last summer-right at the C1 level. I think that being a language teacher gives you an advantage on these examinations. You come to understand that what you say is not as important as how you say it. If you say “Ice cream, please,” it’s not the same as “I want an ice cream, please” or “When you have minute, would you mind getting me an ice cream, please?” You learn to try to be a peacock and show your feathers.
Long digressions aside, there are no summer courses available. But, I might be able to sign up for a course from September-November. Might be nice. We’ll see.
My major accomplishment for today was finishing a book. After a few failed attempts to read according to my schedule, I was getting nervous that maybe I couldn’t do it. After reading every word of the first hundred or two pages, I decided to switch back to reading smarter, not harder and I skimmed a few things that seemed to have poca relevància and I called it a day. Another strategy that helped me get through it was talking the occasional stretch break, bathroom break, blog break…I am trying to keep in mind that these readings are more than a sprint and it does me no good to get pooped out week one. So, I’m going to keep a steady pace, a hard-working pace, but I will also stop reading after enough hours (or pages) have passed. And I will take one day a week completely off (at least that’s my goal).
In other news, I am fully moved into my room. My sneaky story is that one of the roommates offered to sell me the furniture in his room before he left it. This sounded a little peculiar. I mean, a room should be fully furnished for a visiting student, mehopes. Betting on the fact that, like other urban movers, he would leave things behind, I declined his offer thinking that in the worst case, I’d stop at the local dollar store to pick up a couple of crates to use as a dresser. And, let’s just say it worked and I was bequeathed a perfect little dresser and a very useful curtain. WOOHOO. I slept with the window open last night and it was even chilly. I will enjoy every night like that because I know August will not be chilly. (But, I would like a blanket! My cover right now is just a double sided sheet…and an oversized towel….UPDATE: I have a blanket!)
My room is interior, but it opens into a light well (not a stairwell! woohoo!) so I do get some fresh air and just the smallest amount of daylight. The good news is that the flat is spacious and there are two nice areas to sit outside of my room, the bright dining room (with mini-balcony) and a sitting room that connects with Laundry Drying Space.
Imagine the windows open. Super bright, right?
The sitting room. Which I have yet to sit in.
The laundry area.
And, can I mention how clean the flat is? Really clean. One of the guys, A., is a self-professed neat-freak. He’s also mega chatty and when I agreed to take out the trash with him and one of the girls, O., we ended up visiting our upstairs neighbors, chit-chatting some more and then taking out their trash too. I know I’m still very new in the flat, but I do appreciate that I have at least been having warm and friendly interactions with the flatmates.
Entrance to the flat.
The elevator was upstairs when I took this snapshot, but trust me, it’s muy guay.
My room. I am most proud of the art installation. AKA Three cut-outs from the O magazine I got from my mom’s house hung with plastic clothespins on a cable.
I have a real pillowcase now! I found the perfect, economical mom and pop shop around the corner and I got a pillowcase for 5€ and a light blanket for 15€…
OH! I almost forgot something moderately exciting. On Sunday, I met with one professor who, in frat girl terms, is my “grand big.” By that, I mean he was the advisor of my advisor. He was chatty and disarming and, most importantly, very much a people person. I left feeling pleasant, upbeat, and grateful for an easy pre-lunch meeting. I felt neither ahead nor behind after talking with him, but rather pretty much “on track.” It’s nice to feel like you’re ahead, but since grad school doesn’t allow for that, I’ll at least accept the “on track” sentiments.
A day at a time. I get totally overwhelmed if I think of what is left of this degree. But, when I was sitting in the Harry Potter-esque library today, I thought, “All I’m doing right now is scrolling through pages and taking a few notes on them. I can do that.” And, just like that, another day of work got done.
And so did another blog post.
After this pic, I saw the “no photos” sign. A., you and I have that in common…
The courtyard of the BNC with toddler-sized chess pieces.
Peace and french fries,