Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cava, Gaudí and Sitges: Just Another Week in Catalunya

Well life is really starting to pick up here in BCN.  My classes are taking up a lot of my time, I’ve been busy planning weekend trips (Rome is this Friday through Sunday!), and my homework is starting to pile up.  But of course, I have time for a quick blog update!

Update 1 - School: Classes are going decently.  My Spanish language class if by far my favorite because it’s a really small class (only 16 of us), the teacher is very helpful and chill at the same time, and the classroom dynamics are perfect.  For example, on Tuesday we had to imagine that a nuclear bomb destroyed the world and that there was only enough room for 13 of us in the shelter.  Therefore, we had to explain (in Spanish of course) what characteristics and experience we can bring to the table to rebuild civilization.  I started off saying that I’m a psych major and that I will be able to help everyone with emotional problems to which some other girl responded with “well I’m a psych major too, my parents are psychiatrists and I’ve studied mediation techniques and yoga.”  My teacher asked me if I had a response to that.  I knew that I could not compete with that, so I tried to respond with humor: “um……¿adiós?” 

Although my Catalan class is fairly difficult, I’m still enjoying it because I’m learning the language of the land and it’s a great conversation starter with my host mom (she always asks me what I did in my Catalan class when I come home).  However, it’s requiring me to forget years of what I learned in Spanish in order to pronounce the vowels correctly.  Catalan vowels are reduced when they are not in they are not in the stressed syllable, unlike Spanish where all the vowels have their full value.  For example, casa is both Spanish and Catalan for “house,” but they are pronounced differently: [] versus [ka.zə].  To make things more confusing, Catalan also has 3 more vowels than Spanish.  Catalan also has a difficult sound for the double l and of course it’s in a lot of their words (llum, Lluís, lliure ect..)  I just have to keep on reminding myself that once again I’m learning a new language and it took me awhile to get a good grip on Spanish.  With time and practice I’ll become better at Catalan.

In addition to learning Catalan, the class is also meant to teach us about the Culture of Catalunya.  So far we talked about La Mercè (which of course I got to experience first hand) and a popular folk song about a midget "Patufet."  The jist of the story is that he's this tiny tiny kid who has to sing this song so that no one will step on him.  It rains one day so he has to under a leaf to keep dry.  However, a cow devours him and the leaf in one gulp.  Since it's a story meant for kids it has a happy/funny end: the cow farts and Patufet flies out to freedom.  Here's the video we watched in class it's actually pretty funny and it has a catchy chorus ("Patim patam patum, homes i dones del cap dret, patim patam patum, no trepitgeu en Patufet")

My other two classes are going well too.  We’ve talked about the 2nd Republic and Franco’s dictatorship in my Spanish politics class and about the Roman Barcelona (Barcino) in my History of Barcelona class.  Apparently, Plaça de Sant Jaume was the center of the Roman city (the forum) and now I can walk through the plaza next time appreciating it a little bit more.

Update 2 - Exploring Barcelona: Since I don’t have Friday classes (score!) it gives me an opportunity to either travel or explore BCN.  Since I didn’t have a trip planned this weekend, we decided to explore some of Gaudí’s creations.  We went inside of Sagrada Familia to find out that the inside is pretty bare.  The ceiling and columns were exquisite, but there was no interior décor, like pews or altars.  We did decide to take the elevator up to one of the towers of the church and it was worth every euro to go up.  Not only did you get a great view of church but also great views of BCN.

Next up was Casa Batlló, which I have to say was kind of disappointing for 14€.  I mean the inside was really well designed, but the rooms were completely bare with no furniture.  I went in expecting to see an actual house with stuff it, but nope.  The roof was kind of cool though; it was like La Pedrera but only more colorful.

Update 3 - Exploring Catalunya: On Satuday, ISA took us on an excursion to Cordníu winery and Sitges.  The winery is famous for producing cava, Catalunya’s champagne (they can’t call it champagne for copyright reasons).  The tour of the place was really cool.  It included going down to the cellar to see miles and miles of wine/cava just chilling there.  We got to ride on a cart that reminded me of something Disney World would have, but it was so much better.  We got to go through the cellar and see how much wine and cava was actually there.  Afterwards, we got to try two types of cava: a white and rose kind.  Yeah, everyone was much more talkative and alive after that cava tasting, haha.

We then continued on our way to Sitges, a little town in Catalunya on the Mediterrean coast.  The town was very pretty, it reminded me of los pueblos blancos (white towns) of Andalucía.  However, if you weren’t there to party or to soak up some sun on the beach there’s not to do.  It’s probably much more fun at night, but during the day it’s kind of a snooze.  Literally, I think we walked from one end of the town to the other end in less than an hour. 

As always, my photo albumns are updated.  This one includes random pictures of Barcelona (including La Boquería!)  in addition to Cordníu/Sitges and the other one is an updated version of Gaudí’s Barcelona.  Check back midweek for a post about some cool Spanish phrases (including the Spanish spoken on the street…) and next Monday/Tuesday for my post about Rome.  Until then, I’ll see you when I see ya!

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