Sliding farther down the throat of the Spaniards

My voice, a newborn deer in the language of the spaniards

Twisting and slipping in onto itself with new legs too long to bear the weight of their words

Folding amongst the Rs and the bowing to the insistent rhythm within their breath

And the bachata between their teeth; I cannot keep up, cannot keep pace

But in moments of excellence and flashes of brilliance

My mouth catches up to their relentless song

My tongue like a pájaro flitting through the spaces inbetween my teeth

My own breath whistling out in a musical rendition just a touch off-key

Learning Spanish has so far been a journey fitted with obstacles set to destroy our fragile confidences. I have been laughed at, mocked, and completely ignored and I am not the only extranjero here who has experienced this. However, it has only been a little longer than 2 weeks and I can feel the language sliding into my brain, taking hold there and it is an exhilarating experience.

At times, when I need to speak English (perhaps to another foreigner who does not yet speak spanish) words begin to mix in an interesting combination of English and Spanish. My grammar while speaking English often times takes the form of the Spanish language and the other Americans laugh in solidarity. Thinking in Spanish no longer is so difficult, The other night, I dreamed partly in Spanish and spelling has become distinctly more difficult in both languages as they brush up against each other in a rapid sensation of pulsing drum beats. At times now, when I am not prepared for it, English is even difficult to understand. It is happening, soon I will master this musical language.

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En un autobús despistado On a bus clueless

Oh what a wonderful start to my day.

Today, some other ISEP students and I had to apply for our residency cards since we are staying in Spain longer than 90 days. The entire process was fairly easy with a few minor bumps along the way. The real fun started when we tried to take the 15 minute bus ride back to the city center where we all live.

Okay first, let me make a disclaimer. Being in a foreign country and barely speaking the language can really mess with your common sense sometimes. I mean, you can be so focused on counting out money, or trying to form the correct grammatical structure in your head that you end up forgetting basic rules about whatever situation was stressing you to begin with. It really is very common. With that being said, don’t judge us.

So, after having a little celebration at the bus stop because we FINALLY are done with the extensive government paperwork, we spotted our bus. We failed to notice however that the bus we were boarding was the exact same line as the one we took to get to the foreigner’s office and was heading in the opposite direction of the way we needed to go. So Sabrinah and I boarded the bus, paid for our ticket, walked all the way to the back, and waited for the others to join us. After a few seconds we saw our friends frantically waving to us and saying this wasn’t our bus. They quickly stepped off the bus, and after shooting to our feet and trying to run to the doors, the bus driver hit the gas and took off.

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All we could do was wave through the window as we passed our friends standing along the curb.

You think we would get off at the next stop right? Well the next stop was 10 minutes deeper into the outskirts of the city; an area lined with cactus speckled dessert and abandoned-looking factories. Great. Finally we were able to disembark. However, we had no idea where we were. Only that we needed to find a bus line heading south. Luckily, there were a few men at the bus stop who we could ask. They pointed us across the street to another stop so there we went.

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I still have no idea where in Murcia we were. The suburbs here are very much like the ones surrounding Chicago; they are their own entities but politically are a part of Murcia. Forty minutes later, after seeing 4 other buses pass by, we then finally figured out that con linea meant these buses connected with the line we needed to be on so hungry, tired, and hot we boarded the next one to pass through, paid for a ticket ( I have no idea what ticket the driver even gave us) and sat down for the ride. However, as we neared the second campus for our university (which is much bigger than my campus and still no where close to the center of the city) Sabrina and I decided it was much safer to get off this bus and to take the tram system instead because the tram runs in a circle and is pretty much idiot proof.

However, we had a close call at the tram station. Sabrina has a pass but I do not because I don’t have classes at this campus. Some students from the Chinese sister school here were having trouble buying tickets and holding up the line but the tram was approaching! Sabrina snatched my euros from my hand and in a few quick motions paid for the ticket but by this point the tram doors were open and everyone was boarding! The alarm that signifies the closing of the tram doors was going off and the machine still hadn’t given me my ticket. Finally, the machine spit out the piece of paper and we ran through the doors with seconds to spare. Holy shit.

Once in our seats we were able to laugh a little bit and catch our breath. The tension in our shoulders loosened up and I was oddly proud of us.The point is we made it. The tram ride was long, another 20 minutes, but we figured out what the heck to do and we eventually got back to the city center. Murcia 0 Foreigners 1.

Mi compañera de habitación

So I finally met my other roommate. Patricia (my landlord) had originally told me that my roommate was Swedish but Emilie most definitely is Belgium. She actually speaks English and Spanish very well along with her native tongue French but within the first few moments we met each other she very clearly expressed that she did not want to speak English with me. I completely respect her for it. So English is no longer spoken in my apartment or when she is with me. Its wonderful practice and sometimes hours go by without a single word of English. I am already getting better and more confident with my Spanish. It does not hurt that Emilie is such a sweet person.

It is also easy to practice Spanish here because the people are so wonderful. There have been a few exceptions though. For example, the first other Spaniard I met besides Paco the taxi driver was a woman named María. She refused to even try to understand me and was very rude. Then there was the bank teller. Those of us in the Isep program have to open bank accounts to receive our stipend and when we went to a bank to do so the man refused to help us. So Kaitie, Sabrina (a student from LSU) and I went to another branch where literally everyone from the manager to the tellers helped us enthusiastically.

So last night, Emilie, Kaitie and I went to this little fair near my apartment. Actually I should not say small. It stretched a couple blocks and was located directly next to the river. There was so much food and it all smelled absolutely amazing. There were spits of lamb, fresh corn being grilled, sausages being handmade, fresh seafood, and lots of alcohol. It is still a little weird being able to drink whenever I want and this weekend has definitely been full of vino y cerveza.

just taking a little stroll

Of course while there it started raining and we had to run back to the flat. By the time we got into our apartment we were soaked and laughing from how pathetic we looked.

¡Nuestra pelo!jajaja

Anyway we are about to walk to the bus station to pick up Emilie’s friend and I have now spent too much time thinking in English. I will post again soon. Keep in touch my loves.

¡Hola!

We are here! (actually we have been here for two days I just haven’t had time to write)

Arriving in Spain was insane. We had to run through Madrid’s airport to catch our connection to Alicante which we made with about 8 minutes to spare. Then, we had to find our taxi driver Paco who speaks no English whatsoever. That was interesting. We drove with him an hour to our home here in Murcia, where I am writing you from.

The city is wonderful and the food is even better. Kaitie, myself, Lenny (a 30 year old social worker turned translator from Germany who already speaks 3 languages) and Kaitie’s roommate Hailey (an interesting character of a girl; also a photographer I must add) went out to eat tapas and drink last night. Immediately everyone knew we spoke English, but the point was we tried and we succeeded. We’ve been shopping, out for café, out for food, and exploring through the city and each time we have to speak in Spanish because no one here speaks English. It’s absolutely thrilling. My Spanish is bad but the people can understand me and I can (sometimes) understand them. I am content.

Now, I must prepare myself for the day and go exploring before the city wakes up. Stay tuned for more pictures, videos, and posts.

We have arrived