Like the first day of school all over again

September 21, 2013

I know, I know. You already know what this blog post will be about. Yes, indeed, I’m gonna tell you about my first school week at the UB. I’m really happy I got 20 days to acclimatize before the real thing started and I’m also really happy I took the most I could out of it. Ever since I survived my first class, my desire to walk around and discover yet unvisited parts of Barcelona has almost died away. I’ve got too many things on my mind at the moment.

Courtyard in de Facultat de Filologia of the UB

Courtyard in de Facultat de Filologia of the UB

On Monday, I left for school quite early – at noon, because I start at 1pm on Mondays and I still had to find my way around campus and all that. Fortunately, I’m good at thinking ahead this way, because apparently room 203 is not the same as 2.03. Each has its respective building. How should I know?! Eventually, I still had 10 minutes left when I found the right place.

The library of the UB isn’t quite as modern (or spacious) as the one at the UA, as you can see!

The library of the UB isn’t quite as modern (or spacious) as the one at the UA, as you can see!

Nevertheless, I was afraid that I was waiting at the wrong door after all, because I hadn’t seen anyone yet (save two other students). I have learned by now, though, that it’s not worth coming to class in time, because the professors here are always at least ten minutes late themselves. But I am not one to be late on purpose, so every day I am among of the first to arrive at the class room. Anyhow, I have three classes on Monday and I was definitely late for the next two. For my second class because I had to run home to get some paperwork I forgot to bring (papers all of my professors had to sign) and for the third because I went to buy some school books already, but I couldn’t find the shop right away. But as I said, it didn’t really matter. Class had never started when I arrived late.

After my first school day, I was mentally exhausted. All of the running around, adjusting, paying attention, tension… It had been an exciting day. And I was still totally looking forward to the next!

On Tuesday, I always start early, at 8.30am. In Spanish terms, that is very early indeed. Knowing that, last semester at the UA, I only had 1 class that started before 10am, this was a very early class for me as well. Granted, I had to wake up at 3.30am when I was working at the airport, then start working at 5am, but I didn’t particularly like that neither! This class was especially hard, because it was in Spanish and my brain has just not woken up at this hour.  At least, not enough to understand what my professor was speaking about. Honestly, the classes in Spanish are not easy at all. The teachers don’t take the level of the Erasmus students into account that much. They talk relatively fast, use expressions and words that we are not familiar with and we don’t get any kind of handbook that could be some kind of guide through the course. So no, not simple at all. The English courses, on the other hand, are much easier than at home, but it should come as no surprise that I don’t really mind, hehe. This way, I have more time to focus on my Spanish courses.

On Wednesday and Thursday I had the same courses as I had on Monday and Tuesday. The only difference was that now I really had classes, because the first two days were mere introductory classes. At some point, during those two days, I realized I bit off more than I could chew. This is why I have decided to drop 1 course that is very similar to one I’ve done twice at the UA already (in Dutch) and the thing is: I just don’t understand any of it (in Spanish). Even though I drop this course, I still have plenty of credits left to reach 180 at the end of the school year. Actually, I will be taking up 68 credits, even though the maximum allowed is 64. Here, in Barcelona, I am now taking 5 literature/culture courses.

On Thursday afternoon I was excited that I could go home. I had a Disney Movie Marathon date with my best friend. We watched the movies at the same time and talked on Skype in the meantime. Lovely quality time!

On Friday, I had a tough moment. I couldn’t see it working, with the Spanish and all. By next Thursday, I had all these articles and texts I had to read about philosophical subjects and I just did not understand anything about it. Of one of the articles, I found an English summary, which was useful to understand the main points, but the rest… I racked my brain over the rest for hours, but in the end, I was just sitting in a puddle of self-pity – I should have just stayed in Belgium… why did I ever think I could pull this off? – so I decided to try again later. I hadn’t been outside all day, even though the weather was really nice (and will continue to be until next week!), so that evening, I went to yet another CS-meeting. It had been a week already since I last went and Miriam and Annalisa had been asking for me. There weren’t that many people this time, because on Friday the Fiesta de la Merced had started, the celebration of the patron saint of Barcelona. During five days, there are concerts, parties, workshops, market fairs, performances and so on all over the city. After the CS-meeting – where I got a free salsa lesson (oh my god…) – I went to a concert on Plaza Cataluña for a little while. Steffen, a Danish guy I met at another CS-meeting, invited me to hang out with his friends there, but when I arrived they’d already gone off to somewhere else. I wasn’t going to stay just for the music – which I didn’t particularly like – so instead I just went home.

Concert on Plaza Cataluña

Concert on Plaza Cataluña

Saturday, which is today, I realized I’m getting really good at this sleeping out late kind of thing. It was already 11am when I finally appeared at the breakfast table. The plan for today was to organize my notes for my English courses – who wants to get up early for that, right? – and start reading this book I have to read by next week. The last thing, I’d do on the beach. Obviously. Also, I wanted to go the Colles de falcons, the human towers, a performance that would start at 5pm. In the end, I only got to lay on the beach for about half an hour.

'Studying' on the beach

‘Studying’ on the beach

After my schoolwork, I saw some groups parading through the streets of Barcelona, stopping now and then to form human towers or pyramids. They do this several times this week and there’s also a competition for making the highest, best, most spectacular tower.

Colles de falcons or Human Towers

Colles de falcons or Human Towers

Tonight, I’d wanted to go to the Parade of Fire-Breathing Dragons and Beastsbut, as it starts at 9pm already, I can’t go. It’s dinner time at Cristina’s. I had wanted to ask her to have dinner early, like yesterday, but she wasn’t home and my roommates were out as well. Eventually, I found out that they had decided not to eat at home, so it was just me. I knew they’d wanted to go to the parade as well, so I’d been hoping I could go with them. O well… Cristina ended up making dinner slightly early anyway, but just for me. She didn’t mind, because she’s volunteering at an old peoples home during La Merced. Apparently there’s a lack of staff during those days. Finally, I ended up missing the parade because the metro was overloaded. Normally, all of the locals take the bus, but the city had advised to take the subway instead. Consequently, the subway was full and the busses half empty. On, then, to the fireworks! I walked over there, so I could pass by the fair. I felt like having cotton candy – but they looked disgusting – and spent some time at the camel race – which is my all time favorite game at the fair. If I see that game, I have to play it! Usually I play 3 times and win at least once. I didn’t win a single time though (stupid Spaniards!) and I missed most of the fireworks because of it. Fortunately, I have two more opportunities to go and watch the fireworks. There’s another show tomorrow and especially on Tuesday I definitely want to go! There will be a spectacular show at the Font Magica to close the festival week.

Bingo is very popular here – every seat was taken!

My favorite game at a fair: horse racing!

The next few days I’m gonna enjoy the festival a bit more, in between all of my work. After all, I still have 18 out of 19 books to read! Stay tuned!

iHasta luego!

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