The first day – for me – started at a little past 7am. I suppose that was when the sun was high enough to penetrate the tall apartment complexes and my window.
I ate desayunar at about eight – far too much breakfast, in my opinion. My host mother fed me pancakes, toast, cereal, strawberry jam, pineapple juice, cereal, milk, water, tea… Needless to say, I didn’t eat it all. I finished the pancakes, because I thought it only polite, and had some cereal, too. No comí todos los comidas porque fue mucho mucho mucho! She was quite understanding. Since the Spanish tend to have small breakfasts and large lunches anyway, I can only suppose that she’s had a lot of American students to stay before.
We left for the school at about eight-thirty and arrived a little early (about quarter to nine). No-one else from my group was there yet, but I talked to a nice Danish girl, called Maria. It started in Spanish, but she kept swapping to English, though, which was a little weird. I suppose her English was better than her Spanish. I kept swapping to German, figuring it’s better to speak a mutual second language (aside from Spanish, obviously). She understood, but used English. So that was a bit of a strange conversation…
As I’ve mentioned, we did a test in the first lesson. I found out later that I did the best of the Australian group (which I sort of expected, to be honest), and was put in the highest class. There’s a girl from Poland (or somewhere similar, I can’t quite remember), the aforementioned girl from Denmark, a boy from France (although he speaks English with a thick American accent), and a girl who’s technically from southern Germany, but moved to Holland as a teenager and England as an adult and now lives in France. So of the five of us, four of us speak English and four of us speak German, which makes things a little awkward for the teacher, I suppose, since we keep slipping into one of those to clarify something to each other.
Speaking of the teacher, I found her *very* difficult to understand. And, as I’ve mentioned, I have no idea why. I can understand just about everyone else well enough, even when they’re speaking moderately fast.
We spent most of the lesson brainstorming as many sorts of fruit as possible. Of course, a couple of us (like me) didn’t know very many fruits (I knew four… naranja, limón, tomate, fresa, y frutas de huesa), so we had to explain it to each other. Have you ever tried describing a fruit to someone, even in your mutual native language? Try doing it in a language none of you are particularly familiar with. We had some hilarious conversations and results, at times bursting out with the name in a different language when we finally worked out what “little round soft orange hairy” meant (peach, by the way). And not to mention the fruits which some of us simply don’t know at all, even in our own language.
And I won’t mention the “leech”, which turned out to be a lychee, except in French, Danish, and German. We spent about twenty minutes trying to describe a lychee (“round purple white sticks eyeball”), and the teacher still had no idea what we were on about. I have to admit, however, it took me a few minutes to work out what “round purple white flesh” meant, and that was only after the others had told me it was a “leech” and I spent quite a bit of time looking shocked and confused as they assured me, “not the worm!”. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I think of lychees as “rambutan”.
After the lessons, the Australians hung around at the school for a bit, finishing off the pausa (pah-oo-sa) tapas nibbles. I didn’t get home until about 2:30, which was all right, because that was when my host mother got home, too. Lunch consisted of hamburger meat, potato and egg salad, and tomato stuff. After lunch, my host mother and I sat around and watched the news (there was a bus crash near Ávila this morning, 9 dead and 5 severely injured, the worst bus crash in 5 years. That was pretty much all that was on, although there *was* a political conference of some sort in Madrid. Oh, and a very brief segment about the Tour de France), until about 4:30.
I met the other Australians in la Plaza Meyor (PLUH-tha meh-YOR) at 5:30 and we caught a bus to the local swimming pool. That’s a story for another post, though.