So, picture this:
Somewhere in Spain, there are four teenagers sitting around a table, eating breakfast. Between them, they have three mother languages, one language which they’re all learning, plus a couple more floating about for good measure.
Are you picturing it?
You’d expect a lot of talking, right? Speaking loudly and gesturing and trying to communicate? Talking about the food? Talking about school? Fumbling around in an unfamiliar language? Miming out words?
Well, if that’s what you’re imagining, then you missed one key word: teenagers.
Yes, that’s right. While comida (lunch) and cena (dinner) are as interesting as I’ve described, desayunar (breakfast) was the complete opposite. Dragging four teenagers out of bed in the morning, while 75% of them are still jetlagged and one is recovering from a fourteen-hour excursion, for breakfast at 7:30, does not result in lively conversation. Rather, we all just sat there staring blankly into space or at our food, speaking in monosyllables only. Which, if you’ve ever heard Spanish or Korean or Portuguese spoken, is quite an achievement.
And before I tell you about the rest of my day, let me make a quick observation: Am I the only one who thinks that Portuguese sounds like Spanish being spoken with a Russian accent? Am I imagining things? Because over the past two days, I spoke both with a Brasilian girl (and heard her speaking to her Brasilian friends) and with a Czech girl (in Spanish). And to be honest, they both sound pretty similar. I mean, I can identify Portuguese as being a Romantic language if I hear it, but it’s got this distinctive Slavic twang to it…
Now, onto school. Most people seem to attend Hispano Continental in two-week blocks, although one-, three-, and four-week blocks are also common. But this means that each week, there is a slightly different bunch of people. We lost a couple of people at the end of last week – Irene being one of them – but gained maybe half a dozen other odds and ends, plus a rather large group of Koreans. They were testing during the first lesson, but we had three new guys join our class for the second lesson. They all seem about the right level for the class, so I don’t think any of them will be moved, but it does mean we now have a Thomas and a Tommy in our class.
We learnt vegetables today. I knew a couple – guisantes (peas), zarahoria (carrot), champañón (mushroom), cal (cabbage), maíz (corn), lechuga (lettuce), and so on – but some of the pictures were a little hard to identify (like identifying avellanas [hazelnuts] and castañas [chestnuts] last Friday. Is it my fault I thought one was a macadamia?) so Cristina put them into Google images for us to see. So she brings up this pages of pictures that could be any of a million different sorts of green and leafy – cabbage, kale, spinach… – and expects us to know what it is. Needless to say, we all asked for further clarification, so she put it into some translator thing. Swiss chord. Being the only native English speaker in the class, they all look to me for clarification – and I’m just as confused as everyone else! I have no idea what Swiss chord is! Let’s just assume it’s kale until proven otherwise…
Oh, and there was a “welcome party”. When that happened to me last week, I just assumed it was recess and that it happened everyday. Actually, it only happens on Mondays. So between the “welcome party” and lunch, I couldn’t down my flan after lunch (not that I probably would have particularly enjoyed it anyway – it’s got the same sort of consistency as custard – but the “welcome party” was a good excuse for not eating it). Welcome party food was fun, although I did discover that mixing mandarin juice with lemon Fanta results in a somewhat disturbing shade of brown.
This evening, I went to dancing class. Let me tell you, none of us have any co-ordination whatsoever! I’m definitely sticking to ceilidhs and bush dances from now on… Spanish dancing is not my thing.
After dancing, we went out and got drinks. I got Bubble Tea (I know, I know, very Spanish, isn’t it?) – green tea con leche, fresa flavoured, with fresa and yoghurt bubbles. It was quite nice. The others pretty much just got Fanta – except for Daniel, who got some sort of milkshake cream thing.
Looking back on it, a rather interesting day. Mondays are actually quite fun in Spain…