Hunting for Mushrooms in Catalunya

Last Saturday, I moved in with my new host family – always a slightly dreaded yet exciting experience. I had been in contact with them prior to meeting via email, and they had asked me if the following day I’d be interested in going with them to the mountains for mushroom (aka bolets in Catalan) hunting. I had heard about this tradition last year, but never had the privilege to go. So of course I jumped on the opportunity!

My first concern, of course, was the fact that there exists many toxic and/or hallucinogenic mushroom varieties. When I asked my host family about this, they assured me that we’d be going with some “experts” (aka friends they know living in the mountains) who know the difference between the edible and inedible varieties. As a side note, they also mentioned that there are reports every year of people dying from eating the wrong types of mushrooms.

So proceed with caution.

When we got to Montseny, the mountain region, I was super ready to find some mushrooms. I stepped out of the car and I couldn’t believe how many I saw! White, yellow, brown, red… they were everywhere!

My host family and their friends quickly calmed my enthusiasm. The majority of the mushrooms I was seeing were inedible. I followed the “experts” around for 10 to 20 minutes, trying to decipher which types of mushrooms were the good ones. Like all good things, the ‘good’ mushrooms always seemed to be hidden quite well!

It took me at least 30 minutes to find my first edible mushroom all on my own. It seems so simple, but it felt like such a huge accomplishment! You either try to pull it up carefully by the stem, or if necessary, you can use a small blade to cut it at the base. It is common to carry a basket with you to collect them all.

We found 5 varieties of edible mushrooms:

Camagrocs, or “yellow legs.” We found a bunch of these in one specific area of the forest, and they were delicious in a Spanish Omelette!

“Trumpetas de Muerte,” or “Trumpets of Death.” They don’t look or sound edible, do they? But they are! I didn’t personally get to try any of these because this was all we found, but my host family’s friends said they were delicious.

Ou de Reig, or “Reig’s Egg.” Everyone got super excited to find this one, apparently it is rare. It is unique because it first starts out looking like an egg (see the white part at the bottom?) and then the inner mushroom bursts out and continues growing.

Pinetells. We found quite a lot of these and the following mushroom as well, but I still can’t tell the difference between them! Photo Cred: usuaris.tinet.cat

Rovelló. Photo Cred: http://www.ambientech.org

And I found a few others that were inedible, but cool nonetheless:

Some years are better than others, apparently. My host family told me that the year prior all of their baskets had been overflowing with mushrooms – they were absolutely everywhere! Although we did find a decent amount, they said it was nothing compared to the year before.

We hiked around the mountainside for a good 3 hours or so, the enthusiasm only dwindling when our hunger started rising. We headed back to their friend’s house and dropped off the mushrooms for an extra few sets of “expert” eyes to look over the mushrooms, just to doublecheck that we didn’t accidentally pick up a poisonous variety.

Once we were given the OK for our mushrooms, we drove back to the city and decided to enjoy the camagrocs in a Spanish omelette. It takes a surprising amount of work to cut and clean them all! And, of course, once you put them in a pan, they shrink considerably. So don’t expect a huge feast of mushrooms! But of course it is so rewarding to eat the things you scavenged yourself.

The following day, we cut up the rovellóns and pinetells, which I obviously couldn’t tell the difference between. We also added in 2 ous de Reig, which the family friends had kindly added to our basket without our knowing. The host dad sauteed them all in oil, and even though we started with what seemed like a big amount, we each only got a small spoonful of our bounty. But it was tasty 🙂 I highly recommend the experience! Even for people who don’t really like mushrooms.

One of the great things about living with a host family is being exposed to new traditions, such as this. And it’s just the beginning of an amazing year! To learn more about mushrooms in Catalunya, visit the official site here.

I’m baaaaackkkk!

So, I have been extremely vaga (lazy) and haven’t updated my blog in 3 months. Shame on me. In my defense, after school ended in June, I no longer had access to a computer until late July… and then I went to Hawaii, went on a roadtrip, and then finally returned to Spain. Poor me, right?

But I’m back. And I’m ready to go. Are you?

I had an amazing summer, but it was so strange being back in the United States. Everything looked the same, the people were the same, it felt the same… it was trippy. I mean, what was I expecting? But somehow it felt like my entire experience in Catalonia had been just a dream. It was really difficult for me to re-adapt, especially the first couple weeks when I didn’t have much to do (sure, I like to complain about work, but at least it keeps me busy). I think it was during this time that I realized my decision to return to Spain was the right one. I couldn’t imagine just going back to my normal job, it depressed me. Sure, California is lovely, but when you’ve had the taste of Europe and are addicted to hopping on a plane to getaway somewhere for the weekend, you just can’t return to your normal life.

Photo Cred: leisure.onehowto.com

So here I am, back in Catalonia. I was so nervous during my flight, and even once I had landed in Barcelona, I was in disbelief. Was I really here? Had it really already been over 2 months since I had said goodbye? Was I ready for another year?

Yes, yes I am. And I look forward to making this the best year yet.

Over the next few weeks, I will update my blog with some of my fun experiences back in the States, including when my favorite Catalan came to visit for a good ol’ fashioned roadtrip around California ❤ Once finished, I will return to posting about my European adventures. Coming soon: Santander, Bilbao, Costa Brava, and Southern France.

El Correfoc (Running and Dancing with Firework Sparklers)

Last month, I had the privelege of participating (somewhat) in a really cool tradition in Catalonia called the Correfoc. It translates literally to “fire run.” Sounds interesting and kind of dangerous, doesn’t it? It’s both, I can assure you!

From what I understand, they do it throughout Catalonia at different points of the year for special festivals. I was able to witness one in Badalona, a city just north of Barcelona, for their Festes de Maig, or May Festival.

Photo Cred: alicantenews.es

Basically, people dress up as demons and carry around pitchfork-looking torches that spray fireworks above their heads. It is incredibly loud, and sparks of fire rain down on everyone around them. They wear protective gear, including goggles, gloves, and hankerchiefs to cover their mouths. Other people who wish to participate also dress similarly, in long pants and hoodies. Sometimes people even drench themselves with a bucket of water to be extra careful. Once ready, they all run in towards the demon people with the fireworks and dance under the raining fire.

Some groups of people go even farther and create these elaborate costumes and contraptions that give off the fireworks, such as giant demons and dragons.

Pretty bad ass, eh?

Well, having never experienced this before, I didn’t dress properly because I figured I wouldn’t be actually going into dance with them. I just wanted to watch. Stupidly, I was wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts. When the demon people finally arrived bearing their fireworks, they would come in towards the crowd, enjoying watching everyone quickly run away from the sparks. They taunted people, in fact. I thought it wouldn’t be so scary, but it definitely gets your heart pumping!

For hours, they dance through the streets like this. They also have drummers that take part in the parade. At the end of it all, they ended with concerts and parties on the beach. Such a fun tradition! Don’t underestimate Catalonia’s love of parties.

La Diada de Sant Jordi (St. George’s Day) in Catalunya

Since the day I arrived back in September, the Catalan people have been buzzing about St. Jordi’s Day, or La Diada de Sant Jordi (every year on April 23rd). I remember my first host family taking me out into Barcelona and showing me the cathedral and Palau de la Musica, and somehow they always tied things back to their beloved Saint. A couple of weeks back, I decided to ask more about this tradition and the legend it came from (I guess they also celebrate this in England, but us Americans are a little behind the times, I guess).

My 8 year old host sister came out with her Saint Jordi book (a must-have item in every Catalan household) and hers just happened to also have an English translation. She read it to me and we discussed. Basically, there is a dragon that terrorized a city and the princess was captured. A young (of course, handsome) knight came to save the day and slayed the dragon. Out of the dragons blood bloomed a beautiful rose, which the prince gave to the princess. In return, she gave him a book. To this day, Catalan people continue this tradition and exchange books and roses. To read more about this interesting legend, click here. This is basically the Catalan St. Valentine’s Day, and they look forward to it every year.

As you walk down the streets, you see many people holding roses to give to their loved ones. There are little stands littering all street corners with people selling books, roses, and the famous Sant Jordi bread with the Catalan flag on it. When I arrived to school, my friend and colleague was nice enough to give me one of these breads to try. They use cheese and sobresada (a specialty here made from meat, usually spread on bread) to make the yellow and red stripes, then the crust that surrounds it has nuts.

Inside the school, all of the teachers were wearing little rose pins on their shirts and the young students were all abuzz, roses being passed out everywhere. It was so adorable to see! All week the classes had been working on various crafts, and the entire school was decorated for the occasion.

During lunch, my friend and I decided to walk around our small town to see what was happening. Normally during our lunch time, everything is shut down. However, today all stores decided to stay open and sell themed items. There were stalls with more books than I’d seen in quite awhile, rose and dragon crafts, foods and pastries… it was so interesting to see!

After I got back from wandering around, one of my 8 year old students surprised me with a rose. It was so adorable because he is super shy, and his mom (who also works at the school) had to lightly give him a little shove to have him approach me. I later asked why there was the wheat sprig, and I guess it is for fertility. I don’t know if I was a young person that I’d want to give my girl or boyfriend a fertility rose! Sons also give their mothers and grandmothers roses on this day… “Here, grandma, a fertility rose!”

After school, I headed into Barcelona with some friends to explore the festivities in Plaza Catalunya and La Rambla. Everyone at my school told me that I just HAD to go. It was nice to see, and I’m glad I went, but I honestly preferred the festivities in my small town. In Barcelona, it was PACKED with people… everyone was shoving everyone else to get through and see things. In my small town, there was a lot of people, but it was still very easy to see everything and the wares they were selling were a lot more creative, in my opinion.

If you’re ever lucky enough to be in Catalunya on St. Jordi’s Day (April 23rd), I recommend that you try to check out Barcelona during the day (if on a weekday, most Catalans are probably still at work) and try to find a nearby small town to get the full experience. One thing is for sure – I enjoyed my first St. Jordi’s!

Figueres, Home of the Salvador Dali Theatre and Museum

Salvador-DaliI’m not the most artsy person in the world, and I’ve never been too great at remembering different artists, methods, or artistic periods… it just really isn’t my thing. But, of course, there are a few artists who stick out in my mind and have caught my attention. One of them is Gaudi, the designer of the beautiful Sagrada Familia. Another is Salvador Dali… I mean, whose attention hasn’t been caught at some point in their lives by his melting clocks or infamous upturned mustache?

I’ve been dying to go to the Dali Theatre-Museum ever since I arrived in Barcelona, but just haven’t really had the chance. It is located in the very northern tip of Catalonia, about an hour and a half drive from where I live. I could have taken the train, but surprisingly not many people in my program seemed all too interested. Luckily for me, my second host family decided to take me on a trip up there… and my first host family tagged along too! It was a nice reunion.

DSCN2918Figueres is a small city, from what I understand there’s not much else to see besides the museum itself. It was cute and quaint, however… I would’ve liked to spend a little more time there. Anyways, when you approach the museum, you recognize it immediately, even if you haven’t seen pictures. There are giant eggs on the top of the walls, and in some parts golden mannequins that look like the Oscar’s. Along the side of the red walls are large piles of what appears to be dough… super strange. But what else can you expect from Dali?

You enter the museum and almost immediately are ushered into the large courtyard. There’s an old black car in the middle with a large, naked woman standing on the hood. There’s something strange covering her nipples, I couldn’t tell what… Behind her is a large tower of what appears to be tires, and then at the very top there is a small boat with an even smaller umbrella hanging off the top, and large drops of water dripping down. Along the walls of the courtyard are alcoves that house golden mannequins with their arms in different positions. If you see pictures of it at night, it reminds me of the Red Light District, women on display in the windows. I don’t know if that’s the look he was going for, though. No one will ever know…!

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The lovely little ladies from my 1st and 2nd host families. I think they got a decent education in anatomy today…

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Next, you make your way into the grand hall. The ceiling is a big glass sphere, which lets in loads of natural light. On the main wall is a large, very well-known work of his surrounded by red velvet curtains. I thought it was a nice touch, since Dali liked to consider his museum also a theatre. On the left wall is a very famous picture of Lincoln / a naked woman. From far away (and through a camera lens, curiously enough) you can see the blurry face of President Abraham Lincoln. But if you go closer, it’s a picture of a naked woman from behind.

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My first and second host family (minus the poor dad who had to take the picture) 🙂

DSCN2931 DSCN2932 DSCN2933 DSCN2935Some of his works I am absolutely fascinated by and in love with… others just straight up creep me out. Such as this one, which is basically a piano covered in plaster with a strange half-woman with eyes peering out the back of her head:

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DSCN2941I found it really cool because as we went through, I realized just how little of Dali’s works I was familiar with. He has so many different styles that I had absolutely no idea about, and different points in his life where he begins to use a new technique or theme. Many of these works, if shown to me previously, I would have never guessed were painted by him.

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My host sister getting an education…

DSCN2942 DSCN2945DSCN2946And then you’re transported back to the constant “What the…?” as you walk through the rest of the museum.

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This next painting is a mural on the ceiling… and I could not get over just how gorgeous it was. I would have liked to have a bit more time to admire it and maybe see it up closer in detail, but it really just takes your breath away. It is unlike any other mural you will ever see in your life.

DSCN2953DSCN2957In the same room, I found the first image of his famous melting clocks. I think many people expect the museum to be mostly about them, since he’s so famous for it, but if I remember correctly this (and maybe one other image) were the only signs of melting clocks I saw in this museum. I was both impressed and disappointed by this… I would’ve liked to see more, but it was also amazing to see all of the other types of art and crazy ideas he came up with.

DSCN2955We made our way through all of the rooms until we got to the end… but quickly realized we somehow missed one of the most iconic rooms we had come for. We ran back through it all and waited in line, and it was so worth it. Who thinks up this stuff?

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Perspective from floor level.

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Perspective from about 10 stairs up, through a magnifying glass. I never knew that it was put together like this! Such a crazy cool idea.

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I enjoyed it so much, I didn’t want it to end! But the kids were getting ancy, so we headed out for a well-deserved lunch. Even though it was the weekend, there weren’t too many people walking the streets of Figueres. But it looked like a cute town nonetheless. I highly recommend coming to visit!

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Learning a New Language

languagesOkay, so let me start by saying that I am HORRIBLE at languages. Like, beyond horrible. I know English, and I think I’m pretty damn good at it, but being able to add a second language to my skillset proves elusive for me. I am currently trying to learn Spanish, but honestly I have been trying to learn Spanish for the last 9 years.

How pathetic, right?

Back in the States, they started us learning colors, days of the week, months, and basic phrases such as Me llamo Jessica and ¿Cómo estás?. When I graduated from middle school, that is pretty much all I knew. In my high school, it was required that we take 3 years of a language and I decided to take Spanish. Not to diss my Spanish teachers here, but I didn’t learn much there either. Sure, now I knew how to conjugate basic verbs and differentiate between the past and the future, but if someone spoke to me in Spanish I’d just stare at them blankly.

My last year in high school I had completed the requirement, so I didn’t take Spanish. However, I did pick up a job at a small local Mexican restaurant, and I was the only gringa. While I didn’t become anywhere near fluent, I definitely picked up a bunch of phrases and could speak to the cooks in Spanglish. To this day, some of the phrases I learned there are engrained into my mind because I used them so much.

Next, college. I decided to take a Spanish class my first semester, and my Spanish teacher was actually from Barcelona (where I am now). She was a lot of fun, but I must say I didn’t get all that much out of the class… One positive thing I did get from her was an even bigger urge to travel. Her lessons were often based around places to visit, such as Argentina, Sevilla, and Barcelona. Instead of paying attention to the Spanish like I should’ve been, my eyes were focused on those places. I am now living in Barcelona and just visited Sevilla a couple of months back, and I’m in love with both places. I’m still dying to visit Argentina!

Anyways, here I am in Barcelona, still frustrated that I don’t know Spanish. But it’s not like I’m completely useless at it. I know a lot of vocabulary and grammar rules, and when needed, I can definitely communicate to people what I need and they’ll understand me (more or less). In fact, a couple of my friends here are extremely impressed whenever they hear me speak Spanish and wish they had my level. But for some reason, I am just mortified that I am not fluent by now.

I can also get the jist of what people are saying to me. In fact, on our trip to Madrid and Sevilla I led us around pretty much purely on Spanish. However, I lack confidence. Majorly. And while I know the information, I have a hard time putting the puzzle together.

Recently, I finished the podcast Serial. It was actually the first podcast I had ever listened to, but I decided to give the whole podcast thing a try because I am constantly walking from one place to another, and it is an entertaining way to make the boring bits and pieces of the day go by quicker. Anyways, I finished the series and needed to find something else. The idea popped into my head that maybe there would be a good Spanish podcast that could help me improve. The first thing I came across was Spanishpodcast.net, so I decided to give it a go and downloaded it to my mp3 player.

I must say, even the first episode intrigued me. It is all in Spanish (well, duh…) so I would recommend knowing a bit of Spanish before starting. The first episode outlined ways to learn a language, and it mentioned that traditional methods of teaching a language that include drilling grammatical rules and having hundreds of lists of vocabulary (aka the way I’ve been taught all my life) isn’t all that effective. It results in people being able to read and write their new language decently, but when it comes to speaking they become a babbling mess (aka me). This podcast is based upon a new method of learning, going back to the way we originally learned our native language as babies. By listening. And repeating. And then repeating some more. Practice, practice, practice.

Logically, it makes sense. I mean, why wouldn’t we try to learn a second language the same way we learned the first? They make a big point about not translating things constantly, which seems ridiculous (or at least it did to me) but think about when you first learned English… you didn’t have any other language to translate what you were learning, you just figured out meaning through context. I feel like maybe this is the missing link for me. Sure, I know vocabulary, but only through the medium of English. Now, I need to learn how to think in Spanish. Intuitively, I think it will help eliminate that awkward pause I have when trying to speak Spanish since I’m constantly trying to translate everything in my head before speaking.

What is interesting is that, without really knowing it, I have been slowly learning the Catalan language through this mode of learning – purely through listening. I am surrounded by Catalan; at school, on the streets, and at home pretty much everything I hear is Catalan. Sure, I can’t really speak Catalan at all besides the basic Bon Dia, Adeu, Merci, but I can definitely understand a lot of what is being said (or, at least more than I could when I first arrived here). When a teacher is explaining something or chastising the students, I can understand what the topic is… which I am super excited about. I feel like I learn something new all the time without even trying. So hey, maybe this new method does have some truth to it. If I was forced to communicate in Catalan all the time, I am sure this process would go even faster.

I’m currently only on episode 7, and some episodes are longer than others. So far I’m finding them very useful and interesting. As I listen, especially at first, I find myself automatically translating what I hear into English for comprehension. My goal is to stop doing that and just listen, using the knowledge I already have and context to help me understand. I find that some words and phrases I already have as second nature due to years and years of repetition. So, in a way, all of those years in classes did help for something.

I guess the cliché is true… repetition is the key, as much as I hate it.

One fault I see in this method is that I feel like children learn a lot because the adults around them really assist them with this. Adults talk very slowly and enunciate to children, and they also repeat themselves a lot and speak in simple terms. However, when an adult who speaks Spanish sees me, they talk at an age-appropriate level which, to my ears, is lightning fast and complicated. No adult will slow down and speak as simply to a fellow adult as they would with a child. So kids have the advantage in this one.

I’m still missing the key part of speaking Spanish (since everyone here speaks Catalán and pretty much demand I speak English), but I’m going to try to begin reading short stories aloud to train my tongue to the sounds. I’ve also been listening to songs and watching movies in Spanish.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be fluent sooner than I think. Fingers crossed.

What do you call someone who speaks 2 languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who speaks 1 language? American.

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So I have been in Spain for nearly 4 months now, and I came into this with a decent Spanish vocabulary (think: days of the week, food, basic sentences, conjugation knowledge, etc.)… so I should be a pro now, right? Wrong… 😥 One thing I don’t think many people realize (myself included) is that here in Barcelona, Catalan is the reigning language. Sure, people know and understand Spanish, but the majority converse in Catalan and signs, menus, and the like are also in Catalan. The school I work at, for instance, is run almost entirely in Catalan as well. Science, math, and the like are all taught in Catalan. They do have Spanish class, but it is taught almost as though it was a foreign language.

The first week or two I was at the school, some of the teachers would make the effort to speak Spanish in front of me so that I could understand them more… but that quickly went by the wayside and now conversations are held almost entirely in Catalan. At first I was rather frustrated, in my mind it came off as a bit rude. But then after thinking about it a little bit, I understood… Catalan is their first (and preferred) language. If they are used to speaking in Catalan to their colleagues, it is difficult to switch. Plus hey, it’s their break… they can do whatever the hell they want.

Supporters of independence for Catalonia

So throughout these 4 months, the result is that I really don’t hear Spanish spoken all that much, nor do I get much opportunity to practice speaking Spanish. At home, I am expected to speak English with the children and also the parents in order to help them practice their English. At school, the entire purpose of me being there is to speak English… in fact, one of their main rules for me is that I always speak English with the students, never Spanish… I could even get fired for breaking that rule.

Towards the beginning I tried finding someone I could do language exchange with so that I could practice speaking Spanish. Most of the people who responded wanted to meet in the center of Barcelona, however, which was about 45 minutes away for me by metro. 45 minutes there, an hour of conversation, then 45 minutes back takes a big chunk out of your day… a sacrifice I just couldn’t make on a regular basis, especially after I picked up some tutoring after school.

My days look like this:

  • 9am – 5pm: School
  • 5:30pm – 6:30pm: Tutoring
  • 6:30pm – 7pm: Commute Home
  • 7pm – 8pm: Tutor Children at Home / Play
  • 8pm-9pm: Free Time

It really doesn’t leave much time for ‘me time,’ let alone ‘master Spanish‘ time. Luckily, I made a habit out of using any breaks I had to learn more Spanish. The program I’m with offered an online course that I worked diligently at, but of course that doesn’t help with the conversational side of things. In addition, I started using the free app Duolingo for extra practice. At first, I was rather skeptical about how useful a free app like that would be… but it soon became one of my main methods of learning. It was easy to use on my tablet and I learned quite a lot of vocabulary and grammar from it.  It is very repetitive, which many people hate, but I found it useful because in that way, the knowledge was drilled into your brain so deep that the knowledge almost becomes second nature.

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I also began translating Spanish songs.  Sometimes I would get worn out doing the online course and Duolingo, so listening to music was a good break. I found some Spanish songs I found catchy then took down the lyrics and wrote out all of the words and phrases I didn’t know or understand, which not only helped me with vocabulary acquisition but also with some slang and idioms. I really enjoy doing it now, actually! And one of my main goals was to get these songs stuck in my head so that I had Spanish floating around up there throughout the day. Mission accomplished. I have started singing along to some of the songs in Spanish as I am walking down the street.

In addition, I started watching movies in Spanish when I didn’t feel like doing any of the other methods. I’d have English subtitles, of course, but I would try to listen mostly and just use the subtitles when I didn’t understand what had been said. It was an entertaining way of getting past the learning slumps!

However, I am still nowhere near the level I’d like to be in Spanish. But I am beginning to wonder if its one of those things where the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Many of the people here who, in my opinion, have a very high level of English will insist their English is awful.  I could never be sure if they were just trying to be humble, or if they honestly believed they didn’t have a good level of English even though they clearly did. I’d like to think that’s me with Spanish, but time and experience will tell.

One helpful experience was my recent trip to Madrid and Sevilla. Instead of Catalan, everyone in those two cities speak Spanish. I did my best to always speak in Spanish with everyone, and in fact I got a lot of practice in and people were extremely encouraging. There were a few instances where some (rude) waiters would get frustrated with my pronunciation and say rudely, in English, “Just speak English. What do you want?” but I tried not to let that get me down. In Sevilla especially the people were extremely friendly and encouraging, which made me love the city even more. I had a few decent conversations with waitresses and taxi drivers which was extremely interesting!

One last thought… it amazes me how many languages people here speak, and how fluently. In my last host family, for instance, the mother spoke 5 different languages fluently. In fact, the 8 year old girl in that same family would be sitting next to me learning her 4th language as I was sitting there struggling to learn my second.  One of the first questions the students asked me when I first started at the school was “How many languages do you speak?” and I had to sheepishly reply “Only English… and some Spanish.” I was so embarassed. Why are Americans so bad with languages? Thinking back, the only bilingual people I know back home are my Hispanic friends who are only first or second generation Americans.

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When I skyped my mom one of the first times, I asked why she never put an emphasis on me to learn languages when I was young. She shrugged and said “It’s just not the American way.” My grandma in the background agreed with this. Why learn another language when we already spoke English, one of the most common languages around the world? I made a promise to myself that I would focus hard on learning Spanish and even learn another language on top of that. I am still deciding what that second language should be, but that will come after I feel a bit more comfortable with my Spanish level.

Why don’t I learn Catalan? In fact, I tried last week to take the free Catalan course Parla.Cat, but I think I was just so frustrated with my learning and how little I knew that it just gave me a massive headache. Another thing I worry about is that once I leave Barcelona in the summer, I will probably not have much use at all for Catalan. Spanish? Yes, of course, I mean hello… I live in SoCal! Spanish can really come in handy for me. But would putting all of that effort in to learn Catalan be worth it? I am still deciding. Languages are definitely not my forte, unfortunately. Luckily, just by being around Catalan so much I have picked up a few things, and if I am listening to a conversation or the teacher in the classroom I can get the gist of what they’re saying… which is super cool. But definitely not enough.