Update: What I’ve Been Up To
I’ve been putting off this post for much longer than I should have. Writing generally flows quite smoothly as long as I manage to put the first word on the page, but my daily activities have been keeping me quite busy here.
For one, my last week of school is next week, and I’m really torn. This is not a normal end-of-year school week for me, but rather the culmination of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll be saying goodbye to all the people who have taken me into their fold from the first day all the way back in the first week of February. I’ll be staying in Badajoz for a few weeks after, although Friday (June 3) will be my last day of classes. I’ve also greatly enjoyed building personal relationships with all of my teachers. They’ve been so patient with me, and I greatly enjoy the student-teacher dynamic here — students are able to be themselves around teachers and conversations are not simply limited to academic material. Just the other day, my classmates were talking to the teacher about the futbol match between FC Barca and Real Betis; this certainly seems to be a popular topic amongst students and teachers here.
As for activities out of school, I’ve been having so much fun with my friends from music, art, the gym, and others I’ve had the privilege of meeting. Every Tuesday I have my ensemble practice (where I play the guitar) and most weeks, I stay back with a few of my friends and we play songs that we like. This past week, we played some Beatles songs just for fun (including my favorites “Ticket to Ride” and “All My Loving”). In art, I’ve been working on a painting of a Flamenco dancer inspired by an image by teacher showed me. I hope to bring this painting back as a loving memory of my time in Spain.
I’ve also been able to explore the city quite a bit on my own. Most days after school, I spend time with my host family in the center of the city (where my sisters have their extracurricular classes) until my own classes begin. My host parents love showing me around and there’s always something new to be seen. We usually grab a merienda (the evening snack) at our favorite cafe Granier (a store from Madrid). I’ve really enjoyed visiting some of the artisanal stores in the center of the city; the “principal street” of the city runs through the center and showcases a rich selection of both chain stores and the hole-in-the-wall finds.
I’ve also been able to travel quite a bit with my family and attend different events (I do plan to write a longer post dedicated to this topic). Just this past weekend, we went to the beautiful district of Estremoz in Portugal to visit a beautiful flea market. In Estremoz, we enjoyed a coffee in the castle and walked around the city. We also visited a village called La Albuera recently where they hosted a city-wide reenactment of the famous Battle of La Albuera between the French, Spanish, and English. I was also invited to the Communion of a family member of Roberto, and to say I enjoyed the function is an understatement. I met some wonderful people from Roberto’s side of the family who were so interested in speaking to me and teaching me about their customs.
Lastly, I’ve made more connections than ever this past month. Now, I am able to understand almost everything, and I can finally be confident in taking people up on the opportunities they present to me. I met my Italian friend Marina at a lovely Italian bistro in Badajoz, and I’ll be going to my friend Tony’s research center in Badajoz once school ends. This past month has been the most wholesome one yet in this whole experience and I have so many lovely memories in and out of the classroom. While I’m sad to part ways with my classmates next week, I am extremely sure that the week to follow will be one that stays with me forever.
This is the painting I have been working on for the past few weeks. I started this from scratch on a blank canvas and it is inspired by an image by teacher selected. This painting is such a beautiful representation of Spain to me, and the fact that it is my own creation makes it all the more endearing. I hope to bring this home with me as my own souvenir of Spain.