Non incautus futuri

A Washington & Lee junior and Marine Officer Candidate in Spain

Welcome to Paradise

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It’s been less than a week here in Alicante, but so far I am incredibly happy with my situation here and the CC-CS program in general. I’ll write a little bit about everything: the place, the school, my family, and my social situation here.

The place: ALICANTE IS AWESOME. Alicante, or Alacant (in valenciano, a regional language that you only see on street signs) is a city of about 300,000 people. It is located on La Costa Blanca, the “White Coast,” named for its white sand Mediterranean beaches. That’s right: I’m spending the semester ON THE MED. It’s still about 80 degrees here, and the water is quite warm. On Monday after my first day of classes, I went with some friends to El Postiguet, a massively popular little beach near the main walkway (La Explanada) and the city’s old port. Fun fact: many Europeans apparently go to the beach topless. This was not at all a bad thing in certain cases. Alas, many of the elderly subscribe to this type of beach philosophy as well. The program director had a funny story about this: she told us that a student came to speak with her after his host family took him to the beach. To the student’s horror, his host mother, a woman in her 60s, went topless. The student: “Pepa, I didn’t know where to look!!”

A little history, although I think everyone but my parents will skip this section. Alicante was the very last Republican city to fall to the fascists during the Spanish Civil War, and the scars of the war have still not fully healed. Talking about the war, until recently, was something of a taboo. All around the city, you can find former bomb shelters that are now mostly concealed with posters and the like. Today, Alicante is a massively popular vacation destination for Spaniards and Europeans, but thankfully most of them clear out by fall.

The school: I am enrolled in CSI, el Centro Superior de Idiomas, which is the international studies department of the University of Alicante. UA is massive: more than 30,000 students study here, including many foreigners. So far I have met Hungarians, Russians, Austrians, Canadians, Americans, Koreans, and hordes of Japanese. In fact, the majority of the students in my class are from Japan.

Right now, I’m in a month-long “intensive period” where I’m in language/grammar classes for four hours every weekday. I’m also taking a Spanish culture class, which meets only twice a week. My professors are great, especially Julián, who teaches my grammar class. He told us about the favorite drink of jovenes españoles, or Spanish teenagers. It’s called calimocho. Calimocho is a mix of Coca-Cola and wine. I have yet to sample it, but I would really rather not. It sounds awful.

So far, this program is wonderful. I feel like my Spanish is already improving. I can respond to conversation in Spanish much more quickly than I could before, and I have little to no difficulty understanding people. Now I just have to brush up on my grammar and develop my vocabulary. Hopefully I can become fluent by December!

Hopefully it is still in the 80s in December!

The family: My Spanish “family” is rather small. I have a Spanish host mother, Josefina, who is a widow in her 60s. “Fina” is wonderful. She is a great cook, incredibly kind and hospitable, and goes out of her way to talk to me and her other foreign student. As I mentioned before, Yuki is Japanese. She’s also in her 20s, and will be in Alicante all year (but will only live with the family for a month).

Other students: I really like the other students in my program. I was sort of afraid that the program would be full of stuffy or antisocial people. Just the opposite is true: everyone is down-to-earth and strongly committed to learning Spanish. I haven’t befriended any Spaniards yet, but hopefully once my program transitions to the “integrated” portion (in which I enroll in mainstream UA Spanish classes), and I get settled a bit, that will change.

Well, that’s all for now.  Un abrazo fuerte. — Lee

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Written by Lee

September 6, 2011 at 10:57

Posted in Spain

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