I spent last Saturday in Xátiva, a small town about an hour away from Valencia. A long castle dominates the surrounding mountains, so we of course climbed the hill and explored the castle. While a great place to hike and relax, the town has relatively little historical significance apart from being the birthplace of two popes (Callixtus III and Alexander VI).

Xátiva Castle

While classwork has certainly slowed down from the post-fall break frenzy, it’s enough to keep my busy. Most time consuming was a six minute video adaption of Gabrial García Márquez´s “Crónica de una muerte anunciada” or “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.” Needless to say, we added rap music and fight scenes to give it a Hollywood flair (for the sake of all of our dignities, this movie is staying continental).

But the most enjoyable part of the past week has definitely been Spanish friends.

First, I finally met up with my language-partner, María Minuesa. María is an aspiring doctor at the University of Valencia, but also has a wide array of linguistic and political interests, so conversations are enjoyable and always a little longer than intended. She’s studied abroad in Vancouver and visited New York, so her first experience with a Midwesterner is yours truly. In fact, María demonstrates what I’ve found to be fairly constant with Spaniards: my Spanish is easy to understand, but my English is impossible.

Another group of Spanish friends has really taken off through a local Baptist church. While at a service there, I met Gerson Hernández and had several opportunities to eat lunch with him and his friends at the University of Valencia. There, I am exposed to an entirely new type of Spanish dynamic- a large, familiar group of idiom-spewing college students. While I’m more than capable of one-on-one communication, and have a great time in small groups of Spanish people, this dynamic puts comprehension and communication to the ultimate test. Hopefully in the next several weeks, I can master the art of Spanish group discussions.

Regarding large groups of Spanish people… I went to a soccer game Wednesday!! The energy in the stadium was palpitable. From loud cheers to everyone wearing “Murciélagos” jerseys, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the downfall of Bursaspor (their Turkish competitors).

Thanksgiving in Spain was slightly bizarre. Turkey, green beans, and roasted pumpkin were served (cold and with strange spices). In other news, my host mother and I are a little under the weather. With that, I’m off to an early bedtime. More next week on winter break plans, the program theater production, and my last day at the law firm.