I can't believe week three is underway! The past two weeks have flown by, but at the same time it feels like I've been in Spain for months. I now know my way around the campus, the town, the public bus system, and the comedor (the caf). I know not to wear heels to church because you'll never make it down the stone steps and back. I know that the bus runs less frequently on Sundays and if you get on the wrong one, you will go all the way to Valencia (luckily not from personal experience). I know that in the caf, you have to be very specific when you say un poco (a little) because they give huge servings of everything. I feel like I've learned so much already, but at the same time I know I have such a long, long way to go. 

This Monday was two thousand percent better than last. For one thing, I decided to postpone taking History of Spain until next semester when my Spanish is better. It would have probably been ok, but history is one of those subjects that I want to be able to really understand, and in Spanish, it's muy dificil. I started out my day by sleeping in since I didn't have class until 9:45. I skipped breakfast, hoping I wasn't missing out on churros like I did yesterday (turns out Sunday breakfasts are worth going to!). Gramática was first, and even though it's hard, our teacher is very sweet and understanding. In fact, all of the teachers here are muy muy simpatico. Conversación and DELE (a class for our government test at the end of the year) went well too. 

This afternoon we had Composición, which I love. The teacher's name is Chelo, and she is the cutest, tiniest lady ever. I think she's about the size of my mom, for those of you who know her, and her actions remind me of my mother as well! Her tiny frame holds a huge personality; she speaks quickly but clearly, uses lots of hand motions, and is never afraid to do silly things to make us laugh or understand what she's talking about. I think she's also pretty fluent in English, which gives her a good understanding of what we're going through. This was only our third class with her, and it was a blast! She started out by giving us a piece of paper with the following sentence written on it. She told us there was something special (curious, unique) about it, that we could figure out even if we had never heard a lick of Spanish in our lives. See if you can figure it out! Here it is:

"Anoche brillaban cerca chispeantes dos estrellas fugaces; gravitaban hermosas iluminando juntas kilométricos lugares; llevaban magníficos negros ñublos, originaban planetas que relucían surcando tenues universos . . . vertiendo wólfram, xenón y zafiros"

Can you spot the special quality of this phrase? Don't look deep into the meaning. Spoiler alert: Here's the answer! It's an alphabet sentence, where each word starts with the next letter of the Spanish alphabet. This was the introduction to today's lesson.

Of course, the Spanish alphabet is almost the same as what we use in English. The only difference is that they have 27 letters (adding "ñ") and two dígrafos ("ch" and "ll"). Chelo proceeded to tell us all about how to pronounce each letter. For example, a common problem with English speakers learning Spanish is to drag out our Os too much. We also say Ds and Ts very hard, whereas in Spanish they are softer. One of the most curious accents in the Spanish language is the Z and C to sound like a "th." As most of you probably know, this is unique to Spain. Here's why:
Almost all of Spain uses the "lisp accent" as we usually learn in Spanish class in the US. However, the very southernmost part of the country (as well as the Canary islands off of Africa) uses Z and C as the "s" sound (like in Central and South America). Chelo herself actually speaks without the "th" accent, but here at school, since we are in Valencia, she has to change it to teach us local Spanish. Anyway, when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, he left from right below Portugal where no one had the "th" accent. That's why, in South America, the majority of cultures use the "s" sound. 

Although it may not be fascinating to you, I am loving learning about the differences in the language and the pronunciation. Listening to Chelo talk about how the little differences make us sound like we are speaking Spanglish makes me marvel at how anyone on this earth ever learned and developed languages.

Well, it's almost time for comida! The next few weeks are going to go quickly. We have camping trips, festivals, and then our large trip to Andalucia! I'll be sure to keep everyone posted and maybe add my vocab words of the day! ¡Hasta luego!

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