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Wednesday morning I think most of the nearly 100 ACA kids woke up with a slight dread of the entrance exam. Some girls had been studying since they got here, and I had done almost nothing since high school spanish and one easy semester at Union. I was pretty nervous about it, and also was getting more irritated at having to wear the same clothes and wonder where my bags had gone. 

Rachel, too, was miffed by her lack of suitcases, but there was nothing to be done but head down to breakfast and then to the igelsia (the church is in the bottom of the boy's dorm, much like Rees Hall chapel). The orientation was so interesting and a little overwhelming! We finally got to see Juan Antonio (the ACA director at Sagunto) who Rachel and I met and showed around Union earlier this year. I think he remembered us, and later in the day when I took my oral test, I told him that I was from Union and worked for Tamara (aka the best boss ever!). Then he remembered for sure! Anyway, I'll tell more about the test later. We also got to meet some of the people we've heard about or we've been emailing during the whole process. All of the teachers are so nice! Most of them try to talk slowly so we can understand and they use lots of hand motions. For the first meeting Juan Antonio spoke and introduced everyone, then they had us all stand up when our school was called and say our names. Union is one of the smallest groups, the four of us far outnumbered by PUC, Southern, and Walla Walla. It didn't take as long as I though it would to have everyone say "me lammo ----." Everyone here is also really nice if you forget their names because we have all been meeting so many people at once!

All of the orientation was in Spanish, even the teachers that do speak English did not do so, so we can get used to hearing spanish. The registrar (who I assume is an american by her accent or lack thereof) translated so we would know what was being said. They talked about classes, rules, who to talk to for various needs, and the calendar of events. Then it was time to take the entrance exam. They split us all into groups by last name and we spent the next hour or so attempting to answer 100 questions in spanish. I didn't feel too good about it; it was sort of a confidence buster. The first 50 questions were doable but not easy, and during the second half I was totally totally lost. I think a lot of them had to do with tense, but even one girl who already speaks spanish said that some were hard because they were questions about common phrases (such as "it's as easy as pie" apparently has an equivalent that is something like "it's as easy as eating baked bread" or "baking bread" or something.) 

After the written test came the oral test. I was relieved when I saw that mine was with Juan Antionio. Students just paired up with teachers and sat in various areas on campus talking. He asked me how I was doing and what I did this summer. I told him that I worked at a school of tiny children, and then asked how to say daycare. I told him about my brother and that he was 15. And that was about the extent of my conversation! He also asked if the written test was facil or dificil for me. I told him it was muy dificil. Even though I didn't feel good about either test, it was over and we all relaxed and went to go eat in the caf. 

Then the best part of my day came. I came up to my room to do something, I can't even remember what, and all the sudden I remembered I needed to talk to the dean (and I can't even remember why!) As I neared the bottom of the stairs, someone in the lobby called up, clearing looking for someone. It was a man from Iberia Air and he had 6 suitcases! I quickly tried to explain to him that I didn't speak much spanish and I didn't know where the dean went. He said he needed someone to sign for them, and right then someone came in who took care of it. All the while I wondered if it was my lucky day and my bags had shown up. Rachel walked in and I grabbed her and went to look in the back of his van. When I saw my suitcases I was sooooo happy! Poor Rachel's are still missing but hopefully they will arrive today. Anyway, it was like Christmas. We were about to head out for our afternoon activities so I hauled them up to my room and saved my gifts for Christmas morning, later that night. 

Our planned afternoon activity was a trip to the beach and Carrefour for supplies. This trip was much nicer on my feet since a bus took us the whole way! Plus I had grabbed my converse out of my bag and finally removed my blasted traveling sandals that had given me huge blisters. At Carrefour many of us girls bought small bathroom rugs, detergent, and a little food. I got a loaf of bread for  €0.45, a mug for tea, a small cleaning towel, and a spray bottle for my very wrinkled clothes. Then we piled into the bus to head to la playa.

Here's one of our bus drivers for the year, I think his name is Pedro. Next to him is Christian, one of our teachers. For some reason when we left Carrefour he pointed at my backpack and made me put it in the storage compartments under the bus. Maybe he thought I was going to eat food in the bus or something. So when we got to the beach I asked if he could please open it so I could get my camera and money. He joked that I could only if I took a photo of him and Christian. So here he is!

During the beach trip we took a few photos and then walked to a very small chinese store. They had really good prices for small things (sort of like a dollar store) so I got q-tips and another adapter. Then it was time to leave! That night (last night) Rachel helped me unpack everything while mourning the loss of her own baggage.
TODAY, jueves, 9.20.12

Today is considered our first day of classes. However, it's really just another orientation day with a few classes where we look at the syllabi if necessary. Again we started out in the church where they announced the groups. Here's how it works: Groups A and B are intermediate, C and D are advanced, and E and F are advanced II. Most of the kids in E and F already speak spanish. I was hoping realistically to get into the B group. I wanted to make it to C but the test was so hard that I didn't think I had a chance. When they hadn't announced my name in A, B, or C, I thought they forgot me! Much to my surprise, they announced both Justin and I in D!!!! Well, I wasn't surprised he was. He's better about jumping in and speaking spanish than I am... so I'm going to have to work on that! Anyway, I'm so excited but also nervous that I won't be able to keep up since everyone else seems to have a much bigger vocab than me. 

Once we found out our groups, we went through all of the elective classes! They are so interesting! So far I've signed up for a Phys Ed class, which this quarter is rock climbing (even though I have my PE credits for Union... this sounds so fun!) and also History of Spain and Europe and Folklore, which is a class that almost everyone is taking and it's about culture, fiestas, festivals, music, dance, and all things Spanish. My group can't take Flamenco until next quarter, but I think that I'm going to! Surely it will be entertaining to put 20 or 30 Adventist kids in a room and ask them to dance!

After we learned about the electives (which can be taken for various credits, some Bible, PE, History, or Spanish) we split into three groups to go get our books. Then I had about 20 minutes of down time before my first class! I'm so glad Justin and I are in class together. Also in my class are some new friends of mine (old friends of Justin) Rachel, Seth, and Jessica. It's such a relief that we are all together! I still don't know how in the world I got in D, but for now I'm going to assume that I'm a good guesser or that they looked at previous classes and grades. Anyway, for now I'm just going to study hard and try to keep up.

The first class we took was Folklore, with groups D-F together. It was intimidating because there are some kids in that class that are already fluent in spanish! The teacher's name is Anna and she is so nice! She speaks very clearly for us and doesn't talk too fast. She said everything in Spanish and didn't have anyone translate anything. She started class by playing very Spanish music and even had one student come up and try to bailar (dance) !! We went over the syllabus and she explained everything. To my surprise, I actually understood a fair amount of the information! There were a few things that we discussed amongst ourselves at the end of class, but mostly the info was clear! However, I didn't feel like I could say anything back to her and I had to focus a LOT on what she was saying to catch any of it. She also used lots of hand motions which helped.

That first class really helped my nerves and my confidence. Even though it was tricky to catch it all, I felt a lot better than I did yesterday after the test! For me, the rest of the afternoon is free, but at 3:00 (in ten minutes for me here) I'm going to go get the rest of my books and see if Justin or anyone else is doing anything interesting. I also am starting to set up my room so I'll post photos of that soon!

¡Hasta luego!
9/20/2012 06:08:02 am

I am so excited for you Shelby! I just took several minutes out of my homework time to catch up on here. You sound like you are doing GREAT!! So proud :')

You are going to catch on sooo fast, have a blast!

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