I just finished clipping my fingernails for the first time since I’ve been in Barcelona, and it seemed a profound moment in my trip. I guess you know you’re living somewhere once you cut your fingernails there. And my, it is so much easier to type now.
I am a little sunburned right now because I spent all day yesterday at the beach (la playa Barceloneta). I had a really good time, even though I thought I hated beaches. And either way, I needed to work on my powerful Mediterranean tan.
I have had these strange little orientation class things all week from 10 – 6 or so that are now over with. The first part was a Spanish vocab review kind of thing and the other part was an introduction to the Catalan lifestyle in which we discussed the differences between Catalunya and what we are used to, as well as studying a little Spanish political history and the Spanish constitution. I should say, though, that getting out of school at 6 is not necessarily late, as dinner is not until somewhere between 9 and 10. The sleeping and eating schedule here matches mine perfectly. Wake up around 9 or 10, eat breakfast (maybe). Then eat lunch at 2 and nap (maybe). Then eat dinner at 9 or 10. Then go to bed sometime after midnight, depending on how fun things are that night.
However, there is no snacking.
Life in the apartment is nice. I feel comfortable here now, even though it is a little embarrassing when I do not understand people. But that is the way it goes with understanding a language, I suppose.
The food is so good. They get into grilling this one pepper that I am not a fan of and fried bananas are kind of weird, but everything else tastes so good. And they give you a whole lot of it. I guess it’s a Mediterranean thing, but “nada más” somehow does not keep them from giving you more. And if you would like a little more, be careful how you word it. You may end up with another 3 pounds of food sitting in front of you.
I feel weird, though, because there are a lot of strange gender role issues that are hard at play in this society. The fascist dictator Franco ruled the country from the Spanish Civil War in the 30’s (ending with him on top in 1939) until his death in 1975. At the time of his death, Spanish civilization was somewhat preserved in 1939, at least as far as social revolutions go. While the Western world had the 60’s and all the sexual and feminist changes that came with it, Spain was stuck in a housewife system, more or less. Since then, the society has changed a whole lot in a very small period of time. In fact, it is now legal for homosexuals to get married in Spain, so in many ways, Spain has met and surpassed the United States as far as social change goes in half the time the States have had.
However, not to ignore sexism and gender role problems in the States, the gender role problems that are still persistent here seem worse. My señorita española will absolutely not let me wash my own dishes, for example. She does my laundry, cooks my food and washes my dishes. This is all part of the housing contract, so it would not be such a surprise to me if I were not living with a Swiss foreign exchange student who happens to be female. She helps set the table, wash dishes and even cook during nearly every meal. It makes me feel bad because I am not used to being removed from certain household responsibilities solely because I am male. However, this is the way it is in nearly all the households in Barcelona. Just a key difference, I suppose.
Well, it is off to the art museum, I think. Maybe I’ll be able to get some more pictures up here at some point, but I make no promises.