Saludos from Alicante, Spain
Jayson Ito-Adler, busy studying abroad in Alicante, Spain, finds some free time to relax and stretch out at the Plaza de España in Sevilla.
I’m spending the semester in Alicante, Spain, which is on the Mediterranean coast, south of Barcelona and Valencia. The past 40 days have been full of travelling, eating and adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle. I spent a semester in Mexico last year, so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but it’s hard to find anything in common between the two other than the Spanish language and warm weather.
For one, Spaniards speak a lot faster than Mexicans and both have their own slang. For example, “que padre” meant “how cool” in Mexican Spanish, but Spaniards say “que guay.” There are also a lot of regional colloquialisms that we’ve learned in Spanish class and from our host families. In Alicante, “tiquismiquis” is a slang word for someone who is really selective, like picky eaters, but in the rest of Spain that doesn’t mean anything. Needless to say, it’s been a difficult process trying to adjust to the local Spanish, but I’m hoping to improve a lot by the time I leave in June.
I’m taking a bunch of interesting classes here, but my favorite, for obvious reasons, is called “Mediterranean Gastronomy and Wine Industry in Spanish Culture.” Last class we learned about the different steps for making wine and the differences between white wine and red wine production, and at the end we watched a clip from the Anthony Bourdain show “No Reservations.” Also, as part of the course, we will be going on field trips to a wine vineyard, olive oil factory, Alicante’s central marketplace and an orange farm. It’s a blast, and I can’t believe my program offers a course like this. We are learning a lot about Spanish gastronomy and why it is so important in the culture. I’m realizing that if there’s one thing the Spanish are proud of other than soccer, it’s their food!
As far as trips, the most exciting one I have gone on thus far was last weekend when about 25 kids from my program went on a student-led excursion to Morocco. In a few short days, we rode camels, walked along the Atlantic Ocean, did a cave tour, saw a magic show, tried a bunch of traditional Moroccan dishes, toured two cities and shopped in two marketplaces. Shopping stresses me out in general, but it was even worse in Morocco because the storekeepers are aggressive and you have to make sure you’re getting a decent deal. They usually start at about four times the price they will actually settle on, and a couple of times they tried to give me the wrong change back. It was an experience, and I bought some awesome souvenirs, but it definitely gave me a new appreciation for fixed prices.
To wrap this up, I’ll say that the most meaningful part of the last month and a half has been the people I’ve met. There are kids in my group from all over the U.S., and I also have a group of European friends. They are mostly French and Italian, but there is also a Romanian, a Belgian and a Pole. We’re all from completely different backgrounds but came here with the same intentions: to improve our Spanish, learn about other peoples’ culture and enjoy ourselves. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be living here, and I’m looking forward to what the next few months have in store!
—Jayson Ito-Adler ’13