Honey and lemon didn’t work. Fixed neither bronchitis nor a sore throat. I tried! Drank an orchard’s worth of lemons.
Decided to start antibiotics in middle of Sunday night after yet another protracted bout of dry coughing but you are advised not to lie down for a while afterwards. Well, Muriel, I assume it burns your gizzards if it slides back up. So I had to wait ’til the sun was waking to start them.
Monday 22 August
First day at school in Salamanca and I felt, and looked, dreadful.
If coughing was an Olympic sport I got gold for duration per day, for force per cough and whatever else. Gold. Gold. And more gold…. Day after day. ☹️
Another day off would be a bonus but they do class allocations on a Monday so, I had to go to class. I spent 2 minutes revising, Monday morning. Yup, too little, too late. I’m focussed on after class. Bed!
I chose Don Quijote again because I’ve heard good things about the Salamanca branch plus, I know it’s well organised and its teachers are all well qualified grads.
Eight am start. Do test. This is part written and part oral with one of the teachers. Well organised and they’d hived off those who speak no Spanish earlier so we operated in Spanish. Most students are young, a few of us, not. From all countries, particularly Germany I think. A few French, Brits and otherwise I don’t know. No other Aussies as far as I know.
Curiously, there are two small flags above the smart board in the seminar room used for the tests and lectures. To the left is the Spanish flag and, to the right, the Australian flag. Australian? Why, I have no idea but, it is. And no, no, it was there the day after too. Very strange.
Then a tour of the areas around the school (and, past where I currently live). What a great tour! Hearing local views and history from someone who grew up and was educated here, was great. We climbed up the balcony in the Casa Concha, walked to the Plaza Mayor, back to both sides of the Cathedral, new and old, then down to overview the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano), back up my street (Libreros), originally the street of the booksellers, and back to school. Time left for coffee and to find your new class.
Casa Concha? Astoundingly popular. Always has crowds looking at it, even relatively early in the morning.
Well, I’m in B1.4! B1 is the initial intermediate level and the 4 is the number of weeks completed at that level. The last week in B1 is 5. My last time in don Quijote I was in A2 so I must have learnt something. Despite zero practice in the language for what feels like ages.
My 4 classmates (a German couple, a Brit and a French woman) are ahead of me. Usually I like the challenge. Being crook has made it hard to think of working to catch up as fun. Sigh (again). Really nice classmates. The Germans have done 5 year spells in many countries, she has a great job. He works at home. The other two are also nice, one 22 and the other is probably 30s.
After the break/tour my group was continuing a new verb tense today. Well, new to me. Guess what I’m doing tonight, after the 7-8pm culture lecture. Think level B only goes to B1.5. Just as I was getting resigned to never progressing further I jumped right up from A2. Clearly I won’t get to B2 this time. (Phew).
Understanding the 2nd teacher, Julia, takes an effort. She uses a high level of vocabulary and speaks at a normal pace. Note: in Spain ‘normal’ pace means the speed of a machine gun. And so, no, I don’t understand every word but I can follow the ideas. I am happy about the challenge.
Day 2 also depressing
Skip this if your life is good at present!
I felt like shit. Not sleeping well as I was still waking a few times for protracted bouts of dry coughing. Cough medicine didn’t work and I’m starting to suspect overdosing is possible. Anyhow, I was crook and just holding it together for school.
School ambience seems good, location is brilliant and it’s a nicer building than those Madrid or Granada with its very old stone walls, an open courtyard and a cafe attached. Great looking down both ways from my first floor classroom. (The figs are still green!)
And, it’s just along the street and around the corner from where I’m staying! So far I’m very pleased I came here.
Evening cultural lectures are held from 7-8 every week day with movies as well on some. I went to the Monday and Wednesday lectures on Picasso but couldn’t face another two on him. Enough is enough.
Best of all was the Tuesday ‘lecture’. My teacher, Francisco, has a wonderful voice, an interest in the sorts of folk songs everyone knows and plays a guitar beautifully. Despite feeling lousy I loved it and would drag myself out of a sickbed to hear him anytime. Enthusiastic, knowledgeable and a great voice, I love the different sounds many folk songs here have.
I’ve been hearing strange moans from somewhere nearby my apartment, especially at sun up and down. Thought at first that my neighbours had a very interesting love life. In time, I reckon it’s more likely the local pigeons or doves. It’s louder than I’d have expected as they can’t perch just near my apartment. Interesting.
The view out from my windows is pretty neat when you realise how inner city I am.
Still hard to view the garden as private with many of us in overlooking apartments!
The inner view towards the windows is not so interesting on washing day. Not so easy drying 2 sheets on a drying rack. Well, except that I keep all windows open day and night as it’s wonderfully warm. Warm and dry. We had a rapid thunderstorm one day but otherwise ideal, warm, dry and summer!
Rest of the week
My life will continue to be run by alarms again. I have one to be up by, dressed by, another for when I must leave for school and one so I have time to get to the evening lecture. Yup, a clock-run life for just another week.
I hated Thursday’s class. Julia speaks very rapidly, says ‘it’s easy’ so often it drives me nuts as I run on the spot to keep up. I’m barely doing my homework. Just attending feels like enough this week. I’d rather spend it just lying in bed. Day after day.
In a Friday class some of the reasons I often can’t understand what’s being said in Spanish became evident. We had 3 segments of conversation played to us: one with an Argentinian accent, one from southern Spain and one from Castille-Leon. The differences! Like those between a broad Scot, a southern raised American, an Indian and an Aussie/Kiwi! Same written language, broadly, but sooo different in speed, use of ends of words and what happened to ‘s’ and ‘c’ sounds. For a start. But the speed of one snippet!!!
Summary of class
If I can use the weekend to catch up I’ll be happy as the content was what I have long known I need to know. The big topic was the sorts of conditional tense. I’ve been using one but know I need a more shaded set of options. So, that was good.
Evening lecture topics are mixed. Except for the singing night, they are disappointing. I was hoping for history rather than a focus on painters. Each to their own!
My two teachers both offer good practise for me: Francisco is clearer and easier to follow. Julia speaks rapidly, waffles and I need the practise she offers! So, all is good that way.
And I love the layout of the school and it’s ambience. Beats the Madrid school. Not sure I really like the system that don Quijote uses. It’s very laisse faire with textbooks the staff don’t really use and they are almost useless for home study. Thankfully I have some Spanish text options electronically.
And now I’ve seem it all! A competition in which people complete a tattoo within a fixed period. Judges then look very fierce as they exclude one of the tattooists. In the first episode each tatt was based on a photo of someone important to the recipient. Amazingly good work. Some astounding tatts with excellent shading. In the second episode the image was of a loved pet, from a pink poodle to a snake. I kid you not! Different recipients each time of course. You guessed?
However the evil looking judge bulged his eyes out from his fat head and shouted (lisping!) at one competitor in the first episode saying he wasn’t taking it sufficiently seriously. (Picture it as I described it!) The next contestant cried. (Who wouldn’t!) They all ended up on a stage and I’m sure your version of the protracted judging and feedback sessions would be accurate as we’ve all seen it for singing, getting thin etc. So, all in all the same public theatre, a win for most and humiliation for a few. And yes, I was watching solely to practise Spanish. 🤓
It was a change from TV programs on fixing up cars. I still can’t find my usual favourite programs in Spain, the survival competitions. Of these, the best remains the program in which a pair meet for the first time, while they are both naked and in a jungle. Oh no! I’ve seen ads for an extension of naked pairs in the jungle! Naked groups! I’ll have to find out when it’s on and stay up just so I know I understood the ad (yes, it had footage!).
Oh yes, border control. I’ve been watching ones filmed in Sydney. Haven’t seen me in a background shot yet so I’m obviously not travelling enough! But I must say that if I didn’t have an Aussie passport and know the rules I don’t think I’d bother going there. Very off putting. Trust me, in my time watching Spanish tv I’ve seen border control from Canada, Columbia and Australia. And the others aren’t as bad. At least now, as it’s all in Spanish, it looks as though the persecutors and their victims all speak the one language equally well. So yes, it’s not as bad translated!
At home I expect others walking towards me to make eye contact, especially in my small suburb. Doesn’t happen here. Very much walking in parallel as you pass like ships in the night. I understand it would happen in Madrid but here, in Salamanca! Hmmm.
Remember I told you about the wonderful Saturday hairdos ready for church? Found two victims yesterday who won’t know you are watching them. 😏
Ignore her dreadful scoliosis!
And her lesser scoliosis! Just look at her hair.
Life into the future
Next week will be better! I am clearly better than I was when I started this section of my blog. So, put your hankies away, don’t look for a death notice or have anyone look for my will, yet.
At the end of next week, I will be moaning and wishing I hadn’t lost two weeks fitness! But my Spanglish will be a bit better!