Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Three: (B)orientation is over. Ok, so when do we get to speak Spanish?? (Parental and Familial Advisory/Explicit Content)

Hiya!  I'm already slacking. I suck, sorry.

So I've been trying the whole shut-your-mouth-and-open-your-eyes approach.  Hence the whole not writing thing.  I was getting the sense that maybe I was over-thinking things about the program and that was why I was becoming frustrated.  Therefore, I decided that I needed to stop analyzing and to just appreciate the novelty.  It hasn't really helped and I think my original instincts were spot on.  IES orientation blows. Well, it blew-- it's finally over, yaaay!!  I felt like they were sucking the excitement and adventure out of everything.  (Buncha wet blankets, those fuckers.)  I have to say it is a STRUGGLE trying to maintain the same thrill and desire for adventure that I felt so strongly coming into the trip.  The program is organized in a way to make everything feel so safe and cozy- close to home.  I came here to get away from home!!  I feel like they've put me in this Americanized bubble.  The orientation process has succeeded only in giving me an outsider's perspective of the city, as the passive viewer of a culture and not the active participator.  Can you believe that I've actually caught myself getting bored with this city ?? convincing myself that I've seen all there is to see??  Such nonsensical, unjustly jaded thoughts-- this is ridiculous!  How could I possibly be bored so soon??  It's only been a week, you idiot!  I have to constantly remind myself that it's not the city I'm bored of-- it's the IES hyper-simplified version of Barcelona that's making me feel this way.

Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed with the orientation.  IES needs to step up it's game, that's all I'm saying.  Thanks to IES, I effectively know what the city looks like.  Awesome.  I can identify a few key landmarks on a map and tie them to a few random, shallow historical blurs.  Woopdie doo.  So this was orientation in a nutshell:  lots so walking/feet dragging, lots of beautiful buildings, lots of random facts, lots of casual conversation (so what's your name again?  Cool, I'm Kaitlin... yea...), lots guided tours led by some IES fucker who doesn't even bother to introduce him/herself. Suddenly he/she will start speaking and I'm like, wait, who the fuck are you? since when were you with us? This whole time I've been clutching my purse for dear life thinking you were some persistent pick-pocketer.

Orientation effectively made me feel MORE like tourist than less like one.  Maybe it's all that walking around in big groups shit. It's really strange: I still don't feel like know this city and yet I catch myself thinking that I do.  Does that make sense?  I feel like a dumb-ass, cultureless, ignorant American floating around outside the borderlines of this rich, fascinating Spanish culture.  I'm looking in on a city and defining the general culture based on only the exteriority.  I haven't found a way to scratch the surface yet, to get to know the people.  So all I have to base my impressions on is what the city looks like.  I'm characterizing the culture based solely on the exteriority of the city.  Barcelona is so cosmopolitan and the commercial culture is very similar to that of New York that to simply look at it and walk the streets, I won't learn anything about it's culture.  I might as well be walking around Disney World.

 I need to talk to the people.  And I'm growing impatient.  Yes, IES, the architecture is striking.  That's why my mouth is gaping and I'm taking pictures like a frantic, tourist moron.  CLICK.  Ok, can we move on now?  Maybe go inside the building??  Maybe talk to the people who are working/eating/breathing inside the beautiful building???  I don't know, maybe SPEAK SPANISH WITH THEM?????  No, no, wait, I'm sorry, that's just going too far... Chriiiist.. I'm being a bit rash and impatient, I know.  I need to give it time.  Things won't be like this forever.  I will meet non-Americans soon, I know this.  But I'm tired of waiting because the more I wait, the more I think it will not come.

I want to immerse myself in this city and drown happily in Spanish culture.  This is the whole fucking reason why I'm here.  I didn't come here to replicate abroad an experience I could have easily had domestically.  If I'm going to live in this city, I'm going to live, eat, drink, dance, talk this city.  Fuck this IES Americanized snuggly wuggly safety nest bullshit.  I came here because I was TIRED of America.  I came here because I didn't want to do something safe.  I came here to be fucking challenged.  I came here to fall on my ass.  To cry.  To fuck up.  To find out how my pwetty little sheltered white girl brain adapts to jarring and challenging circumstances.  Get the FUCK out of the way IES.  And as for you, Spain-- BRING. IT. ON.

And now, after that fairly intense rant, your moment of zen.

 Whoops, wrong photo..

There you go..

I'll try not to be so impassioned and vulgar next post.  I understand it might become a bit exhausting. I'm not making any promises though.
Bye for now.  Love and happiness.  Butterflies and unicorns.


  1. Go on and be passionate. Would not be u otherwise. Uk that u only get out we u put in. Lkg forward to future expositions and comparing w last two wks. Enjoying seeing the city thru ur eyes. Want more tastes, smells, rhythms, sensations.


  2. This was just laugh out loud funny. Jon Stewart would be proud of your original moment of zen. Keep swinging.