Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stealth Mode? Hit the Jackal Switch!

I guess I should apologize for having a title to a post which I'm sure 90% of my reading audience won't understand.  Surprise, surprise, but it's a reference to the TV show "Psych," and I've provided the YouTube clip below for kicks and giggles.  Even out of context it's nothing short of hilarious.

Now, you may still be wondering, why the title choice? I think one of the goals of a study abroad program is to become less and less foreign in your host culture and attempt to be as "stealthy" as possible.  However, there have been some comical moments this past week where I certainly did NOT "hit the jackal switch," so I thought I would share these with you.

1) This past weekend on the 15th of September was Independence Day for México, and there were many celebrations in Santiago because of the large amount of Mexican exchange students.  Around midnight, I went out with some friends to "Central Perk," a bar quite popular with students and sporting a name you would expect from a "Friends" (or "Amigos") episode.  Though I had been to this bar before, I had never seen it as packed as it was that night.  Needless to say, the night for my group ended almost as fast as it began due to the large crowds.  However, as we were standing on the sidewalk, I was talking to my Mexican friend Ivan about the celebrations that would be happening in México.  Consequently, he asked about what we do in the United States, and I confidently answered that we celebrate with lots of "bombas." He had a confused look on his face, so I tried to explain with a different word: "bomberos." The first word I used, "bombas," probably made a little more sense since it can be translated as bombs, though I'm sure not in the celebratory sense.  However, I didn't realize until this past Tuesday of the meaning of the other word, "bomberos."  Apparently, the United States loves to celebrate its Independence Day with lots and lots of "firefighters."

2) On Monday afternoon, I was somewhat anxious because I had just had my first history class (Guerra, Violencia y Memoria del siglo XX), and it was taught in gallego.  It threw me for a loop at the beginning, but the languages are more similar than I thought, so I think it should be okay.  More on that in a later post.  After this two hour class, I immediately had Arqueología 1, which also was taught in gallego.  During one of the breaks, I clarified some details of the class with the professor, which soothed my anxiety quite a bit.  To top it all off, I was taking lots of notes and understanding the gist of what was going on.  After reviewing the schedule in the history building the next day, I found out that the class I had attended was in fact "Prehistoria 1" instead of "Arqueología."  For the entire time I was sitting in class (two hours), it didn't cross my mind that the class wasn't what I thought it was.  In fairness to me, we started taking notes about arqueología, so maybe it was easy to make the mistake.  Everyone gets one, right?

3) As I was reading the schedule board, an older, British gentleman came up to me and asked where the library was, in English.  I had been thinking my ambiguous ethnic appearance would make me look more like a Spaniard, but perhaps not.  I was also wearing my Beatles shirt, so that could have been a giveaway (but doesn't everyone like the Fab Four?).

This upcoming weekend I'll be traveling with the Erasmus Student Network Santiago branch to las Islas Cies, so I'll hopefully have some more pictures to share in the next few days.  Thanks for reading!



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  2. Glad to hear you're making friends with people from different places. You are becoming less and less "foreign" in Spain. Keep persevering! love, Mom and Dad