East student blogs about experiences in Spain: Post #4

Juliet Brooks ('13) / Eastside News/Features Editor

I´ve got two more days with my host family, and then I move on to the Pyrenees  mountains with my group on Tuesday. Camping last week was a lot of fun, but pretty much the same as American camping, as far as I could tell. It´s a little bit difficult to do group activities because when the entire group is together, all the Americans and all the Spanish siblings, we separate into two groups, Americans and Spaniards. Obviously, that´s not very culturally enriching for either group, but that´s the way it is.

Tonight, we have a going-away party for the Americans, hosted by the Americans. It´s to say thank you to our host families. Afterwards, we´re all going to a discoteca, which is a club. Discotecas are free here, unless one wants to drink.

The entire Spanish psyche when it comes to drinking alcohol is fascinating to me, as an American. At the parties in my host town, teenagers can buy alcoholic drinks and nobody looks at them twice. I already wrote about the bottellons, which are parties where all the young people in a town get together, in the open, and drink. It´s legal for kids to drink beer and wine at sixteen, and hard liquor at eighteen. The fact that towns have set times and places where kids can drink, and police watching to make sure nothing gets out of hand, actually seems almost safer to me than the American basement-party thing. At least there´s adult supervision here.

In other news, I´ve ridden a motorcycle. Here, kids can get motorcycles when they´re sixteen. They don´t start driving until they are eighteen. I was with my entire group at a flamenco show, and on the way back, my leader´s host brother, who´s sixteen, stopped to get his motorcycle. I didn´t even think, I just asked “Wait, can I come with you?” He looked a little surprised for a minute (he´s Spanish and I´m American, and we´d only ever seen each other in the group, so we´d never really talked) but then he nodded. So he pulled a second helmet out of a compartment in the seat, handed it to me, and told me to get on.

I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, but I clambered onto the motorcycle behind him.

He´s a teenage boy, so he thought it would be funny to rev the motorcycle and then go speeding off down the street to scare me and the rest of my group, who´d moved ahead. Luckily, my leader got a picture of me on the back of the motorcycle before he peeled off down a random cobblestone road.

We arrived at the meeting place about ten minutes before the rest of the group, so we had time to talk. His family has hosted American siblings for years now, sometimes for three months in the winter, sometimes for two weeks in the summer. He said he loves learning about the culture in America.

The parties in my host town are crazy. We´ve been staying out until three thirty or four every morning. It´s like a travelling fair; they set up a long line of amusement park rides, and they have a bunch of clubs blasting dance music at the end of the street. There are bouncers and everything. We´ve been sleeping in until two or three in the afternoon.

After I leave my host family on Tuesday, I take an overnight train to the Pyrenees mountains. My group spends two days and one night in the mountains, hiking. Then we go to Barcelona, where we finish out the trip. I get back to the States on August 2.

I´ll write again when I get home!