The city. Seems to be a really great location, perfect for all of my purposes. Lots to do but not too crowded or hurried. I am 30 minutes from the beach, 30 minutes from the mountains, and about 90 minutes from Barcelona by train. And there are even greenways to the first two of those things but I should probably get some cyclocross tires on my bike before I take it on packed sand. I have an accessible airport that I can use to get to some pretty interesting places in Europe with a low cost airline- I am thinking that I will go to Frankfurt during a holiday at the end of October, even if only because I can do it for only 30 something euros round trip. I haven't even explored the real touristy parts of the city yet because I just haven't found the time yet, but all of the pictures seem to indicate that they are real beautiful. At first I had planned on taking advantage of the fact that I was living in Europe by traveling all over the place, but now I realize that I really don't have a reason to leave.
Catalonia certainly seems to be an peculiar place. Everybody in this part of the region is pretty hell bent on their Catalan identity- most people are nationalist to some extent, and obviously some more so than others. I already find myself as living in Catalonia rather than living in Spain because of this. But as a foreigner nobody seems hesitant to speak Castillian with me, and its not overly difficult to understand Catalan, especially if its written (its similar to French). In fact, I would have to say that everybody has been very polite. Within the school that I will be teaching in everybody seems very welcoming and excited to have me. I am the first ever of my kind so to speak, so needless to say I am a pretty big deal. I don't have my exact schedule but it looks like I am going to be spending 2/4 hours a month in various types of classes- English classes, Greek history, computer science, drawing, chemistry, just to name a few. As far as communicating goes, I have to say that I have a lot to learn but already in the two and a half days that I have been here I have improved a lot, even though I still haven't even cracked a book. I am hoping to make the transition in a couple of weeks to only speak Spanish to the people that I have so far only been speaking English with. I need to brush up on a few things first though before I can make that commitment.
My living situation. Well, if the video didn't do it justice, its really nice. Its also very handy to just about anything I would ever need- shops, markets, and a really cool leafy park that I will explore in depth perhaps tomorrow. My flat mate is a very nice and patient Catalan dude who educated me a little bit on football earlier this evening. I met a few other foreigners today that are participating in the same program and living in Girona, so it looks like it wont be difficult to integrate social activities into my new life.
The food is of course delicious and has its own Catalan identity. The principal of the school told me yesterday that there are two things I am sure to do well in Catalonia: eat well and drink well. These people are enthralled by tomatoes it seems- they eat cold tomato soup and spread the gooey insides all over bread before topping it with some sort of ham. Needless to say I can't imagine that my hopes of going vegetarian again are going to come through. I guess the only up side is that I can rest assured that factory farming isn't as cruel over here as it is in the United States.
So those are my first impressions. More soon.