Random Valencia Updates: March

Probably the most random thing to happen in the month of March was being asked if “¿Te gusta cocaina?” – snorting gesture included – on the way back from a club called La3. Fun times. In other news, I’ve been cooking a lot lately. Despite being limited by the availability (or rather, lack thereof) of certain ingredients and a proper kitchen, it’s nice being able to feed myself a variety of foods. Post-Fallas, Maddie and I didn’t feel like going out at all, instead spending our time with a multi-day nosh fest making from scratch: sesame chicken strips, goat cheese and shrimp ravioli, spetsofai (chorizo stew), toffee bars with chocolate & walnuts, milk shakes, and Nutella & banana wontons. Nom. We can’t wait to have a real kitchen next year. (Note: when I say I’m currently lacking a “real” kitchen, I mainly refer to my lack of knives that are sharper than butter knives, proper measuring cups, and a blender/food processor. Not awful, but could be a lot better.) Here’s some updates from random (and not-so-random) activities from this month…

Oceanografic

Part of the City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia’s futuristic museum/park area, the Oceanografic is an acclaimed aquarium with different zones featuring various aquatic creatures. I went on a day that ESN offered discounted tickets and arrived to realize that my camera was almost dead – though Chester is luckily a trooper and hung in there the whole day. While the architecture and layout was cool, it didn’t quite compare to the Shedd or Monterey Bay Aquariums. I guess I’m just spoiled. All the same, it was a lot of fun. Our group particularly enjoyed the dolphin show and left yearning for our own pet dolphins to ride around on. Apart from this, my favorite part was the semi-circular fish tank tunnel that surrounded us with sharks and sting rays, amongst other aquatic critters.

Bioparc

Unlike the Oceanografic, Bioparc, Valencia’s “zoo” lived up to and surpassed its reputation. I use the term “zoo” loosely, as Bioparc breaks from the confines of traditional cages and instead houses its animals in more natural habitats, going so far as to mix animals in the same area to more accurately simulate a wild environment. I again went on a day with an ESN discount and spent most of my time with the Dutch Girls and Peter (crazy Hungarian). We probably spent the most time at the giraffe exhibit; they were in a large, open enclosure and close enough to touch at points. The elephants were also entertaining, yet elusive, and the lemur area was a small park in which the lemurs ran (and jumped and climbed) free. Definitely a unique experience!

School

School here is tough. Not because classes are difficult, per se, but just the general lack of communication between professors and students – about homework, exams, expectations, everything. This makes caring about school particularly difficult to do, especially when attempts to figure things out fail so epically. Examples, you demand? Immunology. Maddie and I went to class and were aware of an upcoming presentation (didn’t know specifics because he was speaking rapidly in Spanish… despite it being the English section of the class…) and e-mailed him for details as he had instructed. Thrice. Through multiple channels of communication. No response. I went to class the first day of presentations to try and talk to him in person and after following him around three floors, he said “Hi!” then bolted away, thus acknowledging that we wanted to talk to him, but still just not caring. We ultimately ended up dropping the class, primarily out of an inability to do the work. Derp. We did go in to talk to him later and entertained the notion of re-joining, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it. Haven’t looked back since. Still don’t believe me? Let’s look at my Molecular Markers class. Apparently there’s some magic board where they post all of the exam schedules and details regarding such and then neglect to inform all students about its existence. No, you can’t figure out when your exam is if you don’t know about this. So… that’s how I missed my first exam. Luckily, the laid back attitude works both ways and they were pretty relaxed about letting me make it up later. Nevertheless, not a fun situation. The one exam I have taken at this point was in Fluid Mechanics and only two days post-Fallas, which was just plain mean. Despite being the English section, the notes were all in Spanish and a pain to sift through. The exam was half written and half oral, where the professor asked us theoretical questions we had to answer on the spot. Fun times. Though I’d heard about the ease of classes before coming here, somehow, things just aren’t adding up in that respect. Ack. No. Stress. Avoidance. Adios.

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