jeudi 22 juillet 2010

La universidad

One thing I am L.O.V.I.N.G. about my summer is how beautiful the buildings are. Salamanca is, to put it simply, the Spanish version of Hogwarts.

The University was founded right around the same time as Oxford (where they filmed a bunch of the Harry Potter scenes), i.e., a really really long time ago. I've had class once a week in the original campus building, which means they take away those red velvet "this is not for you" ropes and let us sit on the historic benches while we fan ourselves madly (there's a reason fans are a classic souvenir from Spain) and try to pay attention to whomever is giving that week's lecture.

As you walk through the university district in town, you'll see what looks like medieval graffiti all over walls, always in shades of red.

This is because, for centuries, when someone sucessfully defends their doctoral thesis, their buddies kill a bull to have a feast, and use its blood to mix up a special kind of paint. Then they paint the newly "doctored" student's name, and sometimes thesis title, up on one of the walls of the school. The tradition is still alive today, although I'm not sure if bull's blood is still involved. Graduated doctoral students' names are painted up next to a symbol for "victory."

I have class in this building, too, every day. Wandering around during breaks, I feel like I've stumbled onto the scene of Romeo and Juliet or, of course, Harry Potter. Sometimes I want to hang out the bathroom window and ask "wherefore art thou, Romeo?"

But the similarity to Harry Potter stops with the buildings. Here are students in the courtyard getting registered for classes: no sorting hat in sight.

Back in our classroom, things aren't quite as romantic either, although we have two walls of gorgeous deep-set windows. I realized where a window seat may have come from: the walls are so thick that to set in a window, you have to carve out an alcove.

Even if things are a bit more modern (i.e., unromantic) in our classroom, I wouldn't want to sit on the benches from the early days of the university.

And looking out the window is always an option. We're right across the plaza from Salamanca's cathedral.

Well...back to work!

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