Today I paid my third month of rent and my third month of phone credit. Though I run these tedious errands with a bit of financial angst, I also reflect on the fact that I’m starting my third month here. Time certainly flies, I feel this is a positive sign, and my last two weeks have been amazing.
The University system is fairly different to that of Galway’s, so I spend most weekends shooting short films, or ‘cortos’, from 7am to 9pm; which at first was a hard pill to swallow, but the equipment is so advanced that I’ve had the opportunity to really learn a lot as well as bond with my classmates. I’ve been so lucky to be shown such kindness and patience from them and I’ve grown to be very grateful.
This past week has got to be my favourite yet. There is a three week festival that happens in March every year in Valencia called Las Fallas. The University gave us the full week off from school and the city was on fire. Literally.
Every year, each neighbourhood spends all year building a sculpture that will all be voted on in a competition, and ultimately set on fire in the streets. The winner is burned last. During the three weeks of voting, fireworks are set off every night and street drinking is made legal.
For the last week, everyone has school off, and we went on quite the bender. The night commenced at 1am with a huge display of fireworks. As an American, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away, as firework displays are very typical for the 4th of July, but these were huge. They went off for about an hour at a time and were set off directly over the crowd, we found ourselves dodging the fallen ash.
After the fireworks, everyone picked the neighbourhood to which Falla we will attend. Each one has a bar, concert set up with live music, and a gargantuan party. These were phenomenal; we met new people, learned new songs, and really participated in Valencian culture. In true Spanish fashion, these went on until 5am, at which time we all went home, slept until the late evening, woke up, and did it all again.
Of course, by the sixth night, I was questioning why exactly I put my body through the extensive amount of feet aches from the monstrous amount of dancing we did, the stomach struggles from the no doubt litres of beer we consumed, and the headache from the microscopic amount of water we drank. But, it was the best week I’ve had yet, and not just because of the constant stream of beer, but because it was an experience that taught me a lot about Valencian culture and because I had great people to spend it with.
And don’t worry, I spent 17 March in an Irish pub, Guinness in hand, listening to ‘Fields of Athenry’ performed by a man with a guitar before attending the Fallas for that night. Because though I may have been longing for my Paddy’s Day in Barr An Chaladh with my friends, I was extremely grateful to have been in Valencia for Fallas. So, here we go month 3, bring it on.