I don't know how many of you heard about the strikes/protests that happened in Europe this week, but in Vitoria, on Wednesday, there was a "huelga general" or a general protest. It sounds kind of funny to have a general strike/protest, like what?, you're gonna go with something to complain about and just hope someone else feels the same way about it? ha. Well, that was what I thought when I first heard about it, but really Europeans had a reason to shout out to their governments. The debt crisis in Spain and in Europe has caused many people to lose their jobs or have forced pay-cuts, just like in America, and now the governments are trying to cut public spending in order to reduce debt, so obviously people aren't happy. That's the skinny of the matter and about at much as I understand, but if you want to find out more about it read this article.
The reason I bring up the protests is because on Wednesday nearly all of my classes were canceled and not really prior to class, the professors just didn't show up to class and most of the students knew not to show up that day. Apparently in the past protesting as disrupted classes and many professors have learned that it's not worth the effort to have class. I also found interesting, the difference between Europeans and Americans when it comes to these matters. I mean, I know the governments work differently, but the US is going through the same economic crisis and yet it's still seen as taboo to protest about what the government is doing. In Europe, it's almost expected that people should protest, to show the government that they are not being represented well; there were signs for the protest all over the town and school last week. Elley questioned if it was really going to do anything if people here protested and who knows if it will make a difference, but it definitely made the news all over Europe.
In other happenings of the week, yesterday Elley and I toured la Catedral de la Virgen Blanca or the Cathedral of Saint Maria. We weren't allowed to take any pictures cause the cathedral is undergoing restoration and is closed to the public, unless you take a tour. The cathedral is gorgeous, even with all the construction going on inside, it's just amazing how people in the 1200's could have such precision and create detailed sculptures with their resources. Dremel tools didn't exist! The restoration is very interesting though, the columns and arches are all being reinforced because when they were built the builders didn't understand how to create structures to resist gravity and natural forces. Also, there is an archeological investigation going on in the underground portion of the cathedral where they discovered a huge storage space...storage of bodies apparently. I think it's kind of like a crypt, but the archeologists haven't identified all of the bodies yet, so they think some of them could be people who died building the cathedral. I would really like see the cathedral after the restoration is finished, but it won't be for a couple years...good reason to come back, I guess!
A few more interesting things I've noted are: there are no clocks around here, literally not a clock in any store, restaurant or classroom. Needless to say, I bought a watch yesterday and for only £2!
There aren't screens on the windows. Maybe that's just a Colorado thing, but there isn't a need here anyway, there aren't many bugs!
Maybe one of the more interesting things I've noticed, came about from a conversation today. In one of my classes there is a Russian girl and she was asking Elley and I where were are from and when we said Colorado, she said she knew where that was because she had to take an American History class in Russia. I just thought it was interesting that people from other countries learn about America and are even required to take a class about our history. I know the US has been very innovative and a "superpower" for quite some time, but now China is coming into more power and I know that it would not fly for a Chinese history class to be required in American schools. So why is it that other countries learn about us? But we don't learn about them?...
Tomorrow my excursion class is going to a local winery where we will learn about wine culture and then Sunday, Elley and I are going to meet her roommate, Irantzu, in Bilbao and spend the day seeing parts of the city and going to the ocean. I'm very excited for both and I'm sure I'll write again soon.