This past week and a half in Granada has been filled with many exciting and cultural experiences here in Granada. I recently went to my first flamenco show which was absolutely amazing. It took place in this really pretty area up on the hillside and inside of caves. The dancing and singing was so passionate and the people did a wonderful job and seemed to really love what they were doing. It was great to see this traditional show and really gave me a good feel for the culture.
Another really fun activity that I did recently was hike Monachil in the Sierra Nevada. I think I can easily say this is one of my favorite things that I have done Granada. The trail was beautiful and had lots of narrow pathways and bridges that we crossed. We followed alongside the river as we made our way towards the top of the mountain and had a picnic lunch. After lunch we went back and headed to the place on top of the Sierra Nevada where I went paragliding. Paragliding was an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it. The view from the air was unbelievable and I was able to see all over the cities nearby and the mountain range which still had snow in certain parts.
Research here is going the same as usual. Participants are still a little hard to find but I was successfully able to run six people last week and am hoping to run a couple more this week. We have to present next week our findings during the lab meeting so I have been working on creating a PowerPoint for that presentation and getting all of my data collected so that I can begin analysis.
After quite a long journey I finally arrived safely in Kong Kong. Luckily, my advisor here, Carol To, and two students, Chris and Catherine, picked me up from the airport. We took a taxi to my dorm, or "hostile" as they call it. We had to carry my luggage up 3 flights of steps to receive my key and another 3 flights up to my room. I was very lucky to have the extra company to help me with my luggage. My room is nice; just a bit smaller than a Penn State dorm. My roommate, Luna, seems very sweet; she is from Korea and speaks pretty good English. She is here for an internship. There are not many people living in my building. Right now Luna and I are the only two people that live on our floor. Hopefully, some other students arrive this week so I can meet more people!
On Wednesday it was a public holiday for dragon boat racing. I was lucky enough to watch the races with my brother's friend, Sara, who lives here. Sara took me on a "junk" (which is their word for a big boat) to watch the races. The dragon boats were not elaborately decorated like I had expected. It was a really fun and unexpected first day in Hong Kong!
Yesterday, Chris picked me up in the morning to show me how to take the bus to Carol's office. My dorm is quite far from her office so I'm grateful Chris could help me. I met many people within the Speech & Hearing department. I share an office with a few other students. Carol took two of her students and me to a Japanese restaurant for lunch. It was yummy and very nice of Carol.
It has been a very busy first few days here. My body is starting to get used to the time difference, but it will take a few more days. I'm not sure if my legs will ever get used to all of the hills here! I thought Penn State hills were tiring until I was faced with the almost vertical hills here. Next week, I will return to the office and meet Gary, the graduate student that I will be working with. I am excited to meet him and get to work!
I also learned that Fredrick the Great was the one to introduce potatoes to Germany. Therefore the Germans cover his grave with them!
The title of this post is
obviously not a temporal reference, as I still have another month exactly
before returning to the good ol' US of A.
No, this is in reference to my experiment, which is still going
swimmingly but now frustratingly close to completion. I'm more than anxious to tackle my data
(which as I understand it means wrestling with E-Prime studio and R, hoo boy)
and I am so very, dearly close to being able to do so. As I sit now, I'm 33/36 for eyetracks and
29/36 (factoring in attrition, I'm 32/39) for behavioral sessions, and I'm
itching to close things down so I can closet myself off and stare at graphs
until the Americans present our findings on June 26th. On a still slightly lab-related note, I would
like to point out the following:
Our lab here is beautiful. I can't say I've been confined to the basements of Thomas back home as I always did eyetracking in Burrowes, but the scenic view of Granada, sleekness of the rooms and design, and the industrial-strength air conditioners that circulate glorious, freezing cold air through the building make this an absurdly agreeable work environment. Though I have been the only one to enjoy these temperatures so far, basking in the 50-degree air like some kind of bizarre arctic plant, now that we've broken 90 degrees for the first time in Spain I appreciate them all the more. I do not do well with heat, I mean at all (I'm very much a 55 and rainy kinda guy), and even if my experiment's going to be wrapping up soon I feel like, for the first time ever, I may have to schedule my daily activities around a sun schedule as to not get dehydrated or burned. (Incidentally, the humidity here is extraordinarily low and dehydration slips in quick - I've learned this the hard way from my first few runs).
Switching over to cultural experiences,
I officially experienced my first complete loss of language identification. Walking back from American Football practice
on Monday (the local league here are national champs and invited me to play!), I came across two lovely ladies that
looked about my age and were being a little less than inconspicuous with their
map. Now, this is where I have to divert
my tale in two so that my readers get the effect of the strangeness of this
I asked them if they spoke English, they responded yes and then asked where a local plaza was. Since plazas in Granada are like intersections in a US city, I took a look at their map and pointed out they had passed their destination and were heading towards the wrong one. They actually had to head in the same direction I was going so I invited them to walk with me briefly, and we started strolling. One of the girls complimented me on my Spanish, and while I graciously accepted the compliment I was confused - when had she heard me talk in Spanish? I identified them as English speaking right off the bat, and don't talk in Spanish to those who address me in English to avoid being rude. She stuttered something, and then after 30 seconds of mutual conversational dysfunction we arrived at their turn and I sent them on their way. Walking away, I was still quite perplexed until I realized...
What I Said:
I asked them if they spoke English...in Spanish. "¿Hablái ingle? (being true to form to Andalusian "s" lenition), to which they responded "yes". When we were discussing the plaza names, I saw the Spanish titles on the map and, without thinking, went right into Spanish, saying something to the tune of "This one se llama Platha Isabela la Católica, you're looking for Platha Carmen!" ...and in that moment I understood two things: 1) the girl's extensive confusion, poor thing, she must have thought I was either messing with her or not entirely all together, and 2) I had no idea what was coming out of my mouth. Not the slightest clue. I've noticed a ton of perceptual changes in my Spanish processing - reading is entirely different now, and going back and forth repeatedly, while still demanding, is not nearly the crippling load it was before coming here. But it seems I've actually gained the ability to lose the ability to control my speech. Granted, I was extraordinarily tired, but all the same this was a tiny revelation in its own right. Methinks I need to do some serious reading on executive control when I get home and get back up to scratch.
Well it's hard to believe that my time on PIRE is now more than halfway over. The time has truly flown by and Spring Semester in State College feels almost like a distant memory. Since coming here I've learned so much about Spanish culture, met some amazing people, and had my first job fully dedicated to research. More than anything I'm impressed with just how comfortable I've become with myself as an experimenter. It's now normal for me to have 3 ERP sessions stacked right after each other with no break in between. In State College I would have been overwhelmed with just one participant and now I'm not even phased at all. Kaitlyn and I have also become a regular machine with capping people for the study. For the past few participants we've had them scrubbed, gelled and ready to go in just 15 minutes!
As an appropriate transition for the halfway point of this experience, Britney and I have now transitioned away from testing American Spring Study Abroad students. We've now started recruiting British and Summer Abroad students. We hope that by expanding the variety of the sample pool, we'll be better able to understand the effects immersion has on people with different backgrounds and lengths of immersion. Like Judy warned us, these participants won't exactly come and recruit themselves so we've had to become more bold in getting the word out about our study.
I consider myself a friendly person, but not the type that would just go up and start talking to a stranger about our research. In coming to Spain though I've decided to push myself outside of comfort zone and really get the word out about the study. It's now totally normal for me to accost an English-speaking person on the street and see if they want to come in for our study. Most of the reactions I've gotten so far have been quite positive and people are usually quite interested in the study. Getting gratification that other people appreciate the work you do is one of the most rewarding things and I hope this success continues for the rest of our time in Granada.