I spent my first week in Salamanca getting used to the pace of life of Spain and starting work in the lab. On my first day, I read over some scientific papers at the Casa de las Conchas, or the shell house, which is currently a public library and famous for having shells on its exterior.
Breakfast is served until 1pm, then lunch is from 2-4 pm, and dinner begins around 9 pm. The food is fantastic, though, and I had some great meals including a fried cheese platter and some paella. Food is also really cheap here-a jamón (cured ham) and cheese sandwich is 3.50 euros and gelato is only 1.80 euros!
I also tried chocolate, an extremely thick version of hot chocolate, and churros for brunch on Sunday.
I spent the weekend visiting tourist sites with Colleen, my roomate, and her dad. We visited the Plaza Mayor, which is the center of the city and has a lot of nice stores.
We also went to mass at the Salamanca cathedral, which has both an old tower (begun in the 1100s) and a "new" baroque tower. It was gorgeous, and we walked around afterwards to the Archive of the Spanish Civil War, which had an odd exhibit with a ton of Freemason's artifacts, including a reconstruction of a Masonic lodge.
Work has been going well, and I have only gotten lost a couple of times. Thankfully, there is a convenient trail of anarchist graffiti that I can follow on the shortcut to my lab.
I'm working on samples from extinct volcanoes in the south of Spain to better model volcanic degassing and the interactions between magma and crustal rocks. I've been talking predominantly in Spanish, except with Colleen, her dad, and some American exchange students. At my lab, we talk about scientific experiments in English and make small talk in Spanish, so I'm rapidly improving my Spanish. So far, I'm having a blast, and beginning to plan trips to different cities within Spain for the next couple of weekends. Should be an exciting time!