New Destinations

002I love reading maps, especially when I’m on a journey because I can plan where I’ll be going the next day.  I know a desired route, but if there are a few stops along the way, or spontaneous turns, I’m cool with that too.

As the last day in Sevilla, I’m looking a my life map, ready to embark on the next leg of the journey. But leaving a place you leave a part of you there as well, with the people you’ve interacted with, whether it be once or daily, and the memories you have made at certain parks, museums, chapels, etc.

Study abroad this semester has taught me a great deal, about others and about myself, like how to get along with people who have different personalities, how to communicate with someone who speaks a different language (and you’re not fluent in said language), and what values you uphold or believe in the most. I agree with others I’ve spoken with that open mindedness is key in having a successful study abroad experience.

While saying goodbye to my host mom and later boarding the train for Madrid my thought was “Bye, Sevilla, it’s been real.” The last 3 months in this town have provided great memories and new friendships that I will cherish.10

And now it’s onto the next part of my trip…Madrid

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1 month, 2 pictures, 200 words

“Time flies” is one of the phrases (in English and Spanish) I’ve heard the most over the last 3 months. (The only other phrase I may have hear more is “hombre, claro.”)

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, these are things from this last month I’m thankful for.

– Weekend Field Trip to Granada—home of the Alhambra, and a very beautiful city

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– A weekend in Brussels with my new friends. Beer, Belgian Fries, Chocolate, Waffles. (in that order)016

– Visit from my brother

– A Thanksgiving meal put on by the school, so we didn’t totally miss out on the American tradition

 

Now a little bit about school:

This is the last week of class. I have 2 days of class left, then next week is final week. This semester I’ve learned a lot about Women in Spanish Literature (St. Teresa of Ávila, Ana María Matute, and Carmen Laforet to name a few); Phonetics (I know how Spanish should be pronounced, but sometimes it is easier to talk with an American accent); Artistic Monument of Sevilla (Roman, Baroque, Gothic…I can tell you about many architectural styles) and Business Spanish (basics about setting up a business, but taught in Spanish).

Living in another country

Today I was thinking about how I’m not visiting Spain, but living in Spain. It has become my home for the last two months, and will continue to be home for another 6 weeks (yep, that’s all that’s left). I’ve essentially had a 3 week hiatus from this blog because I’ve been living, not just existing. My days get quite busy with school, eating, and checking out new venues in the city.

Since my travels to Morocco I’ve done an abundance of things:

1. Attend class, including field trips for in Artistic Monuments of Sevilla. Each Tuesday and Thursday we visit, appreciate, and learn about one of Sevilla’s timeless treasure.

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Casa Pilatos…check out those Renaissance niches!

2. Visit Paris, the city of love, or in my case the city of crepes. In 30 hours, I ate four and a half. I also climbed up and down over 1,000 stairs in less than 12 hours, so I think that balances.

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View from 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower

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View from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart

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Looking at Notre Dame Cathedral from atop its bell tower

3. Had a visit from my sister, some things we did included admiring the engineering of the bridges over the Guadalquivir, and going on the SAIIE day trip to the Jerez region, where we toured Tio Pepe winery and tried some sherry. 594 608

4. Became a fútbol fan. Go Sevilla!

Sevilla 2-1 Villareal

Sevilla 2-1 Villareal

5. Ran a 5k2014-11-02-2

Morocco

There is a poem attributed to Mother Teresa with a line that reads “The most beautiful day: Today.”

Upon reflection on this line over the last month or so and having discussions about it, I’ve realized how every day is the best day of my life. Each day I’m gifted with new opportunities and challenges, experiences to help shape who I am, and chances to be awesome. This last weekend I visited Morocco. I can’t summarize the trip in one word, but I can summarize it (more or less) in 10 reasons why this weekend was the best weekend of my life.

        10 REASONS THIS WAS THE BEST WEEKEND OF MY LIFE           

1. I spent over 48 hours on another continent.

2. My taste buds were exposed to new flavors as I sampled different Moroccan foods, including couscous, tagine (which is a kind of stew),  Moroccan tea (a green tea with mint leaves–I never tried any without sugar, but it tastes very good with medium sugar), and a variety of breakfast pastries, many of them with almond flavors.

3. I rode a dromedary, which is the camel species with only one hump.

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4. Since Morocco is a Muslim country, I observed Muslim practices, such as hearing 6 am prayer calls, seeing mosques and learning about their location within the city, and seeing people dressed traditional Islam clothing.

 

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6. Just like the band Toto, I felt the rain down in Africa. (After returning to Spain I realized the lyrics to the song “Africa” by Toto say “I bless the rain down in Africa.” I never really listen to lyrics anyway; I usually make up my own.) It poured on Sunday morning while we were in Tangier.

7. Even though I’m far from home, I saw plenty of cows, including some Holsteins. I also saw some donkeys, goats, and a few sheep. There usually is more sheep but the Muslims just celebrated the Sacrifice of the Sheep in which over 5 million sheep were slaughter. The festival commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Because of Abraham’s obedience, God provided him with a lamb to sacrifice instead of his son.

8. I visited Chefchaouen, a city in the Rif mountains where Moors from Granada, Spain, took refuge after being exiled a long time ago. Almost all the walls in the city are painted with beautiful hues of blue. The blue represents water and life.

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9. Morocco is pretty known for scarves, so we learned how to tie a scarf around our head. We also stopped in a shop where they hand-weave the scarves on looms in the shop.

10. I rode on a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar. Since Spain and Morocco are so close, we also could see the Rock of Gibraltar from Morocco as we looked across the strait.

 

One month

It’s hard to believe a month has passed since arriving in Sevilla. The first few days everything I wanted to do I always had an excuse of “I’ll be here three months, I have time,”  but I’m down to 2 months and 10 days left. In the last month I’ve had some great experiences…trips to Portugal, Ronda, Itálica, and Cádiz; trying authentic Spanish foods, meeting new people, and talking in Spanish when making a purchase at the store. Oh yeah, I also had some classes in there because I’m not on a 3 month holiday, I’m here studying.

Ruins at Itálica, a Roman city

Ruins at Itálica, a Roman city

I don’t consider myself a very emotional person, especially when it come to being homesick. My mom will say I have no idea what that is because I’m the kid who only come home twice a Fall semester…once for Thanksgiving and once when the semester is over.

I’m not admitting to being homesick, but some advice for future traveler’s is that there will be somethings you’ll probably miss: peanut butter, watching a movie with friends, the smell (and taste) of homemade cookies and fall desserts. But also somethings you won’t: snow…in Wisconsin…in October.

A typical week in the life

In my freshman year of college I took a class where we often had visitors from local businesses and we, the class, would interview them to learn more about their job. So this post is dual purpose:

1. I can tell family and friends what a typical week is like for me, and thus save time from telling them each individually

2. Any future student who reads this can get a somewhat idea of a typical week. Just keep in mind “typical” is very subjectively defined.

My week starts Monday morning with a breakfast, usually cereal or toast, from my madre española Carmen . After getting ready I head to school, which is about a 20 minute walk away. I have two classes, Women in Spanish Literature and Phonetics. (Tuesdays and Thursdays I have 2 other classes: Artistic Monuments and Business Spanish). After class I walk home, where Carmen has lunch ready for Sydney and me. After lunch I relax a couple of minutes before heading back to school for Flamenco class. (This is a mostly fun class because we learn how to dance Sevillanas, a style of flamenco, but it is also a bit difficult.) After this class we typically will grab a drink and hang out before meeting up for our sociocultural activity for the night. These activities are optional and help us get to know the city and culture. Examples of things we’ve done are neighborhoods tours, art gallery visits, eating churros, and movie nights. After the cultural activity I typically head home (usually somewhere between 8 pm and 9 pm) where I attempt to do some reading or homework (keyword: attempt). Carmen has dinner ready about 9 pm, so Syd and I have dinner and visit with Carmen. This definitely helps with our Spanish skills and vocabulary. By 10:30 pm we have dishes in the dishwasher and the table cleared. Until about midnight (or later)  we do a little homework, reading, etc. One am has become my new typical bed time.

This routine is typically repeated Monday thru Thursday. Thursday night, though, is basically the start of the weekend, so it is not uncommon to go out for a drink, but don’t go out earlier than 11 pm, because that’s how they do it here. Fridays the school typically had some adventure schemed up. I’ve enjoyed going on these excursion because they show me different parts of the Iberian Peninsula…Ronda, Lagos, Granada, Córdoba, etc.

Saturday I typically hang out with the other students. We try food at new restaurants, go shopping, go to local events ( ex. bullfights, markets…) Sunday I go to Mass (Catholic churches are not hard to find, they are typically on every other street)and catch up on writing, homework, siestas…

Come Monday morning, the process starts over.

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A typical street in Sevilla: ochre buildings, many closely parked cars, cafes, and mopeds.

Lagos, Portugal

We met Sammy at the train station at 10am, hopped in the van, and drove 3 hours to Lagos, Portugal. This is the second time I’ve been outside of Sevilla. It was very interesting to see the countryside. The land is very dry, with lots of palm trees and small brush. We also saw many olive plantations. I did see a few cows and horses. Overall, the scenery reminded me of a mix of the scenes from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and Guatemalan countryside. We arrived about 2pm.

After checking into our hotel, we went on a boat ride. It was very exciting. The only boating I’ve done has been on small lakes in canoes, so at first this boat ride seemed kind of choppy because of the waves. But the driver was very talented, and after a short time it seemed like smooth sailing. The driver pointed out rocks that people think look like somethings, for instance, one looks like an elephant, another looks like a gorilla, and one looks like the Titanic. The boat ride lasted about an hour, after which we headed to the beach.

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In the middle of the swimming area was a large rock. Earlier in the day we watched people jump off it. There was a rope attached to the rock so a person could climb on to it. The first plateau of the rock was about 6 feet up from the water level. Sydney climbed up and jumped off the rock. Then the boys swam out and jumped off. The three of them convinced me to try it. With Sam H. and Sydney coaching me, I climbed up the rock. Once you’re up, the only way to get down is to jump. Sam and Syd both jumped off. The spot where we jumped off was probably about 12 feet about the water’s edge. I took a deep breath and jumped. It was very scary, but super fun! We returned to the hotel for a barbecue.

saiie1On Saturday we headed to a beach that was about half an hour away. This was a surfing beach. There were a good number of people surfing, as well as many waves. We walked along the beach to an outcrop of rocks. We climbed up the rocks and saw another section of the shore, where the waves were thundering against the rocks. The view from atop the rocks was amazing.

Later we headed into town for shopping and dinner. After dinner we did some more shopping then had a couple drinks at the local establishments. We talked to an older gentleman who was from the Netherlands, so I thought that was pretty cool (You ain’t much if you ain’t Dutch!). Taylor, Sydney, and I went to Shaker Bar, a place where they played lots of 80s rock and it seemed like everyone had an English accent. We had a great time there.

Sunday we drove back to Sevilla.

To any future students reading this, I highly recommend going on this trip. Lagos may only be a 3 hour drive from Sevilla, but I think the atmosphere of the city is very different than that of Sevilla. The opportunities, such as a boat ride in the grottos, and visiting the beaches, may never be as convenient as they are while studying here.