Monday, September 27, 2010

Reflecciones en la vida de la ciudad

I have always said that I didn't think I could live in a city, ask anyone.  Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about that a lot, because at this point its really hard for me to imagine leaving this one.  Something about it definitely changes you, but I think that may have more to do with the actual Spanish culture than it does with city life.  Everything is a little bit slower in Spain.  There is less emphasis on material things, and people just don't get so worked up about the petty things.  Most appreciate their friends, family and their church, and live life accordingly.

That being said Spain also has a 25% unemployment rate right now, and has overcompensated for Franco's dictatorship with lenient laws that could allow murders and other criminals to be back on the street in under ten years.  There are many problems with Spain, so it is by no means the perfect country, its democracy is young and they are still getting over the machista mentality.  Lets be serious though, is that going to be possible anywhere in the world?  Even the young people here prescribe to the same prehistoric notions that give women fewer rights than men. Don't get me wrong, women legally have the same rights, but socially that is a different story.  I'm taking a class this semester called Women Writers in the 20th Century, and while I was dreading taking a Lit class, I think this one will actually be really interesting.  The teacher is fantastic, the class isn't supposed to be hard, and so far all we have talked about are the social implications of being a woman in this world.  Interesting stuff.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Felicidades!

Happy anniversary to my fantastic parents!  Today is their 35th wedding anniversary.  May they have 35 more together.  I can't wait for them to come celebrate here in Spain with me!

Estoy en España...

I haven't blogged in almost a week.  This has been one of our busiest weeks so far.  Well I don't know if that is really true, all of our weeks are busy.  It was the second week of our intensive language course where we essentially had all the grammar I had learned in the past 9 years crammed into two short weeks.  Surprisingly I think I did alright in the class (grammar has NEVER been my strong point) but I'm not too worried about it.

So several fun things happened this week. On Tuesday night a few of us went out to hang out at a bar that has beer pong tournaments once a week.  It was a little too expensive for me to want to play, but I did buy a budweiser at the bar since it was a very American bar.  I didn't love it there, but if I ever feel homesick that will be the place to go - its ALL americans. Afterwards Sahar and I went to Bilindo with our German friends when everyone else went home.  As usual we had a lot of fun!

Monday, September 20, 2010

La corrida de los toros

Last night a few of us went to a bull fight after we spent the day recovering from the night before.  Saturday night we went out with our group of friends to a botellón (similar to pregaming, but its more of a social event then an event designed to get a person very drunk) and afterwards we headed to Calle Betis to hang out at a bar and a club we liked.

As we were leaving the first bar we randomly ran into all of my German friends outside and we decided that we would meet back up in 30 minutes to all go to Bilindo together.  Bilindo is an open air disco that I had heard lots about from these boys, but that we hadn't yet made it to.  Dominic, Quin, Christine and I took a taxi around 2am over to Bilindo to start the night with some dancing.  That's right I said START.  Its normal here in Spain to go out around 1am and not come home until 7am or 8am (or later if there is any special occasion).  This specific club actually stays open until 9am.

El viaje a Cádiz

Sometimes when my friends and are all sitting around having a drink, or just hanging out, I look around and think "wow, this is my life".   To have the opportunity to live and learn in another country is something very few people are able to do.  Yesterday a big group of us went to Cadiz through CIEE and it was a blast.  I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before (Spaniards go out until dawn on a regular basis) so I was super tired during the tour, but as soon as the tour was over we hit the beach for a few hours of swimming and laying out in Europe's oldest city.  I didn't have my camera with my but my friend Adam took many nice photos of us.  I think we will definitely go back there soon since the bus ride is only an hour and a half.

Quin, Me, Sahar

Friday, September 17, 2010

Más fotos

They baked me a cake!
Adam, Paige, Me, Connor, Scott, Quin

Thursday, September 16, 2010

He vivido en Sevilla trece días

Today was day 4 of our intensive grammar course, and tomorrow I have a midterm on the grammar concepts covered so far.  Most of these thing are things that I have learned in the past, but that are relevant to the life here, and therefore used on a daily basis.  I think that the only way to properly learn a language is to be immersed in it and be forced to use it or lose it.

I've made friends here from other countries that easily speak 3-5 languages fluently, and they just don't understand why it is so hard for us Americans.  Hopefully by the end of this semester I will be closer to being able to have a command of the Spanish language.  I have been here for 13 days, and already I have spoken with many Spaniards, I'm comfortable striking up a conversation, and I have become more confident in my use of grammar.

I submitted my course schedule for the semester which starts on September 27.  I'm going to take a literature course about the women writers in the 20th century in Spain, and Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course in Spanish, 100 years of myths and Stereotypes about the United States in Spain, and then a course about Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Spain.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tengo veinte y uno años, fiestaaa!

Last night my friends here made my birthday absolutely amazing.  We started out at a very classy/upscale bar and then went to an american bar that serves 1 euro shots and beers.  My german friends ended up coming out to celebrate, though my spanish friends couldn't. I think we will see the spanish friends this weekend.  No time to write now, I have to go finish my homework for tomorrow!

my señora bought me a cake!

Empecé mi curso intensivo hoy!

Today was our first day of our intensive spanish grammar class, and I really enjoyed it, though I think I might have been placed in a level that is a bit easier than I need.  Today was the first day of the grammar review and I already knew everything we talked about, though I know it will get harder as the week goes on.  Today is my birthday so tonight we are going to go out and celebrate.  Normally we won't go out on Mondays.

Today we also received our intercambios, these are students from the university of Sevilla that want to improve their english and help us improve our spanish.  Mine is named Sergio and I sent him an email earlier today.  Hopefully I will be able to meet him at some point this week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Con los españoles

Where do I even begin?  I've been having so much fun getting to know Sevilla and getting to know the Spaniards that I feel like I haven't had time to stop and think or reflect really.  Tomorrow is my birthday so the whole weekend has been a bit of a birthday celebration.  During orientation my guía was Victor, and after orientation Sahar and I started to become friends with him.  I think we ended up getting very lucky because he seems like a very genuine and sincere guy.  He also likes to go out and knows all the places we should go and the places we should avoid.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Me encanta la ciudad

I love this city.  I love my host mom.  I love my friends.  I love the people here.  Right now I'm concentrating on living and loving and learning rather than talking about those things.  When I have time I'll give a real update on life.



Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Algunos amigos nuevos

I've only been here for five days and I'm already getting my bearings.  I love being able to walk around the city and know where I'm going without using a map.  The people here are beautiful, and they have such an amazing sense of style.  From the youngest children to the oldest abuelas all the women wear dresses during the day, and the men wear polos or button downs.  There are many dark people, but they are morenos, but also lighter skinned, light haired Spaniards too.

Yesterday was our last day of orientation, so after dinner our guías took us out to a really fun shot bar then club.  At the shot bar (shots = chupitos) we met a lot of people including españoles, germans (alemanes) and some other americans on a different program.  As it turns out the germans are actually staying in the same hostel that Scott and I stayed in last weekend.  We got to talking to them and two of their birthdays are this weekend/next week also!  So apparently we might celebrate with them - smaller fiestas saturday, monday, and wednesday, then a huge party next Friday for all of us.  Who knows if we actually will celebrate with them, but we did exchange numbers, and they are here for the semester so its possible!  They were crazy but also really fun.  After the shot bar we went down to a discoteca with our guías (and only about 5 americans which was awesome) and we drank more and danced and talked.  It was fun to start to see more about their culture and meet more people. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No te olvides tu pasaporte

I have so much to write about but I've had so little time!  I feel like many people use these first three days of orientation to settle in, write home and maybe meet some people.  Orientation is busy, but I have already made lots of friends and am looking forward to meeting more.  Each night we have gone out to the local bars (and last night to a more club-ish bar), had several drinks and socialized.  In the hotel my roommate was a girl named Sahar from outside of San Francisco in Palo Alto.  She is a junior at the University of Oregon.  We instantly hit it off and were even in the same orientation group (con Victor!) so we have been spending a lot of time together.  Turns out we have a lot in common and we will probably become good friends.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Exploraciones

Last night we went out for tapas and sangria, figuring we could start finding restaurants we like, and places we like to drink.  We explored for a while, eventually getting into an area that was too residential and the restaurants were too expensive so we headed back up towards the area near our hostel and found a nice little place where we could share 3 cold tapas, 2 hot tapas, each have a glass of sangria, and then share a fruit desert at the end for only 17 euros.

It's not cheap but sounded like a good deal and we liked the food on the menu.  It seems like there is seafood and eggs in everything and the food is drowned in olive oil, but the portions are so small, and we do so much walking that I don't think it will matter.  After dinner we went back up to la plaza de San Francisco and had another pitcher of sangria at the same place we tried earlier that afternoon - Bar Europa.

Bienvenidos a Sevilla

Traveling is tedious in general, traveling to Spain was beyond the usual annoyance at other passengers and incidents since I was traveling for a total of 24 hours.  It was business as usual in Newark Airport, but in London I was surprised to find my flight was 4 hours earlier than I had written down.  It wasn't a problem though, after I took the 30 minute bus ride to the other terminal we literally just got right on the plane.  There were many more students on that flight and I sat next to a nice guy who is spending his semester in Barcelona.  It seems like everyone wants to talk to each other but no one wants to strike up conversation.  I ended up talking to a whole bunch of students simply because I was willing to be the first to say "hey".  I didn't meet anyone who was going to Seville though, so I was on my own after Madrid.

I changed terminals and found the general area of where my flight would leave from (they don't announce gates until about 30 minutes before the flight leaves) so I made my way to McDonald's and ordered un ensalada césar.  It tasted nothing like a regular ceaser salad but I was starving and at least the chicken tasted like chicken.  I then got up to check if the gate had been announced - it hadn't - so I went to find another place to sit with all my stuff.  After 10 minutes of reading I was so tired that I put my head down on my book and fell asleep.  An hour later I realized I only had 40 minutes until my flight was going to take off, so I got up and found out which gate I needed to go to.  Typical - it was on the entire other side of the terminal, so I walked about a mile all the way to the end where I sat and waited to get on the plane.  On both Spain flights I had the good fortune of having screaming babies within two rows of me.  What a joy.  I tried to sleep through it but didn't have too much luck.