Here's the first of my videos, perhaps a little (or maybe a long?) time overdue - I have been fortunate enough to have a very understanding professor help me through this process. Let me know what you think! I wish I could have put everything I did in the video, but time does not allow for that, so it's just a small sampling of some of my experiences and the cultural immersion of my time in Sevilla. I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to study abroad and hope that a return trip to Spain is in my near future! :) Enjoy!
At 4:30 this morning I watched my roommate hop into a taxi and head for the airport. I, however, came back to bed! I can't even describe how I feel right now. Honestly, I'm not so sure it has hit me. I feel like I have taken every day here for granted. I honestly can't believe it's already the middle of May - time really does fly by when you're having fun!
This has been the experience of a lifetime. However, for me it's not over - I'm in Seville for 2 more weeks (awaiting the arrival of my brother and his girlfriend!), head to Madrid for 2 weeks, and then until August 1st I'll be working in a hotel in Marbella - a city on the costa del sol. Rough life, right? :) I'm more nervous about the upcoming weeks than I was heading over to Spain because I knew the people who were studying abroad with me were in the same boat. However, I have no idea what my life will look like for the next 2 months. Chances are my roommate won't speak English, which is great if I can practice my Spanish, I'll be exploring new territory, and be continuing to enjoy this wonderful culture to which I have adapted.
I'm not good at goodbyes. I have met some of the most incredible people while being here. I have also learned about myself and others (such as the interaction between people) more than I could have imagined. I still think I just arrived yesterday!
Ok, so I wish I had a more creative title for this post, but the creative juices are not flowing. Since last Monday Feria has been going on, which is basically just a big party with lots of drinking and dancing of Sevillanas, a type dance related to Flamenco dancing. I didn't think I was going to like it very much because to be honest Flamenco dancing is not my favorite part of the Spanish culture, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think part of the reason is that the music is really happy and this I like. Part of Los Remedios, a barrio, is set up with casetas, which are tents, and are usually private. However, the city has set up some public casetas for those who are not invited into the private ones. The private casetas are shared by families or by corporations. Perhaps Martin Nursery should have a caseta next year?!? The women dress up in traditional Flamenco dresses; things aren't as formal for the guys, although some of them go all out. Horses are in abundance, and it reminds me of a western scene mixed with the Spanish culture - something that is hard for me to explain in words.
It kicked off on Monday night (midnight) with the lighting of the portada, or the main entrance. My host father told me that the portada design changes every year, but they recycle the materials that make it up. This year it was really pretty, but after seeing pictures of other years, it has a different feel. There is then a fried fish dinner in all of the casetas. Tuesday is a declared holiday for the city of Sevilla so that all of the working people can have a day of Feria. By Friday, Feria is filled with tons of turistas. It will then end tomorrow night with fireworks at midnight.
The drink of choice is called Rebujito - a mix of Manzanilla (white wine) with 7-Up. Let me tell you it is very refreshing, but very dangerous. As my host mom was explaining it to me, she told me to only have 4 or 5 glasses. I was a little surprised because that number seems very high, but the glasses are very small, which to be honest is almost worst. I had a major language miscommunication with one of the Spanish girls I have met. We were in her caseta and she had bought a jarra of Rebujito for us - well I wanted to pay her for it, so I gave her money. Well, I thought she was going to get change from the bar, but instead she ordered us another pitcher because she thought we wanted more. It just goes to show you how one word misunderstood can turn into a completely different situation. Luckily, we had other people help us drink it!!
Along with Feria there is a fair - it was cool to see all of the same rides and games that we have in the US, but in Spanish instead. It's called the Calle de Infierno - a somewhat fitting name. One game that I thought particularily fun was a camel race. They have all the healthy foods that are normally associated with fairs - including alogodon dulce (cotton candy). We left the fair at 2:30AM, which is a huge difference from the fairs in the states as most of them close way earlier than that!
Feria is definitely a fun time here in Sevilla. The natives either love it or hate it. I definitely enjoyed myself just taking in the dresses and the dancing and enjoying an occasional cup of Rebujito! The first picture is the portada after just having been lit up and the second one is of the traditional dresses and dancing!
We're finishing up classes within the next week and then exams start - where has the time gone!?!?!?!?
This past week was extremely busy. With 2 tests and a presentation, I was still able to fit in some cultural experiences, which to be honest are more important to me :) A friend of mine got us tickets to see a bull fight and this was truly a unique experience.
If you want cheap tickets, you're going to have to sit in the sun, so after layering the sunscreen on we headed out for our adventure. We had pretty good seats although they were in the sun because they weren't too high and not to close either. There weren't many people sitting around us which was nice because it gave us more room, but the shady parts of the arena were completely full.
During the fight 6 bulls are killed by 3 torreros and they have 30 minutes to kill each one, meaning that the longest a show could be would be 3 hours, but I think it only took 2 hours and 15 minutes when I went. I come to find out after the show that they don't play music at every fight - only when the torreros are performing well. Luckily, we went on a good day because there was music. Also, at the end of the show if the fans are unhappy they will throw their seat cushions at the torreros, but everyone must have been happy.
The whole process was not nearly as gruesome as I had thought it would be. Obviously there is some pain and suffering, but I guess I was too caught up in the cultural aspects of it to really be affected by the killing. Yes, I have a few issues with the whole thing, but it is something that is so vital to the Hispanic culture. It would be like taking football away from Americans if the bull fights were ot stop. The culture is some ways is built around this aspect.
During the fight all of the fans were extremely quiet. When I got home, my host father told me that here in Sevilla the fans take it very seriously and are very attentive. At one point, my friend and I were laughing and the people sitting around us weren't too thrilled about that. He said that in other cities it's a big party with music and drinking, but here the scene is different. There are die-hard fans for the bull fights, just like for anything else. Some people pay $6,000 to see a fight.
This is something that I would definitely do again. I loved being able to see such an important activity in the Spanish culture and understand more about the pros and cons of a bullfight. I didn't post any pictures of the killings or anything, but if you want to see them I have plenty to show!!
Today is Tatiana's, the little girl with whom I live, birthday. We woke up this morning and had churros - a special treat as the kids normally have a glass of Nesquick for breakfast and I have toast. For dessert after our spaghetti we also had a special treat - no not birthday cake, but homemade flan! Flan for her is the equivalent of some very decadent dessert that I would have on my birthday - she was even aloud to have 2 pieces!! My mom sent me a package with cake mix inside so that I could make her an American treat, but of course the package is lost in the mail. It's the first package that has been lost and it's one that I needed for a specific day! On Tuesday she is having her party with her friends - I hope I can attend around my class schedule because I'm interested to see what it will be like. (No, it's not at McDonald's!) We are waiting on Tato, her dad, to get home and then open presents! I think we even get a special treat for dinner too - maybe a hamburger?? I feel like a little kid again and to be honest I kind of like it! Hopefully after Tuesday I'll have some pictures to post!
This past week was a normal week - nothing too exciting happened. This coming week is a busy one with school and I'm going to a bull fight on Wednesday! Then next week is Feria so we're staying busy here. My roommate is in Colombia, South America right now for a dance competition so I'm eager to see how this week goes without any English at the house! Hope everything is going well for everyone and I'll keep you posted on my life here! Yay for spring! :)
The party was yet another learning experience. I went early to help to set up and attempt to entertain the kids and give Macarena a break. They normally have her party here at the house upstairs, but my roommate and I are occupying that space, so instead it was held at the Club Nautico here in Sevilla. Just like any typical country club in the states, with maybe a few added bonuses. I know the club in Greenville doesn't have a rowing house or team nor a huge park for the children to run around in. The facilities were extremely nice, and it was the perfect day for an outside party. Here are the 2 highlights of the party: 1) 25 little kids found a bird's nest with a baby inside and decided to show and tell it. Well my host mom is a Vet, so needless to say it was a very exciting moment as all of the children tried to pet the baby. However, I am glad to say it was safely put back where it was found. 2) there of course was a garden hose wound up very nicely beside a spigot. Well, a few interested boys decided it would be fun to turn the water on. However, in the process they broke the knob of the spigot off. To make a long story short, maintenance was called and everyone dried off :)
There are 2 main differences that I noticed between American birthday parties that I have attended and this one. 1) As a kid, I would always wait and open my presents at the end, and at most parties this is what normally occurs. I was fascinated when the first guest arrive and Tatiana immediately opened the present. As each guest arrived, she opened the present right then and there. There was no tracking of who gave her what, which is also different, because I know I was always required to write thank-you notes. Most of the presents she received were summer cloths, although a few books and games were mixed in there too. 2) None of the kids ate birthday cake. When I saw the size of the cake I thought it was a little small for 25+ kids, but now I know the reason. They don't like cake - they prefer little packaged donuts and items of that nature. I, however, did enjoy a piece of cake, and look forward to the next birthday celebration!! :)