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!! :)
I spent 6 days travelling in Morocco during Semana Santa and it was truly an eye-opening experience. I have nothing else to compare it with - it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We travelled through Rabat, Fez, Assilah, and spent one night in the Sahara desert. We had to ride camels out to our camping spot and let me tell you riding a camel for 2 solid hours is not a pleasant or comfortable ride. Camels are very smelly and like to grind their teeth. We were very well fed while we were there - lots of vegetables and tangines (slow-cooked mixes of meat and vegetables). We went to the medina in Fez - it has 9,000 streets and we walked all of them! Haha, just kidding :) We walked a good bit of it and went to a tannery, a pharmacy, a scarf factory, and a rug factory, so it was cool to see how products I use all the time are made.
At one point on our trip we saw snow and monkeys - at the same time. I'm absolutely amazed at how quickly the scenery changed - within a matter of minutes we would go from desert type landscapes to lush forests. This is something that I definitely was not expecting. I think the hardest adjustment while I was there was the language. The main language is Arabic, but there are obviously lots of dialects. I don't like it when I can't understand what someone is saying because I like to have a general grasp of a language, but I felt completely lost the whole time. They also speak Spanish and French too as secondary languages. It was definitely a great experience and I'm thankful I was able to be able to see Morocco!
Last night at the dinner table I played Simon says (dice) with the kids in the house. It was a lot of fun and reminded me of my childhood days. I just find it so cool that they play the same games that I used to play.
Semana Santa is next week and it is a very big deal here. I have been lucky enough to be able to watch some of the practices of the pasos for next week. The pasos are walks around the city carrying different representations of Virgens and they are carried by costaleros - men who stand underneath the costal. The costal is a huge platform that has the Virgen on top and weighs a significant amount. For instance, the one that I was watching weighed almost 3000 pounds and was being carried by about 50 men (I'm not exactly sure how many people carry it, but will find out). Everything seems to be really secret. We had to secretly knock on the church door to be let in to watch, and their practice was going forwards and backwards in a space of about 100 feet or so, just to make sure that everything on top was stable. I don't have any pictures at this time, but definitely will by this time next week!
On another note, I spent the weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. It was completely different from what I was expecting because of the similarities to San Francisco. There is a giant red bridge, many many hills, and a trolley system that is easy to use once you know the system. :) We had a very interesting Friday, with a few mishaps. First things first: it helps if everyone you are travelling with gets off the metro at the correct stop. However, during rush hour it becomes a little more difficult. We were trying to get off when a mob of people blocked the way and by the time we were at the doors, they were closing and would not open back up. Two people got off and the rest of us were on our way to the next station. Luckily, with a quick turn around we were all together again. It also helps when you ask someone for directions, they know where they are going. We were finally on the correct trolley and asked another American girl what stop we had just passed. Well it turns out she didn't really know, so we got off the trolley when we didn't need to and then proceeded to walk around the city for about an hour in search of our hostel. Keep in mind we didn't have a map.....speaking of maps, it's always a good idea if more than 1 person has a map, because when you leave the only map you have at the lunch table, navigating the city becomes a little bit more difficult. All things aside, it was a really good learning experience about travelling.
Sunday we visited a city called Sintra, which is on the outskirts of Lisbon. It has by far been one of the prettiest places I have ever been in my entire life. The highlights of the trip were the Regaleira Palace and Gardens and the Pena National Palace, along with the coastal views of the Atlantic on the drive back to Lisbon. It was by far the windyest day ever - I thought I was going to get blown off the top of the Palace, but it made pictures interesting! :) Hope you enjoy these pictures...
Valencia is where I spent the weekend, enjoying the nice semi-warm weather and Spanish culture. Unfortunately Las Fallas, which is a fiesta where they burn large paper-maiche (spelling?) objects criticizing or reflecting the events of the past year, ended on Thursday and we arrived on Friday afternoon. However, that did not stop us from having a good time. We spent time walking around the city doing the normal toursity stuff while trying to act like a true Spainard - climbing the tower of the Cathedral, eating tapas and drinking tinto de verano (red wine with lemon soda), seeing the complex of the arts and sciences, and of course shopping. We ate true Valencian paella, its birthplace is Valencia, which had chicken, rabbit, and vegetables, and drank a famous local drink called horchata which is made from earth almonds and has a milky texture - very good and refreshing. We spent some time walking along the beach and enjoyed the Mediterranean Sea - although the water was a little too cold me! Overall it was a very relaxing weekend and one and a half days is the perfect amount of time to enjoy all Valencia has to offer.
On a side note, if I have a lot of spelling errors, I apologize. I can no longer spell in English, as I get confused with endings - tion, -sion, etc.., the order of letters, and words in general. I hope that means my Spanish is that much better, but I'm not so sure about that! Until next time, enjoy this picture of the Mediterranean Sea!!
Well this post is extremely overdue - I haven't even updated since my trip to Barcelona, so I guess I'll start there.
Nina and I took the overnight train from Sevilla to Barca which was a 10 hour journey, but luckily for most off it we were sleeping - I say most of it because we would suddenly come to a stop to let people off, and it was burning hot in our cabin with many pressure changes, but I really enjoyed being able to take the train. We arrived in Barca on a Friday morning about 8:00 - the city was dead. I can honestly say if I had arrived at any other time I don't think I would have liked the city as much because without many people on the streets it gave us a chance to oriente ourselves and figure out a game plan. We spent the next 3 days doing all of the touristy things - we bought a bus pass that dropped us off and picked us back up which was really convient. We packed things in during the 3 days - we were out of the hotel by 8:45Am each day, which I say is pretty good for 4 girls (we had 2 other friends meet us later on Friday). I also got to experience my first futbol game - which was held in the Olympic Stadium from 1992. That was really neat.
I can probably say the biggest difference between Barcelona and Sevilla is the pace of life. In Sevilla when I'm walking, I'm doing the passing, but in Barca people were passing me right and left. Obviously the size is a given difference, but it is very manageable. Something that was very surprising to me was the amount of English spoken. I do not think I spoke Spanish to anyone - workers and people on the street would see us speaking English and immediately start themselves, no matter even if we tried to continue to speak in Spanish. The difference between Catalan and Spanish doesn't seem to be as hard as I thought it would be- I understood almost all of the Catalan words based on my Spanish knowledge, so long as I knew the Spanish equivalent!
I really enjoyed being able to see Antoni Gaudi's work in Barcelona - who knew one man could have such influence on one city. The Sagrada Familia is spectacular along with Casa Mila, Casa Battlo, and Park Guell. I think I have found a new favorite artist.
Nina and I took the train back to Sevilla on Sunday night and arrived in time on Monday morning to attend class (don't worry, I am still going to class!). :) It was a great way to spend a weekend. I never thought I would ever actually make it to Barcelona, but being able to explore the city made one of my dreams come true!
These are just a few of the over 500 pictures I took! The top one explains my excitement for the incredible country I am in; the middle one is of the Sagrada Familia and shows the construction; and to the right I'm reppin' the C-L-E! Go Tigers! :)
There are obviously many differences and similiarities between the McDonalds in the US and here in Spain. The first difference that I noticed right away was that the McDonalds here don't have play yards. For me, that's the best part of any McDonalds - the youth of Spain don't know what they're missing without a play yard! Also, the McDonalds here are more than one story - usually 3 or 4. The only multi-story McDonalds I know of is in Columbia, SC and to me it's a rare find. Also, the McDonalds here sell beer with the food - with some of the combos you can either get a soda or a beer as the drink of choice and most people here choose the beer. Another difference is that you won't find McDonalds while driving on the autovia - they are only located in the cities which is almost a complete contrast to the US. Although there are obviously McDonalds in cities, a lot can be found when driving down the interstate. The McDonalds here are not open for breakfast because a hearty breakfast is not very important here - toast does the job.
What about the quality of the food? Well I'm not the best person to assess this question because I only eat McFlurries from McDonalds, but I can tell you that the McFlurries are a little bit different. For instance the toppings are different - here they have something called conguitos that are like little white chocolate chips that seem to be a favorite and then the other flavor is oreo (I think). I only had a bite of a friend's McFlurry because I told myself I wasn't going to eat in any American chain restuarants while being abroad, and as far as I could tell it was the same execpt for the toppings.
I'm not going to lie about the main similiarity. Both McDonalds in the USA and here seem to be sticky. I don't know - I still had the gross feeling leaving the one in Sevilla that I do everytime I leave on in the US. I feel like they need a good scrubbing.
After having reviewed the website for McDonalds in the USA I can honestly say I did not realize they had so many products to choose from. I looked at the nutrition content of some of their menu items and had a hard time choosing what to choose (I hope that makes sense!) because there were so many options. Also I feel like they make all of their products look really fresh and healthy - granted I truly have not eaten a burger or sandwich from McDonalds in a super long time, but I seriously doubt it's as fresh as it looked on the website.
I feel like the websites for both countries are very comparable - both have nutritional information, a restaurant locator, employment information. The USA website has more of an emphasis on community activities and partnership which to me show what some of our priorities in the US are. If it wasn't important to the American public then I don't think McDonalds would have taken the time to post it on their website. There are a lot more graphics on the Spanish website which make it a little hard to navigate, in my opinion.
One thing that I find very interesting is that almost all children here have their birthday parties at McDonalds, which I find very strange especially since there isn't even a playground for them. I'm living with a family with 3 children and every party they have been invited to has been either at McDonalds or Burger King. The father said that they won't have their parties there because all of them are the same and boring - he says the parties are there because they are cheap. The children in the house don't eat McDonalds because they don't like it which makes it a lot easier on the mom because they aren't always wanting to eat there.
After this post all I want is an American hamburger!! :)
Friday afternoon some of my friends and I decided we'd go to a little village outside of Sevilla, called Carmona, for the afternoon to have a nice quiet lunch and explore new territory. After a long journey of trying to figure out where to catch the bus (if you ask someone for directions you get the same response no matter where you are) and then a delightful meal of salad, porkchops, and french fries we set off to enjoy the day. As we were walking up to the lookout in Carmona we saw these 2 guys on a motorcycle. Well, I turned around to look at them because they seemed like they were up to no good, and as I did the guy on the back grabbed my arm trying to steal my purse. My cell phone went flying and hit the ground and at that point I realized that my arm was throbbing. Luckily I am fine and they didn't get anything. However, I do have a nasty bruise to show for it.
Saturday night kicked off Carnaval in Cadiz, Spain in anticipation for the season of Lent (similiar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans) so we took a trip there. Four of us dressed up as the characters from Peter Pan (I was Tiger Lily) and enjoyed our time there. It was one of the craziest experiences of my life - I have never seen so much alcohol. There were over half a million people there and at one point I wasn't even walking, yet I was moving because of all the pushing and shoving. I'm glad I got to experience it at least once, but I do not think it is something that I ever want to do again! We didn't get home until 6:00AM so Sunday was a day to catch up on sleep!
There's a Cirque de Soleil, Valekai, show playing right now in Sevilla so we went to that on Sunday night. It was a lot of fun - I can't believe how flexible some people are. We couldn't take pictures inside the show, but if you ever get a chance to go to a Cirque de Soleil I highly recommend it!
That's all for now....I might need to go do some homework :)
What exactly does maomeno mean you ask? Well the first time I ever saw it written was in a text message and I thought the person just didn't know how to type. Oh how I was wrong. It really means mas o menos (more or less), but it is just spelled like it is said here in Sevilla. One of the biggest problems I've had since being here is understanding what is being said because they cut all of their words short. Day by day I am slowly learning what is really being said, and it makes me think about whether un extranjero in Greenville/the United States would be able to understand me when I'm talking with my friends or family.
Saturday I spent the day in Jerez and Arcos, two pueblos near Sevilla, where we went to a bodega (winery) and a horse show. It was a fun, relaxing day, although sampling sherry at 11:00 in the morning is a little too early! On Sunday my roommate and I went out with some locals and really immersed ourselves into the culture. It was really fun, but as I was meeting one person he said, "You aren't from around here are you?" So goes the story of my life..... :)
I was fortunate enough to have my parents be able to come and spend some time here in Spain with me. My host family was adament that they come over for a lunch one day, and as most of you know lunch is the most important meal of the day here in Spain. I thought this was incredibly considerate of them inviting others into their house, especially not really knowing anything about my parents. Well, I knew it was going to be an interesting experience seeing as how my parents do not know that much Spanish (although to my Dad's credit he does know more than I thought he did) and my host family knows some English. I was definitely apprehensive knowing that I would have to be the one to translate and make sure everyone understood what was being said and the like.
My parents took flowers and a bottle of wine to Macarena and Tato (my host parents) as is customary when you go to another's house in Spain and I think this was a great icebreaker. They were so welcoming from the time my parents walked into the house, and this really meant a lot to me. After introductions and besos, we sat down for an incredible meal. We had seafood paella, a typical dish in the southern part Spain, and spinach salad with raisins and apples - one of my new found favorite dishes. From the very beginning I knew everything was going to be ok - Macarena would tell a story in Spanish and I could translate it for the most part with help from my roommate and then tell it to my parents in English. Then my parents would say something in English and I could translate it into Spanish. By the end of the meal I was exhausted and my brain hurt from all of the translating, but obviously that is why I am here so it was a good thing!
This was definitely a learning experience for all of us - a mixing of 2 cultures. It showed me how much I have in common with the family with whom I am living, and I am glad my parents could experience a lunch with the family, although the children didn't eat with us because Macarena wanted it to be a calm quiet lunch. I think if the children had eaten with us it would have been a completely different experience! Overall I think this has been one of the highlights of my trip.
This past week my parents and I spent the week traveling around different parts of Spain via a rental car. Needless to say it was quite an experience! At one point we were backing down a street because we realized at the end of the road the car was too big to fit through the narrow opening, and this was after we drove over some cathedral steps. Just another typical day in Spain! We spent some time in the mountainous region and then headed down to the Mediterranean Sea - gorgeous views all around. I am really fortunate that they were able to come and spend some time with me. It was great to be able to show them where I live and my daily life here in Spain; on Thursday they are going to come eat lunch with my host family! That is going to be quite the adventure - I guess I'll be the translator, although my dad knows more Spanish than I thought he did. Who knew!?!
Today we started another class - an intensive period of grammar. This will be good for me because even after being here for a month my grammar is still very rusty. My professor is very fun so it should hopefully be a good 3 weeks - not that everyday hasn't been good! I'm trying to live everyday to the fullest and take as much in as possible - I'm learning more about Spanish norms and customs and am trying to keep an open mind even when I do eat boiled squid. I'm quickly finding out that it's the little things that make a culture so unique! Until next time mucho amor!
This past weekend we went to Cordoba, Ubeda, and Baeza. This picture is of the mosque that is in Cordoba - I really like it because it shows the flora that is around the beautiful building. It was a gorgeous day with lots of sunshine and one of the warmest days since I´ve been here.
My parents arrived today! They are going to be here for the next 2 weeks - we´ll travel together next week and then they are going to travel for a week when I go back to school! Look for more updates soon!
I spent Saturday in Gibralter, which is the southern most tip of Europe. From Gibralter you can view Africa and also where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet - very cool! It is famous for it's monkeys; I was very hesitant about having an ape climb on me, but realized that it would be a once in a lifetime experience, so I let the little guy get on top of my head! Hope you can visit one day because it is gorgeous!!
¡Hola! I´m here in Seville and am having a great time learning about the city. I honestly haven´t gotten too lost yet - it helps to have a roommate with a sense of direction! I started classes on Monday and am taking a class about Spain during the era of Franco, so it´s fun to be able to learn about Spain´s past. Tonight we are having dinner with our professors and then a party with our intercambios, who are our language partners.
Everything is completely different here - the food, the people, the language, etc... but am really enjoying being able to experience the culture. I´m living with a family and they have a 6 year old daughter and twin 5 year old boys, so needless to say, it is a busy household! I can´t post any pictures right now, but will do so very soon!