Category: movie

Whirlwind

Things quickly turned into a whirlwind after I returned from Peru (and by quickly, I mean within hours of stepping off of the plane).  That is largely why it has taken me such a long time to finish all of my stories from Peru – I was just going non-stop for months straight.  Since I knew I was going to be gone for 5 weeks straight right after graduation, and I didn’t have a job lined up and thus didn’t know where I would be living, I just let my apartment lease end.  But that meant that when I returned from Peru, I had all of my stuff in storage, was bouncing around with friends because I didn’t have my own place (and doing lots of driving too, since most of them live outside of Atlanta), and also still trying to find a job.  The lack of my own place made everything more stressful, and the increased drive time was wreaking havoc on my back.  Needless to say, it was a stressful time.

But things weren’t all bad.  I did a lot of dancing during this time – in fact, the day I returned from Peru was the anniversary party for Wicked Westie, and you can bet your boots that I was there, even though I was nearly sleeping on my feet from the long trip back.  As tired as I was, I was really glad that I got to be there – I’ve missed every other anniversary party for Wicked because I’ve been in one country or another.

I did skip dancing a couple of times, but it was for worthy causes.  My favorite was going to see the Lego movie at an outdoor showing at Emory University.  It was something put on for alums and friends of alums, so Elizabeth invited a group of people to go join her.  I did miss dancing, but I had a great evening with some awesome people – including Federico, a friend of Elizabeth’s who is actually Peruvian!  Totally worth it :).  It was great being able to reminisce a little bit with someone who understood what I missed so much about Peru.

Another reminder of Peru was the World Cup, which started while I was still there but continued for a while after I returned.  I happen to have several stateside friends who also like soccer, so for the Netherlands-Mexico game we decided to go to a pub that’s popular for watching World Cup matches.  They were rooting for the Netherlands, so in the spirit of unity I dressed up in my best orange outfit and started cheering on the Netherlands.  But I couldn’t make it through the whole game like that – pretty soon my Spanish roots took over, and I took off the orange topshirt I had on and went over to the other side of the pub to cheer on Mexico.  Hey, I may have never been to Mexico, but it’s a whole lot closer to Costa Rica and Peru than Holland is! 🙂

Finals Week Highlights

I’m done!  I have officially finished my first year of graduate school!  Let me tell you what, it was quite a ride!  But the last week or so or classes I didn’t really actually have much schoolwork to do – I’m happy to report that the mind-numbing amount of work I did before finals week finally paid off, and my finals week was quite relaxing.  So I made up for some lost time, doing all of the things that I had neglected to do throughout the course of the semester.  Here are some of the highlights:
I went camping with my dad the weekend before finals.  I think the two of us had two very different experiences.  For me, I had a blast – I really enjoy camping, but hadn’t been in years, so it was a nice change, and great spending some quality time with my dad.  But my dad’s perspective, however, was that there was a hole in the tent over his head.  Poor man.  It poured most of the night, and add to that the fact that he didn’t have a water-repellant sleeping bag, but rather one that absorbed all of that excess moisture in the air, and he had quite a rough night that evening.  We ended up waking up really early in the morning and just heading back – at least then he was dry, even if he wasn’t well-rested!
I also got to see a musical performance of The Mask of Zorro with my friend Amy.  To psych myself up for it, I watched the movie the night before, which was excellent.  But the musical just blew me away.  It had beautiful singing, and energetic dancing, and pithy humor, and sonorous Spanish, incredible costumes…it really had everything.  I was left breathless on more than one occasion.  I’m definitely getting the Georgia Tech student art pass next year!
My friends Jonathan and Jessica invited me to see a double feature at one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country.  We brought food and chairs and got there early to just talk and hang out – Jess and I did our nails, lol.  I had never been to a drive-in theater before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even despite the threat of rain that drove us into our cars for a while.  But even then, they play the sound through a radio station, so we could still enjoy the movie just fine :).
Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do some dancing, too.  I caught the last bit of the Thursday night dance after Zorro ended, and that was a lot of fun.  I almost didn’t go, but in the end I’m very glad that I did.  But even better than the dance on Thursday, was the workshop on Saturday.  Now, I had been to dance workshops before – they’re always good and I learn a lot, but there’s nothing really that unique about them.  This one, however, was different.  It was called “The Art of the Steal,” and was specifically tailored to teach people how to steal someone else’s partner in the middle of a dance without disrupting the flow of the music or the dancers.  So there was a lot of group partnering instead of pairs, and weird rotations, and all in all everyone just had a grand time.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a heck of a lot.  
My last night in Atlanta, I went out to dinner with Jonathan and Jessica and some friends of theirs to celebrate his graduation from Tech.  The place we went to was called Buca di Beppo, and their trademark thing is that they take all of their guests through the kitchen before seating them – way cool!! Anyway, I got back to Albany just in time on Sunday to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration with the family.  I was glad I made it back for that.  And now I’m in Albany for the summer!  For now, at least.  Who knows where I’ll be in a couple of weeks! 🙂

Church farewell party

I’ve been super busy these days.  The clock keeps counting down, but I try to ignore it, and just enjoy each day as it comes.  New deadlines at school have kept me hopping at work, and the litany of things that must be done to wrap up a year of living in a foreign country have assured that I’m never bored outside of work.

But in between the monotonous and the mundane, there have been some beautiful moments.  My favorite this week was undoubtedly Sunday.  My church threw me a going away party in the evening after church.  A large percentage of my congregation is from the Philippines, so they all got together and made a Filippino feast for us.  There was shrimp, and marinated beef, and flan (yummy!!), and lots of other stuff which I have no idea what it was called, but it was delicious, anyway.

About 20 people came (which, when you only have a church of maybe 35 or 40, is a really high percentage!  Lol…), and we ate together and talked and laughed, and just overall enjoyed each other’s company.  They surprised me with a cake (made me blow the candles out and everything!), and a slide show with pictures and messages saying things like “we’ll miss you, Lauren!” and “We love you!”.  I may have shed a tear or two.  It was beautiful.  I will miss them so much.

Oh, I almost forgot!  After dinner, we all gathered around and watched Courageous, the most recent production of my home church, Sherwood Baptist.  My friend James had sent it to me as part of a care package earlier in the year, and when I suggested that we watch it as a church, everyone agreed.  It was a nice end to the evening.  One of the Korea pastors liked it so much that he asked me how to get a copy.  I gave him mine.  I figured it was the best use of the gift that James had given me :).

My second favorite moment this week happened the next day, on Monday night.  A friend of mine from college, Emily, got a scholarship to come to Korea.  She arrived about a week ago, but has been spending most of her time in Seoul.  Well, this weekend her program came down to Gyeongju, and I actually got to meet up with her.  We went for a walk, and spent about 2 hours catching up.  It was great to see her, and also a good way to mentally start preparing myself for my impending new reality – the one in which I’ll be able to have fluent conversations like that with almost every single person that I meet.  It was a very nice ending to my day.  Thirteen days until touchdown!

Me and Emily <3

Where we ended up on our walk

See the projector screen?  **sniff, sniff**

My church family…. <3

Filippino food = sooooo good

The cake they got me – they made me blow the candles out and everything 🙂

Girl’s weekend and paragliding!

What a weekend I’ve had!  I decided that it had been a while since I had done anything truly crazy – running away to live in Korea for a year notwithstanding.  So, last weekend my friend Sarah and I decided to go…….paragliding!!  It was something I’ve wanted to do for years now, so when my friend Lorna messaged me saying that she was getting a group together to go, I jumped at the opportunity.  And Sarah, even though she lives really far away, decided to join me.

So Sarah got to Gyeongju around 8:00 pm on Friday night.  We had cake, exchanged gifts (we always give each other presents when we see each other), and stayed up late talking.  Then Saturday morning, bright and early, we caught a bus to Ulsan.  After meeting up with a few other people who were also going with us, we met up with our tour guide and headed up the mountain.

I tell you what, people do things differently in Korea.  When I went skydiving in America, everything was very well defined.  We went to a certain place, we had a certain launch time, there were numerous forms to fill out for legal purposes, blah blah blah.  When I went paragliding in Korea, we met this guy and his friend at a hotel, had some rushed conversation in Korean with them for a little bit, then got into their personal cars (I was certainly glad for safety in numbers!) and drove to the launch site.  Along the way we just randomly pulled over on the side of the road and hung out for a while, then got in the car and continued our journey.  No one knew what was going on, lol.  The actual jump was equally confusing.  The guides spoke almost no English, and we spoke almost no Korean, so there was a lot of pointing and grunting.  That’s one thing about Koreans that bugs me.  If you don’t speak their language fluently, they often don’t say anything when they want you to do something – they just use gestures and inarticulate sounds.  But in my experience at least, I’ve found that people make a lot more sense when they talk, even if you don’t really speak their language.  Even if you can only catch a word or two, you can usually piece that together with their body language and figure out what it is that they want.  But a total lack of words usually just makes for one very confused foreigner.

But anyway, we finally made it up to the jump site and got suited up and ready to go.  This was about the time that I started freaking out.  I’m not particularly fond of heights – just the opposite, in fact.  This fear of heights is exactly why I insist on doing so many things involving heights – I don’t like the idea of being beaten by a fear – but it also means that I always freak out just before the plunge.  The jump was terrifying – who originally thought that strapping a kite to your back and jumping off of a mountain was a good idea?? – but after that it was fun.  Not nearly as much of an adrenaline rush as sky-diving, when you’re free-falling from 15,000 feet.  But it was relaxing and soothing, and I got to observe the entire countryside from above.  Overall, a pretty awesome experience.  I’m glad I did it.

The jump site 
I was scareeeeed

Can you tell that that’s not a real smile? 🙂 

There goes Sarah!!

Our Charlie’s Angels pose – totally earned it after jumping off of a mountain 🙂

One of the paragliding instructors offered to give Sarah and I a ride to Gyeongju, since we lived on the way to his house.  So we accepted (once again, the whole safety in numbers principle), and I had a conversation with him in Korean all the way from Ulsan to Gyeongju – about an hour.  It was very empowering :D.  After we returned home, Sarah and I went for a walk, and took a nap among the hill tombs in town.  Our friend Art, another Fulbright teacher, was meeting us for dinner, and we didn’t want to go home before that, so we just curled up in the sun and went to sleep while we waited.  Oh, and got ice cream.  Yummy :).  Once Art arrived, we went to an Italian restaurant.  We realized as we ate, that we were the 3 youngest Fulbrighters, all together in one place.  We’re the only Fulbrighters who were born in 1990.  Just a little tidbit, but I thought it cool :).  After he left, we went back home and had a girls’ night – chick flick and painted toenails, for the win!

Fulbrighters reunite!  Yay for the young-uns 😉

Pretty ladies…. <3

Sunday morning Sarah went to church with me, and then we went to the cake decorating place.  Sarah had heard about it from when my students took me before, and really wanted to go, so I took her while she was here.  We had a blast.  The store owner seemed rather terrified when 2 foreigners walked in, because he didn’t speak any English, but we were fine.  He was really nice :).

She was a bit excited…hehehe

We took our cake home, and ate it in the evening with my host sister, In-suk.  It turned into a mini party of sorts.  In-suk was in a really playful mood – it was fun to see a lighter side of her.  She’s always at school or just super tired when I’m home.  But this night she was laughing, joking and cutting up.  The cake had 2 face cookies on them, and she ate one of them – which she decided was me.  For the rest of the evening, she was making jokes about how Lauren had died, and she was so full because she had eaten Lauren, yada yada yada.  She even printed out a piece of paper that said “Lauren died today.”  It may seem silly or even slightly morbid to you, but to me it was the humorous side of In-suk that I rarely get to see, and it was delightful to be around.

“로렌 (my name in Korean) is died today”   Lol…. 😀

So Sarah left me early Monday morning, and now it’s back to my normal life.  I miss her, but we had a lovely time together.  I met with a Philippine friend from church on Monday afternoon for a lesson in Tagalog (the language of the Philippines).  I’m not really sure why we decided to do that, since everyone in the Philippines also speaks English and I’ll never really have to learn Tagalog, but I had a blast, anyway.  I loveeeee languages :).  We decided after the lesson, kind of spur of the moment, to go see Men in Black 3.  It was a lot of fun, although we saw a TON of my students, all of whom are now convinced that I have a boyfriend, so I’ll have to deal with that next week when I go back to school.  I won’t see them this week because they’re going on a school trip, so I get a week off – woohoo!  Time to catch up on everything that was neglected while we were preparing for the performance :).  So that was my weekend!  Undoubtedly one of the best this year!!

Me and Henly after our Tagalog lesson, waiting for the movie to start

There and back again

Well my nerdy book-worm friends will recognize the title of this blog as a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” which I suppose is rather fitting considering the fact that I’ve just spent the better part of an hour downloading dozens of free literary classics onto my Kindle to keep me occupied during my numerous upcoming flights.  But other than that, there is really nothing relating to Tolkien or Middle Earth or Hobbits in this blog.  This one is about Christmastime in America :).

The trip to America was long and boring, but I would not go so far as to say grueling.  It was uneventful, and marked mostly by sitting and watching movies, but not a particularly pleasant trip, nonetheless.  I started at 2 in the morning from Gyeongju, catching a bus to the airport in Seoul.  I met a girl from California while I was waiting on my flight who was doing the same thing I was, and we got some coffee and had a nice long chat.  It was a much better way to pass the time than just sitting in a corner of the airport :).  So anyway, 1 bus, 2 planes, 3 customs and security checks, 4 airplane meals, and 27 hours later, I finally found myself in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport.  My friend Sylvain met me at the airport.  We got some airport pizza, he got a good laugh at seeing me so completely jet-lagged, we caught up for a little bit, and then I took a shuttle to Columbus, where my family was there waiting for me.  Actually, I ended up waiting for them for a little bit, but it was ok, because I got to meet lots of interesting people while I waited.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy striking up random conversations with strangers I meet in my travels.  That’s not really something I can do in Korea, as usually there is a pretty large language barrier that makes communication of any depth really impossible.

So anyway, my first week in America was marked mainly by just spending time with family and friends, punctuated by Christmas, my birthday celebration, and visits from Grandparents.  I went on a picnic with my friend Tyler, saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie with James, took daddy to see Mission Impossible, and played lots and lots of games with my siblings.  I went to a Christmas Eve Eve service at my church on the 23rd, got a hair cut and a pedicure with my mom, and went shopping with my grandmother.  Christmas day was a relaxing affair – we waited to open presents until after church, and then just hung around and visited with each other.  It was also the only day that I got to see Chris, which was a nice treat.  Mom and I hosted a tea at our house with some of her lady friends who had been wanting to meet me, which was fun – I’ve been wanting to meet them, too, and I haven’t had a real tea in years.  Then my grandparents came down to visit on the 27th, and stayed until the 30th, so I got to spend a lot of time with them, too.  That was awesome – it had been close to a year since I’d seen them.

Josh’s birthday present – Joshua 1:7 in Korean

Tyler’s Christmas present – Kimchi!!  He was so happy 🙂

My first picnic in years 🙂

She’s such a cutie pie <3

The Fenner family, all together!  Such a rarity these days…

Merry Christmas!!!

I love, love this picture!!

Spreading the Korea love….

Yay for seeing grandparents!! 🙂

Tea with the ladies! 🙂

Haha we’re silly 😀

Christmas presents from the host family 🙂

On the 30th, we packed everything up and made the long drive to Birmingham, Alabama, to spend New Year’s Eve with our friends the Roberts’.  This has been an annual tradition with our families every year for as long as I can remember – we take turns hosting each other in our respective homes, and it’s always a lot of fun.  However, I haven’t been able to be present for several years for one reason or the other – usually it’s because I’m out of the country, lol – so it was especially nice for me.  So we had lots of fun, played lots of games, watched the ball drop in New York City (and for a special treat, watched the moon pie drop in Mobile, Alabama!  Gotta love the south, lol….), went to church, and then headed back home.

Games with the Roberts’ are always super intense, lol…

Happy new year!!

Friends… <3

On the way back to Albany, my parents dropped me off in Atlanta.  So that was goodbye to my family, and hello to Atlanta.  Bittersweet for sure, but it was good to see my friends in Atlanta.  So Rachel and her fiance Ryan picked me up from my parents, and we wasted no time.  That night was spent playing putt-putt with J-Parr, and then going to Jonathan and Jessica’s house and playing games until wayyyy too late at night.

The next day, January 2nd, was the day before my 22nd birthday.  However, since my 22nd birthday was going to be spent on a plane, the 2nd was the celebration day.  I got to watch the tournament of roses parade (my favorite parade…ever!) for the first time in like 3 years.  After that came lunch with David and the Knights and then more games.  And then the evening came.  What started off as a simple dinner with friends morphed, because of my fabulous friends, into a full-blown birthday dance.  They even had a steal dance just for me.  As I was looking around the dance room at all of these dear faces, half of whom didn’t even dance, but had come just to see me, I was overwhelmed.  I felt so loved.  It was a wonderful way to wrap up my visit to the states.

They were calling me the “princess” because of what I was wearing.  I think that’s why I was making that face, lol.  But…I did win the game!! 🙂

Soon-to-be newlyweds….love those guys

Jonathan and Jessica
Me ‘n David 
Old friends from Berry <3

again….spreading the Korea love.  What can I say?  It’s infectious 🙂

My friends are silly 🙂

Yay for sisters 🙂

So, armed with my suitcases and enveloped with the wonderful new jacket that they had bought me for my birthday, Rachel and Ryan took me to the airport early the next morning.  I was fighting a cold, but I sat next to a really friendly lady on the plane who made the trip a whole lot more bearable.  When I finally arrived in Seoul, the plan was to meet Sarah and Leora and Adam and go up to Hwacheon to see the ice festival.  So I met them and they gave me a little birthday party and it was great to see them.  But by then I was REALLY sick, so instead of going north to Hwacheon, I went south to Gyeongju.  I know my limits, and that would have been just too much.

Brand-new fiancees!  And I get to be in the wedding!! <3 

So I finally got home to Gyeongju…and my host father took one look at me and hauled me off to the hospital.  Within an hour, and after much poking and prodding, I found myself with an IV needle sticking in my arm and a bagful of medicine.  Add to that extreme jet-lag, and my host mom’s constant fussing and overprotectiveness was NOT appreciated.  All I wanted to do was sleep, and that was the one thing they didn’t seem to want to let me do.  Although I must say, sleeping with a needle in your arm is most certainly not the most pleasant sensation.

Today, the next day, was mostly spent in bed, with a short foray into town to swap stories with Elizabeth.  I’m glad I got to see her – I needed to get out of the house, and I think talking with her restored a sense of normalcy and acceptance to being in Korea again, which I had been lacking since my arrival.  So yeah, that was America!  Winter camp starts in 2 days – keep me in your prayers!!  I’m super nervous about it – I’ve never done anything like this before.  I’ll have my students for more time in the span of 2 weeks than I had them for the entire semester, and I’m terrified that I will run out of material.  I guess it’ll just be another chance for God to show His bigness!! 🙂

My life on fast-forward

Well I know it’s been over a week since I last wrote in my blog, but never fear, I have not forgotten about you!!  It is probably not an exaggeration to say that I tried to sit down and write an update at least once a day, but there simply is not enough of me to go around :(.  Before this week, I did not think that it was humanly possible to be as busy as I was – or as exhausted.  I suppose it’s good – it certainly keeps me from being bored.  It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve already been here a month – my life feels like it’s on fast-forward!!  But I got to rest today, and I’m not nearly as exhausted, so let me tell you all about it!! 🙂

I’m now three times as experienced a teacher as I was when I last wrote.  I have now taught a grand total of…are you ready??….THREE lessons all by myself!!  My second lesson was pretty interesting.  The theme of the day was “Heroes in our lives,” so I decided to use it as an excuse to talk about 2 things that I love – homeschooling and my mom.  The hero in my life that I talked about was my mom, because she taught me all the way up until college, so I got to talk about both my mom AND homeschooling.  It was so much fun!  I had the kids create a mini lesson plan, and brainstorm together and have a debate about the pros and cons of homeschooling, and we played games, and it was a blast.  My third lesson was a team lesson – I worked with another ETA to teach about world heroes.  It also went really well, and I’ve basically decided that I LOVE teaching ESL :D.

I’ve finally regained my energy from this past weekend – a week later.  On Saturday I went on a hike up a famous Korean mountain called Songnisan with about 40 other ETAs.  We all split up into different groups and just explored the mountain for the day.  A few groups took a wrong turn and ended up going down the other aide of the mountain, and they had to take a 30 minute taxi ride back to our side of the base of the mountain.  Oh, I also had my first victory against the Korean language!!  I ordered a meal all by myself after the hike – I said hello, and ordered, and asked how much it was (and understood well enough to give exact change!!), and said thank you.  It was very exciting – I was so proud of myself :D.

Dan and Sarah in front of a giant Buddha at Songnisan
Korean ice cream – my watermelon shaped ice cream was complete with seeds and everything =/

The mountain was legit….
…but the view at the top was worth it!! 🙂

I love those kids…



On Sunday, we had activity weekend!  Every ETA had to help participate in 1 weekend activity for Camp Fulbright.  I volunteered to help plan the Sunday morning activity – Superhero Training Academy!  We had 6 different stations, and at each station the kids learned a different skill that they would need to be a superhero – strength, agility, disguise, etc.  It was alot of fun, but the activities were divided between rooms that were separated by 2 floors, and because I was running the event, I was constantly running up and down the stairs in between the two rooms.  I probably ran up and down then 30 or 40 times in the spans of 2 hours.  So between that on Sunday, and Songnisan on Saturday, I was pretty wiped out.  I’ve also been sick the past few days – raging fever, horrible chills, headaches, nausea, the whole shebang – so I’m sure that did nothing to make me less tired.  But don’t worry, I’m doing much better now :).

The Web – because every Superhero has to be able to beat the laser webs!! 🙂

Our “villains” who were roaming around the stations 😀

The whole gang.  It was a blast 🙂

I can’t decide if I look important or silly with my megaphone….



It’s probably also taken me longer to get over my exhaustion because I’ve been getting up much earlier than I was used to doing.  While at Songnisan, I hung out all day with 2 people from orientation, Sarah and Dan, and we really bonded a lot.  Well, ever since then, Sarah and I have been getting up before breakfast and having a Bible study together outside (I expect that her name will come up alot in future blogs, both in this one and my other one, wayfarerontheroadlesstraveled.blogspot.com).  It’s been so nice to have someone to confide in, and share my struggles with, and pray with.  This past weekend was pretty exhausting, both physically and emotionally, and having a friend nearby was exactly what I needed.  I love that God always sends us exactly what we need when we need it :).  

So yeah, Camp Fulbright and Korean classes and getting to know the Lord more and being a good friend and various other sundry things have definitely kept me busy this past week.  There was a trip with some other ETAs planned for the weekend, but I decided to stay in Goesan and relax.  Sarah and I planned a movie night for Saturday night, and about a dozen people came.  We went into town and bought popcorn and snacks and drinks beforehand, and it was alot of fun.  We didn’t really plan much in advance, so I was quite please with the attendance.  It was really nice to just have a chill night hanging out with friends, not worrying about lesson planning or event planning or studying Korean (although that’s #1 on my to-do list for tomorrow!!).

Oh, one last thing before I call it a night!!  I know this blog is all over the place, and I apologize for adding to the randomness, but this is important!!  I now know where I’ll be teaching for the next year!!  The placement ceremony was on Thursday night – it was a very exciting, emotional evening.  I’ve been assigned to an all-girls private high school in 경주 (Gyeongju).  I didn’t get anything that I requested – I asked for a co-ed middle school or vocational school with easy access to transportation lines, and I’m in an all girl’s high school – I shudder to think of all that estrogen!! 🙂 –  about an hour away from a major transportation hub.  But you know what?  I’m ok with that.  I have a feeling that Gyeongju could be even better than what I was hoping for, even though it wasn’t what I though I wanted.  Doesn’t God have a funny way of surprising us like that? 🙂  Gyeongju is the most historical city in all of Korea – it’s known as “the museum without walls” – it also has a brand-new (as of this year!) stop on the KTX line (Korea’s bullet train that services most big cities), a girl from the Fulbright Bible study was assigned to the adjacent middle school, and basically I’m just pumped to see what God will do in my life this year.  I have to make the most of my time with Sarah now, though, because she was placed almost as far away from me as possible – 9 kilometers from the DMZ :(. 

Anyway, that’s all for now….it’s bedtime on the other side of the world!!  If you want to know more about Gyeongju, here’s a tourist link for the city: http://asiaenglish.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=309379#04

Sending my love, as always,
~Lauren 

I live for the weekends

I absolutely love the weekends here in Seville. Everyone keeps chastising me, saying I should travel more, but I really like staying in Seville and exploring the city and getting to know the people. Maybe that makes me strange….but then, we already knew that I was strange, did we not? 🙂

I had quite an eventful few days this past weekend. As my weekends do not start on Friday, I shall begin my story on Thursday. I woke up early and went to the churros stand on Café Arfe, where Jon had sent me. The churros were good, but I’m not sure I would say they were fit for a king…I must say I was rather disappointed. But, as Jon said, even a king wants macaroni and cheese every now and then, right? 🙂 I went that afternoon with my friend Virginia to see the Museum of Arts and Traditional Customs. It was quite interesting, and Virginia’s a lot of fun. Afterwards we went to feed the pigeons at the Plaza de America (well, I fed them; she took pictures), and I even have the scars to prove it! It was an interesting experience, I’m glad I did it, but man, those pigeons were vicious!! Thursday night I had Bible study. It was good, although I was a little out of it. I have a lot on my plate right now, and it’s even harder to deal with that because I’ve been sick ever since I got back from Barcelona. It’s hard to deal with tough circumstances and emotions regardless, and even harder when you’re sick, ya know? So I was having a bit of a pity party on Thursday, which was unfortunate. Luckily, I snapped out of it by dinner time – I didn’t want to have to explain to my host mother why I was so depressed. Makes for rather awkward dinner conversation, lol.

So after dinner, I went out to meet my friend Pauline, from Holland. She had told me that she was taking salsa classes, and so I went along to see how they were. The lessons were pretty basic (I think I’m going to try the more advanced class next week), but I stayed after the lessons for the open dancing. I have finally found the pocket of Seville that dances!!! And oh my gosh, dance they do. It was soooo much fun. Pauline wasn’t able to stay after the lesson, so I was there alone…I finally left around 1:00. On my way back to my house, I saw three friends from the Center sitting outside a bar, having a glass of wine. So I went over to talk to them for a while. They actually thought that I was planning to go to that bar – apparently Justo was inside, and they thought I was coming to meet him. Apparently they don’t know me that well – I don’t meet ANYONE at 1:00 in the morning, lol. It was sheer luck that Justo, I, and they all happened to be at the same place at the same time. But we went inside and talked to Justo and his friend for a while, and then went on our separate ways. It wasn’t anything special, but I really enjoyed it. Of course, it may have been simply that I was still on a euphoric high from actually getting to dance for real for the first time in over 2 months. It wasn’t West Coast Swing, but hey, Salsa is definitely better than nothing! 🙂

I spent most of Friday morning holed up in the public library, working on my first of two research papers I have to write for class. Not exactly a ball of fun, but it has to get done, and I would rather get it done now while I have time, and then not have to worry about it later. My late night caught up with me by lunchtime, though, so I had to take a nap in the afternoon. It probably also doesn’t help that I’m still trying to fight this sickness I’ve had for 2 weeks – it’s really started to sap my energy. Friday evening I participated in the “Día del estudiante extranjero” – it’s an event hosted by the city of Seville, celebrating all of the foreign students there are in the city. This was the first year they had done it, but it was a lot of fun. The night started with a scavenger hunt that sent us all around the city, looking for quirky and historical facts about Sevilla. Afterwards we got to go into the Alcazar at night. I told you guys about the first time I went there, but that was during the day. Normally the palace is closed at night, but they opened it up especially for us that night. It was sooo cool – like a totally different world. There was even a hedge maze that I went into and scared unsuspecting students. It was great :D. I wish I could show you pictures, but none of them came out – it was too dark. I guess some things you really just have to be there to experience :). There was also an awards ceremony for those students who had submitted the best pictures and phrases describing Sevilla. I ran into Olivier, a friend of Pauline’s that I had met at the dance the night before. So we talked for a while…I love how Seville’s such a vibrant city, but it’s still small enough that change encounters like that with people that you just met are normal. It makes for a very interesting daily life :).

After día del estudiante ended, a bunch of us went to Rayas, supposedly the best ice cream place in the city. Rodrigo, a new guy at school who is replacing the woman who left on maternity leave last week, came with us. He’s really cool, I had a lot of fun with the group who went. We all migrated to the Festival de las Naciones after ice cream. This is the last week it will be around. That’s so strange to me to think, considering that it’s been here ever since I’ve gotten here. Saturday I had planned to go to the Seville city cemetery in the morning. That did not exactly happen. I was in bed nearly the entire day with a fever, trying to sleep through a incredibly loud anti-abortion rally that was happening right outside my window. I got very sick once during last Spring semester, so bad that my mom actually drove up to Berry to take care of me for the weekend. It’s amazing how much more miserable a sickness is when you know for certain that your mommy cannot come take care of you :(. But anyway, I was feeling better-ish in the afternoon, so I went out with Justo at night. He took me to a tapas place on the other side of town. I love having an older intercambio – he’s lived in Seville all his life, and knows the city very well. He takes me to all sorts of cool places that I would have never found by myself. After tapas, we walked around for a bit in the center of town. There was an outside concert that we listen to for a while, and then we went to another, very hip, modern restaurant right next to the cathedral – he just wanted to get a drink. We went all the way to the top floor, which was on the roof. So we got a bird’s eye view of the city and the Cathedral at night – it was sooooo cool.

Sunday morning I was feeling yucky again. I dragged myself out of bed to go to church, but was right back in bed as soon as I got back. But again, like Saturday and Friday, I felt a lot better in the afternoon. I met Rodrigo and Sarah in the evening – we had dinner, and then went to see The Social Network, a movie about Facebook. It was actually quite interesting – I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to. Although I must say, I would not suggest watching it in a language that is not your first language. It’s hard enough to understand the technical slang if you speak the language fluently…forget it if you’re still learning it :).

Hey, also, check this link out. Apparently I’m doing pretty well in the whole Spanish deal! 🙂 As the picture on the website changes every week, I suppose I should tell you what was supposed to be on the link, just in case it’s not the same by the time you get to reading this. My school has us sign a contract at the beginning of the semester, saying that we would only speak Spanish while at school or at school events. Every week they spotlight a different student on their website who has actually been doing that. I made the spotlight this week! I was rather happy about that :).

So anyway, apart from the illness, last weekend was a very good weekend. As much as I love Seville, however, I think I will be ready to go home in December. Spain just hasn’t clicked with me like Costa Rica did. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t like one of my teachers – who happens to be the one with whom I have 3 classes. I have to listen to him over 10 hours a week. He’s really quite brilliant, actually, and one class would not be at all bad…but 3 classes just gets tiresome. I find myself checking my watch every 5 minutes when I’m in class. I think that’s a big factor for me, as well. At Berry, I have been enormously blessed that the vast majority of my teachers have been very good at what they do. They are knowledgeable and interesting, and make me really want to go to class. I don’t want to go to class here, which makes the mornings drag much more than they should. But, nevertheless, I recognize what an incredible blessing I’ve been granted to be here, and I’m doing my best to take advantage of every second. School isn’t the only part of a study abroad experience :). I haven’t taken many pictures lately, but if you want to make sure you’ve seen all the most recent one you can get to my album here.