Category: tapas

Horray for not traveling!

We had a 4-day weekend this week. While most of the students were off exploring exotic places such as Italy, France, or Morocco, I elected to stay here. Honestly, the only reason I stayed was because I didn’t have time to make plans to go somewhere. But I’ve very glad I did. It turned out to be quite a productive, eventful weekend, albeit rather quiet when I was home – my host family was at the beach all weekend. Check out the note they left me – I thought it was really sweet :).

Thursday night there was a Halloween party hosted by the school. I went, and even half-heartedly dressed up! (I wore a masquerade mask I bought in Barcelona) I’ve never really seen the point of Halloween, and don’t ever celebrate it in the USA. I find it ironic that one of the only time I actually celebrate Halloween is in a country which does not celebrate it as a whole :). Anyway, the party was pretty lame, but I got some interesting pictures. Myself and a friend, Allyx, started dancing Flamenco in the middle of the party. That was interesting, lol. After the party everyone went out for tapas. That was more interesting, in my opinion. I got to talk to the Academic Director for a while – she apparently is a Harvard graduate!! I was very impressed. Anyway, I finally made it back to my house around 1:30 in the morning. Although I didn’t have school the next day, I was waiting there when they opened at 8:00. Friday was my push day. I wanted to get a ton of homework done so I wouldn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend. I took a break for lunch to eat with Jess and Paola, 2 girls from the Bible study. They also brought a Spanish friend of theirs, Julia, who is really sweet. It was very encouraging to be able to spend some time with godly, wholesome, fun girls. Other than lunch, though, I was at school until it closed – at 8:00 at night. Almost 12 hours total :/. I’m so glad I did that, though – I finished one of two research papers, did all my homework for Tuesday and half of the stuff for Wednesday, and also studied for 1 of my 2 tests that I have time coming week. I felt very accomplished and on top of things :). I often get teased for being such a studious student, but I really think that I’m the one with the last laugh – I’m never stressed about getting things done, and I go out just as often as anyone else. It’s an excellent combination :).

Friday night I went to another Halloween party – this one hosted by a friend of mine from church, Nadine. That one was far from lame. I had such a blast!!! There were people there from church, from Bible study, from other schools, and some random Spaniards who were friends of other guests, as well. All in all, I’d say there were about 25 or 30 people there. There was a tone of food, and great music, and a costume party (I got to be a judge, since I was costume-less. I think I’d prefer that, lol), and just great fun to be had all-around. There was a pumpkin-carving contest, as well – not only did I carve my first pumpkin ever in my life, but I also won a prize for it! As long as you promise not laugh, you can check out my pumpkin here. It was loads of fun to do, but I hardly think it’s worthy of a prize, lol…

Around midnight, we cranked the music up and started dancing. There were lots of great dancers there – ironically enough, none of them were Spaniards. They were from Columbia, or Cuba, or Peru, etc…so we danced some Merengue, some Salsa, Bachata, a little bit of Swing…the whole shebang. Then we tried to learn the Thriller dance. We didn’t learn it – but watching people try to watch it was quite amusing :D. The party finally ended around 1:30 because half of the group had to leave to catch the last metro home at 2:00. I was very sad to go :(. I haven’t had that much good, clean fun in a long time. Check out the pictures from both parties here – they should be at the very end of the album.

Saturday morning I had planned on going to Isla Magica, a theme park in Seville. But Saturday morning dawned cold and rainy and windy, so I scratched that idea. Instead, I went back to Nadine’s house and hung out with her and Sarah for the day. We went shopping, and made pizza and brownies, and watched chick fliks and old episodes of the Gilmore Girls. It was excellent. My host family is out of town, so I spent a quiet evening cleaning up my room, and organizing my stuff, and other necessary things. It’s nice to have quite evenings to yourself sometimes :).

Sunday morning was a lazy day. We had daylight savings, so I got an extra hour of sleep, which was nice. I slept in and still had time to get some homework done before church :). After church I went shopping for presents – there’s been a festival going on since I’ve been here, and this is the last weekend it will be around. I wanted to swing by before it closed. It’s so strange to think of it not being there tomorrow…it seems to kind of be a part of Seville by now. I also ran into a friend of mine, Rodrigo, and we hung out for a few hours. I got a rather backwards compliment from him that I’m quite proud of. I was talking about how different I am now than I was when I was younger, and he asked me, “What happened? Did Jesus change you?” It was quite apparent that that was not a serious question – Rodrigo makes no claims to be a Christian, and the sarcasm was so thick I could have cut it with a knife. But I chose to ignore it and simply answer the question. “Yes,” I said, “He did.” Then Rodrigo was like, “That’s what I like about you. Most of the time when I’m around hard-core Christians I try to say things to piss them off, and it usually works. But you never react when I try to insult you.” I’m almost positive that he did not intend that as a compliment, but the fact that A) he considers me to be obviously Christian and B) I don’t react to insults in a way that turns people off of Jesus made my heart swell.

Monday was quite an excellent day. I went to Carmona, a small town about 40 kilometers from Seville, with Justo, per Jon’s suggestion. Actually, Jon’s homework said I had to take a bus, but everyone knows the cool people take cars ;). So Justo picked me up mid-morning, and we drove to Carmona. Can I just say that Justo is the best intercambio ever!! He had already been to Carmona, so he took me to his favorite haunts; he also brought along a map and tourist info, so we knew exactly what spots we should hit. Also, he printed out a history of the city from online, and made me read it aloud to him as we drove. He corrected my pronunciation when needed, and explained to me any words I did not know. He also tries to correct me during the course of normal conversation, something that I give him huge props for. I’ve been on the other side of the coin – I’ve been the fluent speaker talking to someone who’s learning the language, and I know that it’s really hard to correct them if they’re trying. As long as I understand what they’re trying to say, I tend to ignore the errors. But that’s not how to improve, and I’m so grateful that he actually tries so hard to help me get better. I need to hang out with him more often – I know my Spanish noticeably improves every time I do :). He also offered to correct my papers that I have to write for school. Besides that, we get along really well – he’s very easy-going and fun to be around, and also speaks very good English, so I can switch whenever my brain starts really hurting, lol.

Alright, now that I have sufficiently extolled Justo’s commendable qualities, let’s continue with the story, shall we? 🙂 We walked around for a while, just drinking in the sights. There was a famous convent that we went and visited – this picture is from the top of the tower. I like it because you can see the city behind us through the slats in the window :). The sunset was absolutely gorgeous – although I did snap a photo of it, it truly doesn’t do it justice. But oh well, I did my best :).

My family got back a few minutes after I did, so we caught each other up on our respective weekends. Although I rather enjoyed the solitude these past few days, it’s nice to not be in an empty house anymore. Well anyway, thus ends my lovely weekend of not traveling – see all the pictures from Carmona here. I love and miss all of you guys buckets and bunches!! 🙂

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.

Españoles por fin!

These past few days have been rather exciting. On Thursday, I went back to La Catedral. But this time, I looked all around it, and even went up to the very top!! The view from the top (it’s 500 meters tall) is incredibleeeeee…check out pictures here(I had to start a new album :])! Thursday night I was supposed to (finally!) meet my intercambio. But she totally flaked on me and didn’t show up. She didn’t call, or send me a message, or anything. If I had had her number, I would have called her, but she never gave it to me :(. So that was disappointing. But as I was leaving, I stopped into Yogurtlandia. It’s a frozen yogurt place right next to the Center that’s reallyyyy good…I think I’ve just discovered my Achille’s heel ;).

Friday night I went to a Flamenco exhibition with my friend, Alice, in a little place called Casa de la Memoria. She’s been taking flamenco classes in the states for 7 years, and heard about this place from her teacher here in Seville. It…was…incredible!! There was a guitarist, a singer, and a female and male dancer – all in the flamenco style. I had to remind myself a few times to breathe. I wish I had a video of their performance, but they told us quite emphatically – and in 4 languages, so we would have no excuses – that video was strictly prohibited. So I’ll have to be content with my memory, and a few pictures that I took.

After the dance, Alice and I met up with another friend, Allyx, to go eat tapas (appetizers, basically). Our waiter was the best waiter I’ve ever had. He was funny, engaging, and attentive – but not suffocating. I have decided that I’m going to eat there again just so I can have him as a waiter :D. On the way back, we saw El Festival de las Naciones (Fesitval of the Nations) going on in a park near where I live, so we headed in to check it out. It was pretty cool. It has stores, food, and performances from countries all over the world. I bought a dress and a cool wrap-around skirt. I’m sure you’ll see a picture of me in it sooner or later… 🙂

Saturday I spent all day in Córdoba. We visited holy places from 3 major religions – Alcázar de los reyes cristianos (Christian), Una sinagoga (Jewish), and La Mezquita (Muslim). La mezquita was actually really cool. It had been a muslim temple, and then was partially converted into a Christian church. So there are some places where you can see both architectural styles right next to each other. I’ve got pictures of all three places in my photo album that I gave you the link to earlier in this blog.

Sunday was AMAZING. I went on a “senderismo” (a hike) with a bunch of the students AND intercambios. My intercambio didn’t come (of course), but there were several intercambios who came who’s students did not, so I hung out with them all day. At last, I have met some Spaniards!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 We walked around as a group for a while, and then split off into sub-groups. I went with my three new Spanish friends, Justo, Pablo, and Rafael, as well as a few other American students. We climbed up a mountain to see the ruins of an old castle that was on top of the mountain. Some people took the path up…I actually climbed up. As in, rock climbing. I was so scared (I’m not a fan of heights), but it was sooo fun. I’ve got a picture in my album of what I climbed.

After the castle, we climbed all the way down the mountain to the lake that was nestled in the valley. There was an island a good ways out from the shore that several people decided to swim to. I didn’t have my swim suit, but I decided to do it anyway. On the island there was a rock about 15 feet above the water that we all jumped from (my fear of heights got a good licking today, lol :]). By the time I swam back, I was soooo tired – hours of walking, an hour of climbing, and lots of swimming, while also battling my fear of heights all day, had done me in. But oh my, it was so worth it! What a day!!! Not only did I have a blast, and POR FIN (finally!!) meet some Spaniards, but I also got to talk to my family when I got back. The internet connection was a lot better than it was the last time we talked, so this time we actually got to talk. And I exchanged numbers with Justo, Pablo, and Rafael, and we’re going to go out this week. I’m super duper excited.

I sat next to Justo on the way back. We talked almost the entire hour and a half drive – mostly in Spanish. He corrected my Spanish several times. At first he was apologetic, but I told him I prefer it that way – I won’t improve unless I am corrected. I was never able to get my friends in Costa Rica to correct me. He said that, if my Spanish was really bad, he would not bother to correct me, but it’s already good, and he wants me to be able to speak perfectly. My Señora said a similar thing. I was rather pleased with that :).

Oh, and as if that wasn’t cool enough, I have icing for the cake! My friend Sarah found an evangelical church that she went to this morning instead of going hiking. She told me afterwards that it was really cool, and there are lots of awesome people there. It’s really close to where I live, and I’m going to go with her next weekend. I can’t wait :D. Also, they’re starting a Bible study on Thursdays that I’m planning on getting involved with. On that note, many, many thanks to everyone who commented on my last blog post. Mom, dad, Jon, Philip, and Grandma and Grandpa Pool, thank you all for your uplifting words! They helped me more than you know. I’m doing much, much better now. I debated posting that last blog, cuz it’s kinda personal…but I’m really glad I did. But anyway, it’s off to bed for me now…tomorrow school begins anew. Oh, and this week is finals week for the intensive period. Yuck :(.