Thursday, January 28, 2010

Let there be light?

I am currently sitting in a pitch black room because the light in our room is out... We are quite confused as to what to do considering the other lights on this side of the apartment are now also going off one, by one... Either our new internet is sucking the power out of our apartment, or someone/something is coming to get us. I'm not sure which one I prefer at this point because we will most likely be in big trouble for not telling Vicki that we got internet and that could be just as bad as being visited by the boogie man since Mama Vicki is in charge of our food/shelter etc. Until she returns from wherever she sneaks off to we are sitting by the light of our laptops.. Like the olden days right? :)

It is glorious to know that we do not have school tomorrow! (Now I know how the business majors at Mizzou feel.. hah) There was excitement in the air today because we leave early tomorrow morning for Granada! I seriously feel like I'm in grade-school and tomorrow is a field trip! (Wish you we're a parent helper for this one Mom!) Granada is one of the 8 important cities in the Andalucia region (southern part) of Spain and is nestled in the mountains exactly due East of Seville. It is known for its beautiful Arabic architecture and for skiing! There will also be gypsies there? I'm excited!! The bus ride will be about 4 hours tomorrow so we need to decided how much fun we're planning on having tonight or else that could be miserable! We also need to start packing (we all know I will be packing tomorrow at 8.) I also need to start getting ready but because we are living in darkness we probably should NOT start doing any of the beautifying process. Thus, here we are! I'm downloading pictures but they take forever to upload on this blog!

Well, Vicki just walked in and after the brains of 4 American girls and 1 Spanish senora I am happy to say that we fixed the light and all the other lights now work! Woohoo! We are alive and can now see how much progress needs to be done before we head out into the public eye.. Vicki asked us if we wanted macaroni for dinner and we all just got really excited! Now we wait until we hear "Cheeeeee-ckaaaasss" (chicas) the way she always says it!

Quick update: macaroni was not macaroni. It was pene pasta with red sauce and some sprinkled cheddar cheese on it. It tasted a lot like spaghetti-o's! Vicki took the time at dinner to show us the new leopard print skirt and matching blazer she made. "Muy sexxii!" She explained to us that she shops, finds things she likes and then has to go find fabric and make it because she is too large for the regular clothes.. We were unsure how to respond so we just kinda laughed and said "no, no!" She then showed us the blue and white polka dot apron she made for the fiesta she has tomorrow at the kids' school where she will pass out churros. When she came out wearing it we literally could not refrain from laughing.. Life in Spain is absolutely great and we could not be happier girls! Today was nothing short of amazing and it is only going to get better! To say we are blessed is a large understatement. Until I return from Granada.. Adios!

Our fancy dining room. The order we have come to sit in goes Laura, Katrina, Me and then Tricia

Where Vicki naps, sews, eats, watches her soaps and of course, smokes. Katrina called it her throne and I don't think there is any better way to describe it.

How could life be anything but great when you get to see this??

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Two Weeks

Again, I apologize for the gap between posts. I have been having the worst luck with internet this week! Which led to our most recent purchase of a router (allowing us to get wireless internet) for our apartment! This came after much deliberation, mathematical equations (obviously not done by me so don’t worry) and many questions, but we decided that yes it would be worth it and possibly save us money? We’ll see about that, but I tend to think so! These internet café’s are starting to add up.

Now down to business. I’ll try to go in order of events:
Friday night was an eventful evening. We were supposed to meet up with our “intercombio” partners. What I have understood this to be is a Spanish student who is studying English and we can teach each other through conversation. I hope I get someone who is REALLY good at English and doesn’t expect much from me hah Well the restaurant we were supposed to go get tapas at had one waiter on staff when we walked in. Apparently they weren’t expecting all 50 or so of us and the lone waiter almost peed is pants when he began mentally counting us. Thus, Paula, our student event planner lady who pronounces her name “Pa-owl-a” and has half of her head shaved in a Rhianna-esq cut that does not work, lead us to another tapas place. We ordered some wine, got some bread and settled in under a ceiling dangling with lamb legs. Only when we got the check did we realize that this was a ridiculously expensive restaurant. They charged us for the glass of water, bread AND butter! What?? One of the 4 “intercombio” students that actually showed up (I was under the impression there would be more..) informed us that this was the most expensive restaurant in Seville. Hopefully you now understand why I may have been harsh on Paula. Who takes American students, that are largely all on a tight budget and are used to getting free water and butter, to such a place? “Pa-owl-a” and I are no longer friends.
However, we did get to see our friends Mark and Jack who are studying here through a different program and it was great to see some familiar faces. They were probably not so happy to see us when we all ended up wandering around for a solid hour looking for I’m honestly not even sure what...hah We did get to pop in a few fun random bars though so I was quite content and we ended yet another night at Buddah, the bar we love to dance at.

Saturday we slept in, like way in, until about 1 or so before our stomachs could take it no longer and forced us to rise and find some sort of nutrition. It was kind of raining which made it much harder to actually wake up. We wandered down to a restaurant that Vicki suggested and struggled to find something on the menu. Our lunch ended up consisting of chicken on a bun and fries, which we happy to have! There were also peanuts (in their shells not like nuts in a bowl at a bar) on the table but we were afraid to eat them in fear that they would be charged to our bill, but we asked and found out they were free! (There is some hope for reasonable prices!) Afterwards we tried to shop for a few minutes but everything was pretty much closed. This stumped us because it wasn’t really siesta time, it was a Saturday and there were people walking around so it wasn’t like no one was out due to the rain. We’re still confused. So we came back, hung out for awhile took our turns in the shower and started planning the evening events.
We ended up at some Irish type bar and having not had dinner, decided to get some appetizers. Tricia and I chose to split the chicken tenders and when they were delivered to our table we realized we each we're granted 1 tender. Woohoo.. hah The night quickly turned around though when I was taking a picture of the group at our table and a Spanish guy offered to take it for me. He then asked if he and his friends could sit with us. I was wary because I obviously can’t speak Spanish but surprise, he could speak English! Between our broken knowledge of each other’s native language we struggled, but managed to communicate decently! He and his friends had us laughing for a long time and it was really fun! The night had a bit of an awkward edge when the German guy who used the line “Do you know karate” (by the way I need to make an edit here. I have the punch line previously listed as being “because your body is rockin.” This is wrong. It really was “because your body is kickin.” I stand corrected) showed up. He had texted Tricia but while she was at the bar Laura and I responded with our location and told him to come never expecting him to actually to so because we passed him on the streets earlier with all of his friends. (seriously Seville is big, what are the chances of seeing this guy again!?) However, he sauntered in and sat with us only to be thoroughly confused when Tricia chose to ignore him. He was under the impression she told him to come.. haah So awkward! Ok, this is probably enough on the night but it was another good one!

Sunday we woke up and went to church at 1 but did not go back to the same one we went to last week. This proved to be a good choice because not only was the church beautiful but it felt so much more like a home and a parish. There were families everywhere. In fact, it honestly felt like a picnic or a recess. There was a constant rumble of conversation. Everyone brings their strollers right into mass and parks them at the end of the row. Some kids even had balls and were bouncing them. It was so funny and there were a million things to be watching at any given moment. My favorite is still communion though. It is just too comical! Some people shoot up like “man am I hungry” while others wait for the feedback of their neighbors before sampling the snacks. Plus they all process down the isle and instead of circling around in a fluid rotation, they just turn immediately around and weave back through the line to their seats. I just wanted to scream “Hey I know a better way!” haha
After church we had a nice lunch at a little café where we treated ourselves to ice cream! The service was painfully slow but luckily we had no where to be and weren’t in any hurry. We people watched and decided to bring cards next time. (There was a family behind us playing “Uno.” How cliché in Spain right.. hah) We wandered around a bit afterwards and then the evening turned into a social hour (or 2) of skype with our families! I got to talk to my whole family for quite awhile and it was great! I’m so glad you put Cash up to say hello to me dad! Haha

Monday and Tuesday consisted of the same routine I previously explained. The only really exciting aspect was that I got my package from my mom! YOU ARE THE ABSOLUTE BEST!! My box was huge and everyone wanted to get a peek at it, it was so funny! I had plenty to share due to the extreme amount of snack she sent me. You would think she thought I was starving over here! Please do misinterpret any of this as disappointment though because all 4 of us just about peed our pants with excitement. we had salami sandwiches for lunch... Luckily my lovely friends all helped to shove whatever could fit from the 16 lb box into their backpacks (so we could distribute the weight) and we switched carrying what was left in the box on the way home. Once home we dove into the cheezitz and nilla wafers!

- How you know if you have a package. Yep there's my name! Kind of... hah

Opening the box drew quite the crowd

Laughing at the amount she sent me!

Starting the trek home

Walking out into the street from school. (Our school is on the 3rd floor)

Our school from the outside. Never would've guessed there's a university there would ya?

Walking through the little plaza in front of our school

Carrying the box down our tiny streets

Feeling bored while waiting for Vicki to make an appearance we decided to play a game. All four of us climbed up to my top bunk (it seemed like a good idea at the time but now sounds quite ridiculous, which it probably was.. hah) and played Farkel. I’m not going to explain the rules but it’s a dice game and we had WAYY to much fun. The prize was a reese’s peanut butter cup which we were all sad to hand over to Katrina. With no sign of Vicki and our stomachs churning Laura made the discovery that my mom had sent us all of the ingredients for smores!! (Marshmallows are no a usual snack of ours but she threw them in for cushioning, so smart mom!) So we hurriedly built our little towers of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers together and placed Trina as the lookout while we snuck into the kitchen to try the microwave. It was looking promising until we saw sparks and Trina thought she heard something. In a quick and not so graceful wave we snatched our treats (Laura ran into the wall) and we darted to our rooms. We were severely sad and disappointed and refused to have reached the end. So, we started wracking our brains for other ways to heat our campfire snacks. At an all time low, or high depending how you look at it, Katrina came up with the idea of a blow dryer… We waited for any signs of life but it sounded like the coast was clear. So we warmed our ‘mallows with our orange dryer and were scarfing them down like the fat-camp kids we are when Vicki junior whipped around the corner and we all almost choked. It was another awkward encounter but we were far too happy to have our moment dampened. The best part about this is that we always joke that it feels like we’re at camp and it has now been solidified!

So umm.. if our bunks had collapsed where would she have us sleep?

Possibly one of my favorite pictures from the trip so far.. haha

Since I am apparently sharing everything, including the embarrassing things, I should go ahead and inform you all that I have really been embarrassing myself with my Spanish. I think I’m getting better at it but, not quite. After dinner last night we were chatting with Vicki and our “brother” Alfonso walked in. Having started to learn family terminology, I tried to so “hermano” (brother) but instead I exclaimed “hambre!!” I was just beaming at him all proud of myself while he goes on staring at me like the retard that I am before he tilts his head and says, “eh hungry?” Which is indeed what I had said to him. I had told him I was hungry after we had just finished dinner..? I then followed with my typical response of “lo siento" and caught Vicki Jr laughing really hard at me in the corner. There are millions of these types of situations that occur daily, but I thought this one would suffice as a fine example.

We had our first flamenco dance class yesterday too and it was well, interesting. Our teacher is quite large and brought her blonde playboy-esq daughter to help teach us. They made a comical pair. It was actually really funny and we laughed a lot! However, we’re not sure we want to stay in the class. It’s really expensive and the time we have the class is right after school which is a great time to wander around and when the weather gets nicer I am certain we will want to be out and about. Plus, “Mama Vicki” promises she can teach us and even gave us lessons last night. We were all trying really hard not to laugh when she came in the room and started singing and dancing and pulling us up to practice. Our lives just seem so unreal! Haha

The next Shakira ladies and gentlemen. Try watching this for 15 minutes straight without laughing.

A quick note about last night: We went to this bar where they have free sangria for “chicas” and a big beer pong tournament. Two of the guys from our program ended up winning! It was so funny! Katrina and I tried to order a beer and the bartender told us they were out. We frowned and he whipped out 3 free shots for us all to take (one for himself) ..? Fine by me! Then when I ordered drinks for me and Mark he gave us huge like 3 ft long straws which we loved! Mark even stood on a chair to show that he could still drink out of his glass. The entire cab ride home we had the driver teach us bad words in Spanish. He thought it was hilarious. I don’t remember any of the words today but it was fun! Also, I got to skype with my parents, and Paige last night! It totally pays off to go out and stay up late! Ahaha Except for the fact that I’m super tired today of course.. Andddd I just reached into my bag to get a pen and I found my huge green straw folded up.. I guess I really liked it?

Yes Mark you can in fact continue drinking while standing on a chair! Success!

I’ll add pictures soon I promise! I’ve got lots!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Hello everyone!
I don't have time for a full post today but I just wanted to add a few things to some previous posts and put up pictures of my room and senora.

1) Our sister Victoria Jr wears hair extensions like Katrina.. What are the chances?
2) We run out of toilet paper every day and she thinks were doing weird things with it and keeps asking, "what are you doing?" we simply answer, going to the bathroom..?
3) She wore the scarf I made her out the other night and loved it! She looked fab in it :)
4) Monday, after the first day of classes, the girls, Nick and one of his roomates Travis and I drank wine by the river. We decided right after our meeting at 5 at the institute that we wanted to wander around so we all voted on grabbing some wine and heading to the river. So we bought a few bottles of some veryyy cheap wine and headed towards the river. Our cute little jaunt hit a hitch when we realized we didn't have an opener. We found a store and continued on our way and had an highly enjoyable experience sitting by the river, on the running trail, watching everyone exercise while we proceeded to drink. Ironic?
5) We got McDonald's fries yesterday while wandering around after class and I have never been more happy
6) Maybe we won't get as skinny as I had hoped
7) We found a shorter way to school only about 20 mins! (again on the not so skinny thing..)
8) Senora Vicki packs me apples with my lunch because I don't like oranges.
9) She loves me
10) While walking to the bar last night we played the game of what we're most thankful for and decided we need to make a habit of it once each week. We decided we are grateful we haven't skid in dog poo at this point.. hah jk
11) We don't have classes on Friday except for today because we're off some Monday in the future. Lame but might as well get it out of the way!
12) Our married teacher informed us today he has a sweetheart on the side. We all laughed until he said don't tell my wife...umm...what?
13) School closes at 4:30 so I gotta peace out...
14) I'll add pictures soon though I promise!

Tricia and Laura's room... check the decor

Our bunk beds. Trina lookin good

The fake hair twins

Me with the Vicki's in our kitchen! (Ps I get made fun of for all the Chi Omega clothing I wear..)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

School Days

January 21st
Ok I’m falling way behind in my blogging and I apologize but I’ve been so tired! The days here seem super long. Here is our routine;
- Wake up get dressed attempt to beautify. I wore leggings to class one day this week and received some odd looks. Clearly this is unacceptable and I have decided only to wear jeans from here on out. Also, beautifying is pretty pointless. The weather, extensive walking and exhaustion constantly work against us, or at least me! Haha
- We walk a good 25 to 30 minutes to school. This is rough especially with a big backpack. Our feet have been quite mad at us at the end of each day. (Grandma your slippers are perfect!!!) The walk itself is interesting because some streets are super narrow and you feel like when a car is coming its just going to squish you into a wall. This has yet to actually happen.
- Once at the institute (we like calling it that because it sounds like a mental institute, yes we think we’re funny) we all usually go to the “wifi” room for free internet (my current location!) There are tons of people always online and it can get quite loud because the room isn’t that big.
- We then sit through hour and a half long classes. We get a 5 minute break after 45 minutes but that isn’t long enough! Three of my classes are all taught by the same profesor and I cannot understand his English. I equate him, to any of you who have seen Father of the Bride, “Fronk.” I really hope people understand that comparison haha Plus he teaches the same lesson plan for each of the 3 classes so its equally as boring!
- At some point during the 15 minute break before classes we attempt to stuff in the sandwich Vicki packed us. So far it has always been ham and cheese. Not a favorite but man have I quit being picky. We also get an apple or an orange. Today however, there is rumor that our sandwiches are egg and ham… We’ll see how hungry I am
- After class we usually sit for a few more minutes online and then make the trek home. Once there we have learned to abide to the “siesta” law. This is what makes the days seem so long because when we wake up at 6 or 7 we still have the whole evening!
- We sometimes walk around or just hang out in one of our rooms. Yesterday we woke up and went shopping with Vicki. She was so cute showing us off to her friends and pointing different things out.
- Dinner is usually at 9:30 or 10 and consists of something small. We even had the exact same sandwich we had for lunch one night! Woohoo! Again, we don’t complain because we’re just grateful for food. Plus we can go back in our room and eat a granola bar ☺ Vicki and her family do no eat with us. In fact, I haven’t seen them sit at the table together once. Maybe there’s some secret room they eat in?
- After dinner we shower (we’ve learned to mix it up and sometimes 2 of us will go before dinner, 2 after. Or one in the morning etc so we get warm water) and then hang out together or go out but we’ve been too tired!

Hallway to classes. At the 5 minute break bell these things are packed! (We have about 55 students registered and I am in fact student #55.. typical)

This is what our classrooms look like (I stole this picture so these aren't my classmates )

Where I am sitting right this very moment! (the internet room and the "hang out" room where we all congregate in between classes. This also serves as the lunch room, skype room homework room etc.. Pretty versatile!

One of our extensive book shelves stocked full of books from 1993...

View from one of the school rooms :)

The gym that is behind us. Interesting?

I can’t believe we have been here a week it is just crazy! It somehow feels like we’ve been here for long though because we’ve learned so much in the process of adapting. Mostly just to appreciate things like a good meal, or just any meal, a dryer since at this very moment our undies are swinging in the wind outside of our kitchen window. We were already missing it when we realized we have to dry off with an already damp towel though. Or towels dry, a bit, on a drying wrack on our balcony. I suppose they will become more dry in the warmer weather? We appreciate how close school used to be! This walking is not what our boots were made for.. hah We appreciate how instant our internet used to be now that we have terrible connection even at school! We appreciate bigger lecture halls so we could at least read or text during class without being caught. We appreciate understanding people, man is that a big one for me! They all make fun of me because I just say “Oh si, si, si” to everything like all the sudden I understand but all I want to respond is yes, yes yes? Haha Such a good point. We appreciate how we could go to class in sweats and soooo much more. If nothing else, I am so glad to be having these experiences so that I can appreciate everything more when we get home but we are not remotely ready for that yet. So much more to see and do!

Random facts
- Lamb legs are EVERYWHERE. I still have yet to figure out why, and I’m not sure I want that answered
- Everyone smokes including Vicki and my Spanish teacher. Vicki enjoys a nice light when watching her soaps and Maribel, my teacher, took us on a fieldtrip the first day of class solely to “show us things” and smoke 3 cigs.. haha
- There is a green painted biking lane on the sidewalks and they’re wider than the sidewalks which is a bit annoying.
- Dogs poo on the sidewalks and no one picks it up
- When the “walking” light blinks on the streets they show a green little man running and they make this chirping noise for, I guess, blind people? Being blind in Spain would be really bad. If they managed to cross the street without being hit, or tripping in one of the ditches they would definitely step in dog poop and if they had any money they would probably be robbed. Plus they would miss all the beautiful views! So I guess I’m appreciating my sight right now too.
- Sevilla people are really nice and helpful but the stare at Americans a lot.
- When the weather is 45 degrees they consider it freezing out (how they are not freezing in their homes then I do not know) and wear large coats and bundle up. This actually might be why they look at us like we’re crazy because we only wear sweaters and scarves but it’s like early spring weather for us!
- Got hit on by a German by him asking me “Do you know karate?” I was confused so I just stared at him till he said “Cause you’re body is rockin!” … What??? We all laughed about this for a long time I believe Tricia gave him her number later in the night.. haha she also met a Spanish break dancer who told her he can dance on his head?

There is so much more but I don’t have time! I finished classes for the day and am now getting ready to get out and explore the city some more! (I shouldn’t have brought my heavy backpack but oh well!) Oh and to confirm.. I did have an egg and ham sandwich anddd… It wasn’t bad! Again, this could be because I was just hungry but whatever! We went on our first fieldtrip in my Artistic Monuments class and I loved it. It is easily going to be my favorite but I might not do well because I always fall behind looking at things far too long. How can we just speed through these beautiful places though?? Alright well more to come in the future!

Quick shout out to my roomies in Columbia, Kristen –Fizzle-Dancing White, Sweet Murry Murry Anthony and the world renowned Steph-Shakura-Maurer so great to see your beautiful faces yesterday! Sorry the Spanish boys kept screaming and dancing in the background!

Hasta luego!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Church and pizza

January 17
This morning was a bit rough but only in an exhausted way. What’s so funny is that we don’t wake up hung-over at all. We talked about this a lot and think it’s because we’re walking, dancing and being too concerned with enjoying ourselves than really drinking. Whatever it is, we like it!
Literally from the balcony off of our room we counted 15 churches. We hear the bells ringing on the hour, and even more than that sometimes, all the time. So, needless to say we had quite the decision to make this morning! Our senora pointed to a church out the balcony that had a service at one. So, we pulled ourselves together and headed out in the direction she pointed. There were two little old ladies dressed up in front of us so we decided to just follow them figuring they were going to church as well. They did lead us straight to a church but when we walked in everyone was leaving. There was no mass at one. So we asked a woman and she lead us straight to another church right down the street.

Looking out of our balcony during the day (can you count the steeples?)

View from our balcony at night. That glowing building is a church. It's one of my favorite views and I love coming straight home, night or day, and going out to look at the city

Mass was an experience. It went by so fast and was over in a half hour! There wasn’t any music which was a huge disappointment and certainly sped everything up but I also think it is the speed at which they talk. They speak so fast! As many times as I have been to church I still found myself getting lost in what was going on. Of course I knew the overall routine but I was trying so hard to catch a hint of a word I knew that I was just so confused! The best part had to be communion. There was no procession up. It was like father said “Hey I’ve got some snacks up here if anyone wants them.” And people sitting in the pews were like, “Eh yeah I’m hungry” or they waited for someone to get back and ask them how it was and then got up. So confusing but funny at the same time. I think we’re going to try to find another church with music for next week.
After church we decided on a nice American lunch, Domino’s pizza! It’s more like a restaurant here so we ate there. It didn’t taste the same (and not just the “new sauce” they’ve apparently been advertising.. hah) but it was still good! We tried to order salads with the pizza but the guy helping us, Jesus, brought out plastic containers of like potato salad type things one of tuna and one with shrimp maybe? Either way, we passed!
We lingered at Domino’s for quite awhile but came home and our senora, Vicki, brought a cookbook back to our rooms and asked us what we liked. We talked to her for a long time. She is so nice and told us she wanted to make “sweet treats” tonight. We all agreed this was a good idea! She always says how glad she is to have us and how content she is knowing that we’re here with her. We got so lucky!
I had a date with my family at 5 my time, 10am for them! We decided to try out a different interent café that some girls in our program recommended. It was a lot nicer than the other one we had gone to and I got to talk to everyone! I got to see Paige, which I was so excited about! She was getting ready to head back to Columbia. I can’t believe I’m not heading back with her! I’m sure you will have an awesome semester though Paigey! Be good in the annex and enjoy some more freedom!! I look forward to continuing our technological relationship ☺ haha I miss you so much! I also got to wake Blake up. Paige carried her laptop into his room and I said “Brother!!” and started talking to him haha He was so confused and not necessarily pleased to see me at first! Sorry Blake, and thanks for being a good sport!
I got to take a warm shower for the first time in what seemed like forever tonight, really just a few days.. hah but it was great! We got back around 7 from the internet café and it felt like dinnertime but dinner isn’t until about 9 or 10 so we chatted and Vicki brought us back the “sweet treats” she made. I’m not sure what they were called but they were kind of like little donuts and they were good! She explained that she wanted us to help her so we could see how they were made but we took too long at the café. Wah wahh..
Then we had dinner of pasta with a bit of tomato sauce and cheese! Laura could not have been happier! She also bought some mild cheese for our crackers and we were all very happy girls. It was so nice and thoughtful of her to take everything into consideration that she did.
We helped to clean up and then went back to our side of the apartment. She lives on the other side with her son (he’s 17 and so funny) who is not allowed in our side. Laura showered (we’ve learned to space our showers out and not go one after the other) and we all sat in their room chatting. Vicki wanted our class schedules so Tricia was working hard on a master copy to hang on the fridge. It looked great Trish!! Haha
We decided to watch “Dirty Dancing Havana Nights” so Tricia is sitting up on my bed with me and I’m typing away! This movie is hilarious I love Patrick Swayze’s cameos! I’m trying to not let my nerves get the best of me for tomorrow. I’m definitely feeling that “first day of classes jitters.” Cross your fingers for me!

Bus Tour

January 16th
Waking up came way to soon, as always, and we had to scramble to make it to our arranged meeting time for our scheduled bus tour. Everyone in our group that managed to make it looked as equally disheveled. We were supposed to meet at noon but didn’t end up getting on a bus until about 12:30. Everyone is always late and we have learned that apparently when they say 12 expect everyone to arrive about ten minutes later.. Perfect for me!
The tour was really cool. We sat on the top of a double-decker bus and listened to headphones to hear about the different buildings. They had an English channel but it was a British man and he was really hard to understand so I missed most of the educational part but we got to see so much! The city is so much bigger than I imagined and I can’t wait to explore it further. This was the first time we got a glimpse of the river which was quite calm and crossed in multiple times on different bridges.

The tower where we met to get on our bus. It used to hold military or something? I believe the actual name is Torro del Oro meaning "the gold tower"

The four of us on the bus! (Katrina, me, Laura and Tricia)

Part of the river that we crossed multiple times

So in Spain, instead of begging they try to sell you kleenex at red lights. This guy was dressed as a soldier and stopped to salute us? hah

Not sure on the history but just really neat :)

After the bus tour, which was actually about an hour or so, we were all starving. Some of the boys in the group wanted to get gyros (pronounced like euros). I had no idea what they were but decided to just go with the flow. One of the guys in our group speaks excellent Spanish and knew his way around really well somehow, so he lead us there. Gyros turned out to be chicken (lamb was another option) wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato and some sauce. However the pita could not even wrap around the sauced filled insides so it was super messy! We quickly established for the boys that this was not good first date food! Haha

This is how huge these things were!!

We tried to eat outside at some tables but because there was a bigger group they didn’t want us blocking the door/taking up all the tables so we had to resort to sitting on benches.. even harder to eat that way! All of the restaurant workers around us came out to stand in the doorways and watch us eat. Apparently we are pretty entertaining!
After attempting to put a dent in our lunches (the boys helped with whatever we couldn’t handle) we walked around getting to know each other better and just exploring the city. It was Saturday so everyone was milling about kissing cheeks and pushing their adorable children around. Seriously, Spanish children are so so stinking cute! They are all beautiful and wear cute clothes and the girls have bows in their hair! I probably stare at them too much…

Everyone out of the group who got the same blue flip-phones. haha The guy on the left is holding my leftovers to feed the stray dogs. We're so thoughtful :)

Once we went our separate ways went home to rest our poor feet and legs. Our bodies were not ready for all of this walking but it feels so great to be out, about and active! It may sound weird but I just feel super alive even though I’m always so exhausted! We were very tired yesterday but when we got home we decided we wanted to run down to the internet café and I got to talk to my mom! I called all my dad’s skype name, my mom and Blake’s and no one answered so I was just going to check my email and then head home but then my mom called back! I was so excited to get to see you mom!!! It’s so funny how much a blurry and inconsistent picture can so quickly make me happy! Hah We all seem to have a bit more pep in our step after connecting with home and we headed back to our apartment ready for the night!
After another cold shower (booo) and the beautifying process we were running late, again! And not the acceptable “Spanish tardiness.” (Every time I hear or say the word tardy I think of you Nance and they say “tarde” frequently!) After a slew of random phone calls, asking for directions, retracing steps and being stared at by all of the Spaniards we finally arrived to where the group was! They were wrapping up a dinner of “tappas” which basically is a smaller meal or appetizer type deal. So we hurriedly ate a quick dish and left for the better half of the night!
We went to two bars (no cover charges here and I absolutely love it!) but the second one was the best. It was more of a “disco tech” so I’ve been told but I’m not sure about that terminology get so stay tuned to see if I continue using it.. hah The bar was called “Buddha” and we literally did not stop dancing until about 3am. They played tons of American music, which was funny and totally unexpected. The Spanish boys are so flamboyant and love to dance but the Spanish girls don’t really dance. Thus, the girls do not like that the American girls are out dancing like complete fools and we received multiple dirty looks! I guess they don’t realize that we’re dancing like weirdoes because we probably won’t see most of them again.. well at least hopefully not. Hah Tricia, Laura, Katrina and I, and some of the other girls in our group, all really just stayed together and only danced with each other and that was the fun of it! A very successful night!

Walking up the stairs to the 3rd floor of the bar to dance of course!

Productive day

January 15
Today we woke up for orientation at 10:30 and decided not to try to look so European as the day before and just wore a sweatshirt with jeans. Our feet were sore with blisters from walking so much yesterday so we opted for total comfort and wore uggs and tennis shoes. We walked to school just the 4 of us and we made it there with no real hitches! This was a major accomplishment because there really aren’t any street signs, sometimes they’re on the sides of buildings if anything, so we had to go simply by memory/landmarks.
We had another director, Stuart, speak to us today about how we are feeling and getting adjusted along with how important school is. This semi stressed me out because I’m nervous about classes etc. His talk only took a short while and my friend Nick and his 3 roommates were about a half an hour late and missed most of it. When they walked in everyone started laughing because during attendance when Stuart got to those boys names he said “hmm must have had a good night” and they certainly looked a little rough! Apparently after the Flamenco show that we missed, a lot of people went out. We obviously missed it but promised to put our game faces on for tonight!
They always tell us to “get out there and experience the city!” So after orientation was over we took our time walking around. We went down to the cathedral that we saw yesterday to sort of get a good idea of where school is located etc. We found this really busy street I think its called Constitution or something but there are these railway, tram like tracks in the street and we were standing in the middle of the street looking around when Laura goes what are these tracks for? As we’re all studying the ground Tricia yells “That!!” The tram was coming towards us! Haha We laughed for awhile about that and probably looked so American in the process. Oh well! We brought our backpacks with our laptops in hopes that we would find an Internet Café but then we realized it was like 4 in the morning at home so there was no point. Thus, we hauled heavy bags around all day.. So fun!
Tricia wanted some boots so we went in about a million stores looking for a pair she likes. Aunt Jan you were SOO right about the boots in Europe! They are soo cute! I had to refrain from shoe shopping for myself, and that was not an easy task! She ended up finding a pair on the route home and they are super cute. We also went into a hair store “Kosmeticas” or something to look for a blow dryer since ours won’t work with the voltage here. We found one but decided to keep looking for hopefully a cheaper one.
Further down our pathway home we found a store that our senora, Vikki, had mentioned when Tricia asked her where we could get more hangers for our armoire. We went in and found a “Deals, or Dollar General” type store full of everything from boots (of course) to kitchen appliances! So funny! So we all got more hangers and some cheap notebooks for classes that start on Monday.
Tricia and Laura during the main act of the day; walking!

From there we decided to try some phone stores and went into a store called “Orange” first. I should take a quick moment to explain how many orange trees there are here. They line the streets and are beautiful! So the store name was fitting. In the store we struggled to communicate a bit and got some prices but decided, again, to compare elsewhere. We’re really trying to be savvy shoppers. So we went down to “VodaFone” which is another phone store and the line was ridiculous and we were so tired and hungry at this point that we all voted to go home and come back.
Our senora was gong to start making lunch so we asked if there was a close internet café and turns out there is one right by our apartment! So we ventured down to find it and had to ask for help twice. Everyone is so nice and helpful here. Once we found the café, which was more like a bar, we all quickly became in better moods. It was just so good to feel connected to the real world and I even got to talk to my dad! It was soooo good to be able to see and hear you dad! (along with Ted of course haha) We set up a chat date for Sunday and hopefully I can see everyone then!
At home we had a lunch of potato like soup with chunks of some sort of meat. I’m not sure if I mentioned this but our kitchen, which is quite narrow and more like a hallway, is not only home to a fridge cabinets etc but also, a lamb leg, Yes, you heard correctly, at first we were confused as to what it was but after seeing multiple window displays with the same dried out legs, we are now certain that it is a lamb leg, although it is somewhat covered up. Therefore we have all been terrified that what we’re eating is that. So with no other option, we at the potatoes and didn’t really touch the meat. She also made some “queso” dip I was so excited to try but retracted my excitement moments after consuming it. It was like blue cheese, feta etc all mixed together which was really strong and bitter. After that I was not so picky about what potatoes I did and didn’t eat. Again, we’re tying to keep an open mind here but sometimes things are just, well, gross! We were told at school to be honest this first week with what we do and don’t like so she won’t keep making it but we just feel bad. We’ll get bolder soon I’m sure.
After lunch we really wanted to sleep but decided we needed to get a phone first. So we went back to VodaFone only to see that they were closed for siesta until 4:30. We had about 15 minutes to kill and so we wandered around looking for another beauty shop to try to find a hair dryer at. No luck, so we waited for the store to open and when it did we explained to the girl what we wanted and she asked for our passports. Well, we didn’t have them so we had to walk all the way home and all the way back again! Man were we getting our exercise! When we returned we only hit more bumps because Tricia was having a hard time understanding the girl. After about an hour we all left with matching blue flip phones for 19 euros each! It works like a go-phone so we have to put minutes on it. It has been both weird and freeing not having a phone till this point and I hope I don’t use it that much but it will be nice to have!

Katrina and I with our super cool, extremely high-tech metallic blue flip phones :)

Feeling super productive we went back to the first beauty store, “Kosmeticas” to just get a blow dryer there. Our rooms are soo freezing we can’t stand going to bed with wet hair, it is just miserable. Plus tonight we have a program party at this bar and we needed to look more presentable than we have. So we each pitched in and got an orange blow dryer. Woohoo!
We were feeling quite accomplished and had very high spirits returning home and hurrying to get ready for the night! However, showering did not keep with the happy tone because when it was my turn, I went 3rd, the water was cold! Being cold and then taking a cold shower only to get out and be cold more is miserable. Luckily our blow dryer came in handy and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of drying ☺
I can’t believe how great we are doing here. Adjusting is hard but we’re surviving! I was so impressed with how much we were able to accomplish today. Granted I did not do much to help, Tricia and Katrina are my saviors! I like to think that I am somewhat of an asset because I have a good sense of direction, so I hope they’re happy to have me. I’m just so happy to be here. All day I had to keep pinching myself to realize I was really here. I never thought I would actually get to study abroad anywhere, especially such a rich cultural, historical, friendly and beautiful place like Seville! It just always seemed like it would fall through or just too much of a dream. I am so thankful that my parents made this happen for me. Thank you so much mom and dad I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! I don’t want to go into to much on this because I’m afraid this will send me into a homesick spiral, but I miss my family a lot. I just wish they could experience this all with me. My heart goes out to St. Louis tonight ☺ I love you all!

This is my apartment building. We live in the one on the right, on the 6th floor but our balcony faces the other direction.

The night in retrospect:
So we walked all the way to the “Texas Lone Star Saloon” for our orientation group party where our professors were too. First of all, I was in Spain and I was in a Texan bar, what? Katrina could not have been happier though haha We got stamps on our hand and drank free till 10:30! I had sangria and it was really good! Since we hadn’t had dinner we ate some chips and salsa but started the night promising each other we would get Domino’s on the way home because it is right by our apartment. We got to meet a lot of the people in our group and it was so much fun! We talked a lot with a girl named Danielle who was here all last semester and is doing a full year in Seville. She was so nice and helpful. Her first tip to the girls was to stuff some napkins in your purse because none of the bars will have any toilet paper. Haha! We thought this was hilarious but it ended up being some of the best advice yet!
From the Texas bar we all went to “Flattery’s” or something. It was kinda weird at first but we started to enjoy ourselves eventually. I ended up talking to some Irish guy with one of the girls in my group and he started talking to us in his Irish accent about how he and all his friends are on a rowing team and are just in from Dublin. I thought this sounded like a great story to attempt to pick up American girls so I tried to call him out on it but he showed me all of his info and seemed legit. We all decided to leave and go to some “disco tech.” I was quite skeptical but in my effort to be adventurous hopped on the train of people from my group that were going. Danielle, the girl who has been here for months, has a Spanish boyfriend who got all of us in for free which was great! The Irish rowing team guys came with us and Katrina was enjoying one of them named David. They ended up falling and love and having a great time on the dance floor! Laura, Tricia and I were literally just watching and peeing our pants. The entire scene with everyone dancing was hilarious. There were white couches and drapes it looked like it was attempting to be some P. Diddy party and I could not stop laughing! Paige you would have been dying at all the foreign people busting out some ethnic dance moves. I wanted to take so many pictures for you but didn’t want to be that creepy, sorry!! The Katrina scenario only contributed to this odd vibe but we finally had to tell her we wanted to leave. She, along with her Irish lover, were not pleased to be interrupted haha
We got a taxi home and were so excited for Domino’s but… It was closed. Major buzz kill. So we had to resort to eating Cheez’its which were not as enjoyable but sufficed! Mom, great idea on the food I have never been more happy that you packed a suitcase for me!

Random pic from the night. (If you look closely you can see Katrina's beautiful blonde head of hair talking to her Irish lover)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLARE!! WE MADE A TOAST TO YOU TODAY BIRTHDAY GIRL! – ps we feel like you’ve been 21 for years… hahaha

Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking Brighter

January 14th
Today we woke up at 8 something and it was way too early. I hadn’t moved the entire night and can now say with complete confidence that jetlag and I are not friends. In fact we still have yet to make up. Our senora offered us an apple on the way out but I stuck to my granola bar which I didn’t realize would have to hold me until about 4. We were supposed to meet some other girls in our program outside of our apartment in the courtyard (they live on the other side) but after being out there for awhile with no sight of them, we decided to head to the Spanish-American Institute alone. Problem, we had no idea how to get there so after realizing we were going to be late we hailed a taxi and arrived on time! We felt so lazy, but no one was about to say we should walk. We all woke up with sore muscles and are thanking running through the airport and then lugging our huge bags around. On a positive note it was a solid workout! As was the walk home from the institute which takes about a half an hour.
Upon arrival to the institute we sat in a classroom where we met a director and 2 student affairs directors, one of whom met us at the airport (Sam.) They went over rules etc and one lady spoke only in Spanish, not so helpful, and our director informed us all that he would no longer speak to us in English first and if we did not understand what he was saying we needed to say, “no comprendo” and he would explain… This should be interesting. It is so weird to be surrounded by people that you literally have no idea what they’re saying. It is so frustrating for me and I can’t wait to learn! So far I just say, “si, si,” smile, nod and constantly say “lo siento” which means I’m sorry. As long as you try or make an effort they’re pretty understanding.
We learned about the internet at the institute and found out they do have free wi-fi. However, its only available during school hours so, form 8:30 to 4:30. This was hugely disconcerting because that means I can skype from there at 1:30am to about 11:30 am STL time. So I’m going to have to find an internet café because the snippets of internet I get at my senora’s is not strong.
Now on to bigger better things! We had an awesome day today! We got a tour of the Seville Cathedral it was so beautiful along with Alcazar which was so lush. I took lots of pictures! It was hard in the cathedral because the pictures turned out so dark but I managed to grab a couple good ones. I am totally going to struggle not taking pictures of just buildings etc but I will try grab someone to throw in the picture. I promise! The cathedral was originally as mosque but in 1218 became a Cathedral. The architecture was amazing. It was neat to see the differences in periodic design. Everything was SO ornate! Just the time behind every detail was ridiculous! I always think about the people who must have worked tirelessly to build such an incredible thing and how I’m glad it is still around to be appreciated, although I doubt it gets as much appreciation as it should.. The bell tower was added in the effort to make it a Christian church and we climbed all the way up 36 or so ramps (not stairs) to the top. If this type of physical effort is required I am going to be super toned! Haha The view up there was unbelievable. I can’t even begin to describe it.
Walking to the Cathedral

This is actually the bottom part of one of the organs. Paige you would have loved to see how cool this was!

The incredibly ornate ceiling

Tricia and me in front of where Christopher Columbus resides. He did lots of studying etc in Seville. I had no idea!

Katrina put on her elaborate crown for part of the tour. (Fell way behind the group capturing this picture)

One of the many breathless views from the bell tower we climbed and this is my current background :)

More of the beautiful views

After the chapel we headed to Alcazar, which is where all the royals in Seville have lived. I was trying to keep up with our tour guide but he spoke way too fast and with such an accent I ended up lagging behind taking picture after picture. Shocking I know, that I was consistently having to hurry to keep up with the group ☺ It was a beautiful place but I am sure it only becomes more beautiful with warmer weather. They said today was the first day of sunshine in weeks. I like to think we had something to do with that.. Or God had some pity on our miserable conditions before.. haha The gardens of Alcazar were huge, peacocks included! You could almost picture royal parties with people milling about in lavish gowns. It was shocking to me that these old historic pieces, like outside gazebos with detailed paintings that were beginning to show great wear and tear are not better taken care of. There were huge detailed tapestries hanging from the walls and they were blowing in the wind. As cool as it was to be able to see and think this is probably exactly how it was hundreds of years ago, I couldn’t help feeling like they should have preserved it more. I’m such an American..

The first part of Alcazar

The ceiling in one part of the building. It was sooo pretty

Katrina, Tricia, Laura and Me

Once back at the institute we decided that although we had walked tons today, we should walk home and start learning the path we would take. Luckily there were 3 other girls heading our direction so we all went together following the one girl who knew the way. It was a long walk that will be great for window-shopping because there are so many shops! Some parts are like an outdoor mall and they treat it that way because the sidewalks in front of the stores are so clean! As opposed to the sidewalks by the street which dogs relieve themselves on.. So gross! Most of the shops were closed because we were walking past around 3:30 and that is the “siesta” period. Literally stores close down to take naps. And after arriving home for a lunch of lintel beans with half a carrot and a fourth of potato in our bowl siestas were on all of our minds. We were supposed to be woken up after an hour to go find a blow dryer but never were and thus we slept until about 7! Great for us, bad for the evening plans because we were supposed to see a Flamenco show with everyone! We missed it… However, considering the amount of sleep I got, I am only mildly disappointed ☺
Tricia wasn’t really feeling well once we woke up so we all put warm clothes on and curled up in her and Laura’s room with our computers to chat and attempt to get some internet. Not one of us could even connect which was quite frustrating! Our “sister” Victoria came in, we can see into her room from Laura and Tricia’s room. She knows very little English so Tricia and Katrina spoke to her the most. Laura and I would tell Tricia and Katrina to ask her this, or say this and so we were still into the conversation. This is pretty much how the communication in general goes for me. It is so frustrating! We ended up taking photobooth pictures, the distorted pictures you can take on a Mac, with her on Katrina’s laptop and we were all dying laughing! She called her mom in and they took pictures together too. They then told us how much fun we are and how glad they are to have us because the girls they had last semester were a bit more boring. Go us! Haha They are both so kind we are lucky to have them!