Monday, May 13, 2013

To my parents, who have helped me to be who I am today.

Just thinking about my experience, where I am now, and how I got here. I have my mother and father to thank for always pushing me in the right direction. 

Mis Padres
Os quiero porque vosotros me amasteis primero!
Quiero que sepáis que me doy cuenta,
Os debo tanto.

mis amigos,
que me enseñasteis a ser valiente

De esta forma,
Sois mi luz en la oscuridad,
La voz durante un duro silencio,
Y lo sois todo para mí

Os quiero porque vosotros me amasteis primero.
No olvidaré que siempre me querréis.

My Parents
I love you, because you loved me first!
I want you to know that I realize,
I owe you so much.

who have taught me to be fearless,

You are my light in the dark,
The voice during a hard silence,
And you are everything to me.

I love you, because you loved me first.
I will not forget that you always will.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Un día de tristeza es un día perdido.

With just one week left in the semester, I've definitely gone into hyperactive mode. I have my bags almost packed. I'm thinking about everything except for what I should be thinking about: finals. I'm going to study this weekend as much as I can, while trying not to think too much.

Once again, my life is about to change. How do I focus on my upcoming tests with so many mixed emotions? I'm so upset to be leaving this amazing lifestyle that I've assimilated into, but I want to see my family. I can't even think of the fact that all of the people I have become so close to in the past few months will be all over the world, but I can't wait to see my friends at home. I will miss seeing the faces of so many amazing people every day. The helpful and welcoming CC-CS staff, my professors, my host family, my Spanish friends. I will miss the life here. There are so many activities to do in Seville. I will miss being able to go outside and go kayaking just a few blocks away. I'm definitely going to have to do some adjusting when I get back to America.

Nothing will ever compare to the experience I've had while abroad. Although this feeling is 100% bittersweet, I'm going to smile through everything and just roll with it. To me, frowning throughout the day is basically just throwing it away. This experience has taught me not to waste even a single day!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Cockroach. La Cucaracha.

This is what I found last night at 2a.m. 

I proceeded to smash with a shoe, however I could not clean it up. Disgusting.
I left Livia a sweet note for the morning that says, "Look, cockroach. I can't move it. I killed it."

Spain has the biggest cockroaches I have ever seen. I'm officially scarred and will have this song stuck in my head for days.

La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar,
porque no tiene, porque le falta
marihuana que fumar!

That is all friends. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Swing of Things. La Vida Cotidiana.

I have been spending so much time outside of Seville. I've been to The Palms in the Canary Islands and to Lagos, Portugal. Both trips were amazing. I've been so busy while I'm actually here in Seville, that I've not been writing! Sorry! Now it's time to write long papers and study for finals, so here goes: a quick blog entry to update you about a few things.

I've seen some of the most important cultural events that happen here in Seville! Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria are two of the biggest and most important festivals here.

Traditional dress
Semana Santa is a huge religious celebration in Seville from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. It was started back in the 16th Century! It consists of  a lot of processions of "pasos," which are huge statues that are carried through the streets by people dressed in penitential robes with hoods. A LOT of people in the streets for an entire week. It was an awesome experience!
One of the Pasos

The entrance to the Feria
 (Rebuilt every year with a different design!)

Feria begins just two weeks after Semana Santa, and has been in existence in Seville since 1847. The festival started as a livestock fair during the reign of Queen Isabel II. The fair runs for six days and for the duration, a huge portion of land is completely covered in "casetas," which are basically tents that are owned by prominent families, organizations, political parties, clubs, etc. Some are private and others public. Every day from dusk until dawn of the following day, you'll find tons of Sevillanas in these tents. They dance, eat and drink all night. During the Feria, Seville is more beautiful than ever. The city is painted in all colors. Lots of polka dots. Men dress up in suits and the women dress in flamenco dresses. There is also a part of the fairgrounds that has tons of rides. I loved Feria- another great thing about being in Seville during the spring semester!

Can I just hide here forever?

I leave Seville for Indiana in just sixteen days and it is such a bittersweet feeling. Everyone told me that once I finally got into the "swing of things" here, I wouldn't want to leave. They were right. Seville is my home. I've settled here. I have a perfect routine and I love the lifestyle. I have a great Spanish family; my host mother is seriously my best friend. She gives me so much support and I can tell her anything. I care so deeply about the girl I have been tutoring and I feel so sad knowing I won't be around to teach and help her as she grows. The friends that I've made will all be in different parts of America and the world. I won't be able to see their faces every day ever again. I am just now getting used to everything, and although I'm ready to see my friends and family in Indiana, I'm not ready for my life to change!

After being away from home for almost 4 months and it feeling like 2 weeks, I have realized that time FLIES. What scares me is the thought of it being five, six, maybe seven years before I get to come back to visit. So much will have changed. When will I ever get to travel to another country for three and a half months again? This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Experience, Perception, Understanding and Awareness

Until you experience something firsthand, I don't believe you can fully comprehend it.

Sure, you can have a basic understanding of something, but I believe it takes a hands-on, face-to-face experience to have a true insight in regards to what you think you know. There is something about experience that is for me, beyond words.

When we learn about something that we haven't actually been through, we simply learn the facts. We might be able to demonstrate sympathy, hospitality and mutuality without having been through a situation (it is undoubtedly important to do so), but without having the experience we might never truly have a grasp on it. For example, you might be there for a friend when they lose a parent, but if you've not lost a parent you'll never truly know the feeling. You can over-exaggeratedly tell yourself you have no money, but until you've been flat broke you can't fathom what it's really like. Only after we have experienced the event, may we actually begin to conceptualize it. In reality, an experience teaches your entire being. As much as you let it, the concrete experience allows your mind, body, and soul to learn.

Experiences can change our perceptions completely. 

Indeed, we all perceive things quite differently. However, I think that as an American it would be wrong for me to say I didn't have a few preconceived notions about the Arabic culture as a whole before I traveled to Morocco. It's true. The fact that the world has stamped the title "Third World" or "Developing" on it doesn't help either.

Listen, Morocco was not the cleanest or most developed place I've been to, but I did notice that things were a lot more developed than I had expected. Most of the people I saw in Morocco were desperate, but they were at least working to make a living. Everyone came up and tried to somehow get money out of me. The areas I went to are highly dependent on tourism, and this is what they know. The people are not stupid. They simply do not have the resources that are readily available to many other people (like myself). They make due with what they have and they do what they have to do. I've been thinking for a few days, and am realizing just how much I judged these people before, without truly understanding anything about them. I feel terrible now. After seeing how they live with my own two eyes, I'm not sure I could ever make it work with as little as they do. In the end, the fact is that people are people. No person asks to be born into any certain flesh, place or culture.

You have to experience the bad to appreciate the good.

Seeing all of the things that they DON'T have in Morocco made me realize just how lucky I am. I've had all of these amenities for all my life and this experience made me even more thankful. I know that I can never fully conceptualize the life of a Moroccan because I am not a Moroccan, nor have I had to walk a mere step in their shoes (or lack thereof). I no longer judge this group of people, and it saddens me to think of how our perception of what we don't know is generally manipulated by society (among other things).

I've seriously taken so much away from this. This experience has made me reflect on my entire existence.  I realize now that a true understanding is most definitely based on experience. We need exposure in order to gain a fair perception. If we can't do that, we must at the very least be able discern the correlation between understanding and experience.
The town square of Chefchaouen

 Where the clothes are washed

 I'm sure this was only one of the daily chores

 Typical Moroccan clothing

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Que agradecido. I'm not even sure if I could be more thankful.

With just over a month left, I'm not sure I want to go home! This experience just keeps getting better and better for me. I have been given so many opportunities and I'm so thankful. I couldn't be more thankful. I thank the Lord every day and night for this. I am so happy.

The weekend before last, I went to Paris with a group of friends. We stayed for two nights. We had a really good time. We left our houses at 3:30 a.m. to catch a 6:15 a.m. flight! When we first arrived, we found ourselves in the heart of the city with absolutely no idea where to go. It was so complicated trying to find our hotel but we did it. By the time we got there, we were all completely exhausted. We didn't rest though! We went to Versailles. It was so beautiful. The whole time we were there, we all just kept saying that we couldn't believe that was actually someone's house. Louis XIV had some serious taste.

Dinner that night was amazing.. and expensive. I will always remember Paris as having some of the best food ever (although I didn't like the cheese at all). It was totally worth the ridiculous amount of money spent on meals. The next day we went to Notre Dame. I even got to go to Saint Patrick's day mass there. I am so thankful for this! The inside of Notre Dame is breath-taking. There are not even words to describe it. The stained glass, statues, gates, pillars. It's just all beautiful. Then we went to the Eiffel Tower.. It was so cold out, but we still went to the top. We went back at night to see the lights, which was also awesome. I'm not even sure how to put the Paris trip into words. It  was just a lot of fun with a great group of people.

In front of Notre Dame

This past weekend was the start of Semana Santa. Semana Santa is a holy week in Seville. I guess people from all over the world come to Seville to see it. Currently, Seville is packed with people. Its basically like spring break for lots of people here and most of my friends traveled to other countries. To save money, I got a group of people together just go see the Mediterranean Sea for a few days and relax. We went to Mallaga, which is only about three hours away from Seville. Unfortunately, it was raining and cold most of the time but we were on the coast so that made it all okay. What a wonderful smell the sea has. You'll never understand it until you actually get to smell it. Seriously, its amazing to experience it. I wish everyone I know could do the same.

Anyways, I know this is a terribly boring blog post. I just don't know what to write and I also don't feel like sitting at my computer for extended periods of time. Have a good day! (: 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finalmente. This is what I have been waiting for.

For various reasons and after giving it a lot of thought, I decided that moving to another home here in Seville was the best option for me. So that is what I have been up to this past week: packing, unpacking, adjusting and getting to know my new family.

It turns out that I made the right decision. I am so happy here. Finally, I have something to write about.

My señora is the most amazing woman. I have known her for less than a week, but already I feel as though I have known her for my entire life. She treats me like I am her own child, and her good friend at the same time. She is welcoming, and makes me feel comfortable. She corrects me when I say something wrong, and laughs with me about my mistakes. My friends and family would appreciate how good she is to me. Before I moved, I was having trouble. I didn't know who to turn to and now, this woman comes into my life.. I feel like I could stay in Spain forever. I was meant to find my way to her home.

She is like a mix of the most influential and caring women in my life.. Such a role model for me. She reminds me of so many of them: My mom, Aunt Cindy, Grandma, Beth Ecker, Momma Tina, Val Haas, Debbie Kulwicki, Annette Kraner (sorry if I forgot about you at the moment).

I look up to my señora because she is independent. She has a sixteen-year-old son, and she works hard. She works (every day), she cooks (her food is delicious), she cleans (her house smells so good), she always looks good. She is educated. I think she does it all.. but that's not all she does. It gets better. She's an artist! What a coincidence. Her paintings are all over her house. Her style is different than mine and get this- she wants to learn from me! Just as I was thinking that I could learn so much from her, she asks me if I want to paint. WOW! As soon as I have time, we're going to paint together. This is like my dream come true. I've been craving this. I can't wait to get creative here. I have an constant urge to express myself. I have so much to put onto a canvas.

I can't  believe my stay is almost half way over. I love this lifestyle and I don't even want to think about going back to my normal routine at home. Qué triste..

Anyways, Its now 9:41pm here, and I'm getting up at 3am to go to Paris in the morning.. My bag isn't going to pack itself!

I can't believe my life is this amazing. I'm so grateful for everything. Life is perfect. Thank you again to everyone who helped me get where I am today.

¡Tengan un buen fin de semana!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Así se Baila el Flamenco.

She who dances Flamenco
Pays no mind to her surroundings
But is acquainted with the space
That she fills so well
She is aware
Approaching her domain
Cold feet and solemn face
Lips pressed tightly
Eyes shut, she's focused

The dancer fears nothing
As she creates a rhythm
All her own
She is the melody
Her devotion is evident
Intricate variations
Captivation of her audience
Her hips, hands and feet
Powerful and passionate
Her soul is the song

She who dances Flamenco
For a moment in time
Loses sight of the world and its noise
As the noise of world ceases to exist
The woman frees my mind

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sick. Las enfermedades me asusta.

I have been hit hard by a sickness that is worse and more painful than any other sickness of my life! Since I haven't been able to go out and experience Sevilla, I will tell you all about my experiences of being sick while abroad! I am only able to write this post because I have just taken my medicine, and I feel a bit more relaxed. Excuse me if this post is a little sloppy and all over the place!

On Wednesday, I started feeling down with a normal cold and a slight fever. I made it through my first half of the day, but I just couldn't go back after lunch. I felt very bad for having to call off my tutoring sessions this week! So disappointing! I layed down for a siesta after lunch and when I woke up, I had such a raging fever. During the night, my symptoms turned flu-like. I have mostly been in bed since Wednesday.

I wanted to just let this run it's course because I figured it was just a virus. I'm not one to go to the doctor just because I have the flu! But after Thursday night I could not wait any longer. The pain was so bad, I knew it was something other than the flu. I was scared. I went to the doctor on Friday (yesterday) morning and they just gave me three prescriptions for the basic flu symptoms and one that I think is a strong acetaminophen. I was initially afraid to go because of the language barrier. I think I wrote my life story to the doctor on a piece of paper before I went. Ha! I wrote all of my symptoms and what was going on, so I didn't leave feeling like I could not get my point across. Luckily, a worker from my school met me there to help translate and tell me specifically what the doctor said. I am so thankful that she was there for me because I would have been clueless from the second I walked into the clinic! ¡Gracias, Virginia!

If you didn't know, Spain has universal healthcare. There are private and public clinics. I believe the one that I went to was private. I am not one to support nationwide coverage, but this experience has opened my eyes up to the fact that if you need medical assistance, you should be able to get it no matter what. I don't know what I would do if I needed medical assistance this bad, and I didn't have insurance! 

Here in Spain, you can get your prescriptions much faster. You don't have to wait for them to be filled. You just go into the pharmacy with your prescription and the doctor hands you what you need. You can find a pharmacy on almost any street and prescriptions are cheaper (close to or cheaper than the price of getting the generic version of a drug at home).

However, it seems like the waiting times were a little longer here, and patient-doctor visits are much faster and less personal. Another difference is that the doctor just sits in his office and sees patient after patient. It doesn't seem like they get much of a break, whereas in America, a nurse calls a patient into a room to take the vitals and get the basic information. Then the doctor goes from room to room to see his patients at his own convenience. Everything is just so different.

My symptoms got worse throughout the day, and I decided to go to the hospital last night. They gave me lots of fluids and took my blood for testing. My blood tests came back fine- no alarmingly elevated white cell counts. They diagnosed me with a gastrointestinal infection and gave me an antibiotic, some other medications, and a strict diet to follow.

It is now Saturday, so I have been resting for three and a half days! Luckily, I had Thursday and Friday off of school, so I only missed one class on Wednesday. Even after a four hour nap, I do not feel rested. I can hardly walk. My stomach is bloated and swollen. I'm not sure how long this will take to heal, but I'm determined to go to class on Monday! My señora is making sure I drink my limonada alcalina (which is a dreadful mix of water, the juice of lemons, biocarbonato[no idea], and salt), take my antibiotics, and eat only what I am allowed by the doctors. No worries!

That's all for now! (: 

Friday, February 22, 2013

You discover so much more when you rid yourself of fears. Quitarlos ya.

I can't believe it, but I have officially been in Spain for three weeks!

I want to start off by saying that dealing with the passing of my friend from home has been hard on me. I'm trying to deal with it day by day. It has truly tested my strength and I have not been able to write because of it. However, I got a little consolation out of learning that Bobbie's parents have been reading my blog and my father told me her wake was very beautiful. Everyone also said she looked beautiful. I'm still praying for you all. Thanks for reading!

Being in a foreign country really does force you to put your back against the wall and figure out what you're made of. I have quickly learned that I must be more patient than ever before. Its hard not to get frustrated when you must communicate in a language is completely foreign to you. The dialect here is so strong and it seems like every word blends with the other when a native speaker talks to me. Sometimes, I'll be listening to someone and my mind goes off track. I think to myself in English, "Who are you kidding?.. You have no idea what they're saying." This just makes it worse, obviously because then I don't even catch part of what they're saying. Let me tell you, getting sidetracked is never a good thing during a conversation. Needless to say, I think I have mastered the "grin and nod."

When it comes to speaking, I have learned a lot in the past three weeks. My comprehension is starting to improve, which is good. Its so weird to try and adjust and to use a completely different set of muscles to talk. Basically, I know I just need to let go of my fear of messing up and just go for it. Then, I'll be golden.

Let's see..
I met my assigned intercambio (speaking partner) and some of his friends! They remind me of so many of my friends from home, which has also helped me to feel better about being away. They are awesome people, and have been really helpful with some troubles that I've had during my awkward period. I think that before I came to Spain, I assumed that everyone would be so much different from myself in every way, but meeting people who are the same age me made me realize that there are actually more similarities than differences. Even people who live on opposite sides of the world can have the same ideas and interests. I have so much to learn, and not enough time.

What else?..
I took a trip to the Strait of Gibraltar last Saturday. This trip was seriously the best and most exotic thing I have done since traveling abroad. I loved getting close to the wild monkeys that inhibit the land there. Yeah, seriously.. wild monkeys. I have to admit that I was extremely intimidated at first. You're not supposed to look into the eyes of the monkeys because they will look at you as a threat. They're twice as strong as humans, and I'm pretty sure their teeth are a bit sharper too. They're definitely a species you don't want to mess with. Luckily, everything went well and no one had to go to the hospital.

I can't even tell you how beautiful this place was. I was so taken back by the beauty of the land and water. I wish I was a better photographer. If only my father could have been there..  The rock of Gibraltar is so huge. The fact that you can see Africa from Gibraltar blows my mind.  I think I actually shed a tear when I saw the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Actually, I know I did. The smell was like nothing else. I don't think I can even explain in words the way the whole experience made me feel. It is something that I will cherish forever, and never forget! I'll never forget the smell!

Oh, and one more thing!..
I am tutoring an 11-year-old girl here. I will be meeting with her two times a week! She goes to an English school here in Spain, and she speaks English very well! I am working to help her with vocabulary and creative writing.. I've never even thought of way to teach someone- I've always just been the student! Its a little unnerving because I want to make sure I do as much as I can for her! I've decided to go for it, though. It's never good to hold on to something that might stop you from having an enriching experience!

My blog has a LOT more views than I thought it would! It's encouraging when someone tells me they have been reading. ¡Gracias a todos por leernos!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rest in Paradise Our Dear Friend, Bobbie Marie Nyari.

 Today I have very few words about myself, but I will update you on what is going on. I dedicate this post to Bobbie Marie Nyari. She passed away yesterday.

I'm going to draw this picture of her, because I know she would love it.  She is so incredibly pretty and Idon't know anyone with such a striking combination of such beautiful eyes and smile.
Bobbie was so talented. She always complimented me on my artwork, and she was equally good at art. She was so proud of her gold key in the Scholastics Show. I'm so proud of her. She was really driven!
I'm going to draw this picture of her, because I know she would love it.

She went to prom with us my Senior year. Now she doesn't get to go to her senior prom. My heart is breaking for her. There are so many "why's" and "what if's."  I can't believe any of this. I feel for her family. If you live in the area, you know her and her family. She had so many friends. She had so many people who loved her. She was always nice to me. Never a bad word from her. I feel for the class of 2013. What they must be going through. I feel for the entire John Glenn community. This loss is so tragic. Her life ended way too soon and it's not fair at all. I know my community will pull together for her family and friends, even if I can't be there. We love you so much, Bobbie. You will be missed. <3

Prom 2011

Today, I just want to go home. I can't explain how hard it is, being this far away from everyone when I need them the most. I've been fighting the tears so hard.

I took a tour of the Seville Cathedral today. It was beautiful. After the tour, I prayed so hard for Bobbie, her family, her boyfriend, my community, and everyone affected by this tragedy. You're all in my prayers. Please stay strong! We must trust Jesus to help us make it through this.

Christoper Columbus' Tomb

This is seriously locked!
 Christoper Columbus again

 Huge Organ

In God We Trust

 Inside the Giralda Bell Tower
 Top View of the Patio de los Naranjas
 Atop the Giralda Bell Tower
And Again

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 4, 2013

La Buena Vida. The Good Life.

On Saturday night, I met up with a group of students from the Spanish Studies Abroad Program. I tried the Sangria! Era muy bueno. Who doesn't want to try authentic Spanish sangria?!

Today was my first day of classes. This morning during my 30-35 minute walk, I realized that I have never walked to school before in my life. I'm not used to it. There were so many people walking, all on their own paths to their own destinations. I can't believe this is really their everyday life.

Part of the patio found in the back of my school.

I have class from 9-12:30 and after that, I'm done for the day (for these two weeks). I have an "intensive period" for two weeks, followed by final exams. After this, we'll start our normal semester. I'll be taking five classes.

It's absolutely wonderful here. In Spain, "La Siesta" is from 2-4. Everyone takes a break from work and has lunch (usually at home). Most stores and shops around the city are closed during this time. After La Siesta, everyone returns to work. I think this is a good system. However, I don't think there would be a way to make it work where I live. It would be ideal for Americans if we functioned the same way, but so many aspects of life here are so much different than in America. There's no way it would be possible because most people drive a good distance to work (unless of course you worked very close to your home). This explains why we eat so much more fast food and are so much heavier.

I'm so thankful for my amazing life thus far. I get to experience and learn so much. I think this is the best time of my life. I've already learned so much and it hasn't even been a week! I'm still kind of in the weird stage where I don't know what to say when someone approaches me in Spanish, but I'm sure it will go away sooner or later!

Random Facts:

 This is a picture of a meal that was really good: el pan (bread is always served), vino tanto (wine), sopa (soup), and some verduras (vegetables). Half the time, I hardly know what it is I'm eating. Most of the time it tastes better than you can imagine! Always, it's way too much for me to finish!

My host family has a dog and her name is Trufa. I'm pretty sure she is my new best friend. Notice the small rubber band in her hair on the top of her head. I have seen multiple dogs with the same hairstyle in Spain.

Also, a lot of people walk their dogs around the city every day. Hardly any of them use leashes. Even when they are around other dogs, they seem to always obey their owners.

Naranjas grow on trees all over the city here. They're not edible and they make a mess all over the streets. But they're beautiful and I have heard they can be used for cleaning. I've noticed that they come in handy for the wild adolescent boys around here.

The Spanish family seems to be much more tight-knit than that of a typical American. Everyone lives in an apartment here. Each apartment is good sized (like a flat with probably three or more bedrooms). I live on the sixth floor. People continue to live with their parents throughout college, and often even longer! This is crazy to think about right? It seems like our generation and culture does anything we can to get out of the house as soon as we can! This is just one of the many things that makes me appreciate this culture.

¡Adiós a todos! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Por Fin Estoy Aquí! I Am Finally Here!

Where do I start? I'm here in Sevilla! It is my third day. Saturday!

The flight here was rough for me. I probably slept for a good hour. I traveled from about 11am on Wednesday until about 7am (my time) Thursday. When I arrived, it was about 1pm (Spain time) Thursday, and I just wanted to sleep! My first few hours in the country were spent searching the city for a calling card or phonebooth because our phones weren't working. Finally, I found a phone booth but it would have cost $25 for just 5 minutes. I also found out that calling cards can't be used from a pay phone. I finally got my internet to work on my cell phone and that was when I let everyone know I made it safely.

Above and left: My first time seeing Spain.

The first thing I noticed after stepping off the plane: Palm trees and sunshine!

There are probably 50 students in my program.We had orientation and ate a good meal. Then I got my second wind and I hardly slept on Friday night. My luggage got lost on the way here, but finally showed up to the hotel around midnight. I was laying in bed and was thirsty so without thinking, I drank some water from the faucet.. Mistake. The water in Spain is not contaminated by any means, but the instructors suggest that we don't drink it for the first few weeks. It often makes students sick.

 My hotel room was much like a hotel in America.  I quickly learned that the lights shut off after a few seconds of opening the door if you don't put your key in the little slot! Brilliant!

Friday, we had to get up early and take a placement test. Let me tell you, the result of a few nights of no sleep + homesickness + emotions + drinking water from another country is definitely not a clear mind. I couldn't focus on my test at all. My head was spinning and I just wanted to sleep! We got to meet our host families around lunchtime, which is about 3pm in Spain. My family is better than I could have imagined. They are kind people. At first, I was shy and nervous. My mind was overloaded and I couldn't understand or communicate at all. It is getting better though.

Later, we had a meeting at our school. After the information session, I was heading back to my house and I got lost. Let me tell you, the streets in Seville are NOT parallel. It is extremely hard to follow a map here. Most of the streets are called "Calle ____," "Avienda____" or "Virgen de_______." This makes it hard to remember which ones you have seen, and which ones you are looking for. Plus, there are no street signs. All names are on the buildings. You have to scan each corner to find the sign. I was lost for four hours.. alone (SORRY!). I was around people though, and I didn't feel threatened as long as
I wasn't secluded from people.
(The street sign is on the building. Look at the picture!)

Everything is different here. The streets are so different. Right now, there is una huelga (a strike) going on in the city, so there is trash everywhere.
 Check it out (I love this interview):

My fellow Americans, you know nada about a foreign car until you've been to a foreign country!

You tell me what these street signs mean! 

La Plaza de España
                                                          This place is so beautiful!

In closing, the people here are very different from what I have seen so far. They all dress very nice. You wouldn't catch a spainard out in sweat pants, like you would most Americans. Lots of women wear heels. Almost all of them do, actually. They walk down cobblestone and brick roads like that all day and night. I don't understand how they do it! No one wears sandals or bright colors. There are hardly any blondes and the majority of people are slender.. You can imagine how hard it is for me to blend in here.

Anyways, I need to go explore and learn the language of love! I'll keep posting!