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!