Saturday, March 6, 2010

toledo, madrid, padre

so, this morning we woke up without any power in the apartment. thank god it's not as cold as it was before, otherwise we'd probably freeze our little tooshies off without the small amount of warmth our heater gives off in the place. turns out it can't get fixed till monday, which means we had to transfer all of our refrigerated groceries into the other apartments' fridges. kind of annoying, but it's also a good diet! to literally not be able to eat without running down a few flights of stairs! maybe ill just keep my food down there even after we get our electricity fixed..
but! that was not the point of this entry, just a little side note i spose. this past week my dad came to visit!! it was awesome. probably the first time we've traveled together since i was 10, and it was a weekend trip to the Poconos (fishing, canoeing, hiking, awesome things like that) AND NOW we're traveling around spain together, drinking sangria and watching flamenco shows and the like.
plus we went to this soccer game in madrid (madrid v valencia) which was SO. FRICKIN. AMAZING. I'd been to soccer games in the states, but they've all been women's game and the fans at a woman's team game are not at all comparable to european fans. haha even as i type that it's so obvious it makes me chuckle just a little bit. but holy crap, the energy of this stadium was unreal. practically every fan was smoking a cigarette or cigar and spewing sunflower seed shells all over the place, any time the goalie for valencia even touched the ball everyone would start yelling, "puta!!" (which means bitch in spanish), and an actual fight broke out right in front of me and my dad when one drunken valencia fan with a huge team flag jumped up right after valencia scored and started yelling, "sí! valencia sí!" haha their poor girlfriends had to break them apart, and the fight was over in like 2 minutes. then at half time everyone got out their huuuuuge sandwiches wrapped in tin foil and ate like a big ol' family at thanksgiving. crazy. video

Friday, February 19, 2010

independent traveler

granted, walking around the streets of spain does not really make me an independent traveler, as I have no yet even begun to grasp the idea of going to some other city or country by myself, but...
today i decided to just go out by myself and see where the wind would take me. usually whenever we go out i go with the girls in my group and we make our way around the city as a clan. being really bad at directions and my geographical placement, i usually just do the lemming thing and follow them and we miraculously find our way to that awesome coffee shop we wanted to go to! or to the school! or home! or other important places that i should probably know how to get to in case i don't have the company of my comrades! soooo today i decided to take a separate path to school, which is about a 20 minute walk. i ended up getting there, but instead took a detour into this adorable little park called Jardines de something.. (gardens) which was full of making out couples, children, palm trees, path, tiled arches, benches, just awesomeness all around. as i was walking around here i noticed a gate which looked like the entrance to this little walled off village. there were these huge moss covered walls and you could see all these old white buildings on the other side...i thought it might be a private area but then i noticed a large group of old german tourists and decided to go in. this was the barrio de santa cruz..it turned out to be the perfect little spanish neighborhood (in my opinion) and an excellent challenge in terms of not getting helplessly lost. so many small curvy alley ways, gardens in front yards, amazing smells coming from little apartments, restaurants tucked away...it was amazing. perfect way to spend the only sunny day in weeks.
then i bought some veggies on the way home for dinner (living with vegetarians definitely proves good), told my doorman pepe how i went to the barrio, listened to him tell me not to go there alone at night, and he gave me a cookie. overall a good day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

choque cultural

well.. i am finally over my tummy bug!! thank goodness, too. because if you're feeling shitty physically usually it rubs off on your mentally. definitely not as much staying in at night watching english-speaking movies now that my diet has surpassed rice and chicken broth..though it's hard to not stay in all cuddled up as it is FREEZING (50 degrees..) and rainy all the frickin time. it wouldn't be so bad if we all had brought the proper gear. south of spain? cold and rainy? i've literally been wearing the same pants for the past week because everything else is for balmy weather. oh well..what can you do? just wait it out, i s'pose.
i have also discovered their chocolate spread, which is basically like nutella. seriously, their chocolate spread/nutella is cheaper than peanut butter over here because they put it on everything. literally, the image on the jar is a picture of toast with nutella, a cake slice with nutella, milk with a dollop of nutella..how these people stay so thin and not die from some kind of interior nutella-vital organ-blockage is beyond me. but as they say, when in rome! spain!
i realize that in order to actually speak the language with hispanohablantes nativos, you really just need a combination of luck and balls. if you have the courage to just talk to anyone and ask them questions and try your best at spanish, they will probably help you out and will end up being really awesomely nice. por ejemplo! i was sitting at a cafe today and this spanish guy asked to borrow my dictionary, we ended up talking and he may now be my intercambio (someone from the university who you help out with english while they help increase your spanish abilities). he was very nice, kind of impatient for my not so fluent spanish, but it was definitely hilarious trying to communicate what we wanted to say to each other. for instance, he told me he visited new york city and that there were all of these huge squirrels in the street...which I took to mean that there was a large squid in the street who he fed a bagel. honestly, how things can be lost in translation...odd, i tell you, odd.
here are some photos of the area surrounding the university!
besos, Tess


Friday, February 12, 2010

abouts 3 weeks in!

it's been a while since I've written in the blog. at least, it feels like it.. then again, it could have just been days since I last made an entry because it really feels like I've been here for months; that I've known my friends in the program for months. it's literally been 2 weeks in the apt, 3 weeks in spain, 3 days of classes. so crazy!! we're all just sitting here in our freezing cold living room talking about how it feels like we all meet for a week one year ago at a few hotels in spain, then met again here in sevilla to live for a few months. but I know that before I know it, this trip will fly by.. (I was going to say, "and it will all be a memory" but I feel like I'd have to insert some sort of violin orchestra if I took that emo route)
anyway! spain has..definitely been a struggle. it's been amazing, a lot of awesome nights and days, but I've had food poisioning for the past few days. and I think this goes for most that when you're away from home and you're really sick, all you want to do is cuddle up in bed and be around familiar things. and drink soup and tea. and not have to translate "electrolytes" into spanish to a farmacia that ends up being closed for siesta!
okay. out of my system. let's see.. classes! classes are prettay intense. but the days after the first day of class were not so bad, so I think it might have just been that the first day of Spanish class were like, "uhh...¿qué?" we should probably just be practicing our spanish A LOT more than we have been. hopefully that'll change soon I hope I hope! even writing this blog isn't so good cause it's in English..oh well!
yesterday we finally bought tickets to MOROCCO AND PORTUGAL!!! WOO HOO!! now that I am excited for. I feel like I'm craving a change of scenery, but that could just be that I was expecting it to be very nice and sunny and it isn't really. mostly rainy and cold. haha but, uh, cold being like 45 degrees.. I'm pretty sure there's a foot of snow in ny right now.
besos, Tess

Monday, February 1, 2010

nuestro apartamento nuevo

well, after much traveling around Spain just around Sevilla, we've finally arrived and we're all moved into our new apartments! the whole group is split up among 4 different apartments. and all are equally beautiful. it's so insane! seriously, if I had an apartment like this in the city to rent, it would definitely be at least 3,500 per month. I'll post the pictures of the rooms below so I don't have to go into unnecessary detail description of the place.
Today, after we moved all of our stuff in and unpacked and all that last night, we were able to walk around el barrio and get a feel for the neighborhood. the streets are so broad and beautiful, very clean, not like the city or even granada. granada was sweet, but it was very cramped and didn't have as cozy of a feel as sevilla does. there are shopping malls and stores and little cafes that sell tapas and cervezas all over the place; it's definitely quite urbanized/commercialized. but it still maintains its sweet and charming vibe; a true feat.
the group met up with luís and miguel (our tour guides and advisers for the trip) and they showed us around the university. as if going back to the college housing at Geneseo isn't enough, going back to the school is going to be just as shitty. if I didn't know any better, I would say the entire university here is a compilation of palaces. one of the buildings used to be a cigar rolling factory; muy antigüo. pictures of that will also be below :)
after touring the university (which is also like a labyrinth and jesus christ how will I ever find my way around), the group walked to el mercado (the farmer's market) and bought fresh produce, meat, cheese, nuts and flowers. it's sooo incredibly sweet there! definitely a struggle and a few of the vendors had absolutely no patience for our broken english, but one guy there was so adorable..an old vendor named Pepe who gave us free olive samples.
after that, we came back to the apartments and I had some cheese on a baguette, fresh chorizo, and some huge grapes that I ate out on our apartment's balcony...could it be any more european? I think not. my lunch was pretty much the equivalent of being in Paris and wearing a striped shirt, a beret and a little red scarf around your neck.
besos, Tess





















Saturday, January 30, 2010

marbella

currently in a beach-side resort right off the coast of Africa. literally, we can see Gibraltar from the shore, and at night you can kind of see Africa lit up... it's so incredible!!! ma new friend saffi and I went out last night, and the combination of the palm trees, the clouds lit up by the moon, the breeze from Africa... it's still just so unreal being here. hopefully we can take a trip to morocco! but, as our orientation dude Miguel tells us, when you go to morocco you cannot do the following things: drink the water, eat the food, walk alone otherwise you'll be mistaken for a prostitute. however! that shall not deter us from going, as long as we eat and drink beforehand and bring a guy with us if we want to walk around the streets.
last night, after eating a very hearty and greasy meal of ham and fish (claro), we watched a flamenco performance in the main hall of the hotel we're staying at. we were probably the only audience members there under 75, and when we were able to find a spot in the front (which we thought was unobtrusive to the people behind us), we were totally proven wrong. I've never seen old people so upset.. I'm pretty sure at least 3 of them charged at us while 5 others were shouting german obscenities. but the flamenco dance didn't even really end up to be that great... it was very commercial, aimed at an older audience of rich people. the kind of flamenco i'd rather see is the kind I wrote about in my spanish research paper on flamenco: a sexy lady dressed in some crazy flamenco dress in a small smokey bar surrounded by drunk spaniards shouting ayayay! hmm...is that racist? or something? maybe, maybe...
after that we all went online for hours which kind of pissed me off because we're only 20 miles from africa and we all choose to go on facebook. hopefully one of the things this trip will accomplish is a break from my facebook/internet addiction/reliance.
today we woke up nice and early and had a delicious breakfast of fried tomatoes, eggs, little sausage thingies, cafe con leche and crossiants. yuhuhuuhum.. then we tried to catch a bus that was going to town to a flea market, but what with the huge group of angry 80 year old europeans, we hardly made it near the bus without being pushed out of the way. so we got our bus driver, señor reyes, to drive us to the flea market about 10 minutes from the hotel. aaaand when we got dropped off, it was nowhere to be seen! we spent half an hour searching for this damned market, but instead we ended up walking around the town looking at shops at things. then hours later as we're driving away from the town, the bus passes the flea market. a long gorgeous flea market that we never found. irony smack in the face. but oh well!
besos, tess

Thursday, January 28, 2010

estoy en granada!!

well, after what has felt like days of travel, we're finally here! friends of mine who've studied abroad in the past told me that it hits you once you step off the airplane, but even then it still didn't totally hit me that I'm in Spain and going to be here for the next 4 months. it's definitely different here, to be expected, but it just feels like I'm in some weird part of America that I've never been to. once we arrived in Granada we were just greeted by really cold weather, rain, and a few kids' bags who were lost on the way. touring through the rainy foreign city of Granada was a weird way to start the trip, especially since all of us were on about 2 hours of sleep and were forced to socialize with each other. our first meal in the hotel cafeteria: listening to phil collins, destiny's child and celine dion, everything is pickled or fried, fish or ham, olives, oil. the food is soo delicious but so heavy and whatever flavor it is, it is completely that flavor. for instance, sopresata: sooo salty, chocolate mousse: a little too sweet?
however! once it got sunny and a little warmer, the culture shock was definitely more on the positive end of the spectrum. we took a long tour with our trusty tour guide Luis through Alhambra, which for those of you who don't know (I didn't either until walking through it for 4 hours) is a gorgeous open air palace built in 1492...at least I think 1492...hopefully Luis won't be reading this. I'm sure he won't.
we then took an accidental nap on the roof of our hotel, and were taken to 2 different cathedrals in Granada. running on not too much sleep, we proceeded to reenact the large paintings of jesus cristo and his friends. inappropriate? I feel like yes.
well, until we get internet again, I shall leave you at that. currently drinking some cafe con leche with new friends at el córte inglés. going out tonight, then taking our coach bus to Marbella's beach side resort! woo hoo!
besos, Tess

Friday, January 22, 2010

self-induced sickness?

so here we are! a few days away from going to spain aaaand I feel oddly terrified. well, terrified's quite the strong word, I'd say more in a funk. I think I had just assumed that the week before shipping off to the granada airport I would hardly be able to contain my excitement. I'd be listening to spanish music, I'd have been diligently practicing my verb conjugations, checking out pictures of Seville's Rio de Janiero (and not have to have googled the name for this post), maybe even gone as far as wearing a flamenco dress around the apartment. who the hell knows!
but no. instead I've been feelin' all fevery for the past week and whenever I inhale through my nose I sound like my 94 yr old grandmother. just really pretty stuff.
but after talking to a few wise friends and my dad it seems like what might be going on is something of a self induced illness. the mind is most definitely powerful and maybe it thinks it's doing me some service by making me feel death-bed enough to not go to spain since I feel so scared about going. this probably makes sense as the doctor said she didn't even know what was wrong with me.
so I think the best thing to do is handle this self-induced sickness with a self-medication... and no sillies I'm not talking about crack.. I'm talking about psyching myself up by doing the things I expected would come naturally to me in the first place. researching spain, reviewing the language, thinking about how awesome the experience will be...but maybe not so much the flamenco dress. yet. aaaand for the sickness I have been saturating myself with hot drinks made from lemon, ginger, apples, echinacea, green tea, vitamin c and zinc. woo hoo! hopefully when I become a hippie teacher I'll be drinkin this shit on a normal basis.
So, whilst on the positive note of travel, I shall leave whoever will read this with a few awesome inspirational quotations:

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes

“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe” - Anatole France