Alright, I am back in action. This will not be spell checked for the time being, so lay off on the grammar corrections Daddy :) I have procrastinated on keeping up to date, but due to my father, and the inspirational Michael Jackson I am currently listening to, I am back by popular demand. I left off with skepticism about my living situation. Well, this skepticism has not diminished. Let me tell you a few things I have concluded about Antonio and Carmen:
1) Extreme conservatives
3) Make an income on exchange students (she doesn't work and he works one month a year)
4) Leave town on Gay Pride Day
5) Are petrified of swine flu. According to them, I should not shake hands nor kiss on both cheeks (the typical greeting) or else I am doomed.
6) Carmen does not believe in the use of fans, despite the 100-degree heat at night. They will light on fire.
7) Does not say more than hola when I enter in the house.
Needless to say, I am most likely meeting with someone on Wednesday about housing. I love the area that I am in. I live in Triana, which is a zone of the city. The Guadaquilver River, divides the city, residential from the urban center. So, I am a 30-minute walk to the center of the city, or to clubs, but it is a walk I don't mind doing.
Back to Wednesday, upon finishing lunch, I took a glorious siesta. We were to meet at 6, at Plaza Altozano, located in Triana as well. As a group of 5, we trekked over to the CIEE Center. At this point, I had no way of knowing how to get there, so it was convenient we had a guide with us. There, we had meetings about different interest groups. They are optional groups which do cultural activities during the week, and culminate to a trip in November, location depending on the groups' interest. Fernando then met with us, to give us an insider's look about traveling from Spain. He gave us websites for airlines, trains, buses, and most importantly, his facebook name.
Following the meetings, we were each given 10 Euros once. Let me tell you, them paying for our dinner was great. We went out with Joaquin's group again, and we went up to this area called Plaza Alfalfa. There, during the night, people take part in botellón (drinking in the streets). It is illegal, but people still do it. Anyway, Fernando was not shy about ordering his 10 chicas drinks, on CIEEs bills. Most of the group got Cruz Campo the local beer, but I went out on a limb and ordered Sangria (so good).Much better than your 10 dollar jug, father ;). Fernando had intended that we each order one tapa, and he would order 3 large plates to share. Again, he overestimated Americans' hunger. We all ordered one tapa, and were stuffed. Then, one girl asked the wrong question.
She knew we were going to a bar, and asked Fernando how to say "a shot" in Spanish. His face grew full of joy and in Spanish he excitedly yelled OHHH YOU WANT SHOTS. ONE ORDER OF SHOTS PLEASE! We all looked at each other with scared faced, unsure of what had just happened. Within two minutes, Fernando was making a toast to his great group. He tried explaining that it was caramel vodka, but would only say it was alcohol from Russia. It took 5 minutes for us to understand him finally. That night they took us to a bar called Bogart, which they had contacted before hand. It was our entire program there, with about 10 Spaniards. It was nice, because other CIEE American students showed up, besides those of the Liberal Arts Program. Most people made it an early night, whereas others lived the Sevilla lifestyle for a night and got home at 7 AM.
Thursday morning, we were to be at the University at 9:30 AM. There are 4 or 5 girls in my zone, so we walk together everywhere. I am the closest one to the river, so we always set a meeting time, and we all meet at the corner by this big church. We cross the river, which allows cars and pedestrians to cross. As you cross the river, you go over a street called Calle Betis. It is a strip of bars and restaurants, where typically the Americans go. This is where we have gone to bars for the most part. At the University we had meetings with regard to classes, diversity in Spain, what happens if we have health problems, and a safety seminar. They were redundant, but necessary. We returned home for lunch and made plans to go for a walk. I went with Renee, and we walked for two hours up and down the river. It is so gorgeous here. As you walk along the river at night, you look up, and can see the famous cathedral tower. The moon illuminates everything, and all of the buildings reflect on the water. If I don't leave here skinny, due to their strange eating habits (breakfast 8 AM, huge lunch at 2, and tiny dinner at 11), and excess walking, something is wrong with me. Thursday night, our jet lag had caught up to us. We took advantage of staying in and caught up with our friends and family back home.
Friday was registration day. Renee, Marisa and I did not have registration until 4 PM so we took advantage of the day. We met at 11 on the corner, and walked toward the Ayuntamiento (provincial government building). We explored all day, took touristy pictures, got tapas and then went to registration. That night we went out with a home stay cousin. Jen, one of the other girls in Triana lives with a woman. Her nephew spends a lot of time at the house, so he (Javi) and his friend took us to a bar. We practiced our Spanish with them, which was good. They went through the group of us, and informed me that I look Hispanic, that Jen could pass as Hispanic, Renee appeared British, Allison appeared like a blonde Hispanic, and Catherine looked American. It was a nice change of pace to hang out with some locals. We then walked over the bridge to Plaza Alfalfa (place for botellón). We met up with some other girls from our group, and with Fernando. The price of drinks here is insane. If you are lucky, you pay 6 Euros, which is around 9 dollars, for one drink. Needless to say, you sip slowly, and enjoy, something very un-American.
Saturday was a day of insanity. We had a scavenger hunt through the city. They would give you clues in Spanish for different places in the city. Example being, find the oldest pastry shop in the city. Basically, you had to befriend locals and be map-smart. My group consisted of some very intense hunters. At points we were speed walking through the city. We ended up about an hour from the center of the city. We found probably around 8 of the 20 places, being they were very far from each other. We found places ranging from art museums, to movie theatres, to monasteries, etc. The point was to get acquainted with the city, but I think we all finished more confused. My group came in second, meaning we won Universidad de Sevilla tee shirts.
That afternoon, four of us from Triana, took a boat trip down the river. It was really informative and explained parts of the city, which we hadn't seen. It explored a lot of the city, which was built for the 1992 Expo. This year was so important because it was the 500th anniversary of Columbus, so Spain was the place to be. Many of the buildings and bridges are gorgeous, but have now become private property because of the expensive upkeep. That evening, we were all exhausted from trekking through the city at 9 AM for three hours, so a few girls walked over to a bar and just had a drink and made it home early. I think we are all exhausted form going out and still having to wake up for 9 AM activities. 9 AM doesn't sound bad, but when you have a 45 minute walk, have to eat and shower, its more of a 7 o'clock morning. I have become a pro of fast showers (due to waking up early and their concern for water) and time management.
Yesterday, Sunday, we went to Itálica, a Roman mini-empire they built close to Sevilla. It was a 20-minute bus ride. The theatre looks like a mini coliseum, and fit thousands and thousands of people. Only the remains are left, but what is left is still incredible, considering it has been thousands of years. Families, who were wealthy, had pride in their mosaic floors, which surprisingly are still there as well. We had one of the CIEE teachers accompany our small group. The houses which families built, had pools, and spas, and fit up to 100 family members and slaves, kind of impossible to imagine that that many people in one house. At the top of the compound you had a great view of the city down below. It was strange to look down because it is miles and miles of urban buildings, and then you look around the compound, and arid, dry, grasses and sand surround you. I have never seen somewhere so dry. After returning to Sevilla, we went home for lunch. Julie and Jorge called me (cousins of my mother) to go hang out with them. It was nice to get out of Carmen's house. I went over there and watched the US Open. Spaniards were excited because there was a Spaniard fighting for first place (he lost). I ended up taking a siesta while watching tennis. I returned home, skyped with a few people, and mentally prepared myself for my first class.
Thank god I am finally caught up to today. Class this morning was interesting. Ángel seems like a great professor, but his conversational skills are really really fast. We all kind of look at each other with bug eyes. Before coming to Spain, we all took a placement test. The top 15 kids were placed in a History and Culture of Spain class, with Ángel. It is a two week intensive class, where we go all the way back to the 2nd century BC, up until today. We have our midterm on Friday! We spend two hours a day listening to lecture, which is boring enough because it is date after date, but is made more difficult due to how fast he speaks. The last hour we go exploring through the city to different historical sights which relate to our class. Today we visited a Roman palace, which I have to say was beautiful. What I love the most are the tiles that cover the entire house: floor, walls and ceilings. They are all hand painted and the colors are still bright today. I came back to the house with intentions of cleaning my room, catching up on this blog, and organizing my stuff for official registration tomorrow. I am finally caught up, and hope "y'all" are happy. With all this studying it might be a few days before I update this blog ;) PS. I AM GOING TO MORROCCO IN NOVEMBER!!
One final list of everything I have picked up on about Spaniards:
1)Guay(spelling??) = cool
2)No Spaniards are fat, literally, none.
3)People age beautifully here.
4)Spanish babies are the cutest babies ever.
5)If a woman is out with her baby and her mother, the grandmother is always pushing the carriage.
6)Unless you are a student, no one leaves their house before 10 AM.
7)Sunday, the city is dead.
8)If you are visiting, you will go broke.
9)A person who is "chulo"= a pimp, a thing that is "chulo"= cool or pretty.
10)It is inevitable you will be engulfed in smoke walking down the street.
11)Women have all responsibility in the house.
12)There is a train, but only for old people.
13)Unless it is for class, Spaniards are always late.
14)There is constant paranoia among all for Swine Flu
15)There is no system as to how the roads are planned, like in NYC or Boston, they are windy and many are not labeled.
16)On the weekends, you are out until 7 AM.
17)PDA (Public Display of Affection) is not by any means shunned upon.
18)You do not invite people to your house, you meet somewhere else.
19)Many Hispanic woman ask if you have a boyfriend within 5 minutes of knowing you
20)The Sevilla soccer team is amazing, Equipo Betis the other team, is of the second division, and is ignored by all people of Sevilla.
21) Showers last 5 minutes, top.
22) Electricity is a lot more expensive than in the US.
21)More to come….