Thursday, June 5, 2008

Back in the USA!

I am home!! What a trip! I definitely hope to return to Spain someday to see more of the beautiful country! Spain has more history in a square kilometer than the U.S. has in 100. It's absolutely amazing to see such a rich culture that has survived and adapted over hundreds, maybe even thousands of years.

For any prospective traveling student reading this, you must know that an experience in Spain (or wherever you decide to go) will be one that you will never forget. You will learn more about yourself and discover why you really do the things you do and why you like the things you like. It's an interesting process but one that has been and is great fun!

Day 22

Thanks for the eurovision comment...Azerbijan´s song was also by far the most strange! I didn´t even know there was a country called Azerbijan! Apparently it is one of the thousands that used to belong to the Soviet Union. The voting was so political. All of the countries that used to be part of of the USSR and Russia voted for each other, Spain and Portugal voted for each other and no one voted for the U.K. I think Greece was better than Russia.

AND...I found a place to buy some small, like 2 oz small, bottles of olive oil. Apparently because it is oil you can´t ship it because it´s flammable and the big bottles are pretty heavy. I´m going to get some either today or tomorrow.

Today we just finished our last class and are leaving in a bit to go to the beer brewery. It´s only supposed to last for an hour so hopefully this afternoon I can go to the park and finish my essay or something fun like that. Tonight will be a night of packing.

Sorry there´s not much to say today. We went to the old medieval castle on the mountain overlooking Jaén yesterday. There is an absolutely beautiful view of all of the city from there! It was incredible windy too! The past two days have been pretty cool...around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit I guess. It´s around 15 or 18C. They say that there hasn´t been weather this cool or rainy in 30 years this time of year. So I guess we brought the weird weather from Alabama with us. Well, I´m going to go meet the group to catch the bus for our short trip. I will be home Friday night!! I´m so excited!!


I´m a tad bit disappointed that no one has commented on how awesome the youtube Eurovision videos are. I´m just going to pretend it´s because it is only 3pm there and everyone hasn´t sat down and done their daily reading of my blog. Get on it people! :)

Day 20

It´s 10pm as I sit here in my family´s piso (flat) listening to some music coming in through the open window that sounds similar to a 1940s tv sitcom or 1940s marching band. That´s the only way I know to describe it.

I gave my presentation today on terrorism in Spain and I think it went well. After class and lunch, my friend and I went to the park and it was so much fun! Parks are fun in whatever country! Give me some grass, a fountain, a friend and a camera and I´m set!

We then met another friend and after two bus rides later and some confusion we ended up at the cathedral and went shopping. I needed another carry on bag since I am now checking my backpack too due to extra stuff I am bringing home so I bought a super cute bag for only 20 euros! Yes, I know that´s like $35 but it´s cute and it has a crochet flower pin on it!! It´s also really big so functions very well as a carry on bag. :)

I have discovered that you can pick out the Americans here by the type of shoes they wear. Everyone here wears closed toed shoes, even heels and I wear my sandals and flip flops...well, my flip flops broke, but others in my group do. My friend went to the preschool were her host family sister here works and the teacher told all of the students to look at her toes because she wears shoes that show her toes so all of the little children looked at her toes...haha!

I´m going to bed soon, if I don´t stay up and read much more. Goodnight to all! ¡Buenas noches a todos!

¡Sólo faltan 4 días!

Day 19

First word...EUROVISION. Go YouTube it now and then come back and finish reading this blog... go check it out!! Really...go!

It aired here last night. It´s a competition where countries in Europe and surrounding area can elect an amateur performer and song from their country then send them to compete against other countries. Last night was the final competition and let me just tell you it was very cool! Each country´s song was so different! One were dressed all as pirates and Russia, who won, had a singer, violin player and ice skater! The songs were everything from silly to rock n roll to cultural to pop. You must check it´s very awesome!

Yesterday and today I haven´t done anything too exciting to blog about...just random studying, reading and journaling. I finished my book that I brought, "Through Gates of Splendor," but I think I already blogged about that...if not, what an excellent book!!!!! Charli let me borrow one of hers so today I began the sequel to "The Kite Runner," "A Thousand Splendid Suns." I haven´t read the first but she said it didn´t matter. Let me just say that I began this afternoon and have read about 70 pages and it´s a very very good book. It´s about a girl in Afghanistan who was the result of a sad affair between a maid and a successful businessman. I won´t tell you the whole story in case you want to read it.

We had paella for lunch and it was quite tasty!! I asked my mom here how to make it and she was just like "put in whatever you want with rice." For the OCD, organized, efficient me...that´s not a recipe. :) So they told me to look it up online...haha. O how the culture is different here! There is no pressure, no rush nor future planning for anything. I know for some this would be a wonderful place, but I embrace my planner, watch and organization. This weekend I am really missing American culture.

Well, it´s 10pm here and even tho now we are supposed to eat dinner around this time, I couldn´t wait much longer and ate my bocadillo around 8:45. A bocadillo is just a sandwich and mine was chorizo and cheese...pretty good.

I´m very very very excited to be coming home this week! The only thing I´m concerned about is once again packing everything in bags under 50 lbs. I have no way to check the weight here either before the airport so let´s hope it all works!

De Jaén, España, ¡buenas noches todos!

Day 17

A relaxing day. No class today because on this trip we don´t have class on Fridays. I went to the library at the university this morning to work on my presentation and research paper. I got a lot done there. I then came home to lunch, a dish of green beans, scramled eggs and ham all mixed together. It was good. And...gazpacho. A cold, tomato pulp soup that I do not like. It takes place of the drink at the meal so needless to say, I took a few sips and that was all I could manage so I went without a beverage until I could go to my room afterwards to drink some bottled water. O you can always depend on water...well, here you Africa I won´t be able to. The meal was also accompanied, as always, by bread and fruit.

Ana and I went shopping a bit this afternoon and I bought a very cute dress that I am super excited about! When I got home, my friend had called to invite me to go out with her and her fam tonight so I quickly left to go meet them. Ok, so get the picture. It´s 9:45ish and has just gotten dark. I am walking about 15-20 minutes according to my family), only 10 minutes if you walk my style, to meet them at the train station where I have been once, in the daylight. It is not dangerous here at night, especially since it´s so early. 9:45 would be like 5:45 in the states. Families are still walking around with their toddlers so I felt safe. I am quite proud that I found my way, without asking for directions or depending on a cell phone. We then went to a bar and had tapas which I like very much. I know I´ve already explained tapas, but when I first arrived they were eating olives and snails so I passed on that round. Then came fries, fried calamari, fried shrimp, a fried something with sausage and cheese inside, and sandwiches of ham, bacon and cheese. This was more my snails for me please. My friend and I sat with 3 couples while their kids, ages 5-8, played up and down the street outside. I was surprised and how the kids can just run and play wherever. I

NOTE:if you think going to a club and coming in at 4 or 5 inthe morning is late, people here go to the discoteca and come in at 7 or 8 in the morning. Coming in at 4 or 5 is considered way early.

NOTE 2: A show comes on tomorrow night that is like American Idol except each country in Europe has voted on a song from their country and tomorrow is the night when each country's song is performed. I am super excited to see it! Spain's song is the "Chiki Chiki" and is sung by this man in an Elvis wig. You must google it and check it out. "Chiki" has no meaning, just a fun word. It's very much just a goofy song, but funny. Huge dance craze here.

Day 16

Finally, a lovely warm sunny day! There have been many many cool, cloudy, rainy days.

After our quiz this morning we went to this little bakery across the street...amazing! My friend and I split a ham pastry and a cream filled, chocolate covered doughnut pastry. Soo good! They doughnuts are real pastries here and not as thick as the ones we have so you don´t feel as gross after you eat it. So now I have an hour and 15 minutes before class to just nice!

Class is coming to an end which is odd because it just began. Today is our last normal class day. Mon and Tues we have presentations in our culture class, Wed is no class because of a day trip to Cruzcampo, the local brewery, and Thurs no class because we are all going to the Mercadillo in the morning. I haven´t wanted to go to the Mercadillo since the day we got here! It´s an open air street market held here in the city every Thurs morning where you can buy things very cheaply! I didn´t find out we were going until yesterday so my family and I already have plans to go to one in a nearby pueblo (town) on Sunday as well...I´m so up for 2!

Yesterday we left at 4pm to go to Lopera, a nearby pueblo, to see a castle, some trenches used in the Spanish Civil War and the local winery. The trenches were interesting to see. Much different than I had imagined. The winery was nothing but a warehouse with barrels of wine, no tour, no explanation of how the wine is made. We tasted three diff types of wine. They didn´t say the names, but the first was a dessert wine, very thick and sweet. I did not like it at all. The last was a red wine and was much better. Still not something I really like, but much much better than the other two.

I think that´s all for now. My trip is coming to an end and it is bittersweet. I miss everyone so much! I also really love the family I am staying with here; they are so sweet and accomodating! Spain is such a beautiful place! I definitely hope to return!