Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting my life together...


These last couple of weeks have been so incredibly busy! I apologize for not being able to post sooner...

I only have one more day left with my host family. As nice as it has been having a family cook my meals and pay all the bills, I am looking forward to moving on and getting my life started here in Spain. Even though my host family has been very accommodating I wasexpecting my experience to be a little different. My family leaves every weekend to go to their beach home in either Cadiz or huelva ( they switch every weekend). Technically, they are not suposed to leave me here alone. It is in the contract that they are supposed to cook all of my meals and not leave me by myself. It was weird when I came here the first day and my host family left the same day for the whole weekend. I get the feeling that they do this for the money and not to give me the Spanish immersion that I am looking for. Tonight, they cooked me my meal( which she put a store bought tortilla espanola in the microwave) and then their family went out to have dinner/drinks to celebrate their grandparents getting a new car. See if I was hosting a student, I would be more than willing to invite them out with me and experience a spanish party. Instead, I ate my microwaved spanish dish by myself. There could be worse things in the world but I was just expecting this to be different.

On a happier note, I met a spanish friend named Alfonso. He is my Spanish God! Seriously, without him I would be so lost in Spain. I met up with him and 4 of us spanish friends, 1 from Cadiz and 3 from Madrid. Last Saturday my friend Raquel and I went
out to eat with them for lunch. It was great being able to hang out with them for the day because they were teaching us spanish and we were teaching them english. I feel like you learn a lot more when you are actually interacting with someone in conversation. One of his friends told me a trick to order una cerveza con limon( Beer with lemon). It is alot more refreshing to have that tint of lemon in it! I have been ordering that type of beer all the time now. After lunch we walked around Sevilla for a bit and had some Spanish Slushies and walked through a cultural fair that is taking place in Plaza de Espana. There is always something going on in Sevilla, I love it! It was great being able to socialize with Spaniads instead of only with Americans ( which I have been doing a lot of ). If I want to improve my spanish I need to meet some more Spanish friends!

Last Tuesday, Raquel and I went on a spontaneous day trip to Huelva. We decided on Monday that we wanted to go somewhere so on Tuesday we woke up and said "Vamos a la playa!" so we chose to go to Huelva.

We did not do very much researching before we went but we knew there was a beach near by. We bought a 2 way ticket for 14 Euros and went to Huelva! Once we got there we found out that if we want to go to an actual beach that we had to take another bus ride that was like 20 mins away from where we were. I was proud of ourselves because we actually figured it out and were able to get back in time to make the next bus to go back to Sevilla. This language barrier
is really hard to get used to. Luckily we knew enough to be able to communicate with the bus driver. The beach we went to was in Punta Umbria, it was a nice quiet beach. I am still trying to get used to the nude beaches here, I still think it is so strange!

This is a picture of Raquel ( right) and a German friend( left) that we met on the bus and hung out with all day!
After We went to the beach we had some time to kill Raquel and I went shopping in Downtown Huelva. We got some Helado(ice cream) and walked around. The Ice cream is SO good here, I need to limit myself to it once a week. Not to mention that there is a ice cream store right next to my new apartment so the temptations will be hard to resist.

Here's a picture of me in downtown Huelva. Brian (BF) is in L.A. for a job interview this week, when I saw this picture I felt like I should take a picture, So i can sort of say that we were at the same place at the same time :).

On Wednesday I went and visited my school in Dos Hermanas, Here is a picture of me next to the school I will be working at for the next 8 months!

All of the teachers seemed very nice and welcoming, they all greeted me with Dos Besos (Two kisses). Surprisingly a majority of them knew english pretty well. I was given my schedule and it looks like I have Friday's off (SWEET!) and I will be teaching these subjects: English, math, music, Physical Education, and science. Should be interesting!

Today I got the keys for my apartment and I am starting to move everything in. We were able to buy a microwave and toaster( thank god!) I am still going to sleep at my host families place tonight because I want to do some laundry here and get things settled in my new place before I move in. Once I get moved in I will take a picture of my finished room/ apartment! When we moved in today we noticed some things that already need to be fixed such as: The door to my room not closing, one of the sink leaks every time we use it, and the toilet in the 2nd bathroom would not flush, So we gotta get those things fixed ASAP!

Well that is it for now, I PROMISE that I will update this sooner than last time!

I miss you all.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting Acquainted

Hello Everyone!

I am a newbie to this whole blogging thing so bear with me through my first couple of posts! The reason why I want to have this blog is so that I can update my friends and family back at home with everything that is going on while I am here. I will try to update often so check up on it as much as you can. Check out this pic I got of the river here in Spain called " El Rio Quadalquilvir". Es muy Bonita!

Well, where to start? I have been here for two weeks now and it feels like I have been here for months! The first week was hard for me to wrap my mind around this whole experience. Usually when you get to a new place you are very excited and are in the "honey moon stage" and then after that stage your excitement starts to decrease. For me when I arrived it was just the opposite. It could have been a combination of lack of sleep and being stressed from all the traveling but the first few days were really hard for me. At first I was just still in shock that I was actually in Spain and that it wasn't just for a short vacation. Now after being here for two weeks I have been MUCH better. I have made some good friends that I know I can go to when i am feeling home sick. It is interesting because three of my close friends here that I have met through the program are from the Chicago area and we met after we got off the first flight in Madrid.

Everyone that I have met through this program has been SO nice. The people that are in this program are similar because we are all here to learn about the Spanish culture, have a desire to travel, and have put our lives on hold in order to do this experience.

This picture is at the top of a Cathedral tower in Cadiz. One of my highlights of this trip so far! You could see a 360 view of all around Cadiz, it was breath taking!
In my blogs I want to focus on our cultural differences. Let's just say, I have seen A LOT thus far. The biggest difference I have noticed is that here in Spain, you work in order to live, unlike in the United States where you live to work. Here a job is just a job. Family is their number one priority. Another thing is that here in Spain people do not give tips. How hard would you work as a waiter if you got paid the same no matter how well you did your job? Because their pay is the same no matter how hard they work, customer service is very low. I found that out one night when I asked for a glass of water three times and they never brought me that water. In America we are so Spoiled. When we order food we ask them to hold things, put them on the side, add extra, etc. Here if you ask for much more than whats on the menu you get nasty looks.

Also, I don't know if it is because i'm Blonde/ American/ etc. but people here constantly stare at you. Do you think that I cannot see you? If you are going to awkwardly stare at me at least say something!

One thing I really like about the Spanish people is that they do not "sugar coat" anything. It is nice when people are blunt and you know that they are telling the truth. For example, Some of my friends and I were debating on getting a smartphone plan Vs. a pay as you go plan. We could have easily been swayed either way and the guy at the phone store convinced us to go with the cheaper phone plan. Let's just say, this would have not have happened in the US. It's assuring to know once in a while that a sales person is not ripping you off.

Alright well that is all for now, my host family just got home from the weekend get away in Cadiz. I should probably go socialize with them. Take a look at some pictures that I posted on face book. I will end this blog with a picture I took in Cadiz. Even the dogs take Siestas here!