Sevilla y Más

¡Amigos! ¿Qué Tal?

So I have one last Spanish city adventure to share with you. This one again, provided and hosted by my CIEE program. The last trip they organized was Valencia, this time Seville! The bus ride was quite a bit longer (8 hours compared to 2), and with lots to do in the city, we spent two nights there.

Seville was absolutely gorgeous! Just after arriving, about half of us students went down to the river for a boat cruise and we just so happened to be there for sunset. The beauty of the sunset and city’s monumental bridges and buildings was unexplainable. From there we went as a whole group (about 40 of us) to a traditional Flamenco show. It was so cool to experience a more traditional version of the music and dance, rather than the oh-so-commonly revolutionized tourist versions. The way those dancers move their feet is ridiculous! If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, consider looking it up. It’s quite amazing.

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Sunset in Seville

Our second day there we toured the city. CIEE has another program based in Seville, so two of the very kind professors from Seville’s CIEE campus joined us and took us to one of the largest Cathedrals in the world where we climbed the “Giralda,” and to the Palace of Alcazar, a royal palace still used today.  With as much touring as I have done these past three months, I’d started to say things like, “It’s all starting to look the same,” but I could not even form those words in Seville. Something about the city was just so much different.

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The view of the city from the top of the Giralda
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Alcazar Palace

Our final, shortened, day we visited the Plaza de España. A large plaza built in 1928 for the 1929 World Exposition, held in Sevilla. The building is stunningly beautiful and today houses a museum and various city hall and government offices. After that quick visit we hoped back on the bus and made an 8 hour trip back to Alicante.

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At the palace, there are deications to each of the Spanish provinces.
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Plaza de España
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Plaza de España

I have loved the trips that my program has coordinated whether they be quick day trips or overnight stays like Seville. It’s so nice to travel with a knowledgeable plan of action. And… I guess traveling with 40 friends isn’t too rough, either.

Upon arriving in Alicante, I was greeted by more family members here for a visit! This time my dad and step mom. They, too, came over for a meal at my host family’s home and again I was overjoyed by the words and actions by both of my families.This time during our meal, a little more than last, I was a translator.. .and wow you don’t know the difficulty of switching between two languages until you do it for more than a few minutes. We all talked briefly about my return to the States which made my dad and step mom very excited, but my host mom and sister so sad to think about. It’s truly amazing how strangers can become family in such a short amount of time.

Come Monday I was back to the school routine. Meanwhile, my parents were off to visit a few other Spanish cities and my whole world transferred back to speaking Spanish. I’m thankful now, for a few calm weeks of school work before the rush of final projects and papers and exams to come amongst the getting ready to leave and enjoying my last days in Spain.

I can’t help but be honest in saying that I’m getting anxious about returning to Hope College. With registration having just passed, planning for Holidays in the States, and recently receiving a housing placement on campus, there is so much to think about back at home. But then again, thinking about pulling my suitcase out from underneath my bed and packing my Spanish adventures away and leaving my host family and friends is even harder. Or to think that I can’t sit in my bed while writing or doing homework- listening to my host sister and cousin sing old American songs in their silly Spanish accents, as I am doing now, could literally bring me to tears. This time is flying by and it’s almost impossible to believe that I have just over a month’s time remaing here.

I wouldn’t trade a single second for a thing.

Seguro.

Until next time.

Happy to be Home- Here in Spain

¡Hola amigos!

I cannot believe that my time here is more than half way through! Time is flying by!

I’ve now spent three full weekends stationary in Alicante! And for those days I am incredibly thankful. The first I spent recuperating from El Camino de Santiago, the second, a bit more rest for my aching foot and some quality time in the city, and the third more rest from a cold that has been going around my house! I’d secretly hoped that I wouldn’t get sick while being here in Spain, but I’m only human and things spread quickly! Either way, I’m glad to have spent some quality time here with my host family, and truly just relax. These weekends could not have come at a better time.

Despite all of this “down time”, I’ve managed to do some pretty awesome things! This past week I began volunteering alongside three other classmates. Together we are teaching English to a group of 16 adults! We are responsible for the lesson plans, class preparation and management, teaching and all. We are even responsible for opening and closing down the city center building when class is done. Talk about trust!

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about this and after our first lesson, I still was. I am not an education major, nor do I think I am capable of teaching English grammar, but after our second lesson, those nerves were at ease. This bunch of adults is so eager to learn and it’s so cool to watch them soak up the material. I’m excited to see how their abilities grow over the next 6 weeks, or so.

I’ve also really been enjoying time with friends in my program. Myself and eight others took an exciting day (more like evening) trip to a nearby town called Calpe. It took a whopping 2 hours including 2 different trams and a bus ride to get there, but the hike up “Ifach” was 100% worth the wait. The gorgeous views and sunset over the mountains was absolutely breathtaking! Spain is beautiful!

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I’ve come to appreciate the time I have here in my “home town,” and for that I am very thankful.

Coming up next: Midterms, then a weekend trip to Granada and Ronda!

¡Hasta pronto!

It’s Almost Adventure Time!

“Are you excited?” “Are you packed?” “Are you nervous?” “Are you ready?” The four questions I don’t seem to mind responding to. The answers? “Do you want this week’s or last?”  Truth is, my emotions about leaving for Alicante, Spain are all over the place. I am thrilled, nervous, confused, worried (a little), happy. All of those things. And they change daily. From the travel time, to the arrival, to my life transitioning to Spanish, to moving in with a family I’ve never met, to starting classes in a foreign land, to being completely independent in a place far, far away. You could say there is a lot going on in my mind. This week- I’m mostly excited, if I am honest. Why wouldn’t I be? I’m about to embark on the greatest adventure I’ve ever taken- that’s for sure. I’m excited for a new culture, family, cuisine, school, group of friends, set of opportunities, way of life. And I’m sure I will discover more new things to enjoy.   Since I am a Holland resident, I have frequented Hope’s campus this past week to spend a few more hours with my friends as they trickle into town. It’s been both a blessing and a hardship. A blessing to enjoy their presence and see them one or two times more before I leave, and a hardship as I watch them unpack their dorm rooms and cottages knowing I won’t be able to share in the joy of the Fall semester and greeting new faces on campus. All the while, I feel extremely joyous to be stepping out of my comfortable Holland, MI bubble. I’d be lying if I denied that I was feeling lots of different things. But I’d also be lying if I said I wanted to stay. I guess I should say- I’m sad to leave, but I’m so ready to go. And I may or may not be packed. 🙂