26 September 2010
Elley and I booked plane tickets to go to Barcelona on the 7th! We will go for a long weekend, the 7th-11th and I am SO excited! We have a long weekend then because of a holiday and I found some cheap tickets on Ryanair. It's already less than two weeks away!!
I don't have much else to report now. I love and miss everyone back home!!
22 September 2010
So some highlights of my day were that I got put in to the intermediate level of my Spanish course, which I think is good for the conversation aspect, but I definitely already know all of the grammar that we will be learning. Oh well. The cool thing though is that two other Americans from FLC are in that class as well! I know one of them, him and I had a class together last year and then there is a girl who is really nice and I think we will get along well. Both of them had a really hard time with their schedules and finding classes that they thought would be easy enough for them, so I helped them try and figure out the system and recommended the easy classes I am taking. Elley (the girl) said that she went to talk to the international relations people here and they recommended only two classes for her which is hardly enough credits, but she told me about one of the classes, it's a course for foreign students to get a chance to travel around the Basque country...to do touristy things and learn about the history of the area. So we went to the information session today and it seems really great! We go on five "field trips" on different Saturdays, for the whole day and then we just write a paper about out experiences and what we learned. It's so great cause not only will I get to travel to places (and not have to go alone), but our professor will be explaining everything and telling us how they do things here in the Basque country. So stay tuned for updates on my Basque travels! Our first trip is next weekend, the 2nd of October, to a winery that's close to Vitoria.
After classes, I meet with my "madrina", the girl the University set me up with to help me out and show me around. She is really sweet, we went to a cafe and talked for a few hours, we switched speaking between Spanish and English. She said she needed to practice her English cause she hadn't spoken it all summer and I said I needed to practice Spanish, pretty much for the same reason! We compared Spain and the U.S. and she told me about her experience studying abroad in Sweden. I think we will get along well, we seem to have a lot in common and she's really nice.
So this week is turning out nicely so far and tomorrow is Thursday, so you know what that means! Partee!! haha! :)
20 September 2010
So I thought I would write about some other interesting Spanish things, only a few though.
When you go to a restaurant here and order a water or a soda, it's bottled. As in, you can't buy tap water at a restaurant or even ask for it, cause they don't serve anything but bottled. And if you order a coke, they take a 350ml (approx) glass bottle and pour it into a glass for you. There's not a tap for sodas either! I'm not sure about beer, I haven't had one yet and I haven't been observant enough to notice if there is draft beer or not. Most of the beer here is light though, they drink Heineken like Bud Light back home.
Also, the people that do have dogs around here rarely ever have them on leashes. There must not be any leash laws, but as far as I've seen all of the dogs are very well trained and will sit outside of a store patiently for their owner. Most of the dogs are pretty small too, again cause of apartment living.
Oh! Saturday night I ate dinner at Cam and Alba's apartment and we made Spanish tortillas or tortilla de patata. What an awesome meal! If you are envisioning a tortilla made out of flour or corn, think again, this is not South America...wheat and maize are not native here. Spanish tortillas are made out of potatoes (patatas) and are pretty similar to a potato omelette, here's a picture to demonstrate:
They are SOO yummy! I can't wait to make them at home and show everyone how delicious they are!
Here are a few ore pics of Vitoria.
Oh and forget about having a good hair day here, humidity is terrible...
18 September 2010
So I though I'd point out some of the different/strange things I've noticed here. The main thing is that people are so cold to each other, I mean strangers. There is no smiling on the street, you don't say Hi to a passerby and there is no small talk in stores. Everyone just keeps to themselves. It's hard for me not to smile at people when I'm walking around, but it's just not something that anyone does!
As I knew before coming here, the daily schedule is a lot different. Breakfast is small, if anything more than a cup of tea or coffee and lunch is considered the "most important meal of the day". Lunch happens between 2-4pm and is a large meal, in fact, I feel like I've done so much eating already cause lunch is such a big deal. Dinner is late, around 10pm and is not a big as lunch and more for socializing. Alba said that if you go out to restaurants they won't serve you dinner before 9pm usually.
Lots of people smoke here, probably the same as in the US, but it seems more obvious because they are allowed to in restaurants and bars. We are so spoiled in Colorado! Thurday when I got back to my room from going to the club, I reeked of smoke...hair, clothes, even my skin! Gross.
This may be something that is special to Vitoria, but there is graffiti everywhere! It doesn't matter if you're in the nice part of town or the ghetto part, it's all over the place and some of it is really pretty. It makes me wonder if they do it all with spray paint, cause the colors are so vibrant and rich.
Most of the music around here is in English and the same stuff that is popular in the States. It's all dance and techno music like Lady Gaga and David Guetta. There are some Spanish artists, but American music is heard more frequently.
Everyone lives in apartments here, I actually don't think I've seen one house so far. It makes for a more compact city, but there are also not very many people with dogs...at least not like in the US.
There's no Walmart (thank goodness!) and I haven't seen a McDonald's yet, although there is Burger King.
In general, there aren't fat people here. haha! That sounds funny, but it's true, people are thinner than in the States, even compared to Colorado! I think it's because it's easier to walk places here and food is more proportioned.
Since I'm in the Basque country, everything is labeled in both Castellano (Spanish) and Euskara (Basque) and there are many things that people use the Basque word for instead of Spanish.
For example: Pintxos (pinchos) = tapas
Txupito (chupito) = a shot (of alcohol)
Agur (ahur) = goodbye
Oh! And in the supermarkets, you have to buy bags...they are only like .20£ I think, so it's a good idea to save your bags and you see a lot of people going into the market with a suitcase looking thing for groceries.
That's all for now I think. I'm sure once school starts I will have more to share. Here's a pic of the outside of my residence and some random graffiti. I promise I will have more pictures soon!
16 September 2010
So like I said in my last post, everything with flights and buses went fine, but once I got to Vitoria, I encountered some issues. I got off the bus and went in the station to find out which bus would take me to the University and apparently there isn't one, only ones that stop on that side of town. So the guy said that it was an easy walk, gave me a map and drew out my path. Well I haven't established my sense of direction here yet (who knows if I ever will, all the streets go in crisscross and loop-de-loops) so I headed in the direction he said and immediately got lost. I tried to identify some streets with the ones on my map, but the majority of streets don't have a sign. I asked a man to point me in the right direction and he was pretty vague, so I wandered around for about an hour before a lady saw me looking at my map and offered to help. She gave me excellent directions and I got to campus about a half hour later cause I was so out of the way. ha! Once I was on campus, I wandered around for about another hour trying to figure out where the residence was before some girls asked me if I knew of a bus to Bilbao. Of course I didn't and I asked them if they would help me, turns out one of the girls lives in the residence and they chaperoned me there. They were freshman and really nice, I was so grateful they helped me because once we got to the residence I knew there would have been no way I would have found it on my own.
The strange and wonderful thing about it was, even though I was lost beyond belief, it was alright with me. Normally I think I would have been very frustrated, but for some reason I still had a smile on my face the whole time. I was exhausted and sweating like a fat man going up stairs, but none of that seemed to matter. Who knew such a struggle could also be so great. NOT that it was easy, my shoulders hurt so badly today from carrying my backpack and a 50lb. suitcase for two hours!
Well, then I was in my room and I immediately got an ethernet cord from the front desk cause I was so sure Mom was freaking out and I needed to let her know I was fine. After that, I did an inventory of my room and realized that I didn't have any sheets, towels or even toilet paper. That was when the exhaustion and homesickness hit me and I just about fell over and started crying, feeling overwhelmed. Cause after being in the same sweaty, dirty clothes (they were really gross) and not having had a nice bathroom to use for almost two days or a good night's sleep...I was pretty pathetic.
So I tried to get myself together, changed clothes and washed my face cause I was meeting Cam and Alba in about 30 mins. I felt a lot better once I saw them and we went around town a bit and then out to eat. Then back to their apartment and they let me borrow a blanket, towel and some TP. It was wonderful!
When I was back in my room, jet-lag was catching me cause I was not tired at all. Finally went to bed around 1am and then only slept for an hour cause I was freezing, put my sweatshirt on and slept SO hard until my alarm went off in the morning. I think I could have slept til noon today.
So my first day or so in Vitoria was a bit of a mess, but I think memorable. ha! And when I woke up to a cloudy, rainy morning all I could think was that I should have traded every dress I brought so I could have my sweatpants! ...but just to wear around my room, that kind of clothing would get me even more glares than I already get!
I haven't taken many pictures cause today is cloudy, I should have yesterday when it was sunny and beautiful...but here's some of my room (pretty bare, I know) and I will have more next time, I hope!
Thursday nights start the weekend here (not literally, it's just the night to go out), so hopefully it will be a fun night! Alba said it might not be that busy cause school hasn't started, so many students haven't moved back yet.
More soon! Chao!
15 September 2010
Well this trip has been quite an interesting one so far. Pretty much everything has gone right, which is wonderful! I didn’t miss any flights or get held up anywhere strange and now I am finally on my last leg of the trip…the bus ride to Vitoria. I’m still four hours away from my future home, but that seems like nothing after traveling for about 20 hours straight.
I guess I should start with my flight from Denver to Boston, it was fine and took just over three hours, I believe. The only problem with it was the guy sitting behind me. Apparently he recently had knee replacement surgery on both of his knees, so before I even sit down, he peeks over the seat and asks me if I could not recline my chair during the flight because of his knees. Which is fine, of course, but he was an overweight guy to begin with and I don’t know if it was because of that or his knees, but for the duration of the flight, he was grabbing the back of my chair and using it to hold himself up…not the most comfortable for me, but I didn’t want to say anything since he recently had surgery. At the end of the flight, the lady across the aisle from me told me I should complain to the airline and try to get reimbursed for the flight. I honestly think she was more annoyed by the guy than I was.
Then I was in Boston Logan Airport and to get to the international terminal from the domestic, you have to walk through all these small damp corridors that look like a mix between an old swimming pool house and a high school built in the 70’s, kinda creepy. When I finally found the line for security, it was wrapped all the way around the inside of the building. It was a good thing I had a couple hours before my flight, cause I waited in security for at least an hour with a guy in front of me who kept looking back at me like I smelled bad…and maybe I did. So, needless to say, Boston was busy, if you ever take a flight out of there, allot yourself a good chunk of time.
My flight from Boston to Dublin was rather empty. There were a lot of empty chairs, including the one next to me, which was nice cause it gave me a little more leg-room. The flight was about five and a half hours, shorter than I expected and I didn’t sleep a wink. I tried for about an hour and then went back to watching movies. When we landed in Dublin – this is where the fun begins – I had just about an hour to make my connecting flight to Madrid. Unfortunately, I was in the back part of the plane, so just getting into the terminal took a while and then unexpectedly, I had to go through customs. I thought I was only going to have to do that in Madrid, so I started to get a little panicky. Luckly, the girl behind me, who was college-aged I guess, was on the same flight as me, so we found the shortest line and then rushed through security, again…I mean, we just got off an airplane, what could we have picked up in the minute walking down the hall?...and then raced through the airport to our gate. And when I say raced, I mean, we ran. We dodged in and out of people and got dirty looks from businessmen, but we made our flight about two minutes before they closed the doors. Thank goodness! Cause I know there were other people who were coming from Boston who were suppose to be on our flight and they missed it. So, after my heart stopped racing, I settled in for a nap and pretty much slept for the whole two and a half hours.
In Madrid, everything went smoothly, the baggage claim was a zoo and the bathrooms where horrible, but the information lady was really nice and told me the bus to take to get to the bus station where I could connect to Vitoria. It all worked well, but everyone spoke to me in English, even if I tried to speak Spanish to them…I guess I’m an obvious American. Which seems strange to me because while I was waiting in the bus station, for two hours, I kept trying to figure out where people were from without hearing them speak at first and I was wrong pretty much every time. Oh well.
Now that I’m on the bus, I never got to see much of Madrid expect what was on the highway, Spain looks kind of like a mixture between Colorado, New Mexico and maybe Kansas as far as landscape goes. Their mountains look about like the foothills, it seems pretty dry here, and there seems to be a lot of farm land, but there are lots of trees and I noticed from the little I could see out of the airplane window, that a lot of the trees are planted in organized patterns.
It’s all very interesting and beautiful. Spanish is overwhelming already and I haven’t even had to speak very much of it, but hopefully it will be better once I am more rested. I’m excited to get to Vitoria and will write again soon.
P.S. – My first meal in Spain was provided by the bus…a packaged sandwich. haha
10 September 2010
I'm thinking about Ann especially today because I spent all morning with her, well not with her per say, but in the same space! She is a member of the Thompson Valley Art League and they invited me to go be a model for portrait painting. Quite the experience. I got to sit in a chair and stare at the same spot for four hours while six pairs of eyes studied my face...ok, maybe only fun for the conceited, but the awkwardness of the situation started to wear away after the first hour. The cool part was getting to see the different styles of paintings and how each person put me onto canvas. It was really quite flattering at times because everyone kept telling how I was a great model to have and any angle was great for my face, it's always nice to hear those kinds of things. :)
Well I thought I would share the UNFINISHED paintings (I think the artists would appreciate the emphasis) because I think they are all very good and interesting. Maybe at some point I will get to see the finished products of my portraits.
Artists in order: Ann Delzell, Peggy Keagle, Jennifer Cline, Jeff Brooks
01 September 2010
Yesterday marked the date of 2 weeks before my departure to Spain, and with it came the restless, preoccupied nights without sleep. I sure hope that doesn't continue until I leave. I hate laying awake at night thinking about papers I need to copy, emails I need to send and clothes I need to pack...it's just a waste of energy. The good news about Spain is that I got my visa in the mail yesterday, finally! What a relief after all of the hassle and sending papers back and forth to Denver. It's now done and I will officially be living in Spain for 10 months!
Now that it's down to the last couple weeks before I leave, my nerves are starting to rattle and even though I'm excited to leave and start something new, I'm also scared. Nervous. Anxious. It's all a mesh of emotions that's wrapped around my head so tightly I can barely see straight.
Last week I went to Durango to help Vanessa move in and see friends. It was a wonderful trip, way too wonderful... I waited all summer for that week in Durango and my last chance to see Jerard and I was not disappointed in any way because it was great. It was lazy and the weather was perfect and it reminded me why I love Durango. It's a place that reminds of everything beautiful in my life, the sunsets, blue skies, the river and those are just the beauties that nature provides... the people are better than the best. We all floated the river and partied together, it was just a wholesome dose of summer. I got to see Melissa for an afternoon, the first time we've been together since last June, a MUCH needed reunion. Leaving Durango was and has been difficult...easier than it was in May because my head is more level and set on going to Spain, but saying goodbye to Jerard and Vanessa was hard. Now that I'm back at home, the last week feels like it was all a dream. Life feels like a daze, like it's not real and not right... this morning the first thing I noticed was that that sun is already starting to wake up later that I do. I was only away from home for a week, but I guess I've never noticed before because normally I would be back at school already... It's weird cause everyone is starting classes, doing the college student thing and I'm back at home, still working and not a part of the FLC life.
So on top of my stress about leaving the country, I've been sad and emotional about leaving people I care about....the one's I've already said goodbye to and the one's that await farewell. I know it's not forever and goodbyes are not permanent, but the Atlantic seems so large and everyone will be different when I get back...including me. The hard part about saying goodbye to friends is that many of them will graduate while I'm gone and probably move in with their lives, so this could be goodbye for a long time. I know I will keep in touch, but saying goodbye to people I love has never been easy for me.
Like I said earlier, I feel like I'm living in a dream world, I heard the song "Just a Dream" by Nelly on the radio this morning and it struck me in a familiar way. One because nothing seems quite right or quite real and like I will wake up any minute. Two, the song is obviously about missing someone and losing someone you care about and I'm definitely struggling with that.
I don't like having a jumble of emotions and a cloudy mind, it makes me feel like I'm not giving my best to the people in my life because I'm so wrapped up in what is going on in my head. It's like I'm a little kid again, who thinks the world revolves around them and takes more than they give...
What a strange note to end on, but I think that's all for now!