Friday, December 17, 2010

Hasta Luego Sevilla

Wow, today is my last day. I cannot believe it! I have loved every moment being in Sevilla.
I am not quite sure what to even say on my last blog.

Two weeks ago, I was SO ready to come home... everything seemed to be troubling me and I just wanted to have the comfort of my own food, bed, and I missed my friends and family. Now, I don´t want to leave! These last two weeks I´ve really grown close to a lot of people both from our school program and people that live here. So I feel like.. right when I was making close friends, I have to leave. It´s been really hard to say goodbye and I haven´t even said all my goodbyes yet. The majority of our school is flying home together, so once we arrive in Chicago.. we will all depart. So to say in the least.. I am sure that I will be an emotional wreck tomorrow. However, I am excited to come home and to see my family and friends! Matt has informed me that he has a few surprises for me...woooooo!! And he told me that the house would smell like apple pie from a pie he is going to make from scratch. How blessed I am!

Garbanzo Beans..a typical Spanish dish. One of my last meals!
I´m not sure how the transition will be from Spain to the United States. I´ve read a couple of things on re-entry/reverse culture shock and how it might affect me. There is a possibility that I could be emotional for a few days. The way they explain that it´s like taking a plant out of it´s original pot and re-planting it into a new pot. Once it´s in the new pot, it will start to grow in a different way and the roots will expand. However if you try to put it back in the original pot, it will probably have problems adjusting again. Does that make sense? Either way, I know that I have an awesome husband who will encourage me along my whole journey of readjusting.
In the school, with Mercedes, another school receptionist

Our theatre class and our professor!

My friend Seth and I..he is from New York.
He is one of the guys
that threw us the surprise party. He
is such a good dancer and friend.

A couple of nights ago, a few friends threw Angeline and I a surprise going away party. It was quite fun.. they had food and even gave us a gift, a picture, and a card that they all signed. I felt sooo blessed!

Today will be a busy day. I have to pack.. go shopping for last minute Christmas presents, meet with a couple of friends, say goodbye and enjoy my last few moments in Sevilla. I have really appreciate all of your prayers and support during my time away and I am super excited to see you once I get back!

I am hopeful that I will return to Sevilla. I´d like to come back and spend a larger period of time. My Spanish has improved but I am still far from being fluent. I had unrealistic expectations upon coming to Spain as I thought that 3.5 months would make me know everything. WRONG. =)

Anyhow, I should wrap this up. Again, thanks! Please pray for  safe travels! We leave around 5am on Saturday morning (I belive 9pm Oregon time) and fly to Madrid..have a few hour layover there.. then we fly to Chicago on a 8-9 hour flight. Once we arrive, we say our goodbyes and then I have to book it through security and customs to get to my next flight to Portland (I have 2.5 hours). So as long as there are no delays or problems with baggage, everything should be fine and I should be back in Portland on Saturday at 730pm-ish.

Soo from Spain... I wish you.. ¡A Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Non-Traditional Tradition

Most people picture thanksgiving as family coming together to celebrate thankful.. and eat a LOT of food. However, since Thanksgiving is very much an American tradition, one might guess that Thanksgiving in Spain would be different.
Yes, you were right. It’s different.

Our school was very generous and sponsored a Thanksgiving dinner in a Cuban restaurant. Everyone dressed up, which made if even more fun. Dinner was delicious. We each got our own little turkey breast with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, a roll with butter, green beans and corn. Then for dessert, there was some cake type thing with really bitter sauce.

It was also an opportunity to do our secret Santa giveaway that we had been preparing for. I drew a guy’s name…and since I didn’t know what to get him, I just got him a bunch of chocolate. My secret Santa gifted me with a beautiful pair of dangly earrings! I always love earrings. =)

Afterwards, the restaurant turned into a Cuban Salsa dance club. Since I had been taking some Salsa lessons and knew some moves, a few of us decided to stick around for a couple hours and dance. It was fun, but it’s always hard to dance.. when there isn’t any guys, because I’m always the one who ends up leading.. (since I’m the only one who knows the guy steps).
Ana Bello and I (School's receptionist) at Thanksgiving dinner
A couple of weeks earlier, we visited a small town called Ronda. It’s a city on a hill, literally. It overlooks the countryside, mountains and cliffs. It’s very beautiful. It’s known though for it’s Plaza de Toros, because it is the oldest in Spain. Just incase you’re wondering, Plaza de Toros.. is where the bull fights take place.

So once we arrived, we visited the actual Plaza de Toros and learned that there was once a famous matador. He started at the age of 8 and retired in his 70s. He fought over 600 bulls…or maybe it was 6000…(haha, big difference, but I cant remember at the moment) and never once got hurt. Cool huh?
Pretending to be a torrera
The rest of the day, we explored. Angeline and I hiked down to a waterfall, which was gorgeous. I love hiking…it’s one thing I’m excited for upon returning to Oregon. We also visited a site where the slaves used to climb down some stairs.. to get water. It was pretty fascinating.

"La Puente Nueva" - The New Bridge 
We found a mule along the way....
Well that's all folks. Only 4 days until I am home! I hope to write one last blog before I left, but we shall see. I don't have much time.. to write a 6-7 page paper, study for three tests, pack, and say all my goodbyes. =( But I will make it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Adventures with Matt, Pt. II

Here we go. Once Matt and I arrived in Paris, it was a whirlwind of adventures. I’m not quite sure how much I can expand on…because we might be here all day.

So to start, we found our hotel. Praise the Lord! It was a cute little joint, but the shower was down the hall. It was about 30 minutes to an hour walk from any of the main sites, so we got a fair share of exercise in that week.

We first visited the famous cathedral of Notre Dame... yes where Quasimodo used to ring the bells. What an incredible church! All the stain glass and high ceilings (although the cathedral of Sevilla is really incredible too). We also got a chance to climb to the top.. to see the bells and the famous gargoyles. That was maybe my favorite part of the whole trip. But, while we were waiting to climb.. we bought our first crêpe, with sugar and butter. I’d never had a crêpe before.. and it was delicious! Once at the top, we looked at the bells. The biggest bell, is over 400 years old and takes at least ten men to move it. Wow! Plus, at the top of the tower.. was a beautiful overall view of Paris.

        At the top!                                                            Notre Dame
The Gargoyles.. that overlook the city

Afterwards, we intended to visit another church…but apparently things close early in Paris, so we weren’t able to go. Thus, we decided to make our way towards the famous Eiffel Tower. Along the way, we stopped at a beautiful park, the Champs-Elysees and saw the Arc de Triomphe…and then proceeded to the Eiffel Tower. Though it was getting late, I just KNEW that it had to be close.. since I could see it. Matt wasn’t quite so sure…but we continued. About 45 minutes later, we finally arrived. Matt made sure to let me know…that though I can see something, that does not mean it is close. =)
But wow, what a beautiful site! I never thought in my life that I would see the Eiffel Tower. It’s always something that you hear about. It’s way more beautiful in person too…especially at night because every hour, they do a light show.. and the tower lights up and sparkles!

The next couple of days, we did a lot of walking. We visited the Basilique de Sacre-Coeur, which is another beautiful church that is situation on a hillside and of course the famous art museum the Louvre. Matt LOVED the Louvre. He’d never been to art museum as such before and he’s not super into art, but he really enjoyed seeing Napoleons’ apartment—which is basically like the inside of a palace, where everything is…or seems of Gold. Of course we also the Mona Lisa and the armless woman statue, because they are also situated there.

Also, did you know that there is a statue of liberty in Paris? It's the sister statue to the one we have in New York.
The Louvre
Napolean's Apartment
Famous armless lady. What's the actual name? Anyone know?

We all know what this is. It's actually REALLY small
A real Egyption mummy inside of the museum

Arc du Triomphe and Eiffel Tower off the the right

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

We had intended on going to Disneyland Paris. For those of you who know me well,  I LOVE Disneyland. In fact, we spent a portion of our honeymoon there…so that must mean I really like it, huh? =) Unfortunately, we ran out of money…because everything is Paris is expensive and Matt didn’t get paid as much as we were anticipating.

So though Paris might seem like a really romantic place, it was a different kind of romantic…because we didn’t have money, therefore we didn’t eat out. In fact, most of what we ate was pastries from a bakery.. and loafs of cheap, delicious bread. And we didn’t get to do a lot of the activities we were hoping.

Nonetheless, we still thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to return someday. We visited the Eiffel every night..and sometimes during the day. The street venders there are CRAZY. There is thousands of them.. and they all surround you and try to sell you mini Eiffel towers and toys and everything you can imagine. So when they see you...and even if you dont want to buy anything...they will just drop the price lower…and lower..and lower. It’s kind of ridiculous, because they are bartering with themselves.

So the last night, I decided to take advantage of their little…price lowering game. I really wanted to buy an Eiffel Tower, but only had 7 euros. Most of the Eiffel Towers..are like 20+ euros in the stores, so I had to get the price down quite a ways. So he started his price at 15. I tried to tell him six..and he would lower it one euro at a time and hand me the Eiffel Tower. Then, I would say six..and give him the tower back and he would lower the price again. Finally, it got down to 7. Woo! Job done. =)

Very proud of my new Eiffel Tower purchase

Gosh, the rest of Paris is a blur. We were only there for three days, which is not very much time. Afterwards we headed back to Sevilla and hung out for a couple days until Matt left. When we arrived in Sevilla.. we practically had no money and weren’t quite sure what to do, since we needed somewhere to sleep. The couple we stayed with originally had other people staying with them… so we just went with the flow and didn't really know where we would stay. We considered sleeping outside, but we just left it in God’s hands.

Sporting his blazer gear in front of the
Giralda, which is part of Sevilla's Cathedral

Churros.. they make them fresh for you.
You're supposed to dip them in hot chocolate..that is almost like pudding.
Immediately, we headed back to my host family’s house to put our stuff somewhere. Most of the time, Spaniards are really weird about letting strangers come in their house, so I wasn’t quite sure what would happen. However, when we host mom was super excited to meet Matt and invited us in…and made us dinner. =) Then she proceeded to tell us that we could both stay in her house until Matt left. WOW. That never happens…and I’m not joking, so it was a huge blessing to us. Since we had just a tiny bit of money left, for the next two days, we visited Sevilla's Gothic Cathedral (3rd biggest in the world), ate churros, ate one meal in a restaurant where Matt tried authentic Spanish food, and also took a horse drawn carriage!!!
Just really happy to be together!
The last thing we did, was put a lock on the bridge that I walk over every day. There are locks all over the bridges and the story goes…that lovers put locks on the bridge and throw the key into the river, so that nothing can unlock..their love. To this day, our lock is still on the bridge. I LOVE looking at it.. as I walk over the bridge every day. It’s just another reminder of how much Matt loves me!
Our lock.. that says "My home is where you are".. which Matt wrote.
The Tower of Gold is in the background.

Matt left bright and early the next morning.. and I was pretty emotional, but he made it home just fine and recovered from jetlag quite quickly. My host mom sent him with some food for his journey...a Spanish sandwich, chips and fruit. Again, another blessing.

So there you have it. This is probably my longest blog yet and I’m sure there is something I’ve left out. If you want more specific stories, you’ll have to ask me sometime.

One week until I am home! Sorry if I have some gramatical errors. I'm pretty exhausted. =)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Traveling Adventures with Matt, Pt. I

J'etais perdue**. It was how I was feeling…when I got to the airport to discover that Matt was not there. I had received an email saying that he was just about to board on his flight from Dallas to Madrid (capital of Spain) but that his flight had been delayed by two hours. That was the last communication I had from him. So to my knowledge, he had supposedly made his last two flights, but when I arrived at the airport in Sevilla, he was no where to be seen. Furthermore, I had no new emails saying what had happened, so I just figured that he must have missed his connecting flight. Not knowing what to do,  I proceeded to ask the airport officials, what they could do to help me. With a few tears and no luck, they told me that they wouldn't be able to help me in any way because it would be a security issue. They couldn't tell me if Matt had missed his flight or was scheduled for the next...regardless of the fact I was his wife and that he had no euros, no international phone, apparently no internet and spoke barely any Spanish. Yes, I was a emotional wreck.

After waiting five hours in the airport, he finally came. (He was able to catch the next flight) Thank the Lord! I do not know what I would have done if he hadn't come. It was SO great to see him again. He was obviously very tired, but that did not stop us from enjoying ourselves in Sevilla. Unfortunately, he had brought bad weather with him and it rained for the duration of the day (which was only the second time I had seen it rain in Sevilla. What luck!)
Eating tapas with Pablo and Cristina
We were very blessed and were able to stay with a married couple that I know, Sarah and Jordan...for two nights free of charge! In the evening, we went out to dinner for tapas at my favorite restaurant with a Spanish couple that I met here. Matt hit it off well with them, although he gets along good with everyone. Then afterwards, we went to the church I've been go to a miniature concert. There he was able to meet more of my Spanish friends.

The next couple of nights, we spent in Sevilla…just wandering around. I was super excited to show him where I’d been living.. and what I got to see everyday. We visited a popular park called "El Parque de Maria Luisa", the Plaza de España and the famous Alcazar, which is the royal palace and gardens. Let me tell you, they are beautiful!

In the Plaza de España,
in the section specifically for Sevilla! 
Plaza de España

There are peacocks all around the Alcazar!

In the Alcazar
For Halloween, we went to a pizza place. It was quite the experience… the people were dressed like devils and they were playing weird music in the background of people screaming, cats growling, and people in chains. Super strange, but at least the pizza was tasty!

The night of the 1st, we took a bus to Madrid to catch our flight to Paris. We ended up sleeping in the airport that night, until our flight left bright and early. One thing that is nice about Europe is that you can easily find cheap flights to other countries within Europe. I think we got our return flights for like 10 dollars each. Cheap, huh? The stinky thing, is that the cheap airlines will try to charge you on any little thing they can find after your flight is already booked. So for example, the airline we flew with to Paris, was RyanAir. You can take one carry-on without paying, but it cannot way more than like 15 pounds and has to have specific dimensions. Everything has to be inside your carryon, including purse, food, camera, book.. or anything as such. If they decide to get picky and your bag just happens to be wrong in someway, they will make you check your bag and will charge you.

Matt and his Ham flavored chips
It just so happened, that they day we left.. was a day they decided to be picky. They made each passenger stick their carry-ons in a measurement box and if the bag didn’t fit, then they had to check it. Well… Matt’s didn’t fit. So in order to avoid getting charged, we both put on about 3-4 layers of clothing to make the bags smaller. It worked! The flight was a little.. sweaty but we managed. =) It was also quite comical. The whole flight was like a infomercial. They advertised tons of different things to try to get people to buy, such as perfume, lottery tickets, and stuffed animals. They must be somewhat successful. 

Once we arrived to Paris, we discovered that the airport we landed in was about 45 minutes outside of the actual city. (I guess that is also why the flight was so cheap). Needless to say, we had to get to the city somehow, so the option was to take a bus that cost about 100 dollars in extra expenses.. that we had not anticipated. =/ 

Paris itself was great after we finally found our hotel, but I will talk about it more in my next blog! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Culture 101

            So here you go… I know you’ve all been waiting. How is Spain really different from the United States? This is what I have so far....

This is a meal just for ME. A TON of food as you can see.
It consists of meatballs and mashed potatos, chips and
cheese, bread, cheesecake, fruit, and a plate of dessert.
NO, I did not eat all of it. =) 

* Meal times are drastically different. Breakfast is similar.. at around 8ish, but then lunch is at 2:30 and dinner at 9:30. Breakfast consists of a piece of bread and jam. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Usually, there will be a main course, which could be chicken and fries… Paella…Garbanzo beans and then there is a secondary dish with fish or cheese and meat and crackers. Basically, it’s a big meal. I don’t think I’ve ever finished the entire thing. (And our host mom gets offended when we don't eat all our food and thinks that we don't like it..)

* Food is different. Almost everything is cooked in olive oil, whereas.. we bake a lot of our stuff in the oven.

* Everything, except restaurants and bars close down during the afternoon from about 2-5 for nap time. Nothing is open on Sundays either.

* The temperature is strange. It starts out very cold in the mornings.. get's really warm in the afternoons, and then by the evening is very cold again. The houses aren't really equipped for cold weather either, so many times.. it will be colder inside than outside.

* Everyone smokes. In houses.. outside. You can't go into a restaurant and find a non-smoking area. It just doesn't exist.

Dos Besitos (See description)
* Showers have to be limited. Water is expensive and they don't have a ton of hot we have a 5 minute-ish limit in the shower.

* When you first meet someone...or see a friend you know on the street, you must give them "dos besitos".. or two kisses. You put your cheek against their cheek, first right cheek and then left check. While doing make two kissing sounds. It sounds really awkward and strange...and it is at first, but eventually it becomes normal.

* You never see people on the street dressed casually. Everyone wears cute clothes all the time. Girls always wear fashionable boots with peacoats and lots of jewelry. So it's very easy to pick out an American...because they are usually wearing jeans, a T-shirt and tennis shoes.

* Piropos (Compliments) - It's super, super common for you to be walking down the street and for strangers to say 'hello beautiful' to you. It's not a creepy thing here, but just a compliment.

* People do not smile at strangers.

* Talking loud, is NOT yelling. You will know when a Spaniard is mad.

* Interrupting is not considered rude. If you want to get your voice into a conversation, you have to be willing to interrupt!

* Being 'on time' is relative. If you want your Spanish friends to be on time... tell them to be there 10-15 minutes before you actually want them there...or be prepared to wait.

* There is no such thing as 'tipping' when you go to a restaurant.

* People don't invite friends to their houses. Instead.. they go out for coffee or to get a drink.

As you can see, Spaniards leave no room in
between cars, so that no space is wasted.
(Again, read the description)
* Driving here is crazy.. most everyone has really small cars and try to park in the tightest parking spot ever. In fact, I've also heard that because cars are parked so close together, many people will leave their car in neutral, so that other people can push their car out of the way.

Well, that's a lot for you to read. Hope it wasn't too overwhelming. =) Most everything I've been able to get accustomed to. It has been hard not being able to go to other people's houses to study.. or just hang out. The school isn't open super often, so in order to use the internet or to study...we have to go somewhere and pay for a coffee. Back in the states, I LOVE hosting people...for dinner, for game nights, for movie nights..for basically anything, so this has been hard to get accustomed to. Fortunately, I have made friends with a missionary and gone to her house a couple of times and also gone to the student ministry coordinator's house.

The other thing that has been hard.. has been not having independence. Being married, puts me in a whole new ball game than the other students. It has been nice to not have to cook or do all my laundry, but I also get treated like a kid...since I get yelled at for not wearing a coat in the house (when I'm not cold) or when I don't eat all my lunch. I miss driving too! I look forward to driving again and turning up my music and singing really loud. I walk at least 2 miles everyday and that's just going back and forth from the school once. =)

Hope thanksgiving was great! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

     Only 26 days until I come home. How crazy is that?! Time has flown by faster than I imagined…but that is what everyone told me would happen.

    I feel like I’ve been pretty busy lately, which is good and bad. All semester long, I’ve been taking a Flamenco dance class…which has been really fun, but hard! The dance instructor is so sweet and she’s 4 months pregnant and super cute and she makes it fun! We have one more class and then have our final performance next Monday night. I got my flamenco dress and it’s ridiculously amazing!
My Flamenco Dress!
My friend, Angline and I in our dresses

   I’ve also recently started taking a free salsa dance class. Let me tell you.. I love salsa! Its really good exercise and I leave feeling so refreshed! I’ve already informed Matt that we must take a salsa class when I return. =)

   I´ve been hearing lately via family and facebook that most of you have a lot of snow. I am so jealous! It makes me wish that I were home...playing in the snow and gearing up for Christmas with Black Friday on the way. It´s so strange to think that in Sevilla.. the weather is still fairly nice being in the 60s or 70s during the day. My body is going to be in shock when I come back! I am praying that I will be able to make it back home for Christmas. I fly into Chicago and then to Portland and I´m worried that snow or bad weather will prohibit me from coming. Please be praying! Spending Christmas in Chicago doesn´t sound super appealing.

Making snowflakes with Haya (the girl I work with at the convent)
It was her first time!

Thanks to those of you who reply to my blogs. It’s super great to hear from you and it lets me know that there really are people out there reading about my adventures!

Do you guys have any questions.. or things you would like to hear about in one of my next blogs?

Oh and happy thanksgiving and black friday shopping! Eat lots of turkey for me. :-)