Somos Alemanes

Time seems to go by a lot faster in Spain! This is truly the experience of a lifetime.

Everything has been going very well since I last posted. On Saturday Courtney and I, along with our two good friends Liz and Hannah, decided to take a small day trip to the city of Jerez to explore some more of the Andalusia region of Spain. The hardest part of the entire trip was finding the information center from the bus stop. We decided to stop and ask two older gentlemen for some help, and after I asked them for the plaza, they asked me if I was German! It was exciting to not be immediately pinned as an American for once! We had a great time exploring the city famous for their sherry and touring the beautiful cathedral. There were also small “carnaval” like celebrations happening throughout the city, an event similar to Mardi Gras in the United States (see chicken picture below). The four of us had a wonderful time together, and I am so thankful for each of their friendships!

On Sunday Courtney and I met with our three intercambios for tapas and coffee. It turned in to a four hour event and we had a great time together! Ludi, Lorena and Carmen are all natives to the city and the goals of our meetings are to practice our Spanish and for them to practice their English. Sunday was all Spanish, and by the end of it our brains were fried! We were completely encouraged when they told us that we were very easy to understand and great with the Spanish language! What a confidence booster! We are looking forward to spending more time with them this Saturday 🙂

Our school event last night was attending a Betis soccer game and we were able to get seats 8 rows from the field! It was a lot of fun, and to my Senoras dismay, I think I have officially sided with the Betis fans. It is hard not to after attending two soccer games and cheering for the green and white! I may have bought a very nice green and white scarf yesterday too…

Today has been an extra special day for me! I was finally able to meet the family that asked me to be their intercambio during my time here. What a feeling of home!! They have two children, a son who is thirteen and a daughter who is ten. They all speak English very well! It was so wonderful to sit around in the living room and just talk and laugh together as a family. Their daughter warmed up pretty quickly to me and was sharing her homework and pets with me while I was there. They invited me to come back again on Thursday, and hopefully it will continue as a twice a week time to get together and enjoy each others company all while practicing English and Spanish!

I find myself really missing certain things about home this week. One of the biggest things has been my church family at The Summit. I SO miss serving with them! It has been a month since I touched a piano, and for those of you who know me really well… that is hard! I don’t think I ever knew how much of an outlet sitting down at the piano is for me, and now that I don’t have the opportunity I can definitely feel the void.

God has provided so many awesome relationships here. Each and every day I am thankful for the blessing of my roommate Courtney! I really do not think they could have matched us any better. I am thankful for great relationships with many of the people in my program, as well as having Meryl, my close friend from high school, here as well! This city feels more like home each and every day, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to study here. I hope everyone is doing well and please know that I miss you all!!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

ImageImage

Image

 

 

Advertisements

This Is Home

Hi Everyone,

Today marks three weeks in Sevilla! Our time here is going by so quickly, but I am truly loving every second of it!

This past weekend we went on our first group trip to the beautiful city of Granada. It is about 3 hours east of Sevilla by bus and is in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains. The mountains were snow-capped but the temperatures were in the 50’s and 60’s in the city. Granada is home to the beautiful Alhambra. Friday we took a three-hour guided tour of the Alhambra as well as the Generalife. There are no words to describe the beauty of the palace and the stunning views that overlook the city. Saturday we walked up the hill on the opposite side of the Alhambra to a park that had a stunning view of the mountain side palace. We also saw some of the gypsy caves in the side of the mountains. Courtney and I were also able to visit the beautiful cathedral (we felt so small inside… it was truly breath taking!). We had a wonderful trip and couldn’t have dreamed of better weather either!

One of the highlights of the week was my shopping trip with Courtney, Mallory and Ariel. We were all able to find leather jackets that have proven to be extremely useful! It is very chilly when I walk to class in the morning, but not enough for my big winter coat. Plus, it looks very European and helps this very blonde American fit in just a little more 🙂

Classes have been going very well and it shocks me to say that my favorite class is my grammar class that meets every day at 8:15am. All of my professors are wonderful and I am learning so much. It is neat to be in a city that is full of so much history. I am taking an arts and monuments class, and each time we meet we walk to a different historical landmark of the city. I am taking a Latin American history class and was surprised to learn that Sevilla is home to the body of Christopher Columbus and Sevilla also used to be the main port that all ships going to and coming from the America’s would have to travel through in order to pay their “taxes.”

Yesterday Courtney and I planned a trip to London, England and Dublin, Ireland to celebrate her birthday! I am so excited for the opportunity to see both of these countries while I am here!

It has been a really great week so far, and I cannot describe the feeling of “home” that I finally have after three weeks of living in this city. I know that there is a reason that I am here and I am slowly but surely starting to understand why! Next week I start working with a local family as an intercambio to help them with their English and to practice my Spanish as well!

I miss you all very much and hope that everyone is doing well! I will post some pictures below of the adventures from the past week 🙂

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

ImageImage

Dancing in the Kitchen

Hi friends 🙂

It feels like it has been ages since I was able to sit down and write! The time is flying by and I am learning so much about this country, a new language and about myself.

On Wednesday we had a bus tour of the city. It was a lot of fun and it was neat to see some places that we have not been able to explore yet. Our school is great at planning activities and is definitely keeping us busy! It was a little chilly sitting on the top of the open-air double decker bus, but we had a wonderful time.

Thursday Courtney and I as well as some friends from school went to our first ever European soccer game! We saw Betis play Atletico Madrid. Sevilla has two major soccer teams, Betis and Sevilla, and the fans are very loyal to say the least! Our senora is a huge Sevilla fan, so we will definitely have to make it to a Sevilla game before our time here is done (although from my experience that evening the Betis fans are passionate and have a good time!).

We had classes on Friday (which is not typical) in order to make up for the week long Feria break. Normally La Feria is too late to be included in the Spring Semester, but this year it is early enough that we will be able to experience it! In order to make up for the time off, we will have class on Friday four times throughout the semester. At lunch on Friday our senora asked us if we knew the dance to the song “Gangnam style.” Courtney and I laughed, and somehow we ended up with Courtney’s iphone in the kitchen dancing to Gangnam style. We were all laughing so hard and had such a great time. It is the little things that make this experience the greatest 🙂  Friday evening, the school planned an activity to show us some of the best tapas bars throughout the center of the city. We had a great time experiencing the night life of Sevilla like true Sevillanos, going from bar to bar socializing and enjoying some Sangria or Tinto de Verano along the way.

Saturday was a day full of ups and downs for me, and probably one of the hardest days I have had since being here. We slept late and then walked to the center of the city to enjoy some breakfast and shopping. We enjoyed some pizza for lunch and spent some time sitting in the sun (the weather was beautiful!) at la seta with some friends from the program. Saturday afternoon was particularly difficult as my heart was in Pennsylvania with my family at the funeral of a very close family friend who was like a father to my mom and a grandpa to my sister and me. He was a wonderful man who spent 96 years changing the lives of those around him. He will definitely be missed. I decided to have a low key Saturday evening and joined some friends for dinner and a few tapas. It ended up being a really great evening and we ended it at a popular bar that features live flamenco music. It was beautiful!

Today was a low-key day as well full of yummy montaditos and waffles covered in ice cream and nutella. Courtney and I have definitely been enjoying exploring the different restaurants and cafes of the city!

Tomorrow I am finally getting together with my close friend Meryl who is here studying with a different program. I am so excited to see her! We also start our flamenco class tomorrow and I will be starting my internship at a local school where I will be helping out with music classes! I cannot wait to finally be able to play piano after what seems like an eternity of not playing! I am looking forward to securing a routine this week (that hopefully includes some running!) and our weekend trip to Granada. I hope everyone is doing well! Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to read through some of the adventures from Spain 🙂 I will post some pictures from the week below!

ImageImageImage

 

Family

Tomorrow I can officially say that I have been living in Spain for a week. It is crazy how the time has already flown by. Courtney and I get the days mixed up all the time!

Sunday was a chilly rainy day, but Courtney and I decided to take our last day before school started to explore the city more and we walked to the river and saw the most famous bridge in Sevilla. It was beautiful despite the rainy weather. Before stopping for lunch we decided to try and use my bank card at an ATM to see if we would have any luck that day. To my surprise it worked!! I was so thankful to know that it was finally up and running! We stopped at a small cafe for bocadillas and our first ever cup of hot chocolate in Sevilla. In case you are wondering… Sevilla has the greatest hot chocolate in the entire world. The best way I know how to describe it is a full cup of melted hershey’s chocolate bars. It is absolutely delicious! We returned home after our adventure and ended up sitting around the heavenly coffee table with Charo (our Senora) and watched two movies in Spanish. We all ate dinner together after and sat around the kitchen table talking and laughing together. I cannot describe to you the happiness that I felt in this moment knowing that Courtney and Charo were going to be my family in this place that is slowly becoming very much like home. It amazes me that despite some of the language barriers, we are all able to communicate and have a wonderful time together.

Monday was our first day of classes. We only have class Monday-Thursday, and each morning I begin at 8:15am with my intensive composition and conversation class. What a wake up call! Both of my Monday classes only have one other student in them and I am excited to see how the very small class size will affect what I will learn during my time here. After class I went with some friends from school to have cafe con leche and tostada (coffee with milk and toast), two very popular items here in the city. The coffee here is wonderful! Monday evening we met our intercambios (native speaking partners) and I am looking forward to working with them soon!

Tuesday and Thursday are my busy days with three classes in a row. I came home after class today and took full advantage of siesta by taking an hour long nap. Speaking in a language that is not your native language is tiring in addition to all of the walking that we do throughout the city, but I can already hear some of the changes in my ability to communicate in Spanish. After class we went shopping with some of the girls from our program. Sevilla has wonderful stores and places to shop (it may be a problem for my suitcase on the way home…) and right now is their biggest sale time since it is after Christmas. All of the shopping is within five minutes of school! Courtney and I were finally able to activate our Spanish cell phones tonight and are thankful to finally be on the grid in Sevilla!

This city and the activities and friends from school are good distractions from homesickness and loneliness. There are definitely things that I miss (The Summit, my friends and family, and playing the piano), but the “voids” that I thought I would feel have definitely been filled with new and exciting things and people here in Sevilla. Thank you all for being such an amazing support system! Miss you all!

Bread, Generic Nutella and Cinco Madres

What a whirlwind of an arrival it has been! On Thursday we had our first orientation at the university in the morning. My classmates are very nice and it seems like we are going to have a great semester together! All of the faculty of the SAIIE program are fantastic and have already been a tremendous help during our transition into the Sevillano lifestyle. After orientation my roommate Courtney and I decided to take our map and explore the city. We wanted to see the river. We ended up walking for about three hours through the city, seeing the river, Plaza de Toros (where they have the bull fights), Torre de Oro and last but certainly not least La Plaza de Espana. I cannot describe to you the beauty of this city and how excited I am to be able to spend three and a half months here! We returned to the school after our walk and were please to find our luggage! However, we ended up pulling our luggage for a mile through the cobblestone streets of Sevilla after our three hour walk. We were quite ready for the big lunch and siesta that greeted us when we arrived home. That evening we went to see flamenco. The music and dancing were absolutely beautiful, and it was such a pleasure to enjoy both of my passions – Spanish culture/language and music!

On Thursday we went back to school for more orientation. On the way to school I tried to use my travel money card that I brought and I couldn’t get it to work. At school I talked with the director of student affairs (Sam – she is awesome!) and she informed me that they do not work here. Unfortunately this is my only source of money. After orientation the school walked our entire group to La plaza de Espana and we took some group pictures and enjoyed the afternoon together. On the way back Courtney (my roommate) and I stopped and tried my card at multiple ATM’s and it did not work at any. Thankfully my parents and Duane and Marcela have figured something out with the help of Marcela’s family in Spain to take care of the issue! My senora has been a tremendous help in the entire thing and is making sure I am good to go even on the days that she is not required to cook for me. She’s the best! So thanks to my cinco madres – Mom, Marcela, Vivi, Vero and Charo for taking care of me!

Thursday evening the university held a welcome party for us that included tapas, sangria, sodas and beer. Sangria may be my new favorite thing! We had an awesome time getting to know each other better and enjoying some Spanish food favorites along the way.

Today has been a lazy day recovering from some of the craziness. After feeling pretty defeated, Courtney and I ran to the closest store and grabbed some bread and generic nutella and it sure brightened our spirits. This afternoon we are going to meet Stacie and Paige, two of my good friends from High Point who are also studying in Sevilla with a different program. I cannot wait to see them!

Below are some pictures from the Plaza de Espana, flamenco, a picture with Courtney, and la seta (mushroom) which is a large structure in Sevilla on our walk to school. Miss you all!!ImageImageImage Image

Home Sweet Home

We finally made it to Sevilla today! Thankfully there were quite a few students traveling to Sevilla on both of my flights today and I was thankful to have some friends to make the long day better. On my flight from Newark to Portugal I ended up having a row of four seats to myself and I was able to get some sleep and stretch out during the overnight flight. I had a four hour layover in Lisbon before getting on the smallest plane I have ever seen to go from Lisbon to Sevilla. There were a maximum of 18 people on the flight. We made it to Sevilla safely and the flight was beautiful. My large checked bag did not make it to Sevilla. I am praying that it arrives tomorrow!

My Senora is wonderful! She gave me a big hug when I came “home” (just what I needed after finding out I didn’t have my bag) and she showed me all around her beautiful apartment. I am excited to have a roommate named Courtney and she has been a total blessing! I am looking forward to getting to know her more throughout our time in Sevilla. My favorite part of the apartment is the living room because of the large coffee table that you sit around. The buildings in Sevilla are designed to keep cool since the majority of the time the weather is very hot. However, January and February tend to be in the 40’s during the evenings. The large coffee table has a long table cloth that touches the floor, and underneath the table they keep a heater. Everyone sits in the living room close to the coffee table and pulls the table cloth up like a blanket, releasing the heat under the table. I must say that today I didn’t want to leave the coffee table!

We toured the city this evening and figured out how to get from our apartment to our university. It is about a 15-20 minute walk and I have a lot to learn!! I am so excited to explore the city and truly make this place my home! ImageImage

Saying Goodbye

I can’t believe that I leave for Spain tomorrow! The past two weeks have been filled with time spent with loved ones in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania. I was able to spend five days in High Point saying goodbye to friends from school as well as worshiping one more time at The Summit. The weekend before I was able to spend some time at a beautiful log cabin retreat with the ladies that were a part of a Bible study I was involved in this summer. My heart is full as I prepare to leave tomorrow and I am so excited for the new friendships and relationships that are to come!

Mom and Dad are taking me to the airport tomorrow. We will have a little bit of a drive to get there since my flight is out of Newark, but it will allow for lots of quality time before I take off! Dad and I are taking my bags to work tomorrow to make sure that they are not overweight. It was quite the battle getting 4 months and 2 seasons worth of clothing, shoes, school supplies, books and coats into one checked bag and one carry on bag! Hopefully everything is good to go in the morning. My flight leaves around 6pm tomorrow evening

I am so excited for this opportunity! Prayers for safe travels and a smooth transition into living in Spain with my family would be greatly appreciated! More to come after my trip across the pond 🙂

Countdown to take-off

It is hard to believe that in three short weeks I will finally begin the adventure of a lifetime. It has been quite the journey preparing for my semester abroad, but the visa has arrived, the plane tickets have been purchased, my classes are all set and all of my stuff has been successfully moved out of my room back to Pennsylvania. My fall semester this year was by far the best semester I have had at High Point thanks to new and continued friendships, dedicated professors, a successful junior recital and the opportunity to serve as a member of the worship team with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met at The Summit Church. Little did I know, the events and the relationships from this semester have created the greatest support system I could ask for as I get ready to travel across the world.

Take-off is set for January 15th, and I am thankful to know that there are at least two other High Point students on my flight. I am waiting to hear about the family I will be staying with during my time there. I am so excited for what God has in store for this trip and so thankful for the opportunity to be immersed in a language that I truly love. I cannot wait to share in this journey with each of you. Many thanks for continued support, love and prayers during this adventure!