December 19, 2011
When I left for Spain, I did not know exactly what I was getting into, and there was a lot that I did not know about the country. Here I am though, four months later, and Spain seems very comfortable to me. I have learned so much about the culture, and I will never forget this experience.
After our final exam on Friday, we said our final goodbyes to all of the teachers and everyone who would not be flying on the group flight. Our class of intermediate students bought a picture frame for Ana with a picture from our dinner at her house.
Saying goodbye to Isabel was definitely one of the hardest goodbyes. She said she was not going to wake up as we left because she did not like goodbyes. Instead, she just wanted to pretend like we would see her the next day and we said "hasta luego" (until later) followed by some besitos (the cheek kisses) and thank-yous before she went to bed. I will definitely miss her and how she did everything she did for us with love.
For our final night on the town, we enjoyed one last Flamenco concert before heading to bed for two hours, as we had to leave at 3:30 to walk to the airport bus stop. The sleeping did not actually happen for me, as my mind was racing with feelings of happiness yet sadness.
I said goodbye to this as I walked over the bridge for the last time.
Overall, I am sure this semester will stick out to me as I look back on my college life. I have learned a lot of Spanish and hopefully I will find opportunities to continue practicing it. I am very happy to be home right now for Christmas and I cannot wait to see all of the people I missed for so long. Thanks for reading my blog!
Christmas is in the Air
December 14, 2011
Walking around in Sevilla at night just got even more enjoyable. Now there are Christmas lights over almost every street, and each street has a different theme. It is a sign that Christmas is very near, and it also means that we are almost done with our semester abroad.
The last couple weeks have been filled with "villancicos," or Christmas carols. First, we sang them at the Hospital de Caridad, where I had been playing bingo and dominoes every week. We sang what seemed like about 20 carols for them, most of which were bilingual. The men seemed very happy to hear us despite our general lack of talent as a singing group.
The next week, we sang songs for the children at a convent at their Christmas party. We had bake sales throughout the year to raise money for the party, so we were able to buy all the kids gifts. It was great getting to see the kids open what would probably be one of their only Christmas presents with such enthusiasm. We also played a holiday-themed game with the kids.
I also got to see Isabel setting up her nativity scene. Several of the churches had signs advertising their nativity setup inside the church, and there was a huge fair going on for the past month outside of the Cathedral that sold figurines for the nativity scenes along with animals to accompany them.
The Great Peacock Debate (along with some other site seeing)
December 5, 2011
Despite having lived in Sevilla for so long, there were still a few must-see places that we still had not visited until recently. Therefore, we dedicated the last two weekends to doing just that.
First, there is the palace called the Alcàzar. Most of the palace is now open to the public, but some of it is still private so the royal family can still use it. The inside of the palace is yet another example of the Muslim influence from their reign in Spain. It has a lot of traits of the Muslim architecture including baths, mosaics, and a dome.
My favorite part of the Alcàzar, however, was the world of gardens outside the main building. If you are walking in the center of Sevilla, it is hard to picture where they would possibly be able to fit so many gardens right in the middle of a city, but they were there.
The gardens are complete with a small hedge maze, waterfalls, fountains, and, of course, peacocks. A fun fact is that peacock in Spanish is "pavo real," which means "real turkey."
Mark and I were able to go on a trip to Aracena, a small city about an hour and a half west from Sevilla.
The most noticeable thing about the small town is that there is a castle on the top of a hill that you can see from almost every spot in the city.
We also went on a cave tour while in Aracena. The caves were beautiful and there were huge crystal formations along with some of the clearest water I have ever seen. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures in the caves, but they probably would not have done them justice anyway.
The final must-do was climbing the Giralda, the huge tower connected to the Sevilla Cathedral.
Upon entering the cathedral, we saw yet another breathtaking display of pipe organs, altars, and Christopher Columbus' grave. After taking all this in, we headed to the tower and walked up 34 small ramps once used by men on horses to ring the bells and finally arrived at the highest point in Sevilla.
From the Giralda, we could see everything from the Plaza de Toros to the huge bridges along the river. We waited for the sun to set behind the mountains before making our way back down.
This week, we have yet another week of holidays, with classes only on Wednesday and Friday. I am going to try to make the most of it as it is the last week before exams and then my return.