July 2010 Archives

Three days left!

As I'm studying for finals and writing my last papers I can't believe it's almost over!

I can't even begin to sum up what I've learned this past month, I will write more when I get home and have a chance to process through everything a little more. I think I realized the last few days, how much I just expected to come here and study spanish. Although my Spanish has improved tremendously, I am no longer afraid to start random conversations with anyone who will listen! But I have learned so much more. We have seen SO much of Spain. This weekend we headed south to Seville and Granada which are both centers of Spanish culture.

We visited the Alhombra in Granada which was the last moorish outpost in Spain that was conquered by the Reyes Catolicos (Catholic Kings) in 1492. Later Napoleon used it as a fortress when he invaded Spain and Franco also used the fortress as one of his bases during the Spanish Civil war. The area was BEAUTIFUL and it was difficult to believe that so many people had used it during so many times of war. THe gardens were spectacular and meticulous on every level. It is so encouraging to see how much Spaniards know and remember from their history. Everyone can tell you endless details about the history as well as the literature and culture of their country. It makes me more interested in where my family has come from and the history of my region.

All this to say, I love Spain! And I can't believe I have to leave...but at the same time I can't wait to see my family and friends.

Time passes so quickly!

I can't believe we have only a little more than a week left! At first I felt like we would be here forever, and now it's almost done!

This is such a beautiful place. Everyone should come to Spain at some point in there life:) Living with a family has been such an incredible experience. It allows me to be a part of the life here in such a special way. Even as we watch the news together I feel like I get to be part of my host mom's life. This week I went to mass with her and a friend. We picked up her friend on our way. Every week my host mom picks her up and helps her to church because she can hardly walk. We walked a few blocks to the church and went inside for the service. There were probably seventy people in a giant church and there were maybe two people under the age of 60. I couldn't believe it, but I think its very common in Spain. Even though there is such a strong Catholic heritage, most people are far from religious. Even though I wasn't quite sure what was going on most of the time, it was an eye-opening experience. Afterwards we went to the house of my host mom's friend and ate icecream and sat on her balcony overlooking the city. They thought my blond hair and blue eyes were pretty exciting:)

The most rewarding parts of this trip have been the times I have been able to get glimpses of the Spanish way of life. Even more than language or study of the history, I have enjoyed sitting with my host mom at night while she irons and we talk about the different issues facing Spain or what her life is like. I still cannot believe I have the opportunity to be immersed in such a rich culture!

Culture....always adjusting:)

We've been in Salamanca almost two weeks now! Mostly it feels like I just got here a couple days ago, but other times I think about all that I have experienced and I feel like we've been here for months.

As a group we've been talking a lot about adjusting to culture. Most would think of culture shock as occurring in a place where there is no clean water and you sleep on the dirt floor. However, many of us are experiencing hard times as we learn to live in a new place, wonderful as it is.

Learning how to communicate is such a huge challenge. Even though all of us know quite a bit of Spanish, it's difficult at times to completely express what you want to say. This can be difficult! It's frustrating at times to constantly have to think before you speak....which maybe isn't a bad thing:D

Learning how to adjust is just as much a part of this trip for me as learning Spanish. I love culture and the different ways people live around the world. It is so fascinating to me, and even though it is difficult at times, we are all growing so much in so many more ways than just our language studies!

¡Viva Espana!

I couldn't believe the excitement as we watched the finals of the World Cup in the Plaza Mayor. I never thought I would get the chance to be part of such an incredible event! When the goal was scored, the entire plaza erupted. I have never seen anything like it!

We were talking throughout the day about the Spaniards pride for their country. Even though I am extremely proud to be an American, I feel that there is often so much division within our country that people often rarely identify with a unified nation. It was so amazing to see an entire country come behind the team and offer support in anyway they could! Every conversation I had ended with Viva Espana! and I rarely doubt many Spaniards missed the game!

Everywhere we go, people are ready to talk about Spain, the culture, the history and the people. It's beautiful and it makes me want to learn more about the traditions and different cultures that make up the United States.

Pictures.....still working on it!

One more thing...I'm trying to figure out the picture situation! I will keep working on it:) I am not technically great so we shall see how it goes:)

World Cup Finals!

A tip to anyone who loves to experience new things: go to the country that is playing the finals of the world cup! It is so crazy here. We watched the semifinals a couple days ago in the Plaza Mayor with hundreds of Salamentines (locals from Salamanca). It was SO exciting!! Restaurants line the inside of the plaza and they put up huge tvs everywhere. Flags were everywhere and EVERYONE was wearing a jersey! It was amazing. Needless to say, chaos ensued when they won! My walk home was entertaining as thousands of people, most of whom had had a little too much to drink, ran down the streets. I feel like I'm getting the chance of a lifetime to be here tonight! Go España!!!!

Living in a home has been such an incredible experience! I have learned so much more about the culture than I would have if I had stayed with my group the whole time. My host mom is incredible. She won't let me do anything by myself! She washes our clothes and irons EVERYTHING! Today she explained to me how much better an ironed towel is than a non-ironed towel! Apparently there is a huge difference.

We went to Leon and Zamora yesterday. After a day of touring TONS of cathedrals and castle ruins I was extremely tired, but it was an amazing day. There is so much history here, it makes me feel so unaware of the culture and people that lived in America hundreds of years ago. I realized how everything in the US is so NEW. I'm not sure if I could tell you what Minnesota was like in the 800s!

Hasta Luego!

Adjusting to my new life!

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Sorry for not writing sooner! I arrived in Salamanca three days ago, and finding internet is a little difficult! I will attempt to update as much as possible.

Salamanca is incredible! I can't believe I get to live here, even if it's only for a month. Life in Spain is so much more relaxed, the focus on time is much less than in the United States. I fit right in:) Salamanca is about the size of Duluth, but it is much easier to navigate on foot. We have all been walking everywhere! It feels like hours every day, but I think it is the Spanish way! Everywhere you go you see couples and families walking through the streets.

All twenty one of the students from UMD met our host families when we got off the bus from Madrid. I met my host mom, she is sixty one and has been having students stay in her home year round for over 10 years. She's amazing! I feel like I have a Spanish grandma. She cooks and cleans and stops me when I try to help:) She is so gracious to me as I am learning Spanish and always helps me figure out words I don't know.

We all started our classes today. There are over hundreds maybe even thousands of students in Salamanca this summer from all over the world studying Spanish. My grammar class this morning had mostly students from the U.S. as well as Brazil, England, and Thailand! It's so interesting to be in such a diverse community where Spanish is the common language between everyone! I love it!

We are in Salamanca for the next four weeks, but on the weekends we will be traveling to several cities throughout Spain. This weekend we travel to Leon and Zamora for the day. The next weekend we spend the day in Saturday. Then the following weekend we will spend three days in Andalucía which is in the southern part of Spain. Here we will see much of the art that was influenced by the Muselmanes (Arabs) that controlled Spain for almost 700 years. I have heard it is beautiful! But also extremely hot!

I will update again soon!

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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