Wednesday, September 26, 2007

you speaka de ingles?

dinner at my house usually consists of us eating in silence while maría luisa talks to the tv and then looks at us expectantly. at which point, we make the appropriate nod or "i know. i can´t believe it either" face. occasionally, she talks to us at length, but is very hard to understand so we never really know what´s going on.

the other night, we were peacefully enjoying the awesome tortilla de españa that i´ve grown to love (and will make for everyone when i return), when maría luisa starts talking to us. she started out slowly, so i was able to catch "two men....known a long time...very" then she got fast so i just kept nodding and smiling because we were in "what the heck is going on?" territory. when we left the table, i asked my roommate if she got any of it, and we came up with something like this: maría luisa and miguel have two old man friends who might be lawyers and want to speak english. and we´d practice our spanish with them. but we have to pay. and i think we agreed to do it already. crap.

the next day, miguel approached me with the same proposition. however, he is much easier to understand to i was able to get this: "two men...i work out at the gym with them....very nice...they want to practice english...they pay." at this point things started to make sense. i like this idea. we go, once a week, and speak english to these two men, and they pay us!

last night was our first class. it wasn´t until we left that i actually understood what was going to take place every week. just like miguel said, they´re lawyers who took english classes a long time ago and want to stay fluent. they pay us 7.50 euros a week for an hour to sit and discuss topics and read to them and translate. they´re hilarious too! when we got there, they were only speaking spanish to us and they explained what was going to go down in spanish, so i still wasnt too sure what we were getting into, but it all turned out ok. the only problem we had was getting out of the building. there´s a button you have to push for one door, and a button for another door, and the elevator´s really confusing. we were locked in for a little while because he explained to us how to exit the building, but it was in spanish. don´t these people get that i don´t understand them?! oh well, it was an adventure, and now i´m 7.50 richer, so all in all, it´s a good deal.

Monday, September 24, 2007

they call me the wanderer...

this weekend: GENEVA, switzerland
oct 5-6: lyon, france?
oct 26-nov 3: ireland and italy
nov 30-dec 2: brussels, belgium
dec 6-9: munich, germany

so many countries, so little time...

Friday, September 21, 2007

club habitación?

so lately my bedroom has become a constant discoteca. at first i was comforted by the ghetto music blaring out of my downstairs neighbors´ apartment into the courtyard. i enjoyed hearing old-school rap and 90´s pop set to techno beats come floating up on the warm spanish breeze and in through my window. "i´ll be missin´you" became my new theme song and n´sync sang me to sleep at night. but now it´s just getting ridiculous. even during siesta, the sweet, sweet time set aside just for rest is drowned out by the sounds of awful spanish pop. the kind of songs where there are only enough beats for four words, but to say it in spanish they have to use twelve. and it´s not just on, playing softly in the background either. the tiny courtyard that my window looks out over acts as an amplifier for the already blaring music. not to mention the man that lives there who tries desperately to sing along with the english songs in his broken, tone-deaf spanish...

sometimes i let it get to me. sometimes i want to shout at them to "shut it off, for the love of god. please, shut it off."

but every now and then, i get up from my chair where i´m trying to read my book and strike a pose to the sweet sounds of madonna...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

well, tomorrow i give my first spanish report of the semester. my topic is...the amish. my professor thinks it´s hilarious that i´m from pennsylvania and live near amish. he´s always asking if i´ve ever talked to them and how they do things. so right now, i am supposed to be researching and translating things for my presentation. but i´m too excited about the chinese food awaiting me at lunch! yay for chinos!

side note: i talked to sam yesterday!! yay for friends in south korea! it literally made my day.

Monday, September 17, 2007

córdoba, málaga

friday we went to córdoba with the school and walked among the ancient muslim ruins that are older than our country. this is still blowing my mind a little bit. it was beautiful. if i ever find a computer that isn´t slower than something so slow i can´t even think of a comparison for it, i´ll post pictures of the trip. we also went to the mezquita which is an ancient muslim mosque. way cool. again, pictures later.

saturday, we went to málaga to meet JACKIE and swim in the mediterranean. that´s right, the MEDITERRANEAN! i swam in it. and it was so salty that you didn´t even have to tread water to float. you could just stay there, suspended in the water. it was so surreal and i still can´t believe i did it. jackie had a friend in málaga that was an exchange student in her high school (josé), so we met up with him and he showed us around. we had paella for lunch (delicious and filling for so cheap!), and went to the beach, and then we partied. hard. (don´t worry mom.) josé showed us how to botellón málaga style, and then we went to a boat club. and when i say boat i mean ship. and when i say club i mean discoteca. complete with strobe lights and music so loud i think i was a little deaf when we left. we danced our hearts out. until 6:30 am. this country is insane.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the rain in spain...

it´s been raining here for the last couple of days (which i love due to the break in extreme heat) and the spaniards just don´t know what to do. the other night we went out for tapas and then wandered to the plaza de san francisco where the symphony orchestra was playing. there were thousands of people there to watch it and the show was incredible. just as the orchestra reached their final crescendo and rose to take a bow, rain started to fall. at first it was just a few harmless drops, at which point, panic struck the faces of the natives as they started to high tail it out of there. then it actually started to rain. mass chaos ensued. people trying to run to the nearest overhang were knocking over chairs and old people and children and whatever else was in their path. i´ve never seen people in such a frenzy over rain before. my group guide, isaias was screaming at us that we had to run to starbucks because he knew it was open and we had to stay dry! it was hilarious. there were literally thousands of people lining the buildings along the streets hoping that the six inch ledge would shield them from the rain that you would think was going to kill them. it´s as though they thought they were made of peeps and were therefore going to melt. thankfully, i´ve lived in beaver falls for the last three years, where for the number of sunny days we have had here, it´s probably been raining there. a seasoned veteran, i sucked it up and raised my arms to the sky, enjoying the cool breeze that came along with it. crazy spaniards...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

so i fully intended on posting pictures and explaining the bull fight today, but none of the computers are letting me upload my pictures. this makes me angry. i´ll try again another day.

recap: dancing! oh boy, spaniards are crazy. we went out at 2 and got back at 6 which is the norm here, and when i left the club at 5:30, they were still letting people in. it was packed the whole time too. the thing i like about spain is that everyone here can dance. and i mean, actually dance. it´s crazy. it also makes me realize just how much rhythm i actually lack. we met some people, which always proves to be interesting, and danced until we couldn´t dance no more. all in all, it was fun. i´d definitely go again.

barrio santa cruz what an awesome place. it´s right in the middle of the city and used to be reserved for jewish living quarters. it´s streets are too small for cars to drive on, so everyone walks or bikes through it. it´s so easy to get lost, but then you kind of hope you do so you can find awesome little shops and cafes. i love it. i´ll probably go at least once a day to try and find something new.

bullfight like i said, more to come later, but for now, it rocked. i absolutely loved it. even though we saw a fight with only half grown bulls, it was totally worth it. most of the girls that went with us cried, but i guess i´m a terrible person with a lump of coal for a heart and no soul because i found myself cheering and clapping when the bulls (all six of them) went down. it was such a cool process and they present it like it´s an art. way cool.

this weekend: córdoba on friday and málaga on saturday and sunday (with jackie!!!) i´m pumped.

Monday, September 10, 2007

fooled again...and again.

lately, my señora has proven herself to be a master of deception. it all started at dinner one evening last week. each night, maría prepares our plates and hands them to us through the little window in the wall. it´s always an adventure, waiting to see what it will be, whether or not it´s recognizable. this particular evening, my heart soared, my spirits lifted when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a plateful of mini corn dogs! anyone who has spent any time with me knows that mini corn dogs are my #3 favorite food. i could not believe it. and i shouldn´t have. it was too good to be true. i placed my fork to cut the "mini corn dog" and expected some resistance (due to the delightul little hot dog hidden inside), however, my fork slid right through it revealing some sort of white paste. i think a little part of me died right then. but i thought, what the heck. i might as well eat it. there´s no other option. it´s consistency was that of the paste you make from flour and water as a child. and that´s about what it tasted like too. it turned out to be a combo of flour, potatoes, eggs, and ham (although i couldn´t seem to find it) fried in batter. fool me once...

incident number two: see post entitled "my chest is on fire!" fool me twice...

incident number three: we sit at the table and hear the deep fryer going in the kitchen. great, i think to myself. more dough nuggets. at least i know what they are this time. sure enough she passes though a plate with dough nuggets, doritos, and ONION RINGS! this is also reason for celebration as my roommates can tell you i often have cravings for onion rings. i couldn´t have been more excited. i saved them to the very end, i even ate all of the doritos first. i smelled the delicious deep-fried O and prepared to enter heaven. i took a large bite and what the heck??!! why is this CHEWY? oh crap. please god, don´t let this be what i think it is. it can´t be right? i mean, it´s in a perfect O. that doesn´t make sense. "señora, what is this?" "es un pescado (seafood)." unbelievable. she duped me into eating squid. deep-fried not oniony goodness at all squid. thankfully it didn´t taste like anything, so i was able to finish it. however, i do not enjoy chewing on deep-fried rubber. fool me three times...

incident number four: (as you can see this is becoming a pattern, but i´m telling you, the woman is tricky) we had finished our dinner, safely might i add, and miguel came home from work with a bag of food. he put it on a plate and literally shoved it at me, saying, "comer!" (eat). i asked what it was called and he replied with something like "tismichi con patates." i thought, well, he didn´t say potates, which means potatoes, but it was close, and those things look an awful lot like french fries. i might as well. as soon as i put it in my mouth, i could have kicked myself. squid again. those people tricked me into eating squid TWICE in the same week! fool me no more, i say! never again will i be exploited in this manner. from now on, i am on my guard and always expecting the worst.

more to come on the bullfight later...

Friday, September 7, 2007

este fin de semana (the weekend)

i believe we have plans for dancing tonight, which should prove to be note worthy in later entries. we also might go to the beach tomorrow. and we have a bullfight on sunday (which i am very excited for). ten un buen fin de semana!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

you´re wearing that? and, my chest is on fire!

the phrase, "you´re wearing that?," often spoken by my mother before i would leave the house, runs through my head on a daily basis here. i always feel completely underdressed. to say that spanish women "get dolled up" would be an understatement. every day before leaving the house, they put on their best clothes. they would never be caught dead in public in running attire, unless they were actually running. even jeans here are very casual unless you are wearing three pounds of jewelry on your neck, arms, and ears to take the attention away from your jeans. anyone who knows me knows that this is not my style, so i am sucking up the curious, "she must be american" stares i receive on my walk to and from school, and rolling with it. occasionally, i get a little dressed up, but that is increasingly becoming an impossibility as my señora has yet to do our laundry. packing only one suitcase seemed like a good idea at the time, but now i desperately wish i had more clothes! at least my undies supply is holding up...we´ll see for how long, though.

in other news, i literally ate fire yesterday, or so it seemed. after lunch and before siesta, a common practice is to eat la merenda (or afternoon snack). we hadn´t done this until yesterday, when my señora brought us out pieces of the breakfast bread i´ve been eating every day. it´s kind of like a marble pound cake and is delightfully delicious. when i saw it i thought, "nice. finally something i recognize and enjoy." that thought was quickly replaced with terror and confusion when as we started to pick up our spoons to eat it, our señora shouted, "espera!" which means wait. so we waited as she went to the cupboard and pulled out a bottle of liquor that i took to be a sweet liquor that accompanied desserts. i waited with excited anticipation to try the spanish delight as she doused my cake in this deceptive clear liquid. i took a large bite and my mouth exploded as though i had done a shot of fire water. i thought, something is terribly wrong here. i can´t feel my tongue and my lips might just fall off. my señora said something at this point which i could not hear due to the intense ringing in my ears. i don´t know what it was, but i know that after i finished the cake i found myself checking to see if i had hair on my chest. each shot-filled bite made me wish i had gone in for siesta when i first had the notion to. needless to say, i slept soundly after the approximately two shots of mystery booze that had accompanied my dessert...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

my address, for those of you who have been asking, is:

Joanna Willits
Semester In Spain
Paseo de Cristina 1-3
Entreplanta A-B
41001 Seville

...hint hint.

Monday, September 3, 2007

this is where it all goes down

la plaza de españa

la plaza de españa

this is the street where i live! (i couldn´t rotate these two)

el catedral at night

and the day
that´s all for now because it literally took me two hours to load these.
this weekend was pretty uneventful. we mostly just slept or read or whatever because it was too hot and we were too tired to do anything. the food has been great here lately. we went out for pizza on friday night! something familiar! as of now i´ve tried gazpacho (cold tomato soup with cucumbers), arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), la langosta (a little lobster complete with head that i had to rip off and suck out...please god never let that happen again), tortilla española (basically like a potato omlette) and many other things i can´t even begin to describe. it has definitely been a stretching experience. especially for my stomach since my señora insists on making us eat more and more and more. i´m convinced she is fattening us up for some wierd spanish sacrificial ceremony. we´ll see.

today was our first day of classes. not too rough. it was pretty funny to hear our spanish professor try to speak engilsh to us. we don´t have homework yet, so that´s nice. and i already knew most of what he was teaching. however, it didn´t really help with not knowing what everyone else in this country is saying. it has helped to watch movies that are originally in english and dubbed in spanish. for example, the other night, we watched "como dios" (bruce almighty). hilarious. and they have commercials here for american products but give them spanish names. like here, mr. clean is don limpio. tv is the highlight of our day as it is very important in the spanish culture. it´s on during every meal and stays on for most of the day.

i´m off for lunch...i wonder what it will be today.