28 February 2009

I want to watch HSM3

Palabra del dia: coincidencia --> coincidence (that was an easy one!)

Last weekend about half of the students in my program bought silly costumes, got picnics from their host families, and hopped a bus to Cadiz. It's about a 5 hour drive, depending on stops of course. Why Cadiz, you ask? Carnaval. It is somewhat like Mardi Gras, or so I'm told. Everyone dresses up in costumes and hangs out in the streets singing, dancing, and drinking for hours on end, literally. The party started at about 10pm and didn't end until probably 4 or 5am. It was quite the experience. When we got to Cadiz, the sun was just about to set, so we went to the beach to take pictures and marvel at the beautifulness of the ocean. And it was beautiful, let me tell ya. Then we walked for what seemed like forever, finally finding the cathedral and allllllllllll the people at Carnaval. There were so many people there I literally couldn't move. But apparently that's part of the experience, so whatever. It was interesting to say the least, and we met lots of interesting people. Around 3am, some friends and I decided we'd had enough of the craziness and went to find the beach (and a bathroom, which is harder than you think because nothing is open past midnight in Spain, expept the discos). We found both, and decided we'd try to sleep on the beach. In theory, good idea. In reality, not so much. It was freezing and we didn't have a blanket or anything, so we tried to sleep on some big boulders. Finally after about an hour, we had to go find a bathroom again, and found a bar that wasn't open, but the employees were still there. They let us in and let us stay in the warmth for a while, which was nice. One of the guys even fell in love with Betsy. How sweet. After that, we met some new friends from France and walked around with them for a while before we had to return to our bus at 7:30am to go back to Granada. Basically, the most ridiculous 24 hours of my life. Wouldn't do it again, but it was an experience I won't forget.


Yesterday we took a field trip to Cordoba with the program. It is about 2 hours away. There we saw a really cool cathedral, some museums, and an ancient city. I am amazed everytime at the age of the cities here because we just don't have anything like it in the States. The architecture of course is amazing and my pictures don't even begin to show the splendor of it all.

Behind me are the arches of the enterance to an ancient city near Cordoba, Madinat-al-Zahra.

Side note: all day long I was in Javier's group, the IES Granada director. He is from Spain, but is married to a woman from Kansas, so he understands the whole being from America thing. However, when he spoke to us in Spanish, I was amazed because I could understand it clearly with little thinking or translating in my head. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to me. Although there are always vocab words that I don't know, I'm really improving in my overall comprehension and speaking of Spanish. I LOVE IT!!!


Last thing. First of all, I have an amazing host mom. I can't really say that enough. The other day, she let me have Ronni and Betsy over for coffee. We had fun talking and learning and they both love Maricarmen. She even made us a french-toast-like pastry to go with our coffee, complete with china coffee cups. Anyway, here's the funny thing. Before Betsy and Ronni came over, Maricarmen and I somehow got on the subject of my heart procedure I had done in December (if you don't know what I'm talking about, look at old posts). Turns out, she has the EXACT SAME condition. Hm, interesting. She hasn't had the procedure, but takes medicine for it. Weird how something like this can cause her and I to bond. Oh, and here's a picture of Ronni and Betsy, two of my closest friends here, so you know who I'm talking about. They live across the street from me and have been such a blessing to me overall since I've been here. I'm so happy I met them and really don't know if my time here would have been the same without them. Thanks girls, for loving me and caring for me and being my best friends here. You guys rock!

Betsy and Ronni. How cute!

That's all for now. More updates to come soon I'm sure! Hasta luego!

20 February 2009

You're such a ham

Palabra del dia: No pasa nada! --> Don't worry about it! (Okay, so really it's a phrase)

I started my university class this week. I tried one class, and it wasn't too swell, so I went to another one that my friend Ronni convinced me to go to. The class is called "Anthropology of Ethnicity." And that's basically what it is. The professor is hilarious and really nice and there's no tests. Yes, you read that right. No tests. Hallelujah! Of course we have other work, but it's no big. I'd totally rather read and write than study and take a test. And we are required to do work that gets us out into the community and gets us working with Spanish students in the class. Also, for our last project, we have to write a paper and present it. Here's the catch: for the first 5 minutes of the presentation, we have to present in our native language (which is English for me, duh). What's the point of this, you ask? To show those whose native language is Spanish what it is like to be a non-native speaker in a class that is taught in Spanish. How cool is that?! The teacher is really receptive to the fact that the University of Granada has many, many international students, and so we don't all speak Spanish fluently. I'm so excited to learn about ethnicity and how it plays out through history and now and what all that entails. It's going to be pretty freakin' sweet!

The more I'm here, the more I learn about how my past experiences I've had at Jewell have prepared me for Spain. One in specific, the 2 weeks I spent in the Everglades through Outward Bound and the Pryor Leadership Program (shout out to K-Shaff and Sandra!). Little did I know at the time that 2 weeks living on a canoe (and being really, really smelly) would teach me lessons that I can't learn in a classroom and that would stick with me for years to come. First of all, I've learned how to adapt. When we were in the Glades, there's nothing you could do with your situation except adapt. There was no point in being frustrated or annoyed or getting caught up in being cold, wet, and smelly. You just had to suck it up and learn to deal. This has definitely helped me here. They have a different way of living, from siesta, to food, to ways of communication, no laundry dryers, to their strange relationship with the floor. But through it all, I've adapted. As mom says, it's not good, it's not bad, it's just different. Second, Spanish people are super laid back. If you're late, no pasa nada. If you spill something at lunch, no pasa nada. If you fail a class, no pasa nada, er, that's probably pasa algo (something), but you get the point. They don't let things get in the way of living or focusing on what's really important. It's just not a big deal. I love that! Lastly, things are a lot slower here. When I say things shut down for siesta everyday from 2-5pm, I mean they literally shut down. No post office, stores, or cafes. Have to cash that check by 4pm? That's too bad. Like I said, they live. They aren't worried about getting everything done and doing everything. If I had not learned to be more laid back from my experience in the Everglades, I'd be struggling for real here. Sorry if that's boring to you, but it just amazes me how our experiences carry over into other experiences in our lives. It's all connected.

Speaking of adapting, here's something that's different:

In Spain, they eat ham all the time. For every meal practically, it's there. They also store it differently than in the States. This is my new little friend that has joined me for breakfast for the past week. Yes, that is a hoof of a pig and it's leg on a stand. Oh and don't you worry, there's still hair on that hoof. If that doesn't wet your appetite, I don't know what will!

I noticed I have failed to post my address in Spain on my blog thus far, so here it is. If you would like to send me something (a card telling me how much you miss me, Werther's Originals, Trident Tropical Twist, you know, whatevs), feel free to do so.

Sarah Hartenberger
IES Abroad Granada
C/Pisas, 2-2°
18010 Granada

That's all I have for you today. Let me know if I'm missing something on here that you'd like to hear. It'd be good to have suggestions! Hasta luego!

14 February 2009

Falling in love

Palabra del dia: la familia --> family (I hope you guessed that one, cause it's an English cognate!)

I'm falling in love. No, not with a boy, but with Granada, Spain and a whole population of people. The people, the culture, the food, the nightlife, las rebajas, Spanish, the walking, the city in general, everything is capturing my attention. It is better than I ever expected it to be and I absolutely love it! It's a learning experience at it's finest, and I couldn't be happier with my choice to study here!

Since I've gotten to Spain, I haven't really been homesick. Sure, I miss my family and my friends, but not home. Maybe it's because I remember that I'm only here for a little while, so what is the point in being sad? The family that I have been given here, as in the family I live with, has already shown me what a true family should be. Simply observing them, you can see the love that flows through them. Maricarmen, the mom, has more love for her family, only comparable to my own mother and father. She loves to cook, and it's the way she shows her love. Let's just say, she cooks a lot. Earlier this week, I had the special opportunity to have lunch with her and most of her kids/kids' spouses. Just sitting in the room and watching them communicate was a lesson in itself. The communication major in me loved just observing and seeing the way they interact, even if I couldn't understand every word. Tonight, I found out that they were having a surprise birthday party for Maricarmen. The whole family was over, her kids, their spouses, her sister, and her grandson. I wish you could have seen the smile on her (Maricarmen's) face when she walked in. It looked like she had won a million bucks! I just can't say enough how good it was to be able to sit and talk with them, listen to them, and see them just be a family. The people in Spain, they really know how to do the family thing. Not that my family at home isn't wonderful, because it is. But the blessing in the family I have here has been more than I could ask for.
The two Nachos, Maricarmen's son, and her grandson. ADORABLE!
Maricarmen and Nacho, her grandson. Do you see the smile plastered on her face?! That's how she always is, but mostly when she's holding her grandson.

Basically the new love of my life. How could you not fall in love with that face?!
The whole fam. Leondro (husband of Sylvia), Lorenzo, Maria Jose (wife of Loren), Nacho, Estelle, Teresa (sister of Maricarmen), little Nacho (Sylvia and Leondro's son), and Sylvia. I am truely blessed to have a family like this here! I completely lucked out and could not have asked for anyone better! Older Nacho lives in the house with Maricarmen and I, and Estelle is over all the time. We're new bffs because she explains things to me when I don't understand. Kinda like my older sis. It's super.

Another fun thing about this family has been my daily lunch experiences with Maricarmen and Nacho. When I don't understand something being said to me, Nacho can usually explain it to me in his broken English. However, sometimes his broken English is even hard to explain. Por ejemplo, the other day he was trying to say "blood" but pronounced the "oo" part like you would in "food." I guess this is technically how it's supposed to be pronounced, but our screwed up language decides not to. It makes for some interesting conversations, especially when I think he's saying the food we're eating is "autobus" when it's actually "octopus."


Now on the flip side. Moving to a new place where you don't know anyone is hard, to say the least. Being thrown literally into a new world where you don't fluently speak the language and have to adapt to new people, a new city, new food, new schedule, new EVERYTHING is hard. I think I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but all of this newness, shall we say, makes one very insecure. I have found myself battling with this constantly. It's not that I'm insecure in who I am as a person, but rather in my abilites, mostly with being able to speak Spanish. I feel like I am constantly being judged which is hard because I'm trying soooo hard to speak well and learn and soak up every correction someone throws my way. Through it all though, I've learned to lean on God and find my strength and who I am in Him. It's amazing to see the way He uses situations to teach and reinforce my undying need for Him in my life. I just love the way He does that! :)

Well I think that's it for now. It's Valentine's Day here, so that means I'm going to go boogie down (which I would do anyway, maybe I'll just wear red). Hasta luego!

09 February 2009

I don't have a language right now

Palabra del dia: contenta --> to be content

Life here is good. Last week we started classes and so far they are going well. I have Spanish class, the Spanish Experience and the other, the Arab World and the West, Flamenco, and Islamic Architechture. I like most all of my classes, but I'd have to say Flamenco is my favorite. Saturday night we got to go see a Flamenco performance here in Granada. We saw one in Sevilla when we went last weekend, but the one this weekend in Granada was very different. The performance in Sevilla was traditional Flamenco. But the one here was more modern and told a story more. It used other forms of dance mixed in and the dancers acted more. I'd have to say that that performance was one of the best overall dance performances I've ever seen! It was pretty stinkin amazing!

So back to classes. All of my classes, except one, are in Spanish. Initially, I was excited for this. However, when it came to it, I realized how overwhelming it is having everything in Spanish. My world is literally shifted upside-down. I now have one class in English and MY LIFE in Spanish, where as it is the other way around in the US. I know, I know, what did I expect?! I guess it just didn't quite hit me until I was sitting in class and having to interpret in my head and understand the subject material at the same time. All I'm going to say is I'm glad I have a class in English because it's definitely a break for my brain!

Today at lunch I, once again, had a chance to talk to my host mom and brother. Everyday at 2:30pm we have lunch. I am usually pretty hungry at this point, and after a 30-minute walk home, all I want to do is eat the pan (bread) in front of me. That being said, the conversation usually consists of my mom talking and me nodding my head in agreement whether I understand or not because I'm too tired to totally comprehend everything she's saying and then respond. BUT TODAY I HAD A BREAKTHROUGH! I don't know what it was, but I was in the conversation! I knew what was going on the majority of the time and my words worked IN SPANISH! I'm learning more and more that I don't always have to know every word in the sentence, and somehow the jist of what someone is saying makes sense and I can respond. Needless to say, my Spanish is getting better and I'm falling more and more in love with the language and Granada as each day passes. The funny thing though is that as my Spanish improves, I literally can't form some words in English. It's like when there's a word on the tip of your tongue but you just can't remember the word. This has happened countless times, probably even 3 or 4 times today alone. I couldn't remember the word "gringos" earlier. Sheesh!

Yesterday I went to a church with my friends Ronni and Betsy. They live across the street from me which is really nice since I don't have a roommate. Anyway, we found this church about 10 minutes from where we live called Iglesia Evangelista. It was a little church, but was packed to the gills with people. There were many people our age, both Spanish students and international students. Although I couldn't completely follow the pastor, I liked the church overall. It was what I needed and I'm looking forward to continuing my attendence there and getting to know people there as well.

Other than the church and forgetting my words, nothing else is really new. Life here is life like anywhere else. I have homework. I sleep. I eat. I go out and get 4 hours of sleep. It's totally rad. At this point though, I've started to miss, and crave, things from home. Here's some of them, in case you're wondering:
1. My mom's coffee (it's really strong!)
2. My dog Abbie
3. Stores being open from 2-5 everyday.
4. Stores being open on Sundays.
5. Stores being open in general!
6. Los Compas dates with Molly
7. Hugs from my bff, Kelsey
8. Texting whenever I want
9. Endless refills of water at restuarants
10. Target's dollar section
11. Mi familia
12. Jacob's Well with my Jewell Family

That's it for now. Hope you're enjoying keeping up with my life! :)

04 February 2009

Rainboots are required

Palabra del dia: paraguas- umbrella (because I forgot mine, again, today)

I don't really have a reason to blog, just because I keep thinking of random things I should tell you who read this about myself here in Spain and things about Spain that I've learned. So this will probably be random, but whateva.

1. I've come to learn that when caught in a sudden downpour, one's bufanda (scarf) easily doubles as an umbrella.

2. Deutche Bank is super because there's no ATM fee or money exchange fee because it's associated with Bank of America.

3. My host mom is wonderful because she buys me galletas rellenas con crema de chocolate. Wafer cookies with chocolate creme in the middle. I love them a little too much. She also cooks wonderfully and folds my underwear nicely when she does laundry.

4. My Flamenco dancing class might possibly be my favorite one I take here. You should YouTube it if you don't know what it is. It's pretty sweet.

5. When crossing the street, follow the Spaniards. If they cross in front of oncoming traffic, you can too.

6. The eating schedule is different here. We eat a normal breakfast that usually consists of toast and/or cereal, fruit, some sort of pastry, juice, yogurt, and coffee. I usually don't eat all that, but my senora gives me all those options cause I guess she doesn't want me to starve. For lunch, we eat at 2:30 or so everyday and it's a three course meal. Today we had some sort of vegetable and beef stew, then a Spanish tortilla thing that was spinach and egg with some sort of bite-sized, tuna filled bread things (descriptive, I know). Then for dessert, I had a tangerine and a kiwi. Yum.

7. After lunch is siesta. You're only supposed to sleep for like a half hour, but yesterday I layed in bed for almost 2 hours. Opps.

8. Everyone smokes here. I asked one of my teachers why she smokes (she's 26) and she literally responded, "Because I'm stupid." They know it's bad for their health, but they like to live in the moment, so they do what makes them happy at the time. Different than the US.

9. If you don't have skinny jeans, then you're not cool.

10. Having all of my classes in Spanish except one is overwhelming. It's a lot to handle right now. But, this is the reason I came here, so I'm going to have to suck it up and focus. The good thing is I'm not alone in it, there's 80 other students with me, so I know I'll be okay.

11. When you buy shoes, make sure they're comfortable enough to walk about 3 miles a day in, if not more, and on cobblestone too. If not, then you might get blisters on your pinkie toes which can lead to swollen pinkie toes, and that's painful. Oh yes, it happened.

Overall, things are going well. Like I said, classes are a little overwhelming right now, and, I'm not going to lie, I've had a few "I hate Spain" moments. But it comes with the territory. I just remind myself where I am and it all goes back into perspective. This place, more so this situation, has also revealed insecurities that I hold and they have come to the surface suddenly. It's interesting to see how I handle situations and how I view my ability to succeed in those situations. I think it's a good learning and growing experience for me. Currently I'm learning to be more independent, and I think it's working.

Well, that is all for now. What did I say, random. Hope you like it! :)

02 February 2009

Home is where the dry clothes are

Palabra del dia: llover: to rain y bailar:to dance

This weekend we went to Seville as a big group. We left Friday morning and got to Ronda, near Seville, in about 2 hours. In Ronda we visited la Plaza de Toros (the bull fighting ring). It was neat to be inside of and see actually where all the action takes place. We also were able to walk around the city a little bit and see part of it. The land there is crazy, not flat or even rolling hills like in Missouri. There were mountains and huge cliffs. Here's a picture of the view from there:

See what I mean?! Huge cliffs, but awesome view

Later that day, we headed to Seville. The weather couldn't have been better on Friday and Saturday during the day. Friday night we got all dressed up and had cocktails at a fancy-schmancy restuarant. We literally stood around, drank wine, and ate some scrumptious food for a few hours. And I got to wear my new dress!
This is me and Natalia, one of the directors at IES Granada. She is one of my favorite people and is very helpful to me when I need her!

On Saturday, we went to los Reales Alcazares y to el Barrio de Santa Cruz. We also went to the cathedral in Seville. That was my favorite part. There was a wedding going on there when we saw it, and we got to see the bride walking into the cathedral. Apparently, only five families per year can get married at this cathedral, one being the king's family. So basically she's pretty famous. The cathedral itself was amazing. All the history and architecture were like none I've seen before. In this cathedral was the tomb of Christopher Columbus. I told you, history! We also walked to the top of the tower. On our way up, we were guessing how high it would be. We guessed maybe 13 floors. Oh no, we were wrong. Thirty-four floors. Yea, that's tall. Good thing I didn't get too close to the edge. Here's some pictures from inside and outside the cathedral.

From the top of the cathedral in Seville, looking out. What a view!
New friends! Josh, Paige, me, Sarah (yes, there's 4 of us. What luck, eh?!), and Megan. At the top of the cathedral again!

After the cathedral, we had free time and then went to a Flamenco performance! The dancing was impressive and got me geared up for my Flamenco class here! I'm excited to learn the dancing!

That night, Saturday, some friends and I wanted to go out to a discoteca. One of the girls that works with IES, Alba, has some friends in Seville. We walked for literally thirty minutes or longer trying to find this discoteca. We walked across the river, which was beautiful. However, it was POURING down rain. Not fun. We finally found the discoteca and bailamos (we danced) until 5:30am!! It was soooo much fun, but I was tired the next day. On Sunday, we went touring the city a little more, still in the rain. In Seville when it rains, it collects in HUGE puddles. Needless today, we got soaked. On the bus ride home, we were all wet and cold and just wanted to get back to Granada. Even though I enjoyed Seville, I appreciate Granada more now for the free tapas, knowing the city more, and my dry clothes and hot shower that were awaiting me when I returned. Que bueno!

Today we started classes. I had Spanish (we all do, every morning), Flamenco, and the Arab World and the West. I think my classes are going to be a nice change from those at Jewell and are going to challenge me and teach me new perspectives. I'm excited for this.

I also went running for the first time since I got to Spain tonight. My host mom told me to go to the university campus and run, so I did. It was sooo nice to finally do that, and explore the city a little more. I am really enjoying my time here. I'm adjusting pretty well. Of course I have insecurities and what not and it's different, but I've already learned so much about life and myself and everything. And, to top it off, my host mom, host brother, and host sister all say my Espanol is better than a week ago! YES!!!!!

Well that is all for now. I hope you are enjoying keeping updated on my life!! Buenas noches!