Published: June 9th 2012June 7th 2012
First off, I must apologize to my subscribers. I have been the most delinquent blogger! I think this shows you just how busy I've been since arriving in Spain.
Ok... I guess I need to catch you all up on the happenings! Perhaps I'll share a list of highlights. Later, I'll explain the title of this entry.
-Where do I live? Alcalá de Henares (a suburby-thing near Madrid)
-With whom? I like to spend time with my family here, , the Oniegas: mom Marta, dad Miguel, brother Andrés (22), sister Virginia (20), sister Macarena (12), two French bulldogs, tortoises, and parakeets! They are all so nice and inclusive. Actually the only reason I’m finally able to update the blog is that this is my first time alone in the house. I love to spend time with them and I think it’s when my Spanish improves the most.
-I’m basically a Spanish princess compared to the rest of the homestay kids in my program. Usual Spanish home: kitchen the size of a closet, shared bathroom, apartment or townhouse, no air conditioning. Mine: there are four floors, one of which is mine. We have air conditioning and a pool of our own!
-I’m taking two classes: Literature of Latinamerica and Spain through the Media. Crossing my fingers that the credits will transfer.
I need to establish some goals for this trip…
1. Near-fluency in Spanish. In order to achieve this, I plan to speak in Spanish as much as possible. (This means that when I speak English, like now, you all have to forgive me if I mess up because it’s hard to switch back and forth).
2. Memories for forever. Everyone always refers to studying abroad as one of the best parts of college, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. Maybe I should pursue the YOLO philosophy (for those who aren’t of my generation, this is “you only live once” or carpe diem).
3. Balancing school, friends, and family. The first week of school was tough with friends because I didn’t want to stay out late on school nights, so I felt like I missed stuff with all of the other kids in the program who seem to think drinking is the point of all of this. But I have to keep in mind that I’m here primarily to learn Spanish, and only hanging out with other American kids won’t help me to achieve this.
4. Knowing my area. Since I’ll be spending over a month in the Madrid area, I want to understand my area as well as possible. By walking, bus, train, and metro, I’m beginning to get a sense of where I am. Alcalá and Madrid are lively cities that are worth getting to know.
5. Fun. This goes along with #2, but I need to list it anyway.
Want to know more about Alcalá de Henares, my town? Our guide from the program told us during the tour that it’s the City of the Cs.
-Conventos (Convents) are everywhere. The University of Alcalá is the 3rd
oldest university in Spain and is actually an old convent. Some of the convents are still running and my favorite is one where they hand-make candied almonds. You walk up to the door, deposit money on a turntable, it spins around where you can’t see it, and then spins back with the candy. Delicious!
-Cigüeñas (Storks) and their nests can be found atop of all of the major buildings. They’re gigantic birds. Even their nests are 6ft in diameter and 10ft deep.
-Cisnes (Swans) are the symbol of the University of Alcalá, where I’m studying. We don’t see those around town though.
The Joking Cs:
-CIEE is the program I’m here with. They arranged the homestays and take us on some weekend trips.
-Christina is our adorable program director. She’s so nice and helpful!
-Cervezas (Beer) are good, but I prefer Tinto de Verano, which is red wine with Sprite. It translates to Summer Red Wine and is what the locals drink while Tourists enjoy Sangria. Tip: Here they put whatever wine they don’t want in the sangria… if you want the good stuff you should order Tinto de Verano.
I had to give you an overview rather than all of the details because I got so behind on things… Leave a comment if you see something you want to know more about!