Roman Ruins in Merida
With Emily, Me, Teresa and Holly
Well, since we last caught up I’ve been on two trips and actually had some class finally, so it’s been a productive few weeks.
API took our group to Extremadura, the least populated province in Spain, for a weekend of relaxing and hiking. Well, it rained all weekend so there wasn’t much hiking, but the relaxing part was successful. Probably because no one goes there, they have really, really nice hotels for very cheap, so we stayed in some of the nicest hotels so far and just got to enjoy the open Spanish countryside. Only three of the seven in our group decided to go to Extremadura; the word “hiking” seemed to stick out more than any of the others and deterred most from deciding to go. However, me, Holly and Emily had a really good time and got to spend some quality time with our director Teresa who has now left to go live in Vienna, Austria!
The first stop was Mérida which is famous for its well preserved Roman ruins. The theater was pretty impressive, and is still in use every summer for plays. The archaeological museum was
a little less interesting, but we found ways to make it more to our liking. 😊 I’d like to tell you that my Roman Mythology and Religion class made me an expert on all things Roman, but I seemed to have repressed all memories of that class, so alas, it did not.
Trujillo is where we stopped for the night and got to explore an old fortress with endless views of open Spanish landscapes and stay in a renovated palace, so, not too shabby. We were on our own for dinner and really all we wanted was pizza. “Is there a pizza place here?”
“Yes, actually there is one right around the corner.”
Indeed it was around the corner, filled with about twenty yelling 9 year-olds running a muck.
“This is not my scene.”
No pizza, but we found a bit quietter place with steak and goat cheese. It sufficed.
Guadalupe was our last stop and the most interesting. On our itinerary it said we would be staying in a monastery. The picture in my head was a bare building where monks sleep. Not the case. The sleeping
quarters of the monastery had actually been converted into a four star hotel. Our shower was bigger than Pepa’s entire bathroom, and we had a balcony with a view of the town and the surrounding hills.
The actual monastery is attached and still has about 10 monks that live and work there. An interesting fact about the monastery and its adjoining hostel is that Los Reyes Catolicos, Isabel and Fernando, stayed there while they were on a journey. Isabel and Fernando’s marriage united the two great kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula and essentially created Spain; they are considered the first King and Queen of Spain. Therefore, saying that you have slept in the same building that they once did is sort of important.
Once I got home from Extremadura I actually had two or three weeks of regular classes without breaks. I’m really enjoying my two science classes actually, and my professors. My favorite is Giorgio, the very happy Italian geologist that has quite a great accent. 😊 My engineering professor is also pretty nice, but some days I just don’t see how I will ever pass that exam. My Spanish is now pretty good, but
you don’t go over technical terms for wave motion and mathematics in Spanish 101. A lot of the time my problem isn’t even words, its mathematics terms. One day in class he kept writing “tgh.” I thought they were the individual variables “t”, “g” and “h” and he wasn’t defining them in the problems. Turns out they weren’t individual variables they stand for “hyperbolic tangent” whose symbol in the USA is “tanh.” Little things like that add up to big problems so I really have to stay on top of what is going on in class, which can be hard even in English, but hey, it’s better than Contemporary Spanish Art.
My science classes are out in Puerto Real, so although the bus is sort of a pain, I get out of the city and into the fresh air for a few days every week. The best part is that I’ve discovered a natural park literally right next to campus with miles and miles of walking trails…or running trails. 😊 I’ve started taking my running clothes out there with me so if I have a break between classes that is long or if I feel like it after class
I can go for a run. It instantly made a difference. I forgot what it’s like to run and not have to dodge people every twenty seconds.
Running out in the open isn’t my only new fun activity, our group has finally started surfing lessons. It is just as fun as it looks, in case you all are wondering, but it is a lot harder than it looks. I have stood up, so that is accomplished, which means I have learned to surf which means I can cross it off my list when I get home! We have a lot of lessons left so hopefully I will master
it now, haha, but we will just have to see how it goes. Our teacher, Toni, owns a few bars around town but his true passion is surfing and it’s not just hopping in the water and seeing how it goes, we have warm-ups, balance exercises and lessons about waves (he actually explains it a lot better than my engineering professor does sometimes, haha!)
Surfing is really fun, but I’ve missed the last few lessons because I have been in lovely Växjö, Sweden for a few
days visiting Ryan who I went to Barcelona with a few weeks ago! Växjö is in the southern part of the country, far away from Stockholm and actually only about two hours away from Copenhagen, Denmark. Ryan took me there Monday before I left and it’s a pretty neat city. For being a capital it’s fairly calm and relaxed, and we had an absolutely beautiful day there. I was really expecting to be freezing the whole time I was there, but this weekend was actually a good one to visit because they were having such great weather! So great in fact, that he thought it was a good idea to seem incredibly tough and wear a tank top, when I asked him if he would be to cool he replied, “Devin, this is really nice weather.”
“It looks like it might rain.”
“I’ll bring an umbrella.”
Half way through our walk around the campus lake, just after we passed what I can only describe as a small Swedish Hogwarts, it started to get extremely windy, rainy and…cold. Lesson learned. You don’t wear tank tops in Sweden, Ryan! 😊 It was a really nice weekend though, a lot
warmer than I was expecting, but the weather changes at the drop of a hat there!
While Växjö (pronounced “veh-quah”) is no metropolis, it has some really awesome people in it. I got to meet a lot of Ryan’s friends and I told him numerous times he is super lucky to have such fun people to hang out with. We spent most of our time with Julie and Victoria from Canada, Linnea from Minnesota and Jackie from Australia. I also met his friend family, mother Katrin and her two sons Johannes and Emanuel. The friend family works really well actually. Ryan lives in a dorm, but the family is there to help him adjust and give him a connection in town. He goes over for meals sometimes and they invite him for holidays and we got to go over and watch Emanuel’s first soccer game! The final friend I met was Muffins, also known as Mittens and Vanderborg, Ryan’s cat. Or rather, just a cat that happened to wander into his room, he gave two different names before discovering its real name, then wandered out. I met his really awesome university friends because they stopped in front
of Ryan’s window while watching some cat eat these poor baby birds up in their nest. Cat? What cat? We don’t know a cat. Ick.
That weekend just so happened to be Ryan’s birthday (as well as Kate and Leigh’s; Happy Birthday!) So we all got together and decided to make tacos for his birthday and watched a movie of his choice. His choice was terrible (sorry, Ryan) but it was
his birthday so we were good sports about it. Then we made him
watch “27 Dresses” (sorry, Ryan) because he kept making incorrect references to it. It was his 21st
after all though, so there was a dress and a dance party involved. Certainly a Swedish birthday he will never forget, unless he can’t remember it, then I suppose it’s already forgotten. I won’t soon be forgetting it. Neither will the Swedish police.
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