Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Past Week ~ Classes, Trips, Parades/Holidays, & More!

The past two weeks have been very eventful for me.  I began class on Wednesday, January 13.  I have two classes on Monday/Wednesday and two classes on Tuesday/Thursday.  On Monday/Wednesday I have one class at 12, then go home for lunch and siesta and go back to the school for my other class at 4:45.  Those classes are General Translation and History of Spanish-America.  My Tuesday/Thursday is a little less hectic with class at 10:30 and then 12, so I don't have to go home in between.  I have the same professor for both of those classes, which are two literature classes but I really like her.  The classes are Present Day Spanish Literature and a combined class of Spanish literature (starting with the Middle Ages) and Cervantes & the Golden Age.  
I really like the three professors that I have.  

The daily schedule here is a little strange compared to the American daily routine.  Here in Spain, people generally wake up at around 8am, go to work and then come home for lunch for around 1 or 2pm.  After that is "siesta" until about 5 or 6 when places reopen for the evening for a couple hours, until about 8 or 9pm.  Then dinner is served and there is the option of hanging out or going out until it is time for bed.  On the weekdays, it seems normal to go to bed around 12am and if people go out on the weekends to the bars/clubs, people generally do not return home until about 5 or 6 in the morning.  That's quite a schedule compared to the United States! 

Last Friday I went out with the girls that live near me in my program (Megan & Christina) and also Rachel (another girl from my program who was also here last semester).  We met up with some friends that she made from church at a bar.  They were so cool! They are from all different countries including Germany, England, Bolivia, and Colombia.  We really had a great time that night meeting each other. 

Last Saturday we took our first excursion to Sagunto, which is about 20 minutes north of Valencia.  It is there that the are ruins from a Roman castle and Roman theatre.  That was pretty cool to see.  It is located up really high because we had to walk up a really steep hill to get to the top. (My FitBit said at the end of the day that I did the equivalent of 67 floors!)  Because it was so high, the view was really amazing because I was able to look down onto the city and also out to the Mediterranean Sea.  
I have posted videos and more photos on my Facebook. 

The day after our excursion to Sagunto, there was a festival in my neighborhood.  I live in San Antonio and Sunday was San Antonio Day, the patron saint of the protection of animals.  I went out with Christina & Megan to go see what was going on at 11am.  We walked through the streets of our neighborhood where people were out walking their dogs and also looking at all the horses that were lined up in the street getting ready for a parade.  So we walked around looking at the animals until the parade started at 12.  I have a video of my Snapchats from that day on Facebook.  
Also, last Sunday I met my "mom's" son, daughter, and 3 out of 4 of her grandkids (one had soccer). 

The beginning of the week was nowhere near as exciting as last weekend was for me.  I went to my classes and back home and started getting into a routine.  On Wednesday I got very sick where my stomach was bothering me a lot.  I went to my class in the morning but was unable to go to my second class because I wasn't feeling well enough.  I think I may have gotten sick from something that I had eaten the night before.  After I slept for the rest of the day on Wednesday after lunch, I was feeling well enough on Thursday morning to go to my classes.  After attending class, I also took the rest of the day to rest.  

Yesterday, Friday, was yet another holiday for Valencia.  It was the day of San Vicente Mártir, who lived and died in Valencia around the year 304AD.  Christina and I met up with Rachel, Jordan, and Jackie (other people from our group) to see a procession from the cathedral in the center of the city.  

After the procession we decided to walk around a bit and go to an art museum.  On the way there we stopped to watch another short procession that was also pretty cool. 
After the people dressed up to represent San Vincente, there were people dressed up in traditional Valencian dress.  That was cool to see!  What was also cool was that they were also throwing out candy, something that I was not expecting from a parade in Valencia.  
After the parade, we finally ended up at the art museum where there was a whole floor of a Picasso exhibit and upstairs were more really cool paintings to see.  

Later that night, there was a birthday party for one of Rachel's friends (Hernan) that we had met the previous week, and we were all invited.  We went to the apartment of one of the other friends (Leonie) where we surprised Hernan when he arrived.  It was a fun celebration. 
(In the picture is me, Leonie, Megan, Christina, and Rachel.)

I had a really eventful past two weeks since I arrived and I hope it will only get better, including my Spanish skills! 
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Orientation with the School & Some Exploring

This morning was my first day at school.  I got up at 7:30 this morning and left the apartment with my host mom to meet up with two other girls and their host moms to walk to the school together. When we arrived at the school, we were greeted by the office staff, Arturo, Isabel, and Laura.  We then received packets with our schedules and information about Valencia.  After all the students arrived (there's only 7 of us!), we had a brief meeting about the school and expectations and such.  
After the meeting, Laura took us on a bus to tour the city.  (This was my favorite part of the day.)  One of the coolest parts of the city is the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias).  Those are the pictures posted below. 

Close to there is the beach.  We stopped there briefly to take pictures. 
 After stopping at the beach, we drove around the city a little more so we could get an idea of where we will be staying the next couple of months.  We then arrived back at the school and asked any questions that we had.  After that, Megan, Christina, and I planned to go for a walk/run lunch with Rachel, a girl who was also here last semester, also hoping that she would show us around a little bit. 
 We all met up at 5:45 and went to meet Rachel at the school for 6.  From the school, we went to walk in the Jardines de Real.  This is a park throughout the river that used to run through the city.  It's really cool because there are bridges going over top and you get to walk under them.  There are also dog parks and soccer fields located here.  Below is a picture.  

We walked for about half an hour and from where we ended up walking, we almost arrived back at the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias because we saw the cool buildings in the distance.  
After walking through the Jardines de Real, we walked down Calle  Colón, which is like the 5th Avenue of Valencia.  
That was basically the end of my day yesterday.  We walked back home and I ate dinner, showered, and went to bed because today is my first day of classes.  I will write about that in the next blog, possibly tonight. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mi Apartamento

La Sala de Estar - The Living Room

Mi Habitación - My Bedroom 

La Vista de mi Habitación - The View from my Room 

El Baño - The Bathroom 

La Cocina - The Kitchen 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Arrived in Valencia!

Today, well yesterday now, I have arrived to my homestay in the city!
It was the first time that I ever traveled by myself. It was really hard to leave my family behind in the airport. Once I finally did, I went through security easily and went right to my gate to wait to board the plane. Once I got on the plane I sat down and got ready for a long ride to Paris. Throughout the flight I found out that the girl sitting next to me was in her late 20s and American. She was flying back to Germany because that's where she did her masters and is working on her ph.d.
The flight felt really long because all I really did was eat and listen to the music and movies provided on the plane.
As the plane was getting near Paris, we were flying over places that I had already been to when I came to France on a trip after I graduated high school. We passed over La Havre and Rouen! This is a picture of La Havre from the plane. 
Once the plane arrived, it was a smooth landing and I got off and followed everyone else to get onto a bus to take us to the terminal. That bus ride however was not as smooth. It was about 10 minutes from where the plane landed to the terminal.
Once there I had to go to a different section of the airport where I had to go through customs. When I was going through I realized that I still had about half my water bottle full in my backpack and they pulled me aside and had me chug/spill out the rest (about 16 oz)! But after that happened I got in line to get my passport stamped. 
Past customs, I went straight to my terminal where there were lots of people already waiting because it was about half an hour before departure. 
Boarding the plane to Valencia was also easy and it felt like that plane was more comfortable than the larger plane that I was on for about 8 hours. The flight to Valencia was only about a total of two hours from getting on the plane until I got off. This landing, however, did not go as smoothly as the last. It was really rough and bumpy. When I got off the plane it was really windy so I guess that's what caused the rough landing. 
I followed everyone else into the airport and waited to grab my luggage. I was hoping that my suitcase made it on the plane because it was such a short layover. And guess what! It did! My suitcase was one of the first ones to come out. 
After going to the bathroom and getting money out of the ATM I was ready to leave the airport and take a taxi to my homestay. I had the address written out and showed that to the taxi driver because I didn't want to say the address wrong and end up somewhere else or him not to be able to understand me. But he was really nice and the ride went well. It was maybe about 15 minutes from the airport to the apartment. 
I went up to the door and rang the bell for her apartment. She let me in and I went up to the 4th floor in the elevator. 
Upon entering I was really impressed by how modern everything was and how clean and tidy it was. She took me around the house and showed me how to use everything. 
After I settled in, she made us lunch. A tomato and (maybe) tuna salad and chicken paella. After lunch I showered and unpacked my suitcases. Then I laid down for a nap and I slept about 3 hours.  
I woke up later and Señora told me that we would be having dinner at 8:30. She made a salad with fruit and a pizza with ham, tomato sauce, and cheese. She also gave my some pieces of ham to try
After dinner I went back to sleep. I slept for about 7 hours and now I have been up since about 5 o'clock. I guess I still need to get used to the time change and traffic going by.
Overall, I think my trip went well for my first time traveling a great distance alone. And I think I am going to really like staying here. I can't wait to see what's in store for me for the next four months! 
Later I am going to post about what we are going to do today and about the apartment.