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it is done.

December 6, 2007

Well, 7 hours from now I’ll be boarding an overnight bus to Madrid, and saying “hasta luego” to Sevilla.

We don’t say “adios”.  “Adios” is something permanent, inescapable.  You don’t say adios to your friends.  You say “hasta luego”.  Until later.  Or “hasta pronto”.  Until soon.  I’d much rather say “hasta pronto”, but I don’t know if a couple of years is considered soon.  All I know is that I’m coming back.  I’ve got to come back.  Spanish culture and lifestyle is far too appealing to desert it forever.

I really can’t believe it’s done.  But it is done.  And all my things are packed and sitting neatly by my bed.  I ate my last big lunch with the family, sat around for my last sobremesa, and ya esta.  But now I’m wrapping up the past 4 and 1/2 months in my head and trying to hold onto it.

 I started crying after lunch today.  I couldn’t help it.  I have a little bit of pre-travel anxiety creeping up on me, and when I told Manoli, she smiled and said “nerves are nothing!  they’re something just made up by humans!  think about your novio and your family and don’t worry about it.  All your things are packed away, you have your tickets, all you need to do is take your time and get on the bus, and relax”.

Naturally, by this point, I just lose it.  It would be easier not to cry if I just absolutely detested Spain, but obviously this is an impossibility.  And then, with Lucas, Pepe and Carmen in the living room, cracking jokes and making me remember some good times that I had with them, I just laugh through my tears, still losing it.  How do these people do this for 20 years?  How can they just open up their home and get attached to people and then say goodbye 4 or 5 months later?  I would be a nutcase.  But they do it and they’ll keep doing it.  Manoli has been so great.  She’s just so sweet and she makes me laugh with her crazy little ticks and she cooks the best meals!!  I can’t believe that I may be seeing her for the last time today.

Gah, alright, enough of that!

I’ve had my list checked off of all the “lasts” that I’ve done.  My last cafe con leche, my last stroll around the Cathedral, my last siesta (here in Spain, at least..I’m taking the siesta back with me!).  And now I’ve got to get my mind geared toward some “firsts” in America.  The first time I will make puchero, the first of many walks (instead of driving) to where I need to go, the first siesta, the first flamenco lesson (I’ve got to learn!).  It’s better to make those kinds of lists.  It makes leaving here not so difficult.

Nonetheless, I just want to get through the next 25 hours of travelling and be done with it.  I want to either be here or be in Friendswood…but I don’t know if I can handle the in-between.  There’s too much time to start missing Sevilla.

 Hasta luego, mi alma, mi Sevilla.  Te voy a echar de menos.



getting my morning yogurt at the grocery store

November 30, 2007

I walked to the back aisle and grabbed the strawberry yogurt that the Dia grocery store has in plentiful supply.  I was walking back when I started hearing familiar music over the intercom….that’s right…they were playing “Hey Ya” by Outkast.

 I predict that in a few more decades, Spain will be just as Americanized as America ITSELF.

ah my beloved spain

November 28, 2007

Today myself and three other girls from the honors college (we are very proud of our title) locked ourselves in the back room of the Center and spent 3 hours making an outline for our history of Spain test tomorrow.  It came out to be 5 pages, complete with side text boxes with important definitions, historical leaders, and a chronological system from the early 1800s until the death of Franco.  We are going to dominate this test tomorrow.

It is our last one.

I am remembering when everything was a bunch of “firsts”.  Now I find myself listing off a bunch of “lasts”.  They will mount the closer I get to leaving (in 9 days!!!! joder!).  I am getting sadder as the day approaches.  Luckily I’ve been able to occupy my mind all day long by finishing up important projects and working on history.  But I’m sure that by the time this week is over and I have one week remaining, reality will kick in and I’ll be packing up my memories in my red suitcase, gripping desperately to the pictures that linger on the very edge of my memory from when we first got here.

I feel like there will need to be some sort of formal goodbye.  A list of all the things I’ve learned, perhaps, or some great memories, or a musical tribute to some flamenco.  I don’t know.  I feel like this, along with all the other things I’ve collected (emails from Wil, old bus ticket stubs, a flier and brochure from every single place I’ve been) will be thrown into a box until that day comes when I can take it down, sort all through it and come to some sort of conclusion about it all.  I want to organize it into cute little sayings and write memories below my pictures.  I have this dream of making this all-encompassing-ultimate scrapbook of Spain….it looks so amazing in my brain.

 I am such a nerd.

I keep saying I will do these reflection entries…honestly I can’t.

I’m going home to eat some garbanzo beans and rice.  mmmHMMM!

i think everybody is countin down the days…BUT!

November 14, 2007

So excited am I!  Goin to Belgium in a week!  GET EXCITED.

PLUS, even more great news, my good friend Kelly, the crazy redhead that writes amazing literature (it’s qualified to be called literature, no?) is coming to see me in December!  Que emocionante, no?  What’s great is that Kelly is an old fellow student in Buchelli’s class (think Friendswood, think high school…we go way back a whole 4 years), so even though she’s been in freaking England all semester, she will probably STILL triumph in her spanish skills.  It makes me so proud!

 not much time left here.  I’m getting sad.  Sad and broke.  Those two combinations call for an accordian and a hat on the main drag by the cathedral.

I bought some pantyhose today. :)

November 9, 2007

So sorry about that random textbook-style post about Galicia.  Since I’m doing this for the honors college, sometimes I feel the need to throw in information that I learn along the way.  That little ditty was a summary of a little bit of what we are studying in my History of Spain class.  Not interesting to everybody, but interesting to ME! Deal with it.

Yes, I bought some pantyhose today to experiment with Spanish style.  Now before you roll your eyes, get on over here to Europe and see the latest trends.  Though I must learn to accept the fact that I will never have the winning style (or enough money) to look like I just walked out of a magazine, I do enjoy browsing through the department stores here and seeing what students my age are wearing.  The 20-somethings are so fun, you know?  You can wear pretty much whatever the heck you want and get away with it (so long as you aren’t wearing gold sneakers).

So the style these days is pantyhose and tights under either long shirts/dresses or shorts coupled with some sneakers or high heels or whatever.  And not just any plane-jane panythose.  We’re talking CRAZY colorful and bizarre (for the more daring Spaniards).  I, however, am not so daring, so I bought some simple black ones.  Judge me if you will, but I think it’s going to be fun to see what I can do here.  When in Rome.

I have about 3 and a half weeks remaining here.  I can’t believe it.  Why is my time here almost over?  I feel like I just got here.

 Alright, welllll it’s 7 oclock pm here which means it’s lunchtime in the states.  It also means that in two hours I’ll be eating dinner and doing SOMETHING..don’t know what yet.  I have a lot of homework this weekend (lame!) that I’m going to try and put off until maybe Sunday?  College students are the same in every country.  🙂

The Galicians

November 8, 2007

Galicia is the region of Spain that sits on top of Portugal and is the least “Spanish” off all of its nation.  I say that because Galicia has a heavy Celtic influence and hardly any Moorish influence like central and southern Spain.  The first thing you would notice are the gaita, or bagpipes.  Unlike Cataluña, which is buzzing with economic success, Galicia has had the most stagnant economy in the nation.  Gallego, it’s own native language, is littered with Castilianisms and is spoken by about 63% of the population, according to a study in 1990.  But Galician is the language of the people in the sense that it is spoken by the masses.  The upper working class speaks prominently Castilian, and so there is a pressure put on lower class families to teach their children Castilian.  As a result, Gallego may disappear.

Because the people in Galicia can’t spread out (with Portugal below them and the ocean around them), they have had to continually divide the land among themselves, creating very very small farming plots.  This caused inefficient farming because there wasn’t enough land to use machinery to farm, and time was wasted travelling between plots.  what you may see in Galicia today is not very different from strip-farming in the Middle Ages.

it’s 2 am in Madrid, so it’s about 7 pm where you are

November 5, 2007

Can’t sleep!


BUT if you ever decide to come to Madrid, I recommend you staying at Hostal Santo Domingo.  It’s this sleek modern place tucked inside a rotting apartment building from the 1800s and it has free internet.  Those are about the best two combinations you can find here in España.

In other news, my mom and I beep-bopped over to Segovia today and saw a sweet castle and the pretty little aquaduct.  My mom is great because she never ceases to be amazed at whatever it is we are looking at.  It could be a trash can and she would find something that she likes about it.  So today in a castle dating from the 12th century, you can imagine her sort of reaction.  Jaw-dropping enthusiasm.

This is just a side note, but I was checking out pictures from when I first went to college and was amazed at what only 2 years did to my physique.  Que triste.  Well, I still think I look good.  Only sometimes I feel like we’re always fighting getting older.   There was this girl in front of me brushing her hair and I was sad that my hair was all short and I felt like she was just flaunting her youth.  I secretly hoped she wouldn’t age well.  Isn’t that a little over critical and very ridiculous?  I’m only 21 and I already think my cheeks look saggy and that my hair is losing its zeal.  At the same time, I think there’s something classy about old age.  I think we just need to embrace it and move on with our lives.  Easier said than done I guess…but I’m not going to just resign myself to believing that it’s easier said than done.  COME DEATH, I WELCOME YOU!

 Okay, if that’s not creepy, I don’t know what is.  Sorry about that.  It’s 2 am and when I was trying to sleep earlier there was this super annoying green light in our bedroom that insists on guiding our path to the exit door.  And it also insists on shining right in my eyes.  Needless to say, here I am rambling on about old people and green lights and soon enough it will be daylight here and nighttime where you are.

So maybe you shouldn’t stay at Hostal Santo Domingo.  Well, just don’t get room 230.

At least he’s not Binny Fin or whatever that guy’s name is

November 1, 2007

I’m sitting here in an internet cafe in Sevilla and the guy that owns it just played a clip on Youtube.  It featured a child televangelist.  Now to me, nothing is worse than a 10 year old screaming scripture in spanish…over Youtube.  I don’t know, I was just hoping that that phase had died out in the seventies.

“You get educated at home, you get culture at the university”

October 26, 2007

That’s the saying here in Spain.

Here’s how the schooling system here works.  High school is called the instituto.  It is required that you attended the instituto until you are about 16 years old.  After that, depending on how great your grades are, you have two options for your life.  The first is to go to una Formación Profesional, which is a 2 to 3 year technical school.  You can learn carpentry, plumbing, hair design, etc.  The other option is going to the university.  Each university has its own entrance exam.  Students here don’t take a general SAT or ACT, they simply try their luck with the entrance exam.  If they pass, they’re in and they’re given a number (say 980).  Then, they make a list from 1 to 10 of what they want to study (architecture, medicine, economics, etc).  Each of those “majors” (or in spanish, facultades) has a number as well.  Depending on how high your number is and how it corresponds with the numbers on the facultades determines where you will be put, which determines what you will study, how you will study it, and for how long you will be in the university.  It usually takes about 5 years here to get your licenciatura (degree), but they’re trying to shorten it to 4 years to keep up with Europe.  Basically, your career path starts when you’re about 16 and is for the most part immovable (did I spell that right?).

 Has anybody seen The Paper Chase?  🙂

In my Life and Culture class last week, Doug sent us out in groups of two to observe specified streets in Sevilla.  Every 15 minutes we would record for one minute the demographics of those who passed us by on the street.  It was interesting to see what the makeup was in different areas of the city.  Those who went close to the center saw more people shopping and more tourists.  Those who went outside of “the egg” (look at a map, you’ll know what I mean) saw more students, elderly couples, and businessmen.  Brittany and I had the street right outside of the school, Recaredo 44, which consisted of more students, elderly couples, and a lot of shoppers.

 Right now I’m looking into the possibility of teaching here from next October to May.  There is a great program sponsored by the Spanish government that allots english teachers 630€ a month to teach at elementary or high school levels.  They only accept 1000 applicants each year.  This is something that I would love to do!  Here’s the website if you want to read about it!

The other night I met up with my Spanish friend Marta and her friend from the university and we had english lessons.  Her friend Isabel is trying to get into grad school to study international journalism, and today she has to take an entrance exam.  One part of the exam is translating an english article from the New York Times into Spanish, so we were exchanging vocabulary over hot topics.  It was fun to be the teacher for once instead of the student.

This weekend I’ll be hanging out in Sevilla and I’m pretty excited!!

He kept saying, “La puerta abierta del corazón”

October 22, 2007

This past week Wil came to visit.  It was the happiest week of my life for several reasons.  I saw the Prado, I saw Guernica, I got engaged, I figured out the train schedule, and I was smacked in the face by truth.

Wil’s flight left Saturday night, but I didn’t leave Madrid until Sunday morning around 8.  Basically from the time I left the airport things didn’t go well for me.  I took a taxi to the ATOCHA station, only to find it closing down, with no trains leaving for Sevilla.  I was just planning on sleeping there, but the cops kicked me out.  But before I left, this crippled old man came up and started talking to me in spanish.  At first I almost cringed and walked away, but I gave this old man a chance.  He was probably like 70 or 80, quite feeble and seeing as I was scared and stranded, I figured we could hang out and be good friends.  So being as he doesn’t have a home that I know of and he said he wanted to go find a cigarette, he and I went to an open cafe across the street.  So we were chillin and talking and drinking coffee and I would try to decipher his spanish mumblings.  He kept saying something about “la puerta abierta del corazon” which means “the open door of the heart”.  I think he was talking about a shelter that he sleeps at, but there were so many words lost in translation that I can’t say for sure.  We were doing fine talking and sipping coffee, but then all of a sudden he turned scitzophrenic.  He was intent on talking to whoever was next to him and didn’t talk to me again until I stood up to go.  So we were walking along the street when I decided, being 2 am and surrounded by shady figures in an unfamiliar part of town, I should go back and find a hotel room.  I said goodbye to my new friend and headed towards the center of town.

It was amazing and truly God’s mercy that the first hotel I got to had a room.  It cost me 75 €, but it was better than being out alone on the streets because it was freezing cold and I kept getting scary looks from people.  So I slept from about 2 am to 6 am and went back to the ATOCHA station, only to find out that I had no money left in my bank account (how the heck did that happen???).  I managed to scramble up about 45€, not enough for a train ticket.  This was the scariest part of my day.  Seeing as I was in Madrid, about 350 km from Sevilla, alone, without a lot of cash, and with no way to get a hold of anybody because anybody that could help me was either asleep or in another country.  From about 6 to 745 AM I peddled euros from passersby and then got some help from some guy that spoke half french and half spanish.  He found the metro that would take me to the bus station, where I got a ticket for about 18 € for a 6 hour bus ride to Sevilla.  I left Madrid at 8 and got to Sevilla at 230.

So needless to say, i was exhausted.  And the most incredulous thing was what happened on the bus ride home.  After all of this, after all my scrambling and praying that God would keep me safe and after all of His provisions for me, I just turned around and threw it back in His face.  There was a gypsy woman on the bus that, at one of the stops we made, asked me for a few euro so she could buy her son some water.  And what is so awful about it is the fact that I was so annoyed on the inside.  At first I pretended not to understand what she wanted, and then the state of my hypocrisy slapped me in the face.  After being completely humiliated having to ask for money at the ATOCHA, I turn away someone who is just like me, but worse, because she’s having to feed a child.  

And “la puerta abierta del corazon” kept repeating in my head.  The open door to others.  To open my heart to those who need help.  The mercy that God showed to me I should show to others.  I guess it’s a pretty simple lesson you learn in 3rd grade Sunday school, but I just learned it at 21 years in Madrid.