Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cuando era niña...

(When i was little)...I wanted to live in a castle...heck I STILL want to live in a castle!! This weekend Lindsay, Shannon, and I (basically the two girls I love and do everything with!) decided to explore a little more of Santander, since we had nothing better to do.

Friday, we just walked around town and went into some shops, we found this really cute jewlery shop with TONS of stuff, we probably spent over an hour in there looking for gifts, and some stuff for ourselves ;-)

Saturday, we decided to go to one of the malls in Santander, but they are not in the city, they are on the outskirts of town, so we had to take the train!! Which was fun, and pretty cheap. So we got to the mall, Valle Real, shopped around and then decided we wanted to see a movie (in spanish!) so we took our train BACK to santander and then took a bus to another mall, Corte Ingles, which has a bigger movie theatre (and happens to be like right next to Valle Real haha). And we saw "Papa por Sorpresa" which is the movie The Game Plan in english...it was good and i was able to understand the main plot haha.

Sunday, we went to El Sardinero, which is basically the beach part of Santander. There is this little offshoot that has a "Zoo" -- which consisted of 3 "pens/cages" which has Penguins, Seals, and Sealions...nothing very exciting haha. Then we walked up this road to this Palace, which we couldn´t get into (dont know if it is ever open) but we were able to walk around and take photos and enjoy the nice weather! Here are some photos!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What I Miss

Well first off I miss all my friends and family, but there are some superficial things I really wish i had right now...and I felt like blogging about them. So here is my list (with some side notes for fun!):

1. Italian food...fettuchine alfredo, breadsticks, cesear salad, lasagna, tortallini, manacotti -- the closest thing I have had here to italian food is my mom made me spagetti (she called it that) which was plain noodles and tomato paste...thats it...no flavor no nothing!! And the salads here all have just vinigrette dressing, and they are Drenched in it, so much so that it makes the lettuce turn kinda clear from soaking it all up.
2. Mexican food...burritos, tacos, nachos, Taco Bell, tortilla chips, refried beans -- I haven´t had anything close to mexican food here, and one of our teachers told us about a restaurant in town that is a mexican restaurant, but expensive...I might have to splurge.
3. Chinese food...panda express and lucky fortune -- there is a chinese restaurant here but I havent gotten up the courage to try it, I cant imagine it would be very good, or what I miss...basically it wont be american chinese food haha.
4. American food...fast food, a REAL hamburger (a hamburger here is just a flat burger patty...thats it), Red Robin, Chilies, BBQed anything really-pork, chicken, ribs, steak!! I would kill for some good BBQ sauce--they dont have that here, in fact i dont know if they even have BBQ´s here.
5. CHEESE...tillamock cheese, chedder, provolone, american, sharp chedder...Yum. The cheese here is just weird haha, and usually doesnt have much flavor.
6. Ranch/Ketchup...basically any sauce, tartor sauce too, they dont have sauce here unless its oil haha. I asked for ketchup the other day, because she made me greesy french fries, and she gave me tomato paste...not quite the same...at all.
7. Cheesecake...plain and simple, they dont have it here (or many desserts for that matter) and i miss it. They do have Chocolate con Churros here...which is this deep fried dough which you then dip into this cup of thick chocolate...it is delicious...and terrible for you...but still not cheesecake
8. Goldfish crackers/cheeze-itz...their snack food here isnt very good, they dont have good cheese so they dont make good cheesy snacks...my one saving grace has been Pringles...I found sour cream and onion pringles in the grocery store! -- which i might add the grocery stores here are about the size of a gas station store.
9. Wheat bread...never thought i would say this since generally I like white bread, but they dont have this here...all they have is white bread, and even that is not good. Though i will say, we have a slice of a baguette with every lunch and dinner and I am sooo thankful for it because it is a taste I know from the states! And whenever I am served something I dont really like, I just follow every bite with a little taste of bread.
10. Sour candy...cant find it here...they have tons of little candy stores, but none of them sell sour candies...which i love. Its very sad (though they do have great chocolate here).
11. Showers...my shower consistes of a bathtub with a hand held shower head which i have to hold in one hand...and there is no curtain so I have to be careful not to spray the entire bathroom...and they expect showers to be short, a bit difficult with the set up they provide.
12. Nice people...people here are not the nicest, when I am walking down the street if I just smile nicely at anyone, they never smile back...they just keep on their frown...I want to tell them to lighten up haha. Same when like I am nice and move out of the way for someone to get past me, or if there is only room for one of the sidewalk i stand aside and let the person coming at me pass...no smile of appreciation...they just keep walking. I also feel a bit of racism here, when people assume I am american they are more rude to me then their other native spaniards...I dont know why, but sometimes I feel as if there is a huge prejudice against me.
13. English...haha this one is expected, but I can not wait to get back to the states and be able to speak a language fluently and not have to think so hard about everything I say.
14. Our keyboards...I´m sure the keyboards here are more efficient for when you are typing in Spanish, but things are in all sorts of weird places, which takes getting used to, they also have another type of shift key because their keys have three different options on them. And then they have weird symbols like: ç that I have no idea why they are in the spots they are! Now I will have to get readjusted to the american keyboard haha.
15. Television...I miss The Office, Lost, Scrubs...etc etc, they have some shows here on their tv´s that are reruns of ours (new to them) but of course they are in spanish. Its funny to watch shows like House, because Dr. House has such a distinct voice, that really fits his character...well whoever speaks it in spanish doesnt have his same accent or voice inflections...its just not the same!
16. Dryers...we hang dry everything here, because dryers are expensive. So it takes awhile to get clothes...and shirts and things dont re-shrink up so everything just feels a bit stretched and too big now.
17. Wireless internet/my laptop...dont have it. miss it. Have to come to a computer lab during the day to check email and such. also miss my camera...brought my parents camera which is nice, and takes good photos...but i still miss my camera that I know how to work!
18. Our outlets...killed my converter with my hair straightener because it didnt convert the energy right or something...and almost melted my straightener because my converter was then giving too much energy...now i have no way of charging my iPod and camera battery, so I have to borrow a converter from friends.
19. Our schedule...Here (on a school day) I get up (8am), eat, go to school (930-2pm), eat a huge lunch (230pm), nap, go to computer lab, eat a big dinner (930pm), study and go to bed (11pm). Not much to do, and people dont really go over to friends apartments, dont know why, but its just culturally not accepted. So to hang out, you have to go out, which means spending money basically. I miss just sitting and playing cards or watching a movie with friends.
20. Small portions...My host mom here feeds me SO much food, and when I dont finish it all she gets unhappy...so I stuff myself and feel sick after. I am going to gain so much weight and im not excited haha. I mean I walk most everywhere so that helps burn it off, but I eat basically 2 peoples servings here, and I always try and tell her I can eat that much...but it never seems to stick. Can´t wait to be able to serve myself and not have a full plate with a huge bowl of soup, two big pieces of meat, a piece of bread, and a thing of rice. (for example).

Guess thats all for now, and all of this just really makes me appreciate and be thankful for everything God has blessed me with in the United States. It really is a great country!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Guggenheim

Saturday a group of us, Aubrey, Ben, Danielle, Francisco, Jim, and I, traveled by bus to Bilbao where we visited the ever so famous Guggenheim Museum. It was actually really neat, you can see the building from quite a distance in the city and once you get there its greatness takes your breath away. The building itself is a work of art, meant to mimic the sails of a ship. Once we got inside there were 3 stories of art work to go through...it took us about 3 hours. We walked around a ton, took a few photos (even though we weren´t supposed too) and had an all around good time.

The weather was beautiful so we went to a supermarket and bought all the makings for yummy sandwiches and found a park to eat in, which was basically the prettiest park ever! We stayed there chatting and eating and goofing around for the rest of the afternoon when we headed back to Santander. Bilbao is a really cool city, more what i was expecting Santander to be like. It smells 10 times better, looks 10 times prettier and has a ton more green areas and such.

While we were sitting in the park enjoying ourselves this guy came up to us asking for money. He spoke in Spanish, telling us how he had had a few jobs in the past and that tonight the church would feed him, but he needed money for tomorrow (because all shops are closed on sundays) so he needed money now so he could buy food for tomorrow...then he starts talking in English (broken english but still very understandable) so that he made sure we knew he was really going to use the money for food for him and his friends...it was kinda sketch, I mean he was really nice, but he wouldnt take the food we had on us, he only wanted money, we gave him a bit of our change, nothing huge, but we are pretty sure he probably wanted it for alcohol. If he can speak 2 languages he should be able to find a job! But he was very convincing and very appreciative haha, saying that if we were ever in his position we would understand and how he wished he could do something for us in return...I guess he plays some intrument but it "broke" haha. who knows, but hopefully he got his food.
Our view for where we ate lunch

Exploring Caves

Friday our whole group went on an excursion to see some caves! The first one was called the Cueva del Castillo (Caves of Castillo), we couldn´t take photos inside, but they were pretty cool. Much more intricate than the hollowed out lava tubes I´ve been too in Oregon. There were also some original cave paintings on the wall, some bison and hands had been painted. Amazing to think that people lived in caves. Not going to lie, some of what the historians and culture analysis people have come up with are a little strange. Saying that the cave people drew things for "this reason" or whatever, they have no idea, it´s all just guesses. But they don´t ever phrase it like that...it´s more of a "they drew the bison along this crack in the rock because it helps form the line of the back bone of the bison..." they have no idea if they chose that area of rock for a reason, for all they know the rock cracked After the picture was painted. Oh well.

Then we proceeded onto the Altamira Caves...well kind of. We went to a museum that had replicas...not the real thing (aparently they are too delicate for us to visit). First we went to this little lesson on how the cave people back then made fire and spears, which was interesting. The guide took a specific type of rock which they use for spear heads and knives and he broke off a sharp piece and then cut some girls hair to show how sharp it was (she volunteered of course). Then we got to throw a spear! They had these huge painted deer and bison at various distances and we got 2 chances to throw our spears at them, my first one barely went anywhere, but my second one would have hit the deer had i been aiming better (forgot to aim because I was so focused on getting it to go far).

Then we went in for a tour of the replica caves, which were basically a joke. It wasn´t in a real cave, just a man made one, with nice ramps and nice little video tour things as you went. The first little narrative was this video. It shows a family of cave dwellers, the dad is sitting around his fire sharpening a knife or something, and the mom and child come in (aparently they have been gathering shells) and they are all just one big happy family talking spanish and behaving perfectly...a little hard to believe...first who knows if they were speaking spanish, and secondly whose to say they had the same mannorisms as we do today?? It was hard not to laugh. Then we walked and saw the replica cave paintings, which if they had been real would have been really cool...but its hard to be impressed when you know someone just repainted the old ones. It really is too bad that we could not see the originals!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Further Look Into the Workings of Spain

Sorry this post has taken so long to come, I find that every time I get a chance to be online I have so many e-mails and such to respond to I forget to update my blog! So here goes!

First, had our first "class" last Monday, which consisted of a test to see if we were in the upper or lower level Spanish class, it was really hard!! Then we just got a quick tour around campus. Next day we got to find out what class we were in and I got into the upper class which was a real surprise! I thought I had done terrible, but apparently not too bad haha. So the group of 30 is split evenly into the upper and lower classes, and thankfully both my friends Lindsay and Shannon got into the upper level too! Then we had class, my schedule is as follows:

Monday - Thursday, 930-1130 we have Grammer class with Esther (she´s really nice and a great teacher!) Then we have a 30 minute break. Then from 12-1 we have Conversation class with our teacher Manolo, and he is crazy! But a ton of fun, he has this thing called the "Electric Chair" where he makes you go sit on a table and he gives you a topic (I had to talk about what my perfect future husband looked like) and you have to talk about that topic for 3-4 minutes straight in Spanish, and if you pause for too long you get minutes added on! Its quite nerve wracking but fun too. Manolo is funny though, he loves to cuss (in spanish) and loves to make people uncomfortable, but at the same time makes everyone laugh. Then from 1-2 we have Culture class, which is a tad boring, no extremely boring. Its really hard to pay attention because it is like a regular college class except taught in Spanish, so if you stop focusing for one minute you are completely lost!

Second, no classes on fridays which is awesome! So the popular thing to do here (even for older people) is to go out. There are tons of bars and clubs here and the thing to do is to just get a drink and socialize. Their hours of being awake are so much different than the US, people dont really go out until like 12 to 1AM!!

Third, went to the beach on Saturday because the weather was nice, and it is beautiful here, the sand is perfect, but the water is cold (reminds me of Oregon haha).

Here are a few photos I have taken so far!