Monday, February 21, 2011

Views from above and 101 reasons to stay vegetarian in Spain

This weekend was packed full!! School is finally picking up! I actually have a paper due on Wednesday… granted it is only two pages long, but a paper none-the-less! I also started my practicums this week and really, really am excited for those. In a mere 4 weeks I will have full reign over three (one fourth and two fifth grade) English classes here twice a week! Frightening for the students and me, but we are all excited so hopefully that helps. Spanish schools are very different from American schools, though—talking in the middle of class, looking out the window in a daze, and messing around in your backpack are all very acceptable despite what’s going on with the chalkboard—a cultural difference that is going to take some getting used to!

But I’m going to keep the text short on this one so here is a brief description of what you are looking at:
1)    Carmona- a small town near Sevilla with some castles and stuff
2)   CADIZ! A place I could live the rest of my life—beach, small town, happy Spanish people—but not eat the rest of my life. You’ll see...
3) Hiking in Aracena, another small town in the "mountains" (the same place where I went to the mine etc. etc.)

This is the market in Cadiz... I am struggling to add captions for an unknown reason, so just so you know this is what you are about to see 1- Fruit (normal enough) 2-SHARK! (not so normal) 3- Sacks of baby fish eggs (ew!) 4- Little Bunny Foo-Foo no longer hopping through the forest....5- More of that... 6- Sea urchines which I tried & taste like a block of salt 7- Squid 8 & 9- Cadiz from above! 10- The Beach!! 11- Sheep! 12- Donkey! 13- The best picture I have ever taken-- my photography skills are really improving!

Monday, February 14, 2011

¡Sí, sí!... I mean wí, wí!

¡Hola! Or should I say Bonjour?! I’ll stick with Hola, because it turns out I don’t speak a lick of French. Let me back up before I explain how I learned that though…

As of February 14th, 2011, I have officially been living in Spain for a month! And classes finally started last week—putting the “study” part in study abroad… kind of. I am excited about class, though, because deep down (okay, surface level), I am a giant nerd and love having something to fill my time! Mondays and Wednesdays I wake up before the sun to go to History of Spain at 9. Then I have Translation and Practice at 1 pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will have my practicums in the mornings where I will teach fifth grade English! Tuesday/ Thursday afternoons I have Methodology of Teaching a Foreign Language and my Professional Teaching Development classes. We visited the elementary school last Thursday to get a feel for how that would run and it got me very excited—all of the teachers seem really excited to have us—offering us coffee and cookies as they took their “breakfast break” in the teachers’ lounge (only in Spain…), and the kiddos paused to grin at us as the chased after the soccer ball at recess. I know I will probably end up liking teaching English a lot, especially since I liked teaching in Spanish so much last semester!

Thursday night an unfortunate event left me missing home, and since there is really no way to sugarcoat this one I’ll just say it: I puked. Now hold on—I hear you all getting ready with your jokes “I remember my first beer, too” my father is already saying, BUT I did not consume any alcohol! No, I merely ate dinner, and twenty minutes afterwards got to know my trashcan on a whole new level. Four times. Now I don’t mean to be gross, but this little detail is important when considering I was leaving my humble abode for Gabby’s NOT so humble abode Paris the next morning at 7:00 am on the dot. To say it in a sentence airport security, airplane bathrooms, and navigating your way through the Paris metro is probably a little bit more fun when you have slept more than four hours the night before and when the noise your stomach makes isn’t being confused for the jet’s of an airplane by the other passengers. But all in all, I got to Paris in one piece, got the two best hugs I’ve had in a month, and had a lot of fun.

For starters, I’m not joking about Gabby’s house. She shares a block with Julia Roberts, need I say more?! Michelle and I were both very grateful to be able to stay with her, not only since it saved us a bunch of money and we had a lot of fun, but Gabby did a great job helping us fulfill of tourist duties. We saw everything (and our feet definitely felt it)! The Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Seine River (?), The Arc de Triomphe, Crème Stands (yes, I did just capitalize that and put it in between two historically beautiful places), Sainte- Chapelle, the Sacre Coeur, an Egyptian protest, and a few other churches and plazas whose names I sadly cannot remember right now.

The place that made everything hit me, though, was the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it; I figured I was way above that typical touristy shock, I wouldn’t need 100 pictures or anything else—one shot and I would be good to go. Well, I was wrong. We were walking along a basic Paris street when all of the sudden-- there it was! And I couldn’t even see it right because my vision was all blurred from all these messy, sloppy tears that had chosen that exact moment to invade my eyes. I guess I realized how amazing study abroad is—I was at the Eiffel Tower with two of my best friends, and I’m only 21 years old. Some people die without seeing things like this and I WAS THERE! Needless to say, I took more than one picture.

That night we made dinner in the fancy kitchen—salad, pasta, bread, cheese, and wine. Sez skyped us, Gabby made crepes with melted dark chocolate, I could hardly keep my eyes open, and Michelle and I fell asleep in a cushy, soft bed—overall, a pretty good day!

Sevilla welcomed me with rain, a language I could at least PARTIALLY understand (trying to buy a Metro ticket in France was humbling… thank God for gestures…), and an odd feeling of something similar to a home, or at least a feeling of belonging. When I walked in the house, Manola smiled up at me from the sofa asking how it had all gone, and when I left the house later Eve and Greg greeted me with big hugs and we went for a walk with umbrellas in hand. But enough of my blabbering, here are some pictures!!

Notre Dame

Norte Dame from the back

A wacky woman feeding pigeons and letting them climb all over her as if she were some type of street lamp... nasty.
The Seine River

This bridge behind the Notre Dame has "locks of love" (not the hair thing....)

So we had to join in!-- our lock!

The Louvre

One of my favorite paintings
Outside the Louvre at night
In front of the Arc de Triomphe
Sainte- Chapelle (I think?... I don't remember the names, but this stained glass was amazing!)
A carousel right across the street from...
The beautiful Eiffel Tower!!!
Michelle, Gabby, and I looking pretty good!
Delicious Dinner! I never realized that I would miss cooking! If you strain your vision you can see past the wine! :)

Back in Seville, about to turn down my street, trying to stay dry!
 Happy Valentines Day to all of you! I am so thankful for all of my loved ones, and I think of you all everyday! XOXO!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

From Pepé to Piper

Hola! Welcome back to another episode of Piper’s Life Abroad… terrible title-- forgive me. Forgive the corny TV catch phrase, too, but since Manola (my señora) enjoys the TV so much and chooses to watch shows that resemble Spanish Jerry Springers, at all hours of the day, I’m starting to feel like maybe I am living one of the crazy soap operas she so enjoys! Oh, also, Extreme Makeover Home Edition with Ty Pennington is about 100 times better dubbed in Spanish—Ty Pennington scored himself the squeakiest little mouse voice I’ve ever heard, and when the people walk in the house all they say is “¡Oh Dios Mio!” which makes me realize how much Americans say “OMG!”… sickening, really.

But enough about the grand ol’ tube. Onto bigger and better things!
Last weeks classes went well, we visited more churches, drank more coffee, and learned more Spanish slang. I’ve started to use my map less, umbrella more, and am definitely finally stepping out of the “hate” stage of being abroad. ¡Oh Dios Mio! I just admitted it online! Okay fine, you caught me—when I first got here I wasn’t exactly in the “Honeymoon” stage as some of my peers exclaimed to be… at ridiculously loud levels everywhere we went.… No, I was pretty annoyed that I just skipped the whole bliss stage after having to listen to some dried up, old lady with a monotone voice discuss the “4 Stages of Going Abroad” into a crackly microphone at Study Abroad orientation—seemed like I deserved some sort of prize for sitting through that. But I guess that’s the price you pay when you have great people surrounding you in a place you love, and then you decide to jump ship (questionable joke and that sounded like brown-nosing… sorry). BUT the point of this complaining is to say—I AM STARTING TO REALLY LIKE IT HERE! I have not sent my mother emails twice a day (sorry Mom, no hard feelings), I have not skyped someone everyday (don’t take it personal folks), and I HAVE laughed everyday (aren’t I a ray of sunshine?!).

A wall in a church I saw with my class-- it hasn't been renovated at all since 1496, and that is gold dust blown on the sculptures... the lack of flash doesn't do it justice!

Speaking of sunshine, it’s getting warmer here, and yesterday my friend, Eve, who lives in my building and is in the same program as me, and I made the trek up to the roof of our University. We were able to see the “skyline” for the first time and sit in the sun—two very big pluses...  my Vitamin D reserves were really running low.

Even better, today I ran in shorts and little kids smiled at me on the street… HOLD ON—I know that sounded creepy, but people do NOT smile at one another here unless they are already in conversation. The people are all very nice, but no one smiles as they pass by—it’s very different than in Colorado… so that’s why the kids smiling at me made me happy. Alright, well…

The sun helps. Especially because I was sick with a nasty cough for awhile there. I originally blamed it on the cold and rain, but after pulling my bed away from the wall and seeing the amount of dog hair and dust that was hanging out back there, I got another idea. So come Sunday, as soon as Manola had finished banging some pots and pans in the kitchen (what Eve refers to as my “daily wake up call”) and had left for Mass, I found the broom and went to town. As if reading my mind, Manola changed my sheets when she got home and told me I could hang photos on my wall. So my room actually feels like MINE! This also is partially due to the fact that Manola and I have been getting along much better. You probably could tell things are better since I’m actually using her name, but she is using mine now too—I am no longer Pepé or Pee Pee… two things I would like to never think about in corrilation (sorry spelling is really hard for me these days...) to my identity again. But. At first I struggled to gage how much time I could just shut my door and be alone in my room versus how much time I should sit and watch Pedro try to find his long lost brother via some female Jerry Springer… clearly I have done a little of both. But after Manola told me the same story about her fear of swimming for… oh… probably the seventh time, I realized she wasn’t exactly remembering every session we spent in front of the TV together, and started to feel less guilty about retreating to my cuarto… Vale.

So! Saturday when I still questioned if death was going to come grab be in between coughing and blowing my nose, my program and I headed up to Arácena, a little town in the mountains (Ha! Mountains my butt). We saw a mine (NOT super exciting) and a cave (SUPER EXCITING!) Unfortunately, photos were profibited in the cave, but not in the mine (typical), but due to some of my more rebellious amigas, I have a few shots for you below! Manola made me a beautiful cheese and tomatoe sandwich for the day (which all the other kids were jealous of, not to be a first grader or anything…) and the whole experience of traveling made this idea of being a study abroad student thing kind of click finally—in a good way!

Rosie, Eve, and I at the mine.


CAVE! Oh P.S. the humidity in these babies did wonders for my cold!

The little town of Arácena

"Mountains"... I'm still laughing.

Rosie, another friend from the building & program (see pic above!), agreed to join me in my quest to go to the art museum. The museum was nice… full of guards who took their jobs extremely seriously and quite a bit of Jesus pictures… but overall a good time. To make up for my… hmm… feelings… toward the museum (yes feelings…), I took a lot of pictures on the walk home… I’ll make my own art…

Obviously art-worthy... CHOCOLATE! (I'm coming home AT LEAST 20 lbs. heavier, get your fat jokes ready!)
This was actually in Arácena, too, but how funny is this?! A fish shop with a shark on the front!

Outside the Museum
Maze thing?

Ceiling of the Museum

A broken water-pipe outside a store! This poor store owner had to sweep water out of his store!

¡Hasta luego!