Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mid semester slump

Well, thanks to my wonderful friend Madeline, I am back. I started this rainy fall morning with warm toast and peach marmalade and some hot cinnamon tea, excited that I would be able to blog again this morning after mass. Mass wasn’t until noon so after I ate I worked on a bit of homework and watched a canonization service with my señora on TV. Today la Madre Maria de la Purisíma, a nun from Sevilla, is being recognized as a saint! Anyway, I went to mass at the capilla at the university and it has definitely been my favorite mass so far. The capilla (small church) reminds me of home, the priest is young and full of energy, and the people at the mass were generally a bit younger. Now I’m sitting at “Café & Te” using Madeline’s laptop to tell y’all about my life.
Why am I using her laptop? Well, a little over a week ago mine decided that it wasn’t going to work anymore. I’ve been trying to fix it and have had people look at it but so far I haven’t had any luck. It’s more of an inconvenience than anything because most of my classes don’t require writing and I can use my phone to do the readings. It is frustrating when it comes to planning travel, doing my JYS homework, and not being able to blog…especially since that’s one of the highlights of my week. Not to mention that my whole life is on that computer! Also, sometimes you just want to watch a movie...or the democratic debate. I’m hoping I can resolve whatever the issue is soon and without having to pay.

In reality, my computer breaking could not have come at a worse time. I had already been having a really hard time, an off week (or two) or sorts. I think that my slump is a mix of things. One of the main factors is that my lovely mother sent me a package in mid-September and instead of getting the package I got a nice little note from Correos (the mail company) that my package was in Madrid but that I’d need to jump through many a hoop, wearing a tutu and a clown nose id i wanted it. After spending a week trying to figure out how to submit all of the documentation I needed myself, I went to the JYS office for help. I was basically told that I wouldn’t be able to get my package because I needed a NIF (sort of like a social security number) and that it was impossible to get one before the deadline they gave me and that there was nothing they could do for me. I was very frustrated and upset but luckily my señora is an angel. She talked to her dad, who just went through this with one of his JYS students and he got me a temporary NIF and then my señora took me to Correos, sorted out what we needed to do, and then helped me upload all of the necessary documents. We’re still waiting on a confirmation, but I think we may have solved this mystery!
Aside from the package and the computer I’ve been feeling a bit down in general. I didn’t think about it until a conversation that I had with a friend, but I could quite possibly have been feeling the effects of culture shock. I found the following description of stage 2 (negotiation) on Wikipedia:

After some time, differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. Excitement may eventually give way to unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as one continues to experience unfavorable events that may be perceived as strange and offensive to one's cultural attitude. Language barriers, stark differences in public hygiene, traffic safety, food accessibility and quality may heighten the sense of disconnection from the surroundings

I would say that this is a pretty accurate description of what I was feeling. Other things that have contributed to this “slump” are my ongoing frustration with lack of personal space (aka a tiny room and sharing a bathroom with four other people), not having anywhere to study/do homework quietly, not being able to find any sort of protein/cliff bar, being catcalled (or barked at) whenever I go out at night, and struggling to find times to practice using Spanish.

I can’t say that everything has been bad. While I am now out of my slump, I still had plenty of fun experiences over the past two weeks that I’ve been waiting to tell you about! Something that started out being a negative was constantly seeing everyone at home posting pictures of fall related things. I’m thinking I should just spend less time on social media but regardless, it made me really miss being in the states. After posting a Facebook status and taking a trip to Starbucks (I didn’t get a pumpkin spice latte, just a cappuccino and blueberry muffin), I found my FB well covered in pictures of the Berkshires and fall themed things in general. Thank you so much! I love seeing the pictures, and I’ve had friends tell me that they like seeing them too ! Also, my señora must be psychic because we’ve had crema de calabaza (pumpkin soup) twice since that day! Also random thought-do I love pumpkins so much because I love Cinderella?

Speaking of Cinderella, I’ve seen two movies in the past two weeks, both American movies but both in Spanish. It’s gone pretty well, which is great because I love going to the movies. It is a little weird only hearing people with Spanish accents though. The first one that I saw was “Pan” which is the new live-action “prequel” to Peter Pan. I really enjoyed it and it was surprisingly easy to understand. The other movie that I saw was “Marte” (The Martian). I’ve been dying to see this movie since I read the book, so of course I went to see it on opening day. I treated myself to dinner and a movie and it was a great night. I went to the gourmet market near the Puente de Triana and got a slice of capresse pizza and a copa de rosé. Not your typical wine and pizza pairing, but I do love the pink stuff. There’s something relaxing about treating yourself and I do have to give a shout out to professor Lobo for making us go out to dinner and a movie in Intro Psych alone, he knows what he’s doing kids! I complained that we’d always at least have our phones to occupy us but that is not the case in Spain! #nointernationalplan One of the things I love about the movies here is that you can bring in your own food. In fact, there’s both a candy store and a grocery store on the bottom floor of the building where the theater is. I spent 1 euro on popcorn compared to the 3.50 they were charging for a similar size upstairs. The movie lived up to its expectations, but I feel like I missed some jokes because it was in Spanish, reading the book helped a lot though. I definitely want to see it in English! The only down fall is that the movie theater is at least a half hour walk from my house. 

Dinner from my night out

One of the other exciting things that happened this week was my host sister’s birthday. She turned 20 on Friday and we had a big birthday lunch to celebrate. We had cannellois, mine with spinach, for the main dish and some very yummy Tinto and an amazing tarta for dessert. They call it “tarta de Valencia” but it also goes by “tarta de chocolate con galletas”. It was amazing. It is made out of sugar, eggs, butter, chocolate, galletas (cookie like crackers), milk, cognac, and coffee. It sounds like a weird combination but it’s to die for. It was a very fun lunch and makes me excited for my birthday! (Even though I won’t be in Sevilla on my actual birthday). 

Yesterday we had a JYS trip to Ronda. The city was "¡precioso!" but the views of the mountains both in and on the way to the city were just breath taking. My camera of course did not do them justice. I really need to go back and hike there..."the mountains are calling and I must go". The city is built on top of a cliff which is pretty amazing in itself, as is the bridge that connects the two halves of the city. During our tour we saw the bull ring, the bridge, the Arabic baths, and walked around in the "old town". There was a storm looming in the distance and it finally hit us just as we were finishing the tour. Madeline and I sat on the ground and enjoyed our bocadillos safely under the cover of an outdoor walkway. We then set out looking for the perfect rainy day pastry. We ended up at a cafe where we had our nice warm cafés con leche and a yummy pastry. I'm still not really sure what it was, but it was amazing. We had a nice philosophical conversation that lasted a few hours in the cafe and most of the bus ride home. I think cafés tend to have that effect on people. I know I always do my best thinking there!

Not my picture, but it looked like this 
Last night after dinner (a homemade veggie burger that my señora was very proud of), I stayed in and watched "Lo Impossible" with my host sister Esperanza. It's a movie, with Naomi Watts, about a family that survives the 2004 tsunami. They were running a special last night because the family that it's based on is Spanish. It was a lot of fun to hang out with my host sister and the movie was really good, sad and scary, but good. There was also a documentary on after so I got to see real videos and also hear from the actual woman who the book/movie is based off of. It's interesting because I remember being in 4th grade when it happened and us having a bake sale to raise money to donate. 

[Side note: I've really come to appreciate staying in with my family. At times I have a bit of an internal conflict, "why aren't you going out? Why aren't you taking advantage of the night life? Why don't you go and hang out with people from the program/meet new people?" I have found that I never regret staying in, and almost always regret going out. I really do enjoy it sometimes but most of the time I get more out of activities that don't involve spending money at bars and walking half way across the city to go to dirty clubs with crappy American music and a bunch of drunk Americans and a few sketchy Spanish guys. I've also realized that the type of people I want to meet are not the type of people that I'm going to meet at bars and clubs. I'd rather spend my money and time in a cafe. Coming to terms with this has been difficult but a real lesson in figuring out what I want and expressing that]

In Ronda
While we're on the topic of schools, I start my internship this week! I'll be helping teach English 4 days a week at a local catholic school. I have classes in a range of age groups and I'm super excited! I adore children and can't wait to work with them and get more involved in the community! I still have to work out my morning schedule with going to the gym, eating, showering, and being at the school by 9am. I'll keep you updated on this!
I've been really happy with how I've been keeping up with working out. It definitely gives me something to do in the mornings other than being in my room and starts the day on a good note. I've officially been doing "Kayla" for a month which is exciting. Also I went on a run for the first time in a while on Thursday night en el parque de Maria Luisa as stress relief for working on getting my package for most of the day. It was beautiful. I loved it and I loved running, I have to make time for it more often. 
I think this is hilarious: "Toasted flakes of golden corn"

As frustrating as it has been trying to find time to really practice my Spanish, I have started regularly "intercambioing" with Alejandra (who I know from SBC) which is a lot of fun. I go back and forth almost hourly on where I think my Spanish skills are. It's very difficult to have uninterrupted Spanish when you are reading English on your phone or talking in English. It's hard but I'm trying to immerse myself more fully. 

This is pretty much all I have for you right now. I have a nice rant on consumerism/exploitation that I'd love to write but it's always a bit difficult to write that much on your phone. Maybe I should just take pictures of my journal pages and upload them? Then you can see my raw and in edited opinion. Otherwise maybe I'll stay at the university one day during lunch and type it. 

Okay, this is goodbye for now! I have a busy few weeks coming up with midterms (lol what) and lots of traveling! I hope that I'll be able to keep you a bit more updated on my life!

Love and Lollies,


P.S. Sorry about the lack of pictures of Ronda, I didn't want to upload all my pictures to Madeline's computer. Also we're sitting outside of Starbucks using illegal wifi-I stole the code off a table :) 

1 comment:

  1. Very good stories to tell, you know there will be good days and bad days, I am very proud of the decisions that you are making. I can't wait to see the pics of Ronda and hope you enjoy the pics of NYC. I Love and Miss you terribly.