September 17, 2007
Hola todos! I have now been in Spain for a little more then two weeks and my time here has literally flown by. I cannot believe that I have been here for half of a month already. Part of me is thankful because I know I wont ever be terribly homesick; the other half of me is concerned that I wont be able to do everything I want to do here in Spain. I know I still have quite a bit of time left; the problem is that I love to be in Cadiz, but I also want to travel throughout Europe. Its amazing how feasible it is to travel in Europe.
The first week was a little overwhelming trying to find my way around. I definitely felt like a tourist because I had to carry a map around and pull it out wherever I went. I am now realizing that the old part of Cadiz is actually pretty small and you can walk anywhere in about 10 minutes. The new part of Cadiz is actually pretty big and takes a little bit longer to walk to. The 8 km beach is in the new part, so we have definitely made that trek to the new part numerous times! I feel lucky to be in the old part of Cadiz even though the beach is a little further. We still have a smaller beach and it is very beautiful. More people hang out in the bars of the old part and its a lot prettier because there is so much history. The old part of Cadiz is said to be the oldest city of Spain so the buildings are amazing. There is so much history here and throughout Spain. I also live 10 minutes from the University. The people in the new part have to take a bus to arrive on time.
It hasnt taken me very long to get used to the schedule. Now that I have school I usually wake up around 8 and I am at the University by 9. We go to school until 2:30 and then we all go home to eat with our families. I usually eat around 3 or 3:30 and after lunch the whole family does their own thing. My dad takes his siesta (nap) every day after lunch because he works from 7:30 until lunch. That is a long work day in Spain! My mom usually goes to the beach with her girlfriends every day after lunch if the weather is nice. Vanessa, my 29 year old sister, either goes to the beach or takes her siesta. Almu is 27 and she is nurse so I dont see her very often. Laura, who is 14, plays basketball a lot and is usually doing something with her friends. She actually starts school tomorrow so I will be seeing more of her soon. I am not too big into napping so during the siesta I usually go to the beach. If there isnt good weather I struggle to find something to do! I still forget that all of the stores close after lunch, so I leave the house thinking I will find something to do and end up coming back because hardly anyone is out in the streets! We eat dinner between 9:30 and 10:30 and then the nightlife begins. Every night is a late night in Spain, however, the weekends are the nights everyone goes out. It is crazy how late people stay up. I never thought that I would be able to, but I have actually stayed out with everyone until 7 or 8 in the morning. People dont usually meet until midnight-that is when the night begins! People go out to eat tapas (appetizers) between 10 and 12, have a drink and hang out until 3 or 4. After 3 am is when the discotecas open. Dancing doesnt usually start until then. Friday nights are the toughest because I wake up at 8 in the morning and usually dont go to bed until 8 am the next day. Ahh, what a life! The first Saturday I didnt come home until 7 am, I slept until 1:00 pm the next day. I woke up and was mortified that it was so late. I got up and was embarrassed to see my mom, but she told me that it is more than normal for kids to do that on the weekends. Laura didnt wake up until 3 pm when we were eating lunch! Its just so different for me because I have never slept in that late in the U.S. I told Mari its just so different because at home I usually have something that I have to do because it seems like there is always something that needs to get done in the U.S.
So far my classes are good, but I prefer to be at home or with my sister and her friends. I know school is benefiting my Spanish, but I think that I learn a lot more at home or when I go out with Vanessa and her friends. Vanessa and I have really made a connection and I am so thankful for that. Otherwise it would be pretty difficult to meet someone from Spain and have them invite you to do everything. Once I told Vanessa that I wanted to spend time with her and her friends more than Americans, we have ran together, gone to a movie, gone out together, gone to beach, etc.
The life here is far from rough They really do enjoy life and families are very important. I have enjoyed family time where we all eat together. That is something that is hard to do in the U.S. when everyone has their different schedule. We should all be done working at 2! Another difference is the way they greet each other here. Girls kiss girls on both cheeks, boys also kiss girls on both cheeks, and men either hug or shake hands. The culture is very physical; people dont hesitate to get close to one another, and I like it because people are very warm towards each other and its more personal. Shaking hands to me seems so distant now!
Last week I watched the first flamenco performance; that was pretty amazing. People from here can really dance! El flamenco, la salsa, you name it. I would love to learn how to dance over here. Yesterday a group of us had good intentions to go to Sevilla to see bullfight, but our plan sort of fell through. We all woke up yesterday to catch the 12:00 bus to Sevilla, so we were all pretty tired to begin with. We got there around 2 pm, walked to the center of the city to find a hostel and found out that the bullfight was for tonight (Sunday) at 7 pm. The two hostels we went to were full so Jenny and I decided to spend the day there and we came home the same night! I am glad we went because I took some beautiful pictures of Sevilla and we visited La Catedral, which is the third oldest Catedral in the world. Sevilla is a gorgeous city as well, but I definitely wanted to go home to Cadiz! Its crazy that its only been 2 weeks and it feels like home to me. I am still planning on going to a bullfight, but I might go to one in a city that is closer. I have been talking to my family here about the bullfights and they are against it, along with many others here in Cadiz. They just dont agree with it because it is cruel to the bulls because they are solely raised to be killed. I definitely agree with them and I have heard that it is pretty violent and gruesome. I still want to see one because it is so much a part of the culture and has been for so many years. I know for a fact that its going to be hard to watch, but I want to have the experience.
I can feel my Spanish improving day by day and I am constantly speaking in Spanish when other Americans speak to me in English. I think some people might get annoyed, but we are here to speak Spanish! I am very lucky because I enjoy being at home with my family, so I am learning the most from just being at home. Its still hard to always understand, especially when they talk with each other. At times I feel myself just completely zoned out staring at them having their conversation. They speak SO much faster to each other. Luckily they speak pretty clearly to me because they know I wont understand otherwise! I find myself only thinking in Spanish to myself as well and when my mom calls I have to remind myself to switch to English. Someone told me that you know you are becoming fluent when you dream in Spanish. Last week during my siesta I had my first dream in Spanish! It was Grandma Marion saying something in Spanish and I have no idea what she was saying. I was still so excited when I woke up.
Well I hope I havent bored everyone with my long blog! I will continue to update everyone on my travels. We go on our first excursion in Spain next weekend, so I will definitely have more adventures to share when I get home. I hope everyone is healthy and well and would love to hear about what is going on in your lives! I love you and miss you all. Take care!
posted Sunday September 2007