If by some miracle you have somehow managed to allude yourselves from my instagrams, tweets, snapchats, or Facebook posts… I am studying abroad in Alicante, Spain for the Spring semester of my junior year of college.
It is «week 3» and I’m finally doing this. I’m going to start forcing myself to sit down and somehow formulate all the indescribable things I see, hear, taste, and experience into words.
I am doing this for myself so that I can one day return to this moment and relive what it was like to go into each day completely unaware as to what it might hold. I also am doing this for family and friends who are interested in being inside my head while these memories are still vivid.
I decided not to create a new blog site devoted solely to my worldwide sightseeing and all the rich history behind each statue or palace. The world doesn’t need another travel blog and your Google search could probably tell you more than I could.
As neglected as this blog site is, it is less about the subjects that I am posting about and more about my individual experiences and thoughts on the matters. With that being said, continue on these unorganized, spontaneous, new adventures with me at your own risk.
1/26/16 @ 7 p.m.
I want to start my series of blogs by giving you an idea of day-to-day life for me in Alicante, as well as provide some insight into my first few weeks here in beautiful España.
7 p.m. here means 19 o’clock. This means it is noon at home, which ultimately means when I wake up at 7 a.m. and text my mom, I have to wait 7 more hours to get a response.
I think time has been one of the biggest changes for me. Not only adjusting to the change of clock from what I am used to, but also the hours on which certain daily habits fall. We eat lunch at 2 p.m. and by this time I am usually done with my Mon-Thurs classes. Then the city shuts down until around 5 p.m. in order for local store owners to ~siesta~ and spend time with their family. For locals, this means a schedule built around people, as opposed to business like in America, and I value that about this culture. However, for tourists, since dinner isn’t until 9 p.m., this means a long period of unclaimed free time where there is not a whole lot you can do. I am still working on trying to figure out when the best times are to shop or get coffee, but for now, I am grateful for designated nap times built into my day. The biggest kicker though, for me, is the night life. 2 a.m. at home is when bars and clubs close down and people generally go home. 2 a.m. here is when people are just getting started, most stay out until 5:30 or 6 a.m. Moral of the story: I think I will be ready to return home as a 21 year old. (Sorry mom)
If you were paying close attention, you’ll notice I used the word “we” without any explanation. Introducing: my host parents Rosi and Pedro. I live under their roof along with my roommate, Julia Hoyt, a chiller from the University of Iowa. Rosi and Pedro don’t speak any English and they are the greatest couple, full of jokes, sarcasm, and genuine kindness. They have two children who are all grown up and married with cute little niños of their own that I have yet to meet. Every day my Spanish improves and I can communicate with them more. Them explaining a new concept (or Spanish game show) to me or the moment when they actually understanding what I say after stumbling through a sentence are some of the simple pleasures of my day. Rosi even recently knitted me a scarf.
First imagine your favorite home cooked meal your mom has ever made for you. Now image having a new favorite meal twice a day everyday. As skeptical as I am about most foods, and as adamant as I was about not liking fish, I have loved almost every new thing that I have been served by Rosi and Pedro: soups, chicken dishes, potatoes in every form you can imagine, grilled vegetables, homemade pizza, fried hake (yes that is fish) and so much more. Rosi goes to the market every day to have fresh bread at each meal and Pedro makes this aioli spread that has to be coursing through my veins at this point. At mealtimes I eat until I physically cannot anymore…and then they bring out crepes so I eat just a little more. There are no complaints here.
Unless maybe you count school. I feel as though I should touch on this topic, being so that it is supposedly why I am here. I am studying through a program called USAC, taking Spanish courses at the University of Alicante with other USAC students from all over the United States. None of my professors speak any English and for that I am grateful. They all are incredibly willing to help us understand and a lot of what I am learning is actually incredibly interesting. Well, besides my mandatory composition & grammar class (thanks K-State). On the other hand, though, I am taking a literature course, a linguistics course, and a culture and civilization course where I am learning about the unreal people and events that define this country’s past. USAC is a stellar program that has been our lifesaving resource for every possible uncertainty along the way. They also go above and beyond to organize optional travel events and local activities for us to partake in as a group and because of it I have gotten to know so many people.
For example, I spent my first few days in Spain on one of these organized group events where we were given tours around the capital city, of the Museo Nacional Del Prado (art museum) and of the Palacio Real de Madrid (royal palace). In the days following we were bussed to Segovia and Toledo. The architecture and rich culture in these quaint towns were radically different than the big city feel of Madrid. One of my favorites, though, was the Valley of the Fallen where Francisco Franco is buried. That was intense. I learned even more about it’s controversial history today in class and I highly recommend you do one of those Google searches I mentioned earlier
All in all, Alicante is beautiful, complete with a beautiful beach, great shopping, lots of cute dogs that wear coats, and a castle to hike up. I know some really great people and I am finally feeling settled. I don’t think I ever will want to come home. (again, sorry mom)
Next on my agenda is London, Carnaval 2016 de Alicante, & Amsterdam, but for now… I have class in the morning.
hasta luego, amigos
Palacio Real de Madrid
USAC Group photo in Toledo
Valley of the Fallen
View from the top of Castillo de Santa Bárbara, Alicante
Drinks on the port at sunset is the perfect end to the first day of class