Another week of Spain, and I still find myself in absolute awe with this country and the people in it. I went to Granada this weekend with a group of 6 other friends, and couldn’t help but gasp a lot and say, “Woooow” or “Oh my gosh” every time I turned my head and saw the beautiful view around me.
Granada is a beautiful city, stuck (literally) into the Sierra Nevada mountains, with the Alhambra palace overlooking everything with a regal and ancient splendor. After every hill we climbed (and we climbed a lot of hills), there was a new view of the city and Alhambra, a new chance to take a million photos. I think everyone’s legs were ready to fall off by the time we sat down on the bus headed to home (home=Sevilla now. Isn’t that strange?). The only thing I think we missed was going into the Alhambra, but that just gives me the perfect reason to head back another weekend, and bring actual walking shoes this time. Word of the wise: Converse are NOT good walking shoes. Not after walking uphill and downhill on slippery, rocky streets for miles on end.
This week was also the first week of real classes (I have been doing one Spanish grammar class for the past two weeks… not fun!), and I think I will enjoy all of them, mas o menos (more or less!). I have two journalism classes, one which seems more theoretical and learning more about the culture surrounding digital and visual culture, and another is more practical—I’ll be doing some interviews, audio editing, and getting into my element of journalism and reporting. My other two classes are covering my other love—literature. I have a class about women writers in contemporary Spain, which I think will be my favorite class of all. Not only is it about Spanish literature, but it’s also half feminism/gender studies class, which I will always enjoy. The first day of class the professor took us all out to a convent, where they sell muffins—or magdalenas, which happens to be the professor’s name (Magdalena!)—and then we went to a café to eat our muffins, drink some coffee and tea, and just chat about ourselves and how we’ve been affected by feminism. It was absolutely amazing. Magdalena also had a lot to say about life in general, and a huge point she made was practically an answer to my post of last week, where I was questioning who I was here as a study abroad student.
Her first question to us was, “Are you guys tourists?”
We all kind of thought about it. No, not exactly. Someone spoke up and replied, “Somos estudiantes.”
Our professor smiled and nodded, and proceeded to tell us that we were never to call ourselves tourists here in Sevilla because we were, in fact, students. That seems like the obvious answer though. Duh, of course we’re students. It’s called study abroad for a reason! But I didn’t think about it that way. I am viewing this beautiful city in a different way than maybe a couple of American tourists might. I get down to the nitty-gritty of living here—dealing with the walking, the crazy streets, or walking the tiny back roads instead of the big tourist-y ones. I am also still American, still an extranjero—or a guiri as they say here. I just happen to be staying a little longer than some of the tourists. I am also learning the language, the culture, the essence of what it is to be both American and Sevillano. Which is pretty freaking cool. So it’s okay to not fit into the mold; it’s okay to wear tennis shoes and ankle socks, it’s okay to not understand everybody all the time (the other day a guy came up to me speaking in Spanish and I said, with a perfect accent, “¿Qué?”). But it’s important to learn. It’s always important to learn. For me, Magdalena answered the question that had been running around in my head since I first came here, and it is a little bit easier for me to understand now.
A small side note, I have 12 weeks (now 11 weeks) of class until my year is up. It blows my mind how little time I actually have here. Most of my weekends are full of things to do and places to go. It’s a little exciting, the thought of being done and going home to see everyone, but it’s more stress-inducing. I have to plan things! Figure out things to do in Europe and Spain before it’s too late! I won’t have time to do any of it! It’s not like Europe is going anywhere… but it’s a little expensive getting here. Plus with school, work, and life in general, it makes it a little hard to just go off somewhere and explore. Come January, I’ll be back in good ol’ Iowa, having a normal, dare I say, boring semester. And probably a cold one too. So much to do, so little time.
Side note: I am also battling to the death with myself, trying my hardest not to get sick. This is not the time! So I’ve been chugging tea and honey all day. I’ve got a weekend full of things to do, and the last thing I want to do in Spain is sit in my room and rot in bed.
I’m off to down another cup of tea and chug some lemon juice and honey.