the first three weeks

So I’m pretty late to the whole “study abroad blog” thing. I can’t believe that three weeks (it’ll be four this Wednesday!) have already flown by. Things are going too quickly.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m currently studying in Sevilla, Spain. Sevilla is the capital of the southern province Andalucia.

I really don’t have any way to accurately summarize what’s gone on here the past three weeks. Even if I had been blogging every single day, it would be impossible to explain all the food I’ve tried, all the music I’ve heard, all the sites I’ve seen, all the conversations I’ve had, and all the experiences I’ve….experienced.

But I can damn well try.

Hold on to your butts, people. This is gonna be a long one.

WEEK ONE

An adjustment, to say the least. I was jet-lagged for the first five days (a 14-hour trip plus a 6 hour time difference did not do good things for me) and, I’ll admit, I had a good cry in there somewhere. I typically don’t have trouble when I go away to school, but back in Virginia my college is 3 hours from my house. If I were to ever have a freak out (not that it’s, ahem, happened before, ahem), it was always comforting to know that everything familiar to me was just a short-ish drive away.

But here, across an ocean, there’s no taking a short trip home for a day, or even a weekend. Everything was new, everyONE was new. I felt like I was starting college all over again — except with crappy wifi that makes skyping all my loved ones near impossible.

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within the Christian part of La Alcázar

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lions and castles are the two most common images within la Alcázar

A rocky start led to quick friendships and exploration of the city. I started to feel the anxiety evaporate (although that may have been due to the 95 degree weather) as I began to feel more at home in Sevilla. We saw some amazing sights that week: The Alcázar of Sevilla, La Catedral, La Giralda (which is the tower next to la catedral), Santa Cruz (the beautiful, historically Jewish neighborhood of Sevilla), and an amazing Flamenco performance. I had a very mis-guided view of what Flamenco was. It’s amazing. Look it up. Look it up now.

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^^^ all within La Alcázar

My favorite? Definitely La Giralda. You have to walk up 34 ramps to get to the top of the tower (the beginning of the destruction of my sandals; see last post), and every step you take compounds the anticipation of what you’re about to see. The views were spectacular. My favorite was the view of the bridge and the river, although looking out from any side was breath-taking. My eyes were indeed gluttonous that day.

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top of La Giralda

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top of La Giralda

The very first weekend we were here, our entire group (9 of us then; now 10) decided to take a quick 2-day, 1-night trip to Cádiz. Cádiz is an Andalucian town 90 minutes from here. The bus fare was 17 euros. The hostel was 18 euros. #worthit (I promise I won’t use hashtags anymore).

The beach in Cádiz was beautiful! It’s definitely different from all the beaches I’ve been to. There were no waves, and the sand was pretty rocky. But the water was blue and warm (once the sun came out, that is), and the rocks/cliffs in the distance made for great atmosphere as I napped. I also ended up jumping off a 20 foot bridge (could have been higher; I’m not that great a judging distances) at one point. That was super fun, although I can’t say for sure if I’ll ever do it again. 🙂

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the beach in Cádiz

I wish that we had had more time to just wander around the streets of Cádiz. It’s so much smaller than Sevilla, and I really liked that quaint-ness. For another time, I guess.

WEEK TWO

Classes started. A routine fell into place. I stopped feeling less like a tourist and more like a Sevillana (although nowhere near there yet). I wasn’t going to as many tourist-y areas and instead began exploring the city by myself. I started running again, which definitely helped with the whole anxiety thing. And this is a beautiful city to run in. There are countless parks to choose from, but it’s also wonderful to just run along the street and take in the sights. Running is surprisingly common here, so I didn’t feel like as much of a “typical American” as people told me I would.

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Emily and I after first day of class

My classes?

  • Panorama of Latin-American Literature (pre-1820)
  • History of Sevilla
  • Modern Spanish Literature
  • English-Spanish & Spanish-English Translation

That’s right my friends. Carly’s taking 12 credits this semester. 12 credits. And no labs. NO LABS!! I’ve never had a semester without a lab before — or without a science class of some sort. What’s more, we don’t have classes on Fridays. I’m getting way too spoiled here.

We also had an “intercambio” this week. It’s a program for students (and alumni) of the local universities who want to practice their spanish/english. Bascially, you go to this bar, you meet Spaniards, and you take turns practicing English and practicing Spanish. It’s pretty fun, and everybody I’ve met have been really nice (albeit some could learn a bit about personal space — more on that another day). Talking with people my own age is such amazing practice! It’s one thing to speak spanish in a classroom setting, where you rehearse what you’re going to say in your head before speaking out loud, and the terminology you learn is film/literature/history-related. Young spaniards speak fast — and young ANDALUCIAN spaniards speak ridiculously fast. I’ve definitely had some communication issues, but I’m getting there.

And this is the week that I saw La Plaza de España for the first time. Ohhhhhhh boy. Oh boy.

My roommate Emily and I set out on a walk one evening and decided we wanted to see this plaza for ourselves, since we’d heard so many people talk about it. We didn’t bring a map and so had some trouble finding the place — we ended up getting there by a very out-of-the-way path. We passed military zones and dumpsters and parking lots whilst circling this giant building that we HOPED would lead us to the plaza.

Finally, we rounded a corner, stepped into a park, and stopped in our tracks.

Literally. It was that cool.

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La Plaza de España

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seriously. this is real.

The sky behind the building was purple and each drop of the fountain twinkled as the last light of the sky slipped through the falling water. I’m not very good at imagery and all that stuff, but if my eyes were gluttonous at the top of the giralda, my eyes had committed a mortal sin upon seeing La Plaza de España. It’s literally unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Every inch of the building is covered with intricate, hand-painted detail. The floor within the plaza itself is all mosaic, and the moat surrounding the building has little row boats. LITTLE ROW BOATS, GUYS.

WEEK THREE

We went to las Setas this week. THAT was cool as sh!t.

Formally called the Metropol Parasol, is an amazing, artistic, wooden structure designed by a German architect.  It’s colloquially referred to as “las Setas” because of its mushroom-resemblance. It stands over the remains of ancient Roman homes.

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sunset on las Setas

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top of las Setas

Upon first glance it does seem a little odd — this incredibly modern structure in such a Historic city. It’s been the subject of much controversy within Sevilla and the whole of Andalucia, as the structure itself was INCREDIBLY expensive and was designed by a German architect.

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view from las Setas

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top of las Setas

I’m obviously not from Sevilla and can’t speak on those subjects very much, but what I can tell you is that it’s damn cool. We went to the top of the Setas during sunset (the golden hour, guys. You gotta see all these places at sunset) and the view was amazing. Not as tall as the Giralda, but just as beautiful. The Setas has more surface area to roam and take in the city from different points.

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Emily and I on las Setas

NOW

This weekend was pretty chill. A lot of my group took a trip to Portugal, but I stayed with another girl from my group and explored Sevilla some more. We had a lot of tapas and drinks and churros and chocolate and gelato. I watched some movies and read outside and went shopping.

I’d say that makes for a good weekend.

If you’re still here after reading all that, you are a-maze-balls. I’m also seriously impressed with myself for cranking all this out in a mere 20 minutes. I wish I could write essays that fast.

I guess I’ll be back soon so I can start with regular updating.

Carly

p.s. sorry about all the phone shots. hopefully I’ll be taking my good camera into the streets sometime soon

p.s.s. I’m not sorry for any grammar/spelling mistakes. you think I’m gonna re-read this monster?!

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i’m ill and my feet hurt.

It’s Sunday. So naturally I feel the impending doom of the coming week and all the work I need to get done. On top of that, my throat hurts more than it has all week and I can’t breathe out of my nose.

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I’m typically not a very pessimistic person, but being ill really brings me down. I just want to lay in bed all day and watch Netflix — not write the essay for my History of Sevilla class that’s due tomorrow.

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The fact that I’ve just recently un-blocked Netflix for Spain does not help this temptation. (Also, who knew that Netflix didn’t work in every country? I thought the internet worked everywhere.)

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Oh, and on top of everything else, my feet hurt. My feet really hurt. All over.

Back home I walk a lot. But typically in my gym shoes on the trail or around my neighborhood. I very rarely walk around in nice shoes that I would wear to school or work.

Here, in Sevilla, we walk everywhere, and I typically find myself wearing shoes that aren’t so suitable for long distances. Especially over cobblestone streets and sidewalks with uneven bricks. And the worst part is, it’s not just my feet that are paying for the constant walking. It’s my shoes. MY SHOES!

So let me present to you my beautiful, $50, Steve Madden sandals:

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Trust me, I’m crying just as much as you right now.

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I guess I’ve been stupid to wear them as much as I have been, but it’s been really hot in Sevilla (we’re talking at least 80 for the past three weeks) and they’re the only pair of sandals I brought. What’s more, my favorite vans, that are wonderfully comfortable, got ruined at a club the other night and I’m still trying to salvage them. But, alas, that’s a story for another time. (But is it true that you can put vans in the washing machine?)

I’m gonna stop procrastinating and try to get some work done. Hopefully this week I can update ya’ll on what’s been going on in Sevilla since I’ve been here. I really came in late to the whole blogging game here.

Hope ya’ll have a good Sunday!

an apprehensive beginning…

There’s something incredibly narcissistic about having a blog.

You see, a blog is like a journal. A home for your thoughts, a place to manifest your opinions and vocalize your beliefs. A platform to personify every feeling that nags at you throughout the day and keeps you up at night. A place to vent your deepest, darkest desires, to express your every ecstasy.

Except, the main difference between a blog and a journal is that the journal is private. So I guess we could call a blog a journal for people who feel the need to make sure everyone knows how amazing their inner monologues are. A blog is a journal, plus a hearty helping of egoism and a side of distorted self-confidence. Maybe a dash of arrogance. The recipe is versatile.

I, like most bloggers (I’m really disappointed that I’m already referring to myself as a blogger), am more interested in putting my own misguided, probably under-informed, thoughts out to the rest of the world than I am in reading about those of others. Again, it’s the whole self-absorbtion thing that comes with having a blog. Or worse. A website.

I’ve started a handful of blogs over the past 6 or 7 years and have deleted each one after only a couple of months. I’m not very good at updating and I much prefer to write for myself.

But, I love reading blogs and about other people’s experiences and ways of life, and lately, after reading a lot of travel blogs, I’ve been inspired to start my own. Hopefully for good.

What can you expect from me? Photos, videos, words. Opinions, quotes, stories. Recommendations, experiences, memories.

I guess I’ll see ya’ll soon!

Carly