¡Saludos a todos! Hope everyone is doing well! I´m coming off of part two of my three week trip extravaganza, and though I´m extremely-extremely-as-in-there-aren´t-words-to-express EXCITED for my trip to Italy on Thursdy, it´ll be nice to have a weekend in Alcalá coming up soon. Even better, next Tuesdy is el Día de Cervantes, and we don´t have classes, so I´ll have a nice little break in the middle of the week to sleep in, haha. Anyway, but onward to stories! We spent last weekend in Alicante with our CIEE program, which was surprisingly a lot of fun. I say surprisingly because I honestly didn´t know what was IN or NEAR Alicante other than the beach before going, and wasn´t really sure as to what we´d be doing. But, I had faith in Cristina and Fausto, and they definitely did not let us down. But, before I go into that, I´ve got some general life updates.
Last week I started tutoring two families of kids (for ten euros an hour, hollahh). I´m can´t really remember if I metioned that in the last post, so bear with me if I repeat myself. Anyway, the first family has a ten year old boy and a six year old girl, both of whom I spend thirty minutes with, and the other family has a ten year old girl, who I tutor for an hour, and an eight year old boy who I tutor for thiry minutes. I had a really fun first week helping them out, and I think this has the potential to be a really fun activity each week. Even better, it´s making me think and speak in Spanish in what I feel is an even more advanced and challenging way. The kids are learning english, but they don´t know enough for me to conduct their lessons in english, so I´m facing the challenge of explaining concepts such as the different methods of pluralizing nouns and how to tell time in english, in spanish. It´s really makes me think in a different way, and I think it´s really good for me. Even better, I feel like the kids are helping me learn even more spanish, it´s like an intercambio (exchange) of language between us. For example, I was teaching the older girl about plural nouns, and how depending on if nouns ending in a -y have either a vowel or constanant before the y, you either drop the -y and add an -ies or you keep the -y and add an -s (it´s been a good review for my grammar, too haha), and she taught me the word for vowel in Spanish so I could explain the concept to her easier. I´m really liking the tutoring so far, so hopefully it won´t become like a chore, and I´ll keep enjoying myself while doing it. It does make my Tuesdays and Thursdays pretty long, because I eat a picnic (literally, picnic is the same word in Spanish haha) for lunch right after school, take a bus to the first house and tutor for an hour, walk to the next hour and tutor for an hour and a half, then take a bus back to the plaza and another bus after that back to el Ensanche where I live, equalling about an hour of travel time to get home, and putting me en casa around 7:00.
Other than that, classes have been going really well. Last week was a crunch week which made me reminence in Wofford; I feel like we had those just about every three to four weeks, haha, but this week is more normal. It´s hard to believe we´ve been here for a month, and that we have our midterms in two and a half weeks, ahh. I´m not necessarily worried about them, more worried about the fact that our midterms and finals consist in basically our only grades for the semester for most of our classes, which is a little stressful. Oh, starting about the last week of September, the weather here suddenly turned chilly and is apparently going to stay that way until it gets even colder in a couple weeks. It´s weird, because I feel like in SC, the weather usually snaps back and forth a couple times before it decides to concede to fall, but here it was almost an overnight change. Not that I´m complaining, I absolutely love this fresh, crisp weather. Plus, I finally get to wear some different clothes, haha. My wardrobe here is very limited by the whole weight limit issue, though I´ve been solving that problem by many visits to Zara, Sfera, and H&M. I can´t even imagine how I´m ever going to get all of my stuff back to the United States. Which, speaking of returning to the US, another random life update, I found out another girl who literally lives in the house right across from me, is on the same flight as me back to the US. Funny how things like that work out sometimes? I´m hoping since it´s still pretty early, we can change our seats to sit next to each other.
Alright, enough with the general. Let´s talk about the trip to Alicante. We left early early on rainy Friday morning on our own personal charter bus (which I´m pretty sure could fit 52 people, though there were only 12 of us on there, haha). It took us around five or six hours to get to Alicante, I can´t remember for sure, I slept most of the way, sprawled out comfortably across two seats. When we arrived, we checked into our hotel, which was absolutely gorgeous, and took a quick walk around Alicante and saw some of the major monuments and sites. Alicante is situated on the ocean, and one site that definitely stuck with me was this building, next to the ocean, that had cannon balls and holes in the side of it from where it was bombarded by ships a couple centuries ago. It was crazy. Basically, I imagine Alicante as the city where Pirates of the Carribean would have taken place, haha.
After walking around a little under the direction and with the immense knowledge of Fausto, we hopped on the bus and headed off to a real-life chocolate factory in Villajoysa. Sadly, there was no Willy Wonka or oompaloompas in site, but there was the delicious scent of Valor chocolate wafting from every building. While we were touring the factory, it literally POURED rain, which wouldn´t have been so bad if we didn´t have to walk outside to get inbetween the buildings. But, it was worth it for the gift shop at the end, where they had free samples of chocolate, and where I purchased a giant bar of chocolate con leche y almendras (almonds) that I´m happy to say I promptly devoured yesterday, haha. After the chocolate factory, we returned to the hotel, and celebrated the birthday of one of the girl´s in my program.
On Saturday, we got up early and took advantage of the yummy continental breakfast, where they had this absolutely amazing granola with dried fruit that I´m still dreaming about. We boarded the bus and headed to a small pueblo called Guadalest in the morning, then Benidorm in the afternoon. Guadalest was gorgeous. It´s one of those places that I honestly don´t have the words to describe. It´s this little town that somehow has been preserved for centuries, situated in the mountains right next to this lake of literally crystal blue water. The town itself was really cool to walk through and see and imagine how all that´s really changed is the area surrounding it and the people in it. It´s also really nice to tour places with Cristina and Fausto, because they both know so much about everything, and it´s nice to be able to ask questions and actually learn about where you are, instead of just reading a guide book. After Guadalest, we went to Benidorm, a city that is basically the complete opposite. It made me think a little of Tampa, Florida, because it´s on the beach with tons of shopping and restaurants and really no historical monuments or anything like that (at least that we saw). We ate legitimate paella for lunch, which was absolutely delicious, and shopped and took a beautiful walk down the beach. It was a really fun afternoon. Afterward, we returned to the hotel around 6 or 7 and had free time for the rest of the night. Some people in my program and I walked around the walk next to the ocean and looked at the outdoor market, and saw a surprisingly good Michael Jackson interpretor, and got some really delicious gelato (though I´m sure there will be no comparison to next weekend in Rome.)
Sunday morning we got up and, after I ate more of that delicious cereal, we walked up to a castle that´s in Alicante. The castle was really, really cool. The view from the top was breathtaking, you could see the ocean stretching for miles and all of Alicante surrounding you. Plus, there were cannons from 1825 just sitting there, ready to go. It was crazy. It was one of those “is this real life?” moments. After the castle, we ate more paella in Alicante for lunch, and then boarded the bus to head on back here.
On the bus, I really enjoyed looking out the window and seeing the Spanish countryside. I feel like there are more stretches of just nature inbetween the cities in Spain, not like in the United States where pretty much every couple of miles there is an exit with a McDonalds off the interstate. It was neat just to watch the countryside pass by.
So, Barcelona, check; Alicante, check; and now, on to Rome next weekend. I cannot wait, I feel like I´m going to be spending most of my time eating as much pasta as my body can possibly handle.
I figured out how to attach pictures to my posts! So expect a little gallery of some pictures from now on. ¡Besos!