Category Archives: Spain

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Gijon

We went to Gijón the other day and had a chance to tour the city for a few hours and it was amazing how similar the landscape was to Oregon. It was beautiful and a great experience. AHA takes us on some of the greatest excursions that really show you the thrill of this area. I hope to get another chance to see the coast before I leave but your days fill up so quickly. When we went to the city we got a chance to walk up this huge mountain area and over look the ocean, town and see the huge sculpture that they call “King Kong’s Toilet” because it is a huge round sculpture right at the edge of the hill overlooking the water. When you stand in a certain spot you can hear the ocean echoing inside and it is like putting your ear up to a seashell. It is amazing being here and I can’t believe how well I have adjusted to walking almost 9 miles in a day and communicating so much in Spanish. It was a great trip to the beach and I can’t believe how fortunate I am.

Maggie and I at the pier in Gijón

Maggie and I at the pier in Gijón

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First week done, three to go

After my first week in Spain I have done way more than I thought I would and have experienced a lot of the culture and I couldn’t be happier. We started school on Wednesday and only have class until two in the afternoon which leaves the afternoon to explore the city and really enjoy everything the city has to offer. The professors are really nice and are excited to have us in class and help us improve our Spanish, which can be a little difficult when you don’t know how to say something in Spanish and they do not speak any English. It is the best way to learn though. Our whole group also got the opportunity to go to an Espicha which is a tradtiional welcoming party in Aust. not all of Spain. We stood around big long tables and ate a bunch of different Spanish dishes specific to our area, they were delicious and some were a little unexpected. We were also treated to red wine and sidra, which lead to a lot of us drinking a little more than we should. After the Espicha my group of friends and I went “bar hopping” around Oviedo which was a ton of fun. We met a lot of interesting people and danced to some fantastic Spanish music. In the United States our bars close down by 2:30 but here in Spain the party can go until 6 in the morning, luckily I made it home around 4 am and was exhausted.

It was a great first week that included a lot of new experiences including gelato, classes in Spain, walking 7 miles in a day, food I have never heard of that tastes delicious, the clubs and nightlife of Spain, a traditional Espicha, Sidra, shopping in Spain and connecting with my host family and new friends. I cant believe how amazing Spain is and I cant imagine what is going to come in the next 3 weeks.

The traditional dancers and band

The traditional dancers and band

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Day 3

Today is my third day in Spain and we had our first real school outing today. It was an amazing trip to a Cathedral and Museum, to be in a place with so much history and art was simply amazing. This was a trip of a lifetime and I feel very fortunate that AHA sends us on such exciting trips that are a real core aspect of the city. After the Cathedral we went to a local bar that served us a traditional cider that is poured way different than I expected. The server holds the bottle up by her face while holding the glass as far away from it as she can, and then she pours. It is definetely a drink that you pour outside since quite a bit of it gets all over the street, but it was amazing to watch. This morning also included a stop in Oviedo’s old school building that was built in 1608, where we listened to the heads of the program and they explained random aspects of the summer to us. It was all in Spanish which was a little hard to understand at some points, but ultimately it was a great experience to listen too. Being in that building was equally as fantastic, to think that has been around and in such great condition since 1608 is a fantastic accomplishment. Later my walking buddy and I spent the afternoon walking around the city for an hour, getting 15,000 steps in one day is hard work! It was a good day making new friends and spending time with the established ones. I also had a great day with my host family where I got to talk and listen in Spanish and understand quite a bit. Having time with them over meals is really special and important for my learning. It doesn’t hurt that the food is FANTASTIC!

Beautiful and fascinating

Beautiful and fascinating

This day will be hard to beat.

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Day 2

Today was my second day in Spain and it was very different to navigate than I originally thought. We had our first meeting at AHA and my host family walked me to the school and we were instructed to find our way back to the house if the host member could not walk with us, this made me quite nervous. Luckily my instructor set me up with another group of girls who were going to the same general area that I was, otherwise I would have been fully lost and confused. Even though my “walking buddy” and I got a little bit lost, we were able to rely on the help of strangers to find our way. It was great to know that the people were so friendly and willing to help out two American girls who had no idea what they were doing! I will admit that it was a beautiful city to get lost in, completly different than the city I live in. Evenutally we made it back about an hour later than we were supposed to, but with few streets labeled and it being our first day, our host families weren’t to upset that we were late for “la comida”.

Later in the day I got to meet two more “sisters” and their nephew, who was adorable. It was great to see them interact with the baby and get a chance to observe their caring nature and hear some slow Spanish. After the baby and the sisters left I got the chance to go out with my “madre” to “El Centro” which is in the center of the city and houses tons of shops, apartments, offices and restaurants. It was amazing to see so many people out and about walking and eating in the patios. My madre told me about all the stores and the four major churches that sit along the outside of the center. I tried to follow what she said and I was happy that I understood about half of the conversation. She is very understanding and wants to talk to me as much as she can and try to help me understand the area, which is really nice and helpful. I ended up helping her with a little bit of her shopping and even that was an experience different than that in the United States. The main department store that we were in had associates everywhere, most of them without name tags, which made it hard to tell that they were employees, and tiny little random kiosks spread throughout the store that were not closed off to the customers. You could walk right up next to them while they ring up your stuff and most of them did not even have a place to set what you wanted to buy. It was very interesting but a quick process.

After our shopping and my guided trip around town I came home to very tired feet and and understanding of why they eat dinner so late, you are STARVING after walking all around the city. Now it is about 9:40 at night and we are about to have “La Cena” and I am very excited for it. Everything I have had to eat here has been amazing and they are such talented chefs. I want to learn all that I can about their amazing culture and I am glad I am here.

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Spain

Flying over Oviedo

Flying over Oviedo

I arrived in Oviedo, Spain yesterday and am surprised of how much the climate and trees remind me of Oregon, at least there is some part of home resemblance. Since the jet lag was awful I went to bed at about 7:30 pm which means I was up at 2:30 this morning… yikes. I am excited to be there but nervous at the same time. My host family talks incredibly fast and I am worried that I cannot process in Spanish that quickly or know all of the words they are using. I am feeling a little discouraged because I want to communicate but am not anywhere near their level. I feel very fortunate to be here and I can already tell that this month is going to go by extremely fast.. I just hope I can keep up!

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Week 10- La Granja

Onto our final excursion we went. I must say it’s been pretty cold in Segovia these last few days. It only got worse visiting La Granja which is even at higher elevation and closer to the mountains.

La Granja was really interesting and full of history as well. It’s so neat to learn that an actual king lived there. The king built the palace here as an imitation of the palace in versailles because he was from france and missed home so much.

The palace in La Granja

The palace in La Granja

Another picture of the palace and it's gardens and fountains.

Another picture of the palace and it’s gardens and fountains.

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Week 11- Just another week

Finally a week where there’s nothing major going on. Just another typical week in Segovia. Classes monday through thursday and going out with the group at night. I’ve spent this week going to class and hanging out with friends. What I enjoy about living in Spain is that every day is relaxing and there is always something to do. It’s really neat to be able to go for walks to the plaza mayor, the cathedral, the castle or just anywhere in Segovia. Segovia is such a great city to live in, it feels so comfortable to walk anywhere and just roam the streets.

I’m accustomed to everything around me and the live style. I’ve gotten used to the food and living here. I eat a three course meal everyday for lunch. For breakfast I always have the same thing as well. The milk and yogurt taste different here. It’s so interesting how people here buy milk in bulk and it’s not even refrigerated until it’s opened.

My breakfast everyday

My breakfast everyday

The cathedral of Segovia

The cathedral of Segovia

The Alcazar of Segovia

The Alcazar of Segovia

The Aqueduct, I walked through this every day.

The Aqueduct, I walked through this every day.

This is the building my school was in.

This is the building my school was in.

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Week 9- Andalucia

After being back from a 10 day trip we just can’t stop traveling. This weekend we had our long excursion to Andalucia the south of Spain to Cordoba and Granada. We left Segovia on Friday morning, it was going to be a long bus drive but thank goodness we had our own private bus.

I was really excited for this excursion because it was going to be our longest one and it was going to be in the south of spain where I still hadn’t traveled too. The south was beautiful. Spain just keeps getting better and better. I noticed the people here speak faster spanish, i still understand them but I can notice the difference. Spending the weekend here was packed with places to visit and places to learn all the history. It blows my mind to hear our director go on and on about all the history we find in Spain. We visited two of the major, well lots of attractions in the south in Cordoba we visited the famous Mosque that has a cathedral inside. In granada we visited the Alhambra.

The mosque-cathedral in Cordoba

The mosque-cathedral in Cordoba

Inside the Alhambra

Inside the Alhambra

View of Granada, Spain

View of Granada, Spain

I really enjoyed this excursion because as a whole group we bonded and all learned new things. I’m ready for this upcoming week to be able to relax and slow down on the traveling. One more excursion to La Granja and soon our program will be coming to an end.

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Week 13- Final Week

This week has been pretty bitter sweet. I’m beyond excited to be heading home but sad that I have to leave my friends. One friend mentiones “we will never all together again in this place” that is really crazy. I’ve grown close to lots of people on this trip and it is really sad that I have to say goodbye.

I’ve started packing my bags. It’s kind of nice to know that all i have to do is pack everything in my room and not worry about what to leave behind but with that I have acquired a big load of souvenirs and that is a problem. I don’t have all the room I need to pack everything. 2 check in bags, my backpack and my purse and I’m all set to go.

I’ve said my goodbyes and people have started leaving to the airport. This is a sad time. I took my last walk around Segovia and said my goodbyes, I will be back one day.

Saturday morning my host brother will drive me to the bus station and I will get on the bus to Madrid once in madrid i’ll hop on the metro and make my way to the airport. I’m so glad I know the metro and wont get lost on my way there especially with all of my luggage. I just have to make it to the airport and check in and I will be golden. Goodbye Segovia, until we meet again.

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Week 8- Fall Break-Italy!

This week my friend and I spent our whole week in Italy. It was a really neat experience and I loved it. We started off in Rome and I must say Rome is really great it’s filled with so much history. I really enjoy living in Europe because there is so much history background. There’s no just starting at when America was discovered but there’s so much more here! People lived here long before and it is so cool to see all the ancient buildings and things left behind. Rome I’d say was the most history filled city I’ve see with all the Romans left behind.

Colosseum in Rome

Colosseum in Rome

After Rome we headed to Milan and that wasn’t too excited other than seeing the duomo and the shopping center. Milan I feel was one of the cities I found to be least pretty, it reminded me of a suburb with not a lot of money. There was a lot of fog and smog there too. It wasn’t the prettiest of cities. After Milan we headed to Florence and I must say Florence was by far my favorite place of Italy. Florence was breathtaking! I felt Florence was the city I fell most in love with.

The Duomo in Florence

The Duomo in Florence

The view from a hill. Beautiful!

The view from a hill. Beautiful!

We’ve seen so much history and been to so many museums while in Europe it’s all been so neat. I must say the pasta is better in Italy and i fell in love with tiramisu! it was so good, i want to learn how to make it. Tiramisu is an Italian dessert kind of like cake made with a cream filling and a taste of coffee. It’s really yummy.  After Florence we headed to Venice and that too did not disappoint. It is so neat to see a city off in an island and all the different islands are connected by bridges.While I was there I heard that Venice might be under water in the future, since the water is rising.

Tiramisu in a cup! so good.

Tiramisu in a cup! so good.

Venice, only way to get around is by boat or walking over bridges.

Venice, only way to get around is by boat or walking over bridges.

At the end of the trip i was exhausted and we didnt get back till Sunday and unlike back home once were out of the airport we have to take public transportation back to segovia. First the metro then the hour long bus ride we were so happy to be back in segovia. We missed our home.

Some differences and similarities I found was that wherever we went to any restaurant or place they never picked up after themselves. In europe everyone eats a three course meal, even at restaurants. They always sold beer at mcdonalds which was something different and they always had a mccafe like an actual cafe, in its own area. Unlike the U.S i feel that they’re a bit more proper when eating their meals and with the alcohol part they’re just more accustomed to it, like alcohol isn’t seen as a bad thing, it’s what everyone drinks.

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