So here I sit in my little Spanish room with my bags nearly packed and overflowing, the host doggie laying next to me, and listening to Spanish music that I’ve recently fell in love with. It’s been almost exactly 4 months since I arrived, give or take a day or two. We all know saying goodbye to people and places you love is one of the hardest things to do in life. I’m once again at a point where I have to leave something behind. I’ve been thinking a lot lately, I will have to leave EVERYTHING I’ve grown to love, the people, the food, the places, the streets that I walk daily…all of which I may never see again. Of course when I get home, I’ll have a million stories to tell anyone who is the slightest bit interested and I’ll have memories and experiences to carry with me forever, but no one will really understand my experiences. Everyone has different adventures and I’m thinking it might be a bit lonely to be alone in my thoughts of missing Spain. At least I’ll only be a skype conversation away from the lovely people I’ve met here.
Mara helping me pack…
I haven’t travelled the last few weekends and instead hung out in the city. My friends and I took one day and did all the touristy stuff in Seville one last time. We got some great pics of everything. I’ve had finals this week which were pretty easy compared to what I’m used to in the United States. I made it through all of them and an oral presentation. Even after 4 months of being surrounded by Spanish, giving a presentation in Spanish is still not something I look forward too. It has gotten a lot easier I must admit. I really will miss some of my teachers even if the classes weren’t always as interesting and I hoped.
Universidad de Sevilla
My class at CIEE, Grammar and Composition, was one of my favorites. Most of the things we learned were review, I mean you can only learn so many news tenses of a verb. But the way to get better is to keep going over what you’ve learned. Our teacher Juli, was honestly one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and definitely the best language teacher I’ve had. He always came in with an enthusiastic attitude, witty jokes, and interesting topics to get us talking in class. He even took our class to the theater one night. Past and Present of the Spanish Language was my 9am class every Tuesday/Thursday. We switched professors after about a month which took some adjusting but I liked our new teacher a lot better. He’s taking English classes and would always come in saying “Hello students, good day.” Another great teacher and I actually learned a lot about Spanish history and historical linguistics. Tuesday/Thursday at 1pm I had 3 Cultures in Spain: Christians, Jews, Muslims. Our teacher was amazing and possibly the cutest, most intelligent old man I’ve come into contact with in Spain. His lectures were very easy to follow even though I would walk out of class everyday with 4 or 5 pages of notes. His mind was like a history book, you could probably ask him absolutely any thing related to religion in Europe or historical about Spain and he could lecture on the topic. He would come in and talk for 2 hours everyday, write a ton of complicated names and dates on the board all without even a piece of paper for reference. He always talked to us using the Ustedes form too (the polite, respectful, more proper way to conjugate verbs) which I always thought was so cool. Before Semana Santa, he took us to a church so we could see the art and their preparations and pasos for Holy Week. He introduced us to his younger brother (probably 70 years old) and he talked to us for about an hour about the art in the church and the historical context behind it. Afterwards, he took our whole class out for ice cream and we talked about Semana Santa and its history. He was awesome. My least favorite class was Modern Spanish History on Monday/Wednesday at 1pm. The teacher was obviously intelligent and I could understand the words he spoke for the most part but his lectures made no sense. He would just talk and then go off on tangents. He never used the board so we never knew if what he was saying was relevant to the topic or not. His lectures were incredibly hard to follow and Erin and I would find other ways to occupy ourselves, passing notes, soduko, the dot game. All relevant ways to learn Spanish history I think. I was just hoping to pass his class and be done. I think I did ok.
I also had to say goodbye to the lady I have volunteered with since about March. She works with the gitano (gypsy) population in Seville. They are definitely the most disadvantaged people in Spain. Her office is in a building/school in the middle of their shantytown. She showed me once one day, it was amazing to see. She wanted to practice her English, so she contacted my program and I was the only one to respond. We met once a week for a few hours at a time and just spoke English and a little in Spanish so I could practice too. She was AMAZING. She loves Michael Buble and an American show on TV here called Ghosts. She would write the lyrics down to Michael Buble’s songs and then translate them. She’d also write dialogue down from the show and do the same thing. She would come to me every week with a notebook full of lines she had translated. My job was to help her with the slang and words or phrases she couldn’t find in the dictionary and explain the meaning to her. I would also teach her sayings like “no use crying over spilled milk” or “its raining cats and dogs.” She taught me one in Spanish that I love “que sueñes con los angelitos”. It means to have sweet dreams or literally “that you sleep with the little angels.” How cool! I had so much fun and I realized how much I really like teaching English. I thought it was SOO cool that she basically taught herself English through songs and a TV show. Last week, she took me to a Manuel Carrasco concert. He’s a pretty well-known Spanish artist from Huelva, not too far from Seville. The concert was in the bull ring of a little pueblo of Seville, La Algaba. We left about 7pm and waited in line to get in for a while before getting inside and waiting another 2 hours for the concert at 10pm. We were the second row back from the stage down in the bull ring. I was possibly the only non-Spaniard there. It wasn’t too long before Mária told everyone around us that I was American. They bombarded me with questions about where I was from and what I thought of Spain. It was cute. The concert was cool, I didn’t know any of the words but I could understand mostly everything. And we were in a BULL RING! How cool is that?? We went back to her house and ordered pizza at about midnight before I hailed a cab home. I met with her for the last time on Tuesday afternoon. She brought me 3 burned CDs of Manuel Carrasco and the songs from the concert along with songs by Alejandro Sanz and a few other Spanish artists. We went and saw Alicia en el país de las maravillas (Alice In Wonderland). I understood about 99% of it. I was proud. It was so sad to say goodbye to her. She cried when she dropped me off :(. I promised to write and send her some good American music when I got home. I hope we can stay in contact.
Tonight I have to say bye to my host family since I have to leave for the airport about 4:30am. I got them a little orchid today to remember me by. It will be weird to leave them and my room. I wouldn’t say we have the deepest conversations but I try most of the time. Miguel, my host brother has been awesome and comes into my room a lot to ask me about my day and what I’m up to. If I were fluent in Spanish, we’d be best buds. I feel like we’ve gotten to be somewhat that way or as much as possible at least. My señora’s been great. Always making sure my food is ready in hot even if I come back for lunch when she’s napping. If I had an early bus or flight to catch in the morning, she insisted on getting up and drinking coffee with me, even though I told her many times I could butter my toast and make myself coffee if she just wanted to leave it out the night before. She’s not the most talkative but if I got her talking on a subject, she would talk my ear off and I would try to respond even if I couldn’t understand everything. My clothes were always ironed and my room would be straightened up every now and then. She showed me numerous family photos and pictures of her when she was younger. Maybe it was her way of showing me about her family and telling me their stories. I appreciated all of her efforts very much. She even offered to give me a flamenco dress which I politely refused. My host sisters were nice. I wouldn’t say we talked a lot but they made me food if my señora was working and would answer my stupid questions about what was going on in a TV show. My favorite memories of my family are of us all just sitting around the table at dinner, usually around 10:30 or so, watching shows like Spain’s version of Cash Cab, Taxi, or El Hormiguero. We would all laugh together and try to answer the questions from Taxi. Every questions that had any reference to the U.S. they would all ask me. Most of the time I didn’t know the answer. If I did, I would shout out the name and they would repeat it in their thick Spanish accent. Somehow Clive Owen turned into Clee On, they insisted that what I said was the same.
Miguel, Mara & Yo
And my daily walk to class is what I will miss the most I think. It took me a while to get used to the 40 minute commute one way to class. At this point, its my favorite part of the day. I’m glad I ended up not getting a bus pass or even a bici pass. I live so far back into the city, tourists never make it this far. That meant I stuck out more when I left the house but it was cool just to walk by people everyday living their lives. The streets would get crowded with people, strollers, old couples with arms linked and their canes, business men walking to work, kids walking to school with their mothers. I saw it all. I passed the same man on the corner selling kleenexes everyday, the same lady begging outside the grocery store, the same homeless people begging for a piece of food or spare change, the same lady selling vegetables outside a market, the same people selling purses and other random things in a tent they assembled daily even in the rain. I passed the same tapas bars full of people no matter the time of day, either enjoying cafe con leche in the morning or a cold cerveza and a plate of olives in the afternoon. I walked when the pedestrian light was red and had to stop for cars when the pedestrian light was green…they don’t follow traffic rules here. I would cross Puente Isabel and have a stunning view of the Giralda at the cathedral, I walked through the same windy streets and at times hugged a wall while a car passed me. I passed the same delivery man distributing kegs of CruzCampo to the little cafes in el centro and passed COUNTLESS groups of old tourists from every far flung European country you can imagine. I got asked for directions and finally got to the point where I could tell someone exactly how to get somewhere…even in Spanish.
La Pata Negra..our favorite coffee shop 🙂
Puente Isabel & Triana
One of my goals was to feel that I actually lived here and I wasn’t just on a vacation. I think I’ve accomplished that to the best of my ability in the short amount of time I’ve been here. I have my favorite tapa, favorite coffee shop, I can get home from almost anywhere in the city, I have a room that I really felt was my own, and most of all, I can communicate with the people. I still am far from fluent but I’ve learned unbelievable amounts.
Basically its been the time of my life.