Well, it's official. I have been here for a week. Parts of me feel it's been much longer and other parts of me feel like it's been forever. It's been a great week, though. I've thoroughly enjoyed every minute! I'm trying to think what has happened since my last post. We just registered for classes. I guess when you took the online placement test depends on when they look at your registration. I hope I'm towards the beginning. I'm really banking on being able to take these classes. I don't have a lot of room since I have specific requirements for IU. We started S a 3 credit hour, 2 week class yesterday. There were two different classes, Culture of Spain and Grammar. The culture class is the higher level one. There are about 15 groups for the grammar class, and I placed into group 3, so towards the top. While it would have been nice to be in the culture class, I think I could really use the grammar class. I have my first class from 6-9pm tonight! It's going to be weird having a class at night, but luckily it's only for 2 weeks.
Two weeks from yesterday I will start regular classes. Assuming I get into everything I chose, I will be taking 3 classes at CIEE (the program I'm going through) and then 1 class at the Universidad de Sevilla with other American students. If it all works out I will be taking, "The Novel and Cinema: Two ways of Telling a Story", "Women Writers in Twentieth Century Spain", "Advanced Composition and Stylistics" and then "Advertising and Propaganda in Mass Society." The last one is the class at U de Sevilla. I'm really looking forward to that one and also the class on novels and film. I've heard that the classes are fairly challenging. I am here to learn, but I also want to have a good time.
The weekend before classes start we have a trip to Granada. I went there last time I was in Spain, but I'm not sure if I was really old enough to appreciate it. I can't wait to go to the Alhambra again! Some friends and I are hoping to go on a day trip this weekend. We're not really sure what's around, but I'm sure we'll figure something out. CIEE also offers 9 different interest groups. Sign up began at 9am yesterday morning. Unfortunately, the group I wanted (España y sus vecinos or Spain and its neighbors) was full by the time I got there. I was not about to wake up at 8am. Luckily, I got into my second choice. It's something about communications in Spain. We get to go to a TV station and also on a trip to Portugal. I'm looking forward for all of the activities for the interest group to begin.
This is a photo of the CIEE study center! The first time I saw it actually has a really funny story. The day we got here I was walking around with some other girls who go to IU. They just peered their heads in as we walked by and said, "Wow, what if we lived here!" I walked right up to the gate to look inside. It was the next day that we found out that that would be our second home for the semester. I got a kick out of that.
On Sunday some friends and I went around town and stopped at the Catédral. I had visited there briefly when I was here last time and it was as gorgeous as I had remembered. The Muslims had originally built a palace that was torn down by the Catholics. The Catholics torn everything but the tower, which they call La Giralda, was the only thing they left standing. If you climb it you can see for miles in all directions. It's a spectacular view.
This is the Giralda! There used to be steps all the way up, but some emperor (I'm not sure of this exact title) was handicap, so he made them take out the steps and install ramps so he could get to the top on his horse.
An outside view of the Catédral
This is the main entrance. It's free with my student ID, which is certainly an added benefit. I was supposed to go on another tour right now, but I didn't tell my señora that I would be missing lunch, so I figure I'll just go on another one.
I'm not quite sure what this is, but I thought it was beautiful!
Hopefully this gives you an idea of how grandiose it is. The ceilings must be at least 5 stories high.
I believe this is the main altar.
To give you a frame of reference. The doors are kind of tall here. That's the case everywhere. The doors to the CIEE building are enormous as well.
This is the view from the top
After the Giralda, we went for a snack. That seems to happen quite regularly and I am able to justify it with two different explanations. One, spaniards don't socialize in their homes. That being said, there aren't too many places for us to go, so a nice, warm cafe is quite appealing. Second, we walk so much! I would say on average, I've been walking for about 3 hours a day. It's a lot of walking.
There are several different customs/differences I've observed thus far. Most Spanish homes in the south aren't build for the cold weather so they don't have central heat. My family does, however they don't use it since it's so expensive. Instead of central heat they use space heaters called calentadores. The put it under the dining room table (which is typically in the living room). Then you pull the table cloth up and use it as a blanket. It traps the heat and keeps you warm. My host family's cat, Olíve, always sleep there. Luckily, my room isn't too cold, although I do need to don several layers to be comfortable. It's supposed to get warm soon! I can't wait. Another difference that is you can't put toilet paper in the toilet. The pipes weren't built to withstand it. That even seems to be the case with newer constructions, like my building. One of the hardest things to get adjusted to is the meal times. I've been waking up at about 9am most morning so I eat a bowl of cereal then. Lunch isn't until 3:30pm. It's also the largest meal. Then we have dinner at about 10pm. It obviously differs from family to family. It seems like mine eats lunch and dinner on the later side. My señora get home from work at about 3pm, so I figure that's why we eat at 3:30pm. The food itself is also very different. For breakfast I eat chocolate cereal. It wouldn't be my first choice, but it certainly works. I think my brothers prefer that kind. For lunch we always have one salad in the middle of the table that everyone shares and we eat straight from the plate. Then we have a nice big bowl of stew and typically some type of meat on top of that. The food just keeps on coming. It's ridiculous. Ah, the best part--we have fresh bread at every meal! There's a pandería (bread shop) right downstairs. It's amazing. What we have for dinner varies, but it's on the lighter side. Maybe a small sandwich, or an omelette. Lo dependiente. (It depends).
Well, in an attempt to fully embrace the Spanish culture I think I am going to take a siesta before class. I will try and post more later tonight.