Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad

Valladolid Portraits I

Having lived all my life in a small town and then moved to a small town college, a city on a weekend night is a special kind of magic.

The days are slow in Valladolid, with meandering figures occupying the streets in scattered packs as individuals on bycicles glide past. They mingle with cars like delicate birds, flirting into traffic and out into the bicycle lanes that serve as a constant companion to the regular roads. The cycle of pedestrian traffic ebbs and flows throughout the day, swelling after siesta as the hour for tapas grows nearer. Soon swarms of people roam the streets to stand around high tables in boisterous groups of revelries celebrating life and good company.

Streets close to Plaza Mayor, the city’s center, contain tapas bars on both sides and are impossible to pass through without a constant repetition of “perdón” and “lo siento.” Enticing smells of hot bocaditos and tostadas envelop the streets in a warm aroma of strong spices and sizzling chorizo, courting with the laughter and conversation that saturates the air. Wine glasses are situated in every hand, clinking in merry, melodic tones in time with the rapid cadence of Castilian Spanish. After a round of tapas and an hour of conversation the tab is paid, and the group moved to another bar for a second, third, or fourth round of the savory morsels. The picture of elegance, overcoats and topcoats swirl on turned heels and exquisite clothing, meticulously matched from tartan scarf to leather oxford.

The streets pulse with another barrage of activity: groups of high school students burst forth from their homes in clusters of giggling girls and raucous boys eager to enter the nearest discoteca until the early morning hours. A strange juxtaposition to the poise and immaculate crowds that occupy the tapas bars, like deer they totter about on spindly legs; pale, thin, and shivering against the cold, the essence of youthful confidence tailing their stilettoed footsteps. Teenage exuberance exposes their awkward adolescence, hidden beneath a layer of short skirts, heavy makeup, and revealing tops–glance too long and risk the realization that underneath they are children, and painfully young. Let them glide by on their iridescent wings–look away without seeing the cracked exoskeleton and glittering eyes, empty and starved.

The hours pass, and the farther the clock moves from midnight the greater the number of students who appear, dominating the streets in self-assured strides to meet friends in favorite and familiar bars. Money is tight and time is fleeting, but they can pay to avoid responsibilities for a night or two. The real world looms, but a toast of “¡Salúd!” banishes its shadow for the night, its tenuous grip replaced by the playful embrace of insouciant frivolity. These hours are theirs, and they rule them with wanton abandon, princes of vice rich in the jewels of gaiety.

At all stages of the night the streets teem with life, bursting with infectious electricity and the tantalizing potential of unplanned adventure. The vibrancy of city nightlife is unparalleled; a vivacious celebration without intent or direction, marked by the underlying current of sophisticated ebullience that characterizes the central regions of Spanish society. Stepping into the streets is an immediate and invigorating connection to this atmosphere of liveliness, of pure and absolute energy unmatched by that in American cities.

Together the vitality of the people of Valladolid carries the city into the early hours of morning, until the last of the bars and discotecas Close their doors to the slight breaking of a six a.m. sunrise. In a moment of calm and quiet, the city briefly slumbers before a new cycle of citizens once again incite the flurry of city life: joggers rise, mercadillo vendors prepare their wares, and church bells ring to signal the beginning of a new day.

M. Gorman

PT Clinical Week #5

This week I started downstairs in inpatient neurology. Such a change of pace from inpatient orthopedics. My new clinical instructor is Roberta, and she speaks very little English. This week, another student who is living with me is working with Roberta as well (as she has been for the past 4 weeks), so I did a lot of observing while she did most of the hands on work.

The schedule is much different in neuro than ortho. We see 4-5 patients in the morning for 50 minutes and then see the same patients in the afternoon. We focus on ROM and mobility in the morning and then do more functional activities in the afternoon. Our caseload consists of: patient with tetanus and previous stroke (1998) // patient previous ischemic stroke & patellar fracture // patient previous TBI (2014), hip calcification, femur fx, and tibia fx // and patient previous ischemic stroke with shoulder dislocation.

On Tuesday, Kristin and I drove to Perugia to see surgery! The surgeon was the nicest guy and even waited 30 minutes to start the surgery for us, which would never happen in the US! He spoke great English and told us every thing he was doing and why in great detail. There are very little rules in the operating room, and therefore, we only wore a mask and a hair net along with scrubs and covers on our shoes. We did not have to wear gloves, long sleeves, or remove any of our jewelry. We could literally stand right over the surgeon and the patient to see unlike the US where I had to remain far away. I stood so close for one of the surgeries that I managed to get blood on me during the hammering of the bone! We talked to most of the patients pre-op. The surgeries we saw consisted of:

Hemi Knee Replacement

ACL reconstruction

Total Hip Replacement

Tumor Resection in the medial knee.

The patient with the tumor (benign) was a young girl who during the surgery woke up and started screaming in pain! It was absolutely insane. One of the doctors quickly injected more anesthetics and she went back to sleep. Two of the other patients were awake for the entire procedure, but could not feel a thing.

 

MORE DIFFERENCES:

PTs here get 5 weeks of paid vacation time throughout the year. Most split it up: 3 weeks in the summer and 2 weeks during the winter. In terms of sick days, they can go to the doctor and get a written excuse and then it can become a paid sick day. Also in the Italian PT world, as soon as a woman becomes pregnant, she can take leave until the baby is born. After the birth, she gets approximately 6 months then if needed, can add on her vacation time. Once this time is over, she can work part time until the baby is one! Here in Italy, there are a lot more holidays than in the US, and the PTs get off for almost, if not all of them.

~Jordan

Venice-Carnevale

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Italian Opera

Italian Opera

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Room in Air B&B

Room in Air B&B

View from kitchen

View from kitchen

Kristin reading an Italian newspaper

Kristin reading an Italian newspaper

Wooden castles in San Marco Square

Wooden castles in San Marco Square

Library full of books

Library full of books

Outside the library with a book staircase

Outside the library with a book staircase

Gondola x2

Gondola x2

My mask for Carnevale

My mask for Carnevale

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Millions of people in the square

Millions of people in the square

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On Friday, as soon as work was over, we traveled for a 2 night stay in Venice for Carnevale! Because this is one of the biggest events in all of Europe, we did not stay on the mainland but stayed across the canal in an Air B&B in La Palanca, Giudecca. I was skeptical to stay in a B&B, but it was absolutely amazing (see pictures below). The best part? Our view out of our kitchen windows was right over the canal. Couldn’t have asked for a better place.

We took the water taxi to and from our place to get to the mainland. Everyone (tourists & townies) was dressed up with masquerade masks and fancy cloaks and dresses. Others had their face painted and wore various wigs. And then there were some who dressed like it was Halloween with characters from movies or TV shows.

Saturday in San Marco Square they had wooden castles set up with actors putting on skits. There was a big screen broadcasting the audience and the show to the crowd. We ventured through the streets, ate pizza/gelati/tiramasu/pasta. We also walked through St. Marco’s Basilica. Before heading back to get ready for dinner, we bought tickets to see an Italian Opera for that night! The opera was not exactly what I expected since I was picturing a big theatre with high ceilings so the sound could reverarate, but instead it was in a standard big room that they put folding chairs in. The music and singing was still wonderful, and I even managed to know a few of songs! After the show, we went out to some local bars for drinks and didn’t reach our place until 3am the next morning.

Sunday was absolutely insane in Venice. There were millions and millions of people packing the streets; you couldn’t move. We went to San Marco square where people were taking videos and pictures of a lady flying from a tower down to the square on a wire dressed up throwing confetti. Picture NYC on New Year’s Eve with the millions of people. That’s exactly how it was. We tried to leave the square, but all the major exits were blocked off with policemen and barricades. It took us 30 minutes or more to exit. While crossing over the bridges, policemen would ask you to remove your masks for safety.

Leaving Venice, I would have to say this is still my favorite city thus far. I absolutely love it’s uniqueness, and can’t wait to come back in the future.

FACTS:

  • Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival that ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday (Martedi’ Grasso or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday. World-famed for its elaborate masks.
  • It is said that Carnevale started with the victory of the Serenissima Repubblica against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico di Treven (1162). In honour of this victory, the people started to dance and make reunions in San Marco Square. In the 17th century, the baroque carnival was a way to save the prestigious image of Venice in the world.

~ Jordan

PT Clinical Week #4

Last week was my last time inpatient orthopedics, as this week I will be venturing downstairs to inpatient neuro!

Last week, many of my routine patients were discharged home- a bittersweet moment.  It was great to be able to work with them for a period of time, see them improve, and then see them leave to go back home to their families.

On Monday and Tuesday afternoons, I was able to observe and work with patients in Aqua therapy. Monday I only observed. The PT only got into the pool for about 20 minutes to work with 2 patients because all of the other patients already knew their workout routines and were doing them independently. Patients with a pool prescription are in the pool for either 3 days per week or 5 days per week. There are many patients in the pool at one time which was a nice change from the aqua therapy I experienced in my last clinical where only one person was able to fit/and use the hydrotherapy pool at a time. It’s nice to see because the other people in the pool can be motivating factors for one another. It’s a time to socialize while also getting their therapy.

I was able to observe the PT perform treatment on two patients (one stroke; the other back pain).  The following day I performed mobilizations and prescribed some exercises for a patient with hip pain.

MORE DIFFERENCES:

  • In the inpatient facilities I have been in in the US, they usually receive 3 hours of therapy per day. Here they receive 5 hours! Instead of only focusing on manual therapy for maybe 10-15 minutes back home, here they spend up to an hour on just stretching and mobs! I often get sick of repeating the same manual techniques over and over again within the hour, but then I realize that there are other stations taking care of the other modalities that I would normally cover myself (exercises, ambulation, e-stim, etc).
  • All therapists carry their cellphones with them around the clinic. The purpose is so they can reference it when needed to help patients. Also, because documentation is lacking, there is a decrease in communication between therapists who are treating patients whose normal therapists are off or home sick. But there are some times when you look around at some therapists in the gym who do not have a patient and they’re on their phones on FB or instagram. You would not see this in a US clinic because this would be seen as impolite and there is hardly any down time due to the loads of documentation!

~Jordan

An action-packed weekend

After another busy week in Valladolid, we all were really looking forward to the weekend, which technically starts Thursday night for us since we don’t have classes on Friday’s. Every Thursday evening, my fellow students and I head to a quaint cafe to meet our intercambios group. We meet with Spanish students learning to speak English. For half of the meeting we speak English and the other half Spanish (this serves as a great opportunity to practice our speaking skills, learn many colloquial words and phrases, and to discover more about the city.) After the intercambios meeting, a few of us from the group headed to our first tapas bar for dinner. Thursday is tapas night, and a little overwhelmed by the ordering process, Alisha, Marie, Andrew and I (U.S. students) were glad to have two Spanish students with us to show us where to go and how to order. I should be clear when I say Spanish students here, most of our group is between 30-45 years old. Nonetheless, the six of us headed to our first bar, all pitched in 10 euros, and ordered our first round of tapas with red wine (the typical accompanying drink).

Tapas varies greatly; it’s basically just a general word for bite-sized appetizers so our first order was an assortment of flatbreads with various toppings like ham, cheese, fish, vegetables, well basically anything! They were delicious but after our first round we were ready to head to another place. At this point, Marie and Andrew decided to go meet some other friends, so our group was reduced to 4 as we found our tapas bar. Here, were ordered larger portions of tapas meant to share called raciones. We ordered sepia or cuttlefish, one of the most popular tapas here, lightly seared and served with lettuce, mayonnaise and bread. In addition we got chicken and french fries (proving the versatility of tapas). After finishing, Luis, one of the Spanish students with us, directed us to a live flamenco show in a nearby dance club. It was so much fun hearing live Spanish music and pretending to know how to dance. Luis was an extremely talented dancer, however he failed at trying to teach me the Spanish Rumba. My feet just can’t move that fast!

Despite getting home quite late, Rachel, Olivia, Alisha and I (all studying physical therapy) got up early the next morning to walk about 2 miles to meet the director of the mental health care facility we will be volunteering at while here. It seems like a great opportunity for all of us to see physical therapy and interact with patients in Spanish, I look forward to spending time there in the upcoming weeks! After the long walk, we headed home for a quick lunch so we could catch the bus to Peñafiel, a neighborhood of Valladolid and home of the Mueso de Vino (museum of wine) which is housed in a castle constructed in the 15th century! After about an hour bus ride, we arrived in the small town, a bit unsure of where to go, but we could see the castle off in the distance!

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We continued walking through Peñafiel, until we reached the base of the mountain. There was not a soul in sight as we arrived conveniently in the middle of siesta (everyone was at home asleep!) Expecting a bus or shuttle to the top of the mountain, we continued to search in hopes of anything or anyone willing to take us to the top. As it turns out, there are no buses to the top, you either drive a car or walk… we had no choice but to begin our ascent.

Time to get climbing!

Time to get climbing!

Just have to keep going!

Just have to keep going!

Abby and Olivia enjoying the impressive view!

Enjoying the impressive view!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although a bit treacherous, we all successfully made it to the top after a 25 minute hike. We absorbed the breathtaking views of the town and countryside as we waited for the museum to open and our castle tour to begin.

Finally we made it!

On top of the world!

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The castle was impressive and our tour guide was great! We enjoyed the wine exhibits and although we wished we had more time, we had to head back down the mountain to catch our bus home. A bit nervous we missed our bus, we had a few minutes of panic as we contemplated what to do. Then, in the distance we saw the bus! Thank goodness!!

As busy as our Friday was, we headed to our favorite bar, called the Negra Flor. After an exhausting day and night ( we didn’t get home until 4:30 am), Saturday was a day for sleep; however, I promised to take my host sister, Ana, iceskating so we headed on the bus to the rink on the edge of town. Although quite a small rink, we had so much fun! Still tired from Saturday we only ventured out Saturday night for food and then we all headed back to our beds. Today is a day to catch up on school work, relax, and prepare ourselves for another busy and exciting week in Valladolid! I can’t wait to see what next weekend holds in store for us!

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Basilica of San Francesco

Basilica of San Francesco

Basilica of San Francesco

Basilica of San Francesco

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Basilica of Santa Chiara

Basilica of Santa Chiara

My new mug!

My new mug!

Ceramic plates at Enoteca Prosperzio

Ceramic plates at Enoteca Prosperzio

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Wine tasting!

Wine tasting!

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Temple of Minerva

Temple of Minerva

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Basilica of San Francesco

Basilica of San Francesco

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One of my favorite pictures :)

One of my favorite pictures :)

After sleeping in on Sunday, three of us headed to Assisi, since the other girls were not feeling well. I decided at the last minute to go, and I am really glad that I did! I think Assisi was one of my favorite places I have visited so far.

The city is placed precariously on a mountain with Basilica of San Francesco in high regards. We just HAD to stop to get pictures in the middle of the road haha. We did a lot of climbing up and down hills, saw the Cathedral of San Rufino & Basilica of Santa Chiara. My favorite part was where we could enter the crypts and see the tomb of St. Francis. When we came out from the tombs, the sun was setting and we got so many great pictures all the way back to our car.

On our way home we stopped at Enoteca Prosperzio in Spello for a wine tasting. It was a little more than a wine tasting as we got a glass of each wine, and a full course meal! Our coordinator paid for it all. There was a wine that was celebrating it’s 25th anniversary that was produced in one of the best wineries in all of Europe. Then we had this balsamic vinegarette that came in this tiny tiny bottle that sold for 100 euros a bottle (it was very delicious). After the wine tasting, several of the girls bought bottles to take home to their families. We really liked the ceramic plates that we saw and asked the owner to see his collection. The collection was huge and he was selling everything for a discount price. Every girl bought something, and I bought the mug below. I am going to have to send lots home in order to be able to fit all the souvenirs in my suitcase to come home!

~Jordan

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Selfie with me & Amanda Knox's Flat

Selfie with Amanda Knox’s Flat

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Roca Paolina

Roca Paolina

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Palazzo dei Priori

Palazzo dei Priori

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Last Saturday morning we woke up and had another great breakfast cooked by our landlord that included: cake with chocolate, almond chocolate bars, bread with Nutella & jam, yogurt, orange juice, coffee of our choice, scrambled eggs with ham & cheese. Next we headed to Perugia for the afternoon, which is only about a 35 minute drive from our house. It was a cold and dreary day. Apparently the rumors are that Perugia is one of the biggest drug cities in Europe (I did not discover if this was true or not). For being a Saturday in the city, there weren’t many people out and about at all! We parked next to an outside market that reminded me of an auction I frequent back in the states. It had any item imaginable for very very cheap. I bought leg warmers and a winter hat.

Afterwards we headed to the mini metro and traveled through an underground stone city (Roca Paolina) where the Christmas markets were held in December. Once we entered the main city, we visited some churches and Palazzo dei Priori (town hall). We went shopping and the girls got some great buys. The highlight of my day was when we searched the address of Amanda Knox’s flat where the murder of her roommate occurred. What was really cool was that it was off the beaten path and that it wasn’t labeled at all. So the standard passerby wouldn’t know it was hers. Apparently we heard it was for sale for 500,000 euros (but our instructor said that it is sinking into the ground so it is no longer for sale). The house is so tiny, but it does have a great view! We went to the University nearby that she attended and then headed back to the car. Earlier in last week two girls were really sick. Me and two of my roommates also caught the bug, which is inevitable living with 7 girls.

FACTS:

  • Perugia is the capital of of the central region Umbria.
  • Roca Paolina: may not be the first castle to be built in the city, but is certainly one of the most important. Built in 1373 after Cardinal Aegidius Albornoz wrested control of Umbria and Tuscia from Pope Innocent VI, it was meant as a testament to the cardinal’s prowess and power. Only three years after it was built the castle was destroyed by the local populace during an uprising. The only part of the castle that remains today are the large walls, which support the Piazza Rossi Scotti.

 

~Jordan

Five Things Your Study Abroad Student Wishes You Knew

Many students who study abroad are required to live in a homestay for the duration of their experience, which can be an invaluable, albeit initially stressful, experience. Within a few weeks of adjustment to a new environment, your family’s individual quirks will become comfortable, a familiar island in a proverbial sea of change and challenges. Much like with your American family communication can be a huge issue, though the language and cultural barriers that students encounter abroad mean that they are often unable or unwilling to express their opinions. Silent resilience is not the way to go, albeit the one students often chose. Here are a five of the thoughts we realize we probably should have shared.

1. Repite, Por Favor? (Tomorrow, if Possible)
When we step off the plane, we are excited to meet you…but we are also overwhelmed, nervous, and very, very tired. It makes complete, logical sense to begin our stay with you with an influx of important information— introductions to your family, explanations on how your appliances work, an outline of the neighborhood—all within our first hour of meeting, and while we appreciate the immediacy of these essential facts, this is undoubtedly one of our moments of worst comprehension. New to the country and afraid of speaking up, repeated nods in response to the unending variations on “¿tú entiendes?” are in all likelihood a complete falsehood.
Though we have retained very little, we are reluctant to ask the next day and will carry on in a state of perpetual confusion without a later repetition of facts. We want to look like we know what we are doing, but I promise—we don’t.

2. We Want to Help, but We Don’t Know How
American students are stereotyped as lazy by both foreigners and other Americans, but this is often the opposite of true. On average, we spend at least nine months out of the year in varying states of autonomy keeping our spaces clean, stomachs full, and schedules organized. Moving from that reality to one with host parents afflicted by an acute case of síndrome de huésped and eager to make their student feel at ease by prevent them from helping with the simplest of tasks can be a startling change. With meals and housing taken care of, we are eager to help in any way we can, but often do not know the best way to do so and fear intruding or crossing an unknown cultural boundary. Among our Spanish hosts, requests to help fall on purposefully deaf ears. When we ask to help we mean it, just let us know what to do!

3. Customary Cultural Confusion
My mother has very few rules that are absolute; however, the wearing of shoes in the house is prohibited under any and all circumstances. Coincidentally, my host mother also has very few steadfast regulations for my stay in her apartment; however, the wearing of shoes in the house is “mandatory” under any and all circumstances. In a characteristically motherly manner she corrals me to my room in a barrage of worried Spanish statements about my health.
While rarely bizarre, some of the differences between Spanish and American culture are stark and require multiple iterations for your new American students to understand. We are not trying to be rude if at first we do not implement your suggestions; they are simply very different and require time to remember to practice. We are interested to know what your customs are, so let us know what you prefer we do—do not change for us.

4. We Generally Know What We Want to Say, but Generally Don’t Know How
Waiting for your student to tell a story or finish a sentence can often be like waiting for an elderly relative; it takes time and doesn’t always make sense, but we’re trying. Sometimes we need help, but often we just need your patience. In a typical classroom, students spend hours listening to instructors and reading texts, but mere minutes practicing speaking the language and seconds speaking it at a conversational-pace. If we say something wrong, do not pass over it—let us know! We are here to learn the language, which includes constructive criticism and frequent corrections.

5. What’s the Plan, Stan?
Thrust into the uncertainty of an unfamiliar family and lost amidst an influx of personal introductions and information, we have no idea what is expected of us and little certainty beyond a class schedule and a vague understanding of when to return for meals. The ambiguity of those first few days can present a foreboding challenge for many due to their potential for confusion and unpredictability. Though meal times are the only part that directly pertains to students, a simple outline of a general familial schedule can alleviate much unnecessary stress. In the fog of jetlag it can be hard to focus on anything beyond the next opportunity to collapse into the peace and quiet of the nearest soft surface (bed recommended, though not necessary), but this is an important question and easy topic of conversation.

Above all and most importantly, we wish we could communicate to you how grateful we are to you for opening your homes to us and including us in your lives. Words cannot express the invaluable role you play in forming our study abroad experience and shaping how we perceive our country of choice. Your continual kindness and guidance is always appreciated!

Marie Gorman

San Gimignano

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Snow capped Apennine Mountains in the distance

Snow capped Apennine Mountains in the distance

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Last Sunday, we woke up and finished the museum tours and did the panorama view of Siena. Then we hopped in the car and headed to San Gimignano, known for the worlds best gelato! We found 2 shops side by side that claimed they had the World’s best gelato. One was closed so we went to the other. I asked how it was possible that there were two world gelato winners that were side by side. They said every year they vote on the best one and in 2014 the one we were in, were the winners. I believe them! I got Crème brulee & crème carmel latte the first time, then we liked it so much that we went back later that night for another round. and I got cheesecake and Tiramisu. I liked this city the best of all because the views on top of the mountain were breathtaking. We even saw the snow capped italian mountains in the distance* We didn’t go into any museums here, but I would have like to have gone in the torture museum. The museum houses an impressive array of medieval torture devices including the uncomfortably spiked inquisitorial chairs, and a simply murderous looking device labeled ‘the heretics fork’. San Gimignano is known for it’s 14 towers and places of torture.

 

~Jordan

A Taste of Valladolid

Spain is certainly well known for its many distinct flavors and dishes. My region, Castille and Leon, is specifically known for a few of its unique dishes. Tapas, or bite-sized appetizers served both hot and cold, can be found all over the city in restaurants and bars as a staple of Spanish cuisine. Even more well-known and very popular are churros and chocolate. Churros, essentially fried dough sticks are served with a hot, very thick and rich chocolate drink for dipping and and of course sipping.

Churros and chocolate!

Churros and chocolate!

More specific to my region, is lechazo asado, or roasted lamb, generally served whole. The name may look familiar; lechazo refers to leche or milk, which denotes the lamb’s diet of solely milk. Rabbit is also a very common protein, along with numerous types of pork.

A bit less known to many is the distinct difference in the daily schedule of meals and the amount of food served. Breakfast is the smallest meal of the day and probably the least important. In my host family, we all fend for ourselves for breakfast. For many, breakfast is just coffee and a pastry, a piece of toast, or a piece of fruit. This has proved a huge adjustment for me. Lunch, around 2 o’clock, is the largest and most important meal of the day. So far, I have eaten a multitude of different things, some better than others for my American palette. I can certainly say I’m glad I’m not a picky eater, here called “tiquismiquis” (pronounced cheek-ees-me-sis). Pan, or bread, is a served at every meal. My host dad, Miguel, purchases a fresh baguette each day for both lunch and dinner, no matter what we are having. Lunch tends to be a meal that sticks to your ribs, its generally very filling, and given in generous portions. It can range from pasta in sauce with chorizo (a spicy sausage similar to pepperoni) or roasted chicken with potatoes or beans. These are some of the more normal things I have eaten. On the other hand, I have also eaten some unusual things. My second day here in Spain Miguel placed a large bowl of yellow rice, green olives, and chopped baby octopus in front of me. As repulsing as this may sound, I can honestly say so far there has been nothing that I truly disliked (I’m also trying to keep an open mind). We eat a lot of chorizo, pork, and potatoes. If we lived closer to the coast, Miguel said would eat more fish; however, because Valladolid is located inland, fish and seafood tends to be a bit pricey. Each day Miguel heads to the grocery store to get fresh ingredients and of course our bread for the day. Today I was granted the honor of going to the grocery store for him! So far he has proved a very talented chef, minus the day he burnt the lentils so badly he had to flush them down the toilet. After every meal we eat a piece of fruit, generally a banana, apple, or clementine. Clementines or “mandarinas” are delicious and grown in Valencia, a coastal region in Spain. Dinner is a much smaller meal late in the evening, generally just one small entrée, sometimes with a salad. Thus far, dinner in my house has been anything from a hamburger, a few croquettes (small fried balls of basically anything), an egg sandwich, or something similar in size. The oddest dinner I’ve experienced was a French dish: hard-boiled eggs sliced in half with the yolk removed and filled with tuna in a mayonnaise dressing. It actually was pretty good, although something I never would have tried before. I’ve also eaten rabbit in a brown sauce, which may be, believe it or not, may have been one of the best things I have eaten so far.

Just as I enjoy trying new Spanish dishes, my host family also desires American dishes, such as pancakes and apple pie. This week I’m testing my cooking skills by making banana bread (a foreign dessert to my host family) with all our ripening bananas: hopefully I have more success than Miguel did with the lentils! Living here is opening my eyes (and taste buds) to so many new things. I wonder what’s for lunch today…

Adios,

McKenna Lupold