Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad

Weekend in Madrid

This weekend marked the beginning of Carnaval in Spain and many other European countries. This is a celebration of the beginning of Lent, with parades, and festive costumes, very similar to Halloween in the United States. To enjoy the Carnaval festivities, Rachel, Olivia and I headed to Madrid for the weekend. We arrived Thursday afternoon after an hour on the high-speed train and enjoyed the warm, sunny afternoon in a quaint park near Elise’s apartment (Olivia’s cousin who generously let us stay with her for the weekend). Exhausted from a hectic week we relaxed for the evening and slept in late Friday morning before heading into the city center to see el Palacio Real (the Royal Palace) and the cathedral nearby. We started by exploring the crypt underneath the cathedral, which was impressive to say the least!

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Next we headed upstairs to the huge cathedral and spent about 30 minutes admiring the architecture and breathtaking ceilings.

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After the cathedral it was off to el Palacio Real, where the king and queen of Spain address the public and have meetings; however, they do not live there. We admired the Palace from afar, opting out of the expensive guided tour. Before heading back to Elise’s for lunch and siesta, we walked through the neighboring royal gardens. For dinner, we headed to a restaurant and got burgers, hungry for some American food.

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Saturday was another lazy day, but we made ourselves get out of bed in order to see a parade for Carnaval. As soon as we walked out of the metro, we were met with hundreds of excited people waiting for the procession. We pushed our way through the crowd to find a spot where we could see the parade. Each Spanish speaking country was represented and we had the opportunity to see traditional dance from each country.

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After the parade ended, we made our way back to the metro station and returned to Elise’s where we had tacos for dinner. What a treat to have spicy food (Spanish food tends to have very little). However, our cravings for American food continued so, for dessert, we baked chocolate chip cookies and topped them with ice cream and hot fudge. Sunday proved another lazy day as Rachel and I headed into the city center to explore a bit. We ended up at the botanical gardens on the edge of Retiro Park, and spent nearly 2 hours enjoying what little green there was during this time of year. Unfortunately we won’t have the opportunity to see the gardens in the summertime, but nonetheless they were still amazing! Sunday evening we headed back to Valladolid by bus, which is about a 2-hour ride. Determined not to miss the Superbowl, I met up with my friend Álex, a devoted Broncos fan, to stream the game online. American football is very unpopular here, few know much about it and actually confuse it with rugby so I feel very lucky to have found a Spaniard who understands and enjoys football! Because of the substantial time difference, the game didn’t come on until midnight, but we stayed up and watched the entire game to see the Broncos take Superbowl 50! This weekend proved to be yet another great weekend, especially with no classes on Monday or Tuesday!

 

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

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!

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

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

Introductions and Exploration

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Cities are cities.

In a city of any magnitude, each has its own version of the significant historical buildings, bustling commercial sectors, and sprawling suburban neighborhoods, all connected in a whirlwind of aggressive energy and ambitious inhabitants.

With a population of just over 300,000, moderately-sized Valladolid maintains a spirited balance of the three. As a prior capital of Spain and home to one of Europe´s best sculpture museums, the most populated province of Castile and León abounds with cultural and historical significance.

Cities are cities.

The majority of Valladolid´s population is young and instills the city with a sense of eager vitality and vibrancy, and though less malicious than an American city, the heart of Valladolid remains just as driven; its inhabitants swarm the streets at all hours, pausing only in observance of the mid-day siesta and the Sabbath. Even still, the wayward shopper or student often remains to wander the calles and avenidas. 

The city´s infrastructure hails to its esteemed past, where modern shops occupy the bottom floor of buildings constructed in ages past, and its roads mimic the stereotypical styles of closed European streets. Cobblestones and bricks are constantly underfoot, and cars strive to navigate around areas reserved for pedestrian traffic.

Cities are cities.

As a Spanish major studying abroad in Spain, it is not the perpetual presence of another language that begets apprehension or alarm–struggling to comprehend the world around you is expected and had been anticipated for months, ever since the initial monetary deposit months ago. It is the small things that are the most noticeable and magnify the reality of “abroad-ness”: frozen fingers attempting to open the apartment door, frantically attempting to remember whether to turn the key to the left or right; paralyzing uncertainty about the schedule of your host family, all explained in a spirited stream of enigmatic Spanish; dubiousness over whether you purchased the right products at the supermarket, and the hope that you will not be allergic to a rogue ingredient that you missed when deciphering the label.

With enough practice, these things become simplistic and without second thought. Now I look to see who from my host family is home to ask about thir day instead of retreating to my room in hopes that the apartment is empty. I understand more and more each day, and am able to contribute to the conversations around me instead of just nodding and saying si, a record on repeat. Confident that my feet know their way, I can now enjoy the walk to classes at the Universitas Castellea each morning, acompanied by pleasant conversation and fond glances at a familiar skyline.

Cities are cities, but this is the one I am beginning to claim as my own.

Marie Gorman

1 week down!

Well, we officially survived our first week in Spain! Filled with confusing streets, interesting meals, miles of walking, and many comforting reminders of home, I can say this was an amazing week. Although we had to attend classes this week, it was really nice to get into a normal routine. Our days begin with a very small breakfast, for me: a piece of fruit and coffee. Next, is a 15-minute walk through the city to school. Classes at Universitas Castellae are Monday through Thursday from 8:30-1:30, however we are all lucky to be done at 12:30 on Wednesdays and Thursdays! Classes seem reasonable; I have 2 literature classes, 2 culture classes, and phonetics, all of which are in Spanish. There are only 12 students in our entire university and 3 professors (all very kind and helpful), so we will all get individualized attention. However, the downside to this is that all my classes are in the same room, with the same professors, right in a row. 4 solid hours of classes in the morning will certainly take some time to get used to. After classes each day, we head home for lunch and siesta. Yes, siesta is real and taken very seriously here. All stores close and the streets become empty as everyone heads home around 2 o’clock for lunch and a nap. It is a period of total relaxation and one of my favorite parts of the Spanish culture. Around 4:30-5 in the afternoon workers head back to their jobs, and stores reopen until around 9. Then it’s time for dinner usually sometime between 9 and 10 o’clock each night, quite different from the ordinary day in the U.S. if I say so myself. On Sundays, all stores are closed and the city is relatively quiet as most people relax in their homes. Blessed with so much free time, we have explored the city, shopped, shopped, and shopped some more. January is a special time in Spain called Rebajas, where almost all stores are at least 50% off for the entire month! Interestingly, American music can be heard in all these stores, practically everywhere, and clothing with American symbols and words is also very popular among many young people. I was shocked to see that my sister, Ana, has a Jack Daniels shirt and knows all of Drake’s music. While English seems to have a distinct presence here, it seems few people speak it, except for students learning it in school. We are all slowly adjusting to the Spanish language and culture, everyday we get a little more comfortable and confident.

Adios,

McKenna Lupold

A Walk in Valladolid

Becoming acquainted with Valladolid has proved a fun and eye-opening experience over the past few days. In the three days I have been here I have probably walked the city at least twice each day and while I can easily find my way around without a map, there is still so much more to explore. Valladolid was officially founded in the Middle Ages, however there is substantial evidence that people lived here long before then, explaining the rich and extensive history of the city. For orientation today, one of our professors took us on a brief tour of the city explaining major landmarks and plazas. To begin, we started at our university, Universitas Castellae, which is located in a plaza called la plaza del viejo coso. Its construction dating back to the 1800’s, this plaza was the first bull ring in Valladolid, clear from its architecture. After a larger ring was constructed, la plaza was converted into a prison years later. Today this charming area houses apartments and our classrooms.

Universitas Castellae

Universitas Castellae

Walking is a way of life here in Valladolid, and as we continued on our tour Patricia, our professor, pointed out various monuments, parks, and churches. There are so many impressive churches here, honestly I’m not even sure which one is the cathedral because they all look equally grandiose. Might I add, neither of these are the cathedral of Valladolid.

Santa María La Antigua

Santa María La Antigua

 

Iglesía de San Pablo

Iglesía de San Pablo

In addition to the endless history of this city, Valladolid has many claims to fame even today. There are a number of museums here, some the best in the country. During Easter, or la Semana Santa, Valladolid produces impressive sculptures honoring the holiday. People come to Valladolid from all over the world during la Semana Santa just to see these sculptures. For some reason this city also attracts motor heads who come from numerous nations across the globe to ride their motorcycles called “pingüinos.” Additionally Valladolid is known for its gastronomy, tapas, and hopping nightlife (which I can’t wait to discover for myself). Although there is no place like home, I don’t think I will have any trouble adjusting to the lively and exciting city of Valladolid.

Adios,

McKenna Lupold

The Adventure Begins…

It still hasn’t hit me that I will be living in a foreign country for the next 4 months!! The past two days have been a complete whirlwind as I packed, double and triple checked my bags, and made my way to the Philly airport to depart for Madrid. Saying goodbye to my mother and twin brother, Matt, yesterday was certainly emotional but they both reassured me I was making the right decision and that I would have an experience of a lifetime. In addition, Matt wisely advised me (as usual) to learn something new each day and to soak up everything. After saying our goodbyes, the five of us from LVC worked our way through the airport and eventually boarded our plane. Luckily, Alisha and I were seated next to two young women, that currently live in Spain but had once studied abroad. Both originally from the U.S., they gave us helpful tips and suggestions about what to do around Spain, how to handle meeting our host families, and how to deal with homesickness. They told us that after studying abroad, you have no idea where life will take you. The flight was only around 6.5 hours, but of course it felt like much longer. In addition, we lost 6 hours due to the time difference so we were all exhausted by the time we arrived in Madrid, where we met Sergio, ecstatic to see us. Here, we also picked up three more students from across the U.S. who will be joining us for the semester. Next, Sergio shuttled us onto a small bus and we began our 2.5 hour bus ride to Valladolid (north of Madrid), the city where we will be living and studying. Drowsy and disoriented we napped the majority of the trip and when I opened my eyes we were in Valladolid! I didn’t even have time to be nervous or think about what to say to my host family. Sergio called my name first and my host dad, Miguel, greeted me with a peck on each cheek and we were off, walking to my new home. Surprisingly, small talk with my host dad came naturally as we walked about 15 minutes to the apartment building. I got a quick tour and was introduced to Ana, my 14 year old host sister and the cute little dog Lula. This left only one more family member to meet: my host mom, Sara. I dropped off my bags and we headed to Sara’s store where she sells fabric, needles, and her impressive crocheting. She was just as excited to meet me and she instantly hooked her arm around mine, and told me not to worry. I am excited to see what the next few days will bring as we tour the city and spend more time with our host families!

Adios,

McKenna Lupold

Buenos Días!

August 28, 2014

Hola from Valladolid!

This week has been packed full of change and excitement for the six of us as we settled into our new homes for the next (almost) four months. We arrived on Sunday morning in Madrid after an overnight flight and we brought a bus to the wonderful city that is now our home: Valladolid. Our respective host families were waiting for us in the bus station and as we arrived, we were assigned our home-stays and then we went our respective ways. Sunday was a day to unpack, eat our first Spanish meal, nap, and eventually tour the city. And what a city it is! After spending the afternoon in our new homes, we met with Alberto, our guide for the day, at 10 pm to get ourselves oriented with the city.

Monday brought our first experience with our school. We did not have formal classes, but we received some materials and we were given a run-down of how it functions. Tuesday was the actual first day of classes and the first day of having homework. Wednesday and Thursday followed suit. Class and work need to get accomplished, but there is also plenty of time to explore and discover the city. We have had beautiful weather here: mid to low 90’s as a high but lows dipping down in the 50’s at times. Thus, the mornings are nice and cool, and so are the nights, which allows for ample time to walk the streets. Where we are staying is the historical center of the city. There are churches on practically every corner and museums are scattered in every direction.

As Thursday has passed, we are done with classes until Monday (perk of being in Spain). This weekend, some of the group is traveling to Santander to stay there for a few days and others are planning on hiking some trails near Valladolid. We are excited about our plans for the upcoming weekend and we are beginning to feel at home here in the city.

Hasta pronto!

On behalf of the students studying abroad in Spain,

Matt