Friday, November 25, 2011

El Día de Acción de Gracias (Thanksgiving)

Yesterday marked a lot of things, the first time I have ever cooked that much food, a couple days before the three month marker of my time here in Spain and the first time I spent Thanksgiving away from home.  My program has a dinner planned for us tonight, the day after Thanksgiving which I'm really excited for but let's be honest, I couldn't let Thanksgiving pass up without doing something. So Bret and I decided to try our best to make a ton of Thanksgiving food and have two of our better friends from the program over, as well as introducing our two Spanish roomates and one of their girlfriends to this foreign holiday. Bret and I spent a while cooking the food; we made green bean casserole, stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, and pan fried some turkey because we were too intimidated to cook a whole bird. As well as Bret made an apple pie for dessert the day before and our friends brought some food as well. So we had plenty among the 7 of us.

It was a really fun night all in all. We ate a ton and then hung around. I'm glad I still was able to get that feeling of Thanksgiving thousands of miles away from home. But it was also definitely bittersweet being away from home on a day that everyone associates with family and friends. I definitely have a better appreciation of how lucky I am and how exciting it's going to be to go home.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Spanish University

When I first came to Spain one of the things I was most worried about was the idea of taking classes in a foreign country.  There were so many things that would be different: the language, what type of homework and projects I would be doing, how the professors act and how the other Spanish and international students interact.  So I was definitely nervous.  Luckily, the more time I spend in this institution I realize that it's nothing to sweat too much. It might just be that the University of Granada isn't particularly difficult but it seems generally pretty relaxed. The Spanish students don't really seem to take it as seriously as students in America do. Now this is obviously a huge generalization but I don't intend it to mean that the Spaniards care less about their education, just that there is less intensity and urgency associated with college here.  It's also strange to adjust to the homework. In the US I've always had a lot of consistent homework throughout the week with the occasional project or essay or exam whereas here there seems to be a much larger emphasis on those occasional projects or essays and not so much emphasis on the reading and sidework. It makes it interesting as you go from weeks with hardly any work to do to another week with two huge projects due.  I'm not really sure which system is better. I feel like I definitely learn more in the US but that's hardly fair considering I'm learning it in my native language whereas in Spain the majority of my focus is simply on understanding. But I do enjoy the change and its fun to see how other countries view and approach the idea of education.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


We had a long weekend over Halloween so some of us decided to visit Madrid considering we hadn't had the chance to see it yet. Plus it worked out in our favor that a friend offered for us to stay in his apartment and it's only a bus ride away. It was a ton of fun all in all.

(downtown Madrid)

(paintings from the Museum of Sofia Reina)

(lake in the middle of Retiro Park)

(more of Retiro Park)

It was a really fun weekend in Madrid. Really busy but really fun. We went one of the museums which had a lot of more modern art but was really really cool. They had a lot of pieces by Dali and Picasso including Guernica which is one of my favorite paintings. It took up an entire wall and was really impressive but we weren't allowed to take pictures of it for obvious reasons.  We also did a lot of walking around and saw a ton of the city and checked out some of the different neighborhoods.  Retiro Park was one of my favorite things we did. We bought some food and had a picnic in the park which was a lot of fun and the park was huge. We were lucky because Anthony (who was hosting us) knew a ton about the city and showed us around to a lot of things we probably wouldn't have known about without him.  One night he showed us a little cafe where they had a ton of board games so we drank coffee and played trivial pursuit which was pretty fun.  Madrid was definitely a big city, much more so than Granada and even seemed more so than Barcelona. I'm really glad I got to visit and I definitely would like to go back again if I have the chance but that being said I don't think I could see myself living there. It seemed too much like every other really big city, a ton to do but kind of overwhelming. It was nice to return to Granada and realize that it feels more and more like a home for me the longer I stay here.