This weekend was our last weekend in Sevilla. It was quite bittersweet, especially since we had two final exams to worry about on Monday. Still, we tried to make the most of it.
On Saturday, Pippa and I spent most of the day in our room studying. We did take a break to watch some TV, and I think we took a siesta. That night, we met up with two other girls from the program and headed down to the river for our last botelleon. On the way down, we stopped by an ice cream place. Pippa and Kylie were ordering, when two Spanish teenaged guys walked over and started exclaiming loudly, “Hey, look at those girls! I like her better!” “The black one?” “No, I like the blonde!”
It was beyond rude! I should have told them off, but instead I just gave them the death stare until they wandered off. I should be used to the propios by now, but for some reason, blatant disrespect like that still bothers me. We shrugged it off and made our way to the tower, where Mark and Jackson were waiting. I had my wine juiceboxes, and everyone else shared a massive bottle of fanta limon mixed with white wine. It was a chill night, just drinking, chatting, and staring out at the river. I learned a hell alot about fraternities at Richmond that I don’t care to know, and frankly it makes me think even less about Greek life than I already do, which I really didn’t think was possible. Apparently, paying hundreds of dollars to let like-minded, similarly dressed white guys from similar backgrounds beat you and force you do demeaning and disgusting activities is a completely normal and desired college experience.
On Sunday, Pippa got her Jesus on and went to church, while I slept in before spending the whole day studying. I learned and memorized every historical event between 1806 to present day Spain: all the wars, the dictators, the kings, the republics, the economics, and every prime minister. Wikipedia became my best friend. We thought about joining some classmates down the street at the Burger King to study, but that took too much work.
On Monday, we took our exams. Carlos’ was surprisingly easy, and Fernando’s would have been easier if half the test hadn’t been about artists and their paintings, most of which I had to guess on. Still, I think I scraped out a solid B.
That afternoon, I made it home in time for lunch. It was just Pippa and our host parents, and it was nice having a final meal with them. We finished packing and made our way to Super Sol to buy a box of wine juiceboxes, but alas, it was siesta time, and Super Sol was closed. So we went downtown to get some churros, which were extremely disappointing because they were actually frozen microwave churros. Then, we went down to the Plaza de Torros and took a tour of the bullring.
The tour was very informative, even though the tour guide had the weirdest british/australian accent i’ve ever heard. It was nice learning the history and secrets and legends of the ring. On the way home, we stopped by a supermarket, and I grabbed a bottle of pink champagne to celebrate being done with classes. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was on sale…for 2 Euro!
That night, I tried to convince a certain someone to come hang out with me one final time. But alas, he was “too tired,” leaving me to spend the evening with my Richmond gang. The plan was set to meet up at the tower at midnight. We arrived at 11:57…and no one was there. We sat. We gossiped. I popped open the champagne. We waited. But no one showed up. Around 1:15, we decided to head over to the bars on the other side of the river. That’s when I saw the saddest thing I’ve ever seen since being in Spain…Long Island was closed. The only thing that stopped me from having a complete mental breakdown was seeing Emmy and Anna walking down the street towards up. They weren’t able to find anyone either, and they were bummed out when they saw Long Island. We peeked in one of the only open bars on the street, and we found a couple UNC kids. But with my half open bottle of champagne, they wouldnt let me in. So we decided just to leave since it was getting late, and we had to catch the bus at 6:45am the next morning. On the way back, we saw Cristina and CiCi, who were on their way to the river. We sincerely considered going back with them, but after spending almost two hours doing nothing, we were bored and tired and just wanted to go home. It was a pretty anti-climatic night, but it could have been worse.
On the way back, I said my silent goodbyes to my favorite parts of Sevilla: the beautiful river that had served as a gorgeous backdrop to many a evening, the bars that had kept me from going thirsty, the tram line that had carried us so many times when it was too hot to walk, the park that I had gotten locked inside, the tapas restaurants we had dined in. I couldn’t believe 4 weeks had gone by so quickly, but then again, time really flies when you’re having fun. Still, I know deep in my heart that one day I’ll be back.
Since coming to Spain, my eyes have been opened to quite a few possible career options. Sure, most of them are improbable, but a girl can dream!
1. Flamenco dancer- our last week in Sevilla, we went to a Flamenco show. Although it wasn’t at all what I was expecting, the passion and beauty of the dancers and singers was more than enough to get me hooked.
2. Stage manager - I could put my years of stage managing experience to use in Spain, possibly working in a traditional field like flamenco shows, or working lights and sound at a discoteca
3. English teacher- the good old standby for American college kids who don’t want real jobs just quite yet. I’ve met multiple Americans who teach English here, and all of them love. A few said they even get paid better than US teachers
4. Actress- Now that I’m totally, definitely, 100% bilingual, I could totally sell my soul and become a commercial actress, selling toothpaste or salsa or smartphones. Or I could retain some dignity and act on one of the thousands of comedy and drama tv shows.
5. Voice actress- Speaking of being bilingual, I could just work as one of the voice actors that dub over English shows. And if I’m lucky I could do it in my pajamas!
6. Tour guide- we went to Portugal with an awesome travel agency called Discover Sevilla, and it would be so cool to move to Sevilla and work for them. What would be cooler than getting to go to Portugal, Morocco, and other parts of Spain every weekend, all year long?
7. Vet- this is my intended career path, and I could do really well here in Spain. I’ve seen so many pets here, and there’s a vet office on my host family’s street that is always filled with clients.
8. Animal wrangler- they could really use someone to round up all the stray cats around here. And getting rid of the ten million pigeons would be nice…
Let’s try something new.
Monday: Class. Adventures in the park. May or may not have included an attractive gentleman.
Tuesday: Class. Siesta. Flamenco show. New goal in life: become a Flamenco dancer. Favorite restaurant in the world. Least favorite waitress in the world. Cheesecake.
Wednesday. Class. Homework. Grocery store. In Europe you have to pay for plastic bags. Learned how to say “super diahrea” in Spanish thanks to American Dad. 1 Euro Sandwiches and drinks at 100 Montaditos. Realized I hate certain people significantly less than previously determined.
Thursday: Class. Frantic working on presentation. Midnight trip to the ATM to take advantage of recently plummeted Euro to dollar conversion rate. Host mom called us the lamest exchange students she’s ever had.
Friday: Presentation in class. I talked about Teh Gays. Weird as fuck surrealist movies in other class, “Destino” and some black and white film I can’t recall. Thought I liked surrealism till it literally gave me a headache. Siesta. Goodbye dinner at fanciest restaurant ever. Drank wine and beer with professors. Attempted to party at two bars and a discoteca. Missed someone too much to have a lot of fun. Talked some deep talk with roommate on 45 minute walk home.
Last weekend, we took a trip to Granada with a half-day stop in Cordoba. While I found Cordoba to be a bit boring and overly tourist-y, it was still fun seeing the ancient buildings and learning about the city. We visited the Cathedral and learned about it’s architecture, history, significance, etc…but I wasn’t really paying attention. Guess you can only see but so many cathedrals before you’re all cathedralled out. After the Cathedral, we had a couple hours to shop and walk around. The only actual shopping I did, though, was paying too much for a slushy.
Friday afternoon, we arrived in Granada. The first thing we noticed was the incredible landscape. The rolling mountains made such a pretty contrast against the city buildings.
Also awesome: Friday night (and Saturday night) we were treated to a buffet dinner. I forgot how wonderful it is to be able to choose exactly what foods you want. Also awesome: it was included in our hotel stay. In these tough economic times, nothing tastes more delicious than free food. I think I had salad, spaghetti, some slices of ham, two rolls, potatoes, and a few pieces of grilled chicken. AKA “way too freakin much.” After dinner, we basically climbed part of the mountain to get a sunset view of La Alhambra. It was gorgeous. The 30 minutes of sweat and tears on a full stomach was completely worth it.
After climbing back down the mountain, we decided we were too tired to go to any clubs. So we settled for getting tea at an authentic Arabic teteria, which is a tea place. Although I was too cheap to buy any, I did have a few sips of Pippa’s Pakistani tea, which was thick, creamy, and very sweet, and Danielle’s Moroccan tea, which was minty.
Saturday morning, we were treated to a breakfast buffet. Words cannot describe how intensely I missed breakfast at the dining hall. Spaniards are culinary gods when it comes to lunch and dinner, but they tend to skimp out on breakfast. So instead of my usual two slices of toast and a cup of tea, I treated myself to eggs, bacon, churros, two different types of bread, a bowl of Frosted Flakes, and my long lost love, orange juice. It was truly a breakfast of campeones!
Our only item on the agenda for Saturday was a visit to, you guessed it, the Cathedral of Granada. I was pleasantly surprised by the decent lighting and the white, not grey, color of the walls. It was beautiful, but due to camera issues and being kicked out at 1:30, I only got a few photos. We spent the rest of Saturday afternoon on our own. We went shopping, where I searched in vain for a maxi dress, and for lunch I ate the most delicious sandwich (with steak, lettuce, bacon, cheese, and garlic sauce) I have ever eaten.
Saturday night, after dinner, we went up to the roof to take some sunset photos. It was nice just chatting and being goofy and acting girly with the other girls on the trip. Of course, I forgot my phone and my camera, so here’s a photo I stole from Pippa:
Saturday night, we decided to live a little by going to Mae West, the discoteca that Carlos warned us not to go to. We all got dressed up and decided to pregame at a place called Chupiteria 69, where they have shots for a euro (just like our good old Long Island). We met up with some of the other girls on the trip, and it was nice mixing our two circles. Then we headed over to the discoteca, which thankfully, was only a few minutes away.
The only thing I didn’t like about it was that you had to climb 3 flights of stairs to get to the entrance…not exactly ideal for girls in tight dresses and/or high heels. Plus there was a $10 cover, but thankfully, that included two drinks of your choice. Other than that, the place was perfect. The entrance opens up into a spacious outdoor wooden patio with string lights, tiki torches, and about 30 tables with chairs. From there, you can walk into the bar area, which was L shaped and absolutely massive. It was dark with really cool blue and purple backlights. Also awesome for me, one of the girls we were with didn’t want one of her drink passes, so she ordered a rum and coke for me :D
After a couple drinks, we headed onto the dance floor, which was a surprisingly large circle with an upper level balcony on the perimeter. The music was typical American club music, but the DJ was great. We spent the whole night dancing, and we found two pleasant surprises: the kids from Grenada from the Portugal trip, and two of my favorite texas tech guys. It was a very fun evening, and I’m glad to have experienced a Spanish discoteca.
Sunday, we packed our things and took a tour of La Alhambra, the ancient city within a city of Grenada. It was originally created by the Muslims in the 8th century, but once the Christians reclaimed Granada in 1492, they took it as well. It was absolutely massive, and the tour took 3 hours, but there was so much to see, and the heat wasn’t too bad, so the tour went really well.
After the tour, we stopped for lunch and then hit the road back to Sevilla. It was such a fun, exciting, informative, relaxing weekend, and I’m definitely putting Granada on my list of places to visit again.
This week was a whirlwind. Starting your week with a historic futbol victory and ensuing partying/rioting is quite an experience. As per tradition, Carlos the Magnificent cancelled class on Monday so we could properly celebrate Sunday night’s victory (As you may recall from my last post, we hit the town insanely hard). It was also great because it gave us an additional 24 hours to study for his upcoming exam. We thought about escaping the insane heat in the pool, but after three different beach adventures, we had no interest in dealing with our hair for the 4th time in 4 days.
After class on Tuesday, we did a bit of homework before meeting up with a friend we had met during the Portugal trip. She had a handle of vodka that she needed to finish before Sunday, and who am I to refuse to help out a fellow study abroader in need? In true Sevillian style, we met up on a nice place overlooking the river and got to work. In the words of the great Jackson, “It’s like pre-gaming, but instead, it’s the game” We talked about our lives back at home (Katie’s in a small town in Washington, mine in Richmond, and Pippa’s in the Bahamas), how college was treating us, and what we wanted to do with our degrees. We watched two Spaniards in their 30s picking up girls, and about 30 minutes later they tried talking to us. It wasn’t nearly as awkward or uncomfortable as I expected, but maybe that’s just the vodka talking. It was relaxing, and it was quite nice getting to know someone new.
On Wednesday, it was the Fourth of July, so King Carlos granted us independence from having class. We decided to hang out with two other friends in our program, and the four of us went to Las Setas, aka the Mushrooms. Our goal was to leave home at 1030 to meet them at 11, but just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. First, I overslept until 10:20. Then, when we finally made it out the house and down the street at 11:10, Pippa forgot her camera’s memory card. We were finally at the tram station at 11:30 when we heard an announcement saying the tram was “temporarily closed due to factors outside of the company’s control”. Which mean we got to walk….30 minutes…in the heat. About halfway there, we saw a political march/demonstration taking up almost the entire street. Guess that’s why the tram wasn’t running. We squeezed by there and made it there a little before 12:15.
The Setas are cool because they’re these very uniquely designed architectural structures that you can climb to the top of and overlook most of the city. It’s not as high as the Giralda, but the view was still pretty awesome:
After climbing Las Setas, we meandered downtown a bit, stopping for ice cream and then looking in a bunch of boutiques. Pippa found a gorgeous maxi dress, and I found some pretty magnetic tiles that will make lovely souvenirs for my relatives. We said goodbye and made the 30 minute trek back.
That evening, we had wanted to hang out with other people in the group at 100 Montaditos for their Wednesday sandwich and drink specials, but most people wanted to go to the one that’s hella far away. So we did homework…until I was invited out to hang out with some of the Texas Tech kids. I figured, you’re only young once, so I went back to Calle Bettis. Walking alone at night here isn’t nearly as sketchy as in America, mostly because everyone is out at midnight. I passed at least 50 people, most of them with children and babies. While I won’t divulge the specifics of the evening, I will say I met a lot of beautiful people, and it was quite the evening.
Thursday, we did the school thing and then chilled at home for the rest of the day. I need to finish some homework and then get packing for our program-sponsored trip to Grenada this weekend. Lucky for us, we met quite a few Grenada kids on the Lagos trip who insist we come party with them ;)
This weekend, 20 of us in the program took a trip to Lagos, Portugal. Although the trip had its ups and downs (read: wishy-washy freshman girls who can’t make up their mind and hold petty grudges and complicate everything), overall it was an incredible and unforgettable experience.
Friday afternoon we had an exam in our Peoples and Cultures class, and we left for the bus right afterward. I was a bit worried because our Richmond group stayed segregated from the other few schools that were going, but I reassured myself that we could be social once we got there. Three and a half hours later, we were in Lagos.
We quickly unpacked and went down to the beach right beside the hotel. It was gorgeous. The water was freezing cold though, so I didn’t bother getting in. A few hours later, we walked into town to a place called the Nah Nah Bar for dinner. It was super packed, but the wait was worth the deliciousness of the food. I had a scrumptious pasta and a pint of tinto de verano for only 10 Euro.
That night, they threw a party for us at a really swanky night club called Gran Cafe. I’ll have to steal some photos from it because I was too busy having fun to take any. I spent the night chatting with some cool folks from a US program in Grenada that I had met at dinner, dancing with some new friends, chilling at the bar with the guys from our group, and meeting attractive Portuguese men who spoke no English whatsoever. It was a great night, and we made it home around 3am.
The next day, I skipped the Sangria cruise to save money. It would be nice to have rich parents who showered me with money at my slightest whim, but alas, I do not. So I slept in late, and then went to the beach with the 5 other people (out of 75) who didn’t booze cruise either. It started off as a relaxing day, laying in the sand and walking along the water.
I made a couple new friends, and we walked up to the cafe and got some more delicious food. I wonder if all Portuguese food is as amazing as what I ate that weekend. This brushetta was cheap and surprisingly tasty.
Unfortunately, as the afternoon progressed, so did the wind, leaving us constantly assaulted by flying sand, which is quite similar to being attacked by sandpaper. By late afternoon, we all just wanted to get off that God forsaken beach. The guides took us back to the hotel, and we showered and changed for a trip to watch the sunset at Cabo San Vincent, aka the “End of the World” (because it’s the eastern most point in Europe). The view was absolutely stunning, despite the freezing cold wind. It was so beautiful getting to watch the sunset with some of my favorite people.
That night, we had round 2 of partying at a rustic, low key bar called Joe’s Garage. While a lot of my friends didn’t like the loud, raucous atmosphere and left almost immediately, the place really grew on me as I started talking to people. I had an amazing Sex on the Beach with a girl on the trip named Katie. It’s her last week in Sevilla, and we made plans to finish off her handle along the river, just like the locals do. I met some British gals, and they actually loved my American accent, which is so not what I was expecting to hear. My friend Cristina and I met a pair of sweet Swedes, and we ended up hanging with them for the rest of the night. They were so much nicer and better dancers than the Portuguese guys from Friday night. We made it home by 4am, which is 5am Spain time, and I finally felt like a hard core European.
Sunday, we packed our things, loaded the bus, and spent our last few hours in Portugal at a West Coast Beach. It was part of a National park, and it was possibly the most gorgeous beach I’ve ever seen in my life. The wind was much more bearable, and we spent the day playing volleyball, walking along the shore, napping, and (grudgingly) studying for our exams.
All good things must end, and at 4pm we loaded onto the bus to make our way back to Sevilla. We arrived at 9pm, a few minutes after the final round of the Eurocup game started. Pippa and I marched straight to our local bar, despite having all our luggage. It was worth it. We caught 3 of the 4 beautiful goals Spain scored against those smelly, cheese-munching Italians. When the game ended, and Spain was declared winner of the Eurocup, we cried beautiful tears of success and love and pride for our new home, land of the victors of futbol. Also, class was cancelled and our test was postponed, which was pretty awesome too.
That night, it was our constitutional responsibility as residents of Spain to go out and party like hell to celebrate Spain’s victory. We witnessed a riot downtown, went bar-hopping, drank ourselves silly, got called the n-word by drunk spaniards, met creepy french guys, left creepy french guys, met an attractive black guy from texas who asked if we wanted to smoke weed with him before declaring how much he loves Jesus, then (literally) ran away from a man in a Spain jersey and a blonde wig who was trying to follow us home at 3am. It was quite an adventure, and I’m so happy and thankful to be in Spain during this historic championship. VIVA ESPANA!