Date and Time: 16 de enero, 4 p.m. or 16:00
Where: Our homestay, Sevilla
Listening to: “Boots and Boys” by Ke$ha
Word of the day: “secador del pelo”
Yesterday was a very productive day. Laura, Tricia, Haley (my roommates), and I were able to walk to school all by ourselves without getting lost! We had the orientation at the Institute, which basically was just one man talking a little about our new experience. Afterwards we wandered throughout the city and went shopping.
The streets, lined with shops, curve throughout the city so it was easy to get a good feel of Sevilla and wind up in unexpected places. We found our way to Avenida de la Constitucion, a sprawling street on the other side of the Cathedral that reminds me so much of Canal Street in New Orleans. Tricia bought a pair of studded boots for 17 Euros, but no one else was able to find anything.
Once we returned back to the street our house is on, Ronda de Capuchinos, we went to Corazon, a Spanish low-end Target, to buy spiral notebooks and more hangers for our closets. And so began our quest to get a hair dryer, “un secador del pelo,” and a hair straightener, “una plancha de ancha,” in time to be beautiful American girls for the party that night. We went into at least a dozen stores either looking at blow dryers or asking where there was a store we could buy one at. We found a straightener at one store, but we didn’t want to spend 65 Euros so we left to come home for lunch.
Spaniards eat lunch around 3 p.m. or so, and it is the biggest meal of the day. Breakfast (which we still haven’t eaten) consists of a cup of coffee and slice of bread, often with either olive oil or butter. That’s even less than what we would have while in Denmark! Dinner is another small meal, much later in the night, around 9 p.m. Yesterday we only ate lunch, which was a potato and beef soup with “croquetas,” small oval-shaped chicken and beef nuggets if you will. I am the only one who likes them who has no problem with most of the food Senora Vicki gives us, so I often have to eat those so we don’t look rude to her. Senora Vicki also made a five cheese dip. It was pretty strong and different, but I liked it as well.
We asked Vicki’s 19-year-old daughter, Victoria, where we should go to buy a straightener and so began a long Spanglish conversation about where and when to go, how much to pay, etc. Then Vicki went and got a straightener that one of the other girls had left behind and gave it to us to use! We could definitely tell why she left it behind (Tricia’s hair didn’t make it through our first night out…RIP), but it worked well enough. It’s funny how happy it made us to have that again…or it’s sad, depending on how you look at it.
During the siesta, almost every store is closed. Siesta is the Spanish term for a rest period from about 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon. Supposedly everyone goes home to nap, but from what we’ve seen, it seems like people really go grab a beer at a bar.
We decided at this time to try to go to an Internet café to talk to our families. We were going to walk to one near the Cathedral, a 25 minute walk, but Vicki told us about one right around the corner. After getting lost and asking for help from a bartender who drew a map with chalk on his counter, we realized we had walked past it. Mandarin is right behind our house and open until midnight! Perfect for skyping and talking during more regular hours in America. I skyped with my parents for an hour and was able to send out a couple emails. We were all so happy to be connected to home again. It was especially nice to see my house and parents through the video chat. Definitely a big lift off of our shoulders.
Once it reopened, we went to Vodafone, a popular cell phone company to get phones. True to our American upbringing, we couldn’t stand to be cut off from the world for more than three days. Plus, we managed to sleep through a school-sponsored flamenco show the day before and couldn’t call or find out any information about what we should do since we didn’t have phones.
This was an adventure in itself. The woman who helped us did not speak English so we had to translate everything and figure out what she was saying. The most difficult thing about the Spanish here is their accent. I understand Vicki well enough now, but I always have to pay very close attention to strangers. Even when I do, I still miss some of what they say. For example, we now say “Gracias” more like Italians, dropping some of the letters at the end, especially the ‘s’. Their words sometimes slur together, even more difficult for someone used to the pronounced words of a professor or even the people in Texas. To get a better understanding of what the plan we were getting included, I asked her to write everything down so we could at least translate it later. We got the same plan that our friend Nick Savio got, so we would all be in the same boat. There’s now at least seven of the same phone in our group just out of the people we got lunch with today.
We went back to the hair store to buy a blow dryer so we could all finally wash our hair to go out that night. Water in Spain is apparently very low, so we are only supposed to take five-minute showers. It turns out to be pretty easy since I showered second last night and the hot water ran out about a minute after I got in.
We got ready to go to the welcome party at Texas Lone Star Saloon, right down the street from the school. Every time I get ready with my Missouri friends I feel like we should be in our towel wraps dancing to the latest song in the Chi Omega bathroom, even though I moved out a year ago. Anyways, the party was really fun. The bar was covered in Americana-esque things, like pictures of Marines and even a Confederate flag. It was definitely a weird feeling to be in an American bar with other Americans and then to walk out and once again be in Spain. I couldn’t believe we were at a bar with our teachers, much less a school bar party. I talked to Richard, one of the leaders of the program who has been there for 17 years and he introduced me to two of my teachers. They both seemed really nice and one was this little tiny woman who was just so happy. Class should be fun. I also met Yves, the bartender, and Lorenzo, a girl’s Spanish boyfriend. All the locals our age are really nice and friendly, or maybe just happy to be around Americans. Either way, it’s nice to make more friends here and not stick to our Missouri bubble.
We stayed at Lone Star Saloon until 10. We followed Danielle to the next bar, Flahert’s. Danielle is dating Lorenzo and has already been here for a semester, so she really knows her way around. She’s incredibly helpful and we can already tell that she will be one of our friends. Flahert’s is an Irish bar in Spain, quite the oxymoron. We didn’t stay there for long, but I did meet a guy from Morocco named Nordi. He didn’t speak any English so I had to speak entirely in Spanish. Haley has observed that I “dramatize everything” that I say when I speak Spanish since I tend to act out the words or the emotions to be absolutely clear. I think he enjoyed my little embellishments.
When we were leaving Flahert’s, Haley, Laura, and Tricia had been talking to boys that were part of an Irish rowing team. All the stereotypes about their accents are true. Haley even thought they were faking it. They were all hilarious so they came with us to the discotheque. I talked to them on the way over, I loved their accents, they loved my Southern one. I’m once again surrounded by weird accents: Missouri, Spanish, Irish, and the terrible Wisconsin one. I’ll never get away from them. Plus, now all the Wisconsin kids comment whenever I say “y’all” in addition to my Missouri friends. What is this? The Reconstruction where the North once again has to bring down the South?
Anyways, we all had a great time with them at the disco and exchanged numbers for when we come to Dublin. I talked to David on the way over, we fell in love. As usual. He even told me I was a good dancer, so I know he loved me in return. Haley talked to one about leprechauns. Peter texted me today and said “ye” a lot. Oh, to be in Europe. I didn’t realize they still spoke the same as Shakespeare, but apparently so. Unfortunately the girls made me leave the club and we took a cab home to eat Cheez-Its since the Domino’s Pizza next door doesn’t accommodate the Spanish nightlife schedule or “la movida” as it is called here in Sevilla. No wonder everyone is so skinny.
We learned today from the other people in our program that the Irish boys broke a fan and followed some girls home strangely enough. Crazy Irish. Good to know some stereotypes can be true. During our bus tour today, we passed the river with a rowing team on it. I definitely got everyone’s attention when I yelled out “PETER!! DAVID!!! DURHAM!!!” But unfortunately it wasn’t our beloved team. They had to return to their ginger-headed homeland today. So our Irish adventure is over...for now.