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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Second of Firsts is Over

I'm trying to think of a sane and easily understandable way to say this, but I'm just going to come out and say it: Today was my second day of first day of classes.

I had the following two classes today: Magazine Reporting and Writing and "Literatura y Cocinar."

Magazine Reporting and Writing is a 9 a.m. class. Those of you back in the United States right now with 8 a.m. classes will be rolling your eyes at me, but it is early! I have 9 a.m. classes everyday, and so far these past few days I've been riding the struggle bus when it comes to waking up in the morning. You see, when I'm half asleep, my mind likes to ration with itself and pretend that I have so much more time to press the snooze button, when in reality, I have to be out of the door within 5 minutes. So yeah, I've also looked like a struggle bus both mornings. Cheers to first impressions!

Magazine Reporting and Writing (let's call it MRW for short because I'm tired of typing that out) seems like it will be a lot like the class I took freshman year at Elon: Media Writing (minus the fact that this class is taught completely in Spanish). My professor said we will be writing articles every week and exploring Sevilla and talking with the natives in order to get the best stories. Seems innocent and interesting enough, seeing as I'm a journalism major. However, I'm going to have to admit that today's class was not my cup of tea. We sat there for an hour and a half an analyzed a single newspaper from front to back. I actually wanted to gouge my eyes out. But like I said, overall I think MRW is going to be very interesting. And I love my professor because he is this eccentric man with this long blonde hair that touches his shoulders and unique mannerisms. He's very exciting to watch.

Literatura y Cocinar is a class that I take at the Universidad de Sevilla. It's annoying because I have an hour and a half break after MRW, which is in that awkward median of being too much time to sit at the coffee shop and too little of time to go back home. So today I opted for the coffee shop route, and then got lost with a couple of my friends on the way to class. It turned out to be pretty okay that I had an hour and a half between classes today.

When we found our room at the the Universidad de Sevilla, I opened the door without thinking and oh... hey class that is still in session! Awkward to run into you here! Yep, everyone in that class turned and looked at the clearly-foreign girl in the doorway. I quickly shut the door and waited in the hallway.

Literature y Cocinar (I'm calling it LC...oh hey, it's my initials! Oh the cleverness of me. Just quoted Peter Pan, no big deal) also sounds like it is going to be a fun and informative class. We are going to be reading different books and watching different movies and then cooking the food that is mentioned in order to gain an understanding of the importance of food in the world's history and culture. We also get to go wine tasting. Did I mention we get to make food? That's my favorite part. Today's class also mirrored MRW though, in the fact that it was just my professor rambling on and on about the thoughts that would pop into his head, and it was difficult because he kept switching between talking in English and Spanish. Dude, I can't do this switcheroo thing, just pick a language please. He also flipped between slides on the PowerPoint too quickly so I gave up on trying to take notes. So though today's LC class was incredibly boring--and I have plenty of flower doodles to show for it--I'm excited to see where the class takes me during the remainder of the semester. And I'll be sure to post about my cooking adventures in the class, obviously, because who wants to read about Spain when you can read about food.

Highlight of the day: Hearing a little girl scream so loudly I thought the Apocalypse was starting. Honestly I've never heard anyone, including a grown adult, muscle up that much breath or vocal chords to produce such a high pitched scream. Well done, stranger child.

Quote of the day: "Our class is also going to go wine tasting on either October 11 or October 18."

Until next time,

Leah

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Weekend Was Better Than Yours

 
It's Monday. You know what that means? It means that I just had an awesome weekend, and it was probably definitely better than yours.

Friday: Okay, I'll admit it, Friday wasn't as spectacular. I finished my final exam for my two week intensive Spanish grammar course, and then it was celebration time with the amigos. Typical Friday night in Sevilla (Wow, never thought I'd be saying that...) Talked with some Spanish people while we were out, which is always cool because they help you out when you say something wrong, etc. It's a great way to improve on my Spanish speaking skills. Good news is that I wasn't followed home or harassed by anyone on my way home, so I'd say that it was a pretty successful celebratory evening. Now I just have to hope that I aced my final exam... (jokes on jokes, people.)

Saturday: Slept in after my night out on Friday, and woke up in a panic at 11 because I still hadn't packed or showered to catch the 12 p.m. bus to... Málaga! However, I rushed around for a bit and made it in time. After a 2 1/2 hour bus ride (which I slept about 90% of), we arrived to the bus station in the beautiful picturesque town of Málaga. My friends and I were staying in Málaga overnight at a hostel called "Feel Hostels" (Weird, right? Please tell who named that. They need to check themselves). Of course nobody knew how to get to the hostel from the bus station, and of course nobody had bothered to look up the directions beforehand, so we had to ask around for a bit and take a 40 minute detour through Málaga before we finally ended up at our hostel. And I always, always overpack, so carrying around a 50 pound bag for 40 minutes was pure bliss. I really enjoyed the way my bag made me feel like I had broken my back.

We had 12 people going to Málaga this past weekend, and the rooms were made for 6 people each, so I expected to be staying with 4 of my gal friends and 2 of my guy friends. However, when we got to the hostel, this was not the case, and 3 of us girls ended up in a room with 3 complete strangers, including a huge man who only wore boxers and shuffled around awkwardly. Super uncomfortable.

After getting over the interesting rooming situation, we were headed off to the beach! The waters were crystal blue and the sand was... well, honestly the sand felt like cat litter. And looked like cat litter. Kind of depressing. And then it got all over my only towel that I brought which I also had to use to shower with...so the sand was a disappointment overall. But I remembered sunscreen this time (so proud of myself, honestly) so I didn't get burned this time! (Though the sunscreen did smell like menthol. I mean, to each their own, but Spain, why would you make such horrific smelling sunscreen?) But check out this picture of a sign on the beach (SO PRETTY):

 

 Side note: While on the beach, I bought a medium onion ring from Burger King, which literally came with only 2 onion rings. I was devastated.

We then went on a hike up to a castle which overlooked the city and the bull fighting ring (see picture below:)

 
It was an incredibly hard hike to the top of the lookout, but that might just be because I'm slightly out of shape. Though I walk about 4 miles everyday (get on my level).  But all-in-all, the hike was worth it, as was the 0.60 Euro fee to enter the castle grounds, because the overlook was gorgeous as was the castle. I felt like I was on top of the world. Here's another picture to give you an idea of the beauty from the overlook:

 


We finished the evening with dinner (the three vegetarians had to buy food from a Noodles restaurant and bring it back to the hostel because the dinner that was served that night had meat in it), and then we went on a "pub crawl" that took us to all of the hot spots in town. We met a lot of Germans, people from Belgium, and even some British people. There was even an old man in one of the bars that had a cane with him. What a gem he was to witness. I hope I'm that cool when I'm 90.
 
Sunday: We had to leave the hostel by 11 a.m., but luckily we were able to leave our bags behind for only a couple of euros for the day. Thank goodness. There was no way I was going to haul my 50 pound bag around with me all day, or else I literally would have broken my back. We went to El Museo de Picasso, which housed Picasso's paintings and I was in awe. I was in the same room as Picasso's paintings! He grew up in Málaga so I'm pretty sure that the museum is the town's #1 source of income. Sadly my phone died Sunday morning and I didn't bring my charger, so I was unable to take any pictures of the artwork in the museum. But let me tell you: there were some very interesting pieces. And by interesting, I mean weird. Really weird.
 
After the museum, a few of us went to this quaint little restaurant because they offered vegetarian paella (a traditional Spanish dish). We were excited and took a seat outdoors next to a garden wall and listened to a man play guitar and had one of those "Wait, oh my gosh, we're actually living here for the next 4 months" moments. Then we waited. And waited. Waited some more... *45 minutes later* Our food finally came out, but by that point I was so ravenous that I was about to eat my own hand. I had single-handedly finished off the entire bread basket (sorry not sorry) and dove into the paella as soon as our waiter set it down. It was so good though! Semi-worth the wait.
 
The group then went and got gelato (I then remembered that I'm semi lactose intolerant and spent the next few hours dying) and wandered around a small park near the beach. A few creepers approached us and asked where we lived, but you can't have a successful weekend without a few creepers thrown in. It just doesn't happen. Some woman also came up to us and asked if we were British, saying that she overheard me speaking and thought I had an accent. Wait, what? I'm pretty sure I'm as loud and American sounding as they come. I took that as a major compliment, and spent the remainder of our day analyzing my speech for any signs of a possible British accent.
 
The time finally came for us to head back to the bus station, and I was definitely sad to leave. However, when we got to the bus station, Tori and I realized that our bus tickets were for the 6:00 p.m. bus ride, and everyone else in our group had tickets for the 5:30 p.m. bus. So typical. We were unable to switch buses because the 5:30 bus was now full, so Tori and I bought bocadillos (sandwiches) and chilled on the bus station floor while waiting for our bus. I was pretty tired when the bus finally came and we boarded, so I passed out immediately. It seemed only a little while later when I was awakened to the bus driver saying we had a 10 minute break to get off the bus and stretch our legs. Break? Why would we need a break for only a 2 1/2 hour ride? When we got off the bus, Tori leaned over to me and said "Leah, this really sucks." I was confused. "Why?" I replied. Tori said, "Because we've already been on this bus for 2 hours and 10 minutes, and we are getting a break now." Awesome. Yes, people, Tori and I ended up on a 4 hour bus ride that took us all over Spain and we didn't get back to Sevilla until 10 p.m. at night. I am such an unlucky person.
 
Monday: And finally, today was my first day of my official semester classes, and I'm already in love with the two classes I had today: "Metamorphosis of News and Media" and "Podcast Reporting." Both classes have no tests or final exams all semester. BOOM.
 
Some highlights of the day: The main highlight of today was when Tori and I got harassed by two 5 year-old boys. That was neat. I didn't think I could have such a low in my life. I also enjoy the tuba player I pass every night on my way home who plays his tuba as loudly as he can.
 
Quote of the day everyday: "Why does it smell like something died?" Thank you, Sevilla, for the bursts of horrifying smells every couple of feet. The smells make walking around the city very interesting and always keep you on your toes, because you never know what you will encounter next. Yay.
 
Until next time,
 
Leah


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Time Flies When You Procrastinate

Why hello there. Haven't blogged with you in a while...

When I came to Sevilla a couple weeks ago, I told myself that I was going to become a better person and fix the things I didn't like about myself, yadda yadda. Let's be frank: It's easier said than done.

First of all, I am the queen of procrastinating. If you look up the word in the dictionary, there won't even be a picture of me, because I will have procrastinated getting it taken. That's how bad I am. Awkward moment when the Spanish language doesn't have a word for procrastination. Kudos to them for not having the same issues. I don't respond to emails on time (maybe that's why I have 690 unread emails), I don't do my homework until it's 30 minutes before class starts, and I don't even respond to texts right away. LITERALLY TEXTS. My life is spinning out of control.

I'm also afraid of alarm clocks. But that's a different issue altogether.

Bottom line is, I wanted to change my procrastinating ways when I came to Sevilla, and it's sad that I can't even keep up with my own blog that details my outrageous adventures.

So, for tonight's blog post, I am going to provide some of the life lessons I've learned throughout this blogless week.

First lesson: There is a small black button on the second level of my building that I have to push in order for the front door of my building to open. Push it. I always forget to push it, then I walk all the way down to the bottom level and push against the door. It doesn't budge, of course, and I have to run back up to the second level just to push a stupid button so that I can be let out of the building. Meanwhile, I'm usually running late for class because of my procrastination issue (see above).

Second lesson: There are bags of candy that you can buy at the chinos (24 hour convenient stores run by oriental people) for 1 euro. That doesn't mean that I should buy a bag and eat it in one sitting. In the future, I should a) Not buy the candy at all, seeing as I'd rather not gain weight this semester, or b) Eat the candy sparingly like a normal person. Because when I don't, I get a stomach ache and then I complain a lot. And I'm so annoying when I complain.

Third lesson: I should take my A.D.D. medicine. Always. Bottom line.

Fourth lesson: Don't buy an extra large piece of red velvet cake on the same day that I consumed both the entire bag of candy from the chinos and a large bag of Cheetos (which really tasted like packing peanuts). I will die, and my subconscious will laugh at my own stupidity. I don't even like red velvet cake. It just had cute sprinkles. (See picture below)



Fifth lesson: I should never wear shoes that rub any of the five blisters that I have on my feet. Oh wait, ALL of my shoes rub my blisters. And then my feet bleed, and someone I just met will point at my feet and go "Oh my goodness, what happened to your feet?" Okay, it's really simple to see that I have blisters. Don't be annoying and point out the obvious. Sorry not sorry that my feet aren't beautiful anymore. I'm a dancer, I have that excuse.

Sixth lesson: Please don't walk in the sketchy part of town. I know it was my idea to go exploring with Tori, and we DID find a cute bakery called Cupcakes and Go, but then we end up near all of the weird people who hoot and holler and whistle at us just because of our hair color. I mean, really, when I go back to America, I'm going to feel depressed when I'm not given attention each and ever hour of the day. I kind of feel like a celebrity here, only with creepy and undesired fans. But hey, check out the cute bakery below:



Seventh lesson: I need to remember that I'm in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with the opportunity to live and study a language and culture completely different than my own. Instead of longing for the comforts of home, I need to spend more time diving headfirst into the strangeness of this relatively new place and take hold of the adventures that come only once in a lifetime. See a beautiful picture below:



America, it's been great and all, but I'm proud to currently call myself a citizen of Sevilla.

Until next time,

Leah

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend Fun!

So here it is... a long blog post to sum up my entire weekend. Not sure it's actually possible to sum up 3 amazing days in Sevilla, but alas, I must try to shorten the details into a condensed story that people will (might) actually read. So here we go. (Don't worry, I'll throw in a few pics).

Friday. Friday was the first day that my orientation group didn't have assigned orientation activities, so I spent the majority of my morning cowering in my bedroom to avoid awkward interactions with Chari (my house mom) since my Spanish is still somewhat rusty (who am I kidding, I suck). The good news is that I had a goal for 2013 to read 25 books, and since I pretty much alienated myself for a good chunk of my day, I've gotten pretty far. I finally emerged from my lair around 3 for lunch (skipped breakfast) and then told Chari that I was going to my meeting with Oscar to choose my classes for the semester. What are my classes for this semester you ask? Magazine Reporting and Writing, Podcast Reporting, Contemporary Spanish Film, and a Cooking Class. Too bad I have no idea if I'll receive credit for the last two classes because my schedule got messed up from the classes I got verified with Elon beforehand. Whatever. If I want to taking a cooking class, then I'm going to take a cooking class. Keep in mind that all of these classes are in Spanish, as we are not allowed to speak in English, so should I kiss my GPA goodbye? Most likely. Side note: on my way home from this meeting, I got harassed by a five-year-old for being blonde. I mean, it's cool I guess.

Then we went and saw a Flamenco performance. So cool! But the man and the woman never danced together...but maybe they don't do that in Flamenco. Either way, their feet moved so quickly it was ridiculous. Great experience. The guitar player put everyone who plays guitar in America to shame. The singer was really into himself.

At night I explored Calle Betis with my friends for drinks and fun. We met a guy from Hungary who spoke English but not Spanish, which my friend Tori didn't seem to understand, as she kept trying to speak to him in Spanish. We also went to a club called "Belindo" where I met a guy from Germany who was pretty neat. He has only taken English for five years and he made me look incompetent with learning a language. The walk home was kind of scary because being blonde and it being 4:30 in the morning, it was pretty much like I was wearing a neon sign that said "Hey, come rob me! I'm American!" So, instead I shoved my purse down my shirt and hummed Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" as I sped walked home. But not before I saw a woman let her dog pee against someone's car and another woman let her dog poop in the middle of the street. And then she left it there.

Saturday. Beach day at Matalascañas! A group of my friends and I ventured over to the bus station and purchased a roundtrip ticket to the beach for about 15 euros. When we got there, my friend Tori decided she had to use the bathroom and so being the nice person that I am, decided that I would accompany her. We never found the bathroom. But we did buy 2 Dora the Explorer beach towels for 5 euros.



Instead, we walked along the beach in the wrong direction for over an hour and ended up in a National Park before realizing we probably weren't in the right place, and backtracked until we located our group. When we did find them, we encountered a gigantic boulder-type thing plopped in the middle of the ocean. Um, what? To me it looked like it used to be a part of a castle, and an angry giant ripped it off the castle and chucked it straight into the ocean. Nobody else seemed to agree with me. But see for yourself:


While at the beach, I decided to forget how close we are to Africa and the Equator, and opted for the "no sunscreen" route. When we got up to leave, everyone was so surprised when I wasn't sunburnt. I tried to explain that I never sunburn. It's just not for me. As we were leaving, I decided that I wanted to buy some gelato. I chose my flavor, got the smallest size (not trying to get fat while abroad), and went up to pay only to find... oh, wait, I have no euros left! Awk sauce. And of course they didn't accept credit cards. I honestly have really nice friends here, because they lent me a couple of euros and spared me from having to walk 2 miles to the nearest ATM.

Remember that sunburn I talked about? Ohhhh right. When I got home, I looked in the mirror, but it wasn't Leah staring back at me. It was a bright, fluorescent red lobster. So much for never burning, huh? I should probably buy some sunscreen. But I probably won't.

Chari made me dinner and we keep having this internal battle over the bread. I eat so much bread here that I don't want to eat it with every meal, and she keeps pushing the basket of bread towards me every time, and finally she just started putting a piece of bread literally on top of my food. Thanks, Chari. Point taken. Aftewards, Chari went out with some friends and I spent the night in like a loser and watched SpongeBob in Spanish. Because apparently I'm 5.

Sunday. Sunday was another "no plan" kind of day because all of the shops close down in Sevilla. A few of us decided to go bop around at the art market that was set up in front of the Museo del Arte. That was very cool, because all of the artists are so different from one another yet all of the art was still magnificent. While perusing some painted bookmarks, I looked down at my dress to see that I had bright white deodorant stains all over the front of my dress. Literally all over it. I must have been blind or asleep when I put it on, because I still can't figure out how that could have possibly happened.  And my house was too far away at this point to change. Then I wanted to get some euros from an ATM after remembering my incident with the gelato from the day before, and happened to see an ATM located conveniently across the street from the art market. Remember how Leah is the luckiest person on this planet? Well the ATM decided to be a doll and took 97 dollars from my bank account but gave me no euros in return :) It was super generous of the machine, because now I have to figure out how to get my money back. Luckily, another ATM down the street worked. But then again, it's still not that lucky, because I'm still out 97 dollars.

Later we went to the Alcázar of Sevilla, which is a royal palace. The building was beautiful and I love what they did with the place, but when I go on a tour of a historic building I really like to see some furniture. When the guide brought us into a room and went "And this is the bedroom!" I was like, where? Because all I saw was some walls and a floor. It didn't help that I was beyond tired because I couldn't fall asleep the night before. As we left the "living room," I stumbled over my own feet and fell into a plantar. I think the guide thought I was on something. But again like I said, the palace was magnificent. Just throw in some furniture, and they could totally up the price for tours. Just saying.



When we left the Alcázar, the group went to a restaurant just to sit outside and maybe get a tinto de verano. But I didn't want one, so I ordered a water. "Do you want a bottle?" The waiter asked. "No, I want a cup of water." The man stares at me with his pen and paper in hand. "So, do you want me to pour a bottle of water into a cup for you?" I tried to be loving in this situation, but it was hard. I smiled politely. "May I please just have a cup of tap water?" Then he lost it. He started yelling at me for not ordering anything that actually costs money, yadda yadda, then he started yelling at the whole group. Dude, seriously? Everyone else was ordering a drink. I was the lone ranger ordering the water. He wasn't losing that much money. AND I was thinking about ordering a tapa. But after that showdown? Sorry not sorry that I just ordered a water.

Then my friend Tori and I got harassed by the horse carriage people on our way home. They wanted us to pay for a 30 minute ride, when I really wanted to take the 15 minute power walk back to my home. They followed us down the street so we took a secret detour and somehow I ended up ordering donut ice cream. It was pretty great.

On our way home we walked passed the homeless man that lives in front of the abandoned library, and every time we pass him, Tori is always closest to him (hah). But there he was again, playing his little harmonica next to the bike with only one wheel. Then we sat down on a bench and just talked about life. How school is going by so fast, how we will only have 3 semesters left once we get back to Elon, and how we're not ready for life after college. I'm definitely not ready to graduate, but I'm going to stay in the present, here and now, in the magnificent city of Sevilla. It may not always be a smooth ride, and I may want to cry, scream, and punch holes in the walls almost everyday that I'm here, but it's an adventure. And I love a good adventure.

Until next time,

Leah

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Good Ole Wednesday Fun



Today I felt more in the swing of things. Well... somewhat. I woke up absolutely panicked at 5:22 a.m. and started rushing around getting ready thinking that I had missed my group meeting. Then I looked at the clock. (Note: always look at the clock before getting ready. Good lesson to be learned).

When I actually got up at 8:15 a.m., I took a shower. What an experience. Their shower head is detached so you have to manually maneuver the shower head to where you want it. I also have been dehydrated these past couple of days because Spaniards don't drink a lot of water because it's expensive, so I've had maybe a total of 2 glasses of water since I've been here. So is it sad that I drank water from the shower head this morning? I don't think so. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

After desayuno (breakfast), which consisted of cereal and coffee, I started to walk towards my group's meeting point and realized I forgot how to get there. I was standing at a fork in the road...lost, abandoned, confused, and clearly American...when good ole Edward appeared out of nowhere! (I realize you all don't know who Edward is. He is one of the students from my group in Sevilla). "Leah! Leah!" He shouted as he came up from behind me. I can't express how grateful I was at seeing a familiar face.  I was about to ask the homeless man on the corner for directions...and we all know how smart that would be. Edward happened to know where we were supposed to go (apparently I must not be the brightest bulb in my group, at least when it comes to directions) and we both ended up at the meeting point safe and sound.

Our group went to the CIEE center to hear some orientation material, and of course I decided that after one day of being in Sevilla and being completely jet lagged that it would be smart to sit in the front row. Oscar was presenting and he kept looking directly at me and I felt super awkward because I kept falling asleep during his presentation. I mean, he should know that everyone is still not used to the time zone here. I'm not ashamed that I was falling asleep. If he wants to give a presentation at 9 in the morning, then I'll be more than happy to listen with my eyes closed.

After the presentation, it was time for our evaluations. Apparently mine went decently well and Ruben, the guy who interviewed me, said I spoke at the exact same level as my online test placed me at (so, I hope that was good? It could mean that I spoke at the same terrible level I was placed at, but I prefer to think that I'm at a fluent level). Following my evaluation, I ran into Elizabeth Chang, my friend from my sorority. Seeing a familiar face from back home was the best feeling in the world, and I was much more peppy and excited to take on the day after that! (Okay, jokes... I still was pretty anti-social and just wanted to sleep).

So finally...SIESTA! I slept for 2 1/2 hours today and I'm also not ashamed of that. I think that's a record for me. BOOM. Try to beat that one, I dare you. I was kind of disappointed though because my friend Tori had messaged me about going out and buying things like shampoo and conditioner at the market, but alas I was asleep, so no shampoo buying for Leah.

My group met back up at 7 and we went on the tour of our neighborhood. It was so beautiful! Check out my pics above ;) I felt uncomfortable taking a lot of pictures with my iPhone because  I know they get snatched quicker than you can say Oprah, so I sneakily took out my phone, snapped a quick pic, and threw it back into my purse. The photos may not be stellar, but it's the memories that count people. I'm not trying to be a photographer here.

We then had tapas again, but our group decided not to go out tonight because our day is supposed to be really hard tomorrow. Ain't nobody got time for that. But, good news was that when I woke up this morning, all of the bugs from last night were dead on top of my suitcase (yay!) Bad news? Despite closing my door before turning on my bedroom light, a new swarm of insects has raided my room again tonight. Guess who's getting their protein tonight?

Until next time mis amigos,

Leah

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

El Primer Día

Today is the start of the next four months of my life. I'm actually living and studying in Sevilla, Spain and it is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities I've ever been to.

Now let's be real.

I'm homesick, I miss my friends, I miss the food I grew up with, I miss American culture. But hey, I guess that's why they call it culture shock. They wouldn't give a name to something that didn't actually exist.

After hours and hours of waiting for planes, planes being delayed, long layovers, confusing flight attendants and three cups of red wine on my flight to Madrid (FREE I must add, and after which I completely passed out), I made it to the Sevilla airport only to discover that one of my bags didn't make the trip. I think I must have psychic abilities, because I told everyone I met throughout the day that at least one of my bags wouldn't make it because I have the worst luck ever. Sure enough, the bag with my shower stuff, face wash, toothbrush, clothes, shoes... you know, essential travel items, didn't make it. Yay Spain.

Then I meet up with my CIEE group (well, just the advisors at this point because I was the last one left after my baggage struggles) and came to another astounding realization. Understanding and speaking Spanish after being asleep for a few hours is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It sounded like everyone was mumbling Chinese to themselves, to which I responded with the worst case of Spanglish possible. I mean, it was pretty cool I guess. Then I hopped into a Taxi and away I went to my homestay location! (Side note: thank goodness my parents gave my iPhone the international plan before I left, because I forgot to print out the address for my homestay and if I hadn't been able to access my email... well, I'd pretty much be screwed).

My homestay family is AWESOME. My "parents" are actually 29 years old, and their names are Chari and Antonio. They also have a dog named Maya, who decided that throughout lunch it would be a grand idea to lick my foot. The entire time. Non-stop. But she's pretty cool, because dogs aren't your friend based on what language you speak, so no matter how bad I am at Spanish, Maya and I have already become best friends. (Insert "Step Brothers" quote here: "Did we just become best friends?" Yes, Maya. Yes we did.)

After a tour of the house and lunch, I gave my gift to my host family and Chari LOVED the hand towels I gave her. She thought they were beautiful! I struggled to tell her that the reason I gave them to her was because Maryland is known for its seafood, but I gave up halfway through and just sounded dumb. Typical American. But hey, I'm trying!

Then my favorite part of the day: SIESTA! My three hour siesta was difficult because our house has no air conditioning and you can hear the neighbors yelling at each other, but it was nice to spend some quality time alone. It's great because I don't have to pretend like I'm fluent in Spanish when I'm with me, myself, and I. We understand our lack of skills perfectly.

I met up with my CIEE group at 20:00 p.m., and we went to a bar for tapas and drinks. My Spanish has gotten better throughout the day, and I was able to carry a great conversation with Oscar, one of the advisors for the CIEE journalism program in Sevilla. ¡Qué bueno!

After meeting up with our group, it was time to head back to our homes for the night, but I forgot how to get to mine (of course, why would I ever think I would remember?). So one of the advisors brought a group of us back and dropped us each of at the door to our homes, and I was the last one. I had a great conversation with her (in Spanish, of course) and we compared the river in Sevilla to the "L.A. river" which I explained is a complete joke because it's only about 2 feet wide.

I successfully made it into my house and got ready for bed, only to realize that the door to my balcony was left open (because of the lack of air) and I had my bedroom light on... and now a swarm of insects has infested my room. I guess I'm sleeping with the bugs tonight. But shout out to my parents, good ole Bob and Diane, for making me paint our yard fence because it made me get used to encountering ugly bugs. Now I feel like I can somewhat conquer the infestation that's lurking above my head. Also, shout out to Matt Spain for being awesome and having the same last name as the country I'm currently in. Kudos to you, Matt.

Until next time mis amigos,

Leah