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Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Never Too Late to Update!

So I may have noticed that I haven't updated in about 2 weeks...
And I may be lacking a blog post about my weekend in Portugal a while back...

But you know what I say to that?


Life goes on, and clearly if I haven't been updating my blog, that means I've been having SO MUCH FUN that I haven't even have time to take 10 minutes out of my day and update on my life abroad. (Well, at least I like to tell myself that's the reason that I haven't updated).

However, I will not let myself forego blogging about Morocco. In fact, I made a video about Morocco which you can watch below, if:

A) Too lazy to read the remainder of this blog post, and like the majority of America, you look to visual forms of news and entertainment
B) Want to know more about my life and my experiences abroad

(I hope you choose option B).

So, Morocco. It's been a week since I took my first ever trip to Africa, so the details will be a little shallow. However, I will try my best to give a concise yet descriptive experience of my short 3 day excursion to Morocco.
Friday: I had to wake up at 5 in the morning. I mean, hey, that's cool for some people, but I am not a morning person if you didn't already know. So, after grabbing the lunch that my host family made for me, I trudged off on my 40 minute walk to the bus where the rest of my group was meeting up. After a 3 hour bus ride and 1 hour long ferry boat ride, we arrived in Tangires! The second that I could see land from the ferry boat was one of the coolest moments in my life, because I realized that I was finally going to be able to say I have been to Africa. By the way, I HAVE BEEN TO AFRICA. There, I said it. Kind of cool. 
We spent our weekend in Chefchaouen (also known as Chaouen), a picturesque city in northwest Morocco. For the weekend, our group got split up into pairs and we stayed with a host family. I got paired up with my friend Tori from my program (of course) and we got placed with the sweetest family in all of the land. Shout out to my 17 year-old host sister Xàymooaà and her family for taking us in for the weekend! Here's a picture of us:
Xàymooaà really opened my eyes to the beauty of learning different languages. She loves speaking English so much that she purposely speaks English when she's with her friends so they can learn more. At one point, she told me that English runs through her veins. Wow, I am so impressed by her desire for knowledge and fluency. She's been studying English for only 4 years, and she puts everyone in the Sevilla study abroad program to shame in comparison with our Spanish. Her 21 year-old older sister is fluent in English as well, so it was awesome to be able to speak with them. However, our host parents for the weekend only spoke a little Spanish and Arabic, so we would speak Spanish to the host parents, English to our hosts, and they would speak Arabic to each other. Lots of languages going on that weekend.
When we first arrived to our home for the weekend, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful sofas they had. The people of Morocco have a gift for interior design! I plan to take some of their ideas for my future house/apartment. After we set down our suitcases, we had a tea party on the rooftop. Moroccan tea is hands down the best tea I have ever and will ever have in my life, and something that I unfortunately will most likely never be able to replicate. Plus, it didn't hurt to have the mountains surrounding us as we ate our cookies and drank our tea (I may have had at least one of each type of cookie...Xàymooaà's sister made the cookies, so of course I just had to try them. No shame). I also learned how to say thank-you in Arabic, and created dance moves to help me remember the words. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly how it's spelled in Arabic, but it is pronounced like "Shoe-crawn." We watched the sun set behind the Moroccan mountains, we got to try on the traditional Moroccan dresses and head scarfs, and I felt like I was living a fairytale. I may have also broken the shower nozzle off the wall of my host family's bathroom that evening.

 Saturday: We woke up on Saturday and had to meet up with our group and actually participate in educational activities (such a bummer to actually learn while studying abroad, right?). Our task for the day was to find the exact location of the pictures we had in our hands and take a replica picture. (Don't worry, it was confusing for us too...) This is the picture that resulted in my attempt to complete the activity:

After that we had a HUGE traditional Moroccan lunch that was beyond amazing at a family's home. It was phenomenal food, and I may have eaten 6 cookies. Just maybe. Again, no shame. After lunch we took a quick snooze (well, just me actually) at our host family's house, and then it was off to shop afterwards! I didn't end up buying anything because I started to feel sick while we were out, so I was in a negative mood for shopping. Plus, I was too preoccupied with all of the kittens roaming around the streets. Take a look at one of the cutest kittens who was loving her photo shoot:

After shopping we were supposed to attend a concert of traditional Moroccan music, but the concert was unfortunately cancelled, so we all went and got tea at a local café and then headed home for the evening. It was a fairly early evening because the reality hit us: we had to get up early in the morning and say goodbye to our host families and head back home.

Sunday: Bags were packed, sad goodbyes were given, and an hour later we were off to the city of Tetouan. One of our guides surprised us with these delicious juice beverages when we first arrived to the city, we were a lovely blessing because at this point we were dead tired. After quickly downing our juices, we went on a tour of the city and saw lifestyles much different than our own. Some of the city's smells made me want to vomit (especially all of the sheep skin) and some of the things people tried to sell to you were pure junk, but being in Tetouan widened my perspectives on life and took me out of my comfort zone. And for that I am forever grateful.

After bopping around Tetouan for most of the day, we hopped back into the vans and travelled to a beautiful hotel where we had a fantastic 3 course meal. It was heaven. We were able to relax and enjoy the sun for a bit before heading back into the vans and finally departing for Tangires again to catch our ferry boat. Only we missed it, so we got to hang out at the ferry boat station for more than 2 hours while waiting for another one. Because that's always fun.

I know I have left out more than 90% of the weekend's details, but overall, my trip to Morocco was unforgettable and an experience that has forever impacted my life. I would like to take this time to give a shout out to the good ole rents for helping me fund my study abroad experience, because without your help, I would never be able to have these life changing adventures. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Until next time,


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Welcome to Daily Life As a Spaniard!

I wanted to give you guys a quick glimpse of my life in Spain, so I threw together this video using my Sony Bloggie. Sorry that some of the videos are filmed vertically, I was filming the wrong way with my camera (Sorry not sorry). Enjoy!

My name is Leah Channas, and today I burned my hand which was holding my tea while trying to take a cute fall picture. You know why? It's not fall here in Sevilla. It's 80 degrees outside.

Other than my occasional longings for the fall season, I've become quite accustomed to daily life as a Spaniard. I've developed a routine, made friends that I can laugh and have fun with, and grasped a better understanding of the Spanish language. I even run by the river every day (Okay, so it's only my second day of doing that...but that's two more days than I thought I would have been running). I'm very happy to be spending my semester in Spain, and I am going to have a huge appreciation for foreigners in America when I return home.

It's funny, because when we're home in America, we don't realize that foreigners are judged all of the time. Spending my semester in Europe has given me a huge wake up call, because every day when I walk down the street people stare and judge me. But when I start to talk to these people in their native language, they are usually more understanding and supportive in my attempts to grow accustomed to their culture. By coming to Spain with an open mind, I've been able to meet a lot of interesting natives and learn so many important life lessons. I've only been here one month, but I feel like I've grown up so much. I'm not saying that my life here in Spain is anywhere near perfect, but no matter where you live your life will have its quirks.

Take my "Literatura y Cocina" course, for example. I've said before that the lectures are unfortunately very boring at times (all the time), but today was finally a cooking day! Our class cooked "La cola de torro" (Bull's tail...which I didn't eat of course) and I really enjoyed everything that I learned today. It was a great class! My friend Savannah and I made "arroz con aceite, tomate y sal" (rice with oil, tomato and salt) and it was delicious. Absolutely fantastic. Plus, I even managed to snag this wondrous photo of my professor, and if you look closely, you can see him creeping on me out of the corner of his eye...

(He's holding the bull's tail)
And look again...
What a champ.
I've also enjoyed trying out different food options while living here. They might not always be healthy, but you know what I say? When in Sevilla... (There's nothing else I add. I just say 'When in Sevilla')
Today, my friend Tori and I went to this fantastic little Spanish bakery where all of their baked goods are homemade. Mm, yummy! Today I got a chocolate filled donut, and I thought I was walking on the clouds. It was so good! And did I care when people stared at me when I had chocolate all over my face? Of course not. I was too busy enjoying this donut:

I also am OBSESSED with my host family's dog, Maya. Maya reminds me of my dog at home, Lil' Bill. Maya has terrible allergies and likes to go underneath my bed so that she can rub her back up against the bedpost. It ends up rocking the whole bed back and forth and meanwhile, she can't breathe as it is, so she's making a racquet with her snorting as well. She's also photo shy, and hates to have her photo taken. Believe me, I've been trying to get a good picture of her for the past month. But I managed to snag this beauty of her RIGHT AFTER she finished scratching herself under my bed (aka prime photo opportunity):

Notice how she won't even look my way. I think she's embarrassed that she has allergies.

Highlight of the Day: Today, my friend Savannah broke her shoe, so she had to walk literally across the entire city of Sevilla with one shoe on, and one bare foot. Her foot was completely black by the time she reached her homestay. I'd rather not think of the diseases that could be lurking on the streets of Sevilla.

Quote of the Day: "Want to just sit on the curb and eat pumpkin pie?"

Until next time,