A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: krystenj08

Marruecos, Roma, y padres

Oh my!

Ahhh what a delay I have experienced in posting here. I have been all over from place to place and taking full advantage of my relaxation time (aka procrastinating anything, except for relaxing, to the extreme).

Starting with Morocco:
It was a long weekend with many, many hours spent in transit [mostly buses but also a ferry to cross the Strait of Gibraltar].
We saw many interesting things in Morocco and were given the chance to experience a culture that is quite the opposite of our own (ladies, cover your knees and elbows [Morocco is a very conservative country]). There were many different things to see and experience. Many of the small, close-quartered streets had vendor after vendor selling everything ranging from raw meat to fish (much to the delight of the abundance of stray cats that reside in Morocco) to vegetables and so on.
I, of course, was struggling with all the cats we saw. I wanted to personally take care of each and every one of them. Just to give you an idea of the limitless amount of cats present in Morocco:
However, many vendors did share fish with the kitties, so this fact made me very happy.
The first night, we were able to put our feet into the Mediterranean [a first for me!!].
On Saturday, we saw a beautiful cave that opened into the ocean:
On Sunday we rode camels [my goodness, who knew they were so tall! And when they stand/lay back down: they put you at a diagonal!!] Also, boy can those things move!

Rome, Italy
Oh, what a beautiful, wonderful, and altogether marvelous place Rome is. My friend Grace and I had an absolutely fabulous experience during our first trip to Italy. From the get-go, it was a pleasant experience: our taxi driver was a cute old man who understood Spanish and proceeded to answer our never-ending list of questions on ways to say things in Italian. We quickly learned that a conversation between Spanish and Italian, although everyone has to speak clearly and use more basic words, was really quite easy to accomplish. This was a big relief. In fact, we got a lot more use out of our Spanish in Rome than our English [not to say that we didn't use our English at all but Spanish seemed to be more widely understood, so it was usually what we tried first]. We spent the weekend sampling all sorts of delicious food and wine, sightseeing, and shopping. It was incredible! The history of the city simply resonates through just about every inch of it and, of course, not enough can be said about the food. Every single restaurant we tried had something delicious to offer. We made sure to make a full experience out of dinner every night and progressed through the weekend by trying a different type of wine each night, using each waiter's recommendation [Friday-white; Saturday- Rosé; Sunday- red]. Every single wine was also delicious.

We saw every single sight we had on our list, save one [okay, okay- this one was really only on my list: old ruins that have been converted into a famous cat sanctuary] {On a side note, I swear I'm not a weird cat-obsessed person, as much as I seem to be coming off as one in this post; in fact, I'm equally as obsessed with dogs and most other animals, so I'm not sure if that makes me seem better or worse: regardless, I just happen to see/have opportunities to see cats more often on my trips:p}

I have plenty of pictures of Rome that I will add, along with some more details/anecdotes about our trip later this week (I'd like to post more tomorrow but, pending the length of my midterm studying, we shall see).

My parents came to visit me for the past few days [they arrived on Wednesday and left Sevilla yesterday afternoon]. We had a really good time, despite the unusual amount of rain Sevilla appears to be receiving this year. Thursday night we had a little get-together with some of my friends from my program. Everyone really enjoyed being able to hang out at someone's 'place' rather than having to actually go somewhere to hang out [it's not as common here to just invite friends over to your house]. We all also enjoyed eating spicy food [also uncommon in Spain] and good company. Friday, we did lots of wandering about the city. Saturday, my parents and I went on a day adventure to Marbella, which was beautiful despite being a little dreary for the second half of the day. Sunday, my parents were able to meet my host mom and we all had coffee. It was fun to watch them interact with her and I think everyone had a good time. It was amusing to watch my dad, who can communicate effectively in Spanish, struggle with understanding some people when they spoke (those with super-thick Sevillano accents). Of course, I was not laughing at him, per se, but rather thinking back to how much trouble I had deciphering what was being said when I first came here [not to say I always understand everything that is said to me now, not at all, but I have improved significantly]. Here they speak differently and use words differently than they are normally used (for example: dos is often doh'; escuchame= cuchame; and so on). Once you start to pick up on how things are said differently, it is much easier to understand [or if you run into someone that is living in Spain but moved from somewhere in Latin America, my understanding still takes a huge upward swing when this happens]. I found out from my host mom that almost an exact translation of I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you exists in Spanish, and that would apply perfectly here because I understand exactly where he's coming from. Our main problem with the transition is that we did not learn Spanish using Castellano with a Sevillano accent. It just takes an adjustment period [which, unfortunately for me can linger for awhile].

Overall, my parents trip was a success :). They were able to see and experience some of the wonderful parts of Sevilla and Spain.

On another note, I think I now have two intercambio partners, both of which seem like types of people I could really get along with (now if only I could be less shy about speaking!!). My timidness in terms of speaking comes from my limited experience with just making small talk in Spanish but, I suppose, the only way to learn is to just do it: take risks, make mistakes, grow, learn, and enrich.

Posted by krystenj08 14:33 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Si algo puede salir mal, saldrá mal.

Murphy's law, with a Spanish twist.

It has certainly been an eventful week for me. I have made lots of new friends in the past week, from all sorts of different places [some from Sevilla, other parts of Spain, Italia, etc.]. This part has been really exciting!! [Especially being told by one of my Spanish friends that I speak really well, which made me very happy!] However, just like every cloud has a silver lining, there exists a counter-balance to all good things. Unfortunately, this counter-balance involved my wallet getting stolen in a discoteca. Somehow someone managed to get into my zippered clutch resting on my hip and take it without me noticing. Guess that's the perfect place to do it, with so many people around in such dense crowds.

Outside of that little [okay, slightly bigger than 'little'] blip, it was an amazing night where I got to practice my Spanish the entire time!! All that was really stolen was my school ids [I have quite a few, courtesy of this trip], my driver's license [which just means I have to get the big-girl one when I get back, since my other one was pre-21], and 2 of my debit cards [which has only really been a problem because of the ATM machine that took my card before]. I cancelled the debit cards immediately upon arriving home and, also, reported the incident to the Sevilla police outside of the discoteca. They took down my name/address because they said that it was likely, upon realizing the contents, that whoever stole it would just drop it somewhere. With my name and address, they could send it to me. Frustrating that the person stole it and didn't really take anything of use to them, but made my life significantly more difficult for a few days.

But it can be said: Las desgracias nunca vienen solas.

This week, in the lab that I am working in, I got a change to run my own PCR from start to finish and also create the agar gel/run the electrophoresis. This was super exciting for me. Although, I must say micro-pipetting makes me super nervous when someone is watching. It really makes me happy that, although my professor is walking me through the steps, he is really trying to teach me and help me develop my skill-set.

Also, my program has a trip to Morocco planned this weekend (I much prefer the country's name when pronounced in Spanish: Marruecos). I have got a good amount packed but really should get back to packing!! We leave in about an hour! Adios [or as they say in Sevilla: Adio'!]!!

Posted by krystenj08 03:42 Comments (0)

Tread carefully when selecting ATMs at night

But not for the reasons you might expect

On the way home from dinner Thursday, I decided to stop at an ATM that was right along the way, rather than go out of my way to the one I normally go to [granted, it's only very slightly out of my way]. Everything was going as per a usual ATM transaction, until when I thought it asked me if I wanted a receipt (it actually was telling me that the printer wasn't working and asking if I still wanted to proceed). In my defense, it was in the same spot where they always ask you if you want a receipt. I was functioning on auto-pilot so, of course, I read it as I pushed the button and then realized I had cancelled my transaction. What happens next.. oh boy. The usual "please take your card" appeared but did my card? No, definitely not. The machine ate it. Who does this happen to?? Anyway, considering it was quite literally midnight and the bank was closed, my only choice other than dismantling the ATM was to head home. This resulted in a long process of my dad helping me call the bank [me skyping him, him on the phone with them] and repeating all the silly nonsense they need to confirm that I was actually me and not some pretender (multiple times, mind you). Finally, we cancelled that card. Phew!

I'm excited because my friend's intercambio may have a friend that would be up for intercambio, since the school doesn't understand me at all. My intercambio never responded to my email, which I sent on the first day, or my text message, which I sent about a week after the email. I went in later in the day that I sent the text and they said that they would get in contact with him and get back to me. Never happened [this was maybe 2 weeks ago]. A few days ago, they emailed us saying that if we want a new intercambio, we need to email them before the following day because after that they aren't assigning any new ones. Of course, I immediately emailed them. The response I received said "here are the details of your intercambio" and (can you guess??) they sent me the same guys information. I'm not sure if they intended that to be a new one or thought maybe that somehow I had lost his information. I have no idea. I, again, immediately responded to tell them I think there was some sort of misunderstanding and that I had already tried to contact him with no response. I told them that I would like to be assigned a new intercambio. I received no response :(. So, I must strike off on my own on the quest for an intercambio [should be interesting].

In other news, I have somehow misplaced my hairbrush. Now let me tell you, this is extremely annoying. Luckily for me, my hair is short enough to comb through with my fingers. However, I am at a loss as to where it could be! My room is rather organized and it seems strange that it would be lost. Perhaps it is folded into a pile of clothes somehow, who knows.

Posted by krystenj08 06:45 Comments (0)

The Rain in Spain

Falls heavily when it chooses to fall in Sevilla

Sorry for the brief hiatus from blog writing. I had my cousin come visit, we went to Cadiz and had a blast enjoying the wonderfully weather. I am also sufficiently more tan. I am actually amazed at how much tanner I am. The equivalent of getting this tan back home would take maybe a week or two at a beach (starting with a decent summer base-tan). I actually got super tan in two days. Cadiz was wonderful, the sun stays up until maybeeee 8:30 there, so we were on the beach till at least 7 both days. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

Also, before the trip to Cadiz [Friday afternoon], we went to wander around [got lost again -.-] and found a new area with shops, which was interesting and new. We didn't do very much shopping but it was fun to find a new place [if I can ever find my way back there]. We also found a lovely place to sit by the river, which we did because I was getting massive blisters from the shoes that I was wearing [again! I don't think my feet have ever experienced this much walking in new-ish shoes]. We made friends with a hilarious guy who we could barely communicate with. After some time, we figured out why I had trouble understanding his seemingly fluent Spanish: he was Romanian. He spoke Spanish very well but with a thick accent, which I struggled with. He jumped in the river [not sure that's advisable] as did his friend. We think his friend only spoke Romanian and French and, therefore, did not try to communicate with us very much. He asked us how to say the word 'sucio in English [in reference to the water] and we told him "dirty", to which he repeated something that could only resemble "gurgitgty". He also had trouble pronouncing my name [it came out "kwethen" or something like that]. I would say this could have been normal, as I know absolutely nothing about the Romanian language. The only problem with that was he pronounced Cristal just fine and a few 'd' words as well. I didn't understand it but it was quite entertaining and he obviously enjoyed that it made us laugh because he every once in awhile would screech it, just to watch us dissolve into giggles. At one point, he also confused the new 'words' that he had learned and started pointing at the water and saying his version of my name, which also provided a minute or so where I couldn't exactly breathe because I was laughing so hard. They were super friendly although our communication was very limited.

Of course, immediately upon returning I started to feel a little off and then, come Tuesday, I felt horrendous. I didn't go to classes Tuesday or Wednesday. Actually, to be more clear, did not even leave the apartment. Although, now I feel much, much better and I'm so glad. I treated myself to two days of laying in bed watching the first two seasons (well, the episodes I hadn't seen) of Covert Affairs. It was some good home-style comfort food [for the soul]. Just watching it made me feel better. My host mom was super sweet and gave me medicine and tea, all sorts of things to try and make me feel better. I was slightly frustrated by how much she wanted to chat with me while I was sick, as it only made me feel more sick trying to concentrate on Spanish, but I know it was all good-intentions and I appreciated her concern.

I am currently sitting in the library of the university typing this blog entry because I have a break between my two classes that I have today. It's actually kind of funny because my Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days when I have my English-speaking classes and Mondays/Wednesdays I have my Spanish-speaking classes. Today, it is pouring, which is interesting to see, considering it is only rumored to rain about 5 days a year here. I will celebrate it as something I get to see of Sevilla that I may have missed out on entirely :).

I'm also super excited because my boyfriend has notified me that he will be coming to visit at the end of October, so he'll get to be here for his birthday!!! Also, I believe he will be here to celebrate the anniversary of when we first met, which marks the beginning of our four years together (cheesy, I know :p we don't celebrate too many things but this is one for sure).

To make things even better, my parents said they're planning on coming to visit in mid-October :). Being sick helped me to realize just how much I missed home and the comfort of it all.

A different country is strange, refreshing, and exhilarating but also confusing, frustrating, and exciting.

Above all, life is about immersing yourself in the unknown and making it known. Different is only different when you don't yet understand it.

Posted by krystenj08 03:17 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

The only way to find anything in Sevilla

Is to get good and lost.

The past few days have been busy. My cousin flew in from Denmark to visit on Wendesday, pretty late. I had class, of course, in which nothing exciting occurred. I found out that I am not able to actually achieve a Spanish 'minor' while here because of one course, which is "must" be taken at my school. So long to that plan, I will have to stick to being extremely science oriented I suppose (majors: Biology, Neuroscience; minor: Chemistry). I have no problem with it but was hoping for a Spanish minor as well. The bright side of this is that I don't need take 5 classes and can relax with four, which is perfect for adventures around Sevilla.

Last night we went out to Buddha to dance [which was super fun and Thursday nights there's no cover charge] as well as started the night with some Agua de Sevilla. I'm not exactly sure what's in it but it seems like a Spanish version of the Long Island Iced Tea[however, much more orange creamsicle themed, complete with whipped topping]. We also got to see some Flamenco there, which was nice because it was so authentic, more geared to locals that tourists [i.e. no host who is multi-lingual, in fact no one to announce the dances at all or explain them]. On our way in, a nice old man warned us how hot it was inside the building, which he was right. He was excited to talk to us, although confused both my cousin and I for German. That's a new one for me. He told us where he was from Huelva and I asked him about Doña Ana [pronounced here as one word: Doñana], which is a nature reserve I would really like to visit. He was super excited that I knew of it and then started speaking much, much quicker. Needless to say, it was a fun encounter with a semi-local (local as in Andalusian, although not specifically from Sevilla).

After that, we wandered our way over to Buddha, which was disappointingly mainly Americans except for a few Spaniards who were rather funny. I made a friend who wants to meet for intercambio (so we can both practice our languages we want to learn), so hopefully that will pan out! Funny moment: one of the people we met last night, out of the blue just picked me up really high in the air [extremely random but hilariously unexpected].

I had a meeting this morning with my Biochemistry professor, he told me about the basics of their goals are in his lab. It's actually more closely related to neuroscience than I had originally thought, which is very exciting. He says the first two weeks, he will spend helping me get oriented around the lab and learning how to do all the methodical stuff that I haven't learned yet. Then, he's going to give me my own project:). To which, I had a secretsupernerd moment and did a little dance on the inside. It seems like he will be very helpful to work with and that I will learn a lot working in his lab. We decided on Thursdays after siesta for lab work, however I think he wants me to come back again to see the different portions in the building. I'm just not sure when that will be, I suppose I will find out Tuesday :D.

More fun planned today, as per usual!

Life: live it, feel it, and do as much as you can with it.

Posted by krystenj08 01:05 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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