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Journals from Spain - Center for Cross-Cultural Studies

2009-10-27 Travels with CC-CS

Hola! Life here in Spain is continuing to go well overall, and it has definitely been an adventure so far! The time really seems to be flying by for all of us. We have all fallen into a routine with our classes and other activities for the most part, which makes the weeks go by even faster. Anyway, for this journal entry I thought I would update you on the process of learning Spanish here and on some of the trips we have gone on since we came to Spain. I realized several weeks ago that I really do love Spanish and learning how to speak it and use it. I am no longer afraid (most of the time) of appearing stupid or of saying the wrong thing. Grammar classes have suddenly become much more interesting simply because of one fact: I am using Spanish all the time. Our first three weeks here we had what is called the Intensive Period where we took only two classes, one grammar class for about 3 hours five days a week and a Cultural Realities class once a week (this one lasts for the whole semester). It was so incredibly exciting for me to realize that the words we learned in our class in the morning I could use in the afternoon in my house, on the street, in stores, etc. The hardest thing about trying to learn a language at home is that we dont use it enough. I know that people tried to tell me that time and time again, but I didnt fully comprehend that until I came here and began to live in the middle of a culture and a language that is not my own. It is difficult to speak in Spanish all the time with our American friends, but we do a pretty good job of trying to speak in Spanish with each other. There are times, though, especially when we are missing home or feeling very emotional that English is the only language in which we can truly express ourselves. I have really learned to value both Spanish and English and just language in general through this experience. You dont really understand the importance of languages until you have to try to communicate in one that you are not fluent in. I do not have the time or space to tell you about all of the trips we have gone on so far, but I will give you a few highlights. Our first weekend in Spain we had the opportunity to go on a short vacation on Saturday to Huelva (a beach on the Atlantic Ocean). Before we got there we visited a monastery that is called El Monasterio de Santa Maria de La Rbida." Christopher Columbus spent a lot of time there while he was waiting to hear about his voyage to America. There was a lot of history wrapped up in that little monastery. We then went to a really neat place nearby that had life-size replicas of the three ships Columbus used (La Pinta, La Nia, and Santa Maria). We had a lot of fun exploring the boats, which were actually quite small. After we had a sufficient amount of time to explore, we took off in the bus to the beach and had a fun time relaxing. We have also had some other day trips (and one overnight trip) through CC-CS to various places in Spain. We have been to Crdoba, a city close to Sevilla where we saw a palace with exquisite gardens, a small synagogue, and a mosque-turned cathedral. It was very interesting to see part of a Catholic cathedral built in the midst of a mosque. We got some pretty cool pictures of those places. The history in this part of the world is really fascinating, especially the history of the time when Jews, Christians, and Muslims all lived together peacefully in the same city (before the Catholic Christians re-conquered the area). We have also been to Mrida, Cceres, and Trujillo, cities farther north of Sevilla with some really fascinating old buildings. Trujillo was also the birthplace and home of many conquistadores, including Francisco Pizarro. We got to see a lot of Roman history (including part of a Roman road!) in Mrida, a medieval-era neighborhood in Cceres, and (my favorite part) a castle in Trujillo. There was nothing inside the castle, but the walls all had walkways on them and the view from all sides was incredible. There is a lot more to recount to you all about Spain, but I will have to write more in my next journal. All in all, I am very, very thankful for this opportunity. I have had a wonderful time so far and have adjusted to the different hours by now (lunch at 2:30 and dinner at 9:30 with a siesta in the afternoon). My host family is wonderful, and I am starting to meet Spanish people through many different circumstances, which is great. Sometimes I cant believe that I am really here in Spain, and I know that I want to make the most of the time I have. Hasta luego! Sierra Stopper

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