Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gotta love three-day weekends!

FIVE days have gone by and I haven't written. That's really unusual! The truth is, I have just had sooo much going on, it's ridiculous. So, I'll do it by day -- and put the day as the heading.

(01/19) Wednesday
First day of classes! The girls and I woke up at 7ish to get ready for school! Too bad no mothers were here to take a cute "first day of school" picture of the four of us! :) I decided to look like a noob-American (I guess) and wear my big Clemson sweatshirt, jeans and wallabees -- much to my roommates dismay, I might add. I was a walking, "HEY LOOK! THERE'S AN AMERICAN!" hahahahaha. At least I was comfortable and warm, though; it was sooo cold out that day!

In Alicante, there are 1.8 million people; 26,000 of these are students at the University of Alicante (where I am attending school) -- which is actually located in a town called San Vicente.
This university used to be an army base, and many of its buildings, though redone, are the same structures they once used as a control tower for the jet planes, the storage sheds for the planes, barracks for the army men to live in, etc. It's pretty neat, all of the history that floats around that place! Well, to continue about the first day on campus, we all got on buses and headed to the campus on our own for the first time. We were supposed to meet at the control tower (center of campus; also, picture to the right -->) so that we could find out what classes we were in -- and who our teachers were going to be. I got all of my classes with MaryAnn and Krista - except my business spanish class; they are taking dancing instead. The profesores (professors) met us outside of the control tower and took us to the classrooms we were going to be in the rest of the semester. I LOVE LOVE LOVE our first professor, Carmen Medio Simon; she's awesome! She's sooo energetic and fun! She loves to smile, laugh, and teach. WONDERFUL?! I hope so!! Then after that class from 9 - 11:10am, we had a short 25 minute break where we found the lunch hall and I microwaved my Nutrisystem while the other girls bought something like pizza... not sure exactly what it was. haha.
The second professor, John Sanderson, picked us up at the control tower at 11:35am for our Panorama de Cinema class. Supposedly this is a good class... I don't know what I'm going to think of it, yet. I could barely understand a single word he said in class because he spoke so quickly. Lord, help me in this class. Basically - we have to watch movies, analyze them and then write essays (all in Spanish, of course).
After this class MaryAnn and Krista get to leave but Caitlin and I still have a third class. She's in the cinema class with us, I forgot to add. MaryAnn and Krista went home... Caitlin and I went walking around until our next class. We explored the library, the cafeterias, the post office, the bookstore and then a furniture store across the street just for kicks and giggles. I am not sure what extra class Caitlin takes on Mondays and Wednesdays, but I have to take Spanish for Business. The professor for that is Mrs Inés Martínez. This one will be a beneficial class towards my education, but not fun.

So my class schedule is as follows:
  • Spanish Composition I & II [M/W 9 - 11:10] [T/TH 9:30 -11:40]
  • Panorama de Cinema [M/W 11:35 - 12:55]
  • Spanish for Business [M/W 2:40 - 4:00]
  • Conversación III [T/TH 12:05 - 1:00]

I've discovered that this school is a lot like American schools... in the mannerisms of the people, I mean. The only difference is that when you're walking around, you don't hear a single bit of English... the way people hang out, talk, walk around, study on the lawn, etc. all reminds me of Clemson. Ohhh I miss dear ol' Tiger Town.

After school, the roommates and I went to the market (again? yes..) to get some vegetables to cook with the chicken we were planning for dinner. We passed the meat section and Caitlin and MaryAnn took a cute picture (considering MaryAnn LOVES meat and Caitlin is a vegetarian):
Dinner this night was AWESOME! Again, we used the mysterious spices from the cabinet (may I correct myself... MARYANN AND KRISTA used the mysterious spices from the cabinet) and cooked sauteed chicken, rice and vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots).
Considering Caitlin is a vegetarian, she made the most amusing sandwich instead of eating our chicken. French bread, cheese, olive oil, vegetables and rice.... hmmm... She says it was good - I'll believe her :)

Skype that night with Papa, Carolyn, and Mom.... and I detailed our kitchen for 4 hours because I was sick of how dirty it was. Now-- it's bleached and as clean as a whistle! I'm no longer afraid to eat in there :)

(01/20) Thursday
Second day of classes and the roommates and I were almost late. We underestimated the time that it would take the bus to get to school so we were walking in the class AS the class was supposed to begin. Carmen wasn't there though and this caused for a weird first class. Instead of having just one substitute, every forty minutes we had a different sub! So... 3 teachers for the first class all trying to teach the same lesson - yup, interesting. We were in here from 9:30 - 11:40... we learned about ser and estar and we also (during our 10 minute pausa aka: break) found an automatic coffee maker. PRETTY sweet. It drops down a cup, makes the coffee, then drops down a spoon and sugar in the cup of coffee, then opens the little door for you to take the concoction. We have some awesome engineers in this world now-a-days don't we?!
At lunch, I had another Nutrisystem. The other girls didn't eat today for some reason.
We hurried off to the central tower for our newest professor to pick us up and take us to conversation class: Mr. Santiago Martínez. I like his class; he's a lot like Carmen: funny, vibrant, energetic, and will speak in words that he knows we'll understand -- for now. We introduced ourselves and talked about our lives and then we had to partner up with someone in the class and interview them. My partner was Abby Murray -- one of the girls that I had gotten to know so far on this trip because she's one of the four girls that lives across the hall from our apartment. YAY. I like her :) oober sweet and seems like a lot of fun. She's from Maryland and actually (this is directed at Scott Shuffield) lives in College Park. Small world!
After class a few of us from class (who basically all have the same classes) went to the bookstore and bought our books for the semester. A total of 104 U.S. dollars bought books for 18 hours worth of class.... take that America! I think my last semester at Clemson was around 600$. Now that I've seen what other people around the world pay for books - I'm not going to be too kind to the people of book stores in the United States... what a bargain it is here!

We got home and then MaryAnn, Krista and I decided to go on a run. None of us had been to the beach yet and we wanted to go see what it was like - and what better way to get there than on a jog?! So we put on the goofiest outfits that Spaniards would see (meaning exercise pants, bright shorts and t-shirts, and tennis shoes) and sprinted off towards the beach. We were correct - we got stares from EVERYONE on the streets. Apparently people don't run around the city here - that's what gyms are for. B O R I N G !!!! AND guess what!? They have separate gyms for girls and boys! The school gym is obviously just for guys because in our time off the other day, we went to check it out and there was like MAYBE one girl in there and only two treadmills. Not cool sexist people... I do not approve. Now what am I supposed to do with my two extra hours of break time on Mondays and Wednesdays?! They do have a pool, however, and I brought my one-piece and goggles.... ha.
Back to the topic of today's run! We took a good number of pictures along the way because today was just so wonderfully pretty! When we were taking one of the pictures on the beach this guy and his girlfriend walked up to us and said, in almost perfect English, "Oh, you're from Clemson?" WEIRD! Well, we did all have on Clemson shirts, so I guess it wasn't THAT weird but after talking to them we found out that the guy had studied at Charleston back in 2008 and visited Clemson once or twice - but he was from France. Once again, small world.

Here's a video clip I took while running... or two video clips :) I show the beach, my roommates and the town around us. ENJOY!

We found a little exercise trail on the beach (not as cool as the one in Myrtle Beach)... but still pretty interesting. MaryAnn saw it first and said, "Oh, those are cute little seats..." haha! Not seats, silly girl... exercise equipment (picture to the left). Sorry the picture quality isn't that fabulous - we were using my iPod to take pictures.

After the run we came home, ate left-overs (more chicken and veggies for me!!! yayy!!!) and then all took showers. No school tomorrow so we were going to finally go out and see what Spainards do on their Thursday nights. The other kids from the program all agreed to meet at the Mexican restaurant two blocks from our apartment for margaritas... and then who knows from there.
The whole "night-life" scene isn't really my thing but I decided to be social and go along with it in order to meet people in the program and experience a new culture -- probably won't be doing that very much after this night's experience.

So, I knew before I even moved here that people don't typically go out until about 1:00am and get home at 7:00am ...... I guess I wasn't thinking about this when I left the house at 11:30pm. I agreed to go from the Mexican restaurant to one of the pubs a few streets over... and from there we all basically separated from one huge group to smaller groups. I didn't want to be alone on the streets so I just kept tagging along making sure that everyone was okay. I finally got tired around 2:00am but couldn't go home because we were so far away from the apartment in an unknown city at 2:00 in the middle of the night. I couldn't walk home alone so I waited until Caitlin and a few others finally got tired as well and walked me home -- we got back at 4:30am because we made sure that everyone (Gab, Alexa, Sarah, and a few others) that walked with us got to their apartments first. I came in and crashed smelling of smoke and fulllyyyy exhausted. I think we ended up going to the Mexican restaurant, two different pubs and then the discoteca from which I finally left. I had a great time up until about two... but then that's where the night should end. I didn't want to get stuck again on the other side of town in a smokey bar, so I decided to stay home on Friday and Saturday (the next two following nights). I'll find my own fun around here for night life. Maybe cooking classes? Dancing classes? Who knows... that's what research and the internet can help with!

(01/21) Friday
Seeing as I got home at 4:30am, I slept until about 2:00PM!! haha - can you blame me? I woke up, showered, and finally felt clean again. I threw in a load of laundry and then ate my breakfast waiting on the other girls to wake up. Caitlin had been up for a while so she and I talked while I ate. MaryAnn and Krista got up at 3:00pm - 30 minutes before we were supposed to be meeting the school at City Hall to go on a tour of the castle. They didn't realize what time it was because as I was walking out of the door to go meet the class MaryAnn was popping maccaroni and cheese into the microwave. I threw it into a to-go cup for her with a plastic spoon and told them we had to sprint in order to make it to City Hall on time; so we were off, running through the streets like mad-women in brightly colored workout clothing again. Funny Americans. :)
We made it to the meeting place as the group was walking off - PERFECT - so we fell in quietly behind. The castle hike was AMAZING!! It was quite a hike though! I'm not exactly sure how high up we were, but I'm sure the pictures could help give you an idea... (this picture is of me sitting on the old castle wall over looking the city of Alicante below.... the Mediterranean is to my left and to my right are the mountains):
This castle was built back in the 700s by the Arabians to help guard their city from anyone trying to attack. It was also used to promote order in the city. Apparently, it was easier to reign from a higher point than somewhere amongst the other buildings in the city. :) I'm sure this place would be GORGEOUS for a sunrise or sunset - that's one of my goals for this semester... to hike up there before one or the other and take loads of pictures!

On the way home we discovered this photographer's gallery... he shoots brides and their weddings and OOOOHHH his shots that were hanging in the window were SO so pretty and cool! In fact, I learned that after a wedding ceremony here, it's basically mandatory that the bride and groom go galivanting around the city with the photographer and the guests of the wedding following them around cheering them on and taking cool pictures. How fun would that be?! And, how come America doesn't have cool rituals like that?

Not much else happened tonight -- we got home around 7:00pm from the hike, I had a Nutrisystem for dinner and the girls took naps. I was editing pictures when they woke up and they were deciding whether or not to go out. I fell asleep at 10:00pm and they hadn't decided yet so when I woke up at 2:00am and walked to the bathroom, it took me by surprise when I saw them both lying asleep in their beds. I guess they weren't as keen on going out as I had thought they were going to be for a Friday night. :)

(01/22) Saturday
Today was sleeping and errand-running day. I slept until 1:00pm (WOW - I guess I was really tired) and then the girls and I got up and went to the Market - again. I was out of milk and I needed plastic spoons that I could take to school to eat my lunches with. We were going to try to get bus passes as well but after walking allllll the way to the station where we were going to have to purchase them, found out they're not open on the weekends. Oh well. We were hungry anyways and I REALLY have a craving for chocolate - seeing as I hadn't had any in a long while - so we went to this little café where I got a chocolate milk-shake (too milky... not thick enough) and FINALLY got to try one of their homemade waffles (gofres). I had been dying to try one to see if they were anything like a Belgian waffle - but unfortunately (or maybe forntuately for my waistline) they weren't even close at being as good. :( We went home shortly afterwards and then watched some TV. There are no English channels here --- ahhh!! But, I guess that's a good learning thing, as well, eh? I caught up with people on Skype and then was in bed again at an early time this night as well. The girls went out tonight... had people over at the house until 1:00am and then they left. I was asleep and didn't hear them come in but they said they didn't get back til about 7:00am this night. WOW...

(01/23) Sunday
Today we planned trips, did homework, layed around the house and cleaned a little bit. I finished my room - FINALLY. I caught up on this blog and I slept - a lot. I don't know what's going on with me -- maybe I'm finally letting my body get the sleep it needs from jet lag and the whole first week of no sleep because of everything that was going on! Here are a few pictures of my room... I need more thumbtacks so I can put more pictures on the walls (and less on the windows haha) but that'll have to come later. The girls went out for seafood tonight but I stayed home, ate a Nutrisystem and did a P90x episode. I'm already tired of spending money over here and it's only been a week.... ahhh oh how expensive it is.
The girls and I have decided we need to find a good church to go to on Sundays. We thought we had found one, but couldn't find a time that it started... which is why we slept in this Sunday. That will be one of my missions for this week, though.

Good night world. I am finally all caught up and you all have had a LOT to read! School comes early and this warm bed (finally) is calling my name.

Here are the links to the photoalbums on facebook... and don't forget! the links to the videos are posted above in this post:


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