1 week down…40 to go

Naturally, there are about a million things running through my head after one week of being in Sevilla.  Luckily, since this is my third time in Spain I am not dealing with frustration from things like culture shock or language barriers, but I am dealing with a different sort of shock.  I seem to have one recurring thought spiraling through my head each day:

This is not a vacation.

No, this is and will continue to be my life for the next 9 or 10 months.  Admittedly, the last week has felt somewhat like a vacation as it will filled with orientation sessions, guided  tours, and a stay in a swanky hotel, but on Friday I moved into my home stay where I will be living for the next four weeks and reality is slowly starting to settle in.

After talking to some other program participants I actually feel quite lucky in regards to my living situation.  Myself and another girl from the program are placed in a quiet apartment in a great location with two fantastic people.  We are living with a young couple who are probably somewhere in their 30s and we communicate entirely in Spanish.  Compare this to living with a 60+ year old woman and her husband whose daily activities include sitting shirtless on the couch and chain smoking cigarette after cigarette after cigarette…ew.  Oh, we also live with this little cutie-

Her name is Pantera (pahn-tehr-a) which in English means “panther”.  Ana, the lady we live with actually found her in the trash on the street last week.  Can you believe someone could throw this cute little kitty away?  In reality, the situation is all too common not only in Spain but in many other countries around the world.  We live near a popular plaza and every night I see the same starved dogs running around searching for food.  It’s pretty sad, but I’m happy that Pantera was lucky enough to find a loving home.

Tomorrow I start my Spanish classes at Clic, a well known language academy here in Sevilla.

I will be attending class 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for the next month.  Other things on my to-do list this week include buying a Spanish cell phone and visiting a few museums I have yet to see.  I don’t exactly have an internet connection in my apartment which will make blogging kind of hard, but I’ll figure something out and be sure to keep everyone updated.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures to recap the week- and if you can’t tell from the pictures of the flamenco show, it’s been hot here.  Like 100-110 degrees hot…oh, and no air conditioning either.  I now understand why the Spanish take a full month of vacation in August to go to the beach…

View from hotel balcony

Tapas at the hotel

La Giralda

Flamenco Show

Minimalist Me

In approximately 29 hours I will be on a plane to Dallas, Texas.  From there I will be boarding another flight to Madrid, Spain, where I will then board my third and FINAL flight to Sevilla, Espana. At approximately 1pm  on August 23 I will arrive in Sevilla and officially begin my next adventure.

Sunrise in Sevilla

I am a crazy mix of all sorts of contradictory feelings right now.  Happy, sad, nervous, excited, anxious, relaxed…excited, excited, excited!  I really can’t believe I am leaving tomorrow- This week came and went so fast!

Amazingly, I’m all packed up…

I don’t know how I did it, but I did! It feels pretty good to have my life all tucked away into a suitcase and a backpack.  I think it’s safe to say I’ve begun my “minimalist stage”.

I’m even pretty excited about my outfit for the plane ride(s).  I’m trying not to think about how gross I am going to feel after all those hours of sitting in the same clothes breathing recycled plane air, but for now, my clothes are clean and comfy and I think they will work out perfectly for the trek across the pond.  I kept it basic with some leggings, a long v-neck t-shirt, a sweater, and my teal canvas shoes 🙂

Well, that’s all she wrote!  From here on out I will be blogging from the lovely region of Andalucia, Spain- I hope you’re ready for my adventures!

Hasta luego, USA!

Question:  What could you ABSOLUTELY NOT leave home without when packing for a long trip?

For me, it’s my workout shoes and my electric toothbrush.  I know, I know, but ever since I started using an electric toothbrush I hate the way my teeth feel after using a regular one.  They don’t feel clean enough and it really irritates me.  Don’t get me wrong, I can go a weekend without it, but 10 months?  I feel like my teeth would fall out…

The Consulate- Part II

Woo!  I got my passport back with my visa firmly affixed on the inside!  The trip to Chicago was possibly the shortest trip I’ve ever taken- I drove there and back in less than  24 hours!

Helloooooooo Consulate!

Since the Chicago trip I had my last day of work, packed my apartment, and moved all my belongings home to Colorado.  The last week has definitely been a whirlwind, but I’m happy to be home and have the next few days to catch my breath before things start to get even more eventful.

Ahh, it’s good to be home…

Beautiful, humidity free weather, clean, fresh air, altitude headaches….oh, and the smells!  It sounds weird, but I always notice the way ‘Rado smells. It’s like a mixture between fresh, crisp air, pine trees, and wildflowers…I’m tellin ya, there’s nothing quite like it!

For your personal amusement I’ve decided to include a few pictures regarding my packing situation.  Here is what I plan to fit everything I’ll need for the next 10+ months in:

That would be (1) carry-on sized roller suitcase, and (1) small backpacking backpack. I tried to get the medium sized backpack, but the only size that properly fit my pint sized frame was the small…TYPICAL!

For further amusement, let’s do a little comparison here:

See the one on the left?  When I studied in Spain a couple of years ago for only FIVE months, I brought that baby AND another suitcase that was the same size along with me.  Not to mention whatever ridiculous sized item I had for a carry-on.

Are you laughing yet?  Hey, you live and you learn, right?!  Needless to say, I had a hell of a time trying to lug around 2 suitcases that were almost bigger than I was last time.  Lesson learned.  This time around, I’d much rather sacrifice space for my sanity.

T- 6 days and counting…

Des Moines or Bust!

I can’t believe I am leaving Des Moines in a week! I feel like I’ve totally made a life for myself here and now I’m just going to pick up and leave it all behind.   In reality, it’s not like this is the first (or last!) time I’ll be leaving a place I got used to calling “home”, but as I start to pack up my beloved apartment and say good-bye to my friends and everything I’ve known for the last four years, I can’t help but get just a little sentimental!  In honor of my departure, I’ll leave you with a round-up of some of my favorite things about Des Moines..

1.  Drake University

Let’s face it, without Drake I would have never, NEVER come to Des Moines, let alone stay for four years.  When they say college will be the best years of your life they aren’t kidding! While my education may have cost a pretty penny (thanks, Dad!), the friends, memories, and connections I’ve made here really are priceless.  Drake will always hold a special place in my heart.

2.  The Downtown Farmer’s Market

Mmmmmm.  I love food.  I love food even more when I’m buying it off the street or from the back of someone’s truck.  Seriously.

3.  The East Village/Capital

Does Des Moines have one gorgeous capital building or what?!  The East Village, along with the rest of the Des Moines for that matter has undergone a tremendous transformation in the years that I’ve lived here.  This historic district went from being dead, deserted, and forgotten to being a thriving cultural center where you can find everything from fine dining to coffee shops, thrift stores to boutiques, and gay bars to dive bars.  Long live the EV!

4.  Downtown

What can I say, I’m a city girl.  I’ll make do with what I have….even if it means having just one lonely skyscraper…

5.  4th Street

Ok so technically this is part of Downtown, but it’s hands down my absolute favorite place to be.  So many memories here.  From concerts to burlesque shows, martini nights, tattoo excursions, $2 cans of PBR, and last but not least, Fong’s!  Oh how I will miss slathering Siracha on slices of pizza that are bigger than my face at 2 am…

So there it is.  Just a few of the things I’ve learned to love about Des Moines.

Good-bye corn!

PS-  I got some GREAT news today!  My visa is ready to be picked up in Chicago!  Stay tuned, I’ll be heading to the Windy City next week!