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14 posts categorized "Student"

04/18/2011

Excitement

This weekend the weather was just perfect enough to go to the amusement park... Terre Mítica! CIEE was awesome and planned the trip for us... saving the group a ton of money (which with it being three days before spring break, I'm trying to save all money I can). After arriving at the park around 3:00 we quickly hopped to it and tried to ride every ride in the park... honestly not a difficult task, but it was still a really fun time. 206864_10150169240228521_513238520_6557024_4101773_n

We made it back to Alicante just in time to watch El Clásico (Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona) at a local cafetería.  Though I was rooting for Real Madrid and the final score was a tie... the atmosphere of this intense game will be something I will never forget and will truly treasure. Thank goodness there's a re-match on Wednesday when the same two teams play in the King's Cup, I'm already excited.

And with thoughts of Wednesday, I can't not get excited for spring break which starts on Thursday. of course it brings somewhat bitter sweet thoughts with it being very close to the end, but I won't let that damper my spring break in Italy.

Until next time. 

04/07/2011

only a month left?!

It's shocking that we only have a month left, I still feel like I have tons of places I want to see and tons of things I want to do. 

But I'm jumping to panic mode let's keep in the present... this week. So this week the weather was absolutely gorgeous. I've heard from family and friends back home that the weather has been crazy on the east coast, so I can't complain about beach weather. I love being able to bring my homework and a book to the beach, definitely a luxury I don't have in Washington, D.C. at this time.

And after the great weekend getaway CIEE put together for us last weekend to Granada, I'm happy to be home this weekend and resting up with Manoli and Paco (my host family).  Who knew I would ever call Alicante, Spain my home, but isn't anything less. Now that I'm able to have a conversation with my host family and walk around the city without getting lost (of course el castillo is always an orientation point) Alicante is home. So I can't be upset that there's only a month left, because now I just have to enjoy the month to come. 

Until next time,

Jordan

04/06/2011

Hola!

Hola!

 So as I sit and stare at my calendar, it becomes more realistic that spring break is nearly 2 weeks away! It is insane to believe that after spring break, our program will be ending in another near 2 weeks! Where has this time gone honestly? There is so much that has happened since my last blog post. However, I haven’t been the best with keeping up on it, so I am going to be posting a few blogs a week to catch you up on the semester that we have had thus far. I will begin with last weekend for starters. All three CIEE programs took a trip to Granada, which was not only beautiful, but a wonderful cultural experience as well. We stayed at Hotel Carmen, which was beautiful to begin with, and the weekend only improved after arriving! After we settled our bags into our rooms, we had a couple of hours of free time to get some lunch. Of course, most everyone went for tapas and beer! Tapas are a much more exciting and unique system in Granada, because upon ordering a beer or sangria, you get a generous portion of a tapa! After our free time to eat, there was a group tour to see the Cathedral. And although it was a great experience to see, a few others and me went up to a small park and captured a great view of the Alhambra, which was amazing as well. It was also spectacular to see the view of the mountains. After that, we went for tapas round 2 and then headed back to the hotel to meet up to see a Flamenco performance. Which by the way was a spectacular experience! They even called a few of us students up at the end to practice our Flamenco skills with them. The next day was our day trip to La Alhambra, which has been associated with one of the seven wonders’ of the world! To say the least, it was extraordinary!  Such a must see when you study in Spain!

-Shelaine

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This is a picture in La Alhambra

 

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This photo was taken on our way up to see the view of the mountains and La Alhambra

Granada

Went on another CIEE-trip today to the lovely Granada. After many self-booked and planned trips, I happily accepted my CIEE itinerary (plus 15 euros!) and nested up for a 5hr bus ride through the countryside. Btdubs, Granada IS SO AWESOME. I think I’m in love. Arrived to some friendly sunshine  and wandered around a bit. And ohmygoodness, there was a river (sorta) and some trees! I forgot what they looked like…

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That night they took us to a Flamenco show! Twas very fun, and extremely different than the one in Seville. But fun fact! Michelle Obama went to the same show last year. And it was a neat little set up; they picked us up from our hotels in a super legit fashion (mini-buses, yay!) and drove us up the little mountainside. The shows are in little caves. I got in last, and naturally had a really good view: 

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The next day we woke up early and visited the Alhombra! CIEE arranged a private tour for us  - a small bumbling man led around for 2 1/2 hours and fed us tidbits of information here and there. The Alhambra was mighty impressiveand gave gorgeous views of Granada. There were some extensive gardens too.

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So then we tidied up the day with some more horchata+tapas, wanderings and a cozy 5hr drive back to Alicante :)

 

02/09/2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

Buenas noches!

So two days ago it was three weeks exactly since arriving in Alicante, but it merely feels like it has been a week since leaving America! I finally feel like I have settled into my dorm almost completely as well as getting used to the meals that they serve in la villa! We have decided that the food could be much worse, but at the same time are envious of the home cooked meals that are served in the home stay families! I choose to live in a dorm verses a home stay, which comes with its perks, as well as disadvantages. La Villa, which is located right next to the CIEE office, as well as walking distance to the campus is convenient for my 9 am Spanish class, which I have Monday-Friday. However, it is a hassle to have to take the bus every time you want to venture downtown or to la playa. Although, I did explore around San Vicente last week, and found many shops and stores that had random things, such as hangers, school supplies and laundry detergent, which helped cross a couple of things off of my “to get” list. Overall, I can’t complain with my decision to live in the dorms. My roommate is amazing, and she speaks English as well as Spanish. Which is convenient, yet a horrible thing at the same time, because you must put that much more effort into getting out of your “English speaking comfort zone” to practice your Spanish. But as Randy stated in his blog prior, you really do get what you put into this experience! Cliché right? But honestly, a true statement! You must practice, practice, and practice your Spanish more everyday to get better! There are so many options to practice your Spanish though, such as an intercambio. Which is a Spanish student that wishes to practice their English as well. Also, at the beginning of the program during orientation we met many wonderful and helpful Spanish student helpers, which were very patient with our “Spanglish.” Many of us have stayed in contact with the student helpers and meet up with them for coffee or to go downtown, which is also a wonderful way to practice your Spanish.

 

Well I feel like I have rambled on for a while now and need to get started on my homework…the first week of real classes started Monday and the reality of “school” is finally setting in!

Until next time,

Shelaine

 

02/05/2011

Three Weeks Already!

Espanol Intensiva is now over! Three weeks has pass and I am completely overloaded with Spanish vocab/grammar. At this point even when I’m speaking English I find myself throwing Spanish words in-between. Just a little background on me I’m originally from “Chi-Town” Chicago. I’m a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the last time I took Spanish was in high school. I took two years, and of course, I remember nothing. I always wanted to learn Spanish mainly because many of my friends spoke it and also that I’m fascinated with Spanish speaking women but that’s another story. So when I got here all I had was a few common phrases like “Tengo hambre” and a small vocab that included “comida” y “carne asada”. “Carne asada”  because I love steak burritos, can’t get enough of them. Pero ahora, I know so much vocabulary right now its crazy. It’s funny also because I don’t even know how to use half of them in a sentence. The intensive course was very useful and it does take effort. Even though I claim to know at least basic Spanish, determining whether or not a “palabra” (palabra=word) is feminine or masculine was definitely the last thing I remembered. None the less, I made it through. I’ve gotten a little better at understanding people also because now I no longer have a blank stare on my face when someone talks to me. I still sit there for like 30 seconds, google translating in my brain, figuring out what they just said. But at least its not 5 minutes with a dumb look on my face saying si si knowing I have no clue what they’re talking about. Though, for some reason I still don’t really understand males when they talk. I don’t know why but talking to a female it’s easier for me to follow than a guy. Maybe its because I listen to my profesora (female professor) talk for 4hrs a day and the fact that I only live with a host madre. Whatever it is I need to fix it because only comprehending about half the population doesn’t look too good then again I’m not really complaining. Going out with Spaniards to parties and bars is hilarious. It’s just always funny to point out the differences between Americans and Spaniards. Especially the way they dance and the type of music the listen to. I’m really excited for our weekend trips to start. Our next one is in two weeks and we’re going to Barcelona. That will probably be the next time I blog so until then.

Adios!

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Small Group Pic on the Guadalest y Villajoyosa Excursion

01/31/2011

Culture Shock!

It’s been three weeks already and my experience so far has been quite interesting to say the least. The flight here was no joke - I literally traveled for 24 hours. Though, I’m sure my stay here will be well worth it. Alicante, the city itself, has been pretty good so far. Minus the overcrowded buses and cold, rainy weather I can’t really complain. Alicante has great scenery with many large hills and miniature mountains that have great views of the city.

During our orientation they go over many things concerning our stay here in Alicante, one of which is culture shock. Now I have been outside the country many times before so I was sure that wouldn’t apply to me. Boy was I wrong! For those of you staying with a host family this may apply to you. Electricity usage here is expensive so they advise us not to leave lights on when we are not using them. I completely understand this but being a so-called “typical American” for me it takes a little getting use to. Making sure my light is off every time I leave my room or not using light in the daytime because I have a window isn’t really at the top of my priorities. Though, this of course will vary from person to person. Another thing is although it’s not required to have any prior knowledge of Spanish it’s definitely beneficial. Living with a host family will prove this. Even for those living in a dorm because they may know English but their friends probably don’t. So it may seem a little awkward if you’re in a group and the only person you can converse with is the Spanish helper. As far as the host families go, they mention this in orientation but I’m going to reiterate it. When your host Madre, or anyone for that matter, tells you something in Spanish DO NOT just nod and shake your head ok. Even if u think you understand but didn’t catch that last part. Make sure you clarify with them what they’re saying. I made the mistake of guessing that my host mother was going out to lunch with a friend alone only to be proven otherwise after she started yelling, in Spanish of course, why aren’t you ready we are leaving in five minutes. A simple misunderstanding but completely thrown out of proportion. So communication is key; but it is difficult to communicate in Spanish, right off the back, when your main reason in coming here is to do just that. I have yet to find a solution to this little problem but I will be sure to find an answer and share it as time progress.

Oh and another thing about learning Spanish. While I was applying all I could think of is how fluent I was going to be when I returned. Though, every time I ask is it possible? Has anyone done it? I always get the same answer “ you get what you put into it. ” Sorry to say but I hated that answer. To me, I could put my all into to it and still not be able to communicate or at least not as well as the next person. So here’s my answer to that question. I have no doubt everyone in the program will pick up a mass amount vocabulary and common phrases. However, it’s all about being able to have casual conversations in Spanish. Consistently practicing speaking is necessary and here is when the “it’s what you put into it” comes into play. Limiting your time speaking English and working with a Spanish student so you can practice will make a big difference. I believe it will help if everyday you pick a subject and talk about it. Taking note of the vocabulary you need in order to express your feelings. I guarantee by the end of the month you’ll be amazed on how much you pick up on outside of class. I’m looking forward to amazing myself.

 

Well I think that’s enough for one day so until next time.  Luego!

12/21/2010

Closing Time. Tears Ensue.

Well. The time has come. The fastest four years of my life are coming to a close. And I am at a loss for words--a paradoxical situation to be in for trying to compose a blog right now. I don't know where to begin. I've done so much, I've seen some amazing things, I've been knee deep in confusing cultural situations (my jokes still don't quite translate in Spanish), and I've met incredible people. And THAT is my excuse for not writing in this blog more. I was busy doing all those things. Seriously.

Man. What to say? When I first got here I was scared out of my mind. I was so nervous, so confused. I was tan and I weighed a bit more, also.  All of these things, including the weight, faded over the course of the semester as I grew into a more mature individual, as I learned about myself by being forced into uncomfortable and challenging situations. Trying real hard to avoid cliches here. But really, when you've just had the best time of your life it's pretty hard to not say things like this was the best time of my life. Because it was. The best time. Of my life. And everything I've seen and done in these 4 months will be things I will carry with me forever. I am a compilation of everything that's happened this semester, and I know my life will never be the same because of it. More cliches. When in Rome.

I've been on a lot of buses, a lot of planes, a lot of trains, I've seen a lot of cathedrals and street performers, I've consumed way too much cafe con leche, I've confused way too many Spaniards in my attempts to communicate, I've gotten lost in lots of places, I've made a lot of friends and I've set foot in 5 countries in 4 months. This is one of the rarest opportunities anyone will ever have in their life. If you have the opportunity, take it. Make yourself uncomfortable. Try new things. Eat octopus. You'll thank yourself later. It's all worth it. As they say in spain, it values the pain.

And here's the biggest pain of all: leaving. The friendships I've made here are some that I will never forget (even if I try). The experiences I've had are like none other. And man, it pulls on my heart. I can't even organize my thoughts. I guess the only thing I can do is thank everyone for what they've done. The staff was amazing, the teachers were amazing (and patient! Real important with 27 American goofballs), the program was amazing. And I am thankful to every single individual for contributing to the wordlessness I am now experiencing.

Everyone that has studied abroad knows what I'm talking about. Everyone who's considering it: do it without hesitation. And then you'll know, too. And you'll wonder how to reduce such an overwhelmingly emotional thing into a blog. Man. My heart is gonna burst. I'm home.

Adam, signing out.

12/20/2010

Final Post !

November 9
Last Couple of Weeks and Sevilla

Saw my second bullfight (two weeks ago now). I knew what was going on a lot more after reading Hemingway’s guide to bullfights, Death in the Afternoon…went with my friends Craig and Mike L. We saw the 16 year old matadors we'd seen fighting two months prior sitting in the row in front of us. I'm maintaining my prior stance on bull fights in general. It's culture! This was a top end novillada (amateur bullfight), with the winner gaining rights to be a full on matador next season in Valencia. Lots of extremely dangerous contact with the bulls. A banderillero had his leg broken after being tossed a solid 7 or 8 feet in the air.
The night before that had been spent with those two friends and 3 other girls (two of whom were full on Spanish). Great night of practicing Spanish and staying up late. Now on to a recap of Sevilla.

image from http://ciee.typepad.com/.a/6a010536fa9ded970b0148c6e8c83a970c-75si

Colombus´Tomb!

Trip to Sevilla was a total success really. Jennifer and the good people at CIEE really put together a great trip for us all. This was a 2 day trip that is included in the study abroad experience. Nice 8 hour bus ride each way and $40 of spending money for four meals. Not great for the students who don’t like bus rides…luckily I am considering joining the endurance driving circuit, so it suited me just fine to be passing the time in my seat as we were making moves back and forth across southern Spain. Upon arrival we very quickly made our way to a private Flamenco performance, the type of dance that Sevilla is very famous for. Very technical and emotional.
We were then free to go out and take in the Sevilla nightlife. One of my favorite nights out since I’ve been in Spain; most everyone in the bar area is hanging out on the street and it takes the form of a giant block party. Pretty awesome scene, and I had several successful and relatively long spanish speaking interactions as the night progressed. Good times.
Large-scale breakfast buffet upon wake-up! Hell yeah. Had a group visit to the Catedral de Sevilla in the morning, the third largest cathedral in the world. Some real cool history lessons to be had about the Muslim-Christian influences in Sevilla and specifically the Cathedral which was formerly a giant mosque and was actually totally modified/changed (but not fully razed and replaced like most mosques were after the Christians retook Spain). The Cathedral was a real center for the conquistadors and mariners of Spain to come and pray before their voyages, and Christopher Columbus’ remains are actually currently in the Cathedral after a journey back and forth across the Atlantic (back to Sevilla due to the Spanish-American war in 1898). I discovered these facts from our tour guide who spoke Spanish for us at the slowest pace imaginable. Nice to know I can comprehend that a bit at least. Also visited the Gardens of Alcazar, the Plaza de España, and an oldtime Jewish barrio?(something about Don Juan having lots of women there? I was becoming less attentive at this point…)
It was a funny scene throughout the weekend with many of us not having gotten our full night’s sleep either night and most struggling with their abilities to embrace the historical/architectural/ cultural aspects of the weekend. There were several groups of us…mostly attentive, partially attentive, and disruptively unattentive!
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2010

Happy Belated Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving day in Alicante was a great time. Group football game on the beach during the day (with a gamecap dip in the Med for me) coupled with a giant banquet dinner that night made it a really great day.
Miguelito (or should I say 'Miguelete') put on a performance of two OCMS songs in front of the entire group (close to 150 people?) along with our friend Adam. Mike sang and played guitar+harmonica and Adam provided additional vocals. He closed it out with "Wagon Wheel" which was a huge hit as would be expected!
The last two days have been another group trip, this time to the nearby city of Valencia (3rd largest city in Spain). Today we visited the newly famous "City of Arts and Sciences," which included giant aquariums with whales, sharks, heaps of other fish, and a dolphin show. Dolphin show was really cool. Dolphins jumping 15+ feet out of the water, throwing humans around, and being very impressive and well-trained.
Pics to come.
Nick

December 20
Here´s a final quick lookback on my time here in Spain
I’m going to really try not to try to explain my feelings and conclusions about my semester abroad by replacing what I actually feel and think with vague clichés to define what I was supposed to feel and think after living abroad for four months. Hope that wasn´t too convoluted for ya´ll. OK, we’ll see how it goes. Probably better to stick to some facts to support any waxing philisoph I’m throwing in there, so I’ll try a list format. I’ll call it “Nick’s Feelings and Conclusions about Living Abroad in Alicante, Spain for 4 months.”
1. I’m proud of the amount of Spanish I’ve picked up. That being said, I could’ve improved more with a different scenario. Different scenario would mostly entail a hell of a lot less interaction with my American friends and a hell of a lot more with Spanish people, their movies, and their literature and periodicals.
2. I’ve made a few good friends here and get along real well with everyone in the group. We got really lucky I think with our social setup
3. One of the issues I have when thinking about wanting things like ‘study-abroad,’ backpacking (the gap year style Europe/SE Asia/S. America variety), and ‘traveling’ in general is that I feel like I’m really only thinking about living out the ‘bourgeoise dream. ’ The ‘adventurous’ goals of the small percentage of the world that can afford such goals that is.
4. There was a lot of downtime this semester due to school not being too difficult and me not being a part of any organized sports team. People use their downtime in different ways. I successfully instigated a reading binge for myself and read more books and articles these past four months than I have in any period of time since before I had my license (when social things became very easy to organize reading pace slowed down significantly). I think reading books of all genres and eras and also trying to read about different perspectives on current events (globaleconomictrendanalysis.blogspot.com is a decent spot to start if you don’t know where to look) are important things. I’ve always thought these were important things and Alicante has given me a bit of a break from a life of ‘constant socializing’ mostly because I’ve been living in a house with a 65 year old Spanish lady.
5. Expectations before going abroad are always going to be way different than what the experience actually is. This can be evidenced by what people bring. For example, I was convinced that it would be totally unstylish to wear sneakers in Spain. I believed I would be going out until 6am every night with a large group of Spanish troublemakers who also played pickup soccer. Thus, I didn’t bring sneakers. A little philosophy for you right here: if you are something at home, like a kid who likes going to the gym and running, you should not abandon that thing. I got myself a pair of sneaks after a couple of weeks and life improved.
6. I think my ability to ‘go out’ and actually have a good time has been steadily improving in Alicante. Going out when it’s not just me and close friends and acquaintances is something that has never given me good vibes, but I’m getting more into it. A good skill to take back to CU.
7. Going into study abroad I would’ve been far more gung-ho about doing things like traveling somewhere where I can’t even converse with the locals.
8. Communication among people about their lives is something that I’ve increased my belief in since being abroad. I think I’ve actually improved my English from trying to speak about ‘real-ish’ things (more real than what I had for breakfast or how drunk I got last night at least) when I’m passing it with my American friends.
9. I’ve changed in four months. But I change every four months.
10. I’m fascinated by how easy it is to let your life go in a given direction without giving much thought to that direction. Last night I had one of my few dinners out of the house and I let myself be led halfway across Alicante to a MALL where we took the escalators to the third floor, entered a restaurant where you order mini-sandwiches full of processed meat and condiments, and sat on a stool. The sandwiches were not sufficient in terms of quantity or quality. So it goes.
OK, hope that wasn’t too much generic study abroad blah, blah. I had a real great time. Bring sunscreen if you decide to come, I forgot that (and sandals). Alicante is like a tropical beach resort (something I didn’t get through my head when packing back in August).
Also, I recommend against traveling to Norway in the wintertime. If you want to see more pics or words about how my study abroad life went, check out my actual blog at weareinalicante.blogspot.com.

-Nick

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11/10/2010

Tareas and Traveling

We’re waist-deep in the semester; that means two things: cramming for mid-terms and cramming essentials into a backpack that will hopefully pass RyanAir’s carry-on measuring test.

For most people in the program, this month has been busy, to say the least. Midterms, and presentations are behind us or coming up soon, while final papers loom overhead. It’s easy to forget that we’re at school when every weekend is a new adventure, but reality came crashing down on me when I had to outline a 12 page essay on scraps of paper on the plane home from the Canary Islands…

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One thing that has been great about traveling is coming back and exchanging stories with everyone else who has been away from Alicante, as well as those who stick around and hold down the fort. As excited as I am about all the places I’m going, lately I’ve been missing the relaxation of weekends in Alicante, the familiarity of the city at night, the Sundays at el campo with my host family… there’s a balance to be maintained between adventure and building relationships.

Needless to say, I’m a bit concerned about getting everything done, but I’m willing to endure a little stress if it means taking advantage of every opportunity during my time in Europe. To give you an idea of what’s ahead:

Places left to go:
Paris | London | Valencia | Amsterdam

Work left to complete:
Camino class- Term Paper | Final Exam
Literature class- Term paper | class project | Final Exam
Spanish class- Oral presentation | Reading comprehension | smallish exam(s) | Final Exam

… you do the math.