February, 2008

Febrero en España

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Hola Todos! I am finally writing to update you about my second tenure in Spain. I have now been back in Granada for three weeks. I arrived here on the morning of February 5th. All of my flights went very smoothly with one exception – my luggage did not meet me in Granada. So I filled out some forms and went to my apartment a little light-handed. Fortunately, my suitcase was delivered to my apartment the next day. I am living in the same apartment that I lived in in the fall, but I have three new roommates this semester: Rob from Boston, Ayoko from Japan, and Petra from Czech Republic. They are all very nice people, and so far they have been good roommates. Ayoko does not speak much English and I don’t speak much Japanese so we must communicate in Spanish, which is actually a good thing because it makes for good practice for both of us. The other two both speak English, so I don’t speak much Spanish with them. Some of my friends from the fall are still here, but most have returned home. I have been hanging with Oli (my friend from Scotland) quite a bit. I have found another group of friends to play soccer with, which has definitely been good. And also, my friend Lilly who I visited in Berlin in November is now studying here for the semester. And I have also made several new friends and met a lot of people from all over the world.

School so far this semester has been great! I am only taking 4 classes this time instead of 5 and each class is only 90 minutes because the semester is longer. So I have three hours per day Monday through Thursday, and the best part of all is NO class at 8:30 in the morning (my earliest start is 10:00 AM)! I am taking a course on the history of Spain in the 20th century, a course on the civilization and culture of hispanoamerica, and two Spanish language courses. My teachers are all good and I’m learning a lot in my classes. My Spanish has improved a lot. I feel like I am very close to becoming fluent in the language, which is exciting for me.

Now to the fun stuff:
midnight-at-the-rock-concert.jpg My first weekend back in town, my friend Oli invited me to come with him to Cadiz. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into at the time. He told me that there was a Carnaval party in Cadiz and a bunch of buses were leaving from Granada, and we had to find costumes to wear before we went. He also informed me that we would not be sleeping anywhere that night because the buses were leaving Cadiz at 7:00 AM the next morning. I was a bit skeptical, but I went with him to the costume store and found a pretty good cheap wizard costume, complete with white wig and beard. (more…)

Fun, Sun and Snow in Greece

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

For President’s Day Weekend I went with a couple of the girls to Greece. I had wanted to go to Greece for the longest time and that desire was only intensified after watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants where there are scenes of a lovely white town on the hill along the sea. I wanted to see a white city for myself. We arrived in the afternoon to a nice sunny day after settling down in our hotel room we set about exploring the area around Monastriki. We found ourselves near a cecilia1.jpgstreet that was lined with great shopping stores which we ventured into encouraged by the Sales signs on the windows. That night we went out to dinner and I had an amazing cheese pie, traditional meat plate and topped it off with dessert, a plate of warm baklava and macedonia ice cream. It was a great first meal.

Over the course of the next day we visited the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, the new Mall in Athens and had the most delicious gyros called Thanasis recommended to me by my friend Vicky back home. She was right and we went back for another round. The only thing that put a damper on our day was that a woman who we met mentioned something about a snow storm due to approach from Siberia and we just tried to brush it off because it seemed ridiculous to think that it could really snow after the incredibly nice weather we were having.

We woke up the next day and I got what I wanted. A white city. (more…)

Adventures in Florence and Pisa

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Since this is my first blog I believe it warrants an introduction. My name is Cecilia Velazquez and I am a sophomore business student studying abroad through the Honors Program at the UW Rome Center. This is my first study abroad celia2.JPGexperience and it has definitely given me a thirst for more. Right now my classes consist of taking History, Art and Italian all of which come to life more so because I am living in it. What could be more powerful than learning about the Trevi fountain, the Vatican and the Pantheon than getting the opportunity to see them for myself?

My class went on a field trip to Florence the third weekend into the quarter to have a change of scenery and experience another city outside of Rome. Florence, like Rome is also located by the river, but the fact that it is smaller made it more manageable. On our first day there we went to lunch as a group and were able to try some of the famous Tuscan soups. Ribollita, which is a vegetable soup, was by far my favorite. I never knew that a vegetable soup could have such flavor and taste so good. One of my favorite activities that we did in Florence was climb to the top of a hill on which there was a church. The church was linked to a monastery with monks who chanted at the evening mass. While we did not arrive in time to hear them chant we were treated to an almost bird’s eye view of the city below, taking in not only the historic center and the river but also the landscape that surrounds Florence.

The one thing that surprised me most about Florence was that when we went in the markets the street vendors all spoke various languages. Depending on what language they thought we spoke they would address us differently. At one belt shopcelia1.JPG the woman running it spoke to us in English and Italian but also knew Spanish and Portuguese in addition to knowing phrases in other languages to help her in her trade. (more…)