Stephanie in Madrid

Stephanie is a sophomore majoring in accounting in Cox School of Business and Spanish in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, with a minor in music in Meadows School of the Arts. During spring 2013, she is participating in SMU-in-Spain and is looking forward to immersing herself in Spanish culture.

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Andalucia Part One

¡Hola amigos! After a week of little to no Wi-Fi or school work (but a lot of time sight-seeing and freedom) it’s been difficult getting back to the swing of things, like doing homework, going to class, and finishing this blog post. A lot has happened since my last post, so let’s play catch up!

A couple weeks ago I got really sick. Not exactly sure if it was the cold or flu or what, but I had a fever, sore and dry throat, cough, and runny nose… so that was unfortunate. I don’t think I have been that sick since high school. I missed two days of school and the only movement I made was back and forth between my bed and the kitchen twice a day. The most upsetting part was missing the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona soccer game, but I am still in Spain. There’s only so much to complain about when you’re here. My host mom took such good care of me, and for that, I am so grateful. I don’t doubt that I was able to recover as quickly as I did because of her TLC.

I also just started tutoring English to two children, Alba (9) and Marcos (6). They are absolutely precious, and I enjoy spending my time with them every Monday.

But the most exciting part was the school trip we took to Andalucia. We visited Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada, all cities I had never been to. We took a day trip to Cordoba and saw the cathedral-mosque. I have to say it’s pretty incredible seeing these famous and breathtaking monuments and landmarks that I used to only learn about in textbooks and classroom lectures. The city is small but quaint. Cordoba is so picturesque and has the “I feel like I’m in a completely different time and place” vibe. After some more exploring, we headed back to the buses and were on our way to Sevilla.

The group at the Cathedral of Granada, one of the stops on our trip

Sevilla is a university town, with lots of international students studying abroad there. While we were there, the city was experiencing a trash strike. The trash collectors were refusing to pick up any trash until their wages were raised. So there were overflowing trash piles throughout the streets. Luckily it didn’t really affect our stay there.

The next day we went on a guided tour. We saw the Cathedral of Sevilla, the largest cathedral in Europe and the Royal Alcazars, which is the oldest royal palace still used. Afterward we had a full-course meal at el Restaurante Robles Placentines. We tried many typical dishes from Andalucia and Spain in general, like ensalada rusa (similar to potato salad), salmorejo (similar to gazpacho, or a cold, less creamy yet tasty version of tomato soup), calamari and fish, and some kind of meat that I don’t recall… and of course, potatoes! Food tends to make me really tired, especially in Spain where siestas are encouraged, so after a nice walk home, I took a three-hour nap to prepare myself for the flamenco show later that night.

Although I’ve been to a flamenco show before, I enjoyed it just as much as the first time because much of the dance is improvised so you’re never watching the same show twice. The styles can differ province to province too. Three are three parts to flamenco: el cantador (the singer), the guitar player, and the bailadores (female and male dancer). The closest type of dance I can compare flamenco to is a much more passionate version of tap-dancing. It may sound strange, but it’s impressive.

For dinner, we had pizza. (It sounds random, but Spain has surprisingly good pizza wherever I go. There a number of pizza places in Madrid that are open 24 hours, cheap, and you take them to go. I love how the crust isn’t too thick, and I love the variety in toppings available. When in doubt, pizza is always a good idea. Anyway, back to the trip…)

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