Well, the adventure has come to a close.
I’m back in Fort Collins now, and am taking a few days to adjust and reflect. The biggest thing I’m feeling right now is the abundance of familiarity in everything around me, which is a good thing. The people, the things around me, but most importantly, the culture. I feel more comfortable with my surroundings. I spent five months outside of my comfort zone, with the most basic understanding of everything that was going on around me. Now, I’m appreciating the familiarity of many of the “little things” I didn’t have for the last semester.
At the same time, I really miss Andalusia. Granada is a beautiful little city, and it engenders a beautiful lifestyle. I miss my host family’s home cooking, the Fedérico García Lorca park, going about everything without a big rush (work to live, not live to work!), tinto de verano, and cute old people walking around town dressed to the nines. I miss the mix of beatufil and comical graffiti, and walking past several buildings that are half a milennium old without even thinking anything of it.
I’ve definitely come home, albeit a changed person. I look forward to going back to Spain as soon as possible, but at the same time I’m looking forward to resuming life back home with a better idea of who I am and what is truly important to me in life.
Sorry posting here has slowed down… I’ve been running all around Europe too fast to write it all down! I still plan to finish writing about Morocco and write about my trips to Liverpool, Amsterdam and Prague, but I figured I’d break from chronological order to comment on more current stuff.
This week was the last week of my study abroad program. Finals were low-stress, and thanks to having two of them early, I finished my last exam Monday afternoon. So I’ve had most of the week to get some good time in with my friends from the program and appreciate the awesome life I’ve had here.
I have extended my trip by about two weeks because I have three friends coming out to visit me. We’ve rented an apartment here in Granada, so I can spend a bit showing them all my Granadino stomping grounds, and then we’re headed to Valencia and Barcelona, possibly with some side trips along the way. It’s going to be totally awesome.
I’m pretty glad that I have people from Colorado coming out here before I return there myself; I’ve just begun to realize just how different it’s going to feel to be back in familiar territory, yet as a changed person. It’ll be nice to have a bit of home come out here first to ease my re-entry to American life.
Last night I said goodbye to almost all of my friends from the program – most of them flew back to the States today. I’m never good with goodbyes, especially with large amounts of people at once. Today, I packed most of my bags and so my last night in my host family’s house will be the typical “sleep in a bare bedroom” thing that I’ve come to know in the “Moving Day Eves” of past years.
After about 2 weeks with my friends here, I will fly back to Colorado on June 6. I will spend a day on my own in Dublin before ending my European (and partly African) adventure.
Today we spent 15 hours traveling by bus and ferry from Granada to Fez in Morocco. I found some free Wi-Fi in the lobby of our five-star hotel here, with which I am pecking out this quick update on my iPhone. Our hotel is beautiful, with the lobbies and cafeterias replicating the same styles I have already seen at the Alhambra.
While today’s post-travel itinerary is dominated by food (which is so far excellent and reminiscent of many dishes my mother has made) and sleep, we did find some time to go to a nearby supermarket in town. Simply put, this store was the Moroccan version of a Super Wal-Mart. For a crowd of Americans who speak no Arabic and a couple of words in French, it created much more culture shock than anything from Spain. (To be fair, I am certain that a non-Westerner would be equally, if not more so, bewildered upon entering a Wal-Mart for the first time.)
Tomorrow, we will be visiting the old city center of Fez, which happens to be the world’s largest pedestrian-only commercial center. After that, we will head to southern Morocco for two days and nights in the desert- 4×4’s, Camels, and sleeping in large tents. Finally, we’ll go to the smaller city of Meknés to rest up before the long trip back to Granada.
I don’t expect I’ll be able to post much more while in Morocco – perhaps once more tomorrow night. But I am taking tons of photos, and I look forward to sharing the rest soon!
UPDATE: This it total April Fools’ Day BS. And I am a tool for doing so.
Oh man. I don’t know where to start…
I GET TO LIVE HERE IN SPAIN.
I just got a job with Internetiza Solutions – a Web 2.0 firm based in Madrid. It turns out they’re looking for some VB .NET developers, and since that’s my favorite language and platform to develop with, it was a fit!
Internetiza is more concerned with skills than academic credentials, so after my semester in Granada ends, I’ll move up to Madrid and work from there. They’re going to help with relocation, visas, all of that – it should all go really smoothly.
I know that this will take some of you by surprise, since I haven’t mentioned this to anybody as of yet. The truth is that I have been considering this over the last week. It’s a very serious one – moving so far from almost everyone I know isn’t something I take lightly. When I got the offer, I decided I needed to kind of mantain radio silence about it so I could really mull it over on my own without any outside influences.
Part of my decision was based on my love of Spain – I’ve really fit in well here, and I seem to be more compatible with the Spanish mindset than I am with the stuff I’m used to back home. Also, with the economy the way it is right now, I feel it’s probably the best idea to live somewhere with a socialist government in place.
I can’t wait to get working with Internetiza- I can’t say what, but they’re working on something really big and exciting. They’ll be keeping me pretty busy; I probably won’t be able to make it back to the States to visit and get the rest of my things until Thanksgiving or so.
I’ll fill you all in on more details later – there’s so much to talk about! I just wanted to let everyone know now that I’ve made my decision.
So I’m 21 already.
Sure, it’s a bit less meaningful in a country where the age of majority for everything is eighteen, but still… ¡Hay que celebrarlo! I had a really fun weekend. I went to Ronda and Málaga with my study abroad group. Ronda is an old town founded by Celts and later transformed by Romans, Moors, and finally Catholics. The best part of town is a series of three bridges built by different resident cultures. Ronda was hot and we endured (yet another) multi-hour guided tour of the city. I am starting to prefer time running around less touristy parts of the city with a small handful of friends.
Málaga was great. It’s a beach town on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean, so the climate is a bit different from mountainous Granada – more humidity, and palm trees! It was foggy for most of our visit but it finally cleared up an hour or two before our departure – enough to feel like we’d really gone to a beach town. I saw a lot but definitely want to go back later when the weather is more remeniscent of summer.
I snagged a quick video of the cathedral bells at noon in Málaga:
I got back to Granada on the afternoon of my birthday and went out to celebrate with a few friends for a couple of hours before the bars closed (it was a Sunday night, so the typical Spanish epic all-nighter was unfortunately not an option).
As for photos, my WordPress plugin that auto-imports my Picasa album is acting up for some reason, so I have to embed this crappy slideshow. I highly suggest clicking through to the actual album to see higher-quality pics:
21st Birthday in Ronda and Málaga