study abroad

Transitioning

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.

Finally 21… Pics and Video from Ronda, Málaga, Birthday


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

Granada Update

It’s been a little while, so I figured I’d pop my head in and give y’all a quick update on life over here.

I’m through 9 of 15 days of my intensive language course. Things are going well – I still feel like I’m reviewing the exact stuff that I’ve been learning and repeatedly screwing up for years now. This time it is clicking with a bit more ease, but it’s no walk in the park. The nice thing is that this time I actually feel motivated to study it and get it down.

I switched my course for the semester that starts in early February. I was in the Language, Literature & Culture program, but I changed to the Hispanic Studies program. Hispanic Studies has more faculty members from the University of Granada, and are more focused on the actual subject matter than they are on linguistic aspects. I signed up for some cool ones (Flamenco and Traditional Music, anyone?) so I’m looking forward to the start of that semester. Unfortunately, Hispanic Studies also comes with more homework. But I’ll only have 4 days of class a week, so I can’t complain too much.

More random observations and personal experiences from recent days:

  • As expected, Andalucia is awesome for its free tapas. Each drink you order comes with awesome free snacks.
  • While lacking spice and strong flavor, I am really starting to enjoy how the mediterranean diet is quite healthy without sacrificing much in the taste department. Obesity here is way less frequent, and I see a lot less unhealthily skinny people here too. It seems like a lot of people here manage to hover around “just right,” and that they don’t have to work too hard to stay there.
  • My family and teachers have started trying to correct some Latin American influences on my Spanish – and are trying to get me to pick up the Castillian lisp as well. I’m subconsciously starting to use it at times, and also picking up the sloppy Andalucian habit of dropping the ends of many words (“Muchas gracias” sounds like “mucha gracia” and “más o menos” becomes “Má o meno”)
    As a native of another former imperial colony whose language has mutated much from the mother tongue, I don’t know what to think. I react negatively to the idea of British English being superior to an American dialect, since we can all understand each other regardless. I’m not closing my mind to Castillian Spanish – after all, I chose this country for study abroad over a plethora of Latin American options – but it certainly is making things more confusing. Once I was an American trying to pick up Mexican Spanish. In a few months I’ll sound a third American, a third Mexican, and a third Spanish. If I do Peace Corps in Latin America after I graduate, the people there are going to be crazy confused. 
  • Last week I got a cold, mostly hanging around the throat and nose. Now it’s turned into a really annoying cough. I’m hoping it passes soon, but at least my head feels clear now.
  • I watched inauguration online since I didn’t know if the televised coverage would dub over the speeches or not (they didn’t). People seem pretty interested but I didn’t get the best vantage point to really comment on Spaniards’ opinions. It’s obvious that people over here are very interested, but beyond that I don’t really know.

OK, I’m out for now… Time to beat myself over the head with some Spanish grammar.

Here I go…

Happy 2009, all!

Today I’ll be flying out for a semester of study abroad in Granada, Spain. I’m excited beyond description for sure.

Just wanted to share a few basic details before I go:

  • After a week of visiting Madrid and Toledo, I will settle in with a host family and one other study abroad student in Granada, where I’ll be taking some language and culture classes.
  • Yes, I’ll be trying to visit lots of other places in Spain and greater Europe while I’m there. All reccommendations of places to visit or avoid are welcome!
  • I’m taking two cameras and an Eee PC with me to document the trip. Everything will be posted here on ZekeWeeks.com and gets reposted to Facebook as well. You can also keep an eye on my photo gallery at Picasa. I don’t know how frequently I’ll be updating, but we’ll see.
  • I’m reachable by e-mail or Facebook. I have a cell phone with Spanish and U.S. numbers, but won’t be giving that out, since I want to do most communication over Skype (video or voice). Let me know if you want to chat and we can find some time where I can call you. Granada is UTC +1, meaning that they’re 8 hours ahead of Colorado, which is MST.
  • I’ll be back stateside sometime in late May or June.

See you all on the other side…