Monday, January 31, 2011

El Postre

One thing that will get me here if I'm not careful...both with my budget and my jean size...the DESSERTS. Since there's such a big gap between lunch and dinner, people get together at cafes in the afternoon to get coffee/dessert. The picture on the left is of me and my friends Ashley and Nicole out for helado last week. The picture on the right was yesterday, with my friends Bre and Nathalie. In front of me is probably the single highest calorie item I have ever eaten. It is a sugar waffle covered in thick, rich chocolate syrup, topped with a scoop of ice cream and with a pile of whip cream on the side. And all for 3 euros (a little less than 4 bucks). When I saw it on the menu I had to try it. Happy with my decision to try it? Definitely. Ever ordering it again? Absolutely not.

This whole past week I have been sick on and off (hence my flauw-ness in my picture on the right). Super annoying. So I'm planning to kick that this week. I'm starting to figure out good running routes with other people here and hoping to have a pickup futbol session with some guys in the park in a few days...apparently there are Spaniards who like to get their butts kicked by American students...I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Evangelism Parade?

The video is kind of choppy because I was moving the whole time, but I still had to show you guys. Today on my way back to my house, I was met with a little parade. What for, you ask? Recruiting for a catechism class for a local Catholic church! They were singing and handing out tracts as they walked up a major street. I took one (you can hear me say "Gracias" to the lady about 5 seconds in) and translated it once I got home to figure out what it was all about. I was thinking that maybe we protestants can learn a few things from this and that Bethel OPC could parade Center Avenue in Oostburg to recruit for catechism this coming year? Just a thought :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

La Primera Semana

A week ago today I left the states for Sevilla. This trip so far has been an adventure in itself and I am excited and curious as to what will come in the next 100 or so days until I return! Just to give you a general information update, I am living in the district of Sevila called Triana with my host mom, Mari Carmen. My roommate is named Erica, who is from Azusa Pacific University. Also living with us are Carmen's son, Jose Antonio, his wife, Joanna, and Carmen's daughter, Julia. I started classes on Monday and have sessions every morning from 9:00 - 12:30 with only me and one other girl in the class because there are only two students at the beginning level (talk about a good teacher-student ratio). So far, the first few classes have been great and I am right with the material. Honestly, I learn the most Spanish at mealtimes with my Senora, who is awesome. In this past week, I've learned a few things about Spain:

1. The cold. It might be 45 - 55 degrees here, but that 45 - 55 degrees is FREEZING. Here's why: no heated homes. Yes, you read that correctly. In Chicago I have a massive puffy coat to my knees equipped with a fur lined hood (you Trinity people probably have seen me in it) and I warm up as soon as I come in my dorm room. I couldn't fit that thing in my suitcase to bring here. And in Sevilla, when you come inside from the cold, you never warm up. You just stay cold. So I've tried little tricks to help myself out. I wear tights under my jeans every day. Double up on socks. Adopted the Brian-Gesch-patented "cocoon" method with my blankets every night so that every iota of body heat is maintained within the covers. I'm coping. 

2. The food. Actually, (brace yourself, mom) I am loving my meals. Carmen is a great cook and for some reason I am starting to like stuff I never really liked at home. As a notorious picky-eater, I consider this development a miracle. 

3. The schedule. It is COMPLETELY different from home. Breakfast at 8:30. Lunch at 2:30. Supper at 9:30. Not only are the mealtimes different, but siesta closes the entire city down from about 2:30-5:30. How sweet is that?! A culture that blocks off 3 hours for everyone to take a solid nap. My kind of place. Also, nighttime just gets going at 10:00, so everything happens later. I've seen moms pushing strollers in the road at 1:30 a.m. Actually, it is safer for people to be out at 1 or 2 in the morning than it is to be out at 6 in the morning. 

4. The social life. This is one part I love so far. In one way, it's kind of weird because from what I can tell at this point, nobody has people over to their house. You would never call up your friends, boyfriend, or girlfriend to come over. You always go out to meet at a cafe, restaurant, park, bar, or somewhere else. The socializing all happens in the streets. I love how "out and about" everyone is. It's fun. 

So just a few wonderful things that are happening here. I still miss everyone a lot and if I think about it TOO much it's too sad, so I try to stay busy and keep my schedule going with stuff to do. I am meeting a lot of new people and am making some friends which is cool. Thanks for thinking and praying for me at home from time to time, I definitely think about you guys a lot too! One week down, and many more to go! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go Pack!!

You knew this post was coming. I went with a few guys from the program to see most of the game at a bar here in Sevilla that shows a lot of NFL games (the owner is an Irish guy who moved here ten years ago). It was PACKED (no pun intended) full of American students who were watching. Needless to say, the bears crowd got pretty quiet with that last interception :) My personal MVP of the game goes to BJ Raji who not only made some sweet plays but also has mad dance moves in the end zone. Dallas here we come!

First Scenery Pics

Just thought I'd give you a few visuals of what I'm seeing around here on my first couple days. Sorry if it goes too fast for you...these are the first of I am sure many to come. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Walking in Sevilla

From 6-8 this afternoon ("night" doesn't start here until after 9 pm) we split into groups of ten and took walking tours of Sevilla, led by natives of the city who are friends with the coordinators and director of our program. This was my favorite thing we've done so far because I really got to see what a beautiful city it is, apart from the one walk from my house to the school and back. Because my Spanish is so weak, I'm not really going out to places to meet people by myself yet because if I get lost and need directions I'll be sunk. So still trying to get a grip on where everything is. As you watch the video just imagine really fresh air too, because it smells awesome here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hola, Espana

Just writing you guys a quick update from the Madrid airport! We landed here at about 7:30 (about 12:30 in Chicago time) and have a connecting flight to Sevilla at 11:30. The flight was pretty uneventful...I sat next to a girl named Chloe who was really nice - got me excited about meeting everyone on the program.

So it looks like I beat you all to Wednesday, January 19.  It's a great day, I think you all will enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Today is the day! My mom is coming in a few hours to pick me up, grab some lunch, and drop me off at O'Hare. I already have that sneaking suspicion that I've forgotten something.

Last night my friends and I went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings so I could get my last fix of Honey BBQ. When I got back to my room, my RA had made a big "We Will Miss You Anna" sign and made a cake, and the girls all got me little gifts for leaving. So, I'm feeling the love but also sad to say goodbye and miss out with some of my favorite people ever for a whole semester. I will miss you all a LOT. 

Even so, I am getting really excited to hit the road and start this thing! Peace out, Chicago.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I am writing this little post from the Dordt College home of the lovely Elizabeth Van Drunen. My ridiculously long choir tour (I have to do it for interim) has made a stop in northwest Iowa and I worked it out to spend the night here instead of with host families!

During choir tour, staying at all different host families (by the end of the trip I will have had 5) has taught me a lot about hospitality. Random people with customs and lifestyles foreign to me are nice enough to feed me and give me a place to stay. While there are definitely annoying elements to this whole process (for example, explaining to the 867th person that I have no clue what I will do with my English major when I graduate. or kicking myself AGAIN for forgetting shampoo.), I think it has helped prep me for my big trip this semester. A lesson learned at a providential time. In four days I will board a plane to Spain and do the exact same thing I've been doing for the past ten days: drag around my (overpacked) luggage, meet a new host family, live with a new roommate, and do my best to be cheerful and thankful in spite of being overtired and overwhelmed.

Looking ahead in an effort to start off my relationship with my Spanish host lady on the right foot, I've turned to bribery. Word on the street is that my real mom already bought some Wisconsin-themed hand towels and pillow cases to give as "nice-to-meet-you" gifts to my Spanish mom when I meet her. How smart is that?! Special K is always good with this stuff. Comes in handy.

Four more days! Thanks for reading guys...I hope my writing doesn't ramble on too much for you. You might have to get used to it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


It has been quite the ordeal to figure out what to bring! I have a two-week choir tour coming up for interim, and then I fly out to Spain the DAY after that ends. Please note the barnyard sheets.