Thursday, May 5, 2011

Home is Wherever I'm With You

(the title is a reference to this song:

Coming to Spain has been one of the best experiences of my life. I feel pretty lucky to have had this opportunity and had it work out so well. I've grown in a million ways, seen a million new things, and feel like I have a million more things to tell all of you. Two big themes in this semester were 1) meeting wonderful new people and 2) missing all of the people back home. 

During my week in Germany, Hans-Dieter (nicknamed Hadi) and Elke (married and with their kids out of the house) were talking about how they are constantly traveling to different countries and moving from house to house. Hadi called himself "The Gypsy" and said that he could never stay in one place for too long. Then Elke said someting that I thought was pretty great. She said, "Well, to me, I am never away from home. Hadi IS my home. So I am never homesick."

Well people, this is going to be one of those sentimental moments. Sorry, bear with me. After being away for so long, I realized I am not so much homesick for places as I am for people. A good friend of mine, Ashley Kuiper, wrote to me once about this kind of thing and used the end of an e e cummings poem to sum up how you deal with being apart from people you meet, love, and care about:

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

I seem to recall one of my favorites, Lauren Haney, writing something similar about her study abroad experience in Australia. She said (I think) you just leave little pieces of your heart everywhere you go with the people you meet and invest time into, so your "home" just gets bigger. Now I have a home in Sevilla with my Señora and family, at school with my professor and friends, in Germany with the Gesches, in Wisconsin with my parents and family, in Westchester and Connecticut with my brothers, at Trinity with my friends, at Camp Calvin with the counselors, and the list goes on. I carry all this with me. To me, "home" is becoming more and more classified as a person than as a place. And I guess when you push the idea far enough, when the Lord is your best friend, your "capital-H" Home is with you wherever you go. Pretty swell. 

Woah, it is really happening. TODAY, I go back to one of my homes, Trinity, for the nights of the 5th and the 6th. Then after a day at Rudi's house I go back to Wisconsin on Sunday the 8th. If you are at those places on those days, come find me! This blog has really been fun for me to keep up. I am going to miss it a lot! I love writing updates, reading comments, and hearing feedback and ideas from everyone who was interested. It's been a wild ride in Sevilla, and many thanks to you for reading along with me. It always felt good to know that even as I was across the ocean people still cared about what was going on in my life. So it is time for "adios" to España for now. I seriously can't even wait to see you guys.

¡Abrazos y besitos! See you on the flip side! 

Love, Anna. 
Me in front of the fountain at, where else, Plaza de España

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Da Bulls

Yesterday Ashley, Nicole, and I had quite the cultural experience! We went to an afternoon of bullfighting at the Plaza de Toros. Apparently Sevilla and Madrid have the two best bullfighting rings in all of Spain. It was a beautiful spot. But when the fights started, I had to cringe. It was weird to see them taunt a confused animal to its death and then have a huge crowd of people cheer in a standing ovation as a group of horses dragged the collapsed bull off across the arena to be butchered. I also had to laugh at the macho matadors, who are dressed in this hilarious little ensemble, strut around with their chests out. No shortage of ego there whatsoever. To be honest, we started to actually cheer for the bulls. Have no fear, I'm not joining the local chapter of PETA anytime soon and I will never give up my love for a properly cooked steak, but this is one little tradition I think the world could do without. Oddly though, it was incredible to be there because the atmosphere was amazing. A once in a lifetime experience - a bull fight in Spain - and so glad I didn't miss out on this one. The video below is the first bull that they fought - you can see it finally get finished off by the main matador with the red cape...then a shot of the crowd waving their white handkerchiefs at a job well done.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vids from Yest

In case you haven't noticed, I enjoy the abbrevs. They're so presh. And they make things so fab. I use them so much it is ridic. 

I have two videos for you from yesterday. The one above is the glorious event of opening Feria, the week-long festival and funness that I described in the post immediately before this one. They turn the lights on to the entrance at midnight on Monday, and as you can see, crowds gather to watch and then run in and dance and partake in the festivities. The one below is of my friends on the program who are poor and decided to put their talents to use on a busy shopping street to get some extra cash. Two other friends and I went to watch for 20 minutes to cheer them on. I even donated a couple cents to their open guitar case. What a good friend I am. But yes, they will be available to perform for your next big event: super sweet 16 parties, bar mitzvahs, Weight Watchers meetings, and the like. 

Monday, May 2, 2011


Tonight marked my first time at Feria. It's basically the Spanish version of the county fair. It is BEAUTIFUL with tons of lights, tents, food, and rides. Todo el mundo (everyone) is dressed to the nines and is dancing flamenca along with the music. All the tents are privately owned and people go there, invite their friends and family, visit one another's tents, dance, eat, drink, and repeat. We left at 2:00 AM and were the lameo early birds. We have been hearing from the natives that lots of Sevillians literally only sleep during siesta (3:30-5:30 in the afternoon) for the entire week of Feria so they can stay out all night and just go straight to work from there. Crazos. I happened to have an extraordinary time there for two reasons. For one thing, I found the biggest cotton candy of my life and the second, I overcame my dread fear of roller coasters to ride "Top Gun" with my friends, going upside down, backwards, and thrown around everywhere. It was insane, but I loved it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Smarty Pants

The whole class in the bullfighting ring! 
Not really, but I AM finished with all my classes and exams. Friday marked my official last day of being a junior in college. Woah. Sorry all you Trinity people who have a bit to go yet, but it feels wonderful. I had an interesting situation with my class this year. There were only TWO beginners in the entire program, another girl (Rebekah Jongert for all you Trinity people who know her) and I. Our professor, Cecilia, is wonderful and we had a blast with her. Class was three hours a day and completely in Spanish. From time to time she would throw in fun things; we would have class in cafés for a change of scenery, along with little field trips to the Giralda (cathedral), Museo de Bellas Artes (art museum), the Alcazar (old royal gardens), and walks in the streets and neighborhoods for little scavenger hunts. Unfortunately, two weeks ago, Rebekah had to go back home early due to being really sick. So the last two weeks have just been Cecilia and I, basically just having lots of conversations in Spanish about what we find interesting (favorite movies, politics, religion, travels, etc.) and more class. Last week she had me over to her house and made me lunch as we watched Harry Potter 7.1 in Spanish - awesome.

My Spanish has improved light-years since the first day I got here; I am amazed at how it just came to me after about a month. I would say I am better conversationally; the grammar is still not wonderful. But between talking in general on the street, all the mealtimes with my Señora and my family, and my professor, I have learned to get my ideas across pretty well. And furthermore, Cecilia is a stickler for the Andalucian accent (Sevilla is in Andalucia, a region of Southern Spain). This includes a "th" sound for every "z" and soft "c". They also drop the endings of words sometimes. So now, instead of "Gracias," I'm just used to saying what sounds like "GraTHia." I know, so authentic. Now just a few more days to enjoy Sevilla and then I'll be packing my bags for my flight back to Chicago. I can't believe it is May 1 already! See you all SOON!
Ceci and I in Rónda on a school excursion