Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Super Tourist

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Since Catherine and I didn't have any apartment appointments set up the weekend of my five day apartment hunt, I decided to take a me day that Saturday. It had been a crazy whirlwind of orientation from the second I set foot in Sevilla. I slept in past noon and I really needed it. Between jet lag and orientation, I was lacking in the sleep department. After a nice long shower (because I knew those wouldn't happen after I had my own apartment and would be paying for electric), I set out on a day of sightseeing. Here's the thing about Sevilla, I had come in expecting something like Barcelona. I was dead wrong. The south of Spain is your stereotypical Spain. It's the land of bull fighting, tapas and Flamenco. When you think of Spain, you're most likely thinking of the South. Barcelona is different. First, it's in Catalunya, so it really doesn't want to be a part of Spain at all. Second, Barcelona is a cultural and international hub. It's Sevilla on crack. I'll write more about my difficulty with getting accustomed to southern life later. All that is to say, I had prepared myself for a day of sightseeing like I would in Barcelona. I was ready for tons of walking, getting lost, and at least one rude man whispering something obscene in my ear as he walked by. Oh, and I had a hand on my bag to deter pick pocketing. I was over prepared. Sevilla is small, so the walking wasn't that bad, if I ever felt lost I just oriented myself by the river, getting cat called rarely happens here and although pickpocketing happens in touristy zones, it's nothing like Barcelona. Pleasantly surprised, I meandered my way around the winding streets and made my way to Las Cetas (a.k.a. The Metropol Parasol). The Metropol Parasol is a giant work of architecture that fills what was once a car park and kind of a dead zone in the city center. It's very modern and about half of the city likes it and the other half doesn't. You can find information about it here. Underneath is a museum of Roman ruins found during the construction of the building. Here is more information about the museum. I'm a huge fan of Roman ruins so I spent a lot of time in the museum wandering around and feeling proud about how much I new about ancient roman cities and towns. Then I went up to the top of the Parasol to get my first view of Sevilla's cityscape. I'll be honest, I was disappointed. Here's the thing, a law was passed a loooooong time ago that nothing can be taller than La Giralda, so the city is pretty flat. Not my favorite cityscape that I've ever seen. But it was nice to orient myself. After that I grabbed some food and headed home to rest because when I first arrived to Sevilla, it would get HOT during the afternoon.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Everything you ever wanted to know about my apartment

           The day after orientation (Friday) ended everyone shipped out to their placements all over Andalucía to find their new homes. I was one of the lucky ones who got to stay put in the same hotel as the one we stayed in for orientation. I slept in and then set out to meet my potential roommate Catherine. We had connected over Facebook. She was looking for a roommate in Seville and I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do about the housing situation. We met up and went for some coffee. Luckily, we hit it off right away. It was a little bit like speed dating because of my time crunch. I only had five days in my hotel, which isn’t a lot of time to find the apartment of your dreams. We took the weekend off because it’s hard to do anything in Spain on weekends. I took Saturday to go sight seeing (post coming soon) and Sunday to meet the bilingual coordinator from my school. Monday Catherine, her boyfriend and I met up to begin the hunt. It was a mess from the start. We saw about seven apartments that day. Each one was worse than the last. We went our separate ways frustrated and sad. I was pretty sure I was going to be living in a little box with just my luggage to keep me warm. Tuesday we went back at it with a positive attitude. We saw five or six more apartments that day, but we went with the first one we saw. It was the right size, was in the perfect location and it had its own personal patio. I ended up moving in the next day because my time in the hotel was up.
            I had a couple days to myself in the apartment until Friday. Then we spent nearly a week entertaining guests. Catherine and I were a mess. We had barely moved ourselves in, there was no way we were ready to host people. So we did a giant Ikea trip and prepared ourselves as best we could. Our two guests were friends of Catherine. Well, one girl was a family friend and the other girl was a friend of the friend. They were wonderful! I felt bad that we were so stressed and busy. We were both starting work while they were staying with us, so we didn’t get much of a chance to spend time with them and show them around. Now the piso is, more or less, set up and beautiful. Since we’re both pretty busy little things have fallen through the cracks like arranging our kitchen. But we have time. So now that the place is presentable, here is a virtual tour. 
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My Room
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The Living Room
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The Kitchen
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The Patio
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We do laundry inside that shed
        As I spend more time in my piso, I love it more and more. It is quickly beginning to feel like home base, something that is so important to me in a foreign country. The location is right between Plaza de Armas (a major bus station and my ride to my school) and Calle San Jacinto (a main street in Triana with food and shopping). Oh, I live in Triana. So I’m across the bridge from the center of the city. This means it’s a little more quiet and residential. Actually, since I’ve moved here I haven’t really been into the city center. Triana has everything I need.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reflection: On Patience

One of the most important things that I have learned about myself over these weeks is patience. Things in the South of Spain move slow. Businesses aren’t open a lot of hours, most of them close for a siesta (a.k.a mid day nap), so you get used to putting things off until tomorrow and being okay with that. I am an instant gratification kinda gal. That kind of thing doesn’t fly here. It might be the little things like a later eating schedule or waiting in the ridiculous lines at the bank. Or it might be something big like finding an apartment or having internet (which I still don’t have as I write this post). So these past weeks have been a very valuable lesson that I have been eating up. The American lifestyle is all about go go going. The more you can get done in a day the better. A two hour mid day siesta? As if. Banks closing at 2pm and being closed on weekends? I’m pretty sure our country would deteriorate. But this is the reality of Spain. I try to marry my American drive to the newly discovered Spanish slowness. If something doesn’t get done right away, instead of freaking out, I am slowly learning to simply wait. I have also learned to plan ahead. I’m already a pretty organized person, and I put this to use now more than ever. Many businesses (mostly banks) open at 9am and close around 2pm and nothing is open on Sundays. So I have begun to do my shopping and errands in the morning and then do things around the house in the afternoons. I also take full advantage of my days off, because most of the time I work from 9am to 2pm. I have also learned to revel in my down time. At college I rarely took naps. If I wasn’t doing homework I was working on something for an extracurricular activity or applying for jobs. Now, I take full advantage of my siesta. After work, I’ll get home, spend some time making lunch and then take an hour or two to myself. For the first time in years I am reading for pleasure on a regular basis. I love it. So, instead of complaining and fighting against the Spanish lifestyle I am intertwining it with my own American up bringing. This means that, not only do I get things done, but I have also learned the value of a well deserved nap.   photo 177fa712-9628-4779-91d6-a9bdae8e1831.jpg

Coming Attractions:
-Everything Apartment related
-My trip to Ikea
-Everything you want to know about my job and my school
-My day as a tourist in the city
-My trip to the Cathedral and La Ghiralda
-Lists and reflections