Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quick Update

Yesterday I went to a free photography exhibit at the Centro José Guerrero de Granada, organized by FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE, the Center for Creative Photography (University of Arizona), the Diputación de Granada and the Centro José Guerrero. The featured pictures were those of John Gutmann, a German man who spent time in Europe and the United States taking some pretty incredible shots. I saw many different types of photos; photos from Nazi Germany, from WWII, from everyday lives of people in the United's so interesting to learn about these things in a history class, but seeing the photos made them so much more real. I wonder if John Gutmann knew what a record of the world he would leave when he took all these shots. Please visit the virtual exhibit here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A few random fotos!

Some happy Spaniards at Salsero Mayor, a salsa bar!


La Playa Herradura: the beach!

jungle gym!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Class Profile: Spanish Art History

My first class of the week is Art History, Mondays and Wednesdays at 10am in a building within the Centro de Lenguas Mordernas that is about a 20 minute walk from my residencia. (also known as the K building). The professor is this tiny woman named María Estévez with short black hair and a tendency for really awesome and cute styles that no one else could hope to pull off. I have her for one other class as well; some students in the CLM have her for all their classes! The professors here maintain a bit of a distance between themselves and their students, but I can tell it's hard for professors in the CLM because American students dominate it and we are much more open to talk about their personal lives and ours, especially when the basis of some classes IS practicing speaking.

Art History is one of my favorite classes, despite its ability to cramp my hand and my brain with information. María Estévez started with ancient art in Spain and moved through Classical, Islamic, Pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance art within this first half of the semester. These are the main periods we need to know for the mid-term tomorrow, both general information about each period/style and the particularly Spanish aspects during each. Like any art history class, it is a lot of memorizing pictures and analyzing the piece or building to determine which style it fits into, learning terms for various elements of architecture or method of painting, and remembering important artists.

The best part about taking an art history class in Europe is that I've seen a lot of what we talk about! The Sevilla and Toledo Cathedrals; the art at el Prado Museo in Madrid; la Alhambra.... it's really great to fit them all into perspective and reality. This class is great for me because it's interesting and also it will work wonders (I hope!) on my design skills. Even regular old city buildings or small houses are very different here, and it's amazing to see people living in them and working in them in their everyday lives.

Wish me luck on the Art History exam tomorrow!

Could YOU tell me which style/period these are each from?
Pantocrator: Christ in Majesty. In the Church of Sant Climent de Taüll, in Catalonia.      

Sevilla Cathedral
Portrait of Isabel Clara Eugenia by Sanchez Coello

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mi Semana (My Week: English below)

La semana aqui en Granada despues de nuestro viaje a las cuevas de Aracena ha sido muy buena. He sido ocupado con mis clases (tengo examenes parciales este semana) y con planes de viaje para los demás del semestre. Mis amigos y yo vamos a pasar el  próximo fin de semana en la playa, si los autobuses estaran funcionando y no estaran cancelado porque hay una huelga. Despues, tengo un fin de semana para visitar las Sierra Nevadas y andar alli; pienso que voy a visitar el Parque de Ciencias tambien. Luego hay un excursion con el mismo grupo de Aracena a la Donana Parque Nacional que voy a asistar.

Para la Semana Santa, voy a viajar a Barcelona. Originalmente era ir para dos dias solo, pero ahora mi madre esta viajando alli para cuatro dias para encontrar me!!! Estoy muy emocionada! Voy a investigar y hacer muchas planes para nosotras :) y despues, tengo solomente un excursion de API a Cadiz para un fin de semana en Mayo. Con estes viajes y mis clases y examenes, hay mucho para hacer.
on the way to las Alpujarras
El tiempo tambien esta mejorando. Fuimos a las Alpujarras, pueblos pequenos cerca de Granada, con API el Sabado pasado. Vivo en el campo y por ese, fue un experiencia muy tranquila y divertida para mi. Fuimos a tres pueblos y anduvemos mucho en los granjas y los montanas entre los pueblos. Hice mucho sol! Despues, unos amigos y yo fuimos al restaurante para celebrar el cumpleanos de mi amigo Andres. Ayer, dormi hasta doce y tome mucho sol mientras estuve estudiando para los exames. Raquelle y yo fuimos al casa de mi amigo columbino, Jose, para una cena cultural y nos hablamos mucho.Pienso que mi espanol esta mejorando. Hasta luego, gracias para su atencion!

This week in Granada after our trip to the Aracena caves has been pretty good! I have been pretty busy with my classes- midterms are this week- as well as planning out the rest of my time and money here in Spain for the semester. Next weekend my friends and I are going to the beach, providing the ALSA bus strikes don't affect us too badly. After that, I have a weekend to visit the Sierra Nevadas here in Granada and probably to see the Science Park; later in April, I'm hoping to go to the Donana National Park with the same group that I went to Aracena with.

For spring break, which is the week before Easter or "Semana Santa" here, I was planning on taking two days to see Barcelona alone. My mom however has decided to come visit! We'll spend 4 days there together, and I'm so excited!!!! I'm going to do a lot of research and make plans for us so she can have a great time here and we can see the best of what Barcelona has to offer. After that, there's just an excursion to Cadiz with API in May. With all these plans and my classes and exams, there's a lot to do!

The weather is also getting better, which helps. This past Saturday we went to las Alpujarras, some tiny mountain villages near Granada, with API. It was very relaxing and fun, especially for me, since it reminded me of home! We went to 3 villages and hiked farms and big hills inbetween. It was very sunny! Later on that day some friends and I went to dinner to celebrate our friend Andrew's birthday.

Yesterday was a good day as well; I slept till noon, studied out in the sun on my rooftop, and then Rachel and I went to dinner at a Columbian friend's house to eat new types of food and talk with Joseph and his friends. I think my Spanish is really getting better!
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Excursion to Aracena!

If you're wondering what my main picture is all about this week, especially this being primarily a blog for my theatrical experiences, keep reading! I've done a lot of traveling during my month and half in Spain already, and am hoping to continue during my semester of study abroad with API. This past weekend, my friend Rachel and I went to Aracena, a small pueblo near Portugal that is famous for the Jamón Museum... and its beautiful caves!

taken from the van...lots of pine trees and purple flowers
On Saturday, we met up with this group based out of Granada that does a lot of volunteer and ecological work, as well as hiking excursions, for a 4-hour bus ride out to Aracena. That alone was really wonderful for me...we drove through massive hills of trees and pastures full of bulls and pigs, all of which was very calming after weeks in various cities. It reminded me of home, but the countryside was so much different from home that the time passed very quickly as I watched out the window.

We stayed in a fairly nice hotel; I think we might have been the only people staying there this weekend, but it worked out well. The first order of business was lunch together, and since everyone brought bagged lunches we sat right in the hotel. Everyone on this trip was really, really nice and shared all of their food with everyone else and talked to us in Spanish and English. We were the youngest people in the group, and the pace was slower than I expected, but that's never a bad thing!

We went to las cuevas on Saturday as well! We started out with a really thorough geology exhibition, with fossils and rocks from all over the world. I thought of my Dad quite a bit while snapping away at pictures- I didn't put many of them up online, but I'm sure we'll go through them when I get back :)

The caves themselves were incredible. I had never been in real caves before, so it was a really great experience- it was awesome, in every sense of the word, and made me feel completely dwarfed in the world. I also thought about the earthquakes in Japan and prayed to God that there wasn't one while we were in those caves. I soon forgot about that worry, however, with the beauty of the stalagmites and stalactites, the colors, and the water. We weren't exactly supposed to take pictures...but there was no way to resist.
 Our guide and organizer for the excursion, Julian, told me a lot about the various types of salt and chloride and things that made up each formation, and pointed out the rare formations as well as the most interesting looking ones (he was much better than the guide from the caves themselves!) My favorites were the biggest rooms with bodies of water, because of the colors and reflections that came from those.

There was also one room that had some interesting formations, to say the least! One of the ladies I was with pointed out that these particular stalagmites and stalactites are probably the most life-like representation of the phallus that we will ever see in nature (other than the real thing, I assume). There were lots of funny postcards about that part of the tour!

After the caves, we hiked up to a church (la Iglesia Prioral de Castillo) with ruins of a fort right above it (Fortaleza de Aracena). It was raining and sunny, and we saw a beautiful double rainbow! I knew then that this trip was my favorite experience of all, so far. The views from the fort were also really wonderful.
 Today we started off with the Museo de Jamón, the Museum of Ham, in Aracena. Jamón is a very important part of Spanish culture, and all of the carnecerias and grocery stores have big, expensive legs of Iberian ham hanging from the rafters! The museum was all about how the pigs are fed (a diet of acorns makes for the best jamón), how they are slaughtered, how the meat is cut and every piece is used, and how important the whole process is to the Spanish culture. It was a little sad, because I really love pigs, but I have established a disconnect between those cute pig faces and the ham and bacon that I also really love.
Next stop was la Cuenca Minera, a large mining region in Huelva with active mines, a museum, and an old hospital site. The geological exhibits were, again, really cool! Lots of rocks and models of how the mines evolved over time. The Romans had a mining site here, and there was a replica of a mining passage and some of their techniques; there was mining equipment from more modern periods, which made me think of the U.S. With all the ancient history that Europe is famous for, it's easy to forget that they went through industrialization just as we did! 

The best part of the mining site was definitely actually seeing the hierro, the red mineral that the mines are there for. The Minas de Riotinto are called this because the river that the mine rests on is tinted red or black from the hierro. Apparently NASA has done some research regarding this water and the mineral itself, which was pretty cool. I had noticed, during my time in Spain so far, the reddish earth in general, which is very different from my Vermont soils, but this was more than burnt orange: it was really distinct! 

Overall the weekend was a success. I feel a lot more comfortable now that I've spent some time in Spain outside of the cities, and Rachel and I practiced a lot of Spanish and made some really great friends from all over Europe. Before this weekend (not to sound too dramatic) I was really living day by day, frustrated with the residencia life and the bad weather. Now I feel a lot more optimistic about my time here! I hope to go with this group again in April to another excursion to el Parque Nacional de Doñana, which is also in Huelva. Check out more cool pictures on my flickr site!
The gift shop actually sold bottles of the red-tinted river water.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Summer Stock Applications

It's that time of year again....or rather it was, about a month or two ago. In January, I sent 20 applications to various summer stock theaters across the U.S. for internships and other positions in both electrics and stage management. This week I've sent out a few more, as waiting to hear from most of these places can be tedious and anxious. With only 5 rejections so far, I don't feel I can settle for working in Vermont or from home just yet. Wish me luck!

My other news regarding theater is sadly limited. There's a beautiful theater that I walk by every day on my way to class, and I may see if they'll take a semester-long volunteer worker, since I'm going a little crazy without theater in my life. I went to see a production at the great Teatro Isabel la Católica, but my Spanish still isn't advanced enough to really understand everything that happens during a show. I wanted this semester to be a break from the crazy schedules and fast-paced life that I led for 3+ years since starting college, and even before, and that is certainly what it's turning out to be! At least I know my History of Art class is really helping my design skills; and the architecture I've seen, the new cultures, and especially my Islamic Culture class are really opening my eyes to the world. I'm really fascinated by the Arab world and seeing la Alhambra in person was really incredible: hopefully my theatrical experience in the future will reflect some of what I'm learning here. 

Elections for the Saint Michael's College Drama Club are coming up! Members sent nominations in this past week for all the positions, which include: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Technical Liaison, and Student Association Representatives. I will not be running for the executive board for next year, but I'm definitely planning to remain an active member! Good luck to all who are running!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


It's been a week of cold rain here in Granada! We're all hoping warmer weather starts up again soon...the buildings here were made to stay cool, not warm, so layering up and huddling in bed between classes (with nothing else to do in a city geared up for hot weather) has been the order of the week. I also have a slight cold, me and my roommate as well, and cold showers this week really haven't helped the mood! I'm staying positive though, with lots to look forward to as spring comes ever closer.

Otherwise, I'm finding that my adjustments here have really become personal. I like the city, I don't mind the Spanish language barrier as much, my new English roommate is pretty cool, and classes are going okay. It's me and my own lifestyle that I am learning the most about. I know this is all on that graph of "study abroad phases" that you go through that everyone will tell you about (which is kind of depressing and predestined, if you ask me) but I'm really learning a lot about the kind of people I'd rather spend time with-- sometimes I feel like I don't fit in here, which is to be expected with the Spaniards to some degree, but especially with the Americans. 
I am also learning about what I like to spend my money on, and that I would rather travel with close friends, family, or people I love, to share the amazing things I've seen with them. Things like the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and other nearby places make me want to avoid Morocco; things like the American student studying in Madrid who recently went missing and whose body was recently found make me want to stay in at night. Does that make my views un-American, stereotypically speaking, for a student studying abroad? I hear American students study abroad so they can go wild and take risks they never would at home, so does that make me something other than an American student?

Other considerations are pieces of less-than-happy news from home. My professor John Devlin and his family are working their way through daughter Kat's recovery from an umbilical cord transplant, a procedure to prevent the spread of cancer in her cells. Although the procedure went through, they are still in Boston now, weeks later, dealing with resulting fevers and smaller procedures and whatnot. Many thoughts and prayers to them; being away from home and constantly moved around and having to deal with every small insensitivity can really make a stressful situation even more trying.

I'm also hearing some things that I don't want to hear about Saint Mike's and college justice systems throughout the U.S. A friend of mine recently has made the college aware of an uncomfortable and unsafe situation on campus, and they have been unreceptive and slow-moving towards fixing the problem. After the death on campus a few weeks ago, I had hoped the support system would be stronger than this. I am pretty disappointed, and worried for my friend as well. No one should feel unsafe on campus, and no one should have to wait for something really bad to happen before action is taken. At Saint Mike's especially this kind of thing is rare, and I would like to think Saint Michael's is investing in keeping it that way.

That's all for now; thanks for reading! Next weekend I'm going on a hiking expedition with a friend in caves near Portugal...working on travel plans for spring break....updates to come!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Soccer Game!

Lots of fans!

Yesterday, API took us to a soccer game! Soccer, or futbol, is the most important sport in Spain, and we saw Granada vs. Salamanca yesterday alongside hundreds of fans. Granada's team colors are red and white, so almost everyone around us was decked out with scarves, jackets, flags, and even wacky colored hairdos!

It was quite an experience. I've been to some sporting events before, mostly baseball games or basketball games, but not at this level or with this fan base! Although Granada and Salamanca are in a lower division than, say, Madrid and Barcelona, the most famous teams, it's still a big deal. The Spaniards around us called obscenities and sang songs throughout, roaring and gasping and breathing altogether like some giant beast. It was an incredible real-life example of a mob scene, or herd mentality perhaps.

It was clear that Granada was the better team, but due to what was clearly bad refereeing (even to my inexperienced eyes...) Salamanca won. It was really a fluke, but still a really cool experience. The Spanish people are really passionate, and losing myself in the game is something that hasn't happened for long time with sporting events. Good to know I can still be entertained in classic bloodthirsty style; such is human nature.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pictures are up on my flickr from Roma and Sevilla! Check out all of my study abroad pictures by following the link at the top of the page.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why did you choose to go with API for your study abroad?

Saint Mike's has a pretty large selection of programs to choose from, it's true, but API really offered a lot of cities in Spain I was looking at. They also do their best to lay out exactly what you need to do to apply with checklists and online forms, which is really great, and offer some international and national excursions, activities, and more that are basically included in the overall cost, which is low for what you get. I am really enjoying the atmosphere with API, and I like that I could just drop into the office (which is very close to school) and say hi or ask questions or sign up for activities.

Ask me anything!