Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Closure

This week is my final week in Granada, Spain for my semester abroad. I can't believe how fast it's come; just as I have begun to enjoy my time here and appreciate the past few months, despite its ups and downs, it's almost time to go home. I can't say I'm sorry, though; things here are amazing but I miss my home and my family.

I spent the weekend with friends in the Federico Garcia Lorca park in Granada, and then in Carmen de los Martires, a peacock garden near Granada's la Alhambra palace, taking a photo shoot for a friend's senior pictures. I also went hiking in Sierra de Castriles in the next province over from Granada, which was a great trip. This week is final presentations and the beginning of exams, but I'm not really stressing out over them. The relaxed way of life and the simple class activities- all geared towards our greater understanding of Spanish and the Spanish lifestyle- is very calm compared to exam time at our universities at home.

After exams, I board a 2am bus to Madrid and spend all of May 25th traveling. I will arrive in Burlington, VT at 10pm that day and am looking forward to being greeted by my family. I will spend 2 days at home unpacking and repacking and adjusting before I head off to Bellport, Long Island, where I have an electrics internship waiting at the Gateway Playhouse! I will be there for the entire summer, and while it would be nice to have more time at home I really miss theater and the work ethic it requires. Hopefully the summer will put my schedule back on track for my senior year, which won't be nearly as relaxed as this semester has been!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cadiz y el Torcal

Last weekend, API took all of us American students to Cadiz, a beach town on the Atlantic in the southwest of Spain. It was a great weekend!

We had a farewell dinner with the program in the upstairs of a VERY pink restaurant, where they served us various courses of salad, fish, gravy fries, chickpea stew, and more.

I got to release one of the tagged birds!
The next day I participated in a volunteer project called API Gives Back, during which we built boxes that get birds water, cleared rubble out of an old house, and learned the process of tagging birds to gather information about their habits. There were unfortunately only about 20 of us, but it worked out okay. We were given a snack of fish- I am slowly getting over my dislike of fish, if only the very mildest flavors. They literally had dead whole fish that they thew on a fire and then gave us to eat with our hands! We were all pretty proud of ourselves for that one. Some people even ate the eyeballs! (Not me, you can be sure).

After that we had a lot of time out on the beaches! The water wasn't too bad; the sand was fantastic; and a lot of people got sunburned but the frisbee playing was worth it :) Now we're back in Granada for the last two weeks of presentations, papers, final exams, packing, and enjoying!! I've definitely come to enjoy my remaining time here and to appreciate the last few months, despite their difficulties. Going home will be a welcome mix of relief and uncertainty and change.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Internships at SMC

I just posted a new blog for Saint Michael's College Internships about Saint Michael's Playhouse and other theater news! Check it out here.

It seems like every day I have something new to write about...but with final exams, projects, and papers coming up during our last two weeks in Spain it's hard to find the time! Coming up soon, a post on this past weekend in Cadiz with API!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Another Quick Update!

This weekend I'm off to Cadiz, a beach town in the southwest of Spain, with API. I've posted some recent pictures to Flickr, so be sure to check them out!

We've been learning about flamenco in my Spanish Culture and Civilization class. Flamenco is considered one of the purest art forms, although in recent years it has been influenced by other types of music like classical, jazz, and pop. There are 3 main aspects: the dancing, the singing, and the guitar playing. The origins of flamenco are unknown, but it's an art highly practiced by the gypsies in southern Spain (and is also very popular in Japan, oddly enough) who are thought to have come from Egypt. Granada is really a city of flamenco because you can walk to el Albaicin or Sacromonte, the older quarters of the city, and hear music playing. Flamenco dresses are also sold in many places here. I have a flamenco video posted from a show API took us to a few weeks ago.

When I get back from this weekend I'll be working on a post for SMC's Internship blog and another update here! About 20 more days in Spain...enjoying every minute :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

America's News: As Heard From Abroad

I woke up this morning in my bed in Granada, Spain, in the residencia I have been living in for almost 4 months now. I ate some breakfast and then checked facebook, twitter, and various news websites, all of which featured a story of justice that the American people have been waiting for. For me, the news of bin Laden's death was a mixed relief.

Seeing the news all over the online and social media worlds about the death of Osama bin Laden, after 10 years of hunting for him and fighting the war on terror in the Middle East, is certainly something to celebrate in terms of a huge American success. As President Obama said in his eloquent address last night, the people of our country can feel united again in a way that we haven't since 9/11/2001. Osama's death may even be something of a turning point in our efforts in the Middle East, especially given Pakistan's agreement that yesterday's events were good for both of our countries.

But. For someone studying abroad, the victory is a strange one. For one thing, no one in Spain is pumping shots and screaming "USA!" I received an email from the U.S. Embassy this morning with a heightened travel alert due to events in Pakistan, and warnings to be aware of more anti-American sentiments that may follow. While I think I can safely say I doubt I'll be in danger here in Southern Spain, the message made me wary.

Finally, on a personal note, I don't believe anyone's death should be celebrated just for the sake of death. While the thousands of people who lost loved ones or were injured due to bin Laden can find some relief and closure, and I doubt bin Laden could have been taken and held alive, it's a sad sight to see from afar the American people screaming victory over a death that may or may not help the real battle in the long run. And the idea that some of our people are continuing with anti-Islamic ideas is hard to hear as well: my class on Islamic Culture, as well as the huge influence of the Arabs here in Granada, has taught me that more than anything, Islam is a peaceful religion. In the words of our President last night: "The United States is not– and never will be– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims." For a people that value peace and dignity, bin Laden was just as much of a bad guy as he was to the U.S.

It's a start to the end of the war, we hope, but there is a long way to go in the Middle East.

Read or watch President Obama's address here.

Related link: What to Expect From TSA and Airport Security

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Flamenco Show Video

video
Here is a video I took at the flamenco show that API took us to a few weeks ago!