After two very, very long days of traveling, I’m finally home! And I promised all of you faithful readers pictures and videos, so I’ve posted as many as I can now!
It is 11:08 pm on Saturday night of my last weekend in Spain, and I just got in from a pizza dinner with Maria, Lauren, Liz, Olalla (Lauren´s host sister), Meri (Liz´s host sister), and Bet (who is coming to Westtown with the exchange in April, but didn´t have her own host student). Before going to a pizzaria near Bet´s apartment, we went to Los Fuentes Mágicas, famous fountains outside of the MNAC, Barcelona´s national art museum. These fountains (I got a video of the show) do a light, music, and water show on Saturday nights. Tonight some other girls and I went to see it. There were lots of people there, and whole buses had brought groups to witness the famous show.
Earlier today, Lauren, Liz and I watched our host sisters play their basketball game. In Spain, unlike at Westtown, each grade has their own team, and the three girls are on the same team at Aula. They won by somewhere like 45 points! Today happens to be father´s day in Spain, so after the game, we went out to lunch at a Chinese Restaurant with Maria, and her parents. The food was delicious! Then, we came back to the apartment and I took a long nap before we went back out again for the night. The girls try to keep us entertained at all times, and since they know how to get around the city, there is almost no limit to what they can do.
On Friday this week, we went to the beach. It was probably the nicest day since I´ve gotten to Spain, and we didn´t want to leave. We saw the famous port, and the most famous cathedral in Barcelona, La Santa Maria del Mar. We learned about the fishing culture of the coast from Profe Remy, who guided our group through Madrid, and now Barcelona, and is a teacher at Aula, originally from Paris. After that, we ate lunch, and then we went to the Picasso museum. There were about 30 of us, including the group from Boston and their teachers, so we split up into Philadelphia and Boston groups. I got a chance to see Las Meninas, and the progression of Picasso´s work, from his early stages, to much later in life. The difference is very striking to me.
After the museum, I went to a restaurant with some of the Philadelphia group, and then bought some gifts for people at home. And then, gofres! Gofres (waffles) con helado (ice cream/gelado) has become a staple of my diet in Spain. I get it whenever and wherever possible, usually with Nutella on top. Another one of my favorite foods here, are churros con chocolate: deep fried, twisted batter sticks, that you dip in a cup of thick, hot chocolate. Its delicious! I also like Spanish tortillas, and calçotades, an onion like vegetable, which you grill, slide the outer sheath off of, dip in some kind of delicious sauce, and eat while wearing a bib, by holding it by the end over your head. It is very messy, and very, very good.
I have about 4 days left in Spain, including one night in Madrid, and the end of my trip seems both so far and so close. I still have a lot of Barcelona to see, like La Sagrada Familia, so don´t think for a second that my days will be slowing down! They´ll still be filled with walking until my feet are ready to fall off, and snapping pictures of everything in sight, and straining my ears and brain to understand two foreign languages, not just one. But it´s definitely worth it.
Seeing as it is my second week in Spain, I figured it was about time for my second post from Spain! Yesterday, the group and I started classes at the Aula School, that our host students attend. Now what makes Aula different, is that the kids begin there at around 3 years old, and but for a few exceptions, no new students enter at any higher levels. These kids form bonds with their classmates that last their entire childhoods. Not only that, but the Aula School prides itself in its multilingual approach; the kids are taught French, English, Spanish, and Catalan, and have a mastery of all four languages by high school! I find this very interesting and very exciting, since languages fascinate me.
The classes we attended yesterday were conducted in Spanish (except for English class) and I was very proud of myself when I realized I could understand everything, including Philosophy class! I found both the philosphy class and geography class very interesting, despite some doubts I had previously. After school (classes begin at 8:50 and end at 5:30!), me and a few other girls stayed late to watch our girls at basketball practice. The girls I´ve been in close contact with here in Spain all love basketball a lot! My host sister and her older brother Victor, even have a special soft spot for the 76ers!
I was very glad to see some of the group that I hadn´t been able to see last week, at school yesterday, and again today, when we went on a fun, but very, very rainy excursion with the exchange group from Boston which is sharing our time in Barcelona with other students, to the Dali museum and the town of Girona, and its large cathedral. I have lots of pictures and videos, but unfortunatly, I can´t post any without using my own laptop, which still is not connected to wifi. I´ll have to make a special post just for photos and videos when I get the chance! I really, really liked the Dali museum; there were lots of extremely strange things in there, but they were all very interesting and beautiful. The cathedral and the town of Girona were also beautiful, and on a sunny day, it would have been fantastic to walk along the cobbled streets of Girona, up the hills. Unfortunately, today it was raining A LOT.
Tomorrow, we have a half day of school, then we are taking the metro downtown and visiting the MNAC museum in Barcelona. I´m not sure what is in that museum, so that will be a surprise for me.
Right now it is about 5 minutes to 9 and I hear my host mother singing and bustling in the kitchen, which means dinner should be soon. They eat dinner very late hear, almost never sooner than 9 pm, and that is early! It gets hard sometimes to contain my hunger, but usually we have lots of little meals in between larger ones. Today, after lunch, we were lucky enough to find a gelato and gofre (waffle) shop called the Madonna in Girona, and almost all of us got waffles with ice cream and Nutella. Nutella is so delicious! I definitly will be buying some when I get home.
On the schedule for the rest of the week (weather permitting), are Greek and Roman ruins on Thursday, along with a visit to Cadaques, and on Friday, we are going to have a seminar about Picasso, then go to the center of Barcelona, probably by metro and/or bus, tour through the neighborhood of Raval, visit the iglesia Santa Maria del mar, and then the Picasso museum to end the day. The weekend is free to our host students to decide, and from what I´ve heard, Maria has a basketball game on Saturday, and there might be a surprise party on Sunday!
I´m liking Barcelona, my host family, and even classes at Aula a lot and I have definitly become closer with people on the trip, some of whom I never really talked very much to before. We´ve all shared an experience now, and so we can relate to each other in ways other people can´t.
More later (hopefully with pictures and videos!)
Adeu! (that´s Catalan!)
Hello everyone! I am here in Barcelona, writing from my room in my host sister, Maria´s house. She lives in an apartment in Barcelona, as do the majority of the kids that are participating in the Spanish exchange with us. Even though I left for Spain on Friday, and it is Tuesday, ironically enough, it has been rather hard to come by wi-fi in Spain, or the time to get on the internet, if it was available. I spent Saturday through Monday in Madrid, with the group, Profe Jorge, and Profe Remy from the Aula School, who is actually from Paris. Profe Remy gave the group a personal, complete tour of all of Madrid, from the historical aspects, to the tourist aspects, to the ones that only a resident would know. We did so much walking, and the first day was very rough, after combining our exhaustion from walking all over Madrid with jet lag. By Monday however, we were used to Spanish time. Our days were long and packed, and we visited three musems: El Prado on Saturday, El Thyssen on Sunday, and La Reina Sofia on Monday. La Reina Sofia was definitely my favorite, because it had the largest variety of works, and they were all extremely interesting, and way more colorful and diverse than in the other two museums. Some works were made as recently as 2010, and I even saw Picasso´s Guernica. I have pictures from the Reina Sofia of some of my favorite works. We saw the Royal Palace, the Congress building, cathedrals, parks, and more. We saw the famous Plaza Mayor, and el Plaza del Sol. We ate chocolate con churros, which was delicious, and a few times we had different kinds of tapas, which are basically little appetizers, and I noticed that eggs and ham are two very common ingredients in the cuisine of Madrid. There was one mishap during these first few days: Natalie´s luggage did not come! We found out it had been sent to Paris with her sister, and once we tracked it down there, it had to be sent back to Philadelphia, and then finally, to Madrid. It got to our hotel in Madrid just in time for our departure for Barcelona, on the high-speed Ave train. One thing about Madrid, is that it is very clean. All the streets are almost spotless. Also, everything, like the roads, streets, and even elevators, are very narrow, and it seems like cars can go anywhere and there is hardly any distinction between sidewalk and road!
While in Madrid, we also went to multiple markets, like El Rastro, where pick-pocketing is a big concern, and el mercado de San Miguel, where we were allowed to roam free and try everything. One thing I liked about our time in Madrid, is that we had a lot of time to navigate ourselves through the city. We got to find our own ways to meeting points that we established, go by ourselves to find meals, shop alone, etc. The freedom is great, and I think it is really good practice for me, since I´ll be in college in the city next year. I had a very good time in Madrid, all things considered, but it was nothing like what I expected.
Today was my first day in Barcelona, since we arrived at around 11:30 last night. I was so tired, by the time I arrived at my host sister´s house, I went almost straight to bed. Today however, we met up with four of the other hosts, and their American counterparts, and had a full day of shopping, eating, and bonding. The mall here is very different from in America! We ate a pasta lunch at my host sister´s apartment, then threw a mini surprise party for one of her friends, who is the host sister of Sophie, and then we, along with Lauren and her host sister, Liz and her host sister, and Rachel and hers, went to a very cute little shop that sells crepes, ice cream and waffles, and ate. I got a waffle with nutella and chocolate ice cream and it was amazing. After that we shopped a little more, then my host sister and I went to the apartment of Lauren´s host sister, and we watched the Barcelona vs Aresenal soccer game with the two girls’ parents, and ate Spanish tortillas and bread with tomato which was also very good. I am definitely getting good exposure to authentic Catalan cuisine. One thing about Barcelona however, is that everything is in Catalan, and everyone speaks Catalan. Catalan is like a mixture of French, Spanish, and Portuguese, and I don´t understand it at all, so that is very difficult, especially when Maria and her friends speak in it. But the girls try to speak in Castelleno (Spanish), or English to us, so that is good, even though their Spanish is very fast. I´m pretty excited to get a good look at Barcelona this week while our girls are on break, and we have time to do whatever we want. I want to see the city from the eyes of teenage girls, because I know I´ll be able to relate.
Nos vemos, ¡ciao!
What is better than food? I’d have to say not many things. That is why I am so excited for my trip to Barcelona in March. Even though I’ll be on “spring break” when most of my friends are on their Senior Projects, and away in Spain when most of them are around, it is worth it. I’ll be spending a week in Madrid and two in Barcelona on the coast of Spain, exploring the cuisine and culture of Catalonia. I am happy to be in another counrty without my family because I feel like it will feel a lot less like a vacation and I will actually get to know a country, rather than just scratching the tourist attracting surfaces. What’s more, I have many friends in Spain already that I’ve met at summer programs, that I haven’t been able to see in two years. Now I finally have a perfect opportunity to meet up and catch up.
My Senior Project is revolving around food specifically, and interviews that I plan on conducting with my new Flip Cam. I hope to upload most, if not all, of the videos onto wordpress so that everyone can see the food, the people, and the places that I am getting to experience. This is the longest I’ve been overseas without my family (I spent two weeks in Australia two years ago, and a week in London with my aunt this past summer), and I am a little anxious about missing a week of school, but since it’ll be the spring term when things begin to calm down for seniors, I think I’ll be ok.
Honestly, Barcelona was not my first choice for my Senior Project; I wanted to do a non-school led trip, and I wanted it to be somewhere I won’t have a chance to go to again anytime soon (my family is taking a trip to Spain and Morocco this summer). However, I have always wanted to go to Spain, and I am in Spanish 6 at school, so I felt like this would be a great opportunity, and one with relatively low stress compared to planning an entire trip for myself and figuring out where to stay and what to do.
So in a few weeks (longer than for most people) I’ll be off to Spain to eat my heart out and let Spain really get underneath my skin in a way other countries have not. What will I do in the meantime? Visit my friends at college, and prepare myself for three weeks of exploring, experiencing, and enjoying Spain.
Hasta luego, Kendall