Spanish Adventures

Hola Amigos! Apologies once more for taking so long to update the blog! We’ve just been so busy exploring the city, going to fiestas, planning trips around the world, and taking siestas that I hadn’t found any time but I will try and pick up where I left off. Anyhow, Seville has been absolutely amazing, and I love the city more and more by the minute.

New Spanish Friends

A lot of crazy, funny, and interesting things have happened in the past few weeks but I’ll do my best to recap everything. After our incredible run in Parque Maria Luisa on the third day, we came back to the house and were hanging out for a while. A couple nights before, we had met these two awesome Spaniards named Daniel y Alfonso, and decided that we should give them a call to see what they were up to. They were both excited to hear form us and interact with Americans, so we ventured off to calle Republica de Argentina to meet up with them. They lived right off the main road, and invited us to come over and invited us (Nick, Mike, Ollie, our new friend becca and I) to come up and hang out with them.

We had met becca on the metro the day before on our way to visit Pablo De Olavide in a rather interesting fashion. She was standing next to mike and I, and based on her brown hair and tan skin I assumed that she was a Spaniard. I said “girls got some fresh kicks” to mike, and she turned and looked at me, and I tried to express what I was saying with “me gusta sus zapatos” and she responded with an “I speak English” and she turned out to be from the states haha.

Anyhow, we all packed into a tiny elevator 3 at a time and headed on up to Daniels apartment. They cracked open a couple 40’s of Cruzcampo (the popular, and cheap local brew) and we spent a few hours there and had a great Sunday evening. We met a couple of their friends, namely a rather interesting fellow named Pablo, who spoke some English, and It was nice interacting with the locals. There were some funny moments as they spoke no English so many of our sentences were lost in translation. My Spanish is steadily improving, as I am slowly getting a grasp of grammar and expanding my vocabulary, but the first week speaking sentences in the third person and not quite making sense was a source of entertainment for many haha.

Casey’s Birthday and Orientation

The next morning, we were off to Pablo De Olavide, our new university in Seville to check everything out. Pablo is a relatively small and new school, and is definitely no Maryland but we have all had a pretty good experience there so far. We took a tour of the campus, and then headed back to our respective homes as classes didn’t start till Wednesday and it was only Monday. That night, it was our good friend Casey’s birthday. Casey goes to BC, and for some reason or another we have a picture together from pretty much every night we go out in Seville together, which has become a source of amusement.

The Birthday Girl and I!

Anyhow, we all headed over to the girls place down the road to pre-game for what turned out to be one of the wildest Monday nights I’ve ever had. We all went to the popular street Calle Betis, which is known as the American hangout area as it is littered with Americans and study abroad students. We went to our spot Alambique, and then over to a discoteca called Demo and got our groove on. All in all, was a wild fun night!

The boys at Demo

Pablo Squared

The next day, we had our official orientation at Pablo relatively early in the morning. To be fair, everything has become relatively early for us, as we usually wake up around 2pm for lunch, then pass out for a couple hours into a great siesta before starting our days. Regardless, we all hauled our hung over selves to campus to figure out what the new semester would hold. We all entered a giant lecture hall after receiving our schedules, listened to some boring speeches and began to understand how universities work here. I was shocked to see just how many American students are studying abroad in Seville, with something like 400 alone at UPO.

Study Abroad Orientation at Pablo

Off the bat, we were pleased to find out that for study abroad students there are no classes on Friday, which will be great for traveling. We also noticed there was an possibility of us having classes only two days a week if we worked our schedules properly, which was exciting. They informed us about this program they have called intercambios, which is basically each study abroad student in assigned a local student with whom we can interact, and get to know them and the local culture. It serves dual purposes, as we are trying to learn Spanish and many of the Spaniards are attempting to grasp the English language better. I e-mailed my intercambio, Elena Flores Valentin, a few days ago, and she was extremely friendly, wrote English well, and was very excited to hear from me. Unfortunately, she is studying abroad in France so don’t believe I will be able to have too many face-to-face interactions, so thinking she will be more of a penpal type thing but with facebook/e-mail pal (not sure if they’ve termed a coin for that yet). As a result, I resquested and received a new intercambio today, Lisvette Elena Moquete Carrion, so will be e-mailing her this afternoon and hopefully everything will go well.

Since we had our first full day of classes coming up, we decided we probably shouldn’t be going to any discotecas or bars and take it kind of easy. We hit up our new Spanish friends to see what they were up to for the evening, and they told us to come over to Pablo’s house to chill for the evening. We arrived at Pablos place and it was incredible. He lived at his parent’s house, that was basically the penthouse suite located at the top of this large apartment complex, with a huge terrace overlooking the city below. The inside of the house and the decoration overall was amazing. It felt like we had just been transported to a museum with what seemed like hundreds of oil paintings all around, and was definitely one of the nicer apartments I’ve ever seen.

At Pablo’s Apartment!

Pablo was extremely hospitable, and we even were able to cut off slices of Ham from a Giant Ham leg, which was interesting as well. We all hung out for a while, randomly played some call of duty and then headed back to Calle Virgen de la Victoria to call it a night.

Pablo De Olavide

The next morning was our first day of classes at Pablo de Olavide. I completely re-did my schedule what felt like 10 times, and after adding 3 courses and dropping 4, I finally came up with a schedule I was happy with.

Original Schedule – Looks totally different now

We all are only taking classes 2 days a week, which makes for an incredible 4 day weekend, and 5 days off total during the week, with classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. The four classes I am taking are Intermediate Spanish 1, Spanish Civilization and Culture, International Marketing, and something like the history of Film in Spain, which is taught completely in Spanish for 3 hours once a week on Wednesdays, while all of the other classes are on both Mondays and Wednesdays. Classes and UPO in general have reminded me very much of High School, as it is a much smaller campus, and the class sizes are very limited with approx. 20 students in each, and you have to attend courses. I think we have all been pleasantly surprised with the teaching quality in Spain so far, and I believe some of my professors are better than those I’ve had back home at Maryland.

Professors and stuff

My Spanish civilization and culture teacher is awesome, and one of the most expressive human beings I’ve ever met. The first day we were struggling not to laugh, as he uses his hands a ridiculous amount when he speaks English with his unusual accent, and moves his body in such a loose way while flailing his arms you’d think he’s had 10 glasses of some fine Spanish wine before teaching. Although we couldn’t take him seriously at first, I’ve found his unique personality and teaching style somewhat captivating, and found myself paying attention in class for almost all of the 1 hour 20 minutes which is more than I can say for most of the Business School professors at UMD.

My International Marketing teacher, Nano (like the ipod) is quite a character as well, and had the whole class laughing the entire first lecture with his funny stories from years past. He openly told us his favorite English word was “shit” and sprinkled in amusing and timely curse words throughout lectures. He seemed to be very intrigued when I mentioned that I was from India, as he had just returned from a month long trip there in January just like I had. He was so intrigued he actually assigned me to the India project for our group presentation, and regularly refers to India during lectures. My favorite story he mentioned was about a student who went to “use the bathroom” during one of his classes. Apparently the student left class, and then went to the courtyard outside to make a phone call. He had called his drug dealer, and was arranging to buy some drugs and since the windows were open, the entire class including Nano was listening. The student came back inside, and Nano told him that he was an idiot and that the entire class heard what he was doing. The scared student asked “Are you going to tell on me?” and Nano said “No, because that was the funniest shit I ever heard” haha so that should give you an idea of what type of professor he is.

I’m also taking a 3 hour film class, which takes place every Wednesday night. The course is taught completely in Spanish, and I decided it could be interesting as I figured we would be watching movies. The first lecture I attended, the professor literally lectured for 3 hours straight in super fast Spanish and I understood about 60% of what was going on…should be an interesting course for sure haha. I’m hoping that watching movies in Spanish once a week and reading the subtitles will help expand my vocabulary and more importantly my comprehension when speaking to Spaniards. I also like my Intermediate Spanish professor a lot, and am hoping that course will also improve my speaking abilities in Spanish.

Still can’t quite believe that we all managed to pull off classes 2 days a week, but I’m not complaining. I happen to have all my classes with Hirsh, and 2 classes with Ollie. During our breaks, we hang out at the cafeteria or play Frisbee in the courtyards and get all sorts of looks as I don’t believe many Spaniards play Frisbee. All in all, I would say everyone is really satisfied with our professors and experience at UPO so far.

That night, we came home at around 7:30 after an incredibly long day of classes, which began at 10:30am. We walked in to the best dinner night of the week, Fajita Night! We have fajita night every Wednesday, and Mama Rosa hooks it up with the dankest fajitas in town that include Rice, peppers, sriracha, Chicken, tortillas, guacamole and so much more. After our rejuvenating meal, we headed to the local sports bar to watch the soccer match. There are two local teams: Sevilla FC and Real Betis that both have loyal followings in the city. This evening Sevilla was playing Real Madrid, and the bar had a nice crowd watching the game.

We all had a pint or two of Mahou beer, and watched the intense match unfold. Sevilla ended up losing 2-0 in a close match, and we along with the disappointed legions of fans headed home for the evening.

The next day, we didn’t have classes so woke up at lunchtime and decided to go to this sweet park afterwards to play some Frisbee. There was this awesome random giant, pyramid like rope structure that you could climb. Since there were 4 sides, we all picked a side, and had a couple epic races to the top, which was a blast. That evening when we came back home, we put on some jamming tunes in our room and Mike, Katie, Nikita and I all started doing random dances. Nikita apparently can belly dance, and thought it would be a good idea to teach all of us how to do so. I would have killed to have a video of 6’ 5 Mike trying to drop his hips. Mama Rosa walked in on us looking real goofy trying to dance, and responded with one of her typical and unforgettables “Que Fuerte!” The best part was after she said that, I turned on some salsa music and she started dancing with us for a good 15 minutes which was quite a memorable experience. Gotta love Mama Rosa!

Hope everyone is doing well back home, and i’ll update the blog with all our other adventures soon!

-Sahil

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