Monday, July 2, 2012

First Week Over!

First week abroad complete!

Before I launch into a long narrative, I would like to thank my dad for this experience. Without him, I wouldn't be here among my friends at our residence hall typing away on this blog. So, thank you papa for all your support and encouragement and most of all for believing in me!

Wow…so I am in Spain! I am still trying to get over how surreal this is. Exactly one week ago, my group arrived in Madrid. We had excursions planned the moment we stepped off the airplane—no time to rest! We went on a walking tour to Palacio Real, where Ferdinand and Isabel lived at one point. As it was my first time visiting a castle, I was very impressed! We walked through many rooms in the palace and were able to walk through the armory. Needless to say, the knight armory and swords caught my eye. The next day my business program visited Toledo, Spain, a beautiful and historic city that is amazing. UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site, a title that is given to locales in the world with major historical and cultural significance. We visited the place that makes the swords for Hollywood (specifically Lord of the Rings!) and a beautiful cathedral in the city. Prior to the excursion, I had no knowledge of this place but am so happy we got to visit it especially since the river and castle were reminiscent of Hogwarts! Check out this link for pictures and more information on Toledo:  Our last day in Madrid was spent at the Museo del Prado where I was able to put my college art history knowledge to work. Their selection of Velázquez and Goya paintings is impressive and vast especially since they have Las Meninas and the Black Paintings.

I enjoyed our visit to Madrid but the scorching 100+ degree weather combined with Madrid’s cold and detached city vibe was not for me. We jumped on a bus to head north through the mountains and valleys for Bilbao. As we neared Bilbao, the mountains and grass became greener and more lush. My anticipation for the city and my feelings of relief and excitement after getting a glimpse of it is indescribable. This city is in a valley surrounded by colossal green mountains with a river running right through it! Imagine my excitement, especially after lugging my belongings up to our residence hall nestled in mountains. The view is breathtaking but the climb up is torturous. I am waiting for my legs to get used to this!

So, for the past few days we have been taking tours of the city and university (more detailed posts to come). We drove to Plentzia, a town on the water about 20 minutes away from Bilbao and although it was cold, the beach was still beautiful. The next day we visited the Guggenheim Museum. I didn’t realize the significance of this museum until I spoke with a woman who traveled from Australia just to see it. The architecture of the building is incredible and the art inside is worth a trip halfway across the world. That night, I got to have an authentic Spanish experience! My friends and I went to a festival in Sopelana, another beach town. There were people in the streets drinking and dancing to nearby bar music and the streets were packed with people. My friend compared it to Mardi Gras in the states, but this is incomparable and the energy was infectious! We left “early” because natives finish their partying as late as six in the morning.

Flash-forward to today, I have completed my first day of classes! Not much to report on since the first day is always syllabus day, but I got placed in the advanced Spanish language class and am taking the International Business course. So far the Spanish class has been manageable since I can follow what my instructor is saying and I just finished my reading for intntl business…ask me about globalization!  So now I can surely say that this first week has been great! I [think] I fit right in and am looking forward to the next four weeks. Stay tuned for more posts about random musings! Hasta luego!

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