Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Quick Stop in the US

I needed to go back to the US for a couple of weeks between my two study abroad programs in order to pick up my Spanish visa so that I could study in Granada during the fall.

Getting home was quite an ordeal - I left Málaga around 7:00PM on the last Friday in August and didn't return home until around noon the following Sunday, thanks to long layovers and delayed flights.

But, it was nice to be home! There are always things you miss when you're abroad... friends and family, certain foods, even the lifestyle.

So, Dad and I went up to New York City to pick up my visa, and I just wanted to share a few of the pictures from our time there. We ended up getting a parking ticket, although Dad just e-mailed me saying that he managed to appeal it - so everything went really well, honestly! We stayed the night at Aunt Joanne's house, made our way to the city, got my visa without any troubles, and even went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for a little bit.

Catching Up: Final Pictures and Thoughts

I was not ready to leave Málaga and I still miss it, my host family, my roommate and the friends I made, the food, the weather... everything went by so quickly but it was a great experience and it definitely prepared me for my following semester in Granada. I feel a bit guilty for being so slow to update this, so here are some final pictures from Málaga that I really wanted to share here.

The courtyard at school, just outside of the classroom where I had all of my classes.

My class, with our first grammar teacher. Julian, Sandro, Mary, myself and Ayako (and Dustin is missing, he took the picture because he didn't want to be in it).

Mary and me at the front of the UM building on the last day of class.

Gen, Mary, myself and Bridget - our last night in Málaga together.

I had a great view out my window and was always taking pictures of the sunrises and sunsets.

There were a few ways to get from our apartment into the main part of Málaga, and this was one of my favorite ways.

This guy spoke French fluently and I regret not trying to practice speaking more with him. My mind has been so set in Spanish, and it was hard to decide whether to practice both of them or try to focus only on Spanish.

Down at the port - this reminds me a lot of the pathway that they have in Nice.

Jasmine flowers. They smell so good - there are tons growing in the south of Spain and they're treasured in Málaga (there was even a man selling porcelain Jasmine jewelry down at the port).

Another view of the port, when we took a boat ride around the coast. Málaga was like a paradise! The port especially was really pretty, and apparently they only just recently fixed it up.

All in all Málaga was an incredible and unforgettable success. It was the most hectic mix between studying and having fun that I've ever experienced. And for as much as I saw and did, I'm especially glad at how much Spanish I learned... I honestly wish I could study a month abroad like this every summer!

Catching Up: Visiting Nerja

My roommate Mary and I took two separate trips to a town close by to Málaga called Nerja.

The first time we went, we went with a group of international students & Málaga locals through an intercambio program. We all went together to the Río Chillar, and hiked through it all day (about three hours each way). The trip totally demolished my shoes but these kinds of hiking trips are always such a cool time.

It was super pretty there - surrounded by mountains and full of trees, and the river got deeper and more difficult to manage the further we went.

Our ultimate destination was a waterfall and a pool to swim in - so worth the hike! It was so secluded and peaceful, but at the same time it was kind of incredible how many other people were there too.

A couple days later Mary and I went back to Nerja, this time to see the large cave that's there (Nerja seems to be really well known for its natural features, such as that cave, the river, and its beach). The cave was awesome and a lot bigger than we expected. There was a huge pillar in the center of the final room, which is supposedly the biggest known rock column formation in a cave in the world.

Catching Up: Feria de Málaga

Well my time in Málaga has come and gone but with how busy I've been and how shaky my access to Internet has been, I haven't had much time to sit down and blog about everything that's been happening.

Still, there are some things from Málaga that I didn't get the chance to talk about here, and I want to get a few posts down summarizing things before I continue on to my time in Granada.

Málaga's Feria happens once a year in August, so I was lucky enough to be there for it! It was a truly hectic time, and it lasted a full ten days. Everyone was always asking whether you preferred Feria by day or by night... and it was hard to decide, to be honest.

It began on a Saturday night in the middle of August (on the day of my host mom's birthday actually) with a bunch of fireworks down by the beach. The next morning there was a horse parade followed by the raising of the Spanish flag, and things got into full swing.

By day, the center of town was packed and absolutely crazy. So many women were dressed in such beautiful dresses:

It was quite difficult getting around the main streets in the center, and some of those streets were really large. There was just so many people, all out drinking and dancing and singing and shopping. It was actually pretty impressive how well the cleaning crews around Málaga kept everything clean. By day the streets were literally sticky with alcohol. They had a (very very sweet) white wine called Cartojal that they drank specifically during this time.

By night, most people took buses and taxis to go outside the city to a massive fairground. There were bars and clubs and restaurants everywhere, and to add to it there were roller coasters and all kinds of attractions. We went out there a few times and I think I preferred that. For as many people as there were, since the place was so huge it was a bit less crowded, and there was a lot more to do.

We even went on a huge ferris wheel - the view from at the top was so insane. It was hard to believe how big that area was!

It was a really fun time but it was also definitely exhausting. The Spanish drank so much and stayed up so late into the night, and it was tough to even try to keep up. There were plenty of people missing from classes throughout the week, especially the German kid in our class who couldn't seem to get enough of anything. But, I'm glad I was there for it!