Stranded in a Strange Surrounding Week One

(Originally posted by Cory Odom, a CSU student studying abroad in Spain.  Visit the blog page at https://strandedinastrangesurrounding.wordpress.com)

My name is Cory Odom, and I have just arrived at strange land that the locals call…. Espannyeah?

DAY ONE:

It would seem I am not alone on this voyage through this country. I met a woman who people tell me is my mother here, as I go in for a hug (A common greeting where I am from) I am met with two kisses to each of my cheeks. Yes, you heard me correctly. Without being bought dinner, this stranger kissed me on my face. I am told that this behavior is common, so it would seem that this land is full of loving people. May the lord have mercy on my soul.

This woman speaks in a language I can barely understand at a rate I cannot comprehend. I hope that if I smile and nod enough I can make it through this experience.

I have discovered a word of seemingly magical qualities. Vale, or Ball-ehh? One can never be sure, but it has the power to progress a conversation without having any idea what is going on. I will use it often as I cling onto any hopes of comprehension, but for now I will take a quick nap and will get back to writing later today.

DAY THREE:

My quick nap has rapidly turned to days straight worth of sleep. I can only guess what day it is. Today the other survivors and I walk around the city of which we now inhabit while a learned man bombards us with questions. Now is my chance to show my intelligence and mental prowess. I will come back boasting stories of my quizzical victories.

UPDATE: I h20150903_102632ave answered all questions incorrectly, and I must remember to never talk of this day again.

Later at an ungodly hour I find a bar.  I stay in the bar for what seems like an eternity before I decide to leave. Confident in my navigational prowess I head off to my house. I should be home in no more than 25 minutes.

UPDATE: It would seem as though all the streets here look identical. I have spent the last hour wandering around the streets of this town at 3 in the morning. Do not worry for me, for I am sure that nothing bad has ever happened to a lost tourist wandering alley ways so early in the morning.

I find my way home, by this time it is 3:30 in the morning, and I quietly unlock the door to my new home so as to not wake my surely sleeping family. As I open the door my mother tells me that I am back early, and that she did not expect to see me here for another couple hours. When retelling the events of my evening to this woman, I leave out my wandering in hopes to maintain my rapidly diminishing manliness.

DAY FOUR:

Today we explore a place called Madrid? The place is indescribable, almost like…..

DAY FIVE:20150906_185839-1

I awake today with a start, as today is the day that I get to run with the bulls! This is a story I have heard of this land for years, today I will finally be able to cross something off my bucket list.

UPDATE: My host mother has forbidden the idea of running with aforementioned bulls. But my Facebook friends don’t need to know this fact…

I spend the next couple of hours watching other men fulfill their dreams of participating in the event, even one man who later got gored (Remember to never tell host mother she was right in not letting me run).

And when that day ended, I had to prepare for classes. Apparently they expect me to learn here.

Crafting a Unique Experience

[Originally posted by Michelle Betsinger, a Business Administration major. She is in Barcelona for the Spring of 2015. You can find her blog directly here]

“What a unique experience” – a classic dad thing to say. I applaud him for believing this – and on some level I believe it too. However, on the more immediate level I see myself stuck in an all-white hospital room in a foreign country with an IV pumping who knows what into me! Then again- who else gets to say that their first overnight hospital stay was during their study abroad semester!?! Additionally it’s been a learning experience! I’ve mastered the Spanish words for flu (gripe), throat (garganta), cough (tos), and fever (fiebre)! But overall it’s a good thing I’m at the hospital! They are taking good care of me and even served me gluten free and dairy free meals!

I think the worst part about being sick is that Aaron Carter came to Barcelona last night and I couldn’t go see him in concert!! Talk about a let down for my 6 year old self!!

In other news- last weekend our program ventured to Girona which is an hour or so northeast of here. We got a nice tour of the main part and we got to see the entire town from the highest point! We could even see France from where we were!:) Girona has a beautiful Jewish quarter and some world famous ice cream!

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^ Just an amazing view in Girona

On Saturday a group of 6 of us went to Montserrat which is definitely my favorite place here. Montserrat is a mountain located about an hour and a half outside of Barcelona via train. We took the cable car up to the basilica and then started our excursion! First on the list was to find the stacked blocks and climb them. Now I don’t consider myself someone who is afraid of heights, but when you’re climbing something that is over a cliff… It changes things. I was doing well until I got to the last block because then I was forced to look around. That’s when the intense shaking began. Then after posing for a few pictures, taking a couple selfies, and trying to enjoy the view without freaking out- I started my descent. Getting down from that top block was the hardest part of the entire experience. I was shaking on this small block that is seemingly on top of the world and I had to find a safe and graceful way to dismount. Once you get off the top block, the rest of the journey down is easy! Climbing those blocks and seeing that view is the best experience I have had here. It was absolutely surreal.

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Following the block adventure we went hiking. Unfortunately because we left later than planned we couldn’t do the hike that we wanted but it was still amazing. I found myself thinking about Colorado a lot during the hike. Not in a homesick way but more of just a content way. On this hike I was flooded with a feeling of Euphoria because after so long of not being able to do things because of my ankle, I was up there doing a pretty vigorous hike in Spain! Now don’t get me wrong, I woke up with some pain the next day but it was undeniably worth it!

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^Hiking selfie and group photo!:)

Well thanks to everyone who has reached out to me today and I know that this hospital experience is just a little road bump in my semester!

Fun with languages

Erica Saltzgeber will be spending the next four months in Alcala de Heneres, Spain. Her blog can be found at http://essaltz.tumblr.com/.

[Originally posted January 12, 2014]

Today was the first day I walked to school with my mom and Megan since she lives right down the street from me. It is about 1.6 miles to walk to school in the morning, and supposed to be a 30 min walk. This morning the walk took 45 minutes because my mom was pointing out the best places to visit/ have tapas y cervesas in Alcala. However the walk back took over one and a half hours because my mom was not with us and we took so many wrong turns! And it was proven that we cannot read physical maps….in a different language.

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This leads me to my next entry-the language block. When flying to London from Denver I was very nervous and thought, “It’s going to be okay, you have taken Spanish for many years!” Well that quickly proved me wrong very quickly when I boarded the plane from London to Madrid Spain. “The language barrier has just begun….” I thought to myself. I was terrified to meet my family because they do not speak any English and I can speak very basically. When I met my mom, I think I understood at most 20% of what she was saying, and as the days pass, she is talking faster and faster, and it’s harder and harder to understand her, but from the full immersion in just a few days, I am already responding quicker, and able to get my point across more clearly.

It is a great feeling to be able to actually have a successful interaction with the locals. When I went out to the bars (yes I am legal here Dad J) I met some students that also study at the Universidad de Alcala de Heneres, and this was the first time I was able to have a successful conversation. For me this feeling will be unforgettable because I actually spoke in a different language with someone I did not know for a few hours! From this experience, I am ready to take on the challenges of Spanish and become fluent!!

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Hola, Espana!

Dani Langevin grew up Summit County, Colorado. Currently she is a junior at Colorado State University. Now it’s time for her to embark on my study abroad adventure with Semester at Sea for a four month journey around the world.

[Originally posted October 1, 2013]

After a relaxing day at sea (and I mean really relaxing – 4 movies and naps all day long!) we made it to Cadiz, Spain. With only 2 days to spend in Spain we tried to come up with a plan so that we could fit as much as possible into the short amount of time. Well we soon realized that we were way burnt out and needed some more time to relax. Here’s what we did…

Day 1 – Meredith and I made last minute plans to go to Seville (pronounced Seviya) for the day. It is the capital of Andalucía, the area of Spain that we were in, and has a lot to offer. We only had about 4 hours to spend there, but we made the most out of our time. We got around the city by foot and somehow constantly walked in circles. I have no idea why, but we tended to end up in the same area again over and over again even though we could have sworn we were walking in one direction! For lunch we found a little shop that had sandwiches for .50 euros (equivalent to about 70 cents). After lunch we walked through a beautiful building that turned out to be the University of Seville. You would have never guessed that it was a school from the outside! After some more wandering we found ourselves outside of the Cathedral of Seville, which is the largest Gothic church in the world and the third largest church in Europe. Being a student is great, especially in foreign countries, because there are discounts for everything. Since admission to this was so cheap we went inside to see how unimaginably large it was! We walked to the top of the tower which overlooked the entire city. It was originally made for the King to walk his horse up and look at his city. The Seville Cathedral exit was in a completely different area than we had been in before, thus making us lost. Being lost always leads to the most interesting stories though! We decided to take a few turns and ended up walking by an elementary school as the students got out of school for the day. We also found an area filled with little shops. Interestingly enough, most of the shops were either Moroccan or Indian – they all had incense and teas displayed. At that point we were both tired and yes, kind of whiny, so we found a café to get a pick-me-up.

Seville Cathedral (Photo credit)

Seville Cathedral (Photo credit)

Day 2 – Finally a nice day, weather-wise! Meredith and I (good thing we get along so well!) walked through the main city center of Cadiz and found a place to get churros while we did some planning for the upcoming countries. (SO EXCITED FOR ARGENTINA!…You will just have to wait and see what’s coming!) Then it was off to the beach for the rest of the day. The first thing I noticed at Playa La Caleta was that clothing is definitely optional for both men and women. People get completely naked out in the open, which is something very different than in the United States. We weren’t as open to trying this because we would have to see all of the other SAS people on the ship for the next two months. So needless to stay, we kept our swimsuits on, but still got a nice tan! After soaking up the rays for a solid 2 hours we tried some paella from another local place on the beach. Still not impressed. Then more sunbathing and ocean swimming commenced before it was ship time.

Spain is another one of those countries that I will have to go back to. I would have loved to go to both Barcelona and Madrid, but time just did not allow for that. Another time for sure! There is just so much to see that it cannot be covered in a short amount of time, especially two short days. Adios, España!