Humble Brag

Listen… I usually consider myself a pretty modest person, but I just HAVE to share. Today, one of my coworkers at the hospital told me that my Spanish is “better than some of the interns they have had before.” So basically, I’m not the worst. Which is honestly the best news I’ve heard all day.

That’s all for now.

Brussels, Belgium

Waffles at The Atomium with Zoë.

This weekend, my friends and I went on our first weekend trip outside of Spain and it was our best trip thus far! We flew into a town outside Brussels, Charleroi, as it was much cheaper than flying into Brussels. We got in around midnight and out Airbnb host agreed to pick us up from the airport. After an hour-long struggle to get out of the airport (very confusing signage with no English translations!!), we finally found him. He drove us very quickly and slightly recklessly to his house where we would stay for the night. He also drove us to the train station the next morning, just as quickly and just as recklessly. It was an experience to say the least. 

We hopped on a train and made it to Brussels in no time. Our first task was to figure out where our Airbnb was. The owner was out of town, so they had left the key at a local eatery. We went to the restaurant and they gave us the key in a golden envelope. It was kind of like getting the next clue in a scavenger hunt or something. We joked that we were “in a video game” or “on a mission” for the rest of the trip. 

This lunch was a little fancier than we are used to, haha.

After situating our stuff in our Airbnb, we decided to go back to the restaurant where we retrieved the key for lunch. It was a cute little place with about three menu items in addition to a “plate of the day.” I had the fish of the day, and it was delicious. It was a welcome deviation from the traditional Spanish food that I have grown accustomed to eating.

After lunch, we headed towards the city center. We stopped at several small thrift shops as well as the Manekken Pis. After arriving, we discovered that the main attractions in Brussels are the abundant chocolate, waffle, and fry shops. We hopped around and tried a bunch of different chocolates. I also had my first real Belgian waffle (it was incredible). After the waffle, we decided that we better try some fries as well. We got “Andalouse” sauce. I have no idea why it is called that – I’m pretty sure it would have been too spicy for anyone in Andalucía. 

After our fries, we went to a bar called Delirium. Delirium is a “village,” or a multi-building, multi-level bar. We tried several beers before heading to dinner at a traditional Belgian restaurant. We shared mussels as an appetizer and I had seafood pasta as my entree. It was lovely! After dinner, we returned to Delirium to try some more beers. Anyone starting to see a trend? We even came out with a few favorites!

My savory leek waffle (WOW!!)

The following day, we slept in a little before going to brunch at a restaurant called Peck 47. I had a savory leek waffle for breakfast, and it was delicious. After lunch, we decided to take the metro to the Atomium, which is about forty-five minutes away from the city center. Naturally, I had to get another waffle while we were there (I think I had five over the course of the weekend). The rest of the day was pretty chill. We shopped around, sampled some chocolates, got more fries, and tried a Belgian beer flight at another bar. We also had dinner at a lovely little Italian place. 

Overall, Brussels was filled with fries, waffles, beer, and chocolate (I case you hadn’t noticed). I really enjoyed this weekend and being able to get out of the traditional Spanish cuisine and customs. I hope to return to Brussels and the nearby city, Bruges, to explore more very soon!

Mi Práctica

In addition to taking classes while in Spain, I also have an internship (una práctica). Mi práctica is in the International Department of a private hospital in Sevilla. The International Department has two main functions: translating the doctors’ orders to non-Spanish speaking patients and completing insurance claims for people from outside of Spain. So far, I have been mainly assisting in these two areas. Everyone in the hospital speaks to me exclusively in Spanish, which I really hope will hope with my Spanish skills! 

The funny part about this whole thing is that having an internship really isn’t a “thing” in Spain. It’s not something that is very common for native students, so nobody really knows what to expect of me or what I expect of them. I won’t even begin to bore you with the other differences I have observed between the Spanish workplace and that in the United States. Instead, I will candidly share two embarrassing things that have happened to me during my first week of my internship:

  1. On my first day, within the first thee minutes of meeting my colleagues for the first time, I found myself in the ER assisting in the translation of a patient who had just come in. I was really enjoying this task and the hands-on experience that came with it, BUT, all of a sudden for some strange & unknown reason I began to feel faint. I tried my best to maintain my composure in front of my new coworkers, but eventually decided I needed to take a moment to myself and sit. I have no idea what came over me; I had eaten breakfast / gotten enough sleep / felt fine prior to entering the ER. And no, I have never been squeamish around hospitals. In fact, I volunteered at one for over four years! But anyways – it was slightly embarrassing and my coworkers have not asked me to return to the ER since (LOL).
  2. Last Thursday, I was shadowing in Admitting for the first time. One of the permanent workers in the department was asking me about my internship. After answering a series of questions regarding mi práctica, he asks “¿Tienes ganas?” The most literal translation for this phrase is “do you have wins,” or “do you have gains.” Obviously neither of those made any sense……… The next logical translation I could think of in my head was “are you getting paid [for the internship].” I immediately waved my hands and said “No(my visa does not allow me to get paid).  He looked at me confused….uh oh…that’s always a bad sign. The next day in class, I asked my professor (a native speaker) what exactly “¿tienes ganas” means.Guess what it means????? It means…..”Are you excited [to be here]?” YIKES. Now everyone thinks that I’m the new intern who is NOT excited to be at my new job. Oops!!!! I’m not exactly sure the best way to say “Hey, I messed up! Last week you said ‘¿tienes ganas?’ and I said ‘no.’ BUT, yes, I am very excited to be here!! Sorry for the confusion!!” in Spanish, but I’m going to go figure that out immediately. 

Starting a new job in the United States is difficult, but starting a new job in a different language is a whole other ball game. I have often heard my peers in the States talk about “workplace culture.” I am currently trying to simultaneously navigate “workplace culture” and Spanish culture and sometimes that can be difficult. Nonetheless, I am very excited to have the opportunity to learn about the international workplace firsthand. I know that I will learn so much linguistically, culturally, and professionally by being in the clinic this semester.

Granada (Like The Fruit!)

A granada on a street sign in Granada.

Granada was short but sweet (just like it’s namesake fruit)! In case you didn’t know, granada is Spanish for “pomegranate.” This becomes very evident after arriving in Granada, as there are symbols of the fruit everywhere from sewage grates to street signs. 

My friend, Morgan, and I at the Alhambra. You can see some of the intricate pattern work behind us.

Our first stop in Granada was the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a palace / fortress that dates back to AD 889. Like the majority of the historical constructions in Spain, the Alhambra has evidence of both Islamic and Renaissance style. It was incredibly gorgeous and we walked over three miles on our tour. There was so much to see! There are also some fabulous views throughout the tour (as always here in Spain!). 

After the Alhambra, we embarked on a “tapas hopping” adventure. Tapas hopping is when you go to several different restaurants and get a drink and a tapa, or several tapas, at each place. This is pretty common in Spanish culture; mi amigas and I have enjoyed tapas hopping throughout Sevilla and the other cities we have visited. One thing unique to Granada is that for each drink you buy at a restaurant, they will give you a tapa for free. We definitely took advantage of this! By the end of the night, we had visited four restaurants and we were all very full. 

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel. The hotel was definitely nicer than were anticipating and it was there that I had the best sleep I’ve had in Spain thus far!

Some graffiti in the neighborhood.

After a good night’s rest, we went to the Albaicín. The Albaicín is a district in Granada that is known for its narrow winding streets and the incredible reflection of it’s Moorish past. We visited a local market where you could buy Moroccan tea, tapestries, or handmade jewelry.

We decided to have lunch at a local tapas restaurant (mainly so that we would get a free tapa with our caña, s/o Granada). We then headed to the city center and got some churros con chocolate before boarding the bus back to Sevilla. 

All in all, a fantastic weekend was had by all – and we still have Sunday to play back home in Sevilla! 

 

Málaga

Views of Málaga from the top of the Alcazaba.

Málaga was a blast! Mi amigas and I left early on Saturday morning for Málaga, which is a two hour bus ride from Sevilla. As soon as we arrived, we made a detour to a nearby mall before heading to our hostel. Most of us had never stayed in a hostel before, so we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. I had found the hostel and made the reservations, so I was particularly hoping that the group was satisfied with my choice. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised. It was friendly, centrally-located, clean, and very very very cheap.

We first decided to head out to the largest attraction in Málaga – Museo de Pablo Picasso. Picasso was born in Málaga, and this museum was established here after his death. The museum was beautifully curated and I am glad to have visited it. After the Picasso museum, we decided to walk towards the beach. We ended up at a ferris wheel overlooking the water. After three circles on the ferris wheel, we made a pitstop at a grocery store for some snacks before heading to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. On the beach, we watched the sunset and sat on the rocks. It was beautiful!

After the sun went down, it got very cold very quickly so we hightailed it back to the hostel to regroup before dinner. At the hostel, we met one of our dorm mates, a girl from South Korea. She joined us for dinner at a tapas restaurant where I had jamón y potatoes with a spicy sauce. There are a lot of things here that are “spicy”…..but none of them are really spicy at all. I’m pretty convinced that the sauce on those potatoes was the spiciest sauce in all of Spain. And even then, it would be considered a “sissy sauce” by Oklahoma standards.

The next morning we got up and went to find a “big breakfast.” In Spain, “breakfast” is usually just a piece of bread or a piece of fruit. This is hardly a meal, in my opinion. We were thrilled when we found BrunchIt, a restaurant with real breakfast (or brunch, rather). I had a piece of toast with ham, sun-dried tomatoes, and rocket. Now THAT’S a real breakfast!!

With full tummies, we headed to CAC Málaga, a small contemporary art museum. It was very interesting and unique. Everyone in our group really enjoyed it and, best of all, entry was free! From there, we went to the Alcazaba, the most well-preserved palatial fortification in Spain. It was fun to explore and had some great views. We also visited Gibralfaro, which is basically a GIANT hill with the Castle of Gibralfaro at the very top. After thirty minutes of straight uphill climbing, we finally made it to the top. The incline was horrendous, but the view from the top was worth it.

After the ~views from the top~ we had dinner at El Pimpi, a popular restaurant in Málaga. I had fried Rosada Fish. It was yummy and very fresh. We topped off our time in Málaga with some gelato before getting back on the bus.

Overall, another great weekend is in the books! I am so thankful for all the weekend excursions and adventures afforded to me by this semester in Sevilla.

Semana Dos de Clases

My favorite cafe in Sevilla (so far), Filo! They has the best WiFi, coffee, & snacks. I’m currently eating their hummus.

Mi amigas and I are in our favorite cafe, Filo, making plans for the upcoming weekend. We have decided to go to Málaga for the upcoming weekend. Málaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and home to a museum featuring his work. I am muy emocionado! 

Classes have been going really well. My International Business class at the International Study Center is fascinating. Our professor is from Scotland, but has been living in Spain for the past thirty years. Who better to teach International Business?!? I have the same professor for my Entrepreneurship class which as also been very interesting. Our final paper is going to be about a product/service from the United States that we think would be successful in Spain. I’m thinking…Cheez-Its. Okay, I’m only joking, but I could seriously devour a box of the “Extra Toasty” ones right now.

My class at Universidad Pablo de Olavide, The Global Economy, has also been great. Although the course is taught in English, there are students in the class from all over Europe. Everyone offers a different perspective when we discuss international events, which is not really an experience you can get back home. I have taken several economics courses, but never one that is theory-based, so I am excited to learn! 

Below are a few photos I’ve taken while exploring the city throughout the past week. ¡Hasta luego!

Cádiz

Cádiz exceeded all expectations that I could have dreamed of. After returning home around 3:00 AM (extremely late by my standards, yet early by Spain’s standards), we somehow managed to make it on the 8:30 AM bus to Cádiz. After getting off the bus, we headed to our Airbnb and found a little cafe along the way. After a double cafe con leche, we were back on the road. Our Airbnb was nothing short of lovely. It was very modern and big enough to house the nine of us. 

It was extremely windy, as you can see!

After setting our stuff down in the Airbnb, we started a self-guided walking tour of Cádiz. The tour started at Torre Tavira, which was the highest watch tower for the Port of Cádiz. Now, there is a Camera Obscura that allows you to view the city from a birds-eye-view (I had never heard of this, but it was actually pretty cool). After visiting El Torre, we headed to the local mercado to grab some lunch. I had paella, gazpacho, and a tortilla de mariscos. I also had a Cruz Campo because it was cheaper than a bottle of water (hey, I’m not complaining).

From there, we headed to the beach. It was incredibly windy all day, and it was even worse by the water! On the beach, we found the Castle of San Sebastián. It’s located on a small island separated from the main city. We walked all the way to the entrance of the castle, then realized it was closed for siesta. Oh well! 

After visiting the castle (or at least trying to), we headed back to our Airbnb. We were all exhausted and decided to have a “girls night in.” We headed to the store to buy ingredients to cook ourselves dinner. We decided that enchilada casserole would be a good idea. Upon arriving at the grocery store, we found that it is frankly impossible to easily make a enchilada casserole in Spain. The ingredients are just not sold in the stores! Thus, we settled for noodles and red sauce instead. We had a great time cooking and hanging out in our lovely little apartment.

My tuna empanada & cafe con leche. As I said, the donut was devoured prior to the staging of this photo……

The following morning, we headed out around noon for some breakfast. I walked into a pastry shop and asked the clerk for their favorite sweet item and their favorite savory item. I ended up with a tuna empanada and a huge donut. As you can see below, the donut didn’t make it for the picture. It was devoured by the time I got to sit down…..oops. But it was delicious and (dare I say) even better than a Krispy Kreme. 

After our breakfast, we headed to the Parque Genovés Jardín Botánico to check it out. It was lovely and we had a great time walking around. After that, we went inside The Cathedral of Cádiz which, of course, was stunning. After the Cathedral, I went *back* to the place where I had purchased my breakfast and got…..another donut……and….another empanada….and proceeded to the beach. We played at the beach until we needed to head back to the train station.

This was truly the most perfect weekend I could have imagined. I think it finally clicked that I’m in Spain (!!!!). I could not be more thankful for this experience and the people who helped me in making it happen.

Burger King ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Today was my first day of classes at the CEA Study Center and I was entirely unprepared and slightly disorganized. After arriving for my first class at 10:30, I realized that I had class straight until 3:45 with no breaks. This forced me to miss lunch at my host family’s house. One of my classes ended at 2:15 rather than 2:45 and I was starving. I decided to walk the streets of Seville and see if there was anything that I could get para llevar to eat at the study center. After walking for about fifteen minutes, I ended up at Taco Bell (all other cafes that offered anything to eat on-the-go were closed for siesta). But anyways, it’s just like that saying, “all roads lead home.” After waiting in line at Taco Bell for no less than ten minutes, I realized that I was going to be late to my upcoming class. I decided to go next door to Burger King and see if their line was moving any faster.

Sure enough, it was, and I was able to get a number thirteen (the chicken sandwich meal) for a whopping 8 Euros (this is at least twice as expensive as it is in the United States). The meal was interesting, to say the least. Unlike the breadcrumbs that coat the chicken on the sandwiches in the United States, this chicken had some sort of crunchy potato coating. The fries were also slightly different. They were more like wedges and had paprika seasoning on them (these potato wedges are not pictured here). They were delicious, but definitely unlike anything you would find in a Burger King back home. The greatest differences I realized in this experience was the wait time (both at Taco Bell and at Burger King), the slightly altered recipes of the classic meals to accommodate for Spain’s obsession with potatoes, and the crazy prices. I could have had several tapas and a glass of wine for the same price as my number thirteen meal. Oh well! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After grabbing my BK, I headed back to the CEA Study Center. I tried really hard to not munch on the fries as I walked back, but alas, hunger got the best of me. I usually try to blend in while abroad but here I was, a little blondie walking through the streets of Sevilla staring at the GPS navigation on her phone while eating BK fries out of the bag…..oops…

Córdoba

My first full day in Spain was rather exciting! We got up early and headed off to Córdoba, which is about 2 hours away.

The coolest part of Córdoba is easily the massive Mosque-Cathedral located in the city center. The Mosque was built when Spain was under Muslim rule. When Córdoba returned to Christian rule in the thirteenth century, however, the local rulers thought something along the lines of this “Wow, this Moorish architecture is actually really SWELL. Let’s keep it and add onto it and incorporate Christian influences and it’ll be really fabulous.” And now, after three additions to the original Mosque, it is easily one of the most stunning cathedrals that I have ever seen. My favorite part about the Cathedral was all the light that ran through it. You could see sunlight flooding each room in visible beams. I tried to capture that in one of the photos below, but it’s not really something that can be photographed. You just gotta see it in person, ya know? 

In addition to the fabulous Cathedral, Córdoba also has a vast variety of small stores, tapas restaurants, and (my favorite) orange trees!! There are also orange trees all over Sevilla, but they seem a little more magical in Córdoba. Apparently they’re bitter, but I’m still tempted to taste one…

Okay last thing – flowers are a big component of Córdoba’s winding-street aesthetic. I must say, I’m a big fan. There’s these precious little blue pots all over the place and down every street.