Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mi familia

I finally got some pictures of my familia española! My señora's daughter's 30th birthday is today, so last night she and her husband came over as well as all the rest of my señora's children (5 total). We had dinner and everybody sat around chatting until midnight! Anyway I took the opportunity to get some pics of the whole family together, and they came out really good (I think) so I am sharing!
This is my señora with her three sons, (l-r) Alvaro, Angel, and Sergio. Sergio is the youngest, and he lives in the apartment. Yes, there were two people taking this picture, so not everbody is looking at the same camera!
This is the whole family! Back row (l-r): Silvia, Emilio (Veronica's husband), Veronica, Sra. Hernández, Sergio. Front row: Alvaro and Angel.
Silvia (on the end on the left) also lives in the apartment with us.
Finally, this is me with the familia (minus Veronica's husband, who was taking the picture). I'm in the middle (the one wearing pink, of course!).

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Parque del Retiro et. al.

Hi everybody! Thanks to everyone who commented - I hope I can answer all your questions in this post (or later ones) but if not, send me an email (my address is my first initial then my last name @sewanee.edu).

I am studying at the Colegio Mayor San Juan Evangelista, which is a private college that, as best I understand, is kind of like a satellite school of the big public university, La Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Though several of my classes are taught by Spanish professors, they are specifically for students in my program (so all of my classes have the same 8 people in them), and I am not actually enrolled at the University here. I will be here for a whole semester (until the very beginning of May), but several weeks of that is travel around the country and even down to Morocco!

My classes are not too terribly demanding, but they incorporate cultural activities (we went to see an artsy Spanish film the other night) and allow us time to see the city and experience the culture here without spending too much time writing papers and such. Though I am certainly having a good time, don't worry David! I know I am here to learn : ) (by the way I am quite impressed with your Spanish if it really is from 7th grade!)

Yesterday I went to el Parque del Retiro, which is this big park in Madrid. It has a ton of different statues/monuments in it, and lots of big wide sidewalks. Parks here are kind of funny - they don't have a lot of grass, but are mostly paved or bricked. Lots of people rollerblade/skateboard in them. It is absolutely freezing here right now (check out the news - it is really bad in Russia and Italy I think) so we didn't stay long in the park. We need to go later when it is warmer. There is a statue there (which I didn't see yesterday) which I hear is the only one in the world devoted to the Devil. Interesting... The picture on the right is of my friends Kaitlin and Jaime in front of this really big monument thingy right next to the park (we would have to actually look in a guidebook in order to know the name of it). It's in the middle of a really busy roundabout, which kind of reminds me of the Arc de Triomphe (sp?) in Paris because there are pedestrian tunnels under it so you can get to the park. Anyway, the picture on the left is me and Kaitlin in front of this big pond in Retiro Park, behind which is a big monument with a man on a horse (¡claro que sí!) This lake has ducks and paddleboats - definitely going back when those are in service (for those of you who do not know, I am quite the paddleboat aficionada), but I just got to thinking that they might actually be called pedalboats.... Anyway.

We also saw this really cool building in that area (which seems to be quite upscale judging by the lack of cheap tobacco shops and abundance of Tommy Hilfiger stores) which we think might be the main post office building of Madrid, but we don't really know. It's pretty though, look at the picture - ->

Anyway, I think that's it for now, but stay tuned for news of cooking lessons, a visit to the Archaeological museum, and a potentially very exciting weekend excursion to Valencia!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pictures at last!

Well guys, good news! I finally figured out how to post pictures. This fine looking fellow is Bruno, my Spanish family's cocker spaniel. He responds primarily to Spanish commands (mostly ¡cállate!) but I am thinking of teaching him some English

These two are pictures of us after our first week of classes; the first is at a little hole in the wall bar that we like because it is called Bar Sanchez (which is our professor's name - you can see her in the back).

The other is of two of my friends at the churro place we all went to - how very Español!

This one is of me and two of my friends in front of a statue in front of the royal palace (yes, I know you can't see the statue, but it is a king on a horse, not exactly unique in Spain)

This is a picture of the front of the Palacio Real - I haven't been inside yet but hopefully I will get to take a tour soon. The royal family doesn't actually live here; it is used mostly for ceremonial stuff I think.

Friday, January 20, 2006


¡Bienvenidos a mi weblog!

As I am currently in Madrid, I hope to use this blog as a way of keeping in touch with my friends and family back in the US, so please use the comments function to let me know what you think, or to let me know what is going on at home, or you can also email me. For those of you who are unfamiliar with blogs, the comments are public just like the posts, so don’t write anything you wouldn’t want the world to see!

I have been in Madrid for a little more than six days, and I am still adjusting to the time and the food and the language. Yesterday morning I slept right through my first class, and I am trying to blame that on lingering jetlag! The food here is actually quite good, but it does take some getting used to. My señora cooks with lots of olive oil, which she tells me is “muy sano” (healthy). Usually meals have several courses: first a salad, soup, or pasta (usually without meat); then some sort of meat (beef/pork/fish); then of course dessert, which is fruit or yogurt as often as sweets. It is very strange to me to eat each food separately rather than putting them all on my plate at one time. Every meal is eaten with a piece or two of French bread, which my señora buys each day.

Living with a host family is working out quite well – my señora cooks all my meals, and it is nice to have someone with whom to practice my Spanish, and to ask questions about life in Madrid. There are also two adult children who live here in the apartment –apparently this is very common for unmarried children in Spain, in part because of high housing costs, but probably more due to cultural beliefs about family.

For a girl from suburbia, city life is magnífica. I walk almost everywhere (including school) and for longer distances I can use the extremely comprehensive metro system. There are stores everywhere – the only problem is determining which store sells what. I have already learned the hard way the difference between a farmacia (which sells medicines and specialized types of shampoo, etc. at a high premium) and a drogería (which is the equivalent of a drug store in the US without the actually pharmacy part). Also, almost every store closes between 2 and 4:30, the time of la comida, the main meal. Everyone, even schoolchildren, goes home for that meal, then returns to work/school until about 7 or 8 at night.

I haven’t yet seen much of Madrid outside of the area in which I live and go to school, but I have been to the Plaza Mayor, which is in the central part of the city. Yesterday evening I went with my school group to have churros con chocolate (a sort of fried dough that you dip in cups of dark chocolate). This is a very typical Spanish food, and it is delicious.

Hopefully as the semester goes on I will be able to share more about Madrid and Spanish culture in general, as well as the other parts of Spain I will visit. More later!