Sunday, September 16, 2012

the first week

I've been here for one week now.

That's crazy. It feels both like much less time than that, but also that I've been here forever.

I've done tons of stuff this week! I could write for hours and still not finish. I'm actually only awake right now because I took a really long nap this afternoon (unfortunately my allergies were acting up and I took a benadryl, but then of course I fell asleep). Instead for this time I'm just going to  have lots of pictures.

 Tomorrow is my first day of school, kind of. It's just the "presentation" day, I go in at 11:30 and meet my teachers and get my schedule, but that's it. Tuesday is the first real day. I'm a little nervous! But not toooo much.
at the beach

Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela

 I would like to say that this is one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places I've ever been. I'm not religious, but this cathedral was so stunning. Walking inside and seeing the art and architecture from hundreds of years ago and you can practically tangibly feel the passion that the designers had for creating something to praise the Lord. It's hard to avoid a sense of wonder and calm when you are quietly gazing at centuries old art and amazing ceilings and hearing a priest read prayers in Spanish and learning about the traditions and seeing people praying in the pews even today regardless of your own religion. You can't help but somehow have a huge sense of respect toward this cathedral that has more history than the USA as a country.  I wish I had gotten any good pictures from inside because that was incredible as well. Just knowing that thousands and thousands of people have come here to worship and the pilgrims from the Camino de Santiago who walked and made so much effort to get to THIS spot is just a really cool experience. I can't even imagine what the people who make that journey must feel.

Enjoy this impressive cathedral song my Spanish teacher (even though it's in French) played once (actually he played it like 7 times because it's kind of addicting in a weird spiritual emotions jam kind of way).

it's extremely beautiful
my sister and I

another church in Santiago
ciclists in front of the naval military school which is in my town

the view from my window

and from the other window

queso tetilla (a special galician cheese, named after their shape... breasts. When my host dad put them up to his chest in the supermarket to explain I nearly died.)

at the supermarket, the weights for fruits have ALL the numbers on them, i didn't understand why not just 0-9 like in the USA.
seems legit

we went to a tower on a hill for the gorgeous views

literally two minutes later we watched the clouds roll in

approx 15,000 year old tomb from the earliest inhabitants of the area


Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm here!
And not just in Spain but in my host town, Marín.
most of the kids from the US in the Madrid airport
I arrived with the other kids going to Galicia by train about 8:40 Saturday night, and got to the house just before 10. The very first thing when we got to the house is my host dad had to carry my 22 kilo (48 lbs) suitcase straight up a narrow and steep spiral staircase to get to the house from the garage.

Waiting on my bed was a note from my host sister welcoming me in Galician. 

it's a little hard to see in the photo but it says "benvida a nosa familia, benvida a nosa casa, welcome home" :)

My host mom arranged for her paper to feature the Galicia kids in an article! Click here to see it.
Speaking Spanish is the weirdest thing. In Madrid it didn't really hit me that I would speak Spanish to people for months, I just sort of felt like I was just in an area of Texas with signs for spanish speakers, because that's typical.But now that I'm with my family, it's not like that anymore. I don't really know how to describe it. I actually understand more than I'd hoped I would- my family even said that they thought I would have much more trouble than I am. I'm much worse at speaking though, so far I basically repeat: "Sí, bueno, bueno, gracias" with an occasional "está bien". And my only Galician phrase, "chámome Amy" (my name is Amy). In stores they have to explain that I'm American, so the employees understand that I don't understand. My host sister and I ran into a couple of her friends from school when we were in town, and as she introduced me they asked how my Spanish was, and she told them that I understand okay, but I speak very slowly. That's about accurate. And of course I don't actually understand THAT much.
I know everyone says how nice they're family is and how beautiful their house and city is, but mine really truly is THE BEST. Seriously.
My first night we ate tortilla espanola with pimentos (basically a potato and egg omelet type thing with some grilled peppers) and it was delicious. Actually I haven't yet tasted something I didn't like (of course that's out of a grand total of 7 meals so far). Sunday, my first real day with my family, there was a big barbeque with the rest of the family, like older brothers, their children, and the grandfather who lives next door to me. Abuelo speaks very little Castellano, mostly only Galician.  My host nephews and neices are so cute! There are 4 of them between 2 and 8 years old. The little girl, Elva, knew one thing in English and it was her favorite thing to say to me "THANK YOUUU" over and over and giggle. We ate chorizo and pork ribs and criollo and cheese and everything was so good.
After the big family gathering,  my parents and my sister and I went to the beach! We went to a neighboring town called Bueu (bway-oo) about 10 minutes away. The water was pretty chilly, but it was sunny and nice anyway. They taught me names of some shells and seafood (although I have to admit I forgot most of it right away! I'll need another lesson).
This morning my dad took me and my sister to our school for part of the registration I think. We also visited the college where he teaches in Pontevedra and his clinic here in town (he's a physical therapist). From the clinic, my sister and I left him to work and we walked around town some. I needed some photos of myself and the ones I brought were passport sized and not big enough so we stopped at a photo place. Then we walked home, and it wasn't too far but had a lot of steep uphill parts so I was a little tired.
My sister and I hung out for a while and walked to a... fountain thing? for water for plants? I have no idea in English (or in any language actually since I didn't fully understand haha) but it was like a spring from the ground of water at the end of the street, near the forrest and a trail. Sorry that story is so incoherent but it was an interesting area, sometime I'll figure it out and explain more.
Then we had lunch with Abuelo and my parents and sister. Rice with sardines and "croquetas" which look like hushpuppies on the outside but inside have some kind of ham paste. And bread of course, bread is with everything. 
They grow so much of their food right at home. There are apples, pears, lemons, oranges, hazelnuts, grapes, kiwis, strawberrys, blackberrys, raspberrys, chestnuts, onions, potatoes, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, "paraguyas" like peaches (and what I've eaten for breakfast), and a few more I didn't recognize in English, and of course fresh eggs from the chickens. Honey from the neighbors. They even make their own wine from the grapes with a wine press in the cellar area! It's amazing how fresh and delicious everything is.
Oh, and apparently Amy is like the Classic American Name elsewhere. No one, from the kids from all over the world at orientations or Spanish people I've met, has had any trouble pronouncing it and a Chinese girl told me it’s literally the name that is used in all the examples in their English textbooks. I thought that was hilarious!

Okay, I think that is all for now. I have many more things to say but I'll save them for later. So far I haven't taken many pictures yet, I'm just sort of soaking everything in without my camera but my family has taken some and I'll upload some soon.

Ata logo!