In Sevilla, sevillanas!

On Monday, June 19th, we had an instructor teach us how to dance sevillanas.  This is a folk dance and music of the region of Andalucía, particularly of Sevilla.  Sevillanas are heard during festivals and have mainly four different parts, that were influenced by the flamenco dance.

During one hour we decided to try to learn all four steps.  Everything looked easy and graceful until we tried it.  It was not easy, neither graceful.  Our instructor was good, and she tried to teach each step at a slow pace.  But honestly, we tried but we didn’t succeed on this one.  However, we had fun learning it!


Welcome to Sevilla

Bienvenidos a Sevilla!  With great excitement we arrived to the city of Sevilla on Saturday, June 10th.  This beautiful city is the most important city of the Andalucía region.  Seville is the hottest city in the geographical area of the Western Europe.  The average temperature in the summer is 95 degrees Fahrenheit!  And yes, while it is very hot during the day, the evenings are beautiful!  People here literally, come out at night.  However, it is a peaceful city, home of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:  the Alcazar, the Cathedral, and the Archivo General de las Indias (General Archive of the Indies).  The Cathedral is one of the largest gothic churches in Europe.  La Giralda, just by the Cathedral, was part of a mosque that was built during the ruling of the Moors in Spain.

The Alcazar is also next to the Cathedral was constructed on top of a Moorish Palace.  The TV show Games of Thrones was filmed here.

The Archivo de las Indias hold very important documents from the time of the discovery of the Americas.

During our first night in Sevilla, we spent time with the host families.  Then on Monday, June 12th, we had our very first day of class, and a city tour.   Our school is right in the heart of the city, literally at a five minutes walk to the Cathedral.  Everybody is excited.  The groups remained basically the same, that is, three different groups with ten students in each class. But during the next two weeks, they will get to live in a new city, with new professors, and more Spanish to be learned!

Bienvenidos a Sevilla! Ole!


Saying “Adios” to Malaga

There is a saying that “all good things come to an end.”  In other words, all enjoyable things cannot last forever.  Time has come to say goodbye to Málaga, to the professors at the school, to the beach, and also to our Spanish families in this beautiful city.  We have enjoyed the time here.  We have now, a set of memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.  We have also, a lot of anecdotes to tell our families and friends.  We are thankful, and we leave now, more enriched that when we came.  But wait!  We are not done yet!  We have another two weeks in the south of Spain, in Sevilla.

As we part, this page is dedicated to those wonderful Spanish families that helped us while we were here.  They not only opened their homes to us, they shared their families, their ways, food, and they welcomed us to experience the culture at a different, closer level.  And if we were keen enough, we detected the genuine caring spirit of the Spanish people, their daily routines, and maybe their own individual roles in the family.

Spain is characterized by their passion.  From bullfighting to flamenco dancing, their passion in life is very easily observed.  They think collectively as a society.  This is why, many enjoy spending time with neighbors, eating together with others, going to the park, and living in conveniently located apartments that have all facilities close by.  Eating is an experience, and it is meant to be shared with others.  This is why, the families sit around the table to have dinner together.   Having an afternoon coffee, if you noticed, is an “art” to enjoy with friends.  The “siesta” is necessary in Spain.  It is a time to go home and eat with the family again, and relax for a little while before going back to work again.  Life is less stressful here in many aspects.  Don’t you think?

So here it is.  To all our Spanish” moms and dads”.  Thank you so much for giving!


Let’s Salsa!

Salsa dancing has become a very common dance in Spain.  The influence of the Caribbean rhythms have spread around the world, regardless of the complicated twists and turns, learning how to dance salsa is fun and can be a rewarding experience.  But more important dancing is also a way to connect with the culture and the people.

On Thursday, June 8th, our group had two sessions of salsa dancing with a local dance instructor.  While we learned the basic steps, we had a lot of fun.  Everybody did great!  It proved that everyone, regardless of the natural ability to dance that some seem to have, can learn a few new steps, and enjoy themselves as they get a taste of the new experience.


Weekend in Granada

What a great weekend we had!  We travelled east from Málaga to go to Granada, under the sunny sky and warm weather that is common in southern Spain.  The trip is only two hours but there are no similarities between these two cities.  Malaga is by the sea, and more of a modern city, with a lot of tourists from the cruise ships that stop daily by its shores.  Granada, has a very rich history, and when walking in the city, everything we see breath a romantic air, and a mixture of Islamic, Jewish, and Catholic heritage, that gives Granada its own distinctive character.

As soon as we arrived to the hotel, we went to see “La Alhambram,”  a fortress constructed in AD 889, on the remains of the Roman walls.  However, the fortress was converted into a royal palace in 13333 by Yusef I, sultan of Granada.  Later on, it was acquired by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, as they established their kingship and the Catholic religion over the area.  What we see today at La Alhambra is only a small part of what these palace really was.  The decoration is typically Mudejar art, which is basically the eastern elements added to the Islamic forms that were all popular during the Reconquista in Spain.  This decoration is intricate, and elaborate, a true work of art and a pure expression of beauty.  The pictures do not depict the details of the work on ceilings, walls, doors, etc.

After a few hours at the Alhambra we walked down to the town, through little alleys and beautiful walls decorated with bougainvilleas. The rest of the afternoon we were free to walk around, eat at the local restaurants, or shop at the many little stores in town.

The next morning, after a very good breakfast, the students had to choose four sites to visit.  Some went to the Cathedral, others enjoyed the view of the La Alhambra from Plaza of St. Nicholas.  Many of us took our pictures there, with the La Alhambra on the background.  Others enjoyed tea at one of the tea houses at the Albaicin, the Medieval Moorish part of Granada, that along with the Alhambra, became part of the World Heritage Site in 1984.  Other students visited the Gypsy area of Granada, that is north of the Albaicin, to shop at the many little stores in between alleys and narrow streets.

Yesterday, we left Granada at 5:00pm.  While everybody was tired, we had enjoyed the most visited place in Spain, according to many experts.  What a wonderful weekend!




What we do

Today, I visited a classroom to see how the students are assimilating the language immersion.  They are advancing rapidly, and many of them take part in the discussion, or answer questions from the lesson.  They were also reviewing for the test tomorrow.

After class, some of the students were able to visit other places in Malaga.  Now, you most be wandering why you have not seen pictures of the students at the beach, right?  Simple. The water is too cold.  It will be that way until the wind changes direction, and that usually happens during this time of the year.   However, we see tourists from northern Europe getting in the cold water!

Today’s pictures are from the mountain of San Antón, Plaza de la Constitución, a theater (Teatro Cervantes), and the BBQ is to prepare a typical dish called “Estepo de sardinas.”  Also, there are pictures of the patron Catholic virgin of the fishermen, “La virgen del Carmen de los marineros.”   You will also see some of the food we get to sample:  fried eggplant with honey, and pork tips and potatoes on a Jack Daniel’s sauce.  I must say, that one of the things that the students enjoy the most is the food.  Spanish food is delicious!



The best group in Malaga!

We finally have our Spanish phones (most of us do)!  Through this experience we now know that not all phones and systems are the same, even when the type of phones are the same in the US and Europe.  But in all, we can now communicate with each other while in Spain.  That is a good thing!

The event of the day, was that Dana now has her luggage, after being for five days without it.  I am glad to say that it was not Spain that lost the luggage, it was British Airways (ok, I am smiling as I write this–I’m a little bias).  Everybody was happy to see Dana’s beautiful smile again!  I want to thank all the professors and the staff at the school, that tried to help during this process.

On another note, everything is going very well between the host families and our students.  Usually, the first week is difficult for the students as they get to know a family that does not speak English.  I am proud to say that our students are an amazing group of young people!  They have been open from the beginning to the new culture.  This for sure, will help in the process of language acquisition.

At school, the groups are small.  No more than 10 or 11 students per group.  They attend classes from 9:00am until 1:00pm with a short break of 20 minutes.  While it is intense, the afternoon is much more relaxing.  All students go home for lunch and maybe take a nap.  After, they get to visit historic places, go to town, work out, or go to the beach.

Today, some of the students went on a hike, some went to town, and others studied for their test on Friday.  (Yes, you read it right, I am speaking to you now–your first test in this Friday).  I know that you will do great on that test!  After, on Saturday, we will visit one of the most beautiful places in Spain:  Granada.  Get ready! Lots of pictures are going to be posted here.

All pictures here were taken by students.  By the way, as you see in one of the pictures, the school has a pool!  Nobody gets in it, but they do have one.  There is way too much to do in Malaga instead of wasting time at the pool?!!




The first day at the school and a city tour

Our day started early.  At 8:30am we were at the school, ready to take the placement  test.  The students were then divided into three different groups, according to their level of Spanish.  I couldn’t help but to notice that the three professors at the school were very helpful, and created a relaxing atmosphere for everybody.  I am sure, that tomorrow will be a very good day for you. For sure, all of you, students, will leave Spain, at the end of the program with a lot of vocabulary and cultural knowledge, that will benefit your career in the near future.  Meanwhile, let’s have the best of attitudes and enjoy this time.

Talking about enjoying our time…how did you like the city tour?  The city tour covered a few places that are very important in the history of Málaga.  It is hard to grasp that this city that looks modern in many ways, can have such a vast history.  The cathedral, “La Manquita” like the locals call it, was started in 1492 and never finished.  This is why there is a “missing” tower.  However, “La catedral de la Encarnación” continues to be one of the most visited places in this city.  The end of that tour finished at the “Plaza de la Constitución”, a very important historical square, surrounded by modern restaurants, stores and a lot of people.  I hope you enjoyed the beauty of this city, a unique place, with a one of a kind weather, like no other in Spain!



Before arriving to España

Once we signed up to go the Spain Study Abroad program, we were mentally ready to just take the plane and arrive in Madrid.  However, there were too many things to do before making this trip a reality.  We went through the paperwork, the meetings, and the rules and regulations.  Congratulations!  You made it trough.
This blog will be showing some of those fun times we are about to have.  Sometimes pictures are the best memory we can have to help us remember the people and the places we visited.  While you will be taking Spanish classes, use this time to your advantage.  Learn as much as you can and have fun with the language.  Let’s do it!