Our group is still hanging out all the time. I still see the guys from the other programs every now and again. The beach has turned into a popular hang out spot.We've been going to el barrio a good amount during the week.
Classes are going along smoothly. I think im beginning to pickup a lisp because of the accent most of the spanish have with their S'es and C'es. My host mom is still sweet, but kind of distant. Our schedules don't match up. I get back from class and shes taking her siesta. I go out during the night and she doesnt (shes in her 50's) but stays up late.
I've started running again =).
This weekend I went to London (Saturday) since our planned trip to Valencia was canceled. I met up with Thomas and Ainsely up there since I hadn't seen Tom since september when he started his study abroad. Unfortunately we couldn't get in touch with Greg or Andrea who also happen to be hanging around London. It was a great time though, we hung out at witherspoons restaurant and bar for several hours and later found a hostel for the night which happened to have a club downstairs. The next day (Sunday) we went to the tate modern art museum and buckingham palace before a late lunch and my flight back to Spain.
Now im back in Alicante again and enjoying it down here.
First day of class we all got up nice and early (7:30) so we could all find the bus and check our classes at the university. Fortunately, I have class in the afternoon (11-3), but the majority of the people in our group have class from 8-12. So Armando took us on a little tour around campus, and got us all situated and showed us where the computer labs were (finally! Their computers are very slow (win95 i believe) but they have ethernet jacks i can plug into).
The first day of classes went well. They seem to be at the right level (advanced) and should push me along nicely. The pace seems slower, but i think thats just the spanish culture because we are covering a good amount of material. The professors are very understanding, although most of them do not speak english. The classes have all international students. A good portion of them are from the US, but there’s some from Japan, Korea, Russia, and Iran from what i could make out.
Some of us woke up to a fairy fancy continental breakfast. Fresh squeezed orange juice, Potato omelet-ish thing, eggs, sweet bread, sausage (think pepperoni like), and more.
We all took a small tour of the city before getting introduced to our home-stay families. Pictures to follow
I was introduced to my home-stay mom: Carmen Pardo Cardoso, and when I got to her house, her daughter; Sandra
They live a little bit north of downtown, just north of Plaza de Toros in an apartment style home on the 7th floor, with a view of the Hill*. Carmen makes me lunch and dinner everyday and everything is good. Meatball soup, bread, fish w/ tomato sause, tortillas de papas (potatoey tortilla looking thing).
She is very sweet, and always offers to help out with everything, and makes sure I am well fed. I haven’t Sandra since I’ve met her at first, she is works at the theaters and always leaves before I get back from class.
Anyway I’m getting settled in. My luggage arrived today fortunately. And for the most part we understand each other fairly well and I haven't been having too much trouble communicating.
Pictures of the House:
I will probably only be updating this every few days after classes start tomorrow. I dont have internet access in the house im staying but there is at the university. Plus I get tired of writing so much.
I slept surprisingly well, even though it was only for 2 hours. It hadn’t snowed all night. We grabbed some food at the hotel before drudging back out to the airport.
We still hadn’t found our bags, but we heard there was a chance they had been placed on a plane already.
The flight was delayed 30 mins, but the plane showed up and were relieved to be one step closer. However the airport was still swamped and we wouldnt take off from the gate for another 2 hours waiting our turn.
We finally got off the gate, but we need to be de-iced since the plane had been on the ground yesterday and the wings had frozen over with snow. Fortunately it didn’t take long. The plane was surprisingly empty so most of us sprawled out across three seats and slept through the flight.
When we arrived in Alicante we had to wait in line for another 2 hours to make a claim for our lost luggage.
I was one of the last to get through the line. Fortunately Armando, one of the program coordinators and professors was waiting for us as we walked out.
We drove to a 4 star hotel which we stayed in over the night. Most of us passed out up in our rooms before dinner as we were still exhausted from the mess in Madrid.
Around 7 we came down stairs and met everyone and proceeded out to a restaurant nearby (the name escapes me at this moment) that the program treated us to. They served a first and second plate, along with bread, and a local wine. For the most part is was good. Some people were put off a bit by the seafood soup, which had whole shrimp/prawns in it (eyes end everything). I ordered empanadas (sausage and cheese type platter) and a type of ham for my second plate. It was all quite delicious.
Afterwards a bunch of us hung out back upstairs in the hotel, while others went to bed.
Around midnight a couple of students still here from last semester took us out to el barrio, where the bars and clubs are of the town. It was an awesome place, but there were a lot of international students out, so it wasn't the most authentic experience. There is a rumor that sometimes they give students 2 beers for the price of one, but I have yet to see this.
*A comment, these blogs take longer to write than i thought so I am going to make future posts shorter and respond to comments more
As I was driving to the SeaTac airport and as soon as we took off, i could see the flooding that had hit Washington around the Puyallup river Layover in Chicago went smoothly and was brief. Boarded the enormous Iberia Airbus 340. The 8.5 hr flight went by rather quickly as I was able to sleep through most of it, although I did always manage to wake up for the meals (seems euro airliners still serve food free). Seems like I can’t escape the snow this winter after all. Landed in Madrid around 9am local, light snow falling and a bit of power on the ground. Went through customs without a hitch. Its been snowing harder all day. There appears to be about 3-4 inches out on the ground as of 11:30. I haven't seen any snow plows. I doubt they have many and If they do I am sure they busy clearing the runways. There we no delays when I arrived but they have slowly been updating more and more flight times as the day goes on.
There was a total of about 5 inches of snow on the ground around 2 when it stops snowing. My flight kept getting pushed back and pushed back until 4 when its no longer posted. I asked a group what was happening. The flight had been canceled. It turns out the people in the group that I asked were all doing a study abroad in Alicante, although a couple were through a different program. We went downstairs to baggage claim because we were told to claim our bags off the flight had been canceled. Everyone whose flight was cancelled was down there. Bags were just piled on the floor and the sides and were coming out of a single carousel. We look for a short while before realizing our search was futile. so we camped out around the carousel to wait for our bags. People kept telling us that our bags were coming but there was no sign of them. We had to wait to get our bags so we could check them before we could get tickets
Around 10 we started to get tired of waiting. Myself and a couple others went to get some food before the restaurants closed. We returned back to others in the baggage claim. 2 in the group, Tyson and Brynn had found 1 of their bags each just lying in between the carousels. We talked to some officials who then told us to just reserve tickets for the next flight and make a claim the following day if our luggage didn't arrive at its destination.
So we headed upstairs to the ticket booths. There were lines stretched around the walls of the entire terminal. Dismayed we had no better choice to get in line. we waited in line for another 2-3 hours. We spun coins on the ground to pass the time. Every once in a while while we were waiting, shouts (what sounded like cheers) and whistles(booing in Europe) would start up. Occasionally, we would here the chant “Huelga, Huelga…” (“Strike, Strike”) emerge from the line. Tyson and Brynn had to figure out what to do with the bags they found (since they were still missing a bag each, which was not a good sign). Fortunately they had found some good help and were told to go to the Business Plus Ticket booth to check their bags and get their tickets. After 20 minutes they had their tickets and bags checked ready to head out. They came and told us how they had just bypassed everything so the 4 of us who were waiting in line (Me, Jacob, Jimmy, and Drew), saving everyone else a spot went over and got our tickets in 20 mins as well. We had to get in another line for an hour however, to get stamps to get put up in the airport hotel, while the rest of the group when to get their tickets through the fasttrack we had found. We did one more pass around the carousels to find our luggage with no luck (our whole flight had lost baggage). We finally got out at 2, but had to wait in another line when we finally got to the hotel. We grabbed showers and the hotel fortunately had free wifi so i was finally able to contract my parents (international network, pay phones that required calling cards we couldn't buy, and expensive internet at the airport made sure of that). All in all, we got to bed at 3 and had to be up at 6 to catch our flight in the morning the next day
lines would continue to plague us until we got out of the airport of Alicante the next day.
We would late find out that Terminal 4, our terminal got the worst of this disaster. Also that in pretty much never snows in madrid and the airport hadn’t been that bad for at least 30 years