Friday, January 22, 2010

fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Buenas tardes,

Sorry I haven't been writing much - this month has been so crazy! As it turns out, our interim class is quite demanding, and this week, I had my big presentation on a region of Spain. But it went well, and I ended up learning a bit about a really cool place. The region is Navarra - not only home of the running of the bulls, but also Europe's leader in renewable energy use (>70%!!!). Now we have our final essay and exam coming up. Uf! I can't wait for the regular semester.

All that school stuff aside, things have been GREAT here. We've done so many cool things, like day trips, fun nights out, and walks on the beach. But the everyday life is wonderful too. An average weekday for me looks like this:

8:15 -Get up, get ready, etc.
8:45 - Eat my breakfast (cereal! my favorite) and drink the orange juice that my Mamá squeezed while i was getting ready minutes prior. The oranges are grown by a family friend right outside of Denia.... it is the best orange juice ever. (How am I ever going to drink tropicana again?)
9:10 - walk to school (a good 15 minutes) along the south end of the city, looking at the mountain as I go.
9:30 - 11: Class on the regions of Spain with Prof. Bierling
11 - 11:30: break! I usually go outside and sit in the sun, eating a bocadillo (baguette sandwich, usually ham and/or cheese) that my Mamá makes for me.
11:30 - 1: Literature class (regional Spanish authors) with Prof. Zandstra
1 - 4: Home for our big meal of the day (2:00) with my Mamá and Papá (and my little sister on fridays). This food is AMAZING! My Mamá sure can cook. Oh - and I usually take a little siesta (nap) too.
4 - 8:30 Back to the UNED (our university) for some reason or another. Half of the days, we have a group errand, a movie showing for lit. class, a short excursion... But then I usually work on homework with friends at school or at a café.
8:30 onward: home again! We usually eat a light supper around 9:00, and then I finish up homework and try to get to bed between midnight and one. I'm getting more sleep than I have since elementary school - it's great - but I need it more than ever since then, too! My friends and I have all noticed that we end the days wiped out, but sleep really well. We can't handle our usual deficient (in my case, extremely deficient) college-student sleep schedules, because our brains have to work so much harder here to process speaking in and listening to Spanish all day.

By the end of the day, I've walked at least 1 hour, but it's great. Not only is it great exercise, but the route is beautiful, and it's wonderful not to need a car to get around. (But I do appreciate it when my papá picks me up in the evening on his way home from work!)

Ok, well I've gotta hit the books again. Hopefully I'll write again soon with more updates on all the fun things we've been doing.

grace and peace,


p.s. decided to add a few pics:

This is me on the porch outside my room:

On the 15th, we went to Jávea, just on the other side of Montgó, where they had a reception for us and we got to tour the old part of the city, too. The 2nd and 3rd picture are from on top of the cathedral.

We went to Valencia on the 16th, which is the nearby big city. It was amazing! The architecture is a beautiful mix of old and modern. And Europe's largest aquarium!

I had the priveledge of going back to Valencia already on the next Tuesday. My mamá and little sister, Raquel, and I went to visit my sister Mireia, who is 19 and studies Economics and German at the University of Valencia. Of course we hit up the rebajas (sales), which Spain has for the 2 months after Christmas.

This is on Friday the 22nd, when we toured Denia's castillo (castle).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

¡qué vida la mía!


well. I just had to post right now. I have lots to say about life lately (and maybe I'll post it later), but for now I just wanted to let you know what I'm up to at this moment.

It's the first warm, sunny, day we've had yet, and today was the first time I saw people eating at the tables outside of the cafés, on the sidewalks. So of course, I had to take advantage -- "aprovechar" -- of this beautiful day.

I'm sitting on my porch, looking out at the boats in the port, and beyond them to the deep blue mediterranean. Between me and the port lies but a pool and a lovely little plaza bedecked in greenery.

Here's a picture I snapped with my computer to give you an idea of what this looks like:

Well, I should go. It's time to eat the fresh fish that my mamá has been preparing, and in truth, my family thinks I'm crazy for sitting outside in short sleeves with all this wind. But with the sun, the view, and the salt sea air blowing in, how could I not? I'm here to aprovechar.

Friday, January 8, 2010

i'm in spain!

Wow. So, I knew I'd love Spain... but thus far my time here has exceeded my expectations. Yes, we had a difficult voyage with lost group members, lost baggage, and passing through security in 3 airports... but now we're all (but 1) here and I was fortunate enough to receive all of my luggage.

Truly, I am SO so incredibly happy here. My familia is amazing. They are kind, welcoming, and fun - and my mamá is a great cook :) Moreover, they are very dedicated Christians... I have had some really good talks with my mamá and I am learning so much from her! Who knew that I wouldn't just learn about spanish culture from my host family, but also about God's faithfulness - already on day 2 in Denia. Also, my mamá and I are kindred spirits about the environment and our role as Christians caring for creation. (We discovered this as she was showing me where they put their recycles and composting, yeah yeah.) I could go on for a long time about how great this family is... and we are only just getting to know eachother. I feel so blessed to be here in this casa. God is good.

The Calvin stuff is going well, too - we have a great group of people and the class this interim is going to be really interesting. It's on the regions of spain - about their culture, traditions, political issues, topography/climate, and other such things that I love to learn about. Essentially, it's the geography of Spain. How perfect! It's been cold here - cloudy and in the 40s and 30s (F) more or less. This happens rarely in Denia, though, and we could be seeing temps back up in the 60s next week - already today it's sunny, and for sure, we'll see lots more of the the sun... which will be lovely, especially since I can see (and smell) the Mediterranean from my porch just outside my room.

Well, it's time for some traditional spanish christmas candies and a cup of tea (my mamá and I both love rooibos) and a little siesta, and then I'm heading off to Alcoy with my mamá and my friend Becca. Alcoy is a lovely town in the mountains, and there we'll be seeing the Coro Blau (the joint gospel choir of the 3 baptist churches in the area), and visiting relatives.

It's been a great time so far - and I still have 4 and a half months :)



p.s. i'll be adding pictures in a little bit. so check back for those!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


So, after years of anticipation, I’m finally leaving for a semester in Spain – tomorrow!

My home for the next 5 months will be the beautiful little town of Dénia, located right on the eastern Mediterranean coast (I’ve always been an east coast girl…), at the base of a mountain. Its name isn’t on this map, but you can see its location on the tip that juts out between Valencia and Alicante.

“Aprovechar” is a spanish word that means “to make the most of, to take advantage of.” As I embark on this big adventure, this is something I aim to do – to make the most of everything Spain has to offer: the sights, sounds, and tastes; as well as the opportunities to make friends, learn a lot, and enjoy the beauty and diversity of God’s creation all the way across the pond.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have expected this, but I have no worries or reservations going into this semester (now that my suitcases are packed, at least.) I’ve been hoping to study in Spain for so long (since I fell in love with Spain on my school trip there in 2007) – and I’m thrilled that this dream is finally coming true. I know that I will certainly be stretched out of my comfort zone at times, but I know that God is going to use those times to teach me and grow me – and I’m eager to see how.

Tomorrow, we’re leaving Calvin at 7:30am, and hopefully arriving in Denia by noon on the 7th. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers for our travel to Spain as well as throughout this whole adventure.

Keep checking back for more on my adventures!

gracia y paz,