Saturday, June 23, 2018

Reflections on Study Abroad in Spain Winter Term '16 - WEEK 4 Jan 27th-Feb 2nd

Wednesday, January 27th

Small group time with the peeps and Rebeca on the beach (la playa) and had dinner at Burger King (I didn't know Burger King was so popular outside of the U.S.!). We had an impromptu worship time with the ukulele and a songbook. It was wonderful. I don't remember ever feeling as peaceful as I did that evening. We sang with the waves in the background. I wish we had taken pictures that night, but I still have a very strong memory of it. I think we also played in the sand, like drew pictures and wrote stuff. We also laughed A LOT! It was probably one of my favorite nights in the whole time we were in Spain.

Thursday, January 28th

Happy birthday to meeeeeeeeeeeeee! Thursday mornings were bible study mornings with some church members (most of whom were our host parents, go figure) and I had not realized that the fact that it was my birthday was common knowledge and everyone greeted me and said happy birthday. It was great! And I received a few gifts that I would open later. And after the bible study, we went to the "classroom" like normal, and had classtime like normal. I think we had a quiz that day (Ugh...) so that was kind of stressful. However, after class was done, I thought hmmm everyone seems a little more in a hurry to leave...but I didn't really think much of it, as Phil and Maretta weren't in a huge hurry...(which actually should have made me think twice, as I found out they were actually "waiting" for me to be ready to leave) and so we left the room and they seemed to be guiding me down the stairs in a very particular fashion, so I am thinking woah, what's going on, is there something I forgot about that we had to be out in such a quick way (because I am such an airhead sometimes)? And they lead me, saying things like "come on" and "over here", toward the sanctuary door/entryway...And it was closed so they wanted me to push it open, and I'm getting more and more suspicious every second...I opened it and...I heard "surprise! happy birthday!" and I remember being speechless because even though I didn't know what was going on, I couldn't have predicted that I would get my own surprise birthday party! Here are some pictures from the party..

Happy Birthday garland :) 

Friday, January 29th

Weekend trip to Ceuta and Gibraltar!!! This trip was different from all the other trips we took because it was a whole weekend, vs. just a day trip, so just that alone was enough to be even more excited. I also got feelings of Camp Patmos staff nostaliga riding on the ferry to Algecieras, Spain. This is where we got connected to ride to Ceuta. I think I still have both ferry ticket stubs from this way and the ones on the way back. So many things were packed into this weekend trip so it's kind of hard to remember every single detail but I will do my best to recall. I'm sure Danielle if you're reading this, you can help correct my memory. ;) First when we arrived, we went to the hotel where we would be staying, called the Paradores Hotel. I stayed with Kait. We were so exhausted from this adventure that I don't think we really chatted after we got back from our hiking. We just kind of collapsed into the bed for the night. So our first hike was pretty much right when we got to the hotel, after checking in, and putting our stuff in the room. We climbed to the top of Monte Hacho (the southern peak of the "Pillars of Hercules" - the northern one is in Gibraltar "Rock of Gibraltar") and around the very top of the mountain, at the Fortaleza de Hacho ("Fort first built by the Byzantines, and still an active military installation" - After our crazy exhausting hiking adventure, we went back to the hotel and ate at Cafe Reloj for dinner. I think Danielle has a picture from that. Here:

After dinner, we went back to hotel and then just walked around the downtown, and the beach. It was really unique there because we saw "stranded" jellyfish just chillin' on the beach so we decided to try to rescue them by kind of shoveling them with sand back into the water. It was exiting. They were really pretty. I think we just walked back to hotel to crash for the night and relax. Here is a picture from Danielle's camera on the ferry:

Here are some pictures from my camera on this Ceuta trip:

Danielle and I on the ferry to Ceuta

Saturday, January 30

Today was another day of massive hiking, but it was somehow less strenuous because I guess my body was sort of used to the exercise. Still really difficult to keep up with Phil/Maretta's pace. So this day is probably the most choppy in my memory but according to some notes, I went with Danielle  and Abigail and walked into the main part of the city, and went to a supermarket called SuperSol. We bought some food for lunch and ate it in the balcony in their room. It was delicious! The meat was so flavorful, it was like a really hard pungeant salami and the cheese was like a strong cheddar. Wonderful. MMmmm...Here's some pics of the food:

Also on this day, we walked along the Royal Walls and by the Mediterranean Sea. We got some pictures of them as shown above. After this adventure in Ceuta, we took the ferry back to hotel and then a ferry took us to Gibraltar, and we drove to the hotel we would be staying in. It was quite the experience. It definitely felt different than Spain, even though geographically we were still kind of in Spain, just on the very very tip of Africa. We were across the water from Morocco. So Danielle and I wanted to go walk along the shoreside and boardwalk, I guess you could call it. We got food and we also had fun just walking along and taking jumping pictures (or at least attempting to). Here:

We ate at a Burger King (again, a recurring theme) with everyone else. Later we went back to hotel and I sat and talked with Danielle of the balcony so we had a nice view while we talked and prayed. :)

Sunday, January 31

This was one of my other favorite things from the trip. Not only did we get to explore during the day different major cities in Spain especially ones with historical significance, we got to travel into British controlled territory at the tip of Spain, called Gibraltar. The area looked nothing like Spain, it really did look like we had stepped into the UK for the day, except it was very mountainous. We did so much in such a short time, it was quite exhausting. Here is a list of the things we did, with pictures.

9 mile hike!

Climbed many stairs to Moorish Castle
Walked to Great Siege Tunnel
Hiked to restaurant
Barbaray Macaques (they stole Kristina's juice)
Climbed to highest point on Rock

Pics from the hike from Danielle's camera:

O'Haras (war battery)
Walked down daunting and dangerous Mediterranean steps - just stone chunks with rope barriers on one side
St. Michael's cave (I didn't go in it because I was resting from being dehydrated - got expensive OJ in the gift shop. It was super hot out and the walk was exhausting. WHEW! It felt so good to just sit and take in the surrounding beauty instead of trying to keep up with the group constantly)
Went with Phil/Maretta to Morrisons (like a British version of Kroger) and I bought British tea and had to pay an upcharge because I didn't have my euros exchanged for pounds. It was still reasonable. I think I ended up paying like 5-6 dollars U.S. The tea was some of the best tea I've ever had, so it was worth it. I think I still have a few bags left...:)
Walked back to hotel
Sat in lobby to wait for driver Basil
Drove home with Phil/Maretta, and Danielle and had good conversations about careers
Danielle and I at the house til Alan/Noemi returned from staying somewhere until the next day

Monday, February 1

Nothing out of the ordinary happened today, I think it was mostly just the routine of going to class, and coming home and relaxing, although I think Danielle had her Spanish hour. I think Sarai (Kait's host mom) made banana cake and brought it over for us to enjoy, and it was delicious!

Tuesday, February 2

Test day!!! ahhh. These days were always really stressful because we all agreed we never felt prepared enough and the amount of things we needed to know for the tests was massive...ahhh our brains!!! The test included information about Ceuta and Gibraltar because those trips were combined. We also had Spanish informant hour all of us at Alan/Noemi's...All is Danielle, Kait, and me :) It was exhausting but still fun. Kait got out her Spanish worship songs book and we sang Spanish songs together. It was great. After our Spanish session, I stayed at the house to study, while a few others met at Burger King at la playa. It turned out to be a very common meeting spot, both to eat, and just to meet to go into Malaga because the buses stopped near there.  The group eventually came back and Kait stayed over with us and it was fun.