Saturday, August 30, 2008

Education at Alcalingua

We started school and I found out that the three classes that I am taking at the university here are all taught by the same teacher.  On the first day of school he said "my name is Jesus" (a very common name for hispanics) "not big Jesus up there but little Jesus down here."  I am taking two literature classes and a Spanish Cultural class from him.  He is very engergetic and has straight black long-ish hair (covering his ears).  He, like most Spaniards has pretty good taste in clothes but he tucks his shirts into his underwear...the girls in the class really got a kick out of that.

I have to buy and read 6 literature books by Nov. 15.  Not to bad I guess except for the fact that EVERY weekend we are traveling and sometimes for a week at a time!  Thank goodness my roommate is an english major and loves literature!  He will help a brotha out a lot!

We have 2 classes on Monday and Wednesday and 1 on Tuesday and Thursday.  We don't have class Fridays.  We have our institute classes on Mondays and I am going to start voice lessons with a lady here in two weeks and I don't know what day of the week I will be doing that.

I hope to do well in all my classes because my goal is to have a 3.8 GPA by my Senior year.  This semester may help me get closer to that goal!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

El llegado de mis maletas

All here this!  My bags FINALLY arrived after wearing the same clothes for 5 days!  I was almost in tears when I walked in the apartment to find my bags sitting in my room.  All arrived safe and sound and for my troubles Delta will pay me 25 Euros for everyday that the bags were missing.  that is 125 Euros!  saweet!  Totally worth being stinky for 5 days!  The girls in the group were especially happy when I came to class the day after my bags arrived wearing different clothes...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Segovia y La Granja

Okay so my camera died but don't you worry I will get some pictures up soon!

You may ask yourself  "Why doesn't he just charge is battery and post the pictures?"  Well, I will tell why I have not.  I don't have my bags!!  And therefore I cannot charge my camera because my charger is in my bags!  

I arrived safely to the Barajas Airport in Madrid after a 23 hour trip only to find that my bags somehow got lost between Alaska and Spain.  I mean come on how could that happen??  I only traveled half way around the world!  It is now Tuesday.  I arrived on Friday.  You do the Math.  Thankfully I have awesome roommates who are concerned for my well being and let me barrow their clothes...Somethings were harder to accept than others...

When I arrived in Spain I finally had the chance to meet many of the students that I had only read about via email.  I was very pleased to find that they are all fun and ready to enjoy what Europe has to offer us.  I met the professors and they were happy to find me in good spirits even though I did not have any bags.  Working for the tour industry has made me a patient person when it comes to those kinds of things.  After the majority of the group arrived we took a bus to Alcala de Hernandez.  This is where we are and will be living for the majority of our stay.  This is also where the school Alcalingua is and where we will be attending classes everyday but Fridays and the weekends.  These are reserved for traveling and we have tons of trips planned.  We met up with our host families and our Señora Luisa took us to her house.  The apartments here are very small.  Just enough room for the necessities.  There are three of us living in the apartment from the program and the lady of the house with her husband.  They are both very nice and accommodating to us.  I room with one of the guys and the third has his own room.  

We have learned how to ride the train to and from Madrid and use the bus system.  Everyone travels on the public transportation systems and the roads here are just big enough for one car to go one way.  I have only seen one truck and it was Ford Ranger. 

We went to Church on Sunday and the Pianist for the ward is a concert pianist...and boy did he let it show!  He was giving it all he had when we came in and during sacrament meeting.  It was very different...The ward is awesome and the YSA teacher for sunday school is an incredible teacher!!  This week he related missionaries and the church as two different churches because we have made it so and he helped us to understand that they are one in the same.  We all wanted to go and find someone to bring to church after that class!  We are trying to help the girls in the group understand that the American Elders should not be sought out to talk to because those of us who have been on missions know how distracting attractive american girls can be!

Monday we went to Segovia and La Granja.  In Segovia we went to the castle of Fernando the 7th and an ancient Cathedral.  The Castle is said to be the one that Disney modeled the California Disneyland Castle after.  As we entered the castle grounds there was a sign and it made me think of the song we sang in Spanish class about Fernando séptimo and how he used need to hear the song but it is funny!  It was amazing how much gold was used to decorate and we also saw little knights everywhere.  All the girls were taking pictures next to their
Here are all the boys in the group except for one...and less than half the girls...tough life I know.

 "knight in shining armor."  They just need to open their eyes and see the knights that are traveling with them!  We just don't have the armor...and we are real, not dead statues...
Before we left the Castle we had the opportunity to climb one of the towers.  The sign in front of the tower read something about 152 stairs and that it was really steep.  The stairs were very small and for 28 BYU students it was just all part of the adventure.  We climbed the stairs one way as other tourists climbed them the other way.  I am pretty sure many of the other tourists there were getting mad at us because we stopped to take pictures every 10 stairs it seemed like! We got to the top and saw over the whole area.  It was an incredible view!  

We then went to the Cathedral.  It had very calming feeling that everyone that enters there can feel.  As I passed through I could not help but hear the sound of monks chanting in my head.  Oh how I would love to sing in a cathedral such as that!

There were many paintings and statues of Christ on the Cross and it made me appreciate even more the Atonement.  I am so grateful for the suffering He went through to help me become what I am and what I will be and the opportunity I have to live again because of his selfless sacrifice.  

We then went to see the Aqueduct built by the Romans.  We were told that this aqueduct is the most complete left.  An amazing engineering product of the Roman intellect.  

So we then left and went around the city to take pictures and eat lunch.  I found a small stream and, as is expected of me, embraced my child side and took my shoes off to play in the water while the rest of the group ate.  The water smelled like poo but I didn't care, I mean come on I was still wearing the same clothes that I had for 5 days...

Does this picture look like Disneyland?????

The best part of the day is when we went to La Granja!!

10 fountains that are never turned on in the same day except 3 days out of the year.  It is not permitted to swim in the fountains either...but we did!

Our arrival time was a bit early and we had some time to look around.  Because it has been so incredibly hot here all of us were near heat exhaustion and had already drunk the water that was given to us in our small sack lunches.  The guys went to the restrooms and drank out of the faucet while the girls made fun of us and said we would get a weird European disease.  Which would actually be kinda cool because we could say we got a weird European disease...IN EUROPE!  Anyway we walked around I spoke to a girl in the group named Liz for a while about Arrested Development, one of the most ingenious sitcoms made.  

I decided that I was done talking about america and did not want to go with her and some other girls to get food so I joined some other members of the group, yes more girls, as we went and saw the Labyrinth!  A maze made out of tress and bushes.  We asked one of the security guards how to get there and he told us with very specific instruction on how to get out.  I am sure he told us at least 5 times that he did not want us to call 911 to have them come get us out!  We didn't get lost but the son and a friend of the son of the professor did!  (they are only 10)  We spent the majority of our time searching for them.
As we found our way out of the Labyrinth we had to rush to the fountains to see the water be turned on.  A loud eruption of applause sounded as we got close and we thought we had missed it!  But actually we found out that no, we didn't miss it.  There was a crowd of people dressed very strangely.  One man was dressed in a cow costume!  We got close and saw that he had jumped in the fountain and that many others were doing the same!  This is when I became even more thankful for the members of our group because I saw that two of us had jumped in too!  I turned to Allory, one of the girls that I was with, and Anna another and said lets go!  So we went and gave our cameras and shoes to one of the members that had already jumped in and in we went, jeans and all!  Let me tell you those Spaniards are crazy with their holidays and they were pushing people in left and right!  Every time one of our girls tried to get out another guy would push them in!  We decided we wanted to jump in another fountain and when the one were were at turned on we put on the burners and with the help of Anna we cruised through all the crowds.  Let me tell you she has got a talent and skill that I have never seen!  She can work her way through any crowd!  We got to Los Baños de Diana and on the way we saw many European mullets and naked babies running around everywhere!  we stayed to watch the fountain be turned on and then again began to bullet our way through the crowd but not before we took pictures with some 15th century impersonators with their wigs and all!
We arrived at "La Fama" which is the last one and waited.  It turned on and as it did we jumped in!  the fountain spewed water from its top 15 meters in the air and it came down on us like a crazy tornado rain storm!  it was cold as sin and it hurt your eyes.  I am pretty sure that water did have some kind of disease in it though because it was a yellow brown color with lots of green in...stuff.  We played around for about 20 minuets and the guards began to get mad at us and we left.  I got a thorn in my toe and had to walk the mile back to the bus with it in there.  As the gentlemen that we are we let the girls change first and then we got on the bus and changed into some dry clothes.  Of course no one really thought about bringing dry clothes so the girls were running around covering themselves as the boys just said "oh well we don't care if people know we have underwear on!"
On the way back to Alcala we had a good FHE lesson.  It was based on the talk given at BYU entitled "The Intimate Restoration."  We spoke a bit about being homesick and how to handle it but we also discussed the items in our lives that are covering our testimonies and what we can do to protect our selves and to discover what had once been covered before.
I asked a question that challenged the person giving the lesson and it seemed as though she didn't know how to answer it.  I am just one of those people that like to challenge others to help get rid of narrow minded thinking.  She did fine in answering what I asked and it was a good lesson for all.