I have been in Spain for approximately a month and a week but it feels like I have been here for longer. I enjoy living in Málaga; I live close to the beach, right by one of the main streets and love my host señora. What was jarring to me, and what kept me from fully embracing Spanish life, was the pace at which the Spanish people move.
Posts from the ‘Málaga’ Category
After having been in Málaga for a bit I find myself getting used to living abroad, and enjoying Spanish culture. The siesta is a time to relax and recharge, the bread present at every meal is motivation to exercise. There are some irksome qualities here, though. The fact that to unlock the door I must turn the key to the right is perplexing. And the nearest Starbucks is located at the airport. Green tea lattes, I will see you back in the States! Despite feeling at odds with some aspects of Spanish culture, the language and the people are enough to make me forget the subtle annoyances.
By the time I made it to Madrid, I felt I had accomplished something. My connecting flight to Dallas had been cancelled, so I had to fly into Frankfurt instead. Hello, goodbye Germany! The best part of the first 48 hours was meeting new friends and exploring Madrid together. It feels like the first few weeks of college, where everyone wants to meet everyone, especially because we have become our own cultural bubble; musical taste and hobbies become bonding fodder. This is reassuring.
Hello Future ISA Students! My name is Chrissy Busse and I became an ISA Global Ambassador after spending an amazing semester abroad with ISA in Málaga, Spain. Málaga isn’t as well known as other cities in Spain, so I wanted to take some time and tell you a few, of the many, reasons you should choose Málaga as your study abroad destination this semester!
While I was in Málaga, I kept an online blog to update my friends and family about my life abroad, and I have included some excerpts from that blog here so you can see first-hand what a great time I was having.
One of the best things about spending your semester with ISA Málaga is that the University of Málaga campus you attend is right next to the beach! Here is a blog entry that I made describing the beautiful beach in Málaga ….
My roommate and I recently began taking advantage of the beach during our breaks from school. The beach is only a couple minutes from both our house and school, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Michelle and I have moved our siesta nap time onto the beach! The beach is always packed with people exercising, tanning, or eating at the beach seafood bar/restaurants called Chiringuitos. It is great to lie down under a palm tree, listen to music, and just rest looking out over the water. I could stare at the sun shining on the water all day…it doesn’t get much more relaxing than that. Since it just started getting warm we haven’t been brave enough to swim yet, but it shouldn’t be long before we do. We also looking forward to attending “unas maragas”, or bonfire parties that young Spaniards have on the beach at night.
Besides the beach, my absolute favorite part of Málaga was “El Centro”, or the city center. Below is my blog describing my feelings on “El Centro”…
El Centro de Málaga is an outdoor area full of cafes, bars, shops, and nightlife and has become my other favorite place to go after class. No matter the time or day of the week the center is always packed with people. I now understand why Americans are classified as lazy… Spanish people never stay at home!
Another advantage of studying abroad in Málaga is the ability to really immerse yourself in the Spanish way of life. It is not as common for foreign students to study in Málaga as in other Spanish cities, and I found the locals to be so warm and welcoming to Americans. Apparently southern hospitality also applies to the south of Spain! I’m including a final excerpt from my blog describing my wonderful home stay experience.
My host family has been great so far, they are all very accommodating and friendly. My 26-year-old brother, Luis and and 25-year-old sister, Marta make lunch for us every day while Pilar (Mama) is at work. This gives us quality time with our Spanish siblings to practice our Spanish. The language barrier is difficult at times but they are very patient with us and enjoy helping us learn. We watch the news everyday while we eat which also helps to improve my vocabulary. I’ve noticed that Spain is much less conservative about what they show on the TV than the states!
Michelle and I share a room with bunk beds and an INCREDIBLE view of Málaga. There is an outdoor pool at the apartment as well that we can’t wait to take advantage of. We have a terrace right outside our room where we enjoy soaking up the Andalucían sun and playing with my dog, Pepe. It’s hard to complain about doing homework when you have the Mediterranean Sea in the background. Needless to say, Málaga is beautiful and I am so fortunate and privileged to be living here for three months.
En este blog responderé a vuestras preguntas primer y entonces vos diré la historia de mis viajes a Málaga y Marruecos (Morocco).
¿Me gusta España más que los EEUU? Hmm, no, creo que no. España es maravillosa y bonita y muy guay pero todos mis amigos viven en los Estados Unidos y hay cosas específicas que España (o Barcelona) no tiene, como Cincinnati chili y bosques.
En el acuario de Valencia hay ballenas belugas.
La ropa de los jóvenes es interesante, muy como los hipsters de los Estados Unidos, es un poco difícil explicarlo. Se visten en una manera que dice “no me importa cómo parezco” pero todavía me parecen vestidos bien.
FC Barcelona es el mejor equipo de futbol en todo el mundo. No lo sigo mucho pero sé que Messi es un jugador excelente y Fábregas también es muy bueno. Los aficionados aquí (toda la gente) son locos sobre este equipo. También, partidos de futbol son la única cosa que veo por la tele.
He hecho algunos amigos aquí en Barcelona a través mis clases de gimnasia. Hay cuatro o cinco hombres que consideraría amigos y tomo el metro con un de ellos pero no he salido con ellos todavía. Con respecto a la gente en general, creo que los españoles son un poco más cerrados que los americanos. Son amables y simpáticos pero (having a hard time explaining this in Spanish so reverting to English) if you don’t know someone through someone else, it’s hard to become friends. In other words, it would be way easier to meet someone through a mutual friend than in any other way I think.
Mis profesores son muy buenos. No he tenido problemas con ellos excepto de cuando hablan muy rápido o en voz baja pero con tarea o trabaja en clase todo es bien.
Los domingos son muy relajados. Nunca hay tiendas abiertas y hay solo pocos restaurantes abiertos. También, creo que estos días son para familias (at least somewhat) porque hoy (domingo) y domingos pasados hijas de Carmen han visitado su apartamento, pero no para cenar. En el sujeto de la cena, pregunto a Carmen si quiere ayuda pero cada vez ella dice “no,” pero a veces pongo los platos en el lavaplatos.
Parc Güell es un parque en Barcelona diseñado por Antoni Gaudí y construido entre los años 1900 a 1914 como una comunidad para los ricos, pero en lugar de esto se convirtió en un parque para todos. Es muy bonito y el estilo es muy interesante y moderno (en el estilo modernismo). Si voy a Madrid otra vez, seguramente iré a Parque Retiro.
Gimnasia está bien; estamos aprendiendo cosas nuevas como vertical de hombros en las paralelas y tipos diferentes de palomas en el suelo. Es muy divertido y trabaja el cuerpo mucho.
Now, as for Morocco, it was fairly amazing to say the least. I’ll add some pictures here but I’ll also try and make an online photo album so you guys can look at more of them. It would be hard to explain the whole trip in detail here on the blog so I’ll be brief in some sense and then maybe if we get to skype again I can take some questions or whatever about it.
Well first, the trip was through the program I’m in (International Studies Abroad) and we left from Málaga to go to Morocco last Friday at like 4:30 am. We drove to Algeciras and took a ferry from there to Morocco and then drove to Fes, which, as you could probably guess is a super old city. The next day we pretty much explored Fes and its’ medina, which in Arabic simply means ‘city’ but in this context it means ‘old walled city with tiny winding streets and not enough room or access to fresh air for motorized vehicles’. Think Aladdin and that’s pretty much it dead-on. In here we saw things as “normal” as clothing stores and things as foreign as shark-heads for sale and women cutting the ears off of dead goats. Also, we were taken to stores to see and purchase traditional Moroccan products, such as rugs, textiles, leather, metal-work, and herbs and spices. It was really interesting but hard to explain it all in such few words. From Fes we traveled by bus and then by land rover out into, literally, the middle of nowhere in the Sahara desert. We got up at 5:30AM to see the spectacular sunrise and the rest of the day we rode camels, visited a local Berber village, and explored the never-ending sand dunes. The next day we traveled from the desert to Meknes, which is near Fes, but since this took most of the day we didn’t have much time to really get to know Meknes at all. After that it was back to Málaga and then back to Barcelona. I realize that this isn’t in any way an adequate explanation for this trip: it was spectacular, incredible, and sobering all at the same time and this means that I’ll have to once again take up class time to really give you guys an idea of how it was because I’m already running over for how long this post should be.
So yeah the camel-riding was pretty much the coolest thing ever and I wish I had one that I could ride around on all the time. Oh and in Morocco they speak Moroccan Arabic but in the desert where we were they spoke Berber, which is similar to Arabic. I will explain this better via Skype and I look forward to receiving whatever questions you guys will throw at me.
As you all know (or should know, by now!) I am studying in the city of Granada. For our excursion with ISA, we took a 3 hour bus first to Ronda, toured the city, and then took an hour and a half bus ride to Málaga.
Matt and I decided to meet at 7:45-7:50am and walk together to the bus station in the morning and up to that point, I had been feeling relatively good. About halfway to the bus station I began to feel bouts of nausea and stomach cramps, my old morning friend from back in the States. Most of the bus ride I spent curled up in my seat, trying to sleep it off, so I unfortunately don’t have much to remark about the countryside along the way. I started to feel worse the closer we got to Ronda and this probably could have been fixed by drinking the juice my señora sent with me, but it wasn’t allowed on the bus and I had to wait until we arrived at Ronda’s bus station. I was wobbly-legged and very nauseous getting off the bus and immediately popped the straw into my juice box, not wanting to have to camp out in the bus station café while everyone else went on the walking tour. The juice helped substantially but I still had some stomach pains well into the tour, but they too eventually went away.
What snippets of the hilly countryside I did get from the bus ride, I could see that the countryside simply could not absorb any more water. It cascaded and galloped down the hillsides and gullies in a jaundiced taupe sort of colour; in some places water just oozed through the yellow earth and clay, forming giant, wet scars across the landscape. As much as I dislike all the rain and moisture and being perpetually wet (and unprepared for being thus!), I do have to remind myself that I should be appreciating it. This much rain in Andalucía, at least in the last decade, is unusual, and I am able to see a verdant countryside here that any other year I may not have been able to. The green of grass and weeds popping up between rocks and gravel is a mind-boggling emerald– the green I forgot existed in nature since coming here. It reduces all the mountain brush and olive trees to an almost dull and unimpressive grey colour–the best way I can think to describe it is seeing someone wear striped pants with a polka dot top. It’s a stark contrast and in a way, almost confusing.
Stepping off the bus in Ronda, we were all fearing a very cold, wet, and miserable tour. It was cold and dreary at the bus station with a steady drizzle and our breaths coming out in thick clouds. I encountered my first restroom in Spain where it was expected you pay for the service, though this was understandable: if you weren’t going to purchase something from the bar, then you had to pay 50 cents to use the restrooms. Not unreasonable. Especially since the line at the bus station restroom was ridiculously long. My choices at that point were to either stay at that café for several hours and meet the group at a designated meeting point later, or to try to go on the walking tour. By the time this was proposed to me at the station, I had tapped into my juice and managed to get rid of my nausea, so I agreed to go on the walking tour. Sitting in a café for hours, especially when I wasn’t allowed to get my book out from the below compartment of the bus, seemed much more miserable than a wet walking tour with stomach cramps!
I accompanied the group on the walking tour and we met our guide at the Plaza de Toros in Ronda. We didn’t go in to the Plaza de Toros but it is the oldest bullfighting ring built specifically for that purpose in Spain. From the outside it appeared very quaint and there is a statue of a very magnificent bull that I will most certainly get a picture of the next time I go! From there we proceeded to a viewing point, which for all of us was a completely unexpected and very pleasant surprise: a sudden drop over the edge of a cliff, where the valley below is 600-700 feet down! And of course on the account of the rain everything is swathed in clouds and mist and fog and it’s all so green and romantic… I really am just torn up about not being able to get my camera out from under the bus!
The guide ambled a little further and pointed out to us an old bit of the Muslim wall and one of the old gates that is still standing. Funnily enough I had pointed this out and explained it to one of my ISA groupmates a few moments before, when it was still visible. By the time the guide got to where we were standing, the wall and gate in the valley below disappeared into a thick swath of white clouds. We continued walking with our guide and around the corner we were given another impressive view of the gorge– and theamazingbridge that was built to cross it. It was a Baroque bridge if I remember correctly, either 16th or 17th century. Absolutely stunning.
We crossed this bridge and headed into one of the old districts of the town, I’m not sure which, but we went down a street named “Tenorio.” The tour guide asked us about the origin of the street name and I correctly answered with “Don Juan Tenorio.” The guide joked that Casanova learned all his tricks from Don Juan, and Rosanna, one of our ISA directors who is Italian, naturally begged to differ. On this street we visited a house and its garden.
We continued our walking tour through the neighbourhood, visited a plaza, received an explanation about fruits and their symbolism in Islam, but I forgot to take notes so I will have to look into that for another time to share with you all. We were taken to more breathtaking views from ridiculous heights, we saw another old Muslim wall and gate, and we visited an archaeological site with Arabic baths and a short film about how the baths at that particular site operated. Me, being the nerd that I am, found that all very interesting of course.
The tour finished and we were all given free time for lunch. We went to a café where I had an excellent hot ham and cheese sandwich. I sat with Phil and he got the patatas club sandwich, which looked like the most amazing sandwich ever. It was eggs, bacon, ham, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce… a doubledecker… Then the girls at the table next to us got these amazing waffles slathered in chocolate… then Phil got some amazing apple pie… We had a heck of a time ordering (there was only one waitress and the café was quite full) but the food was delicious! After lunch we met back at the plaza de toros, made the short trek to the bus station, and hopped on board for the quick and painless ride to Málaga.
I must’ve slept most of the ride there, because I don’t remember much aside from arriving in the city itself. My first impressions of Málaga were not spectacular and probably unfairly for the city, they didn’t improve much from there on. The hotel was very nice and upbeat; I shared a room with Kristen and for some reason we had three beds. One of the best parts about that hotel room was definitely the shower. Ahhhh. Yes. Hot water when you turn the dial, good, hard water pressure… oh yes, and the bathroom was both warm and spacious so I wasn’t dancing to stay warm/avoiding tripping over the toilet…
Some groupmates and I got together in another room later that night to “celebrate” Valentine’s Day. This mostly consisted of eating chocolate, chips, pastries and other unhealthy Spanish treats while occasionally glimpsing at the Olympics. We played an epic and dangerous game of spoons. Afterwards the group thinned down a little and those of us left played some other games, getting to know each other better and so on. It was a fun evening. :)
The next morning we had our walking tour of Málaga. It was drizzly and we were all fearing the worst, but thankfully the rain cleared up and things stayed dry for most of the day. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and nice, but he also had a handlebar moustache, which for me was a throwback to home. You can see mullets on a regular basis here in Spain but it’s not everyday you see a handlebar moustache! He led us through the city center and to a place in the Jewish quarter with a fig tree, explaining that fig trees were popular with the Romans and whatnot… as you can see from my pictures, I got very distracted in finding that there was a lone leaf on the tree.
With the guide we visited the RomanTheatre, which was really neat. We also got to visit the Alcazaba, which I loved, but I was being a poor listener and running around and taking pictures instead of listening to the guide, so unfortunately I don’t have any fun facts or history to share. You will notice a picture of a headless Virgin Mary and a picture of a guy (Evan, an ISA groupmate laughing). The guide had told us a superstition that if you look into the eyes of the Virgin, in three days’ time you will die. So Evan was the brave soul who went down to look into her eyes and lo and behold, she had no head at all! Noelia and I joked that they must have removed her head so nobody would die!
I spent a lot of the time on the walking tour getting to know Meryl, Kristen, Matt, Phil, Alaina, Kayla, Priti, Lauren and Michelle better. We ate döner together at a place called Don Kebab and my döner was amazing– but then again, I have yet to have a bad döner! It was my first döner since 2006 and indisputably divine.
I was awake for most of the bus ride back to Granada that afternoon. In the mountains just outside of Málaga, all the almond trees were in bloom–at times it seemed that the mountains themselves were lost beneath the black fingers of the tree branches and the white and pink blossoms. They dotted (or dominated) the hillsides along with the odd number olive trees, clustered on rocky slopes that dove down into tumbling brooks and rivers. These rollicked through the gullies at a wild pace, much like the excess water in the countryside surrounding Ronda. However, unlike the runoff elsewhere, this water had a very beautiful colour I can only describe like this: if you were to take the colour of sage and olive trees, mix it with a hint of blue, and make it liquid,thatwould be the colour of these little rivers.
As the hills began to thin out, there would be occasional rocky peaks that would jut up, and one that I noted down was absolutely giant, and its upper half was completely obscured by white clouds. Nearing Granada, the Sierras lined the far horizon, also cloaked in clouds. In fact the mountains are so high and so white with snow, at times I was easily confused as to what was really mountain and what was a wisp of cloud.
Matt and I walked back to our neighbourhood together, taking a different route than before. I stopped at a handmade shop and bought a pretty green scarf for 3 euros. Unfortunately I forgot to commit to memory where this place was, and now I’m not sure where to find it if I want to go back.
But anyways, that’s that. Sorry that update took so long. Now I have to work on compiling something for you all about my weekend in Seville with Katie and Deanna!
Oh. You might have noticed that I have started to take quite a few pictures of flowers and pigeons. Flowers are pretty, so I think you can understand why I take pictures of them, but pigeons? Here is why I love taking pictures of pigeons (or sparrows, or in the case of Seville, ducks): they are the inhabitants or be-humblers of all of these great monuments, castles, cathedrals and historical treasures. They build nests in what was once the princess’s tower or in the windows archers used to defend the fortress… or they take a crap on the head of a statue of a very important and noble person. I find them immensely amusing and a very subtle reminder that all the things we consider important or holy, they don’t really give a peck about. :)
Click the below link to see my pictures from Málaga!