You Get Up When?

I work at Starbucks, so three days a week I have to be at work in Sherwood at 4:30 am. I leave at 4:10 precisely. Over the last few years, I’ve developed a specific process for getting up early, and have yet to miss a shift. It must work!

The most effective part of my wake-up process is, of course, the alarm clock. It can’t be just any alarm clock. I’ve test-driven several. It must be an extremely obnoxious alarm clock that beeps incessantly and loudly. There will be no gradually waking to pleasant tunes or the jabber of the radio — loud beeping only.

The placement of the alarm clock is another crucial part of the process. The horrible object must be placed across the room, definitely outside reaching distance of my bed.

When the offensive sound commences, I am immediately filled with fear that it will wake my roommates. If I don’t get up promptly, guilt that they are certainly waking up and cursing their coffee-shop-working roommate ensues. So, I get up.

The last part of the process is to avoid thinking about the time. I know that I won’t want to leave the comfort of my bed whether it’s 3:45, 8:30, or even, let’s be honest, 11:00. Does what time it is really make a difference? No. I’m always tired for a few minutes when I first get up, and then I get over it.

I’ve discovered that, for me, this is the best approach for getting up early. I use concern for my roommates and a certain frame of mind to approach a task that often seems daunting to others. This implies that I value my housemates’ sleep more than my desire to stay in bed listening to an incessant alarm…that doesn’t say much. It also implies that I value my job enough to have developed a process that works consistently. I finish a full shift at 1:00 pm — what could be better? (Though, admittedly, I do occasionally drift off during Tuesday/Thursday classes…)

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Feliz cumpleaños a mí

Well it’s been a while. So many things have happened that I can barely keep them all straight…this trip is going by in a blur. I really should keep better track of it. So many things have happened that writing this blog post is a little overwhelming.

This is the Alcázar, a royal palace located literally down the street from our school.

There were peacocks (pavos reales) just wandering the gardens. Not pictured: Caprice trying to feed them but getting freaked out.

We went on a group trip with the school to Córdoba, home of La Mezquita de Córdoba. It was beautiful on its own, but it was even more interesting because we had been studying it in art and our art professor (Carmen) was our tour guide while we were there. Since we’re so used to her lectures, I forgot that she was speaking in Spanish – I just understood her without translating every word in my head. Pretty exciting.

La fachada de Mihrab. Escritura cúfica. Arcos lobulados. Pilares de Abderramán II. Bovedas. I could tell you all kinds of things you probably never need to know about this building.

This is the entrance to the city. It was freeezing, which is why I look like a snowman. Somehow, I still have a picture with Kayla even though we were in different tour groups the whole day.

Hmm…we watched the Superbowl at a bar. It started at midnight. There are an incredible amount of Americans in Sevilla. Caprice’s intercambio and his friends came and watched it with us too. They’re super nice, and they’ve taken us out to a few different places. My intercambio didn’t really work out, so it’s lucky that Caprice shares sometimes.

On to more important things (nobody in Spain cares about fútbol americano anyway), like my birthday! It was last Sunday, but we celebrated on Saturday because everyone had exams on Monday and Tuesday, including me. First of all, Kayla and I decided to go to Carmona which is about a 45-minute bus ride from Sevilla. Luckily, we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there, because sometimes public transportation in Spanish confuses us a bit. Anyway, the view from the top of the fortress was absolutely worth it.

After admiring the view for an appreciably long time, we decided to explore the town. Friends who had gone before had said “it’s so nice because Carmona is really small…there’s absolutely no way that you can get lost.” They obviously don’t know us well enough yet. The goal is to follow these arrows in the streets – it says “Ruta Turistica” if you can’t read it, and the route leads you to different sights. One of them pointed straight down this road into the country, but we followed it anyway. We thought it might eventually lead us back into the city. It did not.

This is us after we had to climb the hill back into Carmona. Scenic route, tourist route…either one works, right?

After Carmona, we met up with a bunch of lovely SIS people for dinner at Sloppy Jo’s. I know, it doesn’t sound very Spanish. But most of the restaurants here aren’t designed for large groups, especially of loud Americans, so this was just easier. Plus it was delicious.

And after that…well, the night was young and it was my 21st birthday. Cheers!

The first round of tests was killer for everyone. We don’t get credit for any homework assignments…it’s more like you have to do it because there are only seven people in your class so the professors will know if you didn’t. Therefore, tests and attendance make up pretty much the entirety of our grades. Unfortunate. On the plus side, I have never missed so little school in my whole life.

Things are improving, if not perfect, in my homestay. Now she makes Rebecca and I separate meals if it’s going to be a big plate of cooked vegetables because she knows I won’t eat it. Also, Rebecca and I split the cost of temporary Internet while we’re here…I think it’ll be well worth it. Maybe now I can keep up on this thing!


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Looks Like We Made It

Well I’m here! I’m not mathematical enough to figure out my time traveling (rereading this, I feel that I should clarify — “time spent traveling,” not actually “time traveling” — although it did feel like that), but I left around 3:30am on Tuesday and arrived in Sevilla four flights and a nine-hour layover later on Wednesday night. It is overwhelmingly beautiful here; there’s so much to see. The whole city is like walking around a giant museum, or jumping into a painting (Blues Clues-style).

You get the idea. I live with Rebecca, and our Señora, Rosa. The houses are designed to retain cold because it’s so hot for most of the year, so the first night we both literally slept in our pajamas, coats, mittens, scarves, and slippers. After working up the nerve to ask for more blankets, we are now down to pajamas, sweatshirts, and a couple pairs of socks. Progress. Note: The stuffed animals hanging on the walls for decoration were here when we arrived.

The living situation is probably the most challenging point of adjustment for me. She prepares every meal for us, so we have to be home by certain times. We eat breakfast before school, lunch at 2:30, and dinner at 9:30. The plates are prepared as well, so a good percentage of the time I have no idea what I’m eating. Some of you may remember that adventurous eating is not my forte, but I’m working on it and I have tried everything she’s made so far. The only things I haven’t been able to eat more than a couple bites of are huge piles of cooked green vegetables — literally half a plate of fried spinach or green beans. I lovingly blame my outright aversion to these dishes, and also any kind of sketchy meat, on my mother. I have become very adept at hiding food in my napkin so it looks like I’ve eaten something (a skill that I’m sure will prove useful for the rest of my life).

Another skill that I’m learning is how to read a map. Katrina, you can’t read a map? No. I occasionally find myself using my iPhone to get around Newberg. It may seem unbelievable, but I kid you not, Rebecca is even worse. Therefore, we are an unstoppable team. The very first afternoon we decided to wander the city (“Yay, we’re in Sevilla, we’ll find our way back!”) No. We live in a neighborhood called Triana, and we were IN Triana, and we HAD a map, but could not find our house. I asked at least ten people where our street was – outgoing by necessity, if nothing else. We tried to take a taxi, but he couldn’t find our street on his map either. Turns out that our “street” is really just the name of the courtyard where our apartment building is located, but it was the only address we knew. The director of the program had to call our Señora to come rescue us because we didn’t have her number yet. Also, the streets are not really on a grid. They’re circular. As seen below. Does not help my extremely limited sense of direction.

The first Saturday we did a scavenger hunt, all over the city – somewhere around 15 miles. I really tried to hide my competitive nature, but was not overly successful…it just kept coming out! I have also found that I walk abnormally fast compared to everyone else. I feel bad for my poor roommate, as well as my scavenger hunt team (seen below).

Mark Skovorodko took this picture. He was on my scavenger hunt team, and I plan on often stealing his pictures. I told him he can shoot my wedding one day. Someday. Assuming I don’t become an old spinster with 72 cats.

The people in the program are great. There are forty-some of us, but we all get along surprisingly well. These two (Caprice on the left and Kayla on the right) have to deal with me particularly often:

As do our roommates (Rebecca, Jessica, and Stephanie):

I did place into advanced, after literally a year of spewing anxiety about it to anyone who would listen. I looked so relieved when they told me that the two professors doing the placement started laughing out loud. Speaking of the professors, they’re awesome. Classes are only 5-12 people, so I can’t hide if I don’t understand – they make me understand. And talk. My Spanish classmates at home probably don’t even know what my voice sounds like, so it’s really valuable practice.

This is how I get around, if I don’t feel like walking. Sevici (mix of Sevilla and bici — clever) is a bike rental system; there are stations like this all over the city. Sometimes there won’t be a spot to park it when you get there, which is unfortunate, but most of the time it’s pretty convenient.

Photo credit: Mark Skovorodko

Overall, I love it here. The atmosphere is completely different from anything I know, as is my schedule, the people, the classes, the food – it’s challenging, but in a good way (as trite as that may sound).

I eat oranges. Every single day. There are orange trees everywhere. You don’t actually eat the oranges off the trees though, because they’re bitter oranges that taste vaguely like lemons.

Photo Credit: Mark Skovorodko

I also cross el Río Guadalquivir every day; the Torre del Oro (on the right) is really close to Acento de Trinity (the school). It’s great because if/when I get lost I can use it as a landmark.

Photo Credit: Mark Skovorodko

Anyway, I’m not much of a blogger, so this has taken an obscene amount of time to write and insert pictures and such. Plus I have flamenco class tonight. Yes, you heard me right. AND I went to a discoteca a few nights ago. Yes, I am willingly dancing, in public, TWICE in one week.

Now you really think I’m lying.

But when in Sevilla….

Which reminds me that I have also booked a trip to Italy, a trip to Ireland, and a trip to the Canary Islands during our breaks from school. And Sarah is coming to visit in April!

I really have to go. I keep getting distracted. Rebecca needs me to get her medicine, but there are tons more pictures and stories that will just have to wait. I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats.

(That’s why I waited ten days to post this. To build the anticipation.)

Just kidding.

Kind of.


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The Final Countdown

One week to go! Some questions posed to me daily include: “Are you ready?” “Have you packed?” and “Did you guys change something in here?”

I believe the first two can be answered with the following picture:

Eh. Así es la vida.


January 11, 2012 · 9:42 pm