..arrival and other details
05.09.2005 33 °C
SATURDAY 09.03.05: So today i had to say goodbye to Nicole as i dropped her off at the airport and boarded my train to Cordoba. The 4 1/2 hour bus ride sounded awful in the heat so i opted for the faster and more expensive train. I arrive in Cordoba 2 hours later to a swealtering desert, literally, in the middle of Andalucia. Cordoba is a historical town where Christianity, Islam and Judaism all intersected at one point or another, so the town is a melting pot of architecture and cultural influence from all 3. The city of Cordoba itself looks a lot like Petaluma or Santa Rosa, it has the small town feel but 300,000 inhabitants. The hills around the city are reminicint of the ones around Santa Rosa or in Novato. They are all tree covered but are more rocky as it is too hot here for grass to grow now.
When i finally arrived the tourist office was closed for siesta so i had to go on the little info i had from the travel book and take the #3 bus to the area where the hostels are. By the time i got off the bus and looked for any one of the 3 listed in my book i was hot, tired, sweaty, frustrated, and ready to settle somewhere. So, i found the hotel i was going to be staying at the next night and where i was supposed to meet for my program and forked over the extra dough for nice night to myself in an air conditioned room...ahh sweet luxury!
After settling in, I decided to stroll the town a little and find a supermercado to get some food for the rest of the weekend because EVERYTHING is closed on sunday, except for church and 2, 24 hour markets. El Corte Ingles is the department store of all dept. stores and aside from having everything you could ever want from a Sears Roebuck catalogue, the grocery store is on the 5th floor. Dinner was fresh fruit, turkey (a rarity here in this part where Ham is a staple) and whole wheat bread (calle pan integral). Dinner, a little spanish dubbed TV, some soccer (called futbol) in every language and a long hot shower put this baby to bed in no time.
SUNDAY 09.04.05: Today the rest of the program arrived. I awoke to a beautiful morning and took my time getting up and around. I went for a walk to see the city all locked up, as things are on sundays, and headed back to the hotel where the rest of the students in my program arrived. The day was basically a meet and greet/ eat and drink for all the students to get to know each other and chat. Not too eventful but a nice way to start off the program together.
MONDAY 09.06.05: Today we met our families. After a short orientation about Cordoba, Spain and what to expect from our families and culturally from the experience we were greeted by our host families. Finally my family arrived to pick me up and I was greeted by my host ´mom´ Carmen, and my younger host siblings, Carmen, 10, and Diego, 8. We went back to thier flat which is on hte 4th floor of a beautiful building about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the University. There i have my own room with a great balcony overlooking the neighborhood. There is even a cute yellow and white striped awning covering the balcony, how european, i love it! The rest of the flat is very cute as well. The two kids have thier own rooms. Diego´s is covered wall to wall in toys and action figures and Carmen´s walls, which are the same baby yellow with rocking paper wallpaper from when she was born, are covered in her artwork and awards. Both kids are very lively, but because thier family has hosted 3 others before me, they are also very respectful of my space. Carmen, their mother, is also very welcoming in opening up her home (and kitchen) to me. It is a very welcoming environment and I am looking forward to getting to know my family here.
Tomorrow we take placement tests and hopefully find my way around the university. The other kids in my program seem really cool, and everyone is really into the whole experience and ready to dive into stuff which is a good motivation to go out and learn new things.
I am definintely feeling the homesickness set in, or mayve some culture shock, probably both. There is always that weird getting settled stage and i dont think i like it but soon things will start to feel normal, and by then it will be time to leave. So im going to enjoy the ups and downs and live it up!