Vamos a la Playa (oh, and the first day of school): Week 5

11 Oct

And so, Week 5 has come and gone! I am 32.43% done with my study abroad experience. While on one hand I am looking forward to getting to see my family/friends again (and enjoy some ice cream), it also scares me how fast the weeks are passing. And, considering that I started classes this past week, I know that it will only go by even quicker.


So Tuesday, October 1st was my first day of classes. For those of you who need a laugh, here’s my awkward first day of school pic! Yes, I am almost 20 years old, but I still insist this picture must be taken. 




On the placement exam, I scored into the higher level, which means that I am taking harder classes. Yay. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have class from 10:30-2:30 and then from 6-8. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have class from 10:30-12:30 and then from 6-8. Each class is 2 hours long (aka torture) and I have class for 20 hours each week. My least favorite classes are the ones from 6-8, because I absolutely despise night classes. I mean, at 5:00 when I am wearing sweats and watching American TV online, I have no desire to put on real pants and trudge to class. It is a struggle every day. But, as I am studying in a foreign country, I think I can handle it. The only other problem with night classes is having to walk to and from school twice every day. I take that back, it is more like a 30 minute uphill hike to school both ways. I am not even exaggerating. Sure, it is good exercise, but that does not take away from the fact that it is a painful experience.


 I do like all of my professors. They are all very animated and know how to teach foreigners who are not only struggling to learn the language, but also struggling to learn the actual content of the class. However, the professors do like to randomly call on students to answer questions. And, considering how slow I think in English, I am terrible at thinking on my feet in Spanish. So I have been the lucky one to get called on and blankly stare at the professor while I think up of something semi-coherent to say. I essentially am like a bumbling idiot, to give you a better description. It is a struggle. I also don’t feel the love for the native Spanish speakers who are in my classes. Many of them were born in Mexico and then grew up in the US. So, they speak Spanish at home, are incredibly fluent, and enjoy watching us non-native speakers struggle to form ideas. Talk about voyeurism. But overall, classes are going well!


On the bright side, after suffering through a week of class, I got to spend my weekend in Lagos, Portugal! Not many people get to head to the beach the weekend after starting school, but, I guess I am just special. It was a fantastic weekend with beautiful weather and beaches. I left on a bus early Friday morning and returned late on Sunday night. I stayed in a very nice hotel with pools, bidets in the rooms (I felt that this was necessary to share) and a continental breakfast. However, this is not a US hotel breakfast. There were people checking you in before you could enter and they were watching like hawks to make sure you didn’t steal any food. But, they didn’t catch me! I was that rebel that took food for lunch from the breakfast buffet. Talk about living on the edge.


On Friday,  I went on a sangria cruise, where a boat takes you for a little ride and then anchors so that you can jump off of the boat into the crystal-clear and warm Atlantic. There was also a separate tour of the beautiful grottos that are along the shore. And, I actually drank some sangria and liked it!


The rocky shoreline!


How blue the water is in the grottos!


Do you see the elephant?


On Saturday, I went on a 3 hour kayaking tour of the grottos as well. Yes, I paid for and participated in an excursion that required three hours of physical exertion. Please, be impressed. It was undoubtedly the best part of the weekend. We paddled through the grottos, into little caves and through small passageways. We also stopped off at a private beach accessible only by the water. There, in the clear water, I went snorkeling and swam with some fish. It was so much fun! There were also tons of incredible shells, which I of course collected, to one day put in my empty shell lamp. As we were kayaking, we paddled past a nude beach. After just viewing the shoreline (by accident, of course) and seeing way more buttocks than I ever need to see, I decided that I never need to go to a nude beach. Ever. Once I got those images out of my mind, I enjoyed the rest of the gorgeous water and towering cliffs.


The grottos from above!


Part of the snorkeling beach!

Sorry, no pics of the nude beach…

After a long day at the beach, I then went to the most Southwestern part of Portugal for the sunset over the Atlantic. Back in the old days, when America had not yet been discovered, the sunset was considered the end of the world, because no one knew about land beyond Portugal. So, needless to say, I have successfully survived the “end of the world” twice!


“End of the World” Sunset


Sunday was another beach day at the prettiest beach I have ever been to in my life. Absolutely picturesque. At this beach, I realized one of the ways that you know you are an American in Europe: when all of the nudity on the beach makes you uncomfortable. There were lots of tops off and changing into and out of bathing suits right on the beach. No thank you, I think I will stick to using bathrooms for that kind of thing.






I must apologize for the excessive amount of pictures in this post. However, I have done so for two reasons. 1- I cannot accurately describe the beauty of the area, so the pictures must speak for me. 2- Humbly, I believe that I took some pretty good pictures, so I would enjoy sharing them with you. Just be glad that I didn’t post too many awkward selfie shots of me in front of all the grottos/on the beaches. Because I have a lot of those. I figured I would spare you.

After a busy week, it was nice to get to spend time on the beach.  Overall, it was a fun experience and I enjoyed getting to know the coast of Portugal (and our insanely attractive tour guides)!

Now that my first trip has been completed, it is time to hit the books for a full week (okay, only 4 days) of school. I can’t believe that I only have 10 weeks left here in Espana. Time to live it up (well, to an extent)!

Until next week, my friends!





One Response to “Vamos a la Playa (oh, and the first day of school): Week 5”

  1. Kristin October 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    The photos are amazing – you are doing such a great job taking advantage of all the opportunities and really being “present” for this experience. Everyone will be here when you got back, so it’s not worth spending any energy on us.

    You are a budding photographer – maybe that could be a fourth major or minor or certification or something? Isn’t it amazing how beautiful some of these places are. I am always amazed when I travel.

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