Paella

By: Alexa Baer

This week I finally got paella. We were in Barcelona and Cheyenne and I decided to split a seafood paella. It was good but there were too many vegetables. Cheyenne didn’t want the mussels they put in it so I got to eat them and they were very yummy. The meal looked fantastic when it came out however there were shrimps that were still attached to their shells in the dish. I didn’t know how to eat it and neither did Cheyenne. So we decided to dissect it. I cut it in half and started poking the half with the shrimps tail. I saw the shrimps poop strip and decided it was gross. So then I went and cut up the side with the head. Big mistake. I got to the shrimps brain and it was gross. So we ignored the other two shrimps and ate more of the paella. Then Cheyenne dissects the second shrimp. She does it right and the shrimp is edible. Then I tried again with the last shrimp but I couldn’t cut it right. And also the thought of eating it while it still looks like an animal creeps me out. So I guess the moral of the story is I don’t know how to cut shrimp, I don’t like veggies and paella is muy bien.

Mi vida en España

By: Brendan Gallagher

Mi tiempo en España ha sido una aventura increíble. Mi familia tiene dos personas, mi madre y padre, y ellos son perfectos en mis ojos. Mi habitación aqui en España fue muy diferente que mio en los Estados Unidos porque es más limpio. Mi madre/abuelita hace el lavado de ropa todos los días. El almuerzo es muy grande y comíamos muchas carnes y vegetales únicos. Por ejemplo, conejo fue un tipo de carne que comimos en el primer día. Me gusta tener las conversaciones en español porque el aprendizaje es muy importante en un pais como España. En general, la gente en Alicante es muy amable y servicial. Si tú sabes un pocito de español, el descubrimiento de direcciones es muy fácil. Fútbol es el símbolo de España y veo en todos los sitios en Alicante. Para todos mis amigos y familia, recomiendio un viaje a España en un momento en su vida. También, la naturaleza en España es surrealista. Mis lugares favoritas son La Castilla de Sánta Bárbara, la playa en Alicante, Guadalest, y Barcelona por supuesto. España fue un de los partes mejores de GAP en totál y estoy agradecido por este oportunidad. 

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Roma

By: Mary DiMartino

This past weekend Ang, Nate, Cheyenne, and I all flew to Rome and spent a few days in the beautiful city. During my short time there, I learned quite a bit….

  1. Don’t stop and talk to the people trying to sell you expensive tickets (group tour, skip the line) outside of big attractions like the Vatican or Colosseum – even if they seem sincere at first!! Don’t let them trick you!!
  2. You easily forget Spanish if you’re not speaking it all the time L For the 4 days we were travelling/in Rome we all spoke English and heard some Italian which was complete gibberish. Never did I ever think 4 short days of not being immersed in Spanish would affect me, but the morning after I got back I kept having to ask my mom to repeat what she said.
  3. Rome is cold. We’ve been pretty spoiled the past few weeks with the nice Alicante weather, but this weekend we got a taste of what we’d been missing. Cheyenne bought a coat one night because it was so cold, and I was very very close to doing the same.
  4. Airbnb is definitely the way to go for overnight accommodations. It was just as cheap as staying in a hostel would have been, and we had our own nice little cozy apartment to come back to each night. Shout out to Rita for letting us stay in her apartment on such a short notice!!!🙂
  5. Italy actually has bad pasta… When you think of Italy you think of exquisite 5-star pasta dishes, however, this is not always the case. One day for lunch we went to a café that served us microwaved meals… blah
  6. However if you take the time to seek out a good restaurant, you will find yourself 2 hours later completely content with a giant food baby.🙂
  7. Time goes by SO fast – 4 days isn’t a lot of time to begin with, but it went by way quicker than I thought it would. Always be taking in your surroundings and immersing yourself in your experience. You will appreciate that once your experience is over and all you have left are the memories you created.
  8. Some of the less tourist-y attractions/things to do are the most fun. Although seeing the Vatican, the Colosseum, Old Rome, etc., was really cool and memorable, I think I enjoyed the little things the most: eating gelato, having conversations with the lady who worked at the gelato shop, walking down the streets of Rome and seeing all the street artists, and so on.
  9. When food tastes good, Italians say “buono” and put their index finger up to their cheek and twist it.
  10. In Rome (and possibly all of Italy/Europe?) they advertise McDonald’s food products as they actually look in real life versus in America where a McDouble looks shiny and juicy and delicious in pictures but when you order one it looks the complete opposite.

 

The Last Week (Kinda)

By: Sammy Johnson

This week is a big week for the Gap group. Or, at least it’s a big week for me. We have to partake in class registration on Elon’s schedule, not Spain’s, we have presentations in our culture class, we are traveling to Barcelona, and we have to prepare to say farewell to our homestay families. Time has flown by living in Spain. Coming to Alicante I thought, “this will be the slow part of this semester.” NOLS went very quickly considering we spent the majority of the month in the wilderness. Service-learning traveling across country also went significantly quick knowing that we had to pack up our things practically every night and travel to a new location. Spain was the first time in months that I could and can settle myself in one place. I can familiarize myself with the city I am living in and act as one of the residents. Now, as registration and housing applications are coming up, I’m more connected with the States than I have been in weeks. I’m living on the schedule of the US, following their times and staying up until 10:05 pm to simply register for classes. Finally, I can feel that my stay in Spain is coming to a close and I have to say goodbye soon to the thins I cherish here most.

Barcelona Soccer Game

By: Angelo Boone

Wow, I never have imagined the possibility of me going to a soccer game in Spain but man am I glad I did! It was more of a last minute decision (an expensive one), but it was definitely a highlight of my Barcelona experience. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible. The game was not considered a very big one but even so the entire place was packed! I went with Neil and Tommy and as soon as we got there we stopped at a little kiosk and bought some scarves and hats. The stadium was a lot bigger than I imagined, so it took us a little while to find our seats. Once we did we were able to get food and drinks for much cheaper than I would expect, and much cheaper than any sports team in the United States would cost, so that was good! The game itself seemed to fly by. Unfortunately it ended in a tie, but I actually liked it because the entire stadium was ecstatic the last 10 minutes of the game. The experience as a whole will definitely be an unforgettable one.

15 Things that Still Surprise Me after 4 Weeks in Spain

By: Cheyenne Wilson

  1. How awful the city can smell: one minute you’re just walking along then BAM your hit with a smell that makes you want to instantly throw up
  2. The amount of walking we do every. Single. Day.
  3. How much survival Spanish I’ve been able to pick up while living in Spain, I really thought there would never be a day I could easily order my dinner
  4. However, I’m pretty sure my host family dog understands more Spanish than me.
  5. The movies and TVshows: they just mute the English words and have a Spanish voice over, so the actor’s mouths are moving to English words but you hear Spanish.
  6. Breakfast isn’t really a meal, more like a snack of a croissant and tiny coffee.
  7. The hot chocolate is more like brownie mix??? Huge bummer.
  8. How awesome my Spanish Mamá can cook, every meal is great. One day she made pasta with HOMEMADE tomato sauce, almost better than the pasta in Italy.
  9. How many things there are still left for us to explore, we seem to find another amazing place every time we go out.
  10. Many. Puppies. Everywhere. At any given time I can walk down the main road into the plaza and see a minimum of 5 dogs, at busy times there are anywhere from 15-20, its heaven.
  11. The way Spaniards don’t fully cook their meats, I’ve gotten very raw hamburgers, essentially tossed on the grill, flipped and taken off, and that’s normal.. I also had completely raw salmon at a very nice restaurant and I don’t think I have very high quality taste.
  12. The hospitality and hostility of people, you never know what you’re gonna get.
  13. The street performers are amazing, but why do they ever get into something like that and if they’re good why don’t they do something more with their talent? How do they make a living? I may never understand.
  14. Time change, gets me every time I try to talk to family and friends back home.
  15. In some areas every building is a work of art, and some people pass by never noticing and never appreciating their surroundings.

FC Barcelona

By: Neil Howland

This weekend we went to Barcelona and it was an absolute great experience to get to know and understand a new city. On of the highlights to the weekend was going to see F.C. Barcelona the soccer team of the area play Malaga, another team in La Liga. We were talking about weather or not we wanted to go to the game all week and we made the smart decision to wait until five hours before to finally choose to go. It was a mad dash to try and find a few tickets together in a row. With Barcelona being such a famous team and with the amount of history involved I guess I came up with many different preconceptions. It seems as though for fans in America the game is more about the experience and not the sport. You see all the tailgates and the fans who are more there for the “party scene” than the actual game. The extent to the fan ship seemed to be more professional than anything I have seen in the United States. For starters the first most noticeable thing was the lack of drinking that you see in the U.S. I believe this could be attributed to the fact it is more about the sport than the party. And also the sportsmanship was unlike things I have seen in some American sports as well. Obviously the was loud and somewhat obnoxious cheering, but as far as I could tell, with my little Spanish linguistic experience, it seemed to be for Barcelona not against Malaga. This was really an interesting experience to see a differing cultural aspect in something like sports, which is relatable in both cultures. Unfortunately it ended in a tie.

Barcelona

By: Tommy Nelson

This weekend we were given the opportunity to spend the weekend in Barcelona.  Barcelona is a city I have always been interested in visiting since I was a young boy, one thing I have always wanted to do was watch FC Barcelona play in their home stadium. We were able to do that this weekend also.  The first professional soccer game outside of the USA was watching arguably the best team in the world at home.  It was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life.  There have been many days that I will never forget that have come from the gap experience, but experiencing this stadium and the fans there is surely something that has been crossed off my bucket list.

Picaso

By: Juliana Siler

Spain is a country with a rich historical background. From castles built in the twelfth century to cobblestone market streets Spain oozes history. Pablo Picasso one of the world’s most famous painters was from Spain, and I had the opportunity to go to the Picasso museum yesterday during our weekend in Barcelona. It was an interesting museum that had texts printed on the wall detailing his evolution as an artist, along with hundreds of pieces of his art. Throughout his life Picasso had many different phases of art, he began as a realist, and quickly switched to impressionism, where in my opinion he made some of his best works, and then to cubism which he is most known for. The exhibit also detailed his relationships with other artists of his era, and how they influenced his work, and how he influenced theirs, it was amazing to see how they played off of each other’s techniques and styles to create masterpieces. The Picasso museum also housed a temporary exhibit on cubism and its influence on the Great War. It emphasized the importance of keeping contemporary art alive, when most artists of the time were being sent to the front lines of the war to photograph and video the carnage and brutality taking place. It included works of many artists that lived in France at the time, such as Picasso, Rivera, Blanchard and Gris, and their interpretations of the war through a cubist lens. The exhibit displayed the photographs that were taken by other artists during the war, alongside the cubism pieces and it was interesting to see the different takes on the war through both perspectives. Overall the museum was amazing, and it made the weekend in Barcelona even better.

 

US or Spain

By: Emerson Loria

After spending so much time in Spain I naturally thought about what it would be like if I ended up moving here.  And because of that I decided to figure out which country is actually better, so here are the categories I looked at and who won each one.

  1. Life expectancy- US: 78 years Spain: 82 years
  2. Unemployment rate- US: 4.9% Spain: 22.7%
  3. Education- US: 14th in the world Spain: 31st in the world
  4. GDP rankings- US: 2nd Spain: 14th
  5. World happiness rank- US: 14th Spain: 37th
  6. World healthcare ranking- US: 37th Spain: 30th
  7. World food rankings- US: 9th Spain: 4th
  8. World government rankings- US: 11th Spain: did not make list (it was top 25)
  9. Crime level (the higher the number the worse it is)- US: 56 Spain: 29
  10. World military ranking- US: 1st Spain: did not make list (it was top 25)

So with the United States beating Spain in 6 of the 10 categories it is clear that at least based on these areas, the United States has the better statistics.  So regardless to how great it may seem to be here in Spain I guess I should be grateful for the ability to come back to my great hometown.

Explanada de España

By: Alexa Baer

If you’re standing at the steps to Mercado Central and start walking down hill you’ll pass many quite a few bars, a Taco Bell, a Dunkin and a taxi stop. As you pass all these places you’ll get closer to the beach but in between you and this beach is what I call the board walk.

This place is not actually a board walk but I don’t know what else to call it, other than a huge side walk. On one side there are several restaurants and cafes. On the other side is the ocean. And in between the ocean and the restaurants the place is lined with sellers. If you go all the way down to the public beach you’ll see a stand selling magazines. Next to it is a stand selling umbrellas and scarfs. Across that stand is an ice cream store that’s closed until 4. Beyond that is a beautiful carousel.

If you turn and walk in the other direction you’ll pass stands selling souvenirs. You can find purses and wallets, necklaces, lighters and even shot glasses.

However, my favorite place is the old man who has a table outside the McDonalds. Unlike some of the other sellers he is only there during the day and he’s there every day except Tuesday. He is an old man with gray hair and he speaks no English. He sits at a desk next to his table and that’s where he hand paints every single one of the pieces he sells. He paints cats and dogs, as well as the scenery. His pictures of flamenco dancers are gorgeous. He paints fridge magnets, paper weights, and pictures inside picture frames.

His artwork is simply amazing. I wish I spoke more Spanish because he seems like the kind of person that has many stories to tell. I have so many questions for him that I will most likely never ask. And it’s strange because I will most likely remember this man for a while and he might’ve already forgotten about the American girl that bought the beagle magnet and a painting.