¡Hola, España!

Hola from Alicante! Already one week down, and only more seven to go; time is already flying by too fast.

I arrived in this beautiful city, located on the southeast coast of Spain, last Sunday. The first night, our program had organized a tapas dinner at a local restaurant so that we could have our first taste of Spanish food and culture together. We tried many different traditional dishes, but my favorite was tortillas de patatas. As the waiter set down the plates, he told us about the recipe: although every version is a little bit different, the base is always potatoes and eggs. First, they fry the potatoes in olive oil, and after they mix them with eggs and cook it; in many ways, it reminds me of an omelet. People often adds things like bread, onions, etc. Bottom line: it is delicious! Our program director also informed us that the meal is extremely common in this region of Spain (a fact which was quickly confirmed when my host family made it for me the next day). The first historical reference to the dish is from 1817! Obviously, it would have been a simple and decently nutritious meal to prepare. I want to learn how to make it so that my family and friends at home can try it.

I moved in with my host family on Monday. My mamá española’s name is Marisol, her husband is Miguel, their daughter is María, and their son is also Miguel. They are all extremely sweet and, most importantly, patient with my lack of Spanish skills! The first couple of days, I could barely understand anything they said, whether they were talking directly to me or to each other. However, I have already noticed a lot of improvement; by now, I can almost always keep up with their conversations, even though it is still pretty intimidating to participate in their rapid exchanges. Native speakers tend to use slang and not pronounce certain letters, so it will be a process. However, I also started classes today, one of which is about colloquial language, so I know it will help tremendously. I am confident that, at this pace, I will be almost fluent by July.

Throughout the rest of the week, I did a walking tour of downtown Alicante, visited the city’s ancient castle, travelled to another little town nearby with amazing views, swam in natural waterfalls on the side of a mountain, watched María’s basketball game, went to the market with Marisol, and enjoyed the beaches. Tomorrow I have a bike tour, and this weekend we are going to Valencia. All in all, I could not be more grateful to be here, or more excited for the next seven weeks! ¡Hasta luego!