Monday, October 5, 2015

My First Month in Spain

I can hardly believe it's been a month already, and [only] have three more months left. This is such a beautiful place to be and to live! I've been doing a ton of things, spending what feels like a ton of money, and generally enjoying myself. I'll try to condense as much of September as possible, even though there's so much to tell! If you have any questions that I don't answer within the rest of this post, please feel free to either post in the comments or email me. Here we go!

Home life: My host family is just lovely! My mom's name is Mari, and my sister's name is Omaira. Omaira, or "Oma" as she is sometimes called, is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen in my life, and she's getting married next September! I'm so lucky to live with them! Mari is an amazing cook, and she really enjoys using Moroccan spices in a lot of her dishes (which makes me so incredibly happy). We live at the top of a very large and steep hill in a neighborhood called the Albaicín. I start my walk every morning with this view:

My walk takes me directly to..

School life: School for a long time was my favorite part of the day, because I both got to be around new people, and then spend a little bit of quality time with people I know. During September I only had one class for 4 hours every day with two teachers, Ana and Ana. Both Ana's are very lively, enjoyable people to be around, and the rest of the students in the class were also very interesting and exciting! In addition to about 13 estadounidenses (people from the US), the class was comprised of two men from Saudi Arabia and two people who speak Portuguese, one from Portugal and one from Brazil. This class was just a short preparation course, or intensive month, before the semester began. This is the CLM, the school that I attend: 

This week marks the beginning of the semester! I am taking five (!) classes, all which should be extraordinarily different from my classes at Lawrence. Today, I had Contemporary Spanish Art, which is kind of like an art history class. This will probably be the most challenging class for me since I don't really have a head for dates and times, and it is the most demanding in terms of workload, but at the same time, I'm anxious to study the work of Goya, Picasso, Dalí, and countless others because of their impact on the world. For example, in my last post I talked about seeing Goya's Black Paintings, which really struck me. I also find Dalí's paintings fascinating, because it coincides with the 20th century obsession with the subconscious. SO INTERESTING. After that class, I had Producción oral y escrito (oral and written production) which is basically another grammar course. I would normally find these classes tedious, but the professor is fascinating, and he always keeps us engaged. Tomorrow I have French (!!), History of Spanish Cinema, and Islamic Culture in Spain. The latter is really going to be exciting, because I don't believe we'll be spending all the much time in the classroom. Since Granada was the last city to be reconquered by the Catholic King and Queen, it has the most well-preserved Islamic architecture, including the world famous Alhambra (of which our teacher is an expert). 

Beyond home and school, I spend a lot of time traveling/hiking/exploring. This next two months will be really packed with excursions through ISA and a few of my own. I have endless aerial photos of Granada from up in the mountains and will probably continue to take more throughout my visit. This past weekend, I went on a hike with a yoga group. It was probably one of the most bizarre experiences I've ever had, but I met some really lovely Spanish people and got in touch with nature and painted with a stick. It was very hippie-dippie. I loved it. This coming weekend, I'll be going with my friend Micaela to France to visit Suzanne, a friend from Lawrence who is studying in Nantes. I originally thought I was going by myself and was extremely nervous to travel alone, but now happy as a clam because not only will I not be alone, I'll be with a wonderful friend. I'm sure there will be pictures and stories galore! For now, I'll leave you with some lovely flowers. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My First Week in Spain

I cannot even really begin to express the emotions running through me even now, as I sit on the terrace in my casa, looking out at Granada por la noche. I've only been here a few days, but I'm already starting to feel familiar with the calles and the tiendas. Estoy muy contenta.

My first days in Spain were a little overwhelming, they were filled with touristy activities -- all of them important and exciting and different, but I'm happy to find where my home will be over the next four months. In Madrid, we went to several museums and saw two very famous art pieces that I've heard of, but never seen.

This painting is called "Saturn Devouring his Sons" by Goya. Its part of a series called the Black Paintings, all depicting gruesome images that he painted on the walls of his home after he witnessed the effects of Napoleon's war. This piece has always struck me on the computer screen, but seeing it in real life was incredible.

I also got to see Pablo Picasso's "Guernica", which is another that I've seen many times on the small screen, but never imagined the impact that it would have on me. He made this piece during the Spanish Civil War after a bombing of a small pueblo that only contained women and children. It's enormous, and up close you can really see the anguish in all of the subjects.
I'm hoping that at some point I'll get to go back to Madrid and to each museum to see more.

After Madrid, we went to Toledo, another incredibly beautiful city. What made it so incredible was the architecture and the mountains surrounding it. We toured an old church that was incredibly important to the Catholic King Fernando and Queen Isabel. If my memory is correct, it took 300 years (starting around the late 1400's) to finish just the outside, and they still use it for mass!

After a night in Toledo, we traveled to Granada to meet our families. I do think it will take a little longer for me to feel more comfortable and less like an imposition, but my mamá makes beautiful meals and takes a lot of pride in hosting students from around the world. She has been hosting students for 14 years, and has chicas all year long, even during the summer. She speaks very fast and is sometimes difficult to understand, but I'm learning very quickly. My sister is probably the most beautiful human being I've ever seen, and the most obliging and sweet person I've met in Granada. She is going to get married in a year, and we walk past the church every morning to get to school.
I say 'we' because I have a roommate, a girl also named Hannah from UCLA. Our mamá calls me Hannah 'normal' and her Hannah 'no cerdo' because she doesn't eat pork. It's very funny. :)

We started school today, I'm in the same class as my friend Annie from Lawrence. This first month will just be a kind of preparation month to get all of our minds geared in the right direction (namely, Spanish). I think it's going to be a great semester! I also decided that I'm going to take French after this first intensive month, which I'm supremely excited about.

Now if only my mother would email me back.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Unfortunately, I can’t at this moment publish frenzy because I don’t want to carry the burden of representing Bon Appetít as an institution. If you’d like to see it again (unlikely) I can find a way to get it to you.
If when you’re watching frenzy, you find yourself stressed, annoyed, and bored at the same time, that is exactly what you’re supposed to feel. Welcome to the life of a Bon Appetít worker. These two videos serve two purposes; first, to show the near-constant and insatiable desire for food, which manifests itself through the enormous amount of dishes in the film, second, to show how the people who run and work in this environment become part of the machine that feeds the masses, as displayed by the blue shirts and constant movement.
In De Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life, he says “Everyday life invents itself by poaching in countless ways on the property of others.” “Along with the lazy man... the dying man is the immoral man: the former, a subject that does not work; the latter, an object that no longer even makes itself available to be worked on by others.” These quotes serve to demonstrate my point about what it means to work, to serve the masses: the worker loses their space in service to the other, and the ‘lazy man’ is an abomination, one that is demonized for not giving his space to the other.

In the capitalist world we live in, is it possible to not fall into a cog in the machinery?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Stroszek: Let's Talk About LADIES

As much as I enjoyed this film, I also found it highly unsettling, both in the unfulfilled way that we're supposed to feel at the end and in Eva's construction. The way that Eva is built up and made into such a shining and interesting character, only to be reduced to a plot device or catalyst for the upheaval in Bruno's life was (I'm not going to lie) very disappointing. For some reason, her behavior at the end just didn't feel like something Eva, the character the filmmakers constructed and made us believe in, would do. Perhaps in that way, it was the ultimate betrayal on Eva's part, one that tricks the audience as well as the main character. Even so, I less resent the character for leaving and more the [male] directors for deciding to move the narrative in that direction. I suppose it had to happen in order to drive the male-centered narrative about the trusting, helpless, honest Bruno who takes in this poor prostitute and gives her a new life, only to find out that she's an ungrateful harlot.

I'm not salty at all.

All sarcasm aside, her character was extraordinarily interesting and complex character, qualities which are not usually gifted to women in mainstream cinema. The process of identification is made more easily because she isn't classically beautiful, she also easily allows us to pity her because of her situation, which makes us (the audience) want to comfort her. That being said, she is the symbol of harmful human interaction, because she deceptively brings all of the pain into Bruno's life that we see. We, the audience, is coded to feel betrayed in the end, because Bruno is the protagonist.

Hopefully that made sense. If not, feel free to ask for clarification.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Judy Chicago

Equality is the name of the game! Judy Chicago's art, in all mediums, sizes, and varieties features themes from the feminist movement. Her "masterpiece" installation piece The Dinner Party features 32 place settings signifying muses/artists throughout history that have marked founts of feminine creation. The first is of the Primordial Goddess: 

And ending with Georgia O'Keefe: 

Her medium fluctuates frequently, and but in many of her larger shows, spray acrylic paint is featured quite heavily, as well as embroidery, quilting, and other forms of needlework or "woman's" work. 

The Creation, for example, exhibits her work with needlework and also her desire to find femininity in a world dominated by men. This work focuses on the darkness of before birth, the genesis of the work, and the birth of all things living. 
In the clip below, Chicago speaks about her the trouble she went through trying to "make it" in the art world, and also her experiences as a teacher. 

That's Judy Chicago, I encourage you to look at more of her art. There's a ton of it, and some really exciting, crazy, cool pieces. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lawton Hall

I very much enjoyed Lawton's visit! A lot of his work resonated with me, for a variety of reasons. His introduction in particular was extremely relevant to what I've been thinking about recently, being: how the hell am I going to live after college? All we're required to do is make enough money to eat, supply the government, and consume. Where in this formula is the real action of living? I feel like for so many people, their job is not a part of their experience of 'life' - their real life starts after they leave their workplace. I do not in any way, shape or form want to live only outside of work. I'm hoping to eventually make money by creating film, something that I find both a worthwhile use of my time, and something that I genuinely adore to both create and consume.
ANYWAY, with this in mind, my favorite piece of Hall’s was his work with Carl – I connect with the medium and understand the use of sound on an academic level. The thing that I found most surprising about the music in the film was the almost whimsical quality of the feeling it created, despite the almost perverse act of active voyeurism through the camera’s lens. I think this film could just as easily have had a feeling of suspense or tension, and the music has a huge part to do with that.

I also wanted to talk about the first piece, because it conjured for me a lot of images that matched with my fear about the future. Usually, when we hear classical instruments in a concert hall, it’s very easy to understand the message and continuity of the piece, but for Hall’s piece, there is no continuity or harmony. The only point that created a sense of grounding is when the bass created a foundation on which each instrument was able to stand. It was a very beautiful and solid point in the piece.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


I wanted to use my phone for this project, and to try to embody the feeling of a vine, but I needed it to be a little longer for my purposes. In the Eddie Izzard clip that I show, he is talking about British Imperialism, and how just the presence of a flag and a gun makes a space into a place, and beyond that a place that is OWNED. I don't know how a person really owns a place, but it happens! It happens on the large scale and on a much smaller scale. This happens all the time, every day--if you want to grab a table for lunch, you put a marker there, and that space suddenly becomes yours, if only for a short amount of time. And then, if people continuously own that space, it is thought to be their's, like a lunch table that is generally thought of as the 'nerd table'. I wanted to try to mimic this kind of behavior, while also making something kind of funny featuring my favorite comedian.
Featuring my friend Jacob, who very kindly was my antagonist.