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.


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