Sorry for the delayed post! I´m hoping to update this at the end of every week. Anyways, Spain is still going well. I got back last night from a weekend excursion to Segovia. Segovia is a medieval town built on a mountain about an hour outside of Madrid. The weekend was really fun. The first day we got there, we basically spent the entire afternoon exploring. We visited the Alcazar, which is Segovia´s castle (Alcazar is an arabic word that means "the castle" - lots of words in Spanish have roots in Arabic). The Alcazar was amazing...it´s built on a cliff, has tons of turrets, balconies, towers, and awesome views of the Spanish countryside that surrounds Segovia. After the Alcazar we went to a witchcraft museum and then wandered around the Plaza Mayor, where the gorgeous gothic Catedral in Segovia is located. The second day we went on a guided tour of churches and monastaries on the periphery of Segovia. At the end of the day, we went to see Segovia´s aqueduct. It was built in the 1st century by the Romans entirely out of stone (no mortar was used at all) and it is one of the most amazing things I´ve ever seen. It´s this huge stone structure that seems to go on forever, located right in the middle of this old city. I don´t think I´ve ever seen anything that old in real life.
This past week involved lots more orientation activities. We went on a few tours of the historical/architectural sights of Alcala. We visited the huge Catedral in the Plaza de los Santos Niños, saw the building where Ferdinand and Isabel gave Columbus permission to sail to America with their money, went to the Casa-Museo de Cervantes (the house where he was born and grew up as a child) and saw the gorgeous main building of the University of Alcala, which was built in the 1500s. We also got to go into Madrid to see our program center (where I´ll be having class once a week) and some of the sights around the area of the center. I also went into Madrid on Friday afternoon with a few people to go shopping on the Calle de Preciados, one of the main shopping streets around the Puerta del Sol (basically the center of Madrid). Another highlight of this past week was going to the theater in Alcala. Last Sunday I went with Laura and her host mom to see La Casa de Bernarda Alba, a Lorca play that I had actually read in high school. Spanish people love going to the theater, so the place was packed. The performance was awesome, and it was great to see it performed in Spanish in an actual Spanish theater with actual Spanish actors. After the play the three of us walked around the Calle Mayor de Alcala. It seemed like everyone in the city of Alcala was out walking around with their families, sitting in outdoor cafes, or chatting in the plazas. It was so nice to just relax and enjoy the beautiful night. I could really notice how affectionate and social Spanish people are with each other. Everyone seemed to be walking arm and arm with one another - couples, friends, families. People seem to really value their relationships here.
Speaking Spanish is still going pretty well. I stumble a lot and still make a lot of mistakes, but it seems like it´s getting a little easier. I was sick for all of last week (along with half of the people on my program), so I´m hoping to have a lot more energy now to really work on my speaking. I have a bunch of pictures and I will hopefully be putting them up this week. I´ll post here when I do so. For now, I´m going to go to a pasteleria to buy a pastry and and wander around Alcala for a bit. Hasta luego.