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5 posts from December 2013

12/26/2013

Primer día de clases, by Kathleen Davin, Fall 2013 CIEE Palma de Mallorca

Kathleen davinName: Kathleen Davin

Semester: Fall 2013

School: Cornell University

 

Hi friends!

I never thought I’d be so eager to start classes, but today was “finally” our first day! Cornell started about a month ago so I’ve had an extended vacation which has been great, but I’ve also missed learning (I’m such a nerd, I know). I’m sure I won’t be saying the same thing a month from now!

Yesterday we rode on a beautiful route along the coast. We passed through so many cute seaside towns and deserted beaches. I forgot how much I had missed bike riding! Along the trail we picked a quiet beach and relaxed on the rocks for a few hours. There were tons of adorable dogs there and even a nude sunbather or two (that’s Spain for ya!). For a lot of our excursions, we go with two “guardian angels,” who are basically two guys who show us the ropes of living here. We ended up having a long debate about vegetarianism, all in Spanish I might add! I’m pretty surprised that I’ve found vegans and vegetarians here who live a lifestyle even more strict than I do! Jamón is everywhere!

After our bike ride yesterday, it was a little difficult getting up at 6am for classes this morning, but somehow I did it. It takes about 25 minutes to take the bus to the university so I had to make sure I would catch the bus on time. I got by with a few café con leches and an incredibly flaky croissant from the school café.

I had three classes today: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Spanish for Business and Tourism, and Spanish Literature and Film. I loved them all! I’m able to understand what’s going on in all of them (at least so far) and the content is super interesting! I’m really excited to start watching some Spanish movies!

After classes we went to this giant Walmart-like supermarket to buy some school supplies and snacks. By the time I got back it was 5:30 and my Spanish madre had left me a late lunch. Some seriously awesome fish and a salad with arugula, tomatoes, and tuna. I’m way too spoiled here!

Anyways, hopefully I didn’t ramble too much. Tomorrow I’m going to go out and do some Palma exploring since I don’t have class!

12/20/2013

The end, by Matt Mantikas, CIEE Palma de Mallorca

Midway across the Atlantic, I see no better time to reflect on my experiences over the past three and a half months. In this literal and figurative transition between countries and cultures I find a mix of emotions. It’s tough to say a final goodbye to people and places, not knowing when or if I’ll ever return again, but amidst this difficulty, there is a sense of satisfaction in the way that I spent my time. I explored what Palma had to offer, took advantage of all opportunities to see new places, and enjoyed the many new friendships that I made. A common reflection over a long period of time is that, “it all went by in a flash”. I disagree with this statement. Sure, it’s still hard for me to believe that Christmas is two days away, but this doesn’t mean that I can’t accept the end of my study abroad experience. I enjoyed my classes, took my trips, had my fun and made the most of my cultural immersion. In this alone, I find closure.
At the start, I had my doubts about how our small group would impact the quality of my time in Palma. As I made clear in my early posts, it was tough to adjust to my new companions, but we eventually found equilibrium in our own individual schedules (and became close friends in the process). Freedom became my escape and I’m happy to have done a significant amount of escaping.
It all started with a spur of the moment 21-hour trip to Ibiza. Next was a group trip to Madrid, a two-day venture to Barcelona for Sensation, a long weekend in Sevilla (and Granada), another visit to Barcelona, another to Madrid (including Toledo), and finally a grand finale of London, Milan, Venice and Paris.
Traveling alone is something that many people avoid, but when given the opportunity, I think it’s a very rewarding thing to do. Buying tickets, finding hostels, and deciphering public transportation systems are all actions that are complicated by a language barrier. Out of necessity, passivity becomes hyper-observance and it’s in this observance where cultural differences are perceived.
Cultural differences are the most important aspect about studying abroad. Three and a half months isn’t long enough to completely understand a new culture, but it’s plenty of time to gain a new understanding of your own. In order to truly gain a sense of American culture, it needs to be seen through the eyes of a foreigner. We might think that countries of similar development levels have similar ways of life, but this is not the case. In the bubble that is our American lifestyle we’re too myopic to critique our own customs, positively or negatively. For example, after experiencing the Spanish professional culture, I have a new appreciation for the work ethic that is ingrained in American society. Sure, I learned plenty about Spanish culture in my day-to-day life, but having 20 years of American experience to compare it to, the emphasis is unconsciously placed on what I know.
Another drastic change for me was adjusting to city life. By choice, I go to school in the middle of nowhere, so I knew that I wanted something different from study abroad. Palma isn’t a huge city, but it’s a city nonetheless. Living in a small apartment with a Spanish host padre (Carlos), dealing with walking/metro commute to classes and just navigating crowded streets every day were all drastic changes to my lifestyle, and I’d be lying if I said that I’m not excited to go back to having a car, and a two minute commute to class.  
I think I’m so satisfied with my experience in Palma because I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone and forced to adapt. New friends, new family, new language, new food, and a very different lifestyle all offered a challenge that I was forced to meet in order to survive the three and a half months. I needed to get out of my comfort zone to emerge a changed person, and I think I did exactly that. Study abroad is a personal journey and you truly get back what you put in. I’m content to say that I came to Palma with an open mind and a strong desire to use the tools at my disposal, and I feel that this mentality paid off. This chapter in my life might have come to a close, but I can say definitively that it has drastically altered the way that future chapters will be written.



Cultural Encounters Class

Goodbye to British friends


Eating Caracoles

Caracoles


Casual paella street snack

Marc





12/15/2013

Formentor and more, by Kathleen Davin, Fall 2013 CIEE Palma de Mallorca

  Kathleen davin

Kathleen Davin

Fall 2013

Cornell University

I promise this will be mostly pictures, but I wanted to share some of the beautiful views that we saw today. We woke up early this morning to take a bus to Formentor with the other international students. I have to admit the bus ride up the mountain was slightly terrifying. The roads were so narrow and we were perched so high on the edge of the cliff so that every time another car came down the mountain one of us had to back up and let the other one pass.

On our way we stopped at Alcudia, a town that is most famous for the medieval looking wall that surrounds the town. We walked on top and were able to see some great views of the village below.

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Our next stop was a phenomenal lookout point over the Mediterranean. We were able to walk along a trail and take some fantastic pictures. 

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Finally, we ended the day at the beach. After the beach today, it has become completely unreal to me that I am studying in a place this beautiful. How anyone lives here year round and stays productive is beyond me! I have never seen such clear, cerulean water or touched such silky sand. I’m so lucky to be here!

Tomorrow we bike along the coast…one last hurrah before classes start!

12/08/2013

Finalmente relajándome, by Kathleen Davin, Fall 2013 in Palma de Mallorca, CIEE

Whew! Finally some time to relax, if only for an hour or two! We’ve been going non-stop since yesterday. It feels like it’s already been a week when only three days have passed.

We started the day yesterday with a great Spanish breakfast at the hotel. I have quickly become a coffee addict. Café con leche is incredible here and if we keep going at this pace it is most definitely going to become my best friend. We spent the rest of the day buying phones, running errands, and then attending an intensive orientation that left my head spinning. I’ve taken in a massive amount of information in the past 3 days…I don’t know how much more my brain can take!

That night at the hotel, we finally met our host families! Up until yesterday it had been a complete mystery as to what type of family we would be living with. I soon discovered that I have two host parents (Carmen and Vincente) who together have two young children (4 and 8 years old).

Lately, there have been many protesters through the city because the government has decreed that all Mallorcan schools should be trilingual, speaking Spanish, Catalan and English. However, the protesters want to eliminate the English requirement as many of the teachers don’t know enough English to teach complicated subjects like math. Almost daily we run into a peaceful demonstration in some part of the city.

Earlier today we went to the university, confirmed our class schedules for Monday, enrolled in the free gym on campus, and had a delicious lunch with the 4 other liberal arts students studying here. Tonight all 8 of us go to dinner with some international ERASMUS students also attending the university and tomorrow we have an all day excursion with them to Formentor–a beach town at the northernmost point of Mallorca. 

I’ve quickly realized that even after 3 months here I will still be discovering new things on this island, but for now I’m taking it one day at a time! ¡Hasta luego!

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One of the many confusing streets…they all look the same to me!

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An exhibit at La Nit de Art

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The incredible view of the cathedral from the roof of one of the art museums…pictures do not do it justice!

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And finally, my home for the next three months!

12/03/2013

CIEE Palma de Mallorca Fall 2013 by Kathleen Davin

Kathleen davin

Kathleen Davin

Cornell University

Fall 2013

 

Hola amigos!

Well I did it! I made it to Spain and more importantly to the little island off the coast, Mallorca. It is so incredibly beautiful here. A glimpse of the water can be seen from almost anywhere you go and the streets are full of culture, history, and a beautiful blend of languages.

But back to the beginning! I left JFK around 5pm on Tuesday night. From there I had a seven hour overnight flight to Madrid and then an hour and half hop over to Palma’s airport. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that much hospitality on an airline. Free movies, music, a vegetarian dinner, a European breakfast…I couldn’t believe it. The only problem was, as soon as I drifted to sleep, a flight attendant would wake me up for the next meal!

I arrived in Palma around 930 and after a little confusion getting my luggage and through customs or la aduana, I grabbed a taxi to the hotel where we would be staying for one night before moving in with our host families. Luckily, I was able to check in early and catch some z’s before my other 2 roommates arrived. There are only 4 students in my program and us three girls shared a triple in the hotel.

We all met up later that night with the director of the program and after a brief orientation and detailing of our itinerary for the week, headed out for a tour of the city. I was honestly in awe of the incredible ciudad. It’s a fairly large city, but it feels small, like you’re welcome anywhere you go. We saw the famous cathedral and palace which is right on the sparkling blue water. I can’t wait to take some pictures to show you all!

After our tour, we headed to dinner at a great tapas restaurant. Tons of incredible seafood and vegetables…I even tried octopus or pulpo which apparently is pretty popular here. We ended the dinner with an interesting shot of digestivi that was a green liquid that tasted like anise. It was certainly strong enough to wake me up!

The four of us capped off the night sitting on the hotel patio, enjoying a glass of Cava and talking about all our excitement for the semester. Tomorrow we do some more orientation activites, meet our host families, and head to the famous “Nit de Art” a night of free entrance to all the art museums in the city!

Until then! Buenas noches!