The time has come! I have finally settled into the new place I will call home for the semester. After another long night in Madrid and one more endless bus ride, our USAC group pulled up to la Plaza de Luceros only to meet our landlords and new host families. I told myself I would study my Spanish notes from previous classes all winter break leading up to going abroad, but listening to Michel Teló, Belanova, Fonseca, and some other Spanish artists provided my only practice before heavily conversing with my new family. Eeek! However, at my first take, I surprised myself at how well I communicated.
So after every study abroad student’s luggage was pulled off of the bus, I was the very last student to meet my new fam. I exchanged “besos” with Pilar and Sandra, a custom in Spain when meeting or greeting someone. They helped carry some of my luggage to the apartment, and I tried to start and grasp my surroundings, because on my first day back from class I was nearly lost! I definitely am happy with my family and it helps to have two people in the household, especially when I can’t fully understand something they both are able to explain it to me. Pilar works for a little gift, wedding, and homemaker shop in downtown Alicante, and Sandra works as a dentist’s assistant nearby. Part of my new little family are three English Cocker Spaniels as well, Carla, Lola, and Luna.
I take the train to class everyday which is a lot faster than the bus line, and about a five minute walk from my apartment. At the Universidad de Alicante, I am taking composition, conversation, and spanish for business classes, in addition to spanish cuisine, dancing, and sailing. The university is much bigger than Mount Union, and about 25,000 students. It also was previously an airbase but has updated with modern architecture and features many palm, orange, and pomegranate trees. I can’t wait until it gets a little warmer here!
Part of my full, initial day included a group trip to el Castillo de Santa Barbara, one of the largest medieval fortresses in all of Europe. The castle covers the complete summit of the Benacantil Mountain and was originally built by the Moors in the 10th century, influenced much by the nearby continent of Africa. The castle received its name from the conquest of King Alfonse the Wise that took place on 4th December 1248: Saint Barbara’s day. The castle seems to be the highlight and main point of interest in Alicante, with great 360 degree views!
After a few days of exploration, some fellow American students and I were anxious to discover the nightlife of Alicante. We made it to a couple discotecas and unique restaurants, but one thing we realized we are going to have to get used to is the hour people go out until. In Spain, it is very common for places to not even open until 3:00 AM, right when things start to close in the states! However, I was happy to see a good friend of mine from high school who had been studying in Spain, and a few other mutual friends my first night out in the town.
Another big part of the culture in Spain is fútbol, or soccer. In Alicante there is a Hércules CF, a team that is in the Segunda Division but hope to return to La Liga after this season, where well known teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona play. I was fortunate to experience my first professional soccer match between Hércules and SD Huesca, where Samuel and Tote netted a goal a piece to give the home team a victory. Besides the ever-so popular fútbol another highlight is the Explanada, a hallmark and symbol of tourism in the city of Alicante. The mosaic tiles stretch for many blocks aside the Mediterranean port, and are home to many street vendors and crowds!
One last highlight of Alicante would have to be my favorite restaurant thusfar: Cervecería 100 Montaditos. This chain serves many drinks, salads, appetizers, but is know for its 100 different types of bocadillos, or smaller sandwiches. Although I absolutely love the home cooked meals from Pilar, Wednesday nights are certainly ones I look forward to since everything on the menu is only 1 euro. Yes, everything! My friends and I definitely took advantage of this deal, and plan to almost every Wednesday, because we ate a lot of tasty food for only about 6 euro, or $8.00. As you can see Alicante is already treating me well, and like the Olsen Twins, Spain is acting like my Holiday in the Sun.
Overall, my Spanish life is definitely one in the making, but once I am fully accustomed and become used to the native language, I am confident I will want my stay to be longer than a semester. ¡Hasta luegooo!
More photos of Alicante. Enjoy.