Hello!  Or should I say, hola?  Just wanted to give you a little update on how I’m doing in España.  Like visiting the beautiful Federico García Lorca Park pictured above!

So staying away from English is monumentally more difficult than I thought it would be.  Everything on the radio here is in English and a lot of the other students I’ve met came here knowing exactly ten words in Spanish.  I kid you not, I was helping one new friend with numbers.  Which is wonderful!  It makes me really happy to see people getting out and learning a new language that way, but it also makes it easier for me to speak English.  I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job and I’ve already seen some improvements.  I’ve learned quite a few things about Spanish grammar that I didn’t know before.  Well, I probably knew them, but have long since forgotten them.  I’m also officially learning Spain Spanish which has proved for some interesting confusion every now and then.

My favorite thing about being here?  Food!  Almost nothing my house mom cooks has been like something I could or would get at home, except for when she goes the Italian route.  Almost everything she makes is extremely delicious (except for when she goes the Italian route… I think I’m just overly spoiled in that area), and I ask her almost every night how she made her food.  One dish, though, totally blew the rest out of the water.  I mean I could have eaten it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week and not complained.  I’m going to write the recipe here, so I don’t forget it when I get home.

1 whole chicken, bones in
1 small apple or 1/2 a large apple
1 small onion
1 carrot
olive oil
1/4 cup of Pacharán liqueur

1.  In a pressure cooker, heat olive oil until just warm.  Finely dice onion, carrot and apple.  Add to oil and pan fry until onion is translucent.   Add chicken and cook for a few minutes.  Add the pacharán liqueur.  Cook meal in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes.
2. Once cooked through, remove chicken and plate.  Take remaining liquid, vegetables and fruit and blend using an immersion blender until smooth, but still with noticeable chunks of carrot.  Cover chicken with the sauce.

It’s SO simple, but unbelievably delicious.  I don’t know if it’s the apples or the liqueur that makes it so good, but I will seriously be making this when I get home.  I don’t know what Pacharán really tastes like, so I can’t tell you if there’s a more common US substitute you can find, but I know it’s available in the specialty section of some liquor stores.  I’m going to buy some here and bring it home with me, just in case.   I also don’t have a pressure cooker, so we’re going to have to find the alternative to that.

Other things I have learned in Spain:

  • I have the largest feet possible.  Look, I already knew I had big feet, but at least in the US there are a couple sizes above mine…
  • I kind of miss Wal-Mart.  I know, that’s really embarrassing to admit.  But I got strange looks when I tried to buy cold medicine in the grocery store and notebooks in a pharmacy.  NOPE.  Notebooks can be bought in a book store, medicine in a pharmacy and cold drinks in a convenience store (NOT the grocery store).  I also still haven’t figured out where I can buy school supplies, like pens.  It’s just kind of nice having stores where you can get a lot of things in one stop.  I’m not saying I love Wal-Mart, but I do miss the concept.
  • Sometimes it’s best to just admit you’re not sure what someone said than continue to have a conversation with them.  And getting really weird looks.
  • I love meeting people traveling from all over the world.  I have met people from Jordan, Turkey, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Syria, Morocco and so many other places.
  • I love that when my classmates and I can’t think of a word in Spanish, we have 4 languages we can ask each other in: English, Spanish, French, and Arabic.
  • The other  girl in my class from the US is from Minnesota.  We have fun explaining how different Virginia and Minnesota are.
  • Last time I was here, people automatically began speaking English when I stumbled.  Now I might get a few smiles when I say stupid things, but other than that, no one has started speaking English for me.  Example: I accidentally asked for less helado (ice cream) instead of hielo (ice) in my soda.   WOOPS.  Felt dumb.
  • I wish there were more movies in Spanish.  All but 3 of the movies in theaters now were originally in English and are now dubbed in Spanish.  I can’t watch a George Clooney movie with another person’s voice coming out, just can’t do it!  I did go see Despicable Me in theaters, animated dubbing is okay.
  • Coca-Cola Light is SO much better than Diet Coke!  Too bad its ingredients are probably banned in the US.

I’m sure I will think of more later, but that’s it for now!  I hope everyone had a blast during the readathon and I’ll see you in a couple weeks!


14 thoughts on “Update!

  1. Lucky you! My single biggest regret from college was not studying abroad. Now I’m wondering what I can do to work on my Spanish, which has been sadly neglected.

    Regarding the feet issue – one of my friends had a similar difficulty in China and Taiwan. She’s very slender but also tall (about 5’7″). Pretty much the only clothing size she could fit into was XXL! (She’s white, not of any Asian descent.) Are Americans just, like, humongous?

    1. I don’t know! I would say, in terms of clothing sizes, yes they all run smaller here, but the people don’t seem that much smaller to me! It’s just harder to find plus-size (slash… anything bigger than a medium) here. I’d say I’m between shoe sizes, between the second largest and the largest. I do admit, my feet are pretty large by US standards (and I have none of the height to show for it… I’m only 5’4″!)

  2. AHHHHHHHH. Did you stay in Maktub? Have you gone to Alhambra? TELL ME EVERYTHING. Did you hear that we’re going caving when you get back?

  3. I remember the feet issue from when I visited Madrid. Also, sizes are all a bit smaller there so I came back feeling “fat”.

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 And the food.. if I’d eaten meat I would’ve tried making that 🙂

  4. Yay, Lu! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time and the experience of a lifetime. I’ve never visited Spain, but I did an exchange to France when I was in highschool and it was wonderful and really helped my French out a ton. The first three-weeks or so were tough, but after that my language improved incredibly. Loved reading about all the ways in which Spain is different from the U.S. and that recipe you posted sound delicious! If I can find that liquor, I will definitely try it!

  5. I bet if you used chicken breasts, then cooked all in a crockpot, but for a longer time, it’d work. Seems like you are having a wonderful experience in Spain, even if there are no Wal-Marts there.

  6. The food is always my favorite part of traveling, too! That recipe does sound fantastic, and I’m all about easy. Glad to hear you’re having fun, though you’re not getting a chance to become as immersed in Spanish as you would have liked. Still sounds amazing!

  7. Love the update! Making me remember my exchange student days fondly… it’s hard to go without speaking English! Unfortunately, Finnish food was NOT the best part of my experience… although the chocolate was fabulous. Enjoy! Make great friends!!

  8. Stumbled across your blog when one of your posts was automatically generated on one of mine. 1) I am glad you also did not particularly enjoy “How I Live Now” by Meg Rosoff, even if it won the Printz Award. 2) I am glad you loved “If I Stay” because I think that’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Did you know there’s a sequel coming out in April? 3) I hope you had a lovely time in Spain! I spent 4 months in Sevilla in 2008 and truly, the part I miss most is the food!

    That is all. Enjoy your reading and your reminiscing about Spain.


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