HALLELUJAH!

By Nacho (aka Kyle), from Tufts University. Published originally on his own blog, where you can follow his adventures.

I suppose the most logical way to start this blog would have to be with this woman. Meet Paqui Pedrosa.

If the Real Housewives of Seville existed, she would undoubtedly be Nene. When she’s not affectionately using “coño,” at the end of every sentence, Paqui cooks like crazy, irons my socks (literally bless her) and LOVES Facebook. Like, she literally loves it. More importantly, Paqui Pedrosa has a heart of gold, a terribly contagious laugh and a strange affection for baby animals which we frequently bond over. That particular sweater she’s wearing is covered in baby giraffes.

My host Dad, Alberto, is kind of a boss and he knows it. He also has an incredibly sick flow (“hair,” mom) that I’m uber jealous of. The only way to sufficiently describe Alberto is via story.

 

Yesterday morning, Alberto called me in the kitchen for some homemade orange juice (#winning). I eagerly got out of bed, crossed the apartment and just as I entered the kitchen, he stepped out from behind the refrigerator with a rabbit. Like a WHOLE rabbit (fur, eyes, tail, I’ll spare you here). Alberto proceeded to chase me around the apartment with the conejo, propping its head up and down in such a way as to make it appear alive and well. Amidst my screams of bloody murder, I explained to him that I once had a pet bunny, which he thought was the most hysterical thing of all. He later apologized by giving me a piece of toast which was the most epic peace offering I’ve ever received. We ate the rabbit for lunch.

In summary, my family is incredible. We live in a small apartment in Plantinar with my roommate Henri (“Enrique”). Here are some photos of the extended family which frequently stop by to gossip and eat (in that order).

 

 

So ya, I live in Spain. Lol wut? Seville is the most beautiful city I have ever seen excluding Medford, MA.

Every building/monument has an incredible history that dates back to at least 1990. One of my favorite excursions thus far was La Catedral, the biggest gothic cathedral in the world. 
Christopher Columbus’s body is being held captive there; a shout-out to every history and social studies teacher I have had since 1st grade. This is just one of the many visitas organized by my program.

 

Sevillanos, people from Seville, are some of the proudest people I have ever met. They pride themselves in their city’s prolific history, its beer (Cruzcampo – Cruthhhcampo) and its reputation for being a part of the most relaxed, party-oriented part of Spain. Speaking of nightlife, so strike me dead if I ever step foot in a frat again. Oh actually, I’ll see many of you at 123’s “Call on Me,” which is the second best day of the year after NQR, which now makes it the best day of the year. Essentially, nightlife in Seville follows a very strict protocol. People botellón, the equivalent of American pre-gaming, anywhere from 5-12 pm by the Río Guadalquivir. People leave to go to the bars at around 12:30/1:00am, bar hop until 3:00/3:30am and THEN proceed to the discotheques until 7 or 8 in the morning. But actually, this has been the most difficult transition of all #stillwinning.

(Here is a picture from Buddha,

a three-story nightclub that is totally cray cray.)

I had just casually finished battling an ambiguous go-go dancer and rightfully regained my position on said platform. The Queen is in the house ya’ll.

I also speak loads of Spanish here which is cool. Virtually no one in Seville speaks English so it’s pretty crucial that I use the language or else I might die. On that note, the form of Spanish spoken in Seville, Andalusian Spanish, is incredibly difficult to catch on. For those of you familiar with Spanish, the people in Seville exclude the letter “s,” from all words because they find it boring. This makes it impossible to decipher whether or not anything is plural. I.e. dos más = do ma. The lisp is also notoriously stronger in the South than in any other part of Spain. Cinco = thinko. Sopa = soh-pah. Hearing the most virile men lisp their way through a conversation is actually very amusing and immediately eliminates their macho exterior. Sucks. Sevillanos also choose not to pronounce the following letters when they get excited, “d,” “r,” “l.” I’m literally living in a city of divas. Low and behold, though, I am adapting to this new form of speech and seem to understand more and more each day.

School doesn’t start for another 2 weeks but the Sweet Briar orientation is very well done and is making my immersion smooth like nutella. The program itself is small, 24 students in total, and is teeming with super chill bros and hoes. I’ll talk more about them in future posts because they are funny and weird (in that order). Before I conclude, 10 quick things I have learned during my first week in Seville.

1. There are no boundaries for P.D.A. in Spain. Today I learned to steer clear of small cafés as Dan, Avery and I practically mopped the saliva from our faces-the product of our very liberal neighbors.

2. ALL babies are cute here.

3. ALL old couples hold hands in public.

4. Sevici, the public bike system in Seville makes transport SO much easier,but it is very difficult to look cool on a Sevici bike. Most men will try.

5. Rabbit tastes like chicken.

6. The Euro is whack.

7. Siestas are real life and should be made mandatory in the states.

8. Rollerblading is IN!

9. Chacos are OUT (Sorry, Caroline)

10. I love Spain.

 

Tarta de manzana

By Cristina from Columbia University.

(This is a fragment from an assignment that Cristina wrote for one of her orientation classes.)

Hace unos días que salí con mis compañeras de clase, Elena y Carmen, a tomar un café y usar el WiFi gratis en ese establecimiento tan importante de Sevilla: Café y Té.  Al pedir el café, la camarera me pregunto si quería probar una tarta de manzana porque estaba en oferta.  Pues, no puedo resistir una oferta de pastel, y le dije que sí, nosotras íbamos a compartir una tarta de manzana.

Quizás es porque en realidad soy americana con descendientes cubanos y españoles, o quizás es que todos los que hablan “cubano” piensan así, pero para mí una tarta se traduce exactamente a la palabra en inglés “tart” y la palabra para “cake” no es una palabra española en absoluto, sino es decir “cake” con acento (algo que suena a “quéi”).

Pues, cuando recibí un “cake” muy mojado con pedazos de manzana secos encima, no me apetecía.  Comí un pedacito, y entonces otro, para no dejar la tarta allí sin comerla pero lo que quería y lo que tenía en mi mente era algo completamente diferente, algo más similar a un “fruit tart” o “apple pie” americano.

Unos minutos pasaron, y las tres queríamos algo más de comer, pero no queríamos gastar más dinero.  Allí estaba la tarta de manzanas.  Nosotras nos mirábamos.  Y poco a poco empezamos a levantar nuestras cucharas y probarla otra vez.

Era magia, un milagro, ¡a todas nos gustaba la tarta de manzana!  Empezamos a reírnos y decidir que en el momento en que aceptamos lo que era la tarta, nos gustó.  Elena gritó, “¡Buen lema para este semestre!” a lo que yo respondí “Descubre algo nuevo, acéptalo por lo que es, y lo vas a disfrutar.”  Reímos por un rato sobre la sabiduría de nuestra tarta de manzana: un gran chiste.

De verdad, el colegio nunca termina


By Devin from
Northwestern University.

(Devin is a junior who is spending the academic year in Seville. You can read this entry and many others on her personal blog, http://maravillasevilla.tumblr.com.)

On my study abroad applications, I wrote repeatedly about how I wanted to study in Spain because I wanted to learn about a different education system. Yes, this was to an extent just part of the fluffy stuff that we all write in application essays to make them sound better, but it was also true. Education, not just my own but the system itself, has always been very important to me and it is likely that I will spend some portion of my adult life teaching. I knew that study abroad would give me the opportunity to observe a different university system from the inside and I also hoped that, by being in Spain, I would also be able to learn about primary and secondary school education.

Well, as fate would have it — and due to the actions of our extracurricular activities director, Rocío — I’ve had the opportunity to experience Spanish secondary education from the inside as well. While many people on our program intern at colegios [a word which can refer to any school in the K-12 range] in English departments, I wanted to work with a history department (maybe because I have a propensity for seeking these out-of-the-box experiences). Rocío asked her friend, María Ángeles, who teaches history at the Bachillerato [trans. 11th- and 12th-grade] level to take me under her wing and luckily for me, she agreed.

So that’s how it came to be that one morning in November, I found myself walking down a street filled with orange trees in the eastern part of Sevilla, headed to the Colegio Santa Joaquina de Vedruna. My first day in the colegio was, frankly, terrifying. I spent a few hours following María Ángeles through meetings and classes, attempting to understand and answer her questions to the best of my ability and take in all of the new information. Never have I felt so out of place, so much like a goldfish in a bowl, stared at and incapable of doing anything to make myself look less conspicuous. I was amazed that the students seemed to regard me as a professor — I certainly felt more like them than a like professor — but I was one of the few out of uniform.

I spent a lot of my first day comparing this school to my own school experiences. Of course, there were some very obvious differences like the fact that all grades are housed within the same building, or the uniforms (something which I was thankfully spared from). But there was also a feel to this colegio which was entirely different from what I experienced during my education. The teachers seemed to spend a lot more time on the simple enforcement of rules, on making resistant students actually work, obey the dress code, and behave reasonably. Still, I know that the minimal misbehavior and chaos I witnessed there is nothing compared to many schools in the US, so I’m guessing my reaction had more to do with the fact that I spent almost all of high school in honors classes. What struck me even more, though, was the fact that the teachers, at the end of each period, had to change classrooms, while the groups of students remained in the same room all day. To me this arrangement seemed so obviously wrong: it robs teachers of time and focus, and robs students of the chance to change scenery throughout the day. It also made me think of the teachers I was close to in high school, how they all had their rooms decorated extensively, and how so many students came to find them there, before or after school, and how none of that would be possible here. I have always believed that my high school education was one of the greatest gifts I ever received, and my first day at the colegio made me even more grateful for it.

When things started to get interesting, shall I say, was during one of my later visits, when some of the other history teachers found out that they had an American student among them. You could all but see the gears in their minds turning together, and one of them blurted out excitedly, “Let´s have her teach the American Revolution!”

I agreed, of course, feeling simultaneously excited and daunted. I did not at all feel prepared to take on this task, seeing as the American Revolution is not my area of expertise and I hadn´t had any academic training in the Revolution since 11th grade. As one of the professors quickly reminded me, however, by nature of being American, I already knew more than any of them. A dozen ideas where already running rampant in my head, and although I knew that this US history level was not going to be anywhere near the level of discourse I was engaging in at NU, I wasn’t quite ready for the surprise that awaited me in the textbook that I glanced at that morning.

I was going to be teaching this lesson to students in the 4th year of ESO — which would be equivalent to 10th grade — and in this year, they were studying world history. In their textbook, I found a small section, about half a page, dedicated to the American Revolution. Part of a larger section on liberal movements. Seeing this was sort of a shock to my system — I was taken aback that the Revolution could possibly be shoved in this tiny box. On first read, this probably makes me sound like some sort of über-patriotic, nationalistic, self-important idiot, but I don’t mean to say that I think Spanish students should be spending weeks learning about the American Revolution. Nonetheless, after living for 20 years in a world where the American Revolution was consistently present in some form, and after spending years immersed in American history, this came as a shock to my system. I won’t even get into my reaction to the complete nonexistence of my field of expertise over here.

Despite this bit of intellectual whiplash, I dove into my preparations, determined to present my history to Spanish teenagers in a way that only an American could. While looking at their textbook taught me some new things about the Revolution, things that Europeans teach and we generally don’t, I also infused the presentation with my love of my country and tried to give it the flavor of the many lessons I had on the Revolution during my life. I spent about two weeks preparing a PowerPoint presentation, pouring over websites, typing things like “Hessians” and “bullets” into my Spanish/English dictionary [Note: the former does not translate well] and trying to choose the most essential things about a 20-year period to squeeze into a 50-minute presentation. As someone who is notoriously long-winded, this was quite the challenge, but I made it happen.

Then one night I got an email asking me to come in to the colegio to make the first presentation, the next morning. The short notice was probably better for me, because it gave me less time to panic. I have never been comfortable with public speaking, and the idea of doing an entire lesson in front of a class of Spanish teenagers, in Spanish, was only slightly less terrifying than the prospect of being dropped into a tank of sharks. The next morning, the professor, Immaculada, is trying to turn her class into a pliable audience, reminding them of the amount of hard work I put into the presentation, advertising that an American had come to talk them, in a way that made me sound part visiting guest lecturer and part sideshow. My nerves made my Spanish a bit rougher than usual, but I survived my presentation. More than that, the students seemed interested in what I was saying, or at least interested in taking notes for their exam. When I finished, I received a nearly thunderous round of applause, and a number of complements on my Spanish. Over the next week, I did the presentation for three other classes, each one memorable for different reasons. There was the student who suggested that North Dakota was one of the thirteen colonies. (I suppose I should be amazed he even knew that North Dakota existed.) There was a group who was confused by my interchangeable use of the terms ‘colonists’ and ‘Americans’. I found myself constantly stepping back and reminding myself that this was all brand new to these students, and trying to leave them with some little thing that they could remember about my country, something to know about us other than what they learn on MTV or the Internet. And then there was my final group, a class of nine students who in total may have taken about three sentences of notes, despite the prodding of their professor. But I suppose, as someone who wants to be a teacher, I should get used to dealing with that as well. Every class I taught, however, I experienced that same adrenaline rush that other professors had told me about. And so now, when I think about teaching, it’s no longer a career I could accept, but rather one that I truly desire.

During the rest of my internship, my opportunities to work with American history will likely be limited, but I plan to continue observing and learning from Spanish secondary education system, because I know that it can give me a unique perspective that I could never gain from any student teaching experience in the US. I will continue to question what Americans do well, what Spaniards do well, and what we could all do better, because, de verdad, el colegio nunca termina — there is little in life more important than education and, good or bad, what we take from high school we carry with us forever.

Carmona – Same trip, different student

By Christine from Princeton University.

(This is another entry about the trip to Carmona, which Christine posted originally on her personal blog.)

So, yesterday our group went to Carmona, a small city/town about 20 minutes outside of Sevilla (Quick side note: we took a bus there and we had to drive through an area called Kansas City, which is really just ridiculous…not so clear as to why Kansas City, Seville exists…something about them being sister cities…strange). Carmona is basically a quiet, slow-moving town (slower than Sevilla, dios mío), but it is famous for its Roman ruins. Specifically, Carmona contains a huge necropolis–a Roman burial ground. We saw some smaller tombs that we actually got to climb down into. This was kind of scary because I kind of thought that 1) I was going to fall off the really bootleg ladder when I was climbing down and 2) that the tomb was going to collapse on me and then I’d seriously be chilling with some really old Romans. But on the bright side, it was warm in the tombs (that sounds creepy), because, let me tell you, I know I’m lucky to be avoiding the 0 degree weather in the U.S., but it was FREEZING in Carmona. So much cold, cold wind, and none of us were prepared at all. But it was totally worth it. After we saw the smaller tombs, we went to see these huge burial areas. It was amazing that such old ruins are still standing…it made me wish I could be an archaeologist hahaha.

After the necropolis, we went to the cathedral in Carmona, which was beautiful. Apparently it’s especially amazing when the light shines through because there is so much stained glass that it paints the whole room with beautiful colors. Unfortunately, the sun was not out, but the cathedral was still so so so pretty.

After that, we went to eat churros! I think our group leader felt bad because we were all freezing to death, so she bought us A MILLION churros and café con leche and hot chocolate. God, I could eat churros ALL DAY. Unfortunately, I saw how they make them…and it involves more deep-frying than I thought was possible. Yikes. But whatever…I’m in Spain.

After basically gorging ourselves on churros, we went to una fortaleza, which was amazing because it gave us a beautiful beautiful view of Carmona, which is sooo grassy and green. And again, we were surrounded by really old but well-preserved architecture. Soon after that, we saw “La puerta de Carmona” because Carmona, like many other Spanish cities, was once walled.

Overall, the trip was great…cold, but definitely worth. That’s all for now. More later…

Climbing into the tomb

Climbing into the tomb

So many churros!

So many churros!

At la fortaleza in Carmona

At la fortaleza in Carmona

Visita a Carmona

By Tori from Williams College.

I just finished lunch and now is the siesta, so I thought it would be a good time to write.

Yesterday classes ended at 6 (they were shifted an hour earlier since it was Friday), so a bunch of people in the program decided to go to a movie. However, the movie didn’t start until 8, so we had a couple hours to kill. And what better way to spend that time than to go get food? So, we went to 100 Montaditos, a shop that sells 100 different types of small sandwiches for 1-2 euros each. For our conversation class, we had had to buy a sandwich there, and it was really good, so Natalie, Tiffany, and I decided to go again. We weren’t going to have dinner until after the movie, so a snack seemed like a good idea.

Montaditos

Montaditos

Each of those sandwiches costs about 1 euro. I’ve tried one of the chicken sandwiches, as well as one with salmon and cream cheese and one with melted chocolate and berry jam! I think I prefer the savory ones to the chocolate one. I foresee that this restaurant is going to be getting a lot of business from me over the course of the semester since it’s right across the street from the main entrance to the university. At first, I wanted to make it my goal to try all 100 montaditos on the menu, but some of the “gourmet” ones, such as hot dog with bacon, don’t sound that appealing. Maybe 50 will be my goal. My other food-related goal is to try a lot of ice cream shops in the city and find which one I think is the best. I want to try a lot of tapa places too.

We then went to see También la lluvia at Nervión Plaza, which is right next to my apartment. It was a really good but sad movie about a group of Spanish filmmakers that go to Bolivia to film a movie about the Spanish conquest of Latin America. While they’re filming, many protests erupt around the country about the privatization of water. The movie blurs the line between fiction and reality at times. After the movie, I returned home, had a sandwich my señora had left out for me, and went to bed since we had to get up early in the morning.

Today, we took an excursion to Carmona, a nearby town. Carmona is a really nice town, up in the hills above Sevilla, but it was really cold (and by that I mean around 40 F, which still feels cold when you aren’t wearing very warm clothes). I think today was also the first day it’s been cloudy the entire time. Our first stop was a necropolis outside the city, which was used between 100 BC and 400 AD.

Carmona's Necropolis

Carmona's Necropolis

We were even able to go down into one of the tombs.

Going into a tomb

Going into a tomb

Here’s one of the main areas that had a lot of rooms going off of it.

Tomb of Servilia

Tomb of Servilia

We then went to the city itself, and walked through the old wall (the gate we walked through was la puerta de Sevilla), through the main square, and to the church. It was pretty and had nice artwork, just like most of the other European churches. Here’s a decoration in the courtyard of the church.

Font, courtyard, Church of Santa María

Font in the courtyard of the Church of Santa María de la Asunción

This Catholic church, just like many others, was built on an old mosque (which, before that, was a church for the group that lived here before the Arabs came). Because of that, you enter into a courtyard before entering the church. The cathedral in Seville has a courtyard for the same reason.

After that, we went to a cafe next to a churro place and ate churros, drank chocolate, and warmed up. Our last stop in Carmona was a fortress. This town was well protected geographically because it was at the top of a hill so it could see enemies coming from far away. Many foods were grown in the surrounding valleys, so the town always had enough food. This was the first time since coming to Seville that I’ve seen hills. The city is very flat.

View of Carmona

View of Carmona from inside the fortifications

Tori in Carmona

The author of this blog post with the church of San Pedro in the background

On the way back, we stopped at a gate on the other side of the city, and we drove by an old Roman road as well. All of the cities here are heavily influenced by both the Romans and the Arabs (who ruled this area from about 700-1500). I love being in Europe where hundred- or thousand-year-old buildings and art are alongside cars and other modern things!

We got home in time for lunch; however my señora wasn’t home today. We had a first course of pasta with a little sausage, and our second course was meatballs. I think I prefer having both courses at once so you can eat them together if you want, but that’s evidently not the way it’s done here.

“This is my street…”

By Cristina from Columbia University.

(This entry was originally posted on January 16 on Cristina’s personal blog, which she is writing for the benefit of her friends and family, as well as her own.)

As I walk past kids in their Sunday best along Virgen de Luján, constantly asking “¿y por qué?” … as the cool breeze brings me the scents of sweet oranges and that something-green from the jardines … as the afternoon sun light dances on the ever-calm Río Guadalquivir … as the tallest tower of the Plaza de España points directly toward the rising moon … as I come upon the street with my name, Paseo de Cristina, knowing that I took the longer route, and enjoying every minute I spend andando on this Sunday afternoon …

I realize that this is truly becoming my home. And so much quicker than I could’ve have ever imagined.

I’ve finally learned how to use the three keys it takes to get into my apartment, I know the times of day to spend in certain parts of the city, I know how to layer so that I can be ready for the afternoon sun (a dry 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and the evening air (a humid 40 degrees), I know when to be home for meals, and where to get the cheapest cervezas and bocadillos. I can’t wait to discover more of this incredible city (and start taking some pictures so you can enjoy it with me!!)

Comment and let me know what you’re interested in hearing about and seeing! This web-log is as much for you as it is for me :)

Hasta la próxima…
Siempre,
Cha Cha

“I’m leaving on a jet plane” …maybe

By Cristina from Columbia University.

(This entry was originally posted on Cristina’s personal blog, which she is writing for the benefit of her friends and family, as well as her own.)

Friday Jan 14

After many delays (in Madrid airport for 5 hours) making fast friends, meeting my señora, and having a café, I finally have WiFi!! Which of course in Spain is pronounced “weefee” :) so I feel connected to the world again! I look forward to being able to update you now, and regularly.

Though I sense some troubles ahead — my host mom is a little too mom-like for my liking (she has pictures of every girl she’s hosted since ’95 on her mantle and talks about them A LOT), the Spanish is certainly different than what I’m used to, and matriculating in the university is going to be a trip in and of itself — still, en general, I LOVE IT HERE. The city is beautiful, relatively safe, and totally manageable. Can you say “one metro line”? Literally. One. The other girl from New York just laughed out loud when they told us that.

The people on the program with me are awesome, and the program administrators are hilarious and super helpful. I haven’t met my roommate yet since she’s a year-long student and doesn’t have to be here for orientation, so she’s off travelling until matriculation starts in about a week. But everyone else I’ve been hanging out with is wonderful. And since they cancelled our little field trip tomorrow (not everyone has made it to Sevilla yet), we’re going out tonight :)

I think that’s all for now!

La agobiada por ahora,
Cha Cha

P.S. I’ll be writing in Spanglish a lot so feel free to ask what I’m talking about in the comments if you don’t understand!

Living on one dollar a day

This is a different entry for our blog because it has nothing to do with Seville, but I thought this project deserved to be disseminated as much as possible. Read, watch, and, most importantly, take action!

Before going to Seville in September, JYS student Chris Temple (Claremont McKenna) and 3 other college students spent the summer in Guatemala with the support of the Whole Planet Foundation. Their purpose was to experience and document what it is like to live on a dollar or less per day, something that 1.1 billion people do all over the planet. The final product of this research project will be a video documentary that seeks to achieve two goals: to increase the awareness of strategies that help the poor reach financial independence and to raise $100,000 dollars for Grameen (Guatemala) and Fonkoze (Haiti).

You can read about their project, see the short videos they have completed so far, and make a donation at www.onedollaraday.weebly.com.
The videos are also available on Youtube, including Video Blog #1, which will be featured on the front page of Global Youtube for 24 hours on November 12.

Enjoy!

Celeste Delgado-Librero

JYS Director

Por la gastronomía: Paella

By Megumi from Colby College.

Uy, uy, uy. Qué emoción. Hoy Loly regresó con 6 bolsas de la compra. En las bolsas había productos especiales para nosotras. Mariscos. Debido a complicaciones con mi compañera de cuarto, a quien no le gustan los mariscos, todavía no he comido un solo plato de mariscos. (Mentira: lo he comido una vez.) Pero ¡estamos en Sevilla! Sevilla = Mariscos, ¿no? Vale. Loly me dijo que vamos a preparar una paella para este proyecto mío de la gastronomía. Ella nunca ha preparado una paella para sus estudiantes americanos aunque ya ha tenido 10 antes de nosotras. No puedo evitar sentirme un poquito especial, ¿no? Aunque Loly me advirtió que la paella tomará mucho tiempo y trabajo, yo estaba súper emocionada ante la idea de cocinar con mi “madre” y, encima, una paella: la reina de la comida española.

Nosotras empezamos nuestra aventura lavando los mariscos, que incluyen almejas, mejillones y gambas:Después, los hervimos para hacer un caldo con mucho sabor. Añadimos cebollas, pimientos, tomates, dos dientes de ajo y, al final, choco.

Hablamos de la tradición de los españoles de comer paella solo como almuerzo. Loly se escandalizaba de que haya turistas que comen paella para la cena porque el plato es demasiado pesado. Es la verdad. Siempre veo muchísima gente en la Avenida de la Constitución cenando paella. Pero para nosotros, estudiantes extranjeros, comer paella de cena no es una cosa tan extraña porque tenemos el hábito de comer cosas pesadas para la cena. Lo que es más extraño es que los españoles coman tan tarde. Antes de venir aquí, había oído de las horas de comer. Las primeras semanas fueron muy difíciles porque estábamos acostumbrados comer al mediodía y a las 18:00, no a las 2:30 y 21:30. Sin embargo, ahora nosotros estamos ajustados a nuestros horarios. Pero puedo decir con certeza, que la hora de comer fue uno de los retos más memorables al principio.

Volvamos a la receta. Hoy aprendí un secreto de la familia García. La abuela y la madre de Loly siempre ponían el arroz en la olla en forma de cruz. Loly soltó una carcajada cuando me dijo, “Será seguramente una tontería”. Lo siento, pero yo pienso que es una tontería también. Cuando nosotros intercambiamos historias de nuestras familias, nos acercamos muchísimo. Ahora tengo la impresión de que conozco su juventud y su familia mejor. Es la oportunidad perfecta para conocernos mejor porque podemos compartir nuestra pasión.

Después del arroz, solamente hay que añadir el caldo y azafrán (una especia) y mezclar hasta que el arroz ha absorbido todo el líquido. Al fin, Loly añadió los mariscos y decoró la superficie. ¡Estábamos listas para comer!

Este día, nuestra vecina Inés comió con nosotras. Cuando Inés destapó la olla, qué belleza. Paella Francamente, me impresionó y estaba orgullosa de que mi madre, Loly, pudiera cocinar algo tan delicioso. Juntas nosotras tres, manteniendo una conversación fantástica, me sentía como parte de la familia y parte de la comunidad española porque comí la comida de aquí, hablé en español, y participé en la charla con ellas. Devoramos la paella en solo quince o veinte minutos y seguíamos diciendo, “No puedo más, no puedo más” pero nuestros tenedores no paraban. Pero todo me parecía bien porque yo había pasado mi primer día en la cocina con Loly. Y muchos más quedan por venir.

Ahora, después de mi experiencia con la paella, estoy de acuerdo con Loly. No puedo comerla para la cena. ¿Es posible que me haya transformado en una española?

Por la gastronomía: El comienzo

By Megumi from Colby College.

España. ¿Hay una palabra que suene mejor? Pienso que no. Hola, me llamo Megumi y soy una estudiante extranjera de los EE.UU. de Colby College. Un poquito sobre mí: nací en Japón pero he pasado toda mi vida en extranjero. Cuando era niña, mi familia y yo viajamos muchísimo y vivimos en Noruega, Reino Unido y Japón; ahora vivimos en los EE.UU. y por fin estamos allí para quedarnos. Es obvio que me gusta viajar y explorar culturas diferentes. Ahora estoy aquí en Sevilla.

Hay más o menos 40 estudiantes en nuestro grupo de varias universidades americanas. Nosotros vivimos con una familia aquí en una experiencia de inmersión cultural y lingüística. Vivimos con señoras solas o familias o hermanos y también casi todos tenemos compañeros de cuarto. Muchas familias del programa han tenido estudiantes americanos en el pasado. Por ejemplo, mi madre tuvo 10 estudiantes antes de nosotras. Hay algunas familias que han hecho este intercambio durante décadas. Nuestras familias deben proveer una vida cómoda, comida, un cuarto para 2 personas y el apoyo que necesitamos y, claro, mucho cariño también.

En cuanto a temas académicos, asistimos a la Universidad de Sevilla (cursos para extranjeros o clases regulares con jóvenes españoles) y podemos tomar clases en el centro del programa. Yo tomo una clase de JYS y 3 cursos de estudiantes extranjeros muy interesantes. Al mismo tiempo que las clases, JYS ofrece prácticas con algunas empresas en Sevilla como una oportunidad extra. Hay muchas practicas en campos diferentes como medicina, educación y publicidad. No voy a dejar pasar esta oportunidad y por eso decidí hacer algo relacionado con la comida.

Este año pasado y especialmente este verano, yo descubrí mi pasión por la gastronomía. Me gusta más que nada. Los olores, los colores, la sensación de satisfacción cuando yo cocino algo riquísimo. Y, claro, no puedo olvidar los momentos de presión e impotencia cuando el ajo empieza a quemarse. Con todo, lo malo y lo bueno, yo sé que la cocina es un lugar importantísimo para mí.

Antes de venir aquí, leí que las amas de casa sevillanas son muy celosas de sus cocinas. Un libro decía que algunas no quieren que las estudiantes entren la cocina. ¡Ay, dios mío! ¿No puedo entrar en la parte de la casa en la que me gustaría pasar la mayoría de mi tiempo? No quería pensar en esto, no podía pensar en esto…

Ha pasado un mes desde mi llegada al centro de Sevilla. Qué falsos, los libros. Me mintieron, completamente. Mi “madre”, Loly, es la mujer más amable y cariñosa del mundo, especialmente con su cocina. Cuando ella descubrió que me gusta la cocina, se emocionó. Tengo una relación muy especial con Loly. Desde el primer día he podido hablar con ella sobre todo: un problema, sugerencias, etc. Pienso que este proyecto y el tiempo que nosotros pasamos en la cocina consolida nuestro vínculo más. Todos los días yo pienso que soy afortunada al vivir con una madre tan comprensiva. Por ejemplo, al final de la primera semana, yo había sacado su libro de recetas para copiarlas. Voy a escribir un libro mío de recetas españoles. Y de esta forma, mi proyecto empezó. Voy a cocinar con mi madre, la más simpática del mundo, y a escribir artículos sobre mis experiencias en la cocina. Espinacas con garbanzos, lentejas con chorizo, puchero, pisto… Hay demasiadas recetas para aprender en dos meses pero intentaré hacerlo. Por eso, Loly siempre será mi madre de aquí, mi madre de Sevilla.

Loly, cocinera excepcional

Loly, cocinera excepcional