Hello and happy Sabbath everyone!  After feeling a little homesick on Friday, I wanted to stay busy on Sabbath to avoid the blues. Church starts at 10 AM (for a little less sleeping in than I get at CVC) and Sabbath school follows. It's all in Spanish, and sometimes it gets a little hard to stay awake. Today, however, I enjoyed church immensely despite the language barrier. This week's music was lovely, with a small orchestra of around a dozen people playing while we sang hymns. They also did a fantastic rendition of Jesu Joy for offering. The man who preached the sermon this week spoke very clearly and I was able to understand a lot of what he was talking about! In addition, he read off where to find the Bible verses in English since sometimes it's hard to catch "Juan veintiseis catorce" in the middle of a string of spanish phrases. At the end, he summed up three points in both Spanish and English. 

After reading my friend Kayla's blog that morning before church, I kept thinking about the huge network of SDAs all over the world. She's a missionary in Ukraine right now, and we have lots of other friends SMing or Task Forcing. As I sat through the program, I considered all those friends worshiping around the world in many different ways: Kayla in Ukrain, Katy in Paulu, Rachel in Thailand, and Elena and all of my friends back at Union. Even though I'd sort of thought about it before, suddenly it hit me that even when we aren't here, even when we all go back to Union or home for the summer or to our next adventure, these little (and big) churches will carry on just has they have. When I'm back at Union and Pastor Rich is talking about Shaboting and lighting the Sabbath Candle, the people here will be waking up for church. What a crazy and awesome network our church has created around this world!

Anyway, for lunch the church was very excited to have a haystack feed to kick off the new school year. They also had some other traditional Spanish foods to go with it and the ever-present pan (bread). One of these was soup that seemed to be mostly made out of oil with a few carrot shreds and onion pieces floating in it. They also have different veggie meat here. It's not bad but I do miss my good old Morning Star and Worthington favorites!

Once potluck was over, Justin, Shannon, her brother Josh, Rachel, Ryan and I decided to walk back to the Castillo de Sagunt. On the way we saw lots of people dressed up in very fancy, old-looking costumes.  Once we reached the top of the castle, we saw (and heard) a huge parade going on in the city beneath us. Yesterday was a precurser to the Valencia Fallas parade/festival held in March. It was so interesting to hear all the music and see the women in their huge, pouffy dresses!
Inside a room of the castle.
...does fall mainly on the plain. Well, this week, it's falling mainly on us, on the coast. It's hard to believe that last Sunday was sunny and 95º and now it's raining and 65º (F). And I'm from KANSAS where the weather changes every five minutes! Still, it's really nice because it's much better than the first two or three nights when we had to sleep with all the windows open and it was SO hot and humid!

Anyway, Thursday and Friday were normal school days after our Sagunto trip on Wednesday. Classes have been ok, but it's still really hard to sit in a class and not understand anything without making a HUGE effort. I know I am learning, but it seems so slow and I hate the feeling of having to ask what a word means over and over again. Oh, well, I guess that's why I'm here! 

Last night Rachel and I tried a zumba class here at ESDES! It was absolutely hilarious. We had about 30 girls jammed in a tiny room trying to follow a very Spanish dance/workout. Rachel and I could not stop laughing. We were in the very back and couldn't see the teacher at all, and most of us have no rhythm what so ever. However, it got our blood pumping and warmed us up on the cold, rainy evening!

This afternoon we took our weekly trip to Carrefour. I needed a few more items (cotton balls, sink cleaning spray, and nutella to name a few!). Probably my favorite find was nutella in a cute snoopy glass jar! It actually didn't cost more than the other nutella and now I'll have a fun pencil cup! Anyway, even though it's pretty much just like Walmart, everything seems so much more interesting! Maybe it's the rush of trying to figure out if you are buying sugar-free cookies (luckily I spotted "sin azucar" before I made that tragic decision!) or normal ones, questioning why the delicious baked goods are right next to the octopus legs, or trying to figure out how many euros you have in coins. We also cannot figure out why in the world we can't find note cards. I've never used them for studying before, but suddenly I just want to carry notecards around all the time and write words down as I learn them in conversation. Oh, and today we practiced (self-taught) how to speak in the past and future tenses. Justin and I have both done some research outside of class to try to practice the conjugations. Hopefully it will start coming more easily soon!

Anyway, here's a quick picture of the sunset last night! No big deal, just where I live :)

Photo credit: Rachel Blake.
Today we had the day off for a school trip into Sagunto! It started at nine and we took the bus into town where Wednesday Market was taking place. Ana, one of our teachers, led the tour into the ancient (and later refurbished) Roman theater where she told all about the history of Sagunto. 

The first location we happened upon was the Santa Maria church. It's a medieval, gothic church with a huge bell that rings every hour. You may recognize it from the photos of the giant gold door from last Friday. Anyway, it's really old and really awesome. 

After the church, we walked through the winding streets to the bottom of the hill where the Roman ruins are. We stopped at the Roman theater where we all sat down and listened to Ana give the history lesson. Basically, the Romans were here, they built a huge fortress on the top of the hill around the first century A.D., and here we are today, and we can see it! It was SO awesome and we can't wait to go back some weekend and explore more! 

After the Roman theater/fortress we went back down to town to the market. There were so many things for sale, from cell phone cases, to grannie panties, to baby shoes. Then there was the food area with all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies. Justin and I each got churro for €1 and Rachel got several large delicious peaches from a nice lady selling fruit. 

At one we boarded the buses and came back to the school for lunch. This afternoon we had a meeting with our Group D monitors (mentors) and then we spent a long time trying to find Spanish people to interview for a class. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner (OH! and laundry!) and the day had flown by. Here'a few of my pictures. Sorry there aren't more explanations. It's getting late and I'm pretty cansado from our adventures today!
Today is my third day of classes here are ESDES and (basically) my one week anniversary of being here! Yesterday, Monday we had classes all day. The schedule is set up so that the most classes are held on Monday, then one less on Tuesday, and so on. It's not the same for everyone but it looks like generally people have the most classes on Mondays and then by Friday we are all done by noon. 

Anyway, yesterday was the long day and it was very hard. I went to a total of five classes which was completely overwhelming when all of them were in Spanish. Sometimes even days like that at Union can be overwhelming when you have back-to-back classes all day. After so long, I was SO tired of hearing Spanish and trying to figure out what was going on. While feeling pretty low, I skyped my mom and [in short] she encouraged me to have autoconfianza (self-confidence). She said that she had total faith in my that I could do everything I came here to do, but that I had to believe in myself. She also told me to look up the word in Spanish and learn it. Turns out, I didn't have to.

This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for my challenge. My day was much better, I had only three classes and even though they were full of rapid Spanish-speaking and confusing homework, I felt better overall. After talking with Justin and Seth I realized that we are all in the same boat and even if I think others are WAY ahead of me, chances are I'm still doing ok. 

While working on some homework, I had to fill in the blanks of a paragraph called Razones para aprender un idioma (Reasons for learning another language). As I looked over the sentences telling about how learning another language will benefit your life, I came to a sentence that translates roughly to "Learning another language will help enhance your self-confidence." Since it was in Spanish I had to read it a few times to understand what it was saying, but one word I did NOT have to type into google translate was autoconfianza. It's exactly what I need to get me through the year, and when I AM bilingual (and I will be!) I will have the experience to say "I did that" and I will have the confidence to know that I can do anything I put my mind to. 

Anyway, that's how autoconfianza made the vocab list today. Today's list comes from words I heard or read in class that I had to look up or review. Here they are:

anfitriones- host
invitado- guest 
apoyar- to support or to lean (on)
aulas- classrooms
fijar- to fix, set, fastin, determine
mantener- to keep
reforzar- to strengthen
autoconfianza- self-confidence
servir- to serve
extranjero- foreigner
seguir- to follow
que tipo- what kind

So there's my list. I'm not sure if I'll have it down pat before bed tonight, but we'll see. Tomorrow is a school excursion into Sagunto so we don't have any class! I'll be sure to take pictures and tell you all about it. Sometime I'll also try to tell about each of my classes and my teachers. Oh, and here's a couple pictures from the beach this Sunday
Hotels on the Mediterranean. If you, yes YOU, came to visit me, you could stay here!
It's a beautiful Monday morning here in Sagunto. The sky is clear and last night's wind has died down. Students chatter as they go to breakfast before their first class of their first Monday in a new, bilingual school. This morning I don't have a class until 9:45 so I brought my breakfast to my room so I could tell you a little bit about this weekend!

Friday night and Sabbath were nice because for the first time since I got here, the dorm was actually somewhat quiet when I was trying to sleep. I'm not sure why but every night I hear noises, chatter, and clashing around like I've never experienced in a dorm before. Anyway, Friday night I could tell that everyone in the dorm was going to crash, and after a good night's sleep I woke up Sabbath morning refreshed and ready for my first church service in Spain!

The best part about church was the singing, since the words were on the screen and we could try to follow along. But after only a few songs it was over, and thus began what seemed like an extremely long sermon. We haven't gotten our Spanish Bibles yet either, so we couldn't even follow along. Still, it was interesting to see how everything worked. They thanked (or at least I think that's what they were doing) lots of people and then broke off for Sabbath school. For this week we decided to go to the English Sabbath School since I for one was feeling very drowsy from all the difficulty understanding.

The best part about Sabbath for me was our 5:00 hike up the mountain (maybe it's a hill to some, but for this Kansas girl, it's a full on mountain) where we could see the view of Spain all around us. To the east was the Mediterranean, to the south we could see the tall buildings of Valencia, and everywhere else was beautiful hills, orange groves, and vistas. The walk to get there was pretty steep. It wasn't very long but it was straight up on some slippery gravel. Still, it was easier than going down where some people slid and fell. 

On Sunday we spent all day at the beach. We caught a bus near 11:30 and stayed until 5:00PM. Needless to say, my face is a little pink today! The water was nice, just a little chilly, and we enjoyed helado (gelato... ice cream!) in a little shop nearby. Some kids played barefoot beach fútbol with some local kids from ESDES. I didn't try that since my athletic ability with team sports is basically nil. After a long day in the sun we were tired and ready to get back to school, shower, and do our homework (which proved much harder than we had expected!). Here's a few pictures from our hike! Click to enlarge.

Oh- and here's my Spanish Words of the Day. Well, Verbs of the Day. My vocab seems to be lacking quite a bit so I'm trying to learn or review at least 10 verbs a day. I need to make another list for nouns of the day but for now here's what I've got. I thought some of you (grandma :) might enjoy this.
abrir (to open)
aceptar (to accept)
apagar (to turn off)
aprender (to learn)
bailar (to dance)
beber (to drink)
buscar (to look for)
caber (to fit)
caerse (to fall)
cambiar (to change)
click to enlarge
Yesterday was our second day of classes here at ESDES. Grupo D had only 2, Gramática y Conversacion. Since we were done at about 11, five of us decided to walk into town and back before our 3:00 meeting about dorm rules. Since it was almost lunch time we decided that we would just stop and grab some food wherever looked good. 

The walk into Sagunto was made more interesting since it rained a few days ago and the tunnel we use to pass under the highway was very muddy. The boys help make a path out of rocks for us girls in sandals and we were on our way. When we got to the Marcadora (a little grocery store market) we decided to each buy something for lunch. Seth and I each bought a loaf of bread, Jessica got cheese, and Justin and Rachel went in on grapes. We sat outside in an area near a little monument (or something) and ate our little lunch. 

Instead of walking straight south to the beach as we have done before, we decided to try heading west toward the other side of town and the hills of Sagunt with the ancient Roman theater. What we found was so much nicer than the bustling streets we had been on. Instead there were small alleys and roads that twisted and turned. It seemed so European! Here's a few photos of the area we explored:

Here are a few quick photos of mi dormitorio here in españa! I brought my own thin blanket from IKEA (or... as they say it here... EE-KAY-UH) as wells as los mapas de la mundo (the maps of the world). It still feels like our room is pretty empty though, since two suitcases of stuff takes up a lot less space than a carload, like when I go to Union. I still needed it to feel like home, so I've got all my pictures and of course my cousin Megan's wedding invitation!

I'm also going to use this post to tell a little bit about the things in Spain that are different than in the US or different than I expected. Like I've said before, the prices of some things are surprising. It's so funny to be that they sell Little Debbies (or something very similar) in the individual packets for almost $4 a piece! Most of them are at least €3. It's totally outrageous. The nice thing is that all the fresh baked bread and pastries are pretty cheap! A big loaf of french bread is between €0.45-0.77, sometimes even for packs of two. They also have crescents in all the grocery bakeries with many variations... some filled with nutella, some dipped in chocolate, some very tiny. 

Another thing I notice a lot here is the smells. Two nights ago it rained quite a bit, and yesterday the air was thick and humid but smelled so good! We think it is some kind of plant that gives off a pleasant scent when it rains, but we're not sure. It smells sort of like cinnamon sugar or something like that. There are also a lot more pine trees up here by the school than I thought there would be! So those smell nice and piney too. 

There are also funny things, like the light switches that seem the opposite of what they should be. Also we saw our first tiny lizard last night! My mom had just asked me if I had seen any (when I told her that we all sleep with windows open) and a few hours later, there it was! Then I got up to my room and there was one right in our sliding door track. I hope he didn't get squashed in there. Anyway, here's a few more photos of my room!

Here's a few fotos del campus!
click to enlarge
Wednesday morning I think most of the nearly 100 ACA kids woke up with a slight dread of the entrance exam. Some girls had been studying since they got here, and I had done almost nothing since high school spanish and one easy semester at Union. I was pretty nervous about it, and also was getting more irritated at having to wear the same clothes and wonder where my bags had gone. 

Rachel, too, was miffed by her lack of suitcases, but there was nothing to be done but head down to breakfast and then to the igelsia (the church is in the bottom of the boy's dorm, much like Rees Hall chapel). The orientation was so interesting and a little overwhelming! We finally got to see Juan Antonio (the ACA director at Sagunto) who Rachel and I met and showed around Union earlier this year. I think he remembered us, and later in the day when I took my oral test, I told him that I was from Union and worked for Tamara (aka the best boss ever!). Then he remembered for sure! Anyway, I'll tell more about the test later. We also got to meet some of the people we've heard about or we've been emailing during the whole process. All of the teachers are so nice! Most of them try to talk slowly so we can understand and they use lots of hand motions. For the first meeting Juan Antonio spoke and introduced everyone, then they had us all stand up when our school was called and say our names. Union is one of the smallest groups, the four of us far outnumbered by PUC, Southern, and Walla Walla. It didn't take as long as I though it would to have everyone say "me lammo ----." Everyone here is also really nice if you forget their names because we have all been meeting so many people at once!

All of the orientation was in Spanish, even the teachers that do speak English did not do so, so we can get used to hearing spanish. The registrar (who I assume is an american by her accent or lack thereof) translated so we would know what was being said. They talked about classes, rules, who to talk to for various needs, and the calendar of events. Then it was time to take the entrance exam. They split us all into groups by last name and we spent the next hour or so attempting to answer 100 questions in spanish. I didn't feel too good about it; it was sort of a confidence buster. The first 50 questions were doable but not easy, and during the second half I was totally totally lost. I think a lot of them had to do with tense, but even one girl who already speaks spanish said that some were hard because they were questions about common phrases (such as "it's as easy as pie" apparently has an equivalent that is something like "it's as easy as eating baked bread" or "baking bread" or something.) 

After the written test came the oral test. I was relieved when I saw that mine was with Juan Antionio. Students just paired up with teachers and sat in various areas on campus talking. He asked me how I was doing and what I did this summer. I told him that I worked at a school of tiny children, and then asked how to say daycare. I told him about my brother and that he was 15. And that was about the extent of my conversation! He also asked if the written test was facil or dificil for me. I told him it was muy dificil. Even though I didn't feel good about either test, it was over and we all relaxed and went to go eat in the caf. 

Then the best part of my day came. I came up to my room to do something, I can't even remember what, and all the sudden I remembered I needed to talk to the dean (and I can't even remember why!) As I neared the bottom of the stairs, someone in the lobby called up, clearing looking for someone. It was a man from Iberia Air and he had 6 suitcases! I quickly tried to explain to him that I didn't speak much spanish and I didn't know where the dean went. He said he needed someone to sign for them, and right then someone came in who took care of it. All the while I wondered if it was my lucky day and my bags had shown up. Rachel walked in and I grabbed her and went to look in the back of his van. When I saw my suitcases I was sooooo happy! Poor Rachel's are still missing but hopefully they will arrive today. Anyway, it was like Christmas. We were about to head out for our afternoon activities so I hauled them up to my room and saved my gifts for Christmas morning, later that night. 

Our planned afternoon activity was a trip to the beach and Carrefour for supplies. This trip was much nicer on my feet since a bus took us the whole way! Plus I had grabbed my converse out of my bag and finally removed my blasted traveling sandals that had given me huge blisters. At Carrefour many of us girls bought small bathroom rugs, detergent, and a little food. I got a loaf of bread for  €0.45, a mug for tea, a small cleaning towel, and a spray bottle for my very wrinkled clothes. Then we piled into the bus to head to la playa.

Here's one of our bus drivers for the year, I think his name is Pedro. Next to him is Christian, one of our teachers. For some reason when we left Carrefour he pointed at my backpack and made me put it in the storage compartments under the bus. Maybe he thought I was going to eat food in the bus or something. So when we got to the beach I asked if he could please open it so I could get my camera and money. He joked that I could only if I took a photo of him and Christian. So here he is!

During the beach trip we took a few photos and then walked to a very small chinese store. They had really good prices for small things (sort of like a dollar store) so I got q-tips and another adapter. Then it was time to leave! That night (last night) Rachel helped me unpack everything while mourning the loss of her own baggage.
TODAY, jueves, 9.20.12

Today is considered our first day of classes. However, it's really just another orientation day with a few classes where we look at the syllabi if necessary. Again we started out in the church where they announced the groups. Here's how it works: Groups A and B are intermediate, C and D are advanced, and E and F are advanced II. Most of the kids in E and F already speak spanish. I was hoping realistically to get into the B group. I wanted to make it to C but the test was so hard that I didn't think I had a chance. When they hadn't announced my name in A, B, or C, I thought they forgot me! Much to my surprise, they announced both Justin and I in D!!!! Well, I wasn't surprised he was. He's better about jumping in and speaking spanish than I am... so I'm going to have to work on that! Anyway, I'm so excited but also nervous that I won't be able to keep up since everyone else seems to have a much bigger vocab than me. 

Once we found out our groups, we went through all of the elective classes! They are so interesting! So far I've signed up for a Phys Ed class, which this quarter is rock climbing (even though I have my PE credits for Union... this sounds so fun!) and also History of Spain and Europe and Folklore, which is a class that almost everyone is taking and it's about culture, fiestas, festivals, music, dance, and all things Spanish. My group can't take Flamenco until next quarter, but I think that I'm going to! Surely it will be entertaining to put 20 or 30 Adventist kids in a room and ask them to dance!

After we learned about the electives (which can be taken for various credits, some Bible, PE, History, or Spanish) we split into three groups to go get our books. Then I had about 20 minutes of down time before my first class! I'm so glad Justin and I are in class together. Also in my class are some new friends of mine (old friends of Justin) Rachel, Seth, and Jessica. It's such a relief that we are all together! I still don't know how in the world I got in D, but for now I'm going to assume that I'm a good guesser or that they looked at previous classes and grades. Anyway, for now I'm just going to study hard and try to keep up.

The first class we took was Folklore, with groups D-F together. It was intimidating because there are some kids in that class that are already fluent in spanish! The teacher's name is Anna and she is so nice! She speaks very clearly for us and doesn't talk too fast. She said everything in Spanish and didn't have anyone translate anything. She started class by playing very Spanish music and even had one student come up and try to bailar (dance) !! We went over the syllabus and she explained everything. To my surprise, I actually understood a fair amount of the information! There were a few things that we discussed amongst ourselves at the end of class, but mostly the info was clear! However, I didn't feel like I could say anything back to her and I had to focus a LOT on what she was saying to catch any of it. She also used lots of hand motions which helped.

That first class really helped my nerves and my confidence. Even though it was tricky to catch it all, I felt a lot better than I did yesterday after the test! For me, the rest of the afternoon is free, but at 3:00 (in ten minutes for me here) I'm going to go get the rest of my books and see if Justin or anyone else is doing anything interesting. I also am starting to set up my room so I'll post photos of that soon!

¡Hasta luego!
The first day of class is underway! But what have I done since I got here? I'll try to fill you in as best I can. 

Like I said, the first night was very hard for me. With no AC my room was hot and stuffy and I was muy cansado (very tired) from my travels. I didn't have luggage to unpack and I hadn't figured out the internet system yet. The next morning I woke up around 7:30 and went to the caf at 8:00. Luckily I found some of the guys who are Justin's friends and ate with them, and they said we could all meet up half an hour later to go to la playa (the beach) and Carrefour (basically a European Walmart). Since I still didn't have new clothes, I borrowed someones shorts and wore my one extra top I brought. The walk down the hill to the bus stop was beautiful with naranjos (orange trees) and palm trees, and we had quite a lot of time to enjoy it. On the way I met and talked with several really nice girls from Walla Walla and PUC and, of course, with Adventist Connections Everywhere, we had several mutual friends. 

We finally got to the bus stop where Justin's friend Ryan was kind enough to pay our way since we hadn't had money changed into Euros. It's less than 3 euros to ride the bus to the beach and back at €1.40 each way. The day was hot and humid, but not very windy so once we got to the beach it was calm and not extremely blue. Still, I loved seeing it and wading in! The boys and a few girls went swimming but myself and 4 or 5 other girls stayed out (my swimsuit was in mis maletas, my suitcases... still lost). Once the boys decided they were done swimming, we headed to the street right next to the beach. Some people in our group got helado (ice cream) and then we walked to Carrefour. 

Going to Carrefour was so interesting! Even though most of the products were the same or nearly the same that we have in the US, it was funny to us which items were expensive and which were pretty cheap. For example, the makeup was outrageous... sometimes almost $20 USD for a basic L'oreal foundation. It is also interesting to many of us that they play a lot of US pop songs in English. Right now there is an Adele song playing over the school speakers! Anyway... back to Carrefour. That day all I got was some off-brand shampoo (the Garnier Fructis small bottles were near $5 USD and the large ones that are usually $4-5 in the US were €8 !!!) and a small, thin towel since I needed to take a shower regardless of where my bags were. Finally we got on the bus and headed back to ESDES tired and ready to eat and shower. 

When I returned I found that someone had moved in with me! I have a new roommate named Kari. She's from Southern and this is her junior year too. I was so glad to have someone to talk to since I was lonely in my room at night. 

That night as I read emails and facebook messages from my family and Mikey, I was still feeling pretty sad about leaving all of them. I knew that if I had a project, say, unpacking, it would help keep my mind off my troubles. I also felt sort of pathetic since I know I have so many friends who are SMs this year and have way more difficulties to deal with than I do. I remembered that Rachel was supposed to fly in at six, and I was so excited when I realized that she should be here any minute! However, since almost none of the american kids here use phones, there's almost no way to contact people to let them know where you are or when you are going to meet them. Luckily, just as I walked downstairs to the dorm lobby, I saw a van pull up with mi mejor amiga (my best friend) inside! We greeted each other with a big hug (and of course a few tears on my part), unable to believe that we had actually made it through all the airports and flight changes. I was excited to help her unpack, and asked her where her bags had gone. Lo and behold, they were lost too. 


Check out my photos from the day! Click to enlarge!