Last Tuesday marked week number 6. WEEK NUMBER 6! I can't believe I've been here that long - there I some days that I still just can't stop grinning ear to ear. I absolutely love Spanish life.
Since we last met, I've had the privilege of traveling to Barcelona for a few days! Accompanied by five other excited girls, I embarked one Sunday afternoon, not quite sure what to expect, but ready for whatever was headed my way. After a beautiful coastal train ride (how European), we arrived at the hostel, which was one of my favorite aspects of the trip. Equipped with a communal kitchen, a large and open living area (complete with books in various languages, games, and a guitar), a garden (and hammock!), and several large dorms, the hostel was a wonderful place to relax after a couple long days, and also meet people from all over the world! I was able to talk with people from Canada, Australia, Portugal, South Africa, Argentina, and Uruguay! We spent a couple days taking walking tours, gazing in awe at the architectural gems scattered all over the city, not understanding any Catalan (a language completely separate from Spanish), thoroughly enjoying hostel life, and doing LOTS of people-watching. I achieved my goal of not getting pick-pocketed! All-in-all, it was a great few days of traveling to a different part of Spain, but it was also nice to come "home" to Valencia, where I know my way around, can communicate with the people, and can breathe easy with fewer tourists thronging up and down the streets!
Experiencing Spanish culture is best done with Spaniards. I've been able to make friends through my host parents, who have friends with kids my age that graciously take me around the city and refrain from laughing too hard at my attempts to keep up with Spanish. I've also been loving my church here in Valencia, which reminds me so much of my Baptist church back in the States. I just love singing the familiar songs, sporadic times of prayer, partaking of communion, listening to the message... all in Spanish! It's so cool how the same God is worshiped all across the globe. And finally, I just love meeting people through friends, on the streets, through my institute or any random connections. Speaking with Spaniards and learning to see life through their eyes has been my favorite aspect of living here!
There's so much more I could fill this post with, but seeing as how I am literally melting in the 90 degree heat everyday (with no air conditioning... I'm seriously questioning how much more of this I can stand), I need to sign off before I completely pass out!