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Addy is Home

Yes, she’s home, and she will be heading to Penang next Monday for her convocation.

See you all there! :)

Spanish Update #4

Well my friends! I haven´t updated in a long while, but now I finally have the time to do so. Firstly, I must say that I´m loving Spain. How can I not, when the weather is just so beautiful (imagine, hot hot sun but NO humidity and with cool nights to boot? I can live without a fan at home!), and the historical parts of Spain is awe-inspiring? The people are so friendly, too! Imagine, even the bus drivers say “hola!” to his passengers. And needless to say, the shopkeepers and shop assistants do the same. The food, once I got used to it, is delicious.

So far, I have travelled to Cordoba and Sevilla. I have seen the 3rd biggest cathedral in the world (Catedral de Sevilla), visited one of the candidates of the New Seven Wonders of the World (La Alhambra), and visited other mosques and cathedrals (Cordoba, Sevilla and Granada). Next Sunday I will be going to Barcelona, then to Madrid, Salamanca, and Segovia. On my way home, I will be stopping at Frankfurt for a few hours. I must say that I am enjoying my time travelling a lot! :) Going to many countries is fun, too. I stopped at Paris on my way to Madrid. Heh. :D

I have made good friends – Randa and Ryan (the two Rs), and met up with a good friend from back home (Janice! My fellow Malaysian!). My two housemates, Amanda and Ashley (the two As) are pretty nice girls, from Missouri. My señora cooks wonderfully. And one of my teachers is the best ever (she´s adorable in every sense of the word, haha).

I cannot believe that it´s already the last week of my one month in Spain. One more week of school, and one week of travelling, then I´m going home! Honestly, even though I´m really here in Spain, I still feel like I´m in Dreamland. Reality has not hit me yet. Reality (that I´m actually really HERE in Spain) has not hit me yet, even though I have done so many things and met so many people. I think it will only hit me when I´m home, and then I know I would miss Spain so bad. Sigh.

Hopefully you all are doing good! Can´t wait to see all of you when I´m back after August 5th. Ciao and lots of love from Addy in Spain.

Spanish Update #3

Firstly, my classes. They are going very well now. I enjoy my Spanish class, coz it´s going at the perfect pace for me. Sometimes it´s a bit fast (the rate at which mi profesora speaks her Spanish), but I am able to catch up, thank you God. The other class is Civilizacion y cultura españa, and it´s really good coz even though my teacher speaks pretty fast, I can understand her 90% of the time, and I´m learning a lot about Spain and the culture (like duh, right? Haha!). For example, I learn that Spanish people think it´s really rude to not finish the food on their plates, because they remember their younger days during the wars (guerras) when food was hard to come by. So I bet they think it´s weird or bad that we foreign students just can´t finish our food most of the time, especially los americanos. Not because the food is bad, but we´re just not so used to it, ya know? Spanish food is quite good but most of the time we want to eat food that we´ve eaten already, but in time we´ll get used to it, me thinks. I know I wanna get used to it. Also, for them, water is a luxury. Mi profesora told us that they used to cut the water supply after 12pm, so it was impossible to cook or bathe, unless you have your own supply from keeping it in big buckets or tanks. For Spanish people, bathing means a 5-min bath, not a 20-minute soak. Water is expensive for Spaniards, and so is electricity. [My other class has not started yet, so I cannot say anything about it.]

Yesterday a bunch of us from the Spanish class went to one of our houses, an apartment, near Plaza Nueva, to celebrate 4th of July. I of course am not an American, but one of the girls, Randa, was so nice to invite me coz she knew that I was alone. She said, “You may not be American, but you can´t spend 4th of July alone!”, so I went with another guy named Eric to Gabriel´s house. (Randa, Gabriel, Eric and I are Spanish classmates.) Before we went to Gabe´s house though, Eric and I had tinto de verano, a special Spanish drink, which is half a glass of red wine mixed with Fanta. It´s really good, and no, I don´t get drunk on it, trust me. After we had our drinks, we went to have some chawarmas (some sort of kebab) for dinner, and it was SO GOOD. But I couldn´t finish my chawarma coz it was a huuuuuge portion! Haha.

Anyway, after that, we walked towards Gabe´s house, but we stopped for me to get a scoop of delicious helado (ice cream) called dulce de leche, but of course I couldn´t finish it coz I was full to bursting. I just bought it only to try it for the first time in my life, and also because it was near Gabe´s house, and far from mine. Eric was mean – he didn´t help me finish it! Haha. He also bought some more wine and Fanta so that we could make tinto de verano.

When we reached the house at 10pm (the sun had JUST set) we realised that they had cooked dinner, and it smelt so good, but I felt like puking coz I was so full. I had a great time there though, coz Randa is a really cool person to talk to, and I also met other people, mostly Americans. There was one Spanish guy there, his name is Santi, and he is the landlord of the apartment. We found out later that he had smoked marijuana right next to me and Randa, and I was a bit freaked out, but thank God nothing bad happened.

I also met people like Rio and Nico, two girls who are Randa´s friends, and they are very nice too. Randa is Filipino American, while Rio is a quarter Filipino, a quarter American (I think!), and half Italian. It was fun to know more about them.

After talking a lot and taking some pictures, Randa and I left with two other people to our houses at 2am, because Randa and the other people lived in Camino de Ronda too. (In fact, if I had known that I would have to walk back alone without a friend, I wouldn´t have gone. I know my safety precautions ). I was so tired, but I took a cold cold shower and fell asleep instantly. What a night!

This Saturday I might be going to Cordoba with the Chinese girl I met, Jia Wei. It should be fun! Next weekend I will be heading to Sevilla to meet Luis, yay . And the following weekend, Janice will be coming to Granada to visit me! We´re going to the La Alhambra together, wooohoooooooooo! And then, the last weekend, we´re going to Barcelona. Yeah, I am very psyched up about my weekends, haha. They are the best things to look forward to!

Little Spanish Updates #2

I have already checked out from Hostal Penelope, and now am at my new home. It is in Camino de Ronda, of the major roads in Granada. I met mi señora, and she´s a very nice lady named Encarnacion who cooks well. In fact, she would not like it if we don´t eat her food! I say “we”, because I have two housemates from Kansas City, US, Amanda and Ashley. They´re both living in the same room while I have my own. Anyway, knowing them makes me realise that I am very different from them. For example, both of them brought two huge suitcases each with another smaller bag. My one lone suitcase is only half of one of their suitcases! It´s crazy. They brought so many clothes and so many other things (3 hairbrushes, anyone?). Amanda loves drinking and wants to get drunk, while Ashley´s not like that. I also realise that their world is just consisting of the US, and that they don´t know so many things. Oh well. That´s all I will say for now. I will like them!

My suitcase has arrived!!! It went straight to the hostel in Calle Navas, so the owner called me up and told me that I could go and pick it up. So I did, and everything´s intact, except that my Bible is a bit torn and squashed. OH well. I´m thankful it´s found! Praise God!

On Monday I went to my school for the test, and it was pretty hard, but I did quite okay. They put me in Intermediate class, which is what I wanted! Inicio would be humiliating, while Superior would be too hard. Yay . I also met other people from other countries, which was great. There´s this Chinese girl from China who speaks Español pretty well, and I managed to converse with her! Haha. I´m learning, and it´s going well. ¡Mi español será muy bien en un mes!

I think, after this trip, I will have adopted a really thick skin because of all the embarrassing moments I have to go through. Which is a good thing, isn´t it?

Also, I think that I am going through so many “realisations” when I´m here. For example, I have also realised that my two American housemates have got it so easy for them because their teacher from their university is here to help them, while I have to slug it out myself. I am not complaining about that, trust me, coz I think I learn so much more, but they are complaining about everything, which is so bizarre.

Tambien (which is the Spanish word for also), I have realised that the Spanish way of speaking is very loud and expressive, so even though it may seem like they´re mad or angry, they aren´t. Mi señora en mi casa, Encarnacion, made me and my two housemates think that she´s mad or angry with us, but she actually isn´t. Amanda and Ashley´s teacher told them that after they told her about their worries regarding making Encarna mad. Thank God she isn´t, though she may seem so!

One of my classes, Civilizacion y cultura hispanoamericana [12 to 1pm], will only start next Monday even though it is supposed to start this week. We don´t know why, but I´m not complaining. Haha.

My second class is Civilizacion y cultura españa [1:15pm to 2:15pm], and it´s great! My class has only 8 people, and mi profesora is very nice. She´s not condescending, and speaks slowly enough for us all to understand her. Out of the 8 people, 6 are Americans, and I´m the only Asian (as usual). The last person is a guy from Puerto Rico.

My last class is Español nivel Intermedio [5 to 7pm], and there are about 14 students in that class. Mi profesora is nice too, thank God. She is understanding, knowing that our Spanish is not all that great. But once again, I´m the only Asian (and, this need not be said again, the only Malaysian in the whole of Granada now) in the class. The rest of them are from the US! Ahhhhhhhhh. CLM is being flooded with Americans. Where are the people from other countries??? And of course, I am looked at like an alien who *surprises of surprises* speak English! I´m getting so sick of it.

Granada is not a big state in the province of Andalucia, and almost everyone here walks around the center of Granada. (To go to the outskirts, of course you need to drive or take a bus or taxi.) It´s so fun to see Spanish moms pushing prams with their children in them, and I like to peek inside and see the cute babies. I think babies are adorable haha. Also, many of them love walking their dogs around, which is very uncommon for me since not many Malaysians do that. The dogs are adorable too!

One question: Is it uncommon for Americans to brush their teeth in the morning before breakfast? Coz my two housemates have not done so for the past few days, and I´m finding that reaaaaaaaally weird. The toilet is very near my room, so I will know whenever someone uses it.

Little Spanish Updates #1

I love summer weather in España. The sun shines so brightly, but it is not humid, unlike Malaysia. And though the temperature is quite low in the mornings and nights, I am getting used to it. I just don´t think I´d like to be here during winter, though!

I miss eating rice. But I think I will get used to eating Spanish food soon coz it´s quite good.

Shopping here is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo expensive. I always think of the conversion rate, and I feel like dying. Ahhhhhh!

I have a placement test on Monday morning 9am. Ahhhhhhhh!

I have now checked out from Hostal Penelope, and am now in my new house with a lady named Encarnacion. It is in Camino de Ronda, one of the major roads in Granada.

I am having so much fun shopping Even though the conversion rate still scares me, I do need to get a lot of things since my suitcase is still not sent to me yet. The shops here, like Zara, MNG, Berschka, and United Colours of Benetton are huuuuuuuge. And surprisingly, quite cheap. For example, I bought a tank top from Benetton for only €9.90, and an underwear from Berschka for only €5.95! Those were pretty good deal, me thinks.

Something funny happened during lunch yesterday in a bar on Calle Navas – I ordered pollo frito, which is fried chicken, but it was the weirdest-looking fried chicken I have ever seen. Firstly, it wasn´t fried, and secondly, it was in CURRY sauce! Hahaha . And the portion was humongous, so I couldn´t finish it, to the chagrin of the cook and the barman who attended to me. OH well. My mom´s curry chicken is so much better – I miss it so!

Spanish Update #1

So I´m finally in Granada. I am safe and sound, but what I´ve gone through in the last 2 days have been utter madness. Read on and hold on to your seat…

First, my Thai Airways flight from KL to Bangkok was delayed (because of some dumb plane problems), which would result in me missing my Bangkok-Madrid flight, so the people in the airport changed my flight from KL to Paris using Malaysia Airlines (MAS), and then, from Paris to Madrid using Air France. I had to run so fast from one gate to another in KLIA in less than 15 minutes because if I was late, I would miss the MAS flight. So guess what? My luggage was not with me on the plane, which means that I do not have my suitcase with me now. That´s only the first problem. One good thing was that I met a Spanish couple who were in the same dilemma as me, so I at least had some friends to share the misery. (They were honeymooning in Malaysia, and were on their way back home to Madrid.)

The second problem came up in Paris´ Charles de Gaulle airport where the authorities at first would not allow the three of us to fly from Paris to Madrid because the Thai Airways people did not inform them about our change of flights. We were all upset and tired, and Carolina y yo created a fuss, but thank God things were settled, so we flew to Madrid. When we arrived at Barajas Airport, we faced Problem #1 again – our suitcases were not there, as we expected. So we made a report at the Baggage Reclaim counter. By that time, I was on the verge of tears. I was so far away from my family, without my suitcase, without a phone, and any way to contact them. Thank God that Carolina, the lady, and Cesar, the husband, were so kind to lend me their mobile phones, and I contacted Janice (whom I´ve not seen at all because we were supposed to meet in Bangkok) and my dad. When I called my dad, I broke down. I realised how much I missed home.

After we made our reports (and I gave the people there my temporary address in Granada as well as Carolina´s mobile number), Carolina and Cesar were once again so helpful. I owe a lot to them, and also their friend Jorge who drove us – they brought me to buy a Spanish mobile number (Vodafone) at a mall, and then sent me to the bus station. Cesar and Jorge helped me to buy a ticket to Granada, then they left me. It was then I also realised that I was sooooooooooo alone, and that I was pretty much dead coz my Español is so freakin´ bad. Not many Spanish people can speak English!

I took the bus to Granada, and while in the bus, I met two Japanese chicas – Yuko y Maiko. They are very sweet girls who were going to Granada for two nights to visit the Alhambra. Thank God for their company while in the 5-hour long bus journey.

When I arrived in Granada at 10pm local time absolutely exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and afraid, I took a cab to my hostel in Calle Navas, called Hostal Penelope. I got lost, but after I called the hostel, and a very friendly guy who is working in the hostel (and who speaks English, THANK GOD!) came to my rescue. His name is Luna, a Brazilian, and he´s my first friend in Granada. I checked in, ate one tapa hungrily for a late dinner. Then I took a long-needed bath, and fell straight asleep. I had to make do with so few things – absolutely no toiletries, and only a few clothes. I prayed and thank God for everything, though admittedly, I cried too.

I woke up at 6am, still not used to the time change in España, and went down to meet Luna. He took me to my school, Centro de Lenguas Modernas, and I registered. Then he showed me to a mall where I did some shopping. I almost died with all the expensive prices, but I had to get my essentials. Thank God for my tarjeta de credit and mi papa´s understanding of me having to shop. I didn´t buy a lot, of course. I couldn´t!

After that I went back to my school and they told me the families that I could live with (they gave me three names and a map), and I chose to live with a family that the lady in my school recommended. So I went to see her and her house (after walking for about an hour coz I kept getting lost), which is so very far away from my school, but she was so nice even though her English is so bad and mi Español is as bad. Now, at the time of typing, I am at a cybercafe near her house. After this I will be walking back to my hostel even though it is quite far away.

To end, here are some of my thoughts and experiences in Granada for the first two days – I feel like an alien here because everyone looks at me weirdly, except Luna. I cannot hold a proper conversation in Spanish even though I can type it so well when I talk in Español with my Spanish friends on MSN. I find Spain so beautiful, and I like being here because of that, but I am finding it difficult for now. Please, do keep me in your prayers. I need all the prayers I can get, because things have gone so badly the past few days. Muchas gracias, amigos.

Got this from a Friendster bulletin. Worth reading!

Don’t bother getting a pen and
paper… just read… if you can’t
answer them, just keep going.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in
the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy
winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the
Miss America contest.

4. Name ten people who have won the
Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

5. Name the last five Academy Award
winners for Best Actor and Actress.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remembers the
headliners of yesterday. These are no
second-rate achievers. They’re the
best in their fields. But the applause
dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are
forgotten. Accolades and certificates
are buried with their owners.

Now here’s another quiz. See how you
do on this one:

1. Name three teachers who aided your
journey through school.

2. Name three friends who helped you
through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught
you something worth while.

4. Think of a few people who have made
you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy
spending time with.

Easier?

The lesson?

The people who make a difference in
your life aren’t the ones with the
most credentials, the most money, or
the most awards. They’re the ones who
care.

(Wishing you a BEAUTIFUL day!)