hello hello hello and a big fat official HOLA from granada! 

hana and i arrived in granada last saturday afternoon after a thirty-three hour long traveling marathon across europe, and i must admit, it's nice to be adopting a slower pace and settling down into our new "homes" after practicing a nomadic lifestyle for the last three weeks. doing some pre-semester traveling was one of the smartest moves we could have made - not only did we not get slapped in the face with major jet lag during our first week of orientation (even so, we're still exhausted), we've had some time to acclimate ourselves to european time, food, and ways of life; which, while they're not standard across the country, we were able to form more concrete expectations coming into it, which has been comforting. not only that, but we saw/did/checked off so much from our bucket lists (eiffel tower! london bridge! roman colosseum! bing bang boom!) that we don't feel the pressure to squeeze each of those different trips in over a free three-day weekend. i'm thankful to have that time now to stay close and explore this city and all that it has to offer.

classes don't start until october, so we're spending the next few weeks getting oriented. our orientation schedule for this and next week is designed to help us navigate and get to know granada, bond as a group, and brush up on our spanish skills in preparation for our language level exams and the start of classes. this week has completely exceeded my expectations for each of those categories. the instant language immersion has been initially so overwhelming, but rather than beating myself up over the stress of how unattainable fluency feels in this moment, i'm trying to focus on the fact that this "spanish" spanish (specifically the accent/phraseology/etc.) surprisingly not as impossibly complicated as i expected. one day at a time! *dramatically yoga inhales... and exhales...*

let's have a superficial conversation about the weather now, shall we? this granadan weather! it's bipolar in the most lovable of ways. while they're on the tail end of summer here, they say that this weather is unusually hot for this time of year. the day temps peak around 90*F, but drop to a glorious mid 60*F overnight, making for a cool, brisk morning walk to our meeting place. while the afternoon walks to class can get a little heated (literally), i, for one, vowed to never complain about the heat after living in mexico and two, love a good excuse for ice-cold gelato.

granada itself is a beautiful, romantic little city. it's active and buzzing with the energy of a big city but gives off the quaint, comfortable vibe of a small town. i've accredited this to granada being made up of (or seemingly so) many interconnected little neighborhoods, each with their own personality, that are so easy to get lost in. i'm fascinated by the strong arabic/moroccan influence here and am anxious to learn more about it from a historical aspect.

a few favorite/memorable moments from this week:

- meeting my host family. i live with a senora named pilar in her apartment. her son, diego, and his sons (mini) diego (9) and julio (6) live with her too for the time being. they are the sweetest, most inviting family and i already feel "at home" with them, even after just a week. and those boys, golly! they bring so much energy and life to our little set up. thanks to them, my spanish vocabulary relating to all things snakes, dynamite, tricks, sports, etc. is rapidly increasing. boy stuff! i knew my placement was fate when little diego turned on naked and afraid during our first breakfast together. ;)
- the most obvious initial cultural difference (besides the language, obviously): the pace of daily life. everything and everyone here moves much more slowly than we americans do. they take their time getting from point a to point b, enjoying the journey rather than focusing on the destination, which i genuinely admire. i must admit, however, it's been a true test of my patience. for example: over the course of a few days, i spent a total of almost eight hours trying to acquire a local cell phone. granted, much of that time was spent (power) walking (with a purpose, and sticking out like a sore, hurried thumb. i'm trying to take it down a notch!) to different stores, but upon arrival it's clear that customer service situations (this goes for restaurant environments, too) are anything but rushed. interactions are easy, casual, conversation-based. story time!: we were waiting for an unusually long time, even by spanish standards (spandards, if you will), at one phone store, and the woman in line behind us was starting to get very impatient with the wait. she made her irritation very clear through loud, exasperated sighing and stamping of the feet via dramatic weight-shifting. she finally got so fed up that she flung her hands up in the air, simultaneously grunted whilst spinning around and proceeded to march off. she was so flustered that she neglected to pay attention to the fact that she was moving faster than the invisible sliding glass door, and walked right smack into it. she literally bounced off, leaving a greasy forehead smudge on the door as a little token of her oblivion, and then waited for the door to actually open before stumbling out. i couldn't help but chuckle. it was a simple reminder that my seemingly-overwhelming day could have been worse. ;)
- we have gotten lost so many times for the most ridiculous of reasons, but i've quickly learned that's the best way to see the city. i try to intentionally get (safely) lost at least once a day.
- the sidewalks and pathways are made out of a smooth, slick marble-like material (i can't wait to experience that in the rain...) so when dogs on leashes refuse to walk for some reason or other (which tends to happen quite frequently), their owners will just drag/slide them down the slippery walkway. i don't know why this is so entertaining but it is?
- so much bread! i have no self control when it comes to bread!
- i found a small little bakery owned by the sweetest woman and i've quickly deemed it "my bakery." she sells neopolitan croissants that are filled with dark and white chocolate and they're to die for.
- i was so worried about not knowing anyone in the program prior to signing up and arriving, but it's turned out to be the biggest blessing. i feel like i've known some of these kids forever and i'm so thankful (and excited!) to get to spend this crazy semester with them.

okay, that's enough words for one day! i'll soon start filling you in on all things london, paris, rome, munich!

reaadyyyy and break!

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