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New Classes, Birthday Celebrations, and Carnaval in Portugal

February 26th, 2012 secain13

Hola Todos!

I have just begun my classes for this semester and have received my final grades from last semester. I passed all of my classes, and for the most part I´m happy with my grades even though I didn’t do as well as I would have liked to in my Latin American Fiction class. I knew going into the class that it would be tough, and at this point, I am happy to have new classes and to be starting a new semester! My new classes consist of History of Spain since 1939, Sociocultural Anthropology, and Spanish Renaissance Literature along with the HC grammar and composition class. So far, I’m interested in my classes this semester and my professors seem nice.

Last week, my friends and I celebrated my 21st birthday here in León and it was a lot of fun. Even though celebrating my birthday here was slightly less climactic than it would have been at home since turning 21 is not nearly as important here in Spain, my friends and I managed to have a great time going out together. My host madre also prepared a special dinner for me and let me invite a couple friends over the house to celebrate. It made my night and it made being away from home on my birthday a lot easier.  I’m so thankful for everything that she does for me and I’m very happy with my living situation here. I really couldn’t ask for anything more!

I just recently returned from a 5 day trip to Portugal that was offered through the university and had a great time. We spent time in Lisbon, Fatima, and Oporto and celebrated Carnaval while we were in Lisbon. Portugal was beautiful and the trip definitely exceeded my expectations. Everyone dressed up in costumes and went out for Carnaval, and it was basically like celebrating Halloween twice a year; needless to say it was a lot of fun. While I really enjoyed spending time in Lisbon and Fatima was very interesting because it is one of the most religious cities, the city of Oporto was definitely my favorite. We took a tour by night as well as spent a couple days walking around the city. Oporto is absolutely beautiful; it’s built on a hill overlooking the river, and consists of red rooftops and cobblestone streets.  A lot of the older buildings consist of azulejos, blue and white ceramic tiles that are typical of Portuguese architecture. Oporto is famous for its production of Port wine, and there are numerous wine cellars on the other side of the river. I had the chance to take a tour of one of the cellars, which was very interesting and included a tasting of a couple of port wines. Also, for all of you Harry Potter fans out there, JK Rowling lived in Portugal while writing the series and we got to see the bookstore where she did a lot of her work!

I also need to spend some time bragging about the amazing Portuguese food that I had! Some of the traditional food consists of bacalhau-cod fish, pastel de nata- a type of egg tart pastry, and francesinha- a sandwich loaded with steak, bacon, and sausage, topped with cheese and a type of sauce, covered in a fried egg. The food was delicious, even though I felt my arteries clogging up as I was eating that sandwich!

Overall, the trip to Portugal was a lot of fun and we certainly kept busy the entire time by touring the cities, seeing the beach, the aquarium, a casino, an ancient palace and castle, touring a wine cellar, and much more!

Here are some pictures from my trip, enjoy!

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