Last weekend, my friends Lucy and Alex and I took a quick trip to Malaga, a city on Spain’s southern coast, to visit museums and take one last dip in the ocean (or, technically, the Mediterranean) before fall comes. (The people here assure me that it will come, but I’ve yet to see a high below 80 degrees….)
The three of us stayed in an adorable Airbnb apartment and enjoyed home-cooked meals courtesy of Lucy (the other one). The beach was nice, but even more fun was the Picasso Museum (Málaga is his hometown!) and getting the chance to walk around a new city.
In other news, last week I found out I’d been accepted into the choir of the University of Córdoba. I was so excited to get back to singing and looked forward to meeting some UCO students and hopefully making new friends. However, upon attending the first rehearsal, I realized that it wouldn’t be exactly as I’d expected. First of all, I sing with the altos in this choir, something I haven’t done since the eighth grade. More notably, the choir is not made up of students, but of adults, most a lot older than me. Apparently the “University of Córdoba” title means that the choir represents the university, not that the singers are students. Even though I was a bit disappointed to not have the opportunity to make friends my age, all of the women in my section are very kind and have welcomed me with open arms.
Even though I’ve only attended four rehearsals so far, I’ve already had a performance, appeared on local television, and had an embarrassing experience worth sharing (as promised!). My choir performed at the ceremony celebrating the beginning of courses last Thursday. At that point, I’d only participated in four total hours of rehearsal, so it was a bit scary to basically sightread during the performance. Still, the performance and reception afterwards were my first real opportunities to get to know my fellow choir members, plus I unexpectedly met the president of Andalucía and earned about two seconds of screen time on the afternoon news (check out 0:39…).
Okay. Time for the embarrassing story.
My choir rehearses in the academic building where I have all of my classes. It’s hundreds of years old and a bit confusing to navigate. After rehearsal on Wednesday night, I stayed back a few minutes to discuss details about the next morning’s concert with my choir director. When it was time to go, he asked if I knew the way out and I told him I thought I did.
Apparently, I did not.
When I got into the hallway, I found that the lights had already been shut off for the night. However, too proud to ask the director for directions after I had only seconds earlier told him I didn’t need any, I figured I could still find the way out myself. I couldn’t. I made a couple of wrong turns, and by the time I made my way back to the rehearsal hall to ask for help, the choir director had already left and locked the door behind him.
That’s how I ended up locked in a pitch-dark ancient academic building (which my host mother later informed me is known to be haunted), completely alone, at 11:00 at night. After almost an hour, a few tears, and a fair amount of panic, I was rescued with some help from the PRESHCO team. Needless to say, I received a healthy amount of teasing once it circulated that I’d called the program director after 11 that night: “Hola, tengo un pequeño problema….”
Other than this little bump in the road, the rest of the last two weeks has gone smoothly. My academic classes continue to be difficult, but interesting, and I feel a little bit more comfortable every day. The culture classes through PRESHCO are still fun-fun-fun. So far, I’ve learned to dance two of the four sevillanas dances, which is still by far my favorite class. This week I (unsuccessfully) attempted to throw a heartbroken fit for the play in my theater class, and I’m little-by-little picking up some flamenco guitar. The whole PRESHCO group also had a cooking class on Friday, where we made traditional Spanish and cordobés dishes like paella and salmorejo with the help of a local chef.
Yesterday I went on an excursion with my geography professor to some sites around Córdoba. We looked down on the city from the top of the sierra, explored some ermitas, and paid a quick visit to a castle where parts of Game of Thrones were filmed (or so I’m told). My professor could tell an interesting story about the geographical context its economic/social/cultural implications of basically everything we saw and it was a treat to see the city from a different angle (literally).
That’s all for this week, but more travel and fun coming soon…