First of all, I guess I owe you an introduction. My name is Allee, my roommate´s name is Kate, and my host mom´s name is María. I just finished my second year at UND and started my study abroad experience in Spain. I´m here for six weeks, taking four classes and earning six credits toward my Spanish major. I´m participating in a grammar, conversation/readings, culture, and dance class. We´re learning flamenco; how cool is that? These four classes make up only four hours of my day, with homework so minimal it´s almost laughable for college students (well, college students who actually do their homework). The point of study abroad, the professors agree, is to explore the city and interact with Spaniards, not lock ourselves in our rooms and study. But don´t you fret, we have to give a 10-15 minute presentation with a partner in the middle of June. Everyone on this trip is paired with a host family, who provide us a place to stay, delicious and aunthetic Spanish food, and friendly conversation partners. (I´ll tell you more about my host mom later.) I´m in the absolutely gorgeous city of Ávila, which is northwest of Madrid. Part of the city is surrounded by the only completely intact medieval wall in Europe. Ávila is absolutely beautiful. It has these tiny streets that we Americans have to adjust to. Some of the streets are described as serpientes, which means “snakes” in Spanish. I´ve seen at least two lamp shops, two discotecas (dance clubs), three Chinese restaurants (surprise!), sweetshops, and tons of restaurants filled with bebidas (drinks) and tapas (like our appetizers, but usually smaller and free with the purchase of a drink). I´ve already fallen in love with the older buildings here. I realize America´s a younger country than most, but too many times I feel like we tear down the old and bring in the new. But what will we have to show for ourselves 100, 200, or 300 years down the road? Here in Ávila, history surrounds us: in the wall, the churches, the streets. Every day I walk through the city with my head swiveling on my neck and my eyes roaming like the wide-eyed tourist I am. I look around this city and can barely believe that people actually get to live here! Más luego (More later…)

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