Life Updates

Hello, dear readers! Since one of you has been eagerly clamoring for another riveting chapter of Joe Schmo’s study abroad blog, I figured I would oblige. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I figure my average readership is somewhere around 5 per post, so I can’t really afford to lose any of y’all.

Our IES trip to Morocco is right around the corner. My group leaves on Friday, and I’m quite excited about it. My primary goal this week has been to stay healthy, particularly since my roommate came down with a nasty headache, dizziness, and a high fever on Monday night. Naturally, I was very concerned about his health – flu-like symptoms are always the worst. However, I have to admit that my preoccupation was partially selfish; I didn’t fancy waking up to the sound and smell of vomit permeating our extremely small bedroom. I was also fervently hoping that I wouldn’t get sick myself right on the eve of Morocco.

If I have to be sick in Morocco, I definitely want it to be on my own terms – ideally after gorging on exotic street food. I hear the crumbed liver, steamed sheep head, and stuffed camel spleen are particularly delightful. Spanish food is also on the mild side, so I’m excited about consuming some truly picante comida, even if it results in significant gastrointestinal distress. I certainly hope I don’t end up with traveler’s diarrhea, but if that eventuality does occur, it would definitely provide lots of colorful content for a future blog post. And more importantly, expanding my culinary horizons is a very intriguing and exciting proposition.

As usual, linguistic challenges have continued, but my interactions with Spaniards are generally much more positive than negative. However, there have been a couple of unfortunate recent interactions. One came while I was at an ATM and a Spaniard came up to me and fired off an extremely rapid question regarding whether or not he needed to physically enter the bank in order to complete his particular transaction; when I told him I didn’t know, he promptly burst out laughing, presumably at my accent. So that was truly marvelous. The other unfortunate interaction came the other morning when I was attempting to exchange pleasantries with a close friend of our host family. After the initial greeting, he said a Spanish expression that roughly translates to “It’s nice to see you”. However, I didn’t quite understand the expression and couldn’t manage to formulate an appropriate reply, so I resorted to the classic “nod and smile” approach, probably a major social faux pas. Hopefully no offense was taken.

Thankfully, positive interactions have also abounded, including frequent conversations with the retired cardiologist at our local gym. Each time we talk, he makes sure to ask me how things are in my “tierra” – in my case, California. In recent days, this has led to discussions of the horrible wildfires there, a subject of considerable concern to us both. However, our conversations have also included discussions of other topics, some rather unexpected. The other day my cardiologist friend decided to earnestly recount a lengthy and bizarre anecdote about a man who lost both of his testicles in separate, exercise-related incidents. I’m still not quite sure what the moral of the story was – perhaps to avoid exercising excessively? I honestly have no idea. Anyway, the details of each incident were stomach-churning, so I will exclude them from this prestigious, college-sanctioned publication. You’re welcome.

We finally visited the Alhambra today in Islamic Art & Architecture. It was gorgeous – pictures don’t do it justice.

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