Oliver in Spain: Busy Weeks Call for Relaxation

This week I have been putting my nose to the grindstone as it is midterms week. It has pretty much revolved around studying for these exams, however I was able to find some fun in between chapters.

Last weekend my program offered a free (that’s right free!) excursion to a small town in the Valenciano province known as Xátiva. In Valenciano it is pronounced sha-ti-vah, for those of you who were interested. We were given a tour through the city which included a look into its famous church. This church is permitted to bear the symbol of the Vatican because it is one of the only cities in the world that is the birthplace of two Popes.

Collegiate Basilica, built in the 16th century

Collegiate Basilica, built in the 16th century

The catholic history isn’t even the most interesting part of this city. On the cliff tops that protected the city from invasion lies a castle. Lucky for us, we were given the opportunity to hike up to this castle and explore. I took that opportunity to heart and frequently went off the main road to make the trek a little more interesting. When we got to the castle we were rewarded with incredible picturesque views of the rolling mountains that surround this small city.

Castle of Xátiva, built in the 11th century

Castle of Xátiva, built in the 11th century

In addition to this “field trip” my friends and I decided to embrace the European culture and get haircuts. We went to a local peluquería (salón) in Valencia and showed them pictures of popular soccer players while asking the hair dressers to make us look like them. This resulted in the shortest haircut I have ever had, but also resulted in the best game of soccer I have ever played with 4 goals…there’s no way that was just a coincidence.

A shorter version of Paco Alcacer!

A shorter version of Paco Alcacer!

Since this has been one of my longest, uninterrupted, stints at home in Valencia, I have become a lot closer with my host family. My host sister has moved to Zaragoza, about three hours north by car, so she is more or less out of the picture for now. My older host brother, Guille, has been busy with late classes so I do not see him very much either, other than the late night movie watching. That leaves Mark. Mark and I have been spending my downtime playing videojuegos and watching dibujos (cartoons). He is a funny little guy who has become very comfortable with me being around. I look forward to coming home so I can beat him in Fifa. He may have Spanish blood but I trained all last semester to play Fifa with the best.



I have big plans for this weekend that include going to see my favorite tennis player, Andy Murray, play in the Valencia Open this friday, going to a home soccer game at la Mestalla on Saturday night, and the beach on Sunday. Even in the midst of a busy week this place never ceases to make me smile. I absolutely love it here and am a little sad that I only have…what…8 weeks left? Gotta make the most of it!!

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