Friday, February 18, 2011

Obnoxious Tourist Fridays

I'm beyond understanding the way this blog decides to format itself...

So today was "obnoxious tourist friday". Beverly and I decided to see some of the sights in the city and take altogether too many photos of each other posing with ridiculous inanimate objects (trees, mainly). I was finally able to visit the cathedral, which has been a goal of mine since arriving here, and am thrilled. I plan on going back-the sacred art on display is some of the most unique I've seen in that specific context and I can't wait for a second look. The collection at the cathedral was small but it featured Canarian artists, and some really progressive art from the 16th-18th centuries. The photos above are of the cathedral and one of many statues of dogs which face the cathedral and gaze up at it. This one was offering a pigeon. I think it's Cain in dog form.

While walking around the city buildings like these appear, seemingly out of nowhere. They're fantastic reminders of the city's colonial history, and are often used as government or city offices. How cool would it be to work in a turquoise mansion?

Seeing the mural while walking up the road was fantastic-graffiti is everywhere in the city, but it often seems to be more artistic than destructive. Beverly and I exclaimed over the mural, stopped in the middle of the street, and photographed it for longer than we should have. Long live tourist fridays.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Today, February 14th, happily goes relatively unrecognized by the Canarian people. A few people in my classes wore red, but this could have been purely incidental, and no one was carrying around flowers or teddy bears or other signs of this holiday which was a big deal last year, living in a suite at Stony Brook filled with girls.
I'm writing to catch up on this weekend. I've found a solution to living tragically far away, which is to crash at a friends apartment after going out in the evenings. Hopefully no one felt taken advantage of, because after coming home at 6 am (which is completely normal here...the club was still packed when we do people do that?) I woke up comfortably in an apartment happily knowing that I hadn't spent enormous amounts on a taxi only to have to commute back the next day. Our group went out for breakfast and then immediately to Las Canteras, the beach of preference here. The only way the day could have been better is if I had avoided my now painful sunburn.
And today during class I reminisced about my perfect weekend (sans sunburn) and while being assigned a 15 page paper I reminded myself that I could still manage to keep a day free to lay on the beach with the best of the locals and do absolutely nothing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Classes began on Monday, and it's been so unpleasant trying to figure out my schedule. It's extremely complicated to use the school's website, and I'm constantly frustrated by the online system here.

Example: in order for me to view the information about a class, I look it up through the department. Which is fine, but I'm taking classes between departments and there is no master list of available classes.
Classes for the entire year, as well as classes which have been phased out by the university, as well as classes which are simply not offered, are all listed on the website. Together. And it's up to me to figure out which are offered during my semester and which I can take.
Once I find a class I need to look up the class number, and make sure that it doesn't conflict with other classes I'm taking as far as my timetable. Then I need to make sure that I'll still be in this country when the exam is offered. But all of this information is found on different webpages, which I have a lot of difficulty sorting through.

I never thought I'd say that Solar is really a blessing????

Thank God for my coordinator who zips between web pages with ease. I guess years of familiarity with the system helps.

Aside from troubles with the internet, things are fantastic. Today I left a great class (translation of specialized texts) and walked around the area. I sat down and ate a great lunch...I was speaking Spanish to the waiter and he couldn't understand me. I'm just counting on the fact that my spanish is probably so fantastic that it's complexity overwhelmed him. Not.

Tomorrow I have to wake up irrationally early to get to class on time (I missed the bus this morning and when the next one arrived, 45 minutes later, it caused me to arrive to a class half an hour late...I was too embarrassed to go inside. So I have to get to school on time!)

Here are some photos from a walk that we took during the first week. It was a "bonding activity" scavenger hunt. Our group got pretty seriously lost, did the whole thing out of order, and just took a ton of pictures and sang bad american pop songs.

below is a picture of the highest point on the island. No one could tell me why there was a giant ball there, but it makes it easy to identify I guess...
p.s. I apologize for the spelling/grammar mistakes in the last post. I obviously should read these over more carefully before I publish them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Free Day

My fellow Stony Brook student in the Canary Islands, Beverley, pointed out to me that I neglected to introduce myself in my first post (it's never most effective to do things last minute) so here goes:

My name is Christine Bilfinger and I'm a sophomore at Stony Brook, majoring (currently) in Religious Studies and Spanish. I grew up about 10 minutes from the University and had decided in high school that it was a goal of mine to study abroad in college. I love travelling and the Canary Islands seemed like an amazing opportunity, especially because so American schools have programs here. Also, it's 70 degrees or higher year-round. Also, the island of Gran Canaria is renowned for it's beautiful preserved land and beaches. Paradise!

I've been taking spanish for several years now and continued to pursue it at Stony Brook, but have yet to become fluent. What better way than to visit Spain? My only goal coming here was to attain fluency, so I elected to study at the Facultad de FilologĂ­a, which is essentially the linguistics department. I'm now torn between taking classes in the translation department and my original choice, so when I choose my classes permanently I'll probably be split between the two.

Okay, enough introduction. Today Beverley and I did some errands around town and on the way I took some pictures...

This is a view from across the street from the administration building, where the study abroad office is located.

This is the eagle, a symbol from the Spanish civil war. To the Spanish it represents the fascist regime, although they are aware that in the United States it is a symbol of pride and patriotism. We were still told not to wear the brand American eagle...

This are the "colored houses". Early in Canarian history there existed a law that each house had to be painted a different color, in order that officials could know which family owned which house. When the settlement grew this became difficult, but houses are still brightly colored.

And finally here is the main shopping street. Right now there are insane sales. Beverley and I had a hard time resisting :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Today when meeting with my coordinator I found out that a fellow Stony Brook student and I are the only Americans in our program. All of the sudden everything made sense-we thought we were here in a program called ERASMUS, which is specific to European students. So of course this made very little sense, and we were wondering why everyone around us spoke only French and German, or perhaps Hungarian. And then we find out that we don't really belong to the program! That we are Americans, so our credit system and matriculation are completely different, and that Stony Brook is trying something new which will be similar to the arrangements of European schools. So now I feel like a test subject, and am attempting to fill out a learning agreement which is typically used by EU students, hoping that I can meet some requirements and that some credits transfer. Wish me luck? Can classes really be valued at 12 credits?