Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The gleaner

A few years ago, my dad had me take the Strength Finders test to assess my "personal aptitudes and talents." One of my top strengths/themes as determined by this test was:


"People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them...

You glean -- that is, collect bits and pieces -- as much information as you possibly can about your areas of greatest interest...Because of your strengths, you may be excited about discovering new facts about historic events or key people. "

As this is a very accurate description of my learning habits, these last few weeks of my program's orientation have left me happy as a clam. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. This week, I am required to put all my newly gleaned information to a constructive end and write two essays and take an exam! As my "strengths profile" indicates, "the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites" me.

To make this a little more bearable, I thought I would share a few of my fun facts that I have learned while I am here that surely will not show up in any exam.

Fact #1
Have ever noticed balcony railings that bow out at the end? While it had an aesthetically appealing effect, it allowed ladies with full hoop skirts to stand by the railing on the balcony without having the fullest part of their skirt at the bottom be crushed out of shape!

Fact #2
The oranges that grow on the trees in town are far too bitter to be eaten, but are harvested to make a very delicious tart orange marmalade.

Fact #3
Sevilla's crazy tiny and windy streets were not designed only to confuse young study-abroad students. They served as important defense in years gone by. When an invading army tried to take the city, the lack of straight or wide streets severely slowed the attack and gave the defense a vital chance to organize and surround the enemy.

Fact #4
After Goya suffered an illness that made him deaf, he became depressed and secluded himself in a house that he covered with dark and sinister wall paintings. One of the more famous murals shows Saturn devouring his son. Many scholars suspect that this was a semi-autobiographical painting that showed Goya's sense of guilt over the death of five of his six children before they reached adulthood. They believe that the lead exposure from the paint was enough to complicate Goya's health but more than enough to kill a young child.

Fact #5
It is illegal to sell oysters in the streets in Spain. Without proper refrigeration, the oysters will die and, if not eaten live, can cause a fairly vicious food poisoning. A total of 12 people from my group found this "fun fact" out the hard way this weekend after eating raw oysters in Cadiz and spent the majority of the weekend on IV's in a Spanish hospital! (Don't worry- everyone's well now!)

That's all the time we have now folks, but tune in later for more Fun Facts with Haley!

PS: Thank you to everyone who has been sending me mail!! I have gotten a new card or postcard or package every day for the last four days!! Despite all the advances in technology, it's hard to beat snail mail :)

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