¡Hola! I created this blog for everyone that wants to keep track of my life while I am in Spain! I won't be able to communicate with everyone via phone or skype while aborad, so here is a great way to do so! I hope you enjoy.
¡Hola! I created this blog for everyone that wants to keep track of my life while I am in Spain! I won't be able to communicate with everyone via phone or skype while aborad, so here is a great way to do so! I hope you enjoy.
It’s strange to think once I leave, things won’t be the same. I’ll never have this exact opportunity again. I won’t be able to do this with the same people, the same way…none of that. I thought I would be a lot more excited to go home, which I am, but being sad to leave doesn’t help. Saying “hasta luego” is different than it was when I was saying it to my family. I knew when I’d be returning, I knew I had to. But now, I have no idea when I’ll see my friends here again. It nearly brings me to tears.
Spain and everyone I met here, will always have a special place in my heart, even if we never see each other again. <3
One last hooray! And then I’m home. :)
Best decision I have every made. No doubt.
My time is winding down! As much as I love my life here, I can say I am ready to come home, but I am going to miss this place so much! And I plan to return as soon as possible. I have already promised people and I would have places to stay, so why not?
After Portugal, it really began to sink in that we had less than 20 days left in the amazing city, Granada. I don’t know how I feel about returning as far as how everything is going to be different and not the way it was when I left. I do think I will have reserve culture shock, which I am not ready to have. However, I do think it will be an interesting story to tell. Living in a different country has definitely opened my eyes and I have matured even more. Best experience ever!
The Wednesday following Portugal, we had our very last CEA (the name of my program) gathering, a farewell lunch! It was really sad to be in one place with everyone for the last time. And even sadder when our directors gave speeches. They are seriously the best.
Thursday, my friends and I went to a intercambio bar to practice our Spanish. We met some really cool people and we have basically hung out with them periodically over the past week. I totally wish we had met them early, it would have been amazing because this past week has been great. Sometimes, I’m not ready to leave. Having to leave without knowing when you’ll return is the hardest part accepting the fact I have to go…
I spent the weekend in Garcia Lorca (a park) studying and hanging out with friends. It has been extremely hot here the past two weeks, which means it feels better sitting outside in the shade than it does sitting in the house. Everything is just so interesting here! Though, my senora did think we were crazy for going to the park so much! :) That Friday, my friend and I went to dinner with our new friends and practiced some more! Saturday I went out for a bit, but now too long. And I was relatively lazy the next few days.
My last week of classes! Monday was the first day of the last week of my classes! It’s so crazy that it is all over now! Though, I am happy that they are! :)
Picture with my favorite teacher! He told me it was 50 euros for the picture! Ha.
My friend sumitted a photo of us and we won “The Most Fun” or something like that. It was hung up in two places in our school building.
My last day volunteering was really sad. I was a lot more activate in the classes then normal and they were really sad, especially the two teachers I helped! I think my favorite class was the fifth graders, they weren’t always on their best behavior, but I always got a good laugh.
The first graders were the most challenging, but I liked working with them too!
Thursday I went on a moto ride! I saw some amazing views that showed all of Granada! Better than the view from the Alhambra. I was a little nervous, but motos are so popular here and it was apart of the culture! <3
Then we had a mini intercamio at a near by restaurant.
That night I went to my friend’s house for a small get together and meet some pretty cool people.
Friday I meet up with my friend Beata from high school, she is studying in Palma de Mallorca for the summer, but Granada was one of her stops beforehand! I had some where to be a 2:30, but I promised I’d take her out and show her the nitelife!
My favorite teacher from the school where I helped was taking me to her village because I wanted to see one! She has a beautiful house and her 2 daughters are amazing. I ate lunch with them and watched TV, hanging around the house. I really felt at home and was sad I hadn’t done it sooner. She is definitely one of my favorite people here and told me I will always have a home in Spain. <3 I almost cried when she said that to me.
I went out with my friend as promised to a bar we have been going to since we first got here.
I spent most of Saturday doing homework and packing so I could enjoy the night out with some friends for their birthdays and our final weekend in Granada. I had a blast and I got in fairly early, but almost everyone stayed out until 7:30am, the way Spaniards do it. I’m an old woman, so staying out all night it not an option.
Finals are this week and I don’t think I’m ready. I literally have to leave the day after my last final, which is not fair at all! But that is just the way it has to be. I am more than grateful for this opportunity and I am happy I did it and survived with being homesick all the time. I’ll update once I am home to explain reserve culture shock, because I am almost positive it will happen to me.
5 days and counting! <3
The very last trip with my program was to Lagos, Portugal, a tourist part about 6 hours away from Granada. It was basically the best vacation ever!
We had to meet at 6am the morning after el dia de la cruz and I woke up 5 minutes before the meeting time. My senora overslept and my roommate thought I was awake. So I had to quickly pack and run to Correos, which is like a 15 minute walk. But we always seem to be running on Spanish time (late for basically everything), so I didn’t miss the bus or anything.
Once we got to Portugal, we checked into the hotel (really nice FYI), and group 1 (my group), was able to go for a boat road. It was really nice and it was fun. It was bit windy, but some people jumped in the water regardless. We took mini boats into nearby caves. The ride was probably about an hour and half long, then we had free time until it was time for dinner. We went to a restaurant that, apparently, ranked in the top 50 for best burgers. I’ll just say I have a better burgers from McDonald’s, but that is a very personal opinion. Some people loved it, I just wasn’t a fan and I love food! But, whatever, I had an amazing experience, and I can say I’ve been there! :) We had free time after dinner until…the next morning basically. My friends and I went back to the hotel and had a chill night in the rooms. Others went out to a bar, but that just isn’t my scene, I avoid it whenever possible.
The next morning, we went to a cool look out point and two beaches. The look out point was amazing, but pictures will say more then anything I could write. The first beach was amazing! And I am upset we only spent like an hour there. It was so pretty! Some people jumped off of a mini cliff into the water, some swam, tanned, socialized, etc. The second beach wasn’t as cool, but the sand was so soft! That beach was really close to our hotel, so not many of us stayed too long. We were hungry and tired. My friends and I walked back to the hotel, showered and ate because we wanted to find places to buy souvenirs before it was time to go to “The End of the World”. We walked around for a long time looking for a place, but for it to be known as a tourist location, there was not much to choose from. We finally found a place, but it still wasn’t what I wanted, but we were running out of time. Once we got back to the hotel, we were getting ready to load the buses heading to, what the Portuguese thought was the end of the world, to see the sunset! It was one of the prettiest views I’ve ever seen! We took a lot of pictures there and then it was time for dinner! We ate at a well-known restaurant for chicken, again, it was just okay. It might be because I just miss American food so much, but I’m almost home!!! :) Once again, it was free time until 1pm Sunday since that was the departing time for home. We spent that night in another room hanging out, but I didn’t stay up too long. I was exhausted from the heat and just really needed some sleep.
The next morning, I slept until breakfast was almost over (11am)! Ha. And then I sat by the poolside with some friends while they were tanning. I stayed out there for about an hour, then decided to go shower and pack since it was almost time to leave. And then it was just another 6 hour bus ride home!
Trying to figure out which camera to look at first. Ha. (Above.)
Life is what you make it, so do what you have dreamed of without letting anyone interfere. <3
7 days of Heaven left!
We had so many days off for Palma because May 1st (a Tuesday) was there version of Labor Day, and therefore, there weren’t any classes on Monday either. Thursday was the “El día de la Cruz”, and again, after 2pm everything was shutdown! I don’t really understand the meaning behind it, because I heard one thing from teachers, but the internet says other things. But I do know that plazas, patios, palacios, etc. are all decorate with crosses and the best are awarded. Little girls are dressed in Flamenco dress and the little boys wear the traditional outfit of the male dancer. Even woman are dressed up, and the entire city is out! The school where I volunteer was having a party in the afternoon, so I stopped by there for a little bit. I was going to help out, but the parent parties here are a little more than they would ever be in the States. Haha. Beer is served on grounds and everyone is having a grand time. So I took a few pictures, practiced a little Spanish because my program director’s daughter attends the school and they were there with their new baby. I left to hang out with some American friends, we walked around to see some crosses and hang out. I had already made plans with a Spanish friend, so I left a little early from being with them. With my Spanish friend, I saw a lot more crosses and tasted two wines that are special to that day for whatever reason. I was out relatively late even though I had to be up super the next day, but I was only able to speak in Spanish, so I wasn’t that upset. Experiencing the culture is always a plus! :)
Above: It is in the city hall and always win first place!
A beautiful day here! <3
At the end of April, we had a a really long weekend because of holidays. So, my friends and I planned a trip back in January to go to one of the Spanish islands. At that point, I was so tired of traveling I didn’t care about much. I know that is bad, but traveling can become overwhelming. So, I deemed it my vacation, there isn’t too much to see there, so it was perfect!
The first day, we went grocery shopping because we didn’t want to spend a lot dining out for every meal. Our hostel was apartment style, so we had a fridge to put all of our things. After the shopping, we changed into our bikinis and laid out on the beach until it was dinner time. We ate at a cheap little restaurant and the food was actually pretty good! Then we went to get gelato and sat on the beach for a little bit before heading back to the hostel. We sat in the living room of the hostel hanging out before calling it a night.
The next day, we woke up and headed to the beach again! The weather wasn’t so nice, but we could enjoy it well enough. At the beach, we decided we wanted to go to the city center and see what Palma really had to offer. On the plane, we met a lady and she said it was beautiful, so we left the beach and got ready to walk around the city. I’ll just say, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already seen. But I can say I saw it! We literally walked around to the plazas and there wasn’t much to see at all, especially after all the beautiful Spanish cities I’ve seen. We only spent an hour or so there and then went back to our hostel. We were pretty hungry and it started raining, so we grabbed McDonald’s and had another chill night in the hostel. We hung out again as I was watching the Bulls game on my phone, I was completely devastated and went right to bed. Haha.
The weather was even worse the next morning and, in my opinion, it was way too cold to be caught dead in a bikini on the beach. And since I decided to relax the entire weekend anyway, I slept in and chilled in the hostel until it was dinner time. I’m not sure why, but I just needed to be alone, so when my friends went to eat, I walked around, watched the sun set and got BK. Once my friends were back, we had another night hanging out in the living room. We were leaving early the next morning, so we went to bed a bit earlier than the previous nights.
We were headed back to Granada!
Since I switched Seville and Cordoba (3/23-3/25) trips with a friend, another friend wanted to spend a day at the beach (4/14). We had been weather watching all week because it had been changing so much. Well, the weather turn out to be terrible so we didn’t buy the bus tickets. Instead, we went to see the Lorax in Spanish! :) It was awesome!! I had been a little sad that week because my mommy’s birthday was the 15 of April, and I’m a mommy’s girl to the fullest and that was the first birthday I’ve ever missed. But I was able to talk to her and my family a little bit while they celebrated with her.
My program took us to visit the Science Park which was pretty interesting! There was a cool dinosaur exhibition and an exploration of the human body one. I made the mistake of watching the birth of a baby, it was rather interesting, and watching it with guys that have never seen it made it even better. Haha. They ran away! It was priceless.
The next night, we went to see a Flamenco Show which is a traditional music and dance from southern Spain. It tells a story of some sort through the dance and music and it was amazing to see! We saw one in Seville, but it was nothing compared to the one they took us to in Granada. At the end, they randomly pulled people up to dance with them and I was one! It was fun and I did a pretty good job. There’s a video of it, but I’m not sure if you can see it without logging into Facebook, I will try to add it somehow!
That Saturday we were able to go to the beach because the weather was amazing! We went to Nerja which is about two hours away and we decided to just spend the day there. We went to go see a cave, that I guess is popular, before we went to the beach. There wasn’t much more to my day besides the cave and beach!
Notice anything wrong?
Well, this sums up most of the month of April! :)
The weekend after I returned from Italy I set off on another adventure with some friends to Dublin. I wasn’t too excited about the trip because, believe it or not, traveling can become so tiring and overwhelming. However, it was too late to back out and it was another country under my belt. :)
I left a day after my friends because I got back from Italy the day before they left. I was tired and I wanted to watch Easter parades in Granada, but I wasn’t able to see any on my own.
SIDE NOTE: Easter is a big deal here. Every day during “Semana Santa”, they have different processions with a special theme. I wish I had my own pictures and experience to share, but it had been quite rainy that week and the day I stayed every procession was cancelled due to the weather. :( Guess that just means I must return to Granada during Semana Santa!
SO, the next morning I headed out for Dublin. It was an amazing flight experience! I had an entire row to myself and I was able to watch a movie and music videos. I wish I could have just stayed on the plane! :) I managed to navigate myself to the center of the city with help from my friend the night before I left. I was suppose to meet them at the bus stop at a certain time, but they weren’t there, so I went to McDonald’s. At first, it was just to use the wifi, but you can’t without buying something. I was SO happy because I saw that they had chicken selects (the only thing I get at home and Spain doesn’t offer them), and right before I order, something told me to ask what sauces they had (I only like buffalo sauce), well, they didn’t have it. My dreams were crushed in a matter of minutes! I ate and about 30 minutes later, I caught up with my friends. We went window shopping on our way to the hostel. I don’t even like shopping, but I saw Forever 21 and ever since working there for almost 2 years, it’s apart of me in a strange way, haha.
Once we got to the hostel, I checked in and we were told that almost every bar was closed because alcohol couldn’t be served due to it being the Friday before Easter. I got settled in before we would meet back up for dinner. My friend had read about a place called Bad Ass Cafe, so we decided to give it a try. Best decision I have ever made! I order hot wings and they were almost better that Buffalo Wild Wings, the sauce was absolutely amazing! Since everything was closed, basically, we decided to have a chill night in the hostel, along with all the other guests. Everyone was in the hostel because it was the only place they could serve alcohol (no idea how they got through that loop hole), but it was a great night. I love staying in hostels because you always meet people from all over the world and usually good stories come of them.
Saturday morning we went to the Guinness Brewery. We went on tour of the entire building and then got to pour own on pints! It was probably the highlight of my day. We then went to lunch because we were starving and having a pint before noon wasn’t the greatest idea. We tired to go see the castle afterward, but the tickets were sold out for the day, it was mostly due to the fact it was Easter weekend. We were able to enjoy some parts of it, so we took advantage of that. The day was pretty much over after that, though it was so long ago, I don’t remember every detail. But nothing important happened.
Our flight was early Sunday morning, and it was back to good ole Grana.
My favorite picture! Since everything is opposite there (driving) they have this to remind foreigners, I guess! It definitely made me giggle! :)
Well, two years ago I told someone from a difference country that I would find my way to them again one day, and with the already amazing experience, I was able to do just that.
At the end of March/ beginning of April, we had Semana Santa (Easter break, our Spring break in essence), and I was traveling to Italy to see Marta Caprioli. For those who don’t know, Marta spent a year studying my senior year at my high school, and I was able to get to know her because of ROTC. I wrote in her yearbook that one day I would visit her in Italy and through months of planning, it actually happened!
It was by far the best trip I have had and I wish I could go again before coming back to the states!
Well, I had a few friends traveling to Italy that week as well and we traveled together so that I didn’t have to go alone. Flights are cheaper flying out of Madrid, so we took a bus there on a Wednesday because our flight was early Thursday morning. We were really nervous because Spain was having a national strike day, and it was possible for flights to be delayed/canceled. But luckily, because ours was so early, it was only delayed for a few minutes because there weren’t many people fueling the planes. So we had to wait for that and then we were off!
I was a little nervous Marta wouldn’t be waiting at the airport because she wasn’t sure about the flight. But I did tell her I would only call if there was bad news, so I just had to hope for the best. I said bye to my friends and walked to see if Marta was waiting for me, and low and behold, she was! We greeted each other with a huge hug! Her boyfriend came with her too because she doesn’t like driving. So, I got to meet him as well. She knew that I hadn’t got much sleep since I spent the night in the airport, so we decided not to do too much the first day. We headed to her house so I could put my stuff away. I explored the house a bit while we relaxed. She had a picture of her host family in her living room just as if it were a photo of her real family. I thought it was so cool because it just fit in with the rest of her family pictures. And it was interesting to see a picture of people I knew from home in a completely different country. After a little rest, we headed back out.
Her mom’s store is really close to her house, so we walked there so I could meet her. She was so nice and excited; it made me feel so welcomed. We only stayed for a bit because she had to get back to work. We headed to REITI, the town where she went to high school and where her boyfriend lives. We walked around, stopped for a snack and took a few pictures. We went back to her house because her mom was making lunch for us, pasta! It was so good! I loved being able to see a completely difference culture yet again. Marta was the translator for everything; I could understand a few words or pick up pieces of conversations, but not enough to actively engage. After lunch, we drove to go see a cool waterfall, but by the time we got there it was closing for some reason. So we walked around the park for a bit and then headed back to get gelato from Rieti! We made a stop before heading back to a really small town were a castle use to be. It seemed almost abandoned but is apparently livelier when the weather is warmer. The view was so pretty and seeing the castle was pretty amazing too! We headed back down and went back to Rieti! The gelato was so delicious, we went to a really popular place in town and I definitely could tell why. By the time we got back to her house, her brother had made it back from school and I was able to meet him. I went to my room and tried taking a nap before dinner because I was exhausted. Once dinner was ready Marta came to get me and I meet her dad. We all ate together while watching TV too. Dinner was all was interesting because Marta was the only one that spoke English, but I never really felt left out. I went to bed after dinner because Marta and I were waking up early to explore Rome.
It’s about a 2 hour bus ride to Rome with all the stops in between, so we woke up kind of early so we could see as much as possible and avoid long lines. Once we got into Rome, we took the metro to Vatican City to do some exploring. For it to not to be the summer, there were quite a few tourists, but the lines weren’t terrible. We spent about four hours seeing as much as we could, and I believe we saw it all! It was pretty amazing! It was lunchtime by then so we ate lunch close to where we were. Her brother’s friend told her about a really good gelato place that’s in that area, so day 2 of gelato it was! After lunch we went to explore the cathedral and see the perfect circle. Because it was really close to Palm Sunday, they were sitting up for the Pope’s speech that would take place. Inside, we saw one of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of Jesus and Mary. I also saw a freakishly large of amount of dead Pope’s, it was intriguing oddly though. The inside was gorgeous, but I’m okay with never seeing another cathedral…We went in the basement and there were a lot more tombs of Popes. Then we went all the way to the top to view basically all of Rome. I’m addicted to views like that since being here! We walked around for a bit after that heading toward the metro to go back to her house. It had been a long day! For dinner, we went to a restaurant to order pizzas that her mom would bring to the house later. It was a huge personal one and I had no idea how they could finish it, and I love food and eating! I ate as much as I could, but I didn’t finish it. However, it was amazing! I sat with her and her mom a little bit watching TV and then headed to bed.
I was able to sleep in a little more the next day, but it was still early. We headed to Rome once again just to see things she wanted to show me. We decided to wait until Monday to see the Coliseum since it was so many tourists over the weekend. We ate lunch and gelato (of course), headed home for dinner. We had grilled steak. :) I felt really bad because they had to cook mine like 4 times because I like it close to well-done and they don’t, but they didn’t mind at all.
Sunday morning we got up really early because her parents were nice enough to drive us to Florence and Pisa (3 and 4 hours away from Rome). We woke up before 5am to head out. We walked around in Florence seeing the Golden Bridge, which is really famous for selling gold jewelry. We saw cathedrals, museums, plazas; it was amazing and beautiful. We ate in Florence and then headed to Pisa, about an hour drive. Pisa has nothing to offer except for the Leaning Tower, but it was pretty legit! I was so happy they didn’t mind taking me there. Marta and I wanted to go to the top, but there was a 2 hour wait since only a certain amount of people can be in the building at one time. I told them we didn’t have to wait since we had a long drive back home. But they insisted since it is a once in a lifetime chance for me. So we got some gelato and enjoyed the weather while we waited for 5 to roll around. The view was amazing and it was interesting getting to the top. It’s hard to tell the building leans once you’re at a certain point on the inside. From the top, you could see the wall that surrounded the old Pisa, which I always find amazing because of my art class and because that just doesn’t exist back home. After we got back down we headed home, ate a quick dinner and I headed to bed.
My favorite! Marta and I got up to head to Rome once again, this time to see the Coliseum! I’ve wanted to see it since, probably, the first time learning about it in school. We got a guided tour, but honestly Marta could have done a better job than the guy. After the short tour, we walked around taking pictures and trying to see if we could go down to where they actually fought because we saw others down there at one point. But it was really hard to find, so we gave up and went to see other roman ruins. It was huge and we spent a lot of time there trying to see everything. We got to see the house of Augustus and the remains of other people, it was amazing. In the house, you can see painting that have been there ever since and how they have aged over centuries. It was so amazing to see how things are still in certain conditions even after all these years. Then we ate lunch, had more gelato, went home for dinner, I watched TV for a bit and then went to bed.
After all the early mornings, I was finally able to sleep in longer. I spent my morning on social networks and just catching up with people from back home. I ate breakfast and decided to get ready for the day. Her uncle owns a restaurant in Rieti, so Marta, her boyfriend and I went there for lunch. I meet a few members of her family before we ate. I tried so many different types of pasta, it was overwhelming and delicious! Definitely something I will never forget. We walked to another well-known gelato place for more…gelato and I actually tried a different flavor. We spent a little time in a mall after gelato and then headed back to her house. She had to go help her mom at the store for a while, so I stayed at the house because I had to register for classes back home and I wanted to figure some things out about that. I spent the day watching TV and using her laptop to figure out my class schedule. Since it was my last night, her mom wanted to make pizzas…from scratch. I’ve never been faced with so many options of pizza in my life. I ever tried things I wouldn’t have usually and they all were the best tasting pizzas in the world. I can’t even describe them. I can say that delicious would have been an understatement. I said goodnight/goodbye to her mom that night because I had an early flight and she wasn’t going to be up when I left. They wish I could have stayed longer and kept asking was there any way I could.
Marta and her dad drove me to the airport early the next morning, and I was off to Granada.
It was truly amazing to be able to visit her after 2 years and that her family opened their home to me as if I were family. That will be one trip I will cherish for the rest of my life.
If my blog has not described my life abroad enough, those few snapshots explain everything! <3
More posts coming soon, I promise!
23 more days of this!
Love you all!