Sunday, January 25, 2009

Love at 13th sight.

I fell in love with Barcelona yesterday. When I first arrived last Monday, I was too nervous and frazzled to admire the beauty of the city. We took a bus tour and my friends and I walked around some. However, I still didn't LOVE the city. I loved being here, but I didn't see as much as I would have liked. Yesterday, we were supposed to go on a field trip with CEA, but it was cancelled because the wind was ridiculous. The wind was so bad that motorcycles were scattered on the streets and roofs were falling. Anywho, a few friends and I decided that instead of going back to sleep (like we wanted!) we would walk the city. My friend Mary took me to the Gothic Quarter. There, we walked around for over four hours, and I fell in love with Barcelona. With cobblestone streets and buildings more beautiful than anything I've ever seen, the Gothic Quarter took my breath away.

One of my first thoughts was that I could not wait for Jayme to visit, because I KNOW she will love it here.

We also found the famous La Bouqeria (Featured on Rachael Ray AND Bizarre Foods)

This is market where I saw the most amazing candy and ice cream I've ever seen!

I didn't get any though, because I was saving my stomach for the bagel I was promised.

Yes, it's true. Barcelona has bagels and cream cheese. It's called The Bagel Shop, and I will become a regular.

I also found a shop that carried English books!

I was SO excited that I didn't even care that I spent 25e on just two books.

This is the port where we ended up sitting and basking in the sun. Isn't it beautiful?

After getting our Vitamin D, we watched some street dancers perform.

This guy spun on his head for a solid minute. Legit.

Who knew we were so close to La Segrada Familia? After so many years, the cathedral is still under construction. Hop on that, Barcelona!

These are only some of the reasons I have fallen so hard for the city. I have never been one for pretty scenery. I'm the type of person that is like "Ok, that's pretty. Now what?" But here, I could just stare for so long...I love it.

I've made some really good friends. My roommates and I get along so well, and we are all on the same page about taking classes seriously, not going out every single night, appreciating our time here, etc. I also have found a really good friend in a girl named Mary. We met on the first day, on the bus on our way to our hotels.  I can already tell she's someone I can trust and become close to. We are all leaving for London on Thursday, and are so pumped for it! There is a big group of us going, probably 8 of us, and I am so excited! London is one of the places I've been wanting to go, and it's coming up so fast!

Classes are great. It's really interesting to learn about Spain's history because our entire lives we've just been learning about American history. It will be hard to learn all this brand new material, but I am really enjoying it. Three of my professors are from Spain, and one is from England. It's fun learning from professors that are from here. Also, I cannot believe how rude some of my classmates are. It floors me how entitled some of these girls (and guys) think they are. On the first day of class, they were interrupting the professors, texting, sleeping, being loud, etc. I couldn't believe the rudeness. Anywho, I am just glad I'm in my apartment and only have to be with some of these people in class. Unfortunately, even an hour and a half of class is too much time to spend with them. Oh well, at least I don't live with them! :)

Well, today has been a lazy Sunday, and I've loved every minute. We all slept in, and have just been laying around all day. I am putting off my readings for class and watching an old Hugh Grant movie instead. My roomies and I went out last night. Before our departure, we had a few drinks and a spontaneous dance party. I have to say, I would rather dance in the comfort of my own living room than pay to get into a club here. We ended up at a bar where everyone spoke English. I talked to an older man named Roberto for a good hour, but it's not what you think. I was legitimately getting a Spanish & grammar lesson. Thanks for that, Roberto. Unfortunately,  I don't remember any of it.

At approximately 3am, we decided burritos would be the best idea.

Better than Chipotle, and just 4 euro!

It seems like all my experiences revolve around food, that's okay. I'm in Spain, I'll diet later. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Starbucks en Espana? Si, por favor!

So here I am, sipping my Starbucks and sitting in my apartment. I am also drinking some good ol' agua. Those who know me well know that I can never just have one drink at once. :) I actually scored this Starbucks for free. I have been looking everywhere for a travel mug. Well, here en Espana, they don't drink coffee on-the-go, so travel mugs are difficult to come across. Luckily, Starbucks saves the day. Although 9,50euro is a hefty amount to spend on a mug, I decided it would be worth it. It does say "espana" on the side, afterall. I will just take it home! When it gets home, however, I must put a sign on it saying "DO NOT PUT IN DISHWASHER." My parents are infamous for ruining our travel mugs from the dishwasher. So back to the no on-the-go topic. Spaniards don't eat or drink while walking or in class or anything. They sit down and eat and drink and just chill. It's such a...stress reliever. You know? I mean, honestly, not everyone actually "siestas" from 2-5, but they at least chill out. It's a great concept. Why can't Americans learn to just...chill? Honestly. We would be SO much less stressed if we took a 3 hour siesta each day. A lot of stores honor the siesta, 2-5pm is a great time to go back to the apartment, take a nap, watch tv, etc.

Anywho. Yesterday was my first day of class. I was originally signed up for 5 classes, 15 credit hours, but that is obviously way too much. Here, our classes are an hour and a half, twice a week. Five of those are just TOO much. So. I dropped Media & Politics in Western Europe: Spain. It doesn't sound all that interesting anyway. My first class yesterday was International Journalism. My roommate Monica is in it, so we had no trouble finding our way. We then had lunch and took a self-led tour of the gym (I'll get back to that in a sec.).  Then I had my second class of the day, Spanish Civilization and Culture. I really like my professors for those classes...actually, all my professors seem really awesome. Today I had Sport & Culture in Contemporary Spain and Beginning Spanish II.  I really wanted to take as many Spain-esque classes while I was here. I want to learn all about the country I am temporarily living in! My professors are all really young and three of the four are Spanish. I am taking Beginning Spanish II because, although I scored Intermediate on the exam, I didn't want to get ahead of myself. I wanted to review, learn, and try to comprehend everything. Spanish is SO much harder to speak when you are put on the spot. So. That's that.

All last semester I was pretty confident in my Spanish-speaking abilities. I am actually having a tough time using it. It's difficult to think in Spanish. Ya know? A lot of times I have to pause, think, speak. My roommates get frustrated with me because I respond in English, a lot of times, but not because I expect people to's more like me trying to translate it, in my head. So, I am really working on being able to comprehend and answer in Spanish.

Back to the gym thing. At home, I generally just walk on the treadmill. As we do SO much walking here, I didn't think I would even WANT to join a gym. However, this really nice gym (about 2 blocks from our school) offers a special for CEA students. Not only is it 195e for the entire time we're here, but all the classes are free. Since I am getting my regular exercise in (stairs/walking/etc), I am more interested in the classes: Step, spinning, yoga, pilates, dance, etc. Monica and I both have the same breaks between classes each day, so we might just take a fitness class every day. The more I think about it, the more fun it sounds. We'll see.

So. That's the latest scoop. I am really proud of myself for getting to and from class today, on my own! Again, those who know me well know that I am the most directionally-challenged person alive. Ask my dad. I get lost EVERYWHERE I go, so the fact that I walked 2 miles to school and back without getting lost is pretty great, in my book. I really miss my parents, but luckily I taught them how to use iChat to video chat. It's really funny because they both look down while they are talking to me, like I am on the keyboard or something. Haha. It helps me not miss them as much.

Oh. So originally I wanted to tour all of Europe while I was here. We have already booked London and Paris, but the more I think about it, the more I want to see SPAIN. I mean, I am living here. So I want to just see all of Spain that I can because I don't want to go home regretting not spending enough time in my (temporary) country. So, when Jayme comes, I might suggest we just tour all of Spain? We'll see. Adios, amigos! Muchas gracias por lectura mi blog!

The view from my room:)

Some of Barcelona.

Coca-Cola light. My weakness.

The BEST ice cream bar I've ever tasted. No joke.

My first time using the metro!

A scooter that was basically made for me.

Monica y yo con Barcelona!

Cafe con leche. Seriously, it's amazing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hola de Barcelona, Espana!!!

Hi guys! This is my first real post from Spain, and I will try to at least post once a week so you can have an update on my life.

So far, so good. First, it was really hard leaving my parents on Sunday, especially Mom, for obvious reasons. I was so scared the entire day. My family had dinner at Texas Roadhouse (which I miss already! haha.), and then they took me to the airport. At first, I was freaking out because my flight to Newark was delayed, and so I was going to miss my flight to London (connecting to Barcelona), and I was going to be a day late. Luckily my nice helper at Continental Airlines helped get me on a flight from Newark to Madrid. So anywho, getting to Madrid was fine. I had an overnight flight, and I took Tylenol PM and just passed out. I was actually extremely comfortable. 

I had a layover in Madrid, which was incredibly scary. I had no idea where to go or how to do anything. Luckily I had four hours to figure out where I was going and when my flight was.

When I got here, we went straight to a hotel. I met my roommates and they all seemed really great. We went to an Australian-themed bar that night and pretty much just walked around the city for awhile. 

On Tuesday, my roommate Sarah and I slept through orientation and woke up at 2pm. This time change is really screwing me up! Well anywho, we found a legit Spanish restaurant for dinner. I got veggie paella, which was honestly great. The problem is the service here pretty much sucks. You're not supposed to tip waiters/cab drivers/etc., so they don't care enough to be nice.

We also had a three hour tour of the city, which I absolutely loved.

We moved into our apartments on Wednesday, and ours is beautiful. It's located 5 minutes from the town center, and it's within walking distance from pretty much everything. 

So far, we've spent a lot of time exploring the city and figuring out where to go. I, being the most directionally challenged person alive, am having a really tough time knowing where to go/where I am. Hopefully when I am forced to go somewhere alone I will be able to figure it out more easily. Our intentions have been to spend the days exploring, but the time change has been screwing us up so much that we have yet to wake up before 2pm. Yesterday, we walked around and I got a lot of fresh fruits and veggies.  I made my first dinner!

Last night, we went to a club called Opium. We dressed up and all went out with a group of people. It was a lot of fun, and the club was on the beach, so it was beautiful.

I am really looking forward to getting to know the city, since it is my temporary home. The food is great, my friends are a lot of fun, and the city is just beautiful. We start class on Monday, and I am hopefully going to drop one because there is no way I'm actually going to take five classes. No chance. Also, we are planning lots of weekend trips. We already bought our flight to Paris for February. I am really excited about that. We are also going to London at the end of the month. Yay for traveling! It seems a lot of people came here just to spend money and party. I, however, came for more. I want to see all the sights and be as adventurous as possible in the next few months. When else am I going to have this opportunity? 4 months in Europe. I'll take it.

Also, I found a church that has an English service. I am going on Sunday for the young adult service, and I really hope I find a good, solid community here. I hope I like it!

I miss my family, but other than that, I really am not thinking about home much. I am just thinking about how much I love it here, and how much I have to look forward to.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Adios, amigos.

It's hard to believe that the time has finally come for me to leave! I feel like all this time, I've been saying "In January, I'm going to Spain." Well, it's January! And guess what? I leave in 14 hours. Wow. I feel like I was only just deciding if I was going or not, and now...I am! Well. I really just picked Barcelona on a whim. It was one of those things where I was like "Ok, wherever."  I didn't know a lot about the city, I still don't, but I keep hearing fantastic things about it. It is known for its nightlife, which might seem funny since I am not exactly a party girl. However, I am planning on living it up while I am there. I'm not about to be the lame girl who doesn't go out! Also, I am excited to just travel. Here, there, everywhere. I want to explore, make new friends, eat new food, see new things! I just can't even wait. I am such an adventurer. I think this will be AWESOME. I am not really nervous right now. Everyone keeps asking if I am. I think it really won't hit me until I am there...or at least on the plane. That will most likely be the hardest.

I've been trying to spend as much time with my mom as I can. I honestly haven't done a lot this break just because I've been hanging out at home. I've always been so close with my mom, it's going to be really hard leaving her. I can't wait to send postcards and presents though. I think she'll like that. :) I am really praying that God will match me up with a really good friend while I'm there. If I get anything while I am abroad, I want a great friend. Not just a girl I can go out with, but one that I can talk to, relate to, keep in touch with, etc. So if you are praying for me, that is my one request (besides safety!). I am really proud of myself because this is the first time I've planned, paid, and followed through with something completely on my own. It's hard to describe, but it has definitely helped me feel more independent! I have NO idea what to expect, which is both scary and thrilling. I am hoping to just take things as they come. Which is pretty much how I live my life anyway.

In other news, my mom has lost her hair. It's really not as weird as it sounds. She looks the same to me, and honestly, the baldness doesn't freak me out. I keep forgetting that she doesn't have hair! Haha. Also, they matched a fingerprint with one of the guys who broke into my grandparents house. I just am hoping that they charge whoever did this. My parents have been talking a lot about moving into that house when it is all finished again. It's weird to think about living in their house without them there, but it is even more odd to think of strangers living in the house. So, needless to say, I am all about buying it.

Well, I am pretty exhausted. I am so grateful that all my friends came last night! Honestly, it just shows who my true friends are. I am so thankful for the friendships I have, and am also really looking forward to making new ones! It will be nerve wracking, I know. But friends have always been so important to me, I can't wait to see what is in store!!

Love love love <3