Saturday, March 29, 2014

Such a wonderful life!

My mom and I at the top of the Castle in Alicante
          It has been a while since I posted, but the good thing about that is that I have a lot to talk about! School has been going the same. I have started to feel a little bit behind because I have been slacking a little bit. It is really easy to fall behind because like I have mentioned before, we really don´t have homework here. We just have the final papers and exams at the end of the semester, so I should really get started on the reading and assignments!

          I had my first experience with a house in Spain a couple of weeks ago, and it was really nice! I made friends with a girl named Mireia and she invited me over to hang out and have lunch one day, so I went to her house. It was really nice, and the interior reminded me of the houses we have more up north. She had a really nice pool in the front yard which is different, and also a sweet garden with a bunch of different fruit trees! There were oranges, lemons, pomegranates and a bunch of other types of fruit trees!

View of the city of Toledo from the outside!
          I took another weekend trip with Ali to Toledo Spain as well. Toledo is a beautiful city close to Madrid, and it used to be Spain´s capital. The city was somewhat smaller than some of the other ones that I have been to, but there was a LOT to see and do there. The main attraction in Toledo is the Alcazar. We spent a couple of hours inside and outside taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. The nice thing about the museums in Spain is that a good number of them are free on Sundays! We managed to get everything done in two days, and we bought a bunch of souvenirs there as well. Toledo is also known for their marzipan, so we were sure to buy some of that while we were there! Also in Toledo we had our first experience with sharing a hostel room with strangers! I think we got pretty lucky for our first stranger experience. We were in a room with 2 other girls, one from Boston and one from Egypt! They were both really nice, so everything worked out well.

          Wednesday (March 19) I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity for my parents to come visit me! I picked them up from the airport in Alicante on Wednesday morning, and we started our weeklong journey in Spain together! I mentioned before that the people here all live in “pisos” which are basically apartments, and my parents rented one of those to stay in for the week so we wouldn´t all be stuffed into a tiny hotel room together. It was really nice and had a beautiful view of the sea and a nice kitchen, so I definitely lucked out being able to stay there for a week!

           Their stay in Alicante was amazing, and I didn´t want it to end. We travelled to Benidorm and Elche, walked around the city a ton, climbed to the top of the castle, spent endless hours at the beach and ate delicious food and gelato! My favorite part of their trip was when my parents and I got invited to have lunch with my host family. It was such an awesome day for all of us! My host mom prepared a GIANT pan of paella for everyone, and her nieces came over for a couple of hours as well. The thing was, my parents don´t speak a word of Spanish, and my host parents don´t speak a word of English!

My host parents (left) and my real parents (right) having a
typical Spanish meal together!
            For those of you who don´t know, my goal in life is to become a translator and work my way up to an interpreter. So, as you can imagine, I had an awesome time interpreting between everyone for a few hours. I got to know my host parents a lot better as well, because my parents were asking some good questions! It was definitely one of the best day´s I have had here. Tuesday morning my parents left to head back to the United States, and I was really sad to see them go. I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to spend a week with them in Spain!

           
           This week has been pretty uneventful; however I am getting a pretty bad cold! Next weekend Ali and I are going to Barcelona, and I can´t wait!!! J


Thursday, March 13, 2014

·     Buenos días!
          I have realized that I have talked a lot about my travels and personal experiences, and not a lot about my city and schooling. So I wanted to make a post about how the school and city life is!

         Alicante is a really beautiful city. It is considered to be small, but to me it is pretty big! The thing that I love most about it is that everyone walks everywhere, because everything is in walking distance! For example, my host mom has a car, but she drives it maybe once a week. There are like 5 grocery stores less than a mile from where we live, and there are always people out on the streets and it is a very lively and fun city.

          The center of the city has a famous plaza called la plaza de luceros, and this is typically where you meet people if you’re meeting up for coffee or to shop or do anything. All of the other students from CMU live relatively close to this plaza; however I live more off to the side so I have to take the tram or bus to get there. I could walk, and sometimes I do, but it takes a while!

          Before I left, I had the assumption that most people in Europe speak English. I think a lot of people believe this because of what we see in movies or what we’re told. This may be true in larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, but here I have not run into many English speakers. The locals are really nice though, and they are always willing to help you find places and get where you need to go!

          As for the living situations, people in Alicante don’t really have houses. They live in what they call “pisos” which literally translates to floors. For example, I live in a piso with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen. It is a decent size, but much smaller than the houses we are used to! It is basically an apartment, but they don’t call it that!

          To get around and to get to classes we have to take the bus or the tram. To be honest, I am already tired of the tram! I take the tram every day to and from class, and it sucks. It is always super crowded and it takes about 20 minutes to get to school, and it is also kind of expensive. It costs about 25 euro for 30 trips, and I have to take it at least 12 times a week. So my euros are being spent on the transportation a lot.

          Classes are getting a little bit easier I suppose. The schooling here is so different, and I’m not sure I’m ever going to fully understand how it is possible for education to be SO different in different countries. I have four classes, and they are all taught with the Spanish students by Spanish professors, in Spanish of course. There are some international students in my classes, but the professors pay no attention to that when they are teaching, and it can be pretty challenging.

          For me, I have to concentrate a lot when I am listening to someone speak Spanish that way I am able to absorb what they are saying and fully understand. So after 2 hours of a class taught by a Spanish professor who speaks ridiculously fast, my brain hurts!

          We don’t have homework here ever. And that scares me. What happens is you attend class all week just like we usually do, and you take notes and there are books you can buy or rent from the library that are recommended by the professors. The classes end in the end of May, and finals are not until mid-June. It is really stressful because there are no quizzes or tests or anything up until the point of the final exam, so you really have no idea if you’re on the right track or not.

           My classes have final papers (15-20 pages!) and a written exam at the end. So I am pretty stressed out about that already! The professors are extremely nice though, and if you take the time to talk to them and let them know that you are foreign and that you might need some further explanation on things, they are more than willing to sit down with you and go over any doubts or questions you may have. So once I get the ball rolling on some of my papers and studying, I’m sure I will be meeting with a few of my professors to go over some of the material!


           Other than the stress of classes, which is of course normal for any university, I am completely satisfied with my choice to study in Alicante, and I would definitely recommend the program to anyone who is studying Spanish! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


          It has been a while since I posted, but so much has been happening, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and put it all together! Last weekend in Alicante, March 1st, was Carnaval! Carnaval is something I have always wanted to experience, and I was really excited to finally get the opportunity! Carnaval is a huge celebration, and if you don't know what it is, I encourage you to look it up! It was crazy here, and I am so happy I got the chance to be a part of it. Everyone dresses up in costumes like we do for Halloween, and there are parades and concerts and just a bunch of activities going on throughout the entire city. 

          On Thursday 5 of us from CMU met up on campus to meet with our adviser. He had arranged for some of his students to meet up with us so we could get to know them and they would take us out for Carnaval. We met several Spanish students, and at the end of the day we each got paired up with one of them and exchanged information so we could figure out our costumes and plans for Saturday night. I got paired up with a really nice girl named Mireia. She told me that she and her friends are going to be dressing up as Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. We made plans to meet up later that night to buy my costume so I could go out with them.

           We went to a few costume stores and I ended up buying a Mike Wazowski costume as well. On Saturday night, I met up with Mireia and her friend, and we walked to one of her other friend's houses and I met a few more of their friends. We all ate dinner and got ready together, and then we put our costumes on and headed out into the city. The thing about Spain is that their "night life" doesn't start until at least 12am. So we didn't leave until 12:30am, and the streets were crazy!


          We walked to this place in Alicante called La Explanada, which is this pathway along the beach, and there were thousands of teenagers there in their costumes all hanging out and having a good time. Mireia explained to me that this was called a "botellon," which is what they call it when a large group of people get together to drink and party. We hung out there for a few hours, but what I haven't mentioned yet is that Sunday morning at 8am I had to be on a bus to a different city to run a 10k with Amanda and her host family. So that was terrible planning on our part. Around 3:30am I met up with Amanda and we walked back to her host mom's apartment and went to bed. Carnaval was really an exciting experience and I hope I get the chance to celebrate it again someday!


          Sunday morning we had to wake up at 7:30 and get ready for our race. It was torture getting only 4 hours of sleep, but we made it to the bus stop and got on the bus. We ended up taking the bus to the end of the line because we didn't know what stop to get off at, and her host mom's son had to come find us in his car and we were late for the start of the race. It ended up being more of a hike than a race because it was in the mountains, and the whole thing was really challenging but really fun at the same time. After the race, I was incredibly tired, so I went home and showered and went to sleep for a few hours. 


          The next week at school went by pretty quickly, and then Friday morning Zach, Ali and I left for Valencia. For those of you who don't know, Spain is divided into provinces instead of states like the United States, and Alicante is a part of the Valencia province. Valencia, as you can guess, is the capital of this province, and the third largest city in Spain. We left on Friday morning and spent all day Friday walking around and exploring the city. We did a tour of the cathedral and an art museum, and then found our hostel and had some dinner. 


          Valencia is also the home of Europe's largest aquarium, and I am a total sucker for aquariums. We decided to spend the day Saturday at the aquarium, and that was by far the most exciting part of the trip for me. We got a dual ticket and were able to see a 3D movie about the fallas in Valencia. The fallas is another thing you should look up if you're unfamiliar with it. It is another giant celebration where the poeple spend all year building these figures out of wood and Styrofoam, and it is seriously just the craziest and coolest thing you'll see. Then during the celebration, all of these figures are burned and the whole city is on fire. It is incredible, and I wish I was going to be there for the actual celebration! We did get to see them putting some of the figures together though, because the fallas festival started yesterday! 


          Also in Valencia is a giant park that used to be a river, but they turned the whole thing into a huge and beautiful park. After the aquarium trip on Saturday, I decided to take a run through the park and it was so pretty and peaceful. Then Saturday night we walked around some more and had dinner. 


          Sunday was quite the day. We went to th
e beach and it was just as beautiful as the beach in Alicante. Our train home was supposed to leave at 3:20, and around 1:45 we decided to get lunch. We ended up missing the train, and had to buy a new ticket. None of us were really happy about it, and we were all pretty tired and crabby, so it was nice to finally get home and relax. 

          On Thursday 5 of us from CMU met up on campus to meet with our adviser. He had arranged for some of his students to meet up with us so we could get to know them and they would take us out for Carnaval. We met several Spanish students, and at the end of the day we each got paired up with one of them and exchanged information so we could figure out our costumes and plans for Saturday night. I got paired up with a really nice girl named Mireia. She told me that she and her friends are going to be dressing up as Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. We made plans to meet up later that night to buy my costume so I could go out with them.

           We went to a few costume stores and I ended up buying a Mike Wazowski costume as well. On Saturday night, I met up with Mireia and her friend, and we walked to one of her other friend's houses and I met a few more of their friends. We all ate dinner and got ready together, and then we put our costumes on and headed out into the city. The thing about Spain is that their "night life" doesn't start until at least 12am. So we didn't leave until 12:30am, and the streets were crazy!


          We walked to this place in Alicante called La Explanada, which is this pathway along the beach, and there were thousands of teenagers there in their costumes all hanging out and having a good time. Mireia explained to me that this was called a "botellon," which is what they call it when a large group of people get together to drink and party. We hung out there for a few hours, but what I haven't mentioned yet is that Sunday morning at 8am I had to be on a bus to a different city to run a 10k with Amanda and her host family. So that was terrible planning on our part. Around 3:30am I met up with Amanda and we walked back to her host mom's apartment and went to bed. Carnaval was really an exciting experience and I hope I get the chance to celebrate it again someday!


          Sunday morning we had to wake up at 7:30 and get ready for our race. It was torture getting only 4 hours of sleep, but we made it to the bus stop and got on the bus. We ended up taking the bus to the end of the line because we didn't know what stop to get off at, and her host mom's son had to come find us in his car and we were late for the start of the race. It ended up being more of a hike than a race because it was in the mountains, and the whole thing was really challenging but really fun at the same time. After the race, I was incredibly tired, so I went home and showered and went to sleep for a few hours. 


          The next week at school went by pretty quickly, and then Friday morning Zach, Ali and I left for Valencia. For those of you who don't know, Spain is divided into provinces instead of states like the United States, and Alicante is a part of the Valencia province. Valencia, as you can guess, is the capital of this province, and the third largest city in Spain. We left on Friday morning and spent all day Friday walking around and exploring the city. We did a tour of the cathedral and an art museum, and then found our hostel and had some dinner. 


          Valencia is also the home of Europe's largest aquarium, and I am a total sucker for aquariums. We decided to spend the day Saturday at the aquarium, and that was by far the most exciting part of the trip for me. We got a dual ticket and were able to see a 3D movie about the fallas in Valencia. The fallas is another thing you should look up if you're unfamiliar with it. It is another giant celebration where the poeple spend all year building these figures out of wood and Styrofoam, and it is seriously just the craziest and coolest thing you'll see. Then during the celebration, all of these figures are burned and the whole city is on fire. It is incredible, and I wish I was going to be there for the actual celebration! We did get to see them putting some of the figures together though, because the fallas festival started yesterday! 


          Also in Valencia is a giant park that used to be a river, but they turned the whole thing into a huge and beautiful park. After the aquarium trip on Saturday, I decided to take a run through the park and it was so pretty and peaceful. Then Saturday night we walked around some more and had dinner. 


          Sunday was quite the day. We went to the beach and it was just as beautiful as the beach in Alicante. Our train home was supposed to leave at 3:20, and around 1:45 we decided to get lunch. We ended up missing the train, and had to buy a new ticket. None of us were really happy about it, and we were all pretty tired and crabby, so it was nice to finally get home and relax. 


          This weekend Ali and are heading to Toledo, which used to be the capital of Spain. There are a lot of attractions to see in Toledo, so I am looking forward to another fun-filled weekend! 


After we finished the 10k!


Inside the cathedral in Valencia.
                                       

Ali and I outside of the aquarium!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Time is flying

         
Zach, Ali, Amanda and I with our palm tree creations!
         Another week came and went faster than ever. Time is starting to fly by and I really wish it would slow down!

         
         Tuesday was pretty sucky. I went to class 10-12, and then went to get coffee with Amanda and that part was good. I love the coffee here; it’s very different but delicious. From there we had class 1-3, and I’m starting to catch on a lot more to my professors.
             
          During lab on Tuesday we had to focus on these old English phrases that were super challenging to translate. However, one of them I totally rocked and he voted mine the best in the class. I was pretty pleased with myself that I beat out even the Spanish students for the best sentence


            Wednesday I woke up early and went to the bank with my host mom. We set up an account for me at bankinter, and it was pretty easy.  I went to class at 1, and then Amanda and I had to pick up some things that were for our translation class. We had to go to the copisteria and tell them that we needed the stuff for the class, and they make the copies there and you pay for the printouts. It kind of sucks that you have to pay, but whatever.

           Thursday I woke up at 10:30 and then got ready for a run. It was on the forecast to be a beautiful day, so I was really excited to get to the beach. I ran to the beach and then lay on the sand for almost an hour. It was 75 degrees and it was the greatest hour ever. There were people everywhere on the sand and in the water and wow, it was just beautiful and perfect.

          I got to campus and met with my advisor Ramon because he wanted to talk to us about going to Elche Friday, which is where he is from. We had to be at the train station at 8:40 in the morning to arrive at 9:30.

          After class, I went to the beach to meet up with Ali and 6 other people I didn’t know but it was pretty cool meeting new people. We sat there for a while, and then I walked home around 7.


            Friday was an amazing day. I took the tram at 8:00 to Luceros, and I met Amanda there and we walked to the train station. We met up with everybody and went into the station and bought our train tickets for Elche. Ramon paid for all of our tickets which was really nice of him, and then we took the train.

            When we arrived in Elche, we walked around a lot, and walked through these awesome parks with birds and millions of palm trees. I learned a ton about palm trees today, so that was pretty interesting. One of Ramon’s students came along, and he is a photographer so he was taking hundreds of pictures throughout the day. I’m excited to see how they all turned out!


            We walked through these parks, and there were all sorts of different fruit trees. Lemon trees, banana trees, orange trees, almond trees, date palm trees, kumquats, Japanese fruits, just a ton of different types of trees. It would have been pretty cool if they were all in season so we could try some of the fruit.


            We stopped at the local market and Ramon bought a whole bunch of churros. Then we went to a café and got hot chocolate, which was really different from hot chocolate in the states. It was almost like drinking hot syrup but not quite as thick. Anyway, it was delicious and we got to dip the churros in it. Yeah I know, amazing.


            In one of the parks there was this little building and we got to go inside and see the ladies making these amazing things out of the leaves from the palm trees. They were making them for la semana santa, which isn’t until April. I can’t even imagine how much work goes into making those. They explained that they use the palms that haven’t gone through photosynthesis yet because they are white from the lack of chlorophyll and they are a lot softer. The lady made a few example little things like a camel, fish, rose and snail. I got to keep the camel so it is a pretty sweet souvenir!


            From there we met up with Ramon’s other friend who is like a professional palm tree climber. Yeah I know, pretty cool. He showed us his 2 methods of climbing up, and we could try if we wanted. A few of us tried, but we ran out of time before I got a chance so I was pretty bummed.


            After that, we went to a restaurant for lunch. I ate squid! Well Ali ordered the squid, but I tasted it. It wasn’t too bad but it was a little bit chewy. I got this plate with a few types of meats on it, the second plate was a paella type thing which I didn’t really like, and then we got dessert. I got flan and I didn’t like it at all. THEN we got coffee. All of this was only 1o euro, and it was a pretty sweet deal.

            After lunch we walked back to the train station and headed back to Alicante. Amanda and I decided to go see a movie and I am really glad we did! We saw this movie called 3 bodas de más, and it was really funny. I was happy with how much of it I actually understood.
           
            My madre didn’t get home until like 10:00, and she came home with her niece Carmen. We all had dinner and watched TV together, and laughed a lot. I really like Carmen, she is super nice!

            Saturday was another pretty good day. I woke up around 10, and my host family had breakfast together. We usually don’t have breakfast together, so that was nice. Then I got dressed and ready for the castle.

            I met Zach, Amanda and Ali and we went to the castle. It was a pain to climb all the way up, but it was kind of fun and exciting at the same time. The castle had a lot of really pretty views, and it was really cool to finally see.

            I ended up falling asleep on the beach for a while on Saturday. Then Amanda and I found this shell, which ended up being a hermit crab, and we were really excited about it haha. Then we went and got ice cream from that place that’s like yogurt yeti. It’s really good but really expensive.



Monday, February 17, 2014

This post is going to be extremely long…but worth the read!!

      Last week classes went pretty smoothly. Monday I participated in my first siesta. It was pretty awesome, I’m not going to lie. After classes on Monday, we bought our bus tickets for Granada! It was probably the most exciting part of the whole day!

     I hadn't really been feeling that great, and my throat was really red and swollen so I decided on Tuesday to go to the clinic on campus with my adviser so he could check out my throat. The doctors here are really different. They don’t ask you any questions, and they don’t really care as much about you as I feel the doctors do in America. The guy didn’t do any tests, just looked at my throat and prescribed me some cold pill or something which was weird, because I didn’t have a cold.

       I decided not to get the prescription filled, because he said it was probably just a viral infection and usually those go away with just time and ibuprofen. So I woke up on Wednesday, took some Tylenol and got ready for classes. But then, I had the craziest allergic reaction of my life, and my host mom had to take me to the doctor and I got a shot. 
     
     I am officially allergic to acetaminophen, which is what Tylenol is made of. So I guess that’s good to know. It was really embarrassing, and I didn’t go to any of my classes on Wednesday because my eye was the size of a golf ball and the shot made me super tired.

     Thursday after class I went to Luceros with Amanda to get a few groceries for the trip. I went home after that and packed, and then went back to Amanda’s host mom’s apartment to wait for our bus, because she lives closer to the bus station and the bus left at 3:20 am. We wanted to do a trip like that because we could sleep on the bus the whole way there, and it ended up working out really well for us.

     When we woke up it was Friday and we were officially in Granada! The first thing we did was find the bus that would take us near our hostel. It was really easy to find, and luckily Ali was on top of her game with the exact location to our hostel from the bus stop. We found it around 9 am, and they let us leave all of our baggage there so we could walk around without it until our room was ready.

            The first thing we did was go get some coffee at a cute little outdoor café. The sun was shining and it was such a beautiful day. After that, we decided to go to the Alhambra to print off our tickets for the morning. From there we walked around some more and we found this path with all of these gypsy shops and cheap souvenirs. This city was extremely beautiful and very different from Alicante.

            In Granada the people seemed a lot friendlier, and almost every restaurant had English speaking employees. There was a lot more English around because it was more of a tourist place, but we still tried to speak Spanish as much as possible with the locals. The path we went on was supposed to be this giant rectangle with some awesome views to take pictures and shop and stuff, but when we got to the top of the mountain it was really confusing because all of the streets are jumbled together and none of them have street names. So we got a bit turned around, but eventually we found our way and were able to make it back.

            By the time we finished that walk, we were pretty sure our room would be ready so we headed back to the hostel. The room was as simple as it could get, but that is the perks of staying at a cheap hostel instead of a hotel! There were 2 sets of bunk beds and 4 lockers in our room. 

            We all (except Ali) took a quick nap because we were still exhausted, and then ventured out for some of Granada’s night life. We had to be at the Alhambra early Saturday morning, so we didn’t want to stay out too late. We didn’t do much research on the best tapas bars around, so we didn’t really find anything exciting Friday night, and it was pretty uneventful.
            Tapas, the things I have mentioned several times before, originated in Granada. So Granada has some of the best tapas in all of Spain. At 95% of the restaurants in Granada, you order a drink and you get a free tapa with your drink. So that was pretty cool! We went to bed relatively early Saturday night, around midnight, and we had to be up at 7:3o on Saturday!

            Saturday, aka the best day. Waking up Saturday morning sucked a lot. We were all super tired, but really excited at the same time. We took the long uphill walk to the entrance of the Alhambra, and started our tour! For those of you who don’t know what the Alhambra is, it started out as a fortress and then was rebuilt into a palace by a Moorish king, which was then later converted into a royal palace in 1333. It is one of Europe’s most visited destinations, and it shows the country’s best Islamic architecture. It is absolutely beautiful, and it is located in the mountains so the views are spectacular.

            We spent about 3-4 hours touring the entire Alhambra. We walked around every part of it, and took hundreds and hundreds of pictures. I am so happy we took the morning tour, because as the day went on more and more people were coming and it was starting to get pretty busy.

            Once we left the Alhambra, we did some gifts shop shopping and then we decided to get something to eat. We went to an outdoor café type thing and got some bocadillos, which are basically hot sandwiches. Ali decided to be brave and try the caracoles, which are snails. She was a champ and ate them all, and there must have been at least 30 of the nasty things. I decided to try a tiny bite of one of them, and it was seriously disgusting. Never again. Ever. We were all super tired from all of the walking, so we headed back to the hostel for a siesta.

            While the 3 of us napped, Ali did a bunch of research about the best tapas bars and restaurants to go to so we would have a better sense of where to go that night. We got dressed and headed out around 10. It is so weird and slightly annoying that people here don’t go out until at least 12. I mean, not to sound like an old lady, but I am tired by 12 haha. 

            Sunday was a lame day. We woke up around 10, packed up all of our stuff, and then checked out of the hostel. They wouldn’t let us keep our bags there without paying extra, so we had to carry them around until our bus which left at 3:30pm.

            We walked around a little, got some coffee and donuts at a cute place called Loops and Donuts, and then decided to check out the cathedral. The cathedral in Granada is very old and very famous, as it has the caskets of some of the royal family. Sorry, my level of history on these types of things is quite bad. But I do know that one of the caskets contained the body of  Isabel I, who was the queen of Castile and Leon. And I believe her husband Fernidad’s casket is also there with her.

            The inside of the cathedral was absolutely beautiful. Unlike anything I had ever seen. There were signs everywhere that said no pictures or videos, but I managed to sneak a few. It was worth the risk of getting kicked out, I swear. We spent about an hour checking everything out, and it was so hard to imagine being alive during that time and seeing all of that stuff in its prime days….crazy!

            After we finished at the cathedral we decided to head to the bus station because we were tired of walking around with our giant backpacks. We had some awesome kabobs at a restaurant near the bus station, and then boarded our bus back home to Alicante! The 5 hours went by really slowly, but I got home around 9:30, did my homework quickly that was due at 12, and then slept like a baby.

Granada was insanely beautiful. There were mountains every direction, and even some with snow on top. It was really strange seeing snow and being hot at the same time. Sorry to rub it in to all of my Michigan people, but I got sun burned this weekend, and it never felt so good! There are a lot of things I noticed about Granada that I want to talk about here.

            First, THE BEGGARS. The most annoying part of the city was the beggars EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t even eat inside of a restaurant without them coming up to you asking for change, or trying to sell you their stuff. It was really frustrating because it’s awkward to say no because they just stare at you and give you this look like you’re the worst person in the world for not helping them.

            There were some pretty cool “acts” that deserved our money. For example, while we were eating at outdoor restaurants people would start dancing and singing and playing music. Those people actually worked to earn some spare change, ya know? Anyway, I didn’t like that aspect of Granada.

            Another thing I disliked was the cars. The cars were FLYING down these tiny streets that weren’t big enough for people and cars to be walking down, and I constantly felt like I was going to get run over by a car and die. So that was an unpleasant experience.

            One more thing that’s really strange/annoying/gross is the bathrooms here. This isn’t just in Granada, it’s in Alicante as well. The bathrooms are really just dirty and gross! We were joking around because we don’t think we have ever been in a bathroom that had all of the essentials: toilet seat, paper towel, toilet paper, and soap. No, I’m not kidding. 50% of the bathrooms didn’t have toilet seats. It just blows my mind.

            I’m really surprised with how not-homesick I am. I thought for sure I would be missing home by now, seeing as when I’m away at school I usually come home every few weeks to visit. Don’t get me wrong, I miss people, but I seriously don’t miss Michigan at all. Not for a minute. I feel happier and freer here, and it’s the best. I’m hoping time slows down, because believe it or not, tomorrow will mark 1 month that I’ve been here!








Monday, February 10, 2014

It has been about a week since I have posted, but I really didn’t do anything exciting during the week so I figured I would wait until I had a couple of interesting stories to tell.
This week at school went smoother than last week, but still not that great overall. Monday was okay, I had my first day of sociology of the arts class, and I really liked the class. I don’t think it will be too difficult, so I won’t have to be in a constant panic over that one. My next class wasn’t until 5, so I went home between and took a nice beautiful run on the beach.
My second class of the day got turned into this conference  we had to attend, and I didn’t know what was going on at all. I already don’t know anything about history, so I wasn’t following much.

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That night during dinner, Leo and I made a candle out of an orange. We spent so long trying to get it to light, and by the time it finally did, we had gone through more than 50 matches!
Tuesday marked 2 weeks in this beautiful city. I am becoming lazier in the morning, and I have to run practically every day to get to the tram on time. I don’t know what my problem is, but apparently I like to make myself late.
Tuesdays are the longest days ever for me. I have class 10-12, 1-3, 6-7, and 8-9. So I am on campus for about 11 hours. Classes were good that day, and Ali, Amanda, David and I booked our first weekend trip for Granada! We leave on Friday (Valentine’s Day) and come back Sunday night. We bought our tickets for the Alhambra, which is one of the most visited places in all of Europe.
Wednesday I slept in for the first time in a long time, and it was beautiful. In my first class, we had to break into small groups and make timelines for certain countries. The professor asked the Spanish students to choose us 5 American students to work with them so they could help us.
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Thursday started off bad, but got better as the day went on. My laziness finally caught up to me and I missed the tram. I was supposed to meet my adviser at 12 and I got there like 15 minutes late. Oops. He took us all to the library to show us how to look for books and check them out. They don’t require you to purchase textbooks here, which is nice but at the same time annoying.
Something totally random and kind of sad here is that there are cats on campus EVERYWHERE. Just stray cats. They are like Central’s version of squirrels. I pet one during lunch…but luckily Zach brought hand sanitizer because I instantly regretted it lol.
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To celebrate another week of classes ending, Ali, Amanda and I met at that ice cream place we always go to. Then we toured some more of the city, but it was pretty foggy and we couldn’t see much of the pretty views.
Friday I met Ali at the mall and we did some shopping. I bought a cute jacket for only 10 euro! Then I did some shopping with my host mom later on that I wish I did not do.
We went to the market and she bought a skinned rabbit…with its head….and eyeballs. I am scared for when that thing is going to make its appearance on the kitchen table. 

20140208_001929After dinner I got ready to experience the night life for the first time! I left my apartment at 10:15 and met Ali, Amanda and David in Luceros. From there we walked to the barrio, which is basically this area with a million bars, discotecas and restaurants. I promise you, every person in Alicante must have been there. It was something I have never seen before, and it was pretty awesome.

After that, we decided to walk towards the crowds of people, and there were like 15 discotecas in a row on every street. We ventured into a lot of them, but they were all super packed. We stayed in a few longer than others, danced a little, and figured everything out.
Around 2:30 we decided to call it quits because we were all just done for the night. I think next time we go out we will have a better sense of where to go and what to do, and hopefully we will have made some more Spanish friends by then so they can take us out too and show us their favorite places.
          

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Another awesome weekend!

This weekend was great :) Friday I met with my adviser on campus to talk with her to make sure that I am happy with my host family, and to talk about how the payment and everything here is going to work. 
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After that, I went home for lunch and then went to the beach to read for a little while before meeting Ali and Amanda. Once they arrived, we decided to walk around and explore the city some more. We went to the grocery store and I bought some oreos and a couple snacks. I know what you’re thinking; oreos? But here dessert after meals is fruit. And that is just something I cannot adapt to ;)
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We wandered around a little bit and then walked down some random road that ended up being totally awesome. There was a huge staircase and we took tons of pictures.
Saturday I went to Leo’s soccer game again. From there, Adelina and I went to a couple of stores, and one of them was this giant market that was somewhat overwhelming. And here, I experienced my first problem with the language barrier.
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I am going to start this story by telling you all that I hate oranges. I hate the skin on them, it totally grosses me out and I can’t eat them because of that reason.  Well, a giant section of the store was a fruit market where my host mom visits often to buy fresh fruit. Well, the guy at the counter started talking to me and I couldn’t hear or understand him so I just smiled and said “si.” Well, 2 minutes later he hands me a freshly peeled gigantic orange. I looked at my host mom, who started laughing at me, and I smiled and said “gracias.” I ate the entire orange, and I was so embarrassed and angry at myself. But now I think it might be the funniest thing that has happened to me here.
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After lunch, I met Amanda on the beach where we read for a while. While we were reading, a group of men came and set up their fishing poles near us, and one of them walked by me and told me that I have the most beautiful eyes he has ever seen. I smiled and said gracias, but that wasn’t the end of him. He continued to walk by, making kissy noises telling me how beautiful I am, and then he proceeded to tell his friends that I am the most beautiful “inglesa” that he has ever seen….I was flattered and a little bit embarrassed haha.
Ali, Amanda and I went to the mall that night and we all bought straighteners for 10 euro…well they were definitely 10 euro worth. The stupid thing doesn’t even get hot enough to straighten my hair lol.
After dinner on Saturday I was sitting in my room when I heard giant booms coming from literally right outside my window. Apparently the restaurant next to where we live does fireworks every time there is a wedding. So that was exciting and pretty to watch! Shortly after, my madre and brother and I watched “Enchanted” in Spanish, and then went to sleep.
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Today, Sunday, was excellent. I woke up early, straightened my hair (or attempted to), and then went to church with Adelina. After church, we went for a short walk and ended up stopping by at the hotel that her older niece works at. We met with the younger niece and the older niece’s boyfriend, and we had coffee together. Then we all went to this place with the most beautiful view of the city. We took a bunch of pictures, then Adelina left to make dinner, and I spent some time with her nieces. 
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Later on we all went to Adelina’s house (where I am living) and she prepared a giant dish of paella for all of us. It was so much fun, and I got to practice my Spanish a bunch today. I am not looking forward to another week of classes, but hopefully they go a lot smoother this week.20140202_155249