Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Senior Year begins!

Hello! Hola!
It's hard to believe I'm a senior already, the past four years have just flown! I spent last semester abroad in Madrid, Spain and had the time of my life. I believe studying abroad is one of the best--if not the best--thing you can do as an undergraduate student! I learned so much about my self and about this beautiful world we live in, my Spanish improved tremendously, and I met a lot of great people along the way.

My time abroad made me even more excited to come back to Ripon this year and see all of my friends. I'm living in the Senior Apartments this year (the newest building on campus...with A/C!) with three friends who were all abroad last semester too! It's so much fun to cook things we ate while abroad in Spain and Itlay and try new, exotic recipes!

Besides eating well, I also play on the Red Hawk Volleyball team, work as a Spanish Language Lab Assistant, intern in the Admission Office, and participate in the Student Volunteers for the Blue Mountain Project. I also go to class :) This semester I'm taking 16 very interesting credits: Advanced Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Women in Spanish Medieval and Renaissance Literature, Sexualities, and my Psychology Senior Research Seminar.

It's going to be a great year!

Roommates: Jess, Me, Theresa, and Lindsey

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paella de Despedida

This afternoon Patricia had us all over to her house for a Paella de Despedida. Her husband Jose made a giant paella and Patricia made a smaller one for people with allergies to seafood! It was so much food, but so delicious, and a great way to say goodbye to Madrid! But I am already thinking of how I can come back! There is a program through the Spanish Consulate where you can apply to be a Language and Cultural Assistant, so I might be looking into doing that next year after graduation... :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fiestas de San Isidro

Today is the Fiesta of San Isidro el Labrador, the patron saint of Madrid. All the madrileños were dressed in the traditional chulapo and chulapa costumes--even the little kids! So adorable! There was a carnival-type fair with lots of rides and attractions, dancing in parks and gardens around the city, joke-telling in the streets, theatrical performances, music and so much more! I just went to the carnival, which was incredible in itself! It is held in San Isidro Park, yes, there is an entire park devoted to this day! The park was filled with people picnicing, botelloning and just enjoying the beautiful day. It was so neat to see the traditional dress and I even got to take a picture with a chulapo couple!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Despedidas begin... :(

Today was my last day of finals, so now I am officially done "studying" abroad, now I can just have fun abroad! I am sooooo happy to be done! These last few days have been pretty stressful, trying to balance spending time with friends that I might not see again for a long time and studying...and sacrificing sleep! So it is such a weight off my shoulders to be done! Today, between my two finals, we had a Despedida Copa with all the students from the Course of Hispanic Studies and the professors. It was so nice to have a chance to talk to the professors and thank them for a wonderful semester (and of course the food and wine was great too!) Then, after my last exam Riccardo was waiting for me with a flower to celebrate the end of my exams! How sweet! Then we went together to the inaguration of the San Isidro festivities: a parade of Gigantes y cabezudos (giants and large-headed figures), it was short, but really cool! Then we headed to 100 Montiditos for euro drinks and mini-sandwiches! What a perfect day! :)

Kara, Sara and I with Mónica, our Lengua professor

Me and Fátima, my professor of Español Coloquial

San Isidro!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Carrera de la Mujer! A 6K run for cancer!

Today I ran the Carrera de la mujer, a 6 kilometer run to fight women's cancers. We were a little late registering for the run, so we didn't get a shirt, a backpack, or any of the goodies, but Gema gave me her shirt from last year, so at least I have something to remember it by! So I ran with Gema, my younger sister, Beatrice and her friend, and 15,000 other women! There were even men dressed up as women, with dresses and wigs! It was such a fun environment and all for a great cause! The princess of Spain was even there to start the race off! After 50 minutes of running, there was an aerobics festival where we did aerobics, latin dancing, and kickboxing! It was fun, but a little crowded with 15,000 of us! But it was a great experience, one of my best in Madrid!

Monday, May 4, 2009

¡Feliz cumpleaños Sara!

Today was Sara's 21st birthday, so her host mom invited all of us over to her house for a little dinner party! It was so nice! Normally we can't go over to eachother's houses because they are really small and it's one of the rules of the program that you're not supposed to, so it was so nice for her to host a party at her house! She made all kinds of great food and we had 3 desserts: a cake, arroz con leche, and brownies! It was so fun, but now I'm stuffed...and I have a paper to finish for tomorrow!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Día de la Madre

Today is Mother's Day here in Spain, so I after the Rastro this morning I bought a boquet of red daisies for Gema and I gave her a little card. When she was reading the card, she started tearing up a little bit, which made me start tearing up...all I know is that when I leave in a few weeks, it will be more than tearing up! I am going to cry so much! I love my family here, I really feel like Gema is a second mother to me and it's going to be hard to say goodbye. But at least I know that if (and when) I come back to Madrid, I have family here :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Puente de Mayo en Salamanca!

Yesderday was Labor Day here in Spain, so it's a three day weekend, the famous puente de mayo! I didn't want to take a big trip because EVERYONE in Madrid is traveling this weekend, so I thought a daytrip somewhere close to Madrid would be nice. Hannah, Sondee and I took a train to Salmanca, the great university city, in the comunidad autónoma of Castilla & León. Our train left at 11 am, so we got to Salamanca around 2pm...it was a lot farther than I was expecting!

Once we got there we headed for the Plaza Mayor, one of Spain's largest and grandest! All around the Plaza are arches with faces of kings, authors, and other famous people, and the Royal Pavillion on the east side is decorated with a bust of Felipe V, who built the square. We found the head of Cervantes! I really liked the Plaza Mayor because it really was a central meeting poing and the heart of Salamanca. There were tons of people sitting on the ground, eating lunch, talking, sun bathing, kids playing, it was so alive!
After Plaza Mayor, we were getting hungry, so we walked and found a little restaurant with tables on the sidewalk. Sondee and I ordered the plato tipico de Salamanca, huevos con farinato (two fried eggs, spicy beans and a breaded meat). It was pretty good, but so much food! After lunch, we headed to the Catedral Vieja and the Catedral Nueva. During a restoration of the catedral in 1993, one of the "creative" workers decided to put an astronaut along with a few other interesting characters on the side of the puerta principal. At the time, a lot of the citizens of Salamanca were not happy, but now it's funny.

After the Catedrals, we walked past the Casa de las Conchas, "House of Shells", a mansion of the knight Rodrigo Arias Maldonado. The golden stone scallop shells that cover the walls are a symbol of the Order of Santiago.

After the Casa de las Conchas, we took a tour of the Universidad Pontificia, the private university that we thought was the University of Salamanca...so 4 euros and thirty minutes later, we left and found the real University, which was "en obras" and closed! But we saw the elaborate facade and the . This university was founded by Alfonso XI, of León in 1218, making it the oldest in Spain. Miguel de Unamuno studied there as well as Miguel de Cervantes, so it was really neat to see it, even if it was only the door! The building's façade is decorated with numerous figures, one of them being the famous ¨frog on a skull¨, which isn't easy to find as there are numerous small figures, but according to local tradition academic success is guaranteed if found, so I guess I will have luck for my finals in a few weeks! :)
After the University, as we were walking down to the Puente Romano, the Roman bridge across the Rio Tormes, built in the 1st century AD, we saw a wedding! It was absolutely gorgeous! I took a few pictures sneakily and decided that I want to have a wedding like this! :)

After the Puente Romano, we had to get back to catch the train! It was a short time, but I'm glad we went! We finally got to see the famous University and the Plaza Mayor!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Córdoba y Sevilla

This past weekend I went to Córdoba y Sevilla in Andalucía with my AYA program. Saturday morning we took the AVE from Madrid to Córdoba, where we saw the Mezquita, a great Mosque dating back to the 12th centuries. However, during the 16th century, during the Reconquista, a cathedral was built in the heart of the reconsecrated mosque, part of which was destroyed. Now the Mezquita is a beautiful "mezcla" of Muslim and Christian architecture. After a few hours in Córdoba, we caught the Andalucía Express Train to Sevilla.

When we arrived in Sevilla, we checked into our hostel, Hostal Picasso, which was beautiful inside! Then Patricia gave us a brief tour because Sevilla was where she spent a year studying abroad! We saw the Alfonso XIII Hotel, the University, Plaza de España, the Torre de Oro, the Plaza de Toros, and even the street that she walked down everyday and where she lived. Sevilla is gorgeous! We did some souvenier shopping, then went tapa-hopping for dinner.

On Sunday we began with the Real Alcázar, the royal palace in Sevilla. It was absolutely beautiful, modeled after the Ahlambra in Granada, and full of beautiful Arabic architecture and charm. The gardens were my favorite part, though! Full of terraces, fountains, and pavillions...I could have spent all day in the gardens! But it was kind of rainy and cold, so afterwards we went to a little cafe for some Cola-Cao (hot cocoa)! By time we were finished with our drinks it was done raining so we headed to the Tourist office to get some maps, then we went to the Turno to get some cookies from the Convent! We ate lunch at a really neat Italian restaurant, then went to the Sevilla Cathedral and La Giralda. Sevilla's Cathedral stands on the site of a great mosque built in the late 12th century. La Giralda, its bell tower, and the patio de los Naranjos (Oranges) are the only legacy left of the Moorish structure. However, the Cathedral is the third largest in Europe, behind St. Peter's in Rome and another in Milan. We saw the supposed tomb of Christopher Columbus and climbed La Giralda. Something interesting is that the tower has ramps instead of steps because the horses used to have to climb it! But the view from the top was impressive! After the catedral, we had a few hours to finish up our souvenier shopping and then we had to catch our train back to Madrid. On the train, they showed the movie Vicky Christina Barcelona, which I really liked! It was so neat to see all of the sights I visited when I was in Barcelona! :) It was a great end to a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Real Madrid Game!

Last night we went to the Real Madrid fútbol game against Getafe at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, it was probably one of the best games I have ever been to! I'm generally not a big fan of fútbol (soccer), but it's such a big part of the culture here, so we wanted to experience a game en directo (live)! The stadium was full and our seats were in the "vomiteros" section...I think that is equivalent to the English "nosebleeds" section, because we were literally one row away from being in the highest up! But it was a great experience for only 20 euros! It was a great way to practice my coloquial Spanish, learn more about the culture and the game of fútbol, and even learn a little of the fight song! An interesting thing is that during "half-time" everyone eats their bocadillo that they brought for dinner. So you see everyone with their baguette sandwich in tinfoil, eating dinner. And everyone wears scarves of their team, so of course we had to get some Real Madrid "bufandas" to show our support for the team! It was an exciting game too; lots of scoring! The score was tied, but Madrid came back to score the winning goal in the last minutes of the game and ended up beating Getafe 3-2. The stadium is also very close to my house, which is so nice! I walked there in about 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Today Patricia invited us over to her house for lunch and some cookie baking! It was so much fun! We made two different types of cookies: the normal chocolate chip cookies and then reverse, chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips...so delicious! In Spain, they don't have chocolate chips, so we had to cut bars of chocolate! I had never done that before, so it was interesting. We made tons of cookies, but I think we ate even more! For lunch we had spaghetti or pasta with pesto, bread, and salad...then we had a few bites of cookie dough here and there...and then of course we had to sample at least one of both types of cookies! What a rough life! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

El Escorial

Today I took a bus to go visit El Escorial, Felipe II's palace, in the foothills fo the Sierra de Guadarrama to the northwest of Madrid. It was built between 1563 and 1584 as a final resting place for Felipe II's father, Carlos I of Spain. I took a tour through the gigantic building and got to see the architecture museum, the gallery of paintings, the royal apartments, the royal panthenon, the chapter rooms, the library and the gardens, but the basilica was being renovated, so I wasn't able to see it. But the palace was beautiful! I got to see Felipe's bedroom where he died in September 1598 and the views he enjoyed out his windows. It was a great little daytrip!

I couldn't take pictures inside, but here are some photos of the outside:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Semana Santa en Málaga (y Florencia...)

This past week was Semana Santa, so I headed to the beach for a few days with some friends! We stayed at a resort about an hour and a half outside of Málaga, on the Coasta del Sol, it was absolutely beautiful and a great way to relax! I took a bus (7 hours) down to Málaga on Sunday, April 5, and stayed until Thursday. On Monday, Hannah and I went into Málaga to see some of the processions. Each day, there were between six and eight different processions. We went to the Crucifixion procession. It was so incredible to see the processions so close! We've been hearing about these famous processions for so long, it was a great experience to actually see them up close! There were tons of people who came to watch these processions of people in tall, pointed hats and hundreds of men carrying a large "paso" (float). It was a great way to spend the day! Then Tuesday, we went to the beach--one of the best beaches on the Coasta del Sol! Our resort has a little mini-bus and so they came and picked us up and drove us to the beach. All of the resort staff were so nice to us because we could actually speak Spanish! Málaga is very touristy and almost everything was in English, so I'm sure they appreciated us speaking in Spanish. The wind was terrible that day, so we were covering up with our towels instead of laying on them! But we found a little spot a little more sheltered and were able to finally soak in some sunshine. Wednesday we visited Mijas, a little pueblo near our resort. Mijas is a very typical Andalucian town, with white buildings, small streets, and donkeys for taxis! It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed our little excursion! Thursday I left Málaga for Madrid...and 7 hours later I arrived!
I spent Thursday night and Friday morning in Madrid, then I was off to Rome! I met up with some friends, then Sunday and Monday I was in Florence! Florence was beautiful! I saw the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, The Galleria dell'Accademia (where we saw Michelangelo's David), Piazza de Michelangelo, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza Vecchio...

But now, it's back to classes! It's hard to get back to studying after such a wonderful break and when all of my friends who studied abroad this semester are now home! I am the last! But I am going to enjoy every last minute of my time abroad! :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I am so excited because tomorrow my mom and my sister will be coming to Madrid for my sister's spring break! 8 whole days! I can't wait! :) And tomorrow is Brittany's birthday, so I can take her out on the town! What fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A weekend in beautiful Barcelona!

This past weekend was a holiday in Spain, so we had a four-day weekend and what better way to spend it than to go to Barcelona?! We went in the AVE (alta velocidad española) train, which was SO nice! It was just like a plane, but bigger and I didn't have to bring travel-size shampoo!

The train travels at speeds up to 300 km/hour (186 mph), so it was a nice three and a half hour trip from Madrid to Barcelona. We got there Thursday afternoon around 5:30. We checked into our hostel (the RamCat) and then walked around a bit by the mediterranean and saw the big shopping center, then went for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was an early night because we were all tired and we knew we had a big weekend ahead of us!

Friday we started the day out at the Catedral de Barcelona, which was beautiful with each of the 28 chapels was ornately decorated. After the Catedral, we went to the Museo de Picasso, which was huge and very impressive. I never realized what a range he had, and I have such a greater appreciation for his work now. The next stop was the Chocolate Museum (Xocolate Museo in Catalan)...it had sculptures made of chocolate, history of chocolate, and of course included a free bar of chocolate! It was very interesting and very tasty! Then we took the metro up to Montjuic, "Jewish Mountain", to take in a great view of the city. The gondola was closed by time we got there, but we did see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, a display of color, light, music, motion, and water acrobatics. It was really neat!

Saturday we began our day early, at the Sagrada Familia, one of the most recognized symbols of Barcelona. It was designed by architect Antoni Gaudí, who devoted his last forty years of his life to the project. Construction began in 1882 and is still going on today...scheduled completion date: 2020! So that tells you just how elaborate it is! Gaudí was inspired tremendously by nature and you can see that in the design of the cathedral. It was beautiful and I cannot wait to return and see the completed project! After the Sagrada Familia, we went to the Park Güell, another of Gaudí's masterpieces. At the entrance to the park are two buildings that look like something out of the boardgame "Candyland." It was very whimsical and there were mosaics everywhere...there was a large salamander and a large wavy bench with mosiac designs, so beautiful! After the Park, we went to another work by Gaudí, Casa Mila, an apartment building built in 1912. So basically, I am now a big fan of Gaudí and if you haven't heard of him you should definitely check him out!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rollin' with the Romans

This weekend Sondee and I went to Rome to visit our friend Riccardo, who we met at Carlos III. He was in Rome for a week because he had to take an exam, so we flew in for the weekend and stayed with him. It was wonderful! He picked us up from the airport (but there was a slight mix-up and Sondee and I flew into different airports, so we got a tour of all the airports in the Rome area!) and then we met a few of his friends for dinner. I had four cheese pizza--delicious! Pizza is a little different here...everyone orders their own pizza because the crust is thinner you can eat it all. It's not as heavy as pizza in the US. After dinner Riccardo and his friend Diego tried to take us to the city center, where all the night-life is, but the traffic was so bad we decided to call it a night.

Saturday was our big sight-seeing day! We started off with some Italian capuccino and a pastry at a bar near the apartment, then we went to another bar for some more pastries, then it was finally time to begin! We started off at the Basilica of Saint Paul, then the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Venencian Plaza, the Panthenon, the Plaza de Espana, and the Trevi fountain! It was a long day, but so much fun! We met up with a few of Riccardo's friends for dinner and then went out on the town!
Sunday was football day. Rome was playing another team, so we went to Riccardo's dad's house to watch the game with a few friends of his. His dad cooked us some amazing food and we watched the football game! After the game we headed to the Plaza de San Pietro, which was beautiful! The Vatican was closed, so we couldn't go inside, but it was still beautiful from the outside! I guess we'll just have to go back...


Tomorrow I leave for Barcelona... :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Family time :)

Today I made a torte with my señora and my little sister! It was so simple, but delicious! And a good way to spend time together! The dough was made of melted butter, two eggs, baking powder, and flour, and then we spread nutella on top and put little shapes of dough on the nutella. It took fifteen minutes total, I think. It was muy rapida y muy rica también! :) I can't wait to bring home all my new recipes and cook! Here are a few photos from our baking session!

This weekend: Rome!