Monday, December 17, 2007

The end is near!

I cant believe this Sunday im going to be in Oregon!!!!!! Im going to be in my bed. AHHH i cant believe it. Im starting to get anxious and i hate that feeling. Its hard to sleep and i keep thinking about delays with my flights, given the time of year! I know im going to miss Spain, but i really feel like the end here is very anticlimatic. I feel like ill miss Spain after im home and im used to the American way of life again, and ill wish i was traveling every weekend and not having homework everyday!

I feel like the end is anticlimatic because we had our end of the year party on Dec 4th and i dont leave until the 22nd of Dec. I had all of my finals last week, only one this week, and now i have 3 more days of going to class...which is pretty much pointless because im not being tested on any of it. Its kind of weird how they structurize the end. We have class when we have finals, and our finals are all different days, depending on the level you are in and the classes you are taking. For me, im all done. Now im pretty bored, since i dont have any money, anything to study for...pretty much nothing to do the next few days. I get out and go walking and explore, but Oviedo is my home, its not a new city or new country, ive been living here the last 3 months. Here i can be independent, but at the same time i cant. I dont have a car and even though i live in a home i cant cook or have friends over. I have promised myself i wont start packing until Thursday because i need to have something to do! haha. On friday im going to go on a hike which should be nice...but the time is definately passing slowly. Last night Caitlin, Maria, and I watched Dirty Dancing in Spanish. Quite amusing to say the least! BUT i must say after Sunday when im home i definately wont miss the horrible Spanish dubbing. Its annoying to here the voices changed when you have to watch the normal characters with horrific drab accents! I have been watching a lot of CNN international lately, mostly to find out about the weather, and a little bit to be updated on worldly news! Its the only channel we have in English. I dont mind watching tv in Spanish, its just, like i said, all the shows that i enjoy in america are dubbed in horrible spanish here!

Well im going to head home. The weather is frigid here! so so so cold! i definately need to get home because i didnt prepare for this kind of weather! Maria has the heat on, but not enough! i sleep with two pairs of pjs on and then two tshirts and a sweatshirt! When i go out i wear two pairs of socks, a scarf, and mittens too! I think its probably the same weather as home, but since i walk EVERYWHERE you feel the cold more! Also there is no precipitation, no clouds, so it feels even colder, the clouds hold in some warmth!

Take care! My iternary home is bus to madrid. then 6 hrs in the madrid airport. flight to frankfurt, germany. short layover. then flight to portland!!!!

Portugal Puente

I had a long weekend at the beginning of December just before all the stress of finals. I traveled with Amanda and Amy to Lisboa, Portugal which was absolutely amazing. It was so nice to take advantage of being in Europe where you can travel to other countries in the EU for relatively cheap. Spain and Portugal are neighbors of course, with many simlarties, but so many differences as well. Lisboa is on the coast, in the central/slight south west part of Portugal. The time change was actually 1 hr behind from spain, so it was 8 hours not 9 hours different from the pacific coast at HOME.

We traveled on wednesday early early morning from Oviedo to Madrid, and then Madrid to Lisboa. The rest of the afternoon we spent relaxing in our hostel and buying groceries because we lucked out with our accomadations. We were suppose to stay in a hostel, with 6 bunks, and a bathroom, but for some reason the lady really liked us and she put us in a room, no extra charge, with a kitchen and living. Now if you have traveled and stayed in hostels this is unheard of!!! Most hotels dont even have a kitchen to cook in. We decided the first night to save money and buy groceries for dinner and then make lunches for the next day. We thought we could only stay in the luxurious room one night because the lady said she wasnt able to do any switching around for the next couple nights, but the following morning we came to the reception desk, prepared to move, luggage in hand, and she told us we could stay in the same room! we were thrilled!!

On thursday we went to Sintra which is a town about 30 mins from Lisboa. It was an experience getting there because we learned that there are seriously 6 different types of transportation in Lisboa and Lisboa is definately not a walking town! Its much like San Fransico where everything is hilly and super steep. In addition, the streets are hazardous cobblestone and i felt that i was always looking down to make sure i wasnt stepping in dog poop!

Anyways, after taking the metro and then two different trains to Sintra (not very expensive, but a little bit time consuming), we explored the little town with so much character and beauty. We visited two different palaces (Palicio de Sintra and Palicio de Pena) We thought Palicio de Sintra was the main, big one, because it had the name of the town in it, so we went to it first, but it turns out Palicio de Pena is enormous and you could spend an entire day in itself exploring the palace and its many attractions (gardens, courtyards, etc). We were able to see the palace, but it was getting dark and didnt have time to see anything else. We ate dinner in Sintra at a French restruant and treated ourselves to an expensive meal....of course it was expensive, it was french! We split two main dishes for three people, a bottle of wine, bread, cheese, olives, the works.

Next we headed back to Lisboa and got rest for another fully day of exploration in Lisboa. The following day we went to see St. George´s Castle in Lisboa. We went to this famous Pasteleria that has small creme brulle type pasteries that are to die for. You add powdered sugar and cinnamon on top too! Thats what the place is known for and apparently they arent just famous in Portugal, they are famous everywhere. The place is called the Pastleria de Belem. We met these girls from our hostel the day before and they recommended us going, they even told us they were going twice. We thought to ourselves we will go once, but obviously we wouldnt go to the same place twice....We sure were wrong. This place was so amazing, the following day before we left to catch our flight, we went back in the morning and ate there again! Plus we got a box of 6 to go for our friends that we were meeting in Madrid!

On Saturday afternoon we caught a flight back to Madrid but it was delayed almost 2 hours!!! UGG. By the time we took a bus and the metro to our hostel in Madrid we were ready for dinner. We met up with our friends staying in Madrid and found a chinese restruant to eat in. Our friends had been in the Madrid the last couple days and they told us about their crazy adventure the night before. I nearly died when i heard what they did. Everyone reading this probably wont appreciate or understand where im coming from but trust me, when i found out i was a day from doing what they did i was so jealous! They were exploring the city streets of Madrid when they saw a poster for Common (this famous music artist/rapper in the US). They found the ticket office and turns out the concert was that night and the tickets were still available, only 27 euros!!! Anyways, it was general admission, surprisingly, since Common is super famous. If you know who Kanye West is, that might give you an idea of who Common is because they have done songs together before. So my two friends, Nikki and Ashely, not only went to the concert but randomly were pulled back stage after and hung out with Common and his whole crew. They were practically front row at the concert, even were pulled up on stage dancing on the speakers! And this concert wasnt small! It was huge! I was so happy for them, but i couldnt believe i missed it! Now thats a great story, especially since it happened in Spain!!!

Anyways, saturday night i went to bed early because my flight back to Oviedo was at 7am. We had to take a cab to the airport because the metro stopped running at 130 am and didnt start again until 6am. I thought that was really strange, since Madrid is an enormous city, and lots of people go to work earlier then 6am! I flew back with Nikki and Ashley because Amanda and Amy were spending an extra day in Madrid and getting home on Monday. I didnt want to spend the extra money and i had 4 finals and a paper coming up that week so i knew i needed most of Sunday to study!

Portugal was a great experience. I will post the site for the pictures below. I wish i was able to take more photos but my battery died on my camera and they are super expensive here so i will try to get more photos from my friends and post those as well!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Escuela, Galicia, Escuela!

Two weeks ago i was in Oviedo for a whole weekend! It was the first time in a month! It was nice to relax and sleep in my bed for more then a week at one time! School is school. A lot of times its hard to get through 5-6 hrs of class everyday, all in spanish, especially since it is very different from the US. Sometimes I feel like im still in elementary school, and then i realize the level that i am at in Spanish is the level of a elementary schooler. Which is quite confusing at times because I am expected to write 5 page thesis papers in spanish yet my skills in spanish especially in communication are far less advanced! For example, we listen to songs and fill in blanks to questions that the song will say, or conjugate verbs from songs that we listen to. Also we play games that teach us grammar, phonetics, vocabulary. Dont get me wrong! I am learning a lot, but when i think about the structure of school and how i am expected to learn so much from games and songs and then have only 1-2 tests in 12 weeks its quite astonishing and confusing at times! The only class that resembles the way I would take a class in the US is my literature class. The problem is it goes SOOOOOO fast! We analyze 3-4 poems every class, and poetry is not even my forte in english, thus in spanish i struggle even more when i have to recognize metaphors and personification and much more! Anyways, i know i am learning a lot, but i am definately looking forward to returing to my comfort zone where i know what to expect in all of my classes each term. I have the library that i can retreat to anytime i want and i know when midterm weeks are and finals week!

Thanksgiving was really hard for me. I want to be home and with family. I wanted to cuddle up on the couch and watch football with my Dad and brother. Obviously i got through it, but i definately was emotional when it was midnight in spain and 3pm in the US and i knew that dinner would be ready in a few hrs yet I was thousands of miles away at a bar and no one in spain even cares or knows its Thanksgiving! My host mom thought i was just homesick, but i told her it wasnt even about being away for another month, it was about the fact that Thanksgiving is a time where we come together and share memories and its important in my family because usually im with my grandparents, aunts, cousin, uncle, etc. Anyways, my mom said she is going to do a thanksgiving redo and Hannukkah redo for me! So im excited for that! I think Thanksgiving just made me miss familiarity! I miss the little things and the comfort it brings me. I feel like i live in spain, but it still doesnt feel like home. Being in Spain has definately taught me so much about what i want and need in life though. And on Thanksgiving i felt more thankful for what i have been given in this life, more then ever. I told my mom a lot about this, but i dont think i have truly expressed it to anyone else yet. Its hard to articulate in words, but i can feel that Spain has brought on a positive change in me. We talk a lot about the experiences and openness studying abroad brings, in my intercultural prospectives class. Anyways, I learned in my class that I have 75% more then what the rest of the world has! Its astonishing! Just having the opprotunity to go on exchange and study in a foreign country is something only 5% of students experience (im not sure if thats students in the world or students in the US, but either way im lucky!)

On a lighter note....Last weekend my group went on their last program excursion. We went to Galicia which is the principality east and bit south of Austurias. I have to say I live Austurias much more! A lot of that might have to do with the days we went and the amount of time we spent at each locaton! For me, I have seen enough cathedrals! The first place we went to was this fortress defense area from 100 AC. Basically it was a bunch of old rock circles which were trenches and they were used for different types of protection and living areas. It wasnt very interesting. I could have looked at it for 5 mins and been ready to go especially since the wind chill was killing me and it started raining, but we had a tour for over 30 minutes of the area! After that we drove to La Coruna which is where we stayed for two nights. We went to see Hercules Tower which is right on the ocean. It had an amazing view! We went to the top of the tower and i enjoyed that, but the wind was so strong that i could only manage to stay up there for 10 minutes! The rest of the day we were free to do what we wanted...most of us went to dinner and retreated to hang out in our hostal rooms! Good thing i decided to relax and not check out the night life because the girls that went out had trouble getting in anywhere. Here you only have to be 18 to drink and a lot of people drink even younger, but for some reason the places people tried to go to they were carded and told they had to be 21. We dont ever bring our ID's out because you dont need them here, so no one had ID on them and they were all rejected. I dont know if you actually have to be 21 in a lot of the places in Coruna or maybe it was just because they are american! Who knows! The night life is definately not as good or the same as Oviedo, because its not a college city.

The next day was Sunday, thus everything is closed! Thats why it was frustrating because after we went to see Santiago de Camino and the cathedral we had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. Yet we couldnt really do anything because everything is closed!! The highlight of my weekend was the amazing amazing italian dinner i had sunday night! ohmygosh to die for! Maybe its because i really needed change from spanish food everyday, but the pesto pasta i had hit the spot! we found this amazing rosado wine and a bunch of girls enjoyed an evening at the restruant!

Monday we departed from La Coruna and on our way home we stopped in Lugo. Completely pointless to me and the rest of the group! We were all ready to get home. We checked out the cathedral and the huge wall that wrapped around the cathedral and part of the city, then we had 2 hrs to spare, and 1 of them was during siesta time, so there was no where to go! No shops, no cafes, nothing was open. Ohwell! Such is life!

The weekend was fine, it just definately wasnt my favorite place i have traveled in spain!

This week I had class, class, and class! Oh and our guest professor from Western Oregon University is taking all of us out in small groups for tapas and vino (small apetizers accustom to spain and wine). I signed up to go this week and it was a blast! Its all on AHA, so we didnt have to pay either! I really like Claudio, the guest professor, im taking his class, and you can just tell how passionate he is! He actually wants us to understand the literature we are reading! Thats the big difference between his literature class and the one that i never understand anything in. He doesnt go so fast that you cant even take notes. We read passages over and over and talk about the meaning and we read things that are more interesting. He doesnt race through the vocab that we dont know like my other teacher does! I am doing really well in his class! I have gotten 2 solid A's on both of the tests so far!

I am enjoying my second to last weekend in Oviedo by writing a paper, doing homework, hanging out with friends, and going to the Gijon open market on sunday!

On Tuesday we are having an end of the term party at a cafe with all of the families, students, and any professors that can attend. Caitlin asked my host mom the other night if she was coming. We werent sure because her daughter and granddaughter arrived last night from Valencia (which is on the opposite coast, in the east). Maria told Caitlin she doesnt want everyone to think she is depressed so she doesnt usually go. I dont know why people would think that unless she outgoingly said she was depressed. I think she just means that she is antisocial and doesnt like talking to people, because thats the truth! i know it sounds mean, but it is! She said she didnt go to the party last year because she was tired and the year before she had to work or something. Caitlin said its okay i understand if you dont want to go because your daughter is in town and Maria said no thats not the reason at all. So whatever, i wanted everyone to meet my host mom, mostly so they could see whats she like (even though i dont think she would show her true crazy colors in public because she wouldnt have the opprotunity to clean or something !). Ohwell there is not much I can do, maybe she will change her mind!

I have to pack monday for Portugal because i have the party tuesday night after class and then my flight leaves at 9ish from the Austurias airport. I have to take a bus to the airport, which takes 30-45 minutes, with my two girlfriends. I am excited to experience a new country!

Well thats all for now! Take care. Just a little more then 3 weeks and ill be back to reamericanize myself and tell everyone about my life changing experience in much more detail!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Barcelona Continued!

Day 2!

We went to see another one of Gaudi's sites. It was very close to our hostel so we walked there. Its called Casa Batllo (accent over the o)...Gaudi was seriously crazy! All the detail and the little features he added to this apartment building were amazing. I loved how he used the roof to create a haven of abstract forms and he had a reason for it all! Check out the pics for sure! It is impossible to explain his buildings without looking at them for yourself! The pictures dont even do justice!

Next we went to explored Las Ramblas which is this long long street that leads to the ocean, but basically its the Rodeo Drive of Barcelona. It has all the designer and fashion stores, an open market in the center, and lots of resturants and cafes! We also checked out this big statue/monument of Christopher Columbus. They are crazy about him (obviously since he was spainsh)!!

We planned to go to this big fountain show at night. It was suppose to start at 830 so we waited until 915 and nothing had started. We figured it was just the usual spanish schedule where everything runs late, but a few of us went to the bathroom and asked the custodian guy. He said that in the month of november it does not run because they clean the fountains! LAME! The one month we visit Barcelona, the fountain show is not running. Our guide books never said that!

After that we headed back to the hostel and ventured out for dinner. We ended up walking around for a while a night, and didnt have the energy to go out to clubs or discotecas.

Day 3!!

The next morning we woke up early because we had to check out of the hostel and fit in a couple more sites before our train left at 10pm that night! We went to see La Pedera which was another one of Gaudis apartment buildings! I learned a lot about all of his work at this location because it had models and pictures of all of his buildings and examples of different types things that he used has inspiration for his textures and styles in the buildings. For example he used bee hives texture and style and different skulls, the shell of a turtle, and more! In addition, when you see all the pictures you will see that Gaudi had unique angels and forms in his buildings. He used chains to creates arches which offered more support and stronger structure! In La Pedera there were models of the style of apartments in his building. He made it so the occupants could take out certain walls and move them around to change the lay out of their home! He thought of everything. The whole apartment allowed a lot of light into each room except for the maids quarters!

Next we went to Parquel! It was this huge park that is up above the city that Gaudi designed! The day was beautiful so we hung out there for awhile, admired the view, checked out the interesting sculptures and arquitectural figures Gaudi designed and then found a cafe to eat lunch in.

We spent the rest of the day exploring little shops and resting until our train left! Once we were on the train back we even discovered that we had better seats! We werent in the ghetto uncomfortable seats like last time. Our train must have been nicer we had individual little rooms with 8 people in each, and all the lights turned off plus the seats reclined!!! I got a lot more sleep on the way back, even if it wasnt as comfortable as being in a bed!

All in all the weekend was great! And i think that Barcelona might be my favorite place i have visited thus far

Oh i totally forgot to include this! I had sushi twice in Barcelona and it was AMAZING! we asked where a chinese food place was because we were sick of spanish food for the time being. A lady suggest a buffet with chinese and japanese food. We were a little skeptical but we figured we would just find somewhere else if we didnt like it. The place ended up being amazing! It was like the sushi places where the food comes around on the boats, only it had tempura and other yakisoba stuff in addition to the sushi. The buffet was all you can eat and it was only 13euro which is not bad for all you can eat especially when the sushi was so fresh and delicious! We watched the chefs make it right in front of us. I figured the sushi wouldnt be too bad because Barcelona is right on the water! We loved it so much we ended up going back the next day for lunch because a good meal with enough food is hard to come by here without spending 20-30euro since Spain is so expensive and Barcelona is such a big city.

Also i am going to Portugal for the puente (my long weekend in the beginning of december!) I am so excited to go to a different country! I will be staying in Lisboa for3 days and then spend 3/4 of a day in Madrid, Spain.

Next weekend im going to Galicia on my last excursion with my whole program!!

Cant believe its only 34 days til im home!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Barcelona So many Sights so Little Time!

Well i just got back today from Barcelona! My first real experience in a HUGE city. I know i have been to Los Angeles, but im always with family and we dont really act like tourists when I visit. We stay in the valley and at the very most we go to Disney Land. Anyways, I had my first experience on a train. Going home i enjoyed it a lot more then going there, but i will explain that later! I also had my first experience taking the metro or subway. I liked it! There were several lines in Barcelona and it was the best and quickest way to get places when it was too far to walk!

The train ride was 14 hrs! However, we only took the train for 12 hrs and then we were bused from a train station outside of Barcelona to Barcelona. Apparently i dont watch the news enough here because I didnt know about this huge collapse of the tracks that lead into Barcelona. I learned from someone on the train though that they are reconsctruction a newer set of tracks in that area or maybe altogether im not sure, but they are afraid to complete it because it has to go around or under La Sagrada Familia which is the amazing building that Gaudi constructed but didnt finish (more on that later) Anyways, the construction people are afraid that another collapse or mishap will occur, so for now the tracks END and you must be bused into Oviedo. I think its just if you are coming from the North or maybe even the exact direction I came from, because going back to Oviedo we took the train the whole way because the tracks are not derailed! Sorry if that is complicated, it actually doesnt make perfect sense to me either, but everything worked out for the best.

Our train ride to Barcelona made me wish i was on a bus. And i dont even like the buses here that much, but atleast the seats reclined. Yes there was a cafe area to eat and stretch and what not, but when i was in my seat it was horrid! My seat didnt lean back and i had less room then on the bus. Thats because we were in the lowest car because its the cheapest. We made a bunch of friends in the cafe area. All of them claimed they knew little english when they knew a lot! So it was embaressing at first because they had understood all of our lame girly conversations because we knew they could understand us.

Thats one thing about this past weekend! I got frustrated a lot because I couldnt use my spanish for anything! Since barcelona is such a big city, no everyone speaks english. Spanish isnt even the language in Barcelona. Its Cattalan which has a lot of similar words but its a different language. Nonetheless, just like a big city in America where there is a lot of diversity and tourism, its the same in Spain. If someone thinks you are American they wont even give u the chance to try to speak spanish, immediately they interrupt you and use english. Thats why im happy im studying in a smaller city because no one knows english, or the percentage is a lot less, and I can practice spanish a lot more. The people we met on the train were all friendly and we spoke spanglish, english and spanish here and there. They gave us a lot of good advice about the places we were going to see and we chatted about Spain and other sorts. One of our new friends suggested that we go sleep in one of the empty sleeper cars where there were nicer seats that reclined completely to make a flat bed futon type thing. We went in there, got situated, got super excited that we were so comfortable and could possibly get five hours of good sleep, and then 10 mins later one of the train men came by and asked to see our tickets. Luckily he was really nice and didnt get mad, but we had to go back to our horrific seats! I was cranky after that. I tried to sleep until we had to get on the bus at 730am but it was so uncomfortable. Finally we got on the bus, took that for 1.5 hrs and then we arrived in Barcelona!

Literally we dropped off our stuff at our hostel and were off site seeing. We planned to see the most exciting things the first day because even if we were tired we would be extra excited and could plow through the exhaustion. Our first stop was La Sagrada Familia. It is a church that Guadi constructed but never finished because he died. Construction is still going on, but who knows when or if it will ever be finished because Gaudi was so crazy and amazing that no one can really determine what his true vision was. The building is incredible, with so much detail and he had a reason for little dimension. You will have to check out the pictures, even though they dont do it any justice.

Our next stop was The Picasso Museum. It had paintings from all of his times including the blue era, pink era, Menina, and more, but Picasso lived in Barcelona during part of his teenage years so the exhibit focused on pieces from that time in his life. There are pieces dating back to when he was 12 yrs old. I learned so much about Picasso at the museum and found myself thoroughly enthralled!

That was day 1.

The hostel was nice and cheap, but there were strings attached. You got a sheet to cover the matress and a sheet to cover the pillow for free. THATS IT! i paid 2 euro for a towel which is strandard but if you wanted a blanket you had to pay 2 euro too! WHAT A RIP! i stole another set that had a sheet and pillow cover and used that as my blanket with extra clothes the first night! Somehow a few of my friends found/stole a few blankets. For the next night i stole another set of sheets so i had 2 sheets to keep me warm plus my jacket, luckily there are 10 people in a room so i think all that body heat was enough to keep me warm the second night, the first night was a different story, i was frozen!

Ok i need to go have dinner. ill write more soon! hopefully tonight!


my mom said that the link to the gijon pics does not work! here it is again! let me know if you have any problems seeing any of the other pics! I just got back from Barcelona! ill try to update you all on everything ASAP!
Gijon and San Sebastian Pics!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Photo Update!!

Here are some photos of Sevilla, Burgos, and If you look at the ending of the night life album there are pictures of Halloween!



Night Life:

Vino Galore- The Napa Valley of España

Last weekend my whole program, all 45 of us, went on our first of two weekend excursions. We traveled by bus to Rioja which is the Napa Valley of Spain and continued on to Burgos for the remainder of the weekend. Rioja was amazing! We went to a winery and i was hoping to get to stomp on some grapes or go out into the vineyard, but the tour we had was still nice! We walked through cellars with bottles of wine more then 120 yrs old! There are layers upon layers of mold on the bottles and dust everywhere, but it was still incredible to see such preservation. The guide told us the wine looses its quality after 3o yrs or so. The oldest wines are still sold, but it is more as a keepsake, not for drinking! Anyways, we learned all about the fermentation process and the different sizes of barrells, how they are stored, etc! We even got to try a tinto reserve. I dont remember what year it was, i think the early 2000's. I was going to buy some wine, but I figured you all would forgive me, because i know that no one in the family is BIG BIG on collecting wine, and bringing it back is not the easiest thing. A lot of people bought wine, but i figured it would save me some stress and more lbs in my suit case to pack other things!

I saw three monasteries this weekend! I dont know why i just wrote an exclamation mark at the end of the first sentence, because they werent THAT exciting. ha. Anyways, i was expecting in my head that i would see some monks walking around, and i had this vision of china and the monks, obviously that vision did not come true. We didnt see any monks because they dont come out in public and the monasteries were more like museums. We didnt really see where they lived and all that. We saw courtyards, and other religious areas. It was interesting, but some was repetitive, and at one of the monasteries the woman spoke way too fast in spanish! I did enjoy two of them, but i definately feel that i do not need to see anymore monasteries anytime soon. They are all relatively the same. Im starting to feel the same about cathedrals, however, some of them had unique additions, like the one in Sevilla wit the tower and 34 levels. Its nice to appreciate the cathedrals, but a lot of the little rooms inside the actual church show the same sceneces of jesus, mary, and his life/crucification. I definately enjoy the ceilings, and the equisit detail. It shocks me that they were able to accomplish such artistic beauty so long ago with out all the technology that we have today. Everything was done by hand!

At the cathedral in Burgos there was an additional Cid exhibit! I cant remember if i have written about El Cid. He is like King Arthur only way more famous in for spanish children, they learn about him from a very young age! He is a warrior and a knight. He was banished my the King because the king was pretty much jealous of him! The people love El Cid but the King told the people that if they helped El Cid in anyway by giving him food or a place to stay they might as well be dead because they would be excommunicated! Everyone was too ashamed to tell El Cid why they couldnt open the door of the city for him, only a little child had the guts to say something. The king had found to horrible men to marry his daughters. El Cid was angry about this so he challenged the two potential husbands to a tournament with his friend. Of course El Cid and his friend won and with this they wont their honor and respect back from the King!
Now that you know the story, the cathedral was having a temporary exhibit with his tomb and a few paintings.

In Burgos we had time to explore the city. I thought it was going to be a lot smaller then it was! We shopped around for gifts and I even had pizza this weekend! There is this place called Telepizza and its quite similar to PizzaHut or Dominos, but when you miss American food, it really doesnt matter! The first time i had pizza, almost a month ago I thought i was getting canadian bacon on my pizza, but instead i got pieces of hot dog! Thus, it was nice to have hawaiin pizza and have it taste like greasy america!

This is kinda backtracking but i forgot to mention that we went out for Halloween! its not celebrated here but we went out anyways, because there are enough exchange students at the university that we didnt really care about people staring! I bought a little mouse mask and dressed up in a black shirt and tights. It was a lot of fun. I didnt stay out late because we had to leave for our excursion at 9am and i didnt want to be hung over on the bus, like half of my group was...I think im going to miss thanksgiving even more! I love the food and family time. Ohwell! ill get through it. I have been here 6 weeks and i only have 6 more!!

take care everyone! Im off to Barcelona this weekend! I CANT WAIT! We have so much planned!!!!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sevilla plus an extended adventure in southern spain!

Sorry this is a week or more late. I have been traveling every weekend! leaving on thursday and not getting back til sunday or monday so i have been very busy!

Anyways I traveled to Sevilla, 12 hrs on the bus! The weather was amazing and i saw all the sites i wanted to see. My hostel was completely different then the first one i stayed in. It was so nice! There were six of us, all girls, and the rooms were either 6 or 8 people, but since we booked them together we had a room all to ourselves with our own bathroom too! very nice! i think i have a few pictures i will try to link to my blog so u can see! there was a little bar in the hostel, and they had planned activities everynight. One night we went to a free flamenco show that a coordinator in the hostel led us to, along with two tapas bars (which have appetizers that are accustom to spain). The show was fun to see, but i definately think it would have been more spectacular and REAL flamenco if we had gone to a show that cost 50 euro. I just wanted to see what it was like, so free was fine for me!

In sevilla there is the 4largest cathedral in all of Europe. There is this huge tower that is 34 levels up. We went to the top and it had the most amazing view of Sevilla! The cathedral is one of the tallest, or maybe the tallest ive seen thus far. The taller they are, the more holy, because it is closer to god (higher in the sky). The altar in this cathedral is the biggest in all of europe. I expected it to be bigger, but it was still grand!

In the cathedral there was an amazing display of gold, which was the treasure room, with acient jewlery and artifacts as well!

Close by, just across the street there is Alcazar which is the palace of where one of the kings used to live. I dont recall which one, i think it was Alfonso and i dont know which roman numeral. i can try to look through my phamplets! so much info that i learn every day it is hard to keep track. Anyways, the palace is known for its amazing garden. Literally the size of a zoo. You feel like you are stepping into an oasis in hawaii in some parts with the tropical trees, flowers, fountains, etc! We walked all around for almost 2 hrs taking picture and enjoying the sites!

In addition, we toured around Sevilla which has a population of almost 1million! I met up with my friend studying in Sevilla but he was exhausted from an exursion he had been on with his program. He hung out with us a little bit one night and wrote down some places for us to go. All the touring made me tired very easily so we drank some wine in our hostel and planned to go out, but that didnt really happen.

One of the front desk workers at our hostel we made friends with. He was flamming and hilariously gay, 24 and from Belgum. He wanted to take us to his gay bar that he said straight people go to as well. He said it was a blast but in Sevilla it cost money to get into a lot of bars and discotecas so we didnt really want to spend money on a gay discoteca if we didnt know if it was going to be that much fun. We followed him to his apartment so he could change clothes and it was already two in the morning. i was definately dragging but i went along anyways. We laughed at the fact that if he was straight we would never go to his apartment, but he was so rediculously gay and funny that 5 girls could definatley beat this guy up! After being in his apartment, where he lived with another girl, we followed him to the bar. This guy had no sense of time! He told us it was only 5 minutes away and it took almost 20. When we got to the club there was a huge line and i really didnt want to spend money since i knew i was super tired and wasnt going to drink much or want to stay long enough to make the 8euros worth it. We ended up hailing 2 cabs and going home. Stan (our gay friend) went off and had the night of his life im sure!

The next evening we shopped around and went to a beautiful park that my friend who is studying here showed us. We did our homework and enjoyed the warm weather that has now vanished from Oviedo!

Our bus was scheduled to leave for 9pm so we had an early dinner and left the hostel at 730 to take a public bus to get to the bus station. Apparently that bus number didnt come on sundays so finally one of the girls went to the hostel to call us two cabs. They couldnt get ahold of the cab company so we walked to the taxi area in front of the mall but no taxis were coming. It was getting closer and closer to when our bus was suppose to leave and two of the girls were about to cry. I was keeping it together because i know that i know more spanish then some of the other girls who dont have as much experience or confidence. Although i am by no means perfect. I asked a man standing behind us for the taxi number and then we called and asked for 2 taxis immediately. One came and i let 4 girls go ahead and stayed to wait for the other taxi with one other girl, who is from Tawain. She knows english, not perfectly though, and barely any spanish, so that was a small worry!

Anyways, a few minutes later a cab came! My friend had told me the name of the bus station was Justas. So i told him el estacion de autobus, Justas. Unfortunately thats the name of the train station so i contradicted myself and he took us to the train station. We only had 15 minutes before our bus left when we got into the cab so we were already pressed for time and hoping that our friends in the other cab could get the bus driver to wait. When we arrived at the train station i didnt know we were at the wrong place because when we arrived at the bus station a few days before i was completely out of it and very tired. We went into the train station thinking it was bus station, and i went out to the platform. I had one of those surreal moments where I step out to the platform and saw trains racing by, not buses and the word renfe which is the type of trains in Spain. My mouth went dry and i panicked! Amy, my tawainese friend, was racing around as i was racing around trying to figure out what the heck to do. Finally i looked up and the time said 859pm. There was no way we could make it to the bus station. Thats when the tears came, I tried to keep it together but i was so overwhelmed.

Finally we caught a cab to the bus station after we realized taking a train would not be worth it at this point because we would have to wait til morning to even leave Sevilla. The women said we couldnt use our bus tickets and we had to buy completely new tickets. If we wanted the same route we took to sevilla we had to wait from 930pm to 6am so i tried to figure out a different way. We ended up purchasing tickets from Sevilla to Madrid on one type of bus and then Madrid to Oviedo. We would leave Sevilla t 1230am instead of 9pm like planned and then get into Oviedo at 130pm instead of 9am like planned. Not THAT bad, but it was 50euro i was not planning on spending! Definately an adventure. I missed one class, but my teacher didnt care, and it was only the class that is teaching us about cultural differences between spain and US. Its only once a week and its in english. Luckily i had a calling card for emergencies, so i called my mom in oregon and she was able to email my program director to tell her what was going on so my host mom and amy´s host mom didnt worry. We had a cell phone, but we didnt have any more minutes on the phone and the places to put minutes on were closed for the night. All we could do was recieve calls, but then our phones battery went low. We tried to plug it in but Amy´s charger was faulty. Lucky that i had my calling card and there were pain phones, however, it did take me almost 20minutes to figure out how they worked exactly!

All in all it was a good experience, and i told my friend nikki she bettet attach me to a leash next weekend when we go to barcelona on the train. Ive decided i dont want to travel in larger groups and this trip made me realize who i enjoy traveling with the most. I like flexible, good friends, that will speak up and take intiative like myself. Amy and i bonded so much in those 14 hours or so. She said she had lots of travel experience and i had Spanish so we needed to just stick together. She was very comforting!

So thats my recent adventure! take care!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Voy a ver Supersalidos (Superbad)!

Tonight im going to see Superbad in spanish! I dont know if i will understand the sacrcastic humor because it is an American film, but it should be fun! I dont know why they call it Supersalidos here because salidos does not mean bad. salidos comes from the verb salir which means to go. Ohwell! Monday nights movies are cheaper so thats why we are going tonight!

I was suppose to have a test tomorrow, but its been rescheduled to thursday! YAY! There is a speaker discussing some sort of Midieval Literature tomorrow, and my teacher thinks it would be great for our class since we are studying romance and love during the Media Edad (500-1000).

My weekend was great. Today is the first day I havent seen the sun yet. When i went to Leon it was gorgeous. Its half the size of Oviedo (100,000), and the cathedral there was amazing! We also went to see a famous building designed by Gaudi an architect from the late 1800´s to the early 1900´s. After spending the entire day exploring and shopping we came home tired! We still wanted to go out though so we hurried home at 1030 and met back up at midnight. I had a lot of energy for awhile, but then i plumetted at around 2:30 and got a taxi home with a couple girls. Usually i just walk home with Caitlin, but she was out of town with her boyfriend. Oviedo is really safe, but i wont walk home that late at night, im not that confident with the city, and i get scared too easily! Ill walk to and from the bus station to meet up with friends, but as Carmen our program director put it ¨girls you are worth a taxi!¨ and i agree!!!

I ended up sleeping in until 1pm, but my host mom didnt mind. She said sundays are for sleeping, so that is perfectly normal! I think im starting to get sick, which i figured would be inevitable because pretty much everyone in my program is either sick or has already been sick in the past month. I took airborn 3 times yesterday because it said i could take it every 3 hrs. And even if im already sick i think i can avoid getting sicker. Right now i just have one of those awful sounding coughs, and if i can avoid feeling achy and super tired that would be amazing!

This week is going to feel short for me because I leave at 830 pm for seville on Thursday! I cant wait!!! It will be my first time to Southern Spain and i have heard it is very different. Spain and the US are similar in that there are many cultural, climate, and physiological differences from one part of Spain to another. One thing that i bet not many of you know is that people from Austurias (Oviedo`s principitality) consider themselves the only ones that are actually from Spain beause the rest of Spain was conquered. They even will get offended if you talk about other people from different parts of spain and call them Spainiards. Spainards are very proud! They dont move often, so their home pueblo or city is very important to them!

My next few weeks are going to be busy besides my travels to Seville. I think i will have several tests coming up because Im pretty sure i get tested every month or so. Also I am going on an excursion with my program the following week after Seville, and then i hope to go to Barcelona the weekend after that! That will put me into mid november! CRAZY! my friend that im going to see in Seville this weekend is also coming to visit Oviedo, November 16-19th. Basically im all booked up for the next month!

Ok! well its time for class! love you and miss you all!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Laugh it up!

Well this week school seemed more like school. its still hard to get used to going to school for 5 or 6 hours a day. Its not the same as in the US. You dont just sit there and take notes, everything is very interactive. we read outloud all the time, even little worksheets with the directions on them we read out loud! its good practice. i had to read part of this poem in 20th century literature, i sounded so bad because a lot of the words are poetic and they arent sentences that flow together like reading a book or something else. ohwell, practice makes perfect!

i have a test on tuesday in my romance/love lit class. im not too worried. i need to review a little, but we have a study guide. its funny because in the US i would have started studying for a test like a week or so in advance, but here i am so different. ill probably study the night before! i think its a result of the culture differences and differences in school, because when i get homework its a little tiny bit everynight and we never have to turn it in, its just for practice. we always go over it in class too. As a result im more relaxed and i kind of just take things as they come. thats how spain is, people dont stick to schedule (which usually rule my life). everyone is 10 to 15 minutes late and people are very flexible day to day or hour to hour!

However, i swear, my host mom belongs in the US. she is crazy! in a good/amusing way of course. i accidentally left the light on the bathroom twice for like 4 seconds when i was going from my room to the bathroom and then back to look in the mirror and she thought it was the end of the world. i can understand what she says, but im not sure how serious her emotions are. she is always really loving to me, but when i left the light on the second time she told me it was a disaster and that im so insensible. i laughed about it with caitlin, because i can tell that she enjoys picking on me. she didnt even know if it was me or caitlin that left the light on, she just assumed it was me. thats ok though because i know she isnt actually super mad, she is just funny/anal. She also asked me if i got hot at night, which i do! i swear i already told her that. Yet today she asked me and i said yes. She then informed me that my blanket sheds lint all over. So she said i could take it off if i was getting hot. I think she just wanted me to take it off because of the lint, but who knows. Shes a riot!

Oh today she also talked to me and caitlin about how expensive electricity is, she went far enough to explain the cost of each kilobite of electricity or something like that. Then i got confused and i thought that she told me next time i leave the light on i have to pay or something, because she used the verb Apagar which is to turn off, meaning next time its left on shes going to make me turn it off. i thought she used the verb pagar which means to pay, it got cleared up though! After she informed caitlin and me about how expensive everything is here and how there are so many taxes (impuestos) even for cleaning the streets, i threw back at her that healthcare is free unlike the United States. I thought that would shut her down, but then she said the people that have money have to pay for the people without any money, so you still end up paying. But thats the same in the US, people that have money pay to keep cities working, hospitals open, welfare available etc. I dont want anyone to worry and think that Maria is hating on me, she is just a unique character. I cant explain her, if you met her you would understand after a while. Caitlin and i laugh about it all the time. I adore her, she just is loco (crazy)! Seriously every single day she tells us how she doesnt like to talk to anyone in her apartment building, even though she has lived here 4 yrs. Caitlin told her she made friends with a little boy that lives in our apartment building and that threw her into a whirlwind of comments about her neighbors and how one is noisy and another is this and that. I wonder what they think about her, she says she just does small chit chat with them in the elevator and thats it! Too funny!

Anyways, today caitlin and i went out with some girls in our program for tapas (special appetizers here) and vino (wine). its a popular outing for many. Before we left Maria told me like four different times about all the cleaning she had to do in our house! When we left she was filling up the vacum cleaner which takes water. She told me the other day that she bought it in a smaller town because it was less expensive, but it works better then the ones in the stores here. As we were walking out i asked her why the vacumm took water to use it and she said it gets all the bacteria and germs and dust! Seriously she is obssessed with cleaning!

Tapas and vino was so much fun. First we met at the bus station and bought tickets to seville. im going with four other girls, not caitlin, because she traveled to seville with her boyfriend before our program began. The bus ride is going to be 12 hours!!! but we are doing it overnight so it shouldnt be that bad. Ive already taken the bus 7hrs so i think i can make it. Plus we got booked at one of the top 10 hostels in the world, with a pool on the roof and its suppose to be upper 70's/low 80's in seville. Its in southern spain so the weather is alot different! we plan to go see this amazing cathedral, alcazar (i dont think i spelled that right but its some sort of castle or something, i need to read up on it), and i guess there is an amazing garden/terrace area with peacocks right across from the cathedral! My friend from high school is studying in seville so we are going to meet up with him when he gets back from a Merida on saturday evening/part of the day sunday. I cant wait!

We also bought bus tickets to go to Leon tomorrow. Its 1.5 hrs away and im not sure what we are going to do there but i guess its a site to see! My host mom said there is a lot to explore and it will be a good day trip!

Recently, since ive gotten my appetite back, Caitlin and i have become addicted to the candy shops here. They are everywhere!!!! And each one we find looks better then the last! We told Maria about it and she said they are for the children....i dont care though!

The other day Caitlin and I rented a movie from the AHA office (our program here in spain). It was a french film dubbed in spanish about 6 college age students that are all from different countries, studying in spain. There is a program called Arasmos (spelling?) and its very popular. Its going on exchange when you live in Europe. Students that are in college and live in Europe go on exchange to other countries in Europe through this program. There are a lot of Arasmos students at my university, and the movie i watched was about them too. In the apartment there were students from Spain, Germany, England, France, Italy, and i think a couple other places. If any of you have heard of real world, the reality tv show on MTV, it was kind of like that, only a movie version. The main character was a guy from France that was leaving his girlfriend behind and going on exchange for a year to Barcelona, Spain. He eneds up living in this diverse house of students from several countries! The movie is called La Casa De Locos (The house of crazies).

Ok well im going to get some shut eye, the bus to Leon leaves at 1030 tomorrow!
take care everyone. i havent gotten super homesick yet. I told my mom the other day i just miss smelling like home, i dont prefer smelling like Maria. HAHA. its just the little things. Because its a new place and Maria cleans so damn much I still kind of feel like im staying in a hotel. Its ok though! i love it here and i couldnt ask for a better place to study abroad! Missing the holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving is going to stink too, but its all good. I just think about home when i think of those dates coming up, but my group is thinking bout trying to get a cabin and make thanksgiving dinner together! I really really really hope we do that! I love my group!

signing off!

Monday, October 15, 2007


I have all my photos in albums on facebook. Im going to paste the sites here and hopefully grammee, papa, aunt lisa, fryes, grandpa, and whoever else can see them. let me know if its working!

Night life photos:

Oviedo and Llanes:


San Sebastian:

A new week begins!

A new school week begins today and I definately can say i enjoyed my weekend. On Saturday i went to Gijon, which is on the beach. It was sunny, not a cloud in the sky, with some wind! Actually the entire weekend it was sunny! I dont know when the rain is coming, but everyone tells me it rains here a lot, so im enjoying the sun while it lasts. Gijon is approx 20mins away on the bus and a round trip ticket costs only 3.70 euros! CHEAP! A lot of people from my program went to San Sebastian this past weekend, but i had gone the weekend before. It seemed like whoever didnt go to San Sebastian went to Gijon because i saw two different groups of people from my program while i was there. I went with Caitlin and Ben, but we ran into five girls that i was hoping we could meet up with. We spent time on the beach, and ate our lunches, then explored and walked around a couple hours. Then we went to this market that Caitlin and i love. Its called Alimerka. I think we just like the sound of the name and the fact that u can get some cheap food and wine! They are everywhere here, including one right across the street from my apartment and another 1 block away! For a snack we bought a loaf of bread, salami, cheese, wine, juice, and nuts all for under 10 euro. As you can see there are definately ways to get around the fact that the euro to the dollar is a rip off here! You just have to learn how to work the system! After relaxing on the beach for another hour we hiked to the other side of the coast and looked down to the ocean and marina, with an amazing view! The sea is so clean here, its a crystal blue color! I even walked in the water a little, because even though it was barely 70 degrees F and windy, the water is way warmer then in Oregon!

We were contemplating whether we were going to stay into the evening or return home for dinner and then go out in Oviedo. But then we heard the younger population actually goes to Oviedo to party and go out because in Gijon the bars and clubs close early (at 2). Now 2 am may sound incredibly LATE to all of you but i ensure that is not the case here. i know i have talked about that a little, but time is so different here! I am not sure if i have explained my daily schedule but i dont start class until 12 or 2. Usually i eat lunch around 3pm and dinner is at 9 or 10pm. Thats normal here! The first time i went out at night here, Caitlin and i left the house at 1030, big mistake! Bars arent even happening until 12 or 1. Everything happens in a sequence of events. Bars are busy from like 12 or 1 until 3 or so and then the discotecas (clubs) get busy between 3-5am. I am starting to get used to being on that schedule, but it is still hard, because i never stay out past 1 or 2am when im back in the states, and thats on rare occasions. There is also a siesta time that Caitlin and i always fail to plan in our schedule. All the stores, especially on saturdays, close between 2-5pm. So we will be out and then want to get coffee or something, but everything closes up! Carmen, one of the directors of my program said that some spanish people are trying to change that because it disrupts the day and not many people are privledged enough to actually take a nap during that time. Its also hard for younger children who go to school in the morning, come home for 2 hours, and then go back to school until 5pm and then they have after school activities until 8 or 9pm!

Anyways, we ended up returning to Oviedo around 8pm and i had dinner at home. Its free, so i rather eat at home when i can! We rested up until midnight and met up with my friend from North Carolina and her boyfriend from London, along with a couple other girls. We have been going to the same bar and club the last few times, so we decided to try and branch out. We ended up going to 4 or 5 other places, but in the end we were back at the Funky Room (a club). The night was fun and i ended up getting home around 4am.

On Sunday Caitlin and I went to the open market where there are vendors of clothes, pottery, etc. We bought a few gifts and headed home to relax and do a little homework for the rest of the day!

Thats all for now. I was trying to plan a trip to Seville this coming weekend because my friend from highschool is studying there. However, I looked for hostels and they are all booked up! We might meet up somewhere else in spain for the weekend and im going to bring a few girls from my program, but im not sure yet because we are going to try to talk this evening. I had suggested Toledo, which is another city in spain, but he said he heard that you dont really want to be there more then a day. Im not sure what will happen, maybe ill visit the following weekend!

hasta luego!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

El Fin de Semana (The weekend!)

Well i officially finished my first FULL week of classes here! I dont have class on Friday, but this week no one does because its a holiday. I am not sure what the holiday is celebrating but on my calendar its called El Dia de Hispanidad. My host mom referred to tomorrow as a fiest (party) but i dont think she meant it literally. Pretty much everything will be closed tomorrow, so i probably will go out tonight and relax tomorrow. Caitlin and I might walk to Parque Invierno (which means winter). Its a little further away then the main park in Oviedo which is called Parque San Fransisco. As a side note, I am not sure if this is just in spain or Europe too, but fountains are everywhere here, especially in parks. They light up at night, and the bigger the city, the bigger the fountains, or so i have experienced. And the playgrounds are just thrown into the middle of the city. Like in the US playgrounds are at schools, or in parks with lots of trees around. Not here, they are in the middle of the city.

I still really like my host mom. I feel like a guest still, which i think will change, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that she cleans 24 7. Her job outside of the house is cooking and cleaning for an older couple that cant get around themselves, but when she is not working, she is cleaning or cooking at our apartment! I feel bad, but i think thats just how she is. I will ask her how her day is and she will say that it was full of work work work and that her back hurts. I think to myself you dont need to scrub our bathroom everyday. I seriously swear she cleans everything, everyday. I wake up sometimes to go to the bathroom earlier in the morning around 8 or so and she will be scrubbing away or cleaning something. Shes a riot! Its just funny to me because she told Caitlin and i we couldnt shower past 9 or 10pm and we couldnt brush our teeth or wash our face past 10 or 11pm because it would wake our neighbors...yet she cleans like a maniac at the butt crack of dawn or bakes sweet bread at midnight. Either thats just how my host mom is or thats part of the new culture, but i dont mind, i just think its funny.

Another funny thing about my host mom is teaching her english words. She has written some she learned from other students on this little whiteboard she has on her fridge. For example she wrote sand which is arena in spanish (she learned that from someone else) but the other day she brought Caitlin and me our clothes including our underwear and she said that we had such small underwear. We said ya they are thongs (sorry to those of you who read this and think im over sharing, haha). Anyways, she said thong...but it was in the funniest pronunciation. Just like we cant say words correctly because our mouths arent trained to shape those sounds, she struggles too. Then we told her you can call them underwear. and she tried to say underwear, only it came out as unerweer. too funny. then she proceeded to writing underwear on her little whiteboard with the spanish word below it. as a side note, panties, are tights in spanish (like nylons)

Lets see, so far i really like my grammar and vocab class. I love my vocab teacher. He is a stout man and he has a 4 month old baby! his name is victor and he is a crack up. My phonetics class is boring, but maybe it will get better. And so far my romance/love lit class is alright but my other lit class has seriously just been a chronological outline of spains history up til present day. maybe its suppose to help us with the future readings about 20th century spain, but it has been super boring and i cant read my teachers hand writing. Here they dont do powerpoints or use over heads, they write on the chalk board or whiteboard and its random scribblings, not very well organized (depending on the teacher).

A side note concerning my phonetics teacher...apparently he kissed a girl on the lips that was in my program. Just to give you a description of this guy, he is super tall and reminds me of a ugly version of Ross on friends. I wasnt out that night, but i have heard first hand from the girl in my group what happened. I guess she had been drinking and he had been drinking way too much and he came to the bar that a lot of americans go to (and alot of people in our program go to before we go to a club). Specifically in Spain and maybe in Europe too, im not sure, it is common to kiss friends and family on both cheeks as a greeting. I guess my teacher thought he was a friend because he saw this girl in my group and kissed her on both cheeks and wanted to buy her drinks. i guess she made the mistake of letting him buy her drinks, but i dont know if no one else was paying attention or what, but if i saw that happening i would have stepped in. anyways, i guess he kept doing the kiss on the cheek back and forth and then he kissed her on the lips and later had a rose for her! CRAZY! NOT ALLOWED IN THE US! that crosses the line. I guess she was really drunk. Either way, im glad i wasnt there and im glad it wasnt me! A side note to the side dont worry about this, my teacher seems more harmless then a fly, so it surprised me, i think he just was acting out of character, but either way, its an interesting story!

Its suppose to be sunny this weekend so if its not too windy im going to try to go to the beach. I live near the ocean, but its a city away. Even if its not nice enough to go down to the ocean, ill probably check the city out (Gigon is the name).

thats all for now! adios!

Monday, October 8, 2007

San Sebastian: rain, clouds, and sun!

This past weekend was full of many new sites and experiences. The morning started out with Caitlin and I calling Ben at 830am (when our bus left at 845) and asking him why the hell he wasnt at our apartment to walk to the bus station. We woke him up with the phone call..hung up and practically ran to the bus station. The funny thing is the night before Ben had wanted to meet us earlier then we suggested to meet up so we were early for our bus...yet he was the one that over slept. Caitlin and i got to the bus station and got our tickets. Somehow, someway Ben made it in time, got his ticket, and got on the bus! By car it takes about 4 hours to get to San Sebastian but we were taking the bus (a slow bus at that because its cheaper and has more stops) so it took 6.5 hrs.

When we finally arrived in San Sebastian it was dumping rain and we were dropped off at the bus station, but it had no informtion desk. It was not the same as the bus station that we left from in Oviedo. After ten minutes we finally got a cab and showed him the address to our hostel. He couldnt drop us off right in front of it so he took us close enough and we managed to find our way to the hostel. This was my first time staying in a hostel but Caitlin and Ben told me they are not usually like the one we stayed in. It literally was someones apartment that they decided to use two small rooms and make a hostel out of it! Caitlin and Ben said that hostels they had been to had big common areas, or hammocks outside, or even a pool on the roof...but this one was in an old couples house. Although it was an interesting experience, it wasnt too bad. The first night there were four beds in our room so there was another guy staying with us from New Zealand. He was friendly and talked to us for awhile. He told his employer that if he didnt get 4 months off this year he was going to quit (interesting huh?) He designs surf shops for Billabong (a surfing brand) which sounds like a pretty sweet job because he said he gets to travel all over. Right now this was part of his 4 months off and he had been all over including Aspen, Colorado. I asked him about our accents because naturally we think that people from Australia and New Zealand have cool accents, and he said we definatley have accents, but he doesnt know if people from where he is from are enthrawled by them.

Anyways, the first evening it was pouring rain and we werent much in the mood for exploring, soaking wet so we went to an irish pub and had coffee with baileys. We ended up walking around a little and retreating to our hostel. The bathrooms were microscopic and it was one of those times where i wished i had flipflops for the shower and my own towel, but i bucked up and survived.

The next day it wasnt rainy, just cloudy. Bén´s sister is traveling around the world with a friend for three months so they met up with us and we went to the aquarium. It was probably 1/10 the size of a normal aquarium and it was almost 10 dollars american, which was annoying because we didnt know it was that small, but the acquatic life was fun to see and it was still a good experience. After the aquarium we went down to the beach and walked around in the sand. It was a cloudy day but San Sebastian is definately a surf town and probably spectacular for laying out during the summers. We explored more of the city and took pictures...

After we returned to our hostel in the middle of the day I found that my bed was now a bunk bed that had expanded and a girl was sleeping beneath. Later when she woke up we all chatted with her and she is from Newyork and Puerto Rico, traveling all over. She told us many crazy stories and she definately has guts to be traveling all alone for so long. I know for sure i couldnt do it. The couple that owns the hostel brought us pumkin soup for a tasted nothing like pumkin, more like cheese soup, but i ate some anyways.

Our last day, Sunday, was amazing! Blue clear skies and it got warmer as the day went on. Our bus was scheduled to leave at 5pm but we tried to pack in a hike up to this tall statue of christ before we left. It wasnt too far and we thought that it would be nice to get a great view of san sebastian and the sea (we didnt really care about the statue of christ. no offense, but seriously i have seen enough crucified christs and i have only been here two weeks!) Surprisingly there was a museum, cemetary, cafe, and the big statue up the mountain side. It was a nice hike on gravel ground or steps all the way up. I have some amazing photos of the view and it was definatley the perfect day to go up there. I was so happy that we were able to experience one night day in San Sebastian before we left. After we hiked back down we went back to the beach and put our feet in the water. It wasnt cold at all and i wished we had more time because we brought our swim suits and everyone was out enjoying the sun!

At around 4:30pm we headed for the bus station and caught our bus. Not even an hour after we were on the bus we stopped an area on the side of the road after going through a toll spot. Another bus was pulled over and there were Civil Guard men all around with huge guns and uniforms. A man from the civil guard got on the bus and came to the back where i was sitting. He picked out a man that was literally sitting directly in front of my seat! He started looking through all of his stuff and asking him a bunch of questions. It was something i cant even describe because i have never experienced that before! They took the man off the bus and we were stopped for almost an hour. The civil guard came back on the bus several times and one time he came to the back and started to ask me a question. That was a moment where i knew it was smart to act like i knew very little spanish and pretend to act and look as american as possible. i told him i knew only a little spanish so he said ok. We asked the girl sitting near us if stuff like this happened often on the buses and she said NO, never. We determined they must have been looking for someone and this man may have fit the profile. After almost an hour they let him back on the bus and we were on our way. SO CRAZY! everything was fine the rest of the trip and the man got off at the next stop, but it was a surreal experience.

I feel weird ending on that note, but i have to go to class! ill add more soon. take care!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

School Starts

Hey all!

Today was my first day of school! It went very well. The day before we had placement exams and i tested into intermediate III. There are two levels above and i planned to be in advanced I. The placement exam is by no means something that is black and white or written in stone. You can change around easily and unless you are trying to jump a couple levels its not a big deal at all. I ended up going to all the advanced 1 classes today and they were just fine. Im taking Medieval Espana Literature (which is focusing on the 1200-1500s), Literature (poems and writing from the 20th century in spain), Phonetic of Spanish, Grammar, and Vocab.

So im taking five 4 credit classes which sounds like a lot, but its not when u are immersed in the culture and i guess thats what everyone does. Also im taking this class that is required by my program and its taught in english. Its call Cutural Perspectives, where we compare Spain's and US's traditions, styles, and beliefs. I dont have class on fridays which is nice! On Mondays and Wednesdays I have class from 2-6 and then tuesday and thursday i have class from 12-6 with a small break. It sounds like a lot of class, but we do a lot more reading and hands on stuff in class. For example, in phonetics today my teacher read a paragraph outloud and we were suppose to write each sentence down based on the words we heard and how they sounded. In english thats pretty easy because we are good at listening to the words and we know what sounds words make, but in spanish its hard! Especially when you are getting used to the specific accent that spain has where "c"s sound like "f"s and other letters have different sounds as well.

Tonight Caitlin and I looked into going to San Sebastian for the weekend. Its a coastal town, about 5 hours from here on a bus. Caitlin did some reading and it has an amazing aquarium with a huge tank that spands up and across the whole ceiling. We looked at hostels and bus prices and it looks like its a good deal. We are planning to leave Friday early in the morning and get back Sunday late in the evening. The hostel we were looking at is very close to the beach and the pictures looked gorgeous, lets hope the weather is nice! It was rainy here today, but quite humid. I would say its probably 65-70 degrees here everyday and sometimes its sunny and sometimes rainy. very similar to oregon! my room is so small though that its always warm, almost too warm, but its okay, when it gets cold it will be nice and toasty!

Another thing about my classes is that its not just students from my programs, it all foreign exchange students. They are mostly from the US but there are some from other European countries too. I met this girl from North Carolina that is in a lot of my classes. She looked my age but shes almost 25 and shes here because she is done with college but wants to better her spanish to possibly work in a hospital or somewhere as an interpreter or translator. Her boyfriend is from England (near whales) and she met him in Costa Rica. Crazy huh?! He is here studying too, and they have an apartment together. He is pretty much fluent in spanish but he cant read or write it at all. He is fluent from his experiences in living and working in Costa Rica and the gulf of Mexico. Oh and Tracy (the girl i met) she studied in Australia too. The two of them combined are world travelers! But anyways, she was very nice and she has a unique Carolinian accent.

Thats all for now! Tomorrow there is a concert i think im going to. not sure what type of music yet, but its free to students!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Im here!!

Sorry to everyone that it has taken me so long to write. I am here and enjoying espana! My flights went well, and I am proud of myself for doing it all alone. I have some interesting and funny stories about my travel to Oviedo, but that shall be saved for another time. The other day I typed this huge long posting about all my experiences in the last week and then it failed to upload, so i was very angry and now i probably wont have the energy to repeat everything over again verbatim. Im going to copy and paste for now on so i dont lose what i write!

Anyways, i arrived in Oviedo and immediately took a taxi to my home stay. The taxi driver acted like he knew where he was going. However, once we were in the city he had to get out of the car three different times and ask people where the street i lived on was. Once i arrived to my apartment my host mom rushed down stairs the second i called her on the intercom. Caitlin (another U of O student) was especially excited to see me because she had been at our new home since 830 am. Immediately we sat down to la cena (dinner) and i tried to talk as much as possible, but after 30+ hours of traveling its a challenge. Afterwards, i showered, unpacked, tried to sleep. I dont know if it was the new place, experience, or all the traveling but it was hard to sleep. My room is quite small, but clean and the furniture is pretty modern. Actually the whole apartment is, especially the kitchen. ALL WHITE. cabinets, dishwasher, table, floor, microwave, fridge, etc.

The next morning i had an orientation for part of the day and then a break at a cafe and more til 330. Afterwards Caitlin and i walked around for awhile with her boyfriend and then went home. We went out that evening at around 1030 but didnt make it to the bar we were looking for until midnight and i was in heels so my feet for very angry! The bar we went to a lot of americans on exchange go to. After spending a few hours there we went to a club at 3am or so and hung out there until 4. its funny to see the spaniards sing to american music especially r and b or rap because they never know the words!

The next morning was rough because i had to be up by 930 for more orientation stuff at the university (its only 3 blocks away which is lucky because some students have to walk further or take a bus for 15 minutes!)

A little about my host mom. She is very nice. in the beginning she i didnt understand a lot of what she said and i would ask simple questions and hope she wouldnt ask me too many, but i can completely follow her conversations. Its crazy because i have only been here a week and i feel more engaged and even if i dont understand some words i can filter through and have serious conversations. For example, she told Caitlin and i all about her life and how she had all these brothers but her parents hated her and didnt let her go to college. She told us she had to clean the kitchen and cook in there all the time but her brothers could do whatever they wanted. It was an intense conversation. She said she doesnt talk to her parents and i think she said she moved out when she was 22 or maybe it was younger. Also i thought she only have 3 kids but she told us that she had another daughter that died from miningitis at the age of 1. She said she got really sick when her daughter was sick because she didnt eat and she was really sad. That probably gives you a good idea of how open she is and how much she talks to Caitlin and I because both of those conversations were lengthy and serious to say the least!

On a lighter note Maria loves to call me Kiki. I told her my name was Kyla and she repeated Kila, and then i said you can call me Ky and it turned into Kiki. So ohwell. Its growing on me. Caitlin and Ben (her bf) call me it and now a lot of people in the program are too, so i dont mind having a different name here, its kind of funny. Our host mom calls Caitlin, Cayln, i guess she has trouble with the T in her name.

In spain obviously a lot of things are different. Here are a few of my observations. A LOT of the bathrooms have lights that turn off after a certain time, so frequently im in the bathroom and the lights just go off. Usually there is a light to the whole bathroom and stall, but sometimes both go off! NOT FUN. also a lot of toilets dont have toilet seats or are out of paper, i guess they are not good about restocking!!! In my house my host mom has a lot of unique conceptions about things such as she wouldnt let caitlin drink cold water because she had a cold.

Two out of the three first nights I was given fish for dinner. I love sushi and some fish but the second time we had fish it was salted way too much and deeply breaded. I had to force myself to eat half of it, covering it in other foods. After that, I told her fish gives me stomach problems sometimes because we are suppose to be honest and tell our families if there is something we dont like. Caitlin feels the same way about fish so i told her caitlin gets sick too. She said that was fine and once in a while she food buy blue tuna because its super fresh and better but its very expensive. Thats another thing, my host mom is so nice but she will ask Caitlin and i if we like certain foods and we will say yes and she responds ALWAYS with that food is expensive. As you can see they are big on conservation (electricity, food, etc!)

This past weekend my group went on an excursion to Eastern Austrias. Austrias is (if i remember correctly) 1 of 17 principailities in spain. Oviedo (where i live) along with Gijon, and 1 other city that i dont remember its name off the top of my head are the three cities that are in Austrias along with smaller places and green green land! For those of you are not familiar with the part of spain i am in, its the NW corner. And very different from Madrid and Sevilla (other cities in Spain) which are drid and arid. I will write more about that later, possibly, but we went to a musem all about cidra (which is a hard apple cider/beer that is local to this area). Also we saw some catholic castles and water falls and a fountain with seven spouts (i guess the rumor or tradition says that if you drink from all seven spouts you will be married in a year. obviously i didnt drink from it!) We went to salbaton mar ( sea) and looked at these amazingly painted bolders that keep the waves from coming up to high. The huge rocks are frequently placed near the shore of many seas, but these were special because an artist came and painted them in a puzzle like design.

Another observation I have made is that everyone is so dang skinny and its true they are a lot more fashionable. Everyone reading this knows i love to shop so i think im getting more into there style. Still wearing jeans every day, but i got a few new (unexpensive items) in the last week. Dont worry mom im controlling myself! Oh and back to the dang skinny people! No one is fat and everyone wears those skinny jeans that are in style back in the US, im sure a of you know what im talking about! Those would not look good on me cuz im too short, but they look good on people here and well people in the US too.

On sunday I went to a big open market with my host mom and Caitlin. Its kinda like a big bizarre + being in mexico. I will explain why. First of all you can bargain, like mexico and second of all there is food and clothing galore. It is popular (im not sure if its just my area or all of spain) for Africans to live here because the living conditions are better. Often they sell things on the streets and its 99% Africans selling at the open market. There is a lot of fake designer purses, wallets, clothes, shoes, etc.

Tomorrow is my placement test for school here. Today we had our first cultural perspectives class. Its just a 1 credit class everyone has to take that is taught in english and teaches about differences in spain´s culture/ Europe and the US.

Ok thats all for now. Comment if you like! I am not on my computer so i cant put up pics yet, but im in the computer lab which has fast internet and wifi so ill bring my computer to campus pronto!

A SMALL NOTE TO ADD: I am sorry for the run on sentences and mis spellings. I was just trying to get a post up quickly. ill go through and edit it soon so it is easier to follow.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Almost packed!!

So its now less then a week until I leave and I have packed my bags (with the exceptions of a few things). I am eager to begin my travels, which is going to take almost 30 hours, including layovers. The time change is 9hours ahead of US pacific standard time, for those who did not know.

Hmmm..Lets see...there is not much else to say except that I AM READY! I just want to get there and begin my adventure! This weekend will be full of spending time with my family, going to eugene to see a few friends and then saying my goodbyes! My fight leaves at 8:45am so my parents and myself will be leaving Corvallis quite early in the morning. I have a feeling I am going to experience horrible jetleg because of the time change and traveling for more then a day. Lets hope i adjust quickly!

Ok well this might be my last post before I am in Spain or on my way!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Its getting closer and closer...

Today is my last day of work and then i have ten days to prepare for departure! Last night i set up my web cam, headset, and skype on both my laptop and my parents desktop. After weighing the pros and cons, i have decided to bring my laptop! Initially i was concerned about bringing it because of security issues, but my mom made a good point about loosing it or having it stolen. She said it could happen ANYWHERE! With that being said, ill be packing it up and taking it on my adventure!

In the end i think i would be at a disadvantage and inconvenience if i didn't bring it because Spain is foreign and unknown to me, meaning i do not know FOR SURE what my situation may be. Its possible that i could go to an Internet cafe and video/web chat with little difficulty, but it is also possible that i would have problems. One reason is, skype takes a great deal of bandwidth and on a network where everyone is trying to communicate with other people in different countries, it could make web chat quite slow. Another reason why i am bringing my laptop is to put my photos from my digital camera directly on to my computer instead of worrying about using a flash drive...and in addition, i am familiar with my laptop (ie; i have my instant messenger, and other programs already on it and i know how to access them quickly with less stress). I am almost 100% my host mom does not have Internet in her home because she does not have an email address, but I have been advised by other past Spain study abroaders that i can find free wifi in many plazas and my university has wireless in certain areas as well.

Anyways, my screen name for skype is ky8087 but you can search for me just by typing in Kyla Grossberg. If for some reason you want to chat with my family or you would like their screen name, it is: csakfam or you can search for Cheryl Grossberg. Also i just purchased skype pro (you guys probably dont need it because you wont be calling landlines), however it is a great thing for me to have because i can call landlines for free, sometimes there is a 3 cent connection fee, but still thats better then a calling card, which is way more expensive. By purchasing skypepro i also received 214 international minutes (which is like a calling card). I am not sure how many you use a minute to call the United States, but at least it starts me out with some. Those i will use to call cell phones (mostly friends, because my family all have landlines). Lastly skypepro has voicemail for free! You guys can leave me up to 10 minute voicemails if i do not answer (meaning i am not at the computer).

On a side note if you are not familiar with skype yet you probably will be confused by a good 60% of this post. NOW IS YOUR TIME! i have not left the country yet so im definitely patient and willing to help anyone over the phone or through email set up their skype. Once i am in Spain there is no telling whether i can help, I am saying this mostly to my family because i know a lot of my friends already have skype or are quite computer savvy! Just as a simple overview though skype is FREE for computer to computer communication either with just a headset/microphone or a web cam as well. I am going to have a cell phone in Spain, but as of now i am planning to only use it to communicate with other people in Spain. If for some odd reason skype does not fulfill all my needs, i will end up buying a normal calling card and use that on the cell phone. However, im confident that will not be necessary. Furthermore, you all do not need to worry about calling me from your phones, BUT i can call you from my computer. That does cost money, but its worth spending a little bit to me because i do realize that you guys cant ALWAYS be waiting anxiously at your computers to chat for a few with me! Thats why i got skype pro so i could call land lines for free and i plan to add more minutes to the skypecash so i can call cells as well.

OK........well this was a long post and it wasn't necessarily about the most exciting information like new places and sites to see, but logistics are important too!

I will post again in the next few days when i start packing. AHH!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

¡Tengo mi mama en España!

Yesterday evening i received an email from AHA International informing me of my host family. Mi mama is Maria Rodriguez Alonso. She is a divorced mother of three (2 girls and a boy), in her 50's. All of her children are grown, living on their own, and her daughters are married with children. She was encouraged by her son to host students after her daughter went on exchange to Florida. Recently she completely remodeled her new apartment, where another student (Caitlin) and myself will each have our own room. Maria works in the mornings and enjoys sewing as well. Her new apartment is only 5 minutes walking from school (the University of Oviedo) and 15 minutes walking to the center (heart) of Oviedo!

Caitlin, my host roomate goes to UO as well and is majoring in Spanish and Psychology, just like myself. We have been writing each other messages back and forth since yesterday evening when we found out we will be living together in Spain!

Now that I have my living situation settled and i know who my host family is, i am getting increasingly more excited. I received a big packet of information in the mail the other day and i am eager to read it through in its entirety along with my other orientation materials.

I was going to email mi mama because one of my friends who is going to Spain as well said she wrote her host family an email, but I checked and Maria does not have email or a cell phone. That probably means she does not have internet in her home and its a good choice that I am not bringin my laptop!

Here is mi mama in the center with her daughter Marlene and other students she has hosted.

Take care everyone!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

One Month and one day :)

In one month and one day i will begin my travels to Spain! i think it is finally starting to sink in that i will be LIVING in a different country and going to school. In high school i went to Costa Rica for 3 weeks (lived with a family and went to school), however i know this experience is going to be completely different, exciting, and intense. Since im sure everyone cant come visit while i am there you can be with me in spirit and join me on my travels by reading my blog! i will update it with new pictures, exciting info, and how i am adjusting to the new culture. I will be sending emails too, but this is the easiest way to let EVERYONE know what I am up to.

take care! if you would like to be on my email list, send me your address!

PS ill have more postings the closer it gets to my departure date. and of course frequently when i am in Oviedo!