Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hello Summer Vacation!!

That's right folks. I did it! I made it though my Junior year. Hello Summer! Here's what it took to get there:

The last two weeks have been crazy Amazing. Following Semana Santa was four days of class. Not much happened.
I wrote two papers, attended class and hung out in aula 5. Thursday after class I went to our favorite tea house with Laura, Jayna, and Julia to celebrate. Then, home. Friday we visited Segovia, which is northeast of Madrid, in Castila-Leon. Here we saw the alcazar/castle that inspired the Disney castle. It’s not Spanish, it’s actually more French or English in style. We climbed the tower, that was an experience. 2 foot wide spiral stairs, people going up and down at the same time. Clinging to the wall for my life. Friday night we stayed in the Fund and watched TV and studied. Saturday, oh, I went to Madrid to la Reina Sofia. Here I finally saw Picasso’s Guernica and many of his other works. Dahli also made an appearance, as well as just a few others. Back to Toledo to finish up a couple papers and get ready for a night “out.” This was suppose to involve Enerbos, but ended up being shoe shopping, Turkish food, and a spanish movie. We went to the theater in the mall and actually saw a Spanish-made film. “Al final del camino” is a comedy about couples “en crisis” making the Camino de Santiago to rebuild their relationships. It was so funny. It was a great cap to our experience. We got the humor because it was very Spanish. Completely politically incorrect and uncensored. The product placement was all Spanish, stuff we use daily here. I thought that was cool. Hearing colloquial Spanish instead of dumbed from English was nice too. Oh, and for the first time, the Americans weren’t the only one’s laughing. Spanish people thought this one was good too. Sunday? Oh, finishing the papers and studying for my lit final on Monday.

One more week:
Monday- Lit final. I kicked its ass. Study for Tuesday’s Poli final
Tuesday- Poli final. Once again, an ass kicking. Study for Wednesday’s grammar and theology final.
Wednesday- Grammar final, done. Theology- not so pretty. I got a beat down. Study for Thursday’s history final
Thursday- Round house kicked it to the face. DONE WITH SCHOOL!

I am so happy and sad that my classes are over. I seriously looked forward to Thursdays just to see Angel and talk about Franco. All the teachers here are just so wonderful. We have email addresses and open invitations to contact them at any time for anything. I’ve learned so much from each of them, both about their subject matter and Spain in general.

Thursday we celebrated with some tea and pre-shopping at the leather store where I may be purchasing something I can’t afford.

This is a surreal feeling. It was almost like a dream of a semester, this shouldn’t really count for anything. It was fun. It was a vacation. I loved every minute (even those that I didn’t like it so much).

So that’s that. Who knows if I will write any more. I have a lot going on in my head right now, but I think that might be just where it stays.

It’s satuday. We have our end of program ceremony today. I am finishing up gift shopping. I only have a couple more things I want to see. I’m going to Madrid tomorrow to hang out. Monday night I head to the airport for one last time. Yesterday was the first time I got really sad to be leaving. In three days, I won’t be in Toledo anymore. It’s different than when I left the states. I knew I’d be back in 4 months. I don’t know when life will bring me back to this beautiful city. That is the saddest part. I haven’t been here long enough. I don’t know enough of the history of this place. It’s is mystical little hill that has seen the rise and fall of Spain. It is my home. I’ll miss it more than I am willing to admit to myself just yet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gladiators, El Papa, and Ana Maria: Spring Break 2009

Friends, neighbors, and family all over the U.S.

I am alive! Sorry it's been so long. The earthquake didn't get me and I bet Russell Crow in the pit. Italy was amazing and will not be getting the long blog it deserves. I will try to give you a brief summary of what happened, and maybe someday I will tell you everything.

Day 1, Friday:
An early flight got us to Rome before noon. Found the hostel. Ate pizza. Coloseo- tour with a funny Italian and learned tons about the history of the crumbling site. Took a tour of Rome after, finding dinner in Campo de Fiores and then some gelato near the Trevi fountain. Threw coin in to promise a return to Rome. Saw a procession. Bed.

Day 2, Saturday:
Got up early to get on the metro to Vatican City. Vatican Museum tour. 5 hours. Sistine Chapel. Tried to take pictures inside illegally (blurry). Lunch at the coloseo. Tour of Pantheon Hill (maybe?). Dinner at great restaurant. Tried Limoncelo. um, interesting. Bed

Day 3, Palm Sunday:
left hostel at 7:30am to head to St. Peter's Square for Palm Sunday Mass. Went through security. Entered the square. Started to cry. It was breathtaking and overwhelming. Found a spot to stand. Enjoyed three hours of mass that included the entire passion, sung, in Italian. Wandered around and out of Rome with new friend Peter to a restaurant for lunch. Got a train to the airport. RAN through the airport at 7:15 to check in for our flight that left at 7:40! On our way to Sicily. Got picked up by Italian family. Drove to Gioiosa Marea. Pizza dinner. It had hot dogs on it (no joke!). Bed.

Day 4, Monday:
Breakfast of nutella and fruit. Tour of Sicily, all over. Met Ana Maria, Melissa's great cousin. She was our tour guide for the week. Grew views. Lots of car sickness on my part. Duomo visit. Gelato! Lunch with family. Pasta and steak. More touring. Dinner with the family. Tried Ignatzio's wine (not so good). More pasta! Yum. Bed

Day 5, Tuesday:
Tinderi (sp?), great views, Greek ruins. We met some spanish archeologists, spoke spanish for the first time in 5 days. Continued practicing Italian. More carsickness on the way home. Dinner with family. Met Nino, Ana Maria's fiance. Conversations with Nino. Thumb wrestling with Nino. Bed.

Day 6, Wednesday:
breakfast. refused to get into a car. Went to beach. Lunch. Back to beach. Took new Italian family out for pizza. So good! Bed.

Day 7, Thursday:
up at 5:30 for drive to bus station. Bus to Catania. Flight back to Rome. Back to the Vatican. Met Melissa's nun. Fast past into Holy Thursday mass. (The nun got us in without having to wait in line!). Mass. Watched el Padre Santo was the feet and left for airport. Airport. Met my friend Bella, a three yaer old Italian who ate my chips and read Marley and Me with me. Night in airport.

Day 8, Friday:
6:30am flight back to Madrid. Bus to Toledo. Slept for 7 hours. Holy Friday processions in Toledo. 6pm, 9pm, 1am. Walked the stations of the cross through Toledo, 3 hours. Home and in bed by 4:30.

Day 9, Saturday:
visited the El Greco exhibit in the Casco. Toured a synogog and museum. Got home to learn the Victoria was in a car accident and Loly had to go get her (she was ok, but the car was totaled). Back to the Casco to do homework, watch Jon & Kate, get Sangria, and attend another procession. The sangria didn't happen, but I did turn 21.

Day 10, Sunday:
1am, procession in the Casco. Enjoyed my first beverage as a 21 year old, and orange Fanta. Celebrated my birth watching Jon & Kate plus 8. Went to sleep by 3. Attended Easter mass in the Cathedral of Toledo with the archbishop presiding, inside the bars that seperate the alter from the general congregation. Lunch my Rio Tajo with tinto de verano to celebrate Easter.


What a week. I learned some Italian and met a great family. The Vatican was indescribable. Easter in Toledo- amazing!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ahhhh, It's APRIL!

Wow guys,

I can't believe I've made it to APRIL! The time has flown by, but here it is. Let than a month left in Toledo. Can you believe it? I can.

I can tell by the mounting stress and spring fever that the end is near. This week has brought two papers, a presentation, a review session, and the second to last week of classes. Now, on to SPRING BREAK!!!

I can't wait for everything to wrap up. I am so excited to come home and see everyone, but today I also got the sad feeling that I don't have enough time here. There is so much I still want to see and do, and I really only have two weeks left. I am starting to prepared myself to get back into the swing of America. I have been busy picking out classes, trying to finish up the resume and find a summer job. I have been elected New Member Educator for Alpha Xi Delta, and just might be Panhellenic President. Life is going to be good. But life is good now.

I am in a weird place of wanting to move forward and wanting to stay still. I'm ready to move forward, but a little more time to soak this all in wouldnt be too bad...ah, how confusing this all is.

I am trying to take time to look around, trying to remember everything and what I am feeling in this moment. I feel like this experience has begun to change me, but the things I have learned and the ways I have grown will only become more evident once I learn.

One of my favorite quotes is by Nelson Mandela. It says, "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." I think that is what coming home will do for me. Sure, things have changed, life has happened, but in general the people and places I left behind still think and act the same. Let's see if I do too.

Enough of this. I have some homework to finish up before jetting off to Italy at 5am tomorrow morning. I am so excited. It will be a completely new country and culture all over again. I can't wait to see it all, and then come home to Toledo for two more weeks of this amazing life.

Love and miss you all. See you soon though!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I really wish Spain had a clearance rack...

This weekend in Toledo:

Friday morning I got up bright and early to start my Casco adventure. I wondered around for a couple of hours falling in love with the beaty of this place all over again until I found myself in San Juan de los Reyes. It was amazingly breathtaking. I spent the afternoon writing an essay and working on some grammar homework.

Saturday I was scheduled to go to Consuegra, but communication problems led me back to the Fund to do more work. Another essay and a huge packet of grammar work.

The afternoon is where the title of this blog comes in. The mall. My friend Jayna and I decided to spend the afternoon shopping before meeting Julia for a drink and a movie (that's right, there are at least three bars in the mall). So, we visited Zara, Bershka, some store with an A, 5 shoe stores, and more. I ended up purchasing a green cardigan (because Julia has issues with my clothing, and I am so sick of wearing the same black and brown cardigans every day), a purple tank top, and a boring pair of black flats from Mary Paz (the Spanish payless, only better). It was a pricey afternoon because Spain does not have clearance racks. They have sales season, which ended in February, back when I was to worried my budget wouldnt make it through the semester to spend unnecissarily. Now I know my budget won't make it to the end of the semester, so I am just enjoying the ride. plus, you wear the same three sweaters everyday for three months and tell me you dont want to rip them to shreds. And, my brown shoes are starting to fall apart. So, all spending was necessary.

Um, we went and saw Marley and Me. This movie is so good. I cried like a little girl whose doll was thrown in the mud by the cruel neighbor boy. Got home around 1, went to bed.

Sunday, back at the Fund. The agenda today: read a book, edit my poli paper, research for my history project due Thursady, and Skype with the family I havent talked to in about three weeks.

It has been so nice being here this weekend. A month of straight travel was crazy. Now I can just enjoy the ride to the end of the semester. This week will be nuts with my history project (10 pages and 25 minutes about the transition of the role of women pre-, during, and post-Franco compared to the US), but then I am just one 5 page paper, a 8 page essay, and 5 finals from the end of the semester.

Also, let's talk about the fact that I am going to be in ITALY in 5 DAYS! OMG, I can't believe it!!! I am so excited, both to see the amazingness of Rome and Vatican City, but also to lay on the beaches of Sicily and hang out with Melissa's sicilian family. That will be a completely new cultural experience that I am more than pumped for.

Oh, and I lost my bus pass last night, so I can either buy a new one, or just walk everywhere for the next month. I'm thinking that might be the answer.

K, Bye. Oh, and BESOS,


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Te gusta la musica?

Last night my sister spent about an hour going through all of her American music with me. Too much fun! It made me miss home though. Her new favorites hold old memories for me.

You guys, I am getting sick of Spain. I see the same 50 people every day in class. I am over that. School has lost its thrill. It is now just a mountain of papers and presentations that I have two weeks to finish up. Family life is dull. I can't afford to travel, nor do I have any desire to do so anymore. My best friends here? I see them every day. I love them, but I need a change. Who would have thought that this would get old?

This weekend I am staying in Toledo planning to explore more of the Casco, something I havent been able to do for close to a month. So maybe that will breathe new life into everything.

Oh, also, I am so BORED! People are content working or going to school and then just sitting around until it is time to go out and drink. True, this may be the life of many in America, but not mine. I need more to do during the day. I need to plan and organize. I would like to go to a meeting or two, maybe work. I would like to be challenged in ways that do not involve my inability to communicate. Problem solving would be fun. I don't get me. I can't seem to be content wherever I am.

Yeah, I would like to get back to SNC school. Now that the daily routine has set in, I need to "stir the scum on the pond" as Kristy would say.

Any suggestions?


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One last Spanish Adventure

As the weeks are winding down my schedule looks like this:

March 23-26: School
March 27-29: Weekend in Toledo, to include: trip to Consuega, the mall, and a movie
March 30-April 2: School
April 3-5: Rome
April 5-8: Sicily
April 8-9: Rome
April 9-12: Easter in Toledo
April 13-16: One last week of classes
April 17: Trip to Segovia
April 18-19: Studying for finals and a trip to Madrid to shop
April 20-23: FINALS!
April 24: Celebrate
April 25: Graduation
April 26-27: Last days in TOLEDO
April 28: Homeward bound

This is crazy.

What is means is that this past weekend's trip was my last big Spanish adventure.

This is sad. It's true I have now seen five major regions of Spain, six if you include the one I live it. It is also true that I feel nearly done with Spain. Now I am just about ready to start seeing the rest of Europe. At the same time I feel perfectly content to just hang out in Toledo for the rest of the time. Travel is exhausting and I need a break. But I also want to see more. There are so many great places in Spain. I want to visit all the cities again, with a few new ones. Someday, the funding might allow this, but not for a couple of years....sad.

But anywho....Basque Country, March 20-22:

This little trip involved Julia and me spending 9 hours in a sketchy bus station, during which time we did not sleep, had our passports checked, watched a man get taken away by what we thought we spanish police, and almost considered just coming back to Toledo before we even left Madrid.

We got the the bus station Thursday night for our 6am bus....but we didnt sleep after the whole police event. Then we found out out bus was coming at 730, not 600, so that was fun. We went to San Sebastian and Bilbao. Friday in San Sebastian was great. It's a really beautiful little city, not much to see but that's okay. I am a little sick of cascos and cathedrals. The beach of San Sebastian was just enough. Friday we shopped. I bought a new shirt, necklace and gorgeous pink scarf (from ZARA!!). Saturday we spent on the beach. I am nicely tanned to prove it. That afternoon we hoped a bus to Bilbao. A total disappointment.

Our Bilbao hostel was a tren ride outside the city, in the middle of nowhere land. We left only to go to a convenince store for bread and water for dinner (because that was all they had and we feared for our lives). Sunday morning we visited the Guggenheim, which almost made up for the boredom Bilbao inflicted on me. The modern art was unlike anything I have seen thus far. All the collection were the works of Asian artists, including a huge exhibit of the gunpowder work of the guy who designed the fireworks display for the Olympics this past summer. The other exhibit was a strange anime thing. I didn't really get it. Pop art flowers and a statue titled "lonely cowboy" (think about it)....not quite what I was expecting to see...but all in all, worth the 7.50 we paid. So, after that we hoped back on the bus and came home.

Not a super exciting weekend, we were bad tourists. Only one museum, no visit to either Casco, and I didnt even take many pictures....

I feel like that means too things: 1) travel is becoming common and the novelty no longer exists, which leads to 2) Spain is kind of like home. Think about it, traveling the US is a vacation not an "i have to see everything in 2 days" event. This weekend was a vacation and nothing more. I liked it.

I would recommend that, if you choose to visit Pais Vasco, make Bilbao a day trip, bring sunscreen for the beach, bush up on you Euskara (or something like that- it's their language which in no way resembles Castillano), and just relax. This is Spain. No pasa nada. Enjoy the journey!

Un beso from one last weekend adventure!

What's Next?

I've been thinking alot about this question lately. What's next? I've done everything I grew up wanting to do: learned to drive, got into an amazing college, and now have traveled. True, I haven't seen everything, but I have seen quite a lot and will see a little bit more before I leave, but what next?

Before I came, life was busy. I was 100% dedicated to school, work, and most importantly, Alpha Xi Delta. Being president took a lot of time and work (though some of that time was spent on Facebook). It also gave me a way to be fully involved in something and really feel like I was making an impact. Now what? I will not be president. I am not sure what my role will be in the chapter. True, I will still be involved, but I feel like I need to reevaluate what the sorority mean to me, where I am in it, and what I will do during the last year of college.

Right now I feel like my only major collegiate accomplishment has been Alpha Xi Delta, which is great, but I think I need more. I need to do more for myself. Sorority leadship and life has most definitely had an impact on the person I am. I am now a better leader, a better communicator (most of the time), have a better image of myself, and more open to new ideas, and know what it means to really be a part of something....but....

I don't know....what's next? I need a job, a hobby, interests off campus.

Yeah, so that's what I have been thinking about sitting in Spain watching the TV show Greek online. I miss my Greek life and all that it gives me. My friend Julia made a great observation. She said, "Angela, I think the reasn you are so homesick all the time and are ready to go home is because you have more invested there than the rest of us." This is so true. Others have friends at college, I have a family.

I love my family.

Hmmmm.....yeah, I don't know. Being far away from everything with ample time to procrastinate and avoid writing numerous papers in a foreign language gives you time to think. These are my most recent thoughts.

If anyone has any ideas as to what I can do with my future, let me know.

Well, un beso!

Also, I have less than 40 days before I'm back in the States...weird.