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.

YEAH SEMANA SANTA!

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!
Besos!
Angela

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,

Angela

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?

Besos!
Angela

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!
Angela

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!
Angela

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

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Things I Miss in America:

My family and friends
The Office
My bed
my car
Target
Working (weird I know)
chicken
mac and cheese
popcorn
dt. PEPSI
the library
the radio (my family doesnt have one)
my cats
smiling at people as you pass them
being able to hold an intelligent conversation (not possible with the vocab of a 3 year old)
my stuff, all of it
dryers (like putting your clothes in the dryer, i miss that)


Things I love about Spain:

My family and friends
traveling
the river
the mountains
all the parks
the sense of accomplishment I feel after watching TV or attending class
public transportation
the old men, they are so cute
the old ladies, out for the night in their fur coats
how popular the mcdonalds in zocodover is
the way the cars park
how narrow the streets are
all the chinese stores
the sun
Spanish
tapas
sangria
cafe con leche
tortillas
no pasa nada
the number of shoe stores

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sangria, It's my favorite

March 13- 15, 2009

Technically, my trip to Barcelona started on Thursday, you know, when I was trying to sleep on the floor of the airport. Our flight to Barcelona was at 8:30 Friday morning, and because of timing for travel from Toledo to Madrid and then the hour it takes to get through the metro to the airport, we had to sleep there to catch our flight. BAD IDEA!

Bright lights. Noise. FREEZING COLD ROCK HARD FLOOR.

If avoidable, do not sleep in the airport. I will be doing it at least three more times before I come home, but I will not enjoy it.

So Friday morning comes, we have each gotten about an hour of sleep, and we jump on our plane. Barcelona, here we come. Oh wait, you’re flying Ryan Air, that means sketchy sirports in the middle of nowhere. We flew into Girona and then paid 10 euro to get to Barcelona, but that’s ok, that gave me an hour of sleep time!

We finally made it to our hostel around 11. We checked in, with the help of the nervous, English-speaking, receptionist. Not going to lie, this hostel looked like it could give you a disease, but the sheets were clean and there wasn’t too much mold in the shower, so it was all good. We dropped off our stuff and headed out in search of lunch. This ended up being groceries from Corte Ingles. We made our bocadillas en Plaza Cataluna, one of the main plazas in Barcelona, just off of Las Ramblas, a famous paseo.

After lunch we decided to check out Las Ramblas and see where it would lead us. We passed venders of pets: birds, hamsters, rabbits, fish, and roosters. Then came the flowers. Lastly, art. Among them were all kinds of people who pretend to be statues. They are so cool (sarcasm right there). We also came across a huge market. We explored, trying to avoid the fish, but finding plenty of whole baby pigs (it is Spain, they do like pork). The produce was the most amazing. It was all fresh and so colorful. The decision was made to return for breakfast. We bought ice cream, chocolate blanco y negro and fresa. SO GOOD! We continued down Las Ramblas until we reached the port, marked with the monumento a colon. Apparently (according to Ricky), Barcelona was where Ferdinand and Isabel welcomed Columbus home. Interesting given last weeks trip to Granada where he was given permission to leave…

Here began Julia’s hunt for hotties. SUCCESS! Barcelona not only has hot Spanish men, but hot international men. Not kidding. I have never heard more languages spoken in one place in my entire life. The fact that 40% of them were smoking hot was just a bonus.

Hmm, so then we walked along the harbor and found a mall, the aquarium, a bridge, an Imax, and more. What else did we do that day?....Oh, I remember

We then tried to find the Olympic stadium. This involved taking the metro up Monjuic, but it was worth it. I can’t remember what year the Olympics were here, sometime in the 90’s.

End day one, dinner at a café and everyone in bed by 10 (hi, we didn’t sleep the night before….so we’re not lame)

DAY 2: Gaudi, Beach, fountains, and theft

We started our day early at the market. We got breakfast. I had fresh fruit juice, strawberries, raspberries, coconut, and a croissant. All for less than 6 euro, and all so good. We ate at McDonald’s patio on Las Ramblas.

After breakfast we hopped on the Metro to get to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous church. It wasn’t until we got off the metro that I realized I had left my money belt with my passport, credit card, and other documents in the hostel. So, Julia came with me on the 25 minute metro ride back to the hostel. An hour later we finally made it into the Sagrada Familia.

YOU NEED TO VISIT THIS CHURCH! There is more symbolism in the exterior of this building that anything I have ever seen or read. It is phenomenal.

We continued our Gaudi tour at Parc Guell, the park he began as a start to his gated community, which was never completed, but the park was awesome.

Then we went to see Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. Um, I sort of love Gaudi. His dream-like designs are unbelievable. How is it possible for one man to think up these designs and then actually bring them into reality?

After this, I was finally allowed to go to the beach. We made it, as the sun was setting, on the opposite side of the city. But, it was still beautiful. We froze our toes as we dipped them into the Mediterranean and collected sea glass and polished rocks. We walked along the boardwalk on our way back to the Metro so we could try to see the famous magic fountains in Plaza Espana.

This is when Melissa’s camera and Julia’s memory card got stolen. Ok, so Julia’s camera dies, and Melissa’s memory card was full, so we put them together. The metro was packed. It was like, hug the stranger next to you as you are slammed into the wall at each stop. Sadly, when we got outside, Julia realized that the camera was no longer in her pocket.

Well, we had also missed the last fountain show, so we got some sangria and sat on the steps in front of some government building to recover. This turned into a really great reflective conversation about what we were all feeling about being here and how we thought our families would react to us being home again. It’s strange to think about, but talking about it with others really put it into perspective. I have experienced so much here in such a short time that none of you will ever understand. I might want to explain my time here to you, but it will be impossible, and you will get bored, or it just won’t mean as much to you as it does to me. How could it? To you all, Barcelona is just a big city in Spain. To me, it is a city I fell in love with in two days. To you, Toledo might be a pile of rubble with a lot of cool old museums and some windmills of Don Quijote, but to me, it is my second home. I will be leaving a part of my heart here when I leave.

These are the things we talked about until Melissa was worried she was going to get drunk because we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so we went home to find dinner. Pizza at some sketch chain restaurant. Bed by midnight.

DAY 3:

Julia and I skipped getting up at 7 to go to mass and instead went to Starbucks! We enjoyed our overpriced coffee and super rich muffin before heading to the bus station. We took the bus to the airport, the plane to the bus station, the metro to another bus station, and the bus home. We made it back to Toledo by 5.

Another good weekend!

Oh, I forgot to mention that they don’t speak Spanish in Barcelona, they speak Catalan. I speak Catillano. It is nearly impossible to read Catalan. Thankfully, every sign is in at least Catalan and Castillano. Some are in French, Italian, and English too. You gotta love an international city!

Well, that’s it. You are all caught up on my Spanish travels. Thursday I will be leaving for Basque country to visit the beaches of San Sebastian, Guernica (the first civilian site bombed in the Spanish Civil War, thanks to Hilter), and Bilbao (home of the Guggenheim, and pretty much nothing else).

This will pretty much end my Spanish adventures. We have two more day trips with the Fund and my week in Italy, but then that’s it. My jet setting days are drawing to a close, and I like it. I need a break from this crazy life. But, I will be missing it soon enough, so I will be enjoying every minute as it comes until they stop coming.

Love you all!
Un beso y un abrazo fuerte!
Angela

Moors No More

Um, I was in Granada March 6th through the 8th. It was amazing. I went with just one other person, my good friend Melissa. It was the smallest group we have traveled with. Usually there are at least four of us, so this was a big adventure.

We took the AVE into Madrid on Friday morning, which was amazing. 20 Minutes and we were there, no need to spend an hour on a bus full of creepers heading into the city to work. We hoped on the Metro, took it the wrong way, hoped off, switched directions and made it to the stop for the bus station, but we took the wrong exit and ended up outside, so we asked a police officer and finally made it to the bus station. Getting from the AVE station to the bus station took an hour….it’s only one stop on the Metro….

Oh, the Metro at 8am, FUN! You know how you see images of people sardined into the subway in Tokyo or something; well this is what I experienced. Missy and I got split up between a couple of cars just before the door closed. Then, I got off at the first stop, Mendez Alvaro, or so I thought. It wasn’t, so I through myself back into the car, but then saw that Melissa had gotten off too, so I jumped out just before the doors closed again. Then we did the switching of sides and finally made it to the right stop.

So, the bus station is completely different during the day. The last time we had been there was when we left for Sevilla on a midnight bus (when we met Joel and Branden), but in the morning, it is quite nice. So, we got on our bus, this time I sat next to a nice girl from Japan who was going to see a friend studying in Granada. She slept the better part of the trip, so we did not talk beyond, ‘hi.’

The trip to Granada is about 5 hours, but we stopped in this little town half way through for a half hour break for lunch. We had really great, really cheap, bocadillas de tortilla. I love tortillas.

We got to Granada, I can’t even remember when, and followed Rick Steves direction as to which bus to take to the city center. We got off at the wrong stop and ended up walking to our hostel, which turned out to be right off of Plaza Nueva. Perfect location. We checked in, threw our stuff down, and headed out to make our 5:30 appointment to view the Alhambra.

Ok, so how the Alhambra works, you need to reserve a ticket, because they sell out fast. You have half an hour from the time on your ticket to enter into Palacios Nazaries. Our ticket time was 5:30. Around 6:05 we made it to the entrance. Yay! Oh, and it was raining. All was good though. We toured through the palace, then went into Charles’s V Palace and the Alcazar. I am not even going to try to explain how breathtakingly unbelievable it was to be there. This was something that I have read about, been lectured on, and talked about at least once every semester since I started taking Spanish. It is kind of a big deal. This was the last Moorish stronghold in all of Spain, ending the Reconquista by the Christian army in 1492, finally solidifying Christian power in Spain.

Inside Palacios Nazaries is the room where Columbus was granted permission to travel West to reach the East. That is soo cool. I stood where Ferdinand and Isabella stood giving Cristobol Colon to OK to find the Americas. OMG!

OMG! I just cant get over it. Even thinking back on it, yeah, it’s only been two weeks, but still. I can’t believe that I was there. How is this even possible? To have something as important in the history of really the entire world still exist, and that I was in it, that is just too cool. JODER!

You guys don’t even understand.

Anyway, that night we decided to go out for dinner. This is when I met my arab boyfriend whose name I can’t remember. We were looking for a teteria, a tea house. We passed by something that resembled one, so I went to check out the menu. This is when my new friend in a turban approached me, asked my my name, told me he new lots of American girls who liked his tea and hooka, and insisted that “amiga, Angelita, you’ll love it.” This is when I was uncomfortable and Melissa was seriously considering grabbing me and running. (She told me this later.) I was just making sure I wasn’t getting robbed and that he wasn’t planning on touching anything other than my hand. CREEP!!! We avoiding that street for the rest of our stay.

For dinner we actually ended up following some British men to a really nice restaurant. It was only about 9, so we were the only ones in the restaurant. It was delicious. We spoke in Spanish the entire time, which was cool, and then I ate fried milk. That’s right FRIED Milk. It was a strange flan/custard combo that was surprisingly tasty.

This ends day one, by midnight we were all tucked in bed and trying to sleep.

Day 2: SHOPPING!!!

We were going to go to Nerja to hit the beach, but the clouds in the sky convinced us to shop instead, oh darn. It was great. We found tons of great things, that we didn’t buy. I did find a really great store that I can’t mention due to the name and who I bought it for. All will be revealed in time. We grabbed strawberries and bread for lunch and ate them on the steps of the cathedral, under the now scorching sky. It was perfect, except for those damn gypsies.

I would like to thank Rick Steves for mentioning them in his Granada chapter and not Sevilla. Those ladies with the rosemary….yup, they were all over, but now I have a sixth sense, so we avoided them, using unsuspecting tourists as blockades against their advances.

Later in the day we went to St. Nicholas viewpoint to watch the sun set over the Alhambra. Here we met up with some of the Notre Dame kids and just watched the Alhambra in all its glory for at least three hours. This is when I had my epiphany about home and started to cry and freaked Melissa out…oops.
We then headed to our flamenco show, which wasn’t for two hours. When we found the restaurant, we went to a different bar for a café before dinner. There was some big game on, so it was crowded with rowdy Spanish men. Nothing interesting here.

Flamenco dinner was amazing. Sangria, pizza, Greek salad, and a show. The performers were great. The best part was seeing them dance a Sevillano, which I actually know, so it was neat to see it in person. I wish I could dance a little better, maybe I would have been the one to volunteer to dance with them. There was a bachelorette part going on those, 25 Andalucía women raised to dance flamenco. They danced with the performers, and then when they were done, they took over the stage and continued the show. So great. We ended up staying there until close to 2, at which time we got a cab back to our hostel. End day 2

Day 3: Church and Home

We got up and went to the Alhambra to write postcard. Can you imagine, just hanging out in the Alhambra? Well I did. It was amazing. We then went to mass at the Cathedral in Granada with our friend Elissa.

After mass we had about an hour to get back to the bus station to catch our bus home. The street was blocked off, so the bus wasn’t running that day. There was a manifestacion de la mujer, the working woman, all over Spain, so the bus route in Granada was messed up. We ended up catching another taxi so that we wouldn’t miss our bus.

We made it, got on, rode home, and went to sleep.

What a great, eye-opening, weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

¡¡Bienvendios a la Primavera!!

Amigos!

Spring has finally arrived in Toledo. I know this for many reasons, one of which was the 26º weather yesterday and today, put I would like to make a list of a few more:

- I saw my first Spanish lawn mower on my walk to school this morning
- restaurants are putting the tables back outside
- it is now rare to see a spaniard with a scarf
- they were painting the lamp posts today
- tourists are wearing shorts
- things are finally green
- siestas in the park by my house
- americans are walking around in very little close trying to get a tan...
- I am reaching that panic point in the semester, only 4 weeks of class left and still so much to do...

I hope you all are enjoying the start of Spring too.

Tonight I´ll be leaving for the airport. We´re spending the night there before our flight to Barcelona tomorrow morning. What a great way to kick off SNC´s spring break. Sadly, I have a paper on the philosophy of Ortega y Gasset and a rewrite of a paper for political science to finish before then. Oh, and I am going to a teteria tonight!

I should mention, because by the time I get to telling you about last weekend I will ahve forgotten....I have this feeling that I am ready to come home. I am not homesick anymore. I mean, some american food would be good, and I would love TV in English, but in general, life here is just starting to get comfortable, and I think this is what makes me ready. I am not going to lie, my Spanish conversation skills still suck, but in general, I am getting better at this Spanish thing.

What I am realizing though, is that I like home. The people and the things that make home home are there. I miss my stuff, my family, inside jokes and knowing what is going on in the lives of the poeple I love. It is hard to keep track when I am so rapped up in my world here. Don´t get me wrong, I still love it here and am soaking in every minute, but in the last two weeks I have gone from "I never want to leave" to "when my time is up, I´ll be ready to come home." I like this.

I don´t feel like Spain has changed me all that much, it has maybe just made me more appriciative of the things and people I have in my life. It has however, helped me to see the ways I have changed in the last two years. I would never have been able to do this a year or two ago. It has proven to me that I have grown up, learned a little, and am a stronger and better person than when this whole college thing started.

I kind of feel like my study habits have completely disappeared, like COMPLETELY, but whatever, I´ll get over it. I am learning enough, homework is just a time filler...No Pasa Nada!! It´s the motto of my life here, and I hopefully won´t forget it when I get home to the crazy multitasking world of the great USofA. Also, I would like to have a conversation with an American history or politics prof about this whole Spanish Civil War business....but that´s for another day.

I am going to class. Have a safe spring break and weekend/week

Un beso, y muchos abrazos!
Angela

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Glory of Galica

Wow, you’d think I have a life or something….nothing for over a week? Bet you all thought you were off the hook. Sorry, keep reading. You’re going to wish you hadn’t started, but who knows….maybe it will be interesting:



Where to start? I was in Galicia two weekends ago, February 27-March 1. It was my “you survived 5 Spanish midterms” present. Well worth the wait. Galicia is in the northwest part of Spain, in what many consider the Ireland of Spain. I think they are right.

We flew to Santiago de Compostala on Friday morning, after taking the 5:15 am indirect bus from Toledo to Madrid. Sketchy! Oh, I also almost threw up in the bus do to my motion sickness, thanks to all the damn round-a-bouts Europeans feel are necessary…

So we got to the bus stop and then hoped on the Metro for about 45 minutes. Good times. We made it to the airport with about two hours before our flight. We got all checked in with Ryan Air and made it through security, I got searched. That was an experience. (I think it was the buckles on my shoes though-they never found the Toledo sword I was smuggling).

Hmm, so we got on the plane and picked out seats and took off. I must say, Spain is even more beautiful from the sky. Because our flight was just under an hour, we didn’t have to get up too high and you could see the ground for the entire thing. I saw mountains and rivers and finally the green fields of Galicia. It honesty reminded me of flying into Amsterdam in January, just really fresh and beautiful. We landed and got to make our rock star exit from the plane. We finally caught the bus and made it into the city. After a conversation with a police man, we found our hotel, which was amazing.

We went to the market and got some bocadilla supplies for our picnic in the hotel. I love avocado/tomato/snap pea/pepper sandwiches. So lunch was over and we split up to go explore Santiago (there were eight of us all together, which tends to draw a crowd, so we decided to stick with Spanish and travel in smaller numbers).

I fell in love fast with Santiago. It’s so cute, so European. The streets were practically empty when we were out, probably due to siesta time. We found some cool and random things, including a lace store, we actually watched the women making it and another exercise park. Finally we made it to the cathedral, the ultimate destination for pilgrims.

See the story goes that, back in the day, St. James made a little journey through Spain and ended up in Galicia. When he was killed, some of the other apostles stole his body and buried it in the hills of Galicia, so the Romans couldn’t feed him to the lions. Well, years later, some monk followed a group of stars to the place where St. James was buried, dug him up, and built a chapel in his honor. Thus began the Camino de Santiago. Slowly the cathedral was built around the chapel and the tomb of St. James got a cleaning and has a special place under the high alter. Today pilgrims and non-believers alike hike, bike or drive the 1.200 kilometers from France to Santiago. AS you travel, you stop at churches and monasteries to get a stamp in your pilgrim’s passport, and finally when you get to Santiago, you get a certificate. You don’t have to do the whole 1200, but to get the certificate you must WALK the last 100 kilometers, or you can take your bike or HORSE the last 200. I did not see any horses, but my host sister and I decided that that is how we will make our Camino. But really, I plan to make the full 1.200 kilometer journey sometime soon. It was so powerful to attend the pilgrims’ mass not even being a pilgrim; I can only imagine what it’s like after 30+ days of travel. I can’t wait to see more of northern Spain on foot.

Hmm, well yeah, Saturday we went to the pilgrim’s mass and to this great market, then it was off to A Coruna, about an hour north of Santiago. Here we spent 3 or 4 hours walking the maritime paseo along the Atlantic. It was really breathtaking. I have never seen anything like it.

We hoped back on the train and got home in time to head to dinner. We found a great cheap student friendly restaurant in our handy Rick Steves and decided to give it a try. I ended up with a heaping bowl of lentejas (quite honestly one of my favorite foods in Spain) and some random fish, followed by some fried dough with sugar on it, all for just 8.50. A deal. We went looking for some flaming drink, but I guess it’s a summer thing, and well, despite the 65 degree whether, it’s still winter here.

That ended Saturday. Sunday we slept and then headed to the airport to catch or 10:00 flight home.

Not a bad weekend. I should probably also comment how much I love my friends. They made this weekend the best ever. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. It was great to be able to have a real vacation, no agenda, just seeing Spain, with such wonderful people. My roomies were hilarious and everyone else are simply the best. So a little shout out to all y’all- YAY US!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

One Day I Just Might Walk to the Edge of the World



This is what I have decided after my trip to Galicia this past weekend.

Our primary destination was Santiago de Compostala. I didn't know much about this place other than it had an airport and it was a pilgrimage sight. Now I know that I will be visiting it again someday, this time on foot.

Ok, my brain is tired again after another amazing weekend. More to come.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I did it. I survived midterms. Let me tell you, it was a battle.
- I wrote a ten page paper on the entire history of all of latin america
- I wrote a three page in-class essay on the influences on the generation of 1898 in Spanish literature and how this translated into the works of Miguel de Unamuno and reates to the wors of Proust.
- I took a hellish grammar exam, and have a 10 page packet to finish for Monday
- I wrote an essay and 15 short answers in classrelating the philosophies of Plato to that of Plontino and how that translitioned into the Catholic theologies of Saint Augustine and eventually Santa Teresa de Jesus and San Juan de la Cruz.
- I wrote a 5 page in class essay about the reforms of the second republic in Spain and the varies forms of global aid each side received during the Spanish Civil War, and why.

I am amazed at all that I have learned in just 5 weeks, and the fact that I remembered it all.

However, now my brain is fried. I still have to finish that grammar packet. Then I have to finish a book and write a 5 page analysis of that baby for Monday.

Oh, and I will be leaving for Madrid with a final destination of Santiago de Compostala at 5AM!!! Yay I love cities and public transportation.

It is going to be a great way to wrap up a crazy week.

Also, my little sister's new favorite song is "Say My name" or whatever it's called. It's hilarious. And, my new favorite shoe is "Hombres de Paco."

Yeah, that's what I did all week. Studied, studied, studied, wrote a paper, and studied some more.

Un beso,
Angela

Monday, February 23, 2009

CARNAVAL!!!



I first heard about Carnaval when I got to Spain. I had no idea what it was. HOW WAS THAT POSSIBLE???

From my point of view, Carnaval is a good mix of Mardi Gras, the Fourth of July, and Halloween. ONLY BETTER!

Carnaval travels around Spain, but for the most part it is two weekends and the week in between celebrating life and all that is immoral, right up until, and a little bit into, Lent. In Toledo, Carnaval was this weekend. What an adventure.

Carnaval involves crazy costumes, mass amounts of liqiour, parades, dancing, and staying out until all night. I managed to find a costume, some liquor, a parade, lots of dancing, and staying out until 4...so I think I did okay for a first try.

Now, carnaval started some time Thursday night. I tracked down a parade of pirates and a band in gold suits. THe party began Friday night in Poligono. I did not attend. I chose to "study" for my midterms instead. I was not at all productive. I should have just went out.

Saturday we got the day started with the best parade of my life. There were no giant balloons, but there were some amazing floats and really elaborate costumes. The parade lasted, oh, 3 hours. It was so cool. Everyone comes in costume too. Well, mostly kids under 15, but still.

After the parade the entire city of Toledo and all the barrios, head into the Casco to Zocodover for drinking, dancing, and concerts. This is where we headed. Well, first I had to use my mad toga-making skills to dress two friends as Greek goddesses. I opted to be a cat. Creative, right?

So then we made our way out, found a concert, went to another, found all the Fund kids. Most everyone got really drunk. I saw a man, dressed as a woman, jump onto a dumpster, strip, then push the dumpster into the street, so that was fun.

What else, I don't even know. You just have to see it. It was great. But, by 3 I was exhausted so I went home, which took an hour to get to due to traffic and people in the street.

Then I slept, untill noon Sunday. Life is good.

Sunday there was apparently a procession of a giant sardine through TOledo. The used to burn it and dump it in the river as a sign of the end of Carnaval, but now they don't dump it anymore, due to envirnmental protesting. There were also fireworks. But I was talking to the parental units, so I missed it. But, I have heard that they are better than any fourth of july fireworks ever created.

What a weekend. Believe me, it was a lot more exciting than this post, but my English vocabulary is lacking and can not describe.

THat's all. Now, to begin a week of midterms. Yay! And, I need to have a meeting with Juan. That is all I have going for this week. But, Friday at 6:30 am I leave for Galicia, Spain. Look it up. Be jealous. Come visit. Or, send me stuff.

I now have only 2 months left, which is awesome, and sucks a whole lot. This city, and country is weaving its way into my heart. You can't even understand how amazing it is to be living here, among history and tradition that is hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years old. I have the best life ever!

That's all for now.

Un beso!!!<
Angela

Friday, February 20, 2009

When Studying Abroad, Study Should be Optional

I love school, when it doesnt include homework or exams. For the most part, the last 5 weeks of my life have been free of both. Well, it's all caught up to me. Now, the weekend of carnaval I will be spending my Friday night studying, writing papers, and reading. What fun!

Whose idea was it really to include the need to study in studying abroad. I have so many other things to spend my time on, like watching Dawson Crece and reading Corpusculo and helping Elena with her English homework. Oh, and of course planning my upcoming visits.

Not kidding. I go to my classes and love every minute, but my work ethic here SUCKS! I am reading Twilight in Spanish instead of some Ortega y Gasset novel. I watch Dawson's Creek in the morning instead of some movie about Mexico in 1949. Both are in Spanish, so I am still learning, just not what's going to be on the test.

As for travel, one more weekend in Toledo and then it will be a whirlwind of weekends outside of the Casco. I now have tickets to Galicia, then Granada, then Pais Vasco (home of the ETA), then Barcelona, then Segovia, then a week in Italy, then finals week, then home.

It's nuts, crazy, loco, insane, increible. I can't even explain how surreal it is. I have about two months left in Spain, 6 weeks of class, 2 weeks of exams, 7 weekends of travel, and its all over. I'm not sure if I'm ready for that. Yeah, it'll be amazing to go home, but I feel like I just got here, even though it's a third over. I still can't speak Spanish, but I now know that the USA supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War and that you can legally drop out of high school at age 16. So that's cool.

Crap, Midterms. 10 page paper on Latin America, 4 essay tests, a paper on a book I have to read, and two crazy nights of Carnaval. Well, only one for me....I'm lame.

Also, random, but my birthday is on Easter, my 21st birthday is on Easter SUNDAY. This is both cool and sucks. And, half of my friends will be in France while I am in Toledo for the holiday. Plans stand that kings cup will be played in my honor the following THursday, so I am looking forward to that too. Ooo, and that's our last day of class! Life just keeps getting better.

I feel like I may have procrastinated enough. Thanks for reading. Look forward to Carnaval adventures. (I plan to become slightly intoxicated in honor of the event and stay out to the wee hours of the morning) (please don't think any less of me family, it is the Spanish way)

Un Beso.
Angela

Oh, the beso reminds me, my "date" with Juan was canceled this week. He had to work. Did I mention this alreadY? Maybe, but it made me sad. Now I must only hope to run into him this weekend. Wish me luck with that ;-) (I kid, I kid)

Otro beso y un abrazo fuerte!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Whirlwind Anniversary Weekend




Life is Spain is good. The past few days have been great. Saturday, February 14 marked not only the feast day of Saint Valentine, but also my one month anniversary in Spain. To commemorate this special occasion, we had a weekend of adventure and fun.

Thursday night I went with my friend Julia to see The Hullahoop at Café Garsilaso. The flier I found stated that this band covered Elvis and 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll classics. So, I was pumped. I found them on MySpace and discovered that, sure enough, this Spanish band, sang American English music. So I was definitely pumped. Thursday night we met and began the search for this café/bar. WE made it, but it is in a semi-sketchy part of the Casco, but we braved it and entered. I am so glad we did! This place is cool, like Picarro, but better. We got there at 10, the show was suppose to start at 10. We sat down and ordered a drink. I ended up being a glorified fruit smoothie, not what we were expecting, but still really good. So 10 came and went. No Elvis. But, some Spanish bikers did come to crowd the bar. I love Harley men. At 10:30 the band finally got on stage. SO worth the wait. An old man and his younger entourage started in on their Presley medley. They were actually really good, and equally horrid. English with a Spanish accent, and Spanish in between songs. SOOO GOOD. So we laughed, danced, and sang along until a little after 11. Sadly we had to leave so we could catch the last bus home at 11:30, but, if you ever get the chance to check out The Hullahoops, DO IT!



Friday I went on an “excursion” organized by the Fund to El Escorial, this little city to the northwest of Madrid is home to the royal families summer home/monastery. Built after some war, or something, I can’t remember (Wikipedia it if you’re interested). It was neat. The best part being that it is set surrounded by mountains and snow. It was refreshing to see nature. I like nature (sorry Popp). The palace was interesting too. Philip II, or Charles III or V ( I can’t remember who built it) was very religious, so half the palace is a monastery, and the half that is royal residence looks more like a monastery that a palace. This was a good day, sunny and educational. My history prof. was actually my guide, so that was fun. I got to chat with him a little and score points 



Friday night we decided to go to a comedy show (Monologos de Humor) in Circulo de Arte. We got there at 10 again, but because we are in Spain, it didn’t start until 10:30. We tried, but it really isn’t that funny when you understand 90% of the joke but then don’t get the punch line. So, around 11:30 we decided to head into Poligono and see a movie. We went to a 12:30 showing of Slumdog Millionaire. SEE THIS MOVIE!!! It is so good. After the movie we hoped on the Buho to get home, only we got on the wrong one, so we made it home late. I got in about 3:30. My mother wasn’t home yet. She had gone out with her girlfriends. I found out Saturday morning that she did not get home until 6AM. Apparently they met some nice men and went dancing. Oh, my mother. I want to be more like her.

Hmm, Saturday was a lazy day. I woke up late, worked on homework, had lunch with Mom and heard all about her night. We talked more about traveling and what not. Then I walked to the Fund to max out my credit card.

Saturday was the perfect day in Toledo, sunny but not too hot. 10,000 tourists from all over the world. And plane tickets to Granada, Santiago, Barcelona, and Bilbao. I also now have a place to sleep when I’m in Rome.

Saturday night, after all the spending, Julia and I went out for a romantic sunset bottle of wine. We stopped at a market and picked up a 2 euro bottle of wine and some cheese and headed west. Problem, finding the west. We made it as the sun was just setting. We ended up perching on a wall outside of La Catedral de San Juan de Los Reyes, which was only slightly awkward. The sad part, we had bought wine but did not have any means of opening it. So we ended up watching the sunset eating cheese and being sad that we had no wine to cap off our romantic valentine’s day date.



After this we met our group of friends for an anniversary picnic. We got bread, chorizo, and fruit and made sandwiches (bocadillas actually) on the steps overlooking Rio Tajo. It was so fun, a great way to celebrate one month together. After dinner Laura, Julia and I went in search of a gosh darn bottle opener. After success we went back to our scenic vista and tried our wine. It was terrible. We ended up dumping the bottle. Sad, but still a blast.

This weekend I came to a realization: I am going to miss this place and these people. I’m not kidding. This was monumental for me. When I started to think about not seeing everyone everyday, I got homesick for Spain. While it’s sad, it also makes me happy because I know I am making a home here and I wasn’t even realizing it. The rest of our time here together will be amazing though, and now I just have an excuse to visit Minnesota and Milwaukee more often.

I love my Spanish family and friends. They make it feel like home.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spanish People Are Cool

Ok so I have to leave a quick not about how in love with my intercambio (conversation partner) I am. Very much!

Juan is 24. He is so cool. He's actually an English Studies student, currently working towards his masters degree. He's hoping to move to New Zealand or the US soon to teach Spanish.

Before yesterday I hadn't met this kid, all I knew was his name. We decided, via email, to meet under an archin Zocodover. I was quite nervous about this little adventure. Two hours of forced conversation with a SPANIARD I had never met.

Well, it turned out to be amazing. After our beso and an awkward moment in which we established which language we would speak, we went to this cool cafe/bar called Picarro in el Casco. I forgot how much fun it could be to have a real conversation with someone. I mean, I have conversations everyday with my friends here, but they're about classes, comparing families, our life in the US, where we are going to travel, etc. Juan is an interesting guy. He's traveled all over Europe and, because he has studied quite a bit about the US, has a really interesting point of view. Anyway, we ended up talking for a couple of hours, English and Spanish, about everything from music, movies, bars and nightlife, to healthcare in the US and Spain.

After this conversation with Juan I was reminded why you need to study in a new country. To talk to the people. To compare your point of view to others and to question what you believe. Juan also pretty bluntly told me to suck it up and just speak Spanish. I told him that I was shy, and he was like, no, you're not. Haha. So I think meeting with him might help me out. He makes it a point to correct my errors when I speak, which is equally frustrating and helpful.

SO yeah, that's my intercambio. We're planning on meeting again next weel. Oh, and a disclaimer, Juan has a girlfriend who is equally as cool, but Juan also has lots of friends who do not have girlfriends, so we shall see...

That's about it for life from the last two days. I can't believe it's only Tuesday. The rest of the week will be pretty mellow, once I get through the two papers I have due tomorrow. Thursday night I am going to an Elvis Presley cover band and then to El Escorial on Friday. The weekend will consist of me shopping for a Carnaval costume and maybe going to a bar or too. Fun times.

I have 77 days left in Spain, so I think I better start making them count!

Un Beso!
Angela

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Who needs the Prado when you´ve got cows?

So all over Madrid there are these painted cows. Like the cows in Madison or lions in Appleton, cows are everywhere. They’re in Plaza Mayor, Calle Prado, some plaza I don’t know it is, Puerta del Sol….everywhere.



But, better than the cows, it The Prado.

Friday I crashed the art history class and invited myself along to explore the Prado. They went for class, but I got to wonder on my own. It was so amazing. Velazques, El Greco, Goya, El Bosco, and more. Paintings that I have seen pictures of in Spanish classes and in art history were literally 10 inches from my face. WOW!!! It’s so unbelievable to be here. They’re real. Sometimes when you learn about something like that, that’s all it, just a picture in a book that you have to memorize for some test. But to see it. To be so close. WOW!!! I think I stood in front of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” for a good 20 minutes just staring at everything. I’ve found that when I look at art, I like to start really close, like three inches and look at the brush stokes and all the things that someone just passing wouldn’t notice. The detail on the fork on the table. The shade of pink in the bubble. Then, I back up and take it all in. This is when I forget to breath for a second. Like, Las Meninas by Velazquez. In pictures, you’d never know it’s got to be more than 10 feet tall. It’s huge. It takes up the whole wall of Room 12. God, what a gift. To be able to see these things.

Oh, Also, I drank coffee at Starbucks. It was weird tasting. And over priced. Same price, but in euros, so like $4 US, and 4 euro, which is more like $5. Jerks. I also went to Corte Ingels and bought a book entitles Suenos Americans (American Dreams). It’s written by a Spanish author who was in to US during Obama’s campaign. I’m excited to read a little about the campaign from an international perspective. From my history class I am getting that there was bad blood with Bush and that Obama is kind of a god, but I look forward to reading this too. The author actually lived in New York for 7 years too, but then decided to come back to the US to cover the election for El Pais. It’s written in a blog style from October 2007 to November 2008. He visited a number of US cities for the story, he says looking to understand the influence of race, gender, religion, and the voting practices of “red necks” (yes, he uses the phrase red neck in the book) on Obama’s election. I’ll report back as I read.

So, that was Friday. Today is Saturday. Today I toured Toledo, and am now going to a movie in Spanish (Revolutionary Road), and then to bed.

Not going to lie, I miss home everyday. But then I think about all the great things I am seeing and learning that I wouldn’t be able to in the US, and remind myself to SUCK IT UP!!! This is a gift that not everyone gets, so I try to not be sad for what I am missing (people and things) and instead be excited for what the next three months will bring me. Hopefully that will include a little more ease in communication and a little less feeling of homesickness and frustration with life in general. I DO LOVE SPAIN! I don’t think I could have hoped for a better place to study. I almost feel like I don’t ever want to visit anywhere else. I mean, I do, but I’m content here.

Well, except for when I go to Italy for spring break. Then I will be content to not be in Spain for a week. I am actually flying into Rome the Friday before Palm Sunday. Going to mass there and then going to Sicily for 4 days. My friend Melissa has family that live there. We are going to tour and go to the beach. Then we will head back to Rome for Holy Thursday mass and then back to Spain for Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. It will be a whirlwind. Expensive too. I do not recommend Rome during Holy Week to budget travelers. But anyway, more on that as it happens.

I hope you all have had a good couple of weeks. Be safe. Stay warm. (Oh, it snowed here yesterday. It NEVER snows in Toledo. Madrid, yes. But here, never. So…it’s freakishly cold everywhere)

Un Beso y abrazos Fuertes!
Angela

School, Week Three

I was in school, I wrote two papers, read a lot of stuff in Spanish, didn’t know what I was learning quite frequently, and that’s about it.

School is good, but school is school. I’m learning tons about Spain. It’s history, religious life, literature, relations with Latin America, and how to properly form sentences.

I think the two toughest classes are 20th Century Spanish Literature, just because this involves reading a book every two weeks and writing a paper analyzing it, having never discussed it in class. Fun times. Latin American politics is tough too. I have a good background, but the teacher speaks at lightning speed. So, by the time my brain catches up to what she said, she’s moved on to the next point. This class just might kill me.

I love my theology class. Technically, its Spanish mysticism, but right now we are talking about Plato’s theology and how this transitioned into the ideals of St. Augustine and later Christian theology. The teacher is a good mix of Dracula and Mr. Bean. Thoroughly entertaining. He also speaks slowly, very slowly, and when he uses a word that’s more than two syllables, he will use two or three other words that mean the same, so you have a good chance of knowing at least one of the key words in lecture. For this class we’re also reading Las Moradas by Saint Teresa de Jesus. It’s really interesting. Something I know nothing about.

What else, The history of Spain since 1936. Three weeks and we still haven’t gotten to 1936, so this should be interesting. But it’s been helpful. I now have a better understanding of Constitutional and Parliamentary Monarchies as well as current election procedures in Spain. We have just finished talking about Spanish industrialization and what not, bringing us to the Second Republic in 1930. I like this class because it’s applicable to now. The 2.000 years of history is Spain is important, but in the modernized society I am living in, the last 80 years or so are more applicable to understanding the current economy, government and societal structure.

I’m in a grammar class too, which is boring, but a lot better than a US grammar class. We break down the structure to understand WHY sentences are written the way they are. It’s a good course and I’m learning a lot, about grammar and colloquial Spanish. It’s easier too because there’s not a lot of reading.

You have to understand, these classes are NOT like US Spanish classes. This isn’t “learn the language” this is “you know the language, now go to school.” Imagine your 4 classes right now. The reading, the papers, the homework, the boring lectures, the tests, everything. Now imagine that they are in a completely different language. This is my life. School is boring and hard in English. Now I have to translate my notes before I can study, because I write down what the teacher says, even though I may not know what the words mean, because they’ll be on the test.

I LOVE IT. I’m frustrated every minute of the day. I am afraid I’m going to fail. I still cant communicate my thoughts, but I’m learning. I now so much more now that I did three weeks ago. Words that I learned in class now have meaning. I am relearning them by listening. It’s weird. Babies learn to speak by listening. I get it now. I’ve heard words ten times, not knowing what they were, but by the eleventh time, using context clues, I know. Now they are a part of my vocabulary. It’s really quite cool to think about. Sometimes I don’t even realize it’s happening. All I realize is that I DON’T know something. I forget to think about what I DO know. Which, my friend Melissa keep reminding me, is more than I think. I hope that I can just work up the confidence to start speaking more and let the words in my mind come out. Because until I stop being so mute all the time, I’ll never get comfortable using them. YIKES! I am waiting for it all to click. Hopefully soon. This is getting ridiculous…

Sleepless in Sevilla

I stole this title from one of my friends, but I liked it….thanks Janya….

So, Sevilla. Flamenco. Nope! On the train we got a call from our great American friends Joel and Brandon. Oh, they just happen to be in Sevilla for the night. We made plans to meet for dinner at 10 and then go to the show.

Well, we made it to dinner, just before it started to pour. I had Pollo Empanado. BAD. Glorifies chicken tenders and fried potatoes. Instead, try Pollo Sevillano. REALLY GOOD. The wait staff was shitty, but I’m coming to understand that customer service is nonexistent in this country, which is fine, but something to get used to.

After dinner we tried to find the flamenco bar we had read about in my boyfriend, Rick Steves, book. Yup. Didn’t know the name of the bar. Problem. We knew what it was near, so got directions to that. Except, Spanish streets are not on the grid system like in the US. We got lost. It was raining. We missed the show. Because we never found the bar. We found A bar, which we stopped at. But they were closing. At midnight. I thought this was Spain? Oh well. Next bar. Closing in 20 minutes. I was not about to spend 6 euro on something I had to down in 15 minutes, but some did. Yeah. Americans…So, by then it was pouring. Joel and Brandon were drunk, loud American. Melissa, Jayna and I opted to find our way home while the rest of the crew looked for more booze. Once again, I love Americans.

The journey home….without a map….at night….in the rain….in heels…FUN!!!
It took us about an hour, and an encounter with a very rude Spanish man, who inappropriately grabbed himself when we asked for direction, to get back to our apartmaent. We made it, alive, before 2am. SUCCESS!! Showers. And bed. Two more museums to go the next day before catching the bus back to Madrid.

Except, sleep doesn’t happen when you are sharing your bed with two other people. So we slept in late, only made it to the Museum of Fine Arts…..

It rained the whole day. Soaked to the bone we climbed aboard the bus for SIX hours to get home..

BUT WAIT!!! Traffic Jam in Madrid, MORONIC BUSDRIVER who decided to take a detour to drop his friend off, and then couldn’t find the bus stop. 8 and a half hours later, we got to Madrid, having missed all direct buses to Toledo. This meant taking the indirect route and traveling through the skeevy back neighborhoods of the city. Yeah Creepers!!

We finally got into Toledo at 1am Monday, I walked home and crawled into bed. Ready to get up at 6 to start my homework. Even in another country, I like to procrastinate.

Oh, what a great weekend that was. It took me until Wednesday to recover and catch up on sleep, but I look forward to doing it again soon. The price was right, less than 150 US dollars for everything. The people were cool (except the rude waiter and man who touched himself), and well, like usual Spain was great too.

Cordoba, Finally



Well, a full week after my adventure to Cordoba, Spain, I am finally rested enough to write about it. Cordoba. 45 minutes by train north of Sevilla. Whitewashed wall of the Casco lead to the Mezquita, or the Cathedral, depending on who you are. This Mosque turned cathedral is a true testament to the cultural infusion that exists throughout Spain. I can’t remember the exact dates and details, but basically this amazing mosque was build by the Moors of Cordoba when they were in power. After the reconquista of Cordoba, the king at the time, Charles III maybe, ordered a Cathedral to be built in the center of the mosque, utilizing the space and solidifying the Catholic presence in the town. When it was completed more than 200 years later, the then King claimed that is was a travesty, that they had ruined a priceless work of art. Now masses are held there daily, as well as a number of Moorish, Visigoth, roman, and golden age Spanish relics.



Other than the Mezquita, there’s not much else to see in Cordoba in the winter. There’s a zoo somewhere (I saw a sign), and a botanical garden. There is also, as is necessary in every city in Spain, an Alcazar. The interior of this one was miles from that of the Sevillan Alcazar, but the beautiful gardens and fountains were worth the 2 euro entrance. Yes, it is the dead of winter here, a whole 50ish degrees outside, but even now, everything is spectacular. While in the garden we met some more Scottish folk. They are everywhere…

So, we finished with that, booked it back to the train station and headed back to Sevilla. The plan was to get back around 9:00, freshen up, and go to a flamenco show somewhere in the city….

But plans change….

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm too exhausted from my amazing life

I am so tired. Too tired. Very tired. So much homework to do. Trips to plan. Maybe I can remember Cordoba tomorrow. Until then, know that I had more fun than you all did in Wisconsin or wherever, so you should all come visit!

Un beso!

"Sevilla es la leche"

Where to begin. I just had an amazing vacation in the middle of the semester. So much happened in three days.

Two cities
12 hours on a bus
the Madrid Metro
my first Renfe
Gypsies
a "hostal"
more history than all of the US combined
Scottish folk
two random American guys
AMAZING

So my journey began on Thurday night. 9pm we hoped on a bus to Madrid. It's about an hour from Toledo. Not too exciting. The fun started when we had to try to find our way to the train station. We took the Metro (after I snuck through the gate) to our station. We made it, but only to realize we were suppose to print off our tickets. After a little explanation, we got them. And not to wait to two hours for our 6 hour ride to Sevilla.
This is how we met Joel and Brandon: Two Americans asked if we spoke Spanish. Duh. Well, they didn't and apparently had done the same things we had, so one of the girls got their tickets for them. They were headed to Cadiz so we all waited together. These guys are too funny. They are studying in Madrid, but one only speaks French and the other less Spanish than me. To communicate with their host mom, who speaks both Spanish and French, she tells Brandon in French, which he tells Joel in English, and then he can speak to her in Spanish. It's a lovely little triangle. So we all hung out until midnight when we boarded our bus and settled in for the ride. Laura and Julia gave the guys their numbers so we could meet up if they ever made it to Toledo.


On the bus I sat next to some punk Spaniard who watched a movie the whole time. Fun for me. The bus driver also flirted with Laura and Melissa a little, which was entertaining. Half way through our trip we stopped for about 15 mintues to get something to eat. While waiting for our bus to come back, gues who we found? Joel and Brandon. Small world. So, we all chatted a bit more, got back on our buses and continues south.

We arrived in Sevilla at 6am Friday morning, after about 2 hours of sleep in the bus. Yeah, nothing is open at 6am in Spain, not even the Starbucks. So, we wandered in the dark to somewhere. We found the place again our last night, but we really didn't know where we were. Around 7:30 a cafe finally opened so we stopped in for a cafe con leche y bocadilla. Yum! It was a really classy joint. Yup, then it was time to find our hostel.

Now, we got lucky, we actually didn't stay in a bug-infested hostel, we stayed in an apartment. It was great. We had our own bathroom and a kitchen. So this meant a cheap trip. We went to Dia, the mercado and bought groceries for the weekend. Bocadillas, Pasta, y Cereal con leche. This brings us to about 10am. All this, and only 10am. I was exhausted. We at lunch early (11 is early) and a little siesta before heading out to explore Sevilla by daylight.

First Up, La Catedral






This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I can't even describe it. So amazing. We wondered through, using my handy Rick Steves guide to Spain 2009 for more than 2 hours. There are so many amazing things inside, el Greco works, Columbus's remains, a huge organ, the most ornate alter I've ever seen, and a huge tower. The tower is 36 stories tall. To get to the top, you climb, but not stairs. A series of ramps lead to the top. Before there was a cathedral in place, before Christians regained control of the city and Muslims ruled, the tower was used to remind muslims to pray, rung 5 times a day. A horse would carry the ringer up the ramp. It offered the most spectacular views of Sevilla.



Then, the Real Alcazar of Sevilla




Now this place screams I WAS A MOORISH CITY! But it actually wasnt. This alcazar was built by the Christians in moorish style. It's, once again, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. We wondered through and then made our way to a convent bakery.


Oh, except they weren't open. So we wondered. Then we went back aroun 5pm. At this point we had been walking for almost 12 hours. So we went to the bakery, got our cookies, and went home for dinner. We wondered through Barrio Santa Cruz.


Oh, I forgot to mention the best part- GYPSIES. So surrounding the Cathedral some lovely ladies wander carrying branches of rosemary trying to catch you in their trap. I got stuck with a woman in front of me. She handed me a branch and commenced chanting something. I made sure my bag was secure and let her go about her business. Then she asked for a Euro. I didn't have one. She wouldn't let me pass. I happened to have a 0,20 in my pocket so I gave her that. Oh, what the expereince. My gypsie friend and my rosemary. A great day.


We hobbled back to our apartment, exhausted and in pain from so little sleep and at this point, close to 14 hours of walking to make dinner. Spagetti, salad, and a 79 euro cent bottle of tinto de verano.

But SURPRISE! We have ants. Our kitchen was crawling with them. We killed them all, called the manager, and after waiting, finally gave in and made dinner. It was great. Really. The cheap alcohol was horrid, but the rest was really fun.
Finally, Day 1 over. We were all tucked in bed by 11:30 Friday, ready for day 2 in Cordoba, starting at 8am!!!

That would be a Sevillana, NOT Flamenco

Let's start this long series of "what's happened in the last 6 days of my life" with the fact that I should probably be a professional dancer when I grow up!

NOT!!

I did attend two nights of flamenco, excuse me, Sevillano lessons last Tuesday and Wednesday. They were so much fun. My host mom is actually originally from just north of Sevilla, which is where the Sevillano originated (makes sense), so she showed me a few steps too.

It's a pretty basic dance, but it's FAST and the hands things is tricky, to make it look just right.

I was really excited to learn in preparation for my trip to Sevilla and Cordoba that weekend. But, I suck. I mean, I can do it, but I will not be making a career of the thing.

Yeah, that's pretty much it. In two hours I tried to perfect a dance that I have never seen or heard of before. I got close, but not yet. I'll keep practicing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

¿Como se dice "hot dog" en Español?

This is a question of great importance. I eat them alot.

Last week I had spagetti with hotdogs in it. One night my whole dinner consisted of 4 hotdogs. Last night I got two hotdogs and some stewed tomatoes. I don´t really like hot dogs. After this experience I will never eat a hotdog again.

Other than that, the food is delicious. Lots of potatos and garbanzo beans and lentils. Ham is a big deal too. I feel as though I have eaten more variety of pork products in the last three weeks than ever before. Laura, you would not survive her. Everything is strange. I told my mom about you last night and how you only eat "comida blanca". She does not approve. Vegetables are important. But, Elena doesn´t eat anything but ham, cheese, and lentils, so she understands.

I have my eye on a spanish cookbook for when I come home. Also, this week I start cooking classes. Today I will be learning how to make tortillas (spanish omlete of eggs and potatos). Very delicious.

In case you cared, now you know. The food is deliciousa, even with the hotdogs. So, you are all invited to a fiesta en mi casa cuando vuelvo a los EEUU en abril!

Besos y abrazos,
Ángela

Monday, January 26, 2009

Numbers 7 and 8

7. TV programming here is weird. The 7 or 8 public channels don't run on an hour or half hour schedule. Programs start and end when they want. Also, it seems that there are fewer commercial breaks. But, when there is abreak, its a good 10 minutes long. Interested, no?

8. After any commercial for any sort of over the counter drug, a warning follows to carefully read all directions and talk with your pharmasist before taking. Good thing there are more pharmacies here than Starbucks in the US.

The Rain in Spain....

does NOT fall mainly on the plain. It falls in the hills of Toledo as well. It´s rained for the last four days. I love it. Soggy old Toledo is just as glorious as sunny Toledo, only now I get to check out everyone´s umbrellas.

I would like to make some observations of small differences between here and the US:

1. People carry huge umbrellas, all the time. not just tiny ones that fit in your purse. I love that!
2. The post office vehicles are bring yellow.
3. I think everyone in Toledo is learning to drive this week. This morning alone 7 "autoescuelas" stopped at ,my bus stop.
4. Almost no one, at least in Toledo talks on their cell phone. Very refreshing.
5. no one is ever in a hurry. waiting 20 mnutes for a bus, why not
6. chocolate for breakfast. amazing!
7.

I had a whole list, but I can´t think of the rest. maybe later.

Off to class, week 2.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Madrid y Mas

Bright an early we left for Madrid!

It was quite a day, but I will need to go back soon.

We visited the Palacio Real, the home of the Spanish royal family. Except that they don't live there. It's more for parties and formal things. We saw the whole thing in about an hour. I will be going back to actually see everything.

Then we had lunch at El Museo de Jamon, a chain of famous restaurants. Not going to lie-it kinda sucked. French fries and fried chicken? Is that the best you've got? Oh well, it was lunch, and before 3:30, so that's a plus.

During our free time we tried to find Puerto de Sol or something like that. I don't even know. We walked around and ended up shopping for a couple hours. From this experience I learned one thing- It is a bad idea to travel in large groups. With 8 girls, when one stopped we all did, and that took FOREVER.

My first impressions of Madrid are vague. What I did get to see, the shopping district, was not too much more exciting then Chicago or any other US metropolis. The arcitecture was beautiful and the parks were numerous and pretty, but I need to come back to actually see what's beyond the surface.

I am coming back to Madrid in two weekends, so then we shall see. I will probably be going to High School Musical. JUST KIDDING! But it is here, if you and your friends would like to come see the broadway production.

Yeah, so that was all there was to Madrid. I feel like there should be more, but there really isnt.

I can say one thing after my one little day in the city, I definitely choose the right place to study. Toledo is so great. A little behind the times, but great. Madrid is a place to visit, but I think I would die if I lived here.

Hopefully the rest of Madrid will impress me, because right now.....


The "MAS"

Last night I was supposed to go out, at 11pm. Too late. So I decided to take a nap until about 10 (I got home from Madrid around 9). Problem, I didn't set my alarm. So I woke up at 2 instead. Oops.

I guess I'll just have to go tonight. Or not. I don't know.

Today I am just working on homework. I have so much for this coming week. And I can't get behind. I plan to travel most every weekend, so I've got to stay on top of everything so I am homework free come Thursday night.

Oh, a comment for the record. My Spanish SUCKS! Yesterday we didn't speak a lick of Spanish all day, and I can tell. Even listening to people is so much harder than it was a couple days ago. Lesson learned- SPEAK SPANISH ALL THE TIME!

I think I am going to give up English for Lent!

Have a great weekend everyone. Maybe something interesting will happen soon that I can report on!

Angela

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I thought I was on a sorority sabbatical...

I love my sorority, but recruitment is not my favorite part. It´s awkward.

My dinner last night...felt like a recruitment event. A room full of Spaniards. Our job, impress them, make them pick us. Yup, recruitment. Kristy, I would like to suggest this type of situation for our recruitment workshop. 100 strangers of all ages and both genders, speaking a new language. Ok. Go make friends!

It was really great though. I got a chance to talk to these three women, in their late 20s. They are all roommates new to Toledo also. It was interesting. We actually talked alot about the need to learn a new language. They are all studying English as well. They were also surprised that I new where different Spanish cities are. We got to talking about how many Americans are not the most knowledgable with geography, but that it is understandable. They don´t always know every country in eastern Europe either.

I was "bumping" with my friend Emily when we "bumped" into the two most adorablt 15 year olds, Irene and Irene. They are too cute. They actually wanted to speak English, which was almost harder to do than speaking Spanish. We talked about my new favorite TV show ¡Fama!¡A Bailar! And traveling. Irene 1 has been studying english for 10 year. They have English 4 times a week in high school and they have 2 hours each week with a tutor. Irene 1 wants to go to England, but is afraid. My response - I´m alive in Spain, you can do it too!

I´m really excited / nervious for my "Intercambio". I know that it will help my Spanish, and give me a chance to meet new Toledanos (I think that´s what you are when you live in Toledo).

Hmm, that´s about it. Life this week has been relatively normal, if you can call living in a new country normal.

Today, Friday, Toledo is pretty much dead. It´s a national holiday for Toledo so tons of people have off and most of the stores are closed. We all thought that there would be tons of parties tongiht, but apparently everyone just goes to Madrid for the weekend. So, we´ll be the only ones in Toledo. Yeah.

So I have to share something else with you all. Toledo is beatiful at every angle. Not kidding. Everyday when I walk to school I look up, and see 15th century castle in one spot, then something even more gorgeous around the next corner.

Hopefully I can post pictures soon so you can see what I mean.

Besos y abrazos!
Angela

La Vida Buena

I have the best people in my life. All you at home are amazing, and so are the people here. Thanks for all the homesick tips fellow study abroaders :-)

I should tell you the cool new things that I have done in the past two days.

I talked to my family! Actually, we watched TV. La programa ¡Fama! ¡A Bailar!. It´s based on the movie Fame. Or kind of like Dancing with the stars and real World all in one.

Soo funny!

Yeah, so watching TV today I learned all about the lack of censorship in Spain. Sex, Sex, the true visions of war, and more sex. During the day and prime time.

What else? My little sis loves American music. My mom loves sardines. Frozen pizza is better in Spain. Public Universities are CHEAP (think $80 US dollars a semester). The election process here is weird, but interesting. Bush hasn´t spoken to Spain since 2004 (Jerk). The guy on TV last night made a joke about Obama, but all I understood was "OBAMA", so I hope I shouldn´t have been offended. Tons of people are learning English here. THe unemployment rate is super high. Of the 13.5% active in the labor force, more than 3.000.000 are unemployed. In Spain, if you have a job, all health care is covered. Public universities are better than private ones. Late year 70 women were killed as a result of domestic violence. You can legally marry your same sex lover anywhere in Spain. The king is super catholic, but still approved of this and legalized abortion. I love all men working in the history field. I think my favorite Spanish food is Marmataco. Yum! I have eaten more ham and hotdogs in the last 6 days than in the last year of my life.

Yup, that´s about it. Class is amazing, all of them. I love them.

Ok, well I´m going to this weird "meet your spanish match" dinner tonight. It´s weird. Actually its a chance for us to meet other people from Toledo, but also to meet peple interested in an intercambio (convrsation partners) So it will be exciting. I really want to meet some older spnish men. They are hard to get to know here. But they all seem nice. I´ve met women young and ld and of course younger guys, but I think I could learn alot from a man here. I´d like to see the difference in perspective between men and wmen. I´ve talked alot with my mom, so now I need to find a papa.

Ok, well now I am going to start looking at fights and stuff.

Besos y muchos abrazos.
Os amo!
Angela

Let´s Make Plans

So I have decided to just get over it. Let´s start talking trips.

So Madrid tomorrow! Then the festival for the patron Saint of Toledo tomorrow night, aka. A GIANT PARTY IN THE DISCOTECA!!!

Right now we are making travel plans for the months to come. It is overwhelming but amazing. The world is at my fingertips, but I don´t want to see the world, I just want to see every inch of SPAIN.

It´ll start next weekend. I´m either heading to Málaga or SEvilla. I think it will be Sevilla. I don´t have any class on Thursday, so we´re gonna make it a 4 day weekend!

The next weekend, a mystery. Then Madrid, then CARNAVAL in CADIZ (its a crazy two week party before Lent). The next weekend? Barcelona. Then a trip to Andalucil, Granada and Cordoba. Then Valencia for LAS FALLAS!!! Maybe a weekend exploring Toledo to follow. Then 10 days in Italy and Sicilly. Then Segovia. Then San Sebastian. And then that is every weekend. Then I come home.

Some time in there I have lots of 20 some papers, 6 novels to read, midterms and finals, a few presentations, and a research project to prepare for when I get home (which I havent even chosen a topic for)

YIKES! I wish my dear Heather was here to set up all these plans for me, but for now I guess I´ll have to do it myself. Yeah, I´ll be spending the weekend exploring Toledo and booking flights, trains, buses, and hostels!

VAMANOS!!
Angela