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,

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!

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!


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!

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!

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!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I think the honeymoon might be over...

So people tell you there are for stges when moving to a new culture. The furst is the honeymoon stge, aka. falling in love with new things and never wanting it to end. Sometime after that reality sinks in.


I miss talking to everyone, sleeping in my bed, English. America. I am so happy to be here. But I need to talk to someone I know well. You have no idea how pathetic I am. I get online at noon here. You all are still asleep. I get back online and hope that I got an email, facebook message, or even comment on my blog. It´s sick. I miss being connected to everyone alreadyt. I´ll get over it. The feeling passes when I´m in class or walking around Toledo, but when I feel alone or disconnected from the people around me, all I want is to be home.


The point, send me a message once in a while. Let me know what´s happening at home. I know it might be lame, but help me out. I´,m the girl who has gone maybe 10 days without going home. I live 25 miles from where I go to school. This is hard. I have to push myself everyday. To talk to new people, to try a new language, to make new friends, to learn, to be independent, to be lonely, to not miss little things like my computer and the radio.

I kindof disgust myself. I am in probably the most beautiful place ever created by man and I am crying over being here and not there. I guess the same thing happened freshman year, but I´m a different person now, so I´ll handle it better than I did back in the day...

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers and don´t forget about me in the months to come.


Las Clases Españolas


Well, I love listening to it and learning about it. I´m learning to love speaking it.

My first day of classes was long. From this point on I think my life will be nothing but boring schoolness.

I had gramática avanzada and literatura del siglo XX, 20th century Spanish lit. YIKES! This professor talks FAST. I am not over exaggerating.

Our classes are 1 hour 15 minutes, two times a week. What´s weird though, is that for four of my five classes, both sessions are on the same day. Mondays I have two sessions of lit. Tuesdays my only classes are two sessions of my Latin American Politics class, Wednsdays I have Spanish Theology, and Thursday I only have History of Spain since 1936. And then I have grammar of two seperate days.

It´s weird. I only have each class one day a week. WEIRD! But it´s nice. No class on Fridays. For the most part we will be starting all of our travels on Thursday night.

I was planning out my trips last night. I need more weekends. I have three weekends that aren´t already full. And there are so many places to visit. AAHHHH!!

Oh, another great thing about SPain, shady copyright laws. ALl my books are photocopies, so they´ll be about $50. I love that!

That´s about it.

Oh, last night I listened to music with my 14 year old sister, all American. She´s sort of in love with Pop. So funny. I love her. She´s such a teenager. Her music was blaring through the house until Mom yelled at her. So she turned it down, until Mom left the room. Then when Mom told her to turn it off, she called her friends for a couple hours. Then we ate, then she started the routine all over again, util Loly told her to start her homework.

Ok, Voy a La Politica de America Latina!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mi Madre Espanola

So I had lunch with mama today. I have a few things tht need to be recorded about this expereince.

1) My mom is the secretary for the providence of Toledo
2) My mom doesn´t eat carbs
3) My mom is divorced
4) My mom hangs out with a guy who is 60, but because she is only 46, she won´t date him. She knows tht in a few years he´ll be old and they won´t have anything in common.

I love my host mom.

Dia de San Anton

So guess what? Today is the feast day of Saint Anthony. I just happen to live on Calle de San Anton in San Anton. Last night as I was walking home I followed a bunch of old ladies headed toward the church at the end of my street. My mom told me it was for a celebration at the church, a fiest day. Well this morning I woke up to tons of music and dogs barking. Mom called me downstairs to come see the procession. Those of you who know what this is, you know its cool. My whole street was filled with people, a marching band, lots of animals (dogs, birds, and HORSES). In the center was a huge status of San Anton. The people all walked to the church and mass began. When I headed here 7 hours later, they were stilling celebrating. It was on the local news too, which was cool.

I guess there are tons of processions throughout Spain. Next week there is one that is just for women, celebrating women. My mom, Loly, was very surprised when I told her we don´t typiclly do that type of thing in the US. But wow, was it ever impressive.

aguedas3.jpg (JPEG Imagen, 600x450 pixels)

La Discoteca

I did it! I survived my first night out.

What a night! We ended up at some club with the bartender from Enebro, we were the only American there, which was fab. Oh my gosh. It was too amazing for words. We got carded and everything. Hells yeah! I can go out in Spain! I now understand however how expensive this activity can be. $6 for vodka y ´vodka´- the second vodka was actually fanta, but no one understood me when i told them what i was drinking, including the bartender-that was a close one.

Oh, and you know how I am in love with Toledo, I need to rephrase that. I am in love with the men of Toledo, wait no, all Spanish men under 40. I am serious. All you chicas need to get here fast. These guys are muy caliente! What an adventure this will be....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hello again!

I´m still alive AND I have avoided arrest, so that´s cool.


I´m on day....4....and I´m in love. Yes, I am all kinds of homesick. Simple things are really frustratin¨:

1)keyboards in Spain are completely different. Did you know that if you want to add an @, you can´t just shift and press 2, because then you get a ". You need to press a completely different botton. Also, everytime I try to ´backspace´I get a whole bunch of ççççççç, because that´s what is where the backspace is. Also, the coolest thing is that there is a KEY that makes the ´ñ´or ´Ñ´. SO COOL!!

Hey, let´s continue with the bus stories...

My first night, after my morning adventure to school, I got off two stops later than I was suppose to, at like 11pm. So, then I took a wrong turn and ended up way far from my house, but I made it. THen, laast night we went out for beer and tapas. The normal buses stop running at 11, but on Fridays there are Buhos, or night buses, but they run on completely different schedule. My mom explained to me which one I needed to take and how to get home, because it stop away from my normal stop. So, at 2:30am, we all hop on B2 and hope we can find home. I did, it´s super easy, but then I faced the challenge of getting into my house. Not kidding, it´s hard. You have to turn the lock two and a half times and then push, because there isn´t a handle on the outside of the door. an FYE, I only discovered how the doors worked after tryign to get in for about 5 minutes when my mom came to let me in, gave me a demonstration, and after I told her how sorry I was, said that it was fine and that she understood-that´s what cervecas (beer) does to people. MY MOM THOUGHT I WAS DRUNK. I had one beer that the nice bartender, Carlos, suggested.

Ok, now the bar. So they tell you Spanish men are friendly and that little American girls should be careful-it´s the truth. Last night I went out with a few friends and we ended up at Enebro, new la FUndacion. Pretty soon the bar was crawling with nice white girls and the bartender and his four friends. THey were quite the guys, convincing us that the bar was closing and that we had to go to a party with them. We didn´t, but we ran into them at the bus stop, and I think we might be going out with them tonight. Not going to lie, I am terrified. But, when in Spain, do as the Spaniards do, and my madre told me to come home with a Spanish boyfriend as I left the house last night, so I guess I´m off to a good start.

DON´T WORRY, I haven´t been spending all my time with tasty beverages. Yesterday we took a huge walking tour of Toledo, and let me tell you, there is alot of history in this little hill. We had walked around for almost 4 hours the day before, but this was cool too. BUT, I have to tell you, the coolest part was that the entire thing was in Spanish, the whole thing, for four hours, and I got 95% or it. Oh YEAH! Really this Spanish think rocks. I mean, we are this group of 108 American students clogging streets, but at least we can speak their language, sort of.

Oh my gosh, I have so much to right. You should all probably not even bother reading this as it seems to be more of my diary that a blog. I will be writing every minute of my life in this thing.

So, the tour....

The streets...

THey´re TINY. Like, imagen the width of a small asian car. Ok, this is the width of the streets, well some of them. Now imagine this car driving down the street. THis is how they get around. Now image me walking down the street as this asian car is trying to go up it. THis is how I have a near death expereince every day in Toledo. You get very used to hearing a car, running into a doorstep, and THEN looking to see if the car is coming your way.

My family, you probably are sick of reading, but let me tell you about them:

My family is made up of a mom and two daughters. Elena is 14, but I haven´t had much time to talk with her. She´s a busy teenager. Victoria is 20, but she´s at university until february. My mom is Maria Dolores. I don´t know how old she is or what she does, but I´m working on it.

Last night she left me a note that she was out running, so I was working on my scarf in the sala when she came home, and we started talking, and it was fantastic. We talked about my kniotting and her running, and then I asked her a few questions:
1) What do you want me to call you? Mom? Maria? Senora? And she says, "Loly" and I was very confused. Aparently her friends call her Loly because its short for Dolores, her last name. So that was cool.

She also gave me lots of travel advice, that I need to go to Salamanca, and that she doesn´t like Madrid and Barcelona as much because they are so big and modern.

I also found out that she is not from Toledo. She actually grew up in the south, and that is why she doesn´t have the central accent, the imfamous¨"th" sound for the letter C. She pointed out that I should listen to the difference between her speech and her daughter, and I have every intention of doing that.

Oh, we talked about the American students love of binge drinking, especially once in a country where it is legal. And names and how hard name like Taylor and Tyler are to say. Oh, and she had a Mexican student live with her named Mike. Which made me smile.

Yeah, so then we went out, I got home, couldn´t get it, got a "how to use a key" demo, and went to sleep.

3am, end day 3

DAY 4----Vamanos a Poligano

Today I ventured to Poligano to the mercado (flea market) and centro de comercial (mall) with a group of fabulous people.

OH, and I got asked for directions, for the second time. YEAH! Apparently I look like I know what I´m doing. First a women asked me for the Caja Madrid, which I knew nothing about, then this morning a man hanked at me from the street (I thought he wanted to give me a ride since I was heading toward the bus stop) and ask me where the soccer staium was. I knew the direction, but not how to get there. We got another woman to help, so that was a great way to start the day.

Once I got to Zocodover we all hoped on a bus and hoped we´d get where we needed to go. We did. It was great. I loved it. I couldn´t understand when the women at the store asked if I had 10 euro cents, this made me frustrated with my lack of Spanish skills. I tried some Doner Kabob. YUM! I found the store where I will be buying Miss Popp some children´s books, and got everything I need to start school on Monday.

That brings me to right now. FINALLY RIGHT?!?!

After I finish this, I´ll be running home to put on ´clu´b´clothes. Against my better judgement, and my personality, I will be attending El Circulo de Arte Toledo tonight. But wait, the place sucks until after one or two, so I get to go hang at Enebro until then. Sacrastic Yay. I think it will be fun, but it´s just not my thing. Then again, I might not be in Toledo many more weekends, so I might as well give it a try. Who knows, maybe I´ll meet the father of my future children tonight.

Oh, I forgot to share my first dos besos with hombres with you all. Yeah, we should probably start that tradition in the states. All you ladies would love it ;-) Some are creepers, but for the most part, just nice horny guys.

Thanks for tuning in. Hopefully your still awake.

Besos y abrazos,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bienvenidos a Espana!

Hola todos.

Soy aqui! En Espana! Finalemente!

Before I get into the meat of my first day in Europe, I have to tell you why I know that this is going to be a good trip. Two things: TFJ and FedEX. That's right. First I was frantically searching for my favorite black headband. Well I also remembered I had to bring the TFJ gift Cassandra gave me, so I went to pick it up...BAM...my headband. Sweet deal. Second- we're pulling out of my driveway and ....BAM....the FedEX truck with my Euros arrived within seconds of my departure. Seriously, I could have hugged the man. These two fabulous things are proof that life in Spain will be fantastico!

So I love flying, but not for an entire day. Bad whether in Madrid left us stalled in Amsterdam for almost an hour. When we finally arrived we were late. At 6pm, after almost 24 hours of travel we have orientation...YAY! SO that was fun. Then we met our families. My mom, Maria came to pick me up.

She was taking me to the bus stop, so I'd know how to get home, when she realized that I wasn't comprehending a word she was saying, so she decided to let me go home and sleep. BUT WAIT....when we got home, before I could sleep I got the whole tour of our house, house rules and a trip to the bus stop that would take me to school.

In case you all forgot, this is now about 9pm, in SPANISH. Thank you.

So then, I'm going to bed, but first I ask, "will you come with me to school tomorrow?" We were told our parents would ride the bus the first day with us so we'd know where we were going. "Oh no" she says, "I have to work at 8am. That's why I showed you your stop. Here, just use this map, or ask for La PLaza de San Justo. Es muy FACIL (easy)."

Yeah right! So I finally get to go to sleep, BUT WAIT...I forgot batteries for my alarm. OH CRAP. I need to wake up, early. So, sorry Dad, but I left phone on so I could wake up on time. I'll be going to find battarias today.

I ended my first day overwhelmed, nervious, stressed, and wanting more than anything to go home. But I knew that soon I wouldn't. I just kept reminding myself that it would get easier. It will get easier. It is getting easier already.

Today I started my trek to the bus stop. It's actually only about a block. I stood hoping that I would get on the righ tone, 4.1. I did. But when I got on I realized I didn't know what to do with my bus pass. FInally, the adjitated driver helped me. Gracias. I got off at Plaza de Zocodover as my mom directed and then began to use the map.

OK, so 75% of the streets in Toledo don't have signs. Me, directionally challenged me, was set loose in a twisted cobblestone city with a map and minimal Spanish. Finally, after 40 long minutes of "Perdoname, sabe la plaze de justo" (Excuse me, do you know the Plaza of San Justo), I made it, with just 15 minutes to spare before my language placement test!!!

Yup, that was my first adventure. I made a promise to myself to try something new each day. Navigating a new city, talking to natives, riding a public bus, and surviving, I think that might just count as an adventure.

After our placement exams I went with my friend Mateo y Julia to try to get back to the bus station. We made it, and found a few great tiendas (stores) on the way. I will be going to by an alarm clock and try to find an outlet adapter. Because, oh, I bought an adapter, but it only has two prongs, so my poor computer can't charge. Yikes! I guess I'll get used to it.

Well, now its almost noon here and you all are still fast asleep. LUCKY DUCKS! I will be off to meet with my adviser soon and then la COMIDA (lunch). I was too tired last night to eat dinner (which is held promptly at 9:30 in my house), and breakfast is usually only coffee and galletas (spanish cookies), so yo tengo mucha hambre (I'm hungry).

I hope you all are enjoying your little Spanish tutorial. You'll all be fluent by the time I come home :-)

Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you more about my family, but maybe not.

Oh, so a funny story... my mom, before letting me go to bed gave me a safety talk about drinking, sex, the men, and to be thankful that I'm, not rubia (blonde). The men might not harrass me as much! YAY for that! Oh I am going to love my mom and sisters.

Besos (kisses)

Oh, speaking of kisses- dos besos (kisses on either check) takes you y surprise, even when you know it's coming. That's all I'll say about that.

Con muchos besos y abrazos (with kisses and hugs)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Something you might not have known...

Spain is really cool. I just wanted that out there!