Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hello Summer Vacation!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ahhhh, It's APRIL!

Wow guys,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and miss you all. See you soon though!