Aly's Spain Adventure

Read about what I'm doing while in Spain so you can keep up with me!

Location: Des Moines, Iowa, United States

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Day 29


So today we had orientation at Berzosa (the far away campus) at 10am. So I got up and actually met Aya (the Japanese girl from our intensive language course) at the bus stop so I knew someone on the ride. We were only like 10 minutes late! J So a quick little tangent: Alcyn, Linda and I all were emailed by this guy named Louis Chaix from France saying he would be attending Nebrija as well and in his very broken English asked us where we would be sleeping! We’re sure he meant where we are staying but it is just funnier and creepier that way. So we did respond to him some just trying to find a piso during the summer but we always referred to him as Crazy French Guy because of how badly he would word things. Anyway, like 3 days ago I got an email from Crazy French Guy! He had only emailed Alcyn in the past. So at orientation they were calling out names because they were handing out some papers and stuff and called out Louis Chaix!!! It was Crazy French Guy!!! It was just kind of funny. I kind of introduced myself and just said “I think you emailed me” and he was like yea I emailed everyone. LoL Crazy! Anyway so I met a girl named something I can’t remember but she was nice and she’s from Ireland and I also talked to some people that were in the intensive language course too (a different level from me) from Germany. We had some refreshments and then headed back to Madrid. I had planned on trying to go to the bank (which closes always at 2pm) to get some money out to get my new abono (the month is almost over!) and also for rent but we didn’t get back until about 1:45 so there wasn’t really any hope. So I was going to take the bus all the way home but then decided to go get a few more groceries so I went to the store near Emily’s where I know it’s a good place. I got some food and then had to go to the bathroom really bad so I texted her to see if I could use her bathroom really quick since I was so close. Emily, myself and her friend Alke ended up going to get some coffee for a while. After that I finally headed home and made some lunch/dinner at about 5pm. Then I showered and everything because there was a party at Aya’s at 9:30pm (“pregaming party”). I took about a 10 minute nap and then headed over to Joanna’s to meet her before we went to Aya’s. Poor Joanna broke up with her boyfriend because he cheated on her (stupid guys!) and in the same day found out her father was in a car accident and broke his collar bone! My poor buddy L So we had a few beers at Joanna’s and Unai (oonai) and Emmanuel hung out with us for a bit. Unai will never come out because he’s always working and Emmanuel went to another friend’s party so just Joanna and I went to Aya’s party around 11pm. They had wine, beer, and Sangria which was nice. There were mostly American people at the party and actually all the noise ended up bothering Aya’s neighbor who threatened to call the police but obviously did not. So around 1:30 or 2am we decided to go to this place that is actually right by my metro stop and I told them all there’s NOTHING around there but we tried anyway. It didn’t work out. We weren’t able to get into the place and Aya thought her friend could get us in but I said they definitely were not going to let 15 people in for free. So Joanna and I branched off and went to the Sol area. We of course got a little lost but we eventually got there. She wanted some food so we went to get some but then she ended up not wanting anything. We met Emmanuel in Sol and then poor Joanna wore heels so her feet were killing her. We tried to find a place to sit and eventually went to this place called Palacio Givira which is actually very popular (they have international student night every Thursday night). We sort of found a little stoop to sit on and Emmanuel got a 10euro beer and Joanna got a 10euro mixed drink. Joanna was falling asleep on us so we kind of called the night right there. Tomorrow we’ll do better! I went actually to Joanna’s and was going to sleep on the couch because I thought it was much closer and they didn’t mind, but it actually was quite further away we realized once we were already on our way. Oh well. The couch worked just fine. J

Day 28

So I didn’t have school today which was nice so I slept in and it actually ended up being about 2pm when I woke up. I swept/mopped the bathroom (at Marte’s request). I texted Emily to ask, of course, if I could use her internet and she said she would be home around 6pm. So last night Rhea had told me about a possible cheap Flamenco show and we also talked about the Bullfights. I decided to go check out the times and prices of the bullfights at Plaza de Toros which isn’t too far away. I got there and there were at least 4 scalpers (not even a show going on at the time!) and they would NOT leave me alone. I told them “no I don’t want the tickets, I don’t know what day I’m going, leave me alone” and they still insisted. After trying to look at the times and stuff I gave up. I figured out it is only about 3.50 to see a fight and there is one on this coming Sunday at 5:30pm. I am not thrilled about the actual idea of the “show” but I am in Spain so I figured I should go see one. After that I went to see a place called Teatro Real which is supposed to be fairly old and fairly famous to see what it was about. Unfortunately it was during Siesta so I couldn’t find out much but I think I will try to go to a show there. So I headed to Emily’s around 6. I got there and she actually has 2 friends visiting from Germany, Alke & Henrica. They are both very nice girls and I actually thought that one was American because her English was so good. I got online for a while and had the first real conversation with Mike I’ve had in a month on Skype so that was nice. It’s hard right now for us since we can hardly talk ever and I also realized I was beginning to feel the excitement of being here wear off and started to feel somewhat homesick. Only 14-19 more days to get internet and be in better contact! So we basically just hung out all night and watched a movie and I caught the metro just in time to get home. We made some plans for tomorrow night.

So quick little poll: Am I writing too much everyday or are you all keeping up reading just some or all? I think I will continue to write as much as I do as a type of “diary” but let me know what you think. J

Friday, September 29, 2006

Day 27


So I was a little tired this morning but it was the last day of school so it didn’t bother me too much. I took my last test and went online just a little bit and then headed home because the internet guy was going to come around 1-3 to pick up the contract. I stopped at a grocery store and got some food which I thought would this time (since I got so much) would be more like 20 euros. Still only 11.90!!! It’s so crazy to me! So then I also stopped by a place to ask about buying an abono (monthly bus/metro pass) that is for under 21. When we first arrived it would take too long to get a youth pass so we just got a normal. After a lot of confusion in Spanish I found out I will have to buy another normal pass for this month and also apply NOW in order to get a youth pass in time for November. Great! So then I went home and waited around for the internet guy who finally came and I asked him if it might take less than 20 days and he said it will definitely be between 15 and 20 days. Ick! After that I slept a little and ate a little and at 9:30 everyone from our class met together to go eat at a restaurant that our teacher recommended to us. It took us forever to find it but we finally did and they did have some very good tapas and we also got a few cañas (small beers that usually cost around 1.25). Our bartender was really cool and he actually took a picture with us which I will put up later. After that we went looking for some place that supposedly has only 1euro drinks. We ended up at one place that gave us a free shot and then headed out again. We then found a place with free Mojitos which is actually one of my favorite places “Villa Rosa.” We stayed there for a while and then went out again and went to a place that one of our friends was at. We had a really hard time getting in; the bouncers were being ridiculous but we finally got in. The poor guys had to pay. It pays to be a girl sometimes. The club was a hip hop place and it was okay but I prefer somewhere with either techno or Spanish pop. So we were there for a while and then we went out looking for places again. We found a few more free shots and a lot of guys excited to see girls in a club. We actually made friends with one of the people who offered us free drinks. His name is David and he said he can get us in free and free drinks whenever so we were excited. Haha. After we went to his club we went to a few more, and strangely enough, saw David like 2 or 3 more times. It was kind of funny. We went to one last club and then headed home. Rhea decided she wanted to take a cab so she had her cab drop me off and the bus stop and she went home. I got the night bus and got home safely. It was around 4 or 4:30 when I went to bed. Not a bad night!

Day 26


So I did both of my projects this morning and they went very well. We had a bunch of time in between 2 classes because we finished early so I had the people at school set up my computer so that I could connect wirelessly to their internet. Unfortunately I found out later they messed up my connection so it won’t work anywhere else. Still trying to figure it out. Actually I figured it out now. Anyway, after class I had a meeting at 4pm at Berzosa which is the other campus of Antonio Nebrija. Right now for my language intensive class I am at the Dehesa de la Villa campus which is an international student only campus and then Berzosa is the campus that is for actual Spanish students. They are both campuses of the University of Antonio Nebrija. Unfortunately the Berzosa campus is about an hour away. I actually have 4 classes at that campus and only 1 at Dehesa. Berzosa will be much harder but I think that I will learn my Spanish much quicker and better. My schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays is 2 classes at Berzosa starting at about 9am and ending at 1:30 and Tuesdays and Thursdays 3 classes, 2 at Berzosa and 1 at Dehesa starting at 10:30 and ending at 2:30. It should be nice but I will still had to get up somewhat early in order to get to Berzosa on time. Anyway, I had to figure out which bus to catch in order to get to my University which I did and figured out which stop to get off at. I had my meeting and in the middle of my meeting realized that I left my phone on the bus! That was the least fun moment ever! So when I got on the bus on the way home, I asked the bus driver (in Spanish of course) what I should do and he told me (somewhat rudely) that I should talk to the people at the bus station when we get back. When I talked to them they told me to just talk to all the bus drivers because there was nothing they could do. Then I talked to a bus driver and he told me to find a boss guy who could call all the drivers to say I lost my phone, but unfortunately that guy wasn’t around. So then I asked another guy and he told me to walk down the street (I didn’t realize that there were a million buses there) and try to find the bus I was looking for (I knew the bus driver was younger, thin, bald and that the bus was green and where it was going and what time I took it). So I started looking and saw the bus driver that was kind of rude to me and he asked me if I had found my phone yet and of course I said no. So he called up the boss guy who came over after about 15 minutes. The boss guy called up the bus driver that I had and then told me to wait for it to come. My appointment was at 4 at Berzosa and the bus driver arrived at about 7pm so after 3 hours I finally got my phone back!!! I was sooooo glad though because someone could have stolen it so easily. It was one of the happiest moments ever! Anyway after that I went home and ate something and then I headed over to Joanna’s and Emmanuel’s to use their internet. I hung out there for a while (I got there late around 11pm) and then finally returned home around 3am (the night bus takes forever! to come and takes me so long to get home). It was an interesting day.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Day 25


So we arrived back around 5am which was great so we could go home and shower and take a nap and go to school. Or so we thought. For one reason or another the night bus didn’t show up as we waited for it for an hour and finally the metro opened at 6am so we just took that. I finally got home around 7am so I couldn’t do much. I thought about skipping class but I didn’t. So after school I think I went home and took a little nap, had a little food and tried to start my projects that are due on Tuesday. I couldn’t do too much without the internet so I went over to Emily’s and used hers. It took me quite a while to finish my projects. For my class “Descubrir España” I did a project on Flamenco and for the Conversation class I did a project about the Mercé festival we were at in Barcelona. Emily made us some dinner and we started to watch a movie that I have “Volver” but it was a REALLY cheap version so that it was hard to understand what people were saying due to an echo from taping in the theater. So they watched something else and I finished my projects and headed home. I got home around 1:30am I think. I was not excited for getting up for school on Tuesday but I was excited to have my projects out of the way.

Day 24
So we went to bed at a decent time on Saturday night so it wasn’t too bad to get up somewhat early. Linda wanted to go to Sagrada Familia since she missed it yesterday and I wanted to go to Casa Batlló and we also had to check out of the hostel before 11am. We also planned on seeing the Human Towers at 12:30 in the afternoon. So we got up around 9am packed out things, stored them, and headed off the do our own things. I went to Casa Batlló which ended up being 13.50 euro so I decided to skip it (it wasn’t incredibly important in the first place). I decided to go see another work by Gaudí which is a little further away called Casa Vicens. It actually is still occupied by people so there was no “museum” type showing and it was actually on a very quiet street with very few people and NO foreigners. So I took a few pictures and decided I could start walking home (it was fairly far) to Las Ramblas to see what was around and if I got tired I could just hop on the metro. I ended up walking all the way back (go me!) taking pictures here and there. I saw some things for the festival and a random impromptu “parade” of people promoting something about shared custody with divorces. I was kind of confused but it is possible they don’t have such a thing. So I walked all the way backed to Las Ramblas and met Linda so we could go to the Human Towers. It was actually called like The Traditional Ceremony where they have the giant statues dance and stuff but it is most know for the human towers. For those of you who are not sure what I’m talking about, people basically stack on top of eachother to make: a human tower. I think this was my favorite part of the weekend. It was really incredible. It was crazy to see these people do this. Two of the groups actually fell when they were up that high. Everyone was fine but it was pretty horrible to see everyone fall like that. It was cool to see them finally make the tower. It was also so crazy to watch them just shake because their muscles were so exhausted. One of the towers, before it fell, the whole thing was shaking because everyone’s muscles just gave up. I think that the hardest place to be in like the 2nd row because they’re there forever and holding up so much just on their own. I forgot to mention, they actually start off the towers with a little one with only 1 person per row and walk through the crowd as the tower. One group stacked up right next to the building and once they were stacked, they threw a rope to the little girl on top and pulled her over the balcony. So after the coolest thing ever, Linda and I grabbed some food. Then we went to the Parc Guell which is a HUGE park that Gaudi put together. It is VERY famous. It was so incredible. Like I said before he is really into nature and so one of the pictures of me and Linda looks like waves of rock. He also was very obsessed with lizards and one of the most famous pictures of his work is with the lizard we took a picture with. I look like crap in everything because I ran out of clothes and I was sick so it’s okay.

After that, Linda wanted to go to Casa Mila which she missed yesterday, and I thought I might go to Castle Montjuic so we went our separate ways. By the time I hopped on the metro I decided I was kind of tired and didn’t really want to go see the castle or spend money to see it so I went down by the bay. There was a wine tasting festival down there and I thought that could be fun so I bought some tickets. It was 6 euro for 10 tickets and it cost 2 or 3 tickets for each glass of wine. I ended up having 4 glasses total and being a little drunk-on accident though. I went and met Linda at the hostel and we picked up our bags and headed to the bus station to go home. We almost missed the bus! We finally met up with Mari there, who we hadn’t see since I left her at Casa Mila. She was staying with her friend in Barcelona though so we weren’t worried. Anyway we got there just in time and hopped on the bus on the way home.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Day 23
So let´s see here. Mari (Marina) had the idea to get up pretty early and get started on doing stuff. So I think around 10am is when we planned on meeting at the Sagrada Familia. I kind of wanted to do the day by myself and I also really needed to go buy a belt so I told Linda to go ahead without me and that I would just kind of do the day on my own. So I went kind of searching for a belt, some shoes, and maybe an outfit. I found a belt for 2euro but it wasn´t the right color but it held up my pants. So after that I looked around and couldn't find shoes to fit me and didn't really see any clothes I wanted. So I then was kind of looking for a place to buy tissues because I was sick and couldn't find anything and couldn't find a metro stop and eventually wound back up at Las Ramblas. I had to go to the bathroom and quick so I stopped at the (not usually public restrooms anywhere) public restrooms in Burger King and then decided I couldn't resist the temptation anymore so I bought a Whopper which cost a WHOPPING 3.20. Dang! And that's even more in US dollars. So then I decided to go to the Sagrada Familia. I hopped on the metro and in just a little bit I was standing in front of it! You can just walk out of the metro and BAM! there's an amazing building just sitting there like "hey I'm normal." It was INCREDIBLE. It was 5 euro for students to enter. I had to wait in line for a while but it wasnt too bad. I then went inside and took tons more pictures. It is still under a lot of construction but is amazing. Gaudi started building it in 1906 and he passed away around 1975 and the building wont be finished until about 2020 or 2030 I think. In the Sagrada Familia I got in line for the acensor-elevator-and actually found Marina! We found out later that Linda was at a different entrance and so we didn't end up meeting with her. So the elevator cost another 2euro but it was totally worth it. We went up into the towers and it was incredible. We then went down the spiral stairs and that was the scariest thing of my life!!! The stairs have nothing in the middle and no railing in the middle, only a railing on the side. After we were done at the Sagrada Familia we decided to get a little drink and tapa which ended up not being very good (the people working there were rude). We then walked to the Casa Mila which is another very famous work of Gaudi. His architecture is a lot of naturalism so he makes some very weird buildings.

We went inside the Casa Mila and the cool part about the Casa Mila is the roof. After that we planned to go to the Casa Batllo but since I was so sick I just went back to the hostel and took a 2 hour nap. I was exhausted! We hadn't seen Linda all day but she came in and woke me up around 7pm. We decided to get some dinner and weren't sure if Mari was going to eat with us but we just decided to get some because around 8:30pm there was a "parade of fire" and we had no idea what it was but we wanted to go. We decided on a place called Maoz which is actually vegetarian but they had really cheap falafel pitas and they were delicious! We headed over to the fire parade which turned out to be one of the coolest things I've done ever. It was weird and almost like a devil worship parade but it wasn't actually devil worship. People carry around sticks (what the devil carries but I can't remember what it's called) with firecrackers/firework type things on them and the firework spins shooting it's sparks all over. Some people dress with clothes covering them all over and dance in the sparks. We actually got a lot of sparks our way but they don't hurt-kind of like how sparkler sparks don't really hurt. It was awesome and it went on for over an hour and a half. Don't worry mom, I was safe :) .

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Day 22
Friday-aka My Birthday
So my birthday started with me still being sleeping on a bus. As I said we made some friends behind us and we also made a friend named Charlotte who I think is also studying in Spain but she kind of ended up tagging along with us to our hostel because the one she had was far away and she thought she´d see if there were anymore rooms open in ours. We arrived to Barcelona around 7AM which is about an half and a half earlier than we figured but it was okay. We got ourselves a metro ticket and headed to our hostel which is in Las Ramblas which is basically the CENTER of downtown Barcelona. Awesome! So check in wasn´t until 12 in the afternoon so we stored our luggage at the hostel and headed out to do some stuff. It was Marina, Linda, Charlotte and myself and we first decided to wander a little. We found a HUGE market, even bigger and better than what we have in Madrid. There were piles of meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, and gummy candy/chocolate! I got a ¨smoothie¨which was literally fresh fruit but not with ice and stuff. Then we decided to kind of head for some sites such as the Picasso museum and the Catedral de Santa Maria del Mar. We ended up at the Catedral de Barcelona which was randomly found but very cool. It was done by Antonio Gaudi (an EXTREMELY famous architect who I actually wrote a paper about in my senior year in high school). I took tons of pictures. There were tons of altars, a mass going on, and a big pond area in the middle with a ¨drinking fountain.¨ After our lucky random find we saw a weird shaped room that was very colorful on a random building so we went to check it out and it ended up being another market. We then started looking for the Picasso museum and ended up getting lost. We ended up by the sea and that was really neat to see the whole area which we intend to visit again later. We almost found the Picasso museum when we saw Museu Xocolate (I think that´s how it´s spelled, it´s actually Catalan which is a very different dialect of Spanish). Basically we found a CHOCOLATE MUSEUM. Yea!!! For my birthday I HAD to check out the chocolate museum. There was information about how chocolate is made and it´s history as well as structures made completely of chocolate!!! I got many pictures. There was a class about how it´s made but unfortunately that was only for groups. We bought some chocolate though (apparently the chocolate in the US sucks because of the low cocoa content). Marina got regular chocolate but it had peices of cocoa beans in it (it was my favorite), Linda got really dark chocolate and I got a cup of chocolate. A cup of chocolate is really common here. It actual chocolate melted and then sometimes with sugar and milk and a lot of times people dip churros in it. It was WONDERFUL! We then went to the Picasso museum which has a permanent collection and also a temporary collection. Marina knows a LOT about art so she told me a lot about his works. Unfortunately I was feeling so sick and my back was hurting a lot that I couldn´t enjoy it as much as I would have liked. After that we went and got some food and then Linda and I went back to our hostel (Marina is staying with her sister´s friend) and planned on taking a nap. We mostly just showered and hung out and then around 7pm went shopping. In our hostel in our room there are 10 beds so it´s kind of like dorm living. We met 2 other Americans named Dan and Lauren and they decided to come shopping with us. Lauren had to finish her laundry so Linda, Dan and I went ahead and decided to meet her later. We found some shops and stumbled upon a parade! I forgot to mention that there is a big festival going on right now called Merce in Barcelona and it´s a big deal. So the parade was really neat with really huge statues that people wore (I will show pictures and it will make more sense) and some fire. So then we met up with Lauren and did a little shopping and then went back to get Marina. We all went to get some dinner and decided upon some Paella because Dan and Lauren hadn´t had any yet. 12euro for Paella, Sangria and a coffee is a pretty good deal (Paella is kind of expensive). We decided we needed to go out for my birthday especially since Dan and Lauren hadn´t been to a discoteca yet. We got a little sangria from the store and drank at the hostel for a bit (drinks are EXPENSIVE in the clubs). We then started walking and found a place with a free shot so we had that and then kept going. We found a little stage with a small concert going on and then we also found a ¨complex¨of clubs at the top of a mall and managed to get in for free (even though we had a boy). We danced for a while and had some fun. There are usually dancers just dancing at clubs but realized after a while that we were at somewhat of a stripclub! Didn´t expect that! Around 2AM we went home because we were just too exhausted. The mall we were at was at the end of a land strip on the sea and when we tried to go back home the bridge was up! We eventually found a different way to get back that worked but it was not cool! Anyway I should really get off the computer so I will write about today tomorrow! Love you all and thanks for the birthday salutations!

Day 21
Ok so I´m in Barcelona now (Saturday) but I wanted to write Thursday so that I don´t try and write about like 4 or 5 days on Monday. So Thursday even though I was exhausted from the party I went to school and that all went well. Linda and I made reservations at the hostel we planned on staying at in Barcelona and learned how to print things at school. I also had a meeting about choosing classes for the semester and I´m still waiting to hear that everything I want will transfer. Since my school in Spain in basically a journalism school I can´t take any courses for my major so I´m just getting the AOI´s (crap classes that everyone has to take) out of the way. I will take fotografia (photography) for my art AOI, Etica y deotonlogia (ethics and deontology) for my ethics AOI, Marketing I which will hopefully transfer for my business minor, Historia y teoria de cine (history and theory of film) for my HISTORY AOI, and hopefully a spanish politics class for my international/multicultural AOI. So I headed home to look at my stuff to make sure those were the classes I wanted (we can change them if we find out it´s different). After that I took a little nap (like always) and then I went over to Emily´s to use her internet for a bit and also give her my sheet with classes on it that I want to turn in for me tomorrow (since I´ll be in Barcelona). I traded some pictures with her so hopefully I will put them up soon. So our bus was leaving at midnight so I got back to my place around 10pm and packed and all that and on my way up the elevator I met a girl named Teresa who is Spanish and lives right below us so now I have a new friend! I headed on my way out and almost forgot my ticket but ran back and got it and then headed to the station. I had a glass of really gross wine and waited for Linda and Marina who got there and we all hopped on the bus which was really nice. There was so really weird lady sitting in Marina´s seat (right next to mine) so we were glad when she realized she had the wrong seat! Marina and I talked a little and we also talked to the people behind us who are from the US also. And then we got some sleep. Find out what happens on Friday later (my birthday btw)!
Dos besos!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My birthday (from left): Linda, Hermine, Marina, Dawn, Emily, Erika, Joanna, Emmanuel

Day 20
So I had a very very sore throat and somewhat of an earache this morning. It's either just a sinus infection or I am allergic to my roommate's smoking. So I stayed home from school. We were going to go to the Reina Sofia museum and I wanted to go but didn't want to go with the school because I stayed home sick. So I slept in some and had some breakfast. A friend had told me that there is a pretty famous church on my street and I managed to find it. It has paintings by Goya on the ceilings and is called: San Antonio de La Florida. It was free and it was just kind of nice to see. After that I went to the Reina Sofia and for students it's only 3euro. There was the second part of the Picasso exhibit there with his most famous work of art: Guernica. I bought a small picture to hang once I get home. I might take a picture of it to put up so you guys know what I'm talking about. There were some other artists and some really interesting paintings and sculptures. After that I got some groceries for my party and went home. I started cooking some stuff and then took a quick nap. Around 8pm Emily showed up and everyone was supposed to show up around 9pm but everyone of course got there much later. We had sangria that I made that was very good (very popular), Pasta, Salad, I made some bruschetta, we also had some white wine and later some wonderful birthday cake that Emily got for me. We also had some sidra which is slightly fermented apple juice. Emily came, Marina, my roommate Erika, Joanna, Emmanuel, Dawn, Linda, Hermine (it's Swedish, she's Emily's roommate), and 3 Austrians (Isabel, Caroline, and Joseph) that had just moved into our building. It was a very fun time and when everyone left and I finally got everything cleaned up it was about 2:30AM. Oh! I also got a few different candles for my birthday from the 3 Austrians and from Joanna & Emmanuel. Erika also gave me a nice pair of earrings. I felt pretty darn special! I will try and
This is in front of the Reina Sofia

get some photos up from today and I still have to put a bunch from the past week or so. I just want to say again I love hearing from you all and I hope to respond when I have more time. I do get everyone's Facebook messages and I want to tell you all I love you and hope to respond to you soon too. Tonight(Thursday) I am leaving to go to Barcelona at midnight so I don't have that much time. So I love you all and have a good one!!! If you want, you can try and text me to say happy birthday: 619 82 22 86 (first dial 011 34 and then the number). Love you all!!!

Day 19
So this was kind of a stressful day. After school I hurried to the bank before it closed at 2 to see if the money my transferred was in my account yet. It was so I took out the amount necessary to pay the girls for rent/commision (from the agency)/deposit. So then we can't get a hold of the guy from the agency to have me have a contract so we made one of our own. Unfortunately the apartment is technically only in Marte's name so only she will get the deposit back when her and Erika move out in February! I'll be moving out in December so I can't wait until February to get it back. Supposedly it is difficult to get the deposit back in Spain but I talked to someone from here and they said not so hopefully it won't be a problem. In any case we decided that we will try and get the invisible agency guy to come before I leave and tell us what our deposit would be to get back and they will give me the amount/3 otherwise they will give me half of my deposit when I leave and the other half when they leave in case there are problems. Anywho! We also made a chore list for each week. Then I went over to Joanna's to use the internet and ended up talking with her and her roommates until about 1 or 1:30 and finally got home around 2 or 2:30. Tomorrow will be an early morning!

Day 18
So I was thinking and I can't quite figure out what all I did on Monday but I think that this morning Erika woke me up around 7:40 which is when we usually go to the bus stop. I hurried and got down there in time. At school we got one of our tests back and I got a 90 so that's great! I went straight home after school because I was kind of tired. I had a little bit of lunch and then I think I napped for 2 hours. I texted everyone inviting them to my "birthday party" on Wednesday night. I think I got up and had a little dinner and did a little homework and then pretty much went to bed. I really just lounged around tonight. Sorry it wasn't more interesting. Tomorrow is good though.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Day 17


So even though I went to bed around 5am I got up around noon. Not too shabby. I decided I wanted to go to the rastro (flea market) so I showered and had some lunch and got ready to go. I finally got there around 2pm and just wandered a bit until I ran into Emily and her friend Fabian. They wanted to go get a coffee so I decided to join them instead of buying lots of things I don’t need. Hehe. On our way to get coffee we passed by people selling DVDs (of course illegal bootlegs and some of them were filmed in the theater) and I decided I wanted to get some because we have no cable, or internet, and I don’t see my roommates often so I have nothing to do. I picked out “Monster House” and “Volver” (a Spanish movie by Almodovar-a famous director here) and it was 5euro total. I was very excited about the fact that I had movies and that it would be interesting because they would be in Spanish. So we sat down and instead of coffee, Fabian got a cerveza (beer), Emily got a tinto de verano (basically red wine and sprite), and I got a glass of white house wine. We also got some tapas. Emily and Fabian got some mussels and then we also all shared some patatas bravas (basically fried chunks of potatoes that come with a lot of Mexican food in the US). The bravas came with two different sauces. One sauce is pretty popular here, it’s called Ali-Oli. It’s basically mayonnaise and garlic. After our little “snack” we went back to Emily’s and Fabian left to go to Valencia (where he will be studying this year) so we all said goodbye. Then I used Emily’s internet for a bit to post my most recent blogs. We both decided that a postre (dessert) would be a good idea so we started walking around. We discovered a ton of cervecerias (bars) and restaurants that Emily didn’t know about. We also discovered how close she is to this big park and a very neat bridge which I will show pictures of. We walked through the park a little and discovered they were setting up for a festival which was kind of neat. We wandered a little more and discovered a pasteleria (dessert store)!!! I got something that was layered with basically flaky stuff and cream and powdered sugar and Emily got something that was flaky stuff with a orange marmalade inside. Unfortunately to me, Emily’s tasted like Pine Sol and I told her that and then had to explain what PineSol was because she didn’t know. It’s interesting every time we all have conversations because we have to say, well in the US this is how it’s done because to make a generalization that that’s how it is all over does not work. You have to be very conscious of the words you use as well. For instance, the word college doesn’t really exist for many places, or it means school in general or for Spanish in can mean high school. You have to say University or people very often get confused. The “major” you’re studying doesn’t work and some people assume that “roommate” means who you share a room with, not who you share an apartment/flat with. It’s very interesting every time because you always learn something new. Anyway, so we ate our desserts in the park and then headed back. I hopped on the metro and went on my way home. I stopped by an alimentacion (somewhat an equivalent of a gas station-pricewise but with more groceries) and got some pan (bread) and a tortilla de patatas (kind of like a big round hashbrown with some eggs and onions) to make another day. I came home and made some dinner and then watched Monster House which actually I understood even though it was in Spanish. I actually typed this the day of so my day isn’t finished yet, but I assume I might shower and then go to bed (or also wait for a call from Mike J ). I can’t wait to have internet so I can keep better in touch with you. I will talk to you all soon and I love you so much. Night!!!

Day 16


So since I was up until 7am this morning I slept in until about 2pm. I was a tired lady. I got up and took a shower and made myself some food. I decided I had some time to do whatever so I cleaned up my room and repainted my toenails. We had planned on meeting today at 8:45pm (which is early) for dinner at a place that our teacher recommended that has some of the best paella in town. We decided to all go out because it was Emily’s birthday. It was actually a different Emily (not the girl from Germany) but a girl from England who is also in our class (we have 3 Emilys in our class). So I threw some clothes in the washer and basically did nothing but just hang out for a while. I didn’t have time to do much because it was already pretty late. So once 8:45 rolled around I was waiting at the metro stop (Anton Martin) for everyone. I actually met up with Emily and Eva (a girl from Germany in our class) on the way to the metro stop. We 3 arrived and shortly after so did Emily (the German girl) and her 2 friends that are visiting (Henrich and Fabian-both German). Then Marina (from Brazil) arrived as well as Linda (from Drake) and Claudia (from Germany) and some of her friends. Emily (British) also had her boyfriend visiting this week so he came too. We were a very large group. So we all headed to the restaurant and it was a great time! We were in a section in the “back” that looks like a garden but it’s indoors. It was very pretty. So Paella is a dish that Spain is very famous for. It is rice with usually vegetables, chorizo (sausage), pollo (chicken), and mariscos (seafood). It also has a spice in it which I can’t remember the name of. It is the most expensive spice there is and it makes it a yellow-orange color. If anyone remembers write me a comment and tell me. Anyway, in Spain they make HUGE amounts of Paella (at nicer restaurants) and then people just split the dish. For instance, at the restaurant we went to it was 13euro each for 2 to 4 people to split a paella. So since there were about 12 of us we got 3 different kinds of paella. We got mixta (the kind I talked about including drumsticks of chicken not just pieces of chicken, mussels and calamari), vegetal (only veggies-some artichokes in there), and chicken (similar to mixta without the mariscos). The pans were ENORMOUS. I will see if I have a picture of them. They were each about 3 feet in diameter!!! We also got a few pitchers of sangria, a pitcher of beer, and a bottle of mineral water (they wouldn’t give us tap) and it only ended up being almost 17euro each. 4euro each for our drinks wasn’t bad because the paella was 13each. I tried a little of everything, even the mussels. It was very interesting because all of the different rices tasted different because of the different ingredients. So after the paella we all went to a little shop to get coffee. Since I don’t like coffee I thought I’d get something with amaretto or something it. I got carajillo (I think that’s what it was called). It had café (coffee), A. Moreno (we thought it was maybe amaretto but I just looked it up and it means “dark” so maybe a dark liquor?), and bourbon. You have to always remember in Spain a coffee is like an espresso and an espresso is like I don’t even know what. LoL To say the least it was VERY strong but I added lots of sugar and it wasn’t too bad. I always try to try something new. After that some of the people we were with went to Emily’s (German) to wait for her friends that were arriving and I and a few others went to find another place to get a drink. Well it didn’t take us long because we were back on Calle de Huertas which is filled with bars and discos. In Spain, especially right in the middle of Madrid (Sol) people are always trying to get you to enter their bars and they usually give out coupons to get in for free and stuff but if you’re smart like us, you ask for Una copa gratis (a free drink) and they usually give it to you to get you to come it. It’s nice to be a girl because this isn’t how it is for guys. They very often have to pay. So we knew we wanted to try to go to a bar/club that we went to last night called Villa Rosa (we didn’t know what it was called until later) so we headed that way. Unfortunately we just kept getting bombarded with free drink offers so it took us a while to get there. Hehe J It’s interesting to see a bunch of different places and kind of nice because you might find another place that you really like. So after a few different places we finally go to the Villa Rosa which was great and we stayed there dancing for quite a while. I forgot to mention that I met a girl named Monica and a girl named Sarah from the US and a girl named Kaisa (Kai-za) from Finland. So we all eventually left the Villa Rosa and actually met some guys that the girls knew that were all from Brazil and we all went to another club called Joy which is quite a big place. We danced there for a while and then headed on home. I got home at about 5am so it wasn’t too late. It was a funny thing all night, Monica and I discussed the fact that our accents are changing and we sounded a lot like Germans when we spoke English because of all the German people we were around. We also speak more slowly and clearly and use conjunctions much less because we are used to having to speak to people whose first language is not English. It was quite a fun and interesting night and it was great to make some new friends. And it was also great to finally go to bed!!! Love you all!!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Day 15
So we had our tests today in classes. They were pretty darn easy. There was a lot of stuff to know for the Descubrir Espana class but it was mostly multiple choice. As long as I pass it’s fine because it doesn’t even count for credit, it just determines a little bit as to which classes I will take while here. So after classes (we had some extra time because the tests were short) I went to the computer lab to look up stuff for Oktoberfest one last time and finally found some tickets for 330 (more expensive than before but one day made a big difference and the prices were jacked up to about 500). I told Dawn but she said it would be too much as well as Katy. A girl Rhea from my class said she would like to go but it’s a lot but that she would think about it. Basically if I can’t get Rhea to go I think that some of us will go to Barcelona which isn’t the same but I’ll live. It is quite a bit to spend. We’ll see what happens. So then around 11:30 we had a trip to go see the Congreso (the Congress building). It was a very short tour but kind of interesting. There was a very interesting clock that they had in one of the rooms. It had clocks within clocks type of thing. There was one that had the position of the Earth, Moon, and Sun all the time. There was one with the position of all the planets. There was a barometer and I think even a temperature one somehow, one for hour, one for minutes, one for seconds, and then 20 that had different times of all around the world. It was very cool. After that I went and bought a new purse because my last one broke after 3 days. It’s cute but kind of touristy. It says MADRID all over it. After that I came home and ate some and then took a 2 hour siesta. I got up and took a shower and kind of went back to bed for a bit-it’s kind of boring when there is no TV, internet and not talkative roommates and I can’t be out doing something all the time so there’s just sleep to do. When I got up again I went and returned the router that we’re not going to use and grabbed a postre (dessert) that looked good called Arroz con Leche (rice with milk). It actually wasn’t very moist so it wasn’t that good, but I had some dinner before I tried it. We decided that we were going over to Emily’s for a while and then out to Calle Huerta which is a street with a ton of bars/clubs. Emmanuel and Michael said they would come but didn’t know where Emily lives so I met them at the metro station and we headed to Emily’s. We sat around there drinking for quite a while. I have a picture of us all (there were quite a few of us). We also were all speaking Spanish because of the differences in languages: 2 french guys, a BUNCH of german people, a Spanish girl, and me (and later on Rhea and her friend Pete from the US). Most of them could speak some English but it worked well for us to all speak in Spanish. After a while we decided to go out and I think we went to 4 or 5 different places (usually getting a free drink just to come in). I’ll have to get the pictures from my friends but we all danced and had a great time. After the last place, everyone was hungry and sadly there is no 24hour McDonald’s in Spain (and definitely no Gigamacs there). So we decided to go back to Emily’s place and we cooked up some Calamari (ick!) and some Croquetas (with chicken in them) and some ice cream and some salad. We all did some speaking in English and waited until 6AM when the metro opened up and then all headed home. It was actually very cold at night and of course I didn’t catch the bus I wanted (I couldn’t wait anymore because I was too cold and then like 5 minutes later it came and I wasn’t close to a stop to catch it) so I had to walk home in the cold. *Don’t worry mommy I was safe and there were many people on the sidewalks and I did have a jacket on-I’m just complaining. I got home finally and went to bed at right about 7am. What a crazy night!!! So I’m caught up for now so maybe I’ll tell you about today (Saturday) in a timely manner. I love you all so much and get excited that I will have internet soon. Muah!!! Dos besos!

Day 14
Erika was almost too late to catch the bus again this morning. She had to run, but I guess she’s awake that way. School went alright and after class I went to the computer lab to look for a little more of Oktoberfest and do a little more online. I decided I couldn’t spend that much time working on it and that I should go home by 3pm to take a siesta. I thought of the possibility of going by bus and then flying back and seeing if that was cheaper and then if we had to we could get a hostel for Friday night and then just stay out all of Saturday night (which we’ve done a few times until early in the morning) and fly out early Sunday. I also talked to Claudia and she said she thought she had some friends who had a house who might be willing to take us in for a little bit of money so then we wouldn’t have to try and find a hostel. I discovered that it wouldn’t be cheaper to use the bus and fly back because the flight was still so expensive. After looking for a while, I went home and took a nice 1.5 hour long siesta. I got up from my siesta and jumped in our shower which still isn’t fixed. I don’t know if I mentioned it already (sorry for sometimes repeating things because I don’t know what I’ve already said) but our hot water pressure is pretty much nothing so it’s really fun to try and take either a quick cold shower or a long and difficult warm shower. I always choose a warm shower. Hehe. After that I talked to Emily who said that I could come over around 8pm and use her internet and have a little dinner. We tried to call Ono in the mean time and discovered the number to call about getting service is simply: 1400. It didn’t work on my phone but did work on Erika’s phone but of course with our luck she was out of minutes. So we went and talked to our neighbor who let us borrow her phone. I talked to one person and it went well but then she put me on hold and I was disconnected. We then called back and I had some troubling understanding the person and so they simply hung up on me. So by then it was late enough that I could just go over to Emily’s and try and use Skype so the call would work and actually be cheap. Of course the call wouldn’t work with Skype but wonderful Emily let me borrow her house phone and I called. Another one hung up on me. It’s so frustrating!!! Luckily one of Emily’s flatmates from Germany is half Spanish and her Spanish is perfect so she called for me. It was so wonderful!!! We found all of this out: it would be 50euro to get a wireless router and all installation is free, 21 euro a month for everything until the end of December (the girls are staying until middle of February) and then 39 euro a month after that. It would also cost us 45euro to break the contract. This is MUCH better than what we found with telefonica which would cost 90euro to install telephone and 67euro to install internet with a wireless router. It would be 13 euro a month for telephone and 39 a month for internet. We were VERY happy about Ono. So we told Ono to give us a call back in about a half hour just so I could make sure it was what we wanted to do. About 45 minutes later, they hadn’t called back so we called them. The operator told us that the girl would call if she said she’d call and hung up. About a second later my cell phone started ringing (the girl from Ono) but I didn’t have service in Emily’s room and so I missed the call. So a few minutes later we called back to Ono and told them what happened so we talked with someone and gave them all my info and they said they’d have someone come next week for us to make the contract and then we would get internet!!! Woohooo!!! I love Natalie (Emily’s flatmate)! So after that I did some blogging and stuff and went home and went to bed a very happy girl.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Day 13
So of course I was tired this morning so I decided to have another cup of coffee. I’m sure I’ll be addicted soon and not even think about the horrible taste. So I decided that it would be fun to go to Oktoberfest in Germany for my birthday. As I’ve discovered some people do not know what Oktoberfest is so I will explain. In Munich, Germany it is basically the biggest party and beerfest in the world. There are like 16 different beer tents and the party goes on for 2 weeks. It actually mostly occurs in September (this year Sept. 16-Oct. 3) even though it’s called Oktoberfest. Basically take like Mardi Gras or something and multiply it by 3 or 4 and that might equal Oktoberfest. So I found two girls who wanted to go with me, Dawn and Katy who each ironically had their luggage lost for a while. They are both studying at Nebrija with me as well. So after class I went to the computer lab at school and started looking for flights and hostels which I knew would be hard since it’s such late notice. One thing that’s nice about Europe is that flights in between the countries are usually 100euro or less. Unfortunately though since it’s Oktoberfest the cheapest I could find was 150 which sounds cheap until you add in taxes and then it equals 280euro. Ouch! Also I couldn’t find a hostel in Munich but I saw one in Augsburg which is pretty close but we would have to take the train to Munich and apparently the trains in Germany are very expensive. After a while of looking I decided to give up for the day. My friend Claudia said she would try and help me if she could (she used to live like 500m from Oktoberfest). Also while I was in the computer lab I met two people named Alex (a girl from Canada) and Bernardo (a guy from Mexico City) who were looking for a piso. I felt very good to be able to help them telling them which websites to look at and which agencies to try. I let them know that if they needed anything else they could give me a call. At least I went through all that torture of trying to find a piso for something-so I could help someone else. So then I hopped on the bus and at my connection was actually able to figure out which bus to get on next. So I grabbed a bocadillo for lunch with a yogurt and actually texted both Emily and Joanna to see if I could use one of their internets. Joanna answered me first so I decided to go there. Since the metro is closed near her I took the bus and at my connection decided to take a slightly different bus to see if I goes closer to school (she lives right by school). Of course I didn’t get off at the right place and SURPRISE! I got lost. I eventually found her place but of course my phone had died and I didn’t know which number she was. After ringing all of them and not having her answer I was pretty discouraged but I decided to try and get my phone to turn on long enough to get her number and then call her from a pay phone. I got the number! But I couldn’t figure out how to use the pay phones. I saw someone use one a few days later and apparently you put the coins in one at a time and push this button thing to put the coin into the actual machine. Yeah didn’t figure that out, wonder why? ☺ So after kind of wandering a bit I decided to go to a locutorio (do we all remember that this is an internet café?) and give her a call because they have phones you can use there too. I got a hold of her and she told me which place to ring. She said she heard it ring before but didn’t answer because she was alone. Oh well. So I finally got to her place, almost in tears being exhausted and frustrated for about an hour. I ended up not really using the internet that much though. We chatted for quite a while and then her roommate Oonai (not sure how to spell it but it’s pronounced oo nai). Her roommate is from Pais Vasco which is a autonomous community (I think that’s right) in the north of Spain. There are 17 autonomous communities in all that make up Spain. Anyway, Pais Vasco is very interesting because they have a very very different dialect that is basically another language and it is actually one of the oldest languages. Oonai helped me to try and call the internet people at Ono. Unfortunately their computer system was down so they said they’d call us back. They didn’t really call us back that night, so I hung out a little longer and then headed home. I took the night bus and got home safely. It was around 1am by the time I got home. Another late night like always!

Day 12
So this morning we almost missed the bus! I knew we should have gone a little sooner but that's okay, we still made it. Since I was up so late last night and I knew I would fall asleep in class, I decided to buy a coffee, which I hate. It had cream and sugar and a lot of it so it wasn't that bad. Classes went well and we found out our "midterm" tests are on Friday. So in order to get the internet we need a phone line and in order to get a phone line we need a bank account here in Madrid (I also need it to make it easier on me). Unfortunately the banks in Madrid open at 8:30AM and close at 14:00 (2pm!!!) so when school got out at 1pm I had to HURRY! to try and get to a bank in time. My stomach was in knots thinking about how difficult it would to try and open an account in a foreign country and to try and do it in Spanish. But it actually went incredibly well and here they don't even require a first deposit!!! How crazy! They did speak english at the bank but I didn't really find it necessary, the spanish went very well. So then I went home to have some lunch and at 4:30 we were meeting with our teachers to see the Palacio Real. Unfortunately I keep forgetting to bring the cables necessary to get the pictures from my camera but I will put them up soon. It was very interesting. The king usually would still live in it today but the current one doesn't like the fact that it takes 20 minutes to get a glass of water because it is so big or that his food would always be cold because it would take so long to get to the dining room. It was a very neat thing to see. After that, Emily, Joanna and Emmanuel and Michael (who managed to come along on our school trip even though they don't go to Nebrija) and I all went and got a drink and while sitting we were actually a little chilly (It's FINALLY getting cool) and we finally just went home. Before I went home though I bought some groceries at the Maxi Dia that was close by and it was only 11 euros. It's sooooo crazy! After a long trip of carrying heavy groceries I got home. I made myself some tortellini for dinner and worked on some homework while watching Garden State on my computer. I don't know how but it got late, 1AM and so of course I knew I would be tired the next morning. It's so impossible to get to bed at a decent time. Oh well. O P.S. Since I got my bank account, we called Telefonica (there is also Wanadoo, and Ono here in Spain that provide telephone, internet, TV like Mediacom and Qwest). After a lot of confusion we discovered that the wireless router we already bought would not work because we still have to get a phone line through Telefonica (the router is Wanadoo) and still have to pay to rent their line for ADSL and still pay to Wanadoo so it would be like paying for internet twice. For telefonica it is 90euro to install phone line and 67.50 to install internet and get a wireless modem and 13euro a month for telephone and 39 a month for internet. VERY expensive! So we told them to call us back tomorrow because we wanted to see what else we can find out. Find out more about this adventure when I write about tomorrow. LOve you all!!!

Day 11
Hi everyone! I just wanted to thank you all that have left comments and want to let you know that as soon as I have internet I will be in much better contact with you all. It´s just hard right now since I don´t have the internet. Anyway so here´s how my monday went:
So yea mondays are mondays no matter what country you are in. It always comes too early. After school I went home and ate the rest of my arroz con chorizo y huevos (rice with sausage and eggs) and some veggies in there too (it was a frozen bag of it that I had). I decided to swim a little but when I got down to the pool, it was too cold. I sent a text message to Emily to see if I could use her internet (texting is cheaper than calling). Of course the bus was taking too long so I started walking to the metro (unfortunately Im about a 15 minute walk from the metro which is unusual-we´re kind of right in the middle of 2 farther away ones). I walked passed a store called Hiper Euro y Mas (super euro and more). They had shoes on the window like I have been looking for the whole time so I went in to check it out. In the US I have big feet but here everyone has smaller feet so they´re really considered big feet for me. Size 11 (US)=44 (europe) so it has been impossible to find what I want. They had size 41 but they looked big enough and me cayeron bien (they fit me!). 5,90€ (they use a , instead of a . ). I will put up their picture soon. I then continued on my way to the metro Principe Pio which is actually in the bottom of a centro commercial (mall). I got a little bit lost but finally found her place and got online to figure out my finances (I was worried for a while) and blog and check email, etc. I think around 9pm I decided to leave and just as I was almost home, Joanna called to ask if I wanted to go out, believe it or not, at the metro stop i just came from! Well I told her I still needed dinner and to do my homework but I would call her after that. I got done quick and decided to go out. It was about 11:30pm when I finally got there. Joanna´s friend Emmanuel (her flatmate) who I met before was there as well as his friend Michael (/say it Frenchly) from France and their friend Joe from England. We talked a lot about movies and it was interesting to see which movies they have and have not seen. We also discovered that none of them have ever tried Root Beer (but have tried ginger root beer?). Also I learned that in England, ¨lemonade¨ means sprite or 7up and they dont have actual lemonade and didn´t know what it was. Very weird! After quite a while we started walking to catch the night bus because the metro stops running at 1am. I was worried my bus wouldn´t come because I couldn´t catch it all day!!! It finally came and I got home and went to bed at about 2am. Class is going to be SO FUN tomorrow! I´m so tired but oh well. Love you all!

Monday, September 11, 2006

So check out some updates on the ***some interesting things page***
I'll have some pictures up really soon but I have no more time or patience to try and put them up tonight. Love you all!

Day 10

Hola todos!!!

So Day 10 was Sunday. It wasn’t greatly eventful which was okay. I’m very tired anymore. Anyway, since I went to bed so late I was very tired and got up around 1pm. My friend Emily and I had made tentative plans to go to the rastro (flea market) on Sunday around 10 but that didn’t happen because we were both sleeping. So once I woke up I got showered and had a bocadillo and decided to go to the rastro then. Emily said she would meet me there with her aunt who was visiting and so I got on the metro and got off where she told me to. Emily’s aunt is from Germany as well, however she knew Spanish quite well so that we could all communicate. The rastro was HUGE. There was street after street of stuff: shoes (zapatos), purses (bolsos), bags (bolsas), sunglasses (gafas del sol) and so much more. Unfortunately I didn’t have much money and it was pretty late so I didn’t get to look for much but I did buy some really great earrings (pendientes) for 3euro and a 5euro pair of gafas del sol. After that Emily and her aunt went to Plaza Mayor but Emily let me use her internet and computer and that is how you all received Days 7,8, and 9 on my blog. I was there for a few hours and then went home. We had made plans for dinner at 9 but I was tired and didn’t feel like going out again so I just let Emily and her aunt enjoy dinner together and I stayed home. I had some salad and spaghetti (their “tomato sauce” from the can is a little different than ours). I was a loner and watched Brokeback Mountain on my computer (for the first time!!!). I did a little homework and surprise surprise! got a wonderful phone call from Mike!!! Around 1am I decided to go to bed. That was pretty much my whole day Sunday. Not very eventful but that’s good because you can only have so many eventful days in a row. Hehe Hasta manana!!! (See you tomorrow)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Day 9
Cool this was yesterday! Almost caught up, but I wont be because I wont have the internet tonight to put in today but I can type it up on my computer and put it online later which I think I will do. So on day 9, Saturday, I slept in really late. There was a trip to Segovia with the school to see the aqueducts but it was 30€ and we are going to get a few of us together to go at a different time for much much cheaper. So I got up around 1pm and walked around the neighborhood trying to find a super market that is closer and cheaper than Corte Ingles (Corte Ingles is great for finding stuff but kind of expensive). I also looked for a closer metro stop and found absolutely nothing. Oh well, Ive been walking so much lately that I dont care anymore. Around 3pm Emily came over and we made some really good salad that we had some bread with and then went swimming for a bit but it was starting to storm so we went inside. Then I was trying to get on the hunt for internet, so I went with Emily to the metro stop (which is actually inside a centro commercial-mall) and we looked for telefonica which we did not find but we did find H&M which is a very cheap clothing store. I bought a very cute shirt for 3€ and a cute skirt for 5€. Since we found out there was not a telefonica in the mall, I took the metro to Plaza de Espana (plazas are always full of shopping centers and stuff). On my way I got a text message from Erika that you can maybe get internet at Corte Ingles so I went to see. I talked with a lady-I did very good with my spanish but I wanted to make sure that we didnt need a contract so she told me one more time in English. We didnt need a contract, we just have to buy a router for either 40€ or 80€ and the more expensive has wireless. It would then be about 36€ a month for the fastest internet. I took this information with me back home and told my roommates who were all for it so we went back to Corte Ingles and bought the router. We then had to call the company-Wanadoo-and set up our internet. I called and asked if there were any english speakers and of course there wasnt and unfortunately its hard to just wing it when it comes to money so Erika had the idea to go talk to a guy she knew who works in the bar downstairs and get him to help us. He wasnt there so she asked another girl who actually agreed to help us (she said in Holland thats normal to ask anyone for help and they will help you). I know in a bar in the US they would tell you to get the hell out. She didnt even accept a tip. These people are very nice. So she was talking on the phone for us and then explaining things back to us in more simple spanish. We discovered that we have to have a phone line in our flat which we do not!!! We were so very very sad. So we kind of gave up for then and I actually had plans to meet up with Linda and Alcyn and some of their friends as well as Joanna. Erika came with me (we were meeting at 1130pm) and Joanna brought her roommate from France. We never saw Alcyn or Linda and they werent answering their phones so we decided to make our own plans. In the mean time Erika got a text from her friend saying they had the same problem with internet and that they called telefonica and it was 80€ to set up and then about 15€ a month (5€ each) so that wasnt too bad. However everything in spain takes forever so it will take a week to get a phone line and then 2 weeks to a month to get internet. Im still so so so sad. Maybe there will be a miracle and it will happen sooner. Who knows. Anyway we walked all over the place and finally went to Sol (the center of Madrid which is very far from where we started). We went to the first 'bar' and got a glass of beer for each of us and then shared a pitcher of Sangria which was good but still not as good as the first one I had (Sanabresas). They were closing down so then we looked for another place and finally found something that was closing soon but would let us get a little food and a drink before they closed. We got a tapa which looks sooooo disgusting but actually tasted pretty good-jamon iberica. It was slices of some cheese, and meat, but not ordinary meat like ours, it looked like they just had killed it and sliced it and gave it to us. I will post the picture of it later. It actually tasted pretty good. Before we got to this bar I forgot to mention we had wanted to go to McDonalds which ended up being closed. However a funny fact is that Emmanuel (the guy from france) told me in france they had for a while megamacs and gigamacs (kind of like the BK Stackers). I just thought the names were hilarious. There was also another great moment (all these people speak english but their native language is not english). Emmanuel was asking us girls if we had to go to the bathroom before we left the 2nd bar but he asked us if we had to 'go take a leak.' It was very funny since girls dont really use that term when they go to the bathroom, so I explained that to him. Its interesting when people know 'slang' but it doesnt get used correctly. I made sure to tell him I wasnt laughing at him but with it as we are all learning a language. So all the bars were pretty much closing and only clubs were open and as no one felt like clubbing we all found a night bus to take home. It was still about 4am so it was a pretty okay night. Well Ive got to get going so Ill try and post more as soon as I can. You all should leave me comments and send me emails telling me you love me. O a personal P.S. Mom can you give this website to Grandma and Grandpa so they can read it too. Love you all!

Day 8
So right now in our apartment we dont have internet so I am borrowing someone elses internet and computer to write this blog. However, their computer is from Germany so there will be some grammatical errors due to the Z being where the Y is and other things like that. Also, I will have to get some pictures put up later since I dont have my own computer here with my pictures. Anyway, so Day 8. Lets see here...This was on Friday. So we had some schooling which is never incredibly exciting but Oh well. But through the program that we are doing, they have 'excursions' every Friday and Saturday. On Friday we went to the Museo del Prado (Prado museum). Unfortunately it was very hot and I was EXTREMELY hungry and thirsty so it was kind of hard to enjoy, but we did see works from El Greco, and two other Spanish artists that I sadly have to look up later because I dont remember who they were. I got some great pictures that I will post later. There was also an exhibit going on of Pablo Picasso! But we couldnt go in as a group but when we were done as a group they allowed us to switch our tickets for the regular museum (which were free because they were included in our course fee) to get into the Picasso exhibit for free. It was very interesting and we also got some pictures before we discovered that we werent allowed to take pictures in that exhibit. It was interesting to see that a lot of Picassos works were actually inspired by other works and were like interpretations of those works. I bought a picture for 4€ that I can hang when I get home. After that me and Aya (who went to the Picasso part with me) went on our way home but did stop at a little 'shop' where I bought a cinturon (belt) for 2€ and 5 postcards for 1€. Im going to try to send postcards soon. We then hopped on the metro and went our separate ways. We had planned on having everyone come over to my place this night and go SWIMMING because yes my apartment does have a pool!!! So while I was waiting for everyone to come over I went to Corte Ingles (I dont know if I already said this but its somewhat the pricing of JCPenneys but with the variety of Walmart) and got a little food and drinks and discovered the SADDEST thing EVER! The beer that I thought was only 50 cents a 6 pack was actually 50 cents for one can. Oh well, I still got a bottle of wine for 1€. I also got some contact paper to fix the stove. I got back home just in time for Emily to arrive (a girl from Germany whose computer I am using right now). She brought some apple cider which here is normally sold with alcohol in it, and usually is not just a juice drink. Finally more girls arrived, Marina (Mari) from Brazil whose accent is very hard to understand in spanish. Dawn who is from the US and Joanna who is from Poland (just like Mikey!) were the last to arrive. We sat and drank in the apartment for a while and then went down to swim. It was actually too cold to swim and the water was FREEZING but Emily and I got in and we all just sat and talked. We made tentative plans about visiting Barcelona, maybe on my birthday weekend. Around 1230 everyone had to get going because there is not a metro very close to my place and they had to catch the bus to get to the metro which closes at i think 130. After that I piddled around some and pretty much went to bed. We decided we would try and do something more fun tomorrow.

Day 7
I of course went to bed late last night and was exhausted this morning, falling asleep in class again. I have to get to bed early enough because there is a very large difference between going to class and having to participate in class. I saw Erika in between classes and confirmed that I would live with her and Marta (another girl from Erika’s school in Holland). So after class I got on my way back to the hostel to pack up my things. In the mean time, last night, Alcyn had lost the landlord’s number and so they had to walk all the way back to the piso and talk to him. He had told them that he was going to show it to 2 other girls and see which pair would work better with the current residents and he would let them know today around 2pm. Well I had all my things packed up and was ready to leave, while trying to figure out how much I owe for the hostel. We talked to Edouin and discovered that somehow our deposit didn’t get counted towards our full amount. There was much drama regarding this 25Euro and unfortunately there was some crying involved. Because on top of the hostel problem, Linda and Alcyn found out that the landlord rented to the other girls. Another problem was that the hostel might have been full (those 2 needed to stay another night in order to find a piso) but there was another room available so we had to move everything to that room. So to recount: the hostel was charging too much, the girls don’t have a piso, and we have to quickly move our stuff to another room. How stressful!!! Everyone finally got somewhat calmed down and by then it was almost 5pm so I had to get to Erika’s to unpack. I hopped in a cab (only 6Euros for the trip compared to the 30 from the airport) and headed for Erica’s. The girls figured out that for the hostel, they said the charge was for the agency that we went through and so Alcyn is going to call them again soon and see if they can figure it out (she called once but her phone died). So I got to Erika’s and unpacked my stuff. Hooray!!! Finally a place to stay. One thing I didn’t really know that (Erika did say it but I didn’t hear it) there was a commission charge for using an agency. The girls had already paid it but I have to pay my 1/3. The commission charge equals 1 whole month (1100Euros!!!) plus I had to pay my part of deposit (367 for commission and 367 for deposit) and also 367 for the month of September. I freaked out but I figured out I would have enough money so it was okay. I got completely unpacked and did some laundry (yea buddy) and took some pics:

And just pretty much relaxed (I also bought some food). I just kind of chilled the rest of the night but I was sad because we don’t have internet in our apartment and we still don’t. It’s good though because the other girls want to get it as well so we can figure it out. I’ll tell one last story for the night and then I’ll have to finish the rest tomorrow. I tried to burn down the apartment!!! There is contact paper on top of the stove and I had remembered Erika saying you can use the stove and I thought how weird wouldn’t that burn? So I called her when I wanted to use it to make sure and she said it was fine. What she didn’t know is that I didn’t realize that the “stove” with the contact paper is actually possible to open the “lid” with the contact paper and use the burners!! So when I came back to look at the pan, the plastic was melting and smelled horrible!!! O well. Anyway, I’m falling asleep so I will write more tomorrow. Love you all!!!

Day 6
This was not a very fun day. So we were at school and during our break (11:20-11:40) we got a call from Edouin (pronounced Edween) who is in charge at the hostel and he told us that our reservations we done today and that check out is at noon. Alcyn thought the reservations we through the night of the 6th and so we were really surprised but Edouin allowed us to stay another night in the same room. By the way, the morning of Day 6 I was starving for breakfast and we stopped at a little cafeteria type place and they had really cheap muffins (0.30Euro) and some of the best postres (desserts) that I’ve ever seen. I had a crush on the fruit torte. So after school we had our 3 appointments to check out pisos and hopefully find one we want. Oh by the way, I had stayed up late last night so this morning I was FALLING ASLEEP in class. I felt horrible but there was nothing I could do. The teacher thought that I was just hot (as in temperature) so it was okay. So after classes we went to buy our abonos (monthly bus and metro transportation) because the school was supposed to have them for us but didn’t so they are going to reimburse us for these. Abonos are nice because then you can travel to (almost) wherever, whenever you want. After that we got a call from our first appointment at about 2 saying that the place was already rented now. We were a little bummed but it was no problem because that was actually a very expensive place. We then relaxed and napped a little and had our second meeting at 5pm which of course we got kind of lost on our way. The one at 5 was a shared piso with other people already living there. It was in the middle of being remodeled so it was kind of crappy looking but it was okay and very cheap. Only one problem…one room can’t be rented until October and none of us can wait that long. So we thanked the landlord and started discussing it. Linda and Alcyn decided they wanted to live there so I had to find my own place to stay (probably with Erika). I called one of the numbers I had found for a good piso to share that was cheap and close to school and the lady really wanted me to see it so I went. I of course got extremely lost and what was even worse was that Alcyn and Linda didn’t go with me so then they couldn’t even help me got unlost. I finally found it after it started raining and I also saw a little kid on a bike get hit by a car (he was okay though). It was with a lady that was a little older (30-40) than me and it was a very new place. The lady was very nice but she was really looking for a very quiet studious student (which I can be) but I also want to party some and that’s not was she was looking for. I ultimately made the decision to say no. We were supposed to see one last piso at 9:45 but the girls didn’t want to see it so I decided I would live with Erika if she would take me and the girls could live in the piso (from 5:00 meeting). I was a little upset (Erika’s apartment was more expensive and I got screwed into finding my own apartment without their help if I wanted something cheaper) but they did suggest some things to try to make it better which I decided not to do but I was okay with them for suggesting some ideas. That was mostly the incredibly long horrible day and then, exhausted but still late, I went to bed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

***A list of things that I find interesting that are different in Spain***

*Dos besos-2 kisses: 1 for each cheek. When you meet someone new or say goodbye you both kiss each other's cheeks. But we learned it's more so a touch of the cheek and making the kissing sound. Good to know. The girls from Germany told us when they were younger it used to be a kiss on the mouth when you said hi to all your friends and who you kiss and how you do it depends on the generation. In France there are places with 4 kisses.

*Los cuadernos-the notebooks. In EEUU (Los estados unidos-the US) we only use notebooks with little squares (not lines) for math. However in Europe it is possible to get notebooks with lines but they mostly use notebooks with squares for all their classes.

*The walking-Here you walk everywhere and if you're not used to this like me, you can actually feel all the muscles that you're working. When you wear flip flops all the time your feet get extremely dirty:
This is actually after about 5 minutes of scrubbing in the shower. Nice right? Ick!

*The metric system. A bottled water is 50cl. A wonderful thing is that a 1.5L bottle (3 regular bottled water put into 1 ginormous one) is only 1 euro (1.25$).

*Diet coke is Coca Cola Light.

(I'll write more as they come to me)

Update: 9/11/06

*Fire/police sirens: These are different but there are also a few that sounds that same. My mom actually mentioned that they were different when she heard them pass about a million times on the phone.

*Pillows: The pillows here are longer...they're about 1.5 times the size they are in the US. It's just a little strange.

*Crosswalks: This is a weird one. When the light turns green, it sounds like a bird is chirping. My friend Joanna from Poland said it's actually the noise that their police sirens make. As Linda explained, it is for the deaf people. And when she explained it I asked her to say it again and she said it was for the DEAF people. LoL, we all know she meant blind people.

*ATMs: These freak me out!!! When you put your card in, they don't just zip it in and accept it like in the US. So everytime you go to put your card in, it slowly sucks it in and makes me feel like the machine is broken and I will never get my card back. It works every time though!

*Groceries: The groceries here are VERY cheap. I bought groceries which will last me almost a week and they were 12Euro. In the US, the same groceries would have cost me about 25$.

*On the bus: EVERYONE gets up for older people. EVERYONE! Absolutely everyone gives up their seat for the elderly. It's crazy because we're supposed to do that in the US but we don't. But here EVERYONE gets up for them. It's kind of nice.

*Walking barefoot: So here there is not really any carpeting. And no spanish person walks around barefoot (caminar descalsa). They all wear slippers & if you don't they will tell you to be careful (maybe because of splinters). It's just strange because everyone in the US walks around barefoot but NO ONE here does.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day #5
Sorry I was a slacker and didn't post anything yesterday (day 5) yet. I went to bed a las 2:30AM and so i was too tired to write anything. Anywhoo. So my day yesterday... Well we had escuela (school) a las (at) 8:30 and found out what spanish level we were in. I am in group B3. There are niveles (levels) for beginners, A, B, C, and intermediate so I did pretty good eh? We have only girls in our class. We have 3 different "classes" but they're all in the same room, the teachers just rotate. My first class a las 8:30AM is lengua espanola where we work on our grammar, a las 10AM is descubrir espana which is basically studying the culture and customs (there are so many different things here you don't even know) and my last class is conversacion which is just discussing stuff during the whole class. My teachers are all very nice but all the classes are in spanish so sometimes it's a little bit hard to understand what they say or what tarea (homework) they assign. So after class we signed up for the trip to puerta del sol for wednesday and we went outside of the school and Linda and I met a girl named Erika who is from Holland and she has an apartment with an open room! So we talked to Alcyn and she decided she would live with the guy from Campamento (the far away one) and so Linda and I went to see Erika's place. Erika is studying abroad too so of course we got lost but we did get to walk through this cute park-parque del oeste and there was this cool fun thing with vines all over:We finally saw the apartment which is very nice and we considered it in the possibilities of where we will live. When we got back we talked with Alcyn (who apologized for being kind of cranky when we were first looking at pisos because she's never done that before-it is frustrating) and we decided that we were going to try and find a piso together again. So we still had a piso that we could share to look at that night but the lady called us and said it was already rented. So we found every possible piso that we could online (salyven, madrideasy, segundamano, etc) and called everyone and got 3 appointments for tomorrow at 3, 5, and 9:45. We took a little siesta and decided to go out with a girl from school name Emily who is from Germany and two of her friends. We walked past a restaurant and they offered us free drinks so we decided that place would be okay. We all got sangria but they were smalls glasses (not full sangrias). The place was kind of expensive so I just got a tosta which i think basically means a toasted peice that is a half of a bocadillo and then it cut in half and only one half that is cut. It came with ham and cheese that had a very weird taste so I had to take the cheese off-ick. So I told the story about the policeman, Israel, that we asked for directions to a restaurant...well we went and said hi to him while he was working (him and his partner were just standing on a certain street all night which is very exciting). That was pretty fun and we learned a lot more about spanish. For example, to ask if the clubs will give us a free drink for coming in we asked if there was una copa gratis but Israel told us that we can say una copa por la cara which means the same but literally means a drink for the face (for the pretty face). If you think about it, it will make sense. So we then went home around 12:30am and I stayed up late talking to my boo (Mike) and then took a shower and went to bed. How interesting no? I'll post today tonight too. Love you all! Dos besos!