Saturday, May 12, 2012

So it's finally come to an end. I'm writing from my home computer! These last two days have been feels so good to be in New Haven and to be with the people I love (even though some people I haven't seen yet). BUT overall I can say that I am really grateful for this semester. I needed it so much - to got out and see the world and leave my New Haven and Syracuse bubbles. I have seen some amazing things and met some really great people that I never would have if I didn't go to abroad. Sure, there are some regrets about not doing everything I wanted to or not pushing myself to get all the way out of my comfort zone..but I can honestly say it was hard at the end to leave. Don't get me wrong, I wore red, white and blue to the airport for a reason, but leaving Carmen and just Madrid overall was bittersweet. I hope we keep in touch (it would be a great way for me to practice my Spanish), but we'll seeeee. Also I really want her to send me pictures of baby Hugo and Aitana. But for now, let the ashley's, pepe's, tandoor, mamoun's, grandma's macaroni eating COMMENCE!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Someone somewhere heard my frustrations and listened to me cause guess what?! The flight isn´t cancelled!!! I don´t think enough people wanted to strike on Friday so they couldn´t cancel the flights. THANK GOODNESS. The minute we heard and got home, Alyssa and I started packing. Now that I know everything´s good to go I´m not as stressed, but just anxious. I want to see my fam and friends and New Haven and just get back into the swing of things at home. And back into the New Haven restaurants slash my grandma´s kitchen. TWO MORE DAYS BABY

Saturday, May 5, 2012

So I should only have to stress about finals this week since I have three tests and a paper due, yet another big whammy has hit us: possible Iberia strike which might end up in cancelling our flight back to the States. Just what I need...The strike was started by unhappy flight attendants and Carmen has a friend who is a flight attendant but didn´t even know exactly why they were striking! That makes me so mad. They affect so many people when they should just be happy to have a job, unlike the majority of people in Spain. This happened when we went to France for spring break, there was a general strike at the airport, but at least we knew the Monday before we left that our flight was cancelled so we managed to move it easily to Friday instead of Thursday. However in this case, Iberia might not tell us it´s cancelled until the day before or day of. That leaves very little time to change our flights not the mention that most of us are on the group flight which would mean about 100 students need to change. Best case senario is that if it does get cancelled (which I´m almost positive it will) that we can get the flight moved to Thursday. I have a final but it ends at 10:30 am so if I can get on an aftrnoon or night flight, that would be ideal. I just want to get home and not have to worry about staying here until Saturday or Sunday. I want to spend mother´s day with my fam!

Monday, April 30, 2012

I can´t believe that tomorrow is the first day of May and that in 11 days I will be on a plane to the United States. It makes me start thinking about how senior year is fast approaching and then real life and then I don´t even know what. I can´t start thinking about this, I´m only 20. Except that 20 seems so old!!!
Oh well, for now I just need to enjoy the last couple days left in Madrid. Yesterday I came back from a weekend in Porto, Portugal, which was really fun and relaxing. It was the perfect last travel experience before heading home. I went with a group of girls to celebrate one of their 21st birthdays (which of course doesn´t matter much here in Europe) but we just tried to hang out, eat good food and celebrate. And that we did. Just to preface what I´m about to say, I´m going to ask myself a question: who am I? Because, this weekend I very willingly offered to get information for a bus tour. Yes. I love bus tours now. They are so perfect because you can have fun on them in any kind of weather! Rainy and you go downstairs, beautiful and sunny and you go upstairs (and they are so good for taking pictures). Plus you get to see so much more than you would just walking around aimlessly. So we found a great deal on a bus tour, which was 19 euros and included a two day bus pass, boat ride up the river Douro and tour of the Calem Porto wine cellars PLUS a tasting. Also I´m obessed with all of the buildings in Porto. Everywhere you go are the most beautiful tiled walls and even on the churches they have little scenes and it just adds so much color and life to the city. I could look at them all day long. Then when we were boarding the plane to come back, Alyssa said something that made me so excited: this is the last time we´re traveling back to Madrid. CAN´T BELIEVE THAT THE NEXT PLANE I TAKE WILL BE HEADED BACK HOME!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A lot has happened in the past couple weeks! After getting back from Paris my mom and dad came to visit! It was so great to see them because it's been over three months since the last time I have but I didn't realize just how acclimated I've become to Madrid (knowing the metro, understanding basic spanish, etc) that I started getting frustrated with the fact that I had to become a tour guide. I think I'd rather hang out with them at home than a foreign country but regardless I am SO happy they came. It makes me miss home so much but knowing that I will only have to wait three weeks to see them lessens the depression.
Anyways, this weekend the school planned a trip to Andalucia, which is where I'm writing from now! (right now we're in Granada) In the beginning of the semester we took an 11 day pre-seminar called Mare Nostrum in which we went to Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Valencia. This is a shortened version/reunion trip in which we've been to Cordoba, Sevilla and our last stop, Granada. This weekend has made me realize how amazing planned trips are. We have a bus driver (Nico), planned dinners, nice hotels, get to see amazing views and guided tours. It really takes the stress out of traveling.

In Cordoba we saw the mosque (mesquita), got yummy tortilla y queso bocadillos and ice cream cones.
inside the mosque
Sevilla was so beautiful. A huge river runs through it and there are a ton of restaurants and bars and shops are lined up all the way down. So much to look at. We went to the center of town and saw the cathedral. Then of course after round two of bocadillos for lunch we had to get ice cream. Maite, our group leader, just laughed. Yeah, this coming from the typical skinny spanish woman who can barely finish a croissant and coffee for breakfast and was so stuffed from a single scoop she couldn't drink all her beer. Theme of the weekend is eating. We established it early on and we're gonna stick to it. You only Andalucia once.
view from above
Granada has been by far the most beautiful. Its all windy roads and gorgeous views. The hotel in literally at the top of a mountain so you can see the whole city. It's amazing. We learned about how oil is made here (Granada is one of the top producers of olive oil), from when and how they pick the olives to how they used to make it and even got to have a tasting. No complaining from me.

tiled wall in la alhambra
We also went to the Alhambra and the view was once again amazing. The tiles and orange trees and fountains and carvings and views. It's hard to take it all in. Lots of photos. Lots of staring.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bonjour de Paris!!! I'm currently writing from Alyssa's cousins computer (hope he doesn't mind all the way from Boston). We've been here for 8 days and sadly only have 2 left but we have been making all the time we have here count. Of course we got as touristy as possible (Arc de Triumphe, Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Louvre, Versailles, Musee d'Orsay, walking down the Champs-Elysees) but having spent so much time here, we've really gotten to walk around and take our time learning the city. And all I can say is that I love it. Unlike Madrid, it is so green here. The streets are filled with trees and even though it's a city there are flowers and grass and just pure nature. Sometimes I forget how much beauty a simple garden has when I'm in Madrid. It's so dry there. But Paris is so alive with greeeen. It was the first thing Alyssa and I noticed.
We've been staying with Alyssa's aunt and uncle (as you recall I mentioned her cousin) and they have been SO generous. Almost every dinner they have invited us to and the large majority of them being out. And not just to the local hum dum cheap take really nice restaurants. Honestly I love you Carm, but France has been treating our bellies right! First night we had Italian, followed by Indian, then Chinese, Lebanese and Thai. Needless to say it's been a delicious trip. Oh how could I forget the crepes. We got them once for lunch and once just on the street and they were sooo yummy. Alyssa said it perfectly, "if I lived here I would get fat off the crepes". Too true.

louvre museum
eiffel tower
pizza and crepes for lunch
notre dame cathedral

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Haven´t written in so long! Which is mostly due to the fact that about two weeks ago my computer started getting really slow and now barely works. I started deleting a lot of documents and I´m going to try running the virus scanner again but I´m afraid I´m going to have to send it back with my parents to the States because the closest Apple store we could find is an hour away. SO for now I´m stuck in the library. But here are some recent updates!
A couple weekends ago I went to London!!! It was really fun but it is SO expensive there and very rainy which is the complete opposite of Madrid. It can be expensive here if you make it, but in London it was just crazy...which had a lot to do with the pound. Regardless, we were as touristy as could be and got to see all of the major sites (Big Ben, the Westminster Abbey, London bridge, Buckingham Palace, went in the London eye..) and other little sections of the city with help from The Big Bus Tour. Really can´t get much more touristy than that. All I could think about was how many times my Aunt Cindy dragged my sister and I on those dreaded duck tours (which we did see driving around) and yet here I was willing and wanting to take one myself. Well, not so much the duck tour, but a bus nonetheless. Funny note about the London bridge: literally the ugliest, smallest, most unimpressive bridge of all the bridges in London. You wouldn´t even notice it except that it has written LONDON BRIDGE in big letters on the side. We made the mistake of thinking a different one was the right London bridge and took lots of pictures near it only to find out we were wrong...typical. Also, the first night we wanted fish and chips just to complete the cliche experience, but all the restaurants we stumbled upon looked like we might get food poisining. So we opted for Garfunkles: a mix between panera, friendlys, and TGIF. How could I forget..we also stumbled upon Borough Market which is one of the best places I´ve ever been. So much bread, cakes, cheese, meat, just all of my favorite foods wrapped up in a farmer´s market. It was great. I bought a big piece of carrot cake which I never wanted to finish, it was amazing. Then Sunday was the St. Patty´s day parade. We got all dressed up in green and went to the parade. By this time we were almost completely broke, so lunch was McDonalds. My second trip to a fast food place all semester. We felt so rich there buying food from the pound menu. Needless to say I went home with no more money but a camera full of pictures and lots of funny memories. AND in two days we are off to Paris for spring break which I am almost too excited for.

View of the Westminster Abbey from the London Eye

Fish and Chips!!!

Bread stand at the amazing Borough Market

Signs to help you from killing yourself crossing the street...much needed in my case because I can barely cross at home anyway