Sunday, March 25, 2012

I fell in love.

I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach- this uncomfortable, heavy feeling of something to come that I am afraid of. I flip to the next page in my agenda and there it is... written in bold: LEAVE SPAIN. In the beginning of my study abroad experience I was afraid of what was to come in the next 3 months. Now I am amazed that fear only exists in the idea of leaving.

No quiero salir.

I suppose I have to leave to get on with the rest of life, but I will say that time passed way too quickly while I was here in Spain. So quickly, in fact, that I can't help but sit back and want to look back on everything that I have experienced, everything that has changed me.

I fell in love with Alcalá, I fell in love with my amazing group of 23 girls, I fell in love with my professors, I fell in love with my school and the bright white walls in the small classrooms, I fell in love with precious little apartment in the ghetto,

I fell in love with my host mom who believed that cake and treats in the morning would never make you fat, no matter how many you ate, I fell in love with (some) of the Spanish food (más o menos), I fell in love with the cute little old men that walk the streets with their canes and hats,

I fell in love with Madrid, I fell in love with the crazies who perform daily on the streets in Madrid, I fell in love with the cute little Spanish children, I fell in love with the way the Spanish women dress, I fell in love with chocolate con churros, I fell in love with cookies for breakfast,

I fell in love with the word "guapa" and the phrase "no pasa nada," I fell in love with the history, I fell in love with the museums and the parks, I fell in love with the most beautiful language in the world, I fell in love with their funny accent,

I fell in love with the two-person elevator I would take everyday in my apartment, I fell in love with the stuffy trains and crowded metros, I fell in love with the unidentified meats and fish, I fell in love with smoke in my face every time I walked on a street,

I fell in love with the tiny cars crammed together bumper to bumper on narrow streets, I fell in love with old women with bright pink hair, I fell in love with the crazy looks I got because I'm an American, I fell in love with the word "rubia" that was shouted as if one was a celebrity, I fell in love with the cathedrals that never ceased to amaze me, I fell in love with traveling...

... I fell in love with Spain.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I just had an amazing four days in Barcelona. Barcelona is a very fun and exciting city. I would have to say that out of all of the cities that I've visited so far, this city was the most touristy. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that I hardly spoke any Spanish while I was there because there are so many English-speaking people that live/work there. Needless to say, it was a really fun trip.

Casa Mila
We saw Park Guell, or Gaudi's Park, the Cathedral of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, and various other places. My favorite day was probably Friday. On Friday I woke up to a knock on my door. Surprised and still somewhat asleep, I heard my two good friends, Kristie and Ali at the door. They had come to tell me that two of their friends had heard back from BYU and that I probably had my decision. (A little background: I've been checking my BYU status everyday since February 2nd, sometimes multiple times during the day. I've been so anxious to find out whether or not I got in, that it had basically started to consume my thoughts.) They came in to our hotel room and I pulled out my laptop. From there I read the "Congratulations..." It was an awesome feeling, but I'm not going to lie I was still half-awake so it was a little weird at the same time. After getting dressed and heading down to the lobby for breakfast, I was welcomed by the 22 girls in my study abroad group giving me hugs and words of Congratulations. They were all so sweet and I felt so happy and supported. It was awesome.

La Sagrada Familia
After that we headed off to La Catedral. I loved the cathedral because it had quite a lot of Gothic style to it. It was unlike any that I have seen because the interior was gothic- it had an entirely different feel to it. The Saint that it is dedicated to is Saint Eulalia, a thirteen-year old martyr who was tortured and crucified for her beliefs. Her tomb was under the cathedral and the cloister of the cathedral has 13 geese in memory of every year of her life. It was really cool and especially fun because I went with a few of my friends and not with a tour guide. (Tour guides can be great, but sometimes it's nice to just wander off on my own and read Rick's point of view on things).

Beach in Barcelona
Las Cuatro
After La Catedral we went around to a few stores and shopped a 'bit. I haven't done too much shopping since I've been in Spain, so it was fun to get some done and have a little fun while doing it. I'm proud to say that I purchased gypsy pants (pictures to come) along with two of my friends. Gypsy pants are exactly what they sound like, pants that gypsies wear. There are tons of gypsies in Spain, so I felt it mandatory to purchase a fun pair as a keepsake. After buying our gypsy pants we headed down to the beach. The walk was pretty long and I'm not going to lie, my feet started burning, but it was all worth it. We got to the beach and laid out in the sun for several hours. I walked in the Mediterranean Sea, had the water glaze over my feet... it was a moment of surrealism for me... that feeling of, "I'm really here. All my life the dream of coming to Europe, the dream of looking out into an unknown Sea, the dream of seeing the places I've seen"... it all hit me at that one moment and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with so much gratitude and happiness.

Parc Guell, by Guadi
After the beach we headed back to the hotel and got ready for our dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. It was fun to go to an American Restaurant and get a taste of back home. It was definitely a little pricey, but I'd say that my salad tasted better than any I've had since being in this country. (Not that the Spanish don't eat salads, I'd just say that Americans know how to make the best ceasar salads).
I'm one blessed kid.
Barcelona, sunny and beautiful.
All in all, I loved Barcelona. I loved seeing all of the Gaudi architecture from his park to La Sagrada Familia, I was overwhelmed with his ability to think outside of the box. Everything he has created is so unique and so different. The weather in Barcelona was just beautiful and it made the trip that much more memorable.
Best gelato yet.
Best purchase from the trip.
Barcelona at night.
I'm so grateful for all that I have and for the opportunity of a lifetime that I have to be living in Spain and traveling Europe afterwards. I'm one lucky kid who has everything in the world that I could want... and now that I've been accepted to my dream school, there's nothing that can stop me from reaching every other goal in my life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

La ciudad de Cuenca.

I'm feeling much better than the time of my last post. I believe I have a sinus infection, which is kind of bad news, but I have great friends who have given me plenty of medicine to help! Last weekend turned out to be a ton of fun. I don't have too much time to write about it, but on Friday we went to ArtMadrid- a modern art exhibit in Madrid. On Saturday we went to Cuenca, an awesome city with incredible cliffs, hanging houses, and bright colored apartments.

Tomorrow we head off to Barcelona and are there until Saturday. I can't wait! Stay tuned... and I'll tell you all about it when I get back :)

Here are pictures from the Cuenca trip:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Runny nose and lots of blankets.

Yesterday while sitting in class, I had an overwhelming feeling of sickness pass over me. My head started to hurt, my throat started to dry up, and my face started to sweat. I know that last part sounds so weird, but whenever I get sick, that's the first sign to come- a wet face.

So after class, Kristie and I headed back home. We ate some lunch, watched New Girl, and then took a lovely siesta. When I say lovely, I mean I slept for about 4 hours, blowing my nose every 20 minutes. It was pretty miserable. When I woke up it was about time for dinner and Encarna really knew how to make me feel better. We had yummy chicken salad with a vegetable soup and apples. Call me strange, but when I'm sick I don't really crave sweets, it's all about healthy foods. And if you know me, you know that I'm not really a vegetable person.... so it's kind of a big deal.

After dinner we went to bed. I'd like to say that the NyQuil that I brought with me knocked me out, but it didn't. I feel awful. I'm pretty sure I woke my roommate up every 10 minutes with the beautiful sound of me blowing my nose. I woke up this morning with a headache and a very sore throat. Thus, school wasn't an option. We also had a temple trip planned today that I've been looking forward to all week... sadly I wasn't able to go because I'm doing even worse than I was yesterday.

Here I am, laying in my bed. I have a few rolls of toilet paper to my right and my large blue water bottle to my left. I've watched One Tree Hill and Leap Year today. I've also done some homework, but for the most part, I've just been taking meds and sleeping. Thankfully we don't have a super big trip planned this weekend. Tomorrow we're going to this modern art show in Madrid that I'm excited about. On Saturday we're headed to Cuenca for the day. I'm praying that I'll be slightly better tomorrow and even more better for Saturday.

At least I didn't get sick next week when we're headed to Barcelona, right? It always could be worse?

Well... off to watch my next movie.

P.S. Best part of today: I should be hearing any minute that my nephew has been born :) Can't wait!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A relaxing weekend in a country I love.

Well, kids, I'm still as happy as can be.

This weekend was fantastic and I actually have time to write about it, so here we go!

On Friday our group went to Segovia. I think Segovia is awesome. I actually went to Segovia with my friend almost a month ago, the first weekend I was here. I'm not going to lie, that visit was a little 'bit better than this one because the weather was not as pleasant on Friday. It's true what they say about the wind in Spain during the month of Febrero, es muy mal. Pero, está bien. We still enjoyed a beautiful day seeing a beautiful city. I was actually really excited to go back and see this city that is just about an hour and a half drive from Alcalá.

We went through the Alcazar (The castle) where Ferdinand and Isabella once lived with their four daughters and 1 son? I believe? Some facts that I learn on tours become a complete blur because we learn so much about so many different things... it can be hard to put two and two together. Anyway, we were able to tour the castle and walk through the city. I was actually somewhat surprised that my group didn't go into the cathedral in Segovia. The outside of the cathedral is just stunning, but I guess our director felt the interior was not too impressive. (I guess that's true in comparison to the ones we've already seen... but I'm grateful I was able to go through it last month with my friend).

After a cold, somewhat snowy day in Segovia, we headed back to Alcalá. A friend of mine and I decided we would have a movie night- complete with a lasagna dinner made by my awesome host mom, cheesecake, 5 different kinds of chocolate Milka bars, New in Town, and Princess Diaries 2. It was awesome. We stayed up pretty late talking about anything and everything. It was fun to have a night of relaxation.

Today we woke up and I could feel the definite lack of sleep ringing in my head. Nonetheless, we had an awesome day ahead of us. Encarna had planned a fun day. Here's what we did:

1) 10:30am: Desayuno. (Chocolate con churros). Nothing better.

2) 11:30am: We met up with Rafa y Sandra (sobrino y la novia de sobrino) and headed to Parque de Europa.

3) 12:00pm: Walk around the park and see all of the cute statues of European architecture. It was incredible to think that most of the things we saw that were just cute park decorations, I will be seeing in the next few months. (The Eiffel Tour, The Trevi Fountain, The London Bridge, The Roman Colosseum, etc.)

4) 2:00pm: TAPAS. Delicious. Encarna treated us to some yummy food. Tapas are like appetizers, but you order as many as you want and eat it as a meal. I ordered a small hamburger first, and then a chicken-type sandwich with Sprite. It was delicious.

5) 3:30pm: Encarna, Kristie, y yo headed to a mall. Encarna told us about a store that had ropa barata. Alright, by this time in the day, I was somewhat ghost-like. Lack of sleep never sits well with me, so I kind of felt like a zombie at times. However, I was successful enough to find more gifts for my family/friends back at home. Success. (Side note: Am I worried about how much room I will have in my suitcases on my way home? Yes.)

Goofing around in front of "The Eiffel Tower" with our awesome new friend, Sandra.
Roberto, Encarna, Kristie, yo, Sandra

6) 5:00pm: Returned to la casa y durmieron mucho. Necesitaba una siesta.

7) 8:30pm: Cena- lasagna y biscoche (A Spanish type of cake, kind of like corn bread?)

It was an awesome weekend. Today felt especially good to be around Encarna and her family because they only speak Spanish. I enjoy listening to them and sometimes I feel like they might think I'm a creep, because I watch the way they talk and I try to listen a little too attentively... Eh, whatever. I'm just a crazy American loving my life in Spain.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Andalucía: The South of Spain

This past week I was able to go on a trip with our Study Abroad group to Andalucía. Andalucía is an area in the southern part of Spain. In this region there are some of Spain's most well-known and historically significant cities. To name some: Granada, Sevilla, and Cordoba. I wish I had the time to go through each and every day, but with school up and running this week, I don't have the time to tell you every detail. My journal has just about every little fact and observation, so no worries. These pictures are in random order, but they capture the absolute beauty that is Andalucía. The sun was shining and I'm proud to say that I got a little 'bit of a burn while being there. If you're planning a trip to Spain, I would definitely recommend visiting Andalucía. Que hermosa.
In front of a beautiful fountain in Sevilla.

Only the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world. Only the tomb of Christopher Columbus. I was there.
This is at the Alhambra in Granada.

 They're everywhere. Beautiful orange trees but according to our tour guide they're quite bitter.
Inside of La Catedral en Sevilla.

On top of the bell tower at the cathedral in Sevilla.
Another shot of the fountain in Sevilla.

In the Alhambra in Granada.

This is a photo taken from the Generalife in The Alhambra in Granada. The gardens were stunning.

At the Alhambra in Granada.

This was the stage for the INCREDIBLE Flamenco performance that we went to on Saturday night.

The streets in Cordoba- every year they have competitions for the best looking patio/balcony throughout the town.

La Plaza de España in Sevilla.

La Plaza de España en Sevilla. Fun fact: This plaza was actually in Star Wars.
Can't get enough of this plaza.

Our classy group of four in Sevilla.

Overlooking the city of Granada.

Medina Azahára, after leaving Cordoba and on our way to Sevilla.

Representing where we're from in Cordoba.
Guess what? Yep, we went on a carriage ride around Sevilla.
This is on the streets in Sevilla. We drove down one of the busiest streets in the center of the city.

Our horse was a gem.

Kristie and I going through the garden. On the right is a huge flock of white pigeons.

La Mezquita en Cordoba. It was incredible to see these infamous arches in person.
Our last stop in Andalucía was in Merida. This is an ancient Roman theater.

On a gas stop on our way back, I went to buy some snacks. When I walked in I brought a Nestle bar up front. The Spanish man kindly told me, "Este no es bueno." He then went to the back of his store and brought me this chocolate. Was it worth it? You bet ya. Real yummy Spanish chocolate. Sure, Pops, I'll bring some home for ya.