Thursday, April 11, 2013

4/11/2013 Semana Santa and Morocco

For Easter week here in Spain it is called Semana Santa. We got the week off of school, so I took the opportunity to do some much-desired traveling. The first city I traveled to was Malaga. While there I stayed in a hostel called Picasso's Corner in an 11-bed room. I was nervous about it at first but it turned out to be a great experience. Since I was traveling by myself, it gave me the opportunity to meet some new people. My first night there I went out with three other people from my hostel. Two guys were study abroad students in England and one of them was from Canada and the other was from Australia. The other girl that went out with us was from Australia and was studying in Germany. The four of us went out for dinner and drinks and it was a lot of fun. The next morning the other girl and I went to the Picasso Museum which was a lot fun and really interesting. After that I walked along the garden to the beach. It was great for a while and then I got stuck in the rain without and umbrella. I headed back to my hostel and ate dinner at the hostel and played board games with some of the other people there. The next day I took two different trains to get to Puerta de Santa Maria. The first day I got to my hostel late so I went out for dinner and then settled in for the night in my single room. The next day I got up and took the boat to Cadiz. In Cadiz I went to the lighthouse and walked on the beach. I also go to see the castle and watched the sunset there. After sunset I headed back to the boat to go back to Puerta the de Santa Maria. Along the way I got stuck in a plaza because there were so many people there the watch the passes of Semana Santa. I got to watch one of them but there were so many people that is was pretty much impossible  to take photos. Once I got back to Puerta de Santa Maria I got some dinner and went to bed. The next day I just stay in the town and I went to the market which was very cool to see. the next day I headed back to Seville. It was a great trip for me.

This past weekend the school took a trip to Morocco  It was awesome. The first day we took a tour on bus through Tanger, the city that our hotel was in. We also did a short walking tour and went to a Moroccan Pharmacy where I bought stuff for myself and some gifts. We then went to lunch and got to see a belly dance show while there. After lunch we went to the hotel, which was beautiful. We got both dinner and breakfast at the hotel. The next day we got to go to a small town. We got a tour by a local guide and got to see a blanket shop then we ate lunch as a group again. After lunch we had free time to shop. For shopping you had to barter for everything. I bought a ton of stuff while shopping. On our third day in Morocco we got to start the day by riding camels, which was awesome. We also got a tour of another small town and got free time for lunch. Then we got to head back to Seville. But I must say that my first trip to Africa was great!!!

Now I'm excited for next week when I am off school and I am going to Conil de la Frontera and will be learning to SURF!!!! So beaches here I come again!!!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

3/21/2013 Sorry I'm Slacking

Sorry to everyone that it has been a month since I last wrote. Well here is some information about the trips that I have been on since then!! I went on a trip with the school to Ronda with is a beautiful city and very old!! We got to go on a long tour of the city and the Plaza de Torros (bull ring). It was really cool to hear about everything but the tour kind of sucked at the same time because it was pouring rain for the whole 2 hour tour lol. After the tour we got some free time. I started my free time with some shopping of course lol. Then I found my friends at a small cafe call Chocolat and they and the best hot chocolate. They also had a huge selection of tea. So while there my friends and I shared a brownie and all get hot chocolates and I bought a bag of green tea. The brownie was awesome. It was a brownie with caramel and pecans and smaller pieces of brownie on top (and of course a big dollop of whipped cream lol). Also, if you didn't know hot chocolate here is different than in the United States. It is melted chocolate mixed with hot milk, and it is very thick (and SOOO delicious). If you want what you're used to you need to order Cola Cao, which is like Spanish NesQuik (though they have that too). So, at the end of the day it was back to Seville. My friends and I also took a trip to Aracena, which is a small town in Spain. It was fun!! We went to Gruta de las Maravillas. They were these amazing caves, unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures there. We also saw the castle and the cathedral there which are up on a huge hill from which you can see the whole city. It was a gorgeous view. And lastly before getting on the bus to go back to Seville we went to El Museo de Jamon. For those of you that don't know spanish, that is The Museum of Ham (I know, awesome right? lol). After those two trips I jsut spent some time around Seville. Then came the trip to Portugal. We went to three cities: Lisbon, where our hotel was; Sintra, a small beautiful town; and Cascais, an amazing little town on the ocean. In Sintra, I got some great pictures and mainly wandered around the main part of town. I got a pastry there called a bulls-eye cake. It was a cake with a thin layer of egg custard on top and the covered in chocolate (it was definitely low calorie!!). I also tried Ginja, which is a cherry liquor, and for 1 euro you can get a small chocolate cup of Ginja. I was very good and decided to buy a bottle to share!! In Cascais most of our time was spent at the ocean-side. My friends and I actually found our way out to a helicopter pad that was really close to the rock barrier between the coast and the ocean. I took a ton of pictures. In Lisbon, we on a bus tour and got to try these little pasties called: pasties de belem. They were like warm little egg custard tarts and they gave you cinnamon and powdered sugar to sprinkle on top. I loved them!!! My friends and I went up to the castle as well. Unfortunately  the only time we had adequate time to visit was at night so it was a little creepy but still very pretty. Now it's is the end of the week and the start of my "spring break" as I call it. We don't have school next week due to Semana Santa (holy week) here in Spain. So, I am taking this opportunity to travel of course. Also, since the weather here is now between 60's and 70's almost everyday I am going to the beaches!!! I will be leaving Seville for 6 days. I will be in Malaga for 2 night and Cadiz for 3 nights!!! I am very excited for this awesome weather. So, beaches HERE I COME!!! Hope to write again soon. I promise you won't have to wait a month this time!! lol

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2/21/2013 Cordoba

Wow!! We had sooo much fun in Cordoba. I am so happy that my friends and I decided to extend our trip rather than just being there for the day. With the school, we went to the cathedral in Cordoba, which if any of you have seen my pictures on facebook then you know how beautiful it was. The tour with the school also took us around in the older parts of town for a little while too. After our tour the rest of the students got about two hours of free time. But since my friends and I were staying we just had to wait til the bus was unlocked to get our things. During that time, Gabe and I went up in Puenta de Pueta, which is inside and on top of the archway leading into the old city of Cordoba. We also went to the other side of the river and and looked at the old tower and down by the river. It was a lot of fun. When four o'clock came we got all our things from the bus and thank the school staff for the trip and headed on our own way. We weren't completely by ourselves though. For the rest of the weekend, Gabe's cousin, Alex, hung out with us and showed us around the city.  Friday night for dinner we met with Gabe's other cousin and Alex's sister, Christina, and her boyfriend, Jaime. The seven of us went to dinner together. When we got to the restaurant and ordered, I couldn't believe the size of the plates. They ordered three plates that in Seville would have fed  four of us maybe for lunch. But at this restaurant the three plates fed all seven of us completely and there was still food left over. On Saturday it was a lot easier to get around the city because Alex had a car. So our Saturday took us to a park, and a zoo, along with lunch and Gabe's family's house. The lunch was delicious and Gabe's family welcomed us with opened arms. His aunt and uncle even set up our bus tickets home for us and met us at the station with sandwiches and water for dinner. It was great. The two days in Cordoba was definitely a success. I have found that the more cities I travel to here the more I love it. On Sunday, my freinds and I headed to Colonials yet again for another filling and absolutely delicious lunch. It was an awesome weekend overall.
The weeks have calmed down a bit for me here but I still have Flamenco class twice a week, which I always love!!! On Tuesday, it was nice because I got to have a conversation with a really close guy-friend from high school and even sent me a video message, which just reminded me so much of home. I was so appreciative to receive it from him because though we hardly talk anymore, we are the type of best friends who can pick up right where we left off. I also get to talk to my mom everyday and though while at home we have our many rough moments together, I know she will always be one of my closest friends. And though it's hard, my boyfriend and I have managed more than well with me being this far away. We only get to talk through email, but I can't complain because at least I have that. It has been hard not to get to see him during my weeks but we are managing well and our relationship has just become that much stronger by the distance. I miss all back home and hope that all of my friends are having a great semester at school. I can't believe I have been here for over a month already, but I will see you all in a little over two months!!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2/14/2013 Happy Valentine's Day

I can hardly believe that I have spent almost a whole month here in Spain. Now that life is a little more settled here I don't have as much going on to write about. I've been spending a lot of time with my friends mostly. On Tuesday we went ice skating with the school which was a lot of fun. The two classes of kids I help are great. The kids are a lot of fun to talk to and love to find things that we have in common. The hour time periods that I have with them seem to just fly by. Today is one of the days that I really wish I could be spending with my family or in Platteville but hey I'm in Spain so I'm going to make the most of it. I have just two and a half months left. Hopefully there will be a more interesting update soon seeing as I am traveling this weekend. Thank you so much for reading my blog!!! I love getting to share all of these great experiences that I am having with everyone back home.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

2/5/2013 Granada, Flamenco, and Teaching

On Friday morning our bus for Granada left at 9am. I was a 3 hour ride ad we stopped about half way for 30 minutes. Once we got to Granada we walked to our hotel. We had about 30 minutes and then we had to be back down in the lobby of the hotel to walk back to the bus. The first thing we did was go to the Alhambra, which was amazing. We had a 3 hour tour through the Alhambra. I could have spent all day taking pictures there because it was so beautiful. I just seemed like every doorway that we went through got better and better. I took over 300 pictures during our tour at the Alhambra. After the Alhambra we walked back into town, down hill the whole way. This walk made me really happy that we took the bus to the Alhambra. We were are a little hunger, so we stopped at a small bar. One of the great things about Granada is that when you order a drink you get a free tapa. So we ordered drinks, the tapa we received was like a bagel with ham and tomato with french fries on the side. So I got a Coke sandwich and fries for 2.20 Euros. We then got to go back to the hotel. We had about two hours to ourselves at the hotel. Gabe and I decided to take the time to play a few games of chess on the chess board I bought that is made of inlaid wood. Let's just say that I has been a REALLY long time since I played chess, but it was still fun! At 8 the chaperons from the school took us down to the bars. Once there we all split up. My friends and I went to a few different bars and had some alcohol and some soda (and of course some tapas).  On Saturday, we walked up to the part of town that the gypsies live in. It was and uphill walked the whole way. While we were up there we got to see a gypsy wedding. Then we walked back downhill part of the way and then took a different way up and we went to a "balcony" area where we to awesome pictures for the town and the Alhambra. After that we were set free. Liz, Hannah, Gabe and I went across the river and hike and climbed for like 2 hours which was a lot of fun. That night we went out again and it was a lot of fun. Then next morning most of us slept in then we left on the bus at about 12. Our trip to Granada was our, just like that, way too soon! On Monday we had Flamenco class. For those who want to know what we are learning you can look it up on YouTube. Just copy this URL: This is the traditional Sevillanas Flamenco style of dance. So far we have learned the first two dance sections and we danced in partners. It is a very fun class but also very challenging. This morning (Tuesday) I woke up early and left my house at 7:15am. I walked about 35 minutes to a school across the river. That is where I am volunteering to help in an English class. The kids in the class are all about 15 years old. Today, I introduced myself to the class and then the teacher gave me 7 students to take into a smaller room and just talk with them. Normally, I will be doing evaluations in smaller groups, like 5 students, but today we sat down and they just got to ask my questions. I had a lot of fun talking to the kids and helping them with their English and teaching them more about America while also learning more about Spain. I had so much fun that I actually went to Sam, she is one of the employees at the school,  and asked her if I could volunteer a second day every week. So, I get to spend an hour every Tuesday and Thursday morning with the kids and I am very excited!!!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

1/28/13 Everyday life

I'm starting to settle into every day life here. I do a lot of different things everyday but I still have my routine. On Saturday five of us students (Hannah, Liz, Gabe, Gretchen, and I) met up with my friend Jake who used to go to Platteville. We had hung out a few times during Spanish club and he saw my name on the list of SAIIE students so he decided to message me because he now live in Seville. Saturday we met Jake, his girlfriend, Bea, and one of their roommates, Rocio at 10. We went out for tapas and had some drinks until about 1:30. He recommended a restaurant called Coloniales that night but it was too full to stop their. So on Sunday Gabe, Hannah, Liz, and I stopped early for lunch at 1. The food was delicious  The one thing Jake told us we had to try was the chicken with almond sauce, and we were all glad that he recommended it because it was awesome. After lunch we decided to go hang out at the plaza under "The Mushrooms". While we were there a gypsy came up to us trying to get us to buy the sandwiches she was selling. We said no many times and in the end she cursed us. Yes! LOL. My friends and I got cursed by a gypsy. So, if anything bad happens to me in the near future, I definitely blaming it on the curse! Today was my first test and it was not easy. I just hope I did well. After class, I went home for lunch which was amazing as usual. Then at about quarter til 3 I headed to the gym. I rode a bike for about 30 minutes. Then I took a yoga class which was a lot of fun. Then I had my first day of Flamenco class. I am really excited to go again on Wednesday. So the rest on my day today will probably consist of a nap, homework, dinner, reading and then bed. in that order!

Friday, January 25, 2013

1/26/13 Update

Well, now that I have started classes I'm not going to be writing as much. My schedule is kinda crazy. On Tuesday I signed up for the gym and for the Flamenco class with the school. I finally bought some pants that I could work out in. On Thursday my class had our first quiz. We don't normally have classes on Fridays but we did today. (And by the way it is like 3 am here right now so it still feels like Friday.) Today in class we found out that our first test is Monday. Today we went out with two of the people that work at the school and they took us to different tapas bars. It was a really fun night. After tapas, I hung with my roommate and some other students. We went to a few clubs and had some drinks. Overall it was an awesome night. I really excited for our trip to Granada next weekend. So hopefully I will write again soon!!! :)