Friday, September 30, 2011


I woke up this morning to an email from my Dad, the first contact (besides the phone call to let them know I made it here safe) I've had with him since I've been here.  It made me start crying, in a good way, because I didn't realize how much I miss him and my Mom and brothers until this morning.  I'm sad yes, but I think that letting it out with some tears is totally acceptable and good for you, as oppose to keeping it bottled up inside.  I'm going to skype all of them this Sunday so that will be an interesting experience considering we (besides my youngest brother) are not the most technologically advanced family.  I've already done it once with my brothers though, so there shouldn't be a problem.  I'm having an incredible time in Spain don't get me wrong, but of course I miss my family. 

As the days go on over here in my host mom's apartment (or abuela-she's 62), I miss my Mom's cooking more and more.   It seems like all Carmen cooks for me is either eggs+potatoes=tortilla, soup with a base of potatoes and carrots, occasional salads, and things that are either frozen, boxed, or canned, and lots of bread.  She's made me microwavable pizza twice and microwavable lasagna once...I wonder how much all of this is costing her...probably not much!  For what I am paying her every month I expected a little bit more effort on her part with the food.  I just want fresh food everyday, is that too much to ask?  Mom back home works all day and then comes home to make the most delicious meals ever, and I miss everything she cooks.  Even just egg with rice.  I've only had rice here twice...I have been craving so many different types of food it's ridiculous.  French toast, bacon, eggs, rad-na, pad-sa-ew, bagels with salmon and cucumbers, alfredo pasta, chimichangas, etc.  And the worst thing is, I can't really cook any of these things either.  Because Carmen already provides me with breakfast and dinner, so the only option I have is lunch to make these things.  Plus I feel weird using her kitchen to cook.   I can't wait until my birthday because I'm going out to a Thai restaraunt, it'll be epic.  I don't like eating the same things all the time, Delaney can back me up here.

On a lighter note I'm really excited for the next few weekends here in Madrid.  I'm trying not to party this weekend so I can finally get over this cold I have.  Today I'm hoping to go roller-blading through Retiro Park, depending on how much it is.  But everyone here roller-blades, it's awesome.  Tonight at 7:30 I'm meeting the child I'm teaching English to through a program called T-Oigo (for deaf children trying to learn English), his name is Santiago.  I'm meeting his mom at the metro station and then she is showing me how to get to their house from there, it's kind of on the other side of where I live though.  It's all volunteer, so I don't get paid but hey good karma right? 

Tomorrow I'm goin to Toledo, the old capital of Spain, to take photos for my presentation in the Spain Seen Through Photography course I'm taking.  I may also be meeting some of my friend's intercambios and their friends for a short night out on the town, we'll see.  Sunday I'm meeting up with some Spaniards we happened to meet at a club and they are going to take us to the 4 Torres, a famous monument apparently right next to the futbol stadium, and we'll grab a bite to eat probably.  I'm still waiting to hear from my intercambio, Natalia. 

School has been pretty busy, my Track III teacher Jorge is pretty strict, despite his good looks he assigns a lot of homework and reading, I also have him for my Literature class.  It hasn't been too bad yet (knock on wood) but what did I expect taking 18 units ya know.  My Cinema class is pretty straight-forward, we watch movies, discuss them, and write a 2 page paper on them.  The teacher is from Scotland, funny little guy. 

Well I'm off to get dressed and start my day.  It's starting to cool down in Madrid, not sure how I feel about that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Reality of Traveling

I just returned from a fabulous weekend in Alicante with a bunch of friends.  Alicante is a beautiful beach town south-east of Madrid, about a 5 hour bus ride and a 1 hour plane ride.  I took the bus with Miguel, Greg, and Lauren while the other 6 people took the plane, the better option.  We arrived around 3pm on Friday and checked into our hostel which turned out to be pretty nice!  For only 15 euros a night it was a good deal.  Shared bathrooms with everyone, a bucket for a sink, but overall clean and safe.  I really enjoyed myself.  The first night me, Olivia, Miguel, Greg, and Ian roamed the streets of Alicante and found a nice little hole in the wall bar with a super cool bartender.  We went to a couple other places and got Harry Potter-like beer hats and suspenders...random but awesome!  My hat (which I stole from Ian) is sitting on my bookshelf right now reminding me of my time in Alicante.  We lounged on the beach all day, traveled to another part called San Juan which was less crowded and dirty.  Me and the boys got a huge meal which was a good price for what we got, lots of seafood and a TON of rice.  We didn't get water because it would have been bottled and probably another 3 euros each.  We went to visit El Castillo where we were able to see the entire city of Alicante, much bigger than I expected!

The second night me and my friend Olivia particpated in our first every pub crawl, where you pay a flat rate and get into multiple bars and discotecas for free or half price.  Great deal.  We met a lot of interesting people, danced, had a jolly ol time.  I ended up running into a friend that I had tried to meet up with in Alicante but there was miscommunication but we ended up running into each other anyway...funny coincidence!

I just saw a mosquito in my room...speaking of I have gotten bitten about 6 times in the last few days.  No fun. 
This was the view from the balcony in the room of the hostel I stayed in.

Yep it was a fun weekend.  I ended up feeling really homesick on Sunday though when I came back home from the long bus ride.  I'm not sure why, but that was definitely the most homesick i've felt since i've been here.  I have really been missing the freedom to cook food and watch a movie whenever I please...but a homstay is what I chose and what I will deal with, it's really not that bad I guess.  I'm just being pesimistic, but I'm allowed to be!  I have been trying to plan my 10 day trip to Italy and it's been more stressful than I thought it would be, mostly because of money issues.  I under estimated the cost of traveling while in Europe, let alone just living in Spain for four months!  I need to narrow my list down of places I want to go's just realistically not possible to do all this traveling on my budget, with school, and only four months.   I'm thinking the trips I MUST go on are
1.) Italy-Rome/Venice
2.) Sevilla/Cordoba
3.) Portugal

the maybe pile (excluding Barcelona and France because those are a for sure)
1.) Amsterdam
2.) Granada
3.) London
4.) Morocco

I need to figure it all out it is just so difficult with all these factors holding me back.  I just need to realize that I can't do everything at once. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bullfight and 100 Euro Paella

Today was quite the "Spanish Day" as my friend Olivia would put it...considering we are in Spain I'd have to agree! This weekend was amazing.  Thursday night me and some of the girls went to El Kapital for a cocktail party, meaning we got to dress up and what not and get free drinks and orderves! (however you spell that).  We felt really special, especially since you had to be on a list to get in and luckily we know a guy named Fran who is a promotor.  Friday, USAC took us on a day trip to Segovia where we visited a Castle (the Sleeping Beauty castle to be exact) and a famous garden/park.  For lunch we went to a nice restaurant (but I wanted to sit outside) and ate suckling pig, one of the popular Segovian dishes...DELICOUS!  The waiter brings it out, says a few words about the tradition, takes a plate and literally bashes the pig into pieces to serve and then breaks the plate.  I went into my first lambrynth, not as cool as I had hoped but still got lost for a bit.  Took a nap in a dried up fountain, good day.  Everyone was completely passed out on the bus ride home, about an hour from Madrid. 

That night we found a cool jazz club that my friend Greg heard of from a friend.  Unfortunately the live music was already over by the time we got there, so I'll just have to go again! 

Saturday I basically slept all day, it's what you have to do when you get home at 6am.  I went to make dinner at a friend's apartment.  STUFFED MUSHROOMS! (Delaney).  It had been so long since I had cooked anything.  Our Spanish friend Olga brought over a delicious chocolate cake that we ate with ice cream and cookies, I felt like I was going to throw up after because I had eaten so much.  OH!  I also went to see the new Almodover movie "The Skin that I am In", it was crazy cool.  With Antonio Banderes.

Today I went to the El Rastro market again and splurged...which kind of sucked since I ended up spending 20 more euros on dinner.  But whatever, I got good stuff for people back home and ate great paella.  I need to go to my friend Crll's tomorrow to eat the leftovers that he took.  The bill ended up being a total of 130 euros...not what we were expecting!  We went to a bullfight around 8:30pm, which I just got back from.  It wasn't too exciting, although it was amateur night and only 10 euros.  A bunch of people left early because I guess it wasn't one of the best shows, but I had nothing to compare it to so I stayed for the whole thing.  It was sad seeing the bulls tortured, taunted, and killed...especially when the first bull came out it was really a shock to see it infront of me, plus we were front row.  By the end though I was fine, mostly tired and enjoying the crowd and outfits more than anything else.  I knew what I was getting myself into when I bought the tickets.

I ate so much ice cream and sweet goodness this weekend. I got a Segovian cookie!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Like the Deserts Miss the Rain

The reason this entry is titled what it is is because I have that song stuck in my head.  Plus I have found myself missing more things about home today as I walked around El Rastro and Plaza Mayor.  I miss people allowing you use their bathrooms in the middle of the night and without having to be a customer.  I miss knowing where I live like the back of my hand (but that will come eventually).  I miss cooking!  Being able to make whatever I'm craving at that moment in time.  I miss being lazy and watching tv surrounded by friends and family.  I miss a certain amount of freedom that I don't get in a homestay, like inviting friends over!  It's hard going from living in a 4 bedroom house with your best friends and then into a homestay...I'm adjusting though. I think.
I think I just need to get into a routine here, then I'll be set.  I do wish that I had a host brother/sister or two.  I don't like being an only child here.

This weekend was a lot of fun though, I am completely exhausted and pretty sure I'm getting sick, but a good weekend nonetheless.  I was lucky to be invited by my friend Chris to his intercambio's house in Guadalajara (i think that's what her town was called) for an afternoon of eating and lounging around by the pool.  It was nice to get in the water.  I really like Olga (his intercambio) she was a great hostess!  Hope to be seeing more of her around.  I plan on making dinner for her (with the help of my friends Chris and Miguel of course).  I have stayed out until at least 6am the past three nights, it's been awesome.  Actually one of the nights we all passed out at our friens Ian's apartment, Olivia made eggs, it was my idea, I didn't get any because I fell asleep instantly. 

Thursday night we went to El Kapital for the first time.  We got in for free after running around looking for flyers,the guys had to pay 18 off.  Olivia and I spent WAY too much money there, but lesson learned.  Danced for about 6 hours straight, time flew by.  Got churros con chocolate afterwards across the street, but Miguel and I tried another place right next door last night that was way better. 

Today I went to El Rastro, as tired as I was, and met up with a good amount of people.  I didn't buy anything though, I plan on going every Sunday if possible.  I am set on finding a really good restaurant that has really good paella.  I also need to try the three Thai restaurants I've found.  I've been trying to read this book I was assigned in Spanish, using the dictionary constantly.  I need to just go to a park and read a bunch.  Carmen made me this dish for dinner tonight that consisted of rice and a type of seafood that was covered in black sauce...looked suspicious but I loved it.  I didn't realize how much I had been missing rice either.  It's almost midnight, I need to take some more medicine and then catch up on sleep. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It's the end of my third day of school here in Madrid, at the Rey Juan Carlos Universidad.  My classes are good, but I especially love my Spain Seen Through Photography course, la profesora es muy preciosa!  We are actually going to take photos and present them three different times in class!  Portraiture, "trips" as mi profesora puts it, and one from your pure imagination, su creatividad.  My Cinema class is kind of interesting, although the professor is quit dull, he is British.  We watched la pelicula "All Quiet on the Western Front" which was made in the 1930' of the most intense and emotional movies I have seen in a while.  It is because we are familiar with the typical Hollywood movies, with happy endings and where Brad Pitt or whoever gets the girl.  I can't wait to finish it next class!  Although I must admit I dozed  off numerous times simply because the lights were off and I was full of food.  I needed a siesta!  (Siestas are what Spaniards call their naps, which takes place between 2 and 4 typically.  My Spanish Literature class will be kind of difficult simply because it is the first class (besides a language class) in Spanish that I will be taking.  However I decided that it is time to up my Spanish to the next level, I will make many mistakes, but it's all in the process of learning.

Today I drank wine with my lunch.
Sure at Humboldt State back in California you can order a beer at the Debot, but here you get half a bottle of wine (or other beverages), two meals, and un postre (dessert) for 4.90 euros.  Que borato!  I have been getting lunch with fellow USACers, but want to expand my horizon.  Oh, I have this friend Chris who didn't mention me in any of his blog posts, but because he BEGGED me to mention him in my blog, I will.  I met Chris on the plane flight over here, he's from Honolulu!  He doesn't speak a bit of Spanish, but is trying to learn...on occasion. 

Me and a few others have booked a trip to Alicante this month which I am incredibly excited for!  I didn't bring my swimsuit for nothing.  I need to catch the sun on the beach before it gets cold here in Madrid.  I am also planning a trip to Italy during a week we have off at the end of October.  I want to visit Venice, Florence, and of course, Rome.

Today me and my friend Sendy got gelato and it was muy delicioso.  Afterwards we headed to a tapas bar to meet up with a few other friends, dessert before dinner!  I also payed a visit to El Prado again, it is free from 6 to 8pm so I am goin to do my visits in I can save money.  In my photography class we are visiting three museums, and in my literature class we are going to see a play which I am also incredibly excited for!
It's a good thing I finished my homework because it is getting late and a girl needs her sleep.
Hasta luego y besos para todos!
(See you later/until next time and kisses for everyone)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

El Tercero Dia en Madrid

I just spent about half an our trying to figure out why my blog wouldn't let me sign in, and then it switched to Spanish, adding to the complications.  But I figured it out I think.  It is now my third day in Madrid, Spain but it feels like it has been longer-I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  I feel like I have done so much these past days maybe that is why.  Today I discovered the bull fighting arena on a scavenger hunt that our program set us on.  I plan to attend one this September before it closes for the season.  We also found El Palacio, which is a museum now and I must visit!  So many things to do, I have to pace myself and remind myself that I am here para cuatro meses.  Museos, paises, eventos, etc. I want to see and do as much as possible.  But first I should figure out my neighborhood.

The streets of Madrid are goreous as well as the architecture.  I have been trying to take photographs but my camera is so heavy and I find myself walking for longer than I expected.  I am going to El Prado soon, which is free after 6pm I've been told.  There is a card designed specifically for art students that gives you discounts on mueums and such, I need to get one pronto.

Carmen (my host mom) is lovely.  It is just me and her in a considerably big Madrid aparment, I have my own bathroom.  We have spoken lots of Spanish (seeing as that she knows little to no English) and share meals and stories together.  Athough, most of the time it is me eating and her watching me since she has very small dinners for herself, while feeding me more than I can handle.  I still have to give her the present I got for her, a coffee mug with the CAL bear on it.  She has had many USAC students before, so it has been a smooth transition so far. 

Although this is still what they call the "honeymoon" part of my experience, so I am just waiting for the homesickness to kick in.  It is still quit strange falling asleep and waking up and realizing "oh yea, I'm in Spain".  It's a thrill.