Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My host mom is the bestest ;)

After dinner every day I eat a little sugar muffin for dessert. This morning I was running late and grabbed the last one to go. She must've realized because this afternoon she already had another package in the cabinet PLUS another package of a chocolate variety! She's so nice!!!

I also get to eat dinner whenever I want because I don't think she really eats dinner per say. She just has a really tiny one, like cereal or something, probably because of how late her lunch is every day. Other students have to wait until 9:30pm or later even if they're starving because that's when the family eats. They also aren't spoiled with yummy food like peanut butter and muffins and tons of fruit!! :)

Monday, February 15, 2010


I am back from Carnaval in Cádiz! It was a lot of fun. Basically, Carnaval is a week long celebration involving costumes and performances in celebration of lent arriving. We went with Forocio tours because they provided transportation, breakfast and a hotel. However, if I had to do it over again I wouldn't go with a tour. The reasons: 1) I could have actually spent less money if we had planned it sooner, but by the time we decided all the hotels/hostals were booked. 2) we barely spoke Spanish except at night when we were out. It was annoying. 3) our hotel was a 40 minutes drive away from the festivities! 4) I didn't even get to see the parades during the day!

It was still pretty cheap, but I really wanted to see the parades during the day. The problem was our hotel was 40 minutes away and the bus they provided didn't leave until 9:30pm. So we would had to take the train which was inconvenient. That aside, it was still a fun experience.

On Saturday we woke up really late from being out the night before. Friday night was calm because Carnaval doesn't officially start until Saturday but there was still people dressed in costumes. We were right by the beach, so even though it was cold we all went to the beach and hung out. Shae and I spotted a store with some soccer balls for sale so we ran over and bought one. We had a little pick-up game on the beach. It felt so good to play!!!!

Shae and I messing around playing soccer

Then, that night we got all dressed up in our costumes. Shae, Jess, and I were flappers. We were driven to the center and let out to roam the streets with the rest of Cádiz. It was basically a big street party with a food, drinks, and a stage with performers. The entire town was packed. It looked like Halloween.

Some of the group in costume on the ride to Cádiz

Speaking with Southern Spaniards is very difficult because their accent is different than Madrileños. As our teacher says, they swallow their words. Therefore, they annunciate less. I was still able to get by, but it was nice to come back to Madrid and be able to understand a lot more! And being back in my room was nice.

On the metro ride back from where the charter bus dropped us off, these three Americans got pickpocketed on the bus. All of a sudden, a man yelled "POLICIA," but it didn't looked like anything was going on. Then, I saw a woman hitting the same man until the doors opened and she ran off. The man and the two women he was with yelled to stop her and that she stole their money. It was then I realized the man had been pickpocketed.

Rule #1 of Europe: NEVER keep anything of value in your pockets or purses/bags without a zipper.

I felt bad for them, but I can't believe they would be careless enough to do that. It freaked me out a bit. Thankfully my stop wasn't too far away so I was home soon after.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enseñando Ingles

So I taught my first English lesson today! Her mom picked me up from the metro stop and drove me to their house, but just to show me how to take the bus for next time. Muy fácil, thank god! Her mom is super cute and really nice. She wouldn't stop talking and the girl's like, 'Moooom.' It was funny. The girl's name is Irene and she is 14. We got along really well, so I'm excited about that! I love how the Spanish are such expressionists with their faces and hands. Now I'm really happy I didn't get that first kid because this girl is older (aka easier to talk to) and not a brat (as my friend told me she is experiencing!). We sat and ate cookies that the mom brought us. Fue mucho divertido! She speaks English relatively well. She has been to 'English' camps and has cousins in Washington D.C. But it was fun because sometimes she would start speaking in Spanish by accident but I could still totally understand her. I think she liked me as well because she said she liked the way I spoke English and how she liked that I knew Spanish because apparently the last girl couldn't speak Spanish at all and couldn't translate words for her. I could see how frustrating that would be! I get paid 15 euro an hour, so basically 15 euro every Tuesday unless she needs another day during the week. Perfecto, no? That is food money for the week, más o menos.

p.s. I added random Spanish phrases just for Roberto....happy?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Palacio Real, Toledo, and USAC Day Trip

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile! I've been busy busy busy.

Let's see. Carmen bought me peanut butter! They don't eat it here in Spain, but one of the girls she used to have loved it so she brought it home to see if I liked it. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY yum yum yum yum. I've had peanut butter toast the past two mornings! Some other things the Spanish need to be introduced to: salad dressing, butter for your bread, and casual wear.

Our class always gets a kick out of telling our teacher, Sara, about American things (like bumping fists, slang, etc). The other week we explained to her how Spanish people don't wear sweats or gym clothes. She thought they did. So we had to explain to her the art of college fashion. Sunglasses, hoodie with school name, gym shorts/sweats, and running shoes. She laughed when we told her pijamas were acceptable school wear. Therefore whenever I go to the gym here, I can't wear my workout clothes like I do at school, I have to CHANGE into them and out of them. Sigh.

We had our first midterm last Friday. Leave it to me to sleep through my alarm and show up an hour late. Thank God I'm a fast test taker. I eneded up getting a 91 too! Luckily my teacher is nice and understood.
We also discovered the art of picnicing! For 5euro each we get a feast! No more going out for lunch. Every Tues, Thurs, and Friday we have picnics in Retiro. It's looooovely. Mon and Wed we eat at the school restaurant for cheap. Yay for cheap meals!

Sandwiches, chips, popcorn, strawberries, pastries, huge waters, and coke for 15 euro
Strawberries: yummmmmm

Last weekend, I went to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). It's gorgeous and I love the area around it (Plaza de España). We couldn't take pictures inside but these are the ones I got of outside:

Outside at sunset
The church in the distance
Outside square
Through the gates
Royal church

Also last weekend, on Sunday, I went to Toledo with two of my friends. It's about a 3o minutes train ride there. Once again, leave it to us to miss the first train (who knew there was a security check point for a short train!) and we had to buy another ticket there. Luckily it's not too expensive to cause tears. Toledo is the old capital of Madrid. It was so old, with tiny winding streets and a beautiful cathedral with intricate detail. We also ate really great food!

Castles everywhere!
Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo: one of the coolest I've seen!
Military academy...we couldn't go in
Walking to Toledo

Last night I went to "Chicago: El Musical!" So cool! Jess and I knew the plot line because we've seen the movie, but Shae didn't and was still able to basically know what was going on. I wasn't able to understand word-for-word, but I would recognize words and get the jist of what they were saying. It was really cool. 'All That Jazz' is 'Al Son De Jazz,' in case anyone was wondering.

Then today, USAC had one of their free day trips to El Escorial and Valle de los Caidos. They are about an hour away. Almost everyone went and it was a lot of fun. We have a good group of people. El Escorial is the palace of King Felipe when he passed on his reign as king. It was pretty cool, nothing amazing, but a lot of royalty is buried there in these intricate tombs. Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) is the burial grounds of the soldier casualties of the civil war and Franco himself. A lot of Spaniards won't go there because Franco is burried there. Unfortunately it is closed for restoration for the next couple months, but the outside is amazing. The building is built into the mountain side and there is a huge cross jutting above it all.

Getting ready: Our other friend has us in the air. It's awesome
The Group
View from the Valley
Walking up
Valle de los Caidos
View from the bus
El Escorial in the distance. We couldn't take pics inside and I liked the town

This weekend, we're trying new clubs/bars, buying our costumes for Carnaval in Cádiz next weekend, and going to El Rastro for some more cool shopping. Oh and we have our final on Wednesday. :(
Ok.... THE END.
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