Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some Final Thoughts

Well I have been back in America for about four days now and let me tell you there has been some culture shock for sure.  Here is a list of things I have been shocked at since since I came back from studying abroad.

  • I am still wearing my purse cross body with my hand still over it - just waiting for someone to try to pick pocket me!
  • I still talk about people as though they cannot understand me.
  • Wearing shorts and a T-shirt seems completely normal
  • There is no sales tax - I went to buy a cupcake with friends last night and it said $2.75 therefore I got $2.75 out of my wallet and then the lady told me it was $3.02 - I was shocked!
  • Water is free at restaurants with free refills.
  • People are speaking English everyone! I went to the zoo with Kelsey and Scott yesterday and EVERYONE was speaking English!! I have become so accustomed to not understanding what people are saying, and I have also become accustomed to hearing not only Spanish but a variety of different languages all at the same time.
Those are just the few things I have noticed since being back in the states for these couple of days, but I am sure there will be more thoughts as time passes.  Everyone said I would would be extremely jetlagged on my way back to the States.  Well I can say it is not as bad as everyone made it seem.  It might have helped since I only got about 3 hours of sleep on Tuesday night and then I slept for the majority of the flight - about 4 hours on the way home. When arriving home I made myself stay awake until midnight to fight the jetlag.  However, I woke up at 3:30am and could not fall back asleep for about and hour and then I woke up at 7:30 and I was up for good.  So I guess my sleep pattern was a little off.  It is becoming better and better by the day though. 

Friday afternoon I left for Saint Louis to visit friends at SLU and to meet with my adviser.  It is really weird being back at SLU - mostly because I don't have my own apartment I think.  Also everyone is studying for finals and all that jazz.  However, it is really good to see my friends that I haven't seen since last semester even if they are studying. 

Well I think this is the last or close to the last blog for my SLU-Madrid Adventure.  However, I seriously thought about starting another blog, because I think it is healthy to express my feelings - or something like that.  I haven't made the blog yet or anything, but I will post the address of the blog when I actually create it! That is all for now!

Paz y Amor.  God Bless.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I have made it back to America.  The flight was smooth - details to come.  Just wanted to update my followers that I am back in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin safe and sound.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

El Fin

My adventure of studying abroad was come to an end.  Tonight was my last night in Madrid, Spain.  It is currently 2:00am and I have to get up at 6:15am - good thing I have a long plane ride - only nine hours - to sleep.  However, I have to finish some packing and then get a couple hours of sleep.  I just wanted to tell you all that I am going back to America tomorrow.  I am way too tired to write even a semi-decent blog, but just know when I get home I will try to put into words the experience - wish me luck.

I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be one of the longest days.  I know just as soon as I sit on the plane and we take off I will be looking at my watch to count down the hours maybe even minutes until I am reunited with my family once again.  This past semester has been the most emotion four months of my life - highs and lows.  I would not take back a single second of anything I did in Madrid.  It has all made me into the person I am today, but we will talk more about that later.  For now it is hasta luego (see you later) Madrid and hola Wisconsin.  I cannot wait to be reunited with you tomorrow.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It is all coming to an end

I have finished my exams and now all that is left is to enjoy my last two days.  Today I had my art history exam and it went really well.  I absolutely loved my teacher Curra – before I left she told me what a joy it is to have me in class and to send her a picture from now and then.  She is just a very sweet teacher and loves what she does.  After my final today I had lunch with Jackie.  Jackie and I met in Spanish class freshmen year and we actually got pretty close this year and now she is transferring to Madison.  It was hard to say bye to her, but she does live in Green Bay so hopefully we will be able to see each other at some point.  Jackie and I decided to be pen-pals old school style this summer! So excited for that.  After lunch with I went to the park where I run to lay out with Elizabeth and Megan – my two best friends at SLU Madrid.  I am really going to miss those girls.  After laying out I went back home and tried to pack for home – I packed my socks and that is as far as I got – mom got a good laugh out of that.  For dinner tonight we had fried eggs! I actually looked in the refrigerator this morning and we have 131 eggs in the there! Crazy! I asked Gloria if we could have eggs for dinner! I thought we always had a lot of eggs at my house back in the States but nothing compares to 131 eggs.  Tomorrow we are have Spanish Omolete – tortilla de patata.  We had have a traditional Spanish meal for our last meal – sad.

Anyways, I am excited to get back to SLU on Friday.  Kelsey just texted me and told me people are really excited to see me and they keep telling Kelsey that I am coming.  She keeps telling them she already knows.  However, I am going to miss Spain like crazy.  I have been thinking about a blog to sum my emotions and the experience I have had these past four months, but I just cannot seem to come up with the words.  I think it is going to take a little of time and reflecting after I leave Spain.

I have traveled to Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, El Escorial, Salamanca, Paris, Morocco, Granada, Malaga, Loyola, Portugal, Ávila, Roma, and Barcelona – next stop Oconomwoc, Wisconsin.  I am a world traveler for sure – how crazy it is that I traveled so many places in just a matter of four short months.  But now it is time to come home.  For one of my last blogs if I wanted to make a list of all the things I am going to miss about studying abroad and what I am not going to miss about studying abroad.  But here is the thing guys I am going to miss it all even if I don’t fully realize it know so I just decided to make a list.

·         Wondering random streets of various towns
·         Walking everywhere
·         Taking the metro
·         Walking around for hours trying to food – it was always an adventure
·         Being able to talk about people on the metro because you think they can’t understand what you are saying when I am sure they can
·         Not driving a car, but I want to drive a car
·         Hearing Spanish
·         The sunshine
·         Mango Juice
·         Madrid night life – not leaving my house until 11
·         Only having four classes
·         The time difference – both positive and negative
·         Having a real cell phone
·         **As am I writing this list I realize it doesn’t make much sense so sorry about that**
·         The alone time
·         My host mom
·         Friends that don’t go to SLU Madrid
·         Blogging
·         Sangria – just being able to order a drink at a bar

Well that is all I have for right now.  I am sure there is more, but that is all I got for right now.  Tomorrow is my last full day of being in Spain.  I am leaving my house at 7:30 in the morning on Wednesday for the airport and I will be arriving in Chicago around 2:15pm.  I can’t believe it is happening so fast.  Good luck to all my SLU friends on studying this week for finals and I will see you all on Friday

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Last weekend in Madrid.

Well this was my last weekend in Madrid – such a crazy thought.  Everything the last couple of blogs have somewhat been crazy – just so many emotions running through me at the moment.  Anyways back to my last weekend in Madrid.  I had my history final on Friday – I studied with some friends before the exam and I thought we were all well prepared for the exam.  We were supposed to have one essay, one short answer, and identification (he gives us a word and then we explain it in a couple of sentences).  We got the exam and there actually were two essays and 10 identifications.  First the essays prompts were awful – we had to pick two of the four.  Most of the essays prompts were too broad or too specific.  One of the essays was basically to explain the broad concepts of the whole semester while another was to explain something we spent about fifteen minutes on in class.  Overall the exam was horrible, but it wasn’t easy either.  After the exam my friend Zack took me out for ice cream.  After went home I went home and had dinner and then I was supposed to go with some friends, but instead I had a nice relaxing evening and just stayed in.  I haven’t been up that late studying, but I was just exhausted from the past week.  I think it is just all the emotions that have been flowing through me from exams and the thought of my time winding down in Spain. 

Saturday I got up and did a little studying and had breakfast as usual.  I was meeting some of my friends – well most of my friends here – at a famous tapas bar in Madrid that I hadn’t been to yet.  Most of us got mojitos and a bunch of delicious tapas :) It was really fun and Flat Stanley was there too.  Flat Stanley is from Parker, my little cousin back in the states.  Flat Stanley had a great time at the bar and then we took him to sol – the city center in Madrid.  I didn’t get home until about 6 and then I Skyped my friend Kelsey.  I cannot wait to go home and see people – and I know they are all ready to see me too!  After dinner on Saturday I took a little rest time and then got ready and met some friends and we went the Egyptian Temple and chilled for the night.  It was a really great night – very low key.  It was nice to just all hang out and not have to worry about what bar we were going to or anything like that.  Megan came a little later for her birthday! I love that girl and I am going to miss her bunches!! Here are some pictures from the day!

Flat Stanley on the metro! He loved it!

Elizabeth, Flat Stanley and I at el tigre!

Stanley eating some traditional Spanish food - paella.

Jack and I with Flat Stanley.

The girls :) I am going to miss these guys!

Flat Stanley and I hiding from the rain!

Stanley in the city center - sol!

Today was a day filled with attempted studying and a family lunch.  I was actually productive this morning and then I got distracted and just chilled until we had our family Japanese lunch.  I was really excited to have vegan Japanese meal, but it wasn’t all I had expected it to be.  We had the soup Maya has every morning for breakfast and it always had looked good to me – but it was way too salty and I could never have that for breakfast every day – I will stick with my fruit and toast and yogurt.  We had sushi and other Japanese food.  Most of which was fried which was not the best but still good.  The dessert – not a fan, pretty sure it was beans and you all know how much of a fan of beans I am. Haha.  Well I guess I will never be Japanese – it’s all good though.  Lunch lasted about two and a half hours which was a lot longer than I wanted it to.  I was just really tired and wanted to get back to reviewing for my exam.  After lunch I studied a little and then talked to my family.  I got to talk to my grandma, mom, dad, and brother.  I know they are all really excited to see me.  After Skyping I studied a little more and then we had ice cream and then said our goodbyes because it was probably one of the last times I am going to see most of the people that came over.  I like hanging out with Gloria’s family, but sometimes it feels like Maya and I are being ignored and they all speak so fast.  I had a good time.  After dinner Maya, Gloria, and I just talked – that is one of the things I am going to miss most about Madrid.  Then I studied a little more and just chilled and wrote this blog.  But it is time for me to get some sleep and be well rested for my exam tomorrow.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.


A week ago I traveled to Barcelona with a couple of friends for one last European adventure.  I had been told by just about everyone that it you are in Europe especially in Spain you must go to Barcelona.  Everyone tells me it is one of the most amazing places you will ever visit.  When being told how amazing a place is I have very high expectations for that place.  I had a good time in Barcelona, but I think I was done with the whole traveling aspect of studying abroad – I didn’t want to figure out a new city and things to do and all that jazz.  I want to make this blog short and with the most important parts of the trip.  I guess I am also getting tired with blogging and giving all the details about the trip.  Hopefully you will still be able to get the needed information of my trip.

We left early on Saturday morning – our flight was at 8:20 so we had to get on the first metro at 6 o’clock in the morning! Way too early! Once we landed in Girona we had to take a bus to Barcelona which took about an hour or so.  From the bus stop we took the metro to the hostel to meet up with our other friends and then we walked around Barcelona.  One of the people I went to Barcelona with, Kara had been to Barcelona before so she knew the places to go and all that jazz.  It was really nice that I didn’t have to make decision for most of the weekend, but I still had to make decision.  I think I am going to post some pictures and then write a little description about them – I think that is the quickest and shortest way to tell you guys about Barcelona.

On our first walk from the hostel we went to this park - a beautiful fountain is what we came across.  The water was so blue it seemed unreal.  My first thought of Barcelona was this is beautiful - I need to move here.

After the park we started to make our way to La Sagrada Familia we came across the triumph arch of Barcelona.  I didn't have any background knowledge going to Barcelona and to be honest I wasn't really that interested in learning all the information about the architecture or why something is there.  I mean I did learn a little about the sites in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia is a church that was designed by Gaudi - a very famous architect with many works in Barcelona.  La Sagrada Familia was breath taking - so modern.  It is a church like you have never seen before - trust me! It made me realize this is what we need in today's world - churches that are modern and continue the Catholic tradition.  I believe it was this past year when Pope Benidict dedicated the church and now there can be mass said in the church.  However, I think I still find the older churches more impressive, but both are amazing.  This picture is from the inside of the church, I know it might not look modern but trust me on this one it was nothing like you have ever seen before.

After La Sagrada Familia we went to Parc Guell which is another place designed by Gaudi.  This man was a genius and there is no other way to explain it! There are mosaics every where, which is what the picture is above.  However, there was a lot of people at the park which made it lose its appeal a little bit.  There are two things that I believe make or break a trip: the weather and the amount of people.  Yes, there are other factors what go into making a trip wonderful, but if it is pouring rain and hundreds of people I don't think you will have the same experience if it was sunny and not crowed.

Lisa, me, and Kara at Parc Guell - it was wonderful out :)

One of the best bands I have heard - very chill and unique.

There is a famous market in Barcelona - La Boqueria on the famous street of Las Ramblas.  There was fruit, chocolate, sheep heads, and a bunch of random things.  One of the best markets I have been here since arriving in Spain.  The other markets did not have all the fresh fruit smoothies this market had.

Example of the fruit smooties - only one euro too! I have kiwi - straight up kiwi! So good!

Saturday night we were walking around Barcelona and we went to the coast and came across a random concert.  The band was singing in English and was actually pretty decent - it was a random fun time for sure.

Sunday we went to one of the most famous Gaudi houses in Barcelona.  Gaudi was my soulmate - he designed most of his works off of nature mostly off of water.  This house we visited contained no straight lines to represent water and it was just amazing to see how literally everything in the house represented water in some way.  Completely amazing.

Picture on the roof of one of Gaudi's houses.

Water :)

Lisa outside a really great sandwich shop we had for lunch before we headed to the beach on Sunday afternoon :)

Kara, me, and Lisa on the beach in Barcelona. Such a great day!

Probably one of the best pictures of the entire trip! I love Kara's face.

I went swimming alone - everyone said the water was too cold.  I braved the cold to swim in the Mediterranean Sea and I really had to pee as well so it was a double win situation.  

On the beach, Colin dug a really big hole while Kara, Lisa, and I bathed in the sun.

Kara and I with our ice cream :)

Jeff, Lisa, Colin, and I on the beach! It was a good day!

Last night in Barcelona - we had a good time... Colin was a little heavier than I thought he would be - good thing I am so strong!

I am sorry this blog is short and sweet, but it is what it is.  Barcelona was fun, but it could have been a lot better.  I wish I would have gone when I wasn't so burnt out from traveling to a bunch of other places.  I am glad I went, but I want to go back and see more of Barcelona some day!

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Less Than a Week

Well today was my last Thursday in Spain – it is a crazy thought.  It finally hit me this morning that I am leaving Madrid so soon.  I asked Gloria what time we would be leaving for the airport and everything like that this morning and breakfast and at the end of the conversation she told Maya and me that she is going to be really sad when we leave and was starting to tear up a little – I think it was there it hit me that I really have made a home from myself in Madrid and it is going to be hard to leave.  Yes, I am excited to go home and see everyone but that doesn’t erase the fact that I am leaving a whole life behind me – once you study abroad you will completely understand what I am feeling at the present moment.

Gloria is doing everything she can to make the last week Maya and I have in Madrid is wonderful.  We have gotten to pick our favorite meals for Gloria to make one last time – I picked pasta with pesto – simple but amzing.  And the pesto is homemade.  Maya picked some rice dish.  Gloria also asked us what fruit we would like to have for our last couple days in Spain!  She is really trying her hardest to make sure Maya and I are happy.  Which leads me to my next point – I feel like a bad host daughter at some points.  Since it is finals week I have been spending the majority of my time studying in my room or at school with friends.  Finding the balance on spending enough time at home with Gloria and with all the friends I have met here is complicated.  I feel as though I am being pulled in too many directions and I don’t want to let people down – but I need to be a little selfish I think and I need to do what I need to do.  To be honest though Glo has been getting on my nerves a little bit – she just seems so helpless.  I know I should be saying this, but it is true.  As you all know she is pregnant and now she is engaged – different order but that is okay.  Anyways she just got engaged this past Saturday and everything is about the wedding already – it is going to be a VERY quick engagement.  Glo wants to get married before she becomes huge with the baby – she is not waiting until after she is pregnant which is what I thought would happen.  In her perfect little world she would be getting married at the end of this month – I think that is CRAZY!! However, Glo has been over every day since we have gotten back from Barcelona and last night at dinner she was taking about her wedding dress and it was cute to see her face light up when she talks about just purchases the dress.  Gloria has been very busy with Glo and planning the wedding already so our meals have not been the best the last couple of days, but that is okay.  Also before today we have not had fruit in the house for a couple of days, but today that all changed.

Well yesterday I had my first exam – The environment and development of Latin American.  It was seven essays that we had to answer.  Some of the questions were easy to answer while others it was hard to know what the professor was actually looking for in the answer – but overall I think it went well.  Today I had my ethics exam.  It went about the same way the first one did so I am going to predict I got about an B+ on the exam – I would very happy if I got a B or a B+ in my ethics class – philosophy in general is just not my thing.  Tomorrow I have my history exam which I was worried about at first, but I have studied a little bit everyday and I am feeling a lot more confident in the exam.  I also reviewed with a couple of friends after our last Sangria Thursday.  Once again everything is becoming very bittersweet.  I want to go home, but today I don’t feel ready to go home.  I don’t feel like I have experience everything I have wanted to since being in Madrid.  For example, most of the time I have gone out on the weekends with friends in Madrid we have gone to Sol, but there are so many other places to go in Madrid and we never really experienced them.  It is so easy to get into a routine when we are comfortable and not want to branch out and challenge yourself.  I believe a lot of people, including me, get comfortable with something and just stay with it.  However, this experience has taught me I need to branch out when I start feeling comfortable.  Remembering I love to meet people is something I need to keep in mind when I get that feeling of feeling comfortable.

Well I wrote most of this blog before dinner today and then dinner happened.  For some reason just one dinner can change your outlook well at least it changed mine on everything that has been happening lately.  It was the first dinner in a while where I felt like really talking.  First we had pesto pasta for dinner which was amazing!! One of the things we talked about during dinner was Glo and the wedding.  Gloria spent most of the day running around to find a dress for Glo and trying to get everything in order for the wedding.  The reason Glo wants to have the wedding so fast is because of her boyfriend.  He wants to get married before they have the baby – easy for him to say since he doesn’t do much for a wedding.  As of right now the wedding, if all possible the wedding is supposed to be the second of June – how crazy is that?!  Gloria is really stressed with trying to help Glo with everything and then spend time with Maya and I before we head off to the airport and all go our separate ways.  We just had nice conversation throughout the entire dinner.  Something funny that happened at dinner is we were talking about how some people are not happy in the world today and how those people need to remember the good things in life… and me being the smarty pants I am I said mango (we have mango for dessert) we all got a good laugh about that.  Gloria said she would always remember that when she is feeling sad about something.  Dinner was great tonight – it makes me really think I am going to miss Spain – even though I am beyond excited to go home. 
Well that is all for tonight.  Sorry I haven’t blogged about Barcelona – maybe I will do it this weekend or when I get home – hopefully soon.  I should be studying for my history exam tomorrow – I just have to review once or twice and then it will all be good! See you all soon!

Paz y Amor.  God Bless.

Another picture from Barcelona :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last Full Week

Hello everyone!  You read it right, I am on my last full week in Madrid, Spain.  We are in the single digits until I get home - nine days buddy!  Crazy I know! Well this past weekend I traveled to Barcelona, however, I am not really in the mood tonight to give the play by play of my experience of Barcelona.  Therefor this is going to be more of a little reflective blog and I will give the play by play about the end of last week.  I will be blogging about Barcelona eventually - I will write a little bit everyday for a study break and hopefully it will be completed by the end of the week and if not I will for sure do it this coming weekend.  Overall I would say I am ready to come home - I really don't want to study and take finals, but that is part of college and it is time to buckle down and do work for about a week and then come home.

Well I will start by telling about my week...  Thursday night my group of friends went to watch the dance performance at school.  At SLU-Madrid there are a variety of dance classes and music classes and there is an end of the year performance that is put on by all the people who took the classes.  Anyways the performance was suppose to start at 6:30 and of course since we in Spain it didn't start until around 6:45 or so.  I was told the performance was suppose to last about two hours - I knew I was going to miss dinner, but I thought I would be home around 9 - that is what I told Gloria. Well the performance was actually about three and a half hours long - I left with about 4 acts to go and it was 9:40.  Most of the people that stayed the entire time did not get home until almost 11 - Way too long!  It was fun to see some of our friends dancing - some looked really nervous and others fully embraced being on stage and had the time of their lives.  Seeing people having fun on stage and dancing - even if they were not the best dancers - made me wish I would have stayed dancing.  However, it is not something I regret really, because I would not give up the experiences I had playing volleyball and basketball for anything.  Those two sports, maybe volleyball more than basketball, helped me to become the person I am today.  They taught me lesson that dance never could have - any athelete will understand exactly what I am trying to say here.

Anyways Thursday Lisa wanted to go out dancing or clubbing for her birthday - some people said they were too tired or didn't have enough time after the dance performance to come out so the group was smaller, but it was still an interesting night to say the least.  Our plan was to go to a bar to get a drink and then head over to Joy (the club).  Well the bar we normally go to was already closed.  I would have been completely fine going straight to Joy, even though nothing would have been happening at Joy, but some people in our group NEEDED more alcohol - I put that in caps because they said they would not go into the club  unless they got more alcohol.  Well we decided to go into Joy - it was only free until 1:30 - and then get out hand stamped and come back later and not have to wait in line.  After we all got our hands stamps we went to an Irish bar so the people in the group could get the alcohol they so despriatly needed.  Well we were all about to leave the bar and then two of our other friends met up with us and decided they wanted to go to another bar because it has open bar until two and then they would meet us at Joy.  So the people who didn't want to drink more went to Joy and then others met us there later.  Well I was completely sober the entire night - and proud of that fact.  Anyways when the others met up with us - they were completely trashed.  One of the girls drank too much too fast and ended up throwing up at the club and passing out - we took turns baby sitting her for the entire night.  It was 90's night at the club so that was meant some wonderful music!! I loved it!!  We ended up staying at the club until about 5:30am and then we went to get churros con chocolate - a Madrid favorite.  I was going to take the metro home at 6am when it reopened, but I didn't feel comfortable taking it alone and then having to take about 10 minutes to my house so I just took a taxi - I think I made the right call.  However, overall Madrid is a safe city - but a blonde girl like me walking home at 6am by herself probably not the best idea.  Anyways, I did it!! I stayed out all night - I had a great time too.  Well I went to bed around 7am and then our cleaning lady comes on Friday therefore I had to get up around 10am so she could clean my room - yay three hours of sleep.  Something funny is, Maya and Gloria went to Barcelona this past weekend as well and they left for the airport in the morning before I even got home - good times!!

Friday was a pretty chill day - I spent most of the day studying for finals.  It was so much fun!  Well Susana, a old host student who now lives in Madrid, came over to spend the weekend at the apartment - mostly to take care of the cat, but also I wasn't allowed to stay the night alone in the apartment - I kind of had a baby sitter.  I had some friends come over at night - the ones who I went to Barcelona with to spend the night.  They spent the night because they lived farther south and they were afraid they wouldn't have enough time to get to the airport by the metro and they didn't want to pay for a taxi.  Well we all just hung out - they didn't get to my house until a little after ten.  We ended up going to bed a little before midnight and waking up at 5:15 to go to the airport... the rest will be continued in my Barcelona blog...

I believe the lack of sleep I have gotten over the past couple of days - about five - has made me feel a little under the weather.  I will be hitting the sack early tonight to catch up on some sleep and hopefully chase this little bug away.  I am just about prepared for my exam on Wednesday - I have about another hour of looking this over and then I should be ready to dominate the exam!  I have been working on my study guide for ethics and now I am just waiting for class tomorrow to go over the questions and then I will be able to study for that exam.  However, making the study guide has already greatly helped in my studying - I have had to go and look back at the different philosophizers we have seen throughout the semester and what which one is about - it has been a good start.  I don't think I should need that much time to study for Ethics.  As much as I dislike the class I pay attention and I have retained more information than I thought I did.  My exam on Friday is another story - history.  I am having a hard time even finding a place to begin to study for my history exam - the good news is I should be getting together with Lisa and hopefully she can help me out tomorrow!  Don't worry I will keep you guys updated.  Tomorrow is the last day of classes - I have no idea where the semester went!  It is so crazy!

In Barcelona (I know I said I wouldn't talk about it, but just deal with it) we walked to the beach on Sunday night and just sat there and talked.  Well they talked I mostly listened to the waves - it is a wonderful place to think.  Something we talked about was what we want to do after college - career, family, house etc. After we we all shared - I said I wanted to join the Jesuit corps and have a family and a career that has something to do with water - that is all I got right now.  But it got me thinking about all the stuff I want to do in life and I came to the conclusion that studying abroad has made me a little greedy.  I have traveled so many places in just a short four months that it makes me feel like I can accomplish so much in my life - but it has made me greedy too.  My thoughts when I was sitting on the beach all seemed to revolve around "me".  It was about what I want to do after college, where I want to travel, where I want to live, and on and on...  I don't know if it is a normal feeling to have or what.  There is just so much I want to do, but I have to remember it is not all about me.  I have to remember to look into what God wants to do/to be and what is best for everyone in my life.  Just some thoughts.  Water is one of the most relaxing parts of nature - I know I need to live by some body of water.  I think at first I want to live on the coast - I want to get the feel of living on the ocean - who knows where.  I just love water :)

Well it is getting late and I want to get some sleep tonight.  Have a great week everyone!!

Preview of the pictures from Barcelona :)

Paz y Amor.  God Bless.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two Weeks

I have hit the legit home stretch now - I have two weeks left SLU-Madrid Adventure.  It is a crazy to think about really.  I skyped my friend Steph tonight and we talked about time - as I have with some of my other friends during the last couple of days.  Time is a weird thing when you look back at it.  For example, it feels like forever ago that I was in Chicago boarding a plane to Madrid, but then again this semester has blown by.  I can't believe only four months ago I packed my stuff up in my apartment with Steph and moved out of SLU - it seems forever ago.  And my trip to Paris the third weekend I was here seems long ago.  But as I said before this semester has literally been one of the fastest if not the fastest semester of college so far.

Today was my last day of my Monday/Wednesday classes.  We reviewed in my EAS class for our final which was surprising very helpful for the final - now I just have to find the motivation and buckle down and focus for all my finals.  I need to work just a little longer and then finals will be over and I will be on a plane back home - I know I sound like I want to be home right now, which is somewhat true, but I know it is going to bitter-sweet.  I have made a life for myself here.  I mean I have lived here for four months - how could I not be sad to be leaving?  Another thing is two of my best friends here do not go to SLU back in the states - Elizabeth and Megan.  Elizabeth is from Chicago and goes to school at Creighton and Megan is from Minnesota and goes to school at Bethel.  It will be weird next semester to not be at the same school as them - it will take some adjustment to get use to things back at SLU especially since some of my good friends at SLU will be studying abroad next semester.  Sad.  But I was able to handle coming to Spain barely knowing anyone and making friends quickly and easily - and friends that I know I will have for a life time.

Anyways, back to my last day of classes - I got my history paper back today and did not do as well as I would have liked to.  I worked really hard on that paper - put a lot of effort into it and had about 5 people edit it and I looked over it numerous times.  I am just upset that I didn't do well, because I put the effort into the paper.  If I would have written the paper quickly, before it was due, and didn't take the time to edit it I wouldn't be disappointed in my grade, but since I thought I did well on the paper I am disappointed in my grade.  I am debating on whether or not to go and talk to my teacher.  I mean with the comments of the paper it doesn't seem as though he would be willing to change the grade of the paper - I am going to sleep on it and see what I feel like in the morning.

As the days of my study abroad experience and dwindling down I have been thinking a lot about the experience I have had while in Madrid and while traveling the world (not just Europe, since I went to Morocco)!  One thing my thoughts have been focusing a lot on is the relationships I have - friendships really, but also my relationship with myself and my family.  When studying aboard you realize that people who are really willing to make the effort to stay in contact with you.  Now, I am not trying to hurt anyone here, but you really do find out who are your true friends.  The ones that ask you to skype or make an effort to see what I have been up to during my time in Spain.  Friendships, well all relationships, are a two way street.  There is only so much one person can do without getting anything in return.  Trust me it is not the greatest felling when you realize a friendship you thought was strong is no longer a healthy relationship.  I wouldn't change having this experience for anything in the world - it truly has been the experience of a lifetime.  Thank you to all the people who have made this experience what it has been - especially the rents for funding most of the experience - thanks guys :)

So what else has been going on in my life? Well..
1. My art history professor asked us to email her pictures of us that Colosseum and the Pantheon for the people who went to Rome - well I emailed her a couple of pictures and this is the email I received back
Muchisimas gracias, Victoria, estas guapisima!!!!!!!!!!!
See you tomorrow in class.
Besos y abrazos

For those who do not speak Spanish roughly translated it says:
Thank you so much Victoria you are goregous
See you tomorrow in class
kisses and hugs

One of the nicest emails I have received in a while (much better than the one my mom sarcastically sent me that other day with this link   Love you mom).  Anyways, my professor Curra decided to put my pictures in a powerpoint presentation and show the whole class and tell the whole class that I was beautiful numerous times - oh it was great! haha

2. Where I work got a new dress code - "Black dress pants and black shoes and men's black tie with a while long sleeve dress shirt"  Yes you read correctly I will be looking like a man this summer at good old Pick and Save - oh I love my life and my job... I just have to keep telling myself that is why I am going to college!

3. I got to skype Scott and Kelsey tonight - they will be picking me up from the airport when I head down to SLU for the weekend after I get back!!!! Sooo excited to see them!! The rain better be done by the time I get there guys!!

4. Gloria made hummus for dinner last night and it was wonderful :)

5. I should be studying for my finals at the present moment, but blogging and talking to my friends is more fun.  But the thing is after a certain time of day my brain shuts off and just can't study any more - I work a lot better in the morning for sure.

Well anyways I think that is all for tonight.  Hope everyone is having a good hump day (Wednesday)! Love you all.  I will leave you with some things to ponder and some "interesting" facts.

  • Is a vacuum good if it really sucks?
  • 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • Why are they called stands when they are made for sitting?
  • Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?
  • To burn off one plain M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field. 
  • Why do we sing take me out to the ball game when we are already there?
  • The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.
  • By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand.
  • Why is it called "after dark" when really it is "after light"?
  • If Wal-Mart was classified as a country, it would be the 24th most productive country in the world.
Ponder those for a little.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Roman adventure

To start things off I will give an overview of how this blog is going to go.  Even though Easter Break was my longest break of the semester it was not as jammed packed as my other trips.  Since Elizabeth and I knew we were only going to Rome and we had 8 days to see it all we decided to take it slow.  Therefore, this blog is not going to be as long as I thought it was going to be – well at least I hope it’s not going to be that long.

I will start with day one.  Friday.  Elizabeth’s and my flight was at 5 in the evening.  We shared a suitcase and each had a backpack.  Getting to the airport was uneventful – we just took the metro.  The only semi interesting thing that happened was I tried to go through the metro gate with my suitcase and it didn’t work so well.  The suitcase went through but I got stuck – I had to use two metro passes.  Oh well.  When we got the airport we went to check our suitcase we went to the “We checked in online… just drop your bag here” line.  I placed our suitcase on the scale and it read 25kg… oh no! It is only allowed to be 20kg.  The lady told us it would only be 16euros for the 5kg overweight charge so we were thought that wasn’t that bad and just to pay it.  We had to go to a different line to pay the 16euros though.  As we were walking to the other line we looked at the paper the check in lady gave Elizabeth and it actually said it would be 60euros.  I thought “ugh those accents get me everything time with 15 and 50 and 16 and 60”.  But there was nothing we could do about it now because they had already taken our suitcase and there was no way of getting it back.  We just paid the 60euros and went on our merry way.  Our flight was a little late taking off but it went smoothly.  After landing in Rome we went to retrieve our heavy suitcase, which took forever to come around on the belt.  With suitcase in hand we were ready to make our way the train to take us to Termini – the main train/metro stop in Rome.  Our hostel was suppose to be a 5 minute walk from Termini.  Well on our way to the train we were stopped by what we thought was a guy that worked at the airport.  He asked us if we were looking for the train to Termini and we told him we were – obviously we looked like two lost Americans.  He informed us there the train was and we were about to start walking when he told us there was a shuttle that cost 3euros more and would take us directly to our hostel.  I made the decision that we should take the shuttle since it was getting late and dark out.  Well the guy didn’t actually work for the airport he actually worked for a shuttle company and I think he tricked us a little – I think that train would have been about 8euros cheaper.  But we didn’t have to figure it out when we were tired and it was dark.  While we on the way to the hostel we drove past the Colloseum and the Arch of Constantine – my mouth literally dropped.  I could not believe what I was seeing – it was the most amazing sight I think I have ever seen in my life.  Once we got settled in at the hostel (see picture of room below) – which was a lot nicer than we thought it was going to be we went to find some Italian food.  We ended up at a restaurant close to the hostel and got Margarita Pizza (essentially cheese pizza, since it was good Friday) and red wine.  It was great!! I don’t know if it was so good because we were hungry and tired or if it was really that good.  After dinner we just went back to the hostel and went to bed – it was around midnight.

First taste of Italian cuisine! :)

 Our first real day in Rome was Saturday.  We decided we wanted to take it slow and not try to see everything in one day.  Our game plan was to see the Colosseum and The Roman Forum.  On our way the Roman Forum we stopped in some churches, well Basilicas actually.  We stopped in Santa Maria Maggiore and Saint Peter in Chains on the way.  One of the basilicas was very close to our hostel therefore we past it every day.  Saint Peter in Chains is a little hard to find – we just happened to walk up some random steps and found it.  St. Peter in Chains contains the famous ‘Moses’ sculpture. 
Me in front of Saint Maria Maggiore

Moses in Saint Peter in Chains

We finally made our way to the Roman Forum and saw the line was forever long, but I was informed that the line was shorter at the Roman Forum than at the Colloseum.  We decided to just wait in line because we obviously didn’t want to miss it.  As we were waiting in line we found out since it was Italian Heritage Week and it was all free, we just had to wait to line for them to hand us tickets – seems a little pointless.  But I guess they wanted to see how many people were coming in?  When we got our tickets the lady told us the Colloseum closes at 2 and it was already 12:30.  Instead of heading into to the Roman which closed at 6 we decided to go to the Colloseum.  This was one of my favorite parts of the trip – I think it is where I feel in love with Rome.  I think I could have literally just stared at the Colloseum for the whole day and never get bored.  In my Ancient Art History Class we just learned about Rome, it was great to put to use what I have been learning in class.  I also believe that having some background knowledge made me appreciate the sights way more than if I just went to Rome not knowing anything about the history.  When we got to the Colloseum the line to get in was forever long – I thought they were all waiting for tickets.  So I made my way up to the front of the line and sort of cut in line and just walked into the Colloseum.  Ops!! To my surprise most of the people waiting in line had tickets too – basically I skipped 100+ people in line.  My bad – I really didn’t mean to – I thought they were all waiting for tickets!  I pictures cannot describe the incredible structure of the Colloseum.  Since I am in Ancient Art History I thought I would give you guys a little background on the Colloseum: it is the biggest amphitheater ever built by the Romans – before Rome there was not the use of concrete which meant theaters had to be built in the slopes of hills.  Therefore, concrete had the construction of the Colloseum feasible.  The Colloseum has three sets or levels of arches – when it was built it had 76 arches and today only 31 original arches remain.  There were 80 entrances/exits and the Colloseum housed a 70,000 people.  That is an overview of the Colloseum – I don’t want to go into much detail about the structure – it would make this blog longer than I want.  Enjoy the pictures!

Hello Colosseum!!

Inside the Colosseum

Trying to be artsy...

The arch of Constantine - next to the Colosseum

After the Colloseum Elizabeth and I walked through the Roman Forum.  Even though I was told to have a map of the Roman Forum – I didn’t.  From the information I learned in my class I could tell what some of the rubble was in the Forum.  However, overall it was a really cool place to just wonder around – there were many gardens and it was just a peaceful place.  Elizabeth and I were sitting on a bench in the Roman Forum and a group of people from SLU Madrid came and walked right past us.  I knew most of the girls in the group.  It was funny how we went countries away and we still ran into people we knew – yes I know a lot of people went to Rome for Easter Break, but to be in the Roman Forum at the same place and time is crazy to me!  There were a lot of tour groups – mostly in English – walking through the Forum so I would try to ease drop on the tour – sometimes I got some useful information other times I didn’t.  

You know just climbing trees in the Roman Forum :)

Overview shot of part of the Roman Forum!

 After the Roman Forum we found the Column of Trajan.  The Column of Trajan is a commemorative column to commemorate the victory of an emperor.  The columns are normally topped with a stature of the emperor and when they died they were buried I the bottom of the column.  Trajan Column commemorates the victory over Dacia and it was dedicated in 113AD.  Today the Trajan Column does not have a statue of Trajan instead when Rome became Christian the statue was changed to St. Peter holding the keys to heaven.  Elizabeth and I ate lunch right to the Column – we had sandwiches from a stand close to the column.  After we were refreshed and full we continued walking – we found the restaurant that Geoff recommended on our way to the Trevi Fountain.  The Trevi fountain was so crowded but yet amazing.  It is difficult for me to describe in words everything we saw and the pictures do no justice.  I guess you will have to visit Roma for yourself.  After sitting and people watching for a while at the Trevi we wanted our first Geleto – we made a tourist mistake.  We got our geleto for a place literally right next to the Trevi Fountain – aka we paid way too much for it.  Also I did not choose good flavors – I chose some fruit mix and mint – another mistake.  As the week went on I learned to ALWAYS get chocolate geleto and some fruit flavor to pair it with.  After the geleto we made our way back to the hostel, but we stopped in the tourism office to see if they had any interesting information and to ask where the nearest grocery store was – about a 5 minute walk from our hostel! Perfect.  We stopped in the grocery store and got bananas, bread, and wine for the night.  Surprisingly we were not that hungry so we just had some bread for dinner as we watched a movie.  It was nice to have a chill night and not to worry about where to go or what to eat or anything like that.  Also we wanted to go to bed semi-early since we were attending Palm Sunday mass the next day.

Column of Trajan

Trevi Fountain

Me in front of the Trevi

Palm Sunday – mass in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Benedict XII of course.  Elizabeth and I did not have tickets, but we were still able to go we were just going to have to stand for the mass.  Mass started at 9:30 and I wanted to get there around 8 just to make sure we could semi see and everything and just to enjoy being at the Vatican on Palm Sunday.  We staked out the spot where we were going to stand for the next four hours.  As we were just taking it all a family walked past us and tried to enter the are where people were sitting.  The guy guarding the entrance stopped them and asked for their tickets and they told him that they didn’t have any and he responded with “No Problem.  Go ahead”.  We were in the right spot at the right time – Elizabeth and I then just walked in and picked out some seats to sit down.  Once again we were very lucky.  I choose random seats and it just so happens they were next to a brother/sister order.  They were handing out prayer cards – the brother that came to talk to me first language was not English, however he told me I should talk to his brother Joe who was from Chicago.  After he gave me the prayer card everyone started moving to the side of the seated area – Pope Benedict XII was going to process down and that would be the start of mass.  Elizabeth and I ended up standing next to Joe and this girl studying in Italy (who goes to Marquette and knows people from Oconomowoc – small world).  Anyways Joe was fluent in Italian, Latin, and of course English.  He offered to translate the mass for us – it was wonderful!! I cannot believe how lucky we were on Palm Sunday – having seats and having someone to translate the mass for us.  In general, mass was incredible.  Again, it is hard to explain – you just kind of had to be there kind of thing.  I also could not believe the number of people that were there – simply amazing!  I hope everyone has the chance to attend mass at the Vatican with the Pope at some point in their life.  I believe I also enjoyed the mass more because Joe was there translating for the majority of the mass – I mean I could pick some things out (since I have been to Palm Sunday Mass many times before) and I also know the order of mass and the gospel that is used.  After mass and walking around the square we went on the hunt for food – we ended up at a restaurant a couple streets away from the Colloseum and had pasta.  It was my first pasta in Italy and it did not live up to everything I hoped – I mean it was good and all but not to die for.  Maybe it was just the restaurant thought – I was still hoping for some better pasta on the trip.  After lunch we were going to try to go into the Vatican Museum, but it was close because it was Palm Sunday.  Instead we got some geleto (chocolate and raspberry) and ate it in the Square.  After our geleto we decided to go back to the hostel and take a nap and just relax.  We had no idea what to do for dinner, but we knew we were not willing to spend a lot of money.  After resting for a while we decided to go to the grocery store and go have a picnic next to the Colloseum.  We got wine, bread, cheese, and meat – we had sandwiches and bananas for dinner.  As we were sitting outside the Colloseum a cute old Italian man came and talked to us – in English of course.  He talked to us for about a half hour about Roma and all this other stuff… towards the end it got a little long, but that is okay!  We were tired from getting up early so we just watched a movie and went to bed Sunday night.

St. Peter's Basilica for Palm Sunday Mass

Where Pope Benedict XII would sit for the start of mass


Procession Starts

Oh hey there Pope

More Pope Benedict XII

The Army of Eucharistic Ministers 

View while Picnicing on Sunday night!

More view
 Monday we explored the west side of the city all the way to the river.  We just walked around and found the famous spots and the not so famous spots.  There really isn’t that much to tell about it.  I think it would be better in pictures.  Enjoy!
While wondering through Rome we came across a park and I wanted to stand on a tree!

We also found the Trevi Fountain again!

And the Pantheon!

The largest dome built in Rome - the Pantheon was a building built to dedicate various Roman gods.  However, when Roma became Christian the Pantheon was converted into a church.

Some cool people are buried in the Pantheon - mostly Italian kings

Oh you know just hugging a smooth corynthian column at the Pantheon - no big deal!

Elizabeth and I in Piazza Navona.

Another famous fountain - located in Piazza Navona

Sun :)

As I said before Monday was a day of wandering the streets of Rome to see what we could find... After Piazza Navona we wondered into a random market.  First we stopped a sandwich place to grab some lunch - best sandwich of my life.  This sandwich consisted of a bread similar to flat bread, fresh mozerella cheese, fresh tomato, and a little basil.  It was warm and fresh and just delicious!  When we were trying to find a place to sit we randomly found the market and got some random amazing fruit cup - I believe that this lunch might have been my favorite lunch in Italy.

All the delicious fruit.

Fruit cup :)

As we continued wandering around Roma we found the major river in Roma - Tiber River.

Just a nice picture by Pt. Sinto - the bridge.

More wandering lead us to the Scared Area of Largo Argentina - more Roman ruins.

Gesu - one of the main Jesuit churches in Roma.

At the steps of the Wedding Cake - a monument to remember the first king of Italy.

After all the wondering around we did on Monday we were just going to have a chill night at the hostel.  First we had the free pasta dinner at the hostel - which was a ridiculously awful!!!  Pasta was over cooked and the sauce was awful - I can't even explain it, but it was free so we ate it.  After dinner Elizabeth and I were just chilling, talking, and listening to music when we got new roommates.  We made friends with our new roommates - they were two boys one from Mexico and the other from Chicago - both were studying in Paris, France. Elizabeth and I decided we wanted to walk around Roma at night and we invited the two guys from our hostel - and once again we just wandered around Roma.  Tuesday Elizabeth and I were going to the beach on Tuesday so it wasn't the biggest deal if we were out late on Monday night.  The beach we went to was in Anzio - about an hour outside of Roma.  The water was beautiful and the beach was wonderful.  On Tuesday there were not many people on the beach so it was very relaxing - enjoy the pictures :)


Me in the Sea!
Tuesday night we had the awful pasta dinner again - Elizabeth and I thought maybe the dinner would change everyday or it was just really awful the first time we had it - we were dead wrong.  Oh well.  Wednesday we went to the Vatican.  We bought our tickets before hand and we were able to skip the 3 hour line!  One of the best decisions we made the whole vacation.  The Vatican museum was amazing - nothing like what I expected it to be.  But then again I didn't really know what to expect!  Elizabeth and I didn't want to pay for a guided tour so once again we just did our own wandering and read the signs.  We went into almost every room in the Vatican Museum - some of them had barely anyone in them.  It would have probably been nice to get a guided tour, but then again Elizabeth and I were able to sit down when we wanted and just do our own thing.  
Me on the patio of the Vatican Museum with St. Peter's Basilica in the background.

Just a cool picture.

One of the rooms in the Vatican Museum was dedicated to Australian tribal art - I thought it was extremely interesting how the Vatican Museum incorporated various cultures and even religions into the museum.  I guess I was surprise on the amount of non-Christian art in the museum.  There were numerous sculptures from Greece (well marble Roman copies of them) and sculptures from before Rome turned Christian.  It was just something I was thinking about while wandering through the Vatican.

Me in an amazing room in the Vatican with Roman sculptures. 

Belvedere Apollo


St. Peter's Basilica
Before going into the basilica I was expecting something amazing because of everything people said about the basilica.  Now don't get me wrong the basilica was beautiful, but I believe it lost something when it was crowded with hundreds of people in every corner of the basilica.  It was hard to appreciate the beauty of the basilica when most people just trying to snap a picture of this and a picture of that.  I know it is judgmental of me, but I just had a feeling that most of the people were there to be there and not to appreciate the meaning and beauty of the basilica.

Me outside St. Peter's Basilica

Some more Italian food from Wednesday night - Elizabeth and I could not take the awful pasta anymore so we decided to find some better food!!

Thursday Elizabeth and I went to the beach on Thursday - there were a lot more people there this time, because most of the kids had off of school.  We had a relaxing day at the beach once again and went out for dinner at a restaurant close to our hostel.  This was the second best thing I ate in Rome!! yummy! Overall the food wasn't as great as I thought it was going to be.  I think this is mostly because of the amazing food mom cooks at home and the fact that Elizabeth and I were not willing to spend a lot of money on dinner.  I guess I will just have to go back to Italy and taste some real Italian cuisine.  :)  Who wants to come with me?!

Friday we met up with Elizabeth's friend from high school and she showed us her favorite parts of Rome and just chilled and talked.  We went to a park in the north part of Rome - I have completely blanked on the name right now.  But it was beautiful and it was really nice to just relax and talk with Katie and Elizabeth.  Katie also took us to this amazing Geleto place - I got chocolate, mango, and strawberry.  It was wonderful! A little crazy in the geleto place not really a line just a mad rush to get to the front of the pack to order your geleto.  It was worth the 30 minute wait - it was sooooo good!!

Elizabeth and I throwing our American coins in the Trevi Fountain.

Really good pasta :)

Friday night Katie took us with her school to the stations of the cross at the Colosseum with Pope Benedict XII.  It was an amazing experience even though I couldn't really understand most of it, but then again I know the stations of the cross and could 

It was hard to get a good picture - of the Pope on Friday night.  This is the best I could do.  Saturday nothing that exciting happened.  Elizabeth and I just chilled the day and then headed to the airport around 4:30 and got home around midnight.  I had a wonderful trip and I cannot wait to head back to Roma someday!  But it was good to be back in Madrid!

Picture from the plane ride home!

Well that is the end of the blog - sorry it got a little short at the end, but hopefully you still like it!  Enjoy! I will be back in the states in two weeks and one day!!

Paz y Amor.  God Bless.