Monday, January 31, 2011

A Paris Reflection

Well let me start of by saying I got a little cold while I was in Paris because of walking around in the cold all day and going on little sleep.  But the cold is getting better – Gloria has made tea for me and asks if I need anything and how am I feeling and so forth.  School was fun today.  I got to school to have lunch and hang out with some friends.  I tried to do homework but I was having fun so I decided it could wait until tonight – I am actually being very productive tonight – this blog will be a little shorter so I can get back and finish my homework.  I just want to give a little reaction on my time in Paris now that I have let it all sink it.

I think it is amazing I am 19 years old and I just went to Paris for a weekend with people I literally met less than a month ago.  People have told me you will be close to the people you meet studying abroad because we spend a lot of time with time including traveling.  After my first trip I can see how this is true.  You see the good and the bad in everyone.  On Friday we were all getting crabby since we were tired and hungry – everyone was showing their true self – but it was good to see.  When I was walking around in Paris, visiting the different places, I honestly didn’t think much of it.  I was just though oh yea I am in Paris, but now looking back at it, the whole experience was crazy!! I am very blessed to have the opportunity to travel Europe with some amazing people, especially Elizabeth.  I am very blessed to have met Elizabeth – she has made this experience one I will never forget!  I have realized that a lot of the best memories are made from the people you travel with and some of the best memories are some of the worst moments on the trip – getting my face smashed in the metro.

I don’t really have a lot to say.  Sorry for the short blog tonight.  I am working on some homework and Skyping Kelsey True :) She is the best ever!! I love you so much!! And miss you bunches – come to Spain!!!

Paz y Amor. God Bless!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Remember that one time in the Metro

Wow! What a couple of days! I can’t believe all that happened – I am literally still in a daze.  To be honest I should still be sleeping since I didn’t sleep very much this trip to Paris.  Let’s start from the beginning shall we.

After Ethics on Thursday – where I was completely dominated by my teacher, I tried to answer a question and apparently my answer was the one she was looking for and she proceeded to ask me about 5 more questions and I had no idea what she was talking about – that might be the last time I answer a questions.  Anyways after Ethics Elizabeth, Mary Katie, and I walked back to our houses together – Mary Kate came with me and dropped her laptop off at my house because she lives so far away.  Let me back track and tell you all that our flight left at 8:20 and we got out of class at 5:15.  After I poured out my school stuff and packed up my bag, Mary Kate and I walked to Elizabeth’s house, since it was on the way to the metro stop we were going to.  We thought it would be a better idea and quicker to walk to the Pink Line metro instead of hopping lines.  Well none of us knew how far the metro was and we were a little pushed for time since we met up with Elizabeth at 6.  We found the metro stop and got on the train with no problem at all – even though the walk in the metro stop was a little long.  We met a girl on the metro from SLU and talked to her a little bit – she was going to Switzerland with a couple people I know.  Anyways when we got off the metro we tried to extra the stop, but you needed some sort of ticket since we were leaving the Madrid zone.  Oh I forgot to tell you, the three of us were basically running to the metro stop and once we found the metro we were basically running to the train we needed.  We were all sweating A LOT! Back to the story we bought the exit ticket and we were on our way to the main part of the airport.  Elizabeth and Mary Kate looked at the board to see what gate we were at while I put or shoved all the food Gloria made for me – she made me two sandwiches and a burrito, four pieces of fruit, and cookies.  It was exactly what I needed – some “mom” love.  We had about a ten minute fast walk to security which was a breeze – there was a little line but that was all the issue with security.  Then we found our gate where I was welcomed by some friends traveling to Switzerland.  We put our stuff down and ate our dinners, went to the bathroom, and then boarded the plane.

 Elizabeth, me, and Mary Kate on the plane ready to start our Paris adventure.
You know how everyone says "When going to a foreign country do not attract attention to yourself".... Well I was kind of doing the complete opposite - but that is why you all love me!!

Madeline had directions on what train and metro we needed to take to get to our hotel – we all thought it would go rather smoothly – not really the case.  We took our time getting off the plane, taking pictures, going to the bathroom, when we should have been running to catch the train we needed.  Side-note we didn’t have to go through customs because it was just another EU country.  Anyways we finally made our way to where the train to take us to the Paris metro departs – however, none of us have tickets and the train last train is just about to leave.  So we miss the train – we have NO idea on how to get to the metro now.  Surprisingly I was a lot more clam then I normally am – I am normally the person who is worrying, but I was calm because I knew I could always get a taxi.  We found a very very nice man who worked at the airport and spoke English to explain to us what we were supposed to do now.  We had to get on the airport train and transfer terminals; once we arrived at the terminal we bought a bus ticket and got on a bus to take us to the Paris metro.  This is where the real adventure began.  We ran to the metro train we needed to make sure we didn’t miss it – it was an adventure.  When we got off that train we needed to switch lines – this was interesting and a moment I will never forget.  We once again found someone to help us.  This very nice French guy was suppose to lead us to Line 4 – little did we know the adventure that was about to come.  Apparently we need to buy a metro ticket before because there was no place to buy when where we were and we needed one to get to the line we needed – very very strange.  The French man had a pass that he used to get through the gates – the door opens when you use a pass and then closes.  He told us to line up behind him and run through the gate.  Well… I was third in line and as I am trying to run through the door/gate it closes on me.  Let me try to get you to picture this in your mind.  The doors are small – only one person at a time and they are similar to an automatic door – when you use your pass the door will open.  So the door shut on me before I was all the way through – it was basically like running into a glass door.  Surprisingly I was not hurt at all – I just a really good laugh out of it and so did everyone else!

Well we finally got off on all the right stops for the metro and began to look for our hotel.  This again was an adventure – I feel like everything in Paris is an adventure.  Street signs in Europe just suck – there is really no polite way to put it – they suck.  We even stopped legit French people on the street and they didn’t know where the street was that we needed to get to.  We finally decided to go into McDonalds and ask for directions – they spoke little English but just enough to get us to our hotel!! We made it to our hotel!! And it was not as bad as we were all expecting! We had three beds – all different sizes – for four girls.  I shared a bed with Elizabeth!! Side note Elizabeth and I are becoming close friends! It is great.  Anyways below are some pictures of the adventure and the hotel!!

 This is when we should have been running to the train instead we decided to take pictures and enjoy arriving in Paris - it led to an adventure and a good story for sure!

We made it to the metro - excitement, scared, worried... there was a lot of emotion going around.

Success Hotel!!!!

Pictures of the Room!! It was not bad at all!

Elizabeth and I ready to start our first day in Paris!!

We had a game plan for the day and it was time to get it done!!  Our first stop of the day was Basilique de Sacre-Coeur – or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  This is a must see if you ask me.  When we got off the metro stop we came across this way that had “I love you” in practically every language possible – it was beautiful.  Walking to Sacre-Coeur there were a few – well maybe like a lot – of stairs.  The majority of people in my group were complaining left and right – but I have come to understand (or at least I am trying to understand) that complaining doesn’t help you or get you anywhere in life.  So we complain about how cold it was in Paris or how many steps we had to climb or we just all suck it up and appreciate the opportunity we have to travel Paris at being 19 years old.  The first time I had a real view of the Eiffel Tower was on my way to the Sacre-Coeur – I saw it from the plane but that doesn’t really count.  This church was gorgeous – I couldn’t take pictures instead so you should all go there yourselves and see what I am talking about.

The wall of love!

First real view of the Eiffel Tower.

Our next stop of the tour of Paris was Notre-Dame.  The view was amazing.  The church was completely different from the Sacre-Coeur.  Both beautiful in their own way.  Since I didn’t have a tour of either of the churches I can’t really tell you more than what you all probably already now so I am going to leave that out.  What I want to touch on is my experience when I walked into them.  I got chills in both of them – I don’t believe it is because it was cold outside and then we came inside where it was warm.  I think there was something more there.  A feeling.  Not really sure how to explain it.  But the beauty of the churches is unreal – and they are all built for one person – God.  After seeing something like that there is no doubt in my mind there is a high power – God and Catholic is the correct religion for me – again it was just a feeling I got.  In all the churches I had the opportunity to sit down and say a pray of thanks.  Going into the churches is an experience I will never forget.

Girls in front of Notre-Dame

Making some bird calls in front of Notre-Dame.

When leaving Notre-Dame I had an adventure.  I was linked arms with Megan and Elizabeth I was on the outside.  We walked past a gentleman I would say around the age of 45 who literally came up to me and snorted at me and kept walking.  I grabbed my purse and screamed!! I had no idea what was happening.  Another great adventure.  Our next stop on the list was Arc de triomphe.  It is this huge arc in the middle of a crazy round-a-bout.  It is like a free-for-all around it.  Car horns are a constant noise.  The arc was really neat.  To get on the round-a-bout part there is an underground pathway so you don’t have to play frogger across the street.  Again if I got to do Paris over again I would like a guide so I know some of the history behind all the monuments I saw and I would choose to go in a warmer season – the cold and wind were not very fun – but I still didn’t complain because I was in Paris!

Group in front of the Arc.

Well after the Arc de Triomphe we walked down the  Champs Elysees – it is a very famous street for shopping.  Personally I didn’t buy anything, but it was neat to walk into the stores and look around and warm up.  Something to note is everywhere I have gone shopping there has been the store H&M – I think it is kind of weird.  My favorite store was the watch store –Swatch.  If I didn’t get my watches as dirty as I do and I wanted to spend 50 euros on a watch this is where I would go.  They had some of brightest color waters and they were all very fun!!

The famous street.

My new car.

Favorite store!!

3D TV!!! Looking good!

As you keep walking on Champs Elysees you will eventually end up at the Louvre – the very famous museum!  This is where I saw the Mona Lisa! To be honest I did not find the Mona Lisa to be anything of that much excitement.   There were numerous other paintings that appealed to me more.  Don’t get me wrong I understand the importance of the painting, but it just isn’t my sup of tea.  The Wedding Feast is also in the same room as the Mona Lisa and I thought it was way more impressive than the Mona Lisa.  Some of the paintings in the Louvre are huge!! I have no idea where the artist would even start to paint one of them and how the paintings are transported from place to place – it is amazing.  By the time we got to Louvre it was about 6 o’clock and we were all getting tired.  If I get the chance to come back to Paris someday I would really like to spend more time in the Louvre and see all the sculptures.  The group I was with mainly wanted to see paintings, which I was completely fine with! I also would like to have a tour guide or an audio so I can understand more of the meaning on the paintings and artwork in the Louvre. 
Me in front of the Louvre.
The Wedding Feast

The epic Mona Lisa.
 Last but not least on our first day in Paris we went to see the Eiffel Tower.  When we were on the metro and I saw the Eiffel Tower it was then that it finally hit me that I was in Paris!! The Eiffel Tower at night was gorgeous!! There are no words to describe the excitement that came over me when we saw the tower! We didn’t stay too long since it was already after 9.  We headed back to our hotel and ate at a little café/restaurant there.  At this point we were all very hungry, tired, and a little crabby.  Our group had split up after the arc so I was only with a couple people the rest of the night.  We accomplished a lot in one day and we were all extremely tired! I was very excited to go back to the room and get a goodnights sleep.

My first time seeing the Eiffel Tower :)

Going up the Eiffel Tower!!

The view was amazing!!

Taken on my last night in Paris... Goodbye Eiffel Tower :(

 However, I started feeling sick – like a cold.  My nose started to run and my throat got scratchy.  Friday night I got about 6.5 hours of sleep.  On Saturday we were suppose to leave around 9:30am however it ended up being around 10:30 – I was a little upset at first but I realized it worked out for the better.  Saturday was a lot more low key.  Megan, Elizabeth, and I went back to the Eiffel Tower to go up it – we were a little disappointed to find out the top was closed for renovation, but we still decided to go! The elevator was an adventure.  The line was only about 15 minutes long – not bad at all.  Then we got in the elevator and it went to the second floor, but the doors didn’t open.  Then we went down to the first floor and the doors didn’t open then back to the second floor and after a while we finally got out of the elevator.  A little scary!  The view was amazing – I cannot even imagine going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and seeing that view!! After we went up and took a bunch of pictures we just decided to walk around, find something to eat, and shop.  We had a great time even though we were really tired and cold! We experienced Paris!
Chocolate Crepes! Yummy!

Last meal in Paris - Croque Madame - Bread then jam then bread then melted cheese then eggs - it's a French thing.  Oh an of course a glass of wine!

Getting to the airport to come back to Madrid was not as exciting as coming from Madrid.  We spent the night in the airport – I would really not recommend this.  It was cold and uncomfortable but it was free so that is a plus I guess! So Saturday night I got about 2.5 hours a sleep, so that makes the three day trip total about 13.5 hours of sleep!! I cannot wait to go to bed tonight!!
Sleeping in the cold airport!!

The sunrise on the way back to Madrid - it was better in person.

Things I learned in Paris
1.       Traveling with friends is fun and stressful
2.       I like having a background knowledge of the places we see
3.       I am a master at the metro
4.       Sleep is very important
5.       Making the best of all situations is a must
6.       Make sure you smile and have fun!
7.       Enjoy every moment of the trip – the good and the bad – the bad moments might make the best memories – remember that one time in the metro… when you got smashed in a door
8.       Make you have everyone before getting on a metro and have enough time to get on the train – we almost lost Elizabeth – she didn’t get on the metro because we ran to catch it and she missed it – I tried to pull the down open – I was like a mother after my child!! Haha. I told her the stop to get off on and it was all good!!
9.       Try not to worry and just have fun!!

Tomorrow I will give more a reflection on my experience in Paris but that is all for now.

Paz y Amor.  God Bless

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homesickness Hit

Today was the first time I actually felt homesick.  I have just been doing too much all the time and I think it finally caught up with me.  I talked to mom and she helped a lot. Thanks mom.  To be honest I don't really feel like blogging tonight, so this is going to be extra short.  Another reason I think I felt homesick is I am stressed. I like to plan just about everything so it is hard for me when I don't know what is going to happen.  I am having a hard time deciding if I want to apply for internships or take classes this coming summer.  I need to remember to let God handle it.  I leave for Paris tomorrow, so this will be my last blog until Sunday.  I am excited to go on my first real trip! It should be fun, even though there are some things stressing me out.  It will all be okay.

Side note: I really like my environmental class :) I know I am in the right major!!

Something funny that happened today: I was talking to this boy Zach in my class and asked him if he was going running after class - he normally does.  He proceeded to tell me that he is getting bored with just doing the same thing every time - since it is expensive to join a gym here.  He told me he wants to bike or just do something different.  At some point in the conversation Zach told me he picks up rocks at the track people run at and uses them as weights.  Just imagine seeing someone (an American) lifting rocks to workout.  I thought it was rather funny :)

Hope everyone is having a good week :) Paz y Amor. God Bless.  Blog to you Sunday ;)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Typical Tuesday

Nothing all that exciting happened today - I feel like I have been saying that a lot lately.  My first class as you all should know by now was Art History - we continued talking about Ancient Egyptian art and I am still finding the class interesting.  Today I was in complete amazement as my professor taught us about the pyramids.  I still can not believe the pyramids where built so long along when they didn't even have the wheel - its unreal.

After Art History I met up with Lavi - she came with me to mail some more postcards.  If you are lucky you might be recieving one of these postcards :)  I just hung out with some friends and ate lunch - nothing all that exciting.  However, I did get the chance to FaceTime with my mom today.  She woke up very early her time and it worked out perfectly, because I didn't have class.  Mom even got to shower this morning! I also going to see my puppy Sadie - she got confused when I said her name. Oh how I miss my puppy.  I also had the great pleasure of saying hello to daddy when he was still half asleep - sorry about that dad. Love you.

When Elizabeth and Mary Kate finished classed we took a trip to SuperSol (the grocery store by campus) to buy lunch food, since it is expensive to eat on campus or off campus everyday.  I bought a loaf a bread, jelly, crackers, and a bag of celmintines for only 6 euros.  Also my friend is picking up Peanut Butter for me to make my sandwiches.  I thought bringing my lunch everyday or most days would be a good way to save money.  Also, Gloria is starting to give Maya and I the leftovers so that is also very nice.

Ethics was okay today.  Some people in my class annoy me though.  A lot of them just say things to either hear themselves talk or try to make a point but say something completely irrelevant to the subject.  I don't really understand that.  Today we got off on so many different tangents I couldn't keep up and by the end of the class I was more confused.  After class I went and got sangria (since we can't go on Thursday) with some of my "old" friends and some "new" friends that I met today.  I was very nice to have a change in some of the people I have been normally hanging out with - even though I like them.  Sometimes a change is a good thing!

Gloria was not home for dinner tonight so Maya and I ate by ourselves.  However, Gloria prepared the meal and we just had to heat it up and eat it.  We had Mexican tonight - fajitas.  They were amazing; I ate too much!! Gloria is such a wonderful cook, but not as good as you mom :)  We had soy cheese to put on our fajitas - let me just say I miss my Wisconsin cheese A LOT!!!

Well I am going to go to bed early and get up and finish my reading for class; I don't have class until 4 either so I should have plenty of time.  I have a meeting for my Morocco trip tomorrow at 2 so that is exciting! I will learn more about what we are going to be doing while in Morocco.  I still can not believe Paris is only two days away! I know it will be an amazing time, even though there little concerns now - they will all get figured out though. Also only 12 days until I turn 20! Man, I am getting old!!  That is all for tonight!

Paz y Amor.  God Bless.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Short and Sweet.

Today I signed up for my trip to Morocco :) I cannot express how excited I am to go on this trip!! Hello Africa!! Also Paris is becoming more and more of a reality every day! Again, I cannot believe I leave this Thursday for Paris!! I am feeling a little better about having a total of 16 people going on the trip - we are going to split up in different groups, hopefully.  Also I Skyped with my friend Geoff this evening and he gave me advice on what to see and when to see it, so that will be very helpful!! Thanks, Geoff!

Something unexpected happened today - I enjoyed the majority of my philosophy reading.  I seriously thought I would never say that.  We are still learning about relativism and how we are to define what is considered moral and ethical.  In general the things I find the most interesting deal with the perspectives of different cultures and how we should act and so forth.

Funny moment of the day: I got home from class and Gloria was explaining something to Maya and I wasn't paying attention, but then she started to explain it to me.  And I was only half listening, which is never a good idea, but especially when Gloria was talking to me in Spanish.  Anyways, I thought she was talking about a neighbor getting sick so we went over to talk/help her for the day and that is why dinner would be later.  However, I come to realize about an hour later she was talking about a cat in the neighborhood - don't know how I missed that part.  Oh well.

Dinner was wonderful - we had stir-fry!!! And that green fruit again - I blogged about it on my first day or two.  I believe that is all today, as I stated short and sweet.  Oh by the way in case you didn't hear: The Packers beat da Bears and are going to the SuperBowl on my birthday!! Get excited.  Also, I actually got to watch the game last night.  The last two minutes were a little stressful and I was doing my best not to scream or make any noise in my room, since everyone was sleeping!! Go. Pack. Go.

That is all for tonight.  I love you all.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

El Fin de los viajes dias

Today the day trips came to an end with a wonderful trip to El Escorial.  Going into the final trip I was rather exhausted and had no idea what was in El Escorial.  However, since for most of the trip I was not about to take pictures I learned a lot.  I will started with a little background information:  El Escorial is just under an hour out of Madrid and located in the mountains a little bit.  The main attraction in El Escorial is "El Real Monasterio de El Escorial or the The Royal Monastery of the Escorial; it is a ancient building which includes a monastery, basilica, museum, and a day school and boarding school - impressive I know.  The monastery is of San Lorenzo, who happens to be one of the first martyrs and died my being grilled; the symbol of San Lorenzo is therefore a grill, which can be found numerous places on the Monastery.  It was wonderful that we went to El Escorial today and the tour was mostly inside, because it was pretty chilly today.  Side note - I have made some lastly friends on these day trips :)

First look at the monastery.

The landscape of El Escorial.

The first thing we saw was the basilica – once again I was in awe of everything.  We were not suppose to take pictures, but I couldn’t helped myself and snap this one photo.  What was really interesting about the basilica is where the king’s and queen’s bedrooms were.  When looking that the alter the king’s bedroom was to the right of the alter and the queen’s was to the left.  Every morning when they would wake up, the first thing they were able to see was the alter.  It was amazing how much emphasized was placed on religion.  Our tour guide, Javier, told us numerous times that it was amazing that this basilica was built as just to glory God and the catholic religion – simply amazing. 

Following the basilica we saw the library, the crypt where the kings and queens of Spain are kept.  Something interesting about the crypt was the rotting room – before the king or queen could be placed in the crypt room they bodies had to be in the rotting room for about 30 years.  The actually coffins of the kings and queens are very small, since only bones are left after the rotting room.  Along with the main crypt room for the actually kings and queens there was 20ish additional rooms for the family members of the royal families.  I thought it was interesting how much time and effort went into “presenting” the dead, it shows they loved and wanted to show their family members honor.  There are no pictures, because photos were not allowed – sorry.

My favorite part of the trip was the courtyard and the gardens of the monastery.  However, the landscape of Toledo beat it out by a little bit.  See the pictures below.  Something interesting happened to us as we were walking around, the non-touristy town of El Escorial, a parade for San Santiago.  It was a wonderful surprise – nothing like the parades I am used to.  This was for the sol purpose of a Saint: they were not throwing candy or waving, instead they were simply acting in the culture of El Escorial.  I really enjoyed the parade.

The Fish Farm used at the monastery.  Notice the swans.

The start of the parade pictures :)

Walking back to the garden to take pictures.

I tried to be artistic. I just like green things and the sun.

I also enjoyed El Escorial, because they have my road: Calle Riena Victoria (Queen Victoria Road) and my Palace is there ;)

Overall I really enjoyed all the day trips, because I got to see four different places around Madrid and I didn’t have to think about planning trips/things to do my first two weekends in Spain.  I will be leaving  for Paris this THURSDAY!! I am so excited.  I am not taking my laptop with me, so I probably won't be blogging about Paris until Sunday.  I hope everyone is watching the Packers beat the Bears. 

As Always,
Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"One Day"

Well after talking to my buddy, Kelsey True she gave me some ideas on what she wants to know about my life in Spain.

1.    Does anything at SLU Madrid remind me of SLU in Saint Louis or are they completely different?
Well, I would say it is a little of both.  I believe that atmosphere is the similar because it a Jesuit campus, but that is about all that is the same.  However, the campus is way different. There is about only one building, Padre Rubio, that will have classes in.  I have three of my four classes in this building; my other class is in the upper level of the library.  The building Padre Rubio is way different then the buildings at SLU.  The rooms are not connected.  For example, one door is for rooms 4, 5, and 6 but you have to walk outside and up the stairs to go to rooms 7, 8, and 9. Very different.  If I was to be dropped in the middle of the SLU Madrid campus I would not know it has anything to do with the SLU main campus because it looks completely different, but then again the Jesuit atmosphere is still semi-present.  There is no large church on campus, which I am not the most happy about, but it will do.  I will try to remember to take pictures on Monday.

2.    What does my host mom look like?
       My host mom is wonderful.  She is 56 years old turning 57 in April. Ideas for gifts? Haha. Anyways, she has short (shorter than me) gray/brownish hair and a little bigger than normal size. Everyone morning she gives me two kisses – Europe style, and before I go anywhere, when I get home, and when I go to bed.  It is since, but sometimes I miss the real hugs.

3.     How is my house different from my Spain house?
Well first off I live in an apartment in Spain not a house.  Most people live in apartments here.  There is no fireplace, Kelsey.  Ummm… it is considered inaprpriate to walk around barefoot – I normally just wear socks and my host mom doesn’t seem to mind :) The apartment I live in is smallish, but it works perfectly. I have my own room and just share a bathroom with Maya.  Something different is that Spanish love to ventilate.  For example, I am suppose to open my window and least 10 minutes every day! I love this so much! I love the fresh air in the apartment!  However, Gloria likes the house a little warmer than me; luckily I control my own heat in my room which is normally off or at one. Haha.

4.   .What have I been eating?
Well I have breakfast and dinner at my house every day.  I normally have two clementimes in the morning or some other type of fruit and juice.  Sometimes I will have toast or cereal; and sometimes we have a pastry.  We never have eggs, not because Gloria is a vegan, but because Spanish people don’t eat the same things as Americans do for breakfast.  Sidenote – Gloria bought Mango juice :) For lunch I either get a sub-like sandwich at a place close to campus – tienda verde (green store) or I eat the cafeteria food, which consist of chicken, fish, veggies, pasta, and French fries.  And it is not that bad!  For dinner I eat at my house.  Gloria always makes us a salad which is normally very wonderful and then a main course.  It is always different. But we have soup on Sundays and rice on Tuesdays and only veggies on Wednesdays and pasta on Thursdays.  I really like the food and I have been adjusting well to all the soy meat products.  It is not the same as real meat, but it’s not that bad.

5.    Tell me about the bathrooms.
Well there isn’t too much to say about the bathrooms; they are basically the same as the US bathrooms.  Except there are no public bathrooms.  This can create a problem for some people.  You either have to find a tourist information place or go into a coffee shop and buy something and then use the bathroom.  It makes drinking a lot of water kind of tricky.

6.    Is there radio? Any good TV?
Yes, there is radio.  However, I personally do not listen to the radio.  On another note, when I got out at night most of the songs that are played are American and we all sign along to them.  When I went to the club the one night they did play Brittany Spears – Hit Me Baby, One More Time.  That was fun!  Regarding the TV - have not watched any TV expect for one night Gloria was watching NCIS in Spanish and I watched for about 20 minutes until I had no idea what was going on.  Oh well.

7.    Tell me about the Spanish keyboards that you hate.
Well at school the computers have Spanish keyboards – which are not that different than American keyboards but there is slight difference that makes it hard to type.  For example, all the punctuation is in a different spot and you have to use different fingers to use them.  And there is an extra key by the enter button which I always hit instead of the enter button.

8.    Is the water safe to drink?
Well I have been drinking that water and I haven’t died yet.  At the house we fill up bottles of water and keep them in the refridgerator and it works just fine.  I have have heard though the water in Madrid is clean, but be careful when you go other places.  However, water in Madrid is limited.  I was informed on my first day to not use more water than nessasacry.  For example, when brushing my teeth turn the water off if I am not using it.  Go Spain with being green, I love you.

9.    Do they recycle/are they green?
Simple answer: yes.  We separate everything at my house: paper, plastic, cans, and organic matter.  This is the same as school.  Always when going to the grocery store – they do not have bags to put your groceries in, you must bring your own.  Once again go Spain!

10.  There are a ton of dogs walking around on the streets – not stray dogs wandering around, but people walking their dogs EVERYWHERE.  It is weird to me, because I could not see raising/having a dog in a city.

11.   The difference between commas and periods.
Here in Europe, prices are written differently than in the U.S.  We write $3.50 with a period, but they write 3,50 with a comma.  That can be confusing. And in the US we write 3,000 and here they write 3.000.

12. Sale times.
In Spain, there are two major sale (or “rebajas”) seasons, one in January (after Christmas) and another in August.  These sales last for the whole month.  Everywhere I walk, the stores have huge signs screaming, “REBAJAS!!!!” to draw in the customers.

13.  Do you tip at restaurants?
In Spain, people don’t tip at restaurants, the only time they tip is if the service is amazing and then it is still only about 5%.  This may seem like a deal, but it makes for a lot of terrible service. Whenever we go out, we have to call over the waiter every time we need something.  Personally, I like the American system of paying based on quality of service.

14.  Taxes.
At stores, the tax is already factored into the price, so whatever you see as the advertised price is exactly how much you pay.  

Well, Kelsey this blog is just for you, but everyone is allowed to read it.  I loved writing this blog it gave me a change to think about my experience!! I hope you all enjoy and please let me know if you have any other questions or are curious about things in Spain.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

In honor of the title of this blog: please listen to my favorite song.


Today was Salamanca.  I was expecting this trip to be one of the best; however it started off a little rough.  We were all suppose to meet at school at 8:30 in the morning since Salamanca is 2.5 hours away.  Well, I met my friend, Elizabeth, at the normal spot (our streets cross) at 8:10 and we walked to school together.  We arrived around 8:25 and checked in and we were good to go.  Most of our friends had arrived and we were ready to get on the bus and see the university city of Salamanca.  Well 8:45 rolled around and no bus; then 9:00, then 9:30, and then finally around 9:45 the buses finally showed up.  I forgot to mention that it was about 35 degrees outside – yes I know it is not as cold as Wisconsin, but just standing outside for more than an hour is not that fun.  I did dress warm today, because the high in Salamanca was suppose to be 38.  I wore leggings under my jeans (special thanks to Kelsey True) and a long-sleeved shirt, my new vibrant hoodie, a black scarf, and my peacoat.  Oh and I cannot forget I wore mittens – handmade by mom!!

On the way to Salamanca we passed through a smaller town called Álliva.  This town was very interesting at least to me.  The ancient part of the town is enclosed by a wall that is about 2.5 miles long and has been there over a thousand years.  It is also the longest wall to be light up at light. 

This picture is called cuatro pillars – the four pillars.  In older times at the entrance of a city there would be a religious monument.  In the case of Áliva there is four pillars surrounding a cross.  I thought it was very pretty.

Salamanca was a very pretty city.  Salamanca is known for being the university town, yet we didn’t see the university.  Anyways, the best part of the day was the cathedral for sure. There is so much history into one building it was crazy.  At first the cathedral was small and they added on to make one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  I will share pictures, however you cannot understand the beauty until you see the cathedral in person.  Also for more pictures look on facebook :)
 Jackie in front the cathedral
 Me if front of the cathedral
 Best chocolate dessert/pastry every!!!
 CAT for cathedral. This was best one photo shoots ever.
 Epic picture :)
 An astronaut on the door of the Cathedral. The artist that restored the doors wanted something different.
Dragon eating ice cream!!! Haha

Well that was my day today!! I will be posting another blog shortly about a different view on my Spain life.  Paz y amor.  God Bless.