Monday, February 28, 2011


Well to make myself a little less stressed I decided to skip my blog about Granada.  I have uploaded pictures to Facebook and I will be more than happy to tell anyone the highlights of the trip - but since it wasn't anything really excited I am not going to dedicate a whole blog to Granada at this present moment.  Hopefully this will allow me to get back on track with my blogs - I don't want to feel like I am always behind in regards to blogging.

Well the midterms I have gotten back on I have done alright right now - I will not be posting my grades on my blog... sorry.  I am glad the midterms are over and I can relax a little bit and start to prepare for the next round of tests and enjoy studying abroad and traveling.  I have been having some mood swings the last couple of days or the last week and I think I figured out why.  I have been spending a lot of time with people (the same people) and I feel as though I have always been doing something - I haven't really had Toria Time and I need that sometimes to just relax and not do anything at all.  I am planning on taking it low key this week.  Hopefully get caught up in the random stuff I have to do, keep up with blogging, read a little, maybe even watch a movie or watch some TV.  I am leaving for Malaga on Friday morning at 7:30am by bus - it is about a six hour bus ride.  Malaga is located on the southern Spain - I want to go to the beach and relax - we are hoping we are going to have nice weather - the forecast says rain at the present moment but we are hoping that will change.  I will be going to Malaga with Lisa, Kara, and Colin - a group I haven't traveled with yet so it should be fun and exciting :)

I sent the final application for my internships at UWM for this summer - I sent it by email however they wanted a hard copy so I had to mail that today.  I also sent out some postcards so be looking at your mailboxes everyone - maybe if you are lucky you will have a postcard waiting for you in the near future.

My book I ordered off Amazon arrived today - it is for my history class.  Instead of having a second midterm in class we are doing a book review of some sort.  The book I have chosen to read is about the history of sugar in the Europe and America.  I have yet to get farther than the first three pages, because I am really sure what the book review is on or if I need to take notes as I am reading the book so I am waiting to hear back from my professor before I dive into the book.

Today I was reading to rant/vent about my life and I knew I couldn't do it on my blog so I decided to write a nice two page single spaced message Kelsey True - it helped so much! Thanks again girl!! I love you!!

Well I believe that is all for today - I had a presentation in my EAS with Zack and it went well.  Nothing to worry about there.  I hope everyone had a good weekend and I want to talk to all very soon! I miss you all!! Oh I learned that daylight savings is different in the US and in Spain so I think for about 13 days most of your will only be 6 hours behind me instead of 7! Get excited.  Also tonight at dinner we had great conversation - I asked question on how to say different words in Spanish and about culture things - but I don't remember a lot of the words :/  I also taught Gloria want jimmies and a bubbler are.  Good dinner conversation for sure.  That is all for sure now.

Paz y Amor.  God Bless.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Crossing borders. Widening horizons. Building bridges across cultures.

Well my Morocco Trip was a lot to take it – we did a lot and I believe it is going to take some time for me to understand what all happened and how it has changed the way I look at life. I want to start by telling your all what I did everyday and things like that – along the way I will probably talk about my feelings and reaction to the various situations.  I hope you enjoy this blog.

The group met at school at 10:30 at night to take an overnight bus to Algeciras, Spain – on the coast.  The bus ride was a little rough; there was not much sleeping going on.  I was sitting next to my friend Martina and we talked for about three hours and then decided it would be a good idea to try and get some sleep.  That was easier said than done.  In total I probably got about 3 hours or sleep.  We arrived at the port in Algeciras at about 730 in the morning.  We had to breakfast and waited for our ferry to arrive.  After breakfast our leaders, from Morocco Exchanged, arrived and spilt us up into different groups.  I was in a group of most Layfette (there is a huge group of them that are engineering majors and they all were required to come on the trip) and a few other non STL SLU kids.  I was a little nervous at first because I only slightly knew one other person in my group – Zack is in my EAS class.  Well Rachel, our leader, gave a brief overview of the trip and told us we were going to Spain customs here and then on the ferry would be the Moroccan customs – they just stamped our passports.  The ferry ride was pretty uneventful, but I did learn one culture difference about Morocco.  When someone sees you eating you always offer some of your food to them.  The cleaning lady was watching the group eat the muffins Rachel brought us and Rachel offered her a muffin.  Later Rachel explained that in Morocco it was normal to give food to anyone around you when eating – giving alms – one of the five pillars of Islam.  

Picture taken of the Mediterranean Sea on the way to Morocco.

I thought I saw Morocco :)

The security at the port in Tangier was nothing what I expected.  First we had to show that we got stamped on the ferry; however, basically they say I was holding a USA passport and didn’t care to see more.  Throughout the trip I realized how much a simple passport can do. With this passport I was not questioned as much as the boy in my group who had a Chinese passport.  It seemed like they saw the USA passport and that was all they needed to see.  US citizens need to understand how lucky they are to live where they live – I will expand more on this as the blog continues.  Anyways we placed our bags on the x-ray machine, but it really meant nohthing.  There was no one really checking the machine and it didn’t matter if we had food or water or anything – nothing like the USA customs or other places I have been to.  Once we finished “customs” we meant out driver for the trip, Sale (not sure about the spelling). Then we went to exchange money.  The Moroccan currency is the dirham.  One euro is about 11 dirham or one dirham is about .123 US dollars.

The first place we went was Tangier.  At Tangier we visited DARNA – a women’s center.  We were given a tour and had lunch with Moroccan students about cultural diversity, education, government, and a little about women’s rights.  At the women’s center they provide classes anything from traditional sewing to how to use a computer to order to improve the skills of the women living in the area to better their jobs and in the long run have better careers.  During the lunch at DARNA was our first chance to talk to the Moroccans who were roughly the same age as we were.  Overall the conversation we had gave me a lot of insight to the life of a teenage or university student living in Morocco.  However, the one thing that amazed me the most was their knowledge about the government and all the opinions they had on the various situations in Morocco.  If someone asked me half of the questions that we asked about the government in the USA I could have maybe answered one or two.  It was amazing to see how involved the young people in Morocco are – 60% of the population is under 25.  

Center in Tangier 

Me in Tangier 

First group picture.

At DARNA was the first time I experienced Moroccan tea - it was amazing.  It was similar to the tea my mom makes from home, but just add about 5 spoonfuls of sugar! Also we had various pastries throughout the trip, all of which were wonderful :)

My first taste of real Moroccan food - it is called tangine after the special pot which it is cooked in.  Normally tangine is served in a large communal plate where everyone will use their fingers and dip their bread into the bowl and eat of the the plate.  Tangine is slow cooked at a low temperature and contains a type of meat (chicken, lamb, or beef) that is literally falling off the bone.  There will also be a mixture of species and veggies.

After the women’s center we walked through a Moroccan market – there as a lot of meat hanging everywhere and fish and olives.  On our way to the van I asked Rachel when we would be riding a camel and she told me Morocco Exchange never does that because they are trying to get away from the tourist things and give a culture experience.  I was a little bummed at this point to be honest.  However, on our drive from Tangier to Asilah we stopped on the beach and road some camels

Hello camel :)

One of the best things ever!!

Mediterranean Sea :)

We drove about 30 minutes to a small town of Asilah were we walked around for about 45 minutes to see the medina (city) and to see the Atlantic coast!! Walking off the ferry I fell in love with Morocco and every little thing we did made me fall more and more in love with Morocco.  The beauty in Asilah was breath taking.

Me with the Atlantic Ocean.

The previous three pictures are from Asilah - I might just move there.

After Asilah we had a three hour bus ride to Rabat where we would be staying with our host families.  I would be rooming with one of the few none Layfette students – we got along really well and I am glad I met her on the trip!  My host family was extremely nice and very welcoming.  The daughter and the sons of the family spoke English.  It was very interesting to see the family dynamics.  I roomed with Ebony and we lived upstairs of the house/apartment it is kind of hard to explain and three guys in our group lived downstairs for the home stay.  We also had a study abroad study, Jess, living upstairs with us.  The meals we had with our host stay family were wonderful – I fell in love with Moroccan food!! The place where we ate dinner was around a table on couches – this is also were my host mom and her daughter slept.  I am not sure if Ebony and I took the room where they normally sleep or not.  However, there were no western beds the beds were basically like a couch – see picture below.  The shower was also very interesting.  You had to pour water into the toilet to flush it – at least my family had a western toilet instead of the squat toilets.  The shower was the in the same place – you can see the hose in the picture below – there was no actually shower everything was in the same small place – a culture shock for sure.

Jess, Ebony, and me on the boardwalk in the Medina of Rabat on the first night.  My host brother took us around the medina.
This is my bed/couch.
The bathroom in my host families house.

Day two of the trip – very busy.  I started off the day by having breakfast at my host family’s house.  It ‘was weird because the daughter we speaks English was still asleep and she was sleeping on one of the couches that we eat breakfast.  We had something similar to a crepe and with orange jam and Moroccan tea.  It was very good and it was a traditional Moroccan breakfast.  After breakfast we  went downstairs of our host family’s house (it was the meeting house) to have a discussion with Moroccan students our age.  The discussion was suppose to be focused on the stereotypes we think of each other.  The conversation started with this; however it progressed into other types of questions – like what is your favorite food and what do you do on the weekend.  It was fun just to talk to them like they were one of our friends – which they did become our friends.  After the discussion we visited Roman ruins Chellah and the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V – this is one of the few touristy things we did the whole trip.  When we visited the places we were given background and historical information; however, I don’t remember a lot of it so sorry about that, but you can still look at the amazing pictures.  

The leaders of the Islamic religion would be facing the other way in the to have their voice be projected farther during the religious ceremonies.

I was giving a speech, telling people to vote for me because I will protect the environment :)

These pictures were all taking at the Roman Ruins.

The previous two pictures were taken at the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V.  While we were there one of the five calls of pray happened.  Over the entire course of the trip I honestly could not wrap my head around how everything Muslims do is for their religion and I mean everything - from planting crops to the education of the kids to the hospiltality I was shown.  I truly believe that Catholic is the correct religion for me, but it was difficult to believe that when I saw so many devoted people to their religion in Morocco.  Catholics are suppose to be as devoted to their religion as the Muslim people I saw, however, I honestly have never met someone that was that devoted.  They treat prayer differently then Catholics.  Meeting people and talking to them about religion was a great thing for me because it has made me think about all my daily actions - am I doing it for God or with God in mind - I don't even think the answer is "yes" half of the time.  It is a struggle we all go through - no matter what religion you are. People always tell me to pray about it or let God handle it - he knows best - but its hard.  It is hard to just pray about it and not really take action.  I am a planner and I want to know what I am doing and everything - I want to work on doing more things for God - I think it would be a tremendous help in my life.

After the touristy part of the day we came back and had lunch with our host families.  We had about an hour after our next scheduled event so my host brother took Ebony (my roommate) and the three boys from the trip around the Medina.  We were all talking at lunch and my host brother said he was a driver – like a scuba diver – his job sounded so neat to just explore the bottom of the ocean.  Anyways people at lunch were talking about how they wanted to find an internet café to check their facebook so my host brother said he would take us.  Honestly I was a little upset – could you really not go one day without checking your facebook or email or using an electronic advice – apparently not.  Ebony Skyped her boyfriend and checked her facebook everyday on the trip.  Personally I loved not checking my facebook, email, or being about to text anyone – I just wanted to experience the Moroccan culture – and they don’t check their facebook or email ten times a day like most Americans do.  Americans have become way to dependant on the internet – including me.  I check my email and spend way too much time of facebook, but to be honest that is the society we have.  I have to work hard at not being dependent on the internet and I really want to limit my time – it is not healthy to spend that much time on the internet – there is so much more to life.  Anyways, the two internet cafés we tried to go two were full or not open – I think it was a sign from God.  After the people couldn’t get the internet they wanted to go back and take a nap, but I convinced them to explore Rabat and our host brother agreed.  He took us to the beach.  It was amazing, and along the way I had a nice conversation with our host brother.   He told me what he likes to do on the weekends, more about his job, and how is goes surfing – sounded like a wonderful life to me! Again the hospitality of the Moroccan people is amazing - to just take time to show Americans around your city and be completely happy to do it was wonderful :) 

Pictures from the walk with my host brother - I love the Ocean.

Next we were meeting up with the Moroccan students we talked to earlier in the day to walk around the Medina and just hang out.  It was a great time! We went to the beach again and just talked and laughed like we were all good friends.  At the end we went to a café and went around and asked questions – some were serious and some were funny.  One of the funny questions was Mehdi asked if we were dating someone and what is the best pick up line.  I don’t remember all of the answers, but I remember a view.  Yassine (Moroccan friend) just said he tells the girl she is beautiful.  Zack said he would go to the girl’s house and cook dinner for her whole family.  And I said I just smile and use my blonde hair – they all laughed. LOL.  It is really cool that I got to meet Moroccans and still be friends with them – facebook allows us to keep in contact – a little ironic since I just vented and said I wanted to have less time on facebook.

My small group - Yessine is the second from the left and Mehdi is the last one of the right.

The Atlantic Ocean again.

I had to.

Market in Rabat.

Picture with my small group on the boardwalk

The boardwalk.

When I had to say bye to Yassine and Mehdi it was sad – we formed a friendship so quick and we were saying bye too quickly.  Yassine and Mehdi are part of the organization called Boys in the Hood that was started in 2004 I believe.  It is an organization that is trying to help end poverty in Morocco – it was just started by a group of boys around the same age as me.  Instead of playing video games or creeping on facebook these boys decided to start an organization to make a change in their country – I admire them so much.  I hope to have the drive and ambition to do something great like these boys.  After saying goodbye we all went back to our host family’s house to get whatever we needed for the hammam – traditional Moroccan bath.  After we all got what we needed we met back up at the meeting house to have a discussion with a former Peace Corp volunteer and our leader Rachel who was a FullBright scholar.  Both gave a lot of insight to what each organization is about.  FullBright is not something that interests me that much – it is more researched based, but you are mainly working alone – I really like to work with groups of people.  For a long time I thought I wanted to do Peace Corps; however, now I am not sure if that is the right organization for me.  I knew I would be practically living alone for about 27 months, however what I didn’t realize is a lot of the volunteer work is alone as well.  The girl we talked to, Katie, had the main job of health education.  For about 1.5 years she “simply” education women on basic health practices – ranging from child birth to why you should keep flies away from your children’s face.  Most the projects Katie tried to do failed because the community she lived in was not very willing to help out.  I don’t know if I am a strong enough person to live alone for 27 months and to be self-motivated to try different projects and have the majority of them fail.  I think I need to look into some other volunteer options and see what one sounds like a good fit for me!! :)  After this discussion it was time to go the hammam – tradition Moroccan bath – or as I like to call it the best bath ever.  I was a little nervous along with the other girls because when you are at the Hammam you only wear underwear – nothing on top, which is different from my normal customs.  However, I wanted to get the full experience so I decided to just go with it and just wear my swimsuit bottoms.  The hammam is similar to a big spa – we all went into one room where we filled our buckets with water and began to clean ourselves.  We were given traditional Moroccan soup – it made my skin so clean and a scrubber thing.  At first people were a little awkward about being naked on top but then we just all got over it and had a good time.  At the hammam you can pay about 5 Euros for a lady to scrub you down – I didn’t know if I wanted to do this, but then I thought about it and I wanted the full experience – I am so glad I did it – I never knew I was so dirty.  As the lady was scrubbing me I could see and feel all the dead skin coming off of me – it was so gross but I felt so good afterwards.  We were supposed to be done with the hammam at ten, but since a lot of people wanted to get scrubbed down and I was one of the last to go it took a little longer.  Ebony and I left at about 10:15 and got a little lost on the way home and got hit on a lot, but we found our way home and our host mom was waiting in the road for us, because she was worried about us – again the hospitality was amazing.  Our host mom didn’t speak any English and still she cared a lot for us!  We ate dinner and went to bed shortly after that because we had to get up early to go to the country side in the Rif Mountains.    

Driving up into the mountains I thought I would get car sick, but thankfully I think I have out grown that!! We went to the Rif Mountains to talk with a family in the mountain village – the discussion was focused on education, simplicity of life, and the economic challenges of rural areas in Morocco.  Some key points of the talk were the older women of the village could not read or write, but this was not the life they wanted for their kids.  One of the main goals of the family we visited was to have their children an education they did not have – they want their children to read and write.  The mother/wife of the house we visited was 17 years old when she got married.  How the marry worked was her now husband saw her at some kind of gathering and thought she was cute and decided he wanted to marry her – and it all worked out – they are in love.  To be honest I love the simplicity of the life – it would be hard to get use to, but they were all so happy.  I had a chance to play with a lot of the kids in the village.  First we went on a little walk about the mountains and I carried one of the little girls all the way – she didn’t know any English and obviously I didn’t know any Arabic but it worked out wonderful.  When I wasn’t holding her she was holding my hand.  She also picked flowers for me – it was one of the best moments of the trip.  My favorite tennis shoes were full of mud, but I didn’t even care because of the great time I was having.  After we got back from the walk I had a chance to play with the kids more – they brushed and played with my hair a lot and we played catch – again we didn’t know each other’s language but it didn’t matter we were having a great time.

The little girl! :)

The view from the Rif Mountain village we visited.

Next we went to Chefchaouen where we were tourist – we had the night to go shopping and explore the city.  Zack and I had walked around together and went shopping – we had a good time bargaining with people – it is a custom to bargain with people in Morocco.  After we finished shopping we all met up for our last dinner at a restaurant what was called Aladdin – the food was all delicious.  We all shared because people got different things but wanted to try the other dishes.  After dinner we had our final reflections, which I will talk more about in a blog later this week.  Monday morning we got up early to take a little walk up the mountain to see the view of the city – it was gorgeous. 

The view!!

Finally we were about to leave Morocco – we drive to the Spanish territory in Morocco – we were about to cross the border of foot.  It is important to know about 85 percent of all Moroccans will never leave Morocco so you can try to imagine what the border is like to try to get into Spain.  If we did not have our guide, Rachel, with us it would have been one of the most frightening experiences.  However, something I noticed while crosses the border on foot was the ease of having the US passport again.  The police and various securities basically just glanced at the passport and said we were good to go.  Our final part of the trip was taking the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to the main part of Spain where we had our 8 hour bus ride back to Madrid – it was a long day and an exhausting trip especially since I had a midterm the following day we and didn’t get home until 1:30am – but it all worked out fine.

Rock of Gibraltar

Just some beautiful water.

Well that was my Morocco trip in a nutshell.  I will probably be bringing up various points from the trip over the next couple of weeks.  Thanks for being patient with me as I tried to get the blog done.  I thought I would just put a check next to "Go to Africa" on my bucket list and be done with it, but that is not the case at all.  Traveling to Morocco has changed my life forever.

Tomorrow I will hopefully be writing some post cards and sending those out soon! This past week I finished applying for two internships - that is all I am doing this summer, now the next step is to look up summer classes.  This weekend I traveled to Granada, Spain it is about a 5 hour bus ride and I hope to be blogging about that tomorrow and catching everyone up on my last week.  Thanks again for being patient!! I hope you enjoy the blog!!

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sorry Readers

I am working on the blog about Morocco but it is taking longer than I thought and I want to tell you as much as I can in the blog.  I don't want to just half do it.  I am about half way done, but it is 2am here and I have to get up at 7:15am to leave for Granada - where I will be spending my weekend.  I promise to get caught up on my blogs  Sunday and during the upcoming week - midterms are over and I will have some time to relax and reflect on everything that has been going on.  Well I need to finish packing and getting some sleep.  Sorry again that my blog is taking so long, but have patience my friends.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Hello Readers,

I am home from Morocco.  It was the most amazing trip I have experienced so far in my short life.  I cannot wait to share all about my trip; however, I had a midterm today and I have a midterm tomorrow.  I will try to blog as soon as possible - I am shooting for tomorrow night!! I hope everything is having a good week so far.

Paz y amor. God Bless.

Sending all my love from Spain,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today Madrid. Toorrow Africa.

Yes, you read right... Tomorrow I am going to Africa.  I know I have told everyone about 100 times that I am going to Morocco, but I am so excited! I really don't have too much to say tonight.  My midterms went well for the most part. I had EAS yesterday which went well and then a history midterm, which didn't go all that went - but I am pretty sure no one did that well on it.  Today I had my art history midterm - I believe it went well.  We shall see!! Also last night I had my first Bokatas meeting - this is the volunteer group where we make sandwiches and go onto the streets of Madrid and personally give them to the homeless.  I signed up for doing Wednesday or Sunday - we should be starting next week so I will let you all know how it is going.  I am pretty tired today after the long and busy week.  But I got to Skype mom last and the big brother today and I will get to see Dad's wonderful face tomorrow!

Tomorrow I will be studying most of the day and then planning a weekend trip to Granada, Spain with Elizabeth for her birthday weekend - next weekend! It will be really fun!! Well I am not in the blogging mood tonight and I doubt I will blog tomorrow - it is going to be a boring day filled with studying and then I am off to AFRICA.  aka the next time I blog I will have visited Africa.

Hope everyone is having a good week - enjoy the good weather in STL and back home - Oconomowoc.  Also good luck to Megan McNichols, Kelsey True, Scott Salamone, and Michael O'Neill and anyone else who has their Organic Chemistry test tomorrow! You will all do great!! :) Relax. Breathe. Accomplish.

Blog to you after I ride a camel in AFRICA.  Just so everyone knows my Morocco expeirence is jammed packed with a lot of culture and it will be an eye opening experience for sure.  I can not wait to share all my stories with everyone.  However, I get back on Tuesday night and I have a history midterm on Wednesday and an Ethics midterm Thursday so my blog might have to wait until Thursday night - but I will try my hardest to get it done before than :)

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Hello Readers,

Life is pretty busy right now.  We are in the midst of what I like to call two weeks of hell or midterms.  I think midterms are worse than finals, because I still have to attend class and have other homework on top of the studying I need to accomplish.  I thought midterms would not be that bad this semester because I am only taking 12 credits hours, but I am taking some classes I really do not enjoy - ethics and history - so studying for these classes is a bit difficult.  Tomorrow I have my EAS midterm (which I am not that worried about - I am going to run through the PowerPoint slides one more time tonight and then glance over them tomorrow after I volunteer) and I have a history quiz.  I have not had a quiz in history yet, this is a reading quiz.  On Monday no one was able to answer the questions my professor was asking AKA none of us had read before coming to class, therefore my professor thought it would be a good idea to give us a reading quiz tomorrow on 32 pages of reading on the French Revolution. I read the material once and highlighted the important parts and then read it again taking notes on it - and I feel like I still don't know what the French Revolution was all about.  I have the general understanding, but for some reason the details and the background knowledge I am never able to grasp when it comes to history.  My history midterm is greatly placed on the day after I get back from Morocco.  Luckily I don't have class on Friday so I will be studying all day for my history and ethics midterms that are next week on Thursday night and all day Friday and then it is off to Africa!!! :)

I have been receiving emails with packing lists and carious information regarding the trip this weekend. I am going to try and attach two different links about my trip. One is the packing list which I find a little funny and the other is what I will be doing each day.  Please let me know if they work or not.  And if they don't work I will be more than happy to forward you the email.  Just kidding you can't see the links so I am not going to upload them... Let me know if you want me to send any of the information to you or if you want to be surprised when I come back and blog about my adventure. :)

There has been a lot of my mind lately, but to be honest I am so tired I don't really even want to vent about it so I will try to keep it short and sweet.  First I am having very little patience with my ethics teacher - most of the class never understands the readings we do and I can't really understand what she is trying to say - not just because of her accent but because she talks fast and jumps around.  I am really not a fan of ethics and I am going to have to study my butt off for the midterm to pull out some sort of decent grade.  I have also been thinking a lot about internships vs summer classes.  Applying for internships has been putting so my pressure and stress on me that I really don't know if it is the best option for me this summer.  I really don't want to come home for like two weeks and then have to leave again.  I don't know how well I would be able to handle that.  I am still going to finish all the applications I have started and see what happens.  There is actually an internships through UW-Milwaukee that would be a nice fit.  I could have an internship without being far from home.  But as of right now I want to look into summer classes and get physics and calculus out of the way.  Tomorrow I was thinking about skipping volunteering at the soup kitchen to study, but I think going to the soup kitchen is a better idea - it will help me relax and take my mind off all the stress.  Tomorrow night is the first meeting for the other volunteer site - Bokatas?  I have to go to this meeting if I want to particapate in the program - I have an Art History midterm on Thursday, but I should be okay with studying for that.  I have read through my notes a couple of times and I will have some time tomorrow to look over things.  I just need to remember to Breathe. Relax. Accomplish.  Today I went to talk to my history teacher - we have to select a book to write a book review on it instead of a second midterm. I had no idea where to even begin looking at books so that was my main purpose of the meeting.  I told him I was an Evironmental Science major and would like the book to have a basis regarding the environment.  Basically he had no idea how to help me and told me to just pick a book, but my grade would probably reflect me not having an interest in the book, because I am not interested in history.  Well I didn't let that fly - I kept trying to get him to give me examples of books and told him even though I am not a history major or have that much interest in history I don't want to do poorly on a paper.  Finally he gave me a recommendation for a book on the importance of the sugar plant.  I said it sounded interested and I would give it a try - well I have to order the book of amazon because the SLU - Madrid library doesn't have it. Great. I wanted it for my long bus ride this weekend, but I guess that is not happening.  Way to go SLU.  I think that is all for my rant tonight.

Tonight we turned off the lights for 5 minutes in protest of the high cost of electricity in Spain.  While Gloria was explaining this to Maya and me she told us want Earth Hour - something we actually do on the Saint Louis campus.  I didn't know it was world wide - it is great to see that other people care about the Earth too. Well I need to get back to studying and I am getting tired. Hope everyone had a great Valentines day.

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

P.S. Sunshine no more - today it rained all day and it is suppose to continue raining the rest of the week and it might even rain in Morocco... But don't you worry rain will not get me down.  The past couple of days life was kicking my butt, but it is time for me to kick life's butt now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

El Rastro

Well I had an early morning – woke up at 7:30 after going to bed at about 1:45 to go to El Rastro – a huge and famous flee market in Madrid.  I got ready in about 16 minutes – yes 16 not 15 then walked to the blue line (number 1) of the metro – this will come into play later in my day story.  Well I rode the blue line to Gran Via and switched to the light green line and took that to La Latina.  I was to meet three friends at exit of the metro stop – La Latina.  I was a little worried I was late, but there was only one other girl when I got there so no worries.  On the website of El Rastro it says it starts at 7am – this is a straight out lie.  We started walking where the Rastro was at about 8:40 and there were no shops ready to go – the market actually starts at about 9am.  However, I would recommend getting there when it opens because it gets crowded really quick.  Overall El Rastro was interesting, but you kind of start to see the same thing over and over when walking up and down the streets.  And I have realized I am not that big of shopper.  Throughout the entire day I really didn’t find anything that really spoke to me.  I only say a scarf for 2euros that I really liked so I got that.  I was looking for presents for people but I didn’t find anything – mainly because I literally have no idea what to get ANYONE!! So if there is something anyone wants let me know or else I probably won’t people anything because I don’t want to get people junk or something they won’t like.  A lot of my friends were there today and absolutely loved it – I don’t know what is wrong with me that I really didn’t have the best of time – I guess shopping isn’t my thing. Haha.

Funny story from today:  I was with three of my friends walking around before most of the stands were set up and we were looking at some clothes at a stand that was open.  The older Spanish gentleman came up to me and asked if I spoke Spanish and I told me a little.  Then he proceeded to tell me my blonde hair looked Italian and showed me that the clothes were made in Italy – yea nice try buddy – there is no way I look Italian.  I politely told him I was from the United States.  Then my friends came over by and the Spanish guy asked if they spoke Spanish and they all said a little.  However, instead of talking to them in Spanish he looks over at me and tells me I know the most Spanish so I am suppose to translate for him – I was like okay?! Why do you think I know the most Spanish – everyone seems to think I am fluent in Spanish… I have no idea why.  Anyways this gentlemen proceeds to tell my friend Megan that she looks like a monja or nun.  After this comment me and my friends decided it was time to move on to a new stand… oh the memories of El Rastro.  The following pictures are all from El Rastro.

Star Wars in Spanish! I stopped to take a picture of these movies with my friend Kara for a friend and there were a lot older guys looking through all the movies so we thought there were going to be some good movies, however we were very very wrong.  After taking a closer look at the movies at the stand that the guys were looking at - they were all porn. Very classy Spain.

The above pictures are from El Rastro - and this one has me in it! You can really see the stands of the amount of people but I liked the pictures.

There were a couple of streets that had a lot of antiques on them - everything was so interesting.

Older cameras - taken for you, Katie Keyser.

I left the people I was with to go back home because I was tired and I had a lot to get done.  Well I must have taken a wrong turn to the metro stop I came on and was just walking because I knew I would find one eventually and I came across the section of El Rastro that sold flowers - it was beautiful.  Not only that but the metro stop I randomly found just so happened to me the same line I take to get home - I didn't even have to transfer trains - there was no need for me to freak out (I did a little). God was really watching out for me today! :)

Dinner tonight was interesting.  Gloria’s host student from last semester was living with her daughter however there was a HUGE miscommunication and the student (let’s just call her Betty) moved out.  The miscommunication came when Betty tried to explain to Glo (Gloria’s daughter) that she wanted more independence and was thinking about getting her own apartment.  I think mostly because of the language barrier the situation was blown out of proportion.  Betty is in my history class and she came over to Gloria’s for the first family dinner we had so I do know her.  When Gloria was telling me and Maya about it at dinner tonight I could tell that she was upset and she looked like she was going to cry.  I tried to comfort Gloria as much as I could with the little Spanish I know.  However, after she finished telling us about Betty and everything that happened we all starting talking – the beginning of the dinner was very quiet and somewhat awkward.  Overall I think we had a breakthrough tonight and I am not comfortable to talk to Gloria about everything – I hope she feels the same way about me. 

My friend texted me today telling me that people care too much about material goods.  I could not agree more with his statement.  He also told me that the reason he was studying abroad was to find himself.  This got me thinking – can a person ever really “find” themselves?  I think the answer is no.  We will always be having new experiences and changing ourselves to new situations – everyday you will be someone different.  I think this is beautiful – if you don’t like who you are today you can change to before someone different and better tomorrow.  I think I am guilty of this the most – not letting God take control and realize everything is going to turn out for the best.  I am rather stressed right now with applying for all these different internships especially being in Madrid it makes it a lot harder.  I have to send emails asking if I am able to mail the applications and if they can send me the application as a Word Document and trying to get letters of recommendation by email is a little difficult too.  I really didn’t want to be applying for internships during my midterms week, but I have too since I will be traveling the next weekend and most of the applications are due in the first week of March.  It is what it is.  It will all be okay because God is at my side – I just need to keep reminding myself of that.

Interesting facts about my blog as of yesterday:
(All numbers are excluding my views)
Total views: 1565
United States: 1392
Spain: 118
France: 22
UK: 12
Canada: 4
Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Taiwan: 2

I had no idea that this many people were reading my blog – it is actually very encouraging.  It is a good way for me to reflect on the day and share what is on my mind in a healthy way!! Well I have to go and study for my midterms and get some sleep today!

Paz y Amor. God Bless.

P.S. It was raining on my way home from church tonight, but I did have my umbrella with me - thanks Dad for making me buy an umbrella - I am really glad I did.  Also I wore heels to church tonight - That is about a 23 minute walk in heels there and a 23 minute walk back in heels.  Be proud everyone.  Love you all!