Friday, March 23, 2012

Flamenco shows and Midterms

This week was soooo busy.  I had two midterms so I had a lot of studying to do for those.  On Monday I went to a Flamenco event at the CLM (the building that my classes are in)  There was a tocaor (guitarist) a cantaor (singer) and a bailaor (dancer).  There was also a lady that played the violin, which is one of the instruments that sometimes accompanies the guitar during a Flamenco performance.  I have been learning so much about Flamenco lately because not only do I have a class that is all about it, but we also had a Flamenco unit in my Civilization and Culture of Spain class this week.  It was awesome to actually see what I have been learning about so much about.  I also really liked the addition of the violin.  

I had a lot of trouble and stress with trying to plan out things for when my mom is here.  Eva told me that she didn't mind preparing meals for my mom and I while she is here.  Eva and I then planned out a bunch of traditional Spanish dishes that she was going to make, such as Paella and Tortilla de Patata.  Then the next day Eva told me that it's not allowed to have parents in the home-stay house for several meals.  I was so disappointed because I had told my mom about all of the delicious meals that Eva was going to cook for us.  Then Eva talked to someone from the CEA program and found out that she actually IS allowed to cook meals for us.  They just don't allow parents to stay with the home-stay families while they are visiting Granada because people might think that the student's family is paying the Senora to sleep and eat there, or something strange like that.  My mom also pretty much put me in charge of figuring out EVERYTHING (the hotel, transportation from the airport, etc.) so I had to take care of that too.  I'm hoping that everything goes smoothly when she gets here TOMORROW! ahh I'm so excited though =]

My midterms went pretty well.  I had my Civ. and Culture one on Wednesday, and it wasn't very hard at all.  Then on Thursday I had my Historia de Espana midterm.  It was pretty difficult to learn, study, and take the test on the history all in Spanish when I don't even know the history in English to begin with.  That one went pretty well too though.  Unfortunately I still have on more midterm to go (on Tuesday).  It's for my Spanish Lit. class and I'm sort of nervous for it. 
Last night I went to a Flamenco show in the Albayzin.  My Flamenco class and the professor all went to it together.  We met up at Plaza Nueva and then walked up to the Albayzin from there.  Although there were several things that were similar to the Flamenco even that I went to on Monday, this show was definitely pretty different from the first.  The one at the school was a lot more clam and most of the performers were professors of their skill (the dancer was a teacher of Flamenco dancing for example).  The guitarrist also told us some of the history and other information about Flamenco inbetween songs.  The performers in the Albayzin performance were more "rugged" and to me at least, seemed like authentic performers.  We sat at tables and they brought everyone pitchers of sangria.  

I can't believe that my mom is coming tomorrow! I also can't believe that it is already the end of March.  Time is going by so extremely fast.  On Sunday, I will have exactly two more months left in Spain.  My 21st birthday is on Thursday!  It is also the day of a nationwide strike in Spain for the labor reform.  A bunch of people aren't going to work that day, and some professors are canceling their classes.  As far as I know I still have classes that day though.  It's also my registration day for my Fall classes at ISU.  College in general is just flying by way to fast.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Week/Weekend a lot like the Last

I haven't written in my blog a lot lately because to be honest, not much new or exciting has been happening.  I have two midterms next week, so I've been trying to prepare for those.  I was supposed to have three, but one of my professors changed it to the following week.  I'm really not happy about that because that is the week that my mom is going to be here.  I think that I am stressing way too much over my midterms.  The thing is, I really don't know what to expect because I haven't had any tests, quizzes, or pretty much anything to turn in for feedback in any of my classes.  Also, they midterms are a big portion of the final grade.  I'm so excited for  my mom to be here in ONE WEEK!  I asked Eva about putting food in her fridge if I buy some for when my mom is here, and she pretty much told me that she doesn't mind making meals for my mom and I. 

This weekend was another very chill weekend.  Once again, I went for an amazing long run on Saturday.  Just like I did last weekend, I went wayyy far down the Fuente de la Bicha.  I was tried to study Historia de Espana during the day, but wasn't that productive.  I also had a nice, long skype session with my mom.  That night I went out for Tapas with Ashley and Amy at a place called Mayerling.  We all tried a very different, but delicious tapa.  It was rolled eggplant stuffed with seafood and some sort of cheese and then served with a little side salad type thing.   It was the "Tapa Especial" on the tapa menu.  We brought  along some stuff to study while we were there, but Amy and I pretty much just talked while Ashley studied.  I ordered a tinto de verano and obviously tapas are free with your drink since it's Granada, so I got all this for 1,80 euro! 
Sunday was simply a day of studying and e-mailing/skyping with my family.  I finally got a decent amount of studying done.  I've been trying to get everything figured out for when my mom is here and that has been somewhat of a challenge.  I just need my midterms to be over with so I can relax! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Hectic Week and a Relaxing Weekend

This week I was SUPER busy and stressed with classes.  For one thing, it was my week to present a news article for my POE class.  I get nervous enough having to speak in front of the class, but when it's completely in Spanish it's even scarier.  I had that presentation on Wednesday and it went okay, but it definitely could have been better.  I read way too much from the paper that I had prepared for the presentation and probably conjugated a bunch of verbs wrong.  That's another thing that I really let get to me this week; the fact that I continuously make the same stupid conjugation mistakes and forget words that I definitely should not be forgetting.  I'm starting to get worried that I won't be fluent enough in Spanish by the time that I leave Granada.  
Another thing that was causing me a lot of problems and anxiety this week was the fact that I needed to read a book for my Flamenco class that the University bookstore didn't have.  I went there on Monday and the girl that was working told me to come back tomorrow.  When I went back the next day they still didn't have it.  Then when I went back on Wednesday for the third day in a row it still wasn't there! I was starting to loose hope of ever getting the book but it was finally there on Thursday.  Since our Tuesday/Thursday classes met on Friday, I had two days to read the book.  Luckily it was very short, but still.  I also decided this week that I should just leave my camera in my backpack because every single day I see things that I want to take pictures of.  I added a few of my random pictures from the week.

Luckily Saturday was a lot better and just what I needed to relax and unwind from the long, hectic, and stressful week. I went on an amazing 9 miles long run along the river, running further then I ever have before along the Fuente de la Bicha.  In the afternoon I went to Carrefour, the awesome Target/Walmart like super center.  I have been avoiding getting a haircut for the longest time because I didn't know where to go, and everyone that I asked gave me different advise.  Little did I know, there is a hair salon in Carrefour where you can get a haircut for only 7 euro! The girl that cut my hair was so sweet.  Not only did she cut my hair, but she took time to dry it, straighten it, and make it look nice too.  When I tried to give her a tip, she told me that they weren't allowed to accept tips.  
The supermarket in Carrefour is pretty awesome too.  Just look at now many different types and flavors or Nocilla they had! (It's a brand that's only in Spain of crema del cocao.  It's sort of like Nutella, but some that are mixed flavors).  They also had ginormous jars of Nutella and it was the first time that I saw peanut butter in a supermarket in Spain.  They literally don't know about peanut butter in Spain.  One time I was trying to explain peanut butter and what it is used for to my senora.  When I showed her a picture of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she was very confused and asked if people eat it for breakfast.  Of course it was another beautiful day in Granada with clear blue skies and lots of sun.  I walked home through Tico Medina park and took pictures along the way.   Later that day I went out for tapas with Amy, Ashely, Ashley's friend Amy, Rachel, and Sarah.  Sunday I procrastinated until about 3PM and then finally got down to doing some studying for the midterms that I have coming up.  It's daylight savings time in the U.S. today and I'm wondering why Spain doesn't have daylight savings times.  I'm also wondering what the time difference is now between here and the U.S.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


This weekend I went to Madrid with some of my friends.  My friend Amy and I took the 10AM bus to Madrid and met up with four other girls who had taken an earlier bus.  I woke up early (7AM) to run before meeting up with Amy at the Palecio de Congressos.  We took the Granada public bus to the Estacion de Autobuses.   After the five hour bus ride from Granada to Madrid, we arrived at the Estacion de Sur.  From there we got on the Metra and were able to take it to a stop that was right down the street from our hostel called Way Hostel.  Someone tried to pickpocket Amy when we were on the train though! That was a bit scary.

I have only stayed in one other hostel before, when I went to Paris at the end of January.  Staying at Way Hostel was definitely a bit different of an experience.  Don't get me wrong, it was a very nice hostel with friendly and helpful staff, a free breakfast, four computers to use, and a lot more to offer too.  However, in Paris the four of us had our own four person room and our own bathroom.  In Madrid we stayed in a 12 person mixed dorm room with two shared bathrooms, one for the girls and one for the guys.  There were two showers in the girls bathroom and the glass doors were somewhat see through so that got a bit awkward at times.  We were really shocked to find that three other girls from our program (Demetria, Rita, and Emma) were in the same room as us!  I knew that they were coming to Madrid that weekend two but I had know idea that they would be staying in the same hostel.  Our friends Rachel, Sarah, Katie, and Marlee  had made their hostel reservation earlier then Amy and I had so they were in a different room then we were.  

After checking into the hostel, we met up with Marlee's friend who is studying abroad in Madrid for the semester.  She showed us around the city a bit. Rachel, Sarah, and Marlee bought tickets to see "Grease the Muscial" that night.  Right away I could tell that Madrid was a very different city from Granada.  There were sooo many Americanized chain restaurants there, such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, Burger King, and we even saw a TGI Fridays. In Granada, we pretty much have a handful on chain restaurants like those and then the rest are cute little privately own cafes, restaurants, and stores.  Another thing that was very different in Madrid was the amount of English that you heard everywhere that you went.  I feel like if I studied abroad there I would be able to speak English most of the time.  I love how in Granada I'm forced to speak Spanish more often and I don't hear English being spoken everywhere that I go.  I don't want to give Madrid a bad impression though.  There were a lot of things that I loved about the city and I thought that it was very beautiful and historic.  I just always realize how much more I love Granada whenever I visit a new place in Europe.  

Anyways... after we walked around for a while Sarah, Katie, and Marlee decided that they wanted Thai food for dinner.  Rachel doesn't like Thai food so her, Amy, and I walked around looking for a cheap place that she could buy some dinner while the two of us ate sandwiches that we had made before leaving Granada.  Amy and I were seriously the budget queens on this trip.  We are probably going to sound like huge cheapskates in this blog post, but our philosophy is try to spend the least amount of money as possible on meal expenses when traveling so that we can put our money towards better things.  While we were waiting outside the Thai restaurant for the other three girls to pay, a huge group of African American men ran past us and down a side street.  At first I was scared because I thought that they had robbed someone or something and that was why they were running away.  Then we realized that they were the people that we always see on the streets illegally selling things such as sun glasses, bags, clothing, etc.  They had seen that a police car was coming so they quickly wrapped up their stuff in the blankets that they lay them on (for a quick get away such as that one) and ran.  Less then a minute later two little police motorcycles drove by. 

We then stopped at a soft serve frozen yogurt place to get some frozen yogurt.  Of course I had to get some because frozen yogurt is one thing that I can't resist spending money on.  Sadly, they didn't have rainbow sprinkles as one of the toppings, but it was still delicious.  The frozen yogurt shop was right next to the street where a bunch of prostitutes are at night.  That was definitely a new experience for me too, watching a group of four or five prostitutes stop just about any man that passed on the street and try to get them to leave with them.  Although it was sort of sad and sickening to watch, we sat there and watched them for a decent amount of time because they were right by the ice cream place and it was sort of interesting to see.

Rachel, Sarah, and Marlee left for the musical and Amy and I headed to a bar that she had heard about called El Tigre.  She said that it is a pretty popular bar in Madrid, one of the reasons being that it offers free tapas.  That's another thing that is awesome about Granada, pretty much all tapas are free!  When we got there we were surprised to see that there was a line of people outside waiting to get in.  A lady came out of the bar and said that there was another El Tigre that was near by and that there wasn't a line there so we walked over to the other one.  Amy got a tinto de verano and a nice variety tapa plate a long with it. 

That night in the hostel I slept horribly.  I had the bottom bunk of a bunk bed that was right next to the window.  The window was cracked open all night because it was the only way to get a little light into the room for people to see as they arrived back to the hostel from being out on the town.  I was so cold and I kept waking up when people came in to go to sleep.  We woke up at 8AM, got ready, and then went down for the free breakfast that the hostel had every morning.  They had cereal, toast, nutella, butter, jelly, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.  Amy and I each took extra bread. Then a few hours later we bought lunch meat and a wedge of brie cheese from a Dia supermarket and made sandwiches for lunch.  The turkey and cheese lasted us for two days and we got six sandwiches out of it (three each)!  Considering we each only had to pay 1,60 euro, it was DEFINITELY the way to go.  Luckily I don't each sandwiches very much in Granada because that's pretty much all I eat when I travel.  

After breakfast we headed out to do some sight seeing and to take some pictures before going to Plaza Mayor for a free walking tour that we had signed up for.  We saw places such as  the Catedral, the Palacio Real, and the Jardines de Sabatini.  We also went to the Parque de las Vistillas that had some pretty cool street art.  My friend Amy loves street art and always takes pictures of it.  She has gotten me a bit obsessed with it too, so I've been taking a lot of pictures of graffiti lately.  There is just so such awesome graffiti in Europe.  At 11AM we went to the Plaza Mayor for a free tour.  The tour was through the same company as the one that we went on in Paris.  However, this tour wasn't really as fun or interesting as the one in Paris, so we ended up leaving it early.  


It was time for lunch so while the other four girls went off in search of a kabob restaurant, Amy and I headed back to the hostel to make our sandwiches.  After lunch Amy and I went to a free art exhibit at the Instituto Cervantes.  She had seen online that there was a street art exhibit there, but they must have changed it since then.  There was an exhibit by an artist named Max Panoptica, who was a graphic artist.  When the other girls were done with lunch (they couldn't find a kabob restaurant and settled on KFC) all six of us went to the Reina Sofia Museum.  It was a huge museum with so many different types of art in it.  They had paintings, photos, short films, still life, sculptures, and just a bunch of very modern and different types of artwork.  Unfortunately I ended up loosing the rest of the group though.  I felt bad when I finally decided to go and get my phone from my backpack in the coatroom and found out that they had tried calling me and had waiting for me for a while on the floor that we started on.  We also ran into three other girls from our program in the museum. What are the chances of that!  They told us about a row boat ride that they had taken in a park the was near by, so we decided to go there and check it out.

I'm so glad that we went to the Parque del Retino and road in the row boats in the lake there because it was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  Retino Park is a huge, beautiful park in Madrid.  We split up into two groups (I went on a boat with Amy and Katie) and each only had to pay 1,55 euro to row around the lake for 45 minutes.  After our boat ride, we did a bit of shopping before meeting up with Demetria, Rita, Emma, and Rita's friend who is studying abroad in Ireland for the semester.  We ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  I wanted soup and I usually get sweet and sour soup at Chinese restaurants, but I decided to try a new kind and ordered chicken and mushroom soup.  I also got a delicious roll of sushi.  After dinner Rachel, Sarah, Amy, Marlee, and I went to a Chocolateria that served Churros con Chocolate.  The restaurant was packed with people, all eating churros with hot mugs of thick chocolate to dip them in.  I don't like churros since they're fried, but Sarah only used half of her mug of chocolate,   so I drank the rest.  I was exhausted from the long, action packed day so after the chocolateria I took a shower, checked my e-mails and facebook and such on one of the computers in the hostel, wrote a lot in my beautiful journal that Heather gave me for Christmas, and then went to bed.  I slept a little bit better that night, but not much better.

Sunday was our last day in Madrid.  After breakfast we went to the Museo de Prado.  We thought that it opened at 9AM, but it was actually 10AM.  It wasn't a big deal though because there was already a decent size line forming outside when we got there.  Like every museum that I've been to in Europe so far, we got in free with proof that we were students between a certain age (I forget what the age range is).  The Prado Museum had mostly painting and drawings and includes artwork from artists such as Goya, Velazquez., and Rubin.  I liked the museum, but I got bored with it sort of quickly and I definitely liked the Reina Sofia Museum more.  Outside of the museum we took a picture with out "Roaming Redbirds" study abroad tshirt to send to our program coordinators.  Then we went to this flee market that they have every Sunday.  There was a ton of stalls with things such as scarfs, bags, clothing, jewlery, and more.  There were a lot of places that were selling scarfs for only 1 euro.  I went to buy two scarfs and when I gave the lady a 2 euro coin I think she miscalculated because she gave me 1 euro back.  That means that I got my scarfs for ,50 cents each!  After the market Sarah, Rachel, Marlee, and Katie went to eat lunch at a kabob place since they hadn't found one the day before.  Guess where Amy and I went? That's right, back to the hostel to use up the rest of our cheese and lunchmeat and make sandwiches with the break that we had taken at breakfast that morning. 

When we were all reunited at the hostel, we packed up our stuff and took the Metra to the Estacion de Sur.  Our bus left Madrid at 4:30PM.  Amy and I were on a different bus from Rachel, Sarah, Marlee, and Katie.  Since our bus was the second bus, it was only about half full.  There was no body in the back row of the bus, so Amy and I went back there and got the five seats along the back to ourselves.  We arrived back at the Granada bus station around 10PM.  Then we got on the Granada public bus and took that back to our houses.  It's funny that when I come back to Granada after a trip, I just love Granada that much more.  Granada is definitely my home away from home.