Problem Child

Today has been an off day. I’m not one to whine (at least on this blog), but the lack of sleep is really getting to me and I feel like a tornado creating little disasters every where. Here are some things that have been going wrong: 

1. Centro Classes I was not able to switch out of my centro class. I had a valid argument … in English. I’m not 100% sure if it translated completely. I’m not one to take the easy road out, but the lack of structure in this class is making me want to explode. Ok, that is overly dramatic but I want you to catch my frustration. They didn’t really lay out the rules for add/drop dates, so I’m stuck. But all is well because no one else understands/likes the class with me. 

2. Being Clumsy: I broke the drawers on my dresser. Something fell out, and they were given as a gift to my host mom but I still feel awful. I seem to break drawers where ever I stay, it’s embarrassing. She said it isn’t expensive to fix, but it made me feel awful. 

3. Water Bill: I went to spin class today. No you read that correct, I went and got exercise. I thought it would help me sleep tonight. I got home all gross and sweaty and wanted to take a shower, but my host mom got a hugeeeee bill for the water.It was super expensive 1. there is a drought, 2. it’s always more expensive here, 3. they meter for only 2 people instead of 4, 4. we’re Americans and are used to using a lot of water. She was super nice and let me take a shower today, saying that I didn’t know. I told her I understand, it just makes me feel so guilty that she has to pay so much. It’s not even because we use a lot of hot water, she is charged for all/any water use. I’ve been taking roughly 7-15 minute showers here depending on the day, which is really good for me! I guess I’ll just have to cut down my usage.Side story: I’m learning what is and isn’t expensive here. I’ve always had a skewed perception. For example, I bought an organic chicken to make chicken noodle soup before I left for Spain. I only bought organic because it was the only option in the store. I thought I was getting a bargain at $14 for a small chicken. Turns out you can buy them for $5-6. OPPS! I’m learning though and hopefully I won’t be making these mistakes again. 

I’m a problem child as of late, but hopefully my luck will be turning around. Actually, I know my luck will be turning around because I’m in Spain!

Un beso

Roses: 

  1. Working out
  2. Feeling Tired
  3. Knowing I’ll be sore tomorrow 
  4. Almost finishing my homework
  5. Knowing I can sleep in tomorrow

Thorns: 

  1. Germs in the Gym
  2. Breaking things
  3. Guilt
  4. Making my madre pay for the water and to fix the dresser
  5. Not sleeping 
  6. Bad skin 
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Red Walls, Cat in Christmas Tree, and Chicken Noodle Soup

I was debating writing this post or not, in fear that it would cause my mom to worry. I’ve decided that I need to write it for myself, in hopes that tonight I will sleep better. For the past 2 nights I have had terrible nightmares. I had 5 Sunday night and 3 on Monday night. Each time I have a bad dream, I wake up and I can’ t fall back asleep.

I’m hoping that they are due to:

  1. Lack of tiredness before bed
  2. Lack of Spanish in my life (we’re on vacation)

I hope they aren’t due to:

  1. Stress about my classes
  2. Stress about my future

But I think the leading cause of nightmares is missing home. In all honesty, I haven’t really missed home since I’ve been here. I feel so comfortable here, but I think the distance is starting to get to me. I miss talking/texting my friends and my family all of the time. I miss the familiarity and the routines in my life. While Spain is amazing, I think I would be feeling the same way if I was this isolated in Ann Arbor. I feel like I’m constantly missing out, and I hate the thought that no matter where I am I will always be missing something.

The things I miss most about home:

  • my room with it’s red walls
  • my mom’s chicken noodle soup
  • watching netflix/sportscenter with Nick
  • only being able to watch Criminal Minds when Nick is home because I get to scared
  • watching trailers and youtube videos with Alex
  • eating takeout in front of the tv
  • sitting in front of the fireplace, watching tv with Gracyn
  • Gracyn sleeping on the pillow next to me
  • Gracyn sitting in odd places
  • family get together’s (I’m sad I’ll be missing out on March birthdays, maybe we can skype?)
  • a routine and set study schedule

I’ve always said I can be flexible, but I think sometimes I like a routine. I always welcome a challenge, but I like to know some of the final details or the end-all goal. For example, I don’t know how to do any of my homework or when it is due. I feel like I’m slacking in my work, but I don’t know what work needs to be accomplished. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’m trying to take it one day at a time. I should probably take up yoga, or something that will help me relax. For now, lets just hope that I can get some sleep tonight.

Hopefully this doesn’t worry any of you. And if you have any tips for better sleeping let me know! So far my one friend has told me to count kittens before I fall asleep.

Un beso

Roses:

  1. New sheets that aren’t fleece
  2. My host mom giving me hot chocolate
  3. Watching trailers for upcoming movies in 2012

Thorns:

  1. Not being able to sleep
  2. Nightmares
  3. Missing home

 

Reading For The Fun Of It

I haven’t enjoyed reading since middle school. I used to be the kid with her nose always stuck in a book, but for some reason reading for a grade really took the fun out of it. It became difficult for me to keep the characters and the plots straight, so I just stopped. While I was sick I started to read Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father.” I bought it because it was written by the president, but I enjoyed it for the honesty in which he wrote. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much since my senior year of high school. I really miss reading books for fun and not for a grade. I’ve decided to create a list of some of my favorite and least favorite books.

Books you should defiantly read: (in no particular order):

  • “The Harry Potter Series” by, J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter is one of the greatest characters of all time. He teaches children to be loyal, and stand up for their beliefs. While he may be a wizard, adults can learn from him too. This series discusses the idea of sacrifice and the true meaning of love and family. I’ve read this series so many times, I think I know it by heart. I recently bought a copy of the first book in Spanish, but I may understand it because I have memorized all of it.
  • “Dreams From My Father” by, Barack Obama: Some may think I like this book because I am a liberal, which may be true. But I think I really connected to this book because it discusses a deep internal struggle between the African and the American side of President Obama. He is so honest with his readers about his past and his family that it’s refreshing to see a politician be explicit. It’s a nice change, and before the 2012 elections I suggest you read it.
  • “To Kill A Mockingbird” by, Harper Lee: I’ve read this book almost as many times as I’ve read the Harry Potter Series, and I always learn something new when I read it.  Atticus Finch is one of my favorite characters of all time. He too stands up for what is right, rather than for what is expected of him. He’s a good lawyer, father, and man.
  • “Cry, the Beloved Country” by, Alan Paton: To be honest, I never wanted to read this book at first. During my senior year in high school I was picked last during group projects and all of the books I wanted to read were taken. My teacher, Mrs. Pence suggested that I read this book. I thought it sounded dumb and put off reading until the next week. I read the book in less than 24 hours, I couldn’t put it down. It’s set in South Africa and describes the intertwining lives of a black and white South African. It really touched on the importance of family, country, and race relations.

Books I think you can avoid: 

  • The Twilight Series” by, Stephenie Meyer: Maybe I’m just a twilight hater because I’m a Harry Potter fan, or maybe because I think that the media is trying to brainwash teenage girls. I think Stephen King sums it up pretty well ” Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”  Not only does Twilight teach young girls that they need a boyfriend, but all the can do is pine away for some guy and be subordinate to males. Also it teaches girls that having obsessed and controlling boyfriends is ok. I know it may seem harsh, but as adults yes it’s a nice, easy  read  for the beach but if you read into the true message of the book and the relationships of the characters it’s a little frightening of what we allow our future generation to read. Also I think this photo is very funny, it can be found on tumblr.
  • “Tuck Everlasting” by, Natalie Babbitt: To be honest, I don’t really remember why I didn’t like it. I was in the fifth grade, and my teacher was silly enough to ask my to rate it so I gave it a 2. She of course got very upset with me because I would give it such a low score, but I really just thought it was stupid. It was about immortality and a love story, and at the time it didn’t interest me. To this day I’m all about non-fiction or historical fiction (unless of course it’s Harry Potter).
  • “Anna Karenina” by, Leo Tolstoy: I probably will get hated on for not appreciating this classic, but really I couldn’t stand it. I’m a whiny person, but I literally could not stand all of the whining in this book. All anybody wanted was love, but none of them were happy once they found it. Also, when you think the book is about to end you have another 200 pages to go. Some people love this book, but I couldn’t stand it.

Sorry for the long post! My roommate convinced me into writing it. It’s mostly for myself but maybe you’ll be inspired to pick up a book and read for fun. Also all of these opinions are my own, and I know for sure that many people may disagree with me.

un beso!

Roses:

  1. Spending all day outside
  2. Reading Harry Potter in Spanish
  3. Eating peanut butter
  4. Awesome roommate

Thorns:

  1. Blister type thing on back of heel that is causing  way too much pain
  2. Contemplating going to the doctor
  3. Not doing homework
  4. Having homework

The magical lost but then found jacket

I didn´t pack enough jackets for Spain. For some reason I thought that it was too warm for a jacket. I also only brought long jackets, so obviously I needed to find a short warm jacket. Also to be cool in Spain, you need to own a leather jacket. I found the perfect brown leather jacket at Zara, and other than my sweatshirt, it has been my favorite purchase thus far.

Last night, I almost lost my beloved jacket. I went to the club Abril with my friends but we got there before 1:30am so we could get in for free but that also meant that they were not a lot of people there yet and the coat check was closed. We decided to do as the other Spainards and leave our coats near where we were dancing. Silly me, I left with a friend to say hello to some of our Spanish amigas. When I got back to the spot my friends had left and my coat was no where to be found. Of course the first thing I thought was they took it, but alas they didn´t. My thought process at this time:

  1. Why didn´t you grab my coat? But it´s an honest mistake, so I won´t get mad.
  2. At least it was only 39.99 euro
  3. At least I didn´t leave my wallet in my pocket
  4. OH NO I LEFT MY KEYS IN MY POCKET
  5. MUST FIND COAT

If you´ve ever been in a club you know that it is loud and dark. I went searching around the room, going through different piles of coats. Some people were getting upset and thinking that I was trying to steal their things, so I had to explain to them that someone took my coat and I was looking for it. Of course this was all in Spanish, so I sounded like an idiot but most people were nice and allowed me to look for it.

Finally when I had lost all hope, I decided to look in one more place. There was a girl looking like she was about to fall asleep, next to a huge pile of coats. For some odd reason I decided my coat had to be in that pile. And it was! I recognized it from the unique tag, and the keys in the pocket. Before she could try and take it back from me, I went to find my friends. And my night improved significantly. However, I was in straight panic mode for a good 15 minutes.

Moral of the story, don´t lose sight of your coat.

Un Beso

Roses:

  1. Dancing the night away
  2. Finding my coat
  3. Seeing my Spanish amigas

Thorns:

  1. Losing my coat
  2. Panic mode
  3. Thinking about all the money I would´ve had to spend to not only replace the coat but also the keys

Things I didn’t think I would miss … American Food!

At home I have the taste buds of a 5 year old. I’m a pretty picky eater, and base a lot of my choices on texture of the food. Foods I don’t eat at home:

  1. Potatoes (unless fried)
  2. Fish
  3. Beans
  4. Cooked vegetables
  5. Pork

I also like rather bland spices. I don’t add salt to anything, and I don’t like anything with a lot of bold flavors. This at first proved a problem with my host mom. The types of food they eat in Spain:

  1. Potatoes
  2. Fish
  3. Beans (Lentil soup every Wednesday or Thursday for lunch)
  4. Cooked vegetables
  5. LOTS OF PORK (esp. Jamon Iberica)
  6. Salt in everything

Don’t worry I’m not starving, I’ve gotten over some of my weird eating habits.

  1. I eat thinly sliced potatoes, as long as they aren’t mashed.
  2.  I eat the fish, as long as it comes without the skin and tail. Also I wrote half of this before lunch today, but for lunch we had fish with a lot of bones in it. So yeah be proud of me Roger for eating more fish
  3. I ate all of my lentil soup for the first time since I’ve been here; however, I refuse to eat all other beans except garbanzo.
  4. I eat all of my vegetables. Except cauliflower, I only eat that in soup. And I didn’t eat the broccoli because she put this one brown sauce that I don’t like on anything.
  5. I eat pork. But I’m kind of sick of Jamon Iberica, to be it looks like uncooked bacon, and the legs of pigs everywhere really creeps me out.
  6. I just told her I didn’t eat that much salt , problem solved. On the bright side she puts olive oil on everything which is my absolute favorite.

Really Spain has been good for me. I’ve conquered some of my picky-ness (I don’t think this is a word …) I’ve been eating a lot healthier, and I’m not in the same food rut where I only eat the same food every week. As much as I enjoy the new food I’m eating (even though it seems like I don’t because I’m complaining), I really miss certain American Foods.

  1. Peanut butter. I went to Corte Ingles (the monopoly superstore chain) and bought some to put on Ritz crackers. It’s amazing. I’ve never really been a consistent peanut butter eater like Alicia, but I still really enjoy it and it has been missed from my diet.
  2. Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. Like I said I’m a 5 year old. I seriously love this stuff!
  3. Ranch. I’m sick of putting vinegar on my salad, and eating Ketchup with everything else. I just want some ranch and pizza from cottage inn.
  4. Diet Coke. Yes they have it here, but it’s called Coke Light. And they put way too much fake sugar in it, that it tastes too sweet like Pepsi.
  5. Chicken Dance Sandwich (Food Dance)/any sandwich with chicken, bacon, tomatoes, fancy lettuce, onions, and chipotle mayo. Seriously I get a version of this sandwich just about every where.
  6. Regular bread. They eat a lot of what I could call baguettes here, but they don’t eat sliced bread. They also eat a lot of white bread and not wheat which is a change.
  7. Cheese in tortillas. This sounds dumb but it’s like a staple of mine. My friend at work, Zee knows exactly what I’m talking about.
  8. Meijer’s Organic Salsa. It’s great. I love it. I miss it so much.
  9. Fried Rice. For some reason I love fried rice, especially day old left over fried rice. Nothing beats eating Chinese food in front of the tele after a boring day at school/the office.
  10. Skinny crunch bars. They have crunch bars here but it is not the same, they are like giant blocks of chocolate. Which might sound good to some people, but I really like the crisps.

I need to snag some recipes from my host mom. She is seriously one of the best cooks in the world. I can’t believe I wrote over 600 words about food. I’m so sorry for this long post, and if anyone actually reads this whole thing I will be extremely impressed.

Un beso

Roses:

  1. Trying new things
  2. Knowing that you can still change some of your ways
  3. Eating healthier

Thorns:

  1. Missing American Food
  2. Realizing how unhealthy my diet is
  3. Knowing that I’m probably going to die from heart disease. I need to hit the gym …

Ash Wednesday

Let me start this off by saying I am not Catholic. However, technically if you have to take the religion of your mother then I feel like I come from a long lineage of Catholics. (This was before the whole elopement debacle of 1959 (did I get that year right Grandma?)). And while I’ve been lacking in my religious fervor, for some reason it just inclined to go. Here are the reasons that led to me going to church:

  1. This is the most stereotypical Catholic country, well other than Italy. While many people say they are Catholic, few people attend mass (which is cool with me! No judgments here.)  Some of my classmates even laughed when I asked them if they were attending morning mass.
  2. One of my best friend’s Grandma recently passed. She was an amazing woman and fought a hard battle against cancer. I have a distinct memory of her coming to a school program with black ashes on her forehead. I wasn’t raised Catholic and was confused, but I remember her happily explaining it to me. I went to church to pray for her and her family. To my religious readers out there, if you can keep them in your thoughts and prayers,  I’m sure they would appreciate it.
  3. I just wanted to go.

Understanding the schedules for mass proved to be difficult. My host mom helped me, and we decided the easiest service I could find would be in the Catedral de Sevilla. It wasn’t held in the large chapel, but one on the side. I went to mass at 8:30am so I wouldn’t miss my 11:15am class (thinking that mass was an hour and a half), I was wrong mass was only 30 minutes. 40 other people and I sat and listen to the priest’s voice echo across the walls. The service was in Spanish, but because of the echoing it was difficult to understand. But while some things are different, some things remain the same. I was able to understand the Bible verses he read, only because I’ve heard them so many times before Communion. I decided to take Communion there, which was quite the discussion in my room the night before. I didn’t want to insult anyone, but I’ve been taking Communion since I was confirmed into the church when I was in 6th grade. Here was my reasoning for why it was ok, even though I’m not Catholic:

  1. Some bishops think it is ok for non-Catholics to take Communion, because we are all children and believers of the same creator. (Others say there isn’t a unity but I chose to ignore this because I agree that we are all connected.)
  2. While I didn’t go to confession (1. I’m not Catholic 2. I don’t think I could say everything in Spanish), I did however pray for my sins.
  3. At my church, we too believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation. According to some websites (don’t believe everything you read on the internet), this is one of the defining differences of certain religious-sects Communion.
  4. I didn’t eat or drink an hour before mass. Yes, I was awake by 7am (everyone should be impressed my this).

It was an interesting experience, and has me excited for Semana Santa! I can’t wait to see the processions, and well for Lent to be over.

For Lent I gave up:

  1. Starbucks
  2. Candy
  3. Unhealthy Snack food (aka my signature Ruffles)

For Lent I am going to work on:

  1. Swearing less (luckily I don’t know swear words in Spanish)
  2. Speaking more Spanish
  3. More consistent blogging

Un Beso!

Roses:

  1. Growing up
  2. Doing my own thing
  3. Culture in Spain
  4. Giving my bocadillo to the homeless man who helped me figure out what time mass started

Thorns:

  1. Grief
  2. Not being able to hug people from Spain
  3. The lack of unity between religions

Granada

So far other than Sevilla, Granada has been my favorite city. In all honesty though, I would probably just make it a day trip. Give yourself enough time to walk around and enjoy the city and the Alhambra. However back to my trip, I was complaining because I didn’t want to wake up at 7am and sit on a bus for hours, but once I arrived I was extremely surprised. My host mom kept telling me it would be cold, but cold to them is 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I was pleasantly surprised with how warm it was.

I spent most of my time wandering the city, and trying to take cool photos of the mountains. But sometimes (or well most of the time) cameras can’t capture the full magnitude of what you’re actually looking at. Especially for me because I’m still trying to figure out how to work my camera. Here are some shots:

A view of the mountains and what I would call a canal with no water

Houses on a hill

Just hanging out (get it? :] )

Kick, Push, Coast (also the mountains are gorgeous! Mom be proud I climbed a hill for this!)

Catedral

Ave Maria

At the time I was messing with lighting and silly me made it too dark but I really like the couple in the background, but I’m too lazy to edit this so just pretend.

My favorite place was the Alhambra. I’ve study the architecture of this palace in almost every one of my Spanish classes that I was dying to see it in person. It is absolutely gorgeous, and I could probably spend all day walking around the place (or at least if I wasn’t hungry.) I would give you all a history lesson, but let’s just be honest, you would much rather look at pictures and if it tickles your fancy you’ll look it up on wikipedia. So here are my pics:

It was really sunny out but here is the entrance.

Fountains. The loud one are Christian and the quiet ones are Muslim design (according to the tour guide. It was in Spanish so I might be wrong?)

It’s become a game to take pictures of other people taking pictures in the group. I got this one of Jackson and Caroline. Jackson is wearing a fedora that I think he got with free with shots he bought the night before. The hat rotated on everyone’s head before the end of the tour.

Our Tour Guide. A mix of Andy Sandberg and Ringo Star

A view of the gorgeous white houses in Granada (my host mom’s favorite!)

On January 2, this bell is supposed to give the ladies luck with their love lives. Too bad I missed it! But it’s funny because a lot of men wait at the bottom of the tower on this day, I’m sure they’re all viejo verdes.

The Flags of Granada

The water acts as an espejo (mirror) for a perfect reflection of the palace. It’s pretty awesome, and pictures will never do it justice. The math involved in the building is insane!

A picture of just the water. I kind of wish I had the app to get rid of strangers of in fotos.

Chelsea and Caroline. Can you spot what is funny about this picture?

Letras incorporated into the palace. The details of this palace are astonishing.

For me Granada was a success. Most likely because I was super excited to see the Alhambra and had low expectations for the rest of the city. I hope I haven’t hyped it up too, much!

Roses:

  1. Seeing the Alhambra
  2. Wandering the city
  3. Desire to climb a mountain (for those of you who know me this is quite strange)
  4. Not needing a coat
  5. Skipping the discotecas

Thorns:

  1. Forgetting my passport and being yelled at my the man at the front desk
  2. Eating a lot of American food. I was craving it, and since they gave me money I couldn’t help myself.
  3. Not exploring more