S: Study Abroad 2010
BC: This trip was amazing and the best experience of my college career.
FC: Europe 2010
1: August 16 - December 18 | Fall 2010 I decided to spend my fall semester studying in Granada, Spain. I spent the first two weeks traveling with my best friend Anna. Then I moved in with my host family. I lived with them for three and a half months, while studying Spanish and traveling some more.
2: Week 1 Well I am all moved in to my house until December. It is on the third flood of the building (so really the fourth floor in the US). I live with a woman named Casilda. Her two adult children (one daughter a few years older than me and a 20 year old son) live here and so do two other study abroad students. I haven't really gotten to talk to the students yet. They moved in a little after 4 today and I was taking my siesta until 5. Then I had to run back to school (It was closed during my siesta) and sign up with the secretary and then check out a text book from the library. It is nice that is free. Well my apartment is very hot. Generally I just sleep on top of the blankets. I have two big closets, a bed, a chair, desk, a desk chair, and a cabinet. My favorite part of my room is my fan. I haven't seen many in the house and I use it every night. | The bathroom is a little strange. To flush the toilet I have to pull a metal thing in the top of the toilet up. It took me a minute to figure that out the first day. Then the shower is one that you hold in your hand. Oh and there is a bidet in our bathroom. I talked to the other students at length about this and we all came to the same conclusion. Nobody needs a bidet so why are they in every house here! Plus no one from our group will use one. Not just in the bathroom but in other places too, the doors open in the wrong direction and I can't always open them right away. I also struggle greatly locking the doors. But I am getting the hang of things. I have heard from the other students that they all have problems with their internet, but mine seems to work fine. Yesterday we all bought phones so that it would be easier for us to communicate with each other. Right now my phone only has 8 numbers in it so I am just like Dad. It was really cheap 19 Euros for my phone (it is a pre-pay phone) and it has 12 euros on it right now. Calls cost 1 euro a minute while texts cost 15 cents. We are texting each other mostly but using Facebook a lot too. Yesterday we took our level placement tests. I am in level 5 and a little nervous. We are spending the entire month learning the subjunctive form. I ave class from 10 -2 Monday to Fridays. Next month I will take culture classes so I will only have class Monday to Thursday. In class today it was general get to know you and information about the class. Even though it is only one class, it has two teachers - one for the first half and one for the second. We get a 20 minute break during the class but that is it.
3: There are two buildings to my campus. It takes me 20 minutes to walk to the first building and then from there another 10 to the second. I have class in the second building. On my way home today, I got really lost and I missed lunch (it is at 2:30). Of course Casilda took care of me and had food waiting on the table with rice pudding but I felt bad. I tried to explain that I got lost but I don't know if I did a good enough job. We generally can figure out what each other are saying but sometimes it takes time. There are some other people here right now. I don't know them and I wonder if they are more family of Casilda's. It is kind of weird living in this situation because I am part of the household but the pretty much just stare at me because I can't communicate well and I am also a guest. I am not allowed to help with housework. I have asked many times to help clear the table and she won't let me. None of the other students are allowed to either. The family watches a lot of TV and they invite me to join them so sometimes I do. Yesterday I watched some random dating show. After 30 minutes I understood one thing - A girl liked a guy on the first date, but he didn't want to date her again because her teeth were ugly. Also Casilda's sobrina was over yesterday and she likes the Disney Channel. I was fine with that because I understood the shows. She was scared of me at first but then we talked about the Hannah Montana, The Wizards of Waverly Place, and Kim Possible. It is sad that my longest conversations are with a 10 year old named Blanca and that I was secretly hoping she would come over today so I would have somebody to talk to for a while. Casilda and I talk about the weather, and food mostly. She makes really good food and tries really hard to explain to me what I am eating. I try to remember but mainly I forget the name as soon as I finish. There is this wonderful Andalusian oil that is on most foods. It is really good but I keep forgetting the name. Today I ate the back of something. It was lomo de___________. Yesterday I ate these weird fried chicken and ham balls and some soup. Breakfast is toast with marmalade (peach) and butter. It is the only meal that I get milk and it is NOT skim milk. Also it is a little warm. Then I get a small muffin. At dinner there is always a salad. I really like the salads but yesterday I had to ask her how to eat it. She thought I didn't like it, but I just wanted to have good manners. She laughed at me when I explained it to her. Also she feeds me so much food and never believes me when I say I am full. I don't eat enough in her eyes. She always says No te gusta________. Then I feel bad and eat more to prove that I like it. (It happens to all the students. Actually (we haven't had see food yet that I know of), there has only been one thing that I haven't liked. It was some weird meatballs - I don't know what was in them but they were bad. I ate lunch with her niece, daughter and son that day. Nobody took the meatballs, but then Casilda starts putting them on my plate giving me her sad puppy dog face say No te gusta?. So I had one and put on a smile and said Me gusta. Luckily we had melon for dessert. I hear I am lucky. One of the host mom really likes McDonalds NOT Burger King. Another mom doesn't try to explain the food and doesn't cook so well. But we are all force fed more than we can eat.
4: My class is 507. I have 3 other Winona students in it. There is a guy from Massachusetts, a girl from Kanasas, a guy from Connecticut, two people from Rhode Island, a guy from Washington State, a guy fromVancouver, a girl from Israel, and a guy from Northern California. We are only supposed to speak Spanish in class and today we played games. My first teacher is Pilar and she speaks slower than my second teacher Susana. The Canadian really likes us because we have similar accents to him. He laughed when I told him that people keep asking me if I am from Canada. I have even been told once that I look Canadian, whatever that means. Another was impressed that I know how to do flip turns. He wants me to start training for Triathlons. I said no. The girl from Rhode Island was very nice she told me about the college system out there. Sadly that was a lot of information that went in one ear and out the other. But II remember her name Amy. Last night all the WSU people went out together. Most of us returned home early... it was only almost 1 am. :)' I think this explains the siesta more than the heat. The night before I started to get ready for bed at 11 and Casilda told me it was so early, but last night she was asleep when I got back. Ha who goes to bed early now? We are still trying to figure out what to do this weekend. We want to tour the Alhambra but we also want to go to the beach so who know what will happen. I would rather tour the city, but I don't want to do it by myself. My burns are still healing from my last beach trip. Our group will figure it out tomorrow. I know a lot of students from Centro de Leguas Modernas are going to the beach so I think we might end up doing that. Oh Blanca is back. She just came into my room. And I told her about my family. Estaba feliz. Dad - I know you want to so you can share this email with whom ever you want.
6: Week 2 I did not do much last weekend. After about three weeks of traveling I was just too tired. A lot of the WSU students went to the beach, but there was no plan to get there so they didn't figure that out until about 3 am on Saturday. (They left at 7 am). A couple of students actually went with their host mom to her beach house. They didn't realize that "on the weekend" and "for the weekend" were the same thing in Spain. On Friday I went out with some friends around 11. We are such early birds for Spain. We were told that there was this really good bar to go to that was cheap. | We walked around for over two hours trying to find it. This was not our fault... we were given really bad directions. Plus when we got there is was not a nice place so a few of us went to find another bar. It was nicer, but it was closing. The nice bartender stayed open for us. Only him and a couple of his friends were at the bar so it was very nice and relaxing. Well anyways, after a while we decided to leave the couches we were sitting on and sit at the bar and talk to him and his friends. The bartender decided it was time for a Spanish lesson for us... he grabbed his notebook and pencil and began to teach us pronunciation. (In Andalusia, a lot of people make a th sound for c and drop the last consonant, especially "s" - So Gracias becomes grathia when it is pronounced) Our bartender did not like the Andalusian pronunciation and told us it was wrong... that is very similar to what our professors say. Well since some people had to be up at 9, we decided it was best to return home at about 5. Wouldn't you know... there were still a ton of people up and returning home to? It was very interesting. Well needless to say, I was sort of tired on Saturday. I got up and 9 and slept for a while. Then I had lunch with Casilda's children because she was out of town. Then I talked to Mom and Dad on Skype. I really liked getting to see the dogs. I took a walk and a nap. Then it was time for bed. I know I am very exciting, but still I had done a lot in the past two weeks.
7: I just wandered around on Sunday. My Spanish teachers were not lying. NOTHING is open on Sundays except really touristy stuff. I bought a book to read in Spanish, well actually two. They are like the children's classics we used to read when we were younger. I currently am starting Boabdil y el final del reino de Granada. It has games at the end of every chapter and little reading quizzes to make sure you read everything correctly. My friends were still at the beach house for the weekend... which they did not know was going to happen so they didn't bring toothbrushes. Anyways I went for a another walk in the afternoon and found a heladeria with amazing pecan ice cream. (Though I found out yesterday I need to go and visit Los Italianos if I want to get the best ice cream in town.) Lunch on Sunday was not so good. We ate Paella with Casilda's daughter. It was really salty. I ate the sea food and told her it was tasty. I could figure out most of the sea food but one of the things was impossible to identify. The other girls who live here had the same problem as me. Casilda's daughter talked to us (which never happens during a meal) and she speaks a little English and is trying to learn more. So most of what she says is in Spanish but for some reason during the lunch she decided to speak a couple words in English. We could not figure out what she was saying at all. It was not very good. She went and got a piece of paper and she wrote it down for us. Monday was a pretty relaxing day for me. I had planned to go out with some friends to go shopping, but one of them got really sick and had to go to the medico. I went for a run around Garcia Lorca park. It is just gorgeous, but it had been while since I ran so that part did not go so well. Plus some kids shot something at me. I don't know what it was, but it left a small mark on my leg for the rest of the night. I met a friend in the park and then I went home for dinner. Home made pizza. Those kids without mommy's (host moms) don't really know what they missing. Well Tuesday was a good day in class. I understood everything. Well sort of plus people are leaving our class for high levels which means that our class is more my speed. The annoying girl from Israel is gone. She was super nice, but she never was quiet. She just made things more confusing. Then I got home for lunch and Casilda had made the best soup ever! It was called Fabada Asturiana - it has pinto beans and sausage. Muy rico! Sadly dinner was strange and gross. But even though none of us liked it, we all put on our happy faces for Casilda. I would also like to point out that my best Spanish Friend is still a 10 year old. I hadn't seen her for a few days, but her family came to visit Tuesday night and even though my door was closed, she knocked and when I opened it she went "Hola Caroline" (except she says my name like it is pronounced in Spain Carolina) Then she asks me simple questions like where I was going. Since my Spanish is not amazing and I don't know a ton of places my answer is simply out. Then she asks me about my school and likes it when I ask about her school. Oh by the way her first day is a Friday for two hours. Plus I learned that she just moved to Granada from a village on the Mediterranean sea. I got out a map and she gave me a geography lesson. Yup I am besties with a 10 year old.
8: Oh well I am thinking of it Dad. You need to keep practicing your Spanish. In Granada, most people do not speak English at all. And the streets are slightly confusing but very pretty so you might wander off and get lost. Wednesday was a pretty nice day. I went to class and then took a nap because I didn't get to bed until 1 on Tuesday. Then I went for a walk and bought some bronceador because I am going to visit the caves of Nerja and the beach in Nerja this weekend. I am really excited to see the beaches, but when I told Casilda she said Bronceador is not strong enough. She (and Blanca was there too), were very worried that my hair won't protect my head. They are sending me to get SPF 60 at la farmacia. They also decided to ask my host brother (Jose) if he had a hat I could borrow. (On a side note, I don't think that Jose believes I have any friends because he always sees me about 2 minutes before I meet my friend and so he has never seen me talk to anybody) Anyways, he did not have a hat I could borrow. But the whole thing was awkward because I have never been called Blanquita before. It just means white girl (well it is a slang term that also means Cocaine, but I am pretty sure Casilda was just calling me white). Oh and a gorro is not good enough for me according to Blanca I need to wear a sombrero. So out of that conversation I learned one very important fact... I am a very white girl. After dinner my friends and I went out for a bit and we were at this arabic place where the owner ended up writing my name in Arabic on my arm. It looked cool, but I was scared for a moment because he told me it was permanent marker. It was not so all was good and I went to class on Thursday with a clean arm. We started to plan our end of September trip. We are thinking maybe Portugal or Italy. Thursday was pretty much the same as Wednesday, but class ended an hour early and we had tiramisu for dessert for lunch after we ate delicious berenjena (eggplant). It was a mixture of eggplant and meat. Of course we had traditional soup and French fries too. We got to eat Tiramisu because it was Casilda's daughter's saints day on Wednesday. Casilda's daughter and I had a conversation about the weather. She said it gets very cold her around 30 degrees F. I told her is much colder in MN. Then I tried to explain the Fahrenheit system to her... she didn't know there was a different system. I decided to stay in on Thursday night because I needed to be rested for class on Friday. Thursdays class ended an hour early so the teachers are being nice and making up the time by getting rid of our break for the next three days (we already did one breakless day). This means four hours of class with a 5 minute break in the middle. Sitting still for that long doesn't make class any easier. I do great in the first class. I understand the teacher and I get the questions right, but our second teacher Susana, speaks faster and doesn't move much. She also doesn't write on the board and frequently holds her hands in front of her mouth. Needless to say, our entire class likes our first teacher better. Well I am super excited to go the caves in Nerja tomorrow. We are leaving at 9:30 and I don't know when we return. We have a stop in Almunecar on the way to the caves and then the beach after the caves. I hope that you all had a good week!
10: Week Three Friday night was a lot of fun. We went to the same bar as the week before. It is a nice place and what we also like is the Tapas... Gummi Bears (or other shapes) and nuts. It seems weird, but we really like those gummies. I planned on going home early to get to enough rest before I went on the trip on Saturday, and I did get home early but it was still 2 am. Saturday was a lot of fun. Only two people from my school went with me, and they are not my favorite two people. The tour left a at 9:30 but since I didn't know where I was walking to, I left a little early about 8:30. Anyways in Spain, things always leave a little late so we got started around 9:45. Our tour guide works for the school and she told us a lot about Spain and the history on our way to the first stop. She told us about Boabdil who I am reading about. Sadly, I got really excited that I knew who she was talking about and that I understood her story,
11: I got a little distracted and got confused so I didn't understand any more. (The entirety of the trip was in Spanish). She also told us about the mountains and the power supply system of Spain. There are a lot windmills here in Spain. Our first stop was Castillo de San Miguel in Almuñecar. It was a really old ruin of a Castillo that was built in the 8th century by the Phoenicians and destroyed by the British from something involving Napoleon. (I looked the information up on the Castillo and the internet tells me something different than my guide... who is right?) We also saw the ruins of a Phoenician fish storing place. Then we drove up to the caves in Nerja. On our way there we passed the ruins of an Aqueduct. They were under construction so they had scaffolding all around them. The caves were huge. They also had pretty lights in them and a lot of slippery steps. Somebody fell at one point and since we were in the caves it echoed so I think it sounded a lot worse than it was. The caves were huge and very pretty. They had a lot of stalactite and the stalagmites. It has the largest column of something in the world. After the caves we went to the restaurant which had an amazing view over the sea and then to the beach. We also stopped at the Balcony of Europe which has amazing views overlooking the Mediterranean and the mountains. Here is where the pictures come in... Picture one is of the cave... no flash allowed so I let my computer clean it up a bit. Picture 2 is of the cannon on the Balcony of Europe :) Sunday was an interesting day. I woke up and did my homework but then I got tired and fell asleep (it was right before lunch time) so Casilda woke me up. I forgot that on weekends lunch is at 2 instead of 2:30. Whoops. Well after lunch I went to find the King that Casilda said was visiting today. I don't think he was visiting because there was nobody out on the streets. So I had a book with me and I found a spot in the shade and worked on reading about Boabdil. It is very fascinating but sadly I forgot my dictionary so I went for a walk and found a nice bench by the river were I read some more. This is when my day gets interesting. I returned home and found out the toilet didn't work. I thought that I had broken it, but by the time my roommates returned home I had forgotten about the entire event. During dinner one of them told Casilda that she somehow might have broken the toilet because it didn't work. I felt sort of bad for a moment but then in the middle of dinner Casilda brings all of us into the bathroom and tells us she just turned off the water to the toilet because it had been running for a week. All three of us felt a lot better, plus she showed us how to turn the water on so that we could use the bathroom if we wanted to. Then it was back to dinner which was not good. It tasted fine but the first part was hard boiled egg and tuna on toast with this weird jam and cheese salad that she likes to feed us. But then came dessert. Churros and homemade hot chocolate. Then came cookies and more cookies for our chocolate. We couldn't do it. We hardly finished the churros. Then we found out we had to drink the hot chocolate. It was the thickest hot coco I have ever seen. So when ever Casilda left the room we drank water and poured some more water into our coco. Luckily Casilda was going out to meet her sister so we did not have to finish the coco. That would have been too difficult. Monday was nothing special. Just another school day where we were assigned a lot of homework. I had to write a paper for Thursday but it only had to be half a page long and use ten phrases from the book. But the food was fantastic. It was this really good fish that started with an M and some sort of creamy cheese soup. Then dinner was Empanados. The big ones not the little things that we usually have. It was delicious. There are tomatoes in it, but I could not see them or really taste them. But I am sure they just made the flavor that much better. Hmm tasty dinner. The vegetarian had her own empanado but she let us have a taste and it had apples in it. It was a lot sweeter. I liked ours better. (Oh and some people asked me why I talk about food so much because it is easier to talk about food. I can point and I know a lot of food words - plus I have these conversations 3 times a day)
12: Tuesday was not that exciting. Blanca came over for dinner and we (my roommates and I) started to talk to her and when we asked her about school... she decided to quiz us. I know my colors so I passed the test if you were wondering. I did fail the part on how to say tie shoes. And she was very proud of her backpack because it is from the school and it comes with a computer. It is a decarro. That means it is a backpack on wheels. After dinner she came to my room to say goodbye and noticed that I had some books on my bed. One of them was in English and she decided it was time to quiz me on English. I aced the pronoun test, yo = I, tu = you, el = he. I spent a lot of time studying on Tuesday because I had a test on Friday and I was a little nervous for it. All in all I think my main accomplishment, and the main accomplishment of my roommates, was making a 10 year olds day. On Wednesday I discovered that this week is not really all that fun. I have spent the majority of it doing homework and studying for my test on Friday. Casilda keeps telling me not to worry and she is trying to force me to drink tea. Plus Wednesdays food was just bad. It was this weird overly cheese pasta (and not in a good way like Kraft) for dinner and lunch was some weird meatloaf like thing, only different. Though on Wednesday I did study at a cafe with some friends for a bit and that was fun and then I took my usually pre-dinner walk and it was very interesting today. There were a lot of cops and people in a line with flowers and helicopters. At first I thought it was the King ( I really want to see him and Casilda told me he was coming last weekend but he didn't), but then I saw horses and motorcycle "gangs." So at dinner I asked Casilda what was happening and she said a big holiday is coming up a week from Saturday so people bring flowers for some saint and they put them all over this church. During the walk I also found a free museum that I went into. It was very depressing because it was about the armenian genocide, so I didn't stay very long and it was very small. Thursday was a sort of interesting day. In class, only five students showed up and it rained. It is the first time I have seen Granada cloudy... most days there are NO clouds at all so an overcast day was a bit of a shock. It was all very weird. But we had a delicious lunch... we had this couscous like thing, and then you just added what fixings you want to it. We could add pimientos, granada, chorizo, pescado, y ensalata. It was really good, and called Miga (Casilda told me that the next time she makes it, I can watch and learn). Then I took a nap before I spent a couple ours studying - well Blanca came over and decided to go through my notes and ask me about everything. The only problem with that is that we are learning palabras malas in school and so I kept having to turn the page. I decided not to eat dinner with Casilda and I went out with some friends for Mexican food. It was tasty, but they did not have the chips and salsa on the table before hand. On my way home from dinner I saw the church with the flowers that Casilda described and I took some pictures. Well today, Friday was an other fun day. I finally took the test I had been stressing about all week. It turns out it was one of the worst tests I have ever taken. It only took a little more than two hours and then I had to go to class after that. Class was very difficult and nobody could focus... hmm I wonder why. After class I went to see the Abadia del Sacromonte. It was about two hours and completely in Spanish. To get there we had to take a taxi because it was pouring rain and the roads would be too dangerous to climb up to the Abadia. It was one of the more memorable taxi rides I have had.
13: The taxis all had to fit 4 people in them but we had an extra person and since we were the Americans (There were only three people on this trip from the U.S. There was one from Russia, one from Germany and about 16 from Central and South America) we were forced to ride with the teacher and this Columbian guy joined us. So we had a car with 5 passengers. Our professor for the day described us as Sardines en una lata. I think that was very accurate. Then the roads were extremely tiny so much so that we almost hit another car and I was told, after the trip luckily, that our taxi came extremely close to the edge. I was happy that I sat in the middle and missed a couple exciting moments. The best part about riding with the teacher is that she paid for the taxi trip while all of the other students had to pay on their own. When we got to the Abbey it was pouring rain and we all had to run inside. This is important because since I had to ride with the teacher, my taxi was the last to arrive by a few minutes, this means everybody else had been stuck out in the rain for a bit. At the abbey we sat in the church and learned the history of it. It had a lot to do with the Muslims, Jews, Romans, and Christians. We also learned that there star, which looked the same as the star of David actually is not the star of David but it represents some man from the bible's son, and that the Islamic star has eight points. It was a very old church. Some saint is buried there or something like that. Then after our lecture in the church we went to explore the catacombs. Our first stop was the black stone. If you touch the black stone you get married with in a year. This place was interesting because our professor (Maria Carmen) decided it was time to talk to the Americans. She asked us how many continents there were in the world. We told her that there were 7. All of the other students were amazed. Who thinks that there are seven continents? In Europe, and South America I guess, they only have five - Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. I was told that in China they believe in 6 continents. My roommates visited the Abbey earlier and they had the same discussion at the same place. None of us know how it ties into the stone. Then we walked to the white stone which if you touch it, you will get a divorce in a year. After that we saw the museum. After that, it had finally stopped raining and we were able to walk home, but first we saw a rainbow, and the Alhambra. It was a long walk home but I walked with the other Americans and some guy from Columbia. We spoke Spanish for a bit, but his English is much better than our Spanish so about half way through the walk (it was almost an hour) we switched to English. Anyways this is where the third picture comes in. It is the Abbey and the rainbow. The fourth picture is the Alhambra in the background. We could see it really well during our walk home from the Abbey. So some of the girls from Winona and our friend from Canada decided to go for a hike on Tuesday and they told me about it on Wednesday. They went hiking for four hours because they got lost. They forgot their water and it was about 35 degrees that day (That means it is somewhere in the 90s and really really hot). Well they saw a stream and decided to drink from it. So They told me all about it on Wednesday. On Thursday only one of them showed up to class, and that was only for about 30 minutes before she went home sick. So our second teacher comes in and asks where all the students were. I had to explain to my teacher in Spanish that they drank mountain water and got sick from it. The lady kept asking me why they did this, and I had no answer for her because she and I (and everybody else in the class) thought this was a really stupid idea. Well they all were back today to take our test and the Canadian told me that he spoke with his dad yesterday who had some choice words for him about drinking mountain water in Spain. The main point I am taking away from this is, tomorrow when I climb the mountain... I am bringing a water bottle.
16: Week 4 Saturday started out bright and early... I had to get up at 6:30 and leave the apartment by 7:20 to make it to the meeting point. I thought about skipping the climb when I woke up, but then I remembered I paid 10 euros to go. Plus I get a t-shirt. Well it ended up being only 8 girls and our chain smoking, rock climbing, photography fanatic tour guide named Paco. We counted and in the four hours we were at the mountains, he smoked 6 times. First of all, who smokes and hikes at the same time? Secondly, we visited places that say you can't start fires, so why can he smoke. I knew a few of the girls on the trip because we are in the same class, so it was a lot of fun. The trip started with a short bus ride on a city bus. It was only about 20 minutes to the small town at in the Sierra Nevada. Then we began a boring up hill climb, but it was pretty. One of the girls in the trip wasn't feeling well so we had to walk and stop for her a few times, but Paco kept saying you are on the last up hill it is all flat and down from here. Yeah well Paco you are a lier. But finally we made it to this house he kept telling us we were going to... then we kept climbing. The house was really just the place where we were leaving the trail behind. And if any one ever needed to worry about my safety it was then and for about the next three hours. We reached this place and continued to go up, but it was only rocks and no trail and we had to use our hands or we would have fallen to our deaths (Picture 1). It was gorgeous up there and we thought we had made it to the top. Nope. Well then we continued on to another higher point, but it was a safer walk. I think that was our highest point and it had a marker at the top of it so I think it was the top of that mountain. At this point, Paco, being the sweetheart that he is, decided to tell the girl who was struggling that it was okay if she fell and got really badly hurt (broken bone or something), on this walk he always carries a portable stretcher with him. The top of the Sierra Nevadas - specifically that mountain, it was breath taking. But then we began the descent. We had the option of Scaling down or taking the longer path. Paco told us to start thinking then, but we didn't have to make the decision quite yet. We began our way down and all of a sudden we were pretty much scaling down this hill. It was very steep. Some of the girls (5 of them to be specific) (Picture 5 - isn't it nice that I took a picture of that) got stuck at one point, and Paco, he was just the smartest and nicest guy ever, said if they fall right now they will die.
17: Then he stood with us for another minute or two before he left to help them. We didn't tell them about his comments until later. Well right after that we were told to make the decision about scaling down or walking the longer route. We chose the longer route, and well it might have not been as exciting, the view was amazing. We decided that it looked sort of like part from the Lord of the Rings Movie. It was sort of dangerous and slightly treacherous at points. The "path" was being eroded by rocks and draining water from the storms we have had the past few days. Then we got to a picnic stop... only one person had food, but she had chips and cookies which she shared with us. We looked at the time and it was a little before 11. The hike ended at 2. So we continued onward and upward (yet again), but before we left the picnic area, our guide said "manos libre" and that can never be a good sign. 5 minutes into that hike we had to turn sideways so we would not slip. Then five minutes later we had to put our backs to a wall and shimmy across (Picture 3 - also I would like to point out that since I was the one of two who brought a back pack, I got to carry everybody's water at this point). (Like they do in the action movies with the ground 1000 feet below them. The only difference was it was a river that was probably 5- 10 feet down. Then we reached another gigantic over hang with small feet space, but this time we were told to face the wall and hold on as we shimmied across. A little later the overhang was too far out to do that, so we could climb down to the river and walk, crawl or sit and push ourselves across. The girls in front of me decided to sit and push so I did that too. It was an interesting experience. Later we got to a part in the caves where there we handles to hold onto as we crossed the rocks (Picture 2 - this also has the dog we adopted in it Osito). It was a lot of fun. Then we got to see some mountain climbers and a suspension bridge and took pictures . We had one last slightly dangerous climb to get some water and return to town. We had to climb over these boulders to get to another part but there were gaps and we were actually climbing a bit again. The rest of the walk was uneventful and we took the bus back to Granada were I relaxed the rest of the afternoon. It turned out the hike/climb was about 14 km. After I got back to Casilda's she told me she wanted me to make the Wild Rice Soup I had brought for dinner. It turned out good and Casilda made stuffed egg plant and that was delicious. It is something I had never thought of before. I went out in the evening with some girls that I went hiking with, but we called it a night early because we were all so tired. That means I got home a little after one. Well it was another non-exciting Sunday. Casilda sent me out to see the churches around town because they are all open on Sunday mornings. I visited the Cathedral and then some free art museum. I get why the museum was free... I am pretty sure I could do the same thing. It just looked like not well drawn matchsticks. Then I walked around for a bit before lunch. At dinner time I met our two new roomies for the week.
18: (I bet you are all wondering how Casilda her two kids and all five of us students fit in the apartment... Jose got the boot for the week. He is at some relatives house.) Anyways they are two girls from Norway who are here for a week with there high school. They don't really speak any spanish so we had to help them with somethings. But there English is amazing. They said that in Norway a lot of people like the sound of English better so in high school they frequently speak English to each other. We talked to them for along time and they recently visited the US with their families so they were very curious about doggy bags at restaurants. The concept was very strange to them, but they also liked it. Monday was just another rainy Monday. I can't believe that it did not rain for a the first few weeks but it changed quickly. But there is always a sunny part to the day. I tried to get my tee shirt from the hike on Saturday, but they had me wait for over an hour to find out they only give out the shirts in the morning. But I was able to get part of my schedule for next month. I only need to learn when my grammar class is and when my speaking and writing class is too. It finally stopped raining Tuesday and was back up to the normal 85 plus degree temperature. I booked my bus tickets to Portugal and to Seville. I will be spending 2.5 days in Portugal and 2.5 days in Seville. It was also a strange day because one of my two professors was not feeling well and missed class. This means that we had one professor for four hours and met with the other class. It was not very much fun. On Wednesday both of my professors were sick, so we had two substitutes. The first one was from Granada but had lived in the US for a while so he spoke perfect English. He would random throw in english phrases like "Really nobody has taught you this" or "This is important for ordering food" or "I am going to tell you this in English." And he knew the places we were talking about in the US. The second one made us do the same exercise for about 30 minutes ... Si fuera un animal, seria un perro. It was not very much fun. Then lunch was paella and salad. Which is all good except there were tentacles and head in my food. I did my best but that was not good enough today... the heads were not eaten and a few tentacles were left behind. After lunch I went to the Alhambra (Picture 4 - I have over 100 pictures of this place... what did people do before digital cameras?). Our tour began at 5 so we met up and left around 4:15. To get to the Alhambra from were we live we had to walk back to our school and then past it. We had to look at the map a couple of times, but we figured it out.
19: When we got to first gate we saw a huge hill and we had to walk all the way up it. At the top we met our tour group... which was in English. I knew most of the people in the group from class. It was amazing. It was huge and beautiful. We started with the towers section which was the earliest part built. We saw some great views of Granada and then saw some of the soldiers homes. After that we went to the Palaces. We got to see the twelve lions, but they are being remodeled so they are not in there real home but some strange room. Our guide gave us a lot of information about the place, but I am not telling you too much so that I don't ruin it for Mom and Dad when they come to visit. Our last stop was the General life gardens. They are still in there traditional growth. The are small but nice to see. My favorite part was that the teacher told us about Muley Hucen and Boabdil - who are the main people in the book I am reading right now. By the time I got back from the Alhambra Tour it was 8:45 so time for dinner. And that was the Spanish version of Hotpockets. Not very good. There is a chocolate fair in town which I keep meaning to go to but I haven't visited it yet. On Thursday I decided I jinxed myself. I start my emails to you on Saturdays after I do something I hope you consider to be exciting. So this week I thought with my death defying hike and all I would title this one Dum Dum Dum... just to add some excitement to your lives. While I jinxed my self and my week has been just weird. My professors were still sick on Thursday and I have just had my fair share of weird issues to solve. Our substitute professors were just awful today. The first guy, who we were stuck with for three hours, was boring and not very good at explaining. At the beginning of class he said, "Dime un ejemplo." We hadn't really gone over anything yet so an example was not anything that we could really give. Our school gives out a lot of packets and some of the pages don't have instructions on them. He kept telling us to do the pages, but we didn't know what we were supposed to do. Then later he would explain the grammar topic... which means we all got the assignment wrong. Urgh. So after three hours of that, more than half the class left. It was a little weird when we had the other teacher for the last hour. But one thing out of this event, our classes have become excellent Spaniards. We can take our "20 minute pausa" and stretch it to good 40 minute break. We also can turn 5 minutes into 15. They really should stop giving us subs. How will our professors be able to write the test that we have to take on Monday if we haven't seen them for a few days now?
20: Food on Thursday was pretty good. We got my favorite soup for lunch. I told you about it a few weeks ago. It was the Asturian soup. Then for dinner we had this gross green soup that she likes to feed us, and some wonderful Berenjenas. This made the roommates and I talk about all the eggplant we have eaten... eggplant that looked like meatloaf, stuffed eggplant, regular eggplant something, and then the new one today eggplant with ham sandwiched in the middle. (The vegetarian got peppers). Then we ate the chocolate mousse for dessert because Casilda won't stop giving it to us, even though we usually just put it back in the fridge. One of my professors was back today. The other will be gone through Tuesday. This is strange because our final test is on Monday and we have only seen her for one day since we took the last test. I finally have plans for next weekend. I am going to visit Toledo and Segovia. They are up by Madrid so I am staying in Madrid to save some money. I was supposed to go with this one girl from class but then she bailed and there are two other girls who haven't decided what they are doing but might be coming with me. I got sick of waiting and bought my ticket to Madrid. As for my plans for the weekend. There is nothing quite as dangerous as climbing a mountain, but I am going wine tasting... and studying for my final. I have to study my notes some but I also have to practice speaking Spanish. This means studying counts as almost anything... even going out with friends, as long as we speak Spanish.
23: Week 5 Week five is my last week of the intensive month of Spanish classes. My more traditional subjects start a week from Monday. This means Final on Monday the 27 and a trip to Madrid on the 30. There is a general strike in Spain on the 29. Friday was a little better for classes. One of the two professors actually was there. She kept saying that we were taught things but we hadn't been so it was a little awkward and in the end she gave us a little booklet of notes and said that we just needed to know all of that stuff for the test, so I went home with every intention of studying but that did not work. I bought some tickets for Madrid and then Blanca came over and Aurora (my host sister) asked me some questions. So I ended up speaking in Spanish for two hours. Aurora needed help with her English assignment. She did not understand the instructions. Blanca wanted to play games so I taught her the Dots game. She loved it, and we played it for a while. Then she thought she was teaching me a game, but it was tick tack toe. Then we also talked about cartoons, and she tried to help me with my homework and studying for the test. She just read my notes to me for a while and then decided to teach me what a verb was. I eventually convinced her to stop doing that. But I still let her help me by asking me questions about my future.
24: Dinner was churros again. I think it was Casilda's way of saying goodbye to the Norwegian roommies. Blanca wasn't allowed to eat with them because there were too many people at the table, but once the Mennonite roommies left, Blanca joined us. She liked to talk to them but she could not understand them, especially when they spoke Norwegian so she just asked me a lot of questions about them. Later I went out with some friends. Saturday was a lot of fun. It began with an early trip to the winery. We saw the fields and were they make the wine. The guy explained a lot to us about the process. I took away a very important lesson... I really don't care. I tried so hard to focus, but once I realized I didn't care in English, I could not pay attention in Spanish. The testing was interesting. We tried white and red. We learned to swirl and all that stuff. They gave us bread and delicious cheese with the white and bread and chorizo with the red. After the tasting we went to Chinese Tapas. Two euros for a Sprite and a Tapa of chinese noodles and veggies. Mmm tasty. Then it was off to the Bull Fight. We ended up separated and so it was me and one other friend on this bus. We didn't know where to get off and so we asked this man on the bus. He made us follow him up to the bus driver and then he had a really animated conversation with him. We were told to sit in the front seat and listen for the bus driver to tell us were to get off. The bus driver was very nice and told us where to get off the bus. The bull fight was very interesting and weird. It would have been nice to know a little more before we went but we got the majority of it figured out during the fight. Sunday was a study day. There was a huge festival in town celebrating the patron saint, and during my walk I saw a little of the procession, but it really didn't mean much to me, except the streets were crowded and loud. I don't really like that here because I never know what people are saying. I took my final on Monday and then lounged around the rest of the day. Blanca came over for dinner and decided I was family. This means we had to do that awkward kiss on the cheek thing. It might have been fine but generally people ignore me during that part so I kept eating my dinner when Blanca all of a sudden came bouncing up. After dinner she followed me to my room and decided to teach me to play hangman. That did not go well. El juego fui injusto porque no sabía las palabras ni las letras. Not knowing how to say the letters did not help when the word was llaves and I knew the frase but not how to say v. We stopped playing when Blanca realized I did not know enough to be having fun. Then we played some dots and pictionary before she left. This reminds me, Blanca loves to ask me if I am going out that night. She asks every time she sees me. Today I asked her if she was going out (I knew she wasn't because she is only 10) Anyways Blanca laughed but Casilda thought I was being serious and said she was only allowed to go out with her mom or Casilda. It was really awkward. I guess my limited Spanish skills do not allow me to translate jokes well. Tuesday was not that much fun. (The only exciting thing is that I had to break down and buy some headphones because my finally bit the dust. I had them so they could sort of work with a bandaid wrapped around them and then if I squeezed the bandaid, but it didn't work on Tuesday at all so I bought some new ones.
25: Mom - you don't have to bring them anymore.) I did go for a walk with Allie, a girl from WSU. We went to the place all the cats in Granada like. On Tuesday we counted 19. Aside from that I stayed in mostly, but Wednesday was a lot of fun. I went to the last day of class in the morning, and it got done more than 2 hours early. All we did was watch a movie. We would have been done earlier but our professor wanted to talk with us about how strange the class had been this month. She said it was one of her strangest. She was out for a week... on Vicodin. The other teacher was gone for two of those days. Three students got a parasite, and one student had to file a police report. We are an interesting class. Oh and an update on the students who drank the mountain water... they are still sick. Moral of the story is either we are a very unlucky class or don't drink the water. I get roommate number 5 either tomorrow or tonight. She is a Muslim so we will have to eat a lot of Tuna for the next 15 days while she is here - Casilda and I have really deep conversations. But I guess the girl will speak really good Spanish and Arabic is her first language. I think it will be really fun. Also on Wednesday I went to the Arab Baths. It was super relaxing. They have three different temperatures of water and then a steam room. It was amazing to look at. (I went with Allie and we choose to go to the traditional ones). It smelled of cinnamon and had candles decorating the place. It also had the traditional moorish decorations on the wall. At first Allie and I followed the order. We started in the normal pool. Then we went to the hot pool and visited the third pool. After that we went to the steam room. It was super relaxing but the cold pool was hard to get into, and the steam was really warm. All the pools were different depths. The normal pool was a little below my shoulders, and the deep pool was probably 12 inches deep and the cold pool was about 2 feet deep. We got about an hour and a half in the baths. They only allow about 20 people in the baths at a time so they clear everybody out every hour and a half to let more people in. On our way to change, they set up a station for some tea. It was the same mint tea I had in Morocco. It is excellent tea!! It was wonderful and a perfect way to end the adventure. (Hint: Mom and Dad you should visit this place while you are here) Allie and I plan on going back the weekend before finals, just as a way to relax, plus by that time we will get a student discount and a massage because it will be the low season. It was the Huelga general today in Spain. It was pretty much boring. On my way to class, there were protestors at the post office, but there were more cops than protestors. Plus all the cops I saw were old so it was just funny looking. The only thing that is sort of like a strike is that about half the stores are closed, the streets are dirty and there are stickers everywhere promoting the strike. Some of my friends went out last night and they told me the club closed at midnight for the strike. One of my friends told me that people started to shoot firecrackers off out side of his apartment at exactly midnight. Tomorrow I am leaving for Madrid, and Toledo. I am planning on visiting another small town near there too, but I don't know which one yet. I am just planning on staying in Madrid because it is cheaper than staying Toledo. My real classes start on Monday, or Tuesday. I have not gotten my schedule yet.
26: Week 6 First of all, I am sending this email early again because it is off to Lagos, Portugal for some relaxing time in the sun, and a day or two in Seville on the way back. Well last weekend was a lot of fun but very interesting. I almost missed the bus, because Casilda told me that leaving at 8 would get me there in time to catch bus. What she forgot was that there was a ton of traffic. And I went to the wrong city bus stop, so it is really my fault. But I made it to the bus with about 5 minutes to spare. Then I had a wonderful 5 hour bus ride. Luckily I slept some and the drive through the Sierra Nevada was just pretty. | I sat next to some nice woman. She slept too. It was a nice bus. We had to buckle our seat belts, but we were able to watch a movie which was nice. After I got to Madrid, the Subway was super easy to get to the hostel. Then I went for a walk. It turns out I under estimated the force of the strike. There was strike related Graffiti everywhere, and when I saw a news paper, the Alhambra was closed. There were some bigger protests in Madrid. I got a little lost during my walk so I ended up just walking around the town for about 7 hours before I found my way home. Most of it is my fault because (as I realized at the end of my walk) if I would have just taken a left instead of a right at the top of the subway, I would have found the stuff I was looking for much quicker. Anyways, during my walk, I saw a place that will eventually become a beautiful park, but it was under construction so it was ugly. Some soccer stadium. The other side of the river with no tourist points, but then I found Plaza Mayor and Plaza Sol. Those are two main touristy locations. I wandered around them for a while (so I don't think that counts as being lost). But while I was lost, I got thirsty, so I stopped at a grocery store to buy something to drink. I decided to get a can of Fanta de Limon. And guess what, you can break the packages of any type of cans of pop to get how many ever you want. I went to bed early that night.
27: On Friday, I got up and went directly to the train station to buy my ticket for Toledo. I got really lost in the train station so some employee took me to the security stop to make sure I found my way. (This was starting to get annoying because I did not get super lost until this trip) Spain was the first train station where there was actually some security and baggage scans. The train was late so the train station employees had to give directions. I had to use my excellent Spanish/English skills to translate for an American family. It went a little like this...."well I think he said blah blah blah, but I really don't know if that is right." When I got to Toledo they had a huge sign posted that most of the souvenirs in Toledo would not pass through security very well. I was confused by that until I actually made it up to the town. (see the pictures ... the first one is the stairs I had to climb to get to Toledo. There are many more below this point, and more above it too.) (Actually I walked to Toledo twice. After I crossed one bridge, I decided the other one was prettier so I walked back across the first bridge and over to the second). I made it to the top and started to walk around town. It was really interesting because it was so old. At first I went to the Cathedral, and then I remembered how many I had already visited on this trip so I decided just to look at the outside. Then I wandered around a bit more and looked in the shops. They sold swords and guns in pretty much every store. I understood the security signs at that point. After lunch I took a tourist train ride around the city. They took us outside the wall and across the river to get a better view of the city. We heard some stories about some of the buildings too. I think that was my favorite part of the Toledo trip. After the train ride I walked down to this famous church. It has a bunch of chains on the outside that the moors used to tie up Christians and then when the christians were freed they hung them on the church. Then I read some of my Rick Steve's book and I heard about this Synagogue Museum that had a lot of culture and such. I thought I was visiting it, but it turned out I went to the wrong Synagogue. I was disappointed because the one I went to just had some really bad artwork in it that some nun was selling. (It was built by the moors for the Jewish and then the Christians took it over- therefore we get a nun). Then I decided I wanted to see the Mosque. Rick Steve said is was a good place to visit. I never found it, so I walked over to the really long stairs, ready to begin my way back to the bus station, when I found the set of escalators to get from the road below to the town. I then went back to Madrid for dinner and bed.
28: My original plan was to go to Segovia on Saturday, but I decided that Madrid had too much to offer so I stayed there. It was a busy day. I started at the Bull Fight Ring. They have a museum, but I misread Ricky (my Rick Steves book and I were excellent friends this weekend and it was closed whoops. Then I went to the Naval Museum... Here are your pictures of the cannons finally.... This ship has more than 100 so I think they are pretty good. Plus they had cannons all over the walls and a weird exhibit on Antarctica. After that I went to the National Archeological Museum... closed until the 12th. Then it was off to the Real Madrid Stadium... not very interesting, but it was worth a shot. After that I realized that I spent too long at other places (or because I decided to save 1 euro and take a 45 minute walk from the Bull Fighting Stadium to the Naval Museum) and I missed the Templo de Debod. Ricky told me it was a temple that Egypt just picked up and moved to Spain. Then I went to the Clothing Museum in the middle of nowhere Madrid. It was super cool. They had clothing that was over 300 years old. Crazy. I got some pictures in before they informed me that pictures were not allowed (whoops). Then I visited the Prado Art Museum. It was very nice and big. I did not like Goya's dark paintings- too sad. I spent a few hours there before walking to Centro de Reina Sofia to see the Guerrnica by Picaso. I was so impressed with that painting and that museum that I did the entire thing in 30 minutes. After all that I was super tired so I went to bed early again. I feel like I saw a lot during that day so I felt accomplished. The best part was that since it was a Saturday... all of the museums totaled 8 euros and that is only because I mixed my schedule up at one point and forgot to show my student ID. On Sunday I just took another 5 hour bus ride back to Granada. It was very long but nice because I was tired. Monday was the first day of class. I had POE (Producion Oral y Escrita) and Grammar. POE should be fun. I have the same teacher as I had for the first half of the intensive class. She is super nice. Some of the people in my intensive class are jealous I have her again. The Grammar class will be intense. We are now level 6 so we are advanced and therefore we should not need to speak English - class rule. We have to bring our bilingual dictionary to class every day because he (our professor) won't tell us what words mean.
29: We spent most of the time doing basic grammar select the right word exercises. Then he went around the room and we had to answer them. Oh by the way. I have 1 hour 30 minutes to walk to my house, eat, and return to school. That sounds like a lot of time, but I live 30 minutes from the school. We will have to see how this goes. I might end up eating a lot of Bocadillas this semester. On a happier note, I found out that school ends a week earlier than I thought. (Finals are still at the same time). This means I have a whole week off in December right before finals. Tuesday was my first day of six hours of class. It started off with Spanish Literature... 8:30 am. That was early. There were a lot of people in that class, so about 10 minutes in, we ran out of seats, because students were still coming. So our professor left and found us a new classroom. Then we learned what literature was, and what it was all about poetry. We will not have to read entire books, but segments out of them. After that I went to Islamic Culture in Spain. That professor seems like he will be fun. After that I went to Culture and Civilization of Latin America. We spent over an hour doing introductions. We had to draw a picture of the US on the front board and then one by one we went up and drew our state on it. Then the class had to ask each person three questions. After the American students went, the students from other countries got to go - 2 from Canada, 1 from China, and 1 from Japan. Wednesday was fun. I had school and then I had some homework. Later Casilda invited me to go along with to Blanca's house to celebrate Blanca's birthday. I made her a card early this week. I put a dollar and some coins in it because everybody likes money from other countries. She loved it. She called her sister to tell her and she showed everyone in the house. I met her dad, who was extremely curious about things in the US, including the exchange rate, the licensing of teachers, and the location of Mexico in relation to Florida. The third was the easiest for me to describe. He also wanted to know about the mountains and lakes in Minnesota. Blanca had an English test coming up so she asked me to help her study and understand somethings. She wanted to know about the princesses from my country. I told her we didn't have any so she went to get her book to prove me wrong. I was right, there are no princesses in the US - she was learning about some from Great Britain. She also had me play a video game, which she changed the settings on so it was in English just to make sure I would understand.
30: Then she took picture after picture. When I was helping her study I had to look at her book, and it is the strangest thing. I had never heard anyone actually use the phrases because it was British English. But the strangest part came when it was time to sing happy birthday. I didn't know all the words so I only sang part of it... then Blanca made me sing it to her in English by myself. Only slightly embarrassing. I thought it was hard to get Casilda to stop giving me food, I was wrong. Her sister would not stop shoving food in front of me until I ate it, and then she put more. I tried no thanks, I am full, I don't want any right now, and anything else I could think of, but it failed. I also only wanted to drink water but that was not going to be allowed. I ended up with two glasses of orange juice, a piece of cheese cake, a piece of date bar, and some candy I couldn't identify - plus some organic carmel to eat some other time because I just don't eat enough. My host sister Aurora thought it was funny. After dinner Aurora told me that her first day of her new English class was hard - her teacher will only speak English. Then she wanted to know a new word for difficult. I said challenging, which I guess is a hard word to say because she just couldn't get it. Anyways the entire night was fun. I might be tutoring Blanca in math now. Her family said she was having some problems and they know that I want to teach math. Math is the same in every language right? Casilda (and Blanca too) are getting excited for my parents visit. They asked if either could speak Spanish. I told Casilda that Mom could speak a very little bit. I actually think that Blanca is more excited for the visit than I am, which is strange because I am very excited. She told everyone about it tonight. Thursday was another 6 hour day of class. In the first one, we discussed the feudal system. It is about as interesting in Spanish as it is in English, especially at 8:30 in the morning. It was really hard, our first reading (like all of them will be for a while) was written in Middle Aged Spanish (one of the first texts written in Spanish actually) this means it was a mixture of Arabic, Latin, and old Spanish and regular Spanish. Then I went to Islamic culture. We discussed pre-islamic culture in Arabia. There are many cognates in this class, but then there were also some words in Arabic. Then I had Hispanic America Culture and Civilization. It was a waste of my time, but we got out early. (2:20 instead of 2:30 - I know because some guy in class wore a watch and sat with it facing me for one hour and fifty minutes). After that I tried to help Blanca with her math. It was long division and I could do the problems, but the way they do long division in Spain is different. I understood her system, but she did not believe me - I know I was correct because I could solve the problems.
31: After dinner I tried to talk with Jill on Skype, but the connection was poor and we kept loosing each other. One topic of conversation was Lee. She told me to say hi to Jill so I did, now I am supposed to pass the message back to Lee that she should text Jill at some point in time. Yup, they are sending messages to each other via Spain. It is now 10:40 and I am almost done packing for my trip. I am leaving in 5 hours for Sevilla then on to Lagos. Before anyone is jealous or anything, it is supposed to be rainy all weekend all over the peninsula. Casilda has made me a Bocadilla for tomorrow so I don't have to find a lunch.
34: Week 7 Friday's bus ride to Seville was the most uncomfortable bus ride I have ever taken. To start with it was 3 am and I don't think a bus ride at 3 am is ever comfortable for anyone, but then every seat was full. The majority of the students were from my school because we all had a five day break and wanted out of Granada. This was a strange bus with all the seats squished closer together than usual. Once one person reclined we all had to just to make sure we wouldn't be sitting with our faces on the seat in front of us. When we got to Seville, we tried to take a nap but then the security guard would not allow us to lay down to sleep at all! We got yelled at quite a bit. Later we got to the place where DiscoverSeville (yes it is one word) was picking us up and they separated the group from Winona onto a different smaller bus with about 6 other people. We also were at a different hotel with a kitchen and I hear the rooms were a little nicer. Our main guide's name was Manuel but we could call him Manu or Manny. So then on our short bus we had another 3 hour ride to Portugal. When we stopped on the bus we were given explicit instructions not to speak in Spanish. Manu said the Portuguese people would make us pay more if we spoke Spanish. So I spent the entire weekend practicing my English skills. When we got to Lagos it was rainy but a few signs said Sunny Lagos. I went to visit the beach, but Manu doesn't give great directions so we went to the wrong beach. It was still pretty with really big waves. Later that night they took us to out to get dinner.
35: On Saturday we went to the beach. It was just gorgeous. But cloudy and rainy. We still had fun. In the morning it was just the group from our hotel. And we played in the water. We did not go deeper than our knees because the waves were just huge.Allie (one of the girls from my group) and I tried to support the Twins but they still lost. Later the other guides showed up and brought a skimboard. I tried it, but I was not successful. Some of the guides were very good at it, but nobody from our group was good at it. Then we had an amazing 30 minutes of sunshine. Later that night we got dressed up and went to the End of the World. It was amazingly beautiful. I was talking to one of the guides who grew up in Lagos and he told me that he rarely had seen the waves going that high on the cliffs. After that a few of us finally got our chipotle fix (Yup that is the food that most of us miss the most). We went to this little restaurant owned by some Australians and they served burritos wrapped in tin foil with chips, guac. and sour cream. On Sunday we went Surfing. When we pulled up to the beach in the middle of nowhere (We were told that they sometimes have professional surfing events at this beach), the waves scared us a bit. At first we were going to go to this beach, but then we were told the waves were too big. Later we were told the waves at the other beach weren't big enough so it was back to beach one. We had to remind a couple of the girls in our group that three of the 11 of us were lifeguards plus the guides were going to be in the water and the surfing instructor. We neglected to mention to these girls that none of us had ever seen this/swam in this type of water before. We got our wetsuits on, and took some pictures just as a monsoon settled in over the beach. We could not see anything and luckily the wetsuits protected our skin because the rain was a little cold. We warmed up with a run and some stretches before we learned to catch a wave. Then in the rain we went out to try to catch some waves. Before we went we were told not to go out past our hips and there was no reason to swim. I don't know if I even made it out to my hips. Most of the time the water was at our calves before the waves came in and then we had to tread and hold onto our boards when the waves came in. After catching the waves we learned to stand up. Most people tried but didn't succeed. I only made it up to my knees. Most of the time I spent trying to get out to right depth but the waves kept pushing us back. We spent about two hours surfing before we ate lunch and returned to the hotel were Manny had convinced the hotel to give us one room for a few hours to change. Well 11 people can't shower and change in one bathroom in an hour, so some of us went to the unheated pool and jumped in to clean the sand off and then used the showers down there. It all worked the same. After that we returned to Seville where Manny tried to give us directions to our hostal... it ended with you can't ask anyone where it is because nobody will know. Thanks for the help Manny. That night Allie and I went for Pizza while everyone else went to bed (This may seem like a dumb fact but it matters in a minute) On Monday we took the tour of Seville with our hostal. Nobody wanted to do anything after that, so Allie and I went back to the cathedral to see the tower and 10 percent of the remains of Columbus. This seems very appropriate because it was the 11th so the day before the 12th of October which is the Dia de Hispanidad (Colombus Day).
36: Then we made lunch some really bad spaghetti mix with instructions in Portuguese. The main thing we got was we needed a half liter of water but neither Allie nor I knew what that was exactly. We asked some British guy at the hostal to help, but he couldn't, neither could the Australian we asked. Anyways Allie and I were not full after the Pasta so we went back to the Pizza place from the night before to split bruschetta and some tinto. But when we got there we saw some lady with a good dessert. So anyways after all that we also ate some Tiramisu. Later that night, before all of us went to a Flamenco show, Allie and I returned to the pizza parlor. We had the same waiter all three times. We are pretty sure he remembered us, but he didn't want to comment on it. Out of five meals in Seville we ate 3 ate this restaurant and the other two were provided by the hostal. The Flaminco show was amazing. It was a little more traditional than the one I saw in Malaga, but amazing. This one was in a little shack of a bar and it was packed with people. On Tuesday I woke up with a cold, so I changed my bus ticket to return earlier. I slept a lot but I also talked to Casilda, Blanca, Blanca's mom and her older sister. They made a comment and I said I had a cold. That was the WRONG thing to say. Blanca had to tell her sister and her mom right away then Casilda and her sister were trying to figure out the medicine I needed and it was slightly overwhelming. Luckily Blanca's sister (who is studying to be a nurse) reminded them that my mom is a nurse and I did have medicine in my room I could take. She told them I could take care of myself. That got them to leave me alone and so I went and hid in my room before going to bed early. I had class on Wednesday so nothing exciting happened. I had a paper due. I had to write a page about my favorite MN holiday or custom. I wrote about the State Fair. Then I started another paper (less than ten lines) about why I like Minnesota. I wrote that it has four seasons that I love. My homework is hard. Plus I was super tired so I slept a bit. Thursday was a rough day. Class at 8:30 is never fun, but it is worse when you have to walk 30 minutes in the dark to get to class. Then we began to read The Cancion del Cid. It is some poem from the middle ages. I had to learn a little more latin and arabic to read the poem and then we spent about an hour reading 16 lines. It was hard. The other two classes went fine. Lunch was interesting but I made a huge mistake. I told Casilda about reading the poem. So after dinner when my host sister and one of her friends were over, Casilda had me practice reading the poem to them and they tried to help me understand. The only thing is, since we spent an hour studying 16 lines in class, I already knew it. I just sat there and try to pay attention. I also was tricked by Blanca today. She asked for help with her English homework and told me it was practice. When I finished explaining it to her and helping her translate, she accidentally let it slip that she had to make a card with the sentence on it for class. I think I did her homework for her. Today was one of three fridays that I actually will have class on. It was awful. I did not want to go to class until 6pm on a Friday. But I guess they were kind of fun classes. We talked about different phrases and how to say them in Spanish like brownnoser, creeper, pig, follower, a very bad person. These all have body parts or animals in them. Even after two months it is still hard for me to eat lunch at 230 or 3 in the afternoon. I just think that is too late for lunch. I also do not like to get out of class at 6 only to realize that I have to wait another 2.5 hours for dinner. It is just an awkward amount of waiting. Well I have to say today's Bocadilla was no good. I didn't finish it. I went and got a Kebab instead which I don't like to do because I have to pay for it. But that was just an awful sandwich. Yuck!
40: Week 8 So Friday night, I did absolutely nothing. I ate dinner and sat around because I had to get up at 6 AM on Saturday. It was so early that Casilda put breakfast out the night before so she would not have to get up. But I made it to Córdoba sin problemas. But in Cordoba, I got a little lost. My entire plan for the day was to visit the Mezquita - Cathedral. It took me a lot longer to find than it should have, but it was worth it when I found it. I even splurged at the cathedral and got the audio guide (3 Euros) to make sure I fully understood it. This is the history in short - Built on the ruins of old Roman stuff (Christian Temple) in 10 months (it is a really good example of the 3 Rs... especially reuse). Then it was expanded to hold 9000 people. Then to 15000 people then I think they said the last guy expanded it to hold 40000 peeps. It got so big the Mihrab was no longer centered. They also had to expand the courtyard. Then in the 1200s it became a Cathedral... They just put a church in the middle of the building. | Tater I was sitting outside the Alcazar when a man approached me. He was speaking Spanish and I didn't understand anything. It turned out that was not my fault. He was from Germany, so his Spanish was not that great. He wanted directions to the Roman Bridge, which I knew because I had already visited it. Anyways I gave him directions in German because he did not speak Spanish or English very well. Then since the bridge wasn't very far and I was going that direction anyways, I walked with him a bit (He was an old Grandpa so all is good). But while we were walking we had a weird conversation about beggars (There are a lot in Spain) and he told me they were the Mafia but worse. Well it could have been something else because he was speaking German but that is what I got out of it. As most of you know, I went out on Saturday night. I had ever intention of coming home early to chat with you guys, but I didn't. I got in about 4 am so it wasn't even that late of a night :) (But it was a 22 hour day so I was pretty tired) I was tired on Sunday so I didn't do much of anything. I studied outside for a bit but not much more. I have more roommates... 3 more. A 34 year old Norwegian woman is here for two weeks. She is a Spanish teacher and has 5 kiddos at home. Then I have two high school students from France. They are here until Thursday. Aurora helped me with my homework after dinner and we watched some Big Brother before I went to bed. On Monday I started a five day week of class. We don't do that here. In fact this is our only five day week of class. I met more Canadians during lunch today. I keep meeting Canadians, and I don't like it anymore. I would prefer to meet people from other places than Canada. I am not saying I don't like the Canadians
41: We get along very well and they are very nice), but I can meet Canadians at home. That evening I watched some TV with Jose and talked to the roomies. The french girls want to speak English but the Norwegian woman wants to speak Spanish and Casilda just wants to talk about food. (But tonight it wasn't focused on me, it was on the Norwegian woman! Uhoh, on Tuesday Solfrid - norwegian chica... aka number 5- missed dinner. She told Casilda she wasnt going to be back until 10 pm but Casilda didnt listen too well. Aurura frequently told her to leave things alone and calm down. I told her that Solfrid already said she wouldnt be back until after dinner but Casilda didnt care. It was dramatic. Then I watched TV and went to bed. The tv show was not very interesting but Casilda loved it. It was enimigos intimitos. It was a talk show about some famous singer and her familia. I guess there were problems with some other lady - not the girls mom - and somebody got arrested. It wasnt even a good talk show. Casilda told me that they have too many commercials but I think they have less than shows in the US. Plus when I watched TV with José, I had to watch sports and they don't show comercials during the sporting events. (At least on that channel) So I am pretty sure I jinxed myself with the title of this email. We are all sick. By all, I mean everyone in my school. So many people have gone to the doctor this week. Right now I just have a cold, so fingers crossed it doesn't get worse, but I felt pretty bad for a while on Wednesday. My plan was to go Salsa dancing with some friends - free lessons at 11 pm. But I ended up just laying low and going to bed early. On a positive note, I think my oral test went well today. It was about connectors, so we had a debate and had to use a variety of connectors when we spoke. We are also learning vocabulary about the body so are debate was about the perfect body. Not very fun, but it was an easy topic to debate. Well, right after I wrote the last paragraph about Wednesday, I got a fever. Urgh... I keep jinxing myself. I was miserable all night long. But on Thursday morning I had to tell Casilda that I was skipping some class because I was sick. Then she wanted me to eat breakfast before I went back to bed. I said no. Then she wanted to bring me breakfast in bed. I said no. Then she wanted me to drink a juice box before I went back to bed. I said no. Then she wanted me to drink a juice box in bed. I could see this was going nowhere so I took the juice box and drank it later in the day. Luckily I was feeling better and went to my last class of the day. Only to find out that there was a big speaker at the university and some students were required to go. So I had class for about 40 minutes. It was a waste of time. I studied all afternoon and then went out for MEXICAN food. It was wonderful. I had a stuffed pepper. We go out most Thursdays because the restaurant has a deal. Side note: In my completely useful class - Cultura Hispanoamericana, we learned what a Taco was this week. Our super intelligent professor didn't think that we knew because tortillas are different in Spain than they are in Latin America. Friday was the end of our only five day week of class. It was so long, and I didn't even really go to school on Thursday. I started studying for my midterms and went shopping with one of my friends.
42: Week 9 This weekend was not very exciting. We just had normal lives. After I got up on Saturday, I sat around and my friends and I pretty much just ended up eating all day long. I dont know how that happened because it most definitively wasnt planned. Deysayuno a las 11 (Plain and boring as usual... I am pretty excited for the rents to bring me peanut butter. I wonder what Casilda will say), Lunch a las 2. Ice Cream a las 8. (Hmm so tasty - I introduced my friends to my favorite place) Then it was time for dinner (Hamburgers and Soup) at 8:45. I was late but not in trouble luckily. | I am pretty sure that this is because Solfrid (My norwegian roommate for two weeks) has decided not to tell Casilda when she will be home and just shows up wheneve she wants. Then at 10 my friends and I went out for Chinese Tapas. I know it sounds weird but they are pretty good. It is 2 for a drink and some chinese food. We generally all end up getting the noodles and vegetables, but they also have fried rice, egg rolls and some other stuff. It was packed in there on Saturday so we ended up having to stand, but it was worth it. Sunday didnt really turn out as planned but it was really relaxing. I got up and studied POE and Grammer before lunch, then after lunch and a study break, I went to the cafe Aroma y Sabor with my friends to study. I studied Literature at that class. And I learned an important lesson... I dont know what is happening in my lit class. But that is okay. Nobody really knows what is happening in that class. I think- just because I dont want to be culpable - I am going to blame my 11th grade english teacher because that was the last time I had poetry. We learned a lot of things in this class that I have never even heard of the word translated in English. Plus we have to count syllabols and learn some old spanish, Arabic and latin. I am going to have to study a lot for that mid-term next week. It will not be very much fun.
43: II have had some really awkward experiences with my host brother. I have them a lot but I am pretty sure this past week takes the cake. I almost ran him over when we turned a corner at the same time going opposite directions. o I started to appologize and I asked him a question. This all seems normal, but it wasn't because I was speaking in English. He doesn't speak English, or at least doesn't speak enough English to understand me. He just laughed at me. Then on Monday I was given a homework assignment of a page of how to insult people in Spanish. Some of them were palabrotas - swearwords. So obviously not in my dictionary and hard to find on the computer so I had to ask for help. It wasn't really an assignment where I wanted Madre's help so I had to ask Jose to teach me to swear in Spanish. Just awkward, especially when he didn't know some of the words. On Tuesday I went to class and realized that needed to study for the up coming mid-terms. I also got some good news. I have been having some problems with registration for next semester, and some housing issues too. Today I was able to get a hold of a professor who told me that the requirements have changed and now I don't have to take a class I really did not want to take. Then later I got a hold of the housing parts so I was able to figure out somewhere to live this Spring. It was just a wonderful moment. Later I got roommates number 8 and 9. They are only here until Friday and they are two high school French girls. They are here with a group of 70 students from their school. They only have one boy in the entire group. Anyways both of their names start with M's so I really don't know if I will be learning them, numbers 8 and 9 seem sufficient. Wednesday was a day to finish up stuff for next weeks test. It was not very exciting as a lot of people had already left for the weekend or were getting ready to go somewhere, and my main activity on Thursday was traveling up to Barcelona to see the parents. It was only an hour long flight, so it wasn't really bad. There are no pictures this week, sorry, but it just wasn't that exciting.
44: Week 10 I got to Barcelona a little late on Thursday around 10 pm and then I took a bus to meet the family. It was nice to see them again, but it was hard to find them. I could not find the hotel. It turns out that once again, I got out at the wrong side of the Metro and I had to walk all the way around the plaza and it was a big one. This is not my fault. I was thrown off my game on Friday when I was talking to a family from Tennessee (They were very interesting people, but I don't think they were the smartest people ever... The man almost left his wallet, thought when I said I was only in Barcelona for the weekend but living in Granada - he thought I was talking about the Island in the Caribbean. ) Anyways I was talking to them about their lost luggage situation and there upcoming cruise so I got off at the wrong stop and had to take the Subway which I wasn't even really planning on doing. Then the parents took me out for some dinner - Subway eat fresh. ¡Muy Buena! On Friday morning we saw some sites by riding the tourist bus around. We also visited La Boqueria, an open air market. The sold all types of food for example lambs head with the eyes attached.
45: Mom and I had to keep a good eye on Dad in the market because we were worried he would walk off or touch the fruit or something. It was a cool market, but I know that Dad liked it more than I did. Saturday was really fun. We finished riding the red line which we had started on Friday and at the top of Mont Juic we took a chair lift like wagon thing down to the mountain and over the pier to see the sea. It was pretty. But then we had a wonderful lunch (after waiting for over an hour) at Hard Rock Cafe. It was nice. Then in the afternoon we took the bus around to see the rest of the town (Blue Line). It was really pretty and I enjoyed it a lot. We ended up eating dinner at an outdoor restaurant and it was a super slow restaurant. On Sunday we visited the the famous park designed by Gaudi. It was amazing and packed. At the top there was a very nice view of Barcelona. After we went to the park I had to go to the airport for my flight. It was uneventful. Even though it was Halloween, I decided to stay in because I was really tired. I spent all day on Monday studying except for the part where I took my parents to see the bottom of the Alhambra because it is lite up at night. Tuesday I took some tests and I went for a walk with the parents. I meant to study but I ended up talking to my host sister for a little more than 2 hours. It was a very interesting coversation and it was all in Spanish so I think that counts (right?). I aught her a little about Minnesota and we googled it. She thought Minnesota looks very pretty and green and just a nice place to be. Then I told her about Ice Fishing and I changed her mind. I dont think she understood it right away because she looked it up on Youtube and we watched a video of two guys fishing in the middle of the winter. At first she was confused about how the fish could still be alive. It was very hard to explain in Spanish. We also were talking about how Spanish has different dialects and such. I told her English was the same way and she asked for an example - the best one I could come up with was Pop. I think she liked that word a lot, but I guess it is kind of hard for her to say. I also learned something fascinating. So Blanca is studying English in Elementary school, so I just assumed that Aurora and Jose did too, but they didnt. Students just started to study English in schools here a few years ago. (Well I am not certain about Jose, but I know that Aurora didnt and I have never heard Jose say a word of English, but most people I know who just know a few words have used them so I think that is a good guess) Aurora is a little jealous of the students now who get to learn English in school because she thinks that it would be easier to learn that way. Another exciting event occured.... ROOMIE NUMBER 10. He is from Qatar. When he first moved in none of us could remember his name. Aurora and Casilda kept asking me about it, but it was hard to remember. We finally created a plan that when my parents came to visit, they were going to ask him his name and I wasnt going to do any introductions just to make sure that he had to say his name so it would never occur to him that none of us knew his name. But Casilda was thrown for a loop with this new roommate. He doesnt eat beef or pork because he is a Muslim. This means Casilda cant make 90 percent of the food she feeds us usually. I think it stresses her a bit. She likes to remind us of this fact during every meal; just in case we forget that he cant eat certain foods. He speaks perfect English because he studied Chemical Engineering in Texas and his Spanish is about the same level as mine when I arrived here. Right now though he keeps asking me to translate things for him and the family. I think it is more of a crutch than anything else. I had to live here a week before I knew anything that was happening around me. And Aurora speaks to him in English occasionally - She never had done that with me.
46: Mom and Dad took me shopping on Wednesday so after almost 3 months of being away from home, I finally have a jacket. Good thing too because the heat has been turned on and flannel sheets are on the beds. (It is not that cold, but every one else in my house seems to think it is). I do like the sheets when I am curled up though. My bed is super comfortable, but in the mornings I open my window while I get ready to cool the room off a bit and then close them before I leave so that Casilda doesnt know. On Thursday my parents came over for lunch with me at the apartment. I picked them up after class from their hotel and took them on the weaving path back to my apartment. I dont think that they could find it again if they wanted to. Casilda served and sat for a minute, but Aurora actually ate with us. Dad was able to talk politics with his new friend - my new roomie. Aurora actually tried to speak English to us. She did really well. She was even able to use one of the words I taught her, Pop. I ended up having a long dinner conversation on Thursday with the roomie, Casilda and Aurora so my studying was cut short. Friday was super boring!! I got up and decided around 11:30 that I needed to watch a movie on the bus trip to Madrid to meet the parents so I downloaded "How To Train Your Dragon." It is just an excellent movie that everyone needs to see. Anyways by the time I downloaded it and then put it on my Ipod it was 12:20, class starts at 12:30, and I live 30 minutes away. Anyways this teacher is always 10 -15 minutes late for class so I made the trip in 20 minutes to school and still beat her. Then after class I had the longest 1.5 hour wait ever for my next class to begin. It was just awful. We were only having a midterm, so we all knew that it would be short, but it just dragged on and on. About half of my class was sitting with me outside talking about how long this wait seemed today. We always have a break but this one was the worst that we have had. Anyways the test only took 30 minutes so I was done by 4:30. Then I sat around for a bit until I had a brilliant idea... I was done with class early so I could change my bus time and leave at 6 instead of 7 for Madrid. I was relatively easy to get to the hotel to meet my parents, but at 11 I am kind of lazy sometimes to I walked down the wrong set of steps and refused to walk back up them. All this means is I saw a different part of the subway system than would have been the fastest way to the hotel. Menos mal though because I made it there without any problems. The first three pictures are from Barcelona. The fourth is from there too, but it is an empty subway. I was really impressed when we were on an empty subway. It was only Mom, Dad, and I.... really cool. I hadn't seen one of those before.
48: Week 11 This weekend I was in Madrid with the parents. On Saturday we visited this weird temple called Temple Debod. It was kind of weird but cool. Spain helped Egypt with something (I didn't pay that much attention) and then Egypt put all the bricks for the temple in a box and shipped them to Spain where they built the temple again. Then we visited the palace. It was okay but not nearly as nice as Versailles. My Dad really liked the armory... lucky for all of you we were not allowed to take pictures in the palace so no pictures of saddles or armor. Then we toured the main part of the palace. We got a few dirty looks because we were talking but there were no signs that prohibited talking. Some of the rooms were nice but others were a little ugly. There was this one that had some weird stuff and ugly yellow paint in it. I hated it. But then they had this other room that had stuff nicely carved on the walls. The other part of the palace was the pharmacy. I think we spent 5 minutes there. It was not that fun nor entertaining. The security guard in that part was not even paying attention. He looked like a statue and just listened to his Ipod. I don't even think that is allowed for security guards to do. For lunch we went to Plaza Mayor. I saw a movie about it once in Spanish class. It was very nice. Then we went out to see the football (Soccer) stadium. Then we went on some Gondolla rides over Madrid. So pretty. But a little nerve racking at the beggining. We made it to the place about 5 minuntes before they stopped selling tickets so for a bit we didn't know if they sold us a round trip ticket or not and it goes out to no-wheres-ville Madrid. It was really pretty but the narration was in Spanish. I understood what was happening but I don't know if the parents did. Dinner was at TGI Fridays and dessert was at some little market. Then we walked to see Palace at night. The lights make those things pretty. Then it was off to bed. Sunday was another busy day. We got up and went to see the bull ring and the archeological museum. Neither were all that impressive. We did see something sort of weird and exciting at the museum. A boy started to climb up on a statue that was really old. All the security guards went running at him. It was very entertaining to watch. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then rode the tourist bus around the city for the afternoon. There was a MTV concert in town so it was very interesting and there were a lot of cops. Then on Monday it was super busy. The rents left spain and I had to get up at 5:45 to make my 7 am bus and be in class by 12:30. Luckily, like always, class started late so I wasnt. Grammar was just painful that afternoon. The teacher was not very nice that day. We could not understand what he wanted and lets just say there were some harsh feelings between the students and Carlos (our professor). I think we won because we all talked about him in English as soon as we left the class so he wouldnt know completely what we were saying. He was just a jerk! I took the rest of the evening off from thinking after that. uesday was rainy all day long! It was sad and it made me just feel melacholy, which I decided did not translate and took a nap all afternoon to get rid of it. But it didnt work so I went for a walk, but it started to rain again. So stilly feeling bleh, I returned home for dinner and guess what... roomie was out for dinner and there was a cooking show on TV that Casilda wanted to watch so I ate all alone. But later, I called a friend and we went out for Tea. We also started to plan our trip for December so it is all good. Plus I had an idea what I should do with my group for our project next tuesday. It has to be 25 minutes and interactive. Luckily, I have taken a lot of ED. classes so coming up with random activites about weird things is not that hard for me.
49: Our project is on Foods from South America. I want to talk about foods from the Andies Region. My group is going to let me too. It is all perfect because I want to talk about how they eat Llamas and Guinea Pigs. We are making a power point. The game we are going to play is showing different foods and describing them to make the rest of the class guess where the foods are typically consumed or where the foods are from. Wednesday was a pretty boring day except for the fact that it was Empanada night. Casilda tried to get me to eat half of one, but lets be honest... that really should never happen way too much food. But since it was such a boring day I would like to tell you all about a sad event from the weekend. My parents noticed that my shoes were falling apart. Anyways they bought me new shoes but since I was only traveling with a backpack, I didn't have room for all the stuff so I had to throw the shoes out. They were an excellent pair of shoes and they traveled with me all over Spain. We saw so much together and they always kept my feet dry (that might be because I didn't wear them if it rained) and I even in the end of their life span, I rarely slipped on the sidewalks of Granada. We had many good evenings together. It was a sad moment putting them in the trash can. So if you ever need a good reliable pair that shoe might be the way to go. Oh my goodness. We got so much homework on Thursday, it is a good thing that I didn't have class on Friday. Aurora and I spoke in Spanglish together during the afternoon. We are trying to do this more to improve our language skills. The only thing is, we never get the "glish" part going. It is always Spanish and I teach her a few new English words when I don't know a Spanish one. Today we were talking about Reactions during conversations... a new topic in a class... and I taught her sure... which is a very difficult word to say especially when you try to read it. It just doesn't work. We plan to try put put some more glish into our Spanglish. After dinner I talked with Khalid, the new roomie, because my plans to go out fell through. Anyways, he is going to help me with my ten page test about Islamic Culture. Thank goodness it is so long. Also I want to tell you that he lived in the US for 4.5 years and did not really learn anything about baseball. It was a very disappointing moment. I don't know if I can get over that. But he was very nice at dinner and tried the mysterious beverage before I did... it was a mixture or avocado and some red tomato looking fruit but it starts with a K and you don't eat the skin. There was no way I was going to try it first. It looked like cookie dough but a little more liquidy. It was hard to drink. Picture time: 1. A quick trip to Africa... Temple Debod 2. The view of the ride about Madrid 3. The MTV concert. It was packed.
50: Week 12 I can't believe how fast time is going. I will be home in just over four weeks. That is crazy and I am no where near ready to be done with this yet. It is too much fun and I have learned so much. On Friday I ended up hanging out with Blanca and Aurora for a while. We went to this park and walked around there playing on the exercise machines. They are free and in the open and Blanca loves them. Then later we ran a couple errands and brought Khalid with us. Aurora wanted to bring the two of us up to see the albizin neighborhood. She lived there for a couple years so it would be safer for us to go with her and we could see some of the sights at night. Anyways Khalid didn't want to be out that late at night or something so he went home and Aurora brought me to a random little viewpoint in the neighborhood then to see other parts of Granada that I hadn't seen, like some parks and some old gate to the city. The only thing about this is that I never really planned for this to be my evening so I was not dressed for about 8 hours of walk. I just ran into them on my way home from something else. Anyways I was wearing boots with a little heal. Not much I mean really they only had about an inch on them, but still when I got home at 12:30 oy, my feet were a little sore. Other than that the boots held up really well on the cobble stone streets. At one point I tried to change my outfit but Blanca wouldn't let me. I am controlled by an 11 year old.
51: Something very sad happened on Saturday... there was an earthquake here and I didn't even know. It was my first earthquake and somehow I missed it. Aurora told me about it later and she said it was quick and she thought it was just a lot of wind, but her friend (who makes excellent Couscous by the way) said it was an Earthquake and they looked on the internet and found out it really was one. Then later there was another sad event. My friends and I went to a store to buy some beer and they carded us. This has never happened to us before and I don't think that it happens a lot in Spain. The legal drinking age is 18 and I think they are pretty flexible with that. But do you know what it means that we were carded. As a senior in college... people still don't think I look like I am out of high school. I pretty much spent all of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday studying so I don't really think you want to hear about that. For those of you who don't know I suck at lying. It has becoming a problem when I try to get out of eating something here without hurting someone's feelings but it also lead to a major foot in the mouth moment earlier this week. Slightly awkward... but anyways I have to give you some background... well the roomie came out with mis amigas y yo anyways so on Sunday my friends and I decided to discuss how old this roommate is... we agreed upper 20s maybe thirty. It was a long discussion and we decided that this was possible even though he has only been out of school for a year because none of us knew how long high school lasts in Qatar or if he took time off before starting college. (Which we decided he did) Then you had to add the 5 years he spent in the US getting his degree plus the year he worked in Qatar. See this does make sense that we got up to almost 30. So roomie and I were talking and the subject of age came up when I mentioned I had worked at the same place for 6 summers now. I told him I was 21 and then I asked how old he was... it is only fair right. Well anyways the fact that the general consensus between my friends and I was that he was 30 came up. He is 24. Whoops... I really need to get better at lying. But on a positive note he was not mad about that at all in fact his biggest complaint was that my friends and I would allow someone who we thought was 30 to go out with us. On Tuesday, as I already mentioned was a study day, and we started to Read selected portions from El Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. It has a lot of words that are long and antiquated so slightly difficult. Anyways I have solved that problem with the same way I read everything for that class... I try to read the packet, look up some words, then I go to Wikipedia to get a summary, and then I google it to read it in English (sometimes). But for Don Quijote, I changed it up, and watched the Wishbone episode about it. It was the best idea yet - 1. It had the same part that we read for today and 2. That dog is just so cute. It was a good use of time. Wednesday was just a low key night. I finished my classes and went home to study for a bit and practice my presentation. Khalid helped me finish my Islamic Culture in Spain test... that was a lot easier than looking for the answers. Then I watched the Portugal Spain soccer game on the Television. Khalid and Aurora decided that since I am American I can't know anything about Soccer, which is partially true, but I knew more than they game me credit for. I did know that Spain won the World Cup... it was in the newspaper at home and I have been here for about 3 months now. Aurora was suprised to learn that the majority of Americans don't follow Soccer at all.
52: Even Casilda knew the history behind the Portugal Spain game on Wednesday. By the way Portugal won 3-0 I think. maybe 4-0. I can't remember. On Thursday I finaly gave my presentation. I am so happy to have it done with. I think it went okay and I didn't even have to use my notes. I just talked about my subject to the class. The only problem was while I was giving my speach I forgot the word for flattened in Spanish and I had to explain it to the class because I used it in a native language to describe the way Cuy is cooked. I had to act it out. The class enjoyed it. The teacher told me she wasn't going to eat for the rest of the day. It didn't affect my hunger so it didn't bother me. Also during my 8:30 class we watched Don Quijote the movie ... in Spanish and from the 1980's. It was painful... phyiscally and mentally. Spanish desks are not made for real people to sit in and it was so boring. Nobody paid any attention to it. After class I took my typical Thursday nap and headed out with the amigas for a fun night. It was Karaoke night so that is where we went. Fun times in Granada. Friday was gorgeous here.. not a cloud in sight and 60 degrees maybe a little warmer. It was wonderful! I went to this park by the river and read my book for a couple of hours. It was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Then I went for a walk around town... I wanted some IceCream... after using all that brain power to read for a couple hours I thought I deserved it. Las Heladerias are almost all closed right now because it is too cold, but my favorite one is still open it is just a bit of a hike from my house. I saw all the lights that they are going to turn on for Christmas. It will be so pretty here. I am super super excited. I think we all are. Plus they just keep putting more and more up. It just looks wonderful. I called it a night and went home to watch some TV. It was not a very exciting Friday for me, but it was perfectally relaxing.
54: Week 13 As a Thanksgiving Surprise I am sending you all the email a day early... Happy Thanksgiving!! On Friday, I ended up doing nothing. I thought about doing things. I really did. I thought about studying or starting my homework. Then I thought about watching TV. The TV won. It actually was a beautiful day so I went down to the river and read for a bit in the afternoon. Then I went for a walk (It had been over a week since I had eaten Ice Cream), before returning home to think about being productive. All that thinking about homework made me tired so I went to bed early. | Saturday was actually a pretty fun day. I thought about my homework in the morning, but did not start it. Later I met some friends and we went for a walk in the Albayzin neighborhood. So pretty. We went to a lot of different viewpoints of the Alhambra and this really pretty garden that I had not visited. We also saw the viewpoint from the Mosque of Granada. Not much different than the viewpoint about 20 yards over, just less busy. I Later we went to some girls house that we know because she was getting ready to leave Granada and go travel Europe with her boyfriend before she went home. It was a nice goodbye party. Sunday was another lazy lazy day. I did absolutely nothing important. I tried to do some homework but failed, so I went to the coffee shop to try to do some homework... FAIL! Then I had to walk home in the rain, which just made me sad so I bought a few gummies to cheer me up. I do not like getting wet in the rain. Then I went home, ate some dinner, chatted with the roomie for a bit and then I went to bed. It was all very low key relaxingish weekend. Then came my second to last week of class. I went to class on Monday and then again on Tuesday and yet again on Wednesday. I really didn't do much exciting stuff this week. I went out with a friend on Tuesday because her boyfriend was visiting and she wanted us to meet him. It was fun except I met some friends of some friends, who called me a "second class Canadian" just because I am from Minnesota. I was not happy. Now today is Thanksgiving. A lot of students skipped school today. One of my professors changed the schedule around when we told her it was Thanksgiving and she let us watch a movie... this meant spending 2 hours staring at the screen and out the window.
55: Most of us did not understand it, and the teacher told us we wouldn't before we began. Nothing was special in my second class but my third teacher reminded us that today is not only Thanksgiving but some international Day for abused women. So we have to remember that while we eat our turkeys later. We also got to give our teachers reviews this week. That was fun. Later I am going to go out with some Amigos to un piso para celebrar dia de accion de gracias. Well since this was such a short letter, I am going to give you all a little bit of information about my time left. Nov. 26-27: Gibraltar -- We really want to see the monkeys but are slightly scared about getting bit. Don't worry all the monkeys have had rabies shots. Dec. 7 - 10: Liverpool. 7 - Flight and Harry Potter 8 - Dublin 9 - Beatles Museum 10 - Home to Malaga and bus to Granada Dec. 13-16: Finals Dec 17: Go to Malaga and Dec 18: Flight to MN - longest day of my life... I leave 7 am in Granada and arrive at 8:30 Minnesota... so add 7 hours to that and it will feel like 3:30 in the morning to me.
56: Week 14 We are almost to the end of these emails. That means I will be home soon. Two weeks left by the time you all get this. This one is a bit more exciting than the last few, I actually did things this weekend. Thanksgiving was actually a lot of fun. Some of my friends and I went to this guy`s apartment. They were planning on about 7 or 8 people showing up. I think we got up to about twenty. More and more people just kept coming. So we got to eat bread and corn and mash potatoes and stuffing and chocolate cake and apple favored cookies. It was tasty. (I realize that no meet was listed... there was none... nobody knew how to cook it). Everybody had to bring something so my friends and I brought the bread and some stuff to drink. Most people just brought stuff to drink. Plus we got to eat like Americans... DINNER AT 6:30! It was fantastic. We played Christmas music and had fun until the guys Super showed up. We thought we were going to get kicked out and they had a long talk. It turns out we were not in trouble for being loud, but because the guy hadnt been paying his rent. Anyways there were no problems and the Super was nice and understood that it was Thanksgiving so we finished our little fiesta by 8:30 and all went home to call our families. I then watched a movie and went to bed.
57: Friday was a tad bit stressful. It began nice and slowly but then I had to meet my friends to go to Gibraltar. So we decided to meet up at 1 at our usual meeting location. Then we went to the bus stop. The bus just wasnt coming and it was around 10 minutes later when (our bus left at 2 so it was 1:15 by this time) one of my two travel buddies realized that she forgot her passport. So she went to get a taxi to go home and take a cab to the bus station. The other girl and I waited and waited and waited and waited until 1:35 when the bus decided to show up. RIDICULOUS! It turned out that they were running minimal service on Friday. That generally means there is a strike somewhere in town. So around 1:55 we got to the bus station. Our friend beat us there and we realized that it probably would have been better if we would have taken the cab with her. Plus then we struggled to find the bus and at about 1:59 we actually were on the bus. Then fast forward about an hour and half to the rest stop. 30 minute break. So it was pouring rain and the bus station wasnt that interesting and we were bored with walking around after about 10 minutes. So we got on the bus and had a conversation. It wasnt anything bad, but it didnt demonstrate our IQs too well. It was mainly about animals and sharks and monkeys. So there were quite a few people on the bus at this time... everyone is lazy in the rain. Now about 4 hours later when we were getting off the bus at our stop, we learned that most of these people spoke English fluently. Slightly embarrassing. I thought that one of them understood the conversation, but not all of them. I guess since we were going to La Linea, which is so close to Gibraltar, we should have figured out that a lot of people on the bus would speak English. When we got off the bus, it was still raining, and my umbrella broke. Plus it was late and dark and we had to get to our hotel. We asked directions in Spanish and of course got a response in English, but we had to use our Spanish at the hotel, because the hotel man did not speak any English. He told us were to go to eat and so that is what we did before returning to the hotel to try to dry out some. Luckily, there were extra blankets in the room because there was no heat! We watched Cash Cab in Spanish and then went to bed around 10 pm. When we woke up on Saturday it was still pouring! So we check out and left our backpacks in the hotel to keep some stuff dry before heading out to breakfast and the Frontier (that is what they call the border between Gibraltar and Spain). We were told to go to this one place in the Plaza but when we almost made it to the Plaza, but it was flooded so we found this other place and had some coffee and bread and cheese and tomato. It was tasty. The rain was so bad a lot of places were going to open late. Then we ventured onward to the frontier in the pouring rain. I got a new umbrella to try and stay almost dry but it was still pouring and we couldn't see all of the Rock of Gibraltar. So we had to flash our passports... more or less the people there only cared that we had passports they were not really inspected. And we were there.... another country Gibraltar... well actually it is not a country but and overseas territory or something like that... someone tried to explain it. Then we caught this bus to take us into town. It was too rainy to walk and even though they use the pound (more on that later) they also accept the Euro. The bus driver was super rude and didn`t want us to get on the bus until he knew where we were going. Which was the rock of Gibraltar to take the chairlift thing up. Well it was closed. So he didn't want us on the bus but we just changed our mind and told him to take us to town. The bus was packed and he didn't question everyone. Well to get to the town you have to drive across the airstrip. So if planes are landing you can't cross. (With the cross winds, the planes were not flying into Gibraltar), but it was still weird. When we got to town, it started to rain harder so we found this nice little bar to hide in until the rain stopped. The had coffee to warm us up, and since it was raining (which I don't think happens a lot) the only other people at the bar where the ones who worked there.
58: Anyways they all had nice British accents and let us solve the crossword puzzles and SuDoKu's from their magazines, which were from England - that means they were in English. Down side they were 3 years old and asked a lot of questions about famous British people. After the rain stopped we got to walk around the town. By this time we gave up on seeing the monkeys... who wants to have a wet monkey sit on you? and just walked around and took pictures of anything that looked British (benches, mail boxes, phone booths...) until we returned to the same bar to eat some Sheppard's Pie for lunch. Then it was off to the hotel to get our things and to the bus station. The bus left at 1:45 and we got there at 1:42, talk about cutting it close yet again. But we made it and got to Algeciras, where we had to catch our train, with an hour to spare. I will spare you the torture of hearing about the train trip... it took for ever!! But then I got home and just stayed in all night. It was so rainy and cold. So the money in Gibraltar is the British pound, but is has a different design on the back... The coins have monkeys. So people in Great Britain sometimes do not accept it, so any money that we took out of the ATM had to be spent in Gibraltar. I still have a coin because I liked the monkey on the back! And we had a nice taxi driver who thought that we might like to have a coin to keep. Sunday was actually a gorgeous day. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! In the morning I went to a Spice shop and then I went to the park in the afternoon to read for a while. Those were my only activity. Monday was rainy yet again, but it was El Clasico, so it was a lot of fun. El Clasico is like the superbowl but a little more important to the Spaniards. It occurs twice a year when Bara and Real Madrid play each other. So we discussed it in classes and then I went to the bar. The bar was packed and so was every other bar that I walked by on my way to the one I went to. Everyone was watching the game. The best part was that there are no comercials during the game. Only at half time. That makes it so much better to watch plus unlike American football, these people actually get some exercise while they are playing their sport. In the end Bara won 5 to 0. After the game I returned home and went to bed. Tuesday it was pouring rain all day long again. Roommate left so I am now all alone at the house with the family. It is nice, and better than at the beginning of October when the family gave me way too much attention.
59: I am pretty sure that we will not be getting any new roommates between now and when I leave. I think Aurora moved back into the spare room. Anyways with all the rain, I didn't end up doing much after class. Mostly I just sat in the house thinking how much I miss dry weather. I also started to buy Christmas gifts. On Wednesday it was yet another rainy day. So not much happened. I chatted with Jill on Facebook for a while after class and then I watched some TV with the family. We watched a show called (maybe just the episode was called this) "Un invierno Mas Frio" It was about places with cold winters. It had parts about Finland (They have heated floors and use Saunas), Poland (They were at a wedding in a Church that wasn't heated so everyone including the bride was wearing a coat), and Berlin Germany (They went sledding and they all kept falling on the ice). Thursday was amazing. It was the last day of class. We spent most of the time reviewing for our tests that start on the 13th of December. But we had an exciting moment during Literature. It had been pouring rain all morning but it stopped for a few minutes so we had a fire drill. It was weird. First of all, who needs to have a fire drill on the last day of class. It seems a little late in the semester. Plus, the building only has one exit so if there ever was a fire, I am pretty sure that we could not all make it to and out of that door. Luckily, the rain held off until we got back inside and later it actually ended up being sunny. In the afternoon I took my customary nap and then went to the bus station to buy a bus ticket for Tuesday. After that I went out to Thai food with my friends and to Karaoke. I called it an early night because I was just exhausted. Friday was just a lazy day. I was still tired so I didn't do much just hung out a bit. Picture Time: 1. We did find some Monkeys in Gibraltar. 2. I am at the Frontier here. Yes I am standing in the middle of the road but there were no cars coming. We were watching. 3. British Phone Booths. They were all over in Gibraltar, but does anybody use them anymore? 4. Monkey Coin!!
60: Week 15 Well to start with, I spent the entire weekend in. We decided to not really go out because we just don't want to any more. So on Friday night we were all home by 8. And on Saturday we were home by midnight. That is a really early night in Spain because to be a real Spaniard, you are really not supposed to go out until about 11:30 or Midnight, plus I changed my keyboard back to English, because I am done typing Spanish papers for awhile. But it is a little hard for me to do this now, so I might switch back. Plus when I write in Spanish on Facebook I still need the accent signs. On Saturday, I ate lunch with the family then went and studied, but at night my friends and I went to tour the lights. Granada decorates every year for Christmas and they finally turned on all the lights. It is gorgeous here right now. Just beautiful! Sunday was the beginning of a family filled weekend. The December 6 and December 8 are holidays here in Spain. So the family came over for a bit on Sunday evening. I had been taking it easy all day, just a little bit of light studying when Casilda told me the entire family was going to be gone all evening so she put my food out and left. So around 6 I was hungry and even though that is not dinner time in Spain, it will always be dinner time to me. | So anyways I ate dinner but then the family came back at 7 and it wasn't just Casilda, Jose and Aurora... there was Blanca, her sister, her dad and her mom. I spent the entire evening having to convince them that I wasn't hungry. I joined them for some churros while we all watched a soccer game. When the game was over Blanca's dad cornered me and gave me a history lesson. It was ancient history... a long time ago, Spain was connected to Africa. Blanca got in trouble for not letting me talk and answer my own questions and her sister got in trouble for saying that I didn't understand things. I decided that I like Blanca's dad. People frequently tell my friends and I that we don't understand or they answer questions for us. It really annoys all of us. Monday was also just an interesting day. It was the real holiday today so the family came over for lunch today and I got to join them. I always know when it is a special lunch because we get to drink more than water. There was Pop and for the adults (the real adults, madre, tio y tia) alcohol free beer. Jose did not join us. But after lunch I got another history lesson. This time we focused on the history of the Spanish flag and the song. Uncle also talked about Franco and the civil war a bit. I then went for a walk and came home and decided to pack and catch up on some writing and things. Tuesday was the day. I got up at 5:45 and was at the donut shop by 6:15 to meet my friends because we were heading out to Liverpool. We got to Malaga to wait for our plane a few hours early and just sat around for a couple of hours before getting on our Ryan Air flight for 2 and a half hours. I get why Ryan Air is so cheep now. They are not a bad airline, but they are strange.
61: For starters you do not get an assigned seat, but once they post the gate number it is important to get in line right away so you can get the seat that you want. Then after take off, they sell things and make announcements every 30 minutes or so. It is almost impossible to sleep. They sell random junk like christmas gifts and the perfume. They also try really hard to get you to rent a car. It was super annoying. So finally we arrived in Liverpool and we caught the bus to the hostel, but guess what... IT WAS FREEZING! We had to walk a bit after we got off the bus and by the time we found the hostel we were all shivering. But it was a nice hostel with no real heat. We had to use the radiators, which did not warm the rooms. It was this cute little hostel, that used to be a home. I am pretty sure that they had more workers at the hostel than they actually had guest. So later we went to this really nice movie theater to see the most amazing movie ever, Harry Potter 7 Part 1. After that we went back to the hostel and went to bed. On Wednesday I went to Ireland. My friends went on the Magical Mystery Bus tour but I just wasn't in the mood and it was a really short, and cheap flight to Dublin so there I went. Actually I almost missed the flight because I was told that I needed to take Bus 86 or 80 to get to the airport, nobody told me that it was bus 86A or 80A, and that there was a bus 80, 80C, 86, 86B, 86C... well you get the picture, but after a quick walk straight to the gat I made my flight. It was about 30 minutes in the air. In Ireland, I had to go through customs another time. I am getting really good at going through customs. I was the only non EU person on the plane so while everyone else was in line for the EU an EE(someother letter) line, I walked straight up to the other people line and went right through. Then I took a bus down to the city center and just walked around for a long time. They have a nice river and it was all decorated for Christmas. I saw an old Viking Ship and took a picture of it through the window because I was not going to pay to see it. Then I went to the Guinness Storehouse and saw what was up with that. My friends told me I had to visit it. It was very interesting. After that I spent a little more time around town and headed back to the airport to head back to Liverpool. My friends and I spent the night in. Thursday was another fun day. After a late start, we went down to the Albert docks to see what was happening. The used to be in busiest docks in Europe for a while and they have some interesting things. We toured some old war time house and then went to the Beatles Story Museum. We also visited the oldest China Town in Europe. We thought that it would be cool and interesting too see. But it also is not very big In fact it is only a block. But it has a fantastic gate. It started to rain so we went to the hostel before dinner. Later we went out to see the Mersey Beatles play in the Cavern Club. It is this famous club where the Beatles got there start. It was very fun. The band plays every Thursday and this week was special because Wednesday Dec. 9 was the 30 anniversary of the death of John Lennon. W Friday was just a day to relax and travel. We took a flight and a bus and so by the time I was back in Granada, I was tired. I ate a Kebab and hung out in the house. I planned to start to study but it didn't happen. I guess that will just be what I have to do later today and for the rest of the weekend and week. I also have to start to pack. Plus I need to start to pack, because I will be home ONE WEEK from today. I am a little excited but also sad to be leaving. Pictures: 1- Dublin Christmas Lights 2- The Wall outside the Cavern Club. They had a lot more bands than this written too. 3- Liverpool's China Town Gate.
62: Week 20 Well everyone, I will be home soon. I am very sad to leave this place and be done with this experience, but I am ready to come home and get everything else done that I have to finish, so this is a shorter letter and possibly extremely boring. Sorry to start this on such an exciting note. Saturday was just relaxing... I unpacked from my trip and then started to think about packing for home. I did some homework and walked around for some time. Later I went to the cafe to study for a while. Sunday was exactly the same as Saturday minus the need to unpack. And then finals started on Monday. I knew all the terms before I went into the test but I had a little mind fart and I couldn't remember if there was a way a colloquial way to say hello or not and a few other things like that. On Tuesday I had two finals and I think they both went okay. Grammar was hard on Wednesday, but I don't think if I would have studied more I would have been better prepared. But by the time that I finished my final on Wednesday, my brain was fried and I could hardly study any more for Islamic Culture. I also got a lot of my things packed on Wednesday. I was feeling pretty down about having to leave to go back to the US. I took my last final on Thursday morning and finally visited Capilla Real and the Cathedral. I also walked up to the Alhambra because the forest just looked pretty.
63: Thursday did have one interesting story. Blanca had to study for a test on Friday and she could not solve a problem. It was greatest common divisor problems. Maximo común divisor, yup really hard to translate that one. Well anyways. She needed some help and so I was looking over her work and she had 2 times 10 equals 30. We had a debate about that. After many “Mira,“ I went and got a calculator. I was right it was 15, so she let me help her a bit more. I am glad that after 4 months, I finally earned the trust to help a 5th grader age student with her math homework. I still haven't earned her trust in my English ability. But hey, you can't win them all. Later we (almost all the people from Winona) went out to celebrate our last night together in Spain. We had Mexican food because it was a Thursday. It was fun. A lot of us returned to our houses early to pack. When I got home, I found that Blanca had left me a note. It is nice to know that my name is difficult for people to spell in Spanish, she forgot the N. (This was the Spanish way to write me name not the English way, so really she should have been able to spell it).
64: So here are some final points about my trip: - In the past three months, I have had 10 roommates. 2 from the US, 3 from Norway, 4 from France, and 1 from Qatar. They were ranging in age from 16 to 32. There were 9 females and 1 male. I learned four of their names. - I have visited 8 countries in 2 continents: Iceland, Germany, France, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, England and Ireland (Gibraltar too but that is not really a country; it is part of England) - I have visited many cities in Spain: Torremolinos, Nerja, Almuñecar, Granada, Seville, La Línea, Toledo, Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, and Córdoba. - I took and passed (well hopefully grades haven't come in yet, but I am confident I passed) Spanish levels 5 and 6. And Islamic Culture, Hispanic American Culture, and Spanish Literature until the 18th century... All in Spanish! - Food from Spain I will miss the most: Tropical Salad, or the stuffed Eggplant. (Casilda told me a secret to the salad, Apple Vinegar- just add a little to the top before you add the olive oil) - Food from Spain I will miss the least: Anything with tentacles!! - Prettiest Place I Visited: The End of the World, Portugal (But The Bavarian Alps are a close second) - Prettiest Monument: Neuschwanstein (but Versailles is pretty close) - Most Difficult Hike: In the Mountains of the Sierra Nevada (Or that first Hispanic culture test) - Most Dangerous thing I did: Surfing in the monsoon... or rain storm what ever you want to call it. - Oldest Place I visited: It is a close but I think the Phoenician ruins in Almuñecar are the oldest. So now for your final set of pictures: (They are some of my favorite pictures from this trip and I took about 1600) 1. This is from our first weekend in Granada 2. Blanca y Yo 3. Don't you just want one? I know I do. 4. The Albaicin Neighborhood. 5. This is a repeat I from an earlier email, but its the end of the world. So everyone, this is it. In an hour I am going to the bus station to buy a bus ticket to go to Malaga. Tomorrow I leave Spain at 7 am (my time so midnight your time) and then get home at 9 pm (CST). It will be a long day. I am not looking forward to leaving, but I am looking forward to coming home. I am going to miss it here, and I am a little worried about dying of Frostbite in Minnesota or having to touch snow. But really Christmas would not be Christmas if I wasn't cold. I also need to see the puppies, have the light switch on the inside of the bathroom (that one still worries me... someone could turn it off), use my own shower and sleep in my own bed. Plus it will be nice to see all of you again ;)