Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old school

Ugh. Well, we had our final exams today. They definitely didn’t go as well as I wanted them to. The first one was REALLY bad, considering there were things on it that I didn’t even learn (I had switched into the class 3 days into it). I think I guessed on more than half of it. I guess I’ll see how I did tomorrow. Regardless, I rewarded myself with some gelato today. I’m really starting to like this new place where we can get more than one flavor at a time. Today I got tropical fruit and mango! Lunch was interesting because now we have too many people to all eat at once, so Merete and I and a few others had to wait until the next shift of people. I felt like I had “second lunch” at high school, haha.

This afternoon Chryssi got her ear pierced. Well, she has both of her ears already pierced and has a small hoop in her cartilage as well, but today she got a horseshoe shape (or as they called it: ‘banana’) one right under her other hoop. The piercing and tattoo place is RIGHT around the corner from Jardines, so I reminded her that if she fainted we wouldn’t have to drag her far. Hmm…maybe I’ll finally get my ears pierced :P

Before dinner we booked our cheeeeeeeeap place to stay at in Cabo de Gata (well, technically it’s San Jose). It’s right on the coast AND right in the park, so that’s good! However, the bus station isn’t as close as we had hoped. I guess we’ll have to take a taxi.

Before people went out tonight we had a little music/video party in our room. Old school music like Hanson, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Avril Lavigne and DISNEY SONGS! It was fun.

Well, time for bed. Last day of our Spanish intensive class tomorrow!

1 month down, 2 1/2 to go!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Study time!!! That’s what today is for, I guess. However, I did manage to make some time for watching a couple episodes of Weeds…just so I wouldn’t go completely nuts. I think I finally figured out why I’ve been so confused. My Spanish professors back home called these verb tenses something just a bit different than they do here. I thought they sounded weird. Today I got so confused in class…my professor kinda got mad at me.

My study guide is up to about…17 pages now. Still not done, but I’m going strong. Now I’ve just started to write down everything I’m hoping to remember (but I know in the back of my head that I won’t). I just keep telling myself that I get a vacation after the test tomorrow—which is true—and that seems to be helping! I’m excited to look up placed in Cabo de Gata…it looks B-E-A-utiful.

So, basically all of the Spaniards are here in Jardines now. That made for an interesting breakfast. First of all, it was Julia #2 who served us (a.k.a. Fig), but it did go a lot faster. HOWEVER, my piece of pan tostada was itsy-bitsy. There were about 12 of us at breakfast, whereas we’re usually used to having only 4 or 5. Then, at lunch, we had even more than that…I’d guess around 20. We’ had pasta and meat sauce (with sunny-side up eggs on the side…random), which I decided they had made because it’s an easy way to feed that many kids. After we had finished, Elena asked us to kindly move our conversation outside the comedor so that other students could take our table. That was a first!

As I said, I’ve spent most of the day studying, yet I still feel like I know nothing. I know have an immense respect for people who speak multiple languages. I don’t know how they keep the different tenses straight! I mean, take this example: María quiso comprar la casa (Maria tried to buy the house) VERSUS María quería comprar la casa (Maria did not want to buy the house). I look at this and can’t decide why people would make a language so hard. That verb should NOT mean so many different things!

Anyway, I should probably get back to studying. SEND ME CANDY. I NEED STUDY SUGAR.

Gelato count: 18

p.s. Telepizza has 1 Euro medium-sized pizzas all of today because of the holiday yesterday…so maybe after tonight’s dinner of deep fried ham and cheese I’ll opt to go get one of those. Florian already ate 3.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Parades, Pollo and Poker

Today was a very relaxing day. I got to sleep in until 11 and then went out for churros con chocolate. The chocolate here is SOOOOOO good. It tastes like hot chocolate from the states (not Swissmiss…think Ghirardelli ), except just a tiny bit more bitter. It’s super thick, so it sticks well to the churros. Each plate of churros that you order comes with five 9 or 10 inch tubes of churro. The first day we got churros, we made the mistake of ordering two plates of churros. Even though we finished both plates that day, we have now limited ourselves to sharing one plate.

I spent most of the afternoon studying for my exam which is on Tuesday. We have gone over so many things in my class, so it’s difficult to figure out what to study. I decided to go along with my normal way of studying—making a huge hand-written study guide for myself. As of right now, it’s 10 pages…and I’m not even close to being done. We have imperative negative, imperative affirmative, preterit indefinite, preterit imperfect, preterit indefinite, pronombres, and much, much more. I don’t even know what most of these things mean in Enlgish! Haha. I really hope I do well, because I’ve really been trying! I just know that I don’t test very well, so I have to over-prepare. We have the test on Tuesday, and then I guess we’re watching a Spanish move on Wednesday (we’ll see if anyone shows up…), and then the AIFS crew leaves for Madrid on Thursday.

Will and I decided not to go to Barcelona after Madrid because it was getting too expensive just for a day and a half. Instead, we’re planning on doing a day-trip, or stay over at Cabo de Gata…one of the most beautiful places in Spain (at least that’s what both of my professors have said on separate occasions). There are salt marshes, beaches and a huge national park.

This evening Will and I went on a long walk to get away from studying for a bit. We went down to Parque de Garcia Lorca and sat there for a bit. On our way home we went to grab some gelato but ran into this HUGE parade. We had heard marching band-type music earlier, but didn’t think anything of it. It turns out that today is a holiday (I believe they’re celebrating San Maria…ME!). There were literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of people out in the streets. Starting near the cathedral there was a huge band, some priest-looking people and lots of important official type people walking VERY slow. Then behind them there were two lines on either side of the street of people with big, long candles. Some had multiple candles. There were vendors on the street selling roasted corn, potatoes and chestnuts among other toys, balloons and such. The lines of people went alllllllll the way down the main street that we walk on to school…and must’ve kept going for almost a mile from what I could see. There were multiple bands that would walk in between the two lines. When we were right next to one, they started playing this creepy slow song that reminded me of something from Angels and Demons or The Davinci Code or something. Their march wasn’t the typical marching band march…it was very slow and they just sorta rocked back and forth. There were also rounds of very loud Black Cat-esque fireworks. Regardless, it was very interesting. I was basically so impressed with it that I couldn’t even force myself to take pictures of it. I felt like it would be rude or something…in addition to distracting my attention from it!

Then we met up with some other people and went to this Mexican restaurant (!) near the CLM. It was pretty weird to be eating Mexican food in Spain, but it was good! The place reminded me a lot of Little Angie’s Cantina in Duluth, MN. I ordered a Quesadilla de Pollo…as did Will and Merete. Chryssi and Daryl both ordered Burritos de Pollo. I think everyone enjoyed their meals! On our way back to Jardines, we got caught in the middle of the parade that was STILL going on. I guess since they were walking so slow, that makes sense!

Now the boys (Florian, Lewis, Will and Adam) are playing poker in the basement and I plan on studying a bit more. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hiking al Llano de la Perdiz

Today we got up in time to get some breakfast in our stomachs before the long hike. We left at 10am and I was surprised to see so many people at our meeting point…considering what I heard about their nights yesterday! Haha. As we started walking from Plaza Nueva, numerous kids admitted to either still being a bit tipsy or extremely hung over. Paula just e and said “me too”. I guess she had a fun night too! Inma and her husband, Raul were the leaders of the pack—Paula sort of hung back with us. As I said, I had no idea what to expect. We started walking and ended up by the Alhambra again. It was a super long uphill walk on uneven cobblestone ‘stairs’. Then it was even more uphill walking, but this time on semi-paved pathways. The group started to stretch out, and it was obvious who had been out the night before. Regardless, everyone managed to keep up pretty well!

We walked through all of these orchards of olive trees, and then past the Granada Cemetery (I guess we took the shorter way this time…) and then started to take a more…less traveled path. There were so many awkward rocks and stones that it was almost impossible to look up while walking, but we took short breaks every so often to get some pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78071008@N00/sets/ The views were amazing, so I guess all the sweat was worth it! After about 2 hours we stopped at this little rest stop (for cars…of people who had DRIVEN there) to eat our bocadillos. Unfortunately, Scarlet had put ours in the freezer last night, so mine still wasn’t thawed out. Good thing I had brought some of my “maria” brand crackers with me!

The way back down was REALLY cool. Inma told us “the way down is a lot more dangerous” and we all sorta just shrugged that off. She wasn’t kidding. We were on these tiny paths along the side of the hill that had the hill on one side and a big drop off on the other. Our group was really spread out again, so with all the turn backs in the path, it was fun to look across the valleys and see the other people in the group! (Look at the pictures!) The whole hike took about 4 hours…and my feet were dead. However, it was really actually quite relaxing, since it was really quiet. No motos, no loud bars, no screaming babies. It was very peaceful.

On the way home we decided we wanted to go to Hipercor to buy a George Forman grill (Jorge Forman…). We miss steak. And grilled cheese. I wonder if those are allowed in our rooms…or if we’ll have to get an extension cord and cook on our balconies. Whatever, I can’t stand eating so much fish.

Tonight we got Dominoes Pizza…didn’t taste quite the same, but it was a good change from the cuisine here at Jardines. Still no George Foreman grill, maybe tomorrow. We also watched Wedding Crashers. I guess it was a night to be American. Well, gotta rest up for churros con chocolate tomorrow!
Buenos noches!

Introducciones de mi vida

I know some of you read Will’s blog as well. He introduced some of the people I talk about, but I thought I should do the same!

Merete: Pronounced: “Mah, reh, tah”. My roommate from both London and here in Granada. She goes to Ohio University and is a Sophomore ALSO studying Journalism (holla!). Merete enjoys loooooooooong siestas and any kind of disco, haha. Oh, and she’s in love with Juanes.

Daryl: a.k.a. Daryl-Dactyl. One of the chicas who lives next to Merete and I on the 2nd floor of Jardines. She is a freshman this year at Wash. University in St. Louis. She is originally from Miami, Florida. Daryl loves to giggle at everything. All the time…Lewis is convinced she even giggles in her sleep. Daryl has class in the Kenia building, so we get to walk together every day!

Jilian: a.k.a. Juanita. Jilian is Daryl’s roommate, and loves to Skype everyone, all the time. She’s not afraid to use her Spanish, even if she’s not quite sure what she’s saying. She’s also a freshman this year from Wash. University.

Mirella: Mirella is very serious about her school work, but also really likes to go out! One of my most memorable moments of her so far is when she got a package at the AIFS office and started yelling, “Yay! My Chemistry and Physics books!” Either that, or the time at lunch where she started crying because she was so happy we might go to a Backstreet Boys concert.

Breana: One of the five AIFS kids from St. Thomas. I actually had a Spanish class with her last year. She is Mirella’s roommate and they live directly below Merete and I.

Marisa: From the Boston area, and is studying to be a teacher. She reminds me a LOT of Christina (my cousin) in many different ways…even though she’s not blonde. She lives on the other side of Jardines. She enjoys leading the pack when we’re out and about…Jefe. Marisa is in my intensive Spanish class for this first month, so we get to do the long 30 minute walk every morning together.

Chryssi: Also from the Massachusetts, Chryssi is the third and final Wash. University freshman we have here on the AIFS trip. Chryssi is the other Jardines girl who is in my intensive Spanish class this month. She was initially in the first class that I was placed in, but we moved up together. Chryssi rooms with Marisa on the other side of Jardines, and apparently talks in her sleep.

Adam: One of the only 2 AIFS boys who are living in Jardines. He enjoys playing soccer (well, any sport for that matter), and will most likely be the captain of our intramural team. He is one of the other St. Thomas students here in Granada. He did a J-Term through St. Thomas before in Seville, so he is VERY good at Spanish! He’s Will’s roommate and they live above Marisa and Chryssi over on the other side of Jardines.

Florian: Or Fabio, or Frodo. He lives with us here at Jardines. He’s from the Canary Islands…but his dad is English and his mom is French, so he has a very interesting accent. I’m very jealous of his ability to speak so many languages (French, Spanish, English, and he dallies in a few others as well)! He is very outgoing and loves to have a good time. We can always count on him on getting us off our butts and out to do something.

Lewis: A newer addition to Jardines. He’s from England but speaks basically fluent Spanish, which is probably a good thing since his BRIGHT blonde hair makes him stick out among the Spaniards. He loves to play all sorts of sports, so Adam has already recruited him to play soccer with us.

Alan: From New York. We met Alan one of our first few days here. He lives in one of the Jardines apartment style rooms across the street. He tends to hang around with our AIFS group because he came here on his own—not through any program or anything!

Other Jardines kids you might hear me mention: Alejandro, Michaela, Amaia, Ana, Maria.

Paula: Our resident director here in Granada. She is originally from New York, but studied abroad here 23 years ago and met a boy…he was actually her intercambio (this is the reason Will doesn’t want me to do an intercambio with a boy, haha). They fell in love, and he convinced her to move her 2 years later. She finished up school, worked for a year in the states, and then moved here with one suitcase, and has been living here since. Her and Miguel now have 2 little kids, both of which came with on the beach trip. Super cute! Paula has a very strong attitude toward everything, and is always willing to help with anything no matter how important or unimportant it may be. When we started having issues here at Jardines she goes, “I’m not scared of them, and don’t let them scare you.” She also helped Will get his new computer through customs—dodging a 600 Euro charge. It’s nice to have someone like her here, because she KNOWS what it’s like in the states, and is able to explain things very well to us in ways that make sense.

Inma: Paula’s assistant of…15 years. Inma helps coordinate everything, and is always willing to help. She’s a bit quieter than Paula, but I can tell that if there were any issues, she’d be able to stand up for us. She always seems to be smiling, which is nice to see whenever we walk into the AIFS office.

Emilio: My first teacher of my intensive Spanish class in the Kenia building. His favorite English phrases include: “you are fired!”, “what in the hell is that?”, “the party is over” and “oh my god”. As you can see, our Spanish skills must frighten him. He is hilarious and I wish he was teaching one of my classes during the actual semester!

Sonia: My second teacher of the intensive Spanish class. Sonia is very mellow, but is very funny. She doesn’t speak much English at all (that’s why the whole “she sells sea shells…” thing was so cute). Her favorite English word is “super” which she likes to add on to just about everything. She has successfully managed to teach us some of the rights and wrongs of Granada, but not before we’ve already embarrassed ourselves.

Eugenia: The tiny little old lady I never thought would yell at me. I was wrong. Regardless, she now has a sprained ankle so I can’t be too mad. I’m not quite sure what she does here, or how she fits into the mix, but she’s usually around to open the door during the days. She’s always smiling and gives us a big “hola!” whenever we come home. She’s basically our Senora (homestay mom).

Scarlet: Our cook. Even though it’s a lot of fish, we still love her. She’s serious about her food, and that’s much appreciated. We always have enough to eat (usually extras!) and the desserts are always something to look forward to: fresh fruit, yogurt, ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, etc. Scarlet doesn’t spend much time at Jardines, but she’s always friendly when she’s there!

Elena: Our room cleaner, and chef-helper. Elena is super nice, and is always cheery. She is always willing to help and does everything with a smile. Her two kids sometimes come to Jardines—a son and a daughter. They’re super cute, but stare at us like we’re weird. After all of the telenovela-type things we heard about Jardines (keep reading), the AIFS kids decided that we’re on EQUIPO ELENA!

Julia #1: a.k.a. Fig. Julia seems to run the place even though Paula specifically told us that Elena used to be in charge (and they never had problems back then…). Julia is Elena’s ex-mother in law, and that becomes quite obvious sometimes when they get into arguments. Elena apparently had been married to Julia’s son, but then he cheated on her. NOW, Julia’s son and his new wife come and eat lunch at Jardines almost every day. It’s really awkward now that we all know the back story (Elena obviously doesn’t know we know…), but it keeps things interesting…we all just feel bad that she literally has to serve her ex-husband and his new wife.

Julia #2: ‘The night watcher’. Julia’s daughter who works every night except Saturdays and Sundays. She lets people in whenever they come in from being out and about, whether it be 11pm or 7am. She makes us toast and coffee in the mornings, and always seems happy!

Pedro: Our Saturday night and Sunday watchman. He looks like he’s about 26 or so, and he looks like a human bull dog. However, he’s super quiet and usually just gives us a little “hola” when we come in or out of the residencia. We saw him walking (ironically…) his bulldog the other day on the way home from school, and we still got the tiny little “hola”. This is a nice change from the other ladies trying to explain things to us that we obviously don’t understand.

...A bit under the weather

Friday, September 25, 2009

Today was a pretty normal day…breakfast, school, lunch, walking around, etc. In class we started reviewing for our finals—EEK! Ours is on Tuesday, and from the looks of it, I’ll be studying all of Sunday.

Will and I booked our hostel in Barcelona for after the AIFS trip to Madrid. It’s this tiny little place, but I think it should be fun! It’s really close to the center of the city, which we read was really important. Even though we don’t have very much time there, I think it will be a good experience. Some other people are staying in Madrid, some people are going to Portugal and other random places. We figured that since AIFS never makes any trips to Barcelona that we should try and get there even if it’s only for a short time!

Tomorrow we have our AIFS hike through the hills and valleys of Granada…not sure what to expect, but Inma and Paula both said it’s pretty intense. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better than I am tonight before we leave at 10am tomorrow morning. I’m pretty sure I have a fever, and I feel really nauseous. I’m planning on just sleeping through dinner and trying to rest up for tomorrow. I can’t believe some people are actually going out to the disco tonight!! Craziness.

Well, wish me luck on the hike tomorrow!

Friday, September 25, 2009

El vino vino, pero no vino vino, vino vinagre!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today Emilio wasn’t in class, and the substitute was sick…so Sonia had to teach BOTH classes for the entire 4 hours. Ouch. It actually wasn’t that bad…and it was fun for us because Daryl is in the other class, so we got to have class with her! After lunch Will and I went to check out this “Festival de Chocolate” that is in the Bib-Rambla Plaza by us. It was just 2 tents with…basically nothing much (except some chocolate), so we opted for some gelato instead!

Tonight most of us Jardines kids went to see our second Flamenco Guitar concert at the Museo Casa de los Tiros. Tonight there were three performers: Alfredo Mesa (Guitarra flamenca), Karim (Guitarra clasica), and Ramon del Paso (Guitarra flamenca). I really liked the first and the second guys. We didn’t get nearly as good of seats as we did last week, but all you really need to do is hear it—so it was still a lot of fun! While listening to the second guy playing, I was reading his bio in the program and saw that he was born less than a year before Daniel! I bet the Spaniards here wouldn’t know what to do with his kind of music though…haha.

After the concert we walked over to the Shawarma place that we had gone to on Monday. We missed dinner because of the concert, so we were all really hungry. The guys in the restaurant remembered us from Monday, which was pretty funny. I’m sure we’ll be back there again sometime soon!

On the way back to Jardines, we checked out Hannigan’s because we thought they had said they had karaoke on Thursdays…and Merete really wanted to sing. However, it was pretty empty so we ended up just coming home. I guess we are all pretty tired anyways, so that was probably a good idea. Maybe next week.


Gelato count: 17

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Planning ahead...

For some reason all of the German kids don’t eat any meals with us…I guess they heard about the weird meals we get fed. SPEAKING of which, this morning we were about to celebrate because we thought they finally got us strawberry marmalade (it’s sad, but we have to find happiness in the smallest victories here…) but then were shocked to find out that it was actually TOMATO marmalade. Wow. However, this might help Chryssi, Marisa and I convince Emilio that tomatoes are actually fruits…because honestly, who makes marmalade out of vegetables? Exactly.

I searched around a bit for flights to different places today…trying to plan out the rest of the semester since Paula just reminded us yesterday that we only have 10 weeks left once normal classes start. AHH! Time is going so fast!

I also signed up for the Morocco trip today. I had talked with Mostapha from Circus a bit and he wanted me to go visit his sister who lives in Tangier and stay with her. So Will and I had planned on doing that, but after thinking it though, we decided that maybe we’d be better off just going with the group on this one. I still really want to meet up with them even if it’s just for a quick visit! Paula seemed to think that that was definitely possible.

Apparently there’s free cover and an open bar at the disco Granada 10 tonight…a bunch of AIFS kids were going—along with some other people we’ve started to meet here at Jardines. I’m actually starting to think it was a really good idea to be here rather than in a homestay. I know the kids in homestays are forced to speak more Spanish, and will probably learn more than me, but here I get to meet kids from all over and actually hang out with them. Tonight there are a few guys from Jardines that were going with the AIFS crew…one of them, Florian, was REALLY trying to get everyone to go. He’s extremely outgoing! I figured that since I’m usually tired anyway in my 9am class that I probably shouldn’t go to the disco at 3am.

Well, I’d better go get that sleep then! Have a good night!

Oh, I forgot about this random little thing from the beach…we were all just laying there, and every once in a while a vendor of some sort would walk by, usually selling drinks or massages. This one Chinese woman walked by and started trying to talk to Chryssi in Mandarin. It was a funny situation because Chryssi was having trouble understanding the lady, considering she speaks Cantonese. However, I understood most of what she said, and answered her at one point. That got a pretty funny look!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blood sausage and gelato. Yum.

Back at Jardines for another week. There are a LOT more students here…including a huge group of Germans, but I heard that they are only staying for a week. Apparently it’s some sort of study abroad week through their school. They were SUPER loud downstairs last night, so we’re all hoping that the Jardines staff starts to appreciate how quiet we actually are.

After lunch a bunch of us took advantage of the internet that actually is now working in the common room! I finally got to check my email and post some more pictures from this weekend, etc. http://www.flickr.com/photos/78071008@N00/sets/
Then we headed off to the AIFS cultural meeting at the CLM. This was to go over some of the cultural differences we have experienced so far in Spain. Some of them included PDA, personal space, proper table etiquette and clothing. It was funny to hear about peoples’ encounters. Apparently some of the Senoras get angry when the students don’t eat all of the food they are given. I’m glad Scarlett doesn’t do the same thing…especially since we had blood sausage today! Eek!

After this, we grabbed some gelato before heading back to Jardines. I finally tried this new gelato place where I could get 2 flavors on a small cone! I got coffee (cafe) and hazelnut (nocciola...named this for some reason). Very good…especially them together! Before dinner, I just sort of stayed in…seemed like the thing to do today.

Well, I have to finish some homework.

Gelato count: 15…yeah, I know. I had 2 today. Guess I was making up for the lack over the weekend!

Roquetas del Mar

Saturday, September 19, 2009

BEACH TIME! We all left at 10am from the Neptuno mall. It was about a 2 and a half hour bus through mountains and fields until we made it to Almeria, and then eventually to our hotel in Roquetas del Mar. It was a very touristy town, but since it was off-season, there actually weren’t many people there at all. We got everything situated (I roomed with Merete…we got lucky and got one of only 2 double rooms!), checked out the hotel and then headed down to the beach. Our hotel room was pretty weird. It was REALLY nice, except our toilet didn’t have a toilet seat…and at one point Merete goes: “well, I peed in the other toilet.” I thought she meant the bidet…good thing she was just referring to the fact that our toilet LOOKED like a bidet because it didn’t have a seat. There’s a pretty funny picture of them up on Flickr. Our room also had a sink, stove top, microwave and fridge, but too bad we didn’t know this earlier or else we would have brought something to cook! I miss being able to cook! Anyway, Merete and I ate our bocadillos we had taken from Jardines on our balcony, looking over toward the mountains that separated us from Granada.

The beach was amazing! There were little cabanas everywhere, but we opted for the cheaper option—towels and sand! Some people played volley ball, and some people just sat there. I liked wandering up and down the water line, people watching. We stayed out there for about 4 hours (in the words of Paula: “reapply, reapply, reapply!”), and then headed in for dinner. This is what many of the kids had expected to be the highlight of the trip. Seeing as the meals we are served here are sometimes questionable, we were all excited to have access to a buffet of basically anything we wanted. I think the hotel waiters were starting to get a kick out of seeing us act like we had never seen food before. They even had a guy making crepes! Of course I had to get one, even though I was pretty stuffed. It was wonderful.

That evening a bunch of us went down to the beach again. It was so dark out there!!! We just ran around and sat and looked at the stars. It was a bit chillier that night, but made for some good pictures—I’ll have to steal some of the other people’s from off of Facebook…

The sun had made us all pretty tired, so we went back to our rooms rather early. I heard some people went to a disco nearby…but I’m glad I didn’t because I knew we had another buffet waiting for us at breakfast that I didn’t want to sleep through, haha!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Breakfast wasn’t as exciting as dinner, but it was still good! (Better than our normal pan tostada todos los dias.) We headed out to the beach even though it was still kind of cloudy. Luckily it cleared up by noon, so those who left with the AIFS group got some sun in. We ate at this pizzeria right on the boardwalk, which had surprisingly good pizza!

A couple of the boys had rented one of those 4 person bikes and had ridden around on it (mainly because the one kid was still on crutches from his sprained ankle, but I think they just wanted to anyway). It was funny to see these 4 big guys peddling around. They even managed to get it to drive out onto the beach…somehow. There’s a funny picture of them pushing it back to the boardwalk up on Flickr.

In the evening, we got to eat at the buffet again…so good. That evening consisted of some boardwalk walking and another evening under the stars with the waves crashing in. It got pretty windy, so we had to move inside. Regardless, it was nice not having to pack up and leave that day…because the beach was just too nice to leave.

My only complaint was that I couldn’t find any gelato places! However, I did find these yummy popsicles! It seemed like everyone went to the local supermercado at the same time…because there was always a long line to grab my daily popsicle.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday was an interesting day. We got to sleep in (kinda), and then went on a hunt for different food. Since a lot of things were closed (no idea why), we ended up back at the same pizzeria as on Sunday. Oh well, it WAS good pizza! We got to stay at the beach until around 4, and then we asked the receptionist for her suggestions on traveling back to Granada. Paula had suggested that we take a taxi to the Roquetas del Mar bus station, and then a bus from there to Almeria, and then from Almeria to Granada. However, the receptionist (through a mix of us trying to speak Spanish, and her trying to speak English) told us that there was a public bus that would take us directly to Almeria within 35 minutes. Then we’d only need to catch the bus from there to Granada. We thought we had it timed out well, but the bus ride from our hotel took a bit longer than 35 minutes…and we ended up missing our connection we had wanted in Almeria. We had to take the later bus (3 hours later), and there wasn’t really any way for us to go out and about and see Almeria…we had our bags and their lockers were ALL out of order. Ugh. So, we had a nice time exploring the small bus station.

Luckily once we got to the Granada bus station, we knew where to go. Will had lost his phone earlier and we had to pick it up at a place near that bus station, so he was able to lead the way. We had missed breakfast, lunch and dinner by then at Jardines, so we decided to stop for Shawarmas! (Will and I both agree that that word reminds us of Anupma…SHARMA) The guys at the place were super nice, and the one really wanted to practice his English. I’m pretty sure the only English lessons he had were from English people coming into the restaurant. However, the other 2 workers actually spoke very good English, and were helping us translate his…English. I told Will that he should ask that guy to be his intercambio…maybe he’d get some free food out of it too! We took our Shawarmas and ate them on the steps of the cathedral. It felt like we had finally gotten back home!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Friday already. Wow. I feel like it was just the weekend! No complaints, especially since I get to pack for the BEACH tomorrow! Yay! I’m excited because, unlike most of the kids here, I haven’t been to the coast yet, so it’ll be something new! It should be fun, and hopefully it won’t rain. Regardless, it’ll be nice getting out of Granada.

Internet at Jardines isn’t working so well…so posts may be coming in bulk, like these two. I think it’s because more students are moving into Jardines and are online as well. There’s one kid that just moved in here from the Canary Islands who speaks pretty good English. I think he’s coming out to Karaoke tonight with all of us. This should be interesting…I heard Alan sang Backstreet Boys last night.

I’m heading out now to go join a pick-up fútbol game with Adam and Will and some other UGR students. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but I heard the ground is cement-like. One kid already sprained his ankle playing basketball, but hopefully my shins can hold up for some intramural.


Whoa. I am out of shape. I just played soccer for a whole hour! We rented a court (cement.yup.) and played for a bit. We were playing 5 vs. 6 but then this Spanish kid named Saul came and asked if he could play. Turns out he is studying Physical Education at UGR and so a few people got his number to do an intercambio sometime. It was a lot of fun playing soccer again, even though the cement was really slippery (and hard) and the ball was a size 3, haha. I can feel my shins starting to ache…uh oh. I wonder how you say ‘ice’ in Spanish…I’ve never had to ask for that before. Or I could just go get some gelato and hope it cools my shins down too.

Now we’re going to hear another free concert on the cathedral steps (about a 2 minute walk). Apparently tonight the orchestra is playing Disney songs! My favorite! Then it’s on to karaoke.

I got some more photos loaded today. Hope they turned out okay!

Buenos noches!

Gelato count: 13…thought I’d try and hold back for the beach.

Guitarra Flamenca, Barranco del Abogado y El Cementerio Granada

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We got to try out the computer lab today in class. Basically, we just went to our professor's website and did the exercises available…well most of us did. Some spent most of the time on Facebook, haha. However, Emilio’s plan to have us just work on our own was probably a good one, considering about half of our class wasn’t there (and there are normally only 8). They all had late nights out at the disco—there was an ‘international student welcome party’, which I thought sounded sort of weird. It only invited non-Spaniards…

Days are going by faster and faster, it’s hard to believe we only have a little more time left in these intensive Spanish classes before they throw us into the REAL classes. Uh oh! Each night there’s something different to do, so there’s always something to look forward to. Today AIFS had a 2 hour walk planned to the Barranco del Abogado and the Cementerio Granada…through the old Jewish neighborhood, and then through Granada’s cemetery. It was a longgggg uphill walk, but the views were amazing, and it was cool to see another part of Granada I may not have visited otherwise. I tried to get some pictures, but I may have been shaking too much from the exhausting walk for them to turn out well, haha. There was a very good view of the Sierra Nevada! After the walk, we had a little time to freshen up…then it was off to the next activity. Good thing I did my homework right after class!

A few of us went to this cute little café for sandwiches and gelato. I tried Coco...a yummy coconut candy bar. I must say, it still wasn’t nearly as good as Joey’s Coconut Chip at Grand Ole Creamery! Anyway, we wandered over to the little local Museo that was hosting a small concert Paula had told us about. It was sort of near school, but since I had opted for heels, it seemed a lot further. Luckily we got there with plenty of time to spare--some other AIFS students were stuck in the ‘standing room only’ area. It was a classic guitar and flamenco guitar concert, but also included a violinist. It was hosted in the courtyard of the museum, and there were only about 30 chairs set out. I was sitting basically front row, and got a couple good videos. All 3 performers were very good…and I plan on going back next Thursday as well!

Adios! Maybe time to get more gelato??? :)

Gelato count: 13

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chuchuria...it's local

Well, today started off nice. It was rather cool out, actually, which was a change from the normal 100 degree weather we’ve been having since we got here. Mid-day it got a bit warmer, but still was a very nice temperature. The locals have brought out their jeans and long sleeved shirts—though to me as a Minnesotan, it’s definitely still shorts season. I guess I’ll have to try and blend in…jeans it is. Today included another lonnnnnng walk…just sort of scoping out the area some more. That is, before it rained. I finally found a beach towel that was less than 10 Euros (!), and also picked up some snacks to eat between classes.

Between lunch and dinner some of us went out to get some food…since lunch wasn’t the staff’s best. We ended up at this nice café in Plaza Trinidad. I got churros con chocolate because I wasn’t actually that hungry (and I missed mine on Sunday). Right when we were almost done eating, it started to POUR. It was a literal downpour. We were eating outside in their terrace seating, so luckily we had a roof. BUT, it was still blowing in from the sides, and after a bit all of the water from across the plaza started flowing under our feet. It was crazy…I tried to take a picture, but it doesn’t quite give the experience justice. Luckily I had packed my umbrella earlier (going against Will’s: “well, it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain.”). Right now I’m sitting in the lobby of Jardines and I can’t even hear ANYTHING other than the rain pounding on the skylights.

I was looking online to see what sorts of things are going on in Europe within the next few months to see if there is something I wanted to attend. So far I have found a Backstreet Boys concert, Jonas Brothers concert, David Bisbal concert, bull fight in Madrid, Club Atletico de Madrid soccer game, and a few other things. So far I haven’t found anything circus related…but I’d love to! I was considering looking into the Latina Festival in Italy…but unfortunately it’s sort of at an awkward time.

Dinner time…wish us luck, haha!
Hasta luego!

Gelato count: 12…I know, I’m really slacking.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Streets and Sprains

It rainnnnnnnnned a bunch today…so it was rather difficult to go outside. The streets are pretty dirty here, plus they’re doing street construction everywhere. Every street is only about 10 feet wide, made out of blocks of stone. They’re literally tearing up the whole city (Paula mentioned this on our first day there), but plan to be done within the next couple weeks…so before all the ACTUAL students arrive for classes. This makes for loud evenings, because trash pickup is around 2am, and then they start construction around 4. Also, there is a building very close to us that is having a lot of work done, so between streets being hammered, buildings being torn down, and loud bars, it makes for an interesting night’s sleep. Good thing I’m always so exhausted that I just pass out! But yeah, there is a lot of street work and when they decide to tear up only half of the street so people can still pass on the other side, cars/motos sometimes decide to try the streets still, and then it’s like a bad dream, where you’re being chased down a small alley by a large machine. However, the MAIN reason I believe the streets are dirty is because there are so many wild dogs. They’re ALL over the place. Some are really cute, but some not so much. There’s this one weiner dog that must live somewhere by us that’s really cute. These dogs just go to the bathroom in the middle of the street, and obviously there’s no one to pick it up. Even the people who walk their dogs just sort of leave it. So, it both smells and makes the streets really dirty. I made the mistake of trying to read my “20 Minutos” while walking…I will make sure I keep my eyes on the ground ahead of me from now on.

Life at Jardines is like living in a Telenovela. Drama, drama, drama. And it only gets more exciting every day! The tiny little old lady sprained her foot today, so now she’s on these crutches things for 4 weeks! I’m not exactly sure what happened, but she kinda always shuffled around, so I think she must have slipped on the marble. It gets REALLY slippery when its wet…even I’ve slipped quite a few times when it’s not wet.

Hopefully tomorrow it will be nicer outside…I wanted to get some good pictures of the cathedral!

Gelato count: 12…it was too rainy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Recess? Beach? Dark chocolate? Bueno.

I skipped breakfast this morning with full knowledge that I’d be better off stopping at a panaderia on the way to class. And that I did. Class was the same as ever, but it was really nice out today—not too hot, not too cold, so break time was actually really enjoyable! I think I’m finally starting to fall into a sort of schedule! Today, like a real local, I grabbed the free “20 Minutos” paper that is handed out for free (until they run out) on the sidewalks in the mornings. I enjoyed reading about the sports teams (Real Madrid game on tomorrow!) and different TV shows that are popular here. However, it definitely took me longer than the twenty minutes it’s supposed to take to read!

Today after lunch I booked the apartment/hotel for the second night at the beach this weekend. Everyone from AIFS is going for Saturday-Sunday, but then a few of us wanted another day of relaxation, so we went in on staying another night! I think it should be fun! Mediterranean, here I come!

There are more and more Spanish students starting to move in. We have a guy living just down the small hall from us. I don’t think he’s been to any meals yet though…so maybe he’s not ACTUALLY moved all the way in yet. Some of the other students have shown up to meals, and it’s fun to watch them walk into the room of 10 Americans and choose a table. Just kidding, we’re all very welcoming!

I just become more and more impressed with the dubbing of English TV over here the more I watch. The voices they get literally sound exactly like each character. Before dinner tonight a big group of us were watching Disney Channel’s Recess…one of my favorite shows from way back when. We all knew the characters and story pretty well, and all agreed that each of the voices sounded exactly the same! It’s really kind of weird. Also, the timing is VERY spot on. I’m impressed. Tonight Will found out that they show Smallville dubbed in Spanish. He was pretty excited.

Time for bed! Another Spanish-filled day for me tomorrow!
Buenos noches!

Gelato count: 12 (Chocolate Negro…chocolate brownie a.k.a. dark chocolate. YUM.)

p.s. I signed up for intramural futbol today! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A restful day...sort of.

Today I got to SLEEP IN! Too bad I slept in a little too long to get churros in the morning. They were already serving lunch when we went. I guess I’ll have to either wait until next week or go before school sometime this week. Churros con chocolate sounds a LOT better than the pan tostada that we’ve had every morning so far.

After lunch Will and I did some laundry, but had to take it down pretty quickly because a storm blew through. If the wind had been any stronger, I think some of our clothes would have blown off the balcony. When I went up to grab our clothes, I got yelled at by a different lady. Paula had said we were allowed to do laundry that we didn’t want to give to them (since it takes a week to get back), but apparently they thought differently. She kept telling me I needed to put everything in my laundry bag and leave it for Julia…but all I wanted were a couple things! Good thing I got what I needed off the lines outside, though, because after I had gone back inside she took the key with her. Some of the other kids’ stuff is out there still… I think we’re going to talk to Paula tomorrow to clear up some rules here in Jardines. It’s just really hard to explain yourself when they talk so fast and have trouble understanding our Spanish. I thought I was helping by relieving them of some work. I guess not.

A lot of people went to the beach again today. I’m kind of glad I decided not to go. Initially I had decided not to go because we are all going to the beach next week and I didn’t want to waste money, but then I saw what the weather was like and was really glad I had decided against it. It rained for quite a while today. Those of us who were still here had been planning on going to a Flamenco show tonight in the Albayzin, but then decided against it, thinking that we’d wait for the others and go a different night. Instead, a small group of us just went and walked through the Albayzin for a bit. We stopped to take some pictures of the Alhambra lit up. It was really spectacular! We then found a place to eat, where we could sit and still see the Alhambra. I got a Copa Brasil, which was basically ice cream with espresso sauce. Very good. However, the tapas weren’t that good at all (potato chips with bbq sauce...), so we ended up getting ‘shawarma con pollo’ on the way home. Merete dubbed it her ‘Chipotle of Granada’.

Time for bed. Wouldn’t want to fall asleep in Emilio’s class tomorrow…

Gelato count: still at 11…I’ll make up for it tomorrow.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Today we had our walking tour of the Albayzin. We all grabbed our bocadillos for lunch and headed out around 11am. Early for a (Saturday), but worth it. Our tour guide, Antonio did the tour with a mix of Spanish and English. I enjoyed this, because it seemed to make it feel more authentic. We started out, just like the Alhambra tour, in Plaza Nueva. We walked for a bit while Antonio gave us the background, and passed around a holographic postcard that showed the ruins from today and what the bridge/gate over the Darro River looked like years and years ago. There were a bunch of little kittens that were sitting down in the stream…super cute. Will said they must be the great-great-great-grandkitties of the ancestor cats that lived back in the day.

Along the tour we stopped at the oldest building in Granada. It’s an old bath house, and it’s over 1000 years old. It is the only thing older than the Alhambra. I tried to get some good photos, but the only light coming in was from the small lights, so with flash (too bright) was just as bad as without flash (too blurry). We saw the church of San Salvador, the San Nicolás church and the Plaza San Miguel Bajo. We also stopped at this old painter’s house, Max Moreau. It has now been turned into a museum and sight-seeing stop. I thought one of the plaques inside the house was funny, so I took a picture…see if you can find it in my Flickr photos (a shout out to Maximus Oswald). Here there were lots of pomegranate trees and grape vines. It was a beautiful house! We ended at the San Nicolás viewpoint, and Rick Steves was right. There are a lot of tourists here mixed in with hippies, and other locals there just to enjoy the view. The photos are amazing, and we could barely pull ourselves away long enough to eat our bocadillos. Some of the girls bought pendant necklaces of hand painted stones from this one local vendor on one of the benches. They were of tiny Granada cityscapes…super cute, but, sadly, a little pricey for me (10, 15 or 20 Euros for the larger ones…though I’m SURE locals barter). Maybe if I feel like I’m really missing out, I’ll go back and grab one for myself.

Will and I decided to tour the western part of the city more. We walked down by Garcia Lorca Park (apparently where all the couples go at night…says Paula who met her now husband there 21 years ago). Seeing as it was daytime, it was full of sunbathers. We found the mall called Neptuno and looked around for a bit. I guess it’s sort of the Mall of America of Granada...with a movie theater, tons of stores, and a discoteca. Definitely not as large, but an interesting assortment of stores and such. We then kept walking along the park and found this Chinese restaurant Will wanted to try. I was still full of my bocadillo, but I thought it could be fun having some Chinese food in Spain. He ordered the Menu del Dia, which is a cheap way at any restaurant here to get a drink, appetizer, some sort of meat, and an entrée. I had fun listening to the conversations of the Chinese waiters. By the time we left, I was actually very linguistically confused. I was thinking in Spanish, Chinese AND English. I think I may have said “muy bien, xie xie”. Whoops.

We played cards down in the common room for a bit. It’s always fun to have all of the crew together. Now we’re gonna head out to a movie…not quite sure which one! Hopefully nothing scary! :/
Buenos noches!

Gelato count: 11…I tried mango today. It was SUPER good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The good, the bad, and the...confusing.

Friday! Horray! Class today went by pretty slowly, but that was just because we’re all looking forward to the weekend. Tomorrow we have our tour of the Albycin, the Moorish community next to the Alhambra. Not quite sure what to expect, once again, but I’m sure it’ll be fun! They said ‘be prepared for a lot of uphill walking’, so I guess I’ll get to work off some of that gelato.

I finally finished Breaking Dawn today! I’d had it sitting in my room at home FOREVER, and had about 100 pages to finish. I saw it at the AIFS library and decided to bring it back here to read. SO good, but I can’t tell if they’re gonna try and make another book…I’d read it. Speaking of Twilight, I’m super upset that I’ll miss going to the premier at midnight when New Moon (the movie...durrhh) comes out. They have 4 or 5 movie theaters really close by, but they’re just getting movies that came out in the states at the beginning of the summer…so I doubt they’ll have it for a while. THEREFORE, I have decided that I’m gonna go see it the day I come home (planning ahead, I know). I want to DRIVE to the movie theater too…it’s weird, but I really actually miss driving. Not because it takes less energy than walking, I just always enjoyed a nice drive. I have actually really enjoyed walking everywhere.

Merete and I went for a rather long strollllllll today. We grabbed some gelato and wandered around, window-shopping like all the locals. However, with her blonde hair, it’s hard for us to blend in, haha. I keep telling her I’m gonna dye it while she’s sleeping some night. She threatens to dye mine blonde again. Eek! At dinner, it came up that I had been a blonde, and Amaia, one of the Spaniard girls didn’t believe me. I pulled out my ICIS card to show her. She seemed very shocked, and thought it was really (smart and) funny that I dyed my hair. She said I looked more Spanish. Mission completed. Although…my roots are starting to show…

Before dinner, Will was craving some gelato, so I accompanied him to our favorite place. No, I restrained myself from having a second helping. We sat down to people-watch in the plaza. There were 2 guys entertaining a large group of children in the center of the plaza with big bubbles. They had the same sort of contraption my mom brought to the reunion…it’s made out of 2 sticks with a string attaching them. They would dip it in the bubble mix and then let the wind make these HUGE bubbles. The kids loved it, and it was a lot of fun to watch! I think EVERYONE in Granada was out then…the plaza was packed. I guess we’re starting to catch on to the timing of everything.

I’m a little confused as to what we’re allowed to do here at Jardines. Some of the workers are crabby towards those of us who aren’t very good at speaking Spanish. I think they may just be frustrated that we can’t communicate with them very well. I thought everything was going fine, but tonight I got yelled at for having the light on in my room. I’m not quite sure why I can’t have it on…I’ll have to ask Paula about that as well. Will and Chryssi also got yelled at for sitting in the lobby with their computers (their rooms don’t get internet…they said they’d fix it about 4 days ago). I guess we’ll figure things out as we go. It’s just scary to get yelled at and not really understand what they’re saying!

Well, I’d better turn the light off before I get in any more trouble. Goodnight!!

Gelato count: 10

Thursday, September 10, 2009

From Scattergories to Orchestras

Before class Chryssi and I saw Javier (our old teacher) in the hall. He stopped us to ask if we were in the intermediate level. Yessssss we are, and he asked how it was. It’s going really well, and he seemed decently happy that we seemed to find where we fit. So that was good. Today in class we played Scattergories! It was awesome, but I failed miserably, haha. We also got to listen to this one song and talk about it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvLQRqzAXuY . All of us really liked it, so Emilio let us listen to it a bunch. By the end we were all singing. We’ve now been playing it all day off of youtube…I think we’re a bit obsessed. The ladies who work here just sort of roll their eyes at us, haha.

Today for lunch we had spinach soup, breaded pork and french fries. I thought it was sort of random, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. I thought I might not like the soup, but it was actually pretty good! After lunch I did some research about flights and busses and such for when I want to travel. Everyone has started making plans to go places after our Madrid trip (October 1-4), because we have until the 7th to travel. I’m thinking I want to go to Barcelona! Or Paris. Or Florence. Oh decisions, decisions. AND, some of us are planning on staying an extra day when we go to the beach next weekend with AIFS. We found a bus back home and everything—all we have to do is find a hotel. Maybe if the one we’re staying in with AIFS isn’t too expensive (I doubt it is since they’re brining 50+ kids there), we could just stay there another night.

Another odd dinner (even the Spaniards were iffy about it…) led us to go grab tapas at our favorite tapas place, El Cine. Today they were little pizza like things with vegetables and bbq sauce. On the way over, we ran into this small concert on the stairs of the cathedral. There were lights set up on a make-shift rafter system (not sure Tim would approve…haha) and speakers surrounding the musicians. It was some sort of orchestra playing…no idea who though. I took some photos, so those should be up shortly! It was a very cool atmosphere, and obviously the photos won’t do it justice!

Class early tomorrow, so I’d better get some sleep! Check out the new photos I posted a link to! Buenos noches!

No gelato today…count is still at 9

An easier way to view my photos!


Now they're separated into 'sets' so they're not all mixed together. Enjoy!

:) M


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Class today went by really slowly…my first professor (9am-11) just had us doing worksheets the whole time. However, Sonia (ironically the name of my last Spanish professor at UST), managed to make the second part of class (11am-1pm) more exciting. I’m positive I made the right decision to change classes!

After class, I had to run a few errands, and I was pretty proud of myself with how well I accomplished them, haha. I had to return the book I had bought for my previous Spanish class and exchange it for another, and I had to go buy stamps (sellos) from the post office. The girl at the bookstore understood what I needed to do, and didn’t seem to even bother slowing down what she was saying in return! I think I’m making progress! I rewarded myself with (you guessed it…) some gelato. I tried another new flavor…tarta de queso (cheese cake, with blueberries). It was VERY good. I may have to go back for some more before I go to bed!

Today, Scarlet redeemed herself with lunch. We had pasta with meat sauce.

This evening about 20 of the AIFS students went to this Arabic Tea Ceremony. It was located right next to the Kenia building! So…I could stop by for some tea after class sometime! The ceremony consisted of some belly dancing, the explanation of how they make their tea, the drinking of some tea, and a lot of storytelling. There were also lots of dried fruits and nuts for us to munch on. It was a lot of fun, and some people even got up to try belly dancing!

After dinner, a group of us went to one of the cafeterias close by that we knew had a TV because there was a Spain/Estonia World Cup qualifier game on. Everyone else was outside, but our group took over the inside (horray…). It was a lot of fun to experience the game with the bartenders commenting every once in a while!


Gelato count: 9

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SCARLET! haha.

YAY! I moved up to the next level, and what a good choice. This class was actually EASIER than the other class, simply because I didn’t spend all my time trying to explain simple concepts to the people next to me. The teachers both seem nice, and I know a couple of the other kids in the class. However, it IS in the other building, and takes about an extra 10 minutes to get there. I guess I’ll just have to go to bed even EARLIER! No chupitos for me! Haha. I really liked my class in general. The location is beautiful, because it is even higher on the hill than the other CLM building…even closer to the Alhambra if that’s possible. I took a picture of the hillside during our short break during class (dork!) so that will be up shortly on flickr!

There are about 5 of us at the Kenia building, so we all hurried back for lunch. Actually that’s a lie. I had eyed a panaderia on the way to class, and suggested we stopped on the way back. Nothing too big to spoil lunch though…I ended up getting this ‘filo dough’ looking thing with chocolate/nutella paste on the inside. Yum. Lunch was…interesting as always. We had egg-drop soup, baked vegetables and large slabs of some kind of fish. I was actually kind of glad I ate that pastry—sorry, Scarlet! It was funny though, because Elena had her 2 kids with her, a boy and a girl, who thought it was funny to run into the comedor and yell random things in Spanish. I think they thought none of us spoke much Spanish (well, we kinda don’t), but we could still understand them—AND there were a couple of the Spaniard girls eating with us as well. I think one of the kids yelled “VENGAMOS BAILAR” about 30 times. Random, but funny.

After lunch, I had to go over to the AIFS office to do some things (get stamps, sign up for some other activities, chat with Paula, get ‘Breaking Dawn’ from their library, etc.). ANNNNND I got some gelato on the way back at my regular place. I went for the Roché for the second time since I’ve been here. It was wonderful.

WEIRD dinner. Really weird. Weirdest yet by far. I don’t know what Scarlet was thinking…maybe it’s traditional Spanish food, but I doubt it. We had squash soup, rice with mushrooms and hot dogs. Ironically, we learned the word for hot dog today in class—perritos calientes. The Spaniard and kid from Holland thought that was pretty funny that I knew that word. I guess it was a good meal though. OH—and bread. We had lots of baguette-type bread, as always.

Time for bed.
Goodnight, Alhambra.
Goodnight, Jardines.
Goodnight, gelato.


Gelato count: 8

p.s. Danny, the guy from Barcelona, has gone back home :/ it was fun hanging out with him and trying to talk about all sorts of things (movies, music, etc.). He left us his number in case we want to stop by there after our trip to Madrid. How fun!

Alhambra pictures are up!


Hope you enjoy them! :)

A real siesta

Monday, September 7, 2009

This morning we had to get up early again for breakfast. SCHOOL! Chryssi, another AIFS resident student and I had been considering changing classes (moving up a level), so we acted on that today. I think it was a good idea, though one of our professors wasn’t very supportive. Our first professor of the day, Mariangeles was very helpful and wished us luck, while Javier told us “we risked failure” by changing classes. We decided to risk it. “Go out on a limb—that’s where the fruit is.” –Will Rogers (Ironically the quote they used in our weekly newsletter for AIFS.) The lady who had to approve our move looked over our tests and signed the sheet right away. I guess she thought we could handle it. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow!

We got back kind of late for lunch because of all of the changing and such after class. However, Elena was very nice and still served us…whatever it was we ate. Not quite sure. Looked like hamburger patties. After lunch I actually fell asleep down in the common room watching TV. A REAL SIESTA!! That’s what they usually do…go home from work around 2pm, eat lunch, and then sit down to watch TV. Then they slowly drift off for about 20 minutes...before waking up to go back to work. How wonderful. I hadn’t yet done the real siesta, but I guess today was basically it! Haha. Merete and the other like doing the “super siesta”…meaning they just sleep for 2 or 3 hours. I guess that’s necessary after a night out!

Tonight a few girls and I ate dinner here with one of the Spaniard students. Her name is Amaia, and she rooms with Ana…the girl who I had watched TV with/ate with before. She was REALLY funny, because we were all trying to say things to each other, but we couldn’t understand her fast talking, and she tried to understand when we were talking to each other in English. Overall it was just a VERY funny conversation. I tried asking her about her favorite gelato places, but she suggested the one place (Los Italianos) that I really DIDN’T like. She was appalled.

Talk of gelato at dinner obviously made me crave some…so I went out and tried a new heladeria. I tried a new flavor as well…Dad and Daniel’s favorite, Tiramisu! It wasn’t very good, but I think it was because of the place I went to. I guess I’ll just have to stick to my regular place. I think they’re starting to recognize me. Is that good?

I signed up for my hotel room for both the Madrid trip and the trip to Nerja beach next weekend. Both are set up by AIFS. Should be a lot of fun!! Paula is bringing her whole family, and encouraged us to speak in English with her 2 boys to help them practice, haha. I also signed up for an Arabic Tea Ceremony/story telling on Wednesday…not quite sure what to expect, but it should be fun!

Tonight we went out for this one girl’s birthday. Even though it was another big group, I thought it would be fun, but it was actually kind of weird. Everyone decided to go to this “chupiteria”…a shot bar. They had over 100 different kinds of shots, and the kids took full advantage of it. It was kind of sad because the only people in the place were Americans…as Paula had mentioned: Spaniards don’t ‘drink to get drunk’ like Americans. They’re all out having Sangria and tapas. I decided that’s where I wanted to be, so Will and I left after about half an hour. I felt bad for leaving, but it’s just not my thing. It’s not a Spaniards thing.

ANYWAYS, I’m gonna head to bed, since tomorrow is my first day in Intermediate 1! I hope it goes well! Also, it’s in a different building (Kenia…pronounced like ‘Kenya’) which is even further away from Jardines.

Adios y buenos noches!

Gelato count: 7

p.s. They have LAY’S chips flavored: Jamon (ham), Jamon y Queso (ham and cheese) and Paprika. COOL.

Monday, September 7, 2009

...C is for Churros con chocolate

SUNDAY, September 6, 2009

We didn’t get fed today…staff had the day off. They’re probably lucky they didn’t have to deal with some of the people here. One girl didn’t come home last night (well, not until 8am), and some of the others freaked out and decided to wake everyone up to figure out where she was. Drama, drama, drama. Then another one of the girls passed out on the street, and then the police brought her home, and then she passed out on our stairs, etc.

Anyways, this morning, just to get out of the building, Will and I had breakfast in one of the nearby plazas. We got churros con chocolate, but we didn’t know how many to order. Thinking we should each just get one, we ordered 2 chocolates and 2 churros. Big mistake. And I mean BIG. Each order of churros is 5 foot long pieces of churro. Granted they aren’t very filling, they’re still HUGE. Regardless, as hungry college kids, we ate our money’s worth and downed them all. They were soooooo good…I can’t wait until next Sunday when I have an excuse to go buy breakfast.

For lunch a few of us went to the first cafeteria that we ate at the first day we were here. We ordered Cokes and were given large tapas. The first round was tortilla y baicon (sandwich with eggs and bacon), and the second was hamburguesas (mini hamburgers). Even though they were pretty filling, we still stopped at a gelato place on the way back to Jardines. I tried a new flavor called tarta de miel y canela (Spanish cake with cinnamon and honey). That was very good, yet still not as good as avellana (you guessed it…hazelnut).

There were only a few of us around today since 2 girls went to the beach, and a few others stayed in bed all day. This was quite relaxing, so the few of us who were up just sort of wandered around the entire day. I didn’t want to go to the beach this first weekend because I decided it would probably be a good idea to learn my surroundings (since I’ll be living here) before running off to other places. We go to the beach with all the AIFS kids in 2 weeks anyways! In the evening I watched some more television. Billy Madison was on…Adam Sandler sounds even funnier in Spanish. I also watched some more Disney Channel, though CNN is growing on me.

For dinner a small group of us went to the place we ate at for dinner the first night we were here (I guess today must have just been a ‘repeat’ day!) called El Cine. It’s actually an Italian themed place, but they’re always very nice. We got home pretty late from that, and all I had time left to do was finish up my homework. It was during my homework that I decided I would try and move up a level in my Spanish class. TOOOOO easy.
Well, tomorrow we have class early again. Wish me luck switching levels!

Gelato count: 6

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A is for Alhambra. B is for Bocadillo.

This morning we got to sleep in a little bit more than usual. Breakfast wasn’t served until 9! This was lucky for some of the AIFS kids because they didn’t get back from the disco until 5:15 this morning! Crazy kids. Anyway, after breakfast we grabbed our bocadillos from Scarlet and headed towards Plaza Nueva to meet up with the rest of the group. Paula then led us up to the Alhambra for our tours. The tour lasted about 2 ½ hours, and it was REALLY cool. My group’s guide was named Robert, and he was super funny and very informative…I creeped a picture of him preaching to us about the Sultan’s summer house…check it out on Flickr sometime later today. We walked all throughout the palace and gardens. There were SO many photo ops…I think Robert started getting frustrated that we all kept stopping to take so many pictures! Haha. My favorite part was the gardens by the Sultan’s summer house. There were tall, tall bushes that were carved into arches to make a maze. It really reminded me of the 4th Harry Potter movie when they’re in the final Tri-Wizard tournament challenge (if you’ve forgotten this part, heaven forbid, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq1JxO9CnYA). The views from the towers, and just walking along the side of the palace were amazing. Every picture I took looked like it came out of a travel brochure. And I’m not even that great of a photographer.

After the tour we were left on our own to find our way back. It is SUPER close to everything, so it wasn’t hard. We found a nice bench and ate our bocadillos…which were HUGE pieces of baguette-like bread with about 2 slices of thin salami. Needless to say I needed something to drink after that. Instead, I grabbed a gelato. It was really exciting because I found a new flavor of gelato that I like! It’s called Roché and it’s made out of those Ferrero Rocher candies. I might have to go back for more tonight.

…Well it’s after “dinner” now. It’s actually 10:50 and we just got done eating our second bocadillo of the day. Apparently on Saturdays, Scarlet doesn’t want to stay to make us food, so we just pick up bocadillos. Luckily they were different than the ones we had earlier! These ones had tortillas in them (thick potato pancake-type things). So it was bread and potatoes…two of the driest things possible. HOWEVER there was a mix-up, and we didn’t even get them until almost 10. Apparently one of the girls went down around 9 (when dinner usually starts) and told Juanita, one of the ladies, that we didn’t want them…for some reason. SO when we were all waiting out in the lobby, she didn’t give us any until we actually asked. Ugh. Food is difficult on the weekends. Saturdays every store closes after siesta…so around 3 or 4. It is impossible to get something to eat, especially since our kitchen isn’t open either! I guess that’s a lesson, so we’ll have to all stock up on food from our nearby 24 hour store!

I watched more TV today…a little bit more Disney Channel and some CNN. Yup, I’m progressing, haha. Hopefully I’ll understand it ALL by the time I leave!
Time for tapas! Adios!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Taking it easy

The second day of class went pretty much like the first. It really doesn’t feel like four hours, but it is. Every day. Except tomorrow and Sunday, which is exciting! AIFS has built into their program some day trips, and tomorrow is one of those. We’re all going to the Alhambra for a tour. I don’t know that much about it, so it should be interesting! We had to tell our cook today that we wouldn’t be at lunch tomorrow. She’s making us bocadillos (sub sandwich-type things) for us to take with us instead. Speaking of meals, today’s menu wasn’t quite as satisfactory as the past few days. Breakfast was, once again, toast and coffee. I have a feeling that’s all it’ll ever be. No complaints. For lunch we had this odd cold soup (gazpacho?) which all of us US students sort of tried to get down as fast as we could. Then there was a sort of mushroom and pork stew with fries on the side. The fries were really good, and reminded me of the fresh French fries at the fair. Yummy! For dinner we had our more normal (hot) soup that looks and tastes like alphabet soup (actually, the first day we had it, it DID have letters in it). I’m a big fan of that. Then we got this pasta with olives and carrots mixed in. On the side there was cold ham with some sort of melted cheese on the inside. Dessert was an ice cream sandwich…haha. Over dinner, there was a new kid who came into the comedor. We had an empty seat at our table, so we offered it to him. He didn’t look like a Spaniard, but he was speaking to Scarlett pretty fluently. We started talking, and found out he’s from the southern part of Holland. His name is Thijmen (I made him write it down because I couldn’t even start to imagine how it was spelled). He speaks VERY good English with almost no accent. Apparently he decided he wanted to study Spanish here, but his university wouldn’t help him get situated, so he organized everything himself. However, one of his old teachers is now a professor at UGR, so he has been able to keep in contact with him. I’m just amazed at the different types of people we have around us.

Quite a few of the students are out and about right now. They left around 11pm for tapas and drinks, and then were going to head over to meet (a bunch of) people at one of the discos. They were planning on leaving the bar for the disco around 2am…so I decided to pass. We have our trip tomorrow that apparently has a lot of walking, so I don’t want to be too tired. Speaking of which, I should probably start getting ready for bed! Keep an eye out for all of my Alhambra pictures tomorrow! …or when I get internet fast enough to upload things. As of right now I’ve had my computer on for 3 hours and it still hasn’t uploaded my most recent 5 pictures…


p.s. I have my Skype working now, and I can call any US landline or cell phone! I tried it today and it works! So crazy how that works…so if anyone wants a phone call, just let me know!

p.p.s. Gelato count: 4

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Today was the first day of our “Language Intensive” classes. We all kind of walked to the CLM building, not knowing what to expect. Some people found out their classes were actually in a different building, but I got lucky! My class actually has 2 profesores. One named Mariangeles and one named Javier. Mariangeles is VERY nice and teaches us for the first 3 hours of the day. Today was all review, so it was pretty easy…I hope it doesn’t stay this way! Javier was really funny, and he dealt with the more cultural aspect of our lesson. Class ended in him giving us the names of his top 5 bars. Homework.

Before lunch I decided to watch more Spanish TV since it really seems to help. I went downstairs to find one of the Spaniard girls down there watching what I assumed to be a rather popular comedy show. We tried talking for a bit in Spanish, and then she admitted that she had studied in the US for 2 years and spoke very good English. Tricky, tricky. Now she’s here at UGR studying pharmacy.

We had an interesting lunch today. It was fried fish (looked identical to the fish I ate in London) with a side of this bean/tomato salad. I think we all had a difficult time with this meal, but dinner was wonderful. We got sopa (soup) for starters, and then moved on to a plate with jamon (ham), juevos (eggs) and some sort of mixed vegetables. It was really good! Dessert was yogurt! I think I could get used to eating like this…

After dinner a few of us went out in search of a fun tapas bar. We brought along our new friend, Danny, from Barcelona. He’s staying at Jardines and has become quite close with a number of us. He is still a bit unfamiliar with the area, but it was nice having him along to get tips and hints from locals. Literally every bar was filled up outside, so we ended up having to sit inside. However, the door was wide open, so air (and street vendors) came in easily! It was just like being outside. Our tapas included a sort of bruschetta and mannnny olives. On Danny’s second drink he got chicken wings! Lucky. Somehow he managed to get me to talk about circus. I have kept it very quiet so far on the trip (only Merete and Will knew) just because people a lot of the time don’t understand and just assume it’s a lot weirder than it actually is. And with Danny, seeing as I can’t even explain what I do to people in ENGLISH I was quite nervous about trying it in Spanish. I think he got the gist of it! It helped that he knew what Cirque du Soleil is…it’s surprising how many people don’t! That just makes things more difficult, haha.

Tonight was a lot better in regards to going out with a group. We kept it rather small, and were actually able to fit at one table! Whoa. However, tomorrow is a kid’s birthday in the program. I heard from a reliable source that there are about30 kids going out to celebrate. Classy, chicos, classy. I hope no one ends up ‘con la policía’!

Class again early tomorrow…so I better head to bed. Merete’s already sleeping! Hope all is well!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Becoming a local

This morning we all got up at different times here at Jardines. The different levels of groups met at different times in the AIFS office, so some of us made it to breakfast while others decided to sleep in for the first time in a long time. Maria Julia’s pan tostada is too good to pass up, so I joined the small group down around 8:15. She always looks at me funny when I turn away café con leche (coffee with milk), but always offers me zumo (juice) instead :)

At the meeting in the AIFS office, we signed some contracts for the University of Granada and were instructed on how to decide what to register for. She suggested that based on our middle level Spanish, we should try and take all of our classes in Spanish. I hadn’t planned on it (I was only going to take 2 in Spanish out of my 4), but decided I might as well try it. She said it is VERY easy to drop and add classes so even after the first few classes it’s still possible to change to the English version…haha. After the meeting, everyone seemed to go shopping. Most of us were cell phone shopping…and BOY was that a process. We were all literally going from store to store getting info about all of the different phones and plans (all "prepago", or prepaid). Will and I decided to do this one plan with a place called "Movistar" (moh-vee-star), which is the network my T-mobile phone picked up immediately when we landed in Malaga. I've had 5 bars EVERYWHERE we have been, with no trouble...so we decided it would be a smart choice. Also, I talked with the 2 resident directors and they both said they had had issues with some of the other companies, like "Orange". Inma (Paula's helper) said she used to have to press her face against her bedroom window in order to get a signal when she had Orange. SO, I feel bad for the people who already had bought their phones and didn't spend time researching before buying. Too eager, too bad, I guess. The plan Will and I got was because we knew we would probably be contacting each other more than anyone else. We got a "Mi Favorito" which is where we chose each other as the one line that we prefered, and would get calls for .01/min and texts for .06/ea. COMPARED to Orange, Blau, Yoigo, and Vodafone which are all about .10/min for calls and .15/ea for texts. Also, to any other phone here, we have .12/min nights and weekends which was the best we found without sacrificing text prices, etc. I was pretty proud of our choice. And the girl was really nice at the store. She programmed it all for us so we wouldn't have trouble with the company. A bunch of kids got "Blau", this newer company which advertises free Blau to Blau calling and everything else is .08/each (calls, texts). HOWEVER there is a connection fee they didn't see in the fine (spanish) print... Anyway, I guess I thought this was all more exciting than it should have been. It’s just fun to go into stores and try and see how much Spanish you can get out before they figure out you have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s about 4 words for me.

This evening we ran into this kid, Alan, who is staying here at Jardines on his own from New York. He planned out his own trip...no study abroad program or anything. And surprisingly his Spanish is around my level, haha, so I commend him on his confidence to travel alone like that. I think our group here will befriend him, since he's taking similar classes at CLM, etc. I really am starting to get a feel for how in shape I will be when I get home. Everything around here is within walking distance, and right now I’m in the “exploration” mode, so I’m walking ALL the time. I think I must have walked at LEAST 15 miles today. With all the walking around we do, it really is like fat camp instead of study abroad. Haha...small portions, no sweets (except gelato), and a TON of walking. Some of that walking was while we were all trying to find phones and do some other shopping, but most of it was this evening when Will and I split off from the LARGE group of students to explore the northern side of Granada. This is one thing I’m having an issue with here. Paula, Inma, and other people who have been here before have told us numerous times that it’s not smart to go around in large groups, speaking English. That is a very American thing to do, and we don’t want to attract attention to ourselves. We tend to be louder, etc. and everyone is WELL aware that we are foreigners. I think my previous traveling experiences have helped me realize how important it is to try and act like a local in order to get a feel for the real culture. For example, while trying to find phone information, the clerks at the cell phone stores seemed a bit overwhelmed and annoyed when even more than 3 kids would go in to look at phones. Most of them are still shy and won’t ask questions (I tried to pitch in whenever I could, but Will was really on a roll today). Anyway, when we were just walking down the small streets we are obviously very much louder than the locals and people kind of stare us down. I hate feeling like that, and have suggested many times that we just split up into smaller groups. I don’t know what it is, but almost everyone seemed to think it was okay. Another example was last night when we were at the pub…Inma and Paula ended up leaving early because they didn’t want to watch the students drink just to get drunk. And that’s exactly what they did. After leaving for a bit, a few of us returned to grab a last piece of pizza, and it was shocking to see some kids from our program acting like they owned the place, yelling, dancing inappropriately, etc. I mean, have fun, but try and be respectful! When another student told them to calm down a bit, one girl replied “they expect us to act like this, we’re Americans.” Well, that’s not how I think it should be. Speaking of which, they just walked in now and I can hear them VERY clearly. It’s 1:20am. Anyway. Like I said, tonight Will and I decided to split off from the large group that was going out to a bar (and meeting even more students there for a total of about 15) to explore. It was the most fun I have had yet. We ended up on the steps of a HUGE cathedral, eating gelato (I got “Avellana”…or Hazelnut. Of course.), and watching a few locals bring out their guitars and drums and draw a small crowd. We wandered around for about 3 hours just trying to see what is around. While I didn’t want to seem rude for leaving the other group, it was VERY nice to be able to not feel like we were being stared at and judged because we’re part of a group of loud, obnoxious Americans. We were able to observe the locals by being mixed right in with them. At the gelato shop we actually were spoken to in Spanish with no notion that we didn’t understand. That was a first! So all in all, it was a wonderful evening, and I hope that other students will be able to experience Granada in this same way.

Well, classes start early tomorrow morning, so I’m going to head to bed. I took some pictures of my room (and new phone haha) for y'all to see, so they'll be up shortly! Gnight!

My Flickr account with PHOTOS!

Hi everyone! Here's the link to my Flickr account, so you can check out my pictures!! I don't have too many yet, but more are coming soon! They're also up on Facebook...


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lizzards and Tests and Sangria...OH MY!

Today was quite a rough day to be honest. We got up around 7:30 and I had my first taste of our extremely low water pressure showers. I felt like I was standing beneath a leaking pipe, waiting for each drop to try and wash out the massive amount of shampoo in my hair. Everyone had a fun time with that. We ate breakfast in the Comedor together around 8. Our chef, Scarlet wasn’t there yet, but one of the other old ladies made us toast and coffee. Our resident director, Paula came and met us and we walked to meet up with all of the home stay kids at the CLM (Centro de Lenguas Modernas) for the placement test. It started with a 30 minute written question/answer test. Then we moved into the 45 minute grammar multiple choice section, specifically sorted into the four sections we are attempting to place in: beginning, intermediate, advanced and superior. It was kind of overwhelming to try and see what we are going up against on paper! The last part was an oral interview with one of the professors. I was super nervous, and really didn’t get much out of my mouth except “yo estudiado español para cuatro semestres, pero durante el verano pasado se me olvidó todo”…meaning: I have studied Spanish for 4 semesters, but during the past summer I forgot it all. That all came out...and I tried to get around explaining where I worked when she asked. FAIL. Everyone else’s interviewers told them what level they had placed into immediately. Mine decided not to…so I found out during our “welcome fiesta” tonight at the pub. It looks like I’ll be joining the beginners.

After the oral exam we went back to Jardines. We watched some TV in the common room…Spanish-dubbed The Wizards of Waverly Place (Los Magos de Waverly Place) and Boy Meets World on Disney Channel, as well as some Fresh Prince of Bel Air. We then ate lunch (at 2:30) in the Comedor, which was cooked by our chef, Scarlet. It was Spaghetti and meat sauce, which I think Paula told them to make to try and help us adjust. Regardless, it was really good! After that, we met up with everyone again at one of the (many) local plazas for a small tour of the important landmarks (AIFS office, post office, banks, etc.). The thermometer on the outside of one of the banks read 40o…go look that up. Following our walk was our "welcome fiesta" in which they ordered a LOT of pizza (from…DOMINOES!) and had it delivered to a pub. We also were given drink vouchers for either beer, sangria or coke. I felt bad for the people who had been in there before us, because there were over 50 of us, and some people got a little wild.

Well, now I’m back in my room. We have meetings with our respective class placements tomorrow morning, and then the rest of the day free to explore. I think I’ll end up buying a cell phone tomorrow…it’s cheaper than just buying a pay-as-you-go card for the phone I have now! The four main companies here are Vodafone, YoiGo, Orange and Movistar…most people have gone for Orange, but that was before Paula told us they don’t have that great of service between the tall buildings. Hmm…I’ll have to Google those.
Hope everyone is doing well!

p.s. I never mentioned that we had a little visitor in our room yesterday. It was a tiny lizard, about the length of my index finger. I have no idea where he went, but Merete and I are hoping he’ll come back to say hi. OH, and there’s this plaza near Jardines that is FULL of bats in the evening. You can hear them from a block away (and smell them). Regardless, it’s pretty fascinating!