Saturday, June 11, 2011

Home sweet home :) And SO happy!

There's NO place like home.

Well, I MADE IT! I'm currently sitting on my couch in at my house in my beautiful Gorham, Maine, and quite honestly, I've never been more content! Mind you, it's 6am and I can't sleep, because my sleeping pattern has been thrown WAY off, but it's fine! I figured why not use the time to blog it out, let you guys know how the whole return went!

I'll start out by saying, could have gone a bit smoother. First of all, my taxi came at 5am yesterday morning, right? So I of course barely slept, but went to bed around 3, just for a quick cat nap before the taxi came. OF COURSE my alarm didn't go off, and so at 5 minutes to 5 Maribel comes into my room, "Katie, it's almost 5!" So, that was a little rough. Threw all my stuff together, HOPEFULLY have everything! But anyway, so the taxi guy got there at 5, got all my stuff in the car, and said bye to Maribel. Really sad, definitely going to miss her :( She gave me a cute tank top as a going away present .. she really was the BEST and I think about every day how blessed I was to have such a wonderful host mom! So saying goodbye to her definitely brought tears to my eyes, but I somehow will see her again I hope and I will definitely keep in touch!

So then my taxi picked up Ky, which was nice, so we went to our flight out of Sevilla together! Everything went pretty smoothly at the Sevilla airport, and we got to Madrid by 8am! Problems then arose. My flight from Madrid to NY was supposed to leave at 10am, but had been delayed until 1:30. I ALMOST DIED. I just wanted to leave at that point! And I knew that if I took that flight I'd miss my connecting flight from NY to Boston. So, had to figure that one out -- but it ended up working in my favor HARD CORE! They changed my flight so I would go directly to Boston! I WAS THRILLED. Course, I had to wait until 1:55 for the flight, but I still ended up getting home earlier than I would have!

So before I left on my flight, Ky left for Chicago at 11:55. It was really weird, and seriously sad saying goodbye to her. This girl has been such an amazing friend and support system all throughout my time in Spain, and we have had the most hilarious and craziest times together, and it's weird to say goodbye and not know when I'll see her again. Chicago and Maine aren't exactly neighbors. But I am sure that I will be seeing her, just not when. So I definitely teared up saying bye to her, and she did too. But really she was such a blessing in my life and I know we'll be life long friends!

Anyway, so then before my flight left, the last thing I did was change my euros into dollars, and I gotta say, seeing that LOVELY dollar bill again is a beautiful thing! :) So anyway, it wasn't too long before my flight to Boston left, and so I just waited around, read a little bit, and before I knew it I was on that plane and we were taking off, Boston bound!

The plane ride was around 7 hours - and I can easily say the longest 7 hours of my life. The entire time I was just SO excited about getting home and seeing my family, and so of course that doesn't make it go by ANY faster. Made a friend on the flight -- name's Jason, was in Spain for some technical engineering-ish conference, and is from Boston. Cool stuff. Mostly I spent the plane ride attempting to sleep (and clearly failing) and watching Will and Grace! They always get me through :) Haha!

But we finally landed in Boston around 4pm US time. So weird..extremely long day! So, there I go, land in the US, everything's perfect..right? Nope. Where are my suitcases? Yeah, Madrid didn't send them. So I waited around the stupid baggage collection a good 5 extra minutes, but they never came, so I had to figure all that out. Apparently they'll be here Monday, or so they tell me.

But suitcases were the last thing on my mind. All I cared about was getting out and seeing my family. And let me tell you, it was an AMAZING reunion! I loved walking out the doors to seeing my sister with a poster she had made saying "Welcome Home" on the car ride down, and seeing my parents with their cameras documenting the experience. I sprinted up to them and hugged them as hard as I could, and I seriously felt SO happy. Reuniting with my family was amazing, and I seriously NEVER want to leave them!


Best friends.

So there was ONE thing I wanted before leaving the airport -- Dunkin Donuts of COURSE! My sister and I RUN ON IT. So there was one right near where I got in, so we went! But, I had said before, we all know how Dunks isn't too reliable. I had always said, I know the first iced coffee they make me when I get back will be a fail. Needless to say, it was. But I tried to drink it anyway, and was just happy to have Dunks with my sister again :) I've seriously missed it. And of COURSE her. MY BEST FRIEND, DUH!

So, failed dunks in our hands, we got back to the car and we headed home! I couldn't wait to give them their souvenirs..luckily they had all been in my carry on, so I busted them all out! Coffee mugs for mom and dad, a few magnets for the fridge, Kristi a Sevilla bag, a bracelet, and a coaster with a sisters quote on it! Pretty sure they liked it all! :) The car ride home was awesome. I have seriously never been so happy in my life. And despite how tired I was, I couldn't shut up. I just LOVED being back with my family again. We stopped along the way for dinner, at flatbread's pizza in Portsmouth, NH! IT WAS SO GOOD! My sister and I got pizzas with carmelized onions, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and probably more that I'm forgetting, but they were SO good! Mom got veggie, which I tried and was good, and Dad of course got like meat lover's special. Haha, gotta love him! But it was so much fun. And the car ride home was just full of my sister and I laughing like always, as if things never changed! So much fun. And pulling into my street and driveway, I have really just never felt so content and happy. I have missed this amazing place so much!

Getting home, I loved seeing the house and everything as I remembered it -- except for, oh wait, the NEW FLAT SCREEN TV IN THE LIVING ROOM!!!!!!!! WHAT?!!?!!! MY FAMILY HAS KEPT THIS FROM ME FOR MONTHS NOW. WE HAVE A FLAT SCREEN? No more stupid ugly fat box in the living room, NOW WE'RE SLEEK SHINY AND LOVING IT! Can't get over it! So clearly now I will be spending more time than I did before on my couch watching TV, as if I didn't already spend enough! I told everyone in Spain that I'm so excited to just hang out and watch TV at home with my family - something I've SERIOUSLY missed. I know, how stupid right, but whatever, to me, I love it!

So I loved looking around the house, seeing all the new things, and just being home! My room as always is disgusting and I have a LOT of cleaning and rearranging to do as I never really moved in after Christmas break. But that's fine....ANOTHER DAY!

So, to close out the night, my sister and I made our favorite mix that we discovered over winter. Consists of:
- Rice chex
- Pretzels
- Craisins
- Dried papaya
- Popcorn (kettle corn - comes in a red bag)

Drove down to cumberland farms, grabbed some diet pepsis to go with it, and had a great night hanging out on the couch enjoying our delicious mix! Sadly we enjoyed it as the Bruins lost, but whatevs! Last night I was just so happy to be with my family, and as we all sat in our normal spots in the living room, I knew, I was really home. :)

Sevilla was amazing. It was such a wonderful experience. There were times it was SO hard, there were times it was hilarious, there were times that were incredible. I learned so much about life and different culture there. It really opened my eyes to see that there is a HUGE huge world out there, and it is just waiting to be explored! Seriously, I am so happy that I studied abroad. I can't begin to put into words all that I learned in Sevilla. I think I went into it thinking, yeah I'll practice my Spanish and see a different country. I came out of it with SO much more than that. I learned about people, I learned about culture, and I mostly learned a ton about myself. I am so happy I was able to have this experience, honestly. It was absolutely mind blowing and life changing, and I will always thank God for it!

I bought a shirt with a symbol of Sevilla, that is NO8DO, and wore it home. The 8 is more of a knot. It means "No me ha dejado", translated into "Sevilla has not abandoned me". I love this, because it helps me to know that the lessons I learned in Sevilla are forever, even though I'm back home now. It's a place that will always be sacred in my heart, and a place that I can always look back on and be happy about. And, it's always waiting for me to come back. Thank you Sevilla, you were something else.

Now, it's almost 7am, I am watching the Even Stevens movie (only thing on -- but I love it) on our flatscreen TV, waiting for my family to get up. This morning I requested blueberry pancakes from my dad, so that's to come soon. Then I'm sure my sister and I will go to dunks, and then figure out the rest of the day together!

So, that's about all I got. I'm back in the US, I love it. I am so thankful for Sevilla and all it taught me, but I'm so glad to be home. Home is where the heart is they say -- SO TRUE!

Gotta say thanks for keeping up with me and going with me on the adventure of my life! But, it doesn't stop here. Just because I'm home from Sevilla doesn't mean the fun ends. Everything is an adventure. Every day in life is a new experience, and I just want to live them all!

Hasta luego,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mañana me voy..


Let me preface this blog by explaining why it's taken me so long to write. Well, first of all, the past 3 weeks have pretty much been exams, studying, and work taking up my entire life. That, and oh yeah, oops, my hard drive decided to crash two weeks ago. Don't even know how it happened, all I can say is, I get home from school. It's about 7pm. Go make a nice cup of coffee, open up the laptop ready to get down to business an study, and its frozen. No big deal, I figure, I'll just turn it off and on again. Yeah, mistake. Turn it back on, all I get was a flashing folder with a question mark in the middle. Yeah, that can't be too good. Call Ky, she looks it up, hard drive crashed. Clearly a rough situation for a while. Not only was I in finals, but I was without a computer for a good week. It was pain. But it's OVER now, I got through it, got through my exams, and now am leave?

So I don't really know where to start with this post. I mean, it probably won't be too long...I have no idea what to write about. Feelings? Things I've done for 3 weeks? I don't even KNOW! I mean, I have done some pretty fun and exciting things that I'm sure you'd love to hear about, that is, if anyone's even still reading this. I feel so bad I ditched but I really have been crazy busy! I took my last final on Thursday, for Lope de Vega, and then this week I just had to finish up some work and turn it in, which now it's all set and turned in! Can't believe it, done! A SENIOR IN COLLEGE! But what I really can't believe is that this semester is actually over. I leave tomorrow, to head home to the good 'ol US of A! Granted I am absolutely dying to get home and see my family, it is going to be SO weird to leave here. It's not like just going home after a semester of college, it's like going home from a place that you actually have made into your home for 5 months. You're leaving your home away from home, and how do you comprehend that?! In less than 12 hours my taxi is coming to pick me up. At this time tomorrow I'll be on the plane from Madrid to New York. And tomorrow night, I'll sleep in MY house! Seriously has to be the weirdest thing in the world. What I'm SO excited and SO happy about is the fact that Ky is on my flight from Sevilla to Madrid! So we get to go together, and have breakfast, and then depart in the Madrid airport. I mean, our departure will totally be sad, but I know for sure I'll see her again! Not even a question in my mind. But I'm really going to miss her. I can honestly say she has become one of my best friends. And I am SO so thankful for that.

But enough of the mush and gush - we all know I'm sad to leave but so thrilled to be home! So time to catch you up on LIFE really fast! So lately I've just been seriously enjoying my last few days here! So it's easy, I'll list what I've done - because explaining three weeks worth of adventures would just NOT work for me. Too long of a post, too little time. Seriously, down to 11 and a half hours here! (PS -- I will probably write another post on the 8 hour and 20 minute plane ride tomorrow. Might be longer. More detailed. Etc. But for now I just want to catch you up really quickly on what I've been doing AND my emotions and thoughts on my last day!!! So I will write more tomorrow - but here's a quick catch up.

3 weeks. Ready. GO!
- Ky and I went to the beach in Cádiz -- super nice!
- We had our end of the year fiesta for ALA - super fun! We all bonded. It was great!
- Saw Pirates 4. AMAZING. They referenced Sevilla...and we FREAKED OUT! Seriously sick.
- Saw Midnight in Paris - really good! Yes, I have been to the movies twice in the past two weeks. And I love it!
- Got some Rayas ice cream!
- Saw the bull ring FINALLY. I've lived here and never seen it! DUMB.
- Went paddleboating...again.
- Went back to the Alcazar gardens! They are gorgeous duh :)
- WE ALL HAD PIZZZA NIGHT! There was a huge group of us girls. Went back to the wonderful amazing pizza place and then we all sat out by the rio and hung out until, yeah probably like 2am! SO much fun. And this time I tried the vegetarian pizza..TO DIE FOR! Eggplant, zuchinni, egg, tomato, OMG SO GOOD!
- Last night Ky, Brittany and I went out for drinks with our geography tutor, Rocio! It was so much fun. She's hilarious. One of my favorite things to hear is Spanish people speak English. It's GREAT -- like for example. We were talking about the world FLIRT right. And she had no idea what I was saying. 2 seconds later she says, "OHHHH, FLEEE-URT!" hahahh, that's how she pronounces flirt. I mean, you definitely had to be there but we had a good laugh. Because then she was freaking out about how she learns a word like, party, in english. To her it would sound like "parTy" but to us, she imitated us saying it like "pardy". That's one thing I'm going to totally miss - just being surrounded by a different culture ALL the time! It's seriously so cool and I feel like I learn something new every day. Kind of hoping I can keep that up.
- Also have DEFINITELY hit up Rayas, my fav ice cream place! We went the other night, SO good, and then we met up with a bunch of our friends and hung out at the rio! SO much fun.
- Had a random field trip for my geography class all around Sevilla to look at it's geography.

There's probably at least 3948934 things that I'm leaving out that I've done, but I just can't remember. It's been too long. Right now my focus is just on finishing up packing, enjoying my last night here, and then leaving tomorrow at 5am. And with that, everyone who knows me knows that I will be getting 0 sleep tonight. Not possible. I am too excited and too nervous about everything and too FREAKING OUT TO EVEN THINK ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE SLEEPING! And plus, 5am? No point. It's my last night here, and I'm sure we'll be out until late anyway, just soaking up the last few bits. :( Seriously, weird.

Some photos for your enjoyment:

PEDALQUIVIR..aka paddle boats!
Our hiking guide. We're friends.
Bull ring .. in character. Not sure what I thought I was.

By the rio with our geo tutor! SO FUN. Going to miss her so much :(
Oh, forgot to mention this was where we had our party. GORGEOUS RIGHT?
All my pals at the rio. This makes me really sad - FUN times though!

But anyway, so now you're update on the past 3 weeks - they went well minus the laptop crisis! Now I'm just praying I can recover all my stuff when I get back home. LORD PLEASEEEE!!!!!! But yeah, last day. Feeling weird. Don't get it. BUT SO SO SO SO SO SO SO EXCITED TO SEE MY FAMILY! I've been counting down, shhh! I AM SO EXCITED. Freaking out. Gah!! So thrilled.

But anyway - I'll update either tonight when I can't sleep or tomorrow on the plane! Off to go enjoy my last few hours! Pray for my flight.

Hasta luego,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

El principio del fin

Yeah alright so, I feel like it's the beginning of the end. It's really the weirdest feeling in the world. I'm starting to realize how many days I have left, and realizing that it's not many. 23 to be exact! But like, it's flying by already. I can't explain my feelings about it all. For the one hand, I'm already so stressed out from all of these exams and classes, so it will be nice when things are done, but I seriously can't imagine saying goodbye to this gorgeous place and the amazing people here! Going to be SO weird. But anyway, I won't bore you with my boring emotions. At least not yet.

So, I feel like lots has happened! I think the last time I blogged was before the weekend that Adrienne left, which was SUCH a fun weekend, but sad at the same time! Let me remember what happened. Alright, thursday night, we went out for a little bit after dinner! We walked to this plaza Alfalfa, which has a bunch of bars. A lot of people from Adrienne's program were there, because they were all leaving friday! So weird. So we hung out there for a little bit, talked to them, and then busted out. Funny thing I have to mention though - it's Thursday night, I'm out walking, 12am right..who do I see but my Crítica Literaria professor! Haha, he was out having dinner with a younger woman. Interesting. We talked for a little, he told me it was a perfect night to be out relaxing. Haha, gotta love him. Mind you, this is the same one who said that you need to lie in life in order to survive. Gotta love this man. Haha, anyway, so after going to Alfalfa, the three of us just headed down to the river for a bit to hang out! It was great, probably stayed until around 2am, and then headed home for the night.

Friday was Ky and my big STUDY DAY! We were dedicated to getting some geography done. Basically, we got up at 9am, parked it at Starbucks, and hit the books, INTENSELY! (Had that exam today, I'll talk about that later, but thank GOD it's done. All I'm going to say!) Anyway, so we studied all day, went home for lunch, and then Adrienne had to do some last-minute souvenir shopping! So, we went along with her and just spent the day walking around El Centro shopping for souvenirs. Got you something Kristi! :) BAHA!

Ohh -- have to write this. Just love my host mom. So before I go to go out shopping with the three amigos, I tell my host mom my plans. Just, ya know, going shopping. And I mean, it's a pretty hot day, got my shorts and T-shirt on. What T-shirt? Eh, an old one of mom's. No big deal right? don't have a newer shirt to wear? This one's a little..old? CONED AGAIN! But don't worry, I stood up for myself. Pretty much what I told her, which is the TRUTH, is that I like wearing my mom's shirts because it makes me feel like she's here with me. She accepted that, and then showed me some old gloves she keeps of her mom's, and then said I can wear the T-shirt whenever I want! :) Haha, LOVE YOU MOM!

Alright so anyway, after spending the entire afternoon out, we finally did something we've been talking about doing all semester. So, there's this pizza place that we walk by EVERY night on our way home from school that just smells and looks like pure HEAVEN! So, we FINALLY went to it. And I will tell you RIGHT now, it was everything I'd ever wanted and MORE! I got a veggie pizza, basically SO amazing. Thin crust with tomatoes, mushroom, onions, artichokes, peppers, AH just so good!

Ky also got this AMAZING spinach, cheese, and potatoes dish! Can't even explain it. Seriously, so good. And it was so nice, we ate outside and just had the time of our lives talking and lingering as it got dark. :) So fun! And Ky and I pretty much decided we're making pizza a Friday THING until we leave. Which pretty much means 3 more times. Which is weird. But I'm pumped! Seriously, so great!

Anyway, so after that, we walked over to this bar-ish-thing that's on the side of the river. It's like a little hut that they serve you drinks at and you can just sit by the river and chill, and they play music too, which is so fun! Really nice atmosphere. Anyway, so they got some drinks and we just hung out talking for a while. I had a failing moment though. Alright so where you sit is like above the river and you sit on the ledge, and there's like grass and stuff below...okay whatever you'll see it in the picture, POINT IS, Katie went to take a picture with Adrienne, oops, dropped the purse down there! Haha, so had to climb through some bushes, deal with some rocky terrain. An interesting 5 minutes to say the least, but my purse made it. Weirdly enough my camera was in Ky's hand, so we could document the event! Haha.


Donde está?

Lo encontré!

And then we got the picture. :)

So, we spent the night just hanging out and laughing together at the rio! It was so great. Seriously, we don't even need to be doing anything to be having fun. Love it. Anyway, so that was pretty much the rest of our night. Just had fun talking, taking pictures, and hanging out by the rio!

Saturday, started off boring. Ugh, another morning of studying for my stupid geography exam. BLAHHHHHH! Gross. But after that, we went out again with Adrienne to continue shopping, which she was happy that she CONED ALL HER SOUVENIRS! Got everything she wanted to for everyone. Good work A! Then we went with Ky to get her TATTOOOO!!!! So exciting. So remember how I said that lady in Portugal gave us the wonderful advice on "disfruta la vida" etc? Well, Ky got that tattooed on her wrist. And it was AWESOME! It looks amazing, and it was fun to go with her and watch her get it done! She said it hurt pretty bad, but no tears! She's a warrior. So that was great, went home for dinner after that, then headed back out for the night! We went back to our fav place along the rio, and just hung out there for the night! It was so much fun, but sad at the same time, because it was A's real last night out! :( So needless to say, it went late, but it was worth it! :)

Sunday was AWESOME. We went PADDLE-BOATING along the river! It was SO much fun. We went around 1, and it was so sunny and hot and just the perfect day for it! It only cost us 15 euro for the three of us, and we got a boat for an hour! It was seriously so great. Ky brought her iPod, so we paddled down our rio singing along with tunes and enjoying the amazing weather! Great times, great friends, EVEN GREATER PICS! Of course. My favorite thing Ky said that night was, we were talking about how Spanish people listen to SO MANY American songs. I swear on the playlist (of the bar with the music), like every other song was Rihanna, Beyonce, or Justin Timberlake. Ky goes, "THEY LISTEN TO EVERYTHING IN ENGLISH. I JUST WANNA BE LIKE, PERDON, ENTIENDES ALGO?!?!" Aka, do you understand ANYTHING? Hahah, it was just so funny! But they really do have so much American music. Doesn't bother me though, love pieces of home! :)

Our bridge! Different view now!

My soulmate!

Te echo de menos.

Los Tres <3

So we did that for a while, and then headed home and spent the afternoon studying (GROSS). And then after dinner, we went out for ice cream at our favorite place, Rayas! Of course it was so great and amazing, because this ice cream place is legit the best in Sevilla, EVERYONE says so, but it was also really sad because after that, we said bye to Adrienne! She was leaving for the good ol US of A at 7am the next morning! Not fun saying bye, but I'll see her next semester and Ky will definitely be visiting the East Coast, so, not too worried! But, its sad without her here. Kind of feels like, and then there were two. But, at least we got a picture of our final time crossing the bridge together. Makes me sad, but I love it at the same time.


So anyway, Monday began the normal week. Adrienne-less. :( Not like I had much time to be sad though, because I had an EXAM IN GEOGRAPHY TO STUDY FOR! I spent all day Monday and Tuesday studying, of course, and took the exam today. It was hard, I'm just hoping I passed. I wouldn't do well on a geography exam in ENGLISH let alone in Spanish! But all I need is a passing grade and I'm set! :) It is nice to have it done though, but it just freaks me out! I like the US system a lot better, exams are not your ENTIRE GRADE! Seriously. Hate it!! But we'll see! Time will tell!!! Haha. Now I just have two more, and some final work to do, and it will all be over on June 2nd, and then I have some free time until the 10th, when I leave. It's all coming fast, but I definitely have a TON of work to do before I leave! But I needed a mental break now, so blogging was the perfect option. :) I'll hopefully know my grade within a few weeks!

So yeah, that's where I am right now. Just finishing up classes and getting ready for deathly exams, and enjoying my last few weeks! This weekend Ky and I want to do some work and then hopefully hit a BEACH up, and then we're going hiking on Sunday, so looking forward to that!!! But for now, just enjoying the rest of the journey. Don't want it to end. But missing my family, and everyone back home, and so I am excited to get home. Ky and I even said the other day -- we've been so many places, and seen so many things and learned so much, but at the end of the day, there is no place like home. Just call me Dorothy. But don't worry, I'm going to enjoy the rest of this wonderful adventure! :)

Have to say before I go - LOVING my host family. The other day they were ridiculing me non-stop for wearing a Sevilla jersey! They're Betis fans, like I said. Host dad said call the police. Jorge pretended not to talk to me. All jokes, but I love them! And the other day, my host dad was helping me study for geography! Told me all about the climate here. Haha, so funny. Reminded me of doing math homework at home with dad all those years ago. Of course, I didn't scream and cry to my host dad like I used to. Haha. LOVE YA DAD!

But anyway, I can't think of anything else exciting in my life to write about. So better stop now, before I bore you! Just know, enjoying and soaking up every minute of Sevilla! The end will be here before I know it.

Hasta luego

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Down under a month!

The other day, while eating breakfast, my host mom said to me, "los dias se van volando", and I've never been more in agreement! Basically, time is flying, and I don't even know how to handle it. Part of me is SO excited to come home in .. 29 days (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! Feels like I JUST started!) and then the other part of me is so sad to leave this amazing place. I can't handle all the mixed feelings! It's so weird. I'm so excited to see people that I haven't seen in 5 MONTHS but then I have to say goodbye to people like my host family that I might never see again! I'm confident I'll see Adrienne and Ky again, but there are a ton of people here that I'm going to really miss.

But anyway, I mean I still have time here to enjoy, which is great. However, bad thing is that I can't exactly ENJOY all the time I have, because we're getting close to finals time. Actually, we're pretty much there. Because we are all leaving early June, we have to take our finals early, so they're coming fast. Those are my university finals, though. My classes with CIEE ended yesterday, and I had one final for that and the other was my article for the magazine that came out. So those classes are done, which is nice, so now I only have three classes to focus on, but it's going to be hard core and intense focus for the next few weeks! I mean, I've taken exams before, yes. But I've never taken exams that are MY ENTIRE GRADE and oh yeah IN SPANISH STRAIGHT UP ALL THE WAY! NO ENGLISH, BYE. Gah, I guess you could say I'm freaking out. Just a bit.

Sad thing though - Adrienne goes home MONDAY! I can't believe it. Remember how I told you she had to switch programs so she could make it back in time for graduation? Yeah, so her program ends today and then she leaves Monday and goes home, graduates Wednesday I want to say! Insane, but so happy for her. But Ky and I are really going to miss having her here for our last month!!

But amidst all the studying and sadness of Adrienne's departure, we have CERTAINLY been enjoying ourselves at the same time! Like I told you, last week was Feria. Aka, huge fair for a week in Sevilla. I dub it, Ruffle Fest. SO MANY GIRLS WITH INSANELY HUGE DRESSES! They all get wicked dressed up, and even the boys wear suits! And pretty much it's just a huge celebration. We went once during the day, and then once during the night. We got all dressed up for it, flowers, dresses and shawls, so it was fun!

Ky and A


They have what are called "casetas" which are private owned like tents that people go in to. If you know someone with a caseta, then that's awesome and you can get in and eat and drink and hang out, maybe watch some dancing, etc. If you don't, rough. Needless to say, we didn't know anyone! But there are a few public ones, so we went into those and checked them out. So one side is casetas, millions of people walking around dressed up with drinks in hand, and then on the other side is a Carnival, millions of rides and all kinds of food stands. It was pretty cool! So we walked around for a while. I can't say I was obsessed, but I think that's because I don't know anyone here. I think like, if that were in Gorham, I'd be in heaven, walking around seeing everyone, but it's hard when you don't know people! But still, we had a lot of fun and took lots of pictures and just soaked up the Feria atmosphere.



La Puerta de Feria

And so for most of the other days we were back, we spent studying. I'm not kidding when I say this geography exam I have is going to be ROUGH! Basically, know everything and more about the Iberian Peninsula. Okay, easy. No big. But I'm slowly moving along. Anyway, the other thing we did last weekend which was SO MUCH FUN and SO WORTH IT WAS .. WE FINALLY MADE IT TO A SOCCER GAME!!!! I was going to be SO sad if I came to Spain and never saw a game. DUH I NEEDED TO GO! So, Satuday, Real Madrid was in town to take on Sevilla FC. Remember how I said there are 2 teams here, Sevilla and Betis? Yeah, so we hit Sevilla up. Problem with that was, my host family is all about Betis. Eeek. So before I left, I told my host mom.."you're going to hate me, but I'm going to the Sevilla game." Basically, she laughed, and her response was, "I don't hate you, but let's just hope Madrid wins!" So, luckily, I made it out the door.

So, first, it was about 5pm in the day, the game wasn't until 9. But Ky and I wanted to be safe rather than sorry, and we knew it was going to be a popular game, so we went to buy our tickets early. My host mom had warned me about the cost of the tickets, that because they were playing REAL MADRID aka CRISTIANO RONALDO that they'd be high. But I was prepared, ya know, 50-60 euro, not awful. Ky and I get to the ticket stand...cheapest ones are 90 EURO! Wowwwwww. I mean, it made sense, but still, SO EXPENSIVE! So, being the person that I am, what do I do? Do I buy the tickets, and not let anything get in my way of seeing a sick soccer game? No. I franticly search through my bag for my phone, and make an international phone call to my mom, to make sure it's okay. Glad this experience has made me so independent. Fail. But after my mom said yes, I was good to go! And just gotta say, that after I called my mom, Ky did the same thing! HAHAH. It was great. So we bought the tickets, and then went to the store at the stadium to buy some attire for the game! I got an old jersey that I loved, and I found number 16, so I was happy to be sporting my sister's number all night!! :) So after that, we went home for a little bit before the game started!

So the stadium is in Nervion, which is like a metro ride away from where we live, Triana. So the game said it was at 9, so we left our houses at about 8, went to the store again so Adrienne could get a shirt, and then freaked out at 8:56 when we thought we'd miss the beginning of the game. So of course we run into the stadium at 9, only to find that nothing is happening yet. Sprinklers on the field, refs taking a jog, people hanging out and talking, etc. Yeah, I tend to forget every day that I'm in SPAIN, where time is completely different. Turns out the game wasn't until 10pm. No big deal though, that just gave us time to have a photo shoot and also find our seats which I'll admit took a good half hour.

So we finally found our seats, basically the nosebleed section, but we still had a great view which was awesome! We chilled for a while until the game started. One of my favorite parts was before the game they played the Sevilla FC's like anthem, and all the fans sang along with it. The stadium first of all was like PACKED because it was Madrid, and the fans are just so passionate and love their team so much! They didn't stop cheering from start to finish, and I LOVED that.

Basically, the sad part was that despite all the passion the fans had for Sevilla, they didn't pull through. They ended up losing 6-2. SO ROUGH! But I mean, it's REAL MADRID, they are SO good! So what can we expect? I was a little disappointed, though, from a soccer point of view with Sevilla. They really didn't pass well and they couldn't get people forward on attack. Frustrating. Anyway, but what was good was that we did end up getting to see 8 GOALS! All of which were amazing! And at least Sevilla did score a couple times so we got to all celebrate as a huge stadium! I even got one on video!!!

We even ended up making a few friends during the game. We always joke that we tend to make friends everywhere we go, but it's kind of true! They were two guys around our age, who came and sat with us, and taught us some cheers and just hung out with us for the second half! It was a lot of fun and I'm glad we met them!! They made it fun, despite how badly Sevilla was getting crushed.

So, despite our nosebleed seats, despite Sevilla getting CONED, and despite the fact that my host mom won't stop gloating about how badly they lost, the game, the experience was SO WORTH the 90 euro! In Spanish, the expression is "vale la pena", and this experience TOTALLY did! I was seriously just so happy that I was able to see a soccer game before I left here. I think that's one of the biggest things I'm going to miss here, the passion for soccer. In the US the focus is so much more on baseball, football, or basketball, which Spain is SO over! Spain's all about soccer. And I love it. That's at least one way Spain and I are soul mates! Even though there are so many ways I DON'T FIT IN HERE, but at least that's one!

So the game ended around 12, and since the metro stops at 12, we had to wait for the bus to get back to Triana. It finally came, and so I finally got home to EAT DINNER around 1am! So weird, definitely the latest dinner I've ever had in my life, but gotta love all of these new experiences, right?!

So yeah, since then, the week started and I've been getting ready for finals and everything. My two classes at CIEE finished this week. The magazine article for one was my final, and then yesterday I took a final in the other one. Good stuff, now just 3 university classes to focus on until June! Gah, but that's a LOT to do. I have my exam for geography next wednesday! Gah, wish me luck.

Also - need to point out one more thing before I end this. My poor host family, I have to give them props for dealing with me. I have messed up SO many times and thank GOD they still love me. READY:
1. VERY beginning of the semester - lost my key. They had to get a replacement
2. Burned my trash can because I left my space heater too close.
3. Lost a towel in Portugal - had to buy them a new one.
4. Here's the icing on the cake - apparently a bobby pin in my jean shorts got into the washing machine and made it so no water came out. They had to get it fixed. WOWOWOW. This was last week.

So needless to say, I have to get my act together so that I'll be able to stay here another month!! Haha. I mean, they love me and they are wonderful. But I just feel so bad! Gah. But I will admit, my host mom is probably the person I'll miss the most here. She and I have grown really close over my time here, and it's going to be extremely hard to leave her, I just know it!!

But anyway, this week was good. I was thrilled on Sunday to talk to my mom for mother's day on Skype, and made her a little video which was great! I miss and love you so much Mom! And that was a good start to the week. Now just classes, and studying, and soaking up my last month here!

I gotta get some studying done today though, because I think we'll be doing some fun things this weekend because Adrienne leaves Monday!!! :( So sad, but she gets to go home and graduate which is AWESOME! I will just miss her so much. Now it will be Katie and Ky take on Sevilla!! Haha. But really, I gotta get some stuff done this afternoon. No more distractions.

Hasta luego! Thanks for reading allllllll. 29 left.

PS - Gotta say it, Tuesday was Shannon Moss' birthday!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHANNON!!! MISS YOUUU!!!!! Hope it was great!!!!!! :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Portugal -- Disfrutando de la Vida

Oh my gosh. Alright, so this is going to be 83948092384 years long I can already tell you that right now. So I'll just get right into things. As you all know, last Thursday, I left the country for the first time in 3 1/2 months! Didn't go far, stayed on the Iberian Peninsula, but I WENT TO PORTUGAL!!!!! YESSSSS! It was awesome. Now, there are some kids here I will admit who are just like FULL of cash and travel almost every weekend to different countries and cities, etc. Me, yeah not so much. I'm just happy to be here! But ANYWAY, PORTUGAL WAS GREAT.

So we took an overnight bus last Thursday night from Sevilla to Lisbon. Don't even begin to wonder who "we" is. If you have to wonder, you are not a faithful follower. ANYWAY, glad we cleared that up! :) So we considered ourselves BRILLIANT at first because taking the bus at midnight meant:

A. We didn't have to pay for a hostel overnight and
B. We could sleep the whole way there.

Well, we quickly realized we weren't so brilliant when:

A. The hostel check in time wasn't until 3pm and we arrived at 8:30am. HM. and
B. The bus was so uncomfortable none of us got much sleep.

BUT, we made it to Lisbon. So, we got there around 8am Sevilla time, but 7am Lisbon time, because they are an hour behind us! Other problem we faced: Katie forgot to print directions from the bus station to the hostel! Oooooopsie! Rookie traveller, right? Gah. But it provided for an interesting way of getting there. Luckily, Ky had her iPod, so we stood on a random street corner, found wireless to buy for the day, and used google maps to get directions. Of course, we thought we'd be all set to get there with the directions, but after a good 45 minutes of walking with all our bags and still not finding what said would be a 23 minute walk, we decided to just taxi it out. So we EVENTUALLY got to Unreal Hostel by around 8:30, and like I said, we couldn't check in until 3. So, we at least dropped all of our stuff off, and then set out to waste time for the day. So, first we found a place to get some breakfast, and then set out to get the good stuff: Starbucks clearly. (Dunks I love you, if you were in Portugal you know I'd say that about you :) But we will reunite in 36 days, don't worry. ) Anyway, so we parked it in Starbucks for a good 3-4 hours. Coffee, laptops, friends, all you really need anyway. So that was our morning. Best part also was that Starbucks was WAY cheaper in Portugal. Way to be, Spain. Pretty much got a size larger for what I'd normally pay for a small here. MEHH!! Also, realized pretty quickly how bad I am at understanding Portuguese! I thought maybe the fact that it was SIMILAR in ways to Spanish would help me out and I'd be fine...yeah nope. I could READ it fine and usually get what it was trying to say, but when it is spoken, NO way.

Anyway, so after Starbucks when we could FINALLY check into our hostel, we went back and moved all our stuff in and everything and finally relaxed! Our next problem became the rain. We couldn't really go anywhere or see anything because all of a sudden around 5 I want to say it just started DOWNPOURING! Yeah, Portugal wasn't about to give us a dream vacation that was for sure! So Adrienne and I sat inside and played cards for a while, which was TOTALLY fine by me and super fun, and Ky took a nap! When the rain eventually stopped, we set out to a mall area, walked around, checked some stores out, and eventually got dinner at a DELICIOUSLY AMAZING salad place called "VITAMINAS". Believe me, SO good.

A few important things to note from our shopping/dining excursion! First of all, we went into the Nike store, because Ky works for Nike so she's ALL about it, but we went in, and were in love with everything OBVIOUSLY, but I found this T-shirt and couldn't be more obsessed. I know you can find it in the US, but like still, it just is SO true and I loved it so much.

It's just like, everyone knows its true but no one admits it. I just die laughing thinking of seeing someone running down the street with this on. BAHA!

And other thing. This is the view from the BATHROOM window of the mall. HOW SICK IS THAT? Who needs a nice view from the bathroom? Doesn't matter, Lisbon will give it to you!

So anyway, after we got back, we ended up hanging out with our roommates from our hostel. There were 10 of us all in one room. We were just happy it was all girls. But anyway, they actually were all studying abroad in Spain too! In Granada. Yeah, been there done that! It was cool, though. So we all ended up hanging out in the room talking for a while, and eventually we all went out and got dessert together! It was a pretty fun night. Of course, the Portuguese-English thing got a little in the way when I tried to order milk to go with my cookie. First I get a cup of coffee. Nope. When I try to ask for MILK without coffee, he comes back with a hot cup of milk. Gah. Thanks Portugal. Milk is milk I guess, and I mean it did taste good with the cookie, BUT ALL I WANTED WAS A COLD GLASS OF MILK!!

Anyway, the next day, we woke up and headed to Sintra! Okay, I basically can't explain Sintra too well. Umm, pretty much cutest town ever about a half hour outside of Lisbon? Sounds good. So we took a train there. Don't think we didn't stop at Starbucks on the way, because the hostel coffee they had was basically melted cardboard. YUCK!

ANYWAY, so we got to Sintra, and saw tons of cool things around the village. Our two spots we loved were Palacio de Pena, an old palace, and Castillo de los Moros, aka Moorish Castle. Not entirely sure why Moorish ruins and I have become best friends in Europe, but we'll go with it. TAKE A LOOK AT THESE GREAT PICS! They can do more speaking than I can, clearly.

So pretty much we spent the entire day there, going from castle to castle, taking pictures and having a complete blast!

Palacio de Pena
GREAT hair.


Ky and Katie.. HEY ADRIENNE!


Walking up the old castle and loving life clearly!


Clearly, our famous "We are the WORLD" picture, HAD to happen.

Just awesome.

So, after that, we took the train back to Lisbon and hit up our favorite mall/salad place again for dinner. It was so great, the lady even remembered us and knew our orders! Extra veggies for me please! :) It was great. Totally long day out, but it was SO much fun! But, the best part was, the FUN DIDN'T STOP IN LISBON.


Alright, so Lagos. Aka, the best part of Portugal EVER. So, we took the bus out around 10:30, so we ended up getting to Lagos by like 2pm! Rather than having the hassle like we had the first time, we decided to just quit while we were ahead and get a taxi to take us to our hostel, Casa Amarela. When we got there, we got the SURPRISE OF OUR LIVES! Basically here's what happened. When you book the hostel, you can request to get an apartment if one is available at the time, and you won't pay any more. So, we requested one OBVIOUSLY. But we had never heard back from them, so we figured whatevs, a hostel is a hostel, right? Wrong. The lady, Helena, was THRILLED to see us when we got there, and said "I have a surprise for you!" What was her surprise? AN APARTMENT TO OURSELVES!!!!!!! Complete with a swimming pool, kitchen, dining room-ish, bedroom, bathroom, ALL THE WORKS!

So, needless to say, we were pretty THRILLED!!!! So after a good 10 minutes of dancing around and taking pictures of our home for the next two nights, we set out to grab some lunch and explore a little bit of Lagos! We found a cute spot to eat at right in the city center, and ate outside.

Lunch was great, we all had fun and were all I think in good moods because we were just so excited about our apartment. After lunch, we bought a BUNCH of groceries because we were so thrilled to be able to cook for ourselves! The problem came, however, when we got home. This exactly what happened. So, we get home, throw down all the groceries on the kitchen table and organize it all because we wanted to take photos of it, but naturally, we needed some light for our photos. Go to turn the light on, doesn't come on. Adrienne reassured us that when Helena showed us the apartment, the lights took a little while to turn on. Oh, okay, great. Perfect. We'll just wait. After a solid ten minutes go by, and we realize nothing will turn on, we realize we have NO POWER. SWEEET. We frantically opened up some fuse boxes and tried to hit a couple buttons, but nothing worked. We found a fuse box in the hallway that we switched on, which turned the hall lights on, but things only got worse from there. All I remember was standing in the hall and the hall lights went off, and I see Ky standing by the fuse box. Adrienne yells over, "Hey Ky, can you turn the hall lights back on for a sec?" I look over to Ky, who looks at me, and starts laughing. "Uhhhh, funny story...." What did Ky do? Found a big red button on the fuse box and PRESSED IT. YOU NEVER PRESS THE BIG RED BUTTON! Gah, has she not seen EVERY MOVIE EVER? THE BIG RED BUTTON IS NEVER GOOD! So needless to say, we had zero lights. So we set out to Helena's house, which was close to our apartment, to figure out the situation.

Funny story about THAT, was that Helena wasn't home. Alright. Great. Let's call. Adrienne's phone wasn't working. As soon as I went to call her on mine, my battery died. Ky's phone is just messed. So, we had to find a bar that had WiFi to be able to call her using SKYPE from Adrienne's iPod. Seriously, it was intense.

When we finally did get ahold of her, she was on her way to Lisbon. GREAT. Perfect. So her daughter eventually called us and we figured out how to get power back, and eventually got the lights back on. But I'd say we were home for a good hour without power. But seriously, I don't think I've laughed that hard in a while. We had been SO thrilled, thought we were on top of the world with this grand apartment....and then we get coned. Sweet, thanks Lagos.

So when we finally did get power back, we made ourselves coffee and just hung out in our apartment and played cards! It was raining out, so we didn't really get to do a lot outside but that was FINE by us! So after a great afternoon of laughing, playing cards, and just enjoying each other's company, we made ourselves a nice family dinner! Nothing too exciting, just pasta, but it was great and so much fun to be able to cook our own food and have a cute dinner together! And we even set the table. Gah, it was love.

So that was pretty much our night. We just spent it laughing and hanging out after that, it was GREAT! A good old fashioned sleepover at it's best!

So the next morning we woke up and made ourselves the most WONDERFUL omelets! (Not THE most wonderful, don't worry Dad, yours are still the BEST!) But ours were pretty GREAT!

After breakfast and coffee, we set out and walked around the town! It wasn't huge at all, so cute and small, but still definitely enough to walk around in and have a good time. We ended up going into a bunch of the little shops.

Bought a few souvenirs for a few special people, and you all know my obsession with headbands right? Obviously. So, I was PUMPED to find similar ones in Portugal, and we all bought some, and were definitely in LOVE! 3 euro, can't go wrong. And we can all match, SO CUTE RIGHT!

Anyway, so then we did some good old fashioned GROCERY SHOPPING, and bought the rest of the stuff we needed for the night and next day at our humble home! Gah, it was great and so much fun. So we went home, made lunch, had a little picnic outside on our patio, and then did some more coffee and cards! Gah, so fun. This seriously felt like a real vacation. So great.

Sadly, Adrienne started feeling a little sick after that. So, she stayed in bed for a bit, had to rest up, while Ky and I went and basically had our own beach photo shoot, which was great. We took tons of pictures and just hung out near the water as the sun set. It was seriously gorgeous and so much fun. Some hilarious moments too, like when the boats would go by and people would yell for us to "Swim!" to come to them, or when we tried about 2934 times to get someone to get a picture of us hugging a palm tree and every time the person somehow failed. Gah, gotta love life. But, we did manage to at least get a FEW good photos in! :)

Our favorite part of this excursion though, was one of the women who took our picture. Apparently, she's from Italy but lived in Barcelona for a long time. Basically she's living the Eat, Pray, Love life right now. She left everything in Barcelona -- ex-boyfriend, all her stuff, her life, etc. And is now exploring the world, I guess starting with Lagos? Interesting. Anyway, here was the advice she gave us:

"Disfruta de la vida; Life is one day." Apparently it's a pretty popular Spanish saying or something? But she was pretty serious about it and really wanted to make sure we got it. It was so funny and great at the same time. Here's this random woman in Lagos who left her life behind and is giving two 20-year-olds advice on life. I felt like I was in a movie. It was great. Kind of miss her now - hope her life's going great! But I mean, it's a great life lesson. Tomorrow never comes, and yesterday's over, so we gotta enjoy today!

I had to snap a picture of her as she walked away against the sunset. It was just too perfect to pass up.

So after that lovely time, Ky and I headed back to the apartment and cooked THE BEST DINNER IN THE WORLD!!!!!! It was great. Now, her and I are both obsessed with veggies, so we made pasta (that we totally didn't care about) AND THE BEST COOKED VEGGIES EVER! We were LOVING our lives. Everything you can imagine; broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, peppers, you name it! SO good.



So we made a delicious dinner, pasta, bread, veggies, and enjoyed it together. It was so much fun. Adrienne couldn't really taste much of it, cause she was unfortunately sick, but she loved it I'm sure! :) So that was kind of our night, and we of course followed dinner up with some ice cream we bought at the store that day too! So great. It was seriously just all so perfect. So we went to bed, and got up the next day, did some things around the house, and then headed off for our 6 hour bus ride back to Sevilla! Again, bus ride, not fun. Obviously. But I was glad to be back in Sevilla eventually! But seriously, I had SO much fun on this trip. It was a nice break from other trips we went on because it was more calm and relaxed. We weren't rushing around trying to see 29348209348 sights in 2 days, we just relaxed, went at our own pace, and most of all enjoyed each other's company! BEST EVER.

Gotta tell this one story before I close this -- alright, so I get back and I unpack, right? (Also funny story -- left a towel at the hostel. Oops!) Anyway, so I unpacked everything, and didn't realize but didn't shut my top droor. Anyway, later on in the night, my host sister's two year old, Pablo, is in my room playing with me. He sees my top droor, looks at me, points to it, "TU LO HAS HECHO MAL!" Aka, he told me I did a bad job shutting my droor. Great. I just love that a two year old is telling me how messy I am. My host mom died laughing, and so did I. Gah, love my life. Even gotta say, right now I'm looking at it, it's not shut. Shoot. When will I learnnnn?!

So, now I'm back in Sevilla and just doing a ton of homework and also enjoying La Feria, which I will get into in my next blog! Right now, a little too tired, and I'm pretty sure you have enough to read. :) So I'll leave it at that. Basically, LOVED Portugal trip (mostly Lagos), blessed to have GREAT friends, now ready to enjoy the rest of my time in SEVILLA!

35 more days. Excited but also wondering where the HECK time went. Seriously. Don't get it. Alright, too late at night to ponder the mysteries of life. I'll write more when I can! Hope you had as much fun reading this as I did when I was there! (Doubtful, though. ;) )

Hasta luego!