Torre de Oro- Sevilla, Spain▲6
Hola! Once again, sorry it has been so long since an update.
Anyways- a few weekends ago, I went to Barcelona! It was AMAZING. I’m absolutely in love with Antonio Gaudi, so to experience his architecture in real life was just… mesmerizing. The Sagrada Familia was probably my favorite part. He started building it in the early 1900’s and he passed in 1926. During the time he was building it he would get asked a lot if it would ever be finished. He would always answer saying some variation of “God’s timing can not be rushed.” He had complete faith that what he was doing was for God’s will and that if He wanted it to be done, it would get done. To this day, there is still construction. It’s just really awe-inspiring. We went to pretty much all of the major tourist attractions and the beach. My feet were finally in the Mediterranean. We didn’t swim in Barca because we already had plans to go to beach the next weekend, but it was really amazing to see. I was also terrified that I wouldn’t understand anything because they speak Catalan in Barcelona, but most people spoke Catalan, Spanish and English… made me and my major feel pretty worthless.
The following week I had exams. KILLER. I’d rather not talk too much about it, the whole week was a blur of papers, no sleep and so much studying. At the same, the semi-finals for the Euro Cup were going on and I couldn’t be bothered with studying during that time… ya know. I feel pretty good about the tests, but we’ll see when I get my grades back.
Last weekend, Simply, Logan and I went to Alicante, which is directly south of Valencia. We spent the entire weekend on the beach- no sightseeing or anything. We just wanted a weekend to relax. We made friends with a guy from the hostel named Diego. He was 32 and from Buenos Aires (I love Argentine accents). We invited him to dinner with us and he was just the nicest guy ever! We went to this amazing seafood restaurant. We got to pick the raw fish and they cooked it for us- oysters, calamari, octopus, mussels… anything you can possibly imagine, we tried it! And it was so stinkin’ delicious. I’m the most light-skinned of the group as well… so after spending 3 long days at the beach, I was majorly burnt. I took good care of it though, mom. And now I’m tan! It’s a stinkin’ miracle. ;) Pre-gaming for Vero Beach.
I’m back at school now and I started 2 new classes- Phonetics and Spanish Media- which is a conversation class. I’m REALLY enjoying both of them. I think it’s going to be a much simpler semester. A whole new batch of students came in for July when the others left, so it’s kind of funny not being new anymore. I like it. Also, did you all hear we won the Euro Cup? Ya, no big deal… more like huge deal. I cried with my host mom over how wonderful this country is. That’s how much I love it. And she knows I like soccer a lot, so she kept pointing to players saying, “guapisimo, para ti.” I wish mama, I wish.▲
Sorry it has been so long.
Finals came up, the semi-finals for the Euro cup came up & I’ve been stressed / having a blast. It’s 6:15 AM and I’m getting ready to take the train to Madrid to get on a bus for Alicante. I’ll try posting something when I get back to the hostel tonight about my wonderful trip to Barcelona. Pictures won’t come until later.▲
So we’re just going to have to get used to the updates being less frequent.
Alright, so this past weekend was really fun. Thursday night, everyone from UTC went to El Burrito, which is this really fun Mexican restaurant. Basically, the best food I’ve had in my entire life. I told them they could count on my frequent business. Besides, tacos are like €1,50. AMAZING. Friday, my Culture class took a field trip to Segovia. We went to the Royal Palace, Alcazar, a super gaudy Cathedral and the ancient aqueduct (pictured above). Alcazar de Segovia is the palace that a bunch of Disney films copied as the palace for the princesses. Saturday a small group of us went to Toledo. I didn’t do much in Toledo, but we did see a nice Cathedral and a few synagogues. I bought my mom and grams something that I’m real excited to give them! :)
Sunday was father’s day. It was a little bit difficult for me, it still is. Because I live in a different city, not seeing my dad everyday was normal. It took a long time for things to really sink in. It still shocks me when I can’t just pick up the phone and call him sometimes- even though sometimes I pretend to. I think I’ll live my life always acting as if he can hear me, as if he is looking out for me. On the train on Sunday, there was a little girl sitting with her dad. I don’t know what they were doing or where they were going, but it made me really happy that they got to be together. I don’t know that they celebrate father’s day in Spain, but any day you are able to be with family, is a day that you should be thankful. I am so thankful that I have such an amazing mother and sister to go home to! I am truly blessed.
Anyways… Logan, Simply and I spent a lot of time talking about some Bible verses that were on our mind. It’s really encouraging having friends that have such a strong faith. After our discussion, we went to one of the most famous places for churros and chocolate in the world- Sangines. SO GOOD. Andddd we went shopping. Es todo.
Since then, I’ve gotten my midterms back. I got a 96% on Culture and 85% on Latin American Literature- I’m pretty pleased with my grades. Also Spain played against Croatia. AND WE WON. Of course. We play France on Saturday which is a HUGE deal, but I’ll be in Barcelona!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!▲1
Long time, no update. Sorry about that. With school during the week & weekend trips, I don’t have much time.
School has gotten better since I last posted. I was struggling a lot at first. I’ve been to Latin America and I’ve gotten used to their accent, but in Spain, it is much different. I think it took me a while to understand my teachers, but now I’m comprehending it completely. I love my Lit class- my teacher is an absolute sweetheart. I’ve gone up to ask her questions multiple times and she just goes out of her way to make sure I understand everything. It’s really great. And I think I liked my culture class from the start… and I’m still loving it. But what I really love is siesta time! Around 4 pm, after lunch, it’s completely normal to take a two hour nap. I mean, if that doesn’t scream Brooke, I don’t know what else does.
Friday, my Culture class took a field trip to Madrid. We went to visit the Pardo Palace and El Escorial. The Pardo was beautiful, but nothing in comparison to El Escorial. It’s a combination of palace, monastery and royal mausoleum by Felipe II in the 16th century. I got to see the Pantheon where all of the royal bones are buried. It was freezing in there! Also, the current King’s father, Don Juan is being preserved there. His bones will be put in the Pantheon after 50 years. Unf, it was so cool! Tons of tombs, tons of beautiful artwork, libraries etc. And then we got to the church… it was absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never been so affected by something in my life. I just sat in a pew and prayed for a while and came out in tears. It was just so beautiful.
The next day, Logan, Simply and I went to Granada. I have never loved a city more than I love Granada. It’s so many cultures crammed into one- it’s wonderful. We met up with Dr. Purkey and some others and visited the Alhambra. Later we walked down this street called Calle del Barro. This street is supposedly the most romantic street in the world. We went to some stores on the way and passed this church, don’t remember the name. But basically it’s really lucky to get married there because this woman was killed there for refusing to marry her betrothed. Anyway, we ate DELICIOUS schwarma and mint tea, walked to the Puerta de Elvari where Isabel and Ferdinand made their grand entrance to Granada in 1492 and talked to a lot of the locals.
I’ve had such a great time so far. It’s killing me that I’m already almost a 1/4 of the way through.▲2
Alright, so life got crazy when school started.
First of all, Saturday! Saturday was AMAZING. It started out with the whole UTC group going to Madrid. Our field trip was supposed to be to el Museo del Prado, but since it wasn’t free until 5, a lot of us did our own thing. First we went to el Rastro which is like a giant flea market. It had great souvenirs for really cheap. After that we walked around el Parque de Madrid. It’s almost like Central Park, but a lot more awesome. There is so much to do there, it’s ridiculous. But there are a lot of gypsies who try to give you rosemary and read your palm, ha. Dr. Purkey got suckered in and had to pay 10 euros. Anyways, after eating lunch in the park, we went to the botanical garden- so pretty! We went souvenir shopping and some of us got tapas. When it was free, we went to el Museo del Prado. It was so cool to see works by Goya, Rafael and others that I’ve loved for a long time. Next we to a game. Holy frijoles, we watched an actual Real Madrid vs Manchester United game. SO. MUCH. FUN. I catch myself chanting Madrid! Madrid! Madrid! every so often.
Now that school has started, we don’t have time for much. I’m taking an Introduction to Latin American Literature class. It was really hard for me yesterday because I’m not great at reading things as a class, out loud. I’d much rather read something on my own and fully grasp it. So it’s even harder when it’s in another language… and it’s 9 in the morning… and it’s a 2.5 hour class. I don’t know, it will probably get better. My second class is over the culture and civilization of Spain. I LOVE IT. I’m a history nerd and the time periods we are talking about are my favorites. The teacher for that class is incredibly patient and I just really like his style. Really looking forward to that one.
Anyways, probably won’t have any new news until we travel again on Thursday!▲1
My third day in Spain is already gone! This is crazy! We got to see Dr. Purkey’s apartment today. It is literally 2 apartments down from mine and Logan’s. We talked for a while and asked her questions about school and about various weekend trips. It was a lot of fun- I’m so glad that Dr. Purkey is here. After that, Logan and I went home for lunch- delicious stew with carrots and potatoes. YUM. I got to talk to my mom some and I found out that her favorite movie is Pretty Woman! Que adorable. Also, my mom has housed a whole lot of students from all over the States so she is very patient and understanding. I feel very blessed to have her as a host mom on this trip. After lunch, I took a huuuuuge siesta. Logan and I ate dinner (empanadas!) around 8 and then went out to find Simply. We got more helado and walked around la Calle Mayor. Later we went to a salsa club. It was a very interesting experience. Really fun to watch the couples dance though!
This picture shows my favorite part of the day. Each year, once a year, this group performs in la Plaza de Cervantes. It was so fun to watch! Also, I’m so excited that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to write in English. It’s the fourth day now and my Spanish has improved so much!
Hope you all had a good day.▲4
This is my school, guys. Seriously? I go here. The University of Alcala de Henares. I am absolutely in love with it.
Today we got to school around 8:30 for orientation. We took a placement exam and went over public transportation, classes, safety… you get the idea. During our break, the class went to the cafeteria and I got a cafe con leche, which is not coffee, it’s espresso. SO DELICIOUS. We went back for a tour of Alcala. After our tour we went home and ate lunch and then went back to the university at 4. We took a tour of Madrid after that! We learned how to use the train and the subway, etc. Madrid was breathtakingly beautiful. I love everything about it. I’m pretty sure we’re going to el Museo del Prado this Sunday, but I posted some photos from my small excursion. When we got back, we ate dinner and then went out for tapas and froyo. The froyo here is kind of like greek yogurt- it’s so good!
Anyways, it’s around 1:30 am and I. AM. BEAT. So, buenas noches!▲4