¡Viva España!

a semester abroad

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2/2

The week after Amsterdam, Ellen made her last and final trip out of Ireland to come and visit me in Madrid! I decided to stay with her in a hostel because I live with a host family and we aren’t allowed to have guests. I picked her up from the airport and we went to set our stuff down in the hostel and get some food! For some reason I was craving a kebab (something I will definitely miss back at home) so I decided to take her to a place by school. I showed her where we have classes and we ran into a few people from USD which was surprising for both of us because 1. I never really see people just walking around outside of school and 2. in comparison to the Madrid program, the Cork program is really small so she thought it was so weird bumping into so many people in that short amount of time. After we ate I took her to Retiro where we got a boat and saw the Palacio de Cristal which really isn’t a palace but it’s pretty nonetheless…

I was dead from so much walking so we returned to the hostel and I took a quick nap. For dinner that night we went next door so Ellen could try out some paella… I’m usually not a fan but this one was really yummy and they served us chips that were cut like waffle fries, so delicious! We went to bed early so that we could explore the city the next morning…

Usually I take the metro everywhere so it was kind of cool walking everywhere… almost everything is all connected! We walked around and hit up Plaza del Sol, the Palacio Real, Templo de Debod, Mercado de San Miguel, Plaza Mayor, and Grand Via. We stopped for lunch at Café y Te, a really yummy restaurant chain here and we hopped on the metro to explore the bull fighting ring. Unfortunately, the free tours are only for like 2hours a day so that was a bummer but it was cool seeing the outside. 

Mercado de San Miguel

Behind the Palacio Real

Templo de Debod

Friday night was Ellen’s last night in Madrid so we went out! We met up with our friend Amanda (who also goes to USD) and we hit up Calle Huertas, recommended by my roommate Laura who told me about all the free drinks all the promoters entice you with to get you in their bar or club. We got a few chupitos (shots) and some glasses of free beer and sangria. We made our way over to PACHA where one of our friends works as a promoter, he was able to get us in for free as long as we arrived to get a hand stamp by 1:30a. We got there, got our stamps and headed to a bar near by to pregame some more. We went back to Pacha and it wasn’t really crowded yet so it was weird. What’s even more weird is that up on the second level they have those binocular things so you can see people on the bottom floor… talk about awksauce. After awhile things picked up and we danced all night, trying to make it a 6am night. What sucks about waiting for the metro to re-open is that it is absolutely no problem until around 4:30am, then you just hit a wall… at least I do, it gets so hard and time goes so slow! We only made it till 5:30 and we cabbed it back to our hostel because Ellen had to be at the airport in about 3 hours…

Last weekend was the last European escapade for me and Ellen together. On Thursday (Thanksgiving) I headed for Cork, Ireland! I had to fly into Dublin and take a 4hr bus ride to get to Cork. It wasn’t too terrible because I was able to sleep most of the way and the bus had free wifi (score!). I noticed how early it gets dark in Ireland! Around 5p it was already pitch black… We pulled into Cork around 7p and Ellen met me at the bus station. It was pretty cold, windy, and rainy so we took the bus to her apartment where she and 2 other girls, Katherine and Mara (also from USD), had prepared a lovely Thanksgiving feast. I was so happy to be able to spend the holiday with friends

That night we went out and hit up The Bailey which is a bar/club. The irish girls dress reallllllyyy different, they hardly wear clothes! I was so cold and bundled in my boots, peacoat and jeans and these girls had on teeny dresses and heels, I’m not sure how they do it! Apparently, there was some Christmas party going on so it was really packed and people were dressed up.. some guys had on santa suits. The Irish are all really nice but the Cork accent was almost impossible for me to understand! This guy asked me “Do you want a hug?” and I had to have Ellen translate! He kept pronouncing ‘hug’ like ‘hoag’… I don’t even know. Anyways, later this other drunk Irishman came up to me and was like so perplexed by my color (“Where are you from?…she doesn’t look like the others….”), he asked if I was black (no), complimented my smile (thanks!), and told me to tell my parents that he says hello (uhhh..). Also, the Irish girls are all so nice, apparently they all love America.

 

The next day Ellen showed me around Cork. It’s such a cute little town… it’s Ireland’s second largest city after Dublin but there is still only around 100,000 people if I remember correctly. We first stopped at University College Cork, where Ellen has class. I’m so jealous because it’s such a gorgeous campus! Our campus here is Madrid is spread out in the city so we only have classes in this one building that blends in with the rest on the block. We hit up lots of shops and we had yummy food all day! We got delicious hot chocolate and later that night the city had a ceremony to turn on all of the Christmas lights! It was kind of by chance that we got to see this, a old man approached us to ask if we wanted him to take a picture of all 4 of us and told us that in about an hour the lights would be turned on. It was so cute seeing all the little kids so excited and filled with holiday cheer. After the “Lord Mayor” lit the city, he directed people over to a big christmas tree where school children would sing some Christmas carols. 

Later that night we got kebabs (which are about 453245 times better than the ones here in Spain!) and some yummy cider, which reminded me a lot of Andre (my favorite cheap champagne). We didn’t end up going out because the next morning Ellen, Mara, and I were going to take a trip to Kinsale, about 45min bus ride away, to get some fish ‘n’ chips! We caught the bus at 11am and when we arrived it was very chilly and misty so we went straight to Fishy Fishy Café… with that name we expected some hole in the wall place with cheap food but it ended up being really classy and pricy but we decided to go for it because, hey, when was the last time we paid 18euro for some fish? Better yet, when have we ever spent that much on one meal while abroad? The food was delish and we even got bread and butter! I tried soda bread which I really liked because of it’s unique texture. After we finished our fine meal we explored the town a bit. Apparently it was “off season” so a lot of things were closed like the Wine Museum, but it was a quaint little place… 

Fish ‘n’ Chips

Fishy Fishy Café

When we got back to Cork we walked past this park that was decorated like a little Christmas village, it was beyond adorable! Of course we stopped in and took some pictures! Next to it there was some type of fair going on with lots of food vendors, live band, and some rides. It was so nice getting into the holiday spirit! Later that night we went to a bar and I tried some Guinness…

 

The next morning I caught the 7am bus out of Cork to Dublin so that I could arrive at the airport on time for my 2pm flight… so much traveling! Cork is such a cute little town, a nice change of pace from the big city vibe of Madrid…

Filed under madrid hostel retiro abroad spain ireland cork kinsale christmas time

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time for an update (1/2)

My time here is Madrid is rapidly coming to an end… In exactly weeks I will be making the trip back to Southern California and as much as I miss my family, I am already starting to miss Spain! I didn’t realize it was possible to miss something before it’s gone.

I guess this is probably a great time to update you all on everything thats been going on since it’s been about a million years since my last post! About 3 weeks ago I went to Amsterdam to meet up with Ellen and Katherine (both studying in Cork, Ireland). Obviously, this meant another trip to the airport by myself which was fine because I’ve gotten comfortable with the one here in Madrid. I flew Royal Dutch and got fed! Super exciting because airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair literally just get you from point A to point B with a seat that doesn’t recline and the entirety of their flights are one huge advertisement… like, NO I actually do not want to buy smokeless cigs or your dumb scratchers, but thanks anyway!

I landed in Amsterdam and I still had to make my way to the hostel, still by myself… I had to take a train and then a tram and I made it all on my own!!! I only had to ask 2 questions, this is a big deal because 1. I get really nervous doing things on my own unless it’s shopping, duh. and 2. I HATE asking questions. So needless to say, I was really proud of myself!!! I arrived at our hostel which I was very skeptical about because we booked at 10-person mixed room and if you’ve been following my posts, you know how much I absolutely grossed out I am by the hostel concept. I was not a fan of the man at the front desk but other than that, the room was fine! I think there was all guys in there besides me and Ellen (Katherine got “upgraded” to another room) but it didn’t matter because it was literally just a place to rest our heads at night. I called Ellen to let her know I had arrived and her and Katherine showed up about 30 minutes later (during which I managed to electrocute myself… awkward). They had been there all day and had already partaken in the liberal culture that Amsterdam is famous for, hehe…. We grabbed dinner at this place called Asian Kitchen and it was sooooooooo goooooood! I’ve missed food with flavor!  We made our way to the Van Gogh Museum. It was interesting but nothing to go into detail about because to be honest I found it a little boring. Later we grabbed some hot chocolate because it was really chilly out

Hot Chocolate and Cookies! a little blurry but you get the idea…

We made our way back to the hostel and called it an early night. Ellen and I got up early to go to the Anne Frank house. On our way we stopped at Starbucks and I was so happy to see that they had their holiday drinks! (At that point, Spain still hadn’t gotten them) We got there and only had to wait about 10 minutes which was great because everyone we knew who had planned on going had purchased their tickets beforehand online. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures inside but it was really interesting. I think was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was crazy that I was in the same rooms that Anne and her family hid in for 2 years! I never read her diary (in 8th grade, our teacher told us “Okay, I don’t think the boys want to read about some girl getting her period so we’re going to read Night by Elie Wiesel…” like um okay, cool lady. but whatever…) but after watching Freedom Writers I have a deep love and admiration for Miep Gies, the lady who helped hide them, her part in the movie makes me cry everytime! The families (Anne’s and one other family) had to keep shades drawn all day and keep as quiet as possible so that people on the bottom floor did not hear their footsteps. I would definitely recommend visiting if you ever stop by Amsterdam

Pictures from outside the Anne Frank House

After this lovely cultural experience we met up with Katherine to hopefully take a free walking tour of the city. When we got there the tour guides were very rude and straight up ignored Ellen when she tried to ask them a question. They told us people with reservations had priority which makes sense but we didn’t make reservations because Ellen was told (in another city that she took the a free tour through the same company) that making reservations was not ever necessary. Apparently in Amsterdam, a crowd of 30 people or more is considered a parade and therefore not allowed… We decided to get some bikes and explore the city while we waited for the second tour. This would have been a lot more fun for me if my legs were just an inch longer. I couldn’t touch the ground! So embarrassing and very uncomfortable. Other than that, it was really cute biking through the city! The people there use bikes as a legitimate form of transportation and they have these little carts that they put their kids in, its soo adorable! Amsterdam is such a gorgeous place, I really can’t get over it! It’s a very typical European city, like when I close my eyes and picture Europe this is what I picture: a city with canals running through, lovely architecture, sweet people, sun and crisp air. I really hope I can make it back here again! 

Of course, the second time slot for the tour was full as well so we decided to take advantage of the light hours (it got dark around 5p) and have a quick photoshoot at the I AMsterdam sign and later take part in some cultural activities. We took a quick spin around the Red Light District. It was still pretty early so it wasn’t poppin’ yet. It was really strange just seeing girls in full-length windows. If you want one, you literally just walk up and go in, close the curtain and do yo’ thang… barf. I kind of felt bad for some of the girls because they looked drugged out and it reminded me of Taken. We stopped at another delicious asian place for dinner called Wok to Walk (get it?) that Ellen’s big had visited last year and highly recommended. We didn’t stay out too late because we all had early flights the next day…

Very proud of this panoramic shot

What they cart their children around in 


Wok to Walk! They give it to you in a container so you can take it to-go


Filed under amsterdam the netherlands holland travel abroad spain anne frank bikes

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a weekend in barca

Just got back from a quick weekend trip to Barcelona. We left Friday morning and arrived with no problems. Heather, Andrea, and I stayed in a hostel called Paraiso Traveller’s Hostel and the boys stayed somewhere else. Our place was so cute! The walls were all different tropical colors, it seemed all very clean and welcoming and the woman at the reception desk was very sweet and helpful. We didn’t realize that we hadn’t requested a private room until this random boy walked in… talk about awkward. We quick dropped off our stuff and were ready to eat! In a bit of a hurry, we all quick ran down the stairs and of course I slipped (in the process of falling I was sure I would land wrong and somehow get paralyzed) and ate it so hard on the granite stairs! I landed on my tailbone and my arms… I swear I’m cursed when it comes to traveling, I always hurt myself (see last post- beer/glass shower)! Literally 2 seconds later a cleaning lady comes out to tell us that she had just mopped (oh really? thanks for that little tid bit of information… because I almost just lost my life but no worries… -_-) So after catching my breath and semi-successfully holding back tears we stopped at the pharmacy next door to get some ibuprofen and then FOOD! We just went across the street to get some kebabs which I’ve recently sort of fallen love with… We ate outside and it was noticeably cooler than Madrid because Barcelona is located on the coast. While eating I sort of noticed that we weren’t in the nicest part of town and the guys there are sooo ickky! Not in a physical appearance sort of way (although they aren’t very fortunate in that department either), but in a creepy way. Not only do you hear cat-calls while sitting and walking down the street but they also make this disgusting kissing noises…. I honestly have never felt so objectified in my entire life than I have in this past weekend. I really just wanted to kick one of them in the face but then they probably would’ve captured me and sold me away or something barbaric like that. 

Moving on… after we ate our lunch we were on a mission to find the only American Apparel in the entire country! It wasn’t too hard to find but thank goodness Andrea was good with the map! It was sooo nice stepping inside… I felt like I was back in San Diego shopping for a sorority event. I was on a quest to find the perfect white outfit of Sensation White, that was on Saturday night. Luckily I picked up the last small in this white dress that I had been wanting since I purchased my Sensation ticket. I could spend hours in that place! 

Outside of American Apparel: Barcelona… Photo Credit: Heather Alexander

We spent the next few hours browsing all the cute shops looking for other accessories/clothing for Saturday. After we returned to our hostel we napped and got ready to meet up with the boys for dinner. We got a free meal with a voucher from our place, so that was nice! All we had to do was buy a drink. Colt, Jake, and I got Coronitas and Heath and Andrea got Cerveza Clara. **Sidenote: Normally, when at home getting a Coronita its just a small Corona but here its never called Corona no matter what size, it’s just Coronita because apparently simply ‘Corona’ is offensive to the crown… weird huh?** We stopped for gelato afterward and decided to meet up with other people from school at a bar called Chupitos which is famous for having who even knows how many different types of shots…

Menu of shots at Chupitos

I got a Harry Potter shot which didn’t taste that great (it reminded my of licorice which I am not a fan of) but it was cool to watch… it involved fire, sparks, sugar, and orange. I also witnessed a Monica Lewinsky which I will NOT describe in detail but I will say that it involved a prop… barf. We decided to call it an early night because we had a big day ahead of us!

Saturday we did some last minute shopping around town (you have, have, HAVE to wear white clothing to Sensation or else they supposedly won’t let you in). Can I just say that this place is absolutely nutty?! There is literally 6 different locations of the same stores all within walking distance… most notably, H&Ms and Zara’s. Some of the locations carry lines/products that others don’t (i.e. underwear). We finished up after a few hours and decided it was best to get some rest before the night started so we headed back to the hostel. We had a mini-fiasco with our ticket situation but I won’t go into that. Long story short, we weren’t sure if Andrea was going to be able to get in or not but we all got ready anyways and headed out!!!! Again, we had to bear the harassment of gross men while trying to meet up the boys so I felt safer once we were finally with them but that still doesn’t stop the stares and stupid comments… *le sigh* We ended up cabbing it to the venue which was up on a hill. I was soooo excited to get there and see everybody! It was kind of hassle trying to find white to wear but it looks sooooo cool to see that many people in the same color. Luckily, Andrea got in and we were all ready to dance the night away! I’m not really into the whole ‘rave’ scene or whatever but I had an awesome time being there with everybody… I did see this guy having a really terrible trip and he kept doing this weird things with his tongue and he was flopping around like a wet noodle, like he could hardly even stand which creeped me out. For some reason seeing things like that hurts my heart but I couldn’t look away. A security guard had an eye on him and ended up hauling him away, thank goodness!

We left around 4:30am and it was FREEEZING out and of course there were no taxi’s! So we walked a bit further and found a shuttle that would take us to the bottom of the hill. From there we decided to take a cab to our hostel. We fiiinally hailed a cab and 5 minutes after we hopped in this *pardon my french* complete asshole knocks on the car window while we are at a stop and attempted to convince our driver to kick us out and drive him instead for 200euro. Thankfully, our driver couldn’t understand english and he just locked all the doors and windows. I swear, some people are just so ridiculous. It was an old man too, of course there was old people at this rave, would you expect anything else from this place?

After this trip I’ve come to a few conclusions. Call me a princess or whatever you want but I am NOT a fan of hostels. This was my first experience and the place was nice and everything, I would totally recommend it anyone wanting to hang out in Barcelona for a few days but I just do not like how there’s no privacy! I hate sharing bathrooms (I brought shower shoes, I was scared of fungus… shout out to mom), I was terrified of the bed and sheets being infested with bugs (again, thanks mom for engraining that fear in me, I wore my hair in a braid every night) and just no, I do not like it. Also, I would now pick Madrid over Barcelona hands down! Madrid is so much cleaner and safer and they speak SPANISH instead of Catalan or English. I’m glad I’ve finally decided this because before I was obsessed with Barcelona and was kind of bummed that I didn’t really consider going abroad there. Next, I have a growing hatred for Iberia… our flight was delayed foreverrrr today, they are NEVER on time. Lastly, I’m so happy that in the good old USofA there is a noticeable amount of respect for women… I feel like a human being no matter where I go, thank god else I would probably go crazy… **lykeohmygod GiRLpOwEr!!!! But really though…

¡Es todo!

Besitos,

Hil xox

Filed under barcelona sensation palau sant jordi sensation white hostel spain abroad madrid

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whirlwind

We left for Ibiza late Thursday night and arrived around 12:35am (I think…?) on what was technically Friday morning. As soon as we hit the ground people started cheering and clapping… the kickoff to the insanity in Ibiza. We took a 30euro (ugh) cab ride to our hotel where the fiasco began. We booked the trip through an agency so you think all the small details such as, oh… I don’t know, our room assignments would be figured out but of course the weren’t. Out of 5 of us only our friend Amanda’s full name was on the list, we looked at the other names and noticed that someone (not sure if the hotel or agency) had mixed up first names and last names of other people who booked the trip. It took nearly an hour and a half to figure out the situation and we were all so frazzled and beyond exhausted so we decided to call it a night which was kind of a bummer because we had just purchased copious amounts of alcohol in the airport in Madrid. 

We woke up semi-early to catch the free breakfast offered in the hotel… this was possibly the best way to start off the day and renew our excitement, the food was sooo good and was a welcomed change because we normally only get a slice of toast or cereal in the morning from our host families. We met up with the travel agency rep to purchase tickets for the weekends activities: a club that night, a boat cruise/party, and another club. This was the most money I spent on the island in one purchase. Everyone kept saying how expensive Ibiza is but I was surprised to find that things were a lot cheaper than I imagined (i.e. I forgot my sandals for the beach so I bought some for 2euro across from the hotel and the little food markets run by Chinese- we call the stores ‘chinos’ not sure if this right or p.c. but ehh…-are suuuper inexpensive). We decided to hit up the beach, something that I miss having access to in Madrid

Ibiza 

On our way to lay out we stopped at a cute little cafe for some slushies, I got tequila in mine, duh. They were really refreshing! This is the first place I realized that the British have literally taken over this Spanish Island, everyone speaks English, like English English not American English (except for the reception at our hotel… convenient right?…). I believe Ibiza is their version of Cancun, I saw lots of families and little children running around all day which surprised all of us… Ibiza is like the party capital of the world and along with that comes lots of drugs and alcohol.

Anyways, while we were walking around there’s these people who try to sell you things like sunglasses and stuff which is super annoying. Clearly, we are ALL wearing sunglasses, we do not need to buy another pair. At one point these weird gypsy ladies kind of swarmed us and one of them put her hand on my friend Heather’s arm and she stopped so I tried to grab Heather’s hand away and this stupid fat gypsy slapped my hand and said “Fuck off, it’s not your problem!” This seriously pissed me off but I bit my tongue because this lady was legitimately 4x my size and reminded me of a witch doctor… with that being said, if I drop dead in like 2 weeks or whatever it’s probably because she did some type of weirdo voodoo and cast a spell on my soul or something nutty like that. We finally picked a spot to lay out and enjoy the sun. The beach was really pretty and was filled with all types of people including topless women, meh. I’m getting more comfortable with this I guess but there is just a certain age/point in life when that needs to STOP.  

Fast forward to night time… We had tickets to a club called Privilege which apparently is the largest club in the world, not sure if I believe that but while we were there we didn’t really explore so I guess it’s quite possible. Luckily we found a free bus that was headed for the club, and thank heavens for that… this place was in the middle of no where! On the bus met some Brits and we made friends, cool. They played different music and dance a lot different than what I’m used to but it was still a lot of fun… They had a show which was…. interesting… lots of boobies and other private parts. I sort of felt bad for the girls, not because they were dancing naked, like whatever that’s their choice, but everyone just videotapes them and takes pictures of them with their phones and cameras which I thought was sad. Some lady performed their, I think she’s famous in Spain or something but we had no clue who she was. I think we left the club around 4am…? We ended up taking the wrong the bus back so it took us about an hour to get back to the area where we were staying and another 20 minutes to walk to our hotel (we were not about to pay for a cab). On our walk back in started POURING rain, I was wearing wedges, jeans, and a tube top… I could hear my mom in the back of my head telling me that I would get sick and sure enough… I currently have the sniffles and a cough, bleh. Once we got back we set our alarms for breakfast and passed out.

Bus to Privilege

Inside da club

Saturday was definitely my favorite day! At 4p we board a party boat and set off in the Mediterranean! There was an open bar (SCORE!) with sangria, beer, and wine and they ended up feeding us a really yummy dinner as well. There was a DJ and lots of dancing. At one point, when we stopped the boat for dinner, we were allowed to hop in the water. Normally I wouldn’t do something like that but hey, I had had a few (read: many) cups of sangria and when would I ever be able to do this again? So in I went with my friend Heather. The water was perfect!!! Unfortunately I did get stung by a few jellyfish on my arms, legs, and torso… my leg started bleeding a little but it didn’t hurt after I got out of the water so it was fine! After dinner, we started to head back toward the main land. The sun was setting and it was absolutely gorgeous. I was sure in that moment that I was possibly one of the luckiest people on the planet… here I was with the breathtaking view, surrounded by wonderful people having the time of our lives, I didn’t have a care in the world… I’m not sure if I can perfectly describe the way I felt and I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that way again… it was pure magic. Another shoutout to the parentals, I cannot thank you two enough for this opportunity… people always tell me that I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am now but honestly, without your help I wouldn’t be here… I love you both so much! 

Party Boat, Ibiza

Sunset

That night was our last night out. Our tickets for the boat came with tickets to a club called El Paradis that was sponsored by hedkandi (I think… I’m not really sure what that whole thing was about). This club was soooo pretty, it had Wonderland vibe. We saw our British friends from the night before there again which was kind of funny. Lots of people from school, who also went on the boat, ended up here that night too so that was a lot of fun dancing around with them. Body painting is pretty popular there so me, Heather, and Ashlee got our faces painted, woooo!!!!! The show that night involved girls dancing in skimpy outfits, obviously, and these people roller-skating around… who knows why? certainly not me. I probably left a little earlier than I should have with my friend Angela. I wasn’t feeling too hot, probably because I couldn’t breathe and I just wanted a bed.

The next morning, Heather and I didn’t even bother with breakfast at the hotel, we wanted our sleep! We checked out around 11 and ended up getting breakfast at this place called Sun and Moon cafe, best. breakfast. ever. Well at least since August, it even came with hash browns, yummmmm… We then went to get shop around for souvenirs. I spent a stupid amount of money on shirts for me and my sister Miranda and grabbed some postcards for people back home, I’d say it was all worth it… 

Next stop this weekend is Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest YIPPEE!!!!! I keep forgetting about school, it seems like such a small detail in my life especially since I only have class 2 days a week… oh well….

Hasta Luego

Besitos,

Hil xox 


Filed under ibiza spain san antoni privilege hedkandi stress boat medite mediterranean beach

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let’s go to the movies (edición española)

Today I legitimately spent the entire day at/around school (9a-7p with a break from 10:20-1:30). I only have class Mondays and Wednesdays so there has to be a downside somewhere, right? Today I had my cinema class for the first time. After looking over the syllabus it finally clicked why this class is the only 3 hour offered, each session we will be watching a movie directed by Pedro Almodóvar. We reviewed the syllabus and our professor told us that we would be spending the last portion of our class at a movie theater to watch Almodóvar’s latest movie, pretty cool, eh? We ended up watching a movie that was not so cool… I have seen ad’s for it all over Spain and from the picture I thought to myself everytime I passed one “Well that movie looks creeptastic…” I noticed the posters only because Antonio Banderas is one of the main characters in the movie…

La Piel Que Habito… The Skin I Live In 

I’ll save you from all the gory details… but basically I have never seen so much sex, boobs, rape, etc on a movie/TV screen. Not going to lie, I was semi-traumatized and after that hour and a half-ish the last of my childish innocence was definitely taken from me, I was NOT expecting to see all of that… quite the experience to say the least. Oh and our professor was there with us, talk about weird/awkward (there’s only 6 of us taking the class, all girls). On another note, Antonio Banderas is HOT for an old man, in this movie the way he had his hair made him look a lot like a spanish version of George Clooney (another old man who is suuuper attractive, yum). Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure all of his movies are like this… while looking over the movies listed on our syllabus two other girls and I recognized one of the movies (the professor teaching this course taught for awhile at USD our freshman year). Thankfully it’s not as graphic but it is still shocking… 

Other things I noticed at my first time in a Spanish theater…

1. There is not stadium seating which is awkward because you’re sitting so low, thank heavens no one tall sat in front of me… 

2. The popcorn isn’t slathered with fatty butter (reason #2342 why America is obese) like it is at home but it’s still really good!

3. People actually stay for the credits, weird…

In other news, in both my Civilization of Spain and Problem of God class I learned that gay marriage is legal here in Spain (yay España!). I was a little surprised because it is a predominantly Catholic country but that made this little tid-bit of info even cooler. So far I am enjoying all of my classes. My theology and ethics professors are married and moved here from the States about 13 years ago (um, new life goal? I think YES). I think my Prob of God professor likes me because she stopped me today after class and told me I reminded her of her niece (and complimented my hairline? not quite sure about that but ok) and we had a nice little chat. My Civ of Spain class is also really small like my cinema class… there’s 7 of us girls and that’s it. I’m a fan of small classes because we all get to bond so much. 

On my way home today I felt so so happy. I’ve only actually been in Madrid for about a week but getting a routine started is just what the doctor ordered! I still need to figure out what the heck I am doing tomorrow since everyone will be in class… Maybe attempt to workout… who knows? 

¡Hasta luego!

Besitos,

Hil xox

P.S. If any family/friends reading this have blackberries, message me your BBM pin on Facebook [:

Filed under almodovar movies cinema cina banderas spain abroad routine

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this isn’t real life

It is currently 3:00p… just woke up. I have a feeling this may become standard procedure while I’m here. Last night/this morning was insanity!!! Dinner here is usually pretty late, we eat around 9:30p (not too different from my normal eating time at home, haha). Laura and I got ready after and we agreed to stay with each other the entire night because the spanish men have been creeping me out lately and late at night getting to our metro stop is kind of sketchy because our neighborhood is pretty deserted. The original plan was to meet up with people at an Irish pub in Plaza del Sol called Dubliners and from there head to a discoteca called Kapital. We took the metro from our house where we were followed by some guy who spoke okay English asking me where I was from, if I had a boyfriend (which according to him, didn’t matter either way, etc etc etc) for about 10 minutes… ew.

Sol was jam packed with people and we couldn’t exactly figure out how to get to Dubliners so we just hung out to wait for people. This super hammered foreign guy attempted to chat with us, he kept scooting closer and we slowly started backing up and then we ran away after we figured out he wouldn’t quit. Thankfully, we bumped into a group of USD people headed over to Kapital.

First floor in Kapital


Apparently, Kapital is one of the best clubs in Madrid. It’s 7 stories with different types of music playing on each level and a rooftop lounge. It was suuuch a great time!!!! We danced around and hung out on the roof all night. And by all night I mean into the morning hours… Here in Madrid, the metro is closed from 2a-6a so if you want to get home you have to pay lots of money for a cab instead of the 1euro it costs to take the metro. I really wanted to try to stay out until the metro re-opened and me and Laura did it! Why? Because we can, that’s why. Laura met this local who took us to churros con chocolate for breakfast, he kept saying how great and iconic this place was. When we showed up, I recognized it immediately it! I had been there my senior year of high school! The churros con chocolate are heavenly…

Churros con chocolate

We finally headed home around 7a or something weird… If you have a chance to experience the Spanish lifestyle, DO IT! I still can’t wrap my head around it… I’m pretty convinced that these people just don’t eat or sleep… everyone goes out, absolutely everyone and staying out until the metro re-opens is a normal practice. As we arrived back to our house, the sun was starting the rise… magical.

Otras cosas…

1. Our host mom is fab but she randomly says stuff where you’re just like “huh?” She told me and Laura that we can’t show up at home completely plastered and/or throwing up… that we have to stay in the street until it passes… haha seriously Mercedes? (She later made up for it when we found a mosquito in the hallway when she tried to kill it and started screaming and jumping around when it landed on her arm… and then later when she showed us her little vacuum and it started speaking and she told it in English to stop talking to her)

2. I don’t think this country believes in snacks which I am not a fan of

¡Es todo!

Besos, 

Hil xox

Filed under madrid dubliners kapital discoteca churros chocolate metro sol spain

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finally “home”

After about a week and half of living out of a suitcase, I’m back in Madrid!!! It was really cool traveling to different cities in Spain and I saw/ did a lot that I probably wouldn’t have done on my own… 

Granada was interesting. During the day there were so many people hustling and bustling about but at night it was absolutely dead which was a bummer for sure. I don’t understand where all the people went after it got dark. Granted, we were there on a Monday and Tuesday but even on Sunday night in Valencia, people were still out! Anyways, on our second day in Granada we went to visit the Alhambra and Generalife gardens… this place was absolutely amazing! It’s a military fortress turned royal palace, and it was breathtaking… especially the gardens! It was kind of hard to soak up and appreciate all of the beauty because it was so incredibly hot. I know I keep complaining about this, but it is a serious issue, we’re constantly on walking tours so I feel like I am constantly just frying in the sun. 

Generalife

After our tour, we were beat! After we returned to the hotel we showered and slept. Later that night we found a little restaurant that had a pretty good deal for dinner, 2 courses, a dessert, and drink all for 12euro! I got paella, calamares, y helado… vino to drink obviously! It was really yummy, their paella was definitely my favorite one so far! We all wanted to go do something after dinner because the next day we would be traveling to Sevilla. It literally took forevvverrrr to find something but we ran into a few other people from school and hit up a bar. There were some locals and some music, nothing too outrageous… After, some people wanted to hit up a club but some of my friends and I decided just to head back to the hotel, we were done with walking all over the place!

Our next stop was in Sevilla…. our first day there we had a short class that was held in a local park/museum and the rest of the day was “tiempo libre” so there was a lot of sleeping, some shopping and exploring. Later that night a professor showed us the way to a bar. When we got there, it was filled with locals watching a flamenco show and it was verrrry hot and muggy inside. It was a little different than we all had expected… I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t actually see the show (we sat in the back). I loveee flamenco, it’s so wonderfully passionate… Some people in our group met these other Americans and we all decided to follow them to some other bar/club. We were guided through a bunch of weird deserted alley ways and I thought to myself… “what a fabulous beginning to a horror film…” We finally arrived at this little plaza area where a bunch of young people (and a random group of cougars dressed in white and shades of coral/pink) were drinking. We made our way to a few different bars with cool deals (i.e. 2 euro for a shot and a beer, 1 euro shots, etc etc etc). That night ended up being a lot of fun but after some cops showed up to clear the alleys, we took a cab back to our hotel.

The next day we had tours and such… HOLY MAJEEZERS it was HOT! If you want to get a taste of hell, just stop by Sevilla… It was 41° C at one point, yikers. We toured a cathedral and some park, standard touristy attractions. At the cathedral we saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus and walked up a tower that had some saw some pretty cool views of the city 

Sevilla, Spain.

Our last night in Sevilla, I went with a couple friends to a bar across the street for a drink… they had pitchers of “tinto de verano” (me and Heather’s FAVORITE) for only 2euro. It was a really low key night but it was really nice just hanging out and chatting. 

Today we embarked for a quick trip to Córdoba. We visited the mosque there which was really unique because there was a cathedral built inside of it! During this past week and half during class/ our tours we are always discussing the rich mixture of 3 cultures: christianity, judaism, and muslim. The usual story is that Muslims were there first and then Christians take over, think they are better, and destroy everything to build their own stuff. This was different because instead of knocking down this breathtaking place of worship, the built another one inside so that the people of 2 religions worshiped in the same location just on different days. 

Inside the Mosque

Mosque

Cathedral inside of the Mosque.

After we left Córdoba it was another 5 or so hours back to Madrid. I cannot tell you enough how much I hate buses now… someone calculated how much time we spent traveling in them and in the past 9 days it’s been around 40 hours… yuck!

I am so happy to be back and finally get 2 free meals a day again, haha. The travel seminar was great though, it definitely bonded us all and now it’s kind of sad not being with everyone in the same building….

Otras cosas

1. I finally took a picture of our tiny elevator at our host mom’s house. Every 2 apartments shares an elevator, theyre soooo itty bitty!!!!

outside

inside

2. the people of andalucía (southern spain) are definitely the pretty ones… but they do dress kind of weird.

3. “boli” means ‘pen’ (normally I would say “pluma”… “boli” is short for “boligrafo”, thanks 8th grade spanish)

4. try to avoid traveling in large groups… locals will stare you down even though you aren’t doing anything… sort of weird.

¡Es todo!

Besos, 

Hil xox

Filed under granda sevilla cordoba spain travel europe madrid home generalife alhambra

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update

**sidenote: for those people who say that not having technology is somehow “freeing” you might be crazy. not having to access to wifi gave me lots of anxiety… i need to communicate with people while abroad… anywhoosers this was written sept 5**

Yesterday we had a free day in Valencia so we decided that we wanted to do some shopping and then head down to the beach after our class ended at 10. Heather and I got ready and headed to the mall near our hotel. I stopped by a little shop on our way and got these cute sandals for 10euro. When we got the mall it was closed! We then realized it was siesta time and also Sunday, a double whammy… it felt like the entire city had shut down.  I don’t get this… how does a country function when everything is closed on Sunday? I couldn’t imagine being like that at home, I feel like that’s the only chance people ever have to get caught up with errands and things…

We caught a bus down to the beach because it was soooo nice out! I think the sun here in Spain is more intense or something because I felt like I was on fire! The Mediterranean is gorgeous! It wasn’t as warm as I expected it to be but it was really refreshing because it was so hot. The sand is different at these beaches, it’s finer, more brown, and cleaner. The one thing I did not enjoy was the topless old, flabby women hanging (I mean literally, hanging/flopping/sagging/etc) around. I guess the custom of going topless is fading because the youngest person flaunting their boobs was probably 50 (puke).

After we laid out for a while we grabbed lunch at a restaurant on the boardwalk which was so nice because there was no windows or walls blocking the ocean view. I tried the shrimp in garlic sauce (yum!) and for dessert everyone got ice cream except me and Cate, we wanted coffee milkshakes. When the waiter brought them out I took a huge sip and it tasted reeeeally strong. Cate tried hers and we realized there was alcohol in them… I mean, don’t get me wrong it was good but we were in the mood for just a regular shake so we sent them back. Our waiter was sooo funny, we think he did it on purpose because of our reaction when we read that they offered milkshakes with alcohol.

 When I got back to the hotel I attempted to work on my presentation about the Alhambra, which didn’t work out too well. I did, however, get to Skype my mom and sister Mere, which was nice because I hadn’t seen or talked to them since the day I left. I realized that we’ve been soo busy with this travel seminar that I haven’t had the chance to feel homesick yet, thank goodness. It’s weird though because I can already tell that I’ll miss home more when I’m at my host mom’s house than when I’m in class because with all those familiar faces from school around I feel fine… but it’s a strange feeling having such different customs at the place that I’m living…

The bus ride from Valencia to Granada was 7 hours so everyone was going out. A ton of USD people ended up at this Irish pub called Finnegan’s… we legitimately took over this bar, it was soooo much fun!!!! We met these Spanish guys named Raul and Jose who got me and 2 other girls chupitos de tequila (woooo)!!!! Here, chupitos means shots but it’s important that you call them that and not the feminine form because that’s a word for something else that mildly (read: very) inappropriate. It was nice meeting foreigners who weren’t complete creeps. Raul could tell I wasn’t “American” I mean, duh, clearly I’m not white so I asked him what he thought I was (I always do this when people ask me my race/ethnicity/etc). He said since that I had exotic eyes (am I the only one who thinks ‘exotic dancer’ when I hear exotic? … just me? Ok, cool.) so maybe I was some type of Asian, a very common guess… We talked for a while, I felt like such a fabulous Spanish speaker after our little chat! They finally kicked us out of the club a little after 2 and we went home.

We left for Granada around 10 this morning I think… these long bus rides are KILLER! Thank goodness I fall asleep so easily in moving vehicles or else I have noooo clue what I would do! I think we arrived sometime around 4p and we had the rest of the night to ourselves. When we got here there was sooo many people out! We are staying at Hotel Carmen across from an El Corte Ingles so we did a little shopping. Granada is really cute…. very European/historical looking and it feels waay safer than Barca and Valencia. We grabbed dinner around 9:30 and we all wanted to go out since we don’t have to meet tomorrow until 11a. I got ready and everything and we go out to find something at its DEAD, such a bust… which is why I’m able to post now but I hate wasting outfits, ugh! We’re supposed to go on a walking tour tomorrow and have our 3rd class session, we’ll see how that goes!

Otras cosas…

1. EVERYONE here smokes EVERYWHERE… it kind of sucks. Like, I’m trying to enjoy this aquarium/park/ MY LUNCH!!!! I do NOT want your nasty smoke in my face sooo thanks but no thanks. The worst part is, is that they do it around their kids like it’s nothing! So upsetting

2. The drivers here are absolutely nutty… at home, you change one lane at a time (usually). These people drift across 4 lanes like it’s nothing! I don’t understand and it makes my kind of nervous actually

3. Americans are obnoxious. Just accept it, we are. We travel in large packs, or even if we don’t, we’re usually loud and draw stupid amounts of unnecessary attention to ourselves.

4. Spanish are very blunt and not p.c. The Spanish are a lot more confrontational and it’s kind of awkward…

5. You/I need to learn more languages. If you’re one of those people who thinks “this America, speak ENGLISH” you probably should just never talk to me again because I’ll judge you if you make this known to me. I get it, we are a massive country and aren’t really close enough to other countries to have to know how to speak another language but it makes travelling basically impossible.  We expect for people to understand us when we’re abroad and yet when people come to visit our country we look at them like their stupid if they don’t speak our language, come on, really? Basically every sign here is printed in like 3 languages, including English.  The one thing I remember word for word from cross-cultural psychology “A person who speaks 3 languages is trilingual, a person who speaks 2 languages is bilingual, and a person who speaks one language is American” (thanks for that joke Dr. Keith, possibly the only thing I legitimately retained).  Be open-minded!!!!!! It won’t hurt anyone, promise

6. The slang here is still throwing me off. At the restaurant on the beach yesterday I said “por favor” and the cashier immediately asked where I was from, awk. Here it’s just “por fa’”

7. The practice of “binge drinking” doesn’t exist here. In the pub we tried explaining to the Spanish guys what “chug” and “kegstand” meant and they looked at us like we were insane

Filed under valencia granada study abroad spain america mediterranean