So like my last post said, I went to Barcelona this weekend. It was a longgg weekend of travel (left Thursday night at 11:30, got to Barcelona around 7:30 AM, then left Sunday night at midnight, got back to Toledo around 10 this morning. The hostel we stayed in was pretty nice and it really promoted partying and meeting new people. It was a bit interesting because we stayed in room with 10 bunk beds, and there were only 3 of us that went together! The guy on the bunk bed next to me on the first night was a giant CREEP. We kept trying to talk to him but he wouldn't say anything. There were people in our room from Australia, Holland, Norway, and France, definitely a cool experience. It was really sad on Friday when the terrorist attack happened and the group of Norwegians were all upset because they couldn't get a hold of their families.
We made friends with a 34 year old lady from Holland who was really nice. She taught us some key Dutch phrases when some stupid girl drama happened over the trip, very funny.
When we got there on Friday we couldn't check into the hostel until 2 so we wandered around to see Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell which were both designed by Gaudi. Sagrada Familia was the most interesting building I've ever seen. I'm going to post the link to my facebook album at the bottom of this so you can check it out. Everything was inspired by nature, which I thought was really neat. Once we went to the museum in the church and found that out, it seemed so much cooler.
Friday night we went on a barcrawl with our hostel and ended up at a salsa bar which was pretty sweet, we stayed for a little bit and then tried to find our way home but ended up taking a cab. The next day we went to the beach and stayed there pretty much all day, then went out that night. I loveeee the beach, it's definitely different in Europe with all of the topless women and naked children running around. I'm still creeped out by the idea of 10 yr old boys coming with their topless mothers- I feel like I'd personally be scarred for life! Also, the men are creepier in Barcelona than any other city I've been in- literally would grab your wrists and try to drag you away. I tried to combat this by dancing like I was insane, but it didn't really help. Sunday we walked down Las Ramblas (a giant shopping street) until we reached the water. There were a lot of cool stands along the street but I didn't end up buying anything. I was going to buy some seeds (veggies and flowers) for mi papa, but someone told me that I'm not allowed to bring that sort of thing back into the US in case they are carrying some sort of disease. I also was tempted to buy THE cutest rabbit I have EVER seen but figured my parents wouldn't appreciate me getting a puppy and a bunny in the same year. I feel like so many things are cuter here in Spain, like the kids (parents dress them to the T. everything about their outfits matches) and animals (except the dogs here in Toledo- they seem to have hunchbacks, maybe from the hills/cobblestone). I named him Thumpito in honor of Bambi :)
We were all pretty tired after walking so far so we got some gelato and sat on the water for a while. Definitely going to miss the water and also the lack of humidity! Midwest here I come...my flight leaves in less than 24 hours. Of course I haven't started packing.
Last night we went to our favorite bar with our favorite bartender and we got really sad that it was pretty much our last night all together. But it's good to know that I've made some friendships here that will continue into the future, and we are planning many roadtrips in the future- mine are all on the East coast!
Well, see you all very SOON! Can't wait. Also I saw some pictures from the wedding- looked like a great time and Sandra looked beautiful! (Jorge , you did too)



A few days early but...

I know I'm a bit early on this, but I'm going to be busy this week with finals and then traveling to Barcelona from Thursday night-Monday morning so I just wanted to say...

CONGRATULATIONS to the one of the coolest and most fun couples I know! Sandra and Jorge, hope your big day is everything you've imagined...wish I could be there to celebrate the party with "ya'll" (that was for Jen. and anyone else who was in the cab/kitchen at Sandra's bachelorette party. Don't pretend like you don't love that Southern twang)

I can't wait to see how cute your wedding photos are. haha!
7.22.2011 :-)



This past week has been suuuper long, good, but long. Work was up and down this week. Wednesday I was really upset because a lady told me I don't understand much and asked where I was from, which basically shocked me. The culture here is so different..people don't try to sugarcoat things very much and just say things flat out. BUT on Monday I got to do something that made me feel really good about myself- I got to translate and do something that actually helped someone! An English speaking couple (tourists) came into FEDETO and asked me if they could park outside. Since I know nothing about parking, I had to turn to the guy next to me and ask him questions in Spanish (which I find funny since he was the man who told me on day 1 that I have bad Spanish) and then translate the answers back to the couple in English. I'm hoping I translated right and they found the right place to park!
I'm really sad to leave my boss, Luis. I LOVE him. He's super nice and knew when I was upset on Wednesday, took me out for a beer and sat there and told me that I'm not stupid and told me it's really hard to travel to a foreign country AND have a job there. He left yesterday for vacation so he won't be there for my last 2 days of work which I'm sad about. The other 2 guys in the office are really serious and don't talk. At all. In a previous blog post I talked about how they don't talk and I thought it was just me, but I really think they just sit and are really focused on their work..they rarely talk to each other! But Luis randomly will yell things to me across the office and burst out into song or blast the radio and do both. He definitely makes the 7 hours of silence a lot more bearable! He told me to send him my Skype contact before I go so we can stay in touch. Definitely a good contact to have.
This weekend the Fund took a trip to Segovia and my friend Katie and I stayed the night there which was SO much fun. My friend from WKU is studying abroad in Segovia right now so we hung out with him and got to meet some other Kentucky folk (and I have to say, I didn't realize how much I missed a little Southern twang in my life until I heard some of them talk) and some locals. Katie and I really lucked out on our hostel, both times we've traveled we haven't made a reservation in advance which is almost nicer because then you can look at the places yourself instead of trusting the reviews online. We had a long day of travel back yesterday, but everything went smoothly,  and we made it back to Toledo around 5pm. I was exhausted but decided it would be a great idea to go out again last night to this outdoor discoteca, we had a lot of fun but I am super tired today.
Segovia is a BEAUTIFUL city. There's an aqueduct there that was built by the Romans in the 1st or 2nd century and is still standing. If I remember correctly I think the tour guide said that the aqueduct is around 15 km (11 miles) long. The most impressive thing to me other than the aqueduct itself is the fact that there is NOTHING holding all of the stones together. I still don't understand how there are arches in it that don't fall! We also took a tour of the Alcazar, where the Catholic kings lived. It was a really pretty building and then we walked up approximately 32857 stairs to get up to the top, which was definitely worth it. Scariest staircase of my life though- very tiny and windy, all made of dark rock, with no light and really nothing to grab onto..the worst part was that people were trying to come down as we were coming up so I was basically crawling and clinging to the wall hoping I didn't go down!
The best part of Segovia? I was sitting in a park with my 2 friends, and this couple was walking what I thought was their dog but when they got closer I saw it was a PIG! It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen in my life. It had a harness and leash and everything and literally dragged its owners over to where we were sitting so it could see us. Ahhh it was precious.
Yesterday I got a chance to Skype a lot of the fam- the girls, Uncle Paul & Sandy, and Grandma. It was definitely good to see everyone and I can't wait to see you all when I get back!

My boss, me, and the other guy from the Fund who does his internship there

We went to go see the sunset on Thursday night in Toledo

Ok well apparently these are the only 2 pictures blogger wants me to upload, which is good because the rest of my pictures from the weekend are in another facebook album..so I'll just put the link on here



First of all- gracias to Sandy for your comment yesterday..it made my day when I saw it this morning :)

Ok now just a forewarning, I am about to rant a little bit. This is something that has been on my nerves for a while and I need to share it with you guys before I explode.
While I've been in Spain I've really noticed how completely ungrateful and unappreciative some people are, unfortunately sometimes a couple of those people are my roommates so I'm around it quite a bit. I do not understand how someone can hate every single thing about their life, especially in a country like Spain. Obviously most people don't speak English here, I thought that's why you studied abroad in SPAIN in order to improve your SPANISH. Yes it's frustrating sometimes but that's how we learn. I'm so sick of hearing people complain about Spanish and how they can't wait to travel to an English speaking country...why didn't you just save your/your parent's money and stay in America?
Another thing I get annoyed with is how people absolutely hate the food here and literally can't find anything positive about it. Sure it's not what we're used to, but that's part of the experience...there are always options at meals here (minus breakfast haha). The food gets a little repetitive because it's in the same cafeteria every day, but I mean, school cafeteria food isn't much better. I'm not really sure what people were expecting when they came here, but it really rubs me wrong when people walk into dinner, take 1 look at the food and turn around in a huff saying they're going to McDonald's! And the backhanded compliments like "wow dinner was ACTUALLY good today" or "I'm ACTUALLY full after a meal" really make me angry. Sorry you're so miserable but keep your negative opinions to yourself. I think I've liked maybe 95% of the meals here but I'm not going to sit and complain about the remaining 5%- that's what gelato is for :)
I almost feel insulted when people say bad things about Toledo- I think it's probably one of the top 5 prettiest cities I've ever been to, maybe even the prettiest. When people say things like "these stupid cobblestoned streets" and complain about how boring the tour of the Cathedral is, I want to turn around and slap them and make them wake up to everything around them. I understand that people have different perspectives on things but I don't understand how they don't see ONE thing they like here.
I feel sorry for people like that, who don't make the best of their study abroad experience. I can't imagine being that miserable the entire time. Sorry if I haven't stayed in touch much while I've been over here, but I'm not going to be connected to people back home 24/7 because the point of studying abroad is to get away from home and experience new things, not sit on your computer, in your room, and Facebook/Skype/text people from home all day. You might as well have stayed back in America and Google image searched pictures of Toledo, Spain because that's pretty much all the exposure you're getting to it right now.
I know that I haven't always been the most positive person in the past, but my God I hope I was never this miserable to be around. The worst part is they all feed off of each other...luckily there are a couple people in my group that I can go off with and seperate from the Negative Nancies!


16 days

It has been a while, but there isn't much to report. I stayed in Toledo this weekend with a few people, kind of wish I had traveled somewhere, but I'm saving my money for Barcelona.
Friday we went to a former palace called El Escorial. It was the summer palace for the king and queen and was up in the mountains with a view of Madrid off in the distance. Beautiful weather there, it was at least 10 degrees cooler there than in Toledo. Afterwards we came back and I pretty much slept all day, I know, I'm boring. I didn't get much sleep last week though so it was much needed. Saturday I worked on homework and slept some more and then a group of us met some locals that night. We also saw a really cool light show that Toledo had on a couple of buildings. They played music and showed paintings in order to honor El Greco, the artist who lived in Toledo for many years.
Yesterday I got to Skype with my parents for about an hour and got to see my puppies, as usual. Lucy is SO BIG, it's depressing. Then later my friend and I walked around Toledo for a while to avoid homework, something I've found to be very easy here in Spain. Now I have to do it all today..typical. I've definitely lucked out with my workload though compared to some other people, basically all I have to do is read, and I only have 1 paper to do in 6 weeks while others have 10.
I'm at work right now (all the others are at a funeral so I am in the office alone and bored) and writing this blog because I keep trying to talk to the guys in my office but they aren't responding to me . I've decided this is 1 of 3 reasons. 1. I am quiet. 2. My Spanish is bad, as one man informed me the first day (I believe he was joking). 3. I am a girl. After my internship class, I am really thinking that it's leaning towards the last one. We talked a lot about machismo, which basically means macho men thinking that women are inferior. It has improved some since Franco's death, but it's still nowhere near the semi-equality in the US. There is another person from the Fund who works here, a boy, and he says that they talk to him all the time. I try to start conversations but they don't really go anywhere, kind of frustrating. OHHHH how I love men!
16 days until I will be coming back to the US! I definitely have mixed emotions on that..I don't want to leave Spain at all, it's so amazing, but I am looking forward to seeing a great deal of people (and my puppies)

El Escorial

My 7000th picture of the Cathedral. Obsessed with this building. this was after the light show on Saturday

A bridge I have to do a presentation on. San Martin


Get ready, this is going to be a long one

I don't even know where to begin. This weekend was absolutely amazing. We left verrrry early (5:30) on Friday morning to start our trek to Cordoba, the first city we were going to in the province of Andalucia. We ate breakfast at a hotel on the way and it was great to actually have something besides cereal..I was full for more than an hour! A few hours later we arrived in Cordoba, a city south of where Toledo is. We walked around there for a little bit in order to get to La Catedral de Cordoba, probably the prettiest single building I have ever seen. There were several times I had to just stop and stare with my mouth open. It's a cathedral now, but before Los Reyes Catolicos (The Catholic kings, Isabella and Fernando) took back all of Spain from Muslim rule, it was a mosque. You walk in and there's a ton of Muslim architecture, with all the arches (something I am very familiar with after my architecture class) and the intense detailing.

There are several beautiful rooms with Christian paintings and sculptures, etc and then you walk into THE prettiest cathedral I have ever seen. The detailing on the ceiling is so intricate and beautiful, I had to just stop and stare. I feel like I could've stayed in there for 5 hours and still been able to find new things. I can't imagine the intense labor it took to create all these old buildings. It's really crazy to think about. Our tour guide said that they started building this mosque in 785.
After we left the Cathedral we toured a little bit around the city of Cordoba. We saw the Jewish quarter and a small sinagog (I can't think of how to spell that in English anymore. I guess that's a good thing). Afterwards we had a delicious lunch at a hotel (our 2nd one of the day) and started the journey to Granada, about 3 hours away maybe? I slept most of the way so I'm not entirely sure. Once we got to Granada, we didn't have anything to do until the next morning. My roommates and I walked around for a bit and then a big group went to a Flamenco show, which was hilarious. I'm sure it's not supposed to be comical but I was about to die the entire time. First of all, the room was shaped like a pill, and the 2 lengths of the pill had a single row of chairs on each side. I, along with one of the program directors and a couple other girls, happened to be situated right across from the flamenco dancers/guitar players/singers and right in front of the tiny dance floor. The girl flamenco dancers were fine, but when the guys went, they were practically dancing on top of us. I had my feet pushed back as far as possible and my entire body was on the wall because I was so scared that I would be punched in the face or have one of my toes shattered (although I decided it would be a really cool story to tell). Well, I had just about pulled myself together until the last flamenco dancer started. He danced for about 10 minutes straight, and the longer he danced, the more he sweat. I had a couple drops flung on me which was gross, but doable. Well, his dance finale consisted of an intense head swing (he had longer hair by the way) which, in slow motion, doused all of us who were so lucky to be seated in that front row. There were about 30 people there from the Fund and I felt really bad, but every single one of us burst into laughter. It was probably one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me. You can't pay for these experiences.
The next morning we got up bright and early in order to start our tour of the Alhambra, which has both a palace and a fortress. We didn't go into the fortress part but the rest of the Alhambra was absolutely beautiful. Again with the delicate carvings of Islamic symbols and inscriptions. I was again in complete awe!

Every room in the palace was beautiful, and we would have to walk through patios in order to get to the next section. Each patio had a fountain or some sort of water in it. This is my favorite picture that I took there...I don't know why!

After that we walked through the garden that was next to the palace. I never got bored of all the gorgeous flowers. I took a ton of pictures, but none really capture how beautiful it really was. I'm going to try putting the link to my Facebook album on here, since Flickr ended up being sort of a bust. After we left the Alhambra, we had free time for the rest of the day. My roommates (there were 3 of us) walked around all day shopping and looking in all of the little stores. The first week of July in Spain is a major sale week, so of course we had to investigate. We went to a Mexican restaurant last night, which we were extremely excited about. It wasn't the typical TexMex I'm used to, but it definitely hit the spot. After laying in a food coma for a while, a group of us went out to a discoteca called Mae West, which had a Western theme going on. It was really fun...those Spaniards really party late. We got there at 1 and it was completely empty until at least 2, and I left around 4 but some of the others left at 5:30 and the party was still going. I guess that's why Spain needs a siesta every day!
All we did today was travel back. I couldn't believe what a great weekend we had. Spain is truely an enchanting country. It has opened my eyes and given me a bigger perspective on life. Problems that seemed so large before suddenly seem so small and insignificant. All I do here is relax and enjoy everything around me and I feel like I really appreciate the little things more. The few drops of rain in Cordoba when we were walking around, the miles and miles of sunflowers along the road, laughing until you cry at a flamenco show in the gypsy quarter of Granada. It seems like I'm spending a lot of money here, but every single penny (or centavo/euro) is worth it, and I've had so many experiences that you can't buy.
Hope that everyone is doing well back home. I miss you all! I wish you could all just come here and experience this with me..but this blog will have to do for now. Here's the link to my facebook album, hopefully this works! I probably won't have much to write for several days but I think this essay makes up for it. Of course I have homework to do but it's almost 1 in the morning here and I have to get up at 7 for my internship tomorrow. First full week! Love you all.


this weekend

I have much to update, but I am going to wait until after our weekend trip to Andalucia. We leave at 5:30 tomorrow morning and are there until Sunday night. Have a great weekend everyone!
PS good news-  I got my traveler's check situation worked out :) that's the last time I ever try to use those things again!


The last few days

There hasn't really been much going on, but a certain mother of mine is begging me to write since my blogs are so interesting and informational. As I mentioned in my last post, we went to Madrid for the day Friday. I felt sick all day but it turns out all I needed was a nap (in our air conditioned hostel!) . We took a tour of El Palacio Real (Royal Palace) where no one lives anymore, but it was really cool to see. We only saw about 15 rooms and our guide said that there are over 2000 rooms in the entire palace. Every room had a theme like oriental, clock room, etc and each one had  really cool ceiling as well. Definitely an interesting experience to see how people lived. I can't imagine living there, that's for sure!
After we left the palace we all went to lunch and then it was free time until we were supposed to come back to Toledo, which I think about 10 people actually did. Most people stayed in Madrid for the night or went to the train station to travel elsewhere. We stayed in Madrid in a really nice hostel, which was good because I was expecting a scene from a horror movie. Had our last night with the Princeton boys which was really sad, they were fun to go out with because they protected us from the creepy Spanish men (seriously, you look at them and they think you're going home with them). We had a long day of travel the next morning but it was a beautiful day so couldn't really complain.
Yesterday we walked all the way to the pool which is about 30 minutes away, and I have to say the sun is definitely stronger here. I got burnt on the back of my legs which has never happened before.
It is SO HOT here. There's a high of 100 or higher for at least the next 5 days. None of my roommates can sleep, and I'm no exception. This is going to be a long last 4 weeks! We are taking a trip to Andalucia this weekend though and visiting 2 different cities in that region, so hopefully 1. it'll be cooler because it's closer to the coast and 2. the hotel the Fund booked for us is air conditioned. Expect me to come back about 37 pounds lighter from sweating 24/7.
I start working on Wednesday so I'll actually have something to update by then. Hasta luego!

5/6 of my roommates did kareoke to Bootylicious one night. So much fun. We are definitely going back to the kareoke bar!

El Palacio Real. We couldn't take pictures inside but you can imagine how nice it must be..



Nothing too crazy has gone on the last few days, just have been going to classes and roasting in the new heat. The first few days when we got here were perfect but now it is HOT HOT HOT! Don't forget the no air conditioning either...just moving my fingers to type this is enough movement to make me break out in a sweat.
I really like both of my classes so far. I wasn't sure what to expect for an internship class but right now it's just sort of a brief history of Spain, which is interesting. We're learning about how fast and how much Spain has changed since the end of the Franco regime in 1975 and last night we learned about the different regions of Spain. It's funny because the weather is varied in the US, but in Spain it's extremely varied as well and is probably the size of Texas, if that.
Tomorrow we're going to Madrid for the day with the Fund, then staying there at night. Should be a fun/tiring day! Not much else to report, hope you're all doing well!

The final decorations for Corpus Christi, which was today. They carry the body of Christ through the streets in a procession...The streets are covered with herbs and the route is covered with tapestries above so that the sun doesn't touch the body.

A midnight fireworks show last night to celebrate the beginning of Corpus
The first place we've gone to for my architecture class. This is a mosque called Cristo de la Luz

When the Christians took over Toledo, they converted the mosque into a church. You can see where they added onto the mosque where the part with the white and red bricks ends (the part with the windows with 3 clover looking designs)

Hope you all enjoyed the informational post..:)


Well, I have now had 2 classes. Last night I had my internship class and earlier I had my Muslim, Jewish, and Christian art class. Both seem like they'll be pretty enjoyable, especially the art class since we have all 3 religions' architecture at our fingertips here in Toledo. I have an appointment to meet my boss and go to the place I'll be working at on Monday, so that should be exciting.
This morning I went on a long run with a friend I met here that is from Chicago. He took me to the same place that we had gone on the tour to take pictures of the entire city of Toledo. There weren't many hills that way so I managed to sort of run and not die. Very out of shape though, but after being in this city, maybe I won't be! We climbed up some rocks to get an even higher view of the city. The views here are unreal!
We have a dinner tonight to meet our "intercambio", a program we had the option of signing up for which I decided to do. Local people who are trying to learn English sign up and are paired with a student from here so that we can help each other out. It's good to know I won't be the only one struggling.
Thanks to all of you for reading and the comments. Miss you guys back home!