Thursday, April 19, 2012


Time is flying by!! I know I need to do an Italy post - and trust me, I'll get around to it. But tomorrow leave for a weekend in the Netherlands to hang out with Uncle Bill, Aunt Elly, and Gramma!! Can't wait. Only 3 and a half weeks left.


A few pictures ;-)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weekend Away

This past weekend, I headed over to Pais Vasco - Bilboa y San Sebastian. Both were absolutely gorgeous. The trip itself was quite spontaneous. Gabe found a race he wanted to do on Tuesday and  we bought the tickets Wednesday and left Friday morning. For those of you who know me well, you know that spontaneity is normally not my strong point. However, I was rather pleased with myself for just going along with the flow and having a GREAT time this weekend! It's nice that we're in the early parts of 309 so we don't have a lot to do. 

We left Friday morning and got to Bilboa around 2. We walked over to our hostel [right across the river from the Guggenheim!] and ate lunch there. Then, with our fabulous student discount, we got into the Guggenheim for just 6.5 euros! We wandered around there for a few hours, just checking out the art and the architecture of the building itself. Both very cool. Then we walked through the city and Lauren, Audrey, Brianne, and I grabbed some pan, jamon [ham], y queso [cheese] and made some yummy [and cheap!!] sandwiches for dinner. It was the perfect and relaxing night. Our hostel had 21 beds in one room so we basically hung out in the lobby until it was absolutely necessary to go to bed. We left the next morning at 11 for San Sebastian.

WE arrived to San Sebastian around 12, 12:30 on Saturday and headed over to our hostel. We had no idea what to expect with this hostel - there weren't any photos or reviews online! Definitely lucked out. It was this little old lady's apartment where she kept only around 5 bedrooms ...  A little musty but located right at the center of the city. Ya win some, ya lose some. Audrey, Lauren, and I strolled into a little bar for lunch and had a delicious tortilla francesa sandwich. [basically just like tortilla espanola without potatoes] Then we headed over to the beach! So pretty. And from the beach, there's a little route you can take that takes you up to the highest point in the city where you can see practically everything. One of the prettiest views I've ever seen. After our hike, we rested a bit and then went out for dinner. We went to a nice little restaurant and Lauren and I each got salads [ YAY for vegetables] and split a paella. OH my goodness, that paella was legendary. So yummy. It was raining after dinner so we ended up just chilling in our room all night. Sunday morning, Lauren, Audrey, Brianne, Allison, and I went to Gabo's race. Gabe wasn't sure if he was registered but he was planning on running it no matter what. We positioned ourselves at the 2k and 8k markers so that we could see if he was registered, and if not, we were at the spot [the 8k] where he would drop out if he wasn't. We were so excited that he was! and that was he was running really well! He was behind the 3 leaders and a pack of men... so [pretty far up. After the 2k mark we hurried over the end of the race and were SO EXCITED to see Gabe finish in fourth place! He ran a very very very fast 10k. It was awesome to see. After he showered off, we checked out of the city, found some lunch, and then chilled in a cafe until our bus left at 4. We got back to Oviedo around 10:30. Overall, a great weekend in Pais Vasco :)

Other than that, not much is new! We leave for Italy next Saturday - EEK. I cannot wait. I hope that this next week flies so that we can just get there :) Your prayers would be appreciated for the traveling process! We're all newbies at this so it's going to be an adventure to say the least.
Have a great weekend

Monday, March 12, 2012


To be entirely honest, I am not sure how I feel about this halfway point in my semester abroad. Part of me feels sad that I only have 2 and half more months here; part of me feels like the time has gone way too fast; but part of me is anxious to get home and see everyone that I miss so very much. I know after spring break, time is going to fly, so I am just trying to live in the moment and enjoy the little things. These things include (but are not limited to):
+ the fact that we are done with 308!
+ finally making Spanish friends in our education class
+ the amazing weather we've been having
+ yummy food here - Rosa is da best!
+ watching my Spanish improve

And so many more. Let's be real here, my life in Spanish is pretty carefree and enjoyable. I always manage to find something to complain to my parents about but I really want to focus on not complaining this second half. So we'll see how that goes!

309 started today. Not much different than 308, except there is a bit more of Latin America and it's more modern. But our schedule doesn't change so that's nice. It's basically just part II of the same class. Classes at la casa de las lenguas are still fairly manageable. I love my art class. So interesting. My expression oral class is good sometimes, but sooo boring other days. But it's only 3 hours a week so that's nice and 4 credits . So I'll take that.

Last weekend we went to Aviles on Saturday and then took a city bus to their beach. So beautiful. We had the best weather and were able to just meander around the city and beach. We ended the day with a delicious glass of sangria :) [man, I'm going to miss sangria when I return to the states] I'll post some pictures of that at the end of this post.

Other than that - not much exciting. We head out for Italy on the 31st! I cannot wait. I know that we are going to have a great time. We'll be traveling to Pisa, Florence, and Rome. Other exciting things we have when we get back include kayaking in Pais Vasco, the Netherlands [for me], and a final group excursion to Barcelona! So April is probably going to go pretty quick with those things all happening. And then May.... ekkk. But let's not think that far, okay? okay.

And a quote to end. Definitely been feeling a new appreciation for my home since being here, but also an appreciation for my new home in Spain.

sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters so much. -s.n

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Almost there!

+ recite poema
+ finish poema analysis (2 pages)
+ finish research paper (5-7 pages)
+ take final exam

WOOHOO!!! Getting there!!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Life is busy sometimes. This week is about to be one of those times.

+ recite poema
+ finish poema analysis (2 pages)
+ finish research paper (5-7 pages)
+ take final exam

So... ya know. Just the usual amount of work. OH well, once that's all done.. which it will have to be by Thursday, we'll be halfway in the semester. Prayers would be appreciated during this busy week!

One thing that I'm going to try to focus on is not complaining so much to my family. Sometimes I feel like they're the only ones I can complain too, but I think they think I'm having a miserable time. (FYI - I'm not!!!) Some days are definitely harder than others.. Sunday's in particular tend to drag along. I am so accustomed to being with family all day on Sunday and here, I'm normally just in my room by myself and church isn't until 6:30 so the day just kind of drags on. But, I am thankful for the church we have here and all the friends I have made. We tend to get together on Sunday afternoon's because we're all a little sick of being cooped up at home ... So that's nice :)

Other than that, not much is new. Life is just flying by over here in Espana :) Have a great week!!


blessed to have these people in my life :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Where has time gone?

oh goodness gracious, I can hardly believe it. It is practically March! Where does this semester seem to be going??

We just got back from an amazing excursion to Andalucia - the south of Spain. While we were there, we went to Toledo, Ubeda, Baeza, Granada, Cordoba, Salamanca, and Leon. Definitely a busy, but relaxing trip at the same time. I'll get to those pictures at the end... they take so long to upload on here!

School has been good - we started our direct enrollment class at the beginning of February. I am in a class with 7 other Calvin girls, The History of Education in Spain. Why am I in this? Because unfortunately, it's the only that worked with my schedule. It's Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9-11. However, it has been getting better! Slowly but surely the students in the class have begun to talk to us and realized that yes, we can actually speak Spanish! They even asked us to hang out sometime so that's great :) It's been fun getting to talk to people our own age in Spanish and hearing about their lives. It's a different kind of Spanish than we use with each other, our professors, and with our host families. It's much more casual, and you can hear the slang and abbreviations that they use. Not this week, but next week, we will be taking our final for 308 already! That marks the halfway point for us. And then we begin 309. It's kind of hectic towards the end of the semester, but I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at right now.

In other news, I booked my flight for the Netherlands the 3rd weekend in April. I cannot wait. After picking the weekend, I emailed my gramma to tell her and she informed me that she will be there too!! I am so excited. What are the chances? So that will be exciting. And she can help me out with the dutch barrier :) I am hoping to see as much as I can while I'm there - which is unfortunately only approximately 48 hours. But, better than nothing.

Spring break planning is going splendidly. We will be spending the week in Italy - Pisa, Florence, and Rome. It actually works out that we'll be in Rome for Good Friday and Easter. So that will be cool! We have our hostels booked for all the cities and are now just trying to figure out fun things to do in all the cities. There is a group of 6 girls and 2 guys coming. Should be super fun :)

Also - my mom finally got approval to come visit so we're trying to figure that all out too. I can't wait to show them how beautiful Spain is and finally be like the parents to them. HA - they'll never know what I'm actually saying in Spanish ;-) It's going to be weird having them dependent on me, but I am so excited to show them all that I have learned this semester.

Speaking of the Spanish, it's actually going well! I have days where I don't want to speak it all the time but other days, I love it. When I speak, I am amazed at what I am saying and the confidence that I have gained in only 2 short months. It makes me eager to see the progress that I can have in the next 3 months. Obviously there are still lots of things I need to work on (boooooo preterit and imperfect) but I know I have time to improve and continue bettering my Spanish.

OKAY - picture time! For those on facebook, there's a lot more that you should check out!

Friday: left Oviedo at 7am and headed to Toledo. We walked around Toledo and saw the cathedral and a few others and then had free time to walk around. We ended up grabbing a coffee and then just wandering. On our way to our hotel, we stopped on the side of the road and got to see Toledo from a distance - gorgeous. Total picturesque Spanish town. For dinner, we did our own thing and then Audrey Lindsey and I had girls night with some Greys Anatomy and junk food :)
Saturday: left Toledo in the morning and made our way towards Granada. On the way we stopped at two small pueblos, Ubeda and Baeza. Both were absolutely gorgeous - small and quaint. We got to Granada around 7 and then met for dinner at 8 and then headed to a Flamenco! So fun :) Those pictures are on my other camera so they're not uploaded yet - but it was a great time. The dancing and atmosphere were very cool.
Sunday: woke up and went to church. After church, we ate lunch in a plaza and then headed to the Alhambra. It was absolutely breathtaking. There are so many cool buildings and palaces that you can wander in and the architecture is unbelievable. We were probably there for around 4 hours, but you could easily be there for much more than that! We had free time after that and just kind of wandered the city. For dinner, we went to an Italian restaurant and had some pasta. YUM!
Monday: We took a tour of the oldest part of the city on Monday morning. We had a tour guide who took us around and explained the significance of the buildings. It lead us to some beautiful views. After that, we saw where los reyes catolicos are buried and then we went to the Cathedral. This cathedral was one of my favorites (it has the cool ceiling!!) and it was a lot brighter than others. It took around 300 years to build so it's a mixture of styles and very cool. We had free time again afterwards and went to an Indian restaurant for dinner - I ate a yummy schwarma!
Tuesday: we woke up early and left for Cordoba! We went to the mezquita there and also a set of gardens. Both were very cool. After Cordoba, we headed to Salamanca for the night. We got there super late and headed straight to bed. Not a very eventful day. Lots of bus time
Wednesday: left around 10 and walked around Salamanca... we saw a couple more churches and the first university in Spain. Very cool! AFterwards, we got back on the bus and stopped in Leon for that cathedral. WOW - it was gorgeous. Definitely on my list of favorites. It has all stain glass windows and is so beautiful. Definitely somewhere I want to take my family!

Well - that's a very brief summary of our trip! Hope it makes sense haha

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Wow, just got back from an action packed weekend in Madrid. It was full of many highs and lows and lots of things to do!

We left Thursday morning and went to right to Segovia to see the aqueduct. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was so cool to see such an engineering feat constructed so long ago. And there isn't any sort of filling between all of the rocks... so basically all of them fit together perfectly. And it also goes down at the perfect angle that water could travel for more than 30 km... CRAZY. It's one thing to learn about these things in class and a whole another thing to experience it in person.

Then after the aqueduct we went to the El Alcanzar which is a castle in Segovia. We had a tour of this as well.. It had so many cool details in the ceilings especially. Also, my high school profa told me that disney modeled their world castle after this. so that's pretty cool!! 

Then from there we hit up Madrid!! We got there kind of late, so ended up eating dinner and then just chilling for the rest of the night. But that was needed because the next day we had lots of stuff!

Friday we woke up and went to the Royal Tapestry factory in Madrid. We weren't allowed to take pictures but it was very cool to see the process of how they make the tapestries that have been used for a very very long time. Then from there, we went to the Real Palacio en Madrid. WOW, it was huge but had the most amazing details. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures of that either. After the Palacio we had free time. We walked around the city and then returned to our hostel for a nap. The Museo Reina Sofia was free from 7-9 so we went there and saw Picasso's famous painting Guernica. It was definitely cool to see some modern art in person and especially this piece of Picasso which he painted in response to a bombing of a small town during the Spanish Civil War. We ate at 9 and then attempted to go out to a club but the cover charge was a bit too pricey for our likings. Because I hadn't felt good earlier in the day, I opted to go back and get a good nights sleep.

Saturday we had free time in the morning and a group of us decided to go shopping. We went to Nike Madrid (COOLEST STORE EVER) and a few others. Lindsey, Martha, and I scored some major deals at the store Lefties! I got 2 dresses for 8 euros :) We ate lunch at the Museo del Jamon (Yum!) and then went to our next planned activity at the Museo del Prado. This museum is ginormous and basically has every significant old painting possible. Profa could only talk to us as a group for a certain amount of time so we hit up the big ones pretty quickly and then were free to wander. After Prado, Lauren, Profa, and I decided to pay to go to the Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza. Best decision ever!! Totally worth the extra cost. This museum is one of the best private collections museums and had tons of art that I am much more interested in. I got to see a few Monet's (EEK! my favorite) and others including Georgia O'Keefe, some more Picasso, and lots of impressionists. I am SO glad we decided to go :) After that we went back and ate dinner and then we again tried to go out but Anna wasn't feeling well, so Lindsey, Anna, and I headed back to the hostel and just hung out.

Sunday morning we left and stopped at the Valley of the Fallen. This is an extremely controversial site in Spain. It was built by the dictator Franco and is also where he is buried. Some Spainards refuse to visit it because it was built by him. It is also a basilica and monastery. Other Spainards regard it purely as a Spiritual site. It was SOO cool. We had the most amazing weather and the view from the basilica is gorgeous. It's also been really interesting learning about the whole Spanish civil war and Franco's rule. Prior to coming here, I had never learned about it. I was shocked to hear how long he ruled for (around 40 years!) and the things that occurred during his reign. After that, we went and visited a Monastery ...... this was horrible. Our tour guide was kind of crazy and we were all ready to be back home at this point. But nevertheless, life goes on. And after that tour, we were on our way!

And that about sums up excursion number 1 for our Calvin group! On another note, my mom found out yesterday that she got approved for her leave of absence so my parents can COME TO SPAIN!! EEK. I am so excited :-) I was so nervous GRPS would be all silly and not allow her to come. But now that it's approved, we can start planning! This definitely gives me something amazing to look forward to at the end. I can't wait to show them around this beautiful country!