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!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wait... 2 weeks?!

I can't believe that tomorrow, it will have been 2 weeks since I began my journey to and in Spain. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time goes by.

Classes are okay right now. We still haven't received homework in our 2 classes through la casa de las lenguas. And I know I shouldn't be complaining, and trust me, I'm not. It is just SOO different from Calvin classes. I can't remember the last time I wrote none after a subject in my planner. Let's just say, Fall Semester at Calvin might kick my booty haha. But nevertheless, the homework in 308 seems to make up for the lack of homework in other classes. Although I don't mind it as much as I initially did, it still is a lot to learn. I mean, history and literature... in Spanish? Yikes. I consistently read it with my dictionary next to me and wordreference.com open on my computer. It takes a while, but I've been feeling more and more confident when going into class.

Other than classes, life has been good. There is a group here that the University set up that does events every once in awhile with all the international students. These have been really fun. It gives us the opportunity to get out of our house and experience the college life in Oviedo. This has included a tapas night, salsa dancing, a movie, and a few other activities.

We had one of these events last Tuesday. at a local restaurant. They said that for every drink we bought, we would get a mini pizza.Sounds like the perfect Dutch, college deal right? So the majority of us skipped dinner with our families, assuming these pizzas would fill us up thoroughly. Well I'm sure it's no surprise to you to find out what happened next. These so called mini pizzas much more resembled.... bagel bits. Yes - the old Friday night standard of bite size pizzas. Perfect... if you eat at least 5. Well, the best part. YOU STILL ONLY GOT ONE. So we ended up going to good ol' McDonalds because it was one of the only cheap places open late at night and I got a hamburger and fries - never tasted so good in my entire life. Needless to say, we had a good laugh there about the so called "mini pizzas."

The food at my house has been getting WAY better. I had paella here on Monday and it was delicious! She also has made a couple potato soups for lunch the past couple days that have been great. I much prefer her homemade cooking like that than to the burrito she heated for me tonight.... She showed me today how she cooks her soups. She honestly just throws a bunch of things in the bowl (example... lentils, full peppers, carrots, a chicken breast... etc.) then adds like a little sauce, olive oil, and water and lets it cook for a few hours tonight and then reheats it in the morning. It's delicious. And then, whenever we're ready to eat, you can just go to the kitchen and serve yourself. It works perfectly for those days where I'm hungrier earlier... silly USA schedule. I'm working on it though

Tonight we have an event at the church that I hope will be fun. It'll give us the opportunity to meet more of the congregation and have the chance to talk to them. Then tomorrow, we're going to Leon which is another relatively close city. Leon is famous for it's cathedral and we learned about it in both my art history class and our 308 class. So I'm really excited to see it (and the city in general!)

Other than that, not much planned for the weekend - we have our first 308 test on Wednesday and a proposal due on Monday for our written work throughout the semester so there will probably be alot of homework to do. Oh well - the fact that we have a 3 day week and then MADRID next weekend totally makes up for it :) I can't wait!!

Here are some random pictures :)

the kitchen!

the fish my mama asked me if I wanted the other day... I politely declined haha

She bought me this for breakfast! Kind of like nutella - so good

my lentil soup from lunch today. AMAZING

I'm sure there will be another post this weekend with more pictures!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adjustment Period

That's definitely what this past week has been. A period full of adjustments. Profa keeps saying we need to be flexible - and I have seen countless examples of this throughout the week. It's an adjustment eating at 2 and 9 instead of 12 and 6. It's an adjustment not having class until noon most days. It's an adjustment feeling lonely in my room but not knowing what else to do. It's all an adjustment. It's already improved immensely though and I am eager to see the changes that I experience and witness.

These past few days have been pretty busy - I normally go to school around 9 or 10 and do my homework prior to having class. Right now, the only day I have class before noon is Monday. So that's nice. It's a good way to get out of my house but still do something productive. Because we eat dinner so late, I don't really enjoy doing homework afterwards. Seems weird to me for some reason. And because we have had so many activities this week, I haven't really had time to figure out what to do between the time class gets done and dinner. So that'll be my adventure for next week.

This weekend, we had 2 pretty big events. Friday, we climbed up the large mountain in Oviedo in order to see the Jesucristo statue. It took us 4 hours to go up and down, with little breaks here and there, mostly to see 2 other extremely old structures on the mountain: a church, and an old house for royalty in Oviedo. Everything was gorgeous. There was a bit of fog so we couldn't see as much as we may have liked, but it was still quite a bit.

Then today, we traveled to the nearby city of Gijon. It's very similar to Oviedo except there is a beach too! This is where my mama is from so she was very excited that I was going to visit. Although we were with the Calvin group, it wasn't really one of our planned outings. For this reason, we could kind of do what we wanted. It was nice to have a little more freedom... we could wander where we wanted and return on the bus whenever we felt like it. We visited a higher view of the city, the beach, the church, a market, and then returned! But it was definitely exhausting. As soon as I got home, I took a 2 hour nap. I'm a little nervous about what the sleeping situation will be like tonight haha might pop a tylenol pm to help me out.

Tomorrow we are going to the market in the morning with some of the girls and then we have church for the first time at 6:30 - I'm pretty excited to see what church is like here. I hope I like it. I really love my church at home and definitely miss it. 

Well, here are some pics of our trip to Gijon! Hope you enjoy as much as I did. I know it's hard to grasp with just pictures but hopefully you can sense the beauty that I witnessed today. God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

Thanks for all your support! I appreciate all of it :)