Friday, September 24, 2010

ya un mes!!

Can't believe it's been a month already! Time is flying..if the rest of my life goes as fast as this semester I need to appreciated every moment. Just woke up from a 4 hours siesta..lots to blog about..

Trip to Valencia:
Over the weekend 6 of us girls went on a little trip to Valencia for two nights. It was the first trip we planned together including transportation and the hostel, and it worked out perfectly. The 4 hour bus ride was tolerable, even with my dead ipod, as the rolling hills and wind turbine farms were a great distraction. The first night we had a late dinner and ran through a downpour to the first club we saw. I was exhausted and still a little sick so I left early to rest at the hostel in preparation for the weekend. Saturday we all got up and ready by 10 for a day of sun, shopping, and ..shrimp. Since Valencia is on the Mediterranean we were all thrilled when we woke up to sun, and immediately headed to the beach. It was beautiful and relaxing, and even though we all got a pit red without sun tan lotion it was nice to soak up some rays and dunk our toes in the Mediterranean. We had lunch at a restaurant on the beach and all shared 2 different paellas, Valencia's most famous dish. No one went near the enormous shrimp but it was pretty good (not as good as Luisa's!) and headed back toward the hostel to walk around Valencia and shop.
The city was beautiful--modern and beachy with palm trees but just as historic and antiguo as Alcalá and other old and traditional Spanish cities. We saw the Plaza de los Toros when they hold bull fights and wandered through the city center's beautiful buildings and shops. We returned to the hostel, got ready for a night out, and had an amazing italian dinner at a restaurant nearby...we always tend to crave italian whenever we have the chance to eat out and pick our own foods. Saturday night we decided to go on the hostel's pub crawl (a wasted 15 euro), and we ended up in the middle of a British "stag" party (bachelor party) with a bunch of crazy and hilarious 30 year olds. After a really fun night we collapsed in bed at the hostel, reconvening bright and early once again at 10 am to check out and head to La Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences). There we explored the largest aquarium in Europe, full of tiburones (sharks, our favorite), whales, seals, and so much more. Before heading to the bus statio we grabbed pizza for lunch (soo delicious) and made friends with the owner, who gave us all sombreros. We were quite the American spectacle running to the bus with our matching hats and big backpacks, but we made it to the station with time to spare. It was an awesome weekend and a very successful first independent trip.

Last full week of classes at Alcalingua, and the start of hell...
It's crazy that September is almost over! Our 2 courses at Alcalingua (grammar/conversation) and ending, and we have our finals at the beginning of next week. I'll be sad to say goodbye to these teachers, they're both super nice and fun and i've really enjoyed class with them. For the rest of our time here, along with Maria Jose's class we will have 4 new morning classes at Alcalingua (writing, culture, grammar II and conversation II) as well at a Literature course at the University..which means we will be in class from 9-5 with only a 30 minute break 3 days a week and 9-2:45 the other days..kill me now. After the first two Lit courses the group was in an uproar..the level is WAY too high for us and we can barely understand the teacher during the lesson. Our classmates include fluent european students, native spanish students and even spanish old men...aka people way out of our level. Many of the Loyola students are dropping the course, but as a major I feel like I should stick with it. Maria Jose assured us it won't be as bad as we think and the teacher will cut us slack, but I'm really not looking forward to the busy schedule ahead of me. Instead i'm looking forward to this weekend, and even more so next weekend's trip to OKTOBERFEST in Munich, Germany. It is the 200th anniversary of the festival, and it's sure to be an experience to remember.

Pictures to be added soon!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First Full Week of Classes

We just finished our first full week of classes, and now I can see how these four months are going to FLY by...i can't believe how fast this week went. Classes here are much different than at Loyola, so it's a little hard to get used to (and not just because they're all taught in spanish). For September I have a Gramática course from 9-11 am and a Conversación course from 11:30-1:30, as well as twice a week a history/culture course with Maria José. Having 2 hour long classes is definitely an's super hard to focus (especially after a night out) and it gets really tedious sitting in the same room for so long. However the homework is minimal and the teachers are fabulous...Sonia and Alicia are sassy spanish pistols who are loud, enthusiastic, and all around really fun teachers. The atmosphere in class is super laid back, I don't think i've ever laughed so hard in any class as Loyola. With me in the B2 upper intermediate level are several other Loyola students, 3 boys from China, and 2 girls from Korea. The grammar review we've been working on is a little repetitive but definitely needed...I don't think i'll ever full mater the complex rules and exceptions to the spanish language. But for the most part the spanish lessons have been pretty easy to follow, and I really think all this contact time will help me improve my listening and speaking skills. Maria José's class will definitely be the most challenging but probably the most mentally stimulating. We will learn about the history and tradition of Spain as well as contemporary culture in literature, movies, etc. It'll be interesting to be experiencing first hand what I'm learning in class, and I really hope to take full advantage of being so close to the museums and galleries of Madrid.

Even with class this week has been just as fun as the others! Tuesday we went to La Media Pinta and Thursday we finally made it to CanCan (which was awesomeeee!). Going out on school nights is challenging since nights out go sooo much later here, but it's definitely worth the hangover/mental exhaustion the next there's always siesta to recuperate :) Last night was fun at La Media Pinta and Casco Antiguo, and there is talk of a pub crawl tonight, so the weekend is shaping up to be a fun one. Madrid tomorrow for El Rasco (flea market) to end another awesome week!

Monday, September 6, 2010


It was a successful second week in Alcalá, with visits to La Media Pinta and many stores on Calle Mayor. Friday was our first night out in Madrid! It was also our first day of classes, so a little on those first. After the placement test I scored into the Intermediate level at Alcalingua, and my two morning classes (Gramática y Conversación) are witha few other Loyola students as well as some from China and Korea. There are also a LOT of European Students studying business, so I definitely am looking forward to socializing with all of them (I met 3 French students at La Media Pinta during the week!) Anyway, our teachers are extremely nice and passionate, and relatively easy to understand. The hardest part is going to be the long days...I'm not used to sitting from 9-5 with only short breaks! Tomorrow we start Maria José's class, hope I can manage it all!!

Now to the fun was a Madrid-filled weekend! Friday night after our post-class siestas we ventured to Madrid to meet some visiting Loyola students (who came with their international friends) and experience infamous Madrid club life. The train was extremely easy to navigate, and we drank juice boxes of 1 euro sangria on the 30 minute ride. We arrived and sat down to a nice dinner near the train station where we drank wine and chatted over some delicious italian food (how I miss pasta!). After dinner we headed to a small bar nearby for some more drinking and socializing, before our final destination: El Kapital. Kapital is a 7 floor discoteca, a club like I had never experienced before. The first floor was house music with fog and flashing lights, and the top floor was a open air bar/lounge. I met a bunch of other Spanish students in Madrid...speaking with them has been really great practice. Needless to say we had an awesome time! The trains start running again at around 6AM, so I wasn't home until 7:30AM. I look forward to many more Madrid adventures this semester!!

After recouperating all day and night Saturday, we returned to Madrid for a day trip with Maria José on Sunday. At 11 AM we met by La Biblioteca Nacional and set off on foot to explore a bit of the city. Madrid was STUNNING, i'm so excited to be so close to such an amazing and historic city. We saw La Puerta de Alcalá, the gate which leads directly back to our new home, as well as El Catedral and El Palacio Nacional (Maria José told us about the underground tunnel that connects to two so the royal family can attend mass without going into the streets!) The 20 of us took one of those double decker sight seeing buses which I loved, and ended up in Plaza Mayor for lunch. With Loyola's money in hand, 8 of us found a small Italian restaurant for lunch, and then finished our day with some shopping. I have yet to make any big purchases which in Spain in an effort to maintain my bank account, but I'm itching to purchase some European clothes to wear out and bring home!!

It was a tiring day, my feet were sore and callused when I returned to my apartment, and I was happy to collapse into bed for an early night. This week is a full week of classes, but of course we will make time for La Media Pinta and perhaps even a local discoteca called CanCan. Looking forward to meeting more international students and the travelling that lies ahead this semester!