Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thanks for coming along for the journey...

Feliz Navidad. I felt that I needed some sort of closure with this blog. My last post was rather rushed and I feel as though I need to properly thank all of you for coming along on this journey with me. I cannot believe that we were able to experience something so wonderful and enriching and that I got to share it with all of you through this blog.

The day before the day we left our adopted city was a difficult one. I had to return books to the library- a good twenty minute walk from our apartment and a good, long walk across the city. Afterward I went to pick Jaime up from school and it was sad to realize that I would never get to spend time with him like that again. The good news is that I've already received several Facebook messages from Jaime- good to know we can so easily keep in touch!

Our journey back to Boston from Spain was generally uneventful... except for when Iberia made us each leave a carry-on bag in Granada, promised us that we would find them in Madrid, and then completely neglected to send it to Madrid... We still have not received our luggage. I think that it is related to all of the snow storms shutting down many of the airports worldwide, but I still want it back! Grrrrr...

How has the conversion back to United States living gone for me? I have to admit that I miss a few things about Granada, but that I am so glad to be back at home with my family. Christmas with my family was so wonderful and it was so great to be with the whole family and to see some of my extended family too! It has been normal adjusting to that part of life once again and just like falling right back into something so familiar and... well, home! What has been interesting to re-adjust to is the fact that everyone speaks English here. Whenever I go to pay, ask questions, or order at restaurants or stores I find that before I go up to speak with the workers I think about what I am going to say and how it would translate to Spanish, but then I realize... these people speak English! Peculiar. Also, it's been sad not to have Pam around all of the time and will be glad to see her around Stonehill once again.

Once again, I would like to thank all of you for your support, love, and reading eyes during this amazing experience. I hope that all of you had a blessed and holy Christmas and that you have a happy and healthy New Year.

PS I'm going to miss blogging.

PPS Here is my last: I love you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Post from Spain?

Bittersweet. But not the good, chocolate kind. I am talking about the corny and cliché feeling that one hears about from films and books that a character experiences when they are beginning something new. That old feeling of happiness for what is to come, but sadness at what you are leaving behind. It is a little silly and juvenile, but that is exactly how I am feeling right now. I cannot wait to go back to the United States, I miss my friends, my family, my school, my native language, my church- but tonight as I choked back tears while looking into Ana’s eyes and said goodbye for what might be forever- I was sad. Today as I wandered by myself through the streets of Granada I felt as though I was in a daze. There are so many emotions that I am feeling right now that I could not possibly explain them all to you. Granada has become home, but at the same time I know that I am returning home, que extraño.

Hello, by the way! I think that this will be my last blog post from Spain (definitely from Granada), but who knows what will happen while we have our super long layover in Madrid. Seville was amazing last weekend. We saw the castle where they filmed one of the new Star Wars films- so amazing- and the famous Giralda tower of the cathedral. We also learned about this cool saying that they have in Seville which is as numerous in Seville as the Granadas (pomegranates) are here in Granada, “NO8DO.” Wikipedia explains it a lot better than I think that I could:
-The motto is a rebus, combining the Spanish syllables (NO and DO) and a drawing in between–the figure "8". The figure represents a skein of yarn, or in Spanish, a "madeja". When read aloud, "No madeja do" sounds like "No me ha dejado", which means "It [Seville] has not abandoned me."-

It was a beautiful city and I would love to go back to visit it again. Also, there is a Starbucks on every corner. Weird.

This past week, as you saw from my last post, was finals week. I feel like I did ok on all of my exams as I generally new everything that I needed to on the tests. I’m sorry that I cannot really update you anymore, but I’m so tired and I have to get up in three hours. Ew.

PS I will see you all soon, I’m so excited!
PPS I love you!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Study Break

Hello All! I'm sorry, I do not have time to update you right now, but I decided that since I did not give you any Valencia pictures, I would post some now- ¡disfrutad! (enjoy!)

Christmas in Valencia

The City of Arts and Sciences

The gorgeous garden in the middle of the city

I'm slightly obsessed with taking artsy, fartsy self-portraits

One of the coolest trees I have ever seen... and I've seen a lot of trees

Being silly


Would you believe this photo was taken in December?

I will do my best to update you again (not with just pictures too!) very soon. Until then, I love you!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Four different types of chocolate.

Buenos dias! Que preciosa es Valencia! Valencia was a really beautiful city with a pleasant mixture of old and new, especially with the architecture. I was most pleased to discover that directly next door to our hostel, the Red Nest, was a gourmet cupcake store- a rather rare thing for Spain. The first day there, I wandered around the city center and hit all of the tourist and historical places including a lovely, giant garden/park equipped with a giant jungle gym Gulliver for the kids (or Lilliputans?) to run all over. By around three in the afternoon, my friends arrived by train from Barcelona. Meeting them at the bus station already fairly familiar with the city, I felt like they were visiting me there and I was their tour guide. After they got settled into the hostel, I showed them the cupcake store (!) and some of the other sites that I had found during the day. The night ended with admiration and appreciation of the city's vibrant Christmas lights and decorations.

The next day we woke up early and set out touring. Our first stop was the Port of Valencia where the last America's Cup race took place. There's not a lot to see of the port anymore, but it was still cool to be at the site where this epic race took place (which the US won). Next we walked to La Ciudad del Arte y las Ciencias (the city of art and science), a giant museum and auditorium complex that is the epitome of modern architecture complete with a building built to look like the giant skeleton of a whale. After we explored the grounds, we visited the nearby Museo de los Falleros where they have pieces of the winning fallas from the beginning of the twentieth century to today. Las fallas are part of a famous Valencian festival in which the people create these giant scenes, usually politically satirical, out of mostly paper. The winning fallas are at least partially salvaged but the rest are given to the flames in a spectacular display that gives the appearance that the entire city of Valencia is on fire. Anais, the host sister of my friends John and Katie, tried to explain some of the pop culture, political, and societal references to me- but some things just do not translate! After the museum we made our way back towards the hostel, but first we stopped at El Mercado de Colon which strongly reminded me of Fanueil Hall. Next we walked to the Valor, a famous Spanish chocolate company, store and restaurant for a snack of chocolate con churros. Oh. My! Thanks to their history of South American imperialism, the Spanish have developed a taste for hot chocolate- literally a cup of melted chocolate that one dips doughnuts or churros into. However, this was no ordinary order of chocolate- this was four different types of chocolate: milk, white, dark, and semi sweet. Dinner that night was a buffet of all Spanish cuisine including the famed Valencian Paella.

Instead of taking a bus or a train back to Granada Liz, Jayson, Katie, John, and I rented a car- surprisingly a lot cheaper than the other options. It was incredible driving across the magnificent landscape and so much fun to be with my friends for so long. For fun, we stopped in Alicante and enjoyed the seventy degree weather by visiting and having lunch at the beach- in early December! All in all, although I am still thoroughly disappointed that I could not visit Italy, I ultimately didn't let the Huelga win!

Yesterday, Ana invited us all to a new exposition at her art gallery. Upon hearing that that meant free wine and food, each our GRIIS friends made appearances. After we went out for tasty tapas, but we did not stay out late for too long as we had to wake up early this morning to catch the bus that I am riding right now to Sevilla. I promise to tell you more about it later!

PS May your chocolate always be rich and your churros soft yet crunchy.

PPS I love you!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Huelga: 1. Lacie: Most Beautiful City in Europe

Buenos Dias! With a freshly washed face; a belly full of warm, herbal tea; and a positive and optimistic outlook for my new plans I impatiently wait for my bus to leave the Granada bus station. The destination of this bus? Valencia, a city that apparently was named the most beautiful city in Europe! Oh, our bus just left!!! Wahoo- only nine hours left to go! Why am I travelling to this far away city besides its famed beauty? My friends will arrive there from Barcelona right around the same time that I do and they have rented a car that we will use to return to Granada. I feel so blessed to have people here to help take care of me and make me feel better when I really need it. Thanks also to all of you who sent me prayers or good thoughts when I needed them. I got news from Pam last night that she and Mark made it ok to Florence and had plans to meet up with friends studying there.

PS May you have a horrible travel experience so that you really appreciate those experiences that go smoothly, but when you do get into trouble- may you have a friend like Teresa to save you!

PPS I love you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Teresa was right. When I made it to the airport, there were huge lines of irritated people waiting to hear what the airlines were going to do for them and those horrible electric signs telling me what I did not want to read: CANCELLED. After I realised that I could not get a flight to go Italy until Monday (and even then I would have to go to Rome), I broke into tears- quite embarrassing when you're in a full airport. Anyway, I was able to get my money back on the flight, but as my friend bought the return flight- I think that I lost out on my money for that one. Then, trying to get back to the train station was its own adventure, but I eventually got here and am now waiting for the AMAZING Teresa to come pick me up to bring me to Granada (there are no more trains or buses to Granada today and she insisted). Needless to say, I'm exhuasted, depressed, and my face is slightly salted from tears (I cry very easily). Here's hoping that you had a better day!

PS Please do not worry about me in any way whatsoever- I'm fine, just emotionally drained!

PPS I love you!

I swear, if one more huelga tries to mess with my travel plans!

Heyoh! Ok, honestly I've just about had enough with these stupid Huelgas! I used to be really impressed with the cheap transportation services of Europe, but this honeymoon fascination has worn off. I am supposed to fly out today from Seville (which I will be taking a train from Granada to get to), but while walking to the train station, I got a call from Teresa saying that there was- yet again!- another huelga. I just checked the Ryanair website and as of now the flight from Seville to Pisa is still on, but Teresa claims that the news is saying that all RyanAir flights are cancelled. Let's hope that she's wrong. I'm not keeping my hopes up or letting them get me down. I'm going to Sevilla, more updates to come from there!

PS Somebody say a prayer for me!/make sure my mother doesn't have heart palpitations.

PPS I love you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ruminations as the End Approaches

¡Hola guapos! I feel as though my entire time here has been one long and continued conversation about language, occasionally directly concerning the topic but most of the time only carefully sprinkled throughout the discourse. Of course, I have learned Spanish in my Grammar and Written and Spoken Spanish classes, but I learned so much just by eavesdropping on other people conversations and by actually speaking with people myself. I would be willing to bet that I acquired at least a word each day for my list of Spanish vocabulary words by only bothering my family every few minutes with questions like, “How do you say this is Spanish?” Their ever patient answers do these numerous intrigues were really such a blessing and I am not sure how I may even begin to thank them. This dialogue, however, was not concerning the theme, “How do you say…?” but also included countless conversations about origins of words, verb conjugations, the differences between Spanish Spanish and Latin American Spanish, explanations of seemingly strange and metaphorical phrases, and the irregular explanations of English words to those learning my native language.

So, how far has this brought me? Where do I stand with my proficiency level of Spanish? Much to my disappointment, I am nowhere near the status of bilingual, but I have arrived at the point that if the individual with whom I am speaking speaks slowly enough- I can understand and respond. I speak the language better with people my own age, or when I am explaining topics that I am very passionate about. Also, I am pleased to say that I can almost understand everything when I watch television in Spanish- something that I was initially only slightly skilled at.

At this point, I only have about sixteen days left here in Granada. Many of you warned me, “We’re glad that you are enjoying yourself, but don’t like it too much that you don’t want to come home!” Where do I stand with this? I am ready to come home. My time here has been a dream, truly amazing, but I miss my parents, my brother, my aunties and their families, my neighbors, my friends, my school, and my life as I knew it before. Enriched and ready to share and use what I have learned here, I am excited to come back and force my parents to look at all of my photographs and to sit through all of my explanations of the adventures of this little lamb. However, at the same time I cannot help looking around at this place that I have called, “home” for so long and wonder how one can just leave after such a period of time that has flown right by, but has also felt so long. Also, it seems that I have been making more and more friends recently who I may never receive the chance to get to know better before I have to jet off to my own country. Like most amazing experiences like this where one is brought out of one’s usual environment, I have adapted to this world and it will be quite strange to go back to life in Massachusetts. I suppose the lucky thing is that I do not have to abandon all that I have encountered here; it is now a part of me and I will always hold Granada in my heart.

PS Pam left for Brussels today with Mark... I miss her!

PPS May your conversations about language be sprinkled with interesting themes, may your Spanish host family be patient, and may you always look forward to what is to come but fondly remember what has passed. After all, you're the only one who can.

PPPS I love you... so much!