Saturday, February 28, 2009

Communication, miscommunication, dancing, museums and pubs. Oy vay!

It's been a fun few days since I last wrote! I'd better be careful, or I'll get seriously behind... and not only is this blog for my luuurvely family and friends, it's for me to remember my time in Spain! So here we go chicos.

Reens and I didn't end up getting together Wednesday because she and Margarida went to Toledo - fun! I wish I could have gone but I had my history class. I don't like missing class and freakishly go to most of my classes back in Davis.. but here, skipping is hardly an option. They take roll ;) But anyway, it was a history class. You all know how much I love history. And I did get a few things done that I needed to - I successfully communicated with a really nice guy in the computer lab, and got my password changed so that I can actually access my student account (i.e. email). It's funny, sometimes I just go about my daily life here, talking to people and having no problem, becoming more fluent. But sometimes the language barrier kicks my arse. Thursday I was in my Advanced Language class, and we were reviewing commands. For those of you who are students of Spanish, you know that they can be a bit tricky to learn. For me, I understand commands but have trouble forming them. Which verb ending is it again... ahh! My profesora got a tidbit frustrated with me. I got frustrated with myself. Can we just skip the commands?? lol.

Thursday was, overall, a good day though. After I came home with my head spinning from my language class, I went on my first run in Spain :) I looked up a route around El Bercial (my neighborhood, kind of like Redhawk in size) and took off. I got kind of lost but knew that if I kept making right turns I would end up back home... which I did, somehow. Just running along, wondering where I was, and suddenly I am on Calle Irlanda. What good luck! So then, after showering and makeup-ing and such, I headed out to Rena's piso! Margarida is moving back to Portugal this weekend, so they have been living it up the past week. Going out, traveling. In fact on Thursday they spent the day in Aranguez (definitely misspelled that) before we all went out. The night was really fun! We left around 12:15 to go to a club called Cats, which was mostly university students (a relief after some of the other clubs, which are frequented by leering middle-aged men). We had to pay to get in, but then we got free drinks with our tickets! Nothing like a rum and coke to get everyone dancing ;). We stayed for a few hours, dancing to both American pop and European pop & house music. I slept for 4 hours at Rena's piso and then came Friday...

I took the metro to the "Museo Arqueologio Nacional" (National Archaeology Musuem) and met up with my class (got there early this time!) and we went in to look at some famous sculptures from the period we are studying (XI-XIV), then took a walk down Calle de Prado to study the architecture that Carlos III had commissioned during the modernization of Madrid (i.e. statues, fountains, wide parisian avenues). We looked at the Puerta de Alcala, the columns outside of the Prado, etc. It was a nice walk, and the crisp air woke me up! After coming back to the house, I rested for a while and took a nice nap (viva la siesta). Then later, I came downstairs to discover that Luis, Concha, and Diana were taking Blackie to the animal hospital - poor doggie. She ate a huge chunk of lard and had been throwing up all day (she's fine, she got a shot last night and now cannot eat until Sunday).

Later that night, after the vets, I took the metro into Madrid and met Diana at Sol, since she, Sandra, Matteo (their Italian friend who stayed here a couple of days), an Irish girl and her American boyfriend were all at a pub nearby. It was a good time all around, we drank pints of beer and chatted in English (it feels like cheating!), since the American guy hardly knew any Spanish. Apparently he had met this Irish girl when shewe visited Kansas, and now they were getting serious and he had moved to Madrid (literally, the day before) to be with her. Not fair, I want Sean to be here ;)

After coming home, we all crashed. I seriously did not wake up until 1:30 - we will see what tonight brings!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tapas, por FIN! : )

I finally went out for tapas last night! It was grand. Sandra and I left the house at 7 to meet up with Javier at the metro, then we met Diana and her boyfriend Steven (here for the weekend from Ireland- super nice & funny guy) at Alonso Martinez. Eventually 3 more of their friends were there - "Danny Boy," a really sweet girl from Ohio who has been living here 3 years, and another whose name I didn't catch... my my, I do suck at names.

We all crowded around a table in a pub and ordered tapas - I had a beer with mine :) I wasn't sure what to order for tapas so I left it up to the rest of them. The fantastic results: potato nuggets (one plate with cheese sauce, one plate with spicy red sauce), jamon y queso croquettes, battered & fried sardines, chorizo, tortilla de patatas, and of course baguette bread. It was all delicious! Ok, except maybe the sardines. Diana and Steven had been at the zoo here in Madrid all afternoon, so they were telling us all about it. The chica from Ohio was telling me about her job teaching English here, and about her Turkish boyfriend who dances Flamenco. All of us were speaking a mix of Spanish and English because Steven hardly speaks any Spanish. It's kind of funny though, because sometimes I understand Diana & Sandra speaking Spanish more than Steven speaking English because of his Irish accent. But usually I can understand him! And it's nice being able to speak a little English in the house. It sort of feels like cheating, but hey everyone needs a break now and again before they go completely cross-eyed.

Today I finally went to the famous sandwich shop in Getafe. During my 3 hour break after Politica, I was hanging out with two people from my class, Suria & Andres, and they insisted on going after they heard I had never been. It was so good! No wonder the Mohinos always rave about it. The women working there were super "majas" as they say here (extremely nice), and seemed to know everyone who came in. The sandwich was huge and to die for, and CHEAP! (for 2,50 I got the hugest sandwich known to man and a Coke Light). The break was also really great because I got to practice my Spanish with Suria, who I can understand very well because she is from Mexico originally (it's the accent I am most used to, though I am slowly understanding castellano more and more). After our bocadillos (sandwiches), we headed into an "alimentacion" (chips, cookies, crap) and got ice creams :) And now I am finally home, after a long day away at school. When I got home, Concha made me a tea and we talked about 23-F and other political matters in Spain. She is so sweet - she says it is good for me to practice speaking, and she likes to know what I am learning. It's fun, and she is patient while I figure out how to explain things. And you know.... I am getting a lot better at this Spanish business! I think I may have crossed another threshold of the language barrier :)

Away laughing on a fast camel, will write again after my Wednesday adventure with Rena <3

Friday, February 20, 2009

Missed my train...

This morning I went running off to Madrid to meet my art class at the Palacio Real, but unfortunately it took me a bit longer than I thought. 15 minutes longer! I had planned to be 10 minutes early, but I was 5 minutes late and couldn't find my group anywhere. My profesora had warned us that they would be going in at EXACTLY 10am and that punctuality was key. Luckily for me, everyone working at the palace was really helpful. They even seemed to understand my Spanish! Victory! Long story short, I never did find my class. There is a touring route that goes through the palace in a large circle, and I went through and saw everything twice :) I continually asked the guards, who are forever rotating, if they had seen a Spanish profesora with a group of students speaking horrible Spanish. My efforts were futile, but honestly? I didn't care much. The palace was breathtaking!

We were supposed to be paying special attention to the frescoes, architecture, and blend of styles. The frescoes were beautiful! On nearly every ceiling in the rooms we toured (well, that I toured. Though I did tag along with a few tour groups I encountered, just to pick up extra tidbits of info), there were beautiful images of heaven, Spanish royalty, angels and an explosion of colors, most notably blue. The baroque style was particularly captivating. Baroque, to put it simply, is a rejection of the classical style that reflected ancient Rome and Greece. The classical style is defined by order, clean lines, harmony, equilibrium. Baroque is dynamic, an explosion of detail. However, this style has little to do with color. It is somewhat of an assault on the senses, because it is very demanding on one's eyes. This is because the decorations in these rooms convey MOVEMENT, in two ways. The first is the use, or rather manipulation, of light; much of the detail is "chunky," with a lot of dimension, and also gilded. The use of gold, and the angle of the wall decorations, reflect light in a way that catches your eye and makes it follow the design. The second avenue of movement is the detail, large and small. A lot of this has to do with nature; a consistency in each room was the use of vines and other plants snaking around the walls, beckoning the eyes to follow every curve. This is further accentuated by repetition: the designs on the walls themselves, as units, were not very big, however they were repeated over and over across the walls and ceilings. We might say the style was very "busy" because truly, there is a lot going on in the decoration. Overall, it was an overwhelming style, especially topped off with the intricate frescoes on the ceiling of these massively decorated rooms. But oh, how beautiful everything was. The palace conveys such a rich grandeur, such a love for style and art and an appreciation for fine architecture. It is absolutely stunning. But I could never live there - I'd go cross eyed O_o .. two fantastic hours was enough!

After walking through twice and checking out the bookstore, I headed out and found a little cafeteria where I spent my last (seriously) 1.50e on a Cafe con Leche. Then lo and behold, who should walk in but 3 girls from my class! They were super nice, and told me that in truth I hadn't missed much, since they basically just walked through and our profesora hadn't said too much. Apparently she WAS wondering where I was, though. Seems I am the only one who missed the train... but, who cares. As a history major and museum rat, I was in my element and clearly appreciated & learned from the experience. So ho hum pig's bum!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

El Estilo Barroco

Rena and I met up in Madrid again yesterday, this time at Principe Pio. First we went to eat one of the loveliest lunches in all of Spain: Ham & Cheese on a baguette and Cafe con Leche - YUM :) Then we took another fantastic walk around the city. We ended up around the Palacio Real again, but this time discovered something new, a beautiful park below the palace. Last week we stumbled upon a small garden to the right of the palace, but this park we found is actually behing & below it. It was huge, and very beautiful with tons of winding walking paths, statues, and the hugest trees you can imagine. Very peaceful, a great place to rest, walk, talk, whatever. Then we got ice cream, walked around (ended up near La Latina, then wound back near Sol), shopped. Reens and I always have a great time!

Today, my art teacher informed us that tomorrow we are to meet at the Palacio Real for class!! Fantastic news. We will be studying the frescoes and architecture inside the palace, and are supposed to focus on the baroque content. SWEET. When I came home, Diana offered me an extra sandwich she had bought, which was delicious - the Mohinos are so kind! Another example, this morning: I was running out the door to class when Concha handed me two chocolate cookies in a bag, and told me to have a wonderful day. They are, as we say in "Ingles" (English), ze bees knees.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Andalusia, etc.

Last weekend, all of us from California went on a road trip through Andalucia. On Friday we all hopped on a huge tour bus and drove to Cordoba; Rocio came with us, and we also had a tour guide (Pablo) with us for the entire weekend, which was nice because he pointed out things on the bus that we could see through the windows. Anyway, Cordoba! What a beautiful city. Whitewashed houses, narrow streets, olive trees and mix of 3 cultures - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. Our hotel was on the same street as the Catedral Cordoba/Mezquita (it used to be a mosque, but then was taken over by a Christian king), we just opened up our hotel window and there it was! They hired another tour guide for us there, a really sweet guy dressed up in his best suit to show us the Mezquita and the rest of the city, including the Jewish quarter. I roomed the whole weekend with a really nice girl I sat with on the bus, Vianey, and after the tour her and I found a little cafe to eat at - I had a Flamenquin (fish fillet with ham in the middle, all battered and cooked, YUMMM) and some vino tinto :) Later that night we all went to a Flamenco show around the corner, it was spectacular! The dancing is incredibly powerful and sensual, beautiful to watch. A lot of people went out afterwards, but we went back to sleep lol.

Saturday we got up early, had a hotel breakfast (meats, cheeses, croissant, yogurt, coffee) then headed back on our tour bus. Saw more countryside! Tons of low, rolling hills and beautiful scenery. Then it changed to olive trees, literally thousands of them as far as you could see. This region is famous for olive oil (aceite). As we approached Granada, we could see the magnificent Sierra Nevadas of Spain. Pablo told us that it is Europe's southernmost mountain range that receives snow - and it was covered, about 9 feet or so. Coming into the city was really cool - Granada is such a unique place. It is a big city with a small-city feel, full of beautiful architecture, wide plazas, little pastry shops, etc. We couldn't see the Alhambra from where our hotel was, but we did go up there to tour for a few hours... Wow! The islamic architecture and art was so fantastic, so intricate. Of course, the Alhambra was later taken over by the Christians and there is also a chapel there, and the mix of design is astounding. Islamic this, baroque that, gothic that. Crazy! I have tons of pictures and will be posting them soon :) After a few hours there with a really wonderful guide, we went back down the hill with Pablo and walked through the city a bit. Then after a break, we had a buffet dinner at the hotel. Everyone went out after that, to bars and a discoteca that Pablo showed us, but Vianey and I crashed - I hadn't slept too well the last few nights, and I wanted to see Granada through fresh eyes!! I seriously fell asleep at 10, it was fantastic.

The next morning after a yummy hotel brekky, we went on another walking tour through the city and saw the cathedral (forgot the name, but its the largest in Granada) and then went on a brief tour through the adjoining royal chapel. Philip and Juana la Loca (Joan the Mad) are buried there!! I was prancing about (on the inside), the history major in me going absolutely mad. It was a great weekend of historical moments ;) After the tour we had a couple hours to walk around and get food, so Vianey and I walked around the main part of the city, occasionally ducking into pastry shops. At one 'pasteleria' I got an eclair type thing with maple frosting on the top (oooooer). The next one we went into was also a cafe, so we sat down and had some "sangwiches" (I had a beer with mine!), then went to the pastry counter to try more things. I got a pastry traditional to the area, the name of which I couldn't understand when she said it. It was some moist breaddy thing with custard in it, it tasted like cinnamon and burnt marshmallows. I also got an empanadilla (small empanada) filled with sweet gel stuff. Quite yummy, all of it! The ride home I slept quite a bit, occasionally peering out at the lovely countryside. We watched "Monsoon Wedding," a really great film by Mira Nair. A swell way to spend a weekend - but I am also glad to be back!

Yesterday and today I pretty much just went to class. Came back for a few hours yesterday to nap between classes, and went to bed early last night (yayy, I love sleep). Tomorrow I am meeting Rena in the city again, this time at Principe Pio. Should be fabulous, as usual :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Field Trip!

Tomorrow, all of us California punks are leaving on a field trip with our program coordinators to Andalusia! We are going first to Cordoba and then to Granada. I am very excited, especially to see the Alhambra :D

The last few days have been lots of school. I have decided on this schedule, and am quite happy about it:

*History of Contemporary Spain
*Politics and Society of Modern Spain
*Spanish Art
*Spanish Literature
*Advanced Language

History, Spanish Lit, and Language all count back home - art and politics are for fun! I really like all of my professors, and think its going to be a great semester. And in case you were wondering: I can actually understand all of my professors. They all speak slowly and make sure we know what is going on, without babying us. It's a different story with people our age on campus - I try to eavesdrop a little when walking around, but they talk too fast and mumble... just like WE do at home. Everyone is very helpful though. Today I was panicking because I had to buy a reader for my politics class, and when I finally asked a couple people how and where and all that, they were incredibly nice. I got my reader :)

The language barrier is actually getting much better. I think I must have crossed over the first threshold, because I am understanding a lot more (at school & at home) and don't have AS MUCH trouble speaking. Still going cross-eyed due to the barrier sometimes, but I am improving (tra la la laaaaaaaa).

Yesterday Rena and I met up at the Moncloa station in Madrid to hang out. It was so much fun, we walked the streets of Madrid for over four hours, exploring and discovering things about the city that even she didn't know. We had lunch at one of those donor kebap places (yumm, turkish sandwich and Coke Light) and then began our walkabout. We somehow ended up at the Plaza de Espana, which was really cool! Then we walked down and around, and found ourselves at the Royal Palace, which so far I had only seen at night. What a view! Both the architecture and the countryside beyond are fabulous to look at. Around six or so, we ended up at Sol and split up on the metro. I hope we can make this a tradition! We talked about maybe meeting up every week at a different metro stop, to continue getting to know different parts of the city. YAY - Steph & Reens take Madrid!

Will be writing about my trip south when I get back! Hope the rest of you have a lovely weekend ^_^

Monday, February 09, 2009

"Oh wherrrrrrrre is my hairbrush"

Well, I actually did find my hairbrush. But it was lost for a good week! Here are the other things that I currently cannot find:

* the keys to my jewelry box

* my camera cord to connect to my laptop

* my other chap stick

I tell you, my belongings seem to sprout legs whenever I put them down. At least Reens found my hairbrush at her piso! I wonder if my keys are there too... have been wearing the same jewelry for 2 weeks LOL

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Por fin - I am connected

I finally bought a phone today! Yesterday after much sleeping, and much lazing about, I took another adventure on the metro to Rena's. The dinner party was so much fun! They had everything except dessert and drinks going in the apartment, so as soon as I arrived Reens and I headed to Carrefour so I could pick up my contribution: more sangria (after all, we only had 1.5 boxes at the piso!), hard cider, flan, chocolate, cappuccino dessert cups. It was such a fun night - coming back to Rena's piso, it was like seeing old friends. All the girls were there, plus a friend of theirs, Sandra, from Slovenia (also Erasmus). We had fish with a chunky fruit sauce (mango, pineapple, avocado, sweet onion), an apple & carrot salad, rice, and plenty of wine and "postres" (desserts).

After dinner, around midnight, we headed out to find a club called The Moon, which turned out to be uber-ghetto (who knew?), so we continued our search. We ended up going to three other places; a bar that turned out to have no dancing and was a bit "pijo," then a discoteca called Serrano 41 that we stayed at for a few hours, dancing the night away. After that we went to another discoteca, which was super crowded but fun. At this point it was around 4am and I kind of hit a wall... so Rena and I headed back. But even though I got so tired at the end, it was such a fantabulous night. I didn't sleep very much, only about 4 hours (Reens and I got up to go the The Phone House), I am going to take a long siesta after lunch!

Speaking of food, I finally ran out of Nonna's macaroons yesterday! Nonna - I made them last so long! I savored every last one! They were delicious :) THANK YOU AGAIN.

Friday, February 06, 2009


In Spanish, "nieve" means snow. It has been snowing off and on all afternoon! It looks so pretty, floating to the ground in little white puffs, occasionally plummeting to the ground in large clusters.

Yesterday, Thursday, was pretty good overall. It didn't rain or snow, although it was freezing outside. I went to Carlos III for an information session with Giorgio Whatshisface, who is the head honcho of all the Spain EAP programs and who determines how our grades will transfer. He spoke English and told us quite a few bad jokes; overall he seems OK. He and Rocio told us a few horror stories to warn us about doing stupid things far from home ;) After that, I went back home for a bit and then braved the metro into the city! I took the MetroSur (Getafe loop) to the Puerta del Sur, then took line 10 all the way into the city, then switched to line 1 and got off at Sol. I was only 20 minutes late to meet Rena! We went to the Museo del Jamon (a chain of amazing ham! Bar/Deli/Restaurant). It was so delicious, I am excited for when my family comes because I know Dad will particularly like it. We ordered the same thing: cured ham and cheese on baguette, and "cafe con leche." After walking around for a bit, we wound up in the Plaza Mayor (famous, touristy, etc) and after Rena told me about her friend who lived there, we heard him calling her from his balcony. What a view from his apartment! On the top floor, too. I could see the whole plaza and all the other tall things beyond it. I met Rena's friend and his roommate, both from CA, which was really fun.

Today I slept in! It was quite nice. I had a spot of breakfast, and because I was so cold, jumped back into bed afterward. I watched Atonement, which is quite a riveting film and very intense. The direction was excellent - but warning, this movie is full of heartache. So if you are more into feel-good movies, beware!

It's been a relaxing day, and soon I shall be venturing back to Madrid for a dinner party at Rena's piso. Margarida has finished her finals and will be moving back to Portugal soon, so the girls all wanted to have a fun night together. I am ecstatic to have been invited, it will be fun to be back for a night! Has it been a week already, since I came to stay with the wonderful Mohino family?? Times flies :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Turkey Balls

Yesterday, Concha was making meatballs and asking me about how we make them. I told her that Mom uses turkey usually, and that we have a special song about "turkey balls." She thought that was rather amusing, and I have promised to translate the song as best I can for her!

Also yesterday, I had a few little adventures. I first woke up and had breakfast, and Concha showed me a very typical Spanish breakfast; toast, made from a baguette, with a tomato spread. This tomato spread is made by pealing the tomatoes and grating them on a cheese grater into a bowl. Once in its little jar, Concha added "aceite" (olive oil) and mixed it all together. You spoon the tomato paste onto your toast, and if you want you can add more olive oil. Concha said she also likes the have toast with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of "azucar" (sugar). After this yummy meal, I took an adventure to El Corte Ingles (kind of like: Nordstroms + pharmacy + Hallmark + whatever). I had to buy 5 things - I mean 3 - which were toothpaste, chapstick and tights. It turns out you have a pay for each item in its own department; I was in the pharmacy, asking where the chappy was, when the saleslady saw my [super cool] purple tights and explained the custom. She was very sweet and after helping me find my chapstick and ringing me up, welcomed me to Spain and wished me good luck. :) The rest of the day consisted of 3 hours of professors talking about their classes, relaxing a bit at home, having dinner. I borrowed "In her Shoes" from their DVD collection.

Today was pretty nice. It has been lovely to just relax and be kind of a homebody. This morning I had toast with butter and strawberry marmalade and tea, then got ready to go to Carlos III to take my oral exam - this, plus the written test, will tell which level I am going to be in for the language classes. As I was walking out the door, Concha ran over and handed me a cereal bar from Carrefour, one with a chocolate coating. "Buena suerte, Estefanie!" Good luck Stephanie! She is endlessly pleasant, and patient, with me. It's a wonderful thing when you are halfway across the world!

The test was pretty painless! I chatted with one of the profesoras, who was extremely nice and simply asked me questions about California and what I had done for the holidays (fui al caribe con mi familia!). Afterwards I met some other girls from my program who were super nice. I am excited to meet more of them in class next week. It's a bit intimidating right now, since everyone seems to have come with people they know. Kind of like when I took off to Davis... so for that reason, I am not too worried about making friends. Usually I sit back at the beginning of a new situation, observe the crowd. I make friends easily, but I prefer to know who is in which crowd first. I can already see who came to Spain just to drink and party - how sad, in such a beautiful country.

So after my exam, and a quick trip to El Corte Ingles, I came back and took a lovely shower, a lovely long nap, ate another delicious meal, and am in my room after watching a bit of The Perfect Murder with the family. Just waiting to see who is on Skype, and soon will be going to bed! You all know how much I love to sleep :)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Spider

No, there was no incident involving a spider. I was humming the "itsy bitsy spider" song earlier because for 10 minutes, the sun came out! If you have been following the global weather reports, you will know that it has been SNOWING! Here in Getafe it has only snowed at night, but north of Madrid its quite the downpour. In Escorial for example, there is almost a foot of snow (Escorial is higher that Madrid, a town squished in the side of a mountain). Today in Getafe, it was raining quite a bit until about 6pm, when the sun made its gracious appearance. But alas! Much has occurred the last few days besides the bloody weather!

After a lovely week at Rena's piso, my program began and I moved into my [amazing] homestay. The night at the hotel was superb - I like couch surfing as much at the next college punk, but it was nice to have some space, take an absurdly long shower, etc. My roommate was very sweet, in fact I saw her today, but was spending the night with a friend. A big, luxurious room to myself, ahhhh it was wonderful. Except when I woke up the next morning and there was a rancid smell coming from my sink... which was a funny thing to try and explain in Spanish on the phone with the reception desk!

Saturday a.m. I met my host family!! A man and his daughter came to pick me up - the father of the family and Sandra, one of the daughters. We drove to their home in Getafe (very close to the university AND a metro station) and I met Concha, the mother, and Diana, the other daughter. Both sisters are about my age and also go to Carlos III! The whole family is so wonderful. They have been endlessly warm and welcoming, and patient with my Spanish ;) Also, they have a dog that they are absolutely in love with named Blaqui (like Blackie) who is quite the rascal. The house is very cute - it is in this neighborhood where there are tons of apartments and small houses, in a part where all the houses are connected at the walls. They are all made of brick, which gives the "barrio" a very charming effect. The house itself is adorable; every room has so many colors and little decorations, but it all comes off as very calming and tranquil because the style and colors are very subdued.... if any of that makes sense, hats off to me!

Mi habitacion esta en el tercero piso... my room is on the 3rd floor. The first has the kitchen and family room, the second has main bedrooms, and up here there are two small rooms with skylights (the other is empty) and an office. It's a perfect little room for me, with a comfy bed, armoir, and desk. All in all, I am extremely happy with everything here. I was a bit nervous about the homestay when it got down to Friday night, but right now I couldn't be more happy. Well, maybe if I was more fluent ;)

Didn't do much Saturday, just took a long nap, ate, watched soccer (their team is Real Madrid, like Royal Madrid), went to sleep. Sunday was very fun! I slept til 1pm (tee he he) then the girls took me to a world travel fair that Diana was working at. She works at an education abroad office where they offer a program in Ireland to learn English (she studied there last year!) and their office had a booth at the Ireland station. Every country in the world was there offering their tourism services! There was also a special part of the exhibition center for Spain, and while Diana worked, Sandra took me around that part and told me all the places I HAD to visit while in Spain :) Afterwards, dinner around 10 and bed - I had to wake up for orientation today!

6th paragraph, hang with me now! Today was really long, but fun. We took a written exam to determine our academic level of Spanish, activated our email addresses, briefly went through a packet about the classes offered, had a little reception with tons of yummy food (where I met lots of super nice people - all 200 of us Americans were together through all of this today). After that, they had the professors of 10 of the 20 classes offered come talk to us about the class they were going to teach and about the requirements. I want to take Spanish Art, because the class goes to museums around Madrid throughout the semester! After all of this, I went home (by myself on the metro, woot woot) and Sandra took me to the tobacco shop to get my Abono (monthly train pass) and now after a good meal, I am here and I am exhausted. May this blog find you all well! Hasta luego