Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's Not Adios, Just Hasta Luego

I've been back for over a week now and have realized it's time to write my concluding blog post.  Apologies if it gets a little cheesy/dramatic!

The last few days of Spain were truly a whirlwind of emotions.  I had no idea what I should be feeling or how I should act.  So I studied for finals, ate a lot of ice cream, and hung out with my friends in our Spanish beautiful city.  I practiced my Spanish as much as I could and tried to keep the sadness at bay as the semester came to an end.  Saying goodbye to Ana was pretty awful, as was saying goodbye to all my new friends who don't go to University of Delaware.  Not going to lie, the day before we left Granada, I had a hard time remembering why I had been looking forward to going home.

Nonetheless, we all left at 4:45am on Friday morning to begin our 18+ hour journey home.  Once the airplane left Granada, I got less sad and more excited to go home, so that was good.  In the afternoon, (10pm my time!) we landed at JFK airport, where both of my parents were waiting to welcome be back to the United States.  Now, eight extremely jet-lagged days later, Granada sometimes feels like a dream.  Sometimes I can't believe I lived in a Spanish city.  I conquered the language and the culture and truly made a home in a foreign place.  I've made incredible friends and a second family in that small city and leaving all that behind was frankly depressing.  Especially after I'd spent close to 5 years planning on going abroad spring semester of my junior year!  I know I'll go back one day, and although it won't be anything close to what I had these past five months in Granada, I look forward to returning to my second home and sharing it with my family :-)

Thanks to everyone who has followed my Spain blog over the last 5 months--it was always really nice to know that I was writing to a (small but mighty!) audience.  I hope you all have enjoyed reading about my experiences in Spain and beyond just as much as I have enjoyed sharing them.

Hasta luego, blog readers!  Enjoy your summer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leaving Granada

So tonight is my second to last night in Granada.  That is just far too weird for me to really understand.  Clearly I am in serious denial about leaving, but I'm not even doing it on purpose!  The body's defense mechanism, maybe...  Anyway, I thought I'd make a list of some of the things that I will miss the most and the least once I leave Granada and return to the U.S.  So here we go!

Things I Will Miss the Most
1. Ana, my host mom
2. Amalia and Teresa, our program directors
3. Flamenco dancing classes
4. Speaking Spanish
5. Living in a city and being able to walk everywhere
6. All the friends I've made here (most of which do not go to UD :-( )
7.  Going for tapas and sangria
8. Churros con chocolate
9. Ice cream shops on every corner
10. Seeing the Alhambra all the time
11. Seeing snowy mountains
12. Sunny weather almost constantly
13. All the dogs and babies on the streets
14. Watching Spanish game shows with Ana
15. Litter-free sidewalks!
16. Spending the afternoons at outdoor cafes
17.  Ana's cooking
18. Sunset at 9:30pm

Things I Will Not Miss
1. The horrible exchange rate
2. Ten minute showers with no shower curtain and a hand-held shower head
3. Lack of actual napkins
4. Spanish restrooms
5. All the fried food
6. The Spanish habit of staring
7. Dog poop on the streets

As you can see, I clearly am having a hard time with the whole leaving thing.  BUT in just over 48 hours I will get to see my family and friends again after 137 days away woo!

I will leave you with some pictures from last night's farewell cocktail:

The teacher I worked with at a Spanish elementary school :-)

The Alhambra by night

One of my program directors, Teresa!

Amalia, my other program director!

 Look forward to my next (and last) post which will be from the United States!  I'll be flying home all day on Friday (with a 6 hour layover in Madrid) and will land at JFK around 4pm.  Prayers would be appreciated for a safe flight and a smooth transition home :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rohan in Granada!

Last week Rohan came to visit!  It was great to get to explore some parts of Granada that I had not been to in months.  Here are some of the highlights:

-Walking around all the plazas
-Eating great ice cream in Plaza Nueva
-Eating churros at Cafe Alhambra
-Going up to the Albaycin
-Eating at Cafe Futbol
-Shopping at the Arab Markets
-Seeing a flamenco show!
-Listening to great street performers
-Walking along the river
-Tapas tapas tapas!!
-Meeting my host mom, host sister, program director, and flamenco teacher!
-Checking out great Granada fountains

What a great life!

Only six more days in Granada... I'll post about my feelings on that later.  Too frightening right now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Living la vida flamenca...

So for the past four months (can you BELIEVE I have been here for four months?!) I have been taking flamenco dancing classes with some other students in our program and on Tuesday our instructor did our make-up and we had a mini photo shoot!

My instuctor Ana and me!
In other news, I am coming home in just over 2 weeks and that is both exciting and depressing at the same time.  I think my emotions are going to start getting very crazy soon...

On Saturday Rohan is coming to visit for 5 days before he goes to Switzerland to do research until July! I am excited to have the chance to eat at some of the places that I haven't gone to yet haha.  I'm excited to see him, too!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Only a week has gone by since my last update, but boy do I have a lot to write about!

Thursday was "el día de la cruz" or "Day of the Cross" here in Granada.  It was basically like a half-day holiday--everyone had class or work until lunch and the afternoon was all about celebrating!  One of my program directors took us on a walk through the city to see some of the best crosses.  Basically many different churches, schools, and neighborhoods decorate huge crosses with flowers and decorations and display them.  People come to see the crosses wearing traditional flamenco dresses and there is a lot of drinking and flamenco dancing.  It was great to experience!  A few of my friends and I have been taking flamenco classes all semester and it was really fun to be able to practice what we've learned in public!  Unfortunately it was sort of rainy all afternoon, but that did not stop us from having a great time!  Here are some photos of the festivities... I've included a picture of every cross I saw!

On Friday (the day after día de la cruz) we took a daytrip with the program to Cordoba.  The bus ride was just three hours long, but as we drove closer and closer to the city, the sky got darker and the rain began to fall.  Nonetheless, we were excited when we got off the bus and began our tour of the city.  We checked out some cute little streets and ended up in an old synagog, then saw some BEAUTIFUL patios all decorated with flowers because, in Cordoba, May is "the flower month."  The patios were unbelievably gorgeous--I kept walking around thinking "I want to come back and get married in one of these one day!"  After seeing some patios, we ran through a sudden downpour to the Alcazar where the king and queen once lived.  That was a pretty cool place, but we were all wet and cold, so we probably did not appreciate it that much.  The sun came out for us just in time to tour the gardens, though!  They were ridiculously pretty and we were so lucky the rain cleared up for them (especially since my umbrella was very very broken by then).  After the Alcazar, we walked through the city and ended up near the Mezquita (mosque).  Before going in, though, we had some free time and ate lunch (in the sun!).  Then we toured the mezquita, which has now been converted into a cathedral.  What a cool place!  Also the most famous landmark in Cordoba by far and one of the most famous pieces of Arab architecture in Spain.  Here are some photos from Cordoba:

That's all for now!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Das alles ist Deutschland!

Guten Tag!

I have returned from Deutschland safe and sound and ready to tell about my adventures in the Motherland!

My trip to Germany was the first trip I booked once I got to Spain!  I was going to visit my second cousin and her family, as well as my great aunt and uncle, so I needed to coordinate dates with them.  Once we discovered that we all had a long weekend in April, I booked my flights!

I got to the Dusseldorf airport around 4pm on Friday afternoon and Ulrike (my second cousin), Deiter (her husband) and Julian (their son) met me there.  It was great seeing them again!  I had visited them once before in Germany in 2006 with my family and since then we got to see Julian twice when he was studying in the U.S. for the year.  It was really great seeing everyone again!

We drove straight from the airport to Cologne, a city about an hour away from Dusseldorf.  Ulrike had found a great hotel and we spent the night there!  After settling in, we went to a nearby brewery that Ulrike loves for dinner (where I had bratwurst!) and then headed to this really awesome bar along the Rhine River.  The bar has live jazz music every night and decor inside was fantastic!  They made lights out of trumpets and trombones, and had mannequins that moved along to the music.  The band was great, too--you could tell that the musicians just really loved playing!


Jazz Bar

Saturday morning we had a good Germany breakfast in the hotel, then went over to the cathedral.  It's a pretty famous landmark and super huge.  My great aunt remembers taking my mom there the summer she visited during high school!  We went inside and it was SUPER huge and really, really beautiful.  There was an especially cool stained glass window that was really modern.

After the cathedral we walked along the Rhine River in the beautiful sunshine to the Chocolate Museum!  The Chocolate Museum was really fun--it talked about the history of chocolate, how it is made, and cultural changes.  AND we got free chocolate!! What a win, win.

The Rhine!
So typical German
Chocolate Museum!
Food of the Gods!!
In front of the chocolate fountain
Food of the gods being made
Lindt chocolate truffles!

We grabbed sandwiches after the museum and this bakery that Ulrike loves (and where she bought bread and brötchen for my visit!)  Then we headed back to the hotel and ended up and this great ice cream cafe, where I got my first spaghetti eis of the trip!

Lizzy's favorite brötchen
Ulrike's ice cream... or are the potatoes?
Is it spaghetti?  Is it ice cream??
After enjoying delicious ice cream, we drove to Bad Salzuflen to Ulrike's house.  I stayed in Ulrike's study and had a bathroom to myself woo!  We had pasta for dinner, since Julian was running a 31 kilometer run the following day and wanted to carbo-load.  We were able to eat outside on the patio under the stars, which was way awesome.

Sunday we spent the whole day hanging out and chatting.  Ulrike told me over our delicious breakfast of brötchen stories about my grandmother's life in Germany and other family things.  It was really interesting to hear all these stories that I didn't know and learn about people I didn't know existed!  Too fun.  She also showed me some photos of her visit to the U.S. in 1971, where she stayed with my grandparents.  It was so fun to see photos of my uncles and grandparents from years ago.

In the afternoon, my great Aunt Itti and Uncle Gunter came over for coffee and delicious pastries.  It was really nice seeing them again, but I felt super bad since I don't speak German and Itti speaks very little English.  Ulrike helped translate, though, and we made it work!  We sat out on the patio and chatted away (while eating AWESOME sweet pretzels and cake) and had a great time reconnecting.

Ulrike's house
Out on the patio!
With Gunter and Itti

On Monday, Ulrike and I went shopping in a nearby town.  It was a GORGEOUS day outside, so we got to drive Deiter's convertible BMW with the top down!  That was too fun!  The drive there was really phenomenal--so typically German, in my opinion.  And the town was even better!  So many old buildings on little stone streets.  We shopped for a bit, then got ice cream (spaghetti eis #2) and shopped some more.  We bought a ton of groceries for our German barbeque we were having that night.  So many different kinds of bread and meat.  Love it!

With Ulrike riding in style

Beautiful German town


We ate dinner outside in the evening, and Itti and Gunter came over.  The meal was super delicious, and I got to experience a typical German barbeque.  After we finished eating, I showed the family some pictures on Facebook of our American family and Ulrike lit the fire pit.  We had a great time chatting around the fire as it got dark.

With Julian!

Sadly, on Tuesday I had to go back to Spain.  Ulrike, Deiter, and Julian all drove me to the Dusseldorf airport (about 2 hours away) and we went to a cafe together once there to spend as much time together as possible.  It was really great.  I didn't want to leave!

Going to Germany really made me realize that, after I conquer Spanish, I really would like to learn German.  It was pretty frustrating when everyone started a conversation in German and I was lost, and I would love to be able to have more conversations with Deiter, Itti, and Gunter!  So that is my new plan.

Now I'm back in Spain and it's already May and I only have 23 more days until I come home!  Talk about bittersweet :-(