Friday, August 3, 2012

T-minus 11 días!

While sitting at my sister's (second) white coat ceremony this morning, I realized that she's been doing a much better job than me at many things in life, one of these being updating her blog... although trust me this is one of many.
So congrats on your return to med school Ally!!
But after the small rivalry between UofM and MSU in the car this morning, I guess it's my time to step it up!

So here goes nothing.
Yes, that's right, only 11 days left until my spanish boyfriend makes his first trip to the US!!  After months of (semi) patiently waiting I am ecstatic and yet also pretty nervous about his arrival.  Reason number one, if you know my family you will know that everyone is always on the run and the status of the cleanliness of our house does not give you reason to believe otherwise.  Therefore I will be taking on the role of cleaning, obsessive-compulsive house mom to whip this place into shape so it looks a bit more inviting.
I have also been trying to plan out an itinerary in which I can show him everything I love about the US and cram it all into two weeks.  However, his level-headed spaniard mindset always calms me down, as he said "Tranquila, yo solo quiero pasar tiempo contigo y podemos hacer lo que nos apetezca cualquier día."  Calm down, I just want to spend time with you and we can do whatever we like any day.  That was a lot of pressure off my shoulders.  Have I mentioned how awesome he is?

So now, thanks to my incredible father, we have just recently added a quick trip to Chicago to our itinerary!  I'm really excited to be able to show him one of the big American cities with sky scrapers and busy streets that he's only seen in movies and on tv.

until next time!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


If you have some spare time, please check out the new website I'm making for my student volunteer group.  I was just voted President after holding position of Vice-President for the past two years.  We're really going to kick things up a notch this year, and we're starting in the advertisement of our organization to help spread the word about our cause of helping the underprivileged.

Muchas gracias!

Friday, July 20, 2012

long distance relationships

So the distance is not ideal.  And I never considered myself one capable of maintaining a relationship with someone across the Atlantic Ocean, much less after only knowing him for two months.  But hey, the good ones are few and far between.  And if you think they're worth it, you'll give it a shot.  You've got to go where life takes you... (although right now I don't know where that will be after my graduation in December.. nope, not even which country I'll be in).

I applaud fellow long-distancers who managed to stay together in the olden days.  I honestly wouldn't be able to do it without skype.  We skype nearly every day and there's a constant flow of messages through facebook and email.  Oh how dependent we've become on technology.  Waiting weeks for snail mail? Now that's love and dedication.  Did I mention I'm impatient?

As for us? We'll see how it goes after his first visit to the US in T-minus three weeks, and take it from there.  Surprisingly this was his idea.  I was a bundle of emotions and stress before he suggested this calm and mature outlook on our relationship.  Of course, then my sister's reality check of the difficulty in obtaining a visa also helped me to understand the unclear status of our future.  But that's just one of the many reasons I love her, she always tells me the ugly truth that I fail to see.  The epitome of tough love =)

In the meantime, I'm counting down the days till I pick him up from the airport.  Although these summer classes are really helping to pass the time.  Modern Political Philosophy, anyone?  Oh yeah, it's as fun as it sounds.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Back in the US.. on the East Coast

My second semester in Spain was really life changing.  I had another great semester with my professors and in all of my classes, I made the best of friends, I was able to travel to more European countries than I had originally planned, I was able to experience Fallas (arguably the best week of my life!), and during that week I met my amazing Spanish boyfriend =)

To end my semester my father, brother and sister came to Spain to spend the week there with me.  I took them to the south this time, and we started off in Granada where we spent a day at La Alhambra.  After a day and a half there we took a train to sweltering hot Sevilla where we saw some flamenco, the Cathedral of Sevilla, and took a horse ride starting from Parque Maria Luisa that led us throughout the city.  We then made our way back to my home, Valencia for the last three days.  My boyfriend played our chauffeur and drove us to all of the main tourist destinations, as well as an hour down south to the Costa del Sol where we spent a great day with my Spanish Madre.  We were all able to communicate as if there were no language barrier at all, with me translating at lightning speed (hehe I've definitely improved!).  In fact, I was able to switch so freely between the two languages that I even surprised myself.  This ability has led me to play with the idea of going into a career in translation.  I'm also really interested in learning Portuguese.  I was fascinated by the language during my two trips there, and begged my friend to pronounce practically every sign we saw so I could better understand the language.  I'm still debating between business and translation, but I have time to figure this out.  After all, one of the main things I've learned is that no pasa nada "everything's alright," if I continue to work hard and make connections I know I will figure it out sooner or later.

My with my Spanish Madre, one of the most amazing people I've ever met
The beginning of our three-course Spanish lunch
My madre, Carlos and I on the shore of Jávea
My madre with my dad, two peas in a pod!
Carlos and I on the docks.  Thanks to my sister for being our personal photographer!!!
On the dock at La Albufera
In the Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias in Valencia
So to leave you all with a sense of where I'm at right now, I will be graduating in December with a double major in Political Science and Spanish, and a specialization in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  After graduating my desire is to return to Spain to teach English either through the Fulbright Scholarship program or a program through the Spanish Government.  If neither of these works out I have started looking into international nannying programs, where I could privately tutor in English in my spare time, as I did during my academic year.  Whichever plan works out, I just know that I want to be back in Spain.  

But don't get me wrong, I love the US and I am proud to be an American.  I just can't get enough of the Spanish culture and language, and I really enjoy their lifestyle and mentality (of course the fact that I now have a boyfriend there helpsl.  I have a family in Spain now as well, and my madre is waiting for my return. 
I am thoroughly enjoying my time at home with my friends and family, and am currently visiting my grandmother on the east coast while learning how to cook (it was about time!).  
Buen provecho // Bon appetit

Monday, April 30, 2012

End of April.. already??

Sooo where to begin?
I never really finished my post on the 2nd half of my spring break (Bratislava, Prague, & Vienna) which was a great experience with even greater people.  We tried the main famous foods (sausages, goulash, duck, potato pancakes, and the beer of course!) in each place.  It was discombobulating to be in a country and not be able to communicate if my life depended on it!  One of the more interesting things for me was to listen to the dialects and see the written language everywhere, from billboards to street signs.  Each city had it's own charm, and I am so grateful to have been able to experience them.
One of the things that I've improved this second semester abroad would definitely have to be my decision to travel more often (unplanned and lack of sleep aside, the experiences are what you'll remember), and to go out more and just experience Spain.

Czech crowns

1/2 a duck, eaten at lunch by my friend Travis in a rustic little restaurant

"According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world"
Me, Susie, and Megan on the Charles Bridge with the castle in the background
Vienna was the perfect way to end the two hectic weeks of traveling, with my friend Susie's incredibly awesome aunt and uncle.  It was so refreshing to feel right at home and be able to relax with them and talk about anything over some beers.

Last weekend I took a trip with my boyfriend (yes, for all of you waiting for it hehe, good things come to those who wait =] ) to Dénia, a pueblo south of Valencia on the rocky ocean with mountains right behind.  We climbed the mountainside, down into caves on the water, and up a castle without stairs (ropes were the trick).

And now I have finals this week, and my family comes on Sunday.  Everyone's been saying this lately, but oh my, how fast the time flies!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


So my friend Gabriela and I just successfully completed our roadtrip across Spain.  This was the most adventurous and spontaneous thing I think I've ever done in my life, starting with the fact that we booked our hostels the night before we left and planned out our daily activities upon waking up.  Despite this, my trusty Spain guidebook (thanks dad!) was a great help, and we did at least 30 minutes of research on each city we cruised through before exploring the maize of ancient streets winding through each spanish city and pueblo.
We started with a flight to Santander, a large city in northern Spain.  After questioning at least 8 different rental car companies, we finally found one that would give us a car for a reasonable price, and we were on our way! Although not so fast, as I managed to stall the car before even pulling out of the parking lot.  (It was only about my third time driving a stick, but I've been wanting to learn for the longest time, so what better place than Spain? haha not the smartest idea, but I can now drive a stick!!).  We made it to San Sebastian in a little under two hours and spent the evening and next morning exploring there.  San Sebastian is in the Pais Basco, the Basque region of Spain.  It is definitely my all-time favorite city of Spain, every single part of it is gorgeous, an ancient city with a wide river running through the middle into el mar Cantabrico.
From there we drove through Bilbao (also in País Basco) and continued our journey farther west onto Santander, where we spent the night in one of the more sketchy places (this is what happens when you book last minute), but everything ended up well, as all we really needed to do was sleep, shower, and get outta there to explore again!  We spent the next morning wandering the port, cathedral, and streets on the coast of Santander.  We fell in love with the view from the beaches by the Palacio de la Magdalena.
We found our way back to Peggie (our rented Peugeot) and chicken sandwish in hand, ready to his the road again, we were off.  We made stops in the pueblos of San Vicente de la Barquera and Santillana del Mar (where the ancient cave paintings are, but they have stopped tourism into the caves since 2002.. however, we took this opportunity in the rolling green hills of northern hills to make friends with some cows that were roaming the countryside)
San Vicente de la Barquera
Gabriela and I on the hillside of Santillana del Mar
 We then spent a night in Oviedo, the next day there, and headed a little farther north to Avilés, right on the coast, where we spent the night in a nice little surfer's hostel.  We spent a good amount of time on the coast enjoying the fresh air and incredible view, and climbed to the top of the cliffs

(sorry trying to keep this short and avoid listing off activities), but the next day we left bright and early for the drive to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela!
Then spent the night in La Coruña on the north west coast of Spain.
Early the next morning we started the six hour drive south to Lisbon, Portugal on my 22nd birthday.  Lisbon was a gorgeous city with a really antique and preserved feel.  You feel like you've gone through a time machine and walked into the past.  Many of the buildings almost appear to have a light dusting over them, which only enhances this atmosphere.  It was a great contrast from Porto, a city farther north that I visited a few weeks before (and had my fair share of Port wine).
For my birthday night, the hostel mom (&cook) baked me and one other birthday girl a great fruit cake, on top of which were candles that I blew out after all of the guests sang "happy birthday" to me in portuguese.  It was a great twist to what I was used to, and Gabriela and I went out later to experience the classic portugeuse guitar "fado".  We made our way to a crowded bar in which we heard a couple of the extremely emotional and beautiful fado.
We woke up in our bunkbeds the next morning so enamored with the beauty, culture, and language of Lisbon that we decided to postpone our last leg of the trip (to Málaga) until after the free walking tour offered through our hostel.  An hour turned into 2, and then 3 and 4.  After getting lost in the ancient streets, buying trinkets in the gypsy market, and having a traditional portuguese lunch, we finally brought ourselves to find Peggie in the parking garage and continue our journey south.
This drive seemed the longest, and we didn't arrive in Málaga (on the very southern tip of Spain) until about 2:30am.  After walking through the beautiful marble streets and finally finding our hostel, I luckily decided to look at my itinerary for the following day.  Upon doing so, I realized that I had to be on a plane to Bratislava, Slovakia in less than 3 hours to meet up with 3 of my other friends to continue the 2nd half of my spring break.
After a slight panic attack, I quickly woke up from my near dream-like state and booked it to the airport.  Have no fear, I made it to Bratislava, and managed to sleep 2 hours in the hostel before my friends arrived to wake me up and head out around the city, as we had less than 12 hours there.
For the rest of my eurotrip my friends Susie, Megan, Travis and I spent two days each in Prague and Vienna.
Sorry folks, more to come on those in the next post.  I'm currently spending my last night in Paris with my family (minus my little brother who I miss dearly!!), and want to spend some more time with them.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tarde (late)

so I'm extremely late with 2 posts, one on my weekend trip to London with my cousin and her friend which was the best girls/shopping weekend ever

and the following weekend, another girls' weekend (seeing a pattern here?), 11 girls from my program and I went to Porto, Portugal for the weekend.

Both trips were so much fun and filled with great memories.  I will write actual posts about these when I return from my spring break trip which starts tomorrow:

My friend Gabi and I are heading to northern spain, starting in Santander where we'll rent a car, then head to San Sebastian, pass through Bilbao, stay a night in Santander, then head farther west to Oviedo, Gijón, Avilés, A Coruña, & Santiago de Compostela.  Then for my birthday on the 9th we're heading back to Portugal, staying the night in Lisboa and visiting two other great cities around there, then spending the next night in Málaga on the southern coast of spain.  The following day I have a flight to Bratislava where I'm meeting up with 3 other friends who will have spent the week in Italy (everyone from my program is traveling all over Europe and taking advantage of this opportunity to travel), then we're spending 2 days each in Prague and Vienna.
And I am currently in the process of planning the rest of my hostels and travels during the first week, therefore I should probably return to that seeing as I'm leaving in 9 hours!! Oh yes family, last minute Meghan was such a fitting nickname.