A experiência é mãe da ciência

I had an amazing weekend in Portugal. I went with a company called Discovery Excursions with about 300 other study abroad students. At first I was a little worried that it would be a super touristy trip but it was so much better than I expected. We went to a town called Lagos which is on the south shore. It was a beautiful area with great beaches and a lot to do. I shared a hotel room with three of my closest friends from Granada. This is the view from our balcony!

 IMG_1580

The first day we went to a really beautiful beach to swim and soak up some sun.

IMG_1585

After that we went to what was originally thought to be the end of the world to watch the sunset. It was breathtaking!

IMG_1619

IMG_1603

 

The next day we relaxed by the pool for a while and then went on a really fun boat ride. For part of the time we were in little boats going through caves and the other part of the time we were sailing around on bigger boats where we drank sangria and jumped into the water.

IMG_1660

IMG_1678

 

When we got back from the boat ride we went and spent the afternoon on a different beach. This one had big waves so we spent a lot of time playing in the water.

IMG_1691

 

That night  all the UNH students cooked and had a big group dinner in the hotel.

The next day I went with my friend Jen to the west coast for a surf lesson. It was so much fun. It was a little frustrating because we fell down a lot and there were lots of people to avoid in the water but we were starting to get the hang of it by the end. We left feeling pretty accomplished but mostly just exhausted!

IMG_1706

IMG_1703

 

Then we went back to the hotel to change and it was time for our 8 hour journey back to Granada.

 “Experience is the mother of wisdom.” The title of this post is a Portuguese proverb that is a perfect reflection of how I feel about my time in Europe. Apart from the obvious things like Spanish grammar, literature, and culture, I have learned so many more important lessons from the things I have done over the past four months. Probably the most important thing I will bring away from my travels is the knowledge that there are an endless number of beautiful things to experience in the world, not only  in far away places but close to home as well. Being here has made me realize that I never want to stop having new experiences, seeing new places, meeting new people, or learning things I didn’t know before. The world is unimaginably huge and we spend way to much time in our comfort zone instead of exploring what else there is! I really hope you will all do something out of the ordinary and then tell me about it… 1. because I miss you all and would love to hear from you and 2. because I want you all to be as tremendously happy as I am!!!

I’ll be waiting to hear from you!

Time to live it up!

With exactly one month left I’m feeling very happy and sad about heading back to the U.S. I’m really starting to miss everyone at home but am also realizing that 5 months here won’t be quite enough.

My Spanish has improved dramatically but with every little bit I learn I realize that there are so many  things I don’t know. The good thing is that I’m getting very accustomed to hearing Spanish. When I first got here it seemed so strange to be surrounded by it at all times but now it startles me to hear English when walking down the street.

There are also so many other things that I want to do and see here in Spain. It seems like almost every week there is some kind of cultural activity to take part in- there is never a dull moment  in Granada. You can go from hiking in the hills of Sacromonte, to seeing Arabic architecture, to visiting the burial site of the catholic king and queen, to watching a flamenco show preformed by gypsies, to cheering on a soccer team, to getting tapas in the city center, to dancing salsa through the night all in one small city . I am SO happy that I chose to study in Granada.

The last time I wrote was after I went to London so I will catch everyone up on what has happened since then.

My friend Ally came to visit me for a weekend. On the first night I went and met her in the town where the airport is. We stayed there (Malaga) and went to the beach. The next two days I took here all around to show her the important monuments and my favorite spots in Granada. It was so fun having someone from home here and being able to share my experience!

IMG_1444

Right after Ally left, Semana Santa started. Semana Santa is the week before Easter in which everyone is on vacation and it’s one big party all week long. There are processions every day to celebrate a different saint or virgin. I was here all week  spending time with my host family, watching the processions, and trying to keep up with the crazy pace of Spanish fiestas. The traditions around the processions are very interesting. The floats are elaborately decorated and carried by dozens of people throughout the city over a span of a few hours. People wait all year to see their saint and get very emotional when the procession passes. Some of the processions go through the night, making their way strategically through the windy, cobblestone streets of the Albyzin.

pascua

 

On Sunday I ran my first 10k. It was called the Carrera Popular Memorial Padre Marcelino and over 3,000 people competed. I was really nervous about it at first but it was a lot of fun being in a race that big and I was happy with my time in the end! I was also happy to check off another first while in Spain. Here I am, thrilled to be a the finish!

IMG_0494

 

Other than those things I have just been spending a lot of times with friends, going to all my favorite places as much as possible, finishing up my volunteer hours, enjoying the summer weather, and doing my final projects for school. I’ll leave you with a few pictures…

This is me and some of the girls I tutor; Iman, Lucia, and Erica.

IMG_1523

This is the view from a patio at my host grandparents’ house.

IMG_1532

This is the river in Granada.

IMG_1545

 

Here is me in front of my school.

IMG_1353

This is the view from one of my favorite places in Granada.

IMG_1432

and these are tapas!!!

IMG_1448

Hasta luego….

And marbled clouds go scudding by The many-steepled London sky.

 

I had such an amazing time in London! Not only was it one of the most beautiful and interesting places I’ve ever been but I got to spend it with my best friend Ally! She is there studying at Regent’s College for the semester so she showed me all around the city!

 

When I first got there we went to the Borough Market and then to see Big Ben. On the way there we saw the London Bridge and The London Eye. There are so many famous things to see there! That night we went out to a club called Tiger Tiger with all of Ally’s friends from school. It was lot’s of fun and we danced the night away to some good throwbacks.

IMG_1094

IMG_1111

IMG_1130

 

On Saturday morning we went for a walk through Regent’s park. We also walked up Primrose Hill to have a great view of the city! On our way home I took the typical tourist picture in the red phone booth.

IMG_1145

IMG_1155

IMG_1166

 

Later that day we went to Camden Market to walk around and get lunch. We also went to Trafalgar Square where there was a huge pillow fight going on. I’ve never seen so many feathers in my life! We also walked through Leicster Square before going back to her dorm to have dinner with her friends. That night we went to a really cool bar called Camdenhead. It’s really neat to see how different the atmospheres are from one city to the next.

IMG_1188

IMG_1200

 

On Sunday we went to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. I had never seen anything like it! Everything was so serious, old fashioned, and official! After that we walked through Hyde Park and saw the Princess Dianna Memorial. I really like that it was built with the hope that people would put their feet in the water. Then we went to The Science and Natural History Museums. Before going home we got Ben’s Cookies and people watched outside of a Cafe. That night we just relaxed and got dinner at a restaurant called Metropolitan with Ally’s friends. IMG_1232

 

On Monday we tried to squeeze in a few things before I left for my flight at three. We took the tube to Kings Cross station to see Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. After that we did some shopping and got lunch and then it was time for me to go!

IMG_1250

 

 

Once in Barcelona

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Barcelona with my good friend Jen. We left Granada Thursday evening only having booked our hostel the night before and with close to no plans for our four days in the north of Spain. It is so much fun to travel with no idea what kinds of things you will find to do. Here is what ended up happening…

DSCN2221

Our flight got in late Thursday night so after finding our way to the hostel, we went to bed.

On Friday we woke up early and walked down the famous street La Rambla to see the harbor and go to the beach. Then we  continued to explore the city a little more and got lunch at a really cute restaurant. On our walk we stumbled upon the Olympic park, the Magic Fountain, and the Catalunya National Museum of  Art. After that we went back to the beach to watch the sunset. That night we went out with some friends that we made from France.

DSCN2244

DSCN2241

DSCN2254

On Saturday we tried going to the beach in the morning but there was a pretty bad sandstorm. We wanted to watch the kite surfers but we could hardly see anything! Then we had a really really really long walk to the hostel where we stayed for the second two nights. After we finally found the hostel we went to see some of the architecture by Antoni Gaudi. We saw the Sagrada Familia and the Casa Batllo, both of which were very impressive. After that we got coffee and went to the marina for a while. On our way home we got really lost and overshot our hostel by a lot. Once we finally made it back we met a lady who knew a lot about Barcelona. She helped us figure out where we needed to go to meet one of Jen’s friends who happened to be in Barcelona too. The timing didn’t quite work out to meet her but we ended up having a really good time at a famous beach side club called Opium. We even we ran into our friends from the day before!

IMG_1017

On Sunday we walked to the center of Barcelona to see more of the city. We happened to walk by the Arc de Triomf. Then we went to a few museums before getting dinner on the boardwalk. We walked by the beach and the Marina one last time before going back to our hostel. We had to go to bed early because we left very early on Monday morning.

DSCN2237

A Quick Update…

I’m really tired and ready for bed but I haven’t written in forever so I’m going to give you all a quick recap of March.

1. I’ve been taking Salsa classes through the University of Granada. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve wanted to learn how to dance forever so I look forward to my Thursday night classes a lot!

2. I visited the Granada Cathedral for the first time. It is so beautiful (like everything else in Spain)! IMG_0817

3. I went to a soccer (futbol) game. Granada played the Valencia team on their home field. Granada won and it was so cool seeing how excited everyone was. People here LIVE for soccer.

DSCN2185

4. I went for another amazing hike in Sacromonte. We did lots of exploring, almost got attacked by a sheep dog, got a little lost, and found a skeleton in an abandoned building. All in all…it was quite the adventure.

IMG_0858

5. Was really sick and wanted to come home for the first time! Don’t worry though, I’m very much over the desire to leave Spain.

6. Visited the really cool town of Ronda. It’s a really beautiful and historical place. The coolest best is that there is a river that runs through it that has made an incredible canyon down the center of the town.

IMG_0922

6. Celebrated St. Patty’s Day in an Irish bar with our Irish friends.

IMG_0961

 

7. Ran into a parade a few weekends ago. I’m not entirely sure what it was about.

DSCN2167

8. Went to the Fiesta de la Primavera (Spring Festival) with my host sister. It really put homecoming to shame. There were THOUSANDS of people there. This is a picture of the craziness…the weirdest part is that it’s totally legal in Granada!

9. Went to my host parent’s golf club to watch them play. It was a nice relaxing day and the golf course is really pretty.  Here they are…

Fotor0322160540

 

10. Ran into this protest on my way home from school on Monday. We NEED some of this passion in the U.S.

IMG_0995

I’ll be posting soon about my upcoming trips so stay tuned! Until next time!

Que Vida Más Bonita

I can’t believe I’ve almost been here for two months! I’m still blown away everyday by this amazing experience. I am really falling in love with Granada and the people I’ve met here. I know I’ve said it before but I just can’t help but feel like the luckiest person on Earth!

I’ve done a lot since my last post. This past weekend I went to Toledo, Segovia, and Madrid. All three are beautiful in their own ways.

Here is Toledo….

1497422_10200685387175369_284868877_n

And this is the Alcázar of Segovia. It inspired the Disney castle!

 

1947463_10200685384135293_1525692967_n

This is the royal palace in Madrid. This was the most impressive thing that I saw. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside but you should look it up. It has the most beautiful decorations I have ever seen.

 

1966814_10200685381655231_545159496_n

 

 

I also recently went on a really cool hike in Sacremento… a rural part of Granada. I finally saw some of the caves up close where people actually live! It was such a beautiful day and the views were amazing! An escape from the city was really nice but it made me miss New Hampshire a little bit!

IMG_0662

 

On Tuesday the whole group of students from New Hampshire went to a Flamenco show in a cave of the Albyzin. It was such a cool cultural experience! We were lucky to see a really well known singer and some very talented dancers. This is a video of the same group if anyone wants to see what it’s like!

Last night was also really fun. I went to my the parents of my host father’s house in the country to have dinner and watch a soccer game.  It was really nice having that time with my host family. We talked a lot and I really felt like part of the family.  I was so happy I went. They have a beautiful house and farm on a huge olive orchard. I felt like I really got a taste of what typical Spanish life is like. They live in a very typical Mediterranean style house with Arab inspired decor. The house also has a beautiful patio, pool, tennis courts, it’s own chapel, and an amazing view of Granada and the Sierra Nevadas…I wouldn’t mind moving in with my new abuelos.

Another thing that I haven’t mentioned yet is the volunteer work I’ve been doing. I am lucky enough to be part of a class that focuses on NGO’s and volunteering. It couldn’t be more perfect for me! On Mondays I work at an after school program for immigrant and minority children. All I have to do is hang out with kids for a few hours! They are so much fun and I really enjoy my time there. We do a little homework and then just play games and chat.

My other volunteer activity happens on Tuesdays with a group called Solidarios para el Desarrollo. It’s an NGO based in Madrid that organizes lots of different volunteer opportunities. What we do is pack up a bunch of food and walk around the city looking for homeless people and pass out food and talk with them. They are always so happy to see us and to have people to talk to. The most touching part of the experience is how they almost always tell us where we can find more hungry people and how sincerely thankful they are for our help.

I’ve already had so many incredible experiences and I still have so much to do and see before I come home in May! One of my favorite parts of living in Granada are the small day to day things that just happen to be culturally enriching or beautiful. I randomly stumble upon a group of Irish folk singers in a bar…I find a road covered with eye catching graffiti… I do homework in a plaza while people sing and dance to a flamenco guitarist…I hear the passionate cheers from a rugby game on my way to school… I see the sunset over the mountains from my favorite park… I could talk for days about all of these simple things that are making my time here spectacular.

My Journey to School

“Walking is a Virtue, Tourism is a Deadly Sin”

First I walk through this park outside my house…

image

Then I cross this street…

IMG_0575

Take a left…

IMG_0576

Walk through the sports campus…

IMG_0577

Take a left…

IMG_0578

Take a right…

IMG_0579

Then a left…

IMG_0580

Then a right…

IMG_0581

Continue onto this street…

IMG_0582

Take a right onto Gran Villa

IMG_0583

Continue on this for a longggg time…

IMG_0584

Cross through a plaza onto this road…

IMG_0585

Take a left onto this alley…

IMG_0587

And then a right and there is the door to the school!

IMG_0588

Just a short 2 mile adventure though Granada and I’m there!!!

1604607_593171077442612_510605701_n