Semana Santa

So I have been planning a lot lately for Semana Santa, aka spring break. We are graciously given 1 1/2 weeks off of school to either A) travel the world or B) study and work on all the projects for classes that we have. Clearly A is the right choice on this one. So myself, along with my roommate Brian and American friend Josiah are going to be touring Italy. We are flying to Venice on the first day and then making our way to Rome via trains and ultimately taking a cruise ship out of Civitavecchia(an hour outside of Rome) back to Barcelona. Our first stop after Venice will be Ravenna (Thanks to the wonderful suggestion from my Uncle Chip), then Florence and then finally Rome for the duration. It is nice to finally have a solid plan. Now all we have to work out are the trains, which from what I’ve heard, shouldn’t be too difficult.

On a completely different note, It seems weird to be excited for something that isn’t until December, but the new Tron Legacy trailer came out and I must say it looks epic. Take a look-see:

The storm is over…for now

Midterms are finally over and another calm has came before the final storm of finals. I had a much needed mini-trip to the coastal city of Valencia with my program on Friday and Saturday. Despite the ugly weather, it was a great time. We first went and ate lunch in a restaurant all to ourselves. We had the world famous paella. It was alright, I don’t think I’m much of a fan of that stuff. I find it to be rather bland and not as “great” as it is said to be. I’d much rather have a plate of french toast, eggs and bacon. After, we went on a tour of the city in the pouring rain. It is a really cool city; a smaller version of Barcelona with more modern architecture. Valencia is famous for several things: paella, America’s Cup sailing, F1 racing, and their amazing architecture. There is a strip of buildings that have all been built by the same person who designed the Sydney Opera House. They are really something to see.

After relaxing at the hotel for a while before dinner, we went out in search of a restaurant and eventually found a little tapas place and enjoyed some coffee and tapas. It was a nice night with great company. The next day we went to the aquarium and looked at all sorts of water animals. It wasn’t anything special, pretty much your standard aquarium. We went and enjoyed some pizza at the mall across the street and then we were off back to Barcelona in the bus. I felt like we needed another night to really experience what Valencia offers. We didn’t have very much time to actually see the city, but that just means I’ll need to plan a trip back.

I’ve been working on plans for spring break, which is approaching quickly, and today I finally bought a plan ticket to Venice, Italy, where I will begin my adventure of Italy for the duration of the week and a half. I will be ending the trip in the coastal town of Civitavecchia(an hour outside of Rome), where I’ll be taking a cruise ship with Josiah back to Barcelona and hopefully avoiding any rogue waves. We still need to hammer out the details of where we’ll go between the beginning and the end, but it’s good to finally have an outline for the week.

This week will be light on the schoolwork side, but I need to work on several group projects that are still looming over my head and will be until after spring break. The weather has been the exact opposite of the northwest; I was talking to my host mom’s daughter today and she was telling me how strange the weather has been recently. She said it’s usually warm and beautiful, but it’s anything but that right now. It’d be nice if that changed.

Full gallery: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=189152&id=613481966&l=c414d3131c

The Coincidence

Yesterday I was feeling really out of it and decided that it would be best if I went out for a walk in the nearby and famous park Montjüic. This park is amazing and truly beautiful. I walked around for a while and eventually made my way around to the Olympic stadiums where there just so happened to be Disney on ice performing at Palau Sant Jordi. So there were lots of families and little kids dressed up as Disney princesses. It was funny to see so much America in one place. I decided to head home after that, so I made my way back down to the front where there is the large National Museum of Art. There were a lot of people standing around, more than usual, so I was wondering what was going on. And then, all of a sudden, the fountains all light up and music starts playing! It was a solid 20 minutes of classical/opera music and the fountains moving with it. It was just what I needed and it really made my day. It’s amazing how life works. I didn’t plan on anything other than trying to get some fresh air, yet someone was looking out for me and had a plan. Thank you.

Yes, I’m alive.

Please excuse my failure to keep up with this thing recently. Life has been rather hectic with school lately. I had two midterms this morning that were intense. One of them in my Inequality, Poverty and Globalization class, which consisted of 3 essay questions and another nerve racking oral midterm in my International Business class. This was killer. I had three questions, the first and easiest of them I couldn’t answer. I froze, couldn’t think of ANYTHING. So I threw that question away and completely dominated the second two. Leaving me with a passing score. We’ll leave it at that.

Another reason for not keeping up was that after my really great birthday, I had to battle what seemed like food poisoning. That was terrible and lasted WAY too long. But now I’m better and everything is going well. I have a 5000-word paper to bust out this weekend for Monday and a midterm for International Economics on Wednesday, but I am not too worried about that one. The weather is looking up recently; it has been in the 60s with sunny skies, that would be nice if I wasn’t studying and in class the whole time, but I guess I did come over here for school…

My birthday! Ok so after classes, a bunch of us met up for dinner…the girls were so kind and made reservations. We ate at this Italian restaurant I picked our prior because I read good things about it. I ordered the Lasagna, which was excellent and possible the cause to my pain the following days. For dessert I got a dulce de leche crepe that was delicious. Then they surprised me with a beautiful homemade card! It had water coloring and everyone signed it for me, it was so nice. After we went to go find a bar. While waiting in the plaza to meet the two girls who lost us on the metro, they come walking up with MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM! It turns out they had been talking with Marina and she informed them of all the things that would make my birthday like being at home…They did a great job and they really went above and beyond trying to make it feel like home. I really appreciated it since being this far away for my birthday without my close friends and family is very weird.

I came to notice something today while walking to the café, where I’m currently writing this with a chocolate cookie and café con leche by my side. The awe factor of living here has somewhat dwindled. On the way here I walked by the Sagrada Família and thought nothing of it. I see it everyday and it has just become the normal scenery for my daily life. It’s just so normal. It’s very NOT normal though, it is a masterpiece of architecture and it is still under construction! These are just my thoughts for the day. I am living in Barcelona/Spain/Europe for 3 ½ months!  Wow. Plans for the weekend: relax, get that paper finished with and maybe go explore a new part of the city that I haven’t been to yet.

The Swiss Life

In the US I can take an hour and a half flight from Pasco, WA to Salt Lake City, UT. The scenery changes, the people change slightly, but overall I feel like I’m still in the United States. I was amazed by the cultural shift that an hour and a half flight can do in Europe. The difference between Spain and Switzerland is phenomenal. Not only is the language completely different, but the people look different, the food is different and the daily “schedule” is very different. Switzerland doesn’t have its own language, it’s mostly German speaking, however since Geneva is sitting right along the border with France, it is a French speaking city. This provided some unforeseen problems while staying there for a few days. I only knew a few key words in French and it was really difficult to communicate with people, especially in restaurants which is where all or communication occurred. Most of our eating took place in Italian and Chinese restaurants, it was a nice change from Spain. The food there was really great, but really expensive. The choice for eating: Really expensive restaurant, or normally expensive restaurant. I didn’t discover until afterwards that Geneva is the WORLD’S 4th most expensive city. Definitely not a college student destination by any means. So we did eat well, a normal dinner started at 20 Swiss Francs or $18 for the plate and then add the $5 water because in Europe tap water is an unthinkable thing to simply hand out for free.

We did find some free things to do there. We visited the Cathedral de San Pierre, which is this very large Cathedral where John Calvin spent much of his time. We also visited the UN headquarters there, along with a rather dull museum of ceramics and another museum on the red cross. It was a good wintery weekend.

Suiza

Spanish for Switzerland, Suiza is where I’ll be heading this evening. My roommate and I decided we needed to take off and go explore somewhere new. We started looking up cheap flights, because trains are way more expensive than it’s normally perceived. We found a really good deal to Geneva. So we booked our flights and our hostel reservations and tonight we’ll be off to the chilly lakeside city of Geneva. I’m really excited to try the chocolate and hopefully go check out the UN World Headquarters there. I will have a much longer post when I get back because HOPEFULLY I’ll have plenty to talk about 🙂

24

Today marks the 24th day of the trip and so far it’s been an adventure in every sense. I have pretty much mastered getting myself around both on the streets and underground on the metro. The weather has been off an on, however when it’s on, it’s really on. For example, it’s February 6th and currently 61 degrees and sunny. I picked the right place! Yesterday I met with a local university student who is trying to learn English because she is a Tourism major. She showed me Parque Montjuïc which is right by my apartment. This park is huge. It was the stage for the 1992 Olympics here and also has a castle built in 1640 at the top that overlooks the entire city and all the way out to the Mediterranean. We talked about a lot of stuff and did our best to understand each other’s attempt at the language. I think this is going to help a lot with learning the language, it’s more practice than in the classroom and it’s good to actually meet someone from Barcelona since none of our classes actually have Spaniards in them.

In 10 days it’s my birthday and I’ll be turning 21 in Barcelona. HA I would consider that a rare event. I don’t have major plans at the moment, probably find a nice restaurant and enjoy a good dinner. It’s weird to not celebrate a birthday with your friends and family, but instead with people you just met 4 weeks ago. Oh well, I’ll make the best of it and enjoy what I can.

I have been trying to organize a trip with some other friends here to places around Spain. We’ve been looking at the south of France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. As with any plan, there needs to be organization and PLANNING! I am of course the person who leads that by default. I don’t have a problem with that at all, in fact I like planning things and being that person to organize an event. So I’m currently working on that project on top of some school things that I have going on. There aren’t any definite plans yet, but they should be coming soon.

Current song:

Twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts.
I’m not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out.