Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Europe vs. USA

Although I am defiantly past the culture shock Europe is known to bring to us jaded Americans I thought I would reminisce on some of the major differences between Europeans and Americans.

It is common to see people walking around in JEANS and cardigans in 90 plus degree weather. And these people are not going to work, they are just hanging out. Also, they never wear work-out clothes/t-shirts but are not necessarily dressy either.

CARBS! I do not know how they eat so many carbs all the time! Then again I feel like they have a lot of fresh produce. In Germany and Spain (and I recall France) they eat mainly pork and have little chicken.

Smoking is a necessity here, everyone does it, everywhere, all the time. In Madrid, they apparently got really upset when they prohibited smoking in the Metro because they thought it was limiting there rights ....

With a lack of suburbs most people either take public transportation everywhere or walk/bike. (No wonder they can eat so many carbs!) And you will never see a truck/suv/van either.

There is NO lack of PDA in Europe, anywhere, anytime is acceptable for not only hand-holding but heavy lusting (even spotted mid 30's couples participating). Apparently people live at home much longer than in the states and have no choice but to have public displays of affection.

Friday, June 25, 2010

hasta luego espana! guten tag deutschland!

On Saturday I left beautiful Espana for Deutschland! I landed in Nuremberg, Germany about 45 minutes from my friend Becky's house after two flights both delayed 40 min! Luckily, I made it there in one piece with all my luggage!Becky and I in Rothensburg, a German town we visited!

Surprisingly, I felt a little culture shock coming to Germany, even though I am staying with my friend in an American army base town. One reason though is the language, I know "nine" German or none and Becky and her parents know little to none also! Although there was a language barrier in Spain, I was always able to communicate so coming to Germany was strange!

Also, different (but refreshing) was escaping Madrid and its extreme heat to the German countryside filled with open land and cooler air. After being accoustmed to city life, driving around in car vs. taking the metro was a nice change, but I can honestly say now I miss Spain!!!
My study abroad group before our farewell dinner!
(Miss them already!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finals & More VT Love

Now that I am officially done with my "study" part of my study abroad experience, I can defiantly say I miss Virginia Tech and the way things are run in general back in the good old USA. Universities abroad are organized (or should I say unorganized) in a very different way and it made me appreciate education in the US and how grateful I am to have one of the best educations around. Now don't get me wrong, I learned a lot from my "studying" experience, especially in the short three weeks I did have class but I believe the most beneficial part was the cultural immersion.

One positive aspect of the grading system is how grades are distributed: 33% Attendance, 33% Participation/Homework, and 34% Exams. Considering how I did extremely poorly on my first Spanish exam, this grading scale helps me significantly. However, the exams here are very different in that there is no such thing as multiple choice, true false, matching, etc. You are given a topic to write about and it is generally open-ended leaving you a little confused as to what exactly is wanted. So in some senses multiple choice is a lot better.

My class were generally pretty interesting but I most enjoyed the anecdotes and stories about culture in my International Business class and I want to take a class about culture. I took a class called World Regions my freshman year and I loved it, so hopefully I can find something similar to take for fun!

Just think: you never realize what you have until you experience something different!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spanish Purchases

So today I did some serious damage in a span of approximately 30 minutes in between going to the ISA office to print off flight confirmations and dinner. I first just wanted to get another longchamp since it is a lot cheaper to get them over here but of course El Corte Ingles and the fabulous sales in Puerta de Sol (every store had sales for the summer season!) I just couldn't resist!First Purchase: Black Medium Longchamp
I have a Light Blue one but its 3 years old and pretty dirty from traveling around Spain, time for a new one!
Second Purchase: Earrings from El Corte Ingles, Vidal y Vidal
Although they were a little expensive (30 euro) I do not leave the house without a pair of earrings and these can easily be dressed up or down!

Final Purchases: Sweaters from Sfera's amazing sale
I absolutely love cardigans and sweaters, they are so easy to throw on and again can be dressed up or down. Both were a steal for 10 and 11 euro!

Parque de Retiro

On Tuesday my group got the opportunity to go to Parque de Retiro for the 2nd time! We rode in the boats on the main lake/pond and it was such a treat! After about two weeks of chilly and rainy weather in Spain, Tuesday was the first HOT day in a while and it was nice to escape the heat a little in the park. I'm on a boat! (and forgot my sunglasses!)
We may have had some issues at time rowing together, we made it safe back onto dry land after about 45 minutes.
In front of the lake!

I wish I could have spent longer lounging around, but my roommate Cara has an eye infection so we ventured to the doctor where they told her her eyes were better YAY!And I spotted the Christain Louboutin store on the way there and just had to take a pic!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Churros con Chocolate

So on my list of many things to do in Spain, of course I had sampling the traditional cuisine. Thanks to my host family I have eaten many spanish meals and discovered some things about their cuisine. First off they have a very different eating schedule than us in the states. They eat a light breakfast, followed by a heavy lunch in the middle of the afternoon, followed by a light dinner late at night. As for food preferences, they eat rice with just about everything, they rarely eat red meat as they perfer pork in any fashion (so many jamon/ham shops), water is not refrigerated and fruit is considered dessert.

With my sweet tooth, I needed something more than just fruit for a change so my friends and I ventured off to find the famous Spanish treat Chocolate con Churros at the famous San Gines located in Sol, one of the main tourist traps! Here they are, we each got our own bowl of semi-sweet chocolate (I would much perfer milk) which was A LOT of chocolate!
Jenni and I enjoying the treats!

Viva Espana!!!

La Copa Mundial or World Cup is currently taking the world by storm and with Spain as the second place overall sead, there is futbol feaver in the air. Last night was Spain's second game, after their extremely disappointing loss to Switzerland, and of course we had to watch like the Spaniards. And where else better to do this than Santiago Bernabeu, the stadium of Real Madrid.
It was crazy, starting in the metro everyone was "siente la roja" or feeling the red and screaming chants like "Yo Soy Espanol" or "I am Spanish." It was one big party!This was 2 hours before the game!

Us watching Spain beat Honduras!

Monday, June 21, 2010

El Corte Ingles

One thing I love about Europe is their mega super stores that you can get lost in for hours shopping. My personal favorite is El Corte Ingles found throughout Spain. There is a huge one in the main shopping area of Madrid, its so big it actually consists of 4 different buildings... one for music and movies, one for books, one for electronics, and one for clothes/retail and food.

So far I have been in everyone of them and have made many purshaces. Including a 12 euro fan for my room (no A.C. can get hot!), lots of food, including lots of baguettes, cookies and chocolate, a top from their Sfera section (they have other store´s clothes consolidated in one place = genius), and a necklace. I also plan on buying another Longchamp bag (mine is getting worse through wear and tear) since they are less expensive in Europe.

It is defiently the best of both worlds, cheap items mixed with your high end shopping! If only Walmart could add some designer clothes ...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

O the Places you Go!

Sorry for my extreme fail at posting, I have been busy running around getting little sleep, just like the Spaniards. So I thought I would update on the excursions I have been on ...

After the extreme heat it was a relief to go to Santander about 6 hours north of Madrid. Although I did not pack appropriately for the rain there or the caves we went to. Santander is a port city on the Atlantic and was interesting to see another part of Spain but I prefer Madrid anyday.We first stopped in Burgos for lunch, which was a charming little town with a beautiful cathedral.We also went to a few more small towns with more cathedrals, shopping, beaches (way too cold to swim), and a natural cave.
In Santillana de Mar we got to experience fresh milk and biscotti's, it was really good!
We even saw a Gaudi original in Comillas, it was much brighter in person!

I absolutely LOVE Granada, if you ever go to Spain you must visit Granada. It is the perfect blend of modern and historical complete with the Alhambra, an enormous palace and fortress, in the middle of the mountains. Granada was ruled for many years by the moors and has a lot of influence as well as Shawramba's or Kebab's. We also got to go to a beach on the Mediterranean with gravel sand.
Here I am on an overlook of Granada with the Alhambra in the background.
We also saw Flamenco dancers, super guay!
In the Alhambra!
We also went to a beach on the Meditterean

Toledo and El Escorial
Toledo had a great overlook and is a city that combinded three religions in harmony. El Escorial was the summer palace for the Spanish royalty as well as their burial spot.
Toledo Overlook
Gardens of El Escorial

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Every where you go in Madrid there are fountains.....