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All Good Things Come to an End...

Language in Context 2011

May 13

I couldn’t have asked for a better last day here in Spain. I went to all of my favorite places and saw all of  my favorite people.

This morning our program went out on a catamaran. We swam, reminisced, and had a mini graduation; I got an award for being the only student to successfully complete the language contract! We all said our final goodbyes and parted ways…

On the catamaran

Then, I had one last family lunch with Rosa and Jesus. She made paella; it was perfect! Later, I headed down to the beach, hung out with some friends, rode the waves, and drank my final horchata.

Finally, I met up with David and Gema. We made our usual stops-La Tagliatella for dinner and the little tea shop. Some of their friends joined us at the teteria to say goodbye as well.

Although I will see David again in Portugal, it was my last night with Gema. I definitely cried when I said goodbye! I am going to miss them both so so so much!

I just finished packing; I have no idea how I am going to travel through Portugal with all of my luggage-it is going to be an adventure for sure! I have never been this nervous to travel before in my life.

On top of my nerves, I still feel like I am on a boat; my body is bobbing up and down. I’m praying that I get a few hours of sleep before my early-morning flight. If all goes well, I’ll be in Lisbon by noon.

Adios España!

Summer time!

May 12

I never thought that I would admit that I had fun taking a final exam, but it actually happened! I got to barf out so much knowledge all at once. (Great image huh?)

I can’t exactly explain the feeling I have had in my stomach all day…In a sense, I am relieved to be done, but at the same time, I am so sad to be leaving. It’s so weird to think that I am never going to be walking home from the University of Alicante ever again!

I said my goodbyes (not exactly literally) to the campus and to the top-heavy/always staring men at the gym…Then, I made my last journey from the campus to Rosa’s apartment.

I wanted to thank her for everything she has done for me this semester. She has been so patient and caring and I feel completely safe here. So, I told her (earlier in the week) that we were going to go out to lunch-my treat; surprise location…

I picked a spot on La Rambla that I have passed by a million times called Katagorri. The restaurant serves authentic Basque cuisine and tapas (pinchos) that look like works of art! And, since Basque cooking enjoys a reputation for being one of the best cuisines in the world, I decided we shouldn’t pass it up.

Rosa got all dressed up and we headed to the restaurant. The place is super modern looking; the service staff was great. She ordered some wine, and the appetizer of the day. I couldn’t pass up the gazpacho Andaluz-I wanted to have it one more time before I leave. Then, we shared the most beautiful salad. I don’t exactly know what it was-there were definitely veggies and 4 big shrimp (with heads) on top, but the rest is a mystery. It was cute because I ate the shrimp bodies and then I would pass the heads to Rosa. Apparently it is perfectly normal to eat them-eyes and all; and she loves them. We make a good team.

I love the presentation!

It seemed like she really enjoyed her time; I would call it a very special outing for us both!

On the way home, I ran into friends, so we hung out for a while and talked about traveling. I have come to discover that it (traveling) is addicting—once I start, I never want to stop! The list of places that I want to go to just keeps getting longer and longer. I definitely haven’t even tackled everywhere in Spain that I would like to see either!

Who knows…maybe I’ll come back and teach English here after I graduate? Lots to look forward to…

Side note: I finished another book-The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Although it took a while to get into, it was FANTASTIC! I have a feeling this book is going to stick with me for awhile-lots of good life advice!


Time is ticking...

May 11

I am done with final numba 3! It went SOO well too! My teacher told me that I was a model for how much Spanish someone could learn in a small amount of time if they put their mind to it; she said I was good enough to be in the highest Spanish class!

After class I walked downtown with Deedee to get a horchata. YUM! Then, I headed to David and Gema’s apartment. We had such a fun afternoon! We exchanged music (I have 7 new Spanish CDs to listen to on my runs!); David made a delicious salad and salmon filets for lunch and Gema cut up fresh strawberries and drenched them in zumo de naranja for dessert.  Afterwards, I took my last siesta on their floor! Practically 2 hours long too..I must have been exhausted from all of my walking and sun-intake!

Oh, and how could I forget…

We made videos of the different sounds that animals make! I know it sounds crazy, but somehow we discovered that Spanish animals make different sounds than American animals. We all got quite a kick out of this, and decided to document it for the camera. The strangest one was definitely the sound of a rooster.

The most amazing people-Muchas gracias por todo!

Quote of the Day:

La vida en España: trabajar, comer, tomar una siesta en el suelo, trabajar otra vez (si quieres), fiesta toda la noche …


A photo from this weekend

Lucky Girl

May 8

Yesterday, I went with my program-mates to the pretty-much deserted island of Tabarca. The boat ride was rather unpleasant-as the waves were enough to make my stomach do summersaults. (Let’s just say that it took a lot to keep it all inside!) But, once we arrived, we had a great time. Lindsay and I explored the island; I collected some sea glass. It was a nice little pre-departure get-together…Luckily the boat ride back was much calmer!

Today David, Gema, and I went to Benitachell- a tranquil and picturesque village with an absolutely stunning coastline. (The houses sort of reminded us of Beverly Hills.) The coastline is formed by a succession of cliffs that stand more than 100m high and descend vertically into the sea; the water was a beautiful aqua color-crystal clear; and there were some awesome caves/water pools.

We hiked around the cliffs; listened to some people talk about the rock formation, ducked into the caves to watch some divers, and wandered down to the pebbly beach to wade in the water/take in some Mediterranean sun! We joked around all day long; I think I made enough face contortions to guarantee myself some extra wrinkles!

After grabbing cold drinks and hiking back up a massive hill from the beach, we headed to lunch. There was only one man serving the whole place, but he was really friendly and the food was very flavorful! We had some sepia (female calamari) and I ate a giant salad. Add in some tinto de verano, some great conversation, and two amazing people; and I couldn’t have asked for a better last weekend in Spain! We clanked our glasses together in honor of our friendship…

Guess what always comes after lunch?…..SIESTA!

We took a snooze on the playa before heading back to Alicante. Since I returned I have been prepping for final numba 1…Back to studying I go…


April 15

I can’t believe how fast my time in Spain has flown by! On Thursday, after classes, we had a re-entry orientation in which we talked about reverse culture shock and the process of adjusting to life back in the United States after studying abroad.

We did an exercise that forced us to think about our experiences, to reflect on them, and then to imagine what our re-entry process will feel like.

The exercise made me realize how much I love Spanish culture and how much I have matured throughout my time here. It also made me realize everything that I have grown so accustomed to and all that I will miss when I return home.

So far, I have the following list:

I will miss all of the constant activity! I love walking outside and seeing so many people on the street. Spain is never ever silent.

I am going to miss being able to walk everywhere! I feel such a sense of independence here because I really only have to rely on my own two feet for transportation.

Surprisingly, I feel incredibly safe here-I know Alicante like the back of my hand. I never worry about getting lost and not being able to find my way. I am going to miss this feeling of safety. I think that one of the reasons that Spain feels so secure is that there are always people around.

Of course, I will miss being walking distance from the beach!

I think I am going to cry when I leave David and Gema. They are an amazing couple! I have them to thank for my rapid acquisition of the Spanish language.

I will miss having Rosa’s special tortilla Española for my picnic lunch everyday. She always uses different veggies and she likes to surprise me. The other day she made one with apple and pumpkin! It was delicious! (Usually tortilla Española is made with egg and potatoes, but somehow she figured out early on that I am not a fan of potatoes, so she made some very creative adjustments.)

I am definitely going to miss the long days. I feel like I can cram so much into one day here because the eating schedule is so different. Instead of eating at 6 or 7, dinner is around 9 or 10, so I have so many more hours that I can fill with fun activities.

There is definitely more, but I will leave it at that!

A few more updates from this week:

Yesterday I went to a play, but I quickly came to realize that the play was written in Valenciano.  Thus, I barely understood it, so I left early.

Palmerero Jeremy This morning, we took the train to Elche—a city that is very well known for its palm trees (declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000) and date production. We learned that the Arabs developed palm tree farming and designed a complex articulated irrigation system. We also got to see one of the palm farmers climb a palm and artificially pollinate it. And…believe it or not, I actually climbed part way up a palm trunk with just a rope to lean back against!


¡Qué buen tiempo! ¡Estoy morena!

April 9, 2011

Today David and Gema and I spent the entire day together. First, we headed up the Costa Blanca toward Calpe, a village known for its huge rock called the penon de Ifach. We spent the first half of the day climbing el penon de lfach. It was a tricky climb, but it was definitely worth it! There were tons of different types of beautiful flowers and the views from the top were incredible! There were even two cats living up there.

Calpe The hike was a blast. We sang songs (well, we made up lyrics) to distract ourselves from the somewhat scary climb, we tried to pick out where the tourists were from based on their clothing and accents, and we yelled at the seagulls to “¡cállate la boca.”

Afterwards, we enjoyed some local cuisine: Fresh fish! We were lured in by a glass of free sangria; the place was full of tourists (i.e. free entertainment!) We all shared; I tried octopus (pulpo), grilled calamari with aioli sauce, and a bite of shrimp cocktail. The shrimp cocktail was very different from what I am used to and I didn’t really care for it, but the pulpo and the calamari were delicious! Also, I learned something new…apparently, there is a different name for female calamari. (Unfortunately, my memory is failing me at the moment.)

After our late lunch, we headed to the beach to siesta for a bit in the heat of the Mediterranean sun.

Then, we drove to the beautiful village of Altea. The town is characterized by white-washed houses, beaches, a maze of cobble stoned/narrow streets, and lots of places to dine. We wandered into the shops, quenched our thirst at a bar on the square, and did a lot of people watching. It’s funny because, since I have been in Spain for a few months, I don’t feel like a tourist anymore. We all had fun trying to stereotype the foreigners and guess where they were from. (If you can’t already tell, tourist season is in full swing over here!)

That’s all for now.


La primavera está aquí!

April 8, 2011


Uni Alicante is experiencing a mini heat wave! 86 degrees! I am not complaining; however, it does make it much more difficult to pay attention in class when it is gorgeous outside. This week has been busy as usual.

Yesterday David and I went to the beach, drank a refreshing granizado de limón, and took a mini hike out to a lighthouse. We are currently working out plans to go to Portugal!


Today, after my language class, one of the professors took those of us who have fulfilled the language contract (there are only two of us left in the program!) on a tour of Alicante. We got to learn a bit of history and see some historical points of interest. My favorite part was getting to go inside the underground shelters that were used during the civil war.

Let’s see…Oh, Rosa and I went to the mall together this week and I helped her pick out clothes. She is quite the fashionista!

Also, my society class watched an extremely gripping film called “Te doy mis ojos” (Take My Eyes). It was about domestic violence, and it was incredibly difficult to watch. I have NEVER been so effected by a film before! I cried so much that I had to wait for the rest of the class to leave before I could stand up. And then, I continued crying for half of my walk home. I highly recommend the film though-great acting!

Anyways, that’s all for now. I just got back from an afternoon at the beach, and I am about to go read the third book in the Stieg Larsson series!!!!!!!

Imagine this 5 times more crowded!


Marrakesh was absolutely fantastic! The media does a good job of portraying Morocco as being incredibly unsafe; however, I would beg to differ-completely! I had an amazing weekend! Because we didn’t quite know what to expect or what we were getting ourselves into, my friends Jordan and Amanda and I arranged an airport transfer to our hotel. We stayed at the Riad Alamir.  The hotel was a four-minute walk from the Medina, the room was adorable, there was a terrace with views that looked out toward the Koutoubia Mosque, and a swimming pool. The hotel served a full breakfast, which was amazing; the proprietor was incredibly helpful and gave us multiple “orientation sessions”; and staff made us the best mint tea!  (I paid about 55 euros for all that!)

Maruecos We spent the entire weekend exploring…Marrakesh has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco and also has one of the busiest squares in Africa-Jemaa El Fna Square. The square bustles with snake charmers, henna tattoo artists, monkeys, dried fruit vendors, etc. At night, when all of the food stalls open up, the whole square turns into an open-air restaurant. They sell halwa shebakia: a pretzel-shaped dough deep-fried and dipped into a hot pot of honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  There were large vats of soup, plump dates, snails (which we were told to try; I promptly spit mine out!), meat and veggie kebabs, mounds of couscous and Moroccan salad (a mixture of tomatoes, green peppers, garlic and spices), various types of tajine, and some delicious-looking sweets.

Tajine Throughout the weekend I tried many different dishes, but I think my favorites were the Moroccan tomato salad and the chicken tajine with almonds, raisins, onions, and garbanzo beans.

We also tried some “sesame and gingerbread (?) spiced thing” that was delicious, and I wish I knew the name of it.









Tannery On Sunday we ventured to the tanneries where the men prepare the leather. We went to one that was for large animals and one that was for smaller animals. Both smelled horrid but, luckily, we were given fresh mint to smell throughout our visit. The reason for the stench is that they use pigeon poo, cow urine, fish oils, animal fats and brains, chromium salts and sulphuric acids, which all contribute to the marvelous array of colors of leather which are produced in the tanneries. Unfortunately, there are no nice viewing galleries at the tanneries; it is a perilous journey between large vats of dyed water and vast piles of skins. I really really don’t want to think about all of the germs that my shoes have picked up!

We also checked out the Museum of Marrakesh and the Madersa Ben Youssef, which is a beautiful Islamic College. Apparently, at one point, it was the largest Medrasa (school) in all of Morocco.

We took a tour of a spice/pigment shop; we learned about the pigments that they use to dye leather, beads, thread, etc.

We meandered through another part of the city to the Majorelle Gardens.

We covered a lot of ground; I truly feel like I saw the city. Moreover, I felt like I go to know the culture. We spent time talking to vendors, the men who offered us tours, and other hotel guests.  I used my French, my Spanish and, of course, English. Actually, I was astonished at how many languages the vendors knew. They would shout: “Français? Italiano? Español?” I would shake my head after each question. “Nope…keep guessing.” I was also given various nicknames by the vendors: Shakira, Maria (apparently a very typical Spanish name); someone even called me “fish and chips.“ I have no idea why! They would cat call all day long…we were expecting it, so it didn’t phase us. The cat calling wasn’t meant to be rude…it is just the way they do it in Morocco. In fact, I felt very welcomed and I found the people to be incredibly friendly. People smiled a lot and they seemed genuinely happy to meet us.  We were offered free tours (even though “nothing is free” in Morocco—I’ll get to that later); vendors made us tea (it is honestly the BEST).

Anyway, what I mean by “nothing is free”… In Marrakesh, if someone in the square comes up to you and puts a monkey on your shoulder and your friend takes a picture, then, you have to pay. If someone leads you in the direction that you want to go, you have to pay. Thus, it is imperative that you agree on a price before the deed is done! Otherwise, you will be ripped off…You see, Morocco is a very poor country (1 dirham=0.08 euros), thus, what seems like very little is actually very helpful. Luckily for us, this also means that things were incredibly cheap. A water bottle in Spain can cost 3 euros and change. A water bottle in Marrakesh costs about half a euro. (Good thing, because under no circumstances should you drink the water in Morocco!) Also, we were able to have multiple course dinners that were about 25 euros for three people.

Speaking of currency, bargaining is a must in Morocco. At first a vendor will probably tell you a price that is 4 times higher than what you should actually pay. Over the weekend, this proved to be a very fun game for me. I bought gorgeous leather purses, intricate pillowcases, spices, and cushions. (Top quality, hand made things for unbeatable prices!) I am going to set up a little Moroccan sitting area in my room when we move houses!

Anyways, that’s all for now!



A mini update...

March 25, 2011

I feel like I haven’t had a free moment all week! I have been running around Alicante; taking advantage of all of the festivities/opportunities that the city has to offer! I checked out a new exhibit at the university museum about the women of Spain during the transition to democracy; I went to another cooking class-this time we made hot tapas; David and I met for tea and we went to an amazing symphony concert (Rosa gave us 2 free tickets)…

Today, after language class, I went down to the port with my friend Emily and took in some Alicante sun/read my book (I cannot put it down). Then after some more walking, I sat down in a park to read some more. However, I barely read one page, and along came a very curious little girl from Madrid. She was adorable, and we talked for a good half hour. Then, I walked home for Friday family lunch. Rosa made the best paella that I have tried yet! It is her Saint’s day today, so she wanted it to be special! In Spain everyone celebrates their birthday as well as their Saint’s day!  The calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints.

Anyway, I am off to Morocco tomorrow! I AM SO EXCITED!


It's not over yet

The semester is almost over with just a few more weeks. Were actually wrapping up classes now. All the final projects and long papers are just a small price to pay for all the memorable moments we had here. This week starts spring break and I can't begin to explain how excited I am. The UK, south of France and italy are just a few places on my list to visit. I can't believe how time flies. Though, I'm not too worried because I still have much to look forward to before my wonderful experience abroad is over. Looking back I've come to realize that this truly is a dream I'm living and I'm making sure I take full advantage.