Saturday, June 4, 2011

Los Estados Unidos

Saturday, 10:24 a.m.

Please note the time...that's right now!

The rumors are true - I am back to the United States. Finally!

After far too many calculations, it was determined that by the time I was back in Eugene I had been up from 7:45 a.m. on Thursday morning to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday in Spain.

Math is not my strongest suit, but that is a lot of hours! I'd only been traveling from 3:00 a.m. on Friday to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday though, if that makes it any better.

Each leg of the journey brought Sara and I a little closer to being in a land where English is the primary language. We were thrilled to finally touch down on American soil in Philadelphia, and were ecstatic when we reached our "final" destination in Seattle.

These guys were waiting for me:

And then we started the long drive home. I gobbled the snacks my dad and Jonny brought for me - carrots and a PBJ sandwich - and marveled at the large vehicles, the presence of rest areas, and the novelty of listening to the radio.

We pulled up to good ol' 2270 at 4:00 a.m. I have never been more happy to see home.

After four hours of sleep, I decided to get up and start my day - I'm trying to avoid jet lag as much as I possibly can. Today I plan on returning to the mother ship (Target) and then lounging in the sun alternating between reading all the celebrity gossip magazines that have been bestowed on me and snoozing.

Even though I'm home now, keep an eye on this blog - I still have a few parts of my trip to write about, plus some final thoughts.

It's so good to be home.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

el día final

Thursday, 2:31 p.m

Today we took a final, had a goof-off class (we ate food our teacher brought us and watched YouTube videos). And we "graduated" from class today. Got "diplomas" and everything! On my way home I tossed my last two folders in the recycling bin - it was a beautiful feeling.

I returned home for my last lunch in Spain (after walking back from school the last time) and am now attempting to finish my packing.

My room is something of a disaster area right now. Actually, maybe not. Zach’s room at home? That’s a disaster area. I can still see my floor, and everything is organized as it should be. It only seems disastrous because I am in the process of packing.

It has been so much easier to pack to go home than it was to pack to come to Spain – I know that I have to bring everything with me, so there’s not a lot of decision-making.

I have one shower to go (I’m taking it while everyone else is taking their siesta), and then will be able to toss things like body wash and shaving cream. I’ll dry and straighten my hair (for what I think will be the third time I’ve done that here) and then will be able to pack my flatiron. I’ll put on make-up for tonight and then will stow the rest in my suitcase.

My room is slowly getting cleaned up. My closet now only holds the clothes I’m wearing tonight and tomorrow; my desk is now only home to my computer; my shelves only have my host mom’s trinkets on them.

My photos on the mirror are gone; my page-a-day calendar is stowed away in my carry-on; my books are settled in my backpack. My gadgets are all charged; my liquids are all in their quart-sized Ziploc bag; my passport is safely tucked in the holder I’ll be wearing around my neck tomorrow.

Now I have reached the point where I want to do nothing but finish packing and leave, but instead, I wait. Not for long now, considering I’ll be getting up in roughly 12 hours to start the long journey home.

This afternoon I’ll be hanging out with Kyla, wandering the streets of this lovely city we’ve called home for the past two months. We have our goodbye dinner tonight with our entire group, plus our advisor and professors. At 3:00 a.m., I’ll be leave 24 calle del sol for the last time, making my way to the bus station with Gigantor in tow.

Our bus for Bilbao leaves at 3:45 a.m. When we arrive there, Sara and I will take the city bus to the airport to catch our 8:00 a.m. flight to Madrid.

After a three-and-a-half hour layover, we leave Spain at 12:35 p.m. for the good ol’ United States. Eight hours and 40 minutes later, I’ll get to Philadelphia at 3:15 p.m. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was actually a three hour flight? Going backwards is going to confuse me like nobody’s business!

After a quick layover in Philadelphia, we leave at 5:55 p.m., arriving in Seattle at 8:56 p.m. That flight is six hours and one minute long, but I know it will seem like the longest because I will be beyond excited to get home.

My daddy and boyfriend are meeting me at the airport and then we’re driving all night to get to Eugene.

I’ve never been more excited for a trip in my life.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

31 de mayo

Tuesday, 4:18 p.m.

I have three days left in Santander. Less than that, actually. I leave this beautiful city I have learned to love on Friday at 3:45 a.m.

This week has been a busy one. I’ve had two presentations, written several papers, and my finals are coming up in the next two days. I have yet to undertake the daunting task of packing up my room even though every bit of me is longing to do so. I’m forcing myself to wait because I really didn’t bring enough things to be able to pack some of them early.

Because I’m itching to get things together and go home though, I’m starting to get somewhat organized about pre-packing. My toiletries are now organized not based on convenience of use, but based on what I will be tossing and what I’ll be taking. My closet is no longer organized by color and sleeve length, but by what I think I’ll be wearing over the next few days and what won’t be touched until I’m back in the U.S. I have made mental notes of what school things I will immediately recycle once I finish with classes (the culture folder and notebook will be the first to go, tomorrow afternoon once I take the final). I know which carry-on items will go in which bag.

Heck, I’ve even organized my garbage (empty water bottles in one box, garbage in another, paper in yet another).

I’m ready to be home. Obviously I’m so ready to see all my loved ones and speak my favorite language, but I have missed so many other little things about home.

I’m excited to drink Eugene water again. To use my debit card (I haven’t used it hear unless I was withdrawing money, in order to avoid a gargantuan charge). To eat a more sizeable breakfast. To eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To have vegetables. To not inhale smoke from countless cigarettes on walks. To use my cell phone. To go to Target. To see a real dog (I’m tired of these teensy little purse dogs that are constantly underfoot). To dry and straighten my hair. To read daily. To be in a country where it's considered strange to not wash your hands after going to the bathroom (in Spain it's normal to just flush and go...gross!).

Don’t get me wrong – there are things about Spain that I will miss too. I love the people-watching. The fact that the city shuts down on Sundays. The proximity of the beach. Cola-cao. The magical shades that completely shut out any and all light from outside. Having my laundry done for me. Window-shopping. Meeting up with people at all hours of the evening. Regma ice cream. Wandering the Paseo. Watching “Hannah Montana” in Spanish (the girl who voices Hannah sounds exactly like her, it’s scary). The cute little pennies. My sweet host mom saying, “¿Que tal, bien?” whenever I walk in the door, not even giving me the option of being anything but good.

I have seen Spain. I’ve experienced it; I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot…and now, I am ready to be home.

Tomorrow I have classes and a final, and then on Thursday I have another final. I will pack like a crazy person on Thursday afternoon before going to La Cena Despedida (The Goodbye Dinner) will everyone from my group, plus our teachers…and then it’ll be time to bus to Bilbao and start the long journey home.

I’m so excited. This trip has been so amazing, but I can't wait to be back where I belong!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Sunday, 12:32 p.m.

I. Am. Tired.

This weekend has taken everything out of me. I was trying to create a lovely post with pictures from my excursion this weekend, but for some reason Blogger is being difficult and keeps ruining my words when I add photos, so I have decided to ignore the photos for now.

On Friday we had our Picos de Europa excursion which involved four stops - a monastery, the Picos, a town called Potes, and a really old church (10th century old). The excursion got off to an unpromising start as I was feeling incredibly bus sick...I'll spare you the details.

We went to the monastery where we got to touch a piece of the cross Jesus died on. Yeah, right. Not to be a Doubting Thomas or anything, but I just don't understand how anyone can claim such a thing!

Next we headed to the Picos de Europa, were we crammed into tiny cable cars to go up the mountain. We were rewarded for this death-ride (my already being nauseous plus my claustrophobia does not lead to a good experience) with a view of fog. We could barely see 10 feet ahead of us, it was that foggy.

Next we headed to a town of Potes. At this point we were all dragging and most of us would have been content to stay on the bus. Instead we wandered into tourist shop after tourist shop, buying last-minute Spain gifts for family and friends.

Next we headed to a teensy little church that was built in the 10th century before hitting the road to Santander. I was exhausted and slept the entire way.

Once back in Santander I had dinner then headed over to Kyla's in the hopes of doing homework. On a Friday night. There's a reason this group calls me "Grandma". Obviously.

Her host mom (best host mom on this trip, hands down) took us out for Sangria with the two girls from University of Texas who just moved into Kyla's house. Their program just started and they'll be here for the next six weeks. These girls are the sweetest girls I have ever met in my life. Since Kyla and I have been here longer and have been taking Spanish longer, we were able to play translator for them when Kyla's host mom was talking, which made us feel like Spain has really been teaching us.

We returned to Kyla's where I decided to abandon homework for the evening and just go home and go to bed. I'd been getting sick (some bug had been going around among my class) and was feeling pretty tired so I thought if I wanted to go out on Saturday, I better save my energy.

On my way home I stopped at the plaza where everyone was meeting and ended up running back home to change before heading back to go out with them. We sat on the steps for a while, where everyone was drinking bottles (or boxes) of one-euro wine (I refused to drink any, informing everyone that it tasted like church) before we went on to the next destination.

While we were in the plaza the group from Texas showed up and I ran over to say hi to the girls staying with Kyla (Kelsey and Kendall). They (and some other people from their group) came to the shot bars with us, and joined us in our random wanderings of the city. Our group got separated so many times, and everyone's phones are out of minutes so we would wander pretty blindly trying to find people. Whenever we ran into someone, the first thing out of their mouth would be, "Abbie you're still here?!"

It was late.

I finally got home at 4:00 a.m. with absolutely no voice - I was squeaking like a teenage boy going through puberty. Bars are loud!

On Saturday morning I got up, wrote three papers (go Grandma!), wandered to a few stores, had lunch, then spent a few hours at the beach. The weather was absolutely perfect, but my fear of skin cancer led to me using too much sunscreen to get tan. I suppose my skin will thank me later...a lot of people were looking like lobsters.

After the beach I headed home to shower, then went to the market to Skype Jonny and then my family before dinner. After dinner I watched a movie before going out at 11:30. I only lasted an hour-and-a-half last night - didn't even make it off the plaza steps! My voice was still gone and I was completely exhausted.

I woke up this morning after eight hours of sleep, ate breakfast, then immediately went back to bed to take a nap. I have a terrible cough and a stuffy nose. I haven't tried my voice yet, but I'm betting I'm still squeaking like nobody's business.

Today is going to be a lazy day - I'm going to go home and read and study and go to bed early early early!

This week is our last week of school plus our finals week, so I really need to be on top of my game! I have a presentation on Tuesday and finals on Wednesday and Thursday, plus have to fine-tune those three papers I wrote this weekend to turn in.

I can't believe I only have five days left here. My time here has really flown by and it seems like I haven't been here very long at all, but at the same time I feel like it's been forever. I have gotten so much out of this trip, and I'm definitely ready to be home.

Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

26 de mayo

Nothing too thrilling to report here...this week was long. Is long. I had to return to school three afternoons this week, and today we had to recuperate a class and stayed longer than usual. One of my teachers took to calling me "Abbie" this week, which amused me...pronounce it in Spanish and it just sounds funny! Ah-vee. Try it. See? Funny.

My host mom has been sick since Sunday night (have you ever tried to eat dinner while someone is puking in the next room? I don't recommend it), so I've been taken care of by a stream of "babysitters" this week. Today's "babysitter" reminded me of my grandma - she gave me a fork, knife, and spoon at lunch...and all I was eating was soup. I actually don't know that Grandma would have gone to all that trouble...but she'd be pleased to know I have all the silverware at every meal! My "babysitters" usually give me my food then go do other chores, which has made for lonely mealtimes, but it's not so bad with the company of Little Women. (So Rach, these women...just how little are they? Sorry, I couldn't resist a Friends reference!)

Luckily, the end of the school week is here, which means nothing too thrilling except uninterrupted homework time. I have a presentation on Tuesday, two papers due on Thursday, and finals on Thursday and Friday...and then I get to come home. That seems like good motivation to stay on-task and get things done to me!

Tomorrow we have our final group excursion. We're going to Picos de Europa. Obviously I have no idea what that entails - we're leaving school at 9:00 a.m. and will return at 9:00 p.m.

This weekend is my last opportunity to enjoy the nightlife of Spain, so I (and the rest of the group) intend to do so. I'm guessing it will involve everyone's favorite shot bar, dancing, and some pretty late nights. I'll probably only go out one night, because I get tired too easily if I stay out late. Because of this, some people in the group refer to me as "Grandma," a name I will willingly accept. I can't argue with it if it's true, right?

Right now I'm at the market, downloading some TV shows to keep me company tonight (including the finale of How I Met Your Mother, Zach!). I'm hoping to turn in early and get some good rest - I have woken up every morning this week (for no reason, I should add) at 4:00 and haven't been able to fall back to sleep for a least an hour. This makes for an incredibly tired Abbie!

Hope you all had a great week!

Monday, May 23, 2011

el cumpleaños de mi papá...y otras cosas

9:37 p.m.

First of all, let me wish a happy birthday (ahem, feliz cumpleaños) to my wonderful papá! He is turning a very young age today, obviously! If you've ever taken a Spanish class, you've probably sung "Feliz cumpleaños a ti..." to the tune of the "Happy Birthday" song, but did you know that is wrong? A guy in our group's birthday was today also and we sang to him, but you sing "Cumpleaños feliz" to the tune of the usual song.

I know you're really glad you know that now.

Ignore my silly face in this photo and please note the birthday boy in the following photo...

And now you may note the Zumba skirts Kendall and I are rocking - que guay, si? (That means "how cool, yes?")

I have been Zumba-ing up a storm over here lately. And by that I mean that whenever I hear Shakira's waka-waka Africa or whatever song Zach was obsessed with last summer, I do the few moves I can remember Tanya teaching me.

Sometimes people think I'm cool.

Other times they just laugh.

Let's not talk about it.

I'm writing this from the market in one of my last few weeks of being in Spain. Only 11 more days to go! It's gone by so quickly and so slowly at the same time. I have a few more papers, a presentation, and next week's finals and then I'll be done...and moving onto my senior year.

But let's not talk about that either.

We have an excursion to los Picos de Europa on Friday, and then I will be trying my best to have a great final weekend in Spain!

I'm in the process of creating a bucket list of things to do with the rest of my time here...I'll let you know what it contains as soon as I finish it. I see a lot of ice cream and beach time in my future, that's for sure!

Hope you all had a great weekend and are having a good start to your week! Happy birthday, daddy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Thursday, 9:07 p.m.

There are several foods I make it my life’s mission to avoid. Included on this list are instant mashed potatoes and anything hot dog or bratwurst-like.

I sat down to dinner tonight with a growling stomach. Imagine my horror when placed in front of me were a big ol’ pile of instant mashed potatoes (the kind that develop an outer skin after sitting for a moment too long) and two disgusting-looking bratwurst.

Little Ramón was not thrilled with tonight’s dinner either. He’s really picky and his parents always have to watch him to make sure he’s actually eating. Tonight he refused to chew and his mom was getting really frustrated with him. But honestly? I felt like doing the same thing so I can’t say I blamed the poor kid.

In attempts of setting a good example (and knowing that my next food won’t be until my scant serving of breakfast crackers with hot chocolate and juice tomorrow morning) I choked down one of the bratwursts and a few bites of the potatoes.

Yuck, yuck, yuck.

I think my host mom caught on to the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the food (normally I’m so hungry by dinner than I wolf it down in no time) and brought out my yogurt before it was gone.

I’ve never been so thrilled to see my yogurt than tonight.

Fortunately, tomorrow we’re having tortilla con patata for dinner – thank goodness! It’s a food I look forward to, and it will be a welcome change from tonight’s out-of-character horrible meal.

Unfortunately, I have 11 hours until breakfast.

It’s going to be a long night.