Tuesday, December 22, 2009

First Week Back in the US

Well hello all. It's been one week since I've been back! And it's SO crazy. It's so weird to hear everyone speaking in English and being able to overhear people and one hundred percent understand them! Crazy!

What have I done since I've been back? I spent the first few days in GR with my fabulous housemates. They picked me up with a poster, caramel brownies, and some Godiva liqueur. Then we slightly caught up. I told stories. Haha. Then on Wednesday I spent some time shopping with Christina. That was fun. Then my housemates and I got all dressed up and went out for desserts and drinks at TGIF downtown GR, I love getting dressed up. :)

Thursday I went to Calvin and CHANGED MY MAJOR! That's right. I switched it from a five year education program, which I no longer had my heart in, to a FOUR year Interdisciplinary major--consisting of Psychology, English, and Education as the three parts of the group! (interdisciplinary is a group major consisting of two focuses with one minor, education is my minor). So the good news is I GET TO GRADUATE THIS MAY! Hooray! I'm so excited yet so scared. I'm thinking of either working right away or going to get my MSW (masters of Social Work) at Grand Valley or wherever. So yeah! I want to be a counselor of some sort! :) Yay! I'm so pumped you have no idea.

Okay enough of that. What else. Thursday night my parents came and picked me up. I hung out with Kathryn for a few hours. Friday I spent all day at St. Joe High School with my mom visiting old teachers and whatnot. That was weird but kind of fun. Umm...Friday night I hung out with Erin, we grabbed fruity drinks at DDBR31. Gotta love it. Saw Geeta. Haha.

Saturday we drove in to Chicago to pick up Ben and his girlfriend Kristen, who I absolutely adore by the way. And we spent the day at a German market down there and then we went out to dinner with the Carpenters. Fun times, but very cold.

Sunday we went to church then out to bagels as per usual. Sunday afternoon I went to Ken Welch and Stephanie Dykhouse's wedding at church with Erin, which was absolutely beautiful. Sunday night our fam bam had a big Sunday dinner and then I went to the Boathouse with Erin and Kathryn and Sean. Saw a ton of old high school people which was kinda weird but kinda fun. So yeah.

Monday our fam and Kristen and Matt and Vanessa went up to GR Rivertown Crossing to shop for a bit. Now it's Tuesday! So yeah! WHEW quite the week. I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends and seeing family and whatnot. So that will be fun. :)

Merry Christmas everyone. Love to you all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Week in Spain

Lots of lasts going on, aren't there? Haha. Well I am currently safe and sound in Grand Rapids, hanging out at the Griggs house that I lived at last year and that I will be living in next semester. :)

So...we woke up and met at the Plaza de Autobuses on Tuesday at 8:30am. It was so sad to say goodbye to my host family, Maria and Raul. I plan on writing them a letter at some point over Christmas break and having my professor grade it, cuz I'm sure it will need help! Lol.

Then we spent 4-5 hours in the bus driving to Toledo, pronounced Toe-lay-dough, not Toleeedough. Haha. But whatever. We hung out in their downtown area just exploring.

Wednesday we hung out in Toledo. It was alright. Haha, then we spent a good chunk of the day driving to Extremadura.

Thursday we were in Caceres in Extremadura. Hung out in their downtown area, quite fun. Except we went during siesta time so most of the stores were closed. However, I sat with Luke Alyssa and Andrew and we watched some punk kids doing acrobatic tricks, so that was pretty cool. Plus I also bought some awesome boots in Caceres so I enjoyed that.

Friday we were in Extremadura in a twon called Merida. That was fun--it was FULL of Roman ruins and whatnot. I absolutely LOVED that. So cool.

Saturday we drove to Madrid, a couple hours--I don't really remember how many. Then we explored Madrid and Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor and whatnot. Then we took a bus tour and looked at all the Christmas lights.

Sunday we went to two art museums--Reina Sofia, more modern art, and El Prado. Both were FANTASTIC. I got to see the Guernica and Las Meninas. Two very famous paintings that are amazing. Then we hung out for the rest of the day walking around and whatnot, it was a great day.

Monday we started the morning out by taking a tour of a tapestry factory (remind you of Carole King, aye?) and then we spent the rest of the day walking around and shopping for this and that.

Tuesday was a day full of TRAVELS. Woke up around 6:30am, 9 hour flight to Newark, 2 hour layover, 2 hour flight to Chicago, 3 hour drive to Grand Rapids...and then I got picked up by my WONDERFUL housemates who came with a welcome home poster and caramel brownies! It was so nice. I love them so much and have missed them dearly.

So that's the week in short! Tomorrow my parents come and pick me up and then on Saturday we go to Chicago to pick up Ben and Kristen--so that should be fun! I love family and friend time. I've missed everyone so much.

All in all, Spain was a FAN-freaking-TASTIC experience. I wouldn't trade it for the world, so worth it. But now I am home and I am going to embrace that. I love you all dearly and can't wait to catch up with each and every one of you!

love to you all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Last Weekend in Denia

Sorry Mom for no pictures...but I don't have a camera, did you forget that small detail?

Well this is my last weekend in Denia. We had our grammar exam yesterday and it was KILLER. I have absolutely no idea how I did. I guess I will find out Monday. The nice thing is though that our professor said if worse comes to worse we can retake the exam. So that's good. :)

Last night we went out to a jazz and blues club and I danced! It was SO fun! I am a horrible dancer. The theme of the night was Cuban music. Man oh man I don't know my salsa or whatever it is, but it was fun.

Things have been crazy busy here. I'm at the cyber cafe because I am supposed to be researching information for our cultural exam on Monday. Ugh, NO fun. :( But hopefully I'll find some good info. We'll see.

We leave Denia on Tuesday morning at 8:30am. Then we're off on our week long excursion then finally home! I am so excited to see my housemates, my St. Joe friends, my parents and Ben! Hooray! Such fun, such fun.

Alright, I'd better get back to my research. Love to you all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dia de Accion de Gracias

So it´s been a while since I´ve last posted. Let´s see what there is to update you on.

School has been really tough. We learned the subjunctive case and imperatives, formal and informal, last week and the test was this past Friday...and I don´t know how I did--it was muy challenging. But whatever, I did the best that I could.

Thanksgiving day was fun. We got out of class like half an hour early and went over to our professor´s house where we all helped prepare lunch. I didn´t do a whole lot because I´ve been sick, but am mostly better now! But yeah. We didn´t have turkey because a turkey wouldn´t fit in her oven, but we did import some stuffing and we had apple crisp and yum. It was a lot of fun.

Last week in class one of our professors played a true and false game of interesting facts about her, and I won the game! So she bought me a free breakfast, coffee and a pastry. It was really nice of her. Then my friend who I walk to school with everyday forgot to tell me he was going to class early so he bought me a coffee the next day! Hooray for free coffee! Oh and then the girls of our group went shopping for decorations for a party we´re having for our host families and she bought us coffee as well! Haha.

I hang out at my friend Andrew´s house a lot to do homework (he´s really good at Spanish) and so his family invited me over for lunch! But they had paella de mariscos, or seafood paella. And I don´t like seafood. But I went anyways and she served me something else, and it was a lot of fun! I didn´t understand much of the quick paced conversation, but it was still fun.

Hmm, what else has been going on in my life. Not a whole lot. We´ve got a little over a week left in Denia, we leave next week Tuesday and then we´ve got a week in Madrid and the surrounding areas. Wow! Time has gone by so fast. Hokey pete.

Last night I watched Glee for the first time, someone in our group has been watching it all season so he let me have the first two episodes. Oh my gosh, SO good. I loved it. I want to get the next few episodes but I know that I ought to be studying or working on my paper due next Monday. Ugh. No fun.

Well...thanks for reading. Love to you all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Europe Trip!

So I am just warning you, this is going to be the post of a life time. Seriously. All in all, the trip was fantastical with a few ups and downs, as any trip will have. Let’s begin reliving my trip day by day! Join in the fun.

FRIDAY THE 6th: We, meaning, Alyssa and Meredith and I got out of class early on Friday, we got out at like 12:40 so we all went home and finished getting ready and or eating lunch. Then we met at the train station at like ten to 2 and our bus left at 2:10. We got on the bus from the bus station in Denia and we get to Valencia, just north of Denia. We get completely lost trying to find the airport and we finally figure out that we have to use the metro to get there. So we’re at the airport and we fly to Milan, Italy. We then have to wait in this TINY TINY airport in Milan, but it’s actually a town outside of Milan called Bergamo. So we spend the night in the airport. We wait for at least six hours. We meet this Romanian guy named like Marius or something like that and he buys us all pops which is nice because we’re broke. Haha.

SATURDAY THE 7th: We fly from Milan to Paris! When we get there we have a bit of a scare, Alyssa thinks that she has lost her passport. But don’t worry—she finds it deep amongst her things. We take a bus to the more downtown area of Paris. We get out and have no idea where to go or where we are. So Mer hears this lady speaking English to another gentleman and she asks for directions to the metro. And here’s the crazy part—naturally—this lady offers us her apartment for the two nights that we are there! Her name was Jane and she was AMAZING. Seriously. She basically drew us a map and handed us her keys! At first it was weird and I was a bit hesitant but then I remembered that hostels in Paris cost like 30 euro a night and then I was extremely glad for her generosity. So it took us a bit but we found her apartment near a children’s clothing store, apartment number 18. Her apartment is fantastic. Literally. Three bedrooms and two showers. The bed was memory foam and like heaven to sleep in. Mmm. I miss it. Haha. So after we drop off our stuff we take the metro tickets, that she gave us, and we take the metro to the Opera Bastille. It was a bit disappointing, not as pretty as I had hoped. Then we walked to Notre Dame. Beautiful. All I have to say. Then we walked to the Louvre and found out that it closed at 5:30 so we decided to go back the next day so that we’d have more than an hour and a half. Then we walked back to her apartment area and found a place to grab dinner (mmm, pasta!) and then we went back to Jane’s, took showers in her 7 inch shower head(!!!) and went to bed at 8:30pm. Haha. We were exhausted from the previous night’s lack of sleep.

SUNDAY THE 8th: On Saturday night, Ben and Luke, two guys from our trip, called Alyssa and we made plans to meet up. So on Sunday morning at 9:30 we met up with the guys to go to the Louvre. We saw tons and tons of art. And the Mona Lisa! Which was a bit disappointing to be honest—it was really small. Mer and I got separated from Alyssa, Ben and Luke and I thought we’d NEVER find each other. I was really worried, but God blessed us and we accidentally met in an exhibit. So we made plans to meet up at 12:30 at the information center. Then after the fantastic Louvre, we went and saw the Arch de Triumph (or however you spell it). After that we walked over to the Eiffel Tower. From there we decided to go grab a bite to eat so we found a restaurant near the Eiffel Tower and I had a wonderful quiche and amazing crepes with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Mmm! Afterwards we decide to go up the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t want to wait in the long line to use the elevator, plus we wanted adventure, so all five of us climbed the 700 stairs to the second level! (Don’t worry we didn’t count, they were numbered!). We paid the extra money it took to take the elevator to the very top. The sights were amazing. The sky was clear and it was dusk—so pretty. Then the tower lit up! We were on the tower when it was glittering with lights! Ahh.  We then descended from the tower and waited until it lit up again so we could see it from the ground. Earlier in the day us girls realized we forgot the map that had the code to get into Jane’s apartment so we trek back and start trying all sorts of codes. Finally in my frustration I decide to yell JANE up to her window. And surprise surprise—she hears me! So she lets us in. And then comes an even better surprise—she feeds us dinner! We had a fantastic rotisserie chicken, salad, vegetables, French bread, and a mixed drink! So we stay up for a bit and chat with her. Then after another wonderful shower we head to bed. What a glorious day!

MONDAY THE 9th: We woke up at 4:45am. We took the metro to the train station. We ended up missing all the trains because they were full. We made reservations for the next available train, but it was leaving from a different station—it was leaving from the airport! So we are off on another adventure to find the airport. But lucky for us *note the sarcasm* the metro lines we needed were closed because the workers are on strike! We end up paying 15 euro for a bus to get us to the station, only to miss our train! We have to wait in the airport for SIX hours to get the next train to Brussels—our stop on our way to Amsterdam. UGH! So six hours later we get on the train to Brussels. Towards the end of our ride the train starts going backwards and we start to freak out thinking we missed our stop and that it was heading back...but I guess that’s just what it was supposed to do, because we ended up in Brussels! Then we find our train to Amsterdam. We meet this man who knows Mer’s friends dad (an Olympic bronze winner in running) and he is in charge of something huge in Nike—so we chat with him for a bit. Then when we were waiting for our train, the name disappears off the screen and we find out at the very last minute that they switched our platforms—so we literally RUN to find our platform and we almost miss it, but alas, we made it to the train in time. Hooray! Then we arrive in Amsterdam and we almost stay in a hotel called Hotel Ben, but it was a bit too expensive, so naturally we find a hotel IN the Red Light District (it’s only 12.50 euros! Cheap cheap!) and we stay there. So after we put down our stuff we walk around the Red Light District (sorry mom, we went at night!) It wasn’t as bad as I had expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, it was degrading to see all those girls just standing in the windows selling themselves, but I dunno, I don’t know how to explain it. So then we found a nice coffee shop called the Sheeba coffee shop and we hung out there for a bit before heading to BK and then to bed. We had one other person in our hostel and his name was Will. In the middle of the night he starts freaking out and searching through all of his stuff. It woke us all up—it was really weird. But he was a nice guy. Another weird thing I woke up to was someone in the neighboring room having sex. Ugh. Not so fun.

TUESDAY THE 10th: We woke up at around 8am, got ready, and then headed to find the Anne Frank house. It was phenomenal. Literally. It was bigger than I had imagined. They shared rooms and whatnot, but still, it was a lot bigger than I thought. We got to see the actual diary of Anne Frank as well. SO cool. She wrote a ton. I think I need to reread the book after having been to the house. That’s for sure. After that, Mer splits up from us and Alyssa and I go to book our first night trains at the station. So after that Alyssa and I find the Rijks Museum and we visit that. The nice thing about it there is they have descriptions of the artwork in English as well as Dutch, so I could actually understand what the art was about! Much better than the Louvre in that regard. After that we walked around for the rest of the day exploring Amsterdam and its many shops and things of that nature. Next comes the night train. It’s a tiny bed room with six beds in one room and there were five of us in the room. We arrived in Berlin at 4:21am on Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY THE 11th: When we got to Berlin we basically sat in the McDonalds with our one euro cappuccinos and our breakfast. We booked our tickets. Then we found THE most fantastic walking tour EVER. Honestly. It only cost us 10 euros apiece and we got a fantastic five hour tour of the city. Derek was our guide—and a funny one at that. We got to stand on top of the bunker where Hitler lived, was married, and committed suicide with his wife! So incredible. We saw the Berlin wall. We saw the Reichstag. We saw basically everything cool about Berlin and its history that I now cannot remember because there was so much information that it just overwhelmed me. After the tour we took the S Bahn to try and find this palace. We found it but it was kind of not that cool. But whatever. I bought a cute shirt on the way. Haha. We walked back and grabbed some pizza at a little pizza place and then we took the night train to Munich.

THURSDAY THE 12th: We get to Munich and eat breakfast at the BK and get ready in the bathroom there. Then Alyssa and I split up and I am on my own. I take a train to Salzburg. After much searching I find the tourist information and then I find and use an internet café for a bit to kill some time before my Sound of Music tour. After using the internet, I find where my tour is located and then I just walk around Salzburg and I sit in a park for an hour or so enjoying the nice chilly day. Then the tour. The tour isn’t as fantastic as I had hoped. I think I was tainted by the fantastic-ness of the Berlin tour, also I haven’t watched the movie in quite some time. However, I did enjoy the Sound of Music tour a lot. I got to see the lake where the kids fell in, the trees that they climbed and ran around in, the houses they used, and the gazebo that they sang sixteen going on seventeen in! There were people on the tour from Cuba, Argentina and Columbia—one of them was a little girl—so I got to practice my Spanish a little bit. It was very rusty, haha. I also met a girl from Ball State University on the tour as well. She was studying for the semester in London and decided to come to Salzburg for the weekend. Her name was Sarah. She was very nice! After all that, I got on the train to Munich. I met this guy from a small German town named Karl Heinz, but he called himself Charlie—the American version of his name. He gave me some tips about Munich and we just chatted. He was very nice. I met another guy on the train who gives me directions to a hostel and thank goodness he did because tourist information was closed by the time I got there! So I asked a taxi driver and I found the hostel...only to my dismay—it was booked. So I found this other guy on the street outside the hostel and he walked me to a few other hostels and I ended up staying at the Wombat Hostel. It was an amazing hostel! I shared a room with four other girls and they had internet and a bar to hang out at and whatnot. Such fun! So I hopped in the shower and went down to the bar and joined a group of German guys. We ended up going to a few different bars and having a good time. They were nice.

FRIDAY THE 13th: Woke up at five thirty am to meet up with Mer at the train station. We took a train to Dachau. We end up getting there before it opens at nine so we wake for a bit and just talk and hang out. Then when it opens we pay three euros for an audio tour, and it was AMAZING. Oh my gosh. The place is kind of empty, I mean, there are buildings and whatnot, however it’s just eerily empty. We saw the barracks where everyone lived, the beds where they slept, the various rooms within the buildings, and the worst was the crematorium where they burned the bodies. We even saw the gas chambers but they aren’t sure if they were used at Dachau, but still—it was insane. It was made for housing 6,000 people but ended up housing 30,000 people. That’s ridiculous. Just plain ridiculous. I teared up when I saw some of the photos in the museum. We watched a movie on it too at like 11:30 or whatever. We spent a good chunk of the day there. I started feeling nauseas from lack of food, sleep, and just thinking about WWII. We took the S Bahn back to Munich and Mer left to go to Salzburg and I end up hanging out in Munich by myself. I took the advice of Karl Heinz or Charlie, and I found Marienplatz, the town square, and I find Augustiner beer—apparently the best beer in Germany and I find this certain kind of chocolate that he said is the best, but it turns out its kind of bitter. I still liked it though. After wandering around downtown Munich, I hop on the night train and get some sleep.

SATURDAY THE 14th: This is where the bad times begin. I wake up to get off the train and realize that my camera is missing. It is not in the little night car. I figure someone either took it when I was sleeping waiting for my train, or it fell out of my pocket when I was sleeping. Either way—it and all of priceless pictures—are GONE. Completely gone. I am crushed. I now have no pictures of me and the Eiffel Tower, or me and the Mona Lisa, or me and Notre Dame or me with ANYTHING that I saw. Granted I can and am going to get the pictures from my friends but they won’t have very many of me in them, so I cried. For a good long time. So I meet up with Alyssa and then I write a police report at the Rome train station (that is where my 12 hour night train took me!). It took her a while to find me because she got dropped off at a different train station. Funny how those things happen. Anyway...We find a hostel for the night, Alessandro Palace, and we drop off our things. It’s so nice not having to walk around with backpacks on our backs! Yes, you heard me right; I did this ten day trip with just a backpack!!! I am so proud of myself, haha. So we start to walk around Rome. We find the Repubblica but we never end up finding the Opera House. And funny enough, we completely get lost and stumble upon the Colosseum! We were like: “is that the Colosseum?” And sure enough, it was! So we paid a bit of cash and got a tour of the Colosseum and of Palatine Hill. AMAZING. One of my favorite things. After that we went to the Pantheon. It was closed, so we walked to the Vatican and St. Paul’s Basilica, both of which are closed. Sad day. We walked back to the Pantheon and it was open! So we went in there and looked around. Then after all that walking we found a nice Italian restaurant and had ourselves some amazing fettuccine! Mmm. And we had tiramisu for dessert. Yum. Then we headed back to the hostel for a bit of sleep.

SUNDAY THE 15th: This begins a very bad pair of days. We, Alyssa and I, wake up at five thirty am and we go visit the Trevi Fountain since we didn’t have time the day before. I wish to get my camera back, hopefully that still happens but I highly doubt it. We then walk to Termini, the main train station. We get sent in Italian to the other train station to find out that we are supposed to be at Termini. We find the place to buy tickets to the airport and we get on the train. We arrive at the airport, glad that we are so early only to realize that we are at the wrong airport! By the time we figure this out, and the annoying guy at the ticket booth gets off the phone, we figure out we’re not gonna make our flight. So we go to the other airport because its got cheaper flights and we take a train to get to the other airport. However, it doesn’t take us directly to the airport you have to take a bus. Which was an hours wait. We meet two young architect boys from London (who are designing a museum for MSU!) who decide to walk with us. Its farther than we realize and we get picked up by this lady who had given us directions and came back to find us! She was really nice, or at least she seemed nice, I couldn’t understand her Italian. Haha. We find out once we get there that there’s a 100 euro charge for missing your flight. We kind of freak out. After much searching and calculating, we figure out its cheaper to fly from the Milan airport. So we book a flight from there and decide to take the Eurail one last time to get to Milan. We had to wait at Termini for like five hours. We freak out again because we realize the flight information was sent to Meredith’s email so we ran over to an internet café and figured that out. Then we hopped on the night train to Milan. This was the first time that I didn’t pay for a bed and it was horrible. I hardly slept at all. But it was only 3 euros, so I cannot complain too much.

MONDAY THE 16th: So we wake up in Milan and we have to get to Bergamo, a small town outside of Milan where the airport is located. We had literally four euros in cash and a credit card. It’s about 17 euros for two bus tickets to the airport. Ugh. So we explain our situation and the driver says get on the bus and we’ll figure it out when we get there. After about an hour bus ride we arrive and the guy says: “you’re from the states, right? Smoke a joint for me when you get there!” And lets us off without paying! How nice of him! What a blessing. When we got there I got a bit of cash out of my account and we ATE FOOD. It was glorious. We hadn’t eaten for a while. Haha. Then we went to get our passports validated and we figured out that the guy at the internet café printed out our tickets wrong so we had a huge fiasco trying to reprint my tickets, but we got it to work! Hallelujah. So we wait and wait and we get on the plane and then we get on the bus to Denia and finally....finally we make it home to Denia! HOORAY! The end of a semi successful trip! Haha.

So there you have it. That is my tale. Sorry it is so long! I hope that I didn’t bore you. Now I am back to the daily grind of homework and tests and studying Spanish. But soon it will all be a dream so I am trying to live it up as best as I can. I am going to miss Denia and my host family—Maria and Raul. They have been fantastic to me. I love them! And I love you! Love to you my family and friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Esperando

Waiting. Waiting. Anticipating!

So it's Wednesday and we leave Friday for our trip! I am SO excited. I am NOT excited for our huge test on Friday over like four or five verb tenses and millions of vocabulary terms, but alas, I am still excited.

Here is a rough itinerary for me and Meredith and Alyssa, for those who are curious. Heavy on the rough!

6 Friday: Bus from Denia to Valencia. Plane from Valencia to Milan.
7 Saturday: Plane from Milan to Paris. Paris bike tour.
8 Sunday: Spend all day in Paris, Louvre at night (it's cheaper!) Train to Amsterdam.
9 Monday: Day in Amsterdam.
10 Tuesday: Amsterdam and Anne Frank house. Train to Berlin.
11 Wednesday: Bike tour in Berlin. Train to Munich.
12 Thursday: Train to Dachau. Spend time at Dachau. Then return to Munich.
13 Friday: Spend time in Munich. I separate from the group and go to Salzburg to see the Sound of Music tour. Then I meet up with Meredith again.
14 Saturday: Train to Rome. Meet up with Alyssa. Explore Rome at night.
15 Saturday: Explore Rome in the morning. Plane to Valencia. Bus back to Denia at 9:45pm. Arrive in el pisa de Maria a las once de la noche, mas o menos!

WHEW! Now isn't that QUITE the trip!? I sure think it is. It's definitely not enough time in each place, but at least we're getting a taste for everything. I am very very excited, yet a bit nervous as well. For those of you who don't know me, I'm not very good at directions or map reading or anything of that sort. So we'll see how this goes. Thankfully Meredith is a whiz at it all, so that's good.

Well, I'm gonna do a bit of Skyping con mi madre, if she ever signs on, and then I have to hit the books again. But farewell for a while! Keep me in your prayers for the test and the trip! Love to you all!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Castle, Cave, Montgo, Halloween!

So this past week has been quite the week!

The first few days of the week, Don DeGraff, off campus programs director at Calvin, came to visit with his wife. So on Monday we went to the Castle in Denia. We learned a TON of random facts about it but basically all I remembered is that it's been built and rebuilt many times. And that it's been attacked by various intruders. Here's a pic of our group on one of the tops of the castle:



Then later that night we went to Isla Tortuga for pizza, free from Calvin--always a plus. It was really good.

Then on Tuesday we went hiking to the Cueva del Agua, or cave of the water. It was neat! Here's a view of Denia from the hike:



Then the week progressed as per usual. Did homework and hung out with people. Nothing too too spectacular. Oh but I must mention that I got a package from my WONDERFUL parents. It literally made my week! Hooray! And I got a letter from my daddy too. :) And from my aunt and uncle again, so I wrote both of them back. I love letter writing.

Hmm. What else what else. We had a visitor come in to speak to our class on Friday. He did the advanced language program at Calvin in 1999 and fell in love with a Spanish woman and now lives here in Denia. He had some neat things to say.

Then on Saturday morning bright and early, three of us went on a nine hour hike up to the top of Montgo! It was amazing! Such an intense hike, but very fun none-the-less. Here's a pic of us at the top:



Then of course, Halloween! We went to the Super G first for a drink or two and then we went to Paddys, an English speaking bar which was outrageously priced so I didn't get anything. But I did get a free pumpkin hat which was cute. Haha. They gave out masks too. Such fun! I generally don't spend my Halloweens at bars, but we didn't really have much else to choose from. And it's fun being with the group, so I enjoyed myself.

And here I am today. I was up late last night so I feel like I slept most of the day away today. I did do a bit of homework though, so that's good. And I'll probably do some more before either going to bed or watching a movie. Who knows.

But thanks for reading. Love to you all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Guitar Factory, Octopus...What Else Is There?

Hola! Currently I am listening to The HaHaan Mix Volume 6 and it is reminding me of home...I am getting nostalgic. This is not good. Haha. But I love all of you all at home, VERY very much. Don't you ever forget that! :)

So this past week we went to a guitar factory. It was pretty neat. Made me want to learn how to play guitar REALLY badly. I think that might be one of my New Year's goals, to learn how to play guitar. Hmm, we'll see.

Lady holding up a guitar thingy.

The backs of guitars.

Many MANY guitars drying waiting to be sold.

Friday we had our test. Oh my gosh, it was hard! I don't know how I did yet because obviously we don't have the grades back yet, but I pray that I didn't fail. Okay okay I probably didn't fail, but I didn't do too well. Not like the first test which I did well on. Buuuuut you do what you can. I studied all week and I tried my hardest so we'll just have to wait and see how things turn out.

Last night we went out to the clubs. We started at Super G, then went to Trifassic, then to Studio, then to The Buddha Sol. WHEW! And I did all of this in four inch high heel boots. I ought to have taken a picture of them, and then of the ginormous blister on my pinky toe, haha. This is what the guys think about all of the walking:



Then today, Saturday, Mer and I went on a walk. We were going to walk to the Tower but we got tired and my feet hurt from Friday night, so we turned back after an hour of walking out. So we walked about two hours, I thought that was a good amount. On our walk, we saw this!

An octopus hanging off of a boat! CRAZY!

So that's my life as of late. Filled with much studying and a dash of adventure sprinkled in. Haha. I think we're over halfway done now, time sure is going SO fast. I can't believe in just a bit I will be home again. CRRRRRAZY! I'm loving it here, but I do appreciate home more being away.

Love to you all.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mi Familia!

Hola mis amigos! Finally the picture you have been waiting for...my host family! So here it is:

That is Maria Sahuquillo Tebar and her son Raul Gil Sauhquillo! They are MUY simpatico. I love them very much.

And here's a pic of a few of us taking a break on our Saturday afternoon hike up to the Tower, about a three hour hike. Que divertido!

So yeah. That's about it. Nothing much is new. We have our next test this Friday so that's no good. It's over mucho vocabulario y many verb tenses. How do you like my Spanglish? Haha.

I don't really know what else to write. I feel like I won't have much new to write until I get back from our fall break and we have our huge trip all over Europe with me, Mer and Alyssa. But I'll try to come up with some interesting things if I can. I know I'm in Spain and everything should be interesting...but I mean I am going to school and doing the whole school thing everyday so not much is new.

Although something sweet that I did recently is that I downloaded five sermons from Ada Bible Church and I listened to one last night called "Choose Joy." It was talking about how in times of trials (perhaps culture shock and missing home?) to choose pure joy. The reference is James 1:1-11 in case you feel like reading it. I also downloaded a three sermon series on seeing, walking, and living. And one called Ask, Seek, Knock. I don't know if I'm going to save them for Sundays or just listen to them when I feel like it. We'll see.

Mmm Fanta naranja. It's so much better here in Spain than it is in Estados Unidos. It tastes too artificial in the US.

By the way, you should all write me in Spain! Here is my address:

Emily Carlson
C/O Carlos Torres Garcia
U.N.E.D.
Plaza Jaime I, s/n
03700 Denia (Alicante)
SPAIN

I PROMISE to write you back if you write me! I'd LOVE it! Really I check the mail every day hoping for a letter from someone. Haha. I'm sucha dork. But anyways yeah. It takes about a week for a letter to get here, so you'd better hurry. I've only got about two months left! Zoiks! Time sure if FLYING. To stick some Latin in here: tempus fugit! Time flies. Haha. Mr. Prince would be proud. :)

Well I've been at Ciber Denia for about an hour and I've spent a good euro fifty or so, so I'd better be on my way. Prayers. And love to you all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Llueve vierte al anciano ronca.

Translation: It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring. According to freetranslation.com. Haha.

It's actually not currently raining but it's been raining on and off again for the past two days. And it's just been kind of dreary.

But not me! I'm doing fantastically. :) I feel as though I live here at Ciber Denia sometimes.

My days consist of class, lunch, napping, the UNED, Ciber Denia, dinner and more studying. Whew. It's busy but relaxed at the same time.

I got another letter this week and it was fantastic! Thanks Uncle John and Aunt Janet!

This weekend I think I am going hiking, at least once, if not twice. But we'll see. I love hiking.

Today in class we talked about prostitution and brothels, or curas as they call them. It was a muy intersante class. Apparently there are lots of brothels along the roads in Spain and one out of four men have been with a prostitute. That's kinda crazy in my opinion.

What else what else. I've been reading Philippians in English and Spanish. I don't know if I mentioned that before. I'm not very far but it's been very interesting. I don't understand a lot of it so it helps that I'm reading it in English too. I write in a prayer journal everyday, I wonder if by the end of the trip I could write it in Spanish. That'd be crazy. Cuz it's not like God doesn't understand other languages!

Blah blah blah. I wonder what the word for blah is in Spanish or if it even has an equivalent. Hrm. I have no clue.

Well I think I've bored you enough for now. Love to you all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

La Playa and then Some

Hey all. So this weekend is a holiday weekend. Naturally I don't remember which holidays but there was one on Friday and there's one tomorrow on Monday. So we don't have classes! I went to the beach yesterday and today and swam in the Mediterranean and laid out and enjoyed the sun. It was fantastic and a great way to relax and enjoy myself before the new week starts.

So here I am just sitting at Ciber Denia, not pronounced Cyber but Sea-ber. Haha. Not that that really matters.

I had a conversation with Christina the other day and she's really making me think about life--like what do I want to do with my life, what are my goals, who do I want to be and all that jazz. Then I was talking to Andrew and he was asking about who I am and how I'm so quiet and I dunno all these conversations have just got me really thinking about life and who I am.

I have come to no conclusions. That's for sure. But Spain has been the perfect place to contemplate. I'm near no one who knows me, if I wanted I could have reinvented myself and I dunno--it's like starting fresh. I want to go places in my life. I, like most, want the American dream--husband, house, two cars, 2.5 kids and a dog. Haha, it sounds so boring but it's what I want! But what do I want now? And what can I do to make that dream a reality? Does God even want that for me? Who does God want me to be? What kind of woman is God shaping me into?

I don't know why all of a sudden I'm starting this huge quest. Perhaps it's because I'm gone and I really have to rely on myself and on God in this foreign land. I don't even know if anything I am saying is making sense, I guess I'm just gabbing for a bit to anyone who's listening (or reading rather). Hmm. Who knows.

Ciber Denia plays some good music. Gotta love some good ole American top 40.

Hrm what else to write about. I'm kinda bored today. After the beach and lunch I took a two hour nap and now here I am. However, I ran out of money on my phone and because of the holiday I can't add more until Tuesday and so I have no way of reaching anybody and it kind of sucks! I feel so alone without my cell. Haha. Pathetic isn't it? But whatever.

SOoooo what's new with y'all? I tell you about me but what's new with you? Shoot me an email, you know I'd love that! Or even better write me some snail mail! I check the box at school every day anxious to see something for me. So far I've gotten two letters (thanks Uncle John and Aunt Janet and Bethany!) but I'm always eagerly waiting for more! :)

Welp I feel like I've exhausted all of my words at this point. Sad, I didn't even write that much, haha. But whatever. Love to you all.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cantabria

So I just got back a few hours ago from our trip to Cantabria--Northern Spain. It was a fantastic trip! We had a lot of travel time in the bus, but we also had a lot of sightseeing time. So I will post a few pics so you can get an idea of what the trip was like! :)











So there you have it, a few pics of my trip. Sorry I don't have much more to say, it's not that it wasn't fun, it's just that I'm exhausted from traveling 12 hours to get home today and I don't want to be at Ciber Denia forever, so yeah. But if you have any questions, feel free to write a comment or shoot me an email. Love to you all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lo Siento!

Sorry for not having more pictures. It´s just weird to whip out the camera at the hum drum of daily Spanish living. But one of these days I´ll get some pics up of Denia. I promise. But it will have to wait at least another week because tomorrow at six am we leave for Cantabria! :)

Just wanted to update you guys real quick...the test went really well today! At least, I feel like it did. So that was a huge relief. And I feel like I´m finally settling into my friends here, as in we´re really starting to get to know each other and I know who to call for whatever reason.

I haven´t been running as much as I´d planned on doing, but I have run a few times, so that´s good. Today we are going to the beach and that´s like a 15 to 20 minute walk, so we´re always getting at least a little bit of physical exercise.

Today for lunch we had rice with a fried egg and ketchup. (Maria had tomate frio but she bought me ketchup special so I figured I´d better use it!). It was actually very good! So when I get back to the States I´ll have to make it for you! Look out Griggs girls, new weekly meals coming your way! Haha.

Welp, I´m gonna be guily and go facebook for a bit. Talk about stepping back into America for a picture of what home is like, that´s for sure. Love to you all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Day in the Life...

I am dedicating this post to Meredith Fennema because of her great idea to share a day in her life. I figured others would appreciate finding out what my days are generally like.

8:15 - Wake up, shower, eat breakfast, get ready and devos.
9:30 - Class with either Alfonso, a hard to understand Spanish professor or Victoria.
11:10 - Break time! Where I just sit with mis companeros or get a cafe con leche.
11:30 - Class resumes with either Victoria or Profa (Cynthia Slagter).
1:30 - Lunch time at mi casa with mi mama, Maria y mi hermano, Raul.
2:00 - Watch the Simpsons/the news with mi familia or take a nap.
3:00 - Nap or homework.
4:15 - Go to the UNED to meet up with people and study.
8:30 - Dinner time!
9:00 - Back out on the town, usually to the Super G to get a drink with friends and do homework or just hang out! It's open til 3am and sometimes we're there that late, yes even on school nights!
2:00 - Bed time!

Rinse and repeat.

One thing I love about Spain is their white lines. You wouldn't think that white lines are magical, but they are! There are white lines on the road and this is where pedestrians cross the street. However, they are magical because the cars MUST and DO stop for pedestrians. You just go ahead and walk no matter whether or not there is a car speeding towards you. It's CRAZY I tell you! Just pure insanity. But I love it. Haha. I feel so powerful and important when the cars stop. At first it took a while to get used to, sometimes I still hesitate. But I'm getting better.

Two days until the test. Tonight we're meeting at Profa's house for a bible study. That should be fun--will get my mind off the studying which I feel like I've been doing all day (but really haven't because I took a siesta for an hour and a half! Haha).

Welp, it's almost five o'clock and I've only got about an hour or so of free time left until bible study time. Thanks for reading, and I love you all!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Torrential Rain Storms

Okay so sorry if this typing is messy--I´m using my brother´s computer and its got a different keyboard than American ones do.

We have been having torrential rain storms for the past two or three days! Oh my goodness. I walked to school today in water up to my ankles, NO JOKE. And my pants were SOAKED by the time I got to school.

Nothing much is new here, I just wanted to drop bye and say hello to all my readers (all three of them, haha).

Me and Mer and Alyssa are meeting today to plan our Europe trip so that should be fun. I can´t believe the whirlwind trip that we are doing. It´s going to be insane.

We have a test on Friday plus about 150-200 new vocabulary terms on top of that. Prayers would be much appreciated. Plus continue to pray that our group gets along well, especially seeing as we are going on this trip to Cantabria this coming up week. That should be fun.

Well, back to the books. Love to you all.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vall de Laugar

First and foremost, I think the vocab quiz went well, so that was a huge blessing. Next I'm just worried about our test on Friday. Ugh, I am so not looking forward to that.

But on a positive note, this weekend our class went to Vall de Laugar for a little hiking trip on Saturday. We hiked for about FIVE hours. We hiked up and down three peaks and it was INTENSE! I am SO sore. But it was a blast--so much fun. I even got to eat a fresh pomegranate from a pomegranate tree. Yum. But the views were breathtaking. Naturally the pics won't capture the essence of this tiny town, but it was fun.



I tried my very first cous cous for lunch today and it wasn't half bad! I kinda almost liked it. I ate my whole portion so I thought that was a good sign.

This next Saturday we leave for Cantabria for a week long trip. I'm very excited! I can't wait. It will be nice not to have classes. So that's good.

Well, I've been sitting at Ciber Denia for long enough. I think it's time for me to call it a night. Love to you all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prayers Please!

So we have our first vocabulary quiz tomorrow and its over about 200+ words. I've made all the flashcards on squares of regular paper and I've been going over them again and again and again so much that my eyes have started to blur.

I'm just jamming out to HaHaan Mix #2 and zoning in a world of Spanish vocabulary. It's utterly exhausting. So your prayers would be VERY much appreciated.

We have our first test next week Friday as well, so prayers as I prepare for that would be much appreciated too.

This weekend we might be going to our bus driver, Ricardo's pueblo where we will hike and hang out. Should be a fun time. Hopefully it happens, it might not happen due to rain--but it should make for some beautiful pictures, and you'd like that, wouldn't you mom?

Today Alfonso (one of our professors) talked and talked and talked about Spanish holidays and I feel like everyone else in the class understood except for me. I'm really hoping those Holidays aren't important. The only one I understood was Christmas Eve. Haha. Oh goshhhh.

I'm in love with cafe con leche. It's like espresso and milk and then I add one packet of azucar. Mmm. So good. Mi hermano, Raul, made it for our family today. It was just what I needed to energize myself. I ended up reading one of my Jodi Picoult books for an hour and a half instead of taking a nap. It's a really good book thus far--called "Change of Heart." At this point, I highly recommend it.

Well I can't procrastinate any longer. I must work on my vocab words, ayudar, contestar, fumar...it never ends.

This really cliche for those of you who get the reference, but "you'll be in my heart!" Love to you all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clap clap clap...

...goes the thunder, and my heart when we had classes our first two days.

For one thing, it is POURING here. I didn't bring my umbrella to class and so I had to RUN home in the pouring rain. Ugh. No fun. Now I'm sitting in the UNED and I'm still wet, even though I changed clothes and used an umbrella the next time. Haha, oh well. It's not like I'm going to melt or anything.

So classes...they are...well...TOUGH! Alfonso our first professor was really hard to understand and then Victoria, our second professor was a little bit easier. She's really funny. Today she told all the girls that we were going to gain 10 kg and lose all our boyfriends. Good thing I don't have to worry about that, haha. But yeah. So classes are tough. They're in all Spanish, except when we have Profa (or Cynthia). She speaks OCCASIONALLY in English in case we aren't getting something. So that's nice of her.

I feel like I'm slowly starting to get it. When I think of certain words my mind automatically goes to the Spanish version of it, so that's a comfort. But conversation with mi familia is still hard. I hope that this whole experience grows me as a person and not just with my lengua skills.

One thing that has changed being here is my alone time with God. It has grown immensely. And that is a big encouragement. I think it's because when I'm in mi casa I need something to do and where else to turn my rock and comfort? So like I said in the last post, I've been reading Philippians in English and Spanish. I enjoy it immensely. But if you could keep me in your prayers, that'd be great because I'm not out of the woods yet as far as transition and language skills goes. So yeah.

Well, since the school where we are studying at blocks facebook and Skype, I guess I will just have to revert to studying--which I ought to be doing anyways. More flashcards to make, ugh! Haha.

Keep me in your prayers, and you'll be in mine (especially if you shoot me a prayer request!) Love to you all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Running out of Titles!

Hey All.

Last night was fun. I went out for a few drinks and to a few clubs with the guys. Always a good time. Then today we went to Spanish church! We met in the middle of town and then took a bus to a church and it was loco singing in Espanol. But very fun to try it at the same time.

We skipped out of the church service when the little kids were dismissed and our group had our own little Bible verse reading session. It was refreshing. Profa encouraged us to read our bibles in Spanish, so today for my devotions I read the first section of Philippians in English and then in Spanish. It was muy interesante.

Now today I took a two hour nap after a GREAT comida. We had this sweet stew with pollo, patatas, y zanahoria. Mmm SOO good. Now I'm just Ciber Denia with a few people until dinner time. Then an early bed because we start classes tomorrow! UGH. SO nervous. Our two classes tomorrow are taught by people only speaking Spanish so it should be, well, who knows what it will be. Hopefully I'll survive.

Love to you all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mediterranean Sea!

Last night was a good time. Almost the entire group went out for drinks. We went to one place, I forget the name of it, then three of us girls did something LOCO! Haha...mom you're not gonna like this--we went skinny dipping in the Mediterranean Sea! Haha. It was fun and an adrenaline rush. Then afterward we met up with the guys again (don't worry they weren't there when we did it!) and Luke's hermanas met up with us too and they are nice. Too bad we could only talk with the one who spoke English.

Then today we went on a walk along the Mediterranean Sea up to a big tower. We walked for a total of about FIVE hours! It was insane. Afterward I went to my house and took a shower and a short nap and now I am refreshed! I think in a bit me and Mer are gonna grab some helado. Mmm.

Profa said we will be conversational in about a month's time. I CANNOT wait for that month when I can finally talk with and speak clearly to my family. It's exhausting not being able to communicate, oh my goodness! I had no idea!

Welp, I'm off. Love to you all!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sí, sí, sí!

Sí, sí, sí! And bien is basically all I say here. Haha. I LOVE Denia! It is a fantastic city/town! Mi mama is muy simpatica. Se llama Maria, y mi hermano se llama Raul. I have NO idea if that is right, but I said basically, my mom is really nice, her name is Maria, and my brother his name is Raul. Haha.

My room is amazing. I love the bed spread.

When I first got there, mi mama gave me a tour of the house. It's very cute! I've got pictures of it up on facebook, so check them out. My room is wonderful. There are two bathrooms, I share one of them with Raul, my older brother. They are both very nice. Raul speaks a TINY bit of English, so that helps on occasion. Our first meal was tortilla espanola, it was A-MAZING. Then today I had breakfast by myself and then lunch was a paella like thing with shrimp. I told her I didn't like shrimp so she took them out for me, it was very nice of her. The lunch was okay but the garlic sauce or aioli (or however you spell it!) was great!

Today we met for class and got a tour of Denia, then after we all went home for lunch, and some siesta time (I watched The Simpsons in Spanish with mi hermano!) we all met up and went to la playa (the beach). I swam in the Mediterranean today!!! It was fairly warm! It was super fun. And now here I am at "Ciber Denia" drinking a Fanta Naranja and it is fabulous!

Tomorrow we are walking along a beach side path that I plan on running a few times a week. It should be fun. I don't know what I'll do with the rest of my day.

Welp, time to facebook then head home for mi bocadillo (sandwhich) for dinner. Mi mama went out for the night and so did mi hermano. Fun times alone at mi casa--I will probably read or watch a movie.

Keep on praying for me, I'll need it! It's so hard to try and understand what they are saying--and it's exhausting too! Phew. Love to you all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Muy Fantastico!

Today was MUY FANTASTICO! Haha. Gotta get my Spanish in there somehow.

This morning we visited a Gaudi park called Park Guell, pronounced Park Gway, kind of. It was BEAUTIFUL but the weather was oh so hot. There's this mosaic lizard that the park is very famous for. We sat under a picnic bench and hung out for a bit before heading back downtown on the metro.

Here's the lizard.

After that we went to a church and sat in wonder at its beauty. Then we visited a chocolate shop where I got a coffee and chocolate flavored biscuit, it was okay. Then we split up. I went with Profa and she treated me to a Catalan lunch at a really good restaurant. I got squash soup (for you mom!) and chicken in red wine. For desert we had apples with a sort of cream on top. YUMMY! Then of course afterwards I found some Nutella flavored helado that I just HAD to try, so I did. It was MUY fantastico!

Theres my ice cream!

Then we shopped, and shopped and shopped and shopped. Mom I got your Christmas present (and it might possibly be your birthday present too, it was a bit pricey!) I'm super excited to give it to you! I bought a Barcelona hat. I bought Harry Potter in SPANISH! Or should I say Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal. Haha...I am super excited to try and read it. Profa said I'd be able to read it, or most of it, by the end of the semester. Hooray!

Now I'm just sitting here enjoying my siesta until dinner time, at 8:30. Be sure to check out the rest of my pics on facebook! Love to you all. *muah*

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Rain in Spain

Stays mainly in the plain...or should I say, in Barcelona. Yesterday it DOWN-POURED! But not until after we got the opportunity to see another Gaudi house and we got to go on the roof, which is closed when it rains.

This picture is on the roof of the building! The inside wasn't quite as spectacular or unique, however, there are no right edges in this particular Gaudi house, which I thought was very interesting.

This picture is of me with part of the roof and La Sagrada Familia in the background, which you can not see too well.

Then we walked around downtown and Mer and I went shopping for a bit. I tried on this super cute little black dress, but it was 30 Euro and I couldn't justify buying it. Then we got down-poured on and thankfully I had my umbrella but it barely worked so we booked it to the next metro station and made our way back to the seminary. Then we hung out and I worked on my presentation, which I feel is all that I've been working on lately, but I give it on Friday or Monday so soon it'll be over with.

Today we were going to go shopping but now it's getting late and most of the girls are still sleeping. I took an hour and a half nap and then read my book which I'm almost done with. So yeah. Off to upload some pics to facebook. Love you to all!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Domingo

Hola! Today is Sunday and it was fairly uneventful. We went to church this morning and then again at night. This morning we went to the International Church of Barcelona in which the service was in English. Then tonight we went to a church for Muslim converts and the service was in Arabic with an English and French translation happening simultaneously! It was really unique.

Now I'm just working on my Pais Vasco, Navarra presentation. I have to give it on Friday, possibly it might be kicked back to Monday, but either way I have to be ready. Right now I'm just adding pictures to my powerpoint and then I'm gonna go through and write down what I'm going to say so that I can semi-memorize it. Hopefully it will go relatively quickly, but we'll see.

I have a feeling it's gonna be a late night--sorry for the short post. Love to you all!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Loving my Life

Ahh I am truly loving the life here in Spain. Not gonna lie, we're still in the honeymoon phase of it all. We haven't made it to our host family's homes yet so we haven't had to deal with the complications of the Spanish language all that much, and we haven't started REAL classes yet so it's all pretty peachy keen over here.

Yesterday we went to hear this thing about Muslims in Spain and then we went to a beautiful art museum. I took tons of pictures, it was a good day. Then at night we went back to the Ramblas and went to two different bars, the Patagonia and the Temple Bar. Both of them were giving out free shots--so that was really nice. Our whole entire group went so that was a lot of fun, good bonding time for the group.

Then today we were going to go hang out with these kids from the same Christian/Muslim organization from yesterday but we got on the wrong train and took the train an hour out and then realized it--so we just headed back and now here we are, enjoying the rest of our afternoon with nothing to do and no plans--it's GREAT!

I am ABSOLUTELY loving it here. It is so beautiful and wonderful and the group is fantastic and I know all this greatness probably won't last once the language troubles start but still, so far so good and I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

God has been so good to me. I am so blessed to be on this trip. What an awesome God we have! Keep me in your prayers you all, and I will keep you in mine. Love to you my friends and family.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Buenas!

Hola, buenas! Haha. We had our first Spanish class today and we worked on introductions--something most of the kids knew besides me and two others. Tomorrow we get to describe our families, that should be fun.

Today we went back into the downtown area of Barcelona and we went to the Sagrada Familia, a BEAUTIFUL artistic creation started by Gaudi. Seriously, it was GORGEOUS. I cannot even describe it. We even got to take an elevator nearly to the top and saw a beautiful view of Barcelona. Ahh. Later we saw the cathedral in Barcelona but it wasn't nearly as cool as Sagrada Familia.

Alright, here's a pic for your curious little eyeballs:



Alright, time to Skype with my parents and hopefully Kathryn and then go to bed. Buenos noches!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Barcelona...Same Day, haha!

Alright so we took the Metro to downtown Barcelona and I just HAD to put up some of the pictures, so here are a few of them:

This is at a market in Barcelona.

Tomates!

AHH I'm so frustrated, the blogger thing won't let me upload any more pictures. Well, I got some good ones, so either I'll post them later here or on facebook or you'll just have to leave it to your imagination (or over a cup of coffee with me when I get back!)

I gotta head to bed, I'm zonking out. But I love you all. Keep prayin' for me, Spanish classes start tomorrow! And you will be in my prayers. *muah*

Barcelona!

Whew...we made it! After a two hour flight to Newark, and then a seven hour flight to Barcelona, we are finally here! And it is GORGEOUS! I sat next to a girl named Katy on both flights and she's really nice. Now we are rooming together at the seminary we are staying at in Barcelona. The seminary is so pretty. The rooms are tiny but they will suffice for a week until we get to our host families houses. Our group has meshed really well so far and that's good, much better community than the Australia trip, which is a HUGE blessing, because for those of you who knew who Australia went...well let's just say this is going to be much better.

Please leave comments, or better yet send me emails and or letters in the mail! Here's the address at the school where you can send mail (by US post NOT FedEx)

Emily Carlson
C/O Carlos Torres Garcia
U.N.E.D.
Plaza Jaime I, s/n
03700 Denia (Alicante)
SPAIN

PICTURES!
This is the opening to the seminary where we are staying at! Beautiful huh?

This is some wrought-iron work on the window at the seminary.

This is a man holding up the ceiling or whatever. Haha.

Welp, that's all for now. Time to go shower and nap before lunch at two, then we head to Barcelona's downtown area. Should be fun! Love and miss you all!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Less than One Week

Hokey pete! I've got less than one week left!

I've started packing, my room is a mess. I am taking WAY too much clothes, but I just can't decide what I'll be needing! Oh well.

I've been working on my presentation about Navarra that I have to give on September 18th. I made a brochure to pass out and a powerpoint full of pictures about the region. Hopefully I can fill a time span of 20-25 minutes! We'll find out soon enough.

My parents and I leave on Friday to head up to Grand Rapids. They are staying in a hotel for Friday and Saturday nights while we hang out with my housemates.

Then the group meets up at Calvin at 6:30am on Tuesday the 8th! Wowza! We take a bus to Chicago, fly from Chicago to Newark and then from Newark to Barcelona. We spend out first week in Barcelona getting intensive language training.

Then we go to our host family's homes. I'm living with a divorced lady named Maria something or other who lives on Emilio Oliver street--it's a block and a half from the UNED, or the university that we study at. I live on the 4th floor and another one of the guys from the group lives on the 5th floor! So at least I'm close to someone who speaks English. Because apparently Maria knows NO English whatsoever! ZOIKS!

So yeah, it's getting close! I'm guessing my next post will be from Spain! ¡hasta luego!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And the Countdown Begins!

Hey All.

So the Jason Mraz concert was AMAZING. No doubt about it--best concert I've ever been to. Colbie Caillat even showed up and they sang "Lucky" THREE times! Count em, three! Fantastic. We ended up getting back from Chicago at 4:15am and I had to work the next morning...we all did. Yikes! But oh so worth it. Here's two little photos of our night:




So yeah. Since then I've just been working and hanging out. We had a get together at my old small group leader Sheryl's and had a great time. We were there until like two or two thirty in the morning...whew! Fun times.

I bought a Fossil purse yesterday! I absolutely LOVE it. It's a crossbody for Spain so that my things will be safer than if I had a hand bag or whatever. Either way it was originally $78 and I got it for $30. Great buy I'd say! And it's super cute.

I just got back from seeing the movie "Julie and Julia" with my friend Fallon. It was super cute--I really liked it. It made me want to cook oodles and oodles...but I doubt I will be doing that anytime soon, perhaps some baking though? Who knows.

Tomorrow is my last day of work and I couldn't be more excited. I've put in a good many hours there this summer and much hard work and I cannot wait to be done with it. The people I worked with were fun but the drama of the workplace was just ridiculous. But alas, that is *almost* in the past. One more day, I can do it, one more day. :)

And the countdown begins. I leave on September 8th! That is 13 days away! Less than two weeks. That is CRAZY. Just crazy. I can't wait and yet I can all at the same time. I'm SO nervous it's not even funny, but I'm so excited too. The anticipation is killing me. I purchased some of my books from Amazon.com and they are just sitting in a box on my bedroom floor glaring at me tormenting me with the amount of information I am about to ingest in this next semester. Hokey pete. It's pretty intense.

I got to Skype with my friend Erin last night. She's spending her semester in New Mexico. It was fun to hear about her experiences there. My other good friend Fallon is going to New York City to be an intern for Saturday Night Live! She's doing stuff with music and she is so pumped. I am super excited for her as well! Oh the stories we'll have to share over Christmas break.

I accomplished another one of my goals. I finished reading my third and final classic novel of the summer, "The Catcher in the Rye." I absolutely LOVED it. It was fantastic. I want to ask for it for Christmas just so that I can own a copy of it. It was a great read.

I *might* emphasis on the might...be accomplishing another goal this weekend. My parents and I might be going camping this Friday and Saturday night. We're thinking of going near my aunt and uncle so that we can visit them and camp all in one excursion. We'll see though, since my mom just had a little operation to get some stitches stuck in her out. We'll see if she's recuperated enough or not. If I don't go camping then we have a Spain meeting at my professor's house. I need to RSVP soon though so we'd better figure it out! Zoiks.

I am reading "The Tales of Beedle the Bard." A Harry Potter addition to the collection. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I bought it, but I did. It's little kids fairy tales from the wizarding world. It's pretty good so far--I'm almost done.

I've been addicted to Taylor Swift lately. My friend Anh burned me her newest CD and I've been listening to it nonstop in my car. It's amazing. And it's country music...that's what's even more amazing. I'm listening to country! Although I must admit, it is very "pop-y" country. But whatever.

So I'm going up to Grand Rapids next week Friday (the 4th) and then we fly out the 8th. Things are just happening so fast! Keep me in your prayers everyone, as I prepare for the trip and as I adjust to being in Spain. Ahh! :D

Love to you all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August Already! Phew

Wowza time sure flies when you're having fun! It's been a while since I've written so I will update you on my life.

I went to Cedar Point with the girls and it was a blast! I went 120 miles per hour on the Dragster but my favorite ride was the Millennium Force. I got an Dippin Dots, my fave--a high light of the trip for sure. We had a blast in the hotel the night before as well, we swam in the outdoor pool for a bit and just hung out, drinking wine for Lo's birthday at midnight! Fun fun.

Later that week I ran the 5K and survived! I felt like I was going to throw up halfway through but I didn't and I made it! My time was 34 minutes and 1 second. Hooray! I haven't been as motivated to run lately, but at least I know I can. Haha.

What else what else. I finished 1984 a few days ago and that was quite an accomplishment. Now I'm reading The Catcher in the Rye and I am absolutely LOVING it so far, very edgy.

Umm, I've been to Grand Rapids twice since I went for Cedar Point. Once I went to visit with Bridget my long lost Alaskan roommate. We had lunch at Roses and then that very same day for dinner I met with Woody and Ilana at Marie Catribs. Mmm. Good food and great company at both places. It was good to catch up with everybody. Lo was out of town so I hung out with Nikki that night. Then this last week I went up to GR just to hang out for a few days cuz Kelsey was in town. We went to Mojo's on Wednesday night, me, Lo, Kels, and Em Brink. Then on Thursday night, Lo, Kels and I met up with some people at a fancy martini bar called The Republic. Both places were fantastic, though fun of different natures. I enjoyed myself immensely.

Lately I've just been working and hanging out. Nothing too exciting. Although this Thursday I'm going to a Jason Mraz concert with my friends Sarah and Fallon and I am SUPER pumped about it. I cannot wait to go!

I leave for Spain in less than a month! When I was up in GR last week I met with my professor who's taking us to Spain, or as I call her, Profa--and I asked a few questions about luggage sizes and gifts for the host family and whatnot. It got my very excited for the trip. I just ordered some of my textbooks from Amazon.com so those should be coming fairly soon. Very exciting business! And nerve-wrecking at the same time. I've been listening to an online Spanish radio station to prepare myself...hopefully that will help. And Profa recommended a Spanish movie to watch, so hopefully I will get that one in soon--it's called Volver and has Penelope Cruz in it. It's supposed to be pretty good but who knows.

Welp, that's all I can think of for now. But keep on reading! Especially when I get to Spain--it'd be great to hear from all y'all! :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summertime and the Livins Easy

Heyooooo listen what I sayoooooo. Haha, gotta love the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

So life has been pretty good lately. God has been blessing me with a wonderful summer.

I just finished reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Don Miller--fantastic book by the way. And I am currently reading 1984 as per my summer goal list. So the reading thing has been great.

Will came and we walked around downtown and on the pier. We sat on the swings and talked and we people watched downtown for a bit. Then we had dinner at my house with my parents. All very very fun.

Later that night Lo and Nik came and spent the night. We stayed up late playing Big Boggle--fun fun game and we also ate strawberry pizza! Yum. Then on Friday we went to the beach and yeah it was great!

I didn't end up going to the fireworks cuz the weather was kinda crappy. Instead I went to go see "My Sister's Keeper" and it was pretty good. I teared a bit. The book and the movie are complete opposites--the book being far better of course. Go Jodi Picoult! I love her work.

Umm, what else what else. Work has actually been fun lately. There are a few new people that I enjoy spending time with so that's been good. Too bad Kathryn's not there anymore! *tear*

This weekend I am most likely going to Cedar Point with the housemates for Lo's 21st birthday and I am super pumped about that--I've never been to Cedar Point--only 6 Flags. So we'll have to see how they compare.

Oh last Saturday I ran the 5K route with my friend Megan! So now I know that I can actually run it, which is good news--even though it has a huge hill! Haha, hooray! :)

Umm...so yeah. It's around 1:30 am and I cannot sleep for the life of me. Hopefully I'll be sleepin' on the beach tomorrow with some new friends. So that will be good.

Alrighty, time for me to peace out. Love to you all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

First of July

Hellooooo all.

It's July 1st. And I can officially run three miles and I have sewn my dress. My dress is black with white flowers and it's a tube dress--it was REALLY easy to make--but fun to make too.

And the race is in a little less than three weeks. I'm a bit nervous. My friend Megan said she'd run the route with me so that I can prepare and get ready for the race because there's a hill on the route. Ugh. But that should be good.

I finished Fahrenheit 451 and I just started 1984. It's pretty good so far, but I'm only on like page five or something.

I've got some friends visiting this week--most likely my friend Will and then my housemates Lo and Nik are coming tomorrow night. It should be a fun time, I'm looking forward to it. I'll hopefully post some pictures next time--right now I'm a bit too lazy and pressed for time--I gotta keep cleaning for my friends coming!

Well, nothing else is really new. 4th of July is coming up--I don't work at night so I can go to the fireworks--which will be fun. Lo's birthday is coming up and we might be going camping and to Cedar Point or Six Flags--we aren't sure yet. Hopefully Patti at Kilwin's will give me the time off. Keep your fingers crossed. Ha.

Alrighty--off to clean and then to work from five to close. Leave love.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kickin' Back

Hey Guys. So I was right, I'm back at Kilwin's. I'm not getting as many hours as I need, but I'm not complaining because I don't really like being there--I mean--it's not bad but it's not like super fun either.

Training for the 5K is going well too. I've been running every single day since June 5th. I just got back from my run now actually. I think by the end of this week's training I should be able to run 20 minutes straight. YIKES! I'm so out of shape.

Saturday night I went to Hickory Corners, MI, aka a little town near Kalamazoo. I stayed at my friend Bryan's house. It was a blast. Me and Lo and Beth were there along with a ton of his friends. We played a mafia like game called "Body Body." It was so much fun. Then we stayed up til 5am just talking and goofing around. We had to get up at 7:30! I had to work at 11:30 so I had to quick drive home. Whew. I had an energy drink, no worries.

Last night and tonight my parents and I have been going camping at Warren Dunes just for fun. One of my summer goals is to go camping two times this summer so I'm halfway done with that goal! It was a blast. We made hobo dinners for dinner. Mmm good. Then I came home to run and shower before work. Then I go back late tonight to spend the night again. I think tomorrow we're going to the beach, should be fun!

I mentioned this earlier but I have a list of summer goals I want to accomplish. In case you're interested, here they are:

-Run a 5K
-Go camping at least 2X
-Read 3 classic novels
-Lose 25 pounds
-Clean out closet
-Sew a dress

So far I'm doing pretty well on all of them. I've been training for the race--I have yet to sign up and pay for it though. I've gone camping once. I'm currently reading Fahrenheit 451. I'm working out and trying to eat healthy, I've lost 1 pound. I have yet to attack my closet and start the dress--but I'll get there! It's fun to have a concrete list to work at, it gives me something to do.

Welp, I'd better go get ready for Kilwin's. Love to you all!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beginning of Summer '09

Well well well, here I am in good ole St. Joe with not much to do. I'm currently jobless and that's quite okay by me. I have a sinking feeling that I am going to end up at Kilwin's again. It's just a job, right? Who cares if my summer equals torture? Haha--well something will work out. It always does.

But for now I've just been chilling. I got my hair cut two weeks ago, that was fun. I got about 6 inches cut off. I got the "Victoria Beckham" haircut where it elongates towards the front of my face. I like it. It takes so much less time to dry.

My dad and I started training for a 5K today. I don't think he's going to do a race but I'm going to try to run the Venetian Fun Run. It's $20 to register early so that's not too bad, plus you get a t-shirt for finishing. The training program that we are using is called "From Couch to 5K." Perfect for me and my dad. Today we walked briskly for five minutes then ran for 60 seconds and walked for 90 seconds. We do that two more times this week and then they up the running next week. I don't think it should be too bad. The race is two weeks before the training ends, so hopefully I will be able to run 3 miles by then but if not oh well. I'll try my best.

Well I just ate some (don't worry it's sugar free!) ice cream with (lite) chocolate sauce and peanut butter. My life is complete. Haha. But now I am off to hang out with the girls. Who knows what we'll end up doing, but it should be fun. Love to all my two readers, haha. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

End of Junior Year

Wow! Has time sure flown! I only have one week left and then my junior year is completely over! I'm a bit stressed because of exams--but it's all good. I only have one interview and two exams so it shouldn't be all that bad.

This past week or so has been SO much fun because my housemates Kelsey and Beth both turned 21! We've gone out a couple of times and we even had a surprise rollerskating party for them! It was super fun. Also we had dance guild and my whole house did a line dance which was a blast! So here's a couple of pics from the past week or so's events. Enjoy!








Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Break 2K9 PCB

Hey Guys! I just got back from spring break yesterday and it was FANTASTIC! We drove down to Valparaiso, IN for Kelsey to go to her cousin's wedding and then Kristen and Kels and I headed down to Panama City Beach for a week! We stayed at Raccoon River and went camping. It was SO fun...that is until it down poured and there were tornado warnings/watches or whatever. But I had a blast. We had one campfire and the other nights we went to the clubs and went dancing! We went to Harpoon Harry's, La Vela (the biggest night club in the US) and Spinnaker. It was SO fun. Seriously. I had a blast. One of the days that it rained we just sat in the pool for about five hours with the guys we were down there with for a couple of days. We had so much fun just sitting and talking and hanging out. What fun. Then we cut our trip short by a day because of the rain. We had to pack up in the soaking rain and mud. Not fun. But kinda fun at the same time--haha. In all it was a great trip! Here's a few pics!


We made it to Florida and had to take a picture!



Where we camped.



Kristen cooking us some pasta on our camp stove.



At our one and only camp-fire, haha.