Monday, February 25, 2008

Granada y Lisboa

Last nite we arrived back in Seville after an amazing weekend in Portugal...but I haven't yet written about my trip to Granada which we did 2 weeks ago, so let me start there...

Granada is about 3 hours away by bus from Sevilla. It is a charming city filled with hippies and gypsies and lots of students. The streets are lined with little stores where you can buy hookahs, rugs and lamps (think Aladdin!). On Friday night we took a hike up to the top of the city to see the Alhambra at night. The Alhambra is a palace built by the Moors thousands of years ago, and it is amazingly beautiful. After taking some pics, we got to go see a flamenco show in a cave. These women and men train for years to become as amazing as they are, and it really was quite an experience seeing them.

The next morning, after a fun night out on the town, we left to get our tour of the Alhambra. The pictures don't do it justice, as it is something that really needs to be seen in person. The details in the walls and floors are so beautiful and intricate, and there is so much history behind all of it. There are fountains everywhere, and a labryinth made out of bushes that are filled with roses in the spring (unfortunately they weren't in bloom when we went). After our tour, we got back on the bus and headed for Sevilla.

As amazing as Granada was, Portugal was by far my favorite. We got into Lisboa around 2pm on Friday, and from there we went on a quick tour. We got to see an old castle and a little bit of the city, and then headed out for some food. The Portuguese in Portugal is sooo different from what I speak, so it was a little hard ordering. We were't quite sure what to expect, but we were all satisfied with our food. I actually just ended up getting some salmon and vegetables, but my friends got what they thought was going to be a chicken dish, that ended up being something french toast like filled with chicken and pork and topped with an egg and cheese...interesting, to say the least.

The next morning we took the bus around the city again. We went to a beautiful cathedral, and then afterwards a small group of us took the train to this cute little city called Sintra. It is so old and charming looking, and then we hopped on the bus to Cabo de Roca, which is the western most part of Europe! It was a really cool thing to see, although it was POURING!!! But I"m really glad I got to go see it. After dinner at Pizza Hut (yes, we needed some good ole' pizza) we headed back to Lisboa and got ready for a night out on the town.

We ended up drinking some tintos de verano (red wine mixed with lemon soda ...soo good!) in our hotel room before going out. Then we took some taxis to the docks, which is this strip of bars and nightclubs right on the river. Needeless to say, we all had an amazing time...the Portuguese are really friendly people.

After arriving back at our hotel at 630 we were able to lay down for a couple hours before getting back on the bus to Sevilla. The 6 hour bus ride was not very fun, I couldn't sleep because my butt kept going numb (my feet dont touch the floor of the they would just dangle there...not comfortable!). But after arriving in Sevilla last night I got a good night's sleep before going to classes this morning.

Portugal was so beautiful, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I'd really like to go back some day...and I"m sure I will! On Thursday my friend Lauren and I are off to Paris for a weekend, and then two weeks from that I will be in Morocco. That will be quite the adventure! Hope everyone is well back in the States...I'll see you all if a few months!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A weekend filled with tintos and teardrops...

Last April, when news of the shootings at Virginia Tech surfaced, I thanked God that something that horrific hadn't happened at NIU. Last December, when school was cancelled due to the threats written on the wall in Grant, I prayed to God that nothing would ever come of it. And last Thursday, when I got a text saying that there had been a shooting at my school, I begged God to please be with the families, friends, and students at Northern.

Everyone always says "I never thought something like this would ever happen at MY school." But until it does, you really never think that it could. For me, it still seems unreal. I hate the fact that I can't go put flowers on the memorials that are set up around campus, or go to the candlelight vigils that have been held, or even just hug my fellow Huskies. I am very grateful that I was not there to see the chaos that errupted immediately following the shootings, but I am also very sad that there is very little that I can do from thousands of miles away, besides pray as hard as I can.

This weekend has been very hard for me. On Friday, a girl that is studying here in Sevilla from NIU, called to tell me that her friend Gayle had been killed in the shootings. I cried for her. I cried for Gayle. I cried as well for Daniel, Ryanne, Catalina and Julianna. I cried for Steven, for the motive that made him commit such a horrific crime. I cried for the other students who were lucky enough to survive, the students that were in the classroom, and the families and friends of all of those involved. I cried for all my Huskies, and I cried for whoever it is that will feel this pain in the future (because unless something drastic changes in the near future regarding the gun laws, it is sure to happen again).

Those of you who know me well know what a sensitive person I am. I joke a lot about how episodes of Full House make me cry (the one with Papuli gets me every time). I sometimes wish I weren't so sensitive...but then I realize that I am just making up for those selfish people in the world who don't care about others at all.

Tomorrow I will proudly be wearing my school colors, because according to Facebook, students around the country will be doing the same to show their support for the Huskies. I can not begin to thank all of the other schools around the country that have left comments on Facebook with phrases such as "We are all Huskies". It really shows how much tragedies bring people close together.

I am blessed to be having this experience right now. I am blessed to be living in such a beautiful country. I am blessed to have great friends here...and great friends and family at home. And I am so thankful to each and every one of you for just being who you are.

Experiences like this are life changing-no doubt about it. You meet people who will forever change your lives. There are two girls in my program from Virginia Tech. One of them, who has become a good friend, lost a friend last April. The other one immediatly posted on my wall on Facebook giving her phone number in case I needed to talk. Seeing these two girls offering their love and support to me makes me realize that soon it will start to get better...and I once again will be off doing bigger and better things.

I may be here, but my heart and prayers are with the Huskies. FOREWARD, TOGETHER FORWARD...For today, we are all Huskies...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Carnaval en Cadiz!

Last nite we went to Cadiz, a city on the beach, to celebrate Carnaval. It's like a Mardi-Gras, Halloween themed celebration, and there were sooo many people!! It was insane. We went in the afternoon, hung out on the beach for a while, and then walked around. We ended up buying some bottles of wine to drink, and the costumes were insane! There were big groups of people dressed a like, and some of them were so funny. It was basically just a huuuuge party and it was a blast! The funniest part was when Caitlin saw two police officers, and got scared and she asked me to put the bottle of rum she had in my purse...and then I saw them taking pictures of each other and we realized they were just costumes! But apparently, anything goes at Carnaval!! We ended up getting a train at 5:10 in the morning and got back to our apartment around 8 this morning...and then slept all afternoon of course. I highly recommend it to anyone that comes to visit Spain during this time of the year!!!