Friday, July 31, 2009
Our summer here in Spain has finally come to an end and I cannot believe it. This summer has flown by and although it feels like so long ago that I arrived here, I can’t believe we’re already done. This has definitely been the best summer of my life! I stayed in an amazing home here in Salamanca, made a ton of great new friends, improved my Spanish, and fell in love with the Spanish culture. I love Spain and everything there is to do here. I am sad about having to leave this great place but I know I will return someday. I have had such an amazing experience here and I truly have grown as an individual. Although I am sad to have to say good bye, I am even more excited for the next 10 days when I will be traveling with three others to Paris, Venice, and Munich. I can’t wait! This is my first time in Europe so I can’t wait to see some of its greatest cities! I am also very excited to get home after my trip and see all of my family and friends that I have been missing so much while here in Spain. My feelings are definitely bittersweet, but I know the fact that I am sad about leaving means that I truly did have an amazing time this summer. Muchas gracias Espana para todo!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
As the final days come to a close I cannot help but reflect on what has been an incredible summer. These past have far exceeded my expectations of what I thought Spain would be. I did not come into this program knowing anyone and hoping to meet some nice people who go to school with me. I accomplished that. I wanted to travel around Spain, meeting the people and taking in their culture, I did that too. Also, I wanted to become acquainted with my host family and share in all their customs, while teaching them a few things about Americans. I think I did both of those as well.
Coming to a new place like this with merely a novice understanding of the language is a difficult thing to do. I did not have any idea what to expect though, until I got to Madrid and became friends with everyone. It was such a rewarding experience meeting new people in a foreign place, we all had at least one thing in common. I will surely miss Spain and all the memories I have made here.
So I've just had a really great time in Salamanca, I loved living with my family and actually getting to experience Spanish culture. At first when we were all living in the hotel in Madrid I was afraid that I would only spend time pursuing touristy pursuits. And when I wrote my first post it was definitely my goal to live everyday life here, and after staying in Salamanca for five weeks, I think I can say that I've achieved it! However, looking back, one of my favorite events had to be when we went to go see Harry Potter. It was such a perfect mix of both home and Spain!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I can't believe I am leaving Salamanca in two days, and will be back home on Saturday. It seems like just yesterday that I was saying goodbye to my family at the airport to come here. This experience has been amazing. I have learned so much about the language, culture, and myself in such a short time. My time in Salamanca has been better than I could have imagined. My host family is so nice, and I will miss spending time with them during La Comida (lunch) and La Cena (dinner). Although I loved to travel on the weekends, it was always nice to return to Salamanca, and it started to feel like home. Speaking of travelling, I cannot believe all the places I was able to visit. Besides Madrid and Salamanca, I visited Porto (in Portugal), Pamplona, San Sebastian, and Barcelona. Each city was so unique and different, it's hard to pick a favorite! Living in Salamanca and visiting other cities has really made me feel like I am a part of the Spanish culture. Last night, my friend Kelly and I went out for tapas before seeing a movie. We were discussing how when we first got to Spain we had no idea what we were ordering (or eating) for the most part. It seemed like we just kept getting served eggs and ham in different forms! Now, we are accustomed to not only the food, but the style of eating here as well. Eating our first American meal on Saturday will be the weird thing! I hope to spend my last two days here taking in the city with all the wonderful friends I have met. Oh, and of course I will try to consume as much helado (ice cream) as possible. ¡Hasta Luego!
I can't believe our trip is finally coming to an end. In some ways I feel like it has flown by but in other ways I feel like I have been here forever. I am really excited to go home and eat American food and see my friends and family. After the program ends, I will be traveling to Barcelona for 3 days. I can't wait to see all of the great sights in Barcelona, especially after hearing the stories from the kids who went on the excursion last weekend.
Last weekend, three friends and I went on the excursion to Lisboa, Barcelona. I LOVED IT! The poeple in Portugal were so nice to us and very willing to help us. We mostly spoke English in Portugal (one cab driver even warned us not to speak Spanish). The city of Lisboa was very pretty because it is on the water and it is very hilly (although it was quite difficult to walk). I had a great time!
Monday, July 27, 2009
I just got back from my last excursion in Spain before I head to London. I absolutely loved it!!! I think Barcelona was a great city to end with. It was almost like a big summary of everything in Spain. The art museums we visited contained a lot of the art that we have been studying in my art history class. Previously, I thought the class was kind of boring, but after seeing the actual paintings, it completely changed my mind. We also visited a lot of work by Gaudi. I've decided that Gaudi's work basically defines Barcelona. You can visit one park, but the Parc Guell is better. You can see one cathedral, but the Sagrada Family is better. You get the point? The Parc Guell was beautiful and the Sagrada Familia was by far my favorite cathedral. I would love to return in 2030 to see the finished product when it is complete. On Friday night, we went to a tapas restaurant that we learned about in class while watching "On the Road Again" with Anthony Bourdain. It was called Inopia. On the show, Tony and Gwenth Paltrow went to the restaurant and tried pretty much all the different tapas...so we decided to do the same (well, not all of them). We actually saw Gwenth's picture on the wall from when she was there. Then, on Saturday night we went to a music and light show at the fountain outside of one of the museums. It was the perfect way to end our stay in Barcelona; the colorfully lit up fountain in the dark was beautiful.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Four of my girlfriends and I just got back from a weekend in Portugal. I had no expectations when we planned the trip; however, the country blew me away. The culture is rich, the people are kind, and the scenery is breathtaking. We spent one day in the city of Lisbon, one on the beach in Caiscus, and made 2 stops in little old pueblos on our drive back. Our experience was filled with good times - we toured churches and monuments during the mornings and spent the afternoons and evenings shopping on the quaint streets and finding delicious restaurants. It was the perfect last weekend to my summer excursions in Europe. I truly cannot believe that I will be home in just one week, and although it is bitter-sweet, I am so excited to spend time with my family and friends before going back to U of M. Words cannot describe everything I have learned - not only about the world and different cultures, but about myself as an individual.