Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Es cierto lo que dicen...

"Si no ha visto Grana, no ha visto na."


I signed a lease yesterday and officially have a place in Granada just two "blocks" from El Centro de Lenguas Modernas (my university). However, I will blog in heavy detail about my apartment in my next blog entry as I cannot officially move in until tonight. So once I am officially in my room, I will post pictures of the room as well as the rest of the building tonight. But 7 of the CSU IP students live in this building (two girls found it the first day here and we looked at it and fell in love and signed the lease the third day. So there are 7 other CSU IP students like me (Arisa, Christina, Eliseo, or "Cheetoh," Brandon, Alex, Chelsea, Natasha and myself), 7 Spaniards, 1 Greek, 1 Brit, 1 Wales native, 2 Italians and my landlords are Spaniards. It's going to be a good year!

But more on the home later, I'll update you on my beautiful city of Granada!

This is the view from Hotel Casablanca where we stayed when we first got to Granada. Technically, we should still be there but some of us found our place so fast that we got out of there and tried to settle in as soon as possible. I am currently crashing Brandon and Natasha's apartment until I can officially move into my room tonight. Hah. Camping out. ANWYAY, our first day in Granada, we slept (too long) then got up for dinner at 8:30 and went straight out. We walked around, found the one CitiBank in Granada, a couple of Internet cafes (as our hotel did NOT have WiFi, or "Wee Fee"), saw some sights and had tapas and beer! The tapa with our first and only round (that evening) was Atun Tomate Sandwiches. They LOVE tuna here (I think it's cheap for them) so it was a tuna and tomato sauce sandwich. I loved it!

Left to right: Natasha, Brandon, Alex, Chelsea, Matt and myself. (Matt actually went back the United States, sadly!)

Then we walked around a bit more, saw the Cathedral of Granada and the Royal Chapel where Isabella and Ferdinand are buried:

The next day (Saturday), we saw the apartment and talked about it communally over ice cream in a little plaza with a fountain. (There are pictures of this monumental occasion, but on others' cameras). We explored more that day and began to price cellphones. By the time we decided which phone we wanted to buy, it was siesta time and the stores were closed. And on Saturdays, after siesta, the stores are closed until Monday. So we shrugged and had a relaxing day.

Sunday was the lovely beach day. We successfully traveled by bus down to Salobreña beach and swam in the Mediterranean Sea! The water was much warmer (to me) than the southern coast of California and of course, much saltier. The sand is like little pebbles, which was nice because they brushed right off your skin.

We all climbed up this cliff to get a view of the whole beach. It was so humid it was almost raining, but it was so worth the heat. What a beautiful experience. Afterwards, we went to Venezuelan-originated restaurant with Spanish influence and I had a Shawarma (Euro meets burrito). Amazing!

Then yesterday (Monday) was lease day/cell phone day/ID photo day. We moved our luggage across the whole freaking city into our building. I still owe Alex a drink for hauling my stuff. Gracias!

Finally, today we are all updating blogs, emailing family, shopping for soap, trashcans and coat hangers and generally getting stuff done. I will leave you with some pictures from Madrid I was unable to upload last blog entry. :)

Arch near Moncloa in Madrid.

Drinking Sangria in La Plaza Mayor where they used to have bull fights and royalty would speak to crowds up in the many balconies.

My first Spanish palace spotting! El Palacio Real in Madrid. Gorgeous. :)

I love you all so much!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


The past few days have been a flurry of exploring, gawking, photo-snapping, wrestling with converters, eating, drinking and losing to Spaniards at soccer; all separated by deathly long bus and plane rides and the beloved metro.

Madrid was amazing and amazingly hot. I definitely made the right choice for me by picking Granada. They have a saying in Spain: "Si no ha visto Grana, no ha visto na," which is a Granada-Spanish accent for, "If you haven't seen Granada, you haven't seen anything." It seems true thus far.

Once I have more thorough access to WiFi (or "wee-fee" as they say) I will more thoroughly blog. For now, I will alert you all that I HAVE tried tapas with the 1.50 euro beer, I will be dealing with the cellphone thing Monday, the Alhambra blows my mind from a DISTANCE (and I already saw a beautiful palace in Madrid) so I can't imagine how it looks up close, and I may have already found a beautiful, safe and convenient place to live. Keep praying and wishing for me!

Some of us are headed to the beach tomorrow for some Mediterranean action!

I love you all and will email you the MOMENT I can regularly Skype amd respond to your loving emails.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Leaving

Supposedly, I'm to get up in 3 1/2 hours to drive to LAX.

HAH! Talk about pulling an all-nighter. I feel like sleeping for three hours would only piss my body off more when my God-awful alarm goes off before the SUN RISES.

Good-byes suck. I said official good-byes to nine people today and it was inevitably horrible. My grandparents and other papa, Ladda and the boys, Collette, and Gideon. Phone good-byes to Bree and Ava (still working on getting a hold of her!). You bet I wore water proof eye make-up.

It's interesting though. Up until this point, I felt like no matter how happy everyone is for me, they were all dreading it in a way. But today, everyone said a variation of, "I'm refusing to be sad because I am just SO excited for you." This made my heart so incredibly full. I can't explain the relief those words (and variations of them) offered me. I have amazing family. I have amazing friends.

I'm maybe 80% packed. Which is better than the 0% two hours ago. If I were Alysha or Jay Paul, I'd start packing around 2:45 a.m. Hah.

Alright. I'm going to make a very important phone call and perhaps organize my life.

Deséame suerte! :]

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This morning, I drove Alysha to LAX to fly back up to San Francisco. She visited me to say goodbye to me and to celebrate my mom's birthday (which I think she loved). It was a real bummer saying goodbye though. I forced myself not to cry because I wouldn't have been able to stop and my day had only just begun. (Side note: I've racked up 4,000+ miles on Dot this summer. Go me.)

I am about to have dinner with my best friend and her family. Papa Nash can barbecue some mean food. Gosh, it's just the closer it gets, the harder it is to see people. Because at this point, seeing is saying bye.

I have exactly 35 hours until I depart. No, I have not packed.

Yes, I just napped when I could have been packing. But I updated my external and made room on my memory card and charged my camera SO I worked while I slept really! All I want to do is relax! But as a pre-abroad friend of mine said, we'll relax when we're there. Which, in reality, we won't. We'll all be running about searching for places to live, roommates, hustling for the classes we want and accidentally ordering weird things in the restaurant. But you know what? That IS relaxing to me. Compared to frantically running around for a Visa and what not; spazzing in Spain is NOTHING.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The cellphone debacle.

We've sent men to the moon. We have seen trillions of lightyears away from our galaxy with the Hubble telescope. We can perform brain surgery in a matter of hours. Trans-continental flights are a snap. Banks can convert your money from dollars to Yen in a moment at many ATMs. We can video chat in the middle of the Sahara Desert.


If I want to text from Spain: 55 cents. If I receive a text: 5 cents. To make a call: 99 cents PER MINUTE. I cannot use a phone card on my cellphone, only a landline. Great. I don't even know where I'll be living, let alone if it has a hard phone line!

So my next year will consist of a ton of Skype (hint to my family and friends to get a free Skype screen name) through which I can video chat or even just talk (via computer) for free. If you have a Blackberry, I can BBM you for free. If you have AIM or MSN Messenger on your phone, I can IM you phone to phone for free. OR if you have either chatter on your computer, you can IM me from your computer to mine or to my cellphone. We're all going to email A LOT. And last but not least: you should be following my blog!

On another technological note, my phone DID come with an adapter for the European, British and another (mysterious) socket! But I already purchased two converters and one WHOPPING $70 adapter so as to not FRY my computer, etc. I guess $70 is better than a fried MacBook? Let's hope.

Thanks a mil, RadioShack of Palos Verdes.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My first good-bye, summer reading, and the luggage ordeal.

Above: My summer reading, which began in June and I am at best halfway done.

I said goodbye to Alysha's family, which is really an appendage of my family now. They are so good to me. Her parents remind me a lot of mine, which always makes me sentimental and comfortable.

Despite the fact that their daughter/my dear friend moved into her first apartment back up North the same day that I saw them last, they still called me downstairs to give me a beautiful card and a going away gift. I felt incredibly blessed. I hugged her parents and sister goodbye, a little teary eyed. But as she and I drove away in her car (she dropped me off on her way to San Francisco), her mom made a point to run to the car, tap on my window, and beg me once again to be safe.

The first goodbye was handled ... fairly well. But these next 15 days are going to be some of the hardest in a long time.

Also, tonight I spent time with my best friend of almost 9 years- Collette. I love her because our brains are on the same wave length. For example, when I tell people the amount of luggage I am allowed to bring on the flight, they typically nod and say some variation of, "I see." But I know this girl has my back/sentiments. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: "Yeah, my grandma and I are going clothes shopping on Monday. I'm basically shopping by weight this time. Whatever is lightweight, I'm buying! I gotta fit it in my bag somehow."

Collette: "That's right! How are you getting your things over there? How much can you take?"

Me: "One carry-on. And ONE checked suitcase."

Collette: "Oh... My... God."

Me: "Yeah. I KNOW."

Collette: "I'm sending you clothes."

Above: My beautiful set of luggage which I'll have to cut in HALF. The winners: fatty roller and backpacking backpack.

Friday, August 6, 2010

To the loved ones:

Above: Visa only took FIVE MONTHS to acquire.

Above: Rollin' deep in 35 euro here.

So I'm attempting a real blog. Not a xanga or sporadic facebook notes; a real blog. I'm growing up! (Finally.)

I will TRY to write regularly to keep everyone as up to date as possible on my goings on--particularly abroad. Thus far in the dark when it comes to an international mobile phone, this might be the staple way of hearing about my life between potentially pricey phone calls.

More to come!