Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Home Sweet Home :)

I made it home safely! YAY! The 7 hour plane ride from Paris to Newark went by surprisingly fast. They fed us some delicious food, including a salad with REAL dressing! Lana and I were so excited! We only had 2 hours in between our landing and take off in Newark so we were really nervous about making it on time. Everything worked out great though and we had extra time to spare! The plane we took to Grand Rapids was SOOOO tiny! It was definitely the scariest plane I've been on because you could feel every bump.

I'm so glad to be home! I can't wait to see everyone and catch up on what has happened over the past month. Although I'm happy to be home, I'm going to miss Spain so much. Having the opportunity to study abroad there has made me fall in love with Spanish. I think it is the best language in the world! I just love how it sounds and I love being able to speak it and understand it.

This experience has been awesome and I only have four words to say about it: Time. Of. My. Life!


Friday, July 31, 2009

Primer dia de Paris

So back to Paris...

Lana and I took a train from Bilbao to Valledolid last night at 5:00 pm. Once we got to Valledolid we had to get on a different train to Paris. It was kind of backwards because we were going south of Bilbao (further away from Paris) to just go back. Anyway, we barely made it on our second train because we didn't leave early enough from the lobby so that was really scary.

But we made it to Paris at 8:30 this morning! We took a taxi to our hotel and at first our taxi driver only spoke French so I was really nervous. Later in the ride he asked us if we spoke English and Lana and I both responded at the same time with "si!". I think this whole adjusting back to English thing is going to be a little harder than I thought! Once we got to our hotel we were lucky enough to have it be ready for us so early in the morning! So we got to check in right away.

After we were all settled in we went out to see the Luxembourg Garden which is right by our hotel and then we went to the Notre Dame. Once we were up in the Notre Dame we could see all of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. We are planning on going to see the Eiffel Tower tonight because it lights up at night. Tomorrow we will go back to see it during the day and hopefully climb all the way to the top. Other sights we plan on seeing include, Arc de Triumphe, Moulin Rouge, Versaille, the Louvre and whatever else we come across!

I miss everyone from the program already, but luckily most of them go to GV so I will see them in the fall! See everyone else in a few days! :)

Hasta Luego!

Agur Bilbao!

I can't believe I'm writing this while in Paris! Before I tell you about what I've seen so far here, I have to update on what I did before I left Bilbao.

I had my final exams on Wednesday for my classes and that night we had a closing ceremony to end such a wonderful trip. We got our grades at the ceremony and I got an A- in both of my classes so that made me really happy! After the ceremony, everyone meet up at Crazy Horse (the bar where I had the huge burgers) to celebrate our last night together. It was pretty fun but a lot of people couldn't go because they already had to leave for bus rides/flights home. After Crazy Horse a few of us went to a Festival in Algorta. It started raining pretty hard there so we decided to just head home. I spent the night at Ninez's house and then had to get up super early because Emily and Joe were catching a bus at 7:00 and had to take the metro right when it opened at 6:00. So once I got home I went back to sleep then packed my things to leave Bilbao :(

I still can't believe I spent 5 weeks in Bilbao. It went by SO FAST! And I had the time of my life there. I am so glad I decided to study abroad, it has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I'm so grateful to my parents for helping me go on this trip! <3

Okay, now it's time for likes/dislikes of Bilbao and Spain:


-Speaking Castellano all of the time
-Meeting great people and making lifelong friends
-Cola Cao
-Guggenheim museum
-Universidad de Deusto!
-Nightlife in Salamanca
-Chocolate con churros


-Drinking Cola Cao out of a bowl EVERY single morning
-Awkward stairs
-Smelly metro/bus rides
-Stinky streets
-the metro closing at 11:00 at night during the week
-muchisimo mariscos y pescado :(

That's all I can think of for now, but if I think of more I'll update.

Now a new post for Paris...

Monday, July 27, 2009


I definitely look forward to the weekends here. And this past weekend was our last one :(. Some friends and I traveled to Salamanca on Friday and came back early Sunday morning.

I didn't really know what was in Salamanca, but I heard it was a beautiful city so I really wanted to go. Emily's host mom called her sister and nephew who live in Salamanca to let them know we would be coming. We stayed in a residence hall at the University of Salamanca to save money and then Ninez's nephew Luisme and his brother-in-law Cesar showed us around the whole weekend.

On Friday night we went to 5 different bars/discotecas! We started at around 11:30 and stayed out until 5:30 in the morning. I have no idea how they can do that every weekend. We were so exhausted! But it was so much fun. All of the bars there are catered to Americans because there are so many students from the U.S. who study abroad at the University of Salamanca. So most of the music was from the United States (but it's about a half year behind so all of the songs are kind of old). The bars all had different themes so it was really cool. The first one had a Camelot/castle theme and another one we went to (my favorite) looked like a theater on the inside.

Saturday we woke up around noon and left to tour the city. We went to Plaza Mayor and walked around to see all of the Cathedrals and parks. It was so cool because since it was a Saturday in the summer we saw a ton of brides and weddings taking place. I saw about 9 brides and we got to see a few exits of the bride and groom. They do the same thing we do here, throwing rice or beans and shooting confetti. All of the cathedrals are gorgeous it's no wonder there are so many weddings there.

That night we went to Luisme's apartment right outside of Salamanca (a town called Castellano Mariscos) to have dinner. Cesar's wife and their friend Laura made us a delicious Spanish dinner of tortillas, chorizo y jamón, some seafood, and salads. We sat outside on the patio that overlooked the countryside. The view was amazing because the sun had just set so the sky was very orange. We were so lucky to have such great hosts for the weekend.

We left Sunday at 3:00 in the morning and got home around 9:00. I took a nap because we didn't get much sleep on the bus ride because it was freezing cold! After my nap I ate lunch and headed out to the beach. I could definitely get used to living here and going to the beach every Sunday, or everyday after work/school. There are so many beaches to choose from!

There are only 3 school days left, and the third day is just for final exams. I can't believe how fast this trip flew by! I can't believe this Friday I'm going to be in Paris. I can't wait!

¡Hasta luego!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


If you guys are really interested in the Sanfermines festival in Pamplona and want more information, I found a sweet website.


P.S. Someone died in the running of the bulls the day after we were there! Yikes!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Última semana en España

I'm looking forward to lunch today because my Spanish professor from Grand Valley is finally here! She was supposed to be with us for our entire trip, but became ill. I think she just got here yesterday. I got to see her for a second and say hello. She is my favorite Spanish professor that I've had so far, and it will be nice to see a familiar face who is a native of Bilbao.

Today I'm going to go to the residence hall to eat lunch with her and other Grand Valley students. It will be nice to catch up!

This week has been moving pretty slowly and I think I'm ready to leave Spain. I've had an amazing time here and I've had so many great experiences. But I've been missing my family a lot lately. My Mom is a great listener and lets me talk to her as long as I want, and Poppy gives the best hugs. I could really use one right about now! My home stay experience hasn't been that great but it has definitely taught me to appreciate my home in Grand Rapids. I love you Mom and Poppy!

As much as I'm ready to go home, I'm going to make the best of this last week I have left. I'm hoping to go to Salamanca with friends for the weekend so that will be a great way to end my stay here in Spain. And I still have Paris left on my schedule! :)

I'll continue to keep everyone updated!


Monday, July 20, 2009

¡Otro fín de semana maravillosa!

This past weekend was another great weekend. I definitely look forward to the weekends here. It was our first weekend that didn't have a planned excursion so we got to do whatever we wanted.

Thursday after class I went with two girlfriends to the beach in Sopelana. When we came back to my friend Emily's house (who lives in Sopelana) we ran into a neighbor of hers who is about the same age as us. She invited us to go out with her and her friends the following night. After the beach, we went to a Pulqueria concert (if you're really interested, you can look them up on myspace). They're like a mix between Ska, Punk, and Mariachi/traditional music. It was really cool!

So Friday after class we went back to Sopelana to go out with Leire, the girl we met the night before. When we got there she was still at work so we went out for Chinese food. It was so good! Unfortunately it was pouring rain on and off, so we called Leire to let her know we would not be going out. Instead we stopped at a candy store and stocked up on junk food then went back to Emily's house to have a movie night. We watched Bugs in Spanish. It was so nice to just relax with friends.

Saturday we got up super early and took a 1 and a half hour bus ride to Santander. What a gorgeous town! All of the people are so nice too! We must have looked lost trying to find the Plaza because a nice old man came up to us and asked if we needed help. It was cute. We made our way to the Plaza de cuatro caminos to buy our bullfight tickets. We bought them from a scalper for only 15€. I thought that was a good deal because I was planning on paying twice that. We did a little shopping in Santander and just walked around. We ate at an Italian restaurant and they gave us huge portions (restaurants like to do that here I think). It was so delicious! I could definitely go back there.

The bullfight started at 6:30. It was really intersting. The entire "program" has about 5 or 6 rounds of bullfighting. It starts out with a novice matador and then they gradually get better and better after each round. The first round was the hardest to watch because when the matador put the spear in the bulls neck it he didn't not fall down right away like they normally do. He was a fighter and kept on walking around afterward. çFinally he started shaking and collapsed. I was really nervous that all of the rounds would be like that but the others were much faster. I talked to the woman next to me and she explained a lot so that was cool too. The third matador did such a great job they cut off one of the ears of the bull and gave it to him as a prize.

Sunday we went to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and Bakio with Emily's host mom Ninez and her boyfriend Reime. Bakio is also a gorgeous city (every place is gorgeous here). It had a beautiful beach and a ton of people travel there to go surfing. We really want to go back for an entire day to enjoy the beach so hopefully next Sunday we will go. (P.S. I told Reime I want to live there. Maybe if I'm ever rich I'll buy a summer home ;)). Before that we went to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe which is a church on the top of a mountain in the sea. We had to walk for a long time and then climb over 360 stairs! It was a huge workout but so worth it. The view was amazing. Once we were at the top we rang the bell, took lots of pictures and then made our way back.

We went to the beach after that but it was getting late so we didn't get a chance to lay out. Instead we went to a really cute restaurant that had delicious pizza. It was like American style because the menu was in English and even the waiters spoke English too. The guy who took our order was really funny. His wife was behind him in the window to the kitchen and showed him her hand with her wedding ring. He turned back to me and said that his wife doesn't like it when he talks to girls. It was hilarious, and of course I was the only one that noticed it.

And now it's back to another school week. This is our last full week of classes so we are going to be super busy with homework and studying for finals! Wish me luck!

P.S. I've noticed while I'm here that the majority of the people drive Audis and BMWs (it's cool to see my dream car everywhere ). I asked Ninez why everyone has them and she said that they are a lot cheaper right now because of the economy. So shout out to Uncle Steve, you should move here and then you can buy as many Audis as you want! :)

¡Hasta Luego!