29 November 2010

Falta un mes

Saturday, Elley and I went to the art museum here in Vitoria and it was...interesting. The theme for the art right now is fears and some of the art was very strange. Honestly, neither of us really enjoyed it, there were a few pieces of art that we liked and thought were interesting, but mostly it was kind of a disturbing experience. It is free for students though, we just got to donate however much we wanted to the museum instead of paying an entrance fee, so that was nice. Hopefully the exhibit will change sometime next semester and Elley can take the other American girl who is coming here to something more pleasurable.

Sunday night there was a girls night for the Erasmus girls; we went bowling. It was pretty fun and quite a few girls came! It was a good opportunity to practice names, because we have such a hard time with names here...and nice to have a less chaotic setting than a party to get to know some other girls. All of the other foreigners are really nice; they really like hearing how America is different than Europe and what our experience here is like.

Other than that, I just finished a book that Elley gave me, she bought it in London. It's called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and it was a really cool read! It's written from the first person perspective of an autistic boy in his early teens and he tells a story of a certain time in his life. It's not a true story, which is part of what makes it fascinating because the author did a phenomenal job of replicating, what I suppose, an autistic child's mind would be like. It was very intriguing and although it's not the most gripping novel I've ever read, the rarity of it kept me pretty interested. I would recommend it for sure!

Well, Elley and I are on our way to Granada and Sevilla on Thursday for a week, so I'm sure I will have a lot to write after that!
Oh and today marks my last month in Europe! It's all coming to a close now and after we get back from Granada I will need to start studying for my exams and get serious about finding a place to live for next semester! :)


27 November 2010

Another Saturday

I had something in mind to write about the other day and now I don't know what that was... but I feel like writing today. So I thought I'd just write about some random things about Vitoria and Spain that you all haven't heard about yet.

Something that I don't have to worry about anymore, but that Elley and Nathan are having to deal with right now is getting a temporary residency permit to stay here in Spain for the full year. It's not a super important document, if you are planning on staying in Spain, but apparently if you plan on traveling outside of the country, you might not get let back in if you don't have one. The problem is that no one here knows anything about a residency permit because it is a new requirement for students staying in the country for an extended period of time. It has been really frustrating at times especially when we have no one at the University here to help us, cause the foreign relations ladies had never heard of a temporary residency permit before. ha! Elley and I have waited in queue after queue, in foreign office after foreign office trying to find someone who will give us information on what types of documentation we need to present. After quite a few confusing conversations about Spanish foreign policy, we have finally found what Elley needs to have to get her permit, and it's pretty much all the same things as we needed for the visa. Awesome.

An almost daily occurrence for Elley and me, here in Vitoria, is coffee. We don't really have much of a way to make coffee here in the residence (and people in Spain don't use coffee pots like we know in America), but we have our special coffee shop just across the street that we frequent. The guy knows that we always get "un par de cafes con leche". It's a cute little place that I think has quite a few regulars. It's nice to have a place like that, where our faces are known. I don't know if I've mentioned coffee in my blog before, but it's on the top if the list of thing I will miss from Europe! Coffee here is SO wonderful. I don't know what makes it different or what country it comes from but the flavor is much richer. As everything here, coffee is about socializing and I don't even think that to-go cups exist here. Drinks are always served in mugs so you can relax and enjoy it at the cafe. That is really nice actually, for one it's a lot less wasteful, but it also makes coffee time special instead of getting a cup-a-joe on the go. I will definitely miss coffee time with Elley, we do have some pretty good chats at the coffee shop.

Today we are planning on going to the local art museum in Vitoria, the Artium. I think it's a modern art museum; I hope it will be good!

More soon!

(Foto cred: Elley McBrayer)

24 November 2010


For me, it is already Thanksgiving...yes, it may have just turned midnight, but that still means it's Thursday and I just got a vision of my family eating Thanksgiving dinner without me tomorrow...today. Mom cooking up a storm, my brothers fighting, the dog being kicked outside for begging too much. The thought made me really sad, but it's only my favorite meal of the whole year that I'm missing out on...being eaten by my favorite people. :)
What a strange thing to be away from home for the holidays and here it won't feel any different than just another Thursday. It's hard to believe that it's already turkey day really, there are still leaves on the trees here and no snow in sight...and even though I don't like it, no american football either. But as always, I have so much to be thankful for today and everyday, which is what we need to celebrate. So here are some things I am remembering to be thankful for today:

1) A good home to return to, with loving family and friends, people who have supported me though everything and whom I could never thank enough.

2) The food that I will put on my table today; it may not be a Thanksgiving feast, but my eating habits are more privileged than the majority of the people in the world.

3) A solid roof over my head. I may not like living in the residence hall, but at least I'm not out in almost freezing temperatures tonight. I have blankets, a heater and hot running water and I will be so thankful for warmth tonight.

4) My experience here in Spain. It may seem like I don't realize how blessed and lucky I am to be here since I'm leaving early, but that is far from true. This adventure has taught me more about life and myself than I could have ever imagined. I will always be thankful for this opportunity and even though it hasn't worked out as the best place for me to be, I'm thankful that I had guidance in making that decision and support when I was at my worst.

I hope everyone, no matter what country they live in, will take some time, especially today, to remember what life has gifted them.
Writing this was not much of a cure for homesickness, but at least I have a place to miss, and I'm so grateful for that!

Love Always.

23 November 2010

San Sebastian

In the strangeness of everything going on here, I have neglected to write about some things that are happening. Right now I want to write about our two trips to San Sebastian, a wonderful city!
San Sebastian is just over an hour bus ride away from Vitoria, to the northeast...here's map with the largest Basque cities, so you all have a better idea of where I'm going and where I've been.

The only places I haven't written about are Pamplona and LogroƱo, but I will be going to Pamplona on December 11th with our excursion class.
So now that you all have an idea of where I am and where San Seb. is, I can begin. Elley, Adrian (an Irish friend) and I decided to go to San Sebastian one Thursday a few weeks ago because we heard it was a great place and we wanted to go explore for the day. It was such a great day! San Seb. is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, it's right on the ocean and has some great historical buildings. There is a large statue of Jesus positioned on a hill at the end of town and when we got to the city we decided that we wanted to find out a way to the statue. Turns out there is actually a "hiking" trail that goes up to Him and He is standing on an old castle, turned museum. We didn't go into the museum, but the majority of the castle (or at least what we could see) is open to the public. We explored around there and ate lunch up by the statue where we had a view of the whole city, it was so pretty. We took a different way down and came across an old cemetery for English soldiers who had helped the Spanish fight in some war...we couldn't figure out which. The landscape on this hill is a literal jungle, moss and vines and tons of tress and bushes, it feels like a completely different world than the city. Then we all wanted to go to the beach, so we made our way down to the main beach, Playa de la Concha, which is actually a large bay. We played in the water for a while and just chilled on the beach; it was a cloudy day but it was still humidly warm, so we didn't freeze too much. :) Well, after that we were gonna go to the bus station and go home, but instead we got lost for two hours and gave ourselves a pretty good tour of the new part of the city. But we did finally make it home, it was just a lot later than we expected.

About a week an a half later, we went back to San Sebastian with our excursion class. Before we went to San Seb, we went to a small Basque town, Ekainberri, to learn about a prehistoric cave in the area. We didn't actually get to go to the real cave, but the museum we went to has guided tours of a replica of the cave, which was still pretty cool...nothing like our spelunking in Durango though. This little town was adorable and completely in the mountains, with a nice river running along side it, Elley and I felt right at home there. Then we were on our way to San Sebastian and we really just had free time in the city and since it was a sunny day, we all headed to the smaller beach to get some sun and catch some waves. Our Irish friends really wanted to try surfing, but Elley and I thought the waves looked too intimidating, so we just laid in the sun for a while. It was so wonderful to have sunshine! We all needed a good dose of Vitamin-D. When the sun started to go down we all went to a bar for some tea and then we were on our way back home.

So that's a bit of what's going one and I will be sure to write more soon about other things that have been happening. Here's some pictures from the first time we were in San Sebastian.


Elley and me at the bay

The Jesus Statue

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Catedral del Buen Pastor)

14 November 2010

All in good time.

Sorry for the dry spell in writing, I really haven't been up to it much and there haven't been a whole lot of interesting things going on.
The topic for today is already pretty well known I think and won't be a surprise to the majority of the people who read my blog and talk with me. As I mentioned in a recent post things have been hard for me here and honestly, the month of October 2010 was maybe one of the hardest I've ever faced. I never understood what depressed people feel and how their life works, but now I can empathize very well. Being a foreigner is a very strange experience and I can't really tell about it in a way that everyone could understand. One can't understand it well unless they've experienced it themselves. At first it started out with homesickness, but that turned into an overall dislike and even loathing of everything here. No motivation, no desire, just a feeling of dislike and unhappiness. After much thinking and weighing my options, I decided that I didn't want to be here for another semester. I have considered changing schools within Spain and going down to Sevilla or Granada for the second semester, but I have decided that what I really want and what I think is best for me right now is to go back to FLC for the winter.
I'm looking forward to it and I can picture myself there. That's one thing that has bothered me is that I haven't been able to picture myself being here until June, it just seems unfathomable. I know it's good to walk into the dark sometimes and create your own light, but I don't think this is the time nor place for me to do that. Going home won't be easy, there are technicalities I have to get around and lots of mixed feelings still, but it will work out as it's suppose to. I've been praying a lot and finding guidance in God; it's been good. I've been asking for lots of signs and I don't think I made this decision alone.
Now things are so much better and I know it's because I have made up my mind and no longer struggle with where I will be. It has made it harder to decide to go home since my mood has improved so much, but I know that it's because I'm in a better state of mind from my choice.
So in a few months I'm sure I will be writing about what I miss about Spain! But for now it's good to know that I can fully enjoy my time here without much burden.

Ciao for now!

08 November 2010

New Saturday Tradition.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a very good American-type day! Elley and I slept in and woke up to make the most glorious breakfast known to the country of Spain...french toast, scrambled eggs and country potatoes. Mmmmmmm, it was wonderful and we gorged ourselves like good American girls would. :)
After a little bit of resting, we decided to conquer one of the hills just outside of town that has a cross on top. Come to find out, there is a greenway path that goes right to it and will hopefully become a great place to go run. The hike was a little harder than we expected and then we both felt lame for having adapted to the low altitude; we can no longer boast about our powerful Colorado lungs. It was a good trip, we both spent some time at the top just reflecting and looking over the city. It was a shame that it was a cloudy/foggy day because the view from up there is phenomenal and so expansive, but we enjoyed it none the less.
There's not a whole lot that's new going on here, but Elley and I are making plans to go to Granada at the beginning of next month. We get three days off school for some catholic holiday and we want to go south for a bit. Should be fun, I really want to see Granada and the historical sites there. I guess I will have that to tell about when it comes, for now....

Hasta luego!

02 November 2010

It's November.

Long time no write. Sorry, I honestly forgot about blogging at all the past week or however longs it's been. The past few weeks have been pretty interesting; I've been homesick and feeling strange about being here, it's been quite a roller coaster of emotions.
But as we all know, this past weekend was Halloween and even though the Spanish don't really celebrate it, some of us exchange students decided to dress up anyway for fun. All of the Spaniards knew it was Halloween, but it's just not a celebrated holiday, they celebrate the day after, All Saints Day (which we got the day off school for!). Elley went to London for the weekend so we celebrated twice, Thursday with her and then actual Halloween night. It was fun and quite crazy!

Also, Saturday I went just over the border into the French part of the Basque country with my excursion class to the cities of Bayonne and Saint Jean de Luz. It was not a fun-filled trip like some of the others, we didn't have a whole lot planned for us, but we got to spend sometime at the ocean and now I can say I've been to France! It didn't feel much different from being in Spain, although everyone was speaking French. It's actually a pretty cool area because people growing up there learn French, Basque and usually, at least, conversational Spanish because it is so close to the border. It was overall a good day, a pretty place even though it rained most of the time.

In other news, Elley and I have discovered our new favorite thing about Spain: roasted chestnuts. There are little kiosks around town, shaped like trains (adorable!) where they roast them and you go buy a little package full of warm, ready to eat nuts. Amazing! I will have to take a picture of a kiosk soon.
Well that's all for now I think.

Hasta Luego!

The beach at Saint Jean de Luz, France

Elley and I on our early Halloween.