Toledo

We took our first field trip today–a one day excursion to Toledo. Toledo was the original capital of Spain years and years ago until it was moved to Madrid. Because it was so important so long ago, it’s rich with history and culture. It was amazing!

Me–with all of Old Toledo in the background

An awesome cathedral. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but trust me–it was AMAZING. There are 11 organs inside, and I wanted to play every one of them!

My friend Rikki. She was in Women’s Chorus with me, so we’re basically best friends already.

The streets were so tiny! And so cute!

Flamenco

I didn’t actually learn how to Flamenco. I know many of you will be disappointed by this, but it’s ok–I did get to go to a YSA stake dance last night at the stake center in the Madrid Temple complex.

Oh yeah–I danced with Spaniards.
We felt super out of place at first, but once we started going, we totally looked legit. Ok, we looked like stupid Americans, but that’s ok! Thanks to a certain Allan Escobar, I knew how to do the little quick-step thingy, bachata, and salsa, so I wasn’t totally lost when the music changed–I could still get my groove on. šŸ™‚
The funniest part of the whole night was the theme–cowboys. Everyone dressed up in cowboy hats, boots, and plaid shirts while taking pictures with fake cacti. Considering I am from the Southwest, I found this quite hilarious. The senior couple missionary there even taught everyone how to do-si-do, which was fantastic. All in all, it was a stupendous night, and it really made me appreciate all that the church does for its members all around the world.

Things I’ve Learned in Spain

  1. If you use a public bathroom, you have to pay for toilet paper. Before you go in your little stall. If you don’t…well, you’re stuck
  2. People here say Vale. All. The. Time. It’s like “cool” or “yeah” or the stupid filler word “like” that everyone wishes they could stop staying but can’t because it’s so ingrained in their vocabulary. And so they keep saying it. Vale, vale, vale!
  3. If you go into the local cathedral and stick your head close to the little monument thing, an alarm will probably go off. And then a Catholic priest will come to check on it. But he’ll be nice when you explain and then try and baptize you. (This one didn’t actually happen to me. But it was great.)
  4. Watching a soccer (or futbol) game in Spain is way cooler than at home. And everyone gets really into it and will be mad at you if you cheer for Barcelona. Me encanta Messi, though. I can’t give up on mi amor that easily!
  5. When a Spanish man puts up his hand, he’s just waving. He doesn’t actually want a high-five.

EspaƱa

Hola, chicos! Estoy en EspaƱa ahora, y estoy disfrutƔndome mucho!

Anyway, I’m in Spain now and really enjoying it so far. We arrived early Tuesday morning in the airport in Madrid, after spending all day and all night flying here. I don’t do well sleeping on planes, so I basically went two whole days without sleep. It was weird. After I got off the plane, I realized my roommate Audi and two other girls had been on the same flight, so we went through customs together (where I got my first stamp in my passport!) and got our luggage (which was conveniently all there) and headed out to meet Professor Stallings. We waited around for a fellow BYU student (who never came…odd) before we loaded a bus to head to AlcalĆ” de Henares. Once there, we met our surrogate mother DorĆ­, who took us to her little apartment to meet her daughter RayĆ³n. RayĆ³n is 18 and goes to El Instituto her in AlcalĆ” (kind of like high school). Our family is really nice and feeds us yummy food. Audi and I took a little tour of la cuidad, where we got terribly lost, checked out some cool little tiendas, and made our first European purchase–ice cream cones from McDonalds. Oh yeah.

This morning we woke up late (stinkin’ military time) and walked as quickly as we could to la universidad (luckily RayĆ³n took us, or else we probably would have gotten lost again). After a quick placement exam (which was unfortunate, considering I just finished finals last week) we got a tour of the city, the end goal being that we wouldn’t get lost anymore. Unfortunatly, Audi and I got lost on our way home. But, with some quick help from some Spaniards, we found our way home. Nothing too exciting has happened yet, but being here is amazing, and still kind of surreal. I’ll try to include pictures next time….if I remember to take them.

Hasta luego!

Home

I’m about to head off on this grand adventure. I will be touring exotic destinations, meeting actual Spaniards, making tons of new friends, and having the time of my life. Before I started this crazy madness, though, I took a quick pitstop at the place I love most in the entire world.

#3103 on Cullumber Street in a beautiful town called Gilbert.

I love being home. I love walking in from the garage and hearing my lovely and obnoxious dog absolutely squealing out of excitement. I love smelling the fresh cleanliness that my apartment can never seem to achieve, no matter how hard I scrub the kitchen floor. I love being surrounded by my family members and getting big hugs the minute we are reunited. I love the corner spot on our sectional, and love the wrestling match that ensues when I get there first. I love having a fridge and pantry full of food I can only dream about on my starving-student budget. I love the green trees lining my street and the tremendous growth they’ve experienced since I left last. I love my little porch swing, and I love my late-night chats on my parents’ bed.

Every time I kneel down to pray when I’m home (by the bottom bunk in Andie’s room, which is something I, admittedly, don’t love) I cannot fully express to my Heavenly Father how grateful I am to be at the place I love the most with the people I adore. I can’t put it into words, but I feel like MoTab put it the best–Home has a special kind of feeling.

Finals

It’s that time again. The week all college students dread. The 7 days from you-know-where. Sure, it seems all nice and happy because you don’t have class. Do you know what you do have though? Hours filled with monotonous studying and scrambling to pack and find the things that have been lost since September (I will find you, you stinkin’ camera charger!) This time around, however, one person’s thoughtfulness has made finals week a little more bearable.

My dear mother sent me a Finals Week Survival Kit, with a little present to open every day. Some of the things are AMAZING (like this dress she sent me that I’m obsessed with) and some are rather ordinary (like the floss-toothpick things I opened today) but do you know what? The absolute best part about it is knowing that someone was thinking of me. Everyone I tell is super jealous that they don’t have a cool care package like me, but that’s because I have the best mom in the entire world (no offense to anyone who isn’t my mom. That’s just the way it is)
PS-1 week until I’m on an airplane! Yikes!

Drawing to a close…

Today is the last day of classes. It’s everything I ever thought it would be–

  • Eating chocolate cake for a Final Spanish Fiesta at 8 o’clock in the morning while trying to keep my barely-rested eyes open.
  • Last-minute paper revisions since I can’t trust what the heck I wrote at 2:30 this morning.
  • The anticipation of going home and taking a nap since I don’t have anything due tomorrow, but knowing that I probably won’t since I have so much to do anyway.
  • The little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m leaving for SPAIN in less than 2 weeks and still don’t actually know what’s going on.
  • Realizing it’s pointless to grocery shopping at this point in time and having to drool over delicious food blog recipes only to remember that all I’m eating for the next week is Top Ramen and Kraft Mac & Cheese. Tasty.
  • My determination to make it through to my last final on Tuesday, which is comparable to the feeling you get pulling down your metal harness before riding Space Mountain in Disneyland, only much less fun.

Oh, the joy of Finals week.