I survived Spain

Well the whole blogging a lot in Spain thing really worked out well, didn't it? This was partly due to the fact that I didn't have internet in my house and partly due to the fact that when I had internet, I didn't want to do it. Oh well. So, since some people have told me that they missed my posts, I have decided I am going to do one big post with short excerpts and pictures to sum up all the events that happened that I never posted about. 

Well, Salamanca was fun. There's lots of bars there, so you know what we did on our weekends. Oh, and the weekend includes Thursday night-Sunday, because we didn't have classes on Friday's. Rough life.

Jessie, Milena and I out in Salamanca 
Meredith and I at the Bull Fighting Museum in Salamanca

Then was the time that Meredith and I met up with Jessie and went to Barcelona. We stayed in this really awesome Youth Hostel, which was themed skater, but was filled with young people from all over the world. It was a lot of fun. We made friends with some other Americans and a few canadians, as well as a French girl and an Egyptian guy. Sometime in person you will all have to ask me about my first interaction with him, dear God. After exploring some of the city, and mostly getting lost in it, we went to the big event -- Sensation Interspace: Barcelona. Oh. My. God. Imagine a huge indoor stadium with a bunch of drug and alcohol ingested college age europeans and people from all over, who come solely to see a bunch of DJ's who have weird names, dance their butts off, and wear all white so when they go home all the clothing is officially ruined. Perfect. We then proceeded to wake up too late from the concert, mostly my fault, and missed our flight to Madrid. So, we got on the eight hour train ride back to Salamanca. Oh, so fun.

Our group from the hostel that went to Sensation

Guell Park - Barcelona

The concert

We came back to Salamanca and I got sick for a while so I couldn't go out that much. But, I got to spend a lot of quality time with my awesome boyfran'. So that was good.

Jim and I

Then came the time where Meredith and I took a trip to Florence, Italy to visit my friend Marisa. We had a lot of fun, and had a really great tour guide. We got to see where Marisa lives and got to look all around the city filled with the most upscale shopping I have ever seen in one place. We also went out with her one night to a pretty hopping club that was apparently on the Jersey Shore. Of course, we ate a lot of pizza. All was perfect, except for our hostel which closed from 2am-6am and then kicked you out from 10am-2pm. Word to the wise: not all things here in Europe have to be specified on the internet, especially huge details about how the hostel is hardly ever open for college kid sleeping hours. Oh well. We also made a short trip to Pisa, Italy for the night. There's nothing there but the tower, but Meredith and I got to explore quite a while when we got lost in the most random part of the city. No taxis either. That's good.

Me in front of the most famous bridge in Florence 
The Duomo

Marisa, our tour guide

Panoramic view of Florence

You already know what this is, I hope.

After that it was the long haul of enjoying our next three weeks in Salamanca until our families came. And enjoying we did! We went out a lot. And when I wasn't going out, you probably could have found me watching movies and spending time over at Jim's house. Classes weren't extremely hard at that point either, so we had a lot of time to do things. During this time I met many new people and enjoyed getting to know people that I had met earlier on in the trip.

Meredith, Alvaro, Pablo and I

Then came the time where my family came to visit. Yes, my entire family -- Mom, Dad and Brad. And they had the same sentiments I had about Spanish food, but I think for the most part they enjoyed the experience. They arrived on Friday and hung out until dinner time where we went to a restaurant and they got to know Jim. Then, the next day we went on a guided tour of Salamanca and a lovely dinner with all my professors, program directors, other parents, and other students. It was literally the most fun dinner I have had in a long time. And it involved a lot of alcohol (they gave us shots for dessert, no lie). Oh, I gave a speech at this dinner in Spanish and Steve gave it in English. That was good. Then the next morning we left for our adventure to the south of Spain. This trip included visits to Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Sevilla and Merida. I think everyones favorite place was Ronda, just because it was so remote and beautiful. 

Brad, Jim and I after dinner

Mom and Dad at the Windmills of Don Quijote (windmills around the corner, ha!)

Our group at the Mezquita in Cordoba

Brad listening to our tour guide


Me at the Roman ruins of Merida

After saying goodbye to my family, I had to two week homestretch of time left in Salamanca. We made the most of it! Every weekend we went out and during the week we did our fair share of final shopping trips and sites to see. 

...and now I am home. So, call me! 


I saw a real, live, Bull Fight

So the past week I haven't written on here, and honestly it's all due to my lack of time! We have been very busy lately with school, small excursions and hanging out with people. I have finally made some Spanish friends on top of my American friends, so I have been mingling in between the two groups. Regardless, a lot has happened since I bought those red pants.

First of all, I went to my first bull fight. Man, oh man! That was an experience. And just being honest, it's not really my cup of tea. What happened was our program director came into class and asked everyone if they wanted to go to the bullfight that was happening on Tuesday afternoon. She gave us a heads up about the violence and the fact that many Americans don't particularly enjoy watching bulls die. So, me being miss adventure, I decided to say yes and see the torreros. It was definitely an experience, to say the least.

The stadium was a really old, very small place with stone bench seating and close proximity to the main part of the city. This is cool, except for the fact that everyone in Spain chain-smokes and will do it right next to you. I usually don't mind people in the U.S. who smoke, but at least people there have some consideration when the do it. Not here. So, bullfight 1, Sarah 0.

We walked in as the fight was starting and took our seats. We had great seats (and they should be for 34 euro). There were three different bullfighters and six different bulls at this event. One of the bullfighters was on horse (and I felt bad for that horse) and the two others were on foot. And while I would like to say I was prepared for it, I wasn't. All six bulls died in front of a stadium of people cheering on its suffering and waiting for it to pass out from losing so much blood. It was sad. And to be honest, I don't think the fight is fair. The bullfighter doesn't even really do it himself! He has all these other people who come in and help wear the bull down so that when it's dripping blood and almost about to die anyway, the torrero comes in and "heroically" forces it to run through sheets of red before he stabs it to death.

I mean, I get it. There's a sense of tradition and culture that I might not completely understand (and there are rules and techniques to it), so that's why I try to keep an open mind. However, I would much rather go to a baseball game than go watch some innocent animal die from some guys that run around in pants that are too tight for them. You know, it's just not my thing.

At least they do eat the meat after the fight. And while my vegetarians all roll their eyes, if it's going to die, it might as well be used, right?

Next week we go to the north of Spain, which should be a very good time!



For those of you who have been to Spain, you know that these people dress to the 9's at all hours of the day. For those of you who have not been here, be warned: if you are not wearing a put-together outfit, you will immediately be marked as a tourist. Men here rock their button downs, jeans, and whatever else at all hours. Women tend to stick with dresses or skirts, or jeans and a nice top. The children here wear fancy clothing at all hours. Think your Sunday best, and then wear it all week long.

Well, for the past week my friend Meredith Wholley and I have been obsessing about the obvious fall trend; red pants. They're everywhere here. And the best part was that I saw them at Urban Outfitters and was about to buy them and didn't. Man, did I regret that decision! But the good thing is that we found a pair each today while perusing the shops. Plus, they were a lot cheaper than the ones that were at Urban. So hey, I got a Spanish version.

People here love their fashion. You can't walk down the street without someone carrying a Zara or H&M bag. While it's refreshing, it's also a lot of work. Unlike in the United States, one can't roll out of bed and roll to class. Clothes need to match (and be presentable) and hair needs to be fixed. Also, flip-flops are almost out of the question (although I admit to wearing a pair, but they're dressy).

On another front, I have begun to book a trip to Barcelona for the beginning of October. We even went so far as to book tickets for a huge music event that's happening there, which is supposedly comparable to Pretty Lights, but much much cooler. It's called Sensation Barcelona, or something like that. And it. looks. awesome.

That's all I've got here! Hasta luego!


Viva las fiestas!

The fiestas are here amigos! All of the casetas are up and rockin' in the downtown area. There are so many set up all around the town. And for those of you that don't speak spanish, a caseta is just a little stand that bars, restaurants, and groups of people put up and sell tapas, foods, and drinks. Usually the special at the stands is that you get a drink and one tapa for something like 1.8 Euro or around that price range. The drinks usually include beer, wine, water, or a soda. And the funny part is, the cheapest thing to get is usually wine. Oh Spain!

The plaza is constantly packed. There are concerts, dance shows, street performers, and other activities going on all around the city at any given moment. Today after lunch we are going to go out and explore for a little while. The bars are constantly packed and there are more people walking the streets than I know what to do with. And this is all before the students even have come back to Salamanca! Once they come at the end of September, I wonder what I am going to do with myself.

All of us are beginning to plan our trips to places all around. I am deciding where I would like to go see. While everyone else is dead-set on going out of the country, I am trying to stay within it and see most of Spain before I worry about the rest. I'm sure I will have some great posts to put up here once I get everything figured out.

My home life here is still going strong. My madre is very chill and pretty much lets me do my thing. She is also working in a Andalucia themed caseta, so she's pretty busy and leaves the house in these huge flamenco costumes all the time. It's pretty cool, actually. I am more connected to the world now that I have internet and am enjoying every moment that I am able to blog. The only thing I don't like (besides the food) is that in the house you have to wear shoes all the time. This custom was also in Mexico, but I could at least get away with wearing socks there. Here, they want shoes. It supposedly goes back to the times where they didn't have heat in the homes and had cold floors but I probably still wouldn't want to wear shoes even back then!

...Ohhhhh Spain!


always say no.

So I have learned something new that I found intriguing and decided to share.

Here in Spain, if someone offers you something (food, gum, drink, etc.), it is expected that you say "no", even if you really do want the item. If you accept the item initially it's considered to be rude. Thus, you must say no to the initial ask and then wait for them to ask you again (which they will do). This time if you really want to accept the item, you can.

...you know. In case any of you are traveling to Spain anytime soon.


I am here!

So, I have finally made it here to Spain and I am enjoying (mostly) everything already! I bought an internet USB so that I could facebook chat and write on here to let you all know what's happening.

Lets see...

We arrived at the main airport in Madrid, Spain on Thursday and have been in a whirlwind ever since. After having some help from Steve with one of my large suitcases, we found our way through customs and into where our program directors picked us up. After waiting a half hour, the bus finally arrived and we were off to Salamanca. I don't know if it was the food on the airplane, the day of traveling, or nerves, but I was super sick on the bus ride and thought for sure I was going to vom. I didn't, but I definitely came close. We stopped about half way through the two and a half hour drive to eat at a gas station type thing. I couldn't eat my sandwich because I was so sick.

Finally we arrived in Salamanca, and upon pulling up we saw our madres waiting for us. My madre is a nice woman named Juana who is in her 50's/60's. She was standing with her two grandchildren, Jimena (who is 5 years old) and Jaime (who is 2). We struggled at first to fit everything in the car, but eventually got it to fit and headed off to the house. And I'm telling you, I lucked out. I am the only one who lives right in the city, literally a block from the Plaza Mayor. I can see it from my balcony of my house! There is a garage that is directly under our apartment complex, which uses an elevator to take cars to park. That was weird! But the house is nice. I get my own room, which has a twin sized bed and a desk. Nothing crazy, but it's all good. My room is right next to the balcony in the middle of the house so lucky for me, I get to hear everyone in the apartment buildings conversations. Don't worry, my sleep hasn't been interrupted. I can literally sleep through anything!

A few of us out at night

The first night we decided to go out for a while. And pretty much every night besides Sunday we have done the same. The night life here is pretty crazy. There are a lot of bars, obviously, because it's a very University centered town. But here is different than Guanajuato, Mexico, just because there are also a lot more clubs and places I would consider to be very fresa. I have, however, found one rock bar called Rock Roice that is a Spanish bar and have made friends with all the bartenders. Come on, would you expect anything less?

Snow Cohn and Stevie Rimz

We have had some citas with our tutores who teach us where things are in the city and take us on cultural excursions. While it's nice, it's also frustrating because we tend to do them during prime "nap time". Oh well. We went to a museum of contemporary art, much of which I didn't understand and it's only because I don't "speak art". We have also gone to the mall, walked the city, and seen some of the "important sites of Salamanca".

Our classes right now are just kind of those "introductory, learn something about Spain and work on your Spanish classes" which I guess are kind of helpful but annoying at times. The nice part is, however, that they don't start until 10am. Sleep time!!! The teacher is very nice and enthusiastic, so that makes me not want to totally kill myself! The internet at school is free and much stronger than the USB internet I bought at the phone store, so I will probably be doing most picture uploads and maybe some blogging there instead of here. My USB internet has a limit on how much data one can use -- 2GB. As I am not a tech person, I am trying to conserve the little time (well, I think little time) that I have.

The food here is ok. I don't particularly like it, but whatever. I miss my hot sauce and I miss flavors other than fish, sardines and blandness. Oh, but the salads are pretty alright. I don't mind salads with vinegar and oil instead of dressing. But when you go out to a restaurant, they always eff them up and put tuna on them. It's not that my madre is a bad cook, it's just that I prefer more variety and less seafood. Most of my friends and family know that I am not a huge seafood person. Maybe it'll just be more reason to get really skinny. Ha. Probably not.

We have already made some Spanish friends and are looking forward to going out with Brandon and Rylan when they arrive here in Salamanca.

And other than that, there's not too much that's new.


The Latino List

Here it is! I told you it was coming. 

These are the songs I have been obsessing over lately... or just enjoy listening to. It's pretty eclectic. Enjoy!

Corazon Sin Cara- Prince Royce

Electro Movimiento- Calle 13

A Dios Le Pido- Juanes

Clavado en un Bar- Mana

Eres- Cafe Tacuba

Lamento Boliviano- Enanitos Verde

Salsa- Buena Vista Social Club

Lo Que Paso, Paso- Daddy Yankee

Nada- Zoe

Dame Otro Tequila- Paulina Rubio

No Me Digas Que No- Enrique Iglesias (ft. Wisin y Yandel)

El Amor Que Perdimos- Prince Royce


Earthquakes, working, hair coloring and packing

In a nutshell that sums up what has happened recently. 

Well, that plus taking care of my mother. 

Mom and her pink cast at work

The past week or so I haven't posted much because, honestly, there hasn't been all that much to say. I was at home taking care of Mom, who didn't leave the house for almost a week, or I was at work. That's all. Well, there was one night of going out with friends and then another of a going away party that some people from Vaquero's had for me, but other than that, nothing. 

This week has been a little more eventful, however. Besides working at Vaquero's, I have been taking Mom to work at the Statehouse and have been looking around for some cute shirts to take to Spain. No luck on the latter. But I did have a hair appointment today! So that's eventful. I went a little darker with the color, but only because I made all my hair the exact same color, something that hasn't been done in a very long time (if ever). 

Showing off the new "all brown" hair color 
Next I need a tan to help my pasty white skin become more "Spaniard-friendly".  I'm hoping to be able to go to the pool one of these days, but it seems like I'm always being called to do something and never really have the time. Maybe that will change at the end of this week? Who knows. But probably not.

I still have a lot of laundry to do in order to finish up some of my packing. I should probably get started on that right this minute, but I'm not. Sue me.

Everyone at OWU has started back to school, which makes me feel like an old fart because I know I will never be going back with them. That sucks.

I have been wasting a lot of time on my tumblr account, which is pretty much a collection of pictures that I re-blog from other people. These pictures are things I like, things I find interesting or things I find inspiring. There's nothing really to it other than I press "re-blog" and wham! pictures are posted on my page. It's like a lazy version of doing this blog.

I have also been making a lot of latin music playlists. I'm sure some of my favorite lists will be featured on here soon so you can see what I mean. I have been doing this in order to get in the "spirit" of the spanish language. Because, you know, I was ever out of that spirit...

There was a earthquake in Virginia today, and apparently the aftershocks have been felt all over the East coast and even here in Central Ohio! I didn't notice anything, but then again, I was driving most of the time and probably wouldn't have. Some people down at the Statehouse said they felt it on the third floor, and my Facebook news-feed is full of people talking about the event. Apparently they've evacuated a lot of buildings in D.C. and NYC in order to protect people against aftershocks, but from what I can tell, everyone is safe. This earthquake is big news, especially since there is also a hurricane heading right for the East Coast as well --- hello hurricane Irene.

And, that's the updates for now! Sorry I haven't been more eventful.


Waiting on Mom, hand and foot...

...well, maybe just foot.

Mom got foot surgery today for her two heel spurs that the doctor said were large and had already ripped part of her achilles tendon. Crazy.

Snapped while hanging out pre-surgery

The good news is that Mom is all good and out of surgery, although she is still a little loopy from all the medicine. The best part was when she asked me if they had taped her eyes shut because they felt weird. The bad news is that I am slave keeper for the week, meaning I am Mom's bitch. And it's funny that when you're home taking care of someone, all of a sudden all these things happen in the house that need tended to as well. How convenient, right? 

Oh well. I guess it's my duty to do something around here that's not just waiting to go to Spain.


I wish vintage luggage was lighter/cheaper

Last week I looked all over the web and at many stores in order to find the perfect luggage for my upcoming trip to Spain. I finally settled on a lightweight upright blue set by Calvin Klein that will hopefully last a very long time. I really wanted something that would be durable, clean, and light enough that I can focus most of the weight on what's inside the bag, rather than the bag itself. However, I have always had an affinity for vintage luggage sets. I just think they look so great and are filled with lots of character. The downside, however, is that they are usually heavy and don't have too much storage space. For a car ride, though, these would be more practical and definitely have the "flare" that I love.  

Tell me these don't make you want to pack up and go away. 

why do I love this song so much?

It's completely inappropriate, doesn't really say anything interesting, and is full of a bunch of hipster's dancing around being ridiculous. 

...that might be why I like it.


Lovin my new Michael Kors

I have been looking everywhere for the perfect raincoat. I used to wear my black Northface raincoat, but then I decided that looks too "college girl hanging out at the Lacrosse game" and had begun looking for something that would work. Also, in Spain they tend to dress a little more "classic" and a little less "American-casual", so there was that too. We Americans really do dress pretty jenky compared to the rest of the world. Finally I found what I was looking for, thanks to Michael Kors! 

The sleeves roll up, it's fancy-but-not-too-fancy, and I can wear it on the way to the gym on or on the way out for the night! Perfect! 



Jack engaging in the "typical activity"
So last week I went to Chicago in order to get my Spanish visa, which is good I guess. I also didn't get delayed at all, unlike the three hour one of last trip, which is also good I guess. I arrived in the afternoon on Tuesday and from there went to Jack's house, where we hung out and I took a little nap. And by little, I mean like two hours. After waking up and getting somewhat ready, Jack and I headed downtown in order to meet up with one of my friends from high school, Sam. Sam showed us his amazing engagement ring, which he has already given to his soon to be wife. Exciting! He also took us out to his work-friends' happy hour for a drink, and then back to his favorite hangout spot at the Seneca Hotel-- where literally everyone knows his name. We partied until we finally went back to his house, watched a TV show or two while drinking Sam's incredibly strong concoction of "god knows what", and passed out on his couch. In the morning Jack and I headed down to Michigan avenue, oh wait, no, Sam lives off Michigan avenue--- swanky mofo. But we did go walk around!

Walking up to Navy Pier

We even took a trip down the river to see Navy Pier, which was amazing but would have been more amazing if it wasn't raining. Oh well! After boring Jack with my obsession with shopping at Anthropologie, we made our way to the Consulate of Spain. I waited in line, maybe 15 minutes, and finally was called up to the front in order to get my Visa. At first the guy told me that he couldn't find it, but after I insisted it had to be there, he finally dug through passport by passport in order to find mine. Of course, it was located somewhere at the bottom of the stack.


babys going away!

So my boss at work, Alfedo (who many people call, "Baby") and his brother Ramon are taking their families and heading down toward Guadalajara. I will really miss them, and know that El Vaquero will be making some changes now that they're gone. However, nothing will be as sad as when I leave for Spain (jokes jokes! I'll be back when I finish in December and still can't find a job, I'm sure). All jokes aside, our new manager, David, is very nice and I am sure will do a great job running the restaurant. I finally uploaded the pictures from the huge going away party on my facebook, and so I decided to at least dedicate a small post to them on here in appreciation for all they've done for us at Vaquero's. 

...and if all this fun doesn't excite you enough to come in and grab a margarita, or two, or three, at Vaquero's, then maybe this super attractive picture of the bartenders will (minus the sweaty one): 

29 days and counting...

It's August 2nd, which means I only have to wait 29 more days until my Spanish adventure begins! I can't even begin to describe to you what that means for me. We will leave here on August 31st and arrive in Salamanca on September 1st, after taking a quick stop in the Philadelphia and Madrid airports. I assume that night is when we will meet our host families and get a first look at the place we will call home for the next four months. We filled out a quick questionnaire which asked us our opinions on living with children, pets, having food allergies, etc., however, our host families are going to be a complete surprise until we arrive. From there, we will have the weekend to explore and take a few group tours of the city, and then we begin in our "cultural immersion - pre-real-classes class", which I assume is similar to the one we had in Guanajuato but will be a few weeks shorter. These classes are only Monday-Thursday (I think), so there will be some extra time to travel/do whatever. I am so ready to get back in a culture that lives slowly and meaningfully. Sometimes I feel too stressed out here in the United States because everyone lives in a constant state of hustle and bustle, although right now it's summer time and I am used to a more relaxed lifestyle.

I got my visa this past week when I went to Chicago, and am now completely "listo" to pack my bags and head to Spain. The Spanish consulate in Chicago is very nice and although it is bureaucracy and makes you jump through a thousand hoops, they were helpful and patient. This is something one of my friends says is a miracle because apparently other consulates are not-- tisk tisk Italian consulate of Detroit.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the doc to check everything out and get a prescription filled before my travels begin. After that---I could literally pack up and leave.

I'm not really nervous at all because I have already studied abroad once, and for a longer period of time. I also have gotten to the point that I feel pretty confident in my Spanish and hope that people in Spain will understand my "Mexican slang". Hopefully I will quickly adapt and begin using some of their slang, but I hope to God I don't pick up that hideous Spanish lisp. Grathias. Ew.

I'm bringing my cannon and should probably bring a smaller camera, and have to pick up another cloth bound/recycled paper journal (I'm very particular about journals), but other than that I am good to go! Everyone keeps asking me when I'm leaving --even more so than before-- and while I keep telling them it's a month away, I keep wishing it was a couple days away. I'm ready. Powell is boring because most people are gone, and the people that are still here are leaving soon for school/jobs, so I will definitely be ready to be social again once August 31st arrives.

Then comes the next question, what's next after Spain?

...and we all know I don't have an answer for that.


semi-precious obsession

Semi-precious stones are super beautiful and have over taken half of my accessory wardrobe. I can't help it! I love them! They're elegant, while also adding that "artsy/unique" edge that I always try to find with each outfit selection. I have noticed that they are becoming more and more popular, as they are beginning to be sold in large quantities in some of the most mainstream stores at the mall. Perhaps this is also due to the idea that the fashion world has been heading toward lately-- boutique is in and name brand is out. 

Some of my favorite semi-precious stones can be found in stores, while others you have to find in the mines of Latin America (or sometimes the street markets of these towns) or other parts of the world. I love them in the forms of rings, bracelets, and even statement necklaces. I found this website called Brooklyn Thread, which sells jewelry of this type -- and for my price range! 

Here is a collection of some of my favorite pieces from Brooklyn Thread. Enjoy! 

semi precious stones - brooklyn thread