Abroad Wrap Up/SD/SLOme

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OK So I’ve put this off long enough. I never summed up my blog, or my study abroad experience. Life has been crazy. There isn’t even time for a punny title *gasp*. So I didn’t even proof read. Whoops. Its a few days short of being 2 months back home in America. And how that time has FLOWN by! Only two more weeks of classes until spring break. 6 months ago today I was in Dublin just backpacking around. WHAT! Well…. Let me sum up my last few weeks in Madrid/Europe…. & excuse me while I hold back tears.

**DISCLAIMER** The fact that I miss it so much has NO RELATION to being unhappy here. I absolutely love being able to see my friends and family and live in California. I LOVE it. But it doesn’t mean I don’t miss my temporary home.
Also, this post is pretty long, just warning you 🙂
So. Classes ended, we took our finals, and made sure we filled our bodies with tortilla, jamon, Sangria, and Spanish wine as much as we could with our last few nights out on the town.
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w/ Nicole, Kaylin, Julia & Mitch

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Being cool in our apartment

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Last Parque Oeste Picnic

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EVAN! BTW HAPPY ENGAGEMENT TO EVAN AND KEVIN WE ARE ALL SO EXCITED FOR YOU TWO! ❤

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Palacio Real

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Sorry for the explicitness… JACKIE. but this is too much of a correct representation of these humans.

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My CEA program, the last night

Then the last night came. I had expected to cry, but since I still had two weeks until my flight home, I was ok.
By 9am the next morning, my apartment had shrunk from having 9 inhabitants to one, me. It was oddly quiet. Too quiet.
Until our Spanish landlord’s mother came over and spoke to me in  Spanish for what seemed to be a billion years. I wanted to be alone, I wanted everything to sink in.
Two floors up my friends Matt and Mitch were still there. I finished packing and the boys helped me move all my stuff to the hotel (right next to one of the Zaras basically in Sol) that my family would soon meet me at.
In a few days I got up early, took a cab to el Aeropuerto de Aldolfo Suarez-Barajas. First Bubs (Ernie), my 17 year old brother came out, and after some confusion, the rest of my family. They had lost ALL their luggage, and Madrid wasn’t exactly warm, especially for San Diegans, so they needed jackets. So unfortunately we had to spend some of their precious Madrid time shopping. BUT! I did get to show them as much of the city as I could.  I even took Ernie out with some of my friends to the 7 story club in Madrid, Kapital!
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Taking Bubs out on the town

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Carter and his first of MANY jerseys

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Chocolate con porras for Carter!

Chocolate con porras for Carter!

After our time in Madrid, we went to Barcelona for a night, then on to Rome for 4 days (I think), including Christmas. Rome was really cool, we had the most fabulous guide, and I loved the history. We toured the Vatican, and even got to witness the Pope’s Blessing on Christmas Day. We stayed in the most beautiful and extravagant hotel I had ever seen- only due to the kindness of one of my Dad’s friends. We bought a “selfie stick” (to the family’s annoyance, and my dad’s abundant joy) and paraded through the city, eating all the bread, pizza, gelato and pasta we could, while helping it down with some good red wine. My Dad and brother Carter even tried to get their Charger’s gear blessed by the Pope (it didn’t help haha).
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Colosseum! and our guide

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The Pope is there I swear

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These are crazy fans we found wandering around

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Vatican

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Rome

After Rome, we took a train to Florence, where many of my good friends had studied. Wow. What a beautiful city. We had the best culinary experience there, and went to local restaurants with some of the coolest owner/chefs you could meet. No english translations in these joints 😉 I even got to try cow’s stomach! Pretty good! But it would have been better if my brothers didn’t continue saying “you’re eating stomachhhh” while I chewed. Food-buzz kill. haha.
One of my friends/sorority sisters, who is living in Florence for a year came back into town and was able to meet up. We went around to the bars my friends had spent their semester at, and ended up at a secret bakery. Apparently there are these bakeries that require a secret knock at 1am and give you the most fresh baked goods. IT WAS AMAZING. Chocolate filled croissant? Yes please.
1 am Secret Bakery with Tam

1 am Secret Bakery with Tam

Unfortunately the next day I woke up, and felt horribly sick. The sickest in a long, long while. So I stayed in the hotel until 1pm, unfortunately.
At the end of the day we took a flight (after two nights in Florence) back to Madrid, got in late and went to bed.
Then we got up early, and caught our flight to London (which Nicole was also on), and THEN our flight to San Diego, which we RAN to and almost missed, but hey, we made it. That long flight and running with a huge backpack on was really great for my sick self, but I survived.
Then back to San Diego. What a weird feeling. All english. All familiar. USA. America. CELL SERVICE? What.
I felt so sick, went straight to bed, and wasted most of my three days home in San Diego laying in bed.
Then I left for San Luis Obispo on the 3rd (we had landed late on the 30th), and had to decorate my apartment and move all my non-funiture items in. Not to mention to get books too.
Then classes started on the 5th.
And here I am, 8 weeks later.
Still with euros in my purse.
At first the transition was EXHAUSTING because it was all hitting the ground run- SPRINTING, and very sick. I had lots of life “busy-work” do. Like the DMV. Gross!
Actually in line for the DMV I had been thinking about how I was going to approach getting my new license. I really thought about it for a while (longgg line). And then it hit me. I could speak English, I didn’t need to prepare.
Another time I found a bag of quarters and was STOKED! I’m rich!!! … oh wait these aren’t euro pieces, these are quarters. Duh.
Here is something (LAME) from my last night:
“My last night in Madrid. As the sun sets on my last day in Madrid, I cannot help but to get a bit melodramatic. So many amazing memories in this beautiful city. I’ve laughed, cried, learned, drank, ate, danced, ran, and walked through this city to no end. I’ve made life long friends too. Walking down Gran Villa or seeing Parque Oeste at sun set are some of my favorite things. While I may have learned some more about Spanish Culture and about Spain’s history and artists, I really did end up learning a lot about myself. Yup. It’s time for sappy and generic. I’ve become more assertive, confident, and more relaxed. I’ve decided to care a bit less and not be so hard on myself (yea I still freak out sometimes but if you know me these are big things hahaha). I can hold my own a bit more.
I can honestly say I feel like an adult. I really do.
I also learned A LOT about people- different cultures and customs and I’ve noticed the similarities and differences between attitudes, languages, food, manors, and dress. I have also seen how kind and wonderful people can be- many strangers have saved me when I was lost or otherwise would have been screwed. But I’ve also seen people lie and cheat, and show the ugly side of people. But I guess you’ve gotta see the whole picture. Don’t ask me where or what my favorite thing or place was…. I honestly could not tell you. I loved different aspects of different places. But I will say that I wouldn’t change studying abroad- and studying specifically in Madrid-for the world. My eyes are full as I see the last of the city for what will be years and years. But I’ll be back. Yo quiero mas de Madrid, yo la necesito.
Well, all I can say now is play Dierks Bentley’s hit song….. cuz I’m coming home. Hasta luego Madrid y Europa, hasta pronto California.”
Thankfully I’m back in the place I love, with the people I love. San Luis Obispo and San Diego are so beautiful, and they make me so happy. I’m back to studying my favorite subjects, eating well, exercising, and working hard. But now I’ve got my “study abroad” traits, which have really benefited me on a personal level. And hey now I have a handful of new friends in SLO from abroad too. This quarter has been crazy, but it somehow is easier thanks to everything I learned abroad. I think it just made me appreciate living in the moment.
I am a lucky lucky lucky girl. I cannot complain. See below for some more photos!
It felt unnatural to not finish this blog up with one final post. My apologizes for its length, and congrats if you made it through this whole thing. Believe it or not, I actually tried to make it short.
Sometimes, I guess, that is impossible.
Anyways,
Hasta luego, or if I’m going for a more Californian vibe, see ya later dudes.
Ps. SHOUT OUT TO MY BROTHER FOR GETTING INTO A MILLION SCHOOLS! Including MINE! Here’s to hoping he hates the cold and loves SLO 😉
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Made this board in my room

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My Madrid roommate love and a dog in SLO!

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Morro Bay

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Hiking Bishop’s Peak

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My AMAZING roommates

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Superbowl Sunday, we’re oh so clever HA… FUTbol

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Nicole and I back in SLO SB Sunday

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Avilia Beach

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Sunset from Cuesta Ridge (note, there was a free concert playing at the moment there too >>)

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In SD, LOOK!

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In & Out, duh

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Missed my sorority “Little”, Lauren too too much!

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SHAYNE I MISSED YOU

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Last weekend adventure outside of Madrid

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This weekend I went to Belgium- to stay in the capital city of Brussels, and take a day trip to the charming medieval city of Brugge. It was freezing but beautiful! In Belgium there are 3 main languages: French, Flemish, and German. Most places, however, had 4 signs. “Sortie, exit in flemish***, Ausgang, & Exit”. It was easy to get around with the amount of English used. The only time that I couldn’t find someone to speak English with me, I found someone Spanish, and that was just as good for the level of communication I needed to have!


The Christmas markets (and spirit!) were in full swing in both Brussels and Brugge!

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Brussels

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Brugge and a million visitors

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Bruggeeeeeee


Walking around Brussels you could get mulled wine (yes, my fav, again!), browse the markets, ice skate, look at the decorative lights, look at the Christmas trees, and eat- all while listening to the Christmas music being broadcasted throughout the city(please excuse the lack of parallelism in that sentence)! It was the perfect way to get into the Christmas mood. I didn’t dare to ice skate because 1. Walking is hard enough for me (clutz) 2. I don’t need injures 3. Europe/SLO would be hell with broken legs (oh lord now I’ve surely jinxed myself!). But it was cute to watch!

Getting Christmasy with Julia in Brugge!

Getting Christmasy with Julia in Brugge!

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Jackie and I in Brugge


Now when you think Belgium- you think a few things:
Chocolate, waffles, beer, and fries.

Lets go through the tastey adventures I had this weekend:

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Chocolate-
Chocolate is chocolate, and I did find some good chocolate this weekend! But my favorite was a dark dark chocolate bark with whole hazelnuts in it! Very simple…. I liked the fancy flavored ones I tried but they are too sugary and sweet and make me feel kind of sick.


Waffles-
For starters, apparently a true belgian waffle is just the waffle with some sugar- the ones with all the delicious toppings are instead “tourist waffles”. I actually don’t really like waffles… I only liked the eggo ones (topped with apple sauce!) as a little kid- so this isn’t a “I’m trying to be healthy so no waffles for me”. I took two bites of waffles- the first one was really light and not bad, the second was denser and sweeter and made me feel kinda sick. Sorry to disappoint- everyone else said they were heaven on earth!


Beer-
Wow I never have had such a variety of good beers! I usually don’t like darker/heavier beers very much, but they have a few selections that are both dark yet not heavy nor too bitter. It was great!

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I few of my weekend favorites!

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Info on the beer I tried at the brewery in Brugge- really good!

But my favorite of all favorites of the weekend was none other than…
BELGIAN FRIES!
Now apart from sweet potato fries I don’t really actively order fries anymore- unless I’m making them or a friend can’t finish theirs
But this weekend fries were my friends. My best friends. I had no idea that true Belgian fries are double fried- in none other than BEEF FAT! Which may freak out some people but for me it’s really exciting that it’s not vegetable oil (shudder). I was pumped and ordered them in excess. Plus one place had CURRY KETCHUP to dip them in… And well with my love affair with currywurst set in stone…. I was in heaven.

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❤ ❤ ❤


We did a walking tour of the city, which was fantastic! Our guide was French and hilarious. So naturally we saw the “manikin piss”- which is just about as disappointing as the little mermaid statue was in Copenhagen! I didn’t even take a photo… whoops.

But I did discover that seasons are a thing in other parts of the world (San Diegan problems…)

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Freezing with red leaves? Not 75 and sunny? What kind of December is this?!!


We also went to Atomium, which is a cool structure that was built for the 1958 world fair. It was pretty cool!

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We went inside, and through various exhibits within it!


Then we went all through Europe in “little Europe”. It was actually really cool. Miniature versions of cities/places/famous sites in various European countries! A lot of them moved and played music too. Definitely worth the visit, even though I almost froze in the rain! If only it had been a few degrees colder and snowed!

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Mini Berlin/fall of the Berlin wall!

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Mini London! (Little Ben?)

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Mini Cliffs of Dover… woo go Diatomaceous earth! (aka the white is formed from millions and millions of fossilized Diatoms! Whoop whoop)

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Hey look I made it to Porto, in Portugal! (I wish I made it to Portugal, unfortunately this will have to do!)


Now I’m back in Madrid, where I have one more week of my program.<insert millions of tears as I stuff my face with as much tortilla, jamon, y sangria as I can>
Sigh. But I am very excited to see my family (and in a few weeks friends) who I do miss dearly! My brothers look more and more like men (freaky), both tower over me and one can even grow a beard! Wowza!

I’m sad to leave because of how amazing my time has been- it has nothing to do with not realizing how amazing home will be as well!
I can hardly believe that almost 4 months have gone by! How the heck am I going to pack…. Oye vey.

Now back to my siesta and Christmas music…

Hasta luego (o pronto… mas o menos..),

Alexis

You are going to have to drag me onto the plane

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Yup. Great title.

….. Sorry, I can’t help that I fall in love with the places I live….

BUT SO TRUE. In all honesty, if I didn’t have San Diego and San Luis Obispo to return to (some of the most amazing places in the world, trust me I’ve got some places to compare them against), I would not want to come home! I really really do love Madrid, and am so happy that I had made the decision to study here. I think it is going to be hard going back home- I get back the night of December 30th, and leave for SLO Jan 2, with classes starting on the 5th. That is quite the quick turnaround. I do miss my friends and family at home, so it will be nice to see them all, but I just have fallen in love with my time here!

But I am so lucky to have called all these places my home (Parents– don’t worry I know Madrid and SLO are/were just temporary homes and that my real home is in San Diego with you, I wouldn’t dare think otherwise….haha)

This weekend I opted to stay in Madrid, as I realize I have limited time left here (insert tears). This weekend was also Thanksgiving back at home, and inside my apartment! A few of us who were still here decided to make dinner. We had mashed potatoes, veggies, chicken, turkey(CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?), bread, cake, tarts, ice cream, and some snacks! It was delicious! I cooked some dessert and veggiezzz!

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I made apple pie type tarts (the filling was 100% organic and only used honey as a sweetener)- and then made myself one with grain free crust out of coconut flour 🙂

My grandma, Tita sent me a little package last weekend filled with old photos, drawings, and other little thanksgiving things. It warmed my heart… trust me, if anyone can make you feel loved and missed, its your grandma.

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My Dad and I circa 2006/7? I’m holding a gherkin, as per usual at family gatherings

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Turkey visor I wore the WHOLE time thanks to my grandma (Tita)

My friend Luke from CCHS/ Cal  Poly came to Madrid from Berlin this weekend to visit and spent Thanksgiving with us as well. It was great to see him- he is the nicest guy! It was also Anouk’s first thanksgiving (she isn’t American).

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Becca and Anouk

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Luke!

On Friday I walked around the city with some friends… only to find out that the city was decked out with lights and Christmas flare, as well as with Black Friday deals (?!!). All of the sale, but with sleeping in, and no crazy eyes in sight. The city was so alive, despite it having been raining.

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Some other weekend events included trying my first Chocolate and Churros (ugh I hate that I loved it haha!)

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Totallyy paleo, right? whoops

Heading inside the Temple of Debod, finally, and going to the most wonderful place…..

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El Museo Arqueologico Nacional!!!!! It was a FANTASTIC museum, I think I’m in love. I almost got through the first floor in two hours, that’s some progress, right? Sorry that I am a sucker for evolution, hominids, and displays on Neandertals…..!

I also went to the best Spanish tortilla place with Luke and Mitch, called “Meson de la tortilla”. (Spoiler, tortilla in Spain is not even remotely the same thing as the tortilla you think of in the US)

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Tortilla is made with eggs and potatoes

Sunday Luke, Mitch and I got some really good brunch down the road from the apartment building, I would have taken a picture but I was starving and gobbled it all up before I had a chance. I will be returning there….. (Eggs benedict with bacon and avocado, hot sauce, and mimosas made with freshly squeezed OJ? Can’t say no to that! Favorites!).

Today it was back to school! I decided to take a photo of my breakfast (no they are not cookies, they have no sweetener, they are grain free beet & cacao breakfast scone type thing-a-ma-jiggers made with coconut flour, topped with gogi berries and later eaten with coconut cream and coconut oil…mmmm)

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And here is my metro stop for school, in all its glory. Because why not?

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I have also officially began playing Christmas music! The only thing really missing is seeing my family or smelling the pine from a tree to really make it feel like the holiday season!

This coming weekend is my final trip before leaving Madrid (to travel with my family to Italy). I am heading to Brussels, in Belgium! I am excited for some amazing chocolate and fruit flavored beer! I know the waffles are a thing, and although I don’t really have a thing for waffles, I suppose I will give one a bite!

Oh also, it is currently the month of December? How. Somebody please explain, thanks.

Hasta luego,

Alexis

Tres meses

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This weekend (my second to last traveling weekend while in Spain) I went to Barcelona with my program. It is is Cataluñya and is the second largest city in Spain. It was beautiful, with all the amazing art and architecture, and water. Thanks to being a city on the sea (woo continentality), the temperatures were much more moderate than they have been lately in Madrid. Weather was pretty nice!
We walked around the city, including the famous street of las ramblas. There I tried turron (typical Spanish Christmas candy) and went to the market. Cheap fresh fruit and all kinds of meats were sold there! I saw skinned goats heads, cow tongues, and all other parts of animals. A little strange to look at, but hey I’m glad people are using more of the animal!IMG_1256 IMG_1259    

We walked around the city, including the famous street of las Ramblas. There I tried turron (typical Spanish Christmas candy) and went to the market. Cheap fresh fruit and all kinds of meats were sold there! I saw skinned goats heads, cow tongues, and all other parts of animals. A little strange to look at, but hey I’m glad people are using more of the animal!

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Calle de Las Ramblas

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Market!

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Market

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Sweets anyone?

While in Barcelona I saw a lot of Gaudí. I saw a few Gaudí houses as well as Park Güell and la Sagrada Familia. His architecture is beautiful, colorful, and seems alive. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t use straight lines.

Park Güell was gorgeous and also had some amazing views of the city

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The famous fence in the far back

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By one of the crosses at the top of the park

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Part of the park


People played amazing music and sold handicrafts at the top, which made me just love it more. The whole area around Park Güell really reminded me of when I was in Ecuador and Peru (briefly) I couldn’t really tell you why, maybe it was because it appeared mountainous and was green.

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Reminds me of South America

This weekend I also went to the oldest bar in Barcelona, it being 140 years old. Incredible!

The Sagrada Familia was also incredible. Such a beautiful building…. and it isn’t even finished yet!

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Julia and I in front of Sagrada Familia

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Wow

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Beautiful

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I wish I could have gone to mass here, it was so beautiful and unique! I don’t believe Gaudi used straight lines. My friend pointed out a quote in a book I have that mentions Gaudi…. it says that he said something along the lines of “my client can wait”… meaning God has all the time in the world. He knew that the construction of this building would outlive his own life…! Now that is crazy.


I loved being able to put my toes in the sand this weekend and see a bunch of greenery, but I must say I am happy to return to Madrid. Barcelona is truly an international city, but it doesn’t feel all that Spanish. People speak Catalan, Castilian(like in Madrid), and English. Everyone knew English and it was everywhere. I am really glad I chose to study in Madrid!

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Bus back to the train w/ Jackie

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Train Back from Barcelona


This week is the week of thanksgiving, and the only part of the thanksgiving tradition I won’t be missing is the long, traffic-ridden drive down from SLO to SD. My first thanksgiving away. At least they don’t celebrate it here, so it doesn’t really seem like it’s happening.
No big family gathering, copious amounts of food, football, leftovers, games, Black Friday, or family outings to get a Christmas tree. But I will be with some of my other American friends! Thursday night we had an incredibly fun picnic at sunset in Parque Oeste (with meat, cheese, jam, bread, fruit, chocolate, wine…. The works), which I’m hoping we can do again this Thursday in celebration of Turkey Day! Although I’m not home, I’m still feeling beyond thankful!

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Picnic… I sat in the middle… with the food haha

There are venders out now who are selling roasted sweet potatoes and roasted chestnuts (over an open fire, that’s right) all over Madrid. Super cheap, delicious, fresh, and there is a guy only a few minutes walk away from my apartment. My type of “fast food”!!
I only have a few more weeks left living in Madrid. And just over a month left in Europe. It’s starting to hit me. I am so so so so so so so so so so so so so so sad that I have to leave and leave my friends. Happy to see my friends & family and do some things that I love at home (eat amazing food, go to hot yoga, go to the beach, get cheap avocados)… But still sad to leave this experience behind. Thank goodness I will be at school with some of my new friends from Cal Poly that I met abroad! I am also taking 3 major courses (2 geography, 1 anthropology) and a minor(biology) course, so that is something to look forward to!
Crazy that I have been here already three months yet only three months. Insane. Well I am exhausted. Bedtime!
Hasta luego,
Alexis

Ps. I watched (finished) the movie frozen for the first time on the train back from Barcelona… In Spanish of course. Cuteeee!

More than a-ok in the UK

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I am always using horribly cheesy rhymes & puns, wow I am annoying. Hey- at least you are only reading them!

So last weekend I went to London. London was the first place in Europe I had ever been, I went there on a post highschool graduation Euro trip. Because of this, I had originally not planned on going to London or the UK, butttttt ONE OF MY FAVORITE BANDS HAD A SHOW…. and temptation to go got the best of me. One of the best days of my life resulted. Totally worth it.

To start off the weekend, our “easyjet” (excuse me easy?!) flight was delayed two hours. So Jackie, Mitch, and I just sat in the airport and waited. We ended up meeting some Americans, one of which goes to LMU in LA, small world!

We finally get to London, but the next bus to our hostel doesn’t come for another hour. Then we wandered in the dark hoping to happen upon our hostel from the bus stop without a map. We made it, but at 3am. This weekend we were those people. The hostel mates that come in way too late, every single night. -But in our defense we really tried not to!-

In the morning Jackie and I went into London, walked around, and got on a hop on, hop off tour bus. We rode it for a while and then decided to get off and grab a snack. Guess who was waiting to get onto the bus? Ellie, Sami, and Danielle. What are the chances. We meant to meet up with them later, but there they were!

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Shot Jackie took on the bus, you can see the London Eye behind us.

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Giant blue rooster in Trafalgar square, this picture is because, well, “Hahn”

Later in the afternoon Mitch met up with the rest of us and we all had tea! It was delicious. There were scones with cream and jam- I haven’t had that in forever and they were heavenly! I had an organic (hehe) Matcha Green Tea latte…. perfection.

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Scones on top!

After tea we walked around London some more, and went to Harrods where everything was expensive but looked amazing.I didn’t realize that there was food there too, I had thought it was only clothing!

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The girls & I in front of Harrods

On the tube with Jackie!

On the tube with Jackie!

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It was great to see some of my best friends from SLO again!

Sunday I went to the promised land…. Whole Foods! I didn’t realize they had stores in the UK! I got my first Kombucha in months, as well as some brussel sprouts, coconut water, raw bars, and paleo cookies. I was super excited!

<3 KOMBUCHA <3

❤ KOMBUCHA ❤

Then Jackie and I walked around a REALLY cool neighborhood, but I don’t actually know what it was called. It was very hipster and punk, and had health food stores. I lovvveeeddd it!

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Jackie convinced me to get these glasses, cuz why not?

Mitch then met up with us, and we all headed to the Portobello Market, as recommended by our Spanish teacher who had lived in London for a bit. Many cool things were being sold, as well as food! So good.

Then we headed on our way to BRIGHTON!

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On the train!

We got to Brighton just before sundown, then went to a get some food and drinks while waiting for the concert!

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The beach in Brighton!

We could hardly wait for A Day To Remember to play.

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By the merch booth inside the Brighton Center!

THE CONCERT WAS INCREDIBLY AMAZING. Below are a few links from people recording the show!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9EqhxD2L_U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzIzcFVLJO0 (this one has some language… warninggg)

My purse broke within the first minute of the first song, and I lost my sweater and one of my shoes (both separately for a minute), but I managed not to loose anything! Same with Jackie and Mitch… incredibly we recovered everything that had left us during the concert.

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Photo by Stacey Dakota

So basically Saturday was the best day ever… it started at midnight by going out with some of my best friends Cal Poly, then continued with getting whole foods in the morning, then with walking around the coolest neighborhood, then with an awesome market where I had the best sandwich, followed by a fun ride to beautiful Brighton, where I saw an amazing performance by a favorite band. Midnight to midnight. BEST DAY.

The only problem with this weekend was that our hostel was far away and buses didn’t run to it late… we tried multiple ways to get there but had to pay for taxis in the end. We were outside so long early in the morning on Sunday, I don’t think I’ve been that cold in a long, long, long time…. I was shaking… it wasn’t good (I was dressed for a hot indoor concert).

London was super duper expensive, my bank account cried, and I got a bunch of bruises from the concert, but it was worth every penny/each pence! I loved the UK, and I can see why so many people move there to work! (if only it was a little warmer…)

Now I am back in Madrid, and will be off to Barcelona this weekend!

Hasta luego,

Alexis

Ps. I am still sore from Saturday.

Ps. Ps. Apparently Carter is now two inches taller than I am. He is still 13. Whoa.

The Devil Wears Praha

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If you thought I would have had a “Czech it out” punny title, you were wrong! Used that one too much his weekend, so I decided to give it a rest and try to be a bit more original.
ANYWHO.
This weekend I headed over to Prague (Praha in Czech) in the Czech Republic.
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What a beautiful place. I recommend that everyone pay a visit to this city. The city has been under rule and a part of many notorious rulers/groups from the Roman Empire, Holy Roman Empire, Nazi Rule, and communist rule to name a few. Prague was communist until 1989, and the quiet nature of the people (more specifically older generations) is a reflection of that (Czech people have said this, its not just my “American bias” haha). Prague was actually the capital of the Holy Roman Empire for a while! Wow! Also Prague used to be known as Bohemia( naturally I was singing Bohemian Rhapsody for the rest of the weekend as soon as I learned this).
Another interesting fact is that Prague has the highest number of churches per city block in the world, yet is the second most atheist country in Europe with only 19% believers(Estonia comes in first with just 16%). However despite this Christmas is quite the celebration here, which is understandable because I am certain that the city comes alive and looks like a scene from frozen in the winter. Just magical. Now it was pretty cold there for me (San Diegan problems), but later on this winter it will snow. The Czech Republic is part of the EU yet has Czech krones instead of Euros (about 26/€, 16/$usd).
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View from Charles Bridge


If I had to describe Prague it would be a mix of Bavarian Germany, Amsterdam (in the Netherlands), and Disneyland. Bavarian Germany because the Czech language sounds a bit like German (only to me of course), and the food/beer culture. Amsterdam due to the river and bridges, clean streets, and stores randomly filled with cannibas products. Disneyland due to the beautiful, quaint, & magical feeling, along with the cathedral/castle. The food is a lot of hearty meat/sausage dishes with sides of horseradish, pickles, sourkraught, mustard, potatoes, and the like to complement it. HOLY YUMM.

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Yes, I ordered a starter plate for myself.

The beer (mostly Pilsner) is cheaper than water and can be ordered at any time from morning to night without a second look. Hot wine is being served on the streets as well, something that I had never before had!
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Pilsnerrrr- seriously SO CHEAP

Hot red (mulled) wine with cinnamon and an orange slice=heaven. It’s perfect for walking around the cold city! Prague is home to a beautiful cathedral that took 700 years to complete, the colorful John Lennon Wall, the famous Charles bridge, and apparently the largest Palace Complex in the world. It was such a fun weekend!! I was able to meet up with a bunch of girls from back in SLO, and randomly ran into a bunch of students from USD that knew Taylor or other USD students that I know. It was great to see the girls who are in Europe for a year who I wouldn’t otherwise get to see until summer.
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The San Diegans found San Diego on the John Lennon Wall

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Gamma Phi Beta Sistas all in the old town square!

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Mean streets of Prague

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ROOOMIEEEE ❤

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3 years ago I never thought I’d be in Prague with the friends I was making in my dorm!

Ellie, Annabel, Sami, and Danielle will all be in London next weekend as well (totally did not plan this). It was wonderful news because that meant that I didn’t have to say real goodbyes to them. Phew. Saved by coincidental planning. Today is Monday, November10, which is a holiday for Madrid’s patron saint. So no school! Taking Czech airlines has been a good experience, and they have puny signage.
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My kinda airline. On the flight back a lady wanted to switch with me so that she could sit with her friends…. Which landed me in business class. No complaints here, leg room, extra service, and pretty darn good food. I just had free chocolate creme brûlée. Just saying. We are currently flying over Germany. 3 days in Madrid until I fly out to London, which means only FIVE DAYS until I see A DAY TO REMEMBER LIVE IN BRIGHTON!!!! I am SO EXCITED to get to go see their “All Signs Point to Britain” tour! They are by far one of my favorite artists to see live, this weekend should be great! +I get to explore a bit of Brighton beforehand. 3 European capitals in less than 4 days. Unreal. Still cannot believe it…. & Only a month and a half left in Europe (sad). But here is to making the most of it!
Hasta luego,
Alexis
Ps. My brother Ernie just got into his first college (whoop!) and my grand little(yet another San Diegan!) just joined my “family” within my sorority! Congrats to Bubs and welcome Jenna! Xoxoxoxo
Ps. Ps. I’ll add better/ more photos later!

Hold Your Horses it is…. NOVEMBER?!

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No, take it back. It cannot be november. I refuse to believe it. It makes me both happy (for the Holidays) and incredibly sad. I leave Europe December 30th, and that is is too soon. I don’t want to remind myself that I have to leave!!

So I won’t.
It’s been too long since I wrote my last blog! A lot has happened and I have been super busy! So this blog is kind of random, and incomplete…. sorry!
I have been to Sevilla, Salamanca, y Avila, celebrated Halloween, and seen a good amount of friends.
But before that I decided to start jotting down some random and candid thoughts that I get just walking around and living in Madrid! Here are some billet points I wrote on the go:
-everyone in Spain is sooo small. Short with short legs, short strides. I feel like a fast giant woman person.
-I can never talk to authority correctly here. I always say the Spanish word for homework instead of card. I must sound crazy.
-my Spanish teacher says people here dress for the correct season or month… Not the weather. Opposite from San Diego! Sweaters and boots appear anywhere below 65 and shorts and sandals above 70. Don’t ask me what we wear 65-70… It’s too confusing. The Spanish don’t like the gym most likely because they sweat all day melting in their weather inappropriate clothes… Haha
-I have two weekends left in Madrid… And one is the weekend after my program. Sadnessss and I am traveling too much…. I’m going to skip going to Portugal in favor of another weekend here.
-while trying to renew my monthly metro pass, the machine told me to put my card in the wrong slot, and ate it. Then a random lady helped me get the metro workers who helped me get my card out of the hungry machine. Another time I said “card” wrong… “The machine ate my hw”… A futuristic excuse?
-there is this adorable family with 5 kids… They are playing with a ball, tossing at each other, running around, crunching a bunch of gram crackers on the floor, standing on the chairs, crawling on the ground—all on the metro… Ahahhahaha
-there was a grown man sitting on the floor of a metro yesterday… The metro was pretty empty and had many seats open..why.
-confession: I turn off the sound for my headphones when there is live metro music… I usually love to listen to it!

Seviila:
Saw my childhood friend Noelle Fargo, it was amazing to see her! It was wonderful to see her after so much time. She is living in Sevilla now and studying there full time. She has a lot of similar health beliefs as I do, and she is amazing a creative cook! She has an amazing food instagram that everyone should follow! its @felizhealthyvida … go follow her for awesome yummy & healthy ideas!

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Plaza de Espana in Sevilla


I also saw my friend Halle who goes to SLO and worked with me as a receptionist at District 96 Salon downtown. We had the best time! I loved Sevilla and its charm… Only to find out afterwards that my great great great grandfather is from Sevilla! I had some great food and great company in Sevilla. I spoke to my cab drivers and had wonderful conversations- I even talked about evolution (that was hard since I know almost no words about it in español!).

Here are some amazing tapas Halle and I got in Sevilla, mmmmm!

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Salmorejo, a cold soup, like a thick Gazpacho with some meat and egg on top!

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Braised veggies with hard boiled egg on top!

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Some type of meat and potatoes, I asked the waiter to give me his favorite meat tapa!

People in Sevilla speak very quickly and shorten a lot of words. It is a very difficult Spanish to understand, the locals had to speak very slowly for me to understand. The first night in Sevilla i went out with a bunch of Cal Poly people, at the club I was touched and grabbed at and other inappropriate things. I was livid! I yelled at plenty of men. (Even in the past week in Madrid boys have been worse, my friends butt was slapped just walking around the city and I have been “kiss-noised” at multiple times. What gives?!) Halle and I also went to an international festival while in Sevilla… We got Colombian food &Cuban drinks while watching a free concert! I also purchased a wallet (much needed) that was made in Cuzco, Peru (one of my favorite places that I have been). Halle and I tried to go to mass at the Cathedral in Sevilla but messed up the mass times and missed it. We did catch a bit of the organ being played inside…. It was absolutely beautiful.

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Inside the Cathedral in Sevilla

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Overlookiing Sevilla

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After I returned to Madrid I met my friend/ sorority sister Haley who came to visit Nicole and I in Madrid! It was so great to see her, we had a fun time walking around Madrid, going to retiro, tapas, and a nighttime rooftop bar that overlooks the city. She is studying in Prague in the Czech Republic so I will see her again this weekend!

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Nicole, Haley, and I getting tapas!

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Retiro Park, Madrid

I got a little bit sick this week, but felt good enough to go out for Halloween and make a bunch of paleo pumpkin baked goods! I was gothic for Halloween… So fun! Early the morning after my friends and I had to get on a bus to Salamanca! It was a struggle, but we made it!

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Julia and I on Halloween

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Paleo pumpkin muffin (without a tin aha) and Chocolate coconut oil “frosting” I made for Halloween


Salamanca was beautiful! Great city, and wonderful architecture. My great uncle Nicki actually studied at the university there. I tried octopus while at dinner, it was actually pretty good, tentacle suckers and all. We took a bike tour around the city (in Spanish) and I understood most all of what the tourguide said, which was fantastic!

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Salamanca, photo from Kaylin

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River in Salamanca


On the way back from Salamanca we stopped in the old town of Avila, which is a walled city. We had a short tour and ran into a guy making a video. You may have seen his videos before, he travels around the world filming people dancing to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. We learned a short bit of choreography and then danced! It was fun, reminded me of high school theater. I also tried some roasted Chestnuts (from an open fire aha). They tasted like potatoes.
Class registration is coming up, as well as my weekend trips to Prague (woo I get to see Ellie and Sami and girls in my sorority!!) and London, where I am seeing A Day To Remember in concert! Can’t wait!
In other news I relieved a little care package with fall/Halloween decorations from my grandma (Tita) last week. It was the best surprise EVER and made me so happy. Also I found out who my “grand little” in my sorority is! I am so incredibly excited, and I wish I could welcome her into our family personally. She doesn’t know who her big or grandbig is yet, she’ll find out next week! Waaa whoo!
Anyways time to go try and do homework and catch up on an episode of Bones, as per usual.
Hasty luego y besos,
Alexis
Ps. Ill try to add photos as I get them (sorry haha)!