Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In an Old House in Paris...


I am about three weeks behind in my blog. Woops. As I've said before, that means I'm just living the life here. Let's put it this way, three weekends in a row I have had the best weekend of my life. I don't really know what to do with myself anymore. Every once in awhile I'll stop and remind myself just how lucky I am to have gotten this opportunity...and then I'll thank my mother. Because this was her idea in the first place.

I spent October 5-7 in Paris. My friend from frisbee, Casey, is studying there for the year. She was kind enough to let me stay with her and she acted as my personal tour guide. I might still be lost in Paris right now if it wasn't for her help.

Oct. 5
My trip to Paris had a wonderful start. There was a bus strike. Again. I really need to do a post about the strikes, because they have a huge affect on my everyday life here. Anywho, sweating profusely, trying to hold back tears, I walked to the metro, which is kind of far away from where I live. I was over reacting, by the way. Little did I know, I had plenty of time. I could have walked to the airport and still have made it. But I'd never made my way to the airport before, so I had no idea whether or not I was gonna make it. I made it to the metro stop, hopped on the bus that would take me to the airport and almost started crying in relief. I had made it! I was going to Paris! I got to the airport, and proceeded to wait for about 3 hours for my flight. I was that early. Yep, my almost tears were unnecessary.
Casey hadn't been feeling well that day, so she had given me directions on how to get to her apartment. I still can't tell you how I made it there. I ran into an airport employee who pointed me in the direction of a train that would take me to another train, that train took me to a tram, I bought tickets and then switched from the tram to the metro. Writing it out makes it sound way less complicated, but believe me, after this, I know I can make my way through any city. Also, I managed to do this without knowing a word of French. Let me mention how annoying that was, I had spent the last month working my butt off to master a new language and once I set foot in Paris, none of that mattered. I was back at square one. So, I made it to Casey's, took a well-deserved power nap and then we made our way to see the Eiffel Tower at night. The best way to see it, so I was told. When we rounded the corner and I saw the Eiffel Tower all lit up, I did a little jump and exclaimed "I'm in Paris!". I don't think I realized how happy I was to be there until that moment. Paris is this iconic, American dream, and I had made it. Also, I had visited yet another Mary-Kate and Ashley movie destination. I'm not even embarrassed to admit that that thought crossed my mind multiple times. We walked around the Eiffel Tower for a bit and then, like proper Parisians, we sat down on the grass and drank a little. Wanna hear the craziest part? We happened to choose a spot right by Jenna and Kayla, two girls from my program who also happened to be in Paris that weekend. CRAZY. So we watched the Eiffel tower light up all pretty (it does that every hour after sun down) and went our separate ways.
Casey took me over to Irish house, where a lot of her friends live (they're Irish btw, in case the name of the house didn't make that clear) and we hung out there for a bit. Then we went out and bought crepes. I had a banana and Nutella one the size of my face.
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Oct 6
I was a beast of a tourist. Casey kept commenting on how much we were accomplishing and I just kept telling her that my mother taught me everything I know about being a tourist. I haven't forgotten those family vacations where Emmie and I would be cranky and dragging our feet and mom would give us a little bit of food and squeeze a little more site seeing out of the day. 
We started with brunch at Eggs & Co. I had the best meal of my entire life. I have no idea what it's called, but there's a picture of it below. It was salad, potatoes, eggs, goat cheese and spinach goodness. After that we went to Notre Dame and the Seine river. I snapped some pictures, we walked through the gardens and then we were on our way. Next stop, the Louvre. We took some pictures and then it started to rain. We quickly made our way through the Tuilerie Gardens and looked for some cover. Next to get crossed off the list, Sacré Coeur. I included a link because it's a really interesting place with lots of fun facts. It's a shame we weren't allowed to take pictures inside, because it's beautiful. I did notice the completely shameless and in-your-face solicitation for donations. I felt like every step I took in there I ran into another huge sign saying how it was a non-profit place and needed my donation. I understand the need for donation, but boy, was this super commercialized. After a quick rest, where we listened to a particularly talented street singer, we made our way to the final destination: Arc de Triomphe. We even got to go up inside and to the top. So. Many. Stairs. I did not know that was going to be a thing. We ended our incredibly successful tourist outing by walking down Champs de Elysee. I even bought my first big girl watch from Swatch. 
Saturday was Nuit Blanche. Basically, that means that museums are open later and a free. There are also some cool art installations around the city. We met up with Casey's Irish friends, celebrated a little and headed out. The thing is, we thought stuff would be open much later. But with the rain and the huge crowds at the museums, we didn't get to see much. So we hung out around the Louvre and then headed home. 
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Oct 7
I slept in and then made my way back to the airport. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. Casey was the perfect host and I got to fulfill yet another childhood dream. 

So that was my first of three best weekends ever. I'll leave you with a macaroon the size of my face.
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At dinner Carmen and Teti were talking about how they met/kind of knew Cristóbal Balenciaga because his grandson married one of Carmen's good friends. They never cease to amaze me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Google translate may do a bad job at translating this, but below is the perfect example of why I am thankful that I accidently found my way onto a frisbee team three years ago. It has shaped my college experience as well as my experiences abroad. Our captain sent this to the whole team after playing in Women's Nationals this weekend.

Gracias Cremas por los Layout D's, los drops de "fuet", los partidos a un punto, las barras de Josefin, los calentamientos intensos, los love pass, el layout D histórico de Mariel, "Cha Cha", el baile aerobic con una tal chica llamada "layout D", los pitufos, "Maggy", el "chico", la botella de Crema Catalana regalada, las risas, los gritos de Xenia, el Cremoso, la locura de Michelle, las siestas de Bailey, los tiros de la "pequeña", el "corazón" de recompensa, Sheila y su vaso de plástico en el hospital, el bus de mierda, el animo, mi discurso "gay" en el circulo con Dulcineas, los puntazos de todas, el "tiro" de Maria, las 10 botellas de vino, los perritos calientes, las defensas de super heroinas, el peanut butter de las yankees, el cansancio, las emociones, mi siesta en el suelo del Bar, les "arachides", el Hostal "La Torre", las caminatas nocturnas, la intensidad, el buen tiempo, las noches demasiado cortas, el taxista borde, la caminata turística con el Cremoso, la arena fina, el espíritu de equipo, las victorias, el orgullo, las lagrimas, el tiro largo de la victoria, los give and go de Maria, la llegada de Eva, la energía, la furia, los "Vamos chicas", los saltos desde la side line, el acento francés de las locas, los dolores musculares, nuestro campo de gitanos delante del hostal, las tonterías, mi manzanilla en el suelo, el desayuno en el hotel Y simplemente... la felicidad que me habéis dado !


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Jayhawks

Clearly I am very behind on my posting. I blame that on my incredibly busy and fabulous lifestyle here in Barcelona. Right after La Merce, Elaine, Kayla and I went to go see The Jayhawks. I had never heard of them in my life, but Kayla had grown up listening to them and thought it would be super cool to see them live. Even better, it was in Barcelona. The ticket prices weren't bad at all so I tagged along. We were proper grownups that night with our beer and oldies music.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On How I'm a Super Awkward American

*This was originally written in my notebook during my Spanish Art class.

Art class, again. Since all we do is talk about my professor's life, I thought I'd write out a blog post. Mostly so that I don't fall asleep. Anyone who knows me well knows I love class and learning. Sleep has never been a problem. But here, I have to make to do lists and packing lists and write out Bravas frisbee plays to keep myself awake. I'm not the only one. Eyes are drooping everywhere. I understand our professor is a legend, but if I have to hear him talk about his love life one more time, I might leave. The words "waste of time" come to mind. This is truly a case of my classes getting in the way of my education. Now that I'm done complaining I thought I'd write about how I'm an awkward American.
Whenever an American meets someone, the custom is a handshake. My dad has taught me all the proper techniques of a good, firm handshake. I'm a pro. Handshakes aren't a thing here, at least not with the young frisbee crowd. The classic greeting is two kisses on the cheeks. Now, I'm not a touchy feely person, especially with people I don't know, so this "kisses" thing took a little while to get the hang of. Some of my first meetings were pretty awkward. I would be introduced to someone, they would go in to kiss my cheeks and I would stick my hand out for a shake. I had no idea I hand this instinct! The confused greeter would jump back a little, I would realize what I had done, apologize and blame it on being American, and the kisses would commence.
Many people in my program have commented on the fact that people here are stand offish. Before you know them, kind of. But you gotta be tough here. After those kisses, it all changes. Everyone is nice and super touchy feely on my frisbee team. We don't high-five, we hand squeeze. Slaps on the butt are common. A greeting can come with kisses, arm squeezes, or some sort of physical contact. Congratulations might be accompanied by an encouraging hand on the back. I've taken it all in stride, but like I said, I'm not a touchy feely person. It's been great meeting lots of new people. Having the Knox Program as a support system is great most of the time, but we all agree that it gets a bit much at times. We have all our classes together, have (pointless) workshops together, and hang out outside of class. We all agree that, at the end of the day, we enjoy our alone time. Coming from the totally independent experience of St. Andrews, this gets annoying at times. Frisbee has been the perfect way to be on my own and meet people who actually live in Barcelona. It has also helped me understand all of those little customs that you would never recognize until thrown into the situation, such as something as simple as a greeting.