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Dec. 16th, 2010

Aladdin, heh heh heh

Today is my last day...

....so I might as well get it over with.




NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!!! 

i will eventually post all other exciting adventures. eventually. 

Nov. 17th, 2010

LOL, meg foot

(no subject)

I have one month left in Spain. 

I want to go home, but I want to come back. I want my school life to be HERE, not in Charlottesville. 

I want to remember everything, every little detail, but I know it's not possible. 

I want to remember watch Canal Nou, where everything is in Valenciano but Rosa tells me "mira mira!" even though she knows I can only sort of understand it. I want to remember the tune to the Mercadona jingle. I want to remember the people selling chestnuts and horchata on the street; I want to remember the way the streets smell, the patterns of the sidewalk tiles, the way the buildings look, and that I should stay out of the freaking bike lanes. 

I think Friday or Sunday I will go on a nice long walk and take as many pictures as possible. 

.

Sometimes I have intense feelings of homesickness. For example, today I saw that someone's facebook status was "I hate crunchy peanut butter." And I thought, "YOU DON'T DESERVE PEANUT BUTTER YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LIVE WITHOUT IIIIIIIIIT" 

Usually I get over homesickness by realizing I'm being ridiculous and overdramatic and that I'm in Spain, mother cuss.

.

It's finally starting it get chilly here, but we don't have central heating. This makes simple tasks much more emotionally devastating than normal. For example, prying myself from my warm covers in the morning. For another example, walking across the ice-cold floor to get to where I stupidly through my socks. Also showering. Showering is awful when you have no heat. 
.

Italy post is in the works!

Nov. 10th, 2010

Aladdin, heh heh heh

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOOOOOW

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Rome. It's a slightly insane plan that involves leaving directly from class and then flying back early Monday morning just in time for my práctica.

Anyway, I figure I should give my blog a little tlc since I'll probably have a million more things to write next week!

WARNING: You may notice a significant worsening in my ability to use the English language in this post. I apologize. I also reserve the right to randomly come back and edit things as I remember... stuffs. (You seeing? English is leaving me!)

Fall break: Málaga, Morocco, SevillaCollapse )


Granada (and Córdoba :D)Collapse )

Awesome Things That Have Happened SinceCollapse )


Hopefully I will get around to uploading more pictures soon...

Nov. 3rd, 2010

Aladdin, heh heh heh

(no subject)

Today I came home to Rosa's grandchildren singing and dancing around to "Waka Waka." Kind of the best thing ever.

National Novel Writing Month is here. I'm adding on to what has been affectionately titled "deadgirl" and have about 2k words. So... I'm already pathetically behind. Cripes.

Last night at around midnight, my host mother's friend died. Considering that I was writing my nano as this happened, and the subject matter of my nano, I am left with an odd, cold feeling.

The fall break post is already three pages and I'm probably only about a thirs of the way through. Then I have to write about my Granada adventure. Helllllll.

To tide you over until I manage to post something interesting, here's a picture I drew a while ago:

Oct. 25th, 2010

mulan derp

You want me to climb WHAT?

Fall break post has been further delayed by midterms and... Calpe. Oh, Calpe. 

Saturday we had the second of three excursions included in the program. It was to this decent-sized town called Calpe about two hours away. They had sent out an email telling us to wear comfortable shoes for "trekking."

The bus driver had a selection of American movies for us to chose from. We watched "Bride Wars." Why a Spanish bus driver owns a copy of "Bride Wars" I will never know....

Anyway, this is what Calpe looks like (picture not mine because I never managed to get a good one):



You see that giant rock of doom and painfulness? You see how it's a million times higher than everything else? You see how it is stupefyingly and insanely steep? Yeah, we had to climb that. THAT. THAT THING.

The THING is called Peñón de Ifach. In case you're wondering how to say that, it's pronounced "Pay-NYON-day-ee-FUCK."

Ifach is slightly less terrifying from the other side, which is where the trail was. When we started off, it seemed okay. It was steep, but bearable, and the path was paved. "Alright," I thought, "I can do this."

Then we went through a cave.

The cave itself was cool. I like caves, even if the lack of light meant I nearly fell every other step. But then-- THEN. On the other side, the nice paved trail stopped. We were on the side of a cliff, the path was rocky, and the only thing between us and certain doom was a death grip on a rope hanging from the wall of the cliff. It was steep and narrow and involved lots of climbing up rocks. And ropes. And they just told us we needed comfortable shoes. For trekking. Holy jeebus.

One of my friends, Purvi, is super scared of heights, and was originally planning on just going to the cave and turning back. But then one of our chaperone-people, Maria, was all

Maria: There's a look out just a little ahead. The view is super pretty. :D
Us: Well... okay.

After nearly dying several times.

Us: Uh... how far ahead is the look out?
Maria: Just a little bit more. Look, the trail gets easier up here!
Us: But that doesn't look--
Maria: NO PASA NADA 8DDDD

At the look-out.

Us, half-dead: Heeehh... heehhhh... D8
Maria: Just a little bit further is the top!
Us: ...wha...
Maria: WE'RE ALMOST THERE 8DDDD
Us: Well, might as well...

FORTY MINUTES LATER

Maria: Look, there's Xabi!
Us: EVERYTHING HURTS D8
Maria: No pasa nadaaaa, chicaaaas 8DDDDDD

And then we had arrived. The view WAS pretty spectacular, and if you want pictures, you should go look at the Calpe album of my Photobucket.

Getting back down involved a lot of scooting on our bottoms. There was seagull excrement everywhere, and out butts ended up an interesting color by the end.

Maria: CULO, CULO! (ASS, ASS!)
Me: CACA POR TODAS PARTES D: (SHIT EVERYWHERE)
Maria: NO PASA NADA 8D
Me: D< PASA MUCHO, YOU LIAR
Maria: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Maria, you mentirosa. D8

Anyway, I can't exactly capture the climbing experience in words, so I drew you guys a picture:



After recuperating at a Burger King, we went to a "Christian and Moores" parade the town was having. It was basically just a bunch of costumes that kind of resembled old Christian knights and Moores, except with more zombie people on leashes and random fireworks.

Last night, I went out with my intercambio Nuria, her friend and sister, and an Australian girl at her school (Nuria teaches Spanish to foreigners). We went to a juice bar (which had the option of adding alcohol to EVERYTHING) and I finally got to go inside the cathedral. The Valencian cathedral has the mummified arm of their patron saint just kind of sitting in a corner behind the alter. It's... interesting. The cathedral also claims to have the Holy Grail, but none of the Valencians I've talked to seem to think it's legit.

Exams for the rest of the week (me muero, me muero...) and Thursday I leave for a long weekend in Granada!

Oct. 18th, 2010

Aladdin, heh heh heh

(no subject)

 I'M BACK. And with like a million new freckles. SKIN, HOW ARE YOU STILL WHITE. I'm going to post about mah vacation later when I've written it all up because ohmygod, guys, do you know how long it takes to summarize an entire week of awesome?

...a week of awesome with YOUR MOTHER?

Anyway. Almost everyone is super tan now (except me. pity me plz) and a few people are trapped in Switzerland due to plane strikes in France. This further proves that Switzerland is a hellish deathtrap. 

And now, to keep you (read: Kylie) entertained, a translation of a homework assignment.


for vanguardismo assignment, haz click AQUÍ Collapse )

NOTE: Much of these actual things have been SKEWED TO FIT MY SELFISH PURPOSES. 

Oct. 7th, 2010

Aladdin, heh heh heh

(no subject)

Hello, journal. Long time no see. What's that? You missed me? You're confused about the Lion King/fallopian tubes post? It's okay. I'm here now.

This week has been HELL. After a month of minimal amounts of homework, suddenly having several papers and projects and more reading than ever took quite a toll on my mental health. And after several spoiled months of summer vacation and relaxed European lifestyle, I seem to no longer be able to function on less than six hours of sleep. My god, what has happened to me? 

That aside, I am going to tell you about my ADVENTURES on Saturday. Then I'm going to whine about my life. But I know you only care about seeing how potentially fantastic outings turn completely ridiculous, so we'll start there. 

Saturday seemed like it was going to be the perfect day. I was going to get up early, catch a bus with some friends and go to a nature park called Albufera. I would come home in a timely manner, get some homework out of the way and take a nap, then I'd meet up with the lovely and talented Emma and grab some tasty, tasty Starbucks. 

It started alright. I put a tiny amount of milk my tea so I wouldn't use it all up because for some reason I feel like if I use the last of the milk, it's my fault we're out and I should apologize EVEN THOUGH I know Rosa has two or three more little cartons stashed somewhere. I end up rationing what's left into tiny, tiny portions until I'm only using a couple drops even though I can barely stand black tea when it doesn't have a ridiculous amount of milk and/or sugar in it. Anyway. As I was leaving, Rosa decided it was a good time to have a conversation with me. 

Rosa: How is your congestion?

Fun fact: a common Spanish would for congestion is "constipado." Luckily I learned this before falling ill and didn't fall into the "no i'm not constipated D: /drowning in mucus" trap as many of my peers did. 

Me: It's better, but I still feel a little sick. 
Rosa: I noticed you still sleep with a fan.

Rosa thinks the fan is somehow making my cold worse. 

Rosa: YOU'RE GOING TO DIE. DIE!

I tried to escape out the door, but then she busted out the clean laundry. 

Rosa: I forgot to give you these yesterday. Do you want me to iron this shirt? 
Me: Ehm... no, it's not necessary.
Rosa: I'll just iron it a little bit. Here.

And then she proceeded to had me every article of clothing, one at a time, and as slowly as she could possibly get away away. And that's how I ended up missing the bus, which everyone else got on. The good news was that there was another one coming in an hour! And I had the glorious river-gardens right there to explore!

So I went down into the river bed and wandered around for about twenty minutes. There was some sort of random music show that was partially set up, so I went and stood and squinted at the disorganized student musicians running around.

Then I saw Ali.

You remember Ali, right? The random creeper who asked me what was wrong with my arms? Yeah. He was there. Wearing the exact same clothes.  

I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but Ali has my number. I thought it would be funny. And that engrish text he sent me? Hilarious. The calling me three or four times a day for the last few weeks? Not so much. I don't even answer, so I don't know why he bothers. 

We made eye contact. I turned away. I put my head down and walked very quickly to the nearest ramp up to the street. He called my cell seven times as I half-ran back to my building. I called my friends in Albufera and left a very muddled message about OHMYGOD GUYS MY STALKER FOUND ME I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN MAKE IIIIIT.

Then I came to my senses and went back to the bus stop. Some nice ladies helped me figure out which stop to get off at, since when I asked the bus driver he yelled at me for giving him too much money. 

Albufera is a national park that has a very pretty lake I stared at for all of ten minutes, enjoying the breeze (ohmygod THERE WAS NO AC ON THE BUS) and waiting for someone to call me back and tell me wtf they were. Apparently Albufera also has a beach, so I rolled up my jeans and went wading in the water. 

Remember how I said at Peñíscola there were lots of topless women? Well at this beach, there were lots of fully naked people, both men and woman. For the last half of our stay, there was a naked man just kind of lounging on a towel behind us. Yeah.

After the Mediterranean sun thoroughly pwned my 50 spf sunblock and delicate Irish skin, we realized we had no idea how to get back. We asked a group of fisher men, and they indicated a pile of rocks as the proper bus stop. We stood there complaining and contemplating in a thumb out was a universal symbol for hitchhiking for about an hour before a bus finally appeared. I got home ridiculously late and got absolutely no homework done.

But then! Then I met Emma. :]

Emma is a super nice friend of a friend who has been emailing with me and giving me advice on Valencia/random fireworks. When we agreed to go hit up a Starbucks, I didn't realize I'd be getting a tour of the city as well! :D (she called it getting lost but pffft) I was expecting it to be fairly awkward, but Emma is really sweet and hilarious and goes off on random tangents and it was just all around an awesome time. I also found out that if you wanted a caramel macchiato with ice, you just have to say "caramel macchiato with ice." Floundering around and asking about hot drinks that are actually cold is unnecessary and slightly embarrassing. 8D

For some reason, there were seven weddings going on in the center that. I don't... what.

Then the rest of the week happened. It was mostly a blur of "OH MY GOD I WILL NEVER GET THIS DONE IN TIME FFFFF" but I will try to recall some interesting events.

1. On Monday, I had my práctica at the Spanish school. They played a game which was basically Taboo, but with their vocab words (which included: dustbin, corkscrew, library, holiday, queue, pencil, parachute, pillow, desk, and arson).

Student 1, providing clues: EHM.... MEXICO
Student 2, guess: HAT
Student 1: YESSSSS
Me: wait wat

There was also a hilarious girl who acted out everything she said, including running around the terrace and acting like a pirate (the word was "map"). Bare in mind that these kids are 14/15 years old, not little ones. 

2. On Tuesday, my super intelligent addition to the modern art class was, "Buba is a very orange sound."

3. On Wednesday, we presented our vanguardist poems. One girl wrote hers so that the letters formed an envelope, then cut it out so it looked like a little letter. She said that when she wrote it, she was thinking about how everyone has bad memories that want to get rid of and "mail away." The professor promptly told her to throw it out the window. She did. It was awesome. 

The professor was also very confused about why we snapped instead of applauded at the end of each reading of a poem and why we thought it was so funny.


Despite feeling a decent amount of stress, I have Friday and next week off! Whoo fall break! My mommy (my real one lol) is coming Saturday and we're going to explore southern Spain. I plan to spend Friday trying to expand my collection of disney icons and getting some of the RATHER LARGE AMOUNT of translation homework done. Also skimming cuentos/poemas for my midterm essay for LA lit. :/ I wish we could use what we've read in class, since that would mean I could recycle some ideas I used in 11th grade essays/projects on Pedro Páramo LOL. 

Oct. 1st, 2010

LOL, meg foot

I'M NOT CRAZY

SAME

THING

Sep. 29th, 2010

Aladdin, heh heh heh

Today I saw a naked man in the street, and he sold me gazpacho.

 I think the entire point of learning another language is to say sentences like this without fumbling over words.

Today there was an organized protest. Apparently the Spanish government spent a lot of time lying about the economic crisis (read: denying it exists) and now that they're trying to do something about it, people disagree with many of the current actions. In a nutshell, they're pissed. 

You know how universities periodically send out emails about how to keep safe at night? You know how they're all mildly worded? Well, I read them like this, as I'm sure many other people do:

OH MY GOD GAIZ THERE ARE BAD MEN ON EVERY CORNER HIDING IN BUSHES AND IF THEY CAN HEAR YOU BREATHING THEY WILL JUMP OUT AND RAPE AND MURDER YOU!!!111!!!

DON'T TRUST ANYONE THEY ARE RAPISTS

DON'T TRUST BUSHES THEY HIDE RAPISTS

SO DO TRASH CANS

ALSO ALL SQUIRRELS HAVE RABIES

PLZ CALL POLICE IF YOU HEAR EVEN LEAVES RUSTLING 

YOU. WILL. DIE.
 
Yesterday afternoon, the program director sent an email out about the protest today. She warned us that all public transportation would be running at 25%, so we should probably take an alternate route to school. She also gave us some safety tips and said a map of their march route had just been posted on the door of the school (this did not help much, as I was already home for the day). I read the email like this:

QUERIDOS ESTUDIANTES,

TOMORROW IS THE APOCALYPSE. PLEASE PREPARE ACCORDINGLY.

THERE WILL ONLY BE ONE BUS AND ONE TRAIN RUNNING IN THE ENTIRE CITY. THEY WILL BE CRAMMED SO FULL OF PEOPLE THE DRIVER WILL HAVE TO SQUISH YOU IN LIKE IN JAPAN, AND IT WILL SMELL LIKE URINE BECAUSE THE PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE WON'T BE ABLE TO GET OUT AND PEE. TRAFFIC WILL BE HEAVIER AND PEOPLE WILL RESORT TO DRIVING MANIACALLY ON THE SIDEWALKS. THEY WILL MOW YOU DOWN AND KILL YOU AND USE YOUR BLOODY BRAIN GOO TO BUTTER THEIR TOAST.

PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM PROTESTERS. THEY ARE DRESSED LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE, EXCEPT THEY WILL SUDDENLY TURN INTO UNBATHED VAGABONDS AND BEAT YOU WITH STICKS. EVEN IF YOU LIVE THROUGH THEIR STICK-BEATINGS, THEY WILL TAKE ALL YOUR MONEY AND SPIT ON YOU AND SKIN YOU ALIVE AND FLY YOUR SKIN AS THEIR FLAG. ALSO, THEIR STICKS ARE ACTUALLY SPIKE-COVERED CAVEMAN CLUBS DIPPED IN POISON.

BE ESPECIALLY AWARE OF BABIES. 

YOU. WILL. DIE.
 
This morning I steeled myself for the worst. I was expecting traffic jams and huge groups of people huddled around bus stops. I expected lots of yelling and running. I expected fire. 

Walking out of my building, an elderly man greeted me amiably. 

Traffic was actually lighter than usual. The one bus I saw had a single woman on it. I saw a woman walk out of an office building carrying a giant stuffed Winnie the Pooh that was holding a heart that said "I love you." It was sunny. There was a cool breeze. It was... pleasant. 

I was very confused. 

In my translation class, we had to perform a skit using colloquial expressions. The topic my group chose was the protest, and we made up ridiculous stories about the "mass chaos" it caused. That's where the gazpacho-peddling naked man comes in– it wasn't just some random introduction. Because apparently my mind went protest --> insanity --> nudity --> gazpacho. It's okay though, because another person claimed he had to spend the night at the school and called his host mother to ask if she could please bring him a bocadillo and his bed. 

Sep. 28th, 2010

Aladdin, heh heh heh

Finland is not dirty and pirates don't brush their teeth.

 Yesterday, I went to my práctica/"service learning internship" for the first time. 

I am working with a ninth grade English teacher. My purpose is to expose students to a native speaker and teach them about American culture.... or something. 

The school is like a freaking castle, but I found the classroom without getting lost because I am awesome. But it turns out class starts late on Mondays so the teacher just left me alone in there for ten minutes. I sat and stared at the chalkboard. It had all these things written on it that didn't make sense together like "BP milk London" and a picture of a cow with its butt labeled "Shakira." Then a bell rang and there was a swarm of teenagers in the hall. Holy shiz guys, I am too used to this 40 students thing; I am going to be run over and killed in the US during class changes. It took me four years of high school to get up the nerve to push people out of the way.

When class started, the teacher sent me outside to this awesome terrace they have and sent students out in pairs to talk about vacations with me. Except they're learning British English so I had to call them "holidays." She also gave me this hilarious worksheet with phrases like "loud discos," "guided tours of sites of historical interest," and "romance with a stranger." They were supposed to sort them into two categories-- dream vacation and nightmare vacation. I have no idea how they knew the word "nightmare," because I sure as hell didn't learn the word "pesadilla" until last week. 

This is how the first group went:

Me: Hello! My name is Michelle. What are your names?
Boy 1: Xavier.
Boy 2: Victor. 
Me: Tell me about yourselves! (I was sure to be very enthusiastic, so there are exclamation points everywhere.)
Xavier: .....ehm....

And this point I learned Victor had the superior English skills, as he translated what I said for Xavier. 

Xavier: Oh. I am Xavier. I like... football... and, ehm... I have fourteen. 
Me: You have fourteen?
Xavier: Yes.
Me: Fourteen what? Siblings? Pets? PENCILS? :D
Xavier, very confused: I... I have fourteen... D8

Poor, poor Xavier. I was too stupid to realize he meant he was fourteen years old until after a new group came. 

Pretty much every conversation went the same. I learned names, forgot them four seconds later, I asked them where they went for their summer "holiday" and I asked them where they would and wouldn't want to go. Valencians seem to have this bizarre preoccupation with the cold, since whenever travel comes up, they bring up how it gets colder further north and they don't want to go there. 

This is pretty much how every conversation went:

Me: So what is your DREAM holiday? The best holiday-- SUPER GOOD HOLIDAY!
Them: The Caribbean, Australia, anywhere with a beach. 
Me: And what about your NIGHTMARE holiday? What is the WORST holiday?
Them: One where I have to do homework. Also, cold places. 

At some point, I decided to spice it up.

Me: Which countries are cold?
Them, awkward smile: What. :D
Me: Do you know any cold countries? Países fríos?

See, I'm all clever and can explain in Spanish and they understand me and yay good feeling. 

Them: OH. Ehm... Germany... France... Inglaterra, Finlandia, Suecia...

I don't know why they switched the Spanish in the middle of that list. It caught me completely off guard. 

Me: What? Finland is dirty?
Them: Huh. D:
Me: ¿Finlandia es sucia?
Them: ....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

And that's how I made a fool of myself in front of Spanish teenagers. Also, anything north of Spain is cold. Apparently. 

Other thing that happened: While I was waving my hands around and blabbering about my trip/unholy death march to Switzerland, on of the teachers walked by and started singing ABBA to me. I am still confused. 

Ever since Sunday I've kind of had a cold, so yesterday when I had some spare time I decided to go on a quest for self-medication. One thing I miss about the US is how convenient everything is-- if I want a bag of chips, some cold medicine, and a bottle of vitamin C, all I have to do is go to Walgreens or CVS or any major grocery store. Here, that would take three separate stores. Luckily, I only wanted two of those things.

First, I went to the weird health-food-herbalist-store-thing about two blocks from Rosa's apartment.

Cashier: Good afternoon.
Me: Hello.
Cashier: Ahjdhsjfhjkfds?
Me: uh... repeat?
Cashier: Ahjdsfhjdhsjkfl? Ethjdshajfkd!
Me, assuming she's asking if I need help without anything to base that on: I WANT VITAMINS IN ORDER TO AVOID THE ILLNESS.

And this point she looked at me like I was wearing my bright pink pants. Which I wasn't.

Me: Like... um, vitamin C?
Cashier, with figurative lightbulb: Ah! Defensa!

And she gave me a bottle, told me it worked very well, and even showed me where it included a large amount of vitamin C in the ingredients list. 

After that, I went all the way back to the school because that was the only place I was sure there was a pharmacy. You see them all over the place, but do I remember where any other ones are? Of course not. 

In Spain, it is fairly common to have to be buzzed in to enter a shop. I had to wait a few minutes standing in the entryway like an idiot while the pharmacist fiddled with something in the back. When I walked in, she informed me I should have rung a bell I didn't notice. I nodded. 

In order to save what was left of my dignity, I decided I would find the cold medicine myself, since asking for help is a sign of weakness. I very carefully scrutinized the tiny shop, while the pharmacist watched and made me very uncomfortable. Everything looked the same. 

When I realized I was examining a pregnancy test, I decided to was time to give up and went over to the counter. 

Me: I.. I need nose medicine. D:
Pharmacist: ...
Me, sniffling: ;_; For my nose. 
Pharmacist: You're congested? 
Me: YES. 
Pharmacist: And you want to stop the congestion?
Me: Um why would WANT congestion? YES.
Pharmacist: Do you have any allergies, diabetes or other medical problems?
Me: NO.

In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have lied about the diabetes thing. But she gave me some pills that look exactly like red M&Ms and they haven't killed me yet, although their M&M-like appearance makes me want to press them with my fingers until the candy shell cracks and then lick the red dye off my fingers. Because that's how I eat M&Ms. Don't judge me. 

Now, I don't know how cold medicine affects everyone else, but when I take anything that lists "drowsiness" as a side effect, I get dizzy and loopy. Assuming I don't fall asleep-- and I usually don't, because that doesn't feel like sleepiness at all-- it goes away in about twenty minutes. 

In the twenty minutes after I took that first pill, I decided to brush my teeth. The washing machine is on the other side of the bathroom wall, and the acoustics are such that it's really loud in the bathroom. I decided it sounded like waves and ended up sitting on the toilet, lid down, with a toothbrush in my mouth, pretending I was on a boat. Except I couldn't be a pirate because pirates don't brush their teeth and I like having clean teeth and that made me sad. 

Yeah, I don't know either. I'm lucky I didn't drown myself in the shower. 

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