Sunday, May 30, 2010


(sorry I can't get any pics up...the internet is hating on Blogger's pic uploading thing. ASAP, I promise!)

Segovia was, to put it simply, AH-MAZING. Seriously, I doubt I have ever seen a prettier town. It was so old and historic, and it had all these old buildings and monuments that you look at and go “how they heck did they build that?”

Take the aqueduct, for example. It’s astoundingly long, incredibly tall, and completely unmortered. Seriously, there is nothing holding those stones together except gravity. And it’s been standing since the last 1st/early 2nd century! This just might be more confusing than the pyramids, let me just tell you.

Anyway, for our day trip to Segovia, we set out from our meeting point at 9:00. Normally, this would be the perfect way to start the day’s story. For Karin and I, however, our wonderful day started a lot earlier when we spent twenty minutes waiting for a bus that never came then had to rush to and through the metro stations to get to Retiro to meet the group. We got there at EXACTLY 9:00, no lie. And actually, I think we still beat someone else there. It was a flat-out run to get there, though. I do not want to do that again any time soon.

So then we finally got to leave with the group. It took about an hour and a half to get to Segovia by bus, but it was such a pretty drive that I didn’t mind at all (much better than an 8 hour plane ride, let me tell you). Most of us were snapping pics out the windows as we drove (and some were napping).

When we finally reached Segovia, we pulled into a dusty bus lot, then walked a ways to the bus station for a restroom break. Normally this would not make my blog, but I put this in to mention how utterly disgusting the bathrooms were. Worse than port-a-potties, I kid you not. And most of them were out of toilet paper.

After the horrendous bathroom break, we made our way to the aqueduct. Pictures of this thing do not do it any justice. It is absolutely awe-inspiring to see. It’s one of the oldest and most well-preserved Roman structures left on the Iberian peninsula. The arches get as tall as 90+ feet tall, and there are 167 arches total (I had to research it for a group project and talk about it in Segovia, so this is why I know all this). It’s also part of the Segovian coat of arms. Needless to say, it’s super-important to the people there. I think a majority of my pictures have the aqueduct in them, simply because you can take two steps in any direction and the view is different and breathtaking. It’s a photographer’s dream location.

We had two hours to walk around and explore Segovia (and discuss our other research topics with the group) before meeting at the Castle at 12:30. We took a ton of pictures of the absolutely gorgeous scenery and the little hidden side streets and the blossoming flowers on the balconies. We perused the small shops lining the street toward the Castle (Victoria bought these absolutely adorable itty-bitty owls for her collection…their big eyes were so cute!). When we passed a park with a fountain, we decided to sit and eat our lunch there. So relaxing, let me tell you. Segovia is so much more relaxed than Madrid, even though Madrid is already so incredibly relaxed compared to the U.S. big cities. We almost missed our entry time at the Castle because we were taking so many pictures in the park and on the street to the Castle.

This is the castle that inspired the castles at DisneyWorld and Disneyland. I got so excited about that. Anyway, I can’t tell you how many pictures I took of ceilings and tapestries in the Castle. Those people had a dang good interior decorator with a thing for ceilings. Those were the most intricate works of art in the entire castle. This was the Castle where the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella (yeah, the ones that sponsored Columbus and drove out the Moors and everything) lived there, and their thrones were still there (roped off, unfortch. Really, most of the things they had roped off I wouldn’t have wanted to sit on/touch anyway, but since they were roped off, I wanted to SO badly. Counter productive, my Spanish friends, counter productive). The views off the balcony were spectacular, but they had nothing on the view from the tower.

The tower took 152 steps in a claustrophobic, spiraling staircase to get to the top of, but it was well worth it (plus being our workout for the day). The views left me speechless when I first saw them. They were beyond description.

Professor Workman tried to scare us with a story of how an American student fell off the top of the tower a few years ago. It’s the reason there are bars between the tourist area and the edge of the tower. We were all very careful after that.

After we walked back down the precarious staircase (it’s really hard when people and coming up and down at the same time), we followed our guide from the Castle to the Cathedral, another of those structures you wonder how they built. The ceilings are so high and intricate, and it is so huge. We weren’t supposed to take pictures, so I didn’t take any (didn’t stop some members of our group, however…you know who you are). I’m just going to have to be satisfied with me memories.

After the cathedral, we wandered around Segovia a bit more (we got ice cream that was insanely delicious) before going to sit down at the base of the aqueduct to wait for the rest of our group.

This day is probably my favorite day in Spain so far, and Karin and I are very tempted to take the train from the Atocha station to Segovia one Sunday just to go back and see it again. It was that impressive and beautiful. Of course, who knows how Toledo will be next Saturday. I’m thinking jewelry shopping : )

Hasta luego!

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Notes on Spain

-My version of leche frio (cold milk) is not their version of leche frio. In other words, my lukewarm is their cold, typically.

-I have always underappreciated air conditioning. I wake up sticky with sweat every morning.

-Dinner is served at 10 (on average). No joke.

-Lunch is at 2:30 or 3. I get very hungry by then.

-Breakfast is the smallest meal of the day and is normally not very nutritious. For our Madre, it consists of hot milk with Nesquick, toast with butter, some juice (an orange, lemon, carrot combo that’s really good), and some soft of small, pre-packaged pastry (often chocolate croissants).

-The aforementioned breakfast is wonderful.

-I have a much smaller appetite here. I’ll be absolutely starving, but I won’t eat half as much as I do at home when I’m half as hungry. It’s insane. And the food is SO good! Our Madre used to run a restaurant with her sister, so she’s a phenomenal cook.

-Most interesting meal our Madre has served us: Pizza, fried eggs, and French fries. Yep.

-In my room at home, I have 10+ outlets just for me. In my dorm room, there were 7+ (and our lovely surge protectors, which made for a total of 15+) for Jessica and I to share. In our room here, there is ONE for Karin and I to share. I’m having to prioritize my camera battery, cell phone battery, and computer battery, and Karin has to work in her chargers and straightener, too. Insanity.

-The buses run on a much slower schedule on Saturdays. Did anyone tell us before we waited 20 minutes for our usual bus? That would be a no. But we caught the metro and got there exactly on time (literally, EXACTLY on time. 9:00 on the money).

-I never realized how much I used the Internet before coming here where I can’t use it at a moment’s notice. It’s an almost scary realization.

-There is not a close metro stop to the Museo del Prado. Not. At. All.

-Coke Light is much better than Diet Coke.

-They do, in fact, serve ice-cold Coca-Cola, contrary to the horror stories my mother told me before I came.

-They’re serious when they tell you to watch your stuff for pickpockets. And the police/security guards won’t stop them, even if they see it happen. “It’s not [their] problem.” (True story.)

-Segovia is the prettiest place I’ve ever been. The abundance of terra-cotta roofs is just a bonus.

-Dulce de Leche ice cream is much better here.

-The kids here are SO cute. No lie, utterly adorable.

-I have no idea how the aqueduct of Segovia was built. I suspect aliens.

-It’s very easy to take 313 pictures in one day.

-Spaniards are very open to people learning their language. Most are very patient with foreigners.

-People on the metro stare openly at sunburns. I guess they don’t see them that often.

Hasta luego!

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spain: May 25-26

Okay, so I officially love Madrid. It's just so chill and awesome. And even though it's hot, it's not humid, so my hair really appreciates it. I just smile ALL the time. It's so great here. Not that I'd ever want to live here long-term, but for four weeks I'll be very content.

Classes are a lot of fun, and I'm learning tons. The second profesora of the day is definitely easier that the first. I had to describe a kidney yesterday in Spanish. Weirdest thing ever. But I made my point. Also, the scurge that is the Snuggie is not known here, so I'm grateful (I tried saying the other day "Snuggies annoy me" but she didn't understand because she didn't know what a Snuggie was).

We had our first group meeting yesterday at El Espejo, a really good outdoor retaurant in the median of the Grande Via (Madrid's equivilant of Broadway in NYC). I had a toasted ham, cheese, and fried egg sandwhich that was delicious. We also got our assignments for this Saturday's trip to Segovia. We have to research some historic aspects and give a small report on it for our group (I also have go give a presentation in Spanish about Union Point tomorrow. So weird. Not sure how that's going to work out). My group is really awesome (it's Taylor, Victoria, Caitlin, Christin, Karin, Erin, and me), and I am really excited about Segovia.

Karin and I went shopping after lunch and got the most gorgeous scarves (bufandas) at a store called Lafirma. There were tons of other things we wanted to buy, but we couldn't justify spending 100 euros on a pair of shoes (even though I REALLY wanted to).

my gorgeous scarf : )

We then did our homework in Retiro park, which is a GIANT park in the middle of Madrid. The weather was gorgeous, and we got some people watching in, too. It's so much fun to people watch in foreign countries because you can really pick up on some stuff. I'm learning the most through listening to others and learning words that are for practical use in the day-to-day.

We got back to the apartment, read and napped for a bit, then met the two French girls that will be staying there for a couple of days on a school trip. They know Spanish pretty well, and very little English, so we have to use Spanish to talk to them. They're pretty cool.

Today Karin and I are researching our Segovia facts, eating lunch at the apartment, then maybe going shopping with some of our friends in the group. There are some stores on the Grand Via I really want to go to (cheap shoes! cheap bags! cheap dresses!), so I hope that pans out.

We're going to a concert tonight to hear one of Samford's music deans play with one of his Spanish friends. It's a really cool coincidence that he's here, but we're excited. And we're going to go to a bullfight soon, so that will be intresting, to say the least. And Sunday I think we're going on a double-decker bus tour of Madrid with some friends, and I'm super-excited about that.

I don't have much time before Karin and I have to leave for lunch, so I'll post again soon.

Hasta luego!

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spain: May 22-24

Hoy es mi dia tres en Madrid. Es muy bonita aqui. Los edificios y monumentos son muy vieojos y grande—pero magnificos. Me gusta mucho Madrid : )

Translation: Today is my third day in Madrid. It’s beautiful here. The buildings and monuments are very old and big—but magnificent. I like Madrid a lot.

See? I am learning Spanish! Yay me!

We arrived on Saturday around 10:00 AM (that’s 4:00 AM Georgia time, for those who were wondering about the time difference), after a plane ride upon which many of us attempted to sleep (note the word attempted). I was nervous as heck when Karin and I met our madre, Felcitatas. She understands NO English whatsoever. She might have thought we were deaf, dumb, or nearly mute for the first day because we pretty much just smiled and nodded with the occasional “Si” thrown in for good effect. We were so overwhelmed. It’s gotten so much easier to converse with her now, though. She actually has a friend that occasionally comes to visit who we met Sunday night who is bilingual, so she can tell us any Spanish words we can’t think of. The apartment is nice, too. It’s bigger than I was expecting, and very clean. Karin and I have a pretty lavender room with a window that we open to get some airflow (no air conditioning is not fun). The apartment is also near one of the main centers of Madrid, and theoretically we can get to anywhere in the city very easily and quickly by bus or metro (the subway, which our madre says not to ride as much as possible because they will cut off our fingers for our rings…her words, not mine. Thankfully, we’re not wearing any rings.)

If you noticed I said “theoretically,” it’s because Monday (my birthday, no less) we got lost TWICE trying to get to the school and then to the correct bus stop. We probably spent an hour and a half put together walking around the Salamanca burrio (the most expensive shopping district in Madrid…Prada, BCBG Max Azria, Bebe, etc.) trying to find both these things. We are seriously lacking in map skills…haha. We’re totally safe, no worries, but we’ve pretty much figured out where we’re supposed to be now. Once lost, never lost again (hopefully).

Our Sunday was spent in an orientation meeting in the morning and then a tour of the city in the afternoon. Orientation got me so very nervous, I was almost sick. It didn’t help that I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before (I tossed and turned for almost two and a half hours before falling asleep), and I felt really homesick. I got over it pretty quickly, though. The tour was fun, and then we attended a church service at the First Baptist Church of Madrid. Singing hymns in Spanish was amazing, especially because some were just translations of English songs I already knew. We went out to eat tortillas potatas (potato tortillas…muy deliciosas!) at a little place called Mason de la tortilla, and then some of us hung out in the Plaza Mayor until almost midnight. We were waiting for the subway home when the clock struck tweleve, and Erica, Kelly, Molly, Karin, Logan, and Erin all sang Happy Birthday (en espanol, of course) to me. It was quite an experience.

Classes today were really awesome. The profesoras are really chill and nice, and we get a little thirty minute break at 10:30 (class starts at 9:00). It lets us get out of the classroom and go down the street to get a smoothie or coffee or fruit or something. Me gusta! There are eight people in my class, all from Samford (Erin, Karin, Laren, Logan, Christin, Victoria, Taylor, and myself). It’s a lot of fun, and if the first day was any indication, class will not be too difficult or boring. It’s still hot, though. But Madrid is just hot PERIOD.

An interesting note: One of the landmarks we use to remind ourselves which bus stop to use is a cow/bull in a matador costume. It confuses us because it has spots like a cow, but horns like a bull (and the costume suggests bull, too), so we’re guessing this is one seriously gender confused bovine (that’s our name for it: Gender Confused Bovine). It’s quite fun.

Tonight our madre came into our room at 11:00 going "Fuego! Fuego!" and running toward the door. She wanted us to come see the fiesta for the Virgin Mary at the high school down the street. They had fireworks, a DJ, and lots of dancing. Even the grandmas (including our madre) were dancing! It was so fun(ny)!

The first three days have been a whirlwind, but a good one. I’m looking forward to the next five weeks.

Hasta luego!

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


I leave for Spain. Tomorrow. Literally 24 hours from now, I will be sitting in a terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta waiting for our loading time.

Can someone hand me a paper bag, please? I think I'm going to have a itty-bitty meltdown

As excited as I am to go, I'm nervous as mess about classes and if I'm packing the right stuff and living in a totally different culture with a totally different language for FIVE WEEKS.

I'm a thoroughly optimistic person, but I keep thinking of all these "What ifs" that could happen, and I'm freaking myself out. Not cool, Jackie, not cool. Just chill.

Next time I blog, I'll be in Spain. Hasta luego!

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The End of the Beginning

I woke this morning in my queen-sized, comfy bed at home, which was when I realized I'd never again wake up again in Vail 422, on my twin-size, industrial quality mattress, lofted high enough that it required a stepladder and made making my bed the biggest pain in the butt ever in the history of the universe.

I kind of miss it.

Actually, I think there a lot of things I'll miss about freshman year now that it's over. Things I occasionally griped about or didn't think of much, but things I now realize I'll be sad to have lost next year.

Vail is the main thing. Despite the 55 different room configurations, the odious amounts of steps, and the cramped showers, I'm definately going to miss being around 85% of the freshman female population almost 24/7. Next year I'll be in Evergreen, which is a lot of the sophomore girls, but it's not as many as Vail had, and there are some juniors and seniors there (maybe). It was nice to be able to go anywhere in the building and be able to find pretty much whoever you wanted to find. The guys hung out there, too, which made it even more fun. It will be weird next year when we have to go to a different building to find a lot of our friends (and some will be across campus in the Greek housing, a million miles away from Beeson Woods, where I'll live).

Freshman year is OVER. As soon as my scores become posted to my transcript, I'll be an official sophomore at Samford University. I completely understand the people who say college goes by too quickly. It really does.

Anyway, I'm home for a little while before leaving for Spain (exactly a week from now...eep!). This means sleeping until I deem it okay to wake up and eating at odd hours of the day (while unpacking all the junk from my dorm room and packing for five weeks in Madrid).

Freshman year, you were awesome, and you will be greatly missed. Sophomore year, here I come.

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.

Monday, May 10, 2010

This Semester I Actually Decided to Study

I don't ever study. I think the total number of hours I studied throughout my entire high school career was five hours, if that. This is for two reasons: a) I have no willpower to study by my own choice or by myself, and b) I never had to to make good grades (if I could make an "A" and not study, then why study?).

But I knew that I could do better, so for finals this semester I decided that I would give this whole "studying" thing a shot. And you know what? I think it worked. I studied long and hard with a friend on Friday and with more friends last night for my CP exam (that was at 10:30 AM today), and I feel really confident about how I did.

So, with two finals (well, one final and one presentation down) and two more to go, one of which I can't study for because it's a timed essay over a prompt we won't get until test time, I'm left with only one final to study for: Spanish.

It's at 3:30 PM tomorrow, so tonight I'm working my butt off in the Caf (which Samford leaves open for group/louder studiers until 3 AM) to make sure I know the difference between imperfect and preterite verb conjugations.

This is what stressed looks like:

I hope this "studying" deal pays off.

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Over, Done, Finito

At 10:21 today, I exited the last class of my freshman year of college.


I'm not going to say it feels like it was just yesterday that I moved into my dorm, and it has certainly felt like it's been eight months. But somehow it just doesn't click yet that I'm about to be a sophomore in college. I don't feel I've grown enough or experienced enough yada yada yada...

I guess it's like watching yourself in the mirror as you grow up. You don't really notice your face and body change from day to day, but you look back at yourself from three years (or even one year) ago and there's a major difference. It's just gradual.

I believe I'm leaving my first year better than when I came in. Smarter, more independent, more open, more loving.

Of course, I've still got four finals waiting for me that could screw this positive attitude all up...

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust.