Last Day in Spain and Back to America.

Friday was our last full day in Spain with the USAC program. We all had finals, and mine wasn’t too bad. Afterwards, we said good-bye to all the professors and directors in the program and thanked them for all their help and friendliness in providing us so many awesome opportunities. Then I went with a few girls to some of the nearby shops in Bilbao because of them wanted to find a gift for her mom, who was coming to visit and travel some more with her. Then we joined with some of the others, and about 14 or 15 of us went out to a final lunch at this delicious restaurant called La Mary, near Alhóndiga, the cultural center.

I went back to my house in Getxo and finished the rest of my packing. I went to the beach for a while and read and lay in the sun, although it was a little breezier and chillier than other days I had been at the beaches. At nighttime, everyone in the program met up at the West Side bar, our usual haunt, for a last bit of conversation and camaraderie before we parted ways. Some people had flights home in the morning or bus rides elsewhere in Europe to keep traveling. Quite a few of us left to go to Santurtzi, one of the block parties in the streets, although this one was on the other side of the river, so we had to either cross the gondola on the suspension bridge (which we did to get there), or take one metro line, get off in San Inazio, and then get on the other metro line going the other way. I went for a while, but I didn’t too much; we danced a little and basically hung out in the street, which sounds more delinquent than it ever is in Spain.

Yesterday was my heavy travel day. I woke up in the morning, put the final touches on my packing (shower materials, toiletries, etc.), left my keys to my host family’s apartment, and set out for the airport, which involved a metro ride to the bus station and then a bus ride. I flew about an hour to Madrid and had a layover for a couple hours there. Then I flew about 7 or 8 hours to the JFK airport in New York. I took a taxi to the hotel I had reserved for the night because I had overnight airport change and ordered some pizza before getting some sleep. This morning I took the hotel shuttle to La Guardia and flew from there to O’Hare in Chicago, my final flight home! All my flights were relatively pleasant and unproblematic; my travel days went smoothly.

Now that I am back home and can start gaining some perspective on my experiences in Spain, I am really pleased that my time abroad went so well. I had a great time, I felt incredibly safe at all times, I learned a lot, and the USAC program and its coordinators were stellar. Everyone, including the other students, did their best to include everyone in the group and to put everyone at ease. We always watched out for one another and supported each other through homework, apprehension, or any other issues that arose. It is strange to be back home, driving on the old familiar highways, turning onto my neighborhood’s street corners. I keep accidentally greeting people with “Hola” and responding to questions and conversations with “Si” and “Vale.” I have had to mentally remind myself to say “Hello.” It’s a little adjustment, but it’s a happy adjustment. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I had in Spain, and I can’t wait to go elsewhere in Europe; I am already contemplating where else I want to go and when. Studying abroad was wonderful, and I encourage all of you to do it if and when you can, or at least to vacation abroad! It’s an incredible, unforgettable life experience, and the memories will stick with you forever. One last piece of advice: Take a ton of pictures! Take more pictures than seems necessary, take pictures until you get sick of taking pictures, and then take more pictures! You will appreciate it when you want to revisit that time of your life.

Thank you all for reading my blog and following me through this exciting and fantastic journey. Please, if you didn’t keep up while it unfolded and are just viewing this blog for the first time, please browse through the previous posts and read about some of the amazing opportunities I had and the awesomely fun social and cultural events. Acquaint yourselves with one small person’s experiences abroad and let your imagination wander to your own, or the potential of your own. I wish you the best! ¡Adios!


My last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Spain

Tuesday after class, I went to a kebab restaurant to eat lunch and work on homework while I waited for Morgan to finish her second class. Her, Nick, and I walked to the Guggenheim because she wanted to take some pictures of the outside of it, and we also walked over a nearby bridge to get a good view. Then we grabbed some really high-quality gelato and stopped in a souvenir shop to buy some Basque memorabilia. I went back home and did a little packing, then I went to the beach and lay out for a while. I hadn’t been there long when an announcement came over the speaker with a warning that the temperature had reached a dangerous point and that if you had been out for too long to get out of the sun and to make sure you drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen. I listened to music and read for a while, then I walked along the shore and gathered some sea shells and shell fragments. I strolled through town and stopped in a few shops, including a pastelería where I bought a small tasty toffee. I went home and did some homework, ate dinner, and passed the night at home. It was a low-key but enjoyable, warm, and relaxing day.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I went to class in the morning as usual, which has thankfully been much less stressful for the second half than was the first. Afterwards, Lana and I went to lunch at this super delicious Italian restaurant in Getxo called La Tagliatella. We had a really pleasant conversation over some incredible food; there were sun-dried tomatoes and onions on top of the house bread, and for the main dish I ordered pumpkin ravioli in a tomato cream sauce–amazing!

I went home for a while, took a photo with my host family, uploaded pictures, and did a few other small things. I met Morgan and Nick around 7:00 to go to the top of the Bizkaia Bridge, the suspension bridge that is right across from my host family’s apartment. We paid a few euros to take the elevator to the top, and it was great. The view is unbelievable, and we took some awesome pictures. I also saw a sign that said the plaza with the fountain I can see from my home that is just beneath the bridge used to be the Plaza de Toros of Las Arenas, which was a fun tidbit of good information. I also noted that all the information posts on the bridge are in Basque, Spanish, English, and French, which I thought was interesting. I came home and did homework, but I didn’t have much; it was only a couple worksheets. Ana made dinner, and after eating, I went to West Side to grab a few beers and ended up writing for a while. I came back home and went to sleep a little early to try to catch up on what I’ve been missing.

Today was our last day of classes because our final is tomorrow. We reviewed and had a very laid back day; Rosana even let us out of class a little early. I took the metro back to Getxo and got kebabs for lunch with Lana. I went home and took a short nap, then I walked around town a little bit. I bought a book for a friend, a couple final articles of clothing for myself, and a small flowering plant as a farewell/thank-you gift for my host mom and the family. When I returned home, I studied for a while. I think I am going to try to go out with some others from USAC tonight for burgers and beer; we will probably end up at West Side because beer is a euro tonight, and, well, we always end up at West Side. Tomorrow is my last full day in Spain; I am leaving Saturday morning for my afternoon flight out of Bilbao. My time here has flown by! So many people in the program are hating the idea of going home. I am looking forward to it, but I have had so many amazing experiences here and made unforgettable memories. I did nearly everything I wanted to do. (Except to go to the new Basque language museum; I couldn’t figure out where it was, and I didn’t really find the time.) But I surfed, I toured, I visited museums, I lounged on all the beaches, I ate amazing food, I made friends, I went to concerts–Well, you know all this! You have this blog to chronicle it all for you! I have had great fun and have gotten everything out of my journey abroad I could have wanted to take from my trip in Spain. But it’s not time to say good-bye quite yet; I will update again soon! ¡Hasta pronto!

Keeping up!

In class today, we started discussing indirect speech, which involves every verb tense and mood in Spanish. I surprised myself with how intuitive it was, and I had a satisfying day of class. Afterwards, a few girls and I stopped by a bank so two of them could exchange dollars for euros, and then we grabbed some lunch off the menu del día from a restaurant in Bilbao called El Social. I had rice that was fried with ham, egg, and corn for the first course, for the second course I chose a chicken and veal fajita with pico de gallo and guacamole, and for dessert I chose the brownie. Everything was delicious, although the guacamole made me want food from Mexican restaurants back in the States. Dr. Mendieta told us the Mexican food is awful here, and although I haven’t truly tried it, I believe her. I really enjoy los menus del día because they are always served with bread and wine, and you can mix and match the options for your meal.

I rode the metro back to Getxo, and after stopping by a small store to purchase a few items, including batteries for my constantly dying camera, I came home and started some light packing. Yes, I know I’m a few days early, but I want to be able to go out on Friday, my last night in Spain, without having to worry about all the packing I need to do. So I stowed away some clothes and gifts that I know I won’t need until I return to Indiana. Then I got ready to go the beach, the one at Bidezabal that I haven’t yet visited, or the “windmill beach” as some of the USAC students call it, appropriately named for the beautiful old windmill that overlooks the coast from the top of a cliff. It’s only a few metro stops away from me. But first I stopped for some ice cream and to buy some of Spain’s awesome candy for later.

When I got there, I lay in the sunshine, read a bit, came close to dozing, and soaked in some rays. I took a short dip in the water to dive in and feel the waves push me back to shore, then I rinsed off and headed home. I checked my e-mails and have been working on my homework since I got back; tonight we only have a short story to read, a few questions to answer about it, and vocabulary words to choose and define. Ana brought me dinner a while ago (a salad of lettuce, pasta, hard-boiled eggs, and onions, with a piece of white bread [all the sliced loaf bread that is not freshly baked is crustless for some reason]), which I ate in my room while I worked.

Tomorrow after class, a few of us are going to the Guggenheim area to take pictures outside, to visit a really good souvenir shop, and to eat some gelato. Later I believe we are meeting back in Bilbao for pintxos and pizza with Elena, a summer intern/employee of USAC who helps organize small events for us to do. I’m looking forward to it. Bye for now!

Excursions and Fiestas

¡Hola otra vez! I apologize for the few-day slack on updates; I have been so busy! But that also means you’ll have so much juicy news to read in this post!

After a typical day of class on Friday, I went to the Guggenheim Museum with Alex, although this time to actually visit the museum instead of going to a Bob Dylan concert. I absolutely loved the museum; it differed drastically from las Bellas Artes, the fine arts museum. The Guggenheim was very contemporary; I don’t believe any of the galleries had work prior to the 1940s. I have a nearly indescribable fascination with installation and performance art, and these types of pieces abound in the Guggenheim. Many of the works were done by artists who were given a space in the museum within which to work, and the result is a highly conceptual idiosyncrasy that is attuned to the architecture of the building and the Basque culture of Bilbao, including its coexistence with Spanish surroundings and with the greater Western world. The art was clearly designed with the construction of the building in mind. Richard Serra has a room of larger than life structures that confront the minimalism they employ, David Hockney has an entire floor devoted to his different creative media (including iPad sketches), and “sculptures” made from the unlikeliest of materials address very modern, 20th and 21st concerns that resonate with viewers in a way that the religious effigies of the 16th century simply can’t, including Jenny Holzer’s reflective two-story running LED display of short, powerful phrases of love, life, and loss. Installments of entire rooms used video screens, light bulbs, photographs, and structures to intentionally engage the spectator in the creation and the perception, the experience, of the art, or to re-capture performance art that can’t find organic space in a museum. What an astounding monument to the art of our age.

I darted home for a quick nap (well, as quickly as one can dart with 15 minutes of walking to and from a 20-minute metro ride), and prepared for BBK Live, the music festival. A group of us met at the San Mamés stop, stood in an incredibly long line that moved surprisingly fast, and rode the shuttle bus to the concert venue, which was literally in the mountainsides of Bilbao. I remember saying, “So THESE are the mountains we’re always looking at from down there.” It was beautiful, windy and chilly, but undeniably gorgeous. The show was amazing, and there were probably at least 10,000 people there. We came in during Mumford & Sons, so I unfortunately saw only the last seven or eight songs, but I saw some of my favorites and was definitely impressed with the forty or so minutes I did see. I appreciate when live performances reveal how much a band truly rocks, because some slow or soft music can deceptively hide its energy on an album. (I experienced the same effect when I saw Death Cab for Cutie perform last year in September.)

I wandered around the venue and purchased some gifts and merchandise, then my friends and I watched The Kooks play. Afterwards, we made our way to a DJ tent and danced some more, then we sat on the grass and waited for Radiohead to start playing on the main stage. It was unbelievable; I was so pumped! I was way more excited than anyone else in the group to see them, and I went crazy as they played favorite after favorite after favorite. I love the variety of their music, and they have always been one of my favorite bands, so to see them performing live, in Spain, no less, made for a night unforgettable by far.

Unfortunately, the others wanted to leave after Radiohead played a little over an hour, and as I didn’t want to be left alone to navigate my way home at 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning, I went with them to the shuttle and then to the metro. Regardless, overall, we had a phenomenal time at BBK Live. We always find goofy solidarity when we encounter other English speakers in those situations, and it was fun to hear the musicians talking to an audience who may or may not understand them about how they can’t speak any Spanish, but “Gracias, anyway,” and to chuckle because we do understand and can relate. The toilet stations were literally holes in the ground, people would climb huge rock cliffs for a better view, and although we personally left earlier, there were bands playing until 8:00 AM; it was certainly a European concert in a landscape that I have never before navigated for music festivals.

Saturday morning I woke up very early for USAC’s scheduled excursion to Vitoria. We met at the Bidezabal metro stop and rode a bus for an hour or so to a kayaking company. It took a while for us all to change into our swimsuits, get suited up, and ride down to the Ebro River. When we were all ready to go, the guides gave us a little instruction and practice on rowing with the paddles, and then it was into the water. The river and the rocky hills alongside it were incredibly gorgeous. Robin was my partner, and although it took us a while to get the hang of it, we soon figured out how to build and keep momentum in the kayak. We rode maybe a total of 7 or 8 kilometers and stopped by a natural dam of water brought from the mountains by a natural aquifer, and we rowed into this small outlet of the main river where there was a big rock off of which to cliff-dive. Most of us jumped out into the water, including myself, although some of them stayed in the kayak. It was great! I had never kayaked nor cliff-dived, so I had an amazing time.

We returned to the main building of the recreation company, rinsed off, and changed clothes. We rode the bus to a nearby restaurant where a delicious three-course meal had been prepared for us all. It took us only maybe twenty minutes to eat and be served our food; we were starving after a full morning of kayaking! We had enjoyable conversations and took turns playing foosball. We rode another hour to Vitoria, which was apparently recently named as Europe’s greatest city for its functionality and its people-friendly design, and we walked around the old section of the city, where I found an oddly-placed condom vending machine in the middle of the street that stood in stark, yet chuckle-worthy contrast against the old European buildings and the cobblestone alleys. We walked through the San Miguel cathedral, but the cathedral we toured was the Santa Maria, which has existed in Vitoria in various forms since about 1000 AD. It is currently being excavated and restored, so we had to wear hardhats walking through. It was by no means your average cathedral visit; we wound through tunnels and walkways with mid-project construction scaffolding where the layers of the past and the different stages of domes and arches were peeled away before us. Deteriorating statues, some dated as old as 1390, are currently held in place with supports so they won’t crumble and meet the same fate as some of their broken brothers. Everyone was awed by the age of the cathedral and could only wonder at grasping its full history. All in all, we had a great excursion and couldn’t thank the USAC staff enough. As it was optional, not everyone in the program attended the excursion, and we were saying throughout the whole day that they wouldn’t believe what fun they were missing out on!

After the bus ride back to Getxo, I took a nap and woke up to get ready to go out. Because of the Basque festivals, sales, and celebrations in July and August, there was a block party last night in the streets of Larrabasterra, an area of Getxo only a few metro stops away. We met at our metro stop around 11:00 and spent some time milling about the bars and waiting for everyone to join us, then we rode the train to the Larrabasterra stop and started exploring. There were carnival rides, DJs, vendor booths, tons of bars and street bar/food booths (obviously), and a huge stage where bands performed. We watched a Basque rock band perform, and one of their main instruments was an accordion played by one of the lead singers; it was great music to dance to, sung in Basque, and it was so fun to get into the dancing style with the crowd. I coincidentally ran into one of my host sisters and her friends there! Another classmate from the USAC program and I left way earlier than almost everyone else, even though we still left around 3:30 AM. Everyone else intended to stay out at the fiesta and party like the Spaniards until 7:00 or 8:00 AM, but I was still tired from not getting enough sleep between BBK Live and the Vitoria excursion. I went home for a solid night’s sleep.

I woke up today and have done homework most of the day. I’m still not finished. My host mom made lunch, and her, Ana, Josefina, and I all sat down at the dining room table and ate a nice meal together. It was enjoyable, but they talk so quickly to each other. I barely understood a thing. Then I did some more homework, but I took a break to go to The Willows, the tetería, with my friends Lana and Morgan. We had a great talk and enjoyed each other’s company a lot, especially since we all were taking a break from a busy day of homework and trying to be productive. The cheesecake was out of this world; mine was passion fruit with white chocolate, and I ordered a fruta de bosque smoothie as well. It was a great interruption in an otherwise studious day.

I returned home, finished my first (and longer) composition, but I still have a short one to write. I am not sure what I am doing for dinner; I want a kebab, but I will probably end up eating with my family and waiting on the kebab until I have a dinner companion. After typing this, it is shockingly past 8:30 already, so I should get back to work. It is difficult although in ways honestly relieving to know that a week from now, I will be home for my last three weeks in Indiana before moving to Colorado for graduate school. I am looking forward to my return home simply because I know I will not have much time with my friends and family before I am gone again. Nevertheless, I have been making a few plans to enjoy my last week in Spain to the fullest and to leave with a bang, a small bang, but a bang nonetheless. I will keep you updated as a sail quickly through this last week, and then that will be all for this blog! Again, I thank you for reading and for following my crazy adventures abroad.

Two-Day Update: Midweek Midterms and a Date with Bob Dylan

Hello again! Yesterday was my midterm, and it wasn’t so bad. By the time I finished, I thought I had done well, and I found out today that I earned a 93%, which I am very happy with, especially considering how much of a struggle the class has been so far. Some of the material I have been trying to wrap my head around is apparently sticking. After the exam, we started a much less complicated aspect of the class, introducing vocabulary to talk about movies and other areas of popular culture.

After class, I walked to Bilbao’s Fine Arts Museum, las Bellas Artes. It was a great museum that showcased a wonderful chronological variety of Spanish, Basque, and other European art. My favorite pieces were the Etruscan and Mediterranean figurines from the 2nd-7th centuries and also the contemporary art. I am fascinated by the really old work and very stimulated by the modern movements. It was very interesting to see the Spanish Baroque and Impressionist pieces and to consider how they relate to the artists of other regions that I have seen. I was also able to see the religious effigies and paintings from as late as the 14th century and a variety of etchings by a number of artists, especially those of Francisco de Goya, who, I gathered, popularized and proliferated the technique around the late 18th/early 19th centuries. I think I made it to every gallery in the building; it was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Las Bellas Artes is a great museum with marvelous exhibitions of Spanish/Basque culture and history.

I went home and took a quick siesta (my M.O. of Spain) and woke up to get ready for the Bob Dylan concert! I met my friends from the program, Emily and Robin, at the metro station, and we rode to the Moyua Plaza in Bilbao and walked to the Guggenheim. The line to enter the venue literally twisted around city blocks, but luckily we arrived as they were starting to let people in, so it moved forward the entire time we were in it. We bought some merchandise and mingled around because the show didn’t start for another hour. Emily is from Iowa, and we saw a man wearing an Iowa cap, so we struck up a conversation with him and his friend and discovered that they are in fact from Iowa. It truly is a small world.

The concert was great, despite rumors I have heard about Bob Dylan’s tendency for disappointing live performances (his singing was only partially indecipherable), and it was mind-blowing to see such a legend perform at the Guggenheim Museum in Spain. What an amazing experience; it was a show that simply can’t be duplicated.

We wanted to try to make the metro, which closes at 11:00 PM, so we left around 10:30 but realized we couldn’t make it. We couldn’t get back into the concert, and anyway, we didn’t want to be stuck late on a school night trying to catch a cab with the mad rush leaving the show at midnight. So although we left early, it worked out for the best. We took a cab back to Getxo and met up with some of the others from our crowd at West Side, although I didn’t stay too long.

I went to class today, which started off well because I received the good news about my midterm grade. We read a small story and learned about Spanish idioms with color. Think of the English “to have the blues,” but Spanish-language style. My favorite was Ponerse morado, “to make yourself purple,” which would translate best as “to stuff yourself full of food.” The second half of our class is far lighter and more fun than the grammar-intensive, subordinate clause-ridden first portion, although it’s still challenging to speak in Spanish for three hours.

After class, Lana, Michelle, and I met with Dr. Mendieta (who, as a reminder, is native to Bilbao) for another Indiana University Northwest (our home university) outing. We walked down to Casco Viejo again, although this time we walked around the fresh food market. Then we went to lunch for el menú del día, and it was, of course, delicious. I had the paella and the dorada fish with an apple tart for dessert, but I also tried a piece of Señora’s octopus, Lana’s squid in its own ink, and Michelle’s steak with pepper sauce. Everything was divine, and we enjoyed each other’s company and had great conversation. Michelle left a little early to meet others at the beach, and Lana and I walked around and chatted some more with Dr. Mendieta. Then we all took the metro home.

I took a nap (go figure), and have been doing homework pretty much non-stop since I woke up. I walked down to The Willows, a British-style tetería (tea room) and had a small pot of chai tea with a slice of carrot cake. Lana’s host mom owns the tea shop, and Lana is always telling me about how great it is, so I was compelled to try it. I must say I agree with her opinion. I came home, did more work, and ate dinner. Tomorrow is the BBK Live music festival in Bilbao, and quite a few of us are going in a group together. I am excited to see Radiohead and Mumford & Sons; I have been a Radiohead fan for as long as I can remember, and I have recently been being turned on to Mumford & Sons’s music, so I’m sure it will be a great night. Saturday we are taking our day excursion to Vitoria, complete with kayaking. It will be a very exciting weekend, I’m sure! Until next time, blogosphere!

Speaking and Surf!

Last night I ate dinner with my host mom. We chatted while Scarface played in the background in Spanish. Not only did I really want to practice speaking, but I enjoy us sitting down and learning from each other. She told me a little about Spanish culture, about how even though she personally worked as a nurse from about the age of eighteen, it is still relatively unheard of for women to work, especially women with families, or for women to be independent, educated, and traveling, etc. Although things are starting to change, she said it is still odd for her teenage daughters to live with young students in their twenties who go out late and who are here studying abroad. She said young women live with their families until they are married and that that custom is still standard. The husband works to maintain the family while the wife raises the children and works around the home. Divorce still doesn’t really exist. I think it shows a definite degree of progressiveness that she has enough of an objective eye to still want these young female students around to influence her daughters and stay in her home. (I am their fifth exchange student through USAC.) She has continually had a great attitude toward me and has done everything possible to make me feel welcome and at ease, and even with my multiple tattoos and piercings, which are certainly unconventional and potentially off-putting, she has been completely accepting of my presence here.

When we started actually paying attention to Scarface, I laughed and told her that as soon as I was able to comprehend a small phrase, I hadn’t heard the rest of the sentence. She found something easier to understand where they spoke a little slower (Law and Order or The Mentalist or some such show). We watched a while longer, and then I went to bed to study a little bit before sleeping.

In class today, we reviewed for tomorrow’s midterm. It was helpful because I was able to pinpoint my weak points where I need to study most. After class, Ben and I went to the USAC office, and Arantxa gave us the contact information for the surf school. I went home, took a brief nap, then met with the rest of the group to go surfing. The metro ride is to an area of Getxo out of the zone of my metro card, so I had to purchase an individual card. Then we took the bus to the beach and the two of us registered who hadn’t yet done so. The instructors gave us all wetsuits, and we suited up and went down to the shore. We stretched and warmed up, and the others who had had a class already went right into the water. Since we had never surfed before, our instructor gave Ben and I a really thorough explanation of how the ocean currents work, what and where the best waves to look for are, how to stay safe, and how to get on the board. We practiced moving from laying on the board to standing a few times, then we hit the waves. Practicing was nothing like actually doing it. Balancing on that thing is a mystery, and I could hardly keep the board straight enough to catch the wave. The only decent waves I rode were ones he helped me catch, and I still couldn’t stand up. Another problem is that I can’t even see the waves because I obviously can’t wear my glasses, and I am the textbook definition of blind without them. But I had a great time, and although it was exhausting and salty and I did terribly, it was a lot of fun. I have four more classes left on my membership with the surf school, and I am going to try to fit in as many as I can within the eleven or so days remaining of my stay in Spain. Come on, surfing on the coast of Spain? I bet with confidence that I won’t ever have that opportunity again.

We all returned home, and I have been studying for tomorrow’s midterm all night. I also worked ahead about a day and corrected my composition. It isn’t due until Thursday, but tomorrow I am going to some museums after class and then I am seeing Bob Dylan perform at the Guggenheim around 20:00, so I won’t have the time to revise it tomorrow. It is late now, and I need to get some rest for my exam. Thanks for keeping up with me! Wish me luck!

Monday, Monday

Hola a todos. Today was this week’s first day of class, and it was much better than last week. We mostly reviewed what we have been studying because our midterm exam is Wednesday, and the time didn’t seem so long. After class, we got more information about signing up for surfing lessons from one of the program advisors; some decided to take their first class today, but others, including myself, already had some plans to walk around Bilbao and are going to try to form another group tomorrow. A few other students, Robin, Emily, Martin, Theresa, and I, went for lunch at a sandwich shop called Krunch. I ordered the Tirolés because it was listed under the European sandwiches, and I wanted to try something I can’t have at home. Unfortunately, it was pretty terrible. There was way too much sauce on it, and it was two different kinds of weird sauces at that. (One was cream of leek, the other was some sort of ham garlic, I think. Individually, they sound amazing, but it just didn’t work in tandem.) The cubed potatoes in onion aioli, however…That hit the spot. I also tried a Belgian beer called Judas that I have never seen in the States, and it was a delicious malt, kind of caramel, kind of fruity, very strong.

We walked to El Corte Inglés because Theresa wanted to buy face wash, but she couldn’t find what she wanted. She left with Robin and Martin, and Emily and I stayed to shop and browse a while, although we ended up losing each other almost immediately. The store, more like a mall, is seven floors tall, and each level is enormous. I bought a few things, stopped at a post office and a street vendor to buy my last round of stamps and postcards, then made my way to the Alaska Heladería, one of the ones we had tried before, because I was dying to try the apple green ice cream. It was out of this world, or, es alucinante, as the Spanish slang phrase goes that we learned in class.

I took the metro back home, finished my worksheet of homework, and filled out the rest of my postcards. I think I am going to take a walk down to the mailbox later to drop them off. I was going to take a siesta, but now it is already unbelievably nearing 8:30 PM, so I might as well just wait and get a solid night’s sleep. I need to study more for Wednesday’s exam: all the subjunctive forms; preterite and imperfect forms; irregular verbs; vocabulary; adjectival, adverbial, and substantive subordinate clauses, and everything in between. I am hoping the surfing lesson sign-up pans out tomorrow, although it’s proving to be a little more complicated than I originally thought. I’ll let you know how it goes! ¡Hasta pronto!