So while I am now about 4 weeks into semester 2 in Madrid, Spain, I have realized how busy these past 2 months have been when I looked at the progress I have made in blogging, I came in right around 0. However, out here in Spain since I last wrote, I have have experienced many things!
Christmas and New Year’s away from home for the first time in my life,
Spanish final exams and papers (including one 16-page essay),
farewells to several friends and a roommate,
welcoming new WIPTers to the Complutense,
a visit from 2 of my sisters and
traveling to Sevilla (España), Paris (you know, that one place in France), Alicante & Cuenca (España) and Edinburgh (Scotland).
We’ll start with Christmas vacation: 10 days in Paris followed by New Years in Madrid and a 4 day visit to Alicante where Kristin Lillie (probably the coolest person I’ve ever met) was studying for a J-term session offered by UW-Lacrosse.
[J-term studies are a program that several other universities have that allow students to complete study abroad programs during the winter vacation from classes…”J” for “January” just incase some of you are as slow as me…]
So, what does one even say about Paris? Let’s put it this way, 10 days wasn’t enough time. I mean, any time you get to spend there, no matter how little, is absolutely splendid, but there is so much to do that easily 2 weeks could be spent here. Highly recommended is visiting when gardens are in bloom & the fountains will all be on. It was wonderful to be in Paris at Christmas, I will never forget it, but I am hoping maybe I can convince someone, someday to take me back to see all their fantastic parks perfectly manicured in summer and to visit the Eiffel again when its NOT raining this time!
Final exams time…well, I guess procrastination is a chronic disease that is equally present in all cultures because I found myself starring at 3 final exams and 4 papers all to be done in 2 weeks. Not that bad you may say, but for someone who is terrified of papers, 2×5-page papers, an 8-page pager and another with a max of 17-pages, all to be written in a language other than my native language, was overwhelming. So how many times in your life have you heard “don’t procrastinate” or “its your own fault,” but its harder to work ahead when you have traveling you want to be doing and your home city to explore, people to meet, etc. It’s hard to make time to start early, but I will have to do that this semester because the exam period was deadly. Turned out very well in the end though, but then that meant that the semester was over. So European friends and roommates that were just here for one semester started to head back home and then the new WIPTers arrived and it turned into lots of goodbye dinners and get-togethers with a welcome lunch thrown in for our new classmates. At the same time new Reunidas classes started right away and everyone remembered that we needed to have all our classes picked out. Class picking & scheduling is more tedious here than in Madison, being as there is no online system and only a certain number of American students are allowed in each class, but we got it figured out eventually
Needless to say, January flew by with so much to do that before I knew it, February had arrived, bringing with it a visit from my two sisters who hadn’t been able to visit back in October with the rest of my family. I have been very fortunate to have lots of visits from people back home and just found out that still one friend more is going to make the journey for Semana Santa! It is nice to have these visits because they keep you from getting too home-sick or at least, they help me since this is my first extended time away from home. Several other students here are out-of-state students to begin with and are away from family and (hometown) friends on a normal basis, or have worked away from home in the summers, but I haven’t done either thing. Anyways, so Katie and Sabrina showed up for some frolicking, and while I still had classes, we managed to get in a weekend to Cuenca, Spain, WHERE IT SNOWED!!!! (I was excited, the girls coming from Wisconsin, not so much) and then about 4 days in Edinburgh, Scotland!! They thought that there was every need to visit another country if they were taking the long flight over the Atlantic and I agreed completely. We had an absolutely wonderful time and visited many fantastic sites. I think the girls enjoyed a smaller town Spain experience and Scotland was “grand.” ßwould probably have to say all in all my favorite part was the accent though =]
Alright, time for a picnic in Retiro Park!
Love from Madrid,