Thursday, November 29, 2012

This time last year, boy were things different!

I am knee-deep in school work (actually I should be writing my paper on the BP oil spill right now), but I couldn't help but remember where I was last year around this time of the year.  I was in my apartment, sulking in the fact that I didn't know if God was calling me to go to Spain or not.  What a stressful time of my life that was.

Recently I talked with several juniors who were debating whether or not they wanted to study abroad, and as I was hearing their anxieties about going abroad, I involuntarily was taken on trip down memory lane.  I felt their pain! I know their pain! So, me as a oh-so-wise senior, the response I gave them was this: "I know that whatever comes out of my mouth right now is going to be momentarily soothing, but make you even more confused.  So the only helpful thing I can say right now is, I know what it feels like to be in your position, and trust me, it's all going to work out."

And really, take it from my experience. God's going to take care of you. He is the Provider.

I still revert back to the horrible first two weeks of me being in Spain, and am so thankful that I was not left in that hole of darkness. Thus, when I face difficult patches in my current stage of life, I must remember that sad little place I was in, and how things paned out eventually. (Although, I must admit, sometimes I think some of my current hardships come from the fact that I was away for a semester...That doesn't mean I regret going though!)

Sometimes I feel so nostalgic, and ache to be back in Madrid.

Some things that were a part of my everyday life...

Plaza de España

Weird meals. Actually this was one of my first meals
out in Spain. 

The courtyard in the apartment I lived in. :'( I miss it!

Churros con chocolate de San Gines. YUMM

Plaza de Cibeles 

Mercado de Ventas. Crappy but cheap pastries from
the local market near my house. 

Las Ventas!! Plaza de toros. 

Fun activities at Retiro :')

Last but not least, the funky handles of the Metro. Can 
I just say how much I MISS THE MADRID METRO? 
Being back in Boston, I realize with stronger conviction
that the Metro in Madrid ROCKED. 

Oh, I miss you Madrid. When will I be back??

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Barcelona part 2

The previous post on Barcelona was more or less entirely on Gaudi, but there is a lot more to Barcelona than just Gaudi's buildings.

So I am here to talk a little more about my trip to Barcelona in detail. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

London

Oops, I completely forgot that I forgot to write about the beautiful and WONDERFUL London.  If I had the chance, I would go live in London in a heart beat. I couldn't say the same about Paris, though...

Anywhoo, I took the Eurostar (a little gift to myself) from Paris to London on Thursday and was there until that Sunday.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very glad I had the chance to visit Paris, but I wouldn't have minded one bit if I had to spend the entire week there.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Barcelona part 1

(Sorry for the late post!!!!)

Barcelona was one of the cities in Spain I really wanted to visit while I was studying abroad.  But for different reasons, I never had a chance to go to Barcelona with my friends, and I started to think Barcelona would never happen.

Soon or later, the friends I used to travel with went back to the States, and I found myself itching to go to one more place before I had to return to the States.  After pondering this issue a little bit, I thought it would be really awesome to have the experience of traveling alone, and Barcelona would be easy enough of a place to be traveling by myself for the first time.

So I booked myself a flight on Vueling (probably the smallest amount of leg room EVER) and hopped on over to Barcelona. And boy, was I glad I did.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Something to look forward to

Heads up! Here are a couple of posts I'm thinking about writing.
Madrid Favorites: Some of my favorite places in Madrid I think you should go and see if you're in Madrid.
Barcelona Parts 1 and 2: Overview of my final trip of the semester to Barcelona.
20/20 Hind Vision: Things I wish I could have done slightly differently.
And a whole bunch of pictures.
 
Just some ideas that are floating around my head. :) Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Te extraño, Madrid

Hello from Nashville!

Sorry I have been MIA! Life has been a whirlwind since I've been back in the U.S. of A.

First week back was me trying adjust to the time difference while attending a wedding and going on a camping trip only two days after being back from Spain.

The following week, I started my internship, I was helping out with my church's VBS, and then that Saturday, my grandfather passed away. That day felt like a week and that week felt like a month. Since then, I've been either working or with my relatives who flew in for the funeral.

So, long story short, a mix between procrastination, not knowing how to write about Madrid in Nashville, and a hectic life has delayed my updates on the final stretch of my semester abroad.

It's been almost a month since I've been home, and I wanted to share a couple of things I miss and a couple of things I don't miss. :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Segovia

I am officially back home in Nashville! :) Since I have more time on my hands, I'll be posting steadily about my trips and the final portion of my semester in Madrid. I don't want to get into the sentimental things quite yet, so I'll share about our program's final group trip to Segovia. :)

As always, a visual:


I'm not going to write too much about it, but it's old and is the home to the Roman aqueducts, a living testimony to the greatness of the Roman Empire...


It is also home to cochinillo, or the suckling pig, and this soup...


...and this pastry.




And there are rumors that Disney's castle was based off the castle here in Segovia. However, most say that the Disney castle is based off a castle somewhere in Germany.



Segovia is surround by these beautiful snow capped mountains. They say the contour of the mountain range is like a woman laying on her back. The legend says, during the Spanish influenza outbreak, there was a woman with two children, who were very sick and surely about to die. The mother prayed that they take her own life in place of her children's and the very next day, the children were healed from this deadly disease, yet their mother was found dead. So the legend says that the mountains are the mother who had sacrificed her life for her children, and the children come and kiss her on the cheek in the form of clouds.

It was so cold that day, it was a little hard to enjoy the excursion, but glad I got to go see it. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hello, world!

I made it back in one piece from a solo trip to Barcelona! Wahoo! Angela is a big girl now!

Updates on Segovia, Barcelona, London, and Madrid coming your way! But first, I have to write a ridiculous essay on Spanish literature that I haven't started. Sigh, school work first, I guess.

Anyways, stayed tuned!

Just a random picture of the underbelly of 
the Eiffel Tower. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Granada

The weekend after my Spring Break, I with two other friends headed to the south of Spain to the wondrous city of Granada. (I have an exam tomorrow that I should be studying for but I lack motivation. And, it's bloody hot in Madrid.)

As always, a map reference:

Friday, May 11, 2012

One down

One exam done, three papers, two exams, and a final project until the end of my junior year!

It was supposed to be a positive thing, but now it kind of puts me in a "I'm drowning in a sea of work" kind of mood. Shucks.

A little compile of random things in my life currently:

A lot of my program friends are headed back to the States tomorrow. :( Makes me sad! One friend is graduating this semester, so I actually don't know when I'll see her next.

The exam today actually (knock on wood) went pretty well! BUT, I did mix English and Spanish together when writing the answers because there was just no way I could talk about how I could decrease the weight of the public debt in relation to the GDP all in Spanish. Nope. (The professor said it was fine.)

The weather in Madrid has been FANTASTIC!


But a strange thing. So as you can see, it's in the upper 80's here. In my mind (and most other Americans' mindset), this weather calls for shorts and dresses.  Or at least, it's perfectly acceptable to wear shorts and dresses.  Yet, the past two days I've worn shorts, and I keep on getting funny looks from the Spaniards! I see people still in their boots and coats! (Plus tights, plus scarves.) Holy cow! How are you not dying from the heat? Some things I will never understand.

As I'm thinking about going back home (less than two weeks everyone!), I'm mustering up all the different things I want to do when I'm home. There's a couple of staples such as taking a bath, watching a movie on my couch, FOODNETWORK, baking cookies, making guacamole, and eating lots, and lots of Korean food.  But aside from that, this desire to beautify my family's home is bubbling out. More like spewing out.  Hopefully I'll be able to get somethings accomplished. :)

And LASTLY (before I head off to write my paper), I've booked my final trip of this semester to Barcelona!!! This indeed is going to be a solo trip. Eeeep! I booked my flight, and just booked a B&B through Airbnb.com (which is a first for me), so let's see how things turn out! 

(Shout out to Jen. If you're reading this, which you may not be, forgive me for not sending an update email yet!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Procrastination

I really don't want to study for my finals which are in approximately four days. So here I am on blogger, writing a short post. Heh heh.

I'm thinking I might be adventuring solo to Barcelona after my exams for 3 days 2 nights. (Or 4 days 3 nights.) I think I should be okay, but am I being a silly Asian-American girl who doesn't know what's she talking about?

Well, I've got the idea into my head, and I can't get it out. Plus, I have decided I must to go Barcelona no matter what. :P

Now back to Behavioral Economics.

Cultural differences: false cognates

Spanish and English have very similar words, similar sentence structures, and share the same alphabet, more or less.  And personally, I think that's why it's easier for English speakers to pick up Spanish, in contrast to Swahili. (In fact, a long standing joke among Americans is that if you add a -o or -a to an English word, you get a Spanish word. Obviously, not true.)

For instance, if I wrote, Ángela estudia economía en Boston. With some intellectual will-power, you could probably deduct that that sentence means "Angela studies economics in Boston," or at least something to that effect.

Likewise, you could probably guess, universidad means university, concentración means concentration, fútbol means football.

BUT! There are so many false cognates as well! AKA because the Spanish word looks similar to an English word, you assume it means the same thing as it does in English, but it actually means something completely different in Spanish.

Shall we look at some examples?


- Librería: looks like "library," no? Well, it actually means "bookstore."
- Actualmente: looks like "actually," but it actually (har har) means "currently." "Actually" would be better expressed as "en realidad."
- Colegio: Not "college." Refers to "high school."
- Culto: Not a "cult." Means "a church service."
- Red: Doesn't refer to the color red. In Spanish it means "network" or "web." So when they talk about the internet, sometimes they use this word.

So those are pretty standard, but here's two that I find hilarious.

- Embarazada: Does NOT mean embarrassed. It means pregnant!! Haha I know tons of people who have made this mistake.
- Constipado: LOL Funny story. My host mom was really sick at one point this semester, and she was telling me all her symptoms when she says, "Estoy muy constipada." And I think, "Woah lady, I know we've gotten close, but I rather not know about such bodily functions."  Then I realize she's talking about her nose!  Constipado is equivalent to congested, NOT constipated.

Yay for language barriers!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Justification

Remember when I said that I have a fear/dislike of birds?

I don't per se hate all birds, but I really don't like pigeons and just any birds that cross my path on a daily basis. (Ugh, just thinking about pigeons brings a chill down my back.) I walk around birds, and a little yelp escapes my mouth when they all of a sudden decide to flutter past me, in front of me, over me, etc.

While traveling, I've come across my fair share of pigeons, and my travel companions would always ask why I had this weird distaste for birds?  There are several different reasons, but nonetheless, I've been trying to get better about my dislike of pigeons slash birds I come into contact on daily basis.  But as of yesterday, I have (more) legitimate fear/dislike of them.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Multiple apologizes

Hi everyone, sorry that I've been MIA.

My friend Jo* was visiting me for the past 4 days, and things have been a little crazy with the school work. >.< My final exams are coming up, and can you believe it? Tomorrow is my last day of classes at the UAM!

I promise, after I get myself organized for my exams, I'll write you all a lovely post--make that several lovely posts.

Another update, I'm officially changing my flight back to the U.S. a little bit earlier than the original flight. This change is to several different reasons, but I'm feeling quite conflicted about going back home.

Here are some pictures from my Granada trip to make up for my absence. :)





P.S. Interesting. I having a hard time physically writing English, and spelling words like psychology. (Just now, that took about 3 different tries.) Spanish is getting to my English. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stressed

So much to do, so little time.

The studying part of study abroad has finally hit me, and I think I'm drowning. Bleh.

All will be well. Breathe in, breathe out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Querida Real Academia Española...

Dear Royal Spanish Academy,

I hereby humbly request a creation of a new Spanish word for the benefit of the Spanish people, to facilitate the expression of one's feelings and thoughts.

Please consider including the word "awkward" into the next edition of Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, for your beautiful language lacks such an expression.  And when taking this word into consideration, please, dully note the social context of this word. Failing to do so would be the upmost disagreeable thing to do to this wonderful word.

I do recognize that the Spanish find this word, well, awkward to pronounce.  However, do not be dismayed for practice makes perfect.

Thank you for your time and dedication to the Spanish language, and I look forward to the 2013 edition of Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.


With the highest level of sincerity,
Angela

Getting to know Madrid!..?

One of my best friends, Jo*, who I visited in Paris during my Spring Break is coming to Madrid for this weekend!! :)

Thanks to her, I'll be playing tourist in this city that I've been living in for the past 4 months.  One of my main goals was to get to know Madrid, and in many ways, I have. But at the same time, I couldn't give you directions on how to walk from point A to point B. (It's due to riding the Metro all the time..)

Anyways, I'm super pumped about walking around in this beloved city, eating churros, and learning something new everyday. 

The thing about Madrid is that it's not like Paris where there are really, really, really famous must-do's.  I mean, sure there are some, but it's not like Paris. (But then again, very few cities are.)

So tentatively, these are the things I'm planning on doing with her when she comes.

1) Churros con chocolate at a bar (AKA Spanish version of restaurant) by my house for breakfast like the Spanish do it.
2) Retiro Park
3) Chueca (El Tigre---a cheap Tapas bar)
4) Puerta del Sol/Sol
5) Noviciado and their cute cafes and hipster streets
6) Maybe a flamanco dance?
7) Maybe watch a football game at a pub

And, I get stuck here.

Well, I will update you on how things go. I still have to write about my Granada trip. :P

Monday, April 23, 2012

Funny happening in Paris

The Tuesday after my perfect day in Paris was quite a fail.

I had woken up later than I intended to, and by the time I arrived at my destination (Musee d'Orsay), there was a horrendous line to get inside the museum.

I had waited in line for about 45 minutes, but even so, I had not reached the official roped-off line. At this rate, I realized I would have a maximum of an hour and a half inside the actual museum, and I decided that was not a sufficient amount of time to do the museum justice. So I left the line and started to wander around Paris.

I was getting a little hungry, so I headed to the Latin Quarter where there is this AM-AZ-ING falafel place for a really good price.  I ate my lunch with leisure, but even still I had about an hour left before I had to meet Jo*.  So I wandered even more.

I walked by the river, walked past Pont Neuf, and just as I was crossing the bridge, my body sent a really unwanted signal.  Just FYI, the rest of the story may be more information than you care to know about me, so you can stop reading here if you'd like.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Truth

I came to Madrid knowing I wasn't fluent in Spanish.  However, I had high hopes to becoming more or less fluent by the end of the semester.  At one point during this semester, I thought I was pretty darn close. (What made me think this, I do not know.)

I have almost exactly a month before I return to the States, and I shall elaborate on my sentiments on this matter at a later date, but for now, I will stick with my original train of thought.

Like I was saying, I have almost exactly a month before I return to the States, and in recent days, I have had multiple elongated periods of time hanging out and talking with Spaniards.  And the more I hang out with them, the more I realize, HOLY CRAP I AM NO WHERE NEAR BEING FLUENT.

People back home who have had their elementary classes in Spanish may think otherwise, but let me tell you, when I'm talking with my Spanish friends, half the time my mind just goes, "??????????????????????!" When it is my turn to respond in the conversation, my mind goes, "....!!!!?!??..??!!????!......?!?!?!? :'("

Sigh, this truth burns a deep hole in my heart and my ego.

Maybe I should start writing my blog posts in Spanish to practice....Nahhhh, who are we kidding? That would make my blog not only incomprehensible to English speakers, but also Spanish speakers as well. So no.

All I can do is take it one step at a time.

P.S. Speaking of Spanish friends. Two friends (they're not technically Spanish. They're Mexican) are leaving Spain on Monday and I have to say bye to them tomorrow.  Makes me really sad, especially because I felt like we were just now getting to know each other and the probability that I will see them again on Earth is very, very, very slim. :( Wahh!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My perfect day in Paris

Remember how I said Sunday (the Sunday before Easter AKA Palm Sunday) was the most perfect day anyone could have asked for?

Well, I am here to elaborate.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Break Overview

I'm finally getting around to writing about my Spring Break!

It's a tough task to write about my ten-day trip, so I have decided to break it up in different ways to ease the writing, as well as the reading. :)

First post: a trip overview!

Daily Life: Thursdays

Time for another daily life update.

Thursdays are pretty chill.

I have 9 o'clock classes, so I usually have to wake up by 7, get ready, and be out the door by 8. The sun has been rising earlier so it makes my mornings that much more pleasant.

I technically have three classes on Thursdays: two lectures, followed by a discussion section.  However, that discussion section rarely takes place, so I tend to end by 1PM.  By this time I am furiously hungry, so I head home for lunch, and I hang around in the house or go for a little jog (if I didn't go on Wednesday).

Around 6:30, I head out for La sala de oración that I mentioned earlier to meet with my friend Lena*.  We usually meet for about an hour, and just catch up and see how the other person is doing, and share any thing we have learned while reading the Bible.

Then I go back home for dinner.

Wow, I make it sound like all I do is eat...probably not too far off from the truth. :P

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lisboa, Portugal [Part 2]

DAY 3 (SUNDAY): destination: Belem. 

(Forgot to include a map in the last post...)

I also forgot to write...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lisboa, Portugal [part 1]

Ahh! So much to fill you all on! This is because of procrastination.

It's going to be a little less prosaic than my other posts (mainly because I want to cover the Portugal trip quickly and tell you guys about my Spring Break.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter Monday?

I'm back in Madrid everyone! :)

Spring break was so much fun (and burned that big of a hole in my bank account >.<), and I think overall, it was just nice to be with familiar faces.  Updates on my trip will have to happen at a later date, but hope everyone had a great Easter!!

A random note though, here in Europe, they celebrate Easter Monday. What is this?  Almost everyone has the day off, but never in my life have I heard Easter Monday being observed...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from Angela in London (for the weekend) to the rest of the world who happen to read this blog! :)

It is finished, Christ is risen, the old has gone, the new has come!  The good news is the Kingdom of Heaven is on this Earth.


**If you want more information on what is Easter for Christians, I would like to direct you to any of the four gospels in the Bible. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I am no expert, but John may be a good place for you to start.**

Friday, March 30, 2012

Daily Life: Wednesdays

Wednesdays are the best.

My Wednesdays provide room for me to recuperate from my crazy Mondays and Tuesdays because I have no classes on Wednesdays!!

How luxurious is that?! Never will I have this schedule again in my life. :( But just because the day is technically free of activities doesn't mean it lacks structure.

Although I am not a morning person, I sincerely would like to be, and so I try and not to wake up too late (meaning after 10). And to help prevent me from sleeping all day, usually Wednesday mornings I meet up   with Jaime, my intercambio at a cafe or something and have a nice conversation in Spanish and English over a cup of café con leche (durrh). After an hour an half or two hours of conversing, we catch the same bus, and I get off by the International Institute of Madrid where the BU program is headquartered at.  Either I have some businesses to take care of at the BU office, or I hop on the Metro from there and go home.

Once home, I try to go for a very LITTLE run in the park near my house, come back home (take the stairs up to the 11th floor to try and compensate for the fact that I barely ran at all), take a shower (because after going up 11 floors, one is out of breath and slightly sweaty), and then time for lunch (what a counterproductive system)! Haha

Afterwards, I take a little siesta, get some homework done, or watch some TV, and then around 4 or 5, I head out to Kilometro-0 in La Puerta del Sol, where there is a prayer room for this ministry called Kilómetrocero.  The ministry is basically a street-evangelizing ministry, and people every day go out into a concentrated area of a city, stand on a red box and share their testimony.  The prayer is so awesome, and I got to meet some really cool people through this place.

I've been having a hard time having my one-on-one time with God at home, so I decided one week on a whim to go and be alone with God. Like a mini-retreat.  Since then, I try and go at least once a week to have a longer time with God.

After a couple of hours of being there, I head back home and eat dinner, etc. etc., with the only exciting thing left for the night is videochatting with lovely people back in the States.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Angela will be slightly MIA

Hello all! 

I'm leaving for Paris today (well, hopefully I can get to the airport with the strike going on and such!), so I'll be even more MIA on the internet world.  But I do have a couple of small posts that are scheduled to post--I'm not leaving completely leaving you all hangin'. 

And maybe, just maybe, I'll write a post while in Paris and/or London.  

Random: 
  • I just cut my finger nails, and I think I cut one of them too short. I'm nervously waiting for the pain.
  • I still have to write an essay about Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein before embarking on this journey. HAH. Let's see how that goes.
  • The flight I'm taking is letting me check a bag for this flight (what a LUXURY!!)! So naturally I got excited, and I think I may have overpacked. (So much for packing light!)  Also, I think I'm feeling slightly pressured to look awesome at all times since I'm going to the fashion capital! (Sadly, this is almost an unfeasible goal since my wardrobe is severely limited.
  • I just heard a lot of chanting outside my window. HUELLLGAAA!
Happy (early) Semana Santa everyone! 

<3 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

La Huelga

Tomorrow is the big Huelga here in Spain.

Also referred to as 29M, the syndicators of Spain has rallied together and called the nation to a nation-wide strike tomorrow protesting against the labor reforms the current government has/will be enacting.

I don't know too much about it, but I know that daily life in all of Spain will be affect by this strike.  Flights have been cancelled (thankfully not my own), the Metro is estimated to only function 30-35% of its normal capacity, and most all classes have been cancelled.

On campus, almost everything but the walls and chairs are spray painted with a large 29M in red or black, and everywhere you can see signs saying "LA HUELGA!" or "PARA VUESTRO FUTURO!" etc. etc. Spain and their leniency with the law never fails to surprise me.  This type of vandalism would never fly on Boston's campus.

I might get stoned for saying this, but from an Economic point of view (tainted with probably an Americanized bias), these labor reforms in general seem really necessary for the Spanish economy.  And as a college student who often fails to be well informed on the things of this world, I wonder if even half of the students who are rallying tomorrow will know exactly what they are protesting against. A colleague told me that the people are angry because these decisions were made only by the government and the businesses without discussing with the workers.  I don't know whether that is true or not, but in my humble opinion, even with these reforms, the workers in Spain benefit so much more than the workers in the U.S.

Let me give an example. If an employer wants to or needs to fire an employee, he/she needs a strong reason such as the employee comes to work naked or did something horrible. If such reasons don't exist, the employer is required to pay the employee he/she wants to fire 45 days worth of pay for every year the employee worked for the employer.

That is to say, if I wanted to fire an employee who has worked for me for 10 years because I needed to reduce the number of employees in my small business (which is not a good enough reason according to Spanish labor laws), I would have to pay 45 days of work multiplied the number of years the employee has worked for me. So in total I would have to pay 450 days worth of salary in one check if I want to fire this employee. !!! The reforms reduces this number from 45 days to 33 days.

Okay, it is only a small portion of the reforms, I'm sure, but either way, the workers here have it REALLLL nice.  A part of me wants to say, stop your whining.

Anyhoo, let's just hope that I can get to the airport tomorrow okay so I that I can be on my way to Paris to be reunited with one of my best friends.  YAY for Spring break! :)

El País Vasco part 2

Next day, we went on a day trip to the famous San Sebastian! Hands down the #1 tourist stop in the Basque Country.

Very famous for their crescent moon beach, La Concha, everyone I talked to about this trip gushed about how wonderful San Sebastian is.

Don't get me wrong, I am very happy that we went to San Sebastian, and got to touch the Atlantic Ocean from this part of the world, but it was not as great as people hyped it up to be.  But to be fair, we did go during the off season when you can't enjoy the lovely beach.

My friends and I took a bus to San Sebastian, which ended up being near 13€ round trip.  We mainly just walked, and walked, and walked.  We walked the entire beach twice, walked up and down the streets in the Old Town, walked from and to the bus station, etc. etc.  Probably the most exciting thing we did was go up tram to Monte Igueldo.  At the very top, there are remnants of a theme park, but it's so run-down and out of date that it almost feels eery.

(Going up the Monte Igueldo)
(La Concha from above)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Daily Life: Tuesdays

Tuesdays are long days as well, with the only plus being that it starts later than my Mondays.

Wake up by 8:30, pop in the shower, eat breakfast, casually get ready for school, head for the Metro by 9:30. I get to school for my 10:45 class, and naturally I have a café con leche in my hand for this three hour long class. The class is divided into two parts, and I DREAD the second part only because it's a discussion section, and we're expected to go in front of the class and present a summary and our opinions on the assignment.  If they were in English, no big deal, but the Spanish sucks out any self-confidence I had in my academic life.

The class usually lets out a little early (1:30ish), and afterwards, I head for a GBU meeting where I eat my bocadillos, while participating in a Bible study with other Spanish students.  After the GBU meeting, I do homework, watch TV, check facebook and gmail until my next class at 5. This is my whimp class because we study English literature, the class is conducted in English, AND we only meet once a week.  Hehe.

The class ends at 7, I head for the RENFE station. A bit weary from the long day, I head back into the heart of Madrid to go the weekly college night meeting my church has.  I meet up with my good friend, "Lena," we mingle with other international students as well as Spaniards, have service, munch on some snacks, and BAM, what do you know, it's already 10PM. (I love Tuesday nights. :D)

I get back onto the Metro, and get home around 10:30, have a light dinner, have a phone call with my parents, check email, etc. etc., and soon or later, I'm in bed, ready to catch some z's.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Angela today

I haven't written much about my personal well-being here in Madrid. Most of my posts have been about shallow daily occurrences, or my travels.  Therefore, I wanted to share a snippet of what this abroad experience has been like for me. :) Enjoy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Daily Life: Mondays

So what's my day-to-day life like here in Madrid?

I'll give you a small run-down on what a typical Monday looks like for me.

I'm basically at the university all day. Aim to wake up at 7, but usually at 7:15, wash up, dress, eat, and get on the metro by 8:10 at the latest.  While listening to music, I weave my way through the sea of people while changing metro lines, getting on and off of trains.

Grab café con leche para llevar at the cafeteria to stay awake during class once I get to the university.  I get to my classroom around 9, which starts at 9:15 (the Professor is almost ALWAYS late,) and ends at 10:30.  I usually have a group meeting for my other class or a tutoring session, but if I don't have any meetings that I have to attend, I either watch a show on my computer, do some work, or AKA kill time until 5PM for another class. That class ends at 7 (or 7:30, as it has been recently), and by the time I get home it's around 8, 8:30.  My host mom and I watch Pasaplaba, a quiz show my host mom watches religiously,  have dinner around 9, do homework, watch another TV show, email, talk with my parents, facebook, tumblr, etc, until roughly about midnight, and go to sleep.

Nothing exciting.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Uh-oh

My host mom has been sick all day with what I think is a bad cold.  Maybe even the flu. [!]

I didn't think much of it until I started coughing a little this afternoon.  I don't feel sick, but I don't want to be anywhere being in the danger of sick, and this itchy throat is scaring me.

1) I'm going to Portugal this weekend! I can't be sick for that!
2) I consider being sick one of the worst things to happen to you while you're away from home. You don't have your mom to take care of you, you can't haphazardly skip your daily duties, etc. etc. Wah, I hope I'm not getting sick.

Let us pray.

God, please oh please, don't let me get sick! In Jesus' name. Amen.

:P

El País Vasco, part 1

Bilbao (point B) and San Sebastian (point C) are here in relation to Madrid (point A):
The trip was off to a rough start.

I woke up at 5:45, hopped on the first metro at 6:20, and finally made it to the gate by 7:15 for my 7:55 flight.  And what do you know. They wouldn't let me board.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Promise!

I'll send new update(s) soon your way with lots of pictures and just general updates on my life. :)

I want to write one right now just to avoid doing this one assignment for my Public Economics class, but it's already 11PM here, and if I want to get to bed a reasonable hour, I should get it done soon. Bleh.

As some say, Abroad Problems.

Just a teaser of my Bilbao/San Sebastian trip:

 Looks good? Well, looks can fool you. 

Artsy, eh? :)

P.S. did I mention that I'm going to Lisbon this weekend? Hehe

Saturday, March 10, 2012

!!!

I SAW THE MAN AGAIN!!

This time we made eye contact, so I quickly got off on the next stop, tried to nonchalantly walk to the exit, only to wait for the next train.

Arg.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Did I mention?

Remember this man?

Well I saw him again last week.

I was getting ready to get on to the metro, and as I was approaching the door of the train, I saw him. The Accordion Man.  My heart skipped a beat out of panic, and I quickly turned away from the train that he was on, which was the one I was heading for, and dashed onto the train in front.  Stupid me.

Just as I get into the train, I see him get off the train he was on, and walk into the one I just dashed into!  If I really wanted to avoid him, I should have gotten on to the train that he was on! Horrified at my lack of common sense, I leaned against the side of the metro, plugged in my earphones, put my head down, and tried to cover my face with my hair without looking suspicious.  The accordion man starts to play his tune, and then starts to walk the train around asking for donations.

Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Let's get to know me part 2

I don't know if you have noticed, but I don't put pictures of myself on this blog.  This is in fact NOT because I don't like the way I look (I mean, the girl has her insecurities, but it ain't that severe!) It's more like there's only so much I want to share with the whole world.  My apologies, but I make small attempts to be safe on the internet.

I try and be honest with my thoughts and my adventures (granted, there is censorship and filtration), but I don't want everyone to know what I look like.  I mean, I have had my weird run-ins with strangers on the metro already. ;)

But in order to compensate for this, I decided to write another post about me like this one.

Sometimes how I feel


I would like to slow down this growing up process.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sevilla part 2

Sevilla continued...

Saturday morning we were greeted by a FANTASTIC breakfast at the hotel.  Spaniards usually only eat crackers with café con leche, so we were delighted to have bacon, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, croissants, toast, coffee, juice, etc. Yum. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Role reversal

I'm not Catholic, so I didn't know, but apparently today is San Ángel Day, which means you get a little gift today if your name is Ángel or Ángela.  Well, my name is Ángela, so my host mom got me a porcelain box. How sweet of her! :')

This same host mom asks me during lunch, "Angela, do you like to dance?"

To this, I reply, "Yes, I like to dance.  But I don't know how to Salsa or anything like that. I would like to learn, though (smiley face)."

And then she says, "Well, you need to go to a discoteca then! There's tons of places to go for this! Salsa is very easy to learn. Other girls I have hosted went dancing Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday. You should do the same."

Well, to that I had no response. How is it that my 60-someting, conservative host mom advises me, a twenty-something (Asian-)American, to go out more at night?

LOL talk about a role reversal.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On the lookout

One of the woes of traveling is I'm always faced with is achy feet by the end of the day.

Walking around museums and flocking around cities is no easy thing, and life becomes that much more miserable when your feet hurt mid-day, and all you want to do is sit somewhere and not move for about four hours. Clearly not the ideal situation when traveling on a tight budget and tight time frame.

This becomes a particularly large issue when the city is built on cobblestone streets, so if you choose the wrong type of shoes, you will be feeling rocks underneath your feet every step.

Because of my strict weight limitations when packing to come to Madrid, I did not bring many shoes.  Therefore, the most comfortable walking shoes I have with me (other than my tennis shoes) are my trusty off-white, low-top converse (love them), and my brown tall boots (another must have).  As many people may know, converse are actually not the best walking shoes and neither are boots.  So I've had achy feet.  I think that's added to my knee pains. (I am indeed an old grandma sometimes.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sevilla: part 1

Sorry that this post took to so long! (This post is a little different in the sense that it's all words in the beginning, followed by an array of pictures.)

I went down to Sevilla with my program two weekends ago on an one-night-two-days trip.

Here is Sevilla in relation to Madrid:

[Some historical background: Sevilla was the perfect port for colonizers and conquistadores becuase it was accessible by boat from the sea, but far enough inland to protect the jewels and gold acquired from the New World from pirates.  Sevilla is heavily influenced by Islamic culture (as well as Jewish, but the Muslim aspects are much more prevalent.) And they are known for their heavy "zetha" accent (the stereotypical Spanish lisp.)]

Cultural blurb

Today in Spain is 28/02/2012.  Or 28 de febrero de 2012.

Today in America is 02/28/2012.  Or February 28th, 2012.

I still have yet to get used to this change.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Anyone have a time turner?

Remember when I said I needed Moolah?

Well, I just shot myself in the foot this morning, and basically wasted 60 euros. It hurts to think about it.

But my flight for Bilbao was at 7:55 AM. Got to the airport, through security, and was just about to board, when they ask, "pasaporte, por favor."

My heart dropped.

Because I am flying within the country, I just thought, oh, my driver's license should work, but I'll bring a copy of my passport just in case. I don't want to lug around my real passport and risk losing it.

Oh, how that cost me this morning.

I feebly tried to see if the attendant would take pity on me and let me board, but she said I could not, and I needed to go back and "rescue" my ticket and pay extra for a later flight.  MOTHER OF PEARL.

Sigh, so after walking around the airport feeling pretty defeated, I went up to the counter and changed my flight for another one at 2 this afternoon.  And I made the 45 trip back on the metro to my house, and here I am, extremely tired, and hurting at the thought of how had I done ONE thing differently, this trip didn't have to cost so much.

:(

God, is this an indication that I value money too much in my heart?

I'm trying to forget about that 60 euros, and pretend that it didn't happen, and still enjoy this weekend. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Intercambio


I have this awesome schedule where I don't have classes on Fridays AND Wednesdays.  The free Fridays allow me to go on adventures without having to skip class (major plus), while the free Wednesdays help me recuperate from my long days, be a bum, and do things that I normally wouldn't be able to do on the days I have class. (I actually might pick up a Spanish class that would take place on Mondays and Wednesdays, but that is still tentative..)

One of the things that I normally wouldn't be able to do is have a nice, relaxed conversation with a Spaniard over coffee in the morning.

Thought I might share some Madrid adventures with you all.

 El Palacio Cristal in Retiro Park.
Really beautiful, and as you probably can see, it is 
"completely" made of glass. Retiro in general must be one 
of my favorite public parks I have been to.  (Above: the outside 
of the Palacio. Below: inside of the Palacio.)

 El museo de CaixaForum
Fun little souvenirs from the gift shop. Of course didn't
buy them. But the museum is a modern art museum 
funded by CaixaForum, which is a very large and 
important bank in Spain. It's free entrance, and has a 
really nice café on the top floor with wi-fi. :)
 "Hanging Gardens"
This "garden" is just outside of the museum CaixaForum,
and basically its all these plants that are growing on a wall.
That white dot in the picture would be the moon.
One of my favorite café
 La Lolina is on Calle de Espíritu Santo, in a cool, hipster 
part of Madrid. It has comfy chairs, free wifi, nice tea selection,
food, dessert, funky atmosphere, and plays fun music.
In this picture, I've ordered Earl Grey Lavender Tea, just 
in case you couldn't read the words. :) 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cultural Blurb: Thank You for Smoking

I think the title "Cultural Blurb" is a little more attractive and funky, no?

To lessen the pains of waiting for Sevilla update, I thought I might tease with a cultural update.

Move aside BU smokers, Madrileños got you beat. 

SO many people smoke here.  And not only do they smoke often, they smoke everywhere. Here on the campus of Autónoma, there are signs on the walls, the doors, the chairs, the windows, the tables on how this is a place Smoke-Free environment.  Yet, between classes, I see groups of students hovering near the doors, in corners of the hallways with a thick cloud of blue-grey smoke above their heads.  Yes, they are smoking INSIDE the school building--an unfathomable idea for us Americans.  In America, even if you were to smoke indoors, I think you would smoke with the utmost discretion.  But not here.  One time, we had about a 30 minute break between classes, and during that 30 minutes, this kid takes out a cigarette, closes the classroom door, props open a window, and starts smoking inside the classroom.  I was so taken aback!

But this lack of consideration of rules seems to be common trend here in Spain.  Maybe it's because Spain was governed by a oppressive dictatorship until fairly recently, people don't seem too keen on heavy enforcement of social rules such as prohibition of smoking in public areas.  Then again, this may be a completely inaccurate observation on my part.

P.S. I actually haven't seen Thank You For Smoking. Just remembered hearing that title, and thought I'd borrow it for this post. I'm such a poser. :P

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Age

I must be getting old.

Just got back from a wonderful trip from Sevilla (or Seville, American style), but I am SO pooped.  I feel like I need a whole two days to recover from this weekend.  At age 17, or even 18, I probably would have been perfectly fine.  Time is catching up to me. HAHA

Next weekend: Bilbao and San Sebastian :)

Trip post about Sevilla coming to you soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Metro happenings continued

Back to story time.

Before starting my actual story, I should give some background information.

Here, as well as in many major cities, people perform on the metro trains between stops, and ask for donations. You may have an accordion player (quite typical), a guitarist, a person singing to a portable karaoke machine, or like I witnessed today, a whole quartet perform.  I always 1) feel bad that I don't donate 2) wonder what their success rate is.  Do they aim to earn 3€ since the metro fare is 1.50€, or more? Or less? Is this a side job, or are they really relying solely on this source of income?

Anyways, my curiosities laid aside...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cultural differences --- Happy late Valentine's Day

Happy belated San Valentín! :)

Valentine's day never really had any significance for me, except during middle school.  That's only because we had Valentine's Day party aka lots of candy, paper cards with heart stickers, and no class.

(I think it might be the first year in the past 13 years
where I didn't receive these candies...)

Maybe it's because I don't go into stores very often in Madrid, but I almost forgot that it was that time of the year! In America you are reminded that a major holiday is headed your way because approximately two months before the actual holiday, the stores are filled with insert holiday here themed candy and decoration. I mean think, Easter, Christmas, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day.  And think Walmart, Walgreens, CVS.  Classic.  And the day after the holiday, all the candy go on sale, so I've known people buying pounds and pounds of mixed chocolate bags (Twix, Snickers, Kit Kats, Milkway, M&Ms, the whole shabang.)

Stupid consumerism.  Glad that that mentality doesn't quite exist in Madrid.  (But that might be because there is no equivalent to a CVS here in Madrid---which at times is very inconvenient...)

Anyways, that's that. Another thing.

Today

Talk about a rough morning/day!

So the Spanish university bureaucracy system is highly inefficient and makes you do the same thing like four different times in four different ways.  Apparently the system in place currently is an improved version, but in times like these, I miss the American efficiency and clarity on what needs to be done by when.

I mean I'm not going to go in detail about what happened because it actually isn't an interesting story to share on a blog, but it has been one heck of day.  I think I must have walked 3 miles, and went up and down dozens of staircases today. Bleh. So tired.

Cultural difference post coming up soon! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cultural differences part 4

Okay, it's not solely a Spanish cultural difference, so this post is slightly mis-titled.  But on Sunday I went to Spanish-speaking church with a friend I had made at the UAM (wahoo for friend making!! :D).  During service, I realized that they were observing communion this week at this particular church, and I didn't think too much of it.

Every church does communion a little differently, and that much I expected.  The bread, signifying the body of Jesus, was slightly different from what I'm used to, but that was nothing in comparison to the little gift of surprise that was to follow.  When the little plastic cups of "wine" signifying the blood of Jesus Christ came around, I was a little confused because the color of the liquid was not the color of grape juice, which is what I've grown up with, or even wine!  It was the color of apple juice.  So my natural thought process was:
"Well, this is a strange color.  Oh, do they use real wine instead? No, that is not the color of wine.  Hm, I wonder if grape juice is expensive in Spain.  Probably so, and if so, they probably just substituted it with some other juice.  They didn't fill the cups all the way either, so they must be trying to conserve money Well judging by the color, it seems like they used apple juice.  How strange, but I guess in the end what type of juice doesn't really matter."  
 (That's a glimpse of Angela's very strange an rapid thought process for you.)

The usher told me that here we drink it right away and put the cups back onto the tray, so not thinking too much about it, I threw the liquid into my mouth, and boy, was I surprised.  It was neither grape nor apple juice.  Quite honestly, I still don't know what it was, but it was a surprise indeed.  It was sweet and bitter, and warm while giving little jabs while going down my throat.  My eyes probably went O.O for the first time while taking communion.

You ask, why were you so surprised?  See, the reason to why my guard was down was because last Sunday, I went to a different church, and they had communion too.  I suspected the "wine" part to be actual wine since wine is a no biggie in Spain, but it was grape juice.  So I thought Spanish churches were like the American ones and used grape juice.  Hence the element of surprise this past Sunday when it turned out to be something very different from grape juice.

Back in the US I have never had anything but grape juice for communion, but I know that some do use real wine.  That's why I said that it's not a Spanish cultural difference per se, but still a difference nonetheless.  Yay for new experiences.

:)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trip #2: Aranjuez

This trip took place the day after our Toledo day trip.  But the experience could not have been more different.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bahhh!

Just finished the episode!

Bahh!!

Not going to lie, it was a little scary at times.  I had to pause the video a bit, take in a breath, and then press play.

Now let the waiting begin.

Side note


Why is this show so good?!?!

If you haven't heard of it, don't kick yourself--I didn't know about it till I came to Madrid. (But to be fair, I don't really keep up with pop culture in general.) Sherlock is the 21st Century version of the classic Sherlock Holmes made by none other BBC.

Can I just begin by saying how AWESOME this show is?!  Every single episode (so far there are only 6, 3 for each season) is about an hour and half long, is cleverly written, and wonderfully executed.

Recently I was dumb and I watched season 1's episodes 1 and 2, and then ACCIDENTLY watched episode 3 of season 2 (aka season finale) thinking it was episode 3 of season 1.  When I realized my grave error, I almost cried a little. Yeah, it's that good, and yeah, it was THAT tragic.

Just watched season 2's episode 1 last night, and it most definitely did not disappoint! I highly highly highly recommend it. Having never read the Sherlock Holmes series, this BBC show is making me want to read the books so I can pick up on the subtle details they include to pay their respect to the original author. I'm dreading watching episode 2 of season 2 because then that means I have to wait a reallllyyy long time (nearly a year) for season 3.  Poo. (If any is looking for gift ideas, the DVDs to Sherlock would be awesome. Granted, there really isn't a reason why I would receive gifts during this time of the year...)

I can't get over how well it's made, and how clever the plots are.  For example from the last episode...

*SPOILER ALERT. Next picture will give away something crucial about one of the episodes. So don't look if you don't want to!*

Metro happenings

Madrid has an AWESOME public transportation system.  Wanna get somewhere? The metro probably can take you there in five different routes.  There is a sign that tells you when the next train is coming, and the most I've waited for a subway was 10 minutes, and that was because it was really late at night. Creates such a stark contrast to the Boston T system.  But this past week, some interesting things have happened to me on the Metro.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Spanish slang

This post could appropriately be titled as: "Angela's version of the different Spanish slang she's picked up on."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Trip #1: Toledo

I haven't been posting very many things about my adventures in Spain like I said I would. My b.

To rectify this, I am starting my first trip post about a day trip I took to Toledo. Dan-dah-dah-dah!!~

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cultural difference part 3

I don't what it is, but people in Spain have HORRIBLE handwriting.

I don't think I have a high standard for what a decent handwriting looks like, but man, what do they teach kids in first grade here in Spain? Did they not use this??


I had a Spanish professor for an Econ class in Boston, and I thought he just had a bad handwriting, but after taking classes in Spain for about three weeks now, I have come to the conclusion that people in Spain generally have bad handwriting. Whether it be the professor writing on the chalkboard or making corrections made on my essay, or the girl who sits next to me in lecture and kindly let's me look at her notes when I miss what the professor just had said...they all have awful handwriting. (So me copying notes from the girl is often times really unsuccessful.)

To make matters worse, because I'm not fluent, I can't make out words from the horrible handwriting as I usually would be able to with English. So I just end up basically taking shot at the dark at what the word could potentially be. My notes are probably filled with fake Spanish words right now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Life Application #1

This past weekend, we ate like kings.

I was a little bewildered at all the food and the fancy table settings for Friday's lunch. The only thing I could think of that would trigger this extravagance was the fact that my host mom's sister was in town, and so they were having a nice big family lunch. (Their big meal of the day is lunch, not dinner.) But then her son brought her flowers. I didn't think of it much, at that moment I just thought, "Awhh, how nice!"

Little did I know, it was my host mom's birthday. Wahh! Why didn't anyone tell me ahead of time? I felt so awful. But then what's more, Sunday was her son's birthday! So on Saturday we had champagne with lunch, and Sunday we had some kind of wine that was pinkish and bubbly. I knew better on Sunday, and asked that they give me only a tinsy-little bit rather than a full glass because I don't enjoy the taste of alcohol, and I don't really know my limit, and I'm not about to test my boundaries during lunch with my host family.

So where does the life application come from? Well, all weekend long, the house phone went off ALL DAY LONG. People continuously called to congratulate them, wish them a happy birthday, and wanted to catch up and see how they were doing. Each call lasted a good 5-10 minutes. At first I thought it was so strange, but I realized, that's how I want it to be. We've gotten so used to seeing on Facebook: "Today is _________'s birthday! Write on their wall..." Usually we didn't even know it was that person's birthday, and what's more, unless you have a relatively strong relationship with the person, the message starts and ends with "happy birthday" with maybe a smiley face or an exclamation mark. How sad?

I know it's slightly awkward to start all of a sudden, but I'm going to make an effort to 1) remember the person's birthday and 2) call them, NOT text them, not facebook them, and heavens no, tweet them, to wish that person a happy birthday. Granted I'm not going to call the girl I barely know from tenth grade, but I think the people I love and care about deserve at least a phone call. Maybe even a snail mail, hand-written card. I love snail mail. (And to those I said I'll send a post card, sorry it's been taking so long.)

What a wonderful way to share love. :)


<3

Introducing me

Thought I might share five random facts about me. Let's make this blog a little more personal. ;)

1) My hair is permanently this weird brownish-blackish-reddish color even though I have never dyed it. Especially in the sun. Very un-Asian of me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Moolah

I need me some moolah.

I'm planning my spring break trip to Paris to see my best friend, but why must everything cost so much?! And why can't 1€ = $1? :(

So sad.

I'm such a cheap-o, and it hurts to book flight that come out of my own pockets. Are there any rich relatives out there that I don't know about that are feeling particularly generous?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Harry Potter, Spanish Style


I finally got my hands on a Spanish copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, or Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal!! Such a raggedy copy of the book from the university's library, and I must have gone into the library five or six times asking if the book was back yet. They were probably thinking, "Crazy American girl, go away!"

I am an avid fan of the series. Granted I have not gone to a single midnight release of the books or the movies, but I have read each of the seven books at least 4, 5 times. No joke. A couple of summers ago, I made it my goal to reread all seven books, and I accomplished my goal in less than two months. (I must admit, after reading the first five books back-to-back in two weeks or so, I needed a little mental break from the wizarding world. So Harry Potter and I went on a break for a good two, three weeks.)

I don't think I will quite grow out of Harry Potter, but reading the book in Spanish is kind of sucking the fun out of it. BUT I think I found a way to work around this minute problem: I also checked out the English version of the book, and so after reading a chapter or two in Spanish, I skim the chapters in English to make sure what I think is happening is actually happening. Hahaha GENIUS!

Happy reading! :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Things I miss about America


I'm learning to love this country more and more each day, but that is not to say that there aren't things I miss about home.

Here's a list of the first ten things that popped into my head when thinking about what I miss about the good ol U.S. of A.

1) Being able to communicate effectively
2) Spicy food
3) My bed
4) American TV (I know shocking, but I really would just sometimes like to go on ABC family and watch oldie-but-goodie movies...and cheesy shows)
5) Being able to enjoy my classes
6) Korean food
7) Knowing what I'm ordering at a restaurant
8) Being able to text and call people without worrying about my saldos, or how much I loaded onto my pay-as-you-go phone
9) Getting to class by walking at most 15 minutes
10) And of course, my friends, my church, my family. I don't mean to write this as an afterthought. It almost should just be assumed that they/you guys are sorely sorely sorely missed. Everyday.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Eye candy

Just wanted to share some eye candy, which basically means pictures of food. :P

(At a bakery in a market across the street from where I live)
(From a bakery that is in my building)
(Café con leche, aka a staple in Spaniards' daily life)

("Infusión" or tea)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spanish Movies


TV programs here may be pretty wack, but the Spaniards are relatively well known for their awesome movies! I've watched three movies so far, and all three were really great in their own ways.

The first one I saw was Pa Negre, which actually is "Pan Negro" (black bread) in Catalan, the regional language of Cataluña where Barcelona is located. The movie is set in a small townright after Guerra Civil, the Spanish Civil War, when Franco came into power.

The movie is in Catalan, and therefore I couldn't understand a word of it, but that's what subtitles are for! :) It was artistically beautiful, but boy oh boy, is it dark! The content was disturbing and unsettling, and I don't know if I will watch it again, but it definitely did a good job of capturing the dark times Spaniards went through. Recommend it if you're looking for something thought provoking, but don't watch it if you want a pick me up, or are having a girls' night in.

The second movie I watched was Un Franco, 14 Pesetas. Very very good. Set in the 1960s of Spain under the rule of Franco. Granted Spain has serious financial difficulties today (who doesn't?), however, in the 60s, things were worse. To make ends meet, a lot of jobless Spaniards immigrated to surrounding European countries who were experiencing an economic boom after WWII, and mailed money home. And that is what this story is about. Two friends, Marcos and Martin move to Switzerland, and the story unfolds.

The movie is in, well, Spanish, but it's humorous, endearing, and maybe it's because I am 1.5 generation child (AKA moved to a foreign country at a young age), the movie hit a mooshy part in me. I recommend it!
And lastly, just watched it today after having it checked out of the library for a whole week, Las 13 Rosas. Yet another movie about the Guerra Civil Española, and el franquismo, but it was a beautiful, beautiful movie. Shed tears here and there, but it was really good.

The movie takes place after the franquists win the war in 1939, but a group of young women are fighting against the change. 13 women, most all of them around the age of 19 and 20, are "rojos" and therefore enemies to the state. The movie sheds a little bit of light into the lives of the girls, and I'll stop here because I don't know how to talk about the movie further without giving away the whole plot. It is based on an actual event in history, and I really, highly recommend it. From the actors, to the costumes, to the fact that it shows places in Madrid that I recognize, I enjoyed the movie thoroughly.
:)