My life as a working Girl in the city…

I can’t believe I have been in London for almost a month now! I have just completed my third week at my internship and I would say things are going very well.

I am becoming an excel guru! I have successful timed myself and I can complete 15 rows of my spreadsheet in 2 minutes and 37 seconds. Most receptionists add a “words per minute” to their resume and I can add a rows per minute 🙂

I love tea time!They each take their tea differently and have taught me how to make my perfect cup. I have perfected the perfect tea, steeped for 3 minutes, a “slop” of milk as my coworker says, and a spoonful of sugar.

I am making friends in the office especially at tea time! It is always tea time at my office, I have about 4 cups a day. And heaven forbid we run out of milk for the tea,  everything is put on hold for a trip to the store. In the kitchen, I have held conversations from the Super Bowl, to my future plans, to “does America even have toasters?”, to rugby men.

Monday was National Sickie Day: Last year 375,000 people called in sick and there were 3 people that were “sick/taking the day off”  in my office on Monday, out of 13 employees .  I find it comical that the day after the Superbowl was National Sick Day. It is an American event, yet Londoners love to use it as an excuse for a sick day.

London loves their American Football: Unlike myself, London is use to the Superbowl starting at 11:30pm. My coworkers love the game, but aren’t commited to a team. They all rooted for the Patriots, because that is who I rooted for. I find it funny that one of my coworkers took off Monday in advance because they knew they would stay up until 3:30 to watch the Superbowl.

They like nicknames. Many of my coworkers go by nicknames like Jez is short for Jeremy and they call another one Granty. They now call me Izzy, something I am not use to in the workplace, but makes me feel like one of them.

I love the British Accent: It makes my day every time my coworker answers the phone and says “Agent Crawley speaking” in his British accent. It just never gets old. We actually have 12 British and 1 Aussie in the office, so we have fun pronouncing the same words with our three different accents.

Their world revolves around the weather: On Tuesday, one of my coworkers was 3 hours late because it snowed half an inch in her town. Commuting and public transportation is a way of life in London and when it snows and it is mayhem.  On another note, they love asking about the weather. And it seems like the day is dependent on “It is colder/ warmer today.”

My coworkers are very posh: Not only do my co workers dress smart, but they are very posh. I found out that one of my co-workers is a member of the RAC, the royal automobile club and many of my other coworkers travel to other countries over the weekend. One co-worker is out all week because he is skiing in Switzerland.

The RAC club is very posh, you must be a member to even step foot into this building. Many celebrities have dinner at this club and the royal family has been sighted here. I had the opportunity last Friday to go to the RAC for my internship. I could not believe how stunning th

Those walls came from Versailles

Those walls came from Versailles

e building was. The walls were beautiful and I later learned that they came from Versailles. The meal was incredible- 3 course meal. Most importantly, I got to meet some very posh- upper class Brits.  After the meal, I felt like I had a greater understanding of a class in Britain that I wouldn’t normally get to interact with. Not to mention it was quite possible the best night of my life.

There is an open work environment: It still surprises me that the CEO does not have his own office, but rather sits at a desk with all the other co-workers within a 200 foot vicinity. Not only that, but that means when an employee has a question or comment the entire office can hear it. I attended our monthly meeting on Monday and was surprised when they talked about an concern they openly discussed with everyone about a time an employee had made a mistake and how they handled it. They also openly called out someone on a mistake in front of everyone. I was shocked that they handled an issue that way but mainly I am just not use to that kind of open communication.

There are so many things I could tell you, but I am off to Bath and Stonehenge in the morning. It will be my first weekend away since arriving.

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For those that have been reading my posts since I first left August 28th, I made it back home. I want to thank everyone who was praying for safe travels.  It was a long journey, 25 hours of traveling to be exact. My whole family was waiting for me at the airport to welcome me back into the US, including my dog who gave me a million kisses.

I am filled with mixed emotions. I am sad to leave Granada and I have caught myself crying a couple times when talking about Granada, specifically my host mom. I am also excited to be back with my whole family. It has been a while since all 4 of us have been under the same roof.

There are so many things I miss. My walk to school every morning, my host mom, the friends in my program, the language, and the food.

But there were so many things in the U.S. that I had missed and was excited to come home too. My family. Starbucks. Chipotle. CPC. mexican food. Friends. My mom’s cooking.

My A-Z of Granada

So, in honor of leaving tomorrow, I have made an A-Z  list of the bests to see and do in this city that I have called home for 3 1/2 months. Most visitors concentrate solely on the magnificent Alhambra, but if you explore further, you’ll find Andalucia’s hippest, most youthful city, with a “tapas gratiz” culture, that now has a piece of my heart. Some of this list includes places I have gone, things I have done, and highlights from this semester.

Alhambra- Beautiful and a must see when in Granada. The palace, the gardens, the history; it is all beautiful.

Baños de Japoneses. My roommate and I went here one night for a girl’s evening. We caught up on life and relaxed in the baths and hot tea. Oh and we got a massage.

Centro de Lenguas Moderno: my building that I have studied at through the University of Granada. Spent some good time in this building, sometimes even 6 hours a time.

Dancing- Flamenco dance originated from Andalucía I even had the opportunity to go to a show up in the caves with my program.

Elephants! My favorite animal and you can get almost any elephant souvenir you could ever want here! I may have bought a blanket, scarf, and pants with elephants on them.

Futból  Café futból is a classic café for chocolate and churros and with the free wifi it is a great place to meet up with friends. It is a café that both the tourists and the locals love.  Futból is a popular sport through out Spain,  I made it to a futból game with my program and it is an experience you don’t want to miss.

General Life Gardens in the Alhambra. The garden attached to the Alhambra is beautiful. We went here during our first week in Granada and in these gardens I bonded with many girls in my program and even had a photo shoot.

H&M yes, I know that we have this in the states, but how can you resist the 4 story H&M on your walk to class every morning.

Italianos  The best gelato you will ever taste, even Michelle Obama says so. And for only 1 euro what could be better than that! You have to be careful though because it closes from October until the spring. But my wallet was grateful.

Justín- my first Spanish movie I went to. This animation was written and designed in Granada. During my time here I went to quiet a few movies and they helped with my Spanish comprehension. My new favorite movie in Spanish is Frozen: el reino del hielo.

Kilometers of coastline. Granada is home to the mountains and the beaches. Enjoy some time at the Mediterranean Beach. Salobreña was my favorite beach, but Alemuñeca is good too.

Llano de la Perdiz- One of my favorite hikes in Granada. You can see the Sierra Nevada on one side and the city on the other. One morning I woke up early with two friends to hike it so we could watch the sunrise. It was totally worth it even though we got lost on the way down.

Mayerling- possibly my favorite café to study at with friends. My classic order was a café con leche.

Nightlife As a University city the nightlife is pretty great. Most people go out for tapas and then to the discotecas (camborio, an outdoor club overlooking the Alhambra, or GranadaDiez, very classy, were my two favorites) As most Americans leave a club around 2, most of these clubs don’t open until 2. I have learned that the stereotype that Spainards stay out until dawn is true.

Olive oil tasting: Our program went to Olvia to taste olive oil after an interesting class about the culture and how olive oil is made. It was so good and I had no idea there were over 200 varieties of olives. Well Alicia and I loved it so much that last week we went back to do the olive oil tasting and this time it included tasting Granada wines!

Parque Federico García Lorca. A beautiful park close to my apartment and is great for running in.

Quindici: one of the many Italian words I have learned in my Italian class this semester.
Río Genil, go on a beautiful run along the river or grab a book and find a bench.

Sierra Nevada. Just a short bus ride away.  Go trekking or skiing in the Sierra Nevadas overlooking the city.

Tapas. Granada is home of the free tapas. For every drink you buy, you get a free appetizer.

Unique geography. In the province of Granada you can ski at Sierra Nevada in the morning and drive 40 minutes to the coast to swim in the sea on the sameday. The amazing variety of climate makes for a fun place to live in.

Vegan cafe. Hicuri Art Vegan Restaurant and Café. It is the perfect spot for some café con leche de almendras (almond milk). I found it a little later in the semester than I would have liked, but it is brand new it opened just 3 months ago and the perfect place for breakfast or studying during classes.

Window shopping on Recogidas- who doesn’t love window shopping on your walk to school every morning.

Xcellent sunrise at a la Mirador de San Nicolas. Breathtaking views of La Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada  or as my professor would say “sexy sexy bomb” view. A perfect place for a picnic and a sunset, according to Bill Clinton.

You should come visit at Christmas Time! There are lights all around the city and it is beautiful at night, not to mention all the Christmas markets throughout the city.

Zakuro an amazing Japanese restaurant along río darro, because where else can you get fresh sushi and a tinto de verano.

 

The first of the Lasts

Today I leave for my last big trip. I am going to Norway with friends from my program. After this trip, the next time I get on an airplane it will be to come home.

It is weird to me that this is my last trip. Dreaming, planning, organizing, traveling, and taking endless photos has become a part of my life this semester. It is hard to tell myself that it isn’t normal to take off a weekend to travel around Spain, let alone a different country. But this was a big part of who I was this semester and through it was able to find my independence and use my planning, navigating and budgeting skills to the max. It also taught me how to go with the flow, get lost, and try new things that ended up making  me stronger as a person. I have learned that I can fly to a city with only 5 things on my list and have more fun than a list of 20 things.

I have loved each one of my trips so much and each one brought me joy in a unique way and taught me so much. I am sad that I have to start ending this chapter. The chapter of traveling and cultures. But after this semester I know that there are more chapters of traveling to come.

So for now I am off to Norway to enjoy a weekend in Bergen with a great friend. Did I mention that Bergen is home to the world’s largest Gingerbread CITY?!?!

A Thankful Heart

So as many of you know I am living in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Although as I think back to it, as a family we never did the same thing every Thanksgiving. We sometimes went to Las Vegas to see my paternal grandparents, other times we went to Southern California to visit my maternal family, and sometimes we did the “deadly triangle” where we did both in one weekend. My favorite Thanksgivings that I can remember have been the most recent ones: progressive dinner with the neighbors and renting out a house on Hermosa beach with family. I don’t know if it was my favorite because I don’t live at home anymore and Thanksgiving brought me to my family or if it was because we spiced things up and did something different. I think it is a mixture of both.

IMG_2246This Thanksgiving is different as well. I am living in a country that doesn’t celebrate this holiday. I had school today. And homework. There will be no cranberries, turkey or mashed potatoes. However, I will be celebrating thanksgiving with my “new” Spain family tonight by going out to Mexican food. It brings me back to last Thanksgiving where I ate the best Mexican food at Hermosa beach with my parents, aunt and uncle, and two great friends.

Despite the craziness of Thanksgiving, we always held onto one Tradition. We would go around and say what we are thankful for. Although I am almost 6,00o miles away from home, I realized I can still hold onto this Thanksgiving Tradition:

I am grateful for so much that words cannot express my joy.

I am thankful for a God that loves and cherishes me even when I mess up. I am thankful for the strength that he gives me each day to face new challenges.

I am thankful for a family that loves me who for I am.

I am thankful for my mom who always knows what to say to brighten my day.

I am thankful for my father that has taught me to be a hard worker, but also how to laugh at my mistakes.

I am thankful for my sister. She is one of the most caring, loving, and thoughtful sisters. I love how she shows her love for me constantly through her letters, emails and skype dates.

I am thankful for friends that I can laugh and cry with. Friends that I can share life with. Friends that grab a coffee with me and two hours later we are laughing sipping on our third cup.

I am thankful for my mentors who have helped shaped me into the women I am today through advice and sharing the love of Christ.

I am thankful for the little things in life that give me joy, like a letter from a friend in the mail, peanut butter, the smell of coffee brewing, and seeing the leaves change colors.

I am thankful for the constant but also for change. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be in Spain and travel around Europe.

I am thankful for a roommate that travels with me, listens to me, and always has a story for me.

I am thankful for this spiced chai I am sipping on as I write this post from a friend who sent it to me from 5,000 miles away.

I am thankful for the life I have been given.

In a weird way I am even thankful that I can’t be with those I love this Thanksgiving because it shows me just how much I love and appreciate the people in my life and how hard life is without them by my side.

Happy Thanksgiving!

When in Rome…

This weekend was a fairytale for me. I finally got to travel to Italy. It has been a dream of mine to go to Italy from the good food, to the beautiful language, to the historical sites. On top of that, I have been taking this Italian class all semester long and I was excited to get to put my new language to the test.

Once again Alicia was my travel buddy for the trip, but one of our friends in the program, Joe, joined us as well. We took off on Wednesday evening and spent the next 2.5 days sightseeing around Rome. In just one weekend, I got to see so much within the city of Rome. Each time I travel I am reminded of how much you can see and get done in one day.

Some highlights were the Colosseum, Victoriano,Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Vatican, and beautiful plazas and markets.

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As cliché as it sounds, I loved the Trevi Fountain. There was something so beautiful and surpassed all of the pictures and movie clips I have seen. It was just as beautiful in the  day as the night. Oh and the food was absolutely amazing, so fresh and delicious.

Making Wishes

Making Wishes

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I also really enjoyed the Spanish Steps. It was a really beautiful site to see but I loved the view of the city from the top the most.  In many ways it reminded me of the Lizzie McGuire Movie.

It was a rainy weekend, and yes it even hailed at  some moments. But overall it was a great weekend! 
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Another post to come soon about my second day at the smallest independent state, the Vatican. That is right 2 countries in 2 days. 

A Relaxing Weekend

I decided to stay in Granada this weekend and relax since I have had a very busy past couple of weekends: Madrid, Scotland, and Córdoba. And I have some more trips coming up in the weekends to come: Italy, Sierra Nevada, and possibly a trip to Portugal.

It was a great weekend. On Thursday evening I  saw the most beautiful sunset at the Mirador de San Nicholas in the Albaicín.  Then I went out to Tapas with friends.

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On Friday Alicia, Christian, and I woke up early to go hiking and watch the sunrise. (Because there are so many mountains on the outskirts of Granada, you have to hike up the mountains to see a Sun Rise) It was on Alicia’s bucket list to see a sunrise and sunset in the same day, but we decided to do it the Spanish way and do sunset to sunrise. The sunrise was beautiful, however it was freezing and windy.

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Photo Credit: Alicia Huegel

The way down was an adventure, we decided to go down a different way on the opposite side of the Alhambra. We may have crossed on some private property and included a 14 foot drop to the street. But we successfully got back without any injuries. 

After a great Spanish siesta, I went to a tetería to get tea with a Spanish friend. We discussed everything from our families, to our favorite bars in Granada, to our Christmas traditions, to the differences of higher education in our countries over a nice cup of tea. I ordered “un té negro con leche” and it tasted similar to a chai, so I was very content.  

Alicia and I spent our Saturday morning the way you always should. We woke up went shopping on Recogidas and grabbed some churros and chocolate for a morning snack. After lunch I worked on homework and that night Alicia and I went to the Japanese Baths in Granada.Two hours of girl talk and relaxing in the cold and hot baths while sipping on tea was the perfect way to end the evening. Did I mention it came with a 20 minute massage. Let’s just say I slept well last night. 

This morning was a perfect way to end the weekend. I watched my church’s sermon online in my bed and finished my homework before lunch. Now I am sitting in my family room with my host mom watching La Búsqueda (National Treasure).

This weekend has been an accurate picture of all that my city has to offer. Now after a relaxing weekend I am ready to head to Rome on Wednesday and see the Pope and make a wish in the Trevi Fountain.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

The minute I got off the plane in Glasgow, Scotland and was walking down  main street, the stores were filled with Christmas lights, sweaters, and decorations.  It seemed weird to get into the Christmas spirit on Halloween. I used to get frustrated that stores would put up the Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving had happened. But this fall, holidays are a little different than normal. 

I celebrated Halloween in Scotland. We went on a Halloween Tour around Edinburgh, hearing ghost stories and past stories of the mofia and criminals in Edinburgh. We found Elephant House, the birthplace of where Harry Potter was written.   The next day we went and looked for Nessie at Loch Ness, a timeless fairy tale creature. I embraced the beautiful fall in Edinburgh, although it was a little colder to my pleasing.

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After celebrating Halloween, I feel like it is now acceptable to get into the Christmas spirit. So, the next day I bought my grande Latte from Starbucks (in a red Christmas cup of course). I embraced all the lights and christmas decorations and sweaters in the store. And as soon as I came home from Scotland, I noticed all the Christmas lights were put up around Granada.

So for now, I am embracing Christmas: the music, the movies, the lights and the holiday spirit.


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