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.

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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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It is going so fast

I just got back from Toledo and Madrid with my program. It was so much fun and I saw so many beautiful places with my program. However, it made me appreciate Granada so much (I will discuss later). But I love the culture and feel of Granada.

I have a crazy week: I have classes and then leave on Wednesday night to go to Scotland and then I come back to take midterms. Time is flying by, and I don’t have much time to edit photos until after midterms but I wanted to give you a sneak peak of what is to come.

While in Madrid we experienced FALL in a beautiful park. No fall is complete without a photo shoot with the beautiful scenery and some amazing friends.

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Alicia

Amanda

Amanda

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Marissa

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Katie

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Isabelle

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The Girls. Palacio Real
Photo Credit: Christian

Well there is the sneak peak and now It is 11:30 and I have some homework to finish before the new week starts and I head off to Scotland. I am so excited for Scotland… I am going on a haunted ghost tour for Halloween,  seeing the Edinburgh castle and possibly spot Nessie at Loch Ness

Moroccan Tea

I know this post is long overdue, but I have found what might possibly be my favorite tea. The Moroccans know how to make tea. The Moroccans are very hospitable and I was offered this tea at least twice a day.

My host mother in Morocco taught me how to make this tea so that I can make it back in the States.

Warning: It is very delicious, but oh so sugary. Make sure to brush your teeth after drinking, or just add less sugar like I do.

The Recipe:

First, you need very, very hot water.

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Then add a scoop of Chinese Gunpowder Tea to the water.

Chinese Gunpowder Tea

Then grab a handful of fresh mint. Make sure to take a moment and just smell the mint gosh I love that smell.

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Then you add the sugar (about 2-3 sugar cubes)

The Moroccans love their sugar, but I would prefer it with 1 sugar cube or 1 spoonful of sugar.

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And there you have it. Let it sit for a few minutes and then your tea is ready.

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If you want to be like a true Moroccan pour with both hands!

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Don’t forget the Moroccan pastries to go with it.

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Photography by Marissa Schmidt

Hola. Ciao. Hello.

Buenos días!

Wow has time gone fast. I have already been in Granada for over a month and I have finished 2 weeks of classes already!

While in Granada, I am studying at the CLM (centro lenguas modernas) through the University of Granada.  I am studying with students from all over the world and all of my classes are taught in Spanish. During my 2 weeks of class I have learned so much.

  1. 2 hour classes are long. They make my 50 minute classes back at Central seem like nothing. Except most professors give a 15 minute café break halfway through and that really helps
  2. The textbooks are cheaper in Spain. Most professors write their own textbook and photocopy it and put it in a notebook and sell it for 5 euros. How great is that.!
  3. So, my professor told me that my group has to give a presentation pequeño next Monday in class. Apparently, pequeño means a 1 hour presentation. Not to mention this all has to be in Spanish!!! So please be praying for me.
  4. As I mentioned before all the classes are in Spanish. It’s still mind-blowing to me that I’m learning in Spanish material other than Spanish grammar, but amazingly I’m actually understanding more than I thought I would.
  5. It is a good day when the CLM coffee machine decides to offer café gratiz all day. I may have had 6 cups that day.
  6. No classes on Friday. Three day weekends are great and perfect for traveling.

I’m taking an Italian class while here. I know kind of ironic that I’m studying a third language while in Spain. But I’ve always wanted to take Italian so why not start now. It is actually really fun, since it’s beginning Italian. We spent the first day learning the phonetics,  by saying spaghetti, Lamborghini, capucchino, and bicicletta with an Italian accent and excessive hand motions.

But it is also really challenging. My Italian class is taught in almost all Italian and a little Spanish. Half of my classmates are from the U.S. and the others are adults from Spain. There is no room for my mind to speak in English, so I’m learning my third language with my second language.

Through this class I’m also learning a lot about Spaniards. Spaniards don’t tend to like things different from their way, including their language. It was so funny when my Italian teacher explained that there was only one Italian verb for the verb ser and estar in Spanish. They didn’t like that idea and wanted a second verb.  Although this class gets confusing sometimes, (more like all the time) it is also helping my Spanish and learning more about the Spanish language from the Spaniards point of view.

Well, I’m off to a nice three day weekend in Granada. Until next time.

Ciao!

12 hours and 3 modes of transportation later…

So we had an idea of how we were gonna get to the airport to make our 9:05 am flight. The original plan was to take a double decker bus from our current location (Woburn place) to Liverpool station however all the night buses just so happened to be out of service to a night construction project. Just our luck.

The morning started with a lovely 4am workout. Alicia and I walked 2.3 miles to the Liverpool street station to catch our 5:30am bus to the airport. The directions got a little confusing because it wanted us to take back roads/ shortcuts but Alicia figured out how to get us back on track. We made it to the bus 25 minutes early and we were glad our motto for the day was be early because the bus left 15 minutes early. From there it’s was smooth sailing, I napped (went back to sleep) for the 1 hour bus ride.
We ended up arriving at the stansted airport 3 hours before our flight, however we felt relieved because the security line was huge. Yeah we may have been a little too early but after our hectic trip to Manchester last week Alicia and I decided being early to everything was a better way to travel.
Once through security I found a boutique coffee shop and ordered a grande Carmel macchiato. Yes I may have splurged a little and gone the America route (cough cough Starbucks) but we walked this morning and that saved up a couple pounds anyways.

I sat at a table in Starbucks journaling and we spotted Christian from afar and spied on him for a solid 10 minutes before getting up and sitting with him.

Next up was a 3 hour plane ride to Malaga. Which was actually nice because us three say next to each other and I journaled and got a lot of sleep.

When we arrived in Malaga we had to catch a bus to the bus station. Then we had to buy a ticket for the next bus to Granada which wasn’t until 3 so we had an hour to kill at the station. At 3 we got on the bus for a 1.5 hour bus ride to Granada. Alicia and I watched Princess Diaries on my iPad which helped pass the time.
Once in Granada we had to catch a city bus line 10 to get into the center of town to walk home.

12 hours of traveling later and 3 modes of transportation later I was finally back at my host momma’s house and ready to fall asleep. Whew what an exhausting day and classes started the next morning.
I forgot how long traveling takes when you don’t have a car like I’m used to back in the States. Although I must say the bus system in Spain is very good!

The Ultimate Tourist

For the second half of my  vacation, I decided to go to London with Alicia to visit one of my good friends Jordan Langer. She was so sweet to offer her floor and navigating skills so we could have the best experience. She wanted me to see all that London had to offer so asked me to create a list of all that I wanted to do. Let’s just say my list was short and included all the typical tourist sites.

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2) Fish and Chips

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3) Big Ben Tower

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4) ride a double decker Double Decker

With Jordan we accomplished all four items in about 1 hour. To many I think Alicia and I may be a little two laid back of tourists but honestly I love it. I think it is what makes us such wonderful travel buddies. We hit the main stops to get our picture and then we get wonderfully lost in the city.

Jordan was a wonderful tour guide. She took us down scenic routes so we could see some other main attractions that were not on our list. Like Picadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and much much more.

Picadilly Circus with my girl!

Picadilly Circus with my girl!

Jumping for Joy knowing the queen is here!

Jumping for Joy knowing the queen is here!

However, my highlight of the trip is when Jordan took us up to Camden to visit the markets. (side note: when she asked us if we wanted to go I proceeded to answer like the markets in What a girl wants). Throughout the whole trip I could not stop thinking of What A Girl Wants, possibly one of my favorite childhood movies. Camden market was probably my favorite because it was outside of the normal tourist attractions and showed me more of the culture in the city that Jordan calls home. While at Camden markets I learned that London is the only place that you can wear whatever you want without being judged. As told by my wise friend Jordan “

DSC_0066If you can’t find it in Camden you don’t need it nor will you ever find it” The other thing I love about Camden is that you can find any type of food from around the world. We got some great Chinese food, something that I was missing from Spain.

We then headed back to her flat to get ready for the night. We got all dressed up in our little black dresses because we had a hen party to go to. One of the girls in the London program had a ring that looked like an engagement ring, so she decided to throw herself her own fake bachelorette. We straightened out the story, she was engaged to Ben Archibald  and then hit up the London nightlife. I must say this was a very fun night and was like faking your birthday at a restaurant only on steroids.1380716_10200705579938639_1679778434_n

On Sunday, we did some more touring with Jordan, but first we had to grab a morning coffee from Starbucks. Trust me I love the cute cafes in Granada and the coffee machine at my school, however I’m not gonna lie I have missed Starbucks. In Granada and most of Europe they drink little espressos and I have missed my big grande coffees.

It has been fun having her as a tour guide because she is great at navigating in the city so we can take in all the sites instead of having our noses in the map.

In the afternoon she left us to go do some homework and it was the dynamic duo again exploring/ getting

lost in a new city. We went to a museum because they are free here and went to the famous Hamley’s toy store. We found PRIMEMARK, possibly one of the greatest and cheapest(relatively since we are talking pounds here) stores.

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That evening I got to meet up with another friend, Emma Grager, that I have known since elementary school. She is studying in London as well and it was so great to grab coffee with her and just catch up on each other’s life, relate to similar struggles and joys over here, and hear how we can pray for each other.  I loved hearing all the stereotypes about London that are true as well as telling her all the stereotypes in Spain are true as well.

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It’s hard to say goodbye to London as I had such a wonderful time, but I am ready to go back to Spain and sleep in my own bed.

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Well goodbye for now, I’m off to Hogwarts for the next few days!

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PS: Remember how I said that we all got piercings the last time we were together, well we went a little tamer this time and got matching “dainty friendship bracelets” at Camden market

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Morocco in a glimpse

So in one week I have managed to finish orientation, take a placement test, and travel to Africa and now I am sitting in my room before vacation begins.

This one day has been an awkward in between but also a nice relaxing 24 hours before I start more traveling. I was able to use this time to catch up with my family and friends as well as sleep, but also able to process my time in Africa.

While on the bus Friday afternoon on the way to Tarifa, Espana (the port where we take the ferry to Morocco) I didn’t really know what to expect. I had been to Africa before so I didn’t have the same kind of excitement as most of my friends. I knew that this would be a country so different compared to Uganda. I was mostly excited to check off a new country, travel by boat to a different continent, ride a camel, try their food, and get tons of Moroccan scarves.

However,  I found that coming into this trip I was kind of arrogant. I was concerned more about me and what I would get out of it than meeting individuals, learning about their culture and religion, and truly exploring what Morocco had to offer outside of tourism.

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I toured Morocco with this program called Morocco Exchange. Although they took us to many tourist sites, including riding a camel on the beach, they did their best to depict Morocco as the country it truly is. We spend most of our time with Moroccan college students, staying with families, and going to remote villages to see how the typical rural Moroccan family lived.

What I learned:

On the first day, we visited a women’s center where we learned about women’s rights in Morocco through touring the center and having lunch with 3 female moroccan college students.What I learned was that although women are still not equal to men in Morocco and they still have a lot going against them, Morocco is a lot more liberal in this area than many other Muslim countries. I found that these women were just like me where they desire to learn and do something meaningful with their life. Yes, they will have more difficulty accomplishing this dream than me, however they are fighters and I loved that about them.

On the second day, we went to an NGO and had a great discussion of politics and religion with some college students. It was very interesting to hear from two Muslims that struggled with many similar issues that I struggle in my faith. One took the Koran very literally “if you steal your hand should be cut off” where the other took the words from Koran more metaphorically and looked at the book as a whole rather than verse “if someone steals because they can’t afford to eat we should have been generous and given them something” he also believed that as the culture is changing so should the way he look at the Koran. It was so interesting to see that these two Muslims, even though a different religion from me, struggled with the same controversial topics in the Christian church. Another interesting point I took from this time was that although morocco is more liberal than other Muslim nations there is no separation from church and state like there is in morocco.

The Hospitality:

We stayed in Rabat with host families for 2 nights. I loved my host mother. She spoke English well and would call Marissa, Amanda and I her loves and princesses. One day she even called me Barbie. She taught us how to make tea, cooked us traditional Moroccan food and was so hospitable. She taught us so much about her culture just through her love and kindness.

Anytime our group visited a home or business we were offered traditional Moroccan tea. Their tea showed me just a glimpse of their great hospitality.

On the last day we visited a village in the Riff mountains and shared lunch with a family. They showed us their farm and shared what they had. We brought food for sandwiches and they made us vegetable couscous and we sat together, all 22 of us, around the room sharing a meal together. The family didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Arabic but there was something so natura about sharing a meal together. I think it is because eating is something that as humans we all have in common. And just sharing a meal with people of a different culture is so fun because at the end of the day we are eating we just do it in different ways.

What I ate: 

I found that chicken tagine is delicious and a very traditional meal. Tagine is used like the word casserole in the mid West; it is both a word to describe the dish it is cooked in and the name of a meal. The tangine dish is made of clay or pottery and has 2 parts to it a circular base and a dome shaped top used for cooking. Tagine is a rich stew of meat and because it is slow cooked that flavors come alive!

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CousCous is absolutely delicious and they use olive oil so it is not as dry of a grain. Couscous Friday is observed nationally which I think is pretty cool.

Moroccan Tea is the best tea I have ever had. Moroccans really know what they are doing. I had the pleasure of learning how to make this tea from my host mother and will make it regularly in the states (blog post to come later about how to make i

ImagePatilla is savory and delicious. It is made with layers of phyllo pastry and chicken and topped with powder sugar and cinnamon. I would never have guessed that these flavors worked well together but it was so good and quite filling.

Well ill it’s unreal buy yet again I’m packing my bags and heading off to the United Kingdom. I know you are probably thinking when does she go to school but I promise you I will in October but for now I’m going to enjoy my time in the United Kingdom visiting some friends and touring a new area