Archive for September, 2011

Birthday Celebrations!

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Hi everyone!

TGIF! Hope everyone has a great weekend in store! I just got off Skype with my Granny. It was so good to talk to her, and I can’t wait until we skype at a time when my Pop-Pop is there too J  

First and foremost, I want to say thank you to everyone for making me feel so special on my birthday! Thank you for the cards, packages, Facebook messages, etc. It all means so much to me! Even though I am on the other side of the ocean, you have still found ways to spoil me and shower me with love!

I had such a wonderful “birthday week” this week! On Tuesday (my actual birthday), I was surprised with a gift on the breakfast table from my host family. Rosi is so cute because she put so much thought into it! The packaging was pink and the card had kittens on it. She picked out two scarves for me– a purple one with flowers on it and a black leopard print one! She also got me a Basque flag as a memento and a pair of earrings. She knows me so well already! At school, I was able to Skype with my family and open yet another birthday present! My friends also brought me a platter of delicious “postres” from a famous bakery in downtown Bilbao. Then, after class I went out for Sangria with some of my closest friends here! It was seriously one of the best birthdays I’ve had yet, and definitely one that I will never forget!

On Wednesday afternoon, my tandem partner Clara invited me and my friends to the Oktoberfest—and no, not the one in Germany haha. It was a week-long festival located right in the center of Bilbao, with a huge white tent, picnic tables, and people dressed in traditional German clothes! It was so cool to be able to hang out with Clara and some of her friends who are also Bilbao locals.

We celebrated yet again on Thursday night! My host dad, Jon, arrived home from Mallorca on Wednesday so Rosi wanted to wait until he was home to have a special dinner. I was able to invite to friends over too! Rosi made me all my favorite things—Sangria, tortilla de patatas, croquetas, and some delicious desserts (I have eaten way too many desserts this week)!! The dinner was so cute. I literally have the best host family ever! After dinner, my friends and I went to a favorite bar of ours and hung out there for a bit as another belated celebration. A few of us then made our way to Loft, a club in Bilbao with lots of international students. It was a good time, as usual!

Today, I went to the beach all day! I felt like I hadn’t been in so long. The weather was absolutely PERFECT! Warm, but not too hot, with a great breeze. I even went in the water! My friends and I went to get pintxos at a nearby bar and then I went back to the beach for another hour or so. It was such a perfect end to the week!

I’ll write again soon to let you know how the rest of my weekend went!

Thanks again for all the birthday wishes!

Miss you all!

Love, Jen <3  

PS- Exactly a month ago today, I was boarding my plane to Spain! Hard to beleive I’ve already been here a month! Time flies, and I know it will only continue to fly faster!

First week of “classes”

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

While everyone was starting classes, I slept in.  I finally met my roommate, Tina, who is very sweet.  She is from Beijing, is a Year 3 student, and wants to study in America for her Master’s.  She is a very chatty girl and is very interested in learning about all the different states of America, but I like her.

 

My first experience with Lan Kwai Fong’s infamous Ladies Night Thursday.  I went with Ania – Netherlands, Nadine – Germany, Aisha – England, Ari – born in California, lives in England, and Anne – Korea – to the craziness of the two bar streets.  It was like we left Asia, there were only Westerners in the clubs!  We danced until our legs hurt, then went to another club and met up with even more exchange friends: Anna and Dan (Barbie and Ken, Germany), Michael (Germany), Thorsten (Germany), Winnie (Germany), and Julie (USA).  “Closing Time” played at 4 in the morning, which was our note that we had to leave (being the only ones left in the club).  I finally got to bed at 5:30AM Friday…good thing I do not have class on Fridays!

On Friday, I joined the soccer team. On Friday night, I was finished with the soccer team.  I was not actually that bad, I was just very intimidated by the intense soccer coach (“If you can’t attend every practice, don’t bother being a part of the team” in regards to Friday 8:30 and Sunday 3:00 practices) and the team all spoke Cantonese, which made it difficult to understand what we were doing.

 

 

It’s Love

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

This past weekend the CIDE program took us to Madrid and Toledo. And honestly, IT WAS AMAZING!! Madrid is the perfect city. Don’t get me wrong, I still love DC, but Madrid just has so much more history and crazy shopping places, like an H&M that used to be an old theater. The streets are beautiful and there are so many people around all the time. The markets are adorable and the plazas are gorgeous. You can definitely tell that I’m a girl who would rather be in a big city just by the way I was so happy and amazed at everything in Madrid. We also went to the Royal Palace which was INCREDIBLE. I can’t believe kings of Spain actually lived there back i nthe day. Now it’s just a museum and the royal family lives elsewhere in Spain. Speaking of the royal family… the Queen of Spain was at my university today.. no big deal..!!!

Some pictures from Madrid:

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Royal Palace

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Plaza Mayor where I saw my first flag of Spain flying. In the Basque country, they want to be autonomous from Spain so even their government buildings only have the Basque flag and not the Spanish fllag. Crazy.

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There was a guy making HUGE bubbles and I thought it was pretty. This is also in Plaza Mayor.

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Me in front of the Prado Museum. The third most famous art museum in the world. We got to see some amazing collections, like Goya, Vasco, and Vasquez.

That said, Toledo was also amazing. Toledo is about an hour outside of Madrid and it was the capital of Spain before Madrid was. Toledo has SO MUCH HISTORY! There is literally a wall built around the center of the city to keep out enemies. When you think of a medieval town, Toledo is probably what you think of. While we were in Toledo we went to the Catedral de Santa Maria de Toledo (Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo). They wordship the Virgin Mary there for lots of reasons, but mostly because it is said that in Toledo one of the Saints defended her honor by saying she really was a virgin when she had Jesus and so the Virgin Mary thanked him. Or something like that. The cathedral is an old, gothic style church. There were tons of stained glass windows. Since not everyone in the town could read, the bible was shown through pictures in the stained glass windows. Pretty sweet.  There is also a HUGE castle made out of gold, silver, platinum, rubies, emeralds, EVERYTHING EVER that inside the church. It was so shiny and pretty. I think the coolest part about it though, was that there is a part in the center that has Jesus inside of it, and it is rumored (and probably true) that that part is made out of the first gold brought back from the Americas after Columbus went over there. Cool right? Toledo was beautiful and so full of history that I really hope some day I can go back and experience it in full.

Some pictures from Toledo:

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This is definitely my favorite picture that I’ve taken in Spain thus far. I got a panoramic shot of the entire city of Toledo. Breathtaking right?

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Me and my BFF from Jamaica, Rachel, sitting with the city of Toledo behind us.

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See how steep these stairs are? Well, back in the old days when men used to ride horses for transportation… they would attempt to go down this road. Many, many, MANY people died from attempting this. This street is properly named “Calle del Diablo” (Street of the Devil)

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Stained glass windows telling the story of the Bible through pictures in the Catedral de Santa Maria de Toledo.

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The gold castle in the Cathedral made with the first gold from the Americas to reach Spain.

Whilst we were in Madrid, we went to this night club called Kapital and it was AWESOME!! I’ve never been to any night clubs like this one. There were SEVEN floors. SEVEN. You would think that’s a little unnecessary, but no, it was completely necessary. Half the floors were just like lounges and bars and then the other floors had different styles of music, like Latin, Top 40, and hip hop. There was also a rooftop which was pretty sweet. While my friends and I were on the first floor, Top 40 floor, there was this like crazy little mini show that happened. This man and woman got lifted into the air hanging on to just a big ring. The proceeded to do all these CRAZYY moves on the ring, while in the air. It was amazing. I was in awe. So if any of you are ever in Madrid, Kapital is a must. Here is a picture of the random show:

Kapital

These two people were RIDICULOUSLY strong. It was really cool.

School has definitely started to pick up. I have a paper due and a test next week. Womp. I did meet my Tandem partner yesterday. Tandem is a program that CIDE offers where you sign up for it and they assign you a Spanish speaking partner who is trying to learn English. We’re supposed to meet regularly and half the time we talk in Spanish and the other half in English. My partner’s name is Paula and she’s SO nice. She speaks pretty good English which makes me feel kinda bad since my Spanish isn’t that great. She really helps me though and doesn’t get frustrated or anything. I’m really hoping that this program will help me improve my Spanish a lot. I’m taking classes and all that, but I’m not taking any conversation  courses so I don’t really get to speak it that much. I guess we’ll see in December how good I am when I get home!!

I’ll definitely get to practice my Spanish tomorrow, because I’m going over to my friend Haley’s home-stay for dinner tomorrow. This is good for two reasons: 1. because I will get to practice my Spanish more and 2. because it gets me away from the SUPER GROSS food they serve here at the dorms. :) Speaking of, my AMAZING mother sent me an AWESOME care package full of food and school supplies. It’s really helping me get through these meals, knowing I have good food back in my room. So thanks mom! And for those of you who are underestimating the amount of awesomeness this care package was… here’s a picture:

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I’m actually getting to stay in Bilbao this weekend!! Yay!! Two of my friends and I are going on a day trip to Pamplona I believe though. Pamplona is about an hour from Bilbao and it’s where the famous “Running of the Bulls” takes place. Unfortunately, there is no bull running at this time of year, but it’s supposed to be a pretty cool city. Alright, well I still miss my family so much! I can’t wait to see them all in a couple months! It’ll be here before I know it, I’m sure. Until next time… :)


World outside my window

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

This weekend the CIDE group went on a trip to Madrid and Toledo, the capital and old capital of Spain, and what a weekend it was! We left Friday morning at the insanely early hour of 8 am (well, subtract an hour for transportation and 45 minutes for getting ready, now it’s early). Upon boarding the bus sauna that would take us the 4 and a half hours into the heart of Spain we were informed of the rules of the road. There weren’t many – 1) there were seat belts and we should wear them and 2) no eating. Nevertheless, I believe we all managed to break them, some in a more discrete fashion than others. No one noticed the pack of fruit snacks Elana and I devoured in the back, yet our naps were later interrupted by a chaperone informing us that she could smell an orange – good call guys, good call. Other than that and the few times I smacked my head into Elana’s shoulder as the bus careened around the several cones on the highway – acceptable?? -, the ride was relatively uneventful, and at the much more reasonable hour of 1:30pm, we rushed into the fresh air of Madrid. Outside of our hotel, slight chaos ensued as we tried to divide ourselves into groups of 3 for the purpose of room assignments. Eventually things were settled and we dispersed into the hotel lobby, onto the elevators, and into our rooms where we promptly collapsed onto the beds truly exhausted from… all the sitting we had just done.

But onto the real excitement! Madrid was a big city with people everywhere and it reminded me a lot of a scaled down, cleaner version of New York City. After our lunch and siestas on Friday, we were given a “guided” bus tour of the various buildings in route to the Royal Palace, a marvelous building constructed after the requisition of Spain from the Arabs and the largest palace in Europe. It was once home to the king and queen of Spain but is now simply a place to visit. Once there, we spent about 20 minutes admiring the outside and taking touristy pictures before finding out that we would actually be allowed to walk around inside. The building was huge, and we were only privy to about 18 of its 2,800 rooms. What the heck! Each room was a different color and decorated with several chandlers, gold lions, and paintings of Cherubs – not exactly how I’d always imagined my castle, but still very impressive. Located directly across the main plaza of the Palace was the first of two main churches we would visit during our trip – the Cathedral of our lady the Almudena, which took over 300 years to be fully constructed. I was very impressed by the basic beauty of this church. Unlike some other churches that boast dark and extravagant gothic styles, this one had only a few beautiful stained glass windows contrasted against white arches and strategically placed decorations. After admiring it for a little while, we continued our walk around the city, stopping at a few more plazas – they’re everywhere!! -, a central market full of fruits, veggies, helado, and local pintxos, which all smelled sooooo much better than the fish market we visited last weekend, and finally arrived at la Puerta del Sol where we were shown the nearest metro station and abandoned for our 3 hrs of free time. Main mission = find Starbucks. 10 minutes later, we were happily caffeinated, slightly reconnected with US culture, and game for continuing to wander the streets (clenching our belongings of course). Cue one stuffed metro ride back to the hotel, dinner that consisted of the exact same options as lunch (and would continue to be that way all weekend), and choosing to stay in with the roomies and watch parts of various different US movies with spanish voice overs and that was Friday.

Saturday’s main event was visiting Toledo, the previous capital of Spain, land of the famous Don Quixote novel, and the prettiest city I have ever seen! Before entering the old quarter of the city we stopped at the top of the hills for a panoramic view. It seriously looked like something out of a history book. Needless to stay we all scrambled off the bus and starting posing for every possible combination of photos (again) including sitting, standing, jumping, candid, you name it, we probably did it. Post photo-shoot we made our way actually into the city where we wondered through the streets, saw a few plazas, admired the combination of different architecture representing it’s Jewish, Muslim, and Christian past, and made our way to the Toledo Cathedral – possibly the largest church I’ve ever seen. It had an obviously Gothic/Baroque style with a plethora of decorations and different alters, paintings, and statutes.  We spent over 2 hours inside. By the time our tour guide brought us back outside we were starving and, even after a month of getting used to eating times, slightly ticked that lunch was still a half hour away. We were told to wonder the streets where we stared longingly into the pastry shops, mentioning how much we’d love to try basically anything in the window and then holding onto our precious euros, rationalizing that we were getting free food in a matter of minutes. I made my first truly european purchase – a leather shoulder bag !! , which was totally necessary considering that my current favorite travel bag (the every trust worthy USA Ultimate nationals drawstring) was not only obviously American but had somehow managed to rip at the seems in 4 different places, oops. Finally it was time for lunch! We were served veggie lasagna (NOTHING like what you could possibly expect from hearing the word lasagna), chicken, and cheesecake. A very strange combination of foods, if I do say so myself. Somewhat full, we started our trek back to the “sauna”, passing over the Puente de San Martin, a beautiful medieval bridge across the Tagus river and, of course, another perfect photo stop! An hour later we were back in Madrid and Friday night basically repeated itself. But Friday was good, so I was okay with that.

Come Sunday, we were all pretty tired, especially those who decided to party hard two nights in a row – not sure what they were thinking! They missed some really good movies : P We spent about 2 hours on a tour through el Museo del Prado where we were whisked from room to room to look specifically at one photo or another, focusing the majority of our time on paintings by Goya and Velázquez. I’ve mentioned before I’m not much of an art fanatic but I was excited to see Las Meninas in person, definitely a cool painting with the three different portions of light! When our tour finished, we sprinted off to the Parque de Retiro, set on spending our last 30 minutes in Madrid amongst the beautiful gardens and water, something we hadn’t seen much of all weekend. Several pictures later – yes that’s right more pictures. This time in trees and flower beds and near statues, but you saw that coming, right? – we were sprinting again, this time back to the bus. We were treated to yet another meal at the hotel cafeteria, we certainly got to know their pasta salads and coffee machines well, and then it was time to say adios to the capital city. We were Bilbao bound once again.

Upon arriving at the bus station 4 hours later, we were all a little groggy and incredibly happy to be released from the “sauna”. As we waited for our nice clean metro to take us into Getxo, we professed to each other how happy we were to be back home. Yeah, home! It may have taken us a month and a trip to two other Spanish cities, but in that moment we realized just how much of an attachment we have to our new lives here. I now have proof that Spain consists of more than pretty little Bilbao and yet am incredibly happy that Bilbao is the city I get to call home!

Sorry for the delay in posting and for writing a novel! On a side note, we had my favorite meal for lunch today – PISTO!!! Great day! ¡Que tengáis una semana buena! Hasta pronto : )

Hello world!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

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Newspaper Article

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Only one more blogpost today, I promise. However I’ll be traveling tomorrow through Monday because of midterms, so just think of this as your payment for those long cold days with no updates.

I wrote an introduction about myself for the school newspaper, and my rockstar co-teacher helped me recruit (i.e. saw students in line for the ATM and dragged them over) students for a picture. They look so thrilled. The newspaper was published today, so here is my introduction!

“Introduction to Changpyeong High School – Emily Potosky

I came to Korea in the fall of 2010 as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, a program that promotes intercultural exchange through teaching, with the intention of staying for only one year. However through my experiences living with a homestay family, traveling all over Korea, studying Korean, and most of all teaching my students, I realized that I was not ready to leave. I enjoy both being a teacher and being a student too much, so I decided to stay in Korea for one more year. I had heard from Ms. Sicat about how amazing Changpyeong High School was, and thus applied to teach here.

Last year I taught at Sapgyo High School, in Yesan county, South Chungcheong Province. That was my first introduction to Korean high school students. I am very impressed by the work ethic of the average Korean student, and after finishing two weeks at Changpyeong High School, I am especially impressed by the caliber of the students and faculty here. Even after such a short amount of time, just by observing the students and the teachers I can tell that Changpyeong High School takes education very seriously. I am honored and excited to spend this year as part of a faculty that puts so much effort and enthusiasm into quality teaching, because education is not only a means for improving job prospects, but it is also a means of improving yourself. I believe that all foreign language study, not just English and certainly not just American English, is important, because it is one of the best ways to learn about other cultures and other people.

As a teacher and a fellow foreign language learner I strive for communicative competence. Communicative competence can be loosely defined as the ability to communicate through knowledge of grammar as well as knowing the appropriate time to use certain utterances. It is impossible to learn a language just by memorizing phrases and grammar points – you also need to know when to use them! It is both possible to say something grammatically correct but completely contextually wrong, and to say something grammatically incorrect but nevertheless understood and appropriate for the situation. My goal as the native English teacher is to impart contextual knowledge to the best of my abilities, because I believe that it is more important to be understood than to be grammatically correct.

I am incredibly excited to get to know all of you. So please, I invite you to come practice speaking English with me outside of the classroom whenever you have the time. I am sure that I will learn a lot from you this year.”

On a more positive note…

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Last week I discovered the ill-used English lab, which is mostly used by third grade students for self-study. This room has a plethora of resources, including a stash of easy-to-understand English newspapers, a giant bookshelf, at least 8 sets of scrabble, and a giant pile of massive whiteboards. This is perfect timing for the week after midterms. Class is going to be so much fun next week…

Well shoot…

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

It’s offical, I had my first major screw up. I definitely just skipped a class and didn’t realize it until 10 minutes ago. Instead of going to class I went to lunch and then worked on my powerpoint, and odds are I probably wouldn’t have realized it until my co-teacher suggested we run our errand during the lunch period, which is when I normally eat. I just looked up at the clock and realized well dang, I guess I ate during 4th period. Oh wait, I have class during 4th period. No but I just taught a class – oh, a boys class. During 3rd period. I was definitely supposed to have class 4th period.

At least I had a solid month of not messing up. And this is why, girls and boys, it’s important to know your schedule.

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By the way my co-teacher was really nice about it. I regifted him a clementine I got earlier in the day, and he told me to take it easy, and that everyone makes mistakes.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Time Magazine recently published an article entitled “Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone” which dissects the problems in the Korean Education System.  It’s an interesting read, and with midterms at school coming up, the issues in this article are something I’ve wanted to address for awhile.

At Changpyeong High School the first class technically starts at 8:50 am, but every single student is at their desk at 7:30 doing a listening class through the Educational Broadcasting System, or EBS for short (한국교육방송공사) which is an educational television and radio network. This is not something that’s just limited to school – EBS has their own radio station which I’ve heard blasting in cabs and in teacher’s cars, and at any point in the day you can go to the EBS cable channels (that’s right, channels) and view educational material. While there’s nothing wrong with having educational cable channels, this is a good indicator of how important education is considered in modern Korean society.

After EBS classes, students have normal classes from 8:50 am until 3:20 pm, with a short break for lunch. They have twenty minutes for lunch, and the rest of that hour-long lunch period is self-study time. Afterwards there’s a thirty minute cleaning period, followed by more late-afternoon and evening classes, which I do not teach.  I’m honestly not sure how late students have class, but from my apartment I can hear the bell ringing until ten pm.

The majority of the 850 students at school live in the dormitories because some of them come from very far away to attend this school, but also because it gives them a chance to study. They live in eight-person dorm rooms, but rarely spend any time there because they study until at least midnight if not later in the classrooms or in self-study rooms located all around campus. Then they wake up and do this again.

My students don’t have weekends – there are classes on alternate Saturdays, and even on free days they stay at school and self-study. They can go home about once a month, but some students can’t because they live so far away, and therefore only go home on major holidays. They spend three years doing this, my poor teenagers, so that they can get into the top universities in Korea.

The article mentions that the government is putting restrictions on hagwons (private companies where students go after school and study some more either one-on-one with a tutor or in a small class) and stopping them from operating after 10 pm, however many student who attend boarding schools or schools in the countryside don’t go to hagwon so this restriction will not change anything. Though the government is taking a good first step in reducing those hours, ultimately it’s not going to stop students from studying, as is evidenced by my students. We have to change the mindset that 14 to 20 mindless hours of study a day is better than 8 hours of sleep, and we have to relieve some of the pressure that the students are under.

I have midterms this week. This puts me in a bit of a strange situation, as it’s a time of rest for me, because not only do I get to travel during this time period, but I’m giving students self-study time for half of the class, which means that I get chunks of 25 minutes where I’m sitting in class reading a book and observing the students either frantically study or pass out. Homeroom teachers and subject teachers are also stressed because they have to write the midterms, prepare the paperwork, and because how well the students does reflects on their abilities. I’m basically the only relaxed person in the entire school besides perhaps the cafeteria staff.

I just finished teaching one of my first grade (high school sophomore) advanced boys’ classes. Half of them fell asleep, and half of them started studying. One student started snoring which was the catalyst to start a conversation with the awake boys. We talked about midterms, their dormitory life, their studying and sleeping patterns, and how nervous they are for this test. At the end of class I wished them luck, and one student said “thanks for the self-study time. Please pray for us.”

It is no longer 1950. Korea in the past had such a short amount of time to industrialize, so every single person was valuable and had to do as much as they could. I remember an old-quote about Korea in the post-war period – “Most countries work 9 – 5, we work 5 – 9.” Korea is developed, while it is important to keep up the Korean work ethic that has come to define this country, we can’t put all that pressure on students. Something has to give.

Madrid and Toledo!

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Hello again everyone!

Wow, there has been so many activities and excitement packed into one weekend, I don’t even know where to begin!

First off, our VIP night at Pacha was amazing. We were given our own private leather couch, and the employees at the club treated us like royalty. We definitely got a lot of jealous looks from the people around us!

Even though Thursday was a late night, we still managed to make it to the bus on time on Friday, thank goodness. We rested up on the bus, and within 5 hours, we had arrived in Madrid! That same afternoon, we had an excursion to el “Palacio Real,” or the Royal Palace. It was beautiful from the outside, and even fancier and more elaborate on the inside. Apparently there are over 3,000 rooms in the palace, and we only saw about 10-15 of them. Each room had “wallpaper” that was actually embroidered silk and furniture/decorations made entirely from gold. Let me tell you, it is definitely one expensive palace!

Later that afternoon, we saw a few different plazas, including Plaza Mayor and la Puerta del Sol. I couldn’t get over how many people were gathered in one place. It was a pretty amazing site to see! It was in these plazas where we also saw so many of the strange things people do to try to get tourists to give them money. People would paint their body completely in different colored mud or body makeup and stand/sit completely still to resemble a statue. There was another man who was suspended completely off the ground, and I, for the life of me, could not figure out what his trick was. Finally, the most bizarre thing had to be when we were approached by some college aged guy holding an egg. He told us that, “For one euro, we could crack the egg on his head!” Obviously, we passed on that offer!

On Saturday, we took a day trip to Toledo, which was only about an hour away by bus. I have to say that Toledo is my favorite city in Spain, thus far. It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! During our bus tour around the city, we stopped on top of a hill just to get out and take pictures of the amazing view of the city. There’s just something about the architecture and the buildings there that was so stunning. In the morning, we had a guided tour of the city’s biggest gothic cathedral. It was gigantic, and the amount of detail that went into making the altar, the statues, murals, etc. is unbelievable. It was definitely awe inspiring! Although I wish we could have had more time in Toledo, our time there was well-spent!   

On Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then made our way downtown to the Museo del Prado. Here, we got to see lots of famous paintings like “Las Meninas” by Velázquez, “El jardin de las delicias” by El Bosco, and many of famous works by Goya. Our tour guide was an art professor who really knew her stuff, so it was cool to listen to her input and learn a lot about the different art styles and art periods. After the museum, some friends and I walked over to a nearby park called Parque del Retiro. It was an absolutely perfect day, and we enjoyed taking pictures next to the many trees, benches, and fountains.

Oh yeah, I should also mention that the nightlife in Madrid was fabulous! On Friday night, a lot of my friends and I went to Kapital, a club made up of 7 different floors and 7different kinds of music. The setting was awesome, and everyone was dressed to impress. You’re definitely not getting in if you’re wearing a t-shirt or flip-flops. Since I LOVE getting dressed up, this certainly was not an issue for me. Then on Saturday night, we walked around Puerta del Sol, which has a lot of bars, cafes, and just people in general. It was really cool to see the plaza at night with all the lights and to be surrounded by all the locals! 

We arrived back in Bilbao yesterday around 7:15 at night. I was pretty exhausted, but still managed to get my homework done. Getting up for my 9AM class this morning was definitely a little rough. Tomorrow, I will Skype with my family and my friends and I are planning to go out after class for my birthday (I can’t believe it is already my birthday. I also can’t believe I am turning 20….sounds so old!!).

As always, thanks for reading! There are so many details in between that I just don’t have the space or time to write, unfortunately! I can’t wait to tell you all everything in person! Miss everyone!

Love, Jen