Sunday, May 31, 2009

The First Weekend

My first weekend was kind of low key. I went out on Thursday night with Kelly and Cassi and that was enough for me! We had an absolute blast though. Here are some pictures from the night.
Notice my terrible sunburn!
Me, Cassi and Kelly

Kelly and I

Friday, I used to catch up on all my sleep. I have been getting up so early (and so easily!) this week that I was completely warn out. I had really bad sunburn from Thrusday too, so while everyone went to the beach I took a siesta. Kelly made me dinner, then I watched some Grey's Anatomy and went to bed.
Saturday, I woke up with a completely swollen eye. It was terrible, but it went away in a few hours. On a more positive note, Jackie, my little from Alpha Chi Omega, who is studying in France right now, came to visit with some friends. We spent the day at the beach and doing some shopping. It was so awesome to spend time with such a close friend. We both wished that we could have done this together since it has been really hard for us. We made a great dinner again that night and while we were waiting for everyone to be ready, Jackie and I fell asleep!! The Spainish sun definitely wears you out let me tell you!!
Today, I am just taking the day to get this blog started. I wanted to create my own so I would have my point of view on everything. Also, I am going to head to the beach since my sunburn faded and get some homework done. It is so awesome being on the beach and getting things done. It really helps me clear my head.
I miss you all. Love you loads as well!!
Until Later.

Our Apartment

Basically, our apartment is one long hallway. It starts with the front door and the bathroom is right in front of it.

The kitchen is a few feet down and Marta and my bedrooms are across from one another before the family room.

This is our "family room" and Kelly's room is off of this room.

This is our bathroom.

And this is our entry hallway/the whole apartment.

This is my room. I have the biggest one in the apartment and I am the only one with a full bed :) I must be a princess or something!!
Our apartment is definitely small, but it is cozy and very nice.

The First Week

The River where I meet Beth and Seth for class

So we started classes Tuesday. I am taking Spanish 204, which is the second level of intermediate Spainish. Also, I am taking Contemporary Spainish Art. That class is going to be difficult becuase my professor only speaks in Spanish-- really fast! My Spanish 204 professor is amazing. She is so full of life and its so enjoyable. I have class from 9am -10:50am (which includes a 10 minute break, I wish all classes did that!!)

This is the walk we take to school.

The walk to and from school is along the beach and it's beautiful. Beth, our friend Seth and I walk to class together in the morning. It usually takes about 30 minutes to walk from school. Beth goes to the University of Toledo and Seth goes to the University of Iowa.

Yesterday and today were finally gorgeous and we were able to go to the beach. We did our homework on the beach, and were there all afternoon. And I have the sunburn to prove it.

Beth, Kylee and I at the beach

The girl who lived in our apartment before us is actually staying until tomorrow night in our family room. She was here for 2 semesters and so she showed us around. Her name is Cassi she is from Boise State. She left us some good things, which was great! It was so sad to see her go. We all got close in the 3 days she spent with us.

Random Spain Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts about Spain that I find really intersting. I will update it every time I find something else fun!!

  • - When you order potatoes, you get french fries, for EVERY meal
  • They have siesta time, everyday from 1:30-4:30 mostly everything is closed, and then reopens until 8 or 8:30.
  • Nearly 90% of the population smokes (YUCK!!)
  • Wine is cheaper than water.
  • They have baday´s (cleans your butt) in their bathrooms
  • If you go to a club before 11, it is not even open.
  • Clubs are packed until 5am.
  • In starbucks, you must type in the code on your receipt in order to use the restroom.
  • Dinner is only served after a specific time
  • All grocery stores are underground
  • Dogs are never on leashes, and never bother people.
  • They have a name for the sun... Lorenzo
  • Parents allow their children to pee in bushes and often prop them up so they can go.
  • Kitchens do not have ovens, only stovetops.
  • I live in the basque country, so every sign is in basque and spainsh
  • All cars here are stick shift

Segovia and our first day in San Sebastian

The whole San Sebastian 2009 Group in Segovia

Today, we went to a town called Segovia on our way to San Sebastian. In Segovia, we saw a maginificent castle, which Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty's castle was inspired by. It was amazing and the views were stunning.

Me at the top of the Castle

Also in Segovia, we saw a 2000 year old aqueduct. Segovia was a Roman military base where they needed water, so they construct ed a 9 mile aqueduct. They used nothing but stone to create this, and it is still standing!!

Roman Aqueduct in Segovia

After Segovia we started driving towards San Sebastian. We stopped at a "self service cafeteria" and Kelly and I got pasta which was pretty nasty. It was 6 euros and tasted like spaghetti-o's but worse. NASTY!

Anyways so then we drove a lot more and finally (after the huge hail storm) got to San Sebastian.We stayed in a super nice hotel and had dinner at a neighboring restaruant and we got really yummy ice cream for dessert. Here is where we met the rest of the kids in our group for the summer.

Today we had an orientation and took a spanish placement exam. Then we found our apartment! We are living right in the center of town which is very nice in a cute little apartment. It has cherry wood floors throughout and is tiny but well kept. The craziest part is the way you dry clothes. There's a window in the kitchen that has this greenhouse type courtyard that is just for clotheslines. We did a load of laundry and were amazed.We took a walking tour of town and made a small stop at the grocery store. We had to carry our food back so we didn't buy much!

Our roommate is Spanish and her name is Marta. She is very, very nice and speaks perfect english. She has hopes to become and English teacher and is going to Los Angeles in the fall. We like her a lot. Tonight we just unpacked and got settled in and now it's about to be midnight and we have classes tomorrow so we may go to bed soon. We will update on how classes go later. OH! I almost forgot .... since Marta lives here permantely, we have the internet which is very uncommon for USAC students! So awesome!

I forgot another great thing! Kelly and I tried this little cafe by the cathedral in the center of our side of town and we got AMAZING hamburgers. We both agreed it was one of the best burgers ever. Also, an interesting thing is that when a menu says chips or potatoes it really means french fries. WEIRD!

Here's my mailing address:

  • Katie DiCostanzo
  • USAC Edificio Ignacio M^a Barriola
  • Universidad del Pais Vasco/EHU
  • Plaza Elhuyar 1
  • 20018 Donostia-San Sebastian, Gipuzcoa, Spain

El Escorial, Valle de los Caidos, Shopping and Gino's

Here is a picture of El Escorial.

Today we visited El Escorial which is a palace, a monestary and a royal pantheon. In the basement, there are tombs of Kings and Queens who governed Spain. It was built in the 16th century.

By the way, we have an amazing tour guide, her name is Marisol. She is the most upbeat, and happy older lady I have ever met. You can tell she loves this place. She has been taking us around the amazing cities of Spain.

This is Beth, Kelly and I in front of the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caidos).

Valle de los Caidos is a basilica carved into a mountain. The prisioners from the spanish civil war built this to get out of their jail time faster. This is a monument to honor all those who died in the war. It was very big and had a church inside.There is a huge, 500ft cross built on top of the mountain. One of the best parts was the ceiling though, it was a mosaic made of tiny sqaures. So cool!

Today after our visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen, we went to this amazing restaurant named Gino's. It was this fabulous italian place that had great sangria. It was my frist taste of Spanish sangria, and I think I fell inlove. It was good to finally eat something I knew I'd like!!

Kelly and I had came home and took a siesta after lunch, then we went out shopping on a street called Grand Via. There are so many shops on this street and restaurants too. We ended up spending a little bit of money to make us look a little less american!

Tonight was an easy, relaxing night. We went out to get a drink and then called it an early evening and packed our suitcases. Tomorrow we are on our way to San Sebastian and on our way there we are stopping in another gorgeous city, Segovia.

Royal Palace, Toledo and Madrid

This is the view from the Royal Palace.

Yesterday we visited the Museo Prado and the Royal Palace located in Madrid. The Prado was pretty much a regular art museum there were some cool paintings but it was hot and we were really tired. We went to the Royal palace first and we really enjoyed it.The Royal Palace was more interesting and really pretty. It was built in 1738 I believe and it's where the royal family lives. The king and queen actually live somewhere else but they sometimes visit this and they hold banquets and a lot of parties there. It was decorated very ornately and all the ceilings were painted.

One of the street performers getting ready.

We also went to Plaza Mejor and went to a market which was our first interaction buying things! In the plaza there are tons and tons of street preformers! It is funny seeing all these different people dressed up and asking for money.

Today we went to Toledo which was GOREGOUS! It was so, so pretty. It was about an hour away and the views were amazing. We went to the cathedral and it was so cool. The inside was huge and had tons of stained glass and everything was decorated. It took 250 years to build and was sooo detailed. Toledo used to be the capital of Spain before Madrid. It is probably one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen. Completely breathtaking.

The view of Toledo.

We also saw a Jewish temple and El Grecco's famous painting. Toledo was really fun and had great shopping. Kelly and I both bought a few things, we have to bring that Spainish fashion back to Ohio.

The entrance of the catherdal.

Madrid Tour

Today was super long. Our first flight was on this teeny tiny plane with only three seats in a row. Very weird. So we did that just fine and got to Philly with three hours to hang out so we went to a bar and grille and ate some really yummy burgers and had some beer and went to our gate with an hour to spare. But apparently an hour wasn't enough and we got the last two seats on the plane and obviously we not next to one another. After practicing our pouty faces and asking a lot of people we were able to sit next to one another.

A little boy kicked my seat the whole time and the woman behind Kell tapped her on her shoulder when she reclined my seat which was rude. The plane was HUGE and had individual tv screens for each person to control. I watched Yes Man and Kelly watched Bride Wars. They gave us socks, eye masks, a toothbrush and toothpaste which was cool. So we made it with not very much sleep to London where we met Bethany.She was on our flight and we were on the next one together so we got our tickets together etc. London airport is HUGE and has so many places to shop it's nuts.

The last flight to Madrid was 2 hours and the worst by far. I slept for majority of the time resting my head on the little tray table. Nothing was free, not even water. Iberia sucks! It was dumb. But on the long flight EVERYTHING was free. Very cool.So we finally get to Madrid and the airport is very modern. Kelly and I got our luggage but Bethany's was lost so we waited around for that. Then we went to the shuttle station. We waited another hour but met a really nice French couple that gave us their info and told us to email them if we want them to show us around France and we could stay with them and he gave us all the places we should visit.So we rode the shuttle/van with them and the man drops us off at THE WRONG HOTEL. So the three of us have all our luggage and are walking through downtown Madrid. Kelly and Beth were asking everyone to point on this map if we are going in the right direction and finally we get to the hotel.It was tiring and frustrating but we made it and all had time for a quick shower before dinner. There are a ton of people from our program here and they are all really cool. We are very tired and have tours at 9 am so goodnight!

We'll post pictures soon.