Monday, January 24, 2011


Oh - and I almost forgot to tell you all about the BIGGEST BURGER I have ever seen! Apparently the cafeteria at my school wants to make people REALLY fat... or thinks they're serving giants. Caitlin and I were in the line and we turned around and saw this burger behind us on the tray of a very skinny girl:

Note: the water in the upper corner. Woman, I don't think a few more calories would have killed you... not sure the water is going to make much of a difference with this meal!

In awe!!

January 24, 2011 - an ordinary day

How did you like that extra long blog post yesterday? Did it make your daily reading time three times as long? :) haha sorry... today's post won't be nearly as long. I just have a few things to say:
  1. I am extreeeeeemely disappointed with school right now. Carmen - the fabulous professor that I wrote about on the last blog - is no longer my professor :( Her dad died and for some reason she had to leave for the entire semester. So, we have a new woman named Eva, who seems much more strict. :( no buena! The first thing she started talking about was how it wasn't going to be easy to make an A. GREAT!
  2. Day two of the Monday / Wednesday rotation and I still can't understand what either of my Cinema or Business professors are talking about. Apparently the business professor took up this paragraph we had to write for homework - guess who didn't turn theirs in? ME! AND I was the first one in the classroom, one of the only ones with the required book, and had already completed the assignment! Mere translation FAIL! So I emailed her this afternoon explaining that I hadn't understood something within the language barrier, and I wrote down the paragraph on the email so she would know that I had done it. Hopefully she's nice?! :)
  3. It's cold... and getting colder. Today I had to wear a BIG puffy jacket and for those of you who looked at the castle pictures - we were in t-shirts and workout pants! What is going on here, Spain! You're supposed to be warming up. The teachers at school say that this is unusually cold for Alicante and that we students probably brought the cold weather with us from the United States. haha oh aren't we Americans nice?!
Well, that's basically it for today. We went to school, I had lunch with Caitlin, another girl that I met today, and found out that Spaniards have a problem with microwaves on the left-side of a table. ?? It was working perfectly fine (I tested it when I got up to the front of the line after standing in line for 10 minutes wondering why no one was using the left microwave) and I told the guy behind me that it was working and to use it and he got really animated and said, "No... no no!" Hmm.... it turned on and was emitting heat - I don't understand, Spain! Maybe something was wrong that I didn't know about.
I wore my new gray jeans today (TOTALLY FORGOT TO WRITE ABOUT THOSE! okay so everywhere around Alicante is having MAJOR sales right now since it's the month after Christmas... so I got a pair of skinny-legged gray jeans for 15euro... :) yayy!! They're oober cute!) and felt quite Spanish and stylish in them. Maybe I'll toss that huge Clemson sweater aside for now, eh? ;)
After my first two classes, lunch, and then my business class, Abby, Grace and I rode the bus home and I came in and tried to warm myself up. Nutrisystem dinner followed a study session Abby and I had for our classes (Abby is the one from Maryland that lives in the apartment across the hall). We finished up and now I'm finishing up on here. MaryAnn and Krista went out shopping again - I had to refrain so I don't spend anymore money. I think I have enough clothes for now...... I'll wait for another set of new clothes to become available :)

Oh yeah - found out that Real Madrid and Alicante are playing in Madrid on April 17th.... the flights (round-trip) are 15 euro... the tickets to the game: 300 euro. Goodbye fútbol opportunity hello reality (sorry Raffy and KA... guess I won't be cheering for your team this time around)!

Going to try to relearn what we learned in class!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gotta love three-day weekends!

FIVE days have gone by and I haven't written. That's really unusual! The truth is, I have just had sooo much going on, it's ridiculous. So, I'll do it by day -- and put the day as the heading.

(01/19) Wednesday
First day of classes! The girls and I woke up at 7ish to get ready for school! Too bad no mothers were here to take a cute "first day of school" picture of the four of us! :) I decided to look like a noob-American (I guess) and wear my big Clemson sweatshirt, jeans and wallabees -- much to my roommates dismay, I might add. I was a walking, "HEY LOOK! THERE'S AN AMERICAN!" hahahahaha. At least I was comfortable and warm, though; it was sooo cold out that day!

In Alicante, there are 1.8 million people; 26,000 of these are students at the University of Alicante (where I am attending school) -- which is actually located in a town called San Vicente.
This university used to be an army base, and many of its buildings, though redone, are the same structures they once used as a control tower for the jet planes, the storage sheds for the planes, barracks for the army men to live in, etc. It's pretty neat, all of the history that floats around that place! Well, to continue about the first day on campus, we all got on buses and headed to the campus on our own for the first time. We were supposed to meet at the control tower (center of campus; also, picture to the right -->) so that we could find out what classes we were in -- and who our teachers were going to be. I got all of my classes with MaryAnn and Krista - except my business spanish class; they are taking dancing instead. The profesores (professors) met us outside of the control tower and took us to the classrooms we were going to be in the rest of the semester. I LOVE LOVE LOVE our first professor, Carmen Medio Simon; she's awesome! She's sooo energetic and fun! She loves to smile, laugh, and teach. WONDERFUL?! I hope so!! Then after that class from 9 - 11:10am, we had a short 25 minute break where we found the lunch hall and I microwaved my Nutrisystem while the other girls bought something like pizza... not sure exactly what it was. haha.
The second professor, John Sanderson, picked us up at the control tower at 11:35am for our Panorama de Cinema class. Supposedly this is a good class... I don't know what I'm going to think of it, yet. I could barely understand a single word he said in class because he spoke so quickly. Lord, help me in this class. Basically - we have to watch movies, analyze them and then write essays (all in Spanish, of course).
After this class MaryAnn and Krista get to leave but Caitlin and I still have a third class. She's in the cinema class with us, I forgot to add. MaryAnn and Krista went home... Caitlin and I went walking around until our next class. We explored the library, the cafeterias, the post office, the bookstore and then a furniture store across the street just for kicks and giggles. I am not sure what extra class Caitlin takes on Mondays and Wednesdays, but I have to take Spanish for Business. The professor for that is Mrs Inés Martínez. This one will be a beneficial class towards my education, but not fun.

So my class schedule is as follows:
  • Spanish Composition I & II [M/W 9 - 11:10] [T/TH 9:30 -11:40]
  • Panorama de Cinema [M/W 11:35 - 12:55]
  • Spanish for Business [M/W 2:40 - 4:00]
  • Conversación III [T/TH 12:05 - 1:00]

I've discovered that this school is a lot like American schools... in the mannerisms of the people, I mean. The only difference is that when you're walking around, you don't hear a single bit of English... the way people hang out, talk, walk around, study on the lawn, etc. all reminds me of Clemson. Ohhh I miss dear ol' Tiger Town.

After school, the roommates and I went to the market (again? yes..) to get some vegetables to cook with the chicken we were planning for dinner. We passed the meat section and Caitlin and MaryAnn took a cute picture (considering MaryAnn LOVES meat and Caitlin is a vegetarian):
Dinner this night was AWESOME! Again, we used the mysterious spices from the cabinet (may I correct myself... MARYANN AND KRISTA used the mysterious spices from the cabinet) and cooked sauteed chicken, rice and vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots).
Considering Caitlin is a vegetarian, she made the most amusing sandwich instead of eating our chicken. French bread, cheese, olive oil, vegetables and rice.... hmmm... She says it was good - I'll believe her :)

Skype that night with Papa, Carolyn, and Mom.... and I detailed our kitchen for 4 hours because I was sick of how dirty it was. Now-- it's bleached and as clean as a whistle! I'm no longer afraid to eat in there :)

(01/20) Thursday
Second day of classes and the roommates and I were almost late. We underestimated the time that it would take the bus to get to school so we were walking in the class AS the class was supposed to begin. Carmen wasn't there though and this caused for a weird first class. Instead of having just one substitute, every forty minutes we had a different sub! So... 3 teachers for the first class all trying to teach the same lesson - yup, interesting. We were in here from 9:30 - 11:40... we learned about ser and estar and we also (during our 10 minute pausa aka: break) found an automatic coffee maker. PRETTY sweet. It drops down a cup, makes the coffee, then drops down a spoon and sugar in the cup of coffee, then opens the little door for you to take the concoction. We have some awesome engineers in this world now-a-days don't we?!
At lunch, I had another Nutrisystem. The other girls didn't eat today for some reason.
We hurried off to the central tower for our newest professor to pick us up and take us to conversation class: Mr. Santiago Martínez. I like his class; he's a lot like Carmen: funny, vibrant, energetic, and will speak in words that he knows we'll understand -- for now. We introduced ourselves and talked about our lives and then we had to partner up with someone in the class and interview them. My partner was Abby Murray -- one of the girls that I had gotten to know so far on this trip because she's one of the four girls that lives across the hall from our apartment. YAY. I like her :) oober sweet and seems like a lot of fun. She's from Maryland and actually (this is directed at Scott Shuffield) lives in College Park. Small world!
After class a few of us from class (who basically all have the same classes) went to the bookstore and bought our books for the semester. A total of 104 U.S. dollars bought books for 18 hours worth of class.... take that America! I think my last semester at Clemson was around 600$. Now that I've seen what other people around the world pay for books - I'm not going to be too kind to the people of book stores in the United States... what a bargain it is here!

We got home and then MaryAnn, Krista and I decided to go on a run. None of us had been to the beach yet and we wanted to go see what it was like - and what better way to get there than on a jog?! So we put on the goofiest outfits that Spaniards would see (meaning exercise pants, bright shorts and t-shirts, and tennis shoes) and sprinted off towards the beach. We were correct - we got stares from EVERYONE on the streets. Apparently people don't run around the city here - that's what gyms are for. B O R I N G !!!! AND guess what!? They have separate gyms for girls and boys! The school gym is obviously just for guys because in our time off the other day, we went to check it out and there was like MAYBE one girl in there and only two treadmills. Not cool sexist people... I do not approve. Now what am I supposed to do with my two extra hours of break time on Mondays and Wednesdays?! They do have a pool, however, and I brought my one-piece and goggles.... ha.
Back to the topic of today's run! We took a good number of pictures along the way because today was just so wonderfully pretty! When we were taking one of the pictures on the beach this guy and his girlfriend walked up to us and said, in almost perfect English, "Oh, you're from Clemson?" WEIRD! Well, we did all have on Clemson shirts, so I guess it wasn't THAT weird but after talking to them we found out that the guy had studied at Charleston back in 2008 and visited Clemson once or twice - but he was from France. Once again, small world.

Here's a video clip I took while running... or two video clips :) I show the beach, my roommates and the town around us. ENJOY!

We found a little exercise trail on the beach (not as cool as the one in Myrtle Beach)... but still pretty interesting. MaryAnn saw it first and said, "Oh, those are cute little seats..." haha! Not seats, silly girl... exercise equipment (picture to the left). Sorry the picture quality isn't that fabulous - we were using my iPod to take pictures.

After the run we came home, ate left-overs (more chicken and veggies for me!!! yayy!!!) and then all took showers. No school tomorrow so we were going to finally go out and see what Spainards do on their Thursday nights. The other kids from the program all agreed to meet at the Mexican restaurant two blocks from our apartment for margaritas... and then who knows from there.
The whole "night-life" scene isn't really my thing but I decided to be social and go along with it in order to meet people in the program and experience a new culture -- probably won't be doing that very much after this night's experience.

So, I knew before I even moved here that people don't typically go out until about 1:00am and get home at 7:00am ...... I guess I wasn't thinking about this when I left the house at 11:30pm. I agreed to go from the Mexican restaurant to one of the pubs a few streets over... and from there we all basically separated from one huge group to smaller groups. I didn't want to be alone on the streets so I just kept tagging along making sure that everyone was okay. I finally got tired around 2:00am but couldn't go home because we were so far away from the apartment in an unknown city at 2:00 in the middle of the night. I couldn't walk home alone so I waited until Caitlin and a few others finally got tired as well and walked me home -- we got back at 4:30am because we made sure that everyone (Gab, Alexa, Sarah, and a few others) that walked with us got to their apartments first. I came in and crashed smelling of smoke and fulllyyyy exhausted. I think we ended up going to the Mexican restaurant, two different pubs and then the discoteca from which I finally left. I had a great time up until about two... but then that's where the night should end. I didn't want to get stuck again on the other side of town in a smokey bar, so I decided to stay home on Friday and Saturday (the next two following nights). I'll find my own fun around here for night life. Maybe cooking classes? Dancing classes? Who knows... that's what research and the internet can help with!

(01/21) Friday
Seeing as I got home at 4:30am, I slept until about 2:00PM!! haha - can you blame me? I woke up, showered, and finally felt clean again. I threw in a load of laundry and then ate my breakfast waiting on the other girls to wake up. Caitlin had been up for a while so she and I talked while I ate. MaryAnn and Krista got up at 3:00pm - 30 minutes before we were supposed to be meeting the school at City Hall to go on a tour of the castle. They didn't realize what time it was because as I was walking out of the door to go meet the class MaryAnn was popping maccaroni and cheese into the microwave. I threw it into a to-go cup for her with a plastic spoon and told them we had to sprint in order to make it to City Hall on time; so we were off, running through the streets like mad-women in brightly colored workout clothing again. Funny Americans. :)
We made it to the meeting place as the group was walking off - PERFECT - so we fell in quietly behind. The castle hike was AMAZING!! It was quite a hike though! I'm not exactly sure how high up we were, but I'm sure the pictures could help give you an idea... (this picture is of me sitting on the old castle wall over looking the city of Alicante below.... the Mediterranean is to my left and to my right are the mountains):
This castle was built back in the 700s by the Arabians to help guard their city from anyone trying to attack. It was also used to promote order in the city. Apparently, it was easier to reign from a higher point than somewhere amongst the other buildings in the city. :) I'm sure this place would be GORGEOUS for a sunrise or sunset - that's one of my goals for this semester... to hike up there before one or the other and take loads of pictures!

On the way home we discovered this photographer's gallery... he shoots brides and their weddings and OOOOHHH his shots that were hanging in the window were SO so pretty and cool! In fact, I learned that after a wedding ceremony here, it's basically mandatory that the bride and groom go galivanting around the city with the photographer and the guests of the wedding following them around cheering them on and taking cool pictures. How fun would that be?! And, how come America doesn't have cool rituals like that?

Not much else happened tonight -- we got home around 7:00pm from the hike, I had a Nutrisystem for dinner and the girls took naps. I was editing pictures when they woke up and they were deciding whether or not to go out. I fell asleep at 10:00pm and they hadn't decided yet so when I woke up at 2:00am and walked to the bathroom, it took me by surprise when I saw them both lying asleep in their beds. I guess they weren't as keen on going out as I had thought they were going to be for a Friday night. :)

(01/22) Saturday
Today was sleeping and errand-running day. I slept until 1:00pm (WOW - I guess I was really tired) and then the girls and I got up and went to the Market - again. I was out of milk and I needed plastic spoons that I could take to school to eat my lunches with. We were going to try to get bus passes as well but after walking allllll the way to the station where we were going to have to purchase them, found out they're not open on the weekends. Oh well. We were hungry anyways and I REALLY have a craving for chocolate - seeing as I hadn't had any in a long while - so we went to this little café where I got a chocolate milk-shake (too milky... not thick enough) and FINALLY got to try one of their homemade waffles (gofres). I had been dying to try one to see if they were anything like a Belgian waffle - but unfortunately (or maybe forntuately for my waistline) they weren't even close at being as good. :( We went home shortly afterwards and then watched some TV. There are no English channels here --- ahhh!! But, I guess that's a good learning thing, as well, eh? I caught up with people on Skype and then was in bed again at an early time this night as well. The girls went out tonight... had people over at the house until 1:00am and then they left. I was asleep and didn't hear them come in but they said they didn't get back til about 7:00am this night. WOW...

(01/23) Sunday
Today we planned trips, did homework, layed around the house and cleaned a little bit. I finished my room - FINALLY. I caught up on this blog and I slept - a lot. I don't know what's going on with me -- maybe I'm finally letting my body get the sleep it needs from jet lag and the whole first week of no sleep because of everything that was going on! Here are a few pictures of my room... I need more thumbtacks so I can put more pictures on the walls (and less on the windows haha) but that'll have to come later. The girls went out for seafood tonight but I stayed home, ate a Nutrisystem and did a P90x episode. I'm already tired of spending money over here and it's only been a week.... ahhh oh how expensive it is.
The girls and I have decided we need to find a good church to go to on Sundays. We thought we had found one, but couldn't find a time that it started... which is why we slept in this Sunday. That will be one of my missions for this week, though.

Good night world. I am finally all caught up and you all have had a LOT to read! School comes early and this warm bed (finally) is calling my name.

Here are the links to the photoalbums on facebook... and don't forget! the links to the videos are posted above in this post:


Thursday, January 20, 2011


Actually... I did see a bee today -- but it was a weird bee.

Anywho! Writing to say that today was INSANELY busy but a good day! I'll write about it tomorrow seeing as it is 12:45 and I have class at 9:30. Keep posted!! I'll take some pictures of the school tomorrow if it is actually sunny... until then ---

Enjoy the two albums already posted on facebook!!!
Just check my page and you'll be sure to find the links ...

{ or you could just click the links below }

Album #1 - the city
Album #2 - everyday life

Satisfied and exhausted

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today, I learned a few things...

Hey world,

Today I learned:
  1. Waking up earlier will help you not scramble for time (like yesterday).
  2. MaryAnn eats her steaks on the blue side... and pours the blood from the container onto her rice. umm?
  3. Where to get a bus pass and what kind of card I need to get a discount monthly.
  4. CAM is a huge bank... and the headquarters are here in Alicante.
  5. There are 6.5 million tiles making up that really pretty walkway (Explanada de España) that I took pictures of the first night here.
  6. There's an island about 3 miles off of the coast of Alicante where King Carols Charles III put Spaniard prisoners that he rescued from Africa; they soon became Pirates.
  7. Every year during some festival that goes around the entire city, there are a few men that carry a HUGE box of roses from the church up in the old, nice side of town down the stairs in that section of town, all around Alicante (to present them to the people of the town), and then back up the stairs (hundreds of stairs) to present back to the church for Virgin Mary. Typically they have to run up the stairs on the way back to the church because their legs would be too tired to make it up walking!
  8. There's a really famous coffee shop in town called Valor on the Explanada and an ice cream shop somewhere near by. Apparently they serve their hot chocolate with churros! that's my kind of place!
  9. The chairs that are placed randomly on the Explanada are for all of the old people that come down and just sit on the walkway the entire day... especially old men!
  10. There are some realllyyy cheap shops here in Alicante -- and they have wonderful clothing.
  11. Krista's real name is Trisha... she's been lying to us!
  12. "Kaitlyn" is actually spelled "Caitlyn" :) oops!!
  13. There's another Sigma Kappa on this trip and her name is Anna! She goes to the University of Maryland.
  14. The old spices in the back of the cabinet actually help to make some REALLY good spaghetti sauce... mmmm -- Krista and I were the chefs tonight!
  15. The little trees on the streets actually have oranges growing on them... I found my afternoon snacks :)
  16. There are no Baptists in Spain (or at least in Alicante, for that matter).

So, today, in short: We got up and had to meet the crew in the same plaza as before for the tour of Alicante at 11:30. Our tour guide was Sévan and he knew quite a bit about the town -- given he has lived here for 7 years! It's sad though... today when he was telling us about the festivities he said that even though Christians put on the festivities he went because they were fun; not because he had any interest in religions. :( We learned quite a bit and got to see some of the prettiest parts of the town. There is one section of Alicante, one street to be exact, that is SO GORGEOUS!! There are vibrant colors all over the place and the houses are decorated in bright tiles and colorful flowerpots. And the best part, was that it was so high on this hill that it overlooked basically all of Alicante!

We saw mannyy old streets and old buildings... and I got to take a lot of pictures! :) But, not as much as I wanted because the group was HUGE and when I went to take pictures someone would always step in the way. :( MaryAnn, Krista and I decided we'll go out again later and get some good pictures! For now, though... I have just a few to share.

For lunch Krista, MaryAnn, Emma McNeil (the girl from Ecuador) and I all went to 100 Mandatos for lunch and then headed home. Emma branched off and then Krista, MaryAnn and I skipped out on going straight home and went to the shops. We got some bowls for the kitchen (because we didn't have any cereal bowls), went into a few random clothes shops, AND... AND AND AND.... guess what I got? A BLANKET!! I finally found one cheap enough and warm enough so I bought it! It's pink and fuzzy and big and warm and OOOOO I can't wait to try it out.

In fact, I'm going to go try it out now.
First day of classes tomorrow... hello 7:30AM wake-up call!

Still not unpacked

Hey Ohhhh

I said Ehhhh ooohhhhh; daylight come and I wanna go home!

Yeah, so I don't really want to go home, yet.... but I am missing a lootttt that America has to offer... like WARM HOUSES!!! Again, trying to fall asleep and the house is an icebox. brrrrrrr.... anyone want to send me a polarbear skin jacket to sleep in?

Tour around Alicante tomorrow starting at 11:30am... so 10:00am wakeup to do P90x and then shower and getting ready.

Have a good day, America! (and other places)


Monday, January 17, 2011

¡They took us to the school then hung us out to dry!

This morning Krista came in and woke me up at 8:20am... we had all accidentally slept in and were almost at the point of missing our buses to take us to the school's orientation. OOPS! So we scrambled to get ready after a night of freezing our buns off in the twin sized beds on all tiled floors. WOW.... this place really gets COLD!
All four of us left at 8:40am and met with the group at the same plaza as yesterday - Plaza Luceros. There were two buses waiting and we hopped on one! Off to the school with a French/Italian/Spanish tour guide trying his best to translate into English everything that we were passing that was worth seeing. Finally reached the school and walked to this one building where orientation was held... they told us about EVERYTHING we would need to know in order to study here!
  • Calendar
  • Finals
  • USAC Office and Telephone Information
  • Transportation
  • Mail & Electronic Mail
  • Banking
  • Health & Insurance
  • Shopping
  • Sports & Free time
  • Housing
  • Safety Tips
  • Emergency Contact Info & Useful Numbers / Procedures
  • Culture Shock
  • Academic Policy & Procedures
  • Add / Drop / Audit / Withdrawal Deadlines
  • Class Descriptions / Schedule
  • USAC Courses
  • Integration with the University of Alicante
  • Registration form
Let's just say that it was a LONNGGG orientation meeting! Following, we had a tiny breakfast they had set up for us outside of the room, and then had to come straight back in to take a placement exam. The roomies and I all placed into track III - so besides them taking one dance class and me taking one business class, we're all in the same classes!
Now - here's the hung us out to dry part of the title.... THEY DIDN'T TELL US HOW TO GET HOME! Who picks someone up and then just LEAVES them in an unknown part of an unknown city their SECOND day in the city?! Well - thankfully Krista had done her research prior because she knew which number bus we had to take to get home - easy!

( Krista and I with the hams in the market )

K - so - fail number 2 for today (1 = not waking up early enough to properly get ready): MaryAnn plugging in her United States hair straightener and blowing half of all of the fuses in the house! Took us a while to figure out which fuse to switch back on... good thing it was the only one that was in the "off" position. We realized this after we consulted MaryAnn's dad by video skype. :)

I had a Nutrisystem lunch -- cold, I might add because of MA's fail -- when we got home and the girls went to a baker to get Empanadas and little pizzas... then we went to the market to get our (their) groceries! Spent forever in there -- and Krista got to see where real, nice ham comes from... :) a pig's LEG! mmmmm black hoofed ham - delicioso! We went into and out of a few different clothing shops before the market, and then after shopping in the market and getting to the checkout -- remembered that we had to carry all of our groceries home; without the help of a car. HA that was fun! MaryAnn just said the entire way, "My arms are about to break from the sockets!" I guess oranges, eggs, milk, potatoes, and all the other items do add up to be pretty heavy. Have to go back tomorrow to get our bottled waters.

When we got home we found out that WebSTAR has DISAPPEARED! noooooooo ... but apparently Luis (the landlord) attempted at fixing our internet - and it's okay. It cuts out and we have to unplug and then replug the modem, but besides that, it's alright.

I also found out that I can still use BlackBerry Messenger with my phone on the wifi, so if you have BBM add me!!

Came home, put the bags down and unloaded all of the groceries. Then! We were off - again! We went to explore more of the town and ended up shopping at H&M and two house shops (thinking we could find some cheap rugs to lay down on the COLD COLD floors -- fail). The cheapest rugs we found were 100£. NOT cheap. After that escapade, I came home to straighten up my room and eat my Nutrisystem dinner while the girls went to eat at some Mexican restaurant on the corner.... 2 hours ago.... and they just walked in the door. hahaha!! goofs. Well I had alone time to catch up with my parents and Tim, finish this blog and eat. Guess I'll go organize now. They all want to go out tonight... mmm I think I've had enough walking for today - and hey, I have 6 months to experience night life, right? I think I'll have a cold night in for myself. :)

Not going out tonight!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thank Goodness for WebSTAR!

The meaning for this title is.... our internet is TERRIBLE! The apartment is supposed to have it's own wifi but! it's not working. It'll be fine for 5 minutes and then crash for the next hour. We were all frustrated... UNTIL I found another network called WebSTAR! It was unlocked and close enough to work, so we were happy.
The girls and I started tidying up our rooms and the rest of the apartment, washed a few clothes and hung them out to dry on the clothes lines! We went out to explore a little more in the town around 8:30pm and found six wedding dress shops on one street! WHOA! They're serious about getting married around here...
Came back and MaryAnn got scared out of her pants when she opened the apartment door. We were walking up to it and there was light shining through the bottom crack -- so they both of course blamed me for leaving a light on even though I swore I didn't -- and then MaryAnn unlocked and opened the door... WHA BAM! there was a new roommate standing right there in our face. MaryAnn screamed, I laughed and said, "I told you I didn't leave the lights on," and then we all exchanged Hellos and names. Her name is Kaitlyn and she's from Chicago. She was rooming with a group of Spainards down the street, but she didn't like the apartment or the situation, so she switched and surprised us with her presence.
We also met the three girls from across the hall -- they're part of the USAC program as well. So, there are seven USAC girls on one floor of this apartment building.

We're going to take over Spain, I tell ya. Just watch :)

-- (insert name here) --

In Our Apartment

I am writing you from our apartment! YES! We have finally moved in and are loving it! The apartment is an L shape... just image that L rotated 90º to the right and you have the entrance way followed by a long hallway with our kitchen, two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and one living room. The washing machine is on a little outside terrace connecting to the kitchen with clothes lines to dry the wet clothing.
The kitchen is equipped with a refrigerator, oven, 4 top stove, microwave, table and four chairs, and plenty of cups and plates, etc. The living room has two love seats, a table with four chairs, and a tv. The bathrooms each have a toilet, shower, bidet, and sink, and the rooms each have a twin sized bed, desk, two drawers next to the bed, and a closet with hangers and more drawers. The layout is: walk in the door and the living room is on your left; round the corner and the rest of the rooms are up the hallway all on the right hand side. First is the kitchen, then a closet, bathroom #1, bathroom #2, Krista's room, MaryAnn's room, and then my room to finish out the apartment. (I'll post pictures later!)

We left the hotel this morning at 12:00pm and explored more of Alicante while waiting to go to La Plaza Luceros to meet up with the group. There are 73 (or more) kids here with USAC this semester! WHOA! Finally got with Krista (our third roommate) and also ran into another girl, named Gab, from Clemson and one girl, named Emma, that roomed with me in Ecuador. Small world, eh?! As everyone dispersed with their landlords and families they would be living with, we left to go with one of the ladies over the program to get into our apartment. It's about a 10 minute walk from the beach -- where the pictures I took and posted yesterday were made -- and it's near all of the shopping! :) Oh, and it's 30 minutes by bus away from the school (or 8 minutes by train) -- that IS the whole reason I'm here, again, right? ;)
We unloaded all luggage and then said goodbye to Jota and Mariana. Now we're all just sitting in this dark, cold apartment (trying to conserve electricity so our bill isn't outrageous) talking to loved ones and figuring out what we're going to have to buy / do over the next week!!

List maker

Saturday, January 15, 2011

SAFE, happy and EXHAUSTED!

Soooo to cover the travels since yesterday, January 14th, I'll go back and write HERE what I wrote in my journal on the plane coming over... plus a little more, I guess :)

(01/14) Friday
Catherine and I started my L O N G day by going to breakfast with Lauren Berkey at K&W around 7:15am. WAY too early for my liking! Mom stayed behind and finished my bags for me because the packing was horrendous! I ended up having two large, under the plane bags, a full book-bag and a carry on that wasn't exactly small. It was acutally pretty humorous watching me stand on the bathroom scale holding these 50lb+ bags while mom tried her best to get under me to see the weight! Ended up going over just a litttttllleee bit (okay 6 pounds!) but it worked!

p.s. has anyone had their iSight camera on their mac stop working? because Apple decided to help me by replacing my screen and my computer came back without the functionality of the iSight camera... not my way of "fixing" a problem.

Dad tried to fix this problem while I finished packing up my book-bag and carry on. At 9:45 am Mom, Dad and I left to go to the airport where they got guest passes and walked me up to the gate. We arrived at the gate RIGHT when they were loading the plane so hugs and kisses were given... and then given again... and again :) and then I finally walked away, down the hallway and then onto the plane.
Flight plan for the day:
Myrtle Beach (dpt: 11:15) -- Charlotte (dpt: 2:35pm) -- Philidelphia (dpt: 6:35pm) -- Madrid (land at 7:45am)

In Charlotte I had a 2 hour layover, so before meeting up with Maryann, I went to Quiznos and got a salad. Has anyone had one of their salads before?! mmmmm soo delicious! Salad with Chieken and honey mustard sauce... and they give you pita bread to toss in with it! Got the salad to go and then went to gate B12 to sit, eat, and talk! MaryAnn showed up about an hour later and then Katie Wunder to give goodbye hugs (at least until we see each other somewhere random in Europe -- she's going to study in London for 4 months -- you can read her blog at )! I actually slept on this next place to Philidelphia - thank goodness. I was exhausted and didn't sleep on the first flight at all. I just put in my headphones and MaryAnn said I was out every time she looked over at my seat.
We had a 2 hour layover in Philidelphia as well - but that turned more into a 3 hour layover because of technical difficulties with the plane. Dang... that's something that I wanted to hear before getting onto a 7 to 8 hour flight. Ended up sitting next to this really sweet girl named Megan. She's a Spanish high school teacher in her mid 20s from Minneapolis studying in Spain for the year to earn her masters. We talked a lot, I watched The Social Network and wrote in my journal... but couldn't fall asleep no matter how hard I tried. The turbulence was terrible and it actually managed to scare me at times (probably the reason I couldn't sleep). Food wasn't too terrible -- but I'm sure y'all don't want to hear about airplane food.
Finally landed around 7:45 AM Madrid time ( 1:45am EST) and MaryAnn's cousin's wife, Mariana was waiting to pick us up. We took a brief stop by an ATM to get some Euros, went to a grocery store for road food, and then went to Mariana and Jota's (MaryAnn's cousins from Madrid) apartment so we could notify our parents that we were alive and safe. Shortly after that, we were on our way in a little van-type car on the five hour drive to Alicante. The cousins rented the van because their car was too small to hold all of our bags! I took a funny picture of how we were sitting on the way home from the airport (above and to the left). Note: In the picture you can't see the trunk of the car, but it was SLAM packed!
It might be a terrible thing to say, but on the five hour drive, I probably slept four hours and thirty minutes. eesh! I did manage to get a few pictures of the city, the country side, and then the beach - AND - I took two videos: one of the city and the other the country. Spain is amazing, y'all. There were soooo many castles! It's like every time I woke up and looked out of the window, we were passing castle ruins. Makes me wonder what it might have been like hundreds of years ago........ do you ever get that feeling?!

(1/15) Saturday
Okay so technically, landing in Madrid and driving to Alicante was the beginning of January 15, 2011, but it went along with the flight schedule too, so it stayed in the January 14th section of this post.

We checked into a hotel called Hotel Mio Cid in San Juan - 5 to 10 minutes outside of Alicante. Brought a few bags up to the rooms, cleaned up, and then went out to see what we could see! Just like us, Marian and Jota hd never been to Alicante either... so it was an adventure for all of us. Walked up and down near the marina (the port), casino, boardwalk ( calle La Esplanada ), Plaza Rambla, and up and down a few other streets. Loved it! We walked in and out of a few cell phone stores, clothing stores, etc. Then went to a little sandwich shop called something Mondattos. The sandwiches were small but quite filling. On the way back to the parking garage, we passed some graffiti that read "Clmson Fvr" -- totally saying Clemson Fever... don't cha think?!
I fell asleep in the car on the 5-1o minute ride back. Now MaryAnn and I are in our hotel rooms, updating blogs, pictures, familiy, etc. on what we've been doing. Sleepy time! Tomorrow we meet up with the rest of the program and we get to move into our apartments!!!! BIG DAY AHEAD!!

Eyes closing quickly

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


So... as I am sitting here creating lists of everything I have to do, buy, and figure out before I leave on Friday morning (2 DAYS -- AHHHH--), I decided I don't have an address book (even louder AHHH) of all of my friends, relatives, etc. addresses here back in the States (or abroad)! This post, therefore, is to ask everyone who wants to receive REALLY COOL POSTCARDS from the travels to send me their addresses to either my:
  • e-mail:
  • my facebook inbox -- or --
  • just post it as a comment on here! (below... scroll down... click COMMENT)
That way I can compile all of the addresses to my MacBook's address book and then have a steady address book to sort through to send out postcards randomly.

Excited, Nervous and INSANELY Unprepared

p.s. the packing is... coming along. :) let's hope for the best!

Friday, January 7, 2011

I wanna go on an uh-venture, but I dont know where!

So, since I have some downtime before leaving and getting caught in the swarm of a new language, roommates (Krista Hord and MaryAnn Lander), a new apartment and NEW CITY and all of the other fun things that correlate with those subjects, I wanted to sit down and make an organized thought process of places I want to visit in Europe while I have the opportunity.

I know that I won't be able to travel to all of these places that I have in mind, so that's why I'm asking for help from you all! I need input so I can choose the best places to spend my time!

I have weekends and an 18 day spring break in April... then after my classes end on May 19, I'll be needing cool places to go until June 3. SOOOOO I'm going to list my ideas and then I would REALLY appreciate some input through emails, comments on here, etc. please... whatever you decide :) especially from those who have been over to Europe to travel a bit. And the thought process is as follows....

New places:
  • All over Spain (Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid)
  • Portugal
  • Morocco
  • Prague
  • Croatia (Dubrovnik, the Plitvice Lakes)
  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Greece (all over - Meteora, Athens, the Greek Islands)
  • France (Paris, Lafayette)
  • Belgium (Brussels, Lilla Nova)
  • Germany (Berlin, Trier, Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden)
  • Austria (Vienna, Salzburg, Hallstatt)
  • England (London, Cambridge, Newcastle, Cornwall)
  • The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
  • Italy (Venice, Florence, Milan, Rome, the Italian Riviera, Pompeii)
  • Switzerland (Aspen, St. Moritz, Lauterbrunnen)
  • Czech Republic
  • Norway (I want to see the Northern Lights)
  • Denmark (Copenhagen)

So there are some.. well a lot... of ideas. Any thoughts on where to go out of these places / what to see / where to stay in these cities?! help!?!?

Excited and Confused

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pre-departure Nerves

So... I wasn't nervous before Ecuador... nor any of my other trips I've been on; but Spain, this is different. I'm going to be living in a different country for SIX months... not one (January 14 - June 3). I'm going to be going to school there and having to deal with situations and experiences I've never had before - in a different language, might I add. What if I mess up with translations and I get completely confused while dealing with something important? What if I get lost in the city and can't find my way somewhere that I'm supposed to be? Well... my nerves are screaming at me right now.

I have yet to pack... haha surprise? Nope! I have no idea as to even what to pack... Lauren Berkey - I need your help :) I do have one little pile but I guess I'll be doing that tomorrow and over the next eight days. I leave on the 14th of January to fly to Charlotte, Philadelphia and then finally Madrid where MaryAnn Lander (my roommate and plane mate) and I will stay with her family and then drive to Alicante on January 15th.

Bags are monogrammed by Cathy Longoria
She does amazing work!!

I will MOST LIKELY be homesick for a while somewhere in there... so I'm leaving my postal address in Spain juusssttt in case anyone decides they want to send some love.

Anna Lauren Meeks / USAC
Edificio Torre de Control
Universidad de Alicante
03690 San Vicente del Raspeig

my goals for this trip:
  • become fluent in Spanish
  • get good grades to transfer back to Clemson
  • Experience Europe like never before
  • Travel a lot
  • annnddd successfully keep a blog -- unlike my failed attempt with Ecuador

Tired and Exhausted