Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kindergarten and Haeundae Beach. Fun in the Sun at Haeun-dae. :)

Today we went to the kindergarden. It was so fun seeing all the little kids. There were 25 kids and we started off with the introduction. Some of them were saying “hello” in English and it was so adorable. We then split up into groups and started our stories. SuJin and I did Little Red Riding Hood and I think the kids really enjoyed it. We thought we only had an hour so each of us only read to 3 groups instead of 5 like we planned. We did a hide-and-go-seek story. There were 6 “animals” aka us with masks (me as a giraffe) and the “squirell” was trying to find us. The first time he said ready or not, here I come, all the kids got up and started going to us, and it was so adorable that I hated making them sit back down. They would point to the animals as the “squirrel” would find us. The very end, a hungry lion came, and we had to hide again so he wouldn’t eat us. The kids really liked that part.

Then we sang Old McDonald and it took awhile for the kids to catch on, but they liked making the animal noises. When we started wrapping up, our leader told us we had 30 more minutes, so we went back to the plan and did the stuff we thought we didn’t have time for. We played Simon says, or as they call it here Solomon says. Then we gave the kids paper and let them draw their favorite animal then we wrote the English word for them. We took pictures with all the kids and their pictures before we left.

In the kindergarden, all the kids took their shoes off before going in the building and it was so much better to have no shoes on. I like this tradition.

We then went to eat at Outback and it was Korean outback. I had a steak sandwich and 13 French fries. Yes,  I counted. And it had ketchup!!

Then we went to Haeundae Beach, the most famous beach in Korea. Since it was a school day, not a lot of people were there and the water was freezing but it felt so good since today was so hot. Korean women don’t really wear bathing suits, so we all stayed in our shorts and t-shirts. We then went to go eat supper then see a water fountain show. It was music playing with the fountain and there were different colored lights. It ws beautiful. We got back at around 9. I am currently washing some clothes and then going to bed. It’s nice to just sit in the dorm room and have nothing to do. We normally don’t have much time to do this, we’re so busy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Almost Finished Planning!

Class for the first part. I learned how to count another way (there are two sets of numbers and this way is a lot easier than the first one we learned.) I learned how to ask how much something costs, and if they can give me a discount. This one is going to be very important.

Then the Lander girls got out of class 30 minutes early and we met the president of Dong-A University. He asked us what we thought of the program and what we were learning, and he gave us a watch as a gift. Here it’s very common to give gifts when meeting with someone and I felt bad because we did not realize we should have brought him a gift. It was very nice seeing him and the Vice President of International Affairs. They came to Lander the week we were leaving and it was to see them again and say thanks and that we are having a blast and learning so much!!

Then we practiced with our groups for the rest of the day because we are going to the kindergarten tomorrow for storytelling for the kids. Our group finished with plenty of time to spare, then we showed the other groups what we are doing. We have an animal theme, are telling stories with animals (like 3 Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.), singing Old McDonald Had a Farm, and then drawing their favorite animal. There are 5 foreigners and our buddies so it’s a large group so we can spread out and be with several kids each. I’m so excited!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Homestay, Day 2

I woke up at noon!!! It was amazing. This was the first time since the first day that I’ve gotten to sleep in and now I can sleep because I am on the right time zone. SuJin woke up shortly after me and we ate lunch. We had sandwiches, croissants, salad, and other little pastries. SuJin later told me she never eats that. Her mom bought it because she didn’t think I liked Korean food. I felt so bad when she told me that.

She took me to the market near her house and we walked around for awhile. It is so weird to see dead fish and octopus just lying on ice in the middle of the street. I still can’t get used to it. It was more of a food market than clothes and jewelry and such.

Then we went to a little coffee shop and hung out and I drank a smoothie. It’s been fun to just hang out and not have anywhere to be at a certain time.

We made bulgogi for supper. We bought the ingredients the previous day. It’s meat, onion, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, carrots, and some other things maybe and that marinates for a little while then you cook it on the grill in front of you. Her brother helped us. Thank goodness!! He was curious about American culture and asked me a lot of questions. When Koreans learn English, they learn grammar and writing, but not speaking or listening so he can read and write almost perfectly but can’t understand or talk with me.

This is some of the things I learned:
1. In high school, students go to school from 7 am to 9 pm during the normal school year. During their summer and winter “vacations” they only go from 7am to 3pm.
2. This is the ranking of prestigious and most well paying job: doctor, lawyer, teacher. The first two I was expecting but they treat their teachers like royalty here.
3. Kids have to wear uniforms.
4. SuJin’s university for one year is less than one semester at Lander.
5. Most students go to university in their province, like most South Carolinians go to a SC university.

I’ll think of some more later, but that’s all I can think of for now. I arrived back at my dorm around 10pm and went to bed immediately.

Temple and Homestay, Part 1

The hotel room is wonderful. There were two beds, one double and one twin, and SuJin let me have the double and it was amazing! I swear, the pillows here are to die for. They are so fluffy and soft and you feel like you never want to move.

We left after a Western style breakfast, including hashbrowns and eggs, to go to another temple. This temple had many building and we saw the monks doing some traditional ceremonies, which our guide said was rare for them to be doing during the day during the tourist hours. We couldn’t take any pictures of them or the Buddhas, but it was everything I expected. The shaved head, the robe, bare feet, the chanting. They explained to us that anyone can become a Buddha, which is the opposite of Christianity in that there is only one God. I love hearing about Buddhism and it fascinated me the differences between Buddhism and Christianity.

The guide told me one story that I thought was cool that I want to share. There was a male student who was very bad and did nothing right. He died young and his fellow classmates held a funeral for him because they felt sorry for him. The teacher then was called to a meeting in another country and invited the class to go with him for a learning experience. On the way, they saw a tree moving upriver and they went to investigate. A tree had grown onto the back of a fish and the fish was in so much agony he couldn’t move fast and was in constant pain. The students and teachers left but the students asked the teacher to meditate to find out what the fish’s former life had been like for him to earn such a awful fate in the next life. He found out it was the student who died shortly before and they went back the next day to perform a forgiveness ceremony for the fish. The fish asked the teacher to make a bell to play every day to remind him to not go back to his former ways in the next life. So the teacher cut the tree off the fish and made a bell that had the body of a fish and the head of a dragon. Their belief is that a fish that reaches Nirvana becomes a dragon and flies out of the water.

There were several stories like this and I guess it’s our stories like Noah’s Ark or Jonah and the whale. It was raining the entire time and I got soaked even though I had a poncho and an umbrella.

We then went back on the bus back to Busan to start our homestay. We went to a restaurant to eat that had Bulgogi burgers, and I expected hamburgers. Nope. It was a hamburger patty with a sweet onion sauce on it. It was good but I had never eaten anything like this. Then I went with SuJin to her house. One of her friends came over and we talked about English and Korean and I explained a few things to them and they taught me a few new phrases. I explained how to say “I want to” to “I wanna” and others like it. It was so fun to hear them say it this way. They taught me slang words for hey, good bye, friend, etc.

SuJin’s mom then came home and we ate pig’s leg for supper. It was delicious. This is how you eat meat here. You get a piece a lettuce. Then you put rice, onion, a spicy sauce, and whatever else on it, and then the meat (using chopsticks of course). Then you wrap it up and shove it into your mouth. Very efficient way to eat. They put a ton of little dished on the table and you might have a small plate but everyone eats off the same plates. They normally don’t use napkins or drink water or another drink with their food.

SuJin, her friend, and I then went to a little restaurant near her house and met another friend and hung out for awhile. That’s what I told her I wanted to do: meet some of her friends. It was so much fun because there wasn’t a common language between the three of us. There were 4 languages between us, but not one we all spoke, so that was fun. I went  to sleep around 12 and SuJin let me have her bed and she slept on the extra bed in her brother’s room. Isn’t she the best?!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Today, we didn’t have class, but left for a fieldtrip. We went to Kyoungjoo, which is a little city about 1.5 hours from Busan. We went to a museum, but this one has been my favorite museum yet, because we had a guide explain everything to us. It was so much better than just depending on myself to learn by reading the signs. You could tell this guy loves Korean history because he tells us about the things with a story. Then we went to a Buddhist temple. Koreans don’t like the Japanese because when Korea was a Japanese colony, they took a lot of artifacts to Japan, ruined a lot of historical objects, and if they returned anything they “stole” it came back broken. So about everything we saw went like this: “This used to be like this, but then Japan came and ruined it.” I feel bad because there were so many cool things that now are missing and Korea can’t do anything because a lot of these artifacts are in private collection now.

I saw a large granite Buddha (Corbin was quite excited) but they wouldn’t let us take any pictures of them. The different ways Buddha holds his hands explains the lesson he wants to teach. His ears are huge to signify to listen more; his lips are closed to signify to talk less; and his eyes are slightly shut to signify to not judge. In the temple, there is a statue of another Buddha that is only in the light once a year. When the light comes through, it hits Buddha’s “third eye (the stone between his eyes” and reflects to another stone which shines it round the temple. I would love to see that, but it wasn’t that one day of the year. Koreans did this in the Silla dynasty, over 1000 years ago. If you think about that, it is amazing how much they did considering the technology at that time period. We saw a lot of national treasures, which basically means it is really important to Korean history and people.

Before we got to go in the temple, we had to “purify ourselves” but cleaning our hands in mountain water that flowed into a fountain, and they had cups and you could drink the water. It was so cold and wonderful!! They have lanterns hanging everywhere and the white lanterns are in memory of people who have died and the colored lanterns are in honor of people that are still living.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


First three hours of the day: class. I feel like I am learning so much that my brain almost hurts. I am retaining some of it, and everyday I feel a little more confidant. I can read a little bit faster, but only a syllable at a time, and I never know what it means. I’m trying not to write the pronunciation in English because I don’t want to get dependent of it. So it takes me longer than most of the class but I hopefully will learn it faster this way.

The Dong-A University Tae-Kwon-Do team is doing a production of NonGilDong,  their version of Robin Hood. So the Americans and English dubbed it for the foreigners that are going to be listening. We went into a sound room and read over it until we sounded normal. It was hilarious!! The monotonic voices not realizing they sounded unenthusiastic, the quietest people (aka Allie) speaking with such authority, the hilarious laughs, the mistakes, etc. It took over 3 hours until we sounded good enough, but it was so much fun and didn’t seem like long at all.

Since we got done early, we went to Na-pil-Dong (if I spelled that anything like it’s supposed to be). It’s a large outside market. Think a flea market with food and clothes and anything else you can think of. All of us, the Americans and English and Koreans went and had a blast. I didn’t buy anything but it was cool to see everything. We got hungry after a while and went to a restaurant and had bulgogi, thin strips of steak you cook yourself in front of you. This is my favorite Korean food. I expected it to be around $10-15 but when they gave us the bill and divided it up, it was only $4 each! I ate steak, rice, salad, soju, and coke for only $4. That never happens in the US. The food was delicious and I was full. But of course we had to go for ice cream when we got back ;)  An excellent day to end any day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Learning to get around Busan

We started off today with Korean language. 3 hours of confusion. At least with learning Spanish, I can read it better. This is difficult but I can now recognize a few words. We learned how to introduce ourselves and say hello and thank you and a few other simple expressions like that. I have to use my “cheat sheet” of letters in my notebook to read it but I can read it, which is kinda cool.
Then we went down the mountain (yes, our university is built on a mountain and everything else is down, which makes it fun going down but then we have to climb the 103 steps back up to campus, which is getting easier every day). We ate in a little restaurant and I ate something which was basically a fried steak with barbeque sauce, and of course with rice. It was delicious and it cost about $3. Every Korean thing is so cheap. It’s only when I get American things that it starts to get expensive (like Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, coke, etc.)
Then we had a lecture on Korean politics. I was interested from the get-go to listen to this but it was amazing. I have never been a history person but learning that Koreans have been invaded by their neighbors over 900 times but have never invaded another country is amazing. We learned about who is in government, the unstability of it, the political parties and some of their conflicting ideologies. The setup is basically the same except there are more than just 2 main parties and the parties keep getting switched every few years so one party will do one thing then when another party rules, it changes everything and starts back at ground zero. Kinda like us, I guess ;)
Then we got in our groups and worked on our storytelling. I made a giraffe, and I have to say it’s pretty awesome. SuJin and I also make finger puppets for our story on Little Red Riding Hood. (I’ll post pictures later)
We got in pretty late and went to bed. I feel like we are going to be doing so many amazing things, I won’t care if I don’t get a lot of sleep. I’m drinking coffee here, something I never do, and it’s cool how awake I get for class.

First Class of Korean Language :/

Today was the first day of class. It was hard but I felt like I learned so much. We basically went over the alphabet which is totally different. Each symbol makes a sound so sounds together makes up words but the symbols look like lines and boxes to me. I think I’ll get the hang of it eventually. Two of the vowels sound exactly the same to me and the teacher kept saying them and I was hearing one sound so she tried to help me but gave up after awhile. I still don’t understand it. J I know a few words now and we will learn more words and introduction phrases tomorrow I think. Once I get the alphabet down and can read, it will be a lot easier. They only have 24 letters but some letters combine to make other letters so it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. My mistake.

They told us we were having bread and milk for lunch, and I got worried for a little while. They were pastries and hotdogs (prepackaged) and were pretty decent. I ate a lot of them.

Then we went on an hour long bus ride to go make pottery. The ride was actually fun because I got to see the countryside, which is all mountains and SuJin and I played dots, hangman, Bingo, and other games we can play in the car. I made a plate of clay and wrote my name and Korea in Korean (with the help of SuJin) and drew a picture of the Korean flag. We’ll get them before we leave.

Then we went upstairs of the place and had tea and rice cakes. These rice cakes were a little different than the ones we had in Incheon. They were more like unsweet marshmallows and had red bean paste in them. The paste was actually pretty good.

We came back and immediately ate supper. It was some kind of meat in a spicy sauce and it was delicious, probably the best meal I’ve had or will have in the cafeteria. And we had more lemonade so I was quite happy.

We then met up with our groups that we are in for the kindergarten day. Our group just had to fine-tune what we talked about yesterday, but the other groups were just starting to get some good ideas. We are going to be doing an animal theme. Each foreigner and their buddy is going to have a few kids and tell them a story with an animal in it (Mine is little Red Riding Hood) and then we are making animal masks from paper plates and tambourines from paper plates. We are playing Simon says with an animal theme (Simon says jump like a frog, etc.) then singing “Old McDonald.” I hope it will be a blast and the kids like it. We then ate pizza for a snack. My table’s pizza had ham, sausage, pineapple and corn. Apparently corn is very popular on pizza here. Who would’ve thought? And Allie and I joked with the 3 English guys that are in our group. It was a fun night and day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Up in the Clouds

Yesterday was so foggy, I could barely see the ground from the window of our dorm on the 5th story. I couldn’t see the buildings or the ocean in the distance. It was like we were living in the clouds. It was a good day to be cloudy because we really didn’t do anything. I woke up without setting my alarm (still woke up at 9:30) and then took a shower and watched the latest episode of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” with Corbin before going down to eat lunch. And guess what we had? You got it, rice and kimchi, like always. This was mixed together so it kinda tasted like Mexican rice, but without the cheese sauce. And I never drink anything with meals because it’s always hot green tea, which I have never acquired the taste for. I ate until I was full, and then ate the yogurt for dessert.

Then we went back up to the rooms and I took a nap for awhile. Then we decided to order pizza. Sounds easy enough, right? Nope. Pizzahut.com for Korea is in Korean and it wouldn’t translate because my computer thought the words were pictures and not letters (I guess from how they set the website up). So after about an hour of trying this, we went downstairs to the computer lab to see if there was anyone who could help us. The two students in there were watching an online lecture so we didn’t want to bother them. Then a girl came in and we kinda pounced on her. She ordered us a large cheese pizza and told us (we played charades) on where to wait for it to get delivered. We had to walk down the 93 steps and we waited for the delivery man to bring us the pizza. I’m telling you, I’ve never had a better pizza.

So all in all, we basically did nothing worthwhile yesterday because we thought the buses weren’t running to go down the mountain, but we later found out (when we could see the bus through the fog) that it was running but it was too late to do anything by then. I had a nice, relaxing day, something I needed because from today on, it’s going to be jammed packed with activities. I’m so excited about the things I’m going to get to do.

Today we had orientation. Our buddies met us at the dorm at 10:30 and we rode the bus down the mountain to the building where we are going to be taking all of our classes. There are 8 girls and 7 guys (the Irish guy got sick and isn’t coming). The other American is a ethnically Korean guy from California. He already speaks Korean so that’s a good thing. The English people are cool. I could just listen to them speak for hours. One of the people said the same thing about listening to us speak southern so I feel kinda good about that J. Our teacher told us about the history of Dong-A University (which means Southeast Asia, btw) and we went over the rules. The basic no guys in the girls rooms, curfew, what’s allowed and permitted, etc. Then we ate lunch in the professors cafeteria. There was lemonade!!! It was brown but tasted wonderful. We ate green beans that had little baby shrimp in them, shells and all. I’m getting better at the whole chop-stick thing, luckily.

Then we got on a bus and toured the three campuses from Dong-A. The first one we went to was the medical and the art and music school. The second place was social sciences, and law. And the main campus has everything else. We went on “hike” through a park. I was wearing jeans and flip flops so that was interesting. It was beautiful, though.

Then we went to the equivalent of Walmart, which is 5 stories and is like a mall in one store. It’s overwhelming. I brought bread and coke. And that’s it.

Then we went to a buffet restaurant that had Chinese and Korean food. It was delicious!! I liked that I had a lot of choices. We’re going to be going to a kindergarten (think preschool for 5-6 year olds) next week and reading them a story and doing a few activities with them. We got in three groups and decided what we wanted to do. I think my group is going to do a Pororo (Dora-ish penguin character here) and make masks and tambourines from paper plates. The kids aren’t going to speak English, so we are going to have to rely on our buddies for all that. I’m excited though.

I am now back in the dorm rooms and about to go to sleep. Let me tell you about the shower, just in case I haven’t, which I might have already. Our bathroom is a toilet, and a sink with a spray thing on it which you shower with. You stand at the sink and shower. It’s the most awkward thing ever and you get everything wet. We have to keep the toilet paper on the high shelf and it’s always damp.

As much as I might be complaining, I am having a blast. I’m just amazed at how different everything here is than what I am used to. The food, language, culture, and everything in between. This is a wonderful learning experience and I feel like I’m learning more than just Korean language and culture. I hope to become more self-reliant, more confidant in myself, more understanding of other people, and just a better person in general.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Last Days at the University of Incheon

The last 3 days have been amazing and a little sad because we had to leave. On Thursday, we went to Seoul to the Korean National Museum. The parts I saw reminded me of Native American history from the tools, jewelry, and pottery. We stayed about 2 hours and didn't see everything because there was so much to see and we decided to move to something else after awhile. We went to an Italian restaraunt for lunch. I ordered spaghetti with sausage expecting spagghetti with the ground up sausage in the sauce. Nope. I hvae spaghetti with a sausage like a hotdog on top. It was the most random way I've seen but it was so delicious and it was the first time I ate everything since I've been here.

Then we went to this park where we took pictures with a few statues and went to a little river that ran through it and stuck our feet in the water. It was in the middle of a city so we sat on concrete but it felt wonderful after walking around for so long. We went walking down several famous shopping streets and I bought a blue shoulder purse. I didn't bring one with me because I wanted to buy one when I got here. I was about as excited as Corbin or Rachel because I had been giving them my wallet to keep with them in their bag for the last few days. We went to Smoothie King for smoothies for awhile when it started to rain.

Then yestersday (Friday I think) we went to Lotte World, a amusement park that was like Carowinds.  A lot of it was inside so we rode a lot of roller coasters and other rides. On the roller coasters, we could take our purses and we kept our sunglasses on. On one of the amusement rides, my head was above the headrest so my neck hurt from banging back and forth on it. Another of the rides didn't have a headrest but it would have if we'd been in the US. The lines weren't as long. The most we waited was an hour. During that hour, I walked with TaeEun and JiHyun to get smoothies from Smoothie King. That might end up being my favorite place, two days in a row.

Today, we got up and rode on the KTX train from Incheon to Busan, in the southern part of Korea. We are going to be here for 4 weeks. We are in dorm rooms. I'm rooming with Corbin, and Rachel and Allie are rooming together. The rooms are small but we have the best view ever!! Busan is on a mountain and we are on the top and we can see the city and the ocean from our window. The flip side to that was that we are going to have to walk up 93 steps to get to our dorm room every day. We rode a bus into town to get some food: cokes, snacks, toilet paper, etc. Our Korean buddies are awesome. Mine is SuJin, and her English is excellent, and I think we are going to get along great. They met us at the bus station and rode the taxi with us to the dorm room.

I am a very unobservant person, so I am trying to notice things so I can answer questions when I get back to the US. Here are some:
1. Liscense plates are three colors: white, green and yellow. White liscense plates are two numbers, a Korean letter then 3 more numbers. The green and yellow plates are a Korean letter then 3 numbers and these are normally trucks and taxis and other commercial vehicles.
2. It is really hot in Busan. And humid!
3. When I tried to get on the computer in the computer lab, it took me a while to get it turned on and then more time to get on facebook because everything is written in Korean. (stopsigns are written in English and Korean, though)
4. Like Spanglish is Spanish and English, Korenglish is Korean and English. :)
5. People here aren't as assertive or demanding as Americans.
6. This is the meaning behind the Korean flag: The blue and red is the yin/yan and the blue is for the south, the red is for the north, and the white background is for purity. The 4 corners made of black lines are for heaven, earth, air, and fire.
7. Gas is $7 a gallon.
8. Men are required to be in the military service for 2 years. Wanseo was in the navy and most join after graduating high school.
9. You are 1 years old when you are born. I am 21 in the US but 22 here.
10. You start school at 8. Government provides childcare and healthcare and a lot of stuff. Kindergarten is optional for kids 5-7. All kids wear school uniforms.

I think that's enough for now. I like asking questions and there are questions that I want to ask but they might be considered rude, so I am going to ask those when I get to know someone well enough so they will know that it is not me being rude, just curious. My sociology major makes me look at certain things in a very different way and I want to learn how Korea and the US are similar and different.

The other people in the program are coming late tonight. There are 5 Americans, 10 English, and 1 Irish. It's 8 male and 8 female and we each have a buddy. It's going to be a huge group!! I'm excited about meeting so many people from so many different places and backgrounds. Hope I'm not boring you by writing all this. You're welcome to stop reading at any time :)

Well I think that's enough for one day, so I'll write again soon.

Tuesday and Wednesday in Incheon

Yesterday, we left to go to an island to spend the night. We went to the Yellow Sea, and it was so much fun! It was sunny and I actually got to wear my sunglasses, something I didn't think I would get to do. Even though it was sunny and there weren't many clouds in the sky, it was still foggy looking, so I couldn't see that far in the distance. I wish I could have because there were a few mountains in the distance and I bet it would have been beautiful to see all of them.
We went to two different beaches on the Yeoungjong Island, I think. The first one had rocky sand and the water was a pretty decent temperature and the second one was soft sand but the water was freezing. I didn't know this, but in the Korean culture, bathing suits can be seen as a little embarrassing for women, so I kept my clothes I was wearing over my bathing suits on at the beach. I taught the Korean students that were with us, EunJi, Wanseo, and JiHuan how to play slaps and thumb war, and they taught me a game where you stand about 1 foot away from your partner and you try to make them fall by pushing on their hands. It was really fun to play.
Then we went to the pool and played volleyball (or attempted). The Korean students didn't know how to swim very well but the pool was at 4 feet the whole way so it was fine. Then we went back to the house (it reminded me of a mountain lodge) and ate supper. We had steak cooked on the grill that we would put on lettuce and eat it with our hands. We also had soup that reminded me of a spicy vegetable soup. I am finally getting used to chopsticks. I feel like they keep feeding us, and feeding us, and then feeding us some more. I am never hungry and they always offer more food to us. The hospitality here is great and I hope a lot of Lander students come here to study abroad.
This morning for breakfast we had pineapple, kiwi, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, bacon (not cruncy), the Korean form of hashbrowns (sliced potatos with onions), yogurt, cream cheese danishes, sausage, and more things that I cannot remember now. We ate so much that we skipped lunch because we were still full then. I am not going to know what to do when I get back to the US. The American girls did wash the dishes after breakfast so I feel like I contributed something. I feel like they do everything for us and I don't want them to think we expect it.
When we were leaving the island, we went over a bridge and it was low tide so we could see the marsh, I guess you would call it. It looked like it was snowing, it was that white, and a river was flowing through it and it looked like a snake because of the path it was flowing was curvy. It made me laugh a little. I also saw a small island that was connected to the larger land by a small land bridge. It was like a "i" looking if that makes sense at all.
This morning we had planned to go the DMZ (De-militarized zone that is between North and South Korea) but it was raining so hard that we decided to go to the movies instead. I saw Transformers 3 in 3D. The ticket was about $12 and we got snacks 1 popcorn and 2 drinks for about $6. The only thing I have paid for since getting of the airplane was starbucks the day we went to the mall. The University of Incheon is paying for everything else and I am getting so spoiled. I feel like I should pay for some of the things we do and the food.
We then took a taxi back to the hotel and ate in the lobby. I had a club sandwich. This is what comes on the club: grilled chicken, uncrunchy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and eggs. I have never eaten eggs with something that wasn't breakfast, so that was another first for me.
I am having so much fun on this trip. I'm not really homesick, which surprises me. I email, facebook, and skype my family and friends, and I'm only going to be gone for about 5 weeks. I guess compared to the 3 1/2 months I was in Spain, this is a short trip.
Random observation: There is a bridge in Incheon that reminds me of a dream catcher. On each side of the bridge, there is a huge circle and the supporting wires cross and it makes a cool design.
At supper tonight, they gave me a Korean name. From now on, you may call me JiYeon. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

First days in Incheon

Yesterday was awesome!! I didn't write on this blog because it wasn't working in the airport so I was going to try and mess with the settings to get it to work, and then I logged on today and it worked!! The director of international affairs, Dr. Joon Choi, introduced himself as Joon, which comes between May and July and I thought that was hilarious. He let us sleep in and came and got us from the hotel at about 11:30. I don't think I've ever had a better shower or bed before (but that was after 48 hours of hardly any sleep and feeling gross). We went to a seafood market where I saw every type of fish, squid, clams, oysters, etc. for sell. The setup reminded me of a flea market or the market in Charleston. Everyone was trying to get our attention but I couldn't understand what they were saying. A girl that is coming to Lander for a year, EunJi, came with us. We then went and ate at a little restaurant near the market. It was a table that had a grill in the middle of it. They would put oysters, clams, conchs, and other "sea shells" on the grill and let it cook then we ate it. I have never eaten any of this stuff and I liked the flavor of it, but not the texture. But I was impressed with myself that I ate everything and never gagged once. :)

Then EunJi took us to a underground shopping mall. It was huge!!! It had stores for clothes, makeup, cell phones, shoes, bags, jewelry, and everything else imaginable in these little stores!!! I tried to go to a ATM to get money but they didn't take foreign cards, so I'm going to have to wait and get some from a bank later. Then for supper last night, we went to a restaurant and ate more traditional Korean food. There is a food called kimchi, which is fermented cabbage, and Koreans eat this in one form for every meal. It can be a sauce, a soup, or to eat with lettuce (like a sandwhich between lettuce leaves). I don't particularly care for this but it is something I can eat with a straight face. They also served us shots of soju, the Korean vodka. He ordered one bottle but kept giving it to us until we finished 4 bottles!!!

We then went to a karaoke bar. It was the four Americans, Dr. Choi, EunJi, and another student names Wanseo. This is a lot different than I imagined it. We went into a room that had a tv, two microphones, and two tamborines, and we took turns choosing and singing songs. There was no one else in the room except for us, so we could sing and not be embarrassed by how bad we sounded.

Today, we went on a tour of Incheon University. This university has only been in its current location for about two years so everything is modern looking and very clean. The campus is a rectangle shape and the buildings are on the edges and the middle is sidewalks and a few trees. It is raining season in Korea right now so it's always either raining or cloudy, so we went up in the sky deck to see all the buildings. Each of us has a Korean buddy, and they explained all the buildings and about the Korean culture. We learned about Korean universities and other Korean things and we would then explain how it is different of similar in the US. They were either international trade or business majors that have either studied abroad in the US or are about to.

We then met the president of UI, Dr. Ahn, and he was very excited about being a sister university with Lander and hopes a lot of students come there to study. If I wasn't about to graduate, I would go in a heartbeat. Everyone is so nice and welcoming and it is a wonderful campus and city. Incheon is the third largest city in South Korea (after Seoul and Busan). The tallest building in Korea is right outside our hotel room window and we crossed the 6th longest bridge going from the airport to the hotel (it was 24 kilometers!!). I'm still getting used to the food and the language seems impossible to learn but I love everything else about here.

We then went for a Korean cultural event. We made rice cakes and decorated them with a sweetish icing-type stuff. It was about the size of a cupcake and we decorated it by flattening the "icing" (but it wasn't really sweet). We then cut three circles out and rolled it up and then cut it in half with chopsticks and it became a rose. We then learned the traditional Korean tea ceremony. I don't like green tea but it was fun learning how to make and serve it. Then we dressed up in traditional Korean outfits. Mine was a light pink dress with a dark pink jacket. Wanseo wore light blue pants, a pink shirt, and then a light blue robe. The hats for the men were hilarious. One of the hats had wings and the other was a hat with a rim made out of wire. I also got to play the large gong (I'm thinking of Mulan as I write this.). Then I guess Dr. Choi felt bad for us because we ate hamburgers for supper.

I am still jet lagged. It is about 7pm at night and I have been ready to go to sleep for a few hours. I am waking up at about 5 every morning then sleeping lightly until we have to get up. It isn't helping that it is so dark outside because it's always cloudy. It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow and I'm glad because we are going to an island to play on the beach.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I slept in an airport, hopefully the only time I'll have to do that. Since we got in so late last night, the metro had stopped so we had to wait to change airports for this morning. We flew into Haneda in the south part of Tokyo and our next flight leaves from Narida, in the north part of Tokyo. We took the metro up here and left at 6am, which wasn't bad because we had already been up for hours. (I only slept about 2 hours that was my "nap time" back in SC.)
On the metro ride here, we were above ground for the first and last parts so I got to see a lot of Tokyo from a distance. The buildings are tall and its about one on top of the other. They aren't what you would consider pretty because some are old, and some are newer and its a really random combination. Some of the houses have roofs that remind me of half of a clay pot. I saw, i don't know what the correct term would be, but gardens of rice everywhere that were in water. I also saw two cemeteries that were small and the tombstones were tall and skinny and the are that they were in was really small also.
Everything here is written in four languages: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and English and about every person we need to ask for help or directions (which has happened quite often so far) speaks enough English to help us. I'm worried about them understanding us because of our southern accent but they seem to be able to fine.
Of course we had to eat McDonalds for lunch for one last meal before flying to Korea. I know, not very original but the choices were that and sushi so you know which one won ;)
I'm having a fun time so far, not as boring as it might sound. I'm getting to know the other girls I am with, which is a good thing because we are spending the next 5 weeks together 24/7 so I need to know them before the total immersion. Next time I write, I'll be in Incheon, South Korea :) and I'm so excited to finally get there so I can shower and go to sleep for a few hours.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In the airport

Currently, I am in Tokyo, Japan for a 18 hour layover before flying out to Incheon, South Korea. Right now it is 1am but my body thinks it is noon so the next few days should be interesting with the time change and jet lag. On the long flight over the pond, I watched several movies, listened to movies, played a few games, talked, ate two meals, and slept as much as I could (which wasn't enough at all). We have to change airports and take a 2 hour metro to the other airport in Tokyo where we will hang out until we fly out. The three others girls I am with are awesome and we will either become best friends or drive each other insane before we leave in 5 weeks. I hope its the fist choice :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Leaving for Korea

I just finished packing for my trip to South Korea. I am going with 3 other girls from Lander University as a beginning to Lander's Asia Initiative. We are going to be traveling in Incheon and Busan, South Korea and will be there for a total of 5 weeks. I am so excited to be going because I never dreamed I would get to do study aboad, much less 2 opportunities in 2 different continents!!! I hope to do better with my blogging than I did when I was in Spain.

The things I am worried about most are the food and the language. Dr. Park, the Asian study abroad director at Lander, and his wife cooked for the students and a few others from Lander a couple of weeks ago. It was delicious but not the type of food I eat every day. I am not a picky eater, and I will try all types of foods, but eating different types of food is going to be something that will definitely be something to get used to. Most of the people I will be in contact with in Korea will speak English, but I am still going to learn as much of the language as I can in the weeks I am there. Hopefully, I will pick it up easily, but if not, I can always learn more when I get back to SC.

Three people from the second university we are staying at came to Lander on Monday to visit and sign formal contracts as sister univerisities. Jane Na will be in charge of all the international students, so this was a great opportunity to meet her and go through orientation. I learned that there will be 5 American students (4 from Lander and one from another university), 1 Irish, and 10 English students in the program n Busan. One of my favorite parts of Spain was taking classes with people from other countries, and this is the thing I am looking forward to the most. Each of us will have a Korean "buddy" that will help us when we get there. We will help them with their English and they will definitely be helping us with our Korean. We also get to do a home-stay in our buddy's home one weekend. Most of the time we will be in a dorm room.

I'm flying out of GSP tomorrow and between flights, layovers, time change, and crossing the international date line, I am going to be so confused when I finally get to South Korea, so wish me luck ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 77

I went to Barcelona this past weekend for a 3 day weekend. We got on a train at 10:40 on Friday night and arrived the next morning about 7. We had to sit in chairs on the ride there and I slept okay but not great. We got to the hostal about 45 minutes later and checked in. We slept for awhile. We told ourselves that we would sleep until noon, but it was actually 2 in the afternoon. We went and saw the Mediterranean Sea in the afternoon after stopping and eating in an Argentina restaraunt. Then for supper went to Hard Rock. I would go there just for the tea! It came unsweet and between two glasses, I used all the sugar on the table. It has been the only place in Spain that I know of to do free refills and I took advantage of that fact. Then on Saturday, we went and saw the Sagrada Familia, which is the big thing to do in Barcelona. Then we went to Starbucks, Subways and more shopping before we went to the Picasso Museum. That night, we went to a ice bar where everything was made of ice, the cups, the table, the sculptures, the chairs. It was -19 C in the room but they gave us big jackets and gloves before we went in there. Then we went back to the hostal and slept some more. We got up early Monday morning and watched the sunset over the Mediterranean and it was absolutely beautiful. We went out on a pier and about froze our butts off but it was so awesome. We then went and saw the Olympic Stadium where the 1992 Olympics were held and it was cool but it seemed a little small compared to what I thought it would be. We took a ton of pictures and then went to the Guell Park, which is another famous thing to do in Barcelona. There was a contemporary artist named GaudI that started to make a little town on the outskirts of Barcelona to get away from the city life, and now the place is a park. We had to walk straight uphill for awhile before we got to the escalators that took us up the rest of the hill. I don't think I have ever seen escalators outside before, but I am so glad that they were there. I bought earrings from a vender then watched him run off when the police came. It is illegal to sell things out in the open without a liscence, so when the police come, everyone disappears in less than a minutes. It is actually kinda cool to watch them leave because they can pack up and run out before you can blink. The most famous thing in the Guell Park is a lizzard made out of what looks like stain-glass. There are also real gingerbread houses that made me think that I was in a fairy tale. Also, there was a creeper that was taking pictures of people, so we kinda left in a hurry. Then we went shopping and then went back to the hostal. Kari's senora always packs us a food bag when we go on trips so we ate that on Monday night. Then we went to the train station and got on the train to Madrid but this time we had beds. They weren't the most comfortable beds ever but I slept the whole night and woke up a little stiff. We got back at 7:30 and had to be back at school at 9:30 so that was fun. We were all dead yesterday but I went to bed early last night so I think I can last the rest of the week. I have the DELE which is my major exam, on Friday, and then I am staying in Madrid and might go visit a museum that I haven't visited and hopefully, I will work on the many papers that I have due in the next few weeks. One of the girls in my class is doing a countdown and we are down to the 30s of days left. Where has all the time gone? I have finally gotten used to being here and it is almost time to leave. I am glad my mom brought me another suitcase when she came and visited me because I don't know how I would have gotten everything home that I have bought. I have souveniors, more clothes, and my books and papers from class. I bought a painting of the Sagrada Familia and I still don't know how I am going to wrap it up to get it home without bending it or tearing it up. I will think of something. I am a little stressed out right now because of the big test but I feel prepared because I have taken a class and all we have done is practice tests, so if I don't know it by now, it's too late to start worrying now. And if I don't pass, I can take in the states in the spring. I just hope that I pass it. Then I will have a different kind of stress and one less class to worry about. Speaking of which I have homework to do. Hasta luego.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 67

I am back in Madrid and I am glad. I am using my own computer instead of one in an internet cafe so I don't have to look for the @ sign every time I get on. We got to Venice on Sunday morning. We walked around a while and went on a gondola ride that night. It was so much fun. It was the 5 of us (me, Mom, Rachelle, Kari, and Erica) on one boat. The other boat had a singer on it, so as we were going up and down the "roads of Venice" we had someone singing to us. It was like a movie, except for the fact that we didn't know that if we moved, we would tip it over. Only a little close. We also went to the big square there and took lots of pictures, but it took me a few more days to find the night settings on my camera, so I don't have that many good pictures. We flew out of Venice on Monday and arrived in Florence. We got smart this time and paid someone to take us to the hotel, since we got lost for two hours in Rome looking for the hotel. We went out that afternoon, ate, and watched the sun go down. I don't know why, but day lights saving here is a week earlier than in the states, so it was getting dark between 5 and 6 every night. That was okay except for the fact that I felt like it was bed time at 8. Then the next day was awesome. We found a tour group in a brochure and we went on it through Tuscany. We went to Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower! It was amazing. It was a square with two other monuments with it, but I was quite excited to just see it. I never thought I would. We also went to few cities, but I can't remember the names of them, but it was in the "Wine Country" of Tuscany. We went to a wine tasting for lunch, and also had lasagna, which was the best food I had on this trip. There is also something called truffle oil that is wonderful, but it was a little too expensive to buy there, but I am definitely going to buy some of the Buy-Low brand when I get home :) I doubt it will be the same. We drove through vineyards, and olive tree groves, and sunflowers. I didn't know this but Tuscany has a million and half sunflowers and then some. Beautiful. We went back to Florence that night and left for Rome the night day. We got to Rome on Wednesday and checked in the hotel and got something to eat. I don't think I will ever get tired of Italian food. Then we went shopping. There is a China Town in Rome that we went to and it was a little weird. There were shoe stores everywhere, but the only size they had was a 37 (equivalent to a 7, I think) and I wear a 39 or 40. So after going into about 20 stores looking for shoes we finally gave up on the shoes and went purse shopping. There are so many stands on the sidewalk with people selling whatever. They walk back when they see someone, holding up a bag, talking, and keep walking with you for a minute or two. They are very persuasive and annoying because you feel like you are getting bombarded with people on every street. The same with restaraunts. The waitors will follow you showing you the menu as you walk down the street. But I did find some shoes that night. I bought a black pair and a brown pair of shoes that come up a little past my ankle. They were cheap, but I don't know how long they will last. The next day we bought a bus pass on one of the buses that has two parts, a top and bottom. We rode around one time, and on the second time around, we got off at the Colosseum. We took so many pictures of the Coloseum and the buildings around it. Then we got back on the cute little bus and went to the Pantheon. It was pretty impressive. We rode around for a little bit longer before getting off and getting something to eat, more Italian food and gelato (Italian ice cream, the best). The next day we went to the Vatican and saw the Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We also went to the Trevi Fountain. I threw a coin in because if someone throws a coin in, it is for good luck for a return trip to Italy. Then we went and saw the Spanish steps. We went about 4, and the sun was in a real awkward position, so no pictures from this sight, but I did buy postcards. Then, we split up and Mom and I went one way. We went down the major shopping street in Rome. Think all the expensive name brands you can, and that is where we were. We could barely afford to breathe in their. My mom gave me a choice, wallet or house payment. I think you know which one won over. We went back to the hotel to unload everything we bought, and then rested for awhile before going to Hard Rock. I had ice tea for the first time since I left. Granted, it was unsweet, but with enough sugar, it was doable. And ranch. How I miss my ranch :) We didn't think about one fact when we were buying our tickets from Rome to Madrid. We bought a later flight because we wanted to see all that we could. We didn't think about after we checked out, we would have to drag our luggage everywhere. So we checked out at 11 and parked in the train station. Then we went in groups to do a little more souvenior shopping before we left, while one or two people stayed with the bags. We took a train to the airport, which is in the middle of nowhere, and we flew out about 7:45. Two hours later, and we were back in Madrid. I loved Italy, but there were some things that I missed about Madrid. Madrid is so much cleaner and the public transportation system is so much more organized here. Mom and I got back to my house around midnight, and she had to leave for the airport at 5, so she didn't get much sleep. I feel so bad for her. 9 planes in 10 days is exhausting for anyone, but she did it without complaining. She didn't bother to count the metros and buses though. :) I don't have school tomorrow because it is a Spanish national holiday, so I get another day to recuperate and do homework. Yeah right. It makes me feel better to say that I am going to tomorrow so I can be lazy today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 61

I have 5 minutes left at this internet cafe, so lets see how fast I can type. We left Madrid on Saturday and flew into Rome. We left Rome the next day and flew into Venice. We spend the night there one night, and we are now in Florence for two nights. Next, we go to Rome for the remainder of this vacation. We have taken so many buses and trains and airplanes, and I am sick and tired of public transportation. Italy is a little less organized and dirtier than Spain, but I still like it (even though I prefer madrid). We took a gandola (sp?) ride last night and it was so much fun. Well, times up, but I will write again and give more details next time. BTW, for the last few days, I have had some kind of pasta or pizza for lunch and Italian ice cream for supper. I could get used to this. Hasta Luego.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 58

My mom got here about 10:00 this morning. I skipped my second class to meet her at the hotel. We went out for a little while and we walked around the center of town for a little while, grabbed something to eat, then went back to the hotel to take a nap. Then I showed her where I live here. Then she slept while I packed for Italy. We are going to have so much fun! I felt so bad at lunch because I ordered us two of Spain´s main dishes, paella and tortilla. Paella is rice with seafood and a sauce, and tortilla is a potato omlette. She didn´t like either one of them. :( So we compromised for supper. We went to McDonalds and then went and ate chocolate con churros. Think fried bread with chocolate dipping sauce. And now we are back at the hotel.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 57

This past weekend, I went to Almeria in Andalucia (southern part of Spain). There is a couple down there that are missionaries for CBF, which is the organization that my church belongs to. Their names are Joel and Tiffne and they have 3 children, a 7 year-old daughter and twin 4 year-old sons. I had a blast. I got there on Saturday morning after a 7 hour bus ride (I left Madrid at midnight). I got to see the Mediterrean Sea, and put my feet in it. The mountains are right against the water, and it was so beautiful. I couldn't help buy thinking how great God is that he can create something so amazing. Then, we went to Mi Casa es Tu Casa, which is in Roquetas. It's a place people who come to visit can stay. They have rooms like they would at their house. There is a princess room, a room themed for the movie Cars, a flower room, and a master bedroom. They just got it about 2 weeks ago, so I was the first person to stay there. They took me around Roquetas which has a lot of African immigrants. A thing that I liked was that people that are here without papers aren't called "illegals." They are called "irregulars." On Saturday night, I went with Joel to a meeting between some of the local pastors of Roquetas for a prayer meeting. They tell the group what problems they are having, people that are sick, stuff like that, and it is a time to reflect and pray. It was in the Romanian language, and a guy translated it into Spanish and English. I also tried Romanian food afterwards. I don't exactly know what it was, but I think it was rice and corn wrapped in a cabbage leaf. It looked a little like a Chinese egg roll. It was delicious. Then on Saturday, we went to church. After that, they invited a few people from the church to eat African food. They try to help as many people as they can, so they sometimes pay people to cook food. It was rice, with this chicken and onion sauce that was absolutely delicious. I am going to try to attempt to make it when I get back to the states. I got to ask Joel and Tiffne anything and everything I wanted to, and that was nice. They are from Texas, and I was quite excited that they said y'all. Tiffne also let me go with her and two other ladies from the church to visit a woman that just had a baby. They took her a stroller because she already has a one year-old and can't carry them both by herself. So many people here are poor, but they are so generous. We meet somebody, and they offer you to come to their house and eat with them. Someone that has nothing is willing to give the little they do have to strangers. I think it is custom for the Africans. I was also jealous of Joel and Tiffne's daughter, Megan. They have lived in Spain for almost three years, and Megan goes to public school here in Madrid. She speaks fluent Andalucian Spanish. It is a little hard to understand Andalucian because the s sound is th. So I had a 7 year-old be my translator. It was awesome. She also taught me a couple new words, and I taught her a few jump rope songs. They also had a Halloween party for me Sunday afternoon because I had mentioned before that I was going to miss dressing up and going trick-or-treating. The kids drew me pictures and gave me candy. I felt so welcome the whole time. They invited me to come back whenever I can, and hopefully I will be able to. After I left, it was another 7 hour bus ride, but this time I had to share my seat with someone. And it was freezing when I got back to Madrid! I had gotten used to the warm weather of the south to just go a little north and it be 35 degrees. Awful. I also have two new house mates. An English professor moved in two weeks ago and is leaving this Saturday. His name is Steve and he has the typical English professor and I just always want to give him hugs. He is so cute! And a German lady came this past Saturday and is staying for one more week. Her name is Burga and she speaks no English and only a little Spanish, so we get to play charades a lot. My mom is flying in tomorrow for a week, and I am so excited. We are going to Italy on Saturday for a week. We are visiting Rome, Venice, and Florence, and it is going to be so much fun. I can't wait. I hit the half-way mark a few days ago, I think. Time is flying by so fast and I can't believe it! There is so much I still want to do but won't have time for, but I just keep telling myself that I am coming back. I am taking the equivalent of 16 hours here. Two grammar classes for an hour and a half each Monday through Friday. Education twice a week for three hours. Art twice a week for an hour and a half, and DELE twice a week for an hour and a half. I get done at 5 Monday-Thursday and at 1 on Friday. I don't like DELE. Thanks Carlos, if you're reading this. (Spanish prof at Lander). Art is interesting but I wish we could go more in-depth instead of just learning a little about each artist and a few of his paintings. I am learning so much in my education class. It is a class on how to teach Spanish to foreigners. I am learning so many practical things that I will definitely be able to use if I become a Spanish teacher. Also, this experience is making me think about what I want to do with my life. I have so many options but I still don't know what I should do or where I should go. I guess I will just have to keep trusting that I am following the path that God wants me to go. I think this is long enough for one posting, and I will have to write a lot when I get back from Italy. So, hasta luego. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 48

On Friday, Keri, Rachelle, and I went to a small town called Cuenca. It is known for its hanging houses. The houses literally are hanging off a cliff! Amazing. We had to walk across this 400 year old bridge to get there, but as we were walking up the hill, guess what a beautiful part of the scenery was? A McDonalds. A beautiful landscape, mountains, trees, and a McDonalds sign. What is this world coming to? It was a 2 1/2 hour bus ride both ways and we were in the city for 4 hours. Just in case if you can't do the math, we were on the bus longer than we were in the city. On the way back, we met some people and it turns out we have mutual friends because they went to the same school here that I go to. Small world. They invited us to a barbeque on Saturday night and it was a lot of fun. There were people there from England, Taiwan, France, Italy, and the United States. There were so many languages flying around but it was fun. There was chicken, hamburgers, shrimp, vegetables, salad, pasta, dessert. I had a blast. Then on Sunday I went to church. I attempted to go to Sunday School but I got there just in time for worship. I went out of the wrong exit of the metro, and between yahoo maps and my "wonderful" sense of direction, I went in circles for about an hour. I got there finally and am glad I went. It is an international church in English. I think someone said that there were members from 40 countries. Amazing. I was about to leave, when somebody ran out, grabbed me, and took me to the kitchen to have coffee. She was a sweet lady. That gave me a chance to meet some people. They are all so kind and sincere. Then yesterday we went to the bull fight. I will save the details but let's just say that I will never go to another one again. It was cruel in my opinion. If you want to see one, look on youtube. School today, not much to talk about, but I did learn something interesting about Spain. Instead of Friday the 13th, the unlucky day is Tuesday the 13th, which is today. And in exactly one month, I take the DELE test, which is on a Friday. Lucky me (get the irony?!). I have a new housemate. His name is Steve and he is a 50-something year old English professor. I made a fool of myself yesterday at supper because I thought he was my senora's boyfriend. (I thought he was coming next week.) From some of the questions I asked him, he must think I am a stupid American. Oh well. Speaking of which, Europe loves Obama. And there is going to be a president of Europe, and Tony Blair is running for it, which is Europe's "George Bush." I don't know how that will work out, but I hope the best for Europe.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 45

The study abroad director and his wife took Erica and me out to eat on Tuesday. We went to Mercado de la Reina and had tapas. Erica and I would have been on time except for the fact that I can't read a map. I need to go back to second grade. On Thursday, Matt made nachos and we went to a place near his house and had a "tex-mex night." It was fun. Then yesterday, we went to Vips to eat and to plan what we wanted to do today. We decided to go to Cuenca. Cuenca is this cute little town about 2 or 2,5 hours from Madrid. We left by bus at 10 and got there at 12. We went to see the casas colgadas (hanging houses). These houses literally hang off the cliff. It was beautiful!! We walked across a bridge and I wouldn't have walked over it if I had known how old it was. I think from the 1600s. We also walked around a lot and did pretty much nothing. We purposely did not look at the map so we could wander around for awhile. We found a bunch of places to look at the mountains and hills. This town did not have a flat place anywhere! We were either walking up an incline of 30 degrees, or down the same angle. I got my workout for the day. I burnt all those calories just to drink a liter of coke and an icecream cone, but it was mandatory. I also learned this week that the average number of kids in Spain is 1,2 per person. In the states, it's 2,5. Normally the only time I see couples with more than one kid is when the kids are twins. I haven't seen a family with more than 3 kids either. The parents are also much older.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 41

I met with my intercambio person today. It is a program where a native English who is learning Spanish and a native Spanish speaker who is learning English are paired together. She showed me around an area of Madrid called Tribunal. I had never been there before and it was really cool. I saw the oldest pharmacy in Madrid. We talked a lot. She has a little lisp so I could understand most of what she said, but sometimes I had to get her to repeat something 3 times. It was kind of funny. And she speaks really quiet. Her name is Elena and she is studying cinematograhpy. We will meet again next week, but I like her a lot. She is on the same level of English that I am on Spanish, so we feel each other's frustrations. We went to a restaraunt. Then I turned around, and there were 2 dogs just sitting right beside me. Elena said that wasn't normal but the owner was picking up food so the dogs were in the restaraunt for about 10 minutes just sitting there or wandering around. There are several other things I have noticed here. Trash is picked up at 2 in the morning because there is hardly any traffic at that time. And it is very loud. Also, when someone tells you to be somewhere at a certain time, coming 15 minutes late is still early (unfortunatly, school does not work like that). I am slowly starting to notice little things that I want to remember so if any of this is weird, I apologize.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 40

I really need to start doing things on Sunday. I normally just catch up on sleep and do homework, but how boring is that! I just did school stuff all last week. Nothing exciting. Then on Friday, Megan, Rachelle, Kari, and I met to plan what trips we wanted to take for the remaining weekends. We have Salamanca, Granada, Barcelona, and Sevilla on the list so far. We went out to a little place near Kari's place and ate crepes. I had a pizza one, then we all shared a chocolate one. I have a new favorite dessert. It is a sweet tortilla with chocolate sauce, chocolate ice cream and whip cream. We spread it all together, folded it, and ate it like a pizza, well as best as we could. Then on Saturday, the same 4 girls went to a little town about an hour south of Madrid called Aranjuez. It was a cute little town. We went to the Royal Palace, and a couple of gardens. About every street had a store selling wedding gowns, and we got to see two weddings. We also walked and saw the outside of a bull ring. Then we went out and watched a futbol (American soccer) on tv. Madrid won. Where we went was close to the stadium, so a lot of people came after the game to celebrate. I didn't stay much longer because the cigarette smoke was starting to bother me. Then on Sunday, we went to El Rastro, the largest flea market in Spain. It had literally everything anyone would ever want. I bought a paif of leggings for 3 euros, 6 socks for 3, a black belt for 3, and 2 scarves for 3. It was so cheap! I am going to get almost all of my Christmas presents from there. My dad was jealous. We used to go "yard selling" and to the flea market every Saturday, so when I told hiim Iwas going to one of this size, he told me to take lots of pictures and buy lots of things. We got separated after about 30 minutes, so Matt (American from Boston who goes to school with me) and I went one way. and Megan, Rachelle, and Kari went another way. We never did meet up that morning. I got back just in time for lunch. I am starting to get used to the food. I wonder if I will get back to the states and think everything that I eat there is weird. Who knows. Now time for some observations. Parents take their kids out and let them stay out late. I went to bed at 8 when I was little, and kids here get to stay out until 12 or 1 in the morning. I don't know why. There are also strollers that looks like a carriage on wheels. Very strange. Everyone wears scarves, even though its not cold. And red doesn't mean stop here in Spain. Red means look both ways, and if a car is coming, oh well, they'll stop. I have been made fun of by for actually waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green. I had to go buy comtact solution today, and the stupid bottle cost 15 euros, which is about 25 bucks! I was so mad, but that is something I had to have. There is a store, Corte Ingles (it has the word English in it, figure that) and it is 6 stories tall. It is the equivalent to a very expensive Wal-Mart. Oh, I don't know if I mentioned this yet, but I dropped my phone in the toilet sometime last week. I had to get a new one, because it wouldn't turn on. I am going through money like crazy, but I am trying not to worry about it. I have also started planning my break trip. My mom is coming over here in about 2 1/2 weeks to stay for a week because I don't have school. I think we going to Italy. I could care less where we go, because it's Europe and everything is awesome. I would actually consider moving here one day. I absolutely love everything about it. Well, except for the traffic. There are a few things I miss here. Dr, Pepper, sweet tea, taking baths and using as much hot water as I want, my car, and of course, my family and friends. I can't believe how fast the time is going by. I might actually be sad to leave. I never thought that that would be possible. If I don't come back to live, I will definitely come back for vacation. There is so much I want to do and see that I don't have time for now. I will be one of those people who works to save money to travel, goes broke, then works again just to go somewhere else.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 31

I left South Carolina a month ago, and it seems like I have been gone a week. I am having so much fun. I love Madrid, the people, the language, the culture, everything. My friend Beth, who is studying in Granada in southern Spain, came to Madrid yesterday. She got here at about 11:30 pm and we had to walk from the metro stop because the buses were no longer running. We didn't want to go out because I live in the outskirts of the city, and when the metro stops at 1:30, our choices would be to stay in the city until 6 or walk home. So we went to Burger King and got ice cream instead :) Some people went to the amusement park in northern Madrid, but I didn't particulary want to go so I went to two museums instead. I went to the Chapel of San Antonio de la Florida. It was about a 20 minute walk from my house. It had Goya's tomb (famous Spanish painter) and some of his frescos (a specific type of wall/ceiling painting). Something that I thought was funny was that written on Goya's tomb was R I P. I have no idea if it means the same in Spanish as in English, but I thought that was a little funny. Then I went to the museum of Reina Sofia. I saw Guernica, the famous painting by Pablo Picasso. This painting was in New York City until Franco, the Spanish dictator, died. It depicts the bombing that Franco okayed saying that the Germans and Italians could "practice" bombing on a small Spanish town. I also saw many paintings by Salvador Dali, and many other artists. Reina Sofia only houses contemporary art. I don't think I will ever understand how a piece of white paper with one scribble on it, or a tan piece of paper with random circles on it are considered art. I mean, I can draw lines and circles. I guess I don't appreciate the meaning as much as I should (sarcasm). I went by myself because I think that is the best way. I didn't feel rushed by anyone who didn't want to stay any longer, and I didn't get bored waiting on someone else. Then I came back, took a nap, and here I am now, writing on my blog. I have no idea what I am going to do tonight, but I have a list of things I would like to do tomorrow. Hasta luego.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 29

A week and a half since I wrote last. I went to Toledo this past Saturday with Tandem. It was awesome but I think Segovia is going to be my favorite. It seemed as if I walked uphill the whole time. Figure that out. I saw some painting by El Greco (famous artist) but his most famous one was in a different church. I was in the same city but didn't get to see it on that trip. We also walked by his house in Toledo. We also saw the Tajo River, the river that borders three sides of the city. I saw the remains of one of the bridges. Double date on Friday night with Erica was fun. Then Sunday was Noche en Blanco (translation: Night in White). It is a Spanish holiday where everyone stays up all night and the metro and buses run late. My senora told me that last year was better than this year because no one has money to spend this year. We walked around. Ate at a Mexican restaraunt, then hung out for a while. Somebody told us that the Royal Palace was going to be lit with all different colors, but we were disappointed. My education class started on Monday. 3 hours is a long time to sit relearning stuff that I already know. I have different teachers each time (2x a week) so it shouldn't be that boring. The syllabus looks really interesting. I am hoping to learn a lot. Art should have started this week, but the teacher's father was in a car accident so we will start this next week. That class in only for an hour and a half. Monday through Thursday I have class from 9:30 to 5 and Friday is only 9:30 to 1. Long days. I have the same thing to eat for lunch everyday: a sandwich with ham and butter, a sandwich with cheese and butter, and pineapple grape juice. I was so excited when I got lunch meat ham. Before I had been eating "Spanish ham" which isn't exactly cooked. Smoked would probably be the best part, but it looks and has the texture of raw meat. I couldn't eat it. I have been shopping way too much, but there are so many cute things here that are so cheap. For example, I bought a shirt yesterday for 3 euros, which is about 4 1/2 dollars. And the great thing about Spain is that I don't have to match what I wear. I can wear a navy shirt, black shoes with a brown purse if I want to. It's great! Emel left this past Saturday, and Alvise is leaving this Saturday, so I will be the only one here. Pablo (my 5 year-old "nephew") can keep me company when he isn't annoying the mess out of me. But his cuteness makes up for it. Sometimes. We play tickle monster and the other day I did my homework with him laying on top of me watching tv. He had a blast listening to my heart beat. I am starting to understand him. He mumbles a little when he talks and he has the little-kid vocabulary and mistakes, but I am starting to learn. His favorite show is Ben Ten. Figure that. Actually there are a lot of American shows in Spanish. I have seen The Simpons, Me Myself and Irene, the Hangover, and I can't remember what else I have watched in Spanish. But I like watching them if I am familiar with the movie I am watching; then I can understand it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 19

On Saturday, Tandem took a group of us to Segovia. It is a very old city, I think 2nd century BC. The US is only 200-something years old and I went to a place 10x that age. It's a cute little town about an hour north of Madrid in Castilla y Leon. I saw the castle that inspired Walt Disney. I felt like Cinderella. It was so beautiful, well the outside was. The inside was typical of any castle, nothing too exciting. I did see armory. I also saw the acuaducts of Segovia. They were so tall and so advanced for that time period. We also went into a church. Amazing. I also saw the church where Queen Isabel the Catholic was coronated (first queen of Spain...interesting to me). There was a military band festival when we went, so we got to listen to music from the Italian, Spanish, and German (?) military. I laughed when they started playing the James Bond theme song. Then on Sunday, I did absolutely nothing and it was wonderful. I woke up late, took a nap, watched tv, did homework, and absolutely nothing. Then today, I watched a Spanish movie at Tandem. I have seen several Spanish movies since I have been here, mostly by Almodovar (most famous in Spain). But the movie I watched today had a very young director and young actors, and it was strange. I don't even know how to start explaining it. I now have another person living here with me. She is German and I don't know how to spell her name, but it is pronounced M-L, I think. She is a secondary teacher of French and English in Germany. She speaks five languages. I am quite amazed. I wish I knew that many. But two is enough for me. Alvice (Italian roommate) is sick and I hope I don't get sick too. I am trying to stay away as politely as I can. Tomorrow, I am going to go with Tandem to take cooking lessons. We are going to learn how to cook tortillas. In Spain, a tortilla is basically a potato omlette. That is the best way I can think of how to explain it. It is about 1 inch think filled with tiny slices of potatos. This should be an interesting experience. Alvice also gave me a bunch of his songs yesterday, so I now have a wider variety of American songs, Spanish songs, and Italian songs. I don't understand of word of Italian, but he translated some of the songs for me and they sound really cool. I realize there is no flow to my blogs and I go from one subject to another then back again, and I apologize. I write like I think...no organization.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day 16

So I officially fail at this journal thing but I don't care anymore. I can just catch up. I went to the the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) on Wednesday. It was absolutely huge! It is actually in Madrid, within walking distance from my house. I had to pay because the United States isn't a part of the European Union. I think we should join. Then we would get discounts and free things. There were so many salons in the palace. The queen and king each had like ten rooms for whatever. The walls were decorated with statues (I don't know how they did that) and elaborately painted ceilings. Sometimes, the chairs match the rug or the wallpaper, so you know it is one-of-a-kind, and probably cost more than I'll make my whole life. It would be so much fun to live there for like one week. Then I would want to go to a normal size house because I would always get lost and break things. There were also original photos by Goya. It is so weird to go into buildings twice as old as my country. I learned more about the history of the kings and queens of Spain. I also learned that the original silver was melted down by Napoleon Bonaparte's brother to help pay for the war, so all the silver is new. Erica and I started another class on Tuesday. We only have it twice a week, so it's not that bad, but it is hard. It is for practicing for the DELE (think AP Spanish given by the Spanish government). There is a writing section, oral comprehension, written comprehension, matching, oral presentation, and everything else you can think of. Then yesterday, all the Americans had to take a pronunciation class. I knew I was a little bad, but I didn't think I would have to relearn how to talk. Apparently my southern accent makes it almost impossible to pronounce some things correctly. I would say something like I thought she was saying it, but apparently it was different. Also, the v and b make the exact same sound, so vivir and beber sound alike. I have to practice my vowels every day. If you heard me you would think I was crazy. I have to say aea, iou, uae, aeui, ouea, etc. I got some weird stares at the bus stop this morning. This has been my second week here and it has flown by. I was homesick for the first three or four days but now I am fine. Yesterday, I was a little homesick when I listened to the songs "Small Town USA" and "Where I'm From." I went to Burger King yesterday to have something American. My Italian roommate, Alvise, said Burger King doesn't count as a restaraunt, and here it really doesn't. An observation: the only time you get ice is when it is with coke, and then only sometimes. Tandem is taking us on a trip to Segovia tomorrow and I am excited, but they told us to bring a jacket because it is cold in the mountains. I am excited to be cold for once. Madrid is a desert. It is literally considered a desert. It has not rained since I got here. It almost did once, but it didn't. So at night, I have to choose between quiet and hot, or wind and loud noises. There are these 3 old ladies who sit out every night and talk (or should I say yell) until 1. And there are always kids out until 2 in the morning. And I went to bed last night at 11, which is considered early. The food here is the most different thing I have noticed. I have squid in ink sauce. It was good until I started to think of what I was actually eating. They put vegetables in everything. I also have freshly made bread with every meal. Erica and I found this shop where everything is cheap. I bought "parachute pants" which are apparently coming back in style, and a shirt. I am going to spend so much money there.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day 11

So I realize that I am not very good at this daily journal thing but sometimes I am too tired or too busy to write so I wait a few days then write it all. Friday, school, then Erica and I went to los Jardines del Campo del Moro (the gardens in front of the Royal Palace). It was pretty but we just sat on a bench in the shade and listened to music. Then on Saturday, Tandem took a group to El Escorial. It is the old Royal Palace turned monastary near Madrid. We rode a bus and I fell asleep on the way there and the way back. There were so many things that I wanted to take pictures of but couldn't because they didn't allow it. Almost all of the ceilings were painted and it was beautiful. They had painted intricate scenes from the Bible or Spanish history. There was a hallway called the Hallway of Battles and the walls were painted with scenes from famous battles, but they were not grotesque and bloody because women and children would see it. The library looked like it had a million and a half books. There were books in Greek, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, and I don't know what else. And if I understood the guide right, the earliest book is from from the 4th Century. The ceiling in the library was also painted but the theme was a little different. Socrates and other famous philosophers were painted on the ceiling. Also, there were sections painted for mathematics, science, medicine, theology, philosophy, history, and several more -ologies. I also saw the tombs of all the kings and queens of Spain (all except for 2). It was a circular room for the kings and only the queens that gave birth to the future king. One king had 4 wives but only the one who was the mother of the next king was buried in there with him. There were also many rooms filled with caskets of princes and princesses. But what got me the most, was that was a room with the princes and princesses that died before the age of 5. I also saw the kings bedroom. It had a doorway to the sanctuary because the king who had it built was sick and he wanted access to worship God. The sanctuary was the prettiest part of the tour. It was huge. The altar looked to be gold-plated, and the background was full of pictures of saints. Since we could not take pictures, I bought postcards with pictures on them. I took a nap after we got back, ate supper, and then went out with the rest of the Americans. The bus that I normally take home closed at 11:30 (I didn't know this) and the metro closes at 1:30, so at 1:20 I was panicking because I didn't want to walk all the way home from Sol. Luckily, I caught the metro that goes closest to my house, so I was okay. I am never catching it that close to closing time again. Today was the first time since I have been in Spain that I got to sleep until I woke up. I woke up at about 10:30 and it was a good feeling but I am still taking a nap this afternoon. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 8

Yesterday, Tandem gave a tour of the Plaza Mayor (pronounced My-your and not like a politician). It is like a "square." It has statues and a fountain in the middle and then restaurants and shops around. After the tour, a professor took us out for drinks. I tried sangria (think wine cooler). It was pretty good. After that, the American kids went out to eat at a ristorante italiana. I only had dessert because I had already eaten. Then today was a normal day. It is not even worth it to talk about school. I mean, what can I say? It's school. Erica came back to my house to "study." Then we went to the Museo de Prado. It is the most famous museum in Spain and one of the most famous museums in Europe. I saw Velazquez, El Greco, and Goya. Amazing is the best word I can think of right now. My favorite was Las Meninas. I had always heard how big it was and how much better it is in person, but nothing can describe looking at the real thing. I have studied this painting in 3 classes, so I know a lot about it, but it is just so amazing. Erica said that she would love to have one of the paintings in her house, but I know that I don't have a wall big enough to put this one on. I am going to have to go back because I didn't get to see everything I wanted to see this time. I still need to see Rafael. Then there is a Sorolla exhibit I want to go see, but I am going to have to go when I have a lot of time because there is always a line of about 100 people. P.S. If you don't know what artists I am talking about, research it because it is very interesting. I am starting to get used to the food. And Madrid in general. I only got lost once today.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 7

Yesterday after lunch, Erica and I met at Principe Pio for her to exchange something that she bought. Principe Pio is a shopping mall inside the metro station closest to my house, but is still at 15 minute walk for me. Then, all the American girls from Tandem went to el Parque de Retiro. It is so big that we got halfway through in 2 hours, but this is including the time that we stopped to take pictures. There were a lot of fountains, statues, and several big monuments. Then, we walked around a little before we all had to be back for supper. Something that is quite obvious when I got here was the schedule Spain is on. We wake up late (I have to be at school at 9:30), eat lunch around 2, take a siesta (nap), eat supper at 9, and don't go to sleep until 12 or 1. Breakfast consists of toast and coffee or hot chocalate. Lunch is the largest meal of the day and has two parts. First, we usually eat soup or something else light (I have had pumpkin, tomato, and zucchini soup so far). Next, she brings out the meat. Supper is a light meal, sometimes with leftovers or tapas. I am almost used to it, but I still get hungry around noon. Everyone drinks water in their house because everything else is so expensive. Fanta is a big deal here, so I have that some, and some coke, but only outside of my house. There are a lot of things that I am noticing that are different than in the United States. Most people here only have one, maybe two children, and they take their children out on a stroll or to a park at night because it is too hot during the day. Another thing, some people (including my house) don't have air conditioning. There is a fan in the den, and I open the windows in my room, but I can't imagine what it would be during the hottest part of the summer. Also, the handle for the toilet is on top of the toilet, not on the side like in the US. Madrid is a very dry city. Gatos, people born in Madrid, get excited over clouds, and Spain is always in a drought. There is very little water in the toilet. Just an observation. Weird, I know. Then for today, I went to class. I have to be at the busstop at 8:45 to get to school at 9:30 because I have to wait up to twenty minutes and there is so much traffic. I ride with my housemate Alvize, an Italian student that is studying translation, and an Italian girl and an German girl that live next door to me. I am so glad that I live with a guy that is fluent is English, Spanish, and Italian. Now I can just ask him how to say something so that my senora understands me. We are learning about perfect preterit (I am not going to even try to explain this one) and how to use the verb poderse. We had soup and fried chicken for lunch, then I took a siesta. I set my alarm for 5:30, but they use military time, so it didn't go off. Like right now, it is 18:30. We are going to eat early tonight at about 7 so we can go on a walk in the Plaza Mayor. Tandem does something about 4 nights a week. This week, I am going on the walk tonight, to the Prado tomorrow, and El Escorial on Saturday. I am also going to do stuff outside of Tandem. For example, I think that I am going to a bullfight on Sunday. This is still in the planning stages. There is so much for me to learn and see, so I am going on every possible opportunity so I can make the most out of this experience.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 5

So last night I blew out the power. Not once but twice. Apparently I can't use my power strip. Then today I was late for class because I was trying to be nice and wait on this guy that was going to school with me but it turns out he didn't have to be there at the same time as me. I arrived at the bus stop just as one was leaving then had to wait 15 minutes for another one to come by. Then 10 minutes on the bus then walk 10 minutes. I will have to start leaving a little earlier than I thought. It didn't matter though because they were giving an oral test one at a time so I got to go last. My first class is going to be a different class tomorrow because they put me in a class that focuses on speaking rather than listening. Then we studied irregular present tense verbs in my second class so I felt like I was in Spanish 1 again but it will hopefully get more advanced. There were English (from England), German, Italian, and Polish students in my class, although most of them are in their middle 20s. Lunch was wonderful. I had zucchini soup (sounds awful but it is really good), and these cheese and ham fried ball things that were wonderful. Estoy llena. I found out that Tandem, my school, plans trips for the students all the time. They do outings about 4 times a week so I should get to see a lot of places in Spain. Electives don't start for about another month, so right now I am done with classes at 1. Then, Erica and I have to take the DELE although I don't know why. We are the only Americans taking it. We have to take another grammar class in addition to the two we are already taking and the art and education one that start next month. The DELE is a test given by the Spanish government that says that someone is proficient in the Spanish language and understands the culture. I would not normally take it but Lander requires it. I am about used to the schedule. In Spain, lunch is eaten around 2 or 3 and supper is eaten at 9 or 10. And there is fruit for dessert. Nightlife doesn't start until 11 or so and ends at 4 in the morning. I can not be out that long and be at class at 9 the next morning.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 4

Yesterday, we went and learned the metro and bus systems. I know that I live where the gray line and blue line meet, but that is about all I know. It is going to be quicker for me to take the bus to school rather than take the metro. If I do decide to take the metro, I would have to take a bus to a metro station because the nearest one is about a 15 minute walk. We all have bus passes for all of September, but since it is still August, we have to buy a pass (one euro each way) everytime we get on the metro or a bus. We practiced by taking the metro to all of our houses because we would have to know where to go when we moved in today. My room is smallish. Think dorm room size. I have a bunk bed (which I don't have to share with anybody), a desk, a small table and a wardrobe. I have most of my things unpacked but I just have a few small things that I need to find a place for. In Spain, lunch is eaten at around 1 or 2. My senora, Luz Rivera, is very nice. She cooked noodles with tuna. We also had carpiccio (?) which I do not recommend. It is an Italian dish that is basically raw beef slices with a mayonaise and mustard sauce. I feel bad because I only had one bite. Then she kept offering me more things. Then for dessert, I had coco yogurt. Coco is coconut and not chocolate, just for the record. Senora Luz is very sweet. She speaks only a dozen or so words of English which is good because I will be forced to speak Spanish. But I have to ask her to repeat a lot of things because I don't understand her. Real Spaniards speak way faster than I thought. I am lucky if I catch a main word. Then I can at least guess what she is saying. Something that I really like about Spain is that siestas (afternoon naps) are normal. I can sleep for an hour or two and that is perfectly okay. And that is what I am going to do now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 2

Breakfast today was a little different than what I am used to. I had a tortilla (think potato omlette), fruit, and a pastry. I also met the other 3 girls that are in my group. Then we went and toured Tandem. It is a small school, but the inside is beautiful. It has a courtyard with all kinds of plants with tables and chairs. This is definitely going to be a place where I study. Then we went and toured Madrid. We went to a Walmart equivalent with 6 floors! They have everything I will ever possibly need. Then we ate an early lunch around 1. We had samples of a lot of tapas but I don't even know what I ate. There was this ranch potato thing, salad, seafood sandwiches (?), potato casserole, and a lot of ham and cheese. I decided if I don't like anything else, I can live of ham and cheese sandwiches for the next 3 months. Everything here is so expensive, but since it is in euros, it looks reasonable until you convert it to to dollars. I bought a bottle of water at the restaurant for 2 euros, which is about 3 bucks. There are also souvenir shops everwhere. I haven't bought anything yet because I don't have anywhere to put the stuff until I get to my host home. We got back to the hotel and now it is time for a siesta-afternoon nap. We are going on a bus tour of Madrid later tonight so hasta luego...