Sunday, December 19, 2010

End of the semester/Rome!

Hello everyone!

I am finally done with my first semester in Spain!  I can't believe how fast it went, and am very glad to have a second semester here. It was a crazy last week of classes, with a short trip to Rome with some friends.

We had found cheap tickets to Rome, Italy for Tuesday-Wednesday of this week.  We left on Tuesday after classes, and then came back late Wednesday night.  It was a very short trip, but we had just enough time to see all that we needed/wanted to see, and eat some GREAT food! :)  Of course you could spend a week in Rome and not see it all, but for having just one day of sightseeing - we saw a lot.

Tuesday evening we arrived in Rome and made our way to our hostel.  It was close to the main train station, so was very easy to find.  Once we checked in, got a recommendation for a restaurant, and a map of the city, we were off!  We first went to eat - pizza of course - which was amazing!  (after 4 months of Spanish food, Italian food was a very welcome change)  We decided to go to the Trevi fountain that night, and after getting a little lost - we finally found the fountain.  It was great to go at night because there was no one else there!  We spent a while there, taking pictures, throwing money into the fountain, and relishing in the fact that we were in Italy.  After we were frozen all the way through, we made our way back to the hostel, and went to bed excited for our busy next day.

Isabelle, Riitta, Marzia and I at the Trevi Fountain :)
The next morning we got up early, had a quick breakfast at the hostel, and headed toward the Vatican city.  Since we were close to the metro station, we decided that it would be easiest to take the metro to the Vatican.  Now before I came to Spain I was a public transportation virgin, I had no idea how to use it and got lost almost everywhere I went.  Now, I am quite good at it.  The Madrid public transportation is one of the best in the world,  or so I had heard, but had nothing to compare it to.  Now I do.  The Rome metro is really dirty, it is slow, the stations are ridiculous (it takes longer to find the exit, and get to it, than the amount of time one spends on the actual train) there are only 2 lines, and you cannot get anywhere in the city using it.  But we still managed to get to the Vatican and all around the city, although we walked most of it. 
Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel
Once we got to the Vatican, we went into the museum, which houses the Sistine Chapel.  After the museum we went to St. Peters Square, where they were setting up for Christmas.  We walked all over the city, and found some lunch - amazing pasta and coffee!  After lunch we went to the Colosseum and spent some time there.  This was a great time to visit because there were not a lot of tourists.  It was however freezing, so we took a lot of coffee breaks. :)
Inside the Vatican
St. Peter's Square


After more walking we made our way back to the train station and back to the airport for the flight home.  We flew Ryan Air which if you didn't know, they don't provide seat assignments...So people think they have to be the first on the plane so they can get the best seat.  This is ridiculous because 1. all the seats are exactly the same, and 2. everyone is going to get on, they have their tickets!  But regardless we got in-line right when we got there and waited for over 1 hour.  (the combination of running on Italian time and Spanish time means that everything runs at least 45 mins. late)  We didn't end up getting back to Madrid until 12:30pm and had to wait until 2pm for the night bus.  It was a great trip, and I hope to visit Rome again sometime.

The semester ended on Friday for me, and it feels great to be done!  I can't believe how fast the time went, but I wish it wasn't over.  I am looking forward to second semester, which is weird because back home no one ever looks forward to the next semester starting....I guess that is a good thing!

This weekend was crazy!  There were so many parties, celebrating everyone and their brother, and my friends guilt tripped me into going to most of them.  ("Ali, its our last weekend together, pleaseee!?!") What was I supposed to do...?  Anyways, it was really fun, and I will have relaxing time in Chatel, France with the family!!!  My flight leaves tomorrow morning to Geneva, Switzerland and I will spend the rest of December and most of January there with my family.  I am really excited to see everyone, and look forward to all the shenanigans starting tomorrow.

Keep watching for photos and stories of the "French Family Vadeboncoeur" Christmas in France.  :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy December! :)

Wow!  Its already December (I know, its the 9th of I am a little slow that is all)
Its hard to believe that I have been here for over 3 months!  Its gone by so fast, and as all the other students prepare to go home, I am very glad that I am staying another semester.  Maybe its because from the beginning I was mentally prepared (or at least was pretending) to be here for a year, but I feel that I have so much left to see and learn that I am not be ready to go home just yet.  I am defiantly ready for the semester to end, to see my family (15 days!!!) and to have snow.  Some of you may think that its great to not have snow, but I don't feel like its Christmas time without it....hopefully there will be plenty of it in Chatel, France!

I don't have much to tell about what I have been doing the last week...homework and such.  University has gotten a lot harder, with the end of my semester approaching.  Its just like back at Carroll, too many exams/presentations/projects due, and not enough time.  Here they are big on end of the semester group projects.  I hate them, because there is NEVER time for everyone to get together.  And of course because Spanish people are always late, and like to put things off until the end of the semester (including the professors) everything is piled on to these last weeks.  Planning ahead or providing semester plans is so overrated.  *said with large dose of sarcasm*

I have learned a lot about myself, and noticed how I have changed since arriving in Madrid.  The biggest thing that I have learned is independence.  When you go off to college there is a sense of independence and doing everything on your own, but for me that was nothing like the independence I have experienced since I arrived here.  I am also a lot more self-confident in my abilities of going somewhere foreign, and figuring it out, on my own.  Its a pretty cool feeling, when I look back at the first couple weeks here, and realize how much I have learned, and how much I was missing out on before this experience.  I am grateful that I have another semester to study here, and a summer to work here. :)

Now I am off to the office to meet with my future boss and discuss the details of my internship!  (a little first "real job" interview, yikes!)  until next time...