Second semester has officially begun along with all the organizational problems they seem to attract here...welcome back to Spain.
Last week, before classes started, I took advantage of the time and went to Paris and Slovenia with Riitta. We had a great time, although it was much colder than we expected. The first day we arrived in Paris, we made our way to the hotel, which was conveniently located in the red light district about 5 min. walk from the Moulin Rough...excellent start to the trip. We got checked in, and decided to explore a bit. We made our way to the Sacré Coeur, and stopped in all the little shops along the way. It turned out to be a really cool neighborhood, with lots of boutiques, and artsy little cafes. That night we went to see the Eiffel Tower, and attempted to go up to the top. It was very cool to see the Tower lit up at night, and the light show was great! Unfortunately the top was closed, so we decided to try back another day.
The next morning we went to the Louvre and other touristy things to be done in Paris. Going to most museums in Europe is great (free!) if you have an official student ID and/or are an EU citizen under 25. Many times only one of those would be valid, and of course it would be the one I don't have. Usually I would say that I was from Spain, and whip out my official resident card, to get in. Most of the time that would work - so we got into almost everything for free. Which was good because we were paying an arm and a leg for everything, Paris is so expensive!
After the first two days in Pairs, both of us were a little unimpressed....all we saw was a dirty city, with unfriendly people, and overpriced everything. That is until we went up the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately we were not able to go to the top, (because of course its closed in January!) but the view from the second floor is still pretty amazing. It was there we realized why people love Paris.
(Now I have something to go back for, the top of the Eiffel Tower.)
|Christmas tree? Guess those crazy Frenchies don't realize that Christmas is over...|
|Do I look cold? Because I was FREEZING!!!|
Then we got to our hostel. It was an old military prison, in the artist district, with really bright colors, and graffiti all over...sweet. Once we walked in I knew we would like it. There was great music, friendly people, and lots of community involvement activities going on. As I mentioned earlier, the hostel was an old prison, and was converted by the local university art program into a hostel. Each "cell" is now a room, that was individually designed by a local artist, and had a really funky vibe. We went to the restaurant in the hostel to get some food, and were surprised at how cheap, delicious, and how much food you got for only 4 euros! (great change from Paris and Madrid)
The city turned out to be great. The downtown is located on a river, with a cute little downtown and a castle overlooking the whole city. We had a great time walking around, shopping in the small boutiques, and visiting all the surprisingly modern/artsy/posh coffee shops that had amazing coffee for less than 2 euros! I think we drank enough coffee in those 2 days to last about 2 weeks!
|View of Ljubljana from the Castle|
|Best meal ever, Goulash and home brewed beer yumm!|
This is the first week of classes, and they are going surprisingly well. I showed up on the first day with no idea what classes I was going to take or what I was even going to do for the day. I found Susan and somehow we came up for a list of classes for me. I went to the International Office to register, only to find a line of about 500 other students waiting to register...ok so the 500 may be a bit of an exaggeration but it was a lot! I noticed that the woman who usually helps us was not there, so I asked someone and they said she would not be in until Wednesday. I am not sure how one of the 3 people who works in the International Office can be gone the first two days of a semester when all the international students are arriving...but I guess that is just how the Spanish do it. So I signed up for an appointment to register, and decided to just go to the classes anyways.
Classes so much better this semester than last, I actually understand what is going on! Still tweaking the schedule a bit, but a lot less than last semester! I have met the other American students in the program and they are very nice. I have also found that making friends this semester is a lot easier! Probably because my Spanish is a lot better, but also because I just start talking to everyone. I think its because I no longer have a security blanket of having a friend from the states, so I have to make new friends....probably should have just done that from the start...oh well - better late than never!
This weekend its off to Córdoba - and weather.com is telling me that is should be a high of 59 and sunny. :) woohooo!