Madrid Experience

Sevilla, Tenerife, Granada, San Sebastian : España

Ice, Astroids, and Devils

Ice, astroids, devils, volcanos, hipsters, loners, jupiter, cola, M3, computers, fog, atmosphere, spontaneous combustion, throw back, scrubs, jamon, ring nebula, mathematics, saturn, failure, clouds, walls, bruises, layers, red, light, tea, constellations, mars, Pokemon, frozen, sunburn, desolate dream, infinite memory. 

When I first enrolled in Suffolk Madrid the Astronomy class was a must for me and I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in course this spring. It has a thousand dollar lab fee, but that money went to a five day excursion to the Canary islands. During the trip the students learn how to operate a telescope, live in the shoes of an astronomer, and explore the island of Tenerife. 

The trip was beyond what I believed it would be. Not all positive, but an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a trip of delirium, psychotic laughter and high emotions. It began with a storm. Arriving at the Tenerife airport, we were greeted with ice cold winds and ice covered roads and the blackened skies. Our bus crept slowly up the ancient volcanic structure to the observatory, where we would be living for the next several days. Survival outside of a structure would eliminate life within hours. When we were all preparing to stay up for many hours we discovered that the conditions were impossible to view and instead of hours of observing we were blessed with a night of sleep. The walk home was a dangerous one; a usual 5 minute walk turned into over 20 minutes. As we slowly inched our way from the common house to our dormitories, the ice cold wind blew hale and debris, slashing our faces and freezing our hair.

The next day the surrounding plants were left with an icicle skeleton, luckily the weather had cleared up and we were able to explore the area. We visited the national park that was situated close to the observatory and in the middle of the island which contains a high peaked volcano. The volcano has scarred and reshaped the terrain, leaving behind a beautiful location for hiking and observing the land from above the clouds. 

For the next several nights the observations were scarce. The weather had cleared up, but the atmosphere and clouds were blocking our celestial view. We spent most of our time plugging in data points and searching for near asteroid collisions with earth. Some other activities involved were estimating the mass of Jupiter, plotting the position of North Star over the centuries, and understanding lunar and solar eclipses. Our teacher was frustrated, but he was able to improvise and try to make the experience the best one possible. During our “observation” hours the groups emotions became a little crazed. At one point we found ourselves singing to early 2000 songs, bringing back the middle school days. Or the creative ways we layered on the clothes to stay warm. 

The last day we were scheduled to fly to Las Palmas to check out another observatory, but unfortunately the weather was too bad and we had to reschedule our day. Instead we spent the day wandering around a historic city in Tenerife. The small city brought me back to my travels in Central America, looking very similar to towns in Nicaragua and Guatemala. 

There are many little stories I could repeat but most of the stories will only have relevance or meaning within the group that traveled to the Canaries. The trip was not what I had expected, it tested my patients and tolerance, but in the end, I will remember the horrible moments as great experiences. I had hoped to gain more knowledge about astronomy, but in the end, I enjoyed the majestic stunning views of Tenerife.

 

Spaniards Take to the Streets

Mondays

Today was a simple day. Nothing special happened but for some reason I’m falling asleep with an over sized smile. The day started like any other monday. I woke up around 9ish, got dressed and started walking to school. The walk is about 30- 45 minutes. I have two route options the countryside or the city as I call them. The countryside is walking through residential buildings that are all conveniently located next to a somewhat large urban park. While the city route brings me through a busy commercialized street. I generally choose the countryside in the morning, a little more refreshing. Today I did not have my headphones so I would have to entertain my brain with the constant one line lyric to a horrible pop song I had heard earlier while  reflecting about my future. 

Although I left my house in enough time to arrive to class I found myself late for my 10:45 Spanish 201 with professor Caballer.. To top it off i had missed all the classes the pervious week due to my great grandmother funeral. Already feeling guilty enough I silently slipped into the classroom with my week late Spanish essay. To find out that everyone else was just handing in their essays. So it was not late and even missing two classes I was still on par with the rest of my students.

Later that afternoon I was debating if I should go back home between my Spanish and English when I got the perfect message from my roommate. “Do you want Italian?” So essentially asking if i wanted to go to Ginos, order off the menu of the day and fill my stomach with as much dairy as possible. no hesitation there. YES. 

At 5:45 I returned to the Suffolk campus, the one building with four classrooms, and entered my english class. Topic of the day: Shakespeare’s Othello. The dark depressing tale of tortured love and jealous did not bring my mood down. I enjoyed in the poetic masterpiece of shakespeare, passed in my english essay and headed right out the door. 

The sky was lit up with brilliant colors on my way home. Another good omen. I debated going on a run, but i thought maybe homework was a better option. One thing college has done to me is made me super lazy in the active sense. I go out and about, but when I don’t have to do anything, I’m not moving. The rest of the night was spent making stupid small talk with my roommate and attempting to sell myself to scholarships and other nonsense. 

But my final highlight of today was the spontaneous decision at ten till midnight to run across the street in our pjs to the chino to buy some ramen noodles. While in the process asking the store owners to snap a ridiculous photo of us before we headed back to our cave. The look on their face was priceless.

Retiro 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

—    Mark Twain

Across the Universe and Back

The last couple of weeks have been a whirl wind. I can’t believe two weeks have already passed, the different raw emotions i have experienced in this week alone have been overwhelming to say the least. The first emotion that presented itself was complete stress. Mid-Terms presented themselves with no warning at all. It wasn’t that I was stressed I was going to do bad, it was more stress towards trying to do my best. If that makes any sense. I did try my hardest and that stressed me out. There is a time that you just need to give up and realize that whatever you do is going to be your best. The only issue is if you keep stating this then your best will start to decline. After the stress of mid-terms students were able to finally let loose on the iconic break called spring break! A week to forget your problems and indulge in the better things in life. For my spring break option I choose to go visit my boyfriend in the alluring city of Prague. 

In the city of Prague I celebrated my 21st birthday and enjoyed several pints of beer. Some of the best beers in Europe can be found in the czech republic. They even celebrate their beer by making spas out of it. Just around the corner from the old town square is place called Bernard beer spas. There you sit in a tub of hops and yeast and other beer components for about 45 minutes while you have access to an endless supply of Bernard beer. After this you spend about 20 minutes in a heated room with a Slovakian man rubbing you down and telling you the finer things about the city he lives in. 

The rest of the week was spent wondering the beautiful historic city of Prague. The architecture, the beer, the people, the food. The food isn’t the best, a little on the heavy side makes you beg for vegetables afterwords but worth it. Fermented beer cheese, goulash, and Lokals steak tar tar are a must. One night we went a little outside of the city and went to a bluegrass concert in an underground bar. The bar barely held fifty people and it was tucked underground with break walls and comforting setting. I can see my future in this city, the feeling there is so comforting, funky and full of angst. My trip was sadly interrupted by a call from my mother saying that my great- grandmother had passed. 

There was no question if i should go to the funeral or not. I would have loved to stay in the historic center of Prague but missing my great-grandmothers funeral would be an event I would regret for the rest of my life. After a painful 13 hour travel day I arrived in Dulles airport, Washington D.C., unfortunately the trip as not even close to being done. My uncle picked me up there and we had another six hour drive down to the Virginia /Tennessee  boarder to my great-grandmother house. The next emotions I felt was overwhelming sadness. It was her time, she had reached her 99 year and disagreed with anyone that questioned her 100 th year on this planet. She was a strong women that brought a lot of change to the small Virignian town of Marion, and I will forever miss her. I am glad to say that I am of her blood. I spent the rest of the time catching up with my family members and reminisce of times past. 

Tuesday I embarked on the flight home, only 11 hours this time. Arriving back in Madrid just in time to make it to my second class. Dazed and confused I plunged on the rest of the week. But this weekend has been a lost one. I have found myself struggling to get out of bed. Crappy t.v. shows and order in Indian food has been a must on the recuperations train. It is now Sunday night and I must say that I am spent, but I am ready to gather the little strength I have to push through these final papers and get ready for an summer full of unexpected adventures.

Don’t Stop Till You Drop

When a student is deciding where he or she wants to study several things come to mind. One in particular is the people, many may picture Enrique Iglesias, Pique, and all those sexy Spanish footballers and singers, and the crazy parties and DJ’s in Ibiza. Anyone from the United States know the men in Europe are more attractive and have way better style. But let me tell you something… Once you actually land in the country, you many want to reconsider. Walking through the streets of Madrid, I am surrounded by old men and women. Mostly women, but these old Spanish ladies got a unique style going on. 

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From their long fur jackets in the winter to their bight and funky  eye shadow, that rom a far may look like the poor old lady got a black eye. There style shames anyone, they are dressed to impress. With so many now in retirement they are running the show, even though they don’t do much except cut you in line at the market. On top of that the amount of older ladies that still go out clubbing is surprising, power to them! Even though finding the attractive Spanish guy might not have worked out, I’ve realized theres nothing stopping us to live life until any old age. Salud!

Food, Keep Going North.

Coming from a family who loves to cook and a mother who has her own catering business, i can clearly state I love food. Traveling to Madrid to start university I was excited to try all different kinds of food. From tortilla de patata to churros and jamon iberico. However,Ii can truly say Ive been disappointed. Hearing people say spanish food is delicious, perhaps my expectations were too high but Ive realized spanish food is quite dull and lacks a certain flavor. The dishes that Spaniards are famous for are good dishes, but sometimes I crave something different. Something experimental, new and modern. That is to say that Spain is a diverse country and the food varies drastically from north to south, east to west. In the south you have more Northern African tastes and to the north there is more of a french influence. The true Spanish cuisine can be found in the center, located in the heart of Castilla the capital Madrid. So if you are looking for a culinary experience that will blow you away I would stay to the North. San Sebastian and Barcelona knows where it is at with food. The sea food the flavors fit perfectly with my pallet.