Monday, February 22, 2010

The Dawning of Mid-Terms

Vale Vale Vale Vale Vale.
"Vale" (pronounced vah-lay haha) means "okay". People here say it alllllll the time. And quite quickly, too. Vale vale vale vale vale! It's rather fun to say.

Let's play a game called "Katie asks herself questions and then answers them":

So self, you've been in Espana for quite some time eh? Elaborate.
¡Great gillyweed! I've almost been here a month and a half! What does this mean?
Wellllllllllll, this means that it's just about time to see if I'm going to live or die.... a.k.a. pass or fail.

What's that supposed to mean?
Every year, every semester, every country, every university, these dreaded things called "mid terms" happen. I don't know why. Nobody likes them, yet they keep occuring! Strange.

Splendid. So do u think you're ready?
Does Donald Duck wear pants? ............ No. But no worries. I will be!

If you could be any type of book in the world, what type would u be?
A pop up book. Those are badass. And 3-d.

Alright, what's your favorite thing about Espana so far?
Pues, estoy aprendiendo Spanish... so that's tight. Gotta love me some learnin'! I've also noticed that the people here make an effort to not only have free time but also enjoy it, and I really like that. It's awesome to just relax once in a while. My whole life I've always been chasing myself in circles trying to accomplish just one task, but it's impossible because I always have so many things going on at once! I've realized that it's not worth it to be that stressed out. It's okay to not volunteer for everything or be involved in everything or be DOING something ALL the time. I love sitting back and just reading a book, and I can do that here! And that's not being lazy, it's just being nice to yourself! I have no idea how I could ever go back to the crazy, stressed lady I used to be!

Speaking of books, how's Las Cronicales de Narnia: el leon, la bruja y el armario?
Oh stupendous. I'm such a slow spanish reader, but I'm getting better!

What'd you do this past weekend?

Well, Friday I went on a trip to visit the city of Cuenca with la universidad. wooh gratis (free)! It was neat. We went to a museum of modern spanish art, and then we toured the Cathedral there. The museum was pretty darn awesome, and the cathedral was beautiful! I'm a sucker for weird art and those big catholic buildings.

It's 1:22am, porque no estas dormiendo?
I'm writing a paper about "La Espana Islamica" (Islam in Spain), and it's taking me quite some time. So I thought I'd take a study break and update this thaaaang. I hopefully won't be up much longer! Estoy cansada!

What'd you do today?
Went to class, learned about Spanish History/Geography/Cinema, and got rained on. My umbrella broke during a rather large gust of wind. Dadgum 2 euro paragua! Pero, esta bien. No worries. I enjoy the rain! Just think, in a couple weeks the grass is going to be so green, and the flowers are going to start growing, and everything will be so beautiful! I'll just tough it out for a wee bit longer, so what if all my shoes are permanently wet?

Vale, good game.

Hasta luego!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

¿yoga en espanol = yoga¿

Today was a pretty grand day. I woke up, had a bowl of cereal, and all was well. Then, Primi woke up... & she made Tortitas for breakfast (little did she know i had already eaten cereal.. hehe...). Tortitas are pretty much like a pancake, but it tastes a tad different. They're so good! She probably makes them once a week. And the best part is i get to put a lil bit of whip cream on top... mom never lets me put whip cream on my breakfast at home. wooh! hahaha

Spanish Tortita:

At about 10:00 I started walking to class, it takes about 25 minutes, and it's quite a lovely stroll in the mornings. Everyone is hustlin' and bustlin' around going to work/school or just walkin their dogs... there's always people on the streets so i get to do some major people watching haha. I usually just put my ipod in one ear and observe the city while I walk. Even though I walk pretty much the same route everyday, I can always find something new and different than the day before.

I had Spanish Culture/Civilization & Los Grandes Maestros de la Pintura (great spanish artists) today, both of which are very interesting. In my Culture/Civ class, we talked about the Mediterranean diet and how it differs from the American (or western) diet. Basically... mediterranean diet rocks. American diet sucks. People are not obese here like they are in the U.S. Some people may be pleasantly plump or big boned, but I have yet to see anyone that I would consider "obese" (you know like the "Holy guacamole I fear for your life my dear fellow human" kind of obese). Ya know why?
Here's why:

Well, most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats, and this describes the Mediterranean diet. The majority of their 'healthy fat' comes from olive oil, and not butter, sugar, salt, & other greasy stuff. In fact, I learned that Spain produces more olive oil than any other country in the world. And apparently there are tons of olive tree farms in southern Spain. Cooool!
Key components of the Mediterranean diet include:

-Getting plenty of exercise and eating your meals with family and friends
Spanish people walk everywhere. They also sit down with their families and actually eat lunch together at the table and take their time eating. Lunch time (called "la comida") is from 2-3:30/4:00. Everything in town shuts down (except some restaurants of course) and everyone goes home for lunch. They have plenty of time to eat, converse, and relax before hurrying back to work or school.

-Eating a generous amount of fruits and vegetables
Mmmm my favorite! Sometimes for dessert we'll have fruit. Sometimes for a snack we'll have fruit. Sometimes for dinner we'll have fruit. Hahhaa I have a new found love for oranges... mainly cuz i have learned how to peel them with excellent speed. hahaha:)

-Consuming healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
Olive oil is healthy fat (moderation)

-Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods

-Eating small portions of nuts

-Drinking red wine, in moderation
Ah hex yeah! A glass a day keeps the heart disease away
-Consuming very little red meat
REPEAT: VERY LITTLE RED MEAT. Some people i know would be pooping their pants if they couldn't have red meat every day... but then again their heart is probably poopin its pants (yeah okay that doesnt make any sense) cuz that person is killing him/herself by eating so much dadgum red meat. 2 words my friends: veggie. burger. tastes similar. but oh so much better.

-Eating fish or shellfish at least twice a week
[Mmmmm sea fooood :) ]

Anyways... enough about food!
Tonight I decided to take a yoga class here in Alcala, and it was a lot of fun. I am so proud of my lil knee for healing so quickly.. I could do child's pose and all the warrior poses without crying (i mean, uh, not that i've ever cried... psh. i'm super tough. duh.) Woopity woop woop!

The whole class was taught Espanol (ya know, cuz i'm in Spain and all) which was really interesting. I understood the just of it all, and when I really had no idea what he was saying I just looked around the room to see what everyone was doing. Monkey see, monkey do, right? More like American can't understand rapid fire spanish can you please slow down mr yoga man sir?, American see, American do.

I understood "relajen" or "relajando" (relax), "exhalacion" "exhalando" (exhalation/exhaling), "inhalacion" "inhalando" (inhalation/inhaling), "subimos arriba" (rising up), and "Yoga".... because it's the same in both languages. Let me just say that trying to balance, relax, & listen/actually understand what he's saying all at the same time was a pretty difficult task!

Nonetheless, it was a wonderful experience and I'm planning on returning next week!
Tomorrow I start my Flamenco classes with the University. I'm super dooper dooper pumped.
This is so gonna be me by the end of the semester:

Real flamenco dancers... they're good:

Pues, es todo para hoy. Estoy cansada, voy a dormir.

*buenos noches*
Kaaaaaaaaaaahteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lamentations of a Rubia

I believe that there should be balance in all aspects of life. That's one reason I enjoy Yoga so much; the concept of opposition is always something I am striving to understand.
If you take some, you should give some. If you cry some, you should laugh some. If you eat some, you should exercise some (or just walk 30 min to class haha). If you complain some, you should give praise some... which is why I'm writing this post. This is a venting session... but with positive happenings from my day to counteract the negatives (opposition. balance. yeah.).

1. [-] I was 15 minutes late to my 1st class today. I was running late this morning, and by the time I made it to the main road to walk to class it was 10:10... and it takes me 25ish minutes to walk to class.. so i knew i'd be late. So instead i thought "Hey Katie, just take the bus! You bought a bus pass.. just do it!" So I walked to the bus stop, and the lil electric sign dealy said that Bus 6 was 8 min away. "Perfect," I said to myself, "I'll be on the bus before 10:20, plus a 7 min. ride there, then a 3 minute walk to my building. I'll only be like 2 min. late!" Wrong. I think that sign was broken. Unless 8 minutos actually means 15 minutos! Then the bus driver stopped randomly on Calle Librero, rolled down his lil window and talked to another bus in passing for about a minute or 2.... Is that even legal? Whatev. I made it to class and everything was fine, just frustrating.
[+] I made it to class and my profesor was suppppppper dooper understanding. Then class was really interesting; we talked about bull fighting, and we shared our different views on it. Of course I was pro let the bull liiiiiiiiive! hahaha, but it was very interesting to hear everyone else's opinions too. I love a good debate.

2. [-] Money's dumb. What i really mean is that the Euro-->U.S. Dollar conversion is dumb. Everything I buy in Euros is about half more in US$ (por ejemplo, if I buy a bus ticket for 30Euros it's actually $45... wahh!). Everything's expensive. i don't wanna be a tightwad, i just need to be smart in my spendings.
[+] I'm in Spain. I could spend zero euros/dollars/whatever and still be in Spain. Spain. Spain. Spain. There are people in the world who don't even have food and water, and I'm over here complaining about not having enough $ to travel to every single cool european place I've heard of. I'm so incredibly blessed to even be having this experience! I've seen 3 beautiful cities so far (Madrid, Salamanca, Sevilla), plus living in cute lil Alcala. That's pretty wonderful.

3. [-] I am still soaking wet because of the rain. My cheap 3euro paragua (umbrella) broke, and I just happened to be wearing my only coat without a hood, and it just happened to start pouring down right when I started walking home from Media Pinta (about 20ish min. from my apartamento). I also don't know that spell from Harry Potter that keeps rain water off of your glasses, I wish I did though, because my glasses served no purpose in the rain.
[+] I wore my converses today, which are good for dodging puddles, and don't absorb the water right away. Also, thanks to my recent knee surgery, I can walk or run as fast as I desire and there is no pain in my knee anymore (so. so. so. so. awesome.), so I briskly walked home with ease. Also, rain is wonderful to watch. It's so peaceful. And just think of how green the grass will be in the spring time after a few more of these lil showers!

4. [-] I don't think I'm going to be able to visit Michelle in Bordeaux,France next weekend for Valentine's day. It's going to be too expensive to travel that weekend... and if I'm going to go & pay a lot for transportation I want to be able to stay for a whole 3 days.. which means skip class.. which I can't next week..
[+] Michelle is my only friend in the same time zone as me, so if I really need to talk to her there's not that crazy 7 hour time difference! Also, there's 3 1/2 months left of wonderful weekends to travel to see her! I'm in Spain for 4 months. That's crazy awesome.

5. [-] When people run into you on the streets here, they do not say sorry.
[+] It's not custom to say pardon me here, and I understand that. It's just another part of understanding the culture. If you had to say sorry to everyone that you bumped into those streets would be really loud with all the mumbling apologies! However, I still say my lil "lo siento, perdon me" when I run smack into people, it's just habit (thank you America!)! "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." ~Mark Twain

6. [-] I still have little moments of homesickness sometimes. It's more like I just miss the comfort of knowing how everything works, of how everything is done, of knowing local customs, of being able to speak to the people around me without sounding like a cavewoman, of being able to call home without having to count my minutes.
[+] I really do love change. Everyday is a new adventure, a new challenge. It's just a completely different lifestyle, and I really am absolutely enjoying it. For instance, today after lunch during the 'siesta' time, I made hot chocolate and read my book (Chronicles of Narnia in spanish.. ahh yeah) for about an hour. It was so nice to be able to just sit and relax and read and not have a super dumb crazy agenda like I always have in Norman. I don't enjoy living stressed out, but I always am. I've rarely been able to just chill and read a book (not related to school) and not constantly be checking on the time. Another positive thing, yesterday I was strolling around before making my way home after class, and I stumbled upon a really cool yoga studio. I took a brochure and I think I'm going to take some classes... it'll be so neat to practice yoga in spanish!

7. [-] Spaniards. Talk. So. Fast.
[+] I'll. Just. Learn. Faster.

Lamentations is a great book in the bible, & I don't think it's all that well known. The whole book is just poems/songs written by the Israelites expressing their feelings (grief, frustration, etc), but they manage to work God into the picture. It's a good reminder to me that it's okaaaaaay to vent and get all the negative stuff out of your system, but to keep the positivity flowing close behind.
Lamentations 3:22-24; "The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore I will hope in him."

Hasta luego,
Katie :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mine is the Sunlight, Mine is the Morning

Lunes, el 1 de Febrero

My favorite time of the day is definitely morning. I’ve known this for a while… why else would I enjoy working those early morning shifts at Starbucks? I get to see the sunrise while I’m driving to work, and I get to help start people’s day with a smile (well, and a $4 cup of a coffee too… haha). But the reasons for why I love mornings have been increasing during my stay here in Spain. When I wake up, I open up my window and let the natural light flood my room. I look out the window and there are lil birds hoppin around on the porch. Everything is just so tranquil! Another reason I like morning is because when it’s my 7:30am, it is 12:30am for all my friends back at home… which is prime time for skyping! In the mornings, I like going on short jogs (still gotta treat that ole knee right!) or read or just chilllll! Also, every morning Primi makes a delicious breakfast, and we sit & drink coffee & eat breakfast together (usually toast & jam and fruit, but sometimes she’ll make tortitas, which are kinda like pancakes!). We always have really good talks over breakfast. Maybe it’s because I’m well rested, the Spanish just flowwwws. It may not be perfect grammar, but I get all my thoughts across without butchering the language tooooo much. I also understand her pretty well, too. (Maybe she talks slower in the mornings… haha)

This morning at breakfast I told Primi that I’m going to visit Michelle in Bordeaux, France during the weekend of Feb 11-14. She said “Oooooh el Dia de Valentín, que divertido!” [Valentine’s Day J] She told me I should try the champagne in France because it is delicious, way better than Spain’s. Then I commented on how cool it is that I can buy alcohol in Europe, and not in the United States. She was like “¿Que?”, cuz she didn’t understand why I couldn’t… I was 20 wasn’t I? I explained to her that at 18 you’re considered an ‘adult’, but you can’t legally buy or consume alcohol until you’re 21. Then we started talking about being ‘borracho’ hahaa a.k.a. drunk! We both would rather drink to enjoy the taste and not to drink so much you don't remember how it tasted in the 1st place. And I mean if after a while ya get a lil light headed from one too many glasses of wine, well that’s one thing haha, but chuggaluggin’ shots at the bar to forget your troubles, and in turn forgetting your morals… well.… i dont wanna do that, legal or not…. haha. I really don’t have a problem with drinking as long as one's judgement is not impaired & you don't things you wouldn't normally do. By the way, I had a glass of wine at lunch today and it was just so lovely. And guess what Oklahoma, I’m only 20... muhahahhaha! haha:)

[What was reallly cool about all of this was that this whole conversation that i had with Primitiva was in Spanish! Not perfect Spanish at all… but Spanish nonetheless. Can I get a WooWoo!?]

I’m still soaking up all the different cultural aspects of Spain, as you can tell. Of course I love me some America, and always will (land that I love… stand beside her and guide her. duh)! But I am also noticing more & more things that I like about Spain!

-I like that they love love love public transportation.
-I like that they conserve energy.
-I like that they can relax and enjoy life, and it’s not considered lazy, it’s custom, & it’s deserved!
-I like that they are very family oriented.
-I like that they speak Spanish (hehehehe).
-I like that they sample wine in grocery stores (just imagine if Sam’s club did that… awesommmme)
-I like that they walk everywhere! (or ride bikes or rollerblade like in Sevilla!)

I am so grateful for this opportunity to live here. I still sometimes can’t believe that I’m in Spain… like… the one and only… Espana… in Europe… it’s crazy.

Kah-tee Mallory (hahaha)

Overdue: ¡I love Orange Trees!

Here are some pictures from my trip to Sevilla during the weekend of Jan. 29-31! It's in the southern part of Spain (Andalucia), and it was about 55-60 degrees (farenheit of course!) and beeeeaaauuuutiful! So many palm trees, a beautiful blue sky, and lots of old colorful buildings. I wish we could have stayed longer, maybe I can go back in May after finals... it'll be extremely nice then, probably pretty hot too!

We left Friday morning from Madrid at about 9:00 and arrived around 15:30 in Sevilla!

This is a view from the rooftop of our hostel. The streets were all so colorful, and all the buildings had cute lil windows!

After we settled into our hostel we set off to explore the beautifyl city.

We found where the nuns sell cookies. The cookies go to my belly, and the money goes to charity. They were delicious. I love nuns.

One of the doors on the left was where the sistahs were selling their cookies. The architecture of this little plaza was simply stunning!!

pretty buildings! Check out them palm trees! Wooh!


Me and Brittany in front of the fountain!

cool hotel. cool palm trees. cool orange trees. This was way out of our price range... haha

There were so many palm trees and pretty little parks!

Blue sky!

This was a statue in honor of Christopher Columbus. After his explorations to "India" (AMERICAAA!!! wooh.) he sailed up the river into Sevilla and unloaded all his treasures there. He's so famous (even if he did kill thousands of innocent people on his voyage....)!

I loved this huge tree.
So I hugged this huge tree.

This building had really cool pictures on it

colorful buildings!

So our hostel was pretty awesome. It had a bar (which gave u one free drink upon arrival... mmm wine.), and on Friday night they were cooking dinner, and for only 5Euros you could have a HUUUUGE plate of Paella. However, we learned that this delicious meal did not include bread. WHAT?! You have to have a slice of bread at every meal or it's just not spanish. duh. hahaha So Brittany, Spencer, and I ran a couple blocks over to a lil market and bought 3 bagettes (which totaled up to about 65 cents.. bread is so cheap... panera bread wouldn't know what hit 'em if they came here!).

paella + bread + wine + awesome friends = DELICIOUS!!!

This is mr. cocinador cookin up the Paella:

yum. so colorful!

After dinner we roamed went and took a lil power nap and then went out on the town about 1am only to find that it was not such a hoppin night... apparently something had happened in one of the main party plazas and the cops were there and everything so we didn't even go into a club!

However, there were a lot of these awesome things everywhere:

They were trashcans. But extremely awesome trashcans. Saving the planet from pollution has never been more fun.

There were horse & buggies all over the town, but they were kinda expensive so we just walked! But we did pet a couple horses hahaha

Cute lil puppy barking at the horse!

Then after much anticipation (on my part haha) we finally got to visit La Catedral de Seville, also known as Catedral de Santa María de la Sede. I was poopin my pants to see this place (not literally............ hehehe).

It's the largest Cathedral in Spain, 3rd largest in the world, but largest if you count volume (there are a ton of towers... and it's SO tall!!).

I feel like a tour guide of the cathedral. I was obsessed. haha

gollllllllld altarrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

This outside of the cathedral in a little court yard area... it was so pretty with all the orange trees! That's the big ole bell tower!

Christopher Columbus is buried here. No lie.

Which i must say, i think it's rather odd he's buried in a cathedral, a place of worship. I don't quite agree with it. I think he should be buried in a normal place with normal people. He ain't no saint yo. He murdered thousands of innocent people in the name of "god". psh. watev chris.

Okay. I'm done.

in the bell tower!!!
Then we rented bikes and rode around Salamanca for a while!
Plaza de Espana:

Katie Sasser y yo a frente de un fuente en Plaza de Espana

Torro de Oro!
This is where all the "treasures" are hidden that Columbus and his crew brought back from America! Cooooooool.

Pretty river! We rode bikes along this, so fun!

Cathedral by night!

Zee bell towerrrrrr

Looks like Hogwarts.

Yo. an alley. and the cathedral.
The end! :)