Home at last and other updates

I’ve only been home for two and a half weeks, so i’m calling this blog a victory.

April 15, I came home to Kansas City after being in Washington, D.C. for more than three months. I was immediately welcomed by my family’s sarcasm and barbecue. When I texted my parents to let them know my plane had landed and was headed to the gate, my dad replied with this.

Text

Our next stop was Oklahoma Joe’s, which has been tragically renamed Joe’s Kansas City. I refuse to call it that. It was a little odd to be home at first, and I definitely noticed some differences between the Midwest and Washington. People are much more likely to strike up conversations with strangers holding doors or restaurant employees — something I knew about the Midwest, but hadn’t experienced for three months.

One of the highlights coming home was getting to see my little sister Leah! I missed her like crazy, and she’s graduating soon. She’s coming to KU next year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

back at home

Since coming home, everything has gone essentially back to normal. I’m working part-time, freelancing and going to Lawrence frequently to see friends. Sometimes it feels like my semester in Washington never happened, except that everyone asks about it, and I don’t know where to start. There’s no way to make three months into a soundbite.

Next semester, I’ll be the news editor of the University Daily Kansan. It’s going to be a big year for the Kansan. We’re planning to amp up our digital work and print two days a week. Our focus is going to be on reporting and digital, rather than printing a paper. I’m looking forward to working with the Kansan editorial staff hiring my reporters this week! I’m incredibly nervous, but I think our editor-in-chief Katie Kutsko and managing editor Emma LeGault have great plans for us, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.

the last couple weeks in washington

By the beginning of April, I was ready to come home. I missed my family, my friends, my dog — certainly not my car. But I’m ready to go back to Washington. I loved working at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, the city and reporting on a national scale. I think I found my place.

We went to the Nationals' second game of the season, and they beat the New York Mets.

We went to the Nationals’ second game of the season, and they beat the New York Mets.

My last couple stories were both big challenges, and I’m very proud of them. I was working on them right until the last day of the internship. I was pulling my hair out, afraid I wasn’t going to finish the, but it did, and I’m glad I wrote them. One was about rising numbers of sexual assaults reported through the Clery Act, and the other was about lengthy Title IX investigations.

As for my roommates…I miss them. Crazy as they made me, I wouldn’t have made it through three months without them. The family dinners, museum trips and hours binge watching House of Cards, the Mindy Project, How I Met Your Mother and Community (Wow, we watched a lot of TV) took six strangers and made us a super weird quasi-family. We spent way too much time together, and I’m glad we were still somehow friends when the internship ended. I hope I get to see all of them again someday.

Signing off of my Washington blog. See you next time I go somewhere cool.

Still sick, but saw the Washington Post

Captain’s Log Day 5: I think this illness will be the death of me

Whatever demon illness has fallen upon me now infects all of my roommates.

We’re not sure who started it, but we are now all victim of a sore throat, sinus pressure and congestion and a general feeling of the creeping crud, as my grandmother calls it. But we’re pushing through and entering our last couple of weeks as interns, which is a relief and a tragedy.

Since I last wrote, I’ve had a couple cool things happen. Friday I hopped over to the Department of Education for an interview with Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhamon about the, now 104, Title IX investigations related to sexual assault at colleges and universities. She was very kind and did her best to answer my questions. I’ll hopefully have that story done this week.

I had a moment before I entered the building, which I took as an omen. I tripped up the front steps and thought to myself, “So that’s how this is going to go.” On the way out, the security guard told me it was supposed to snow this weekend. I’m glad he was wrong.

Spring and the washington post

A Linotype, like many that were used to create newspaper printing plates, stands outside the Washington Post building.

A Linotype, like many that were used to create newspaper printing plates, stands outside the Washington Post building.

It keeps fooling us. Thursday, it was 75 degrees and we ate on the patio of our favorite Mediterranean place. We’re now regulars there, so they gave us a free dessert.

Today, in my infinite wisdom, I donned a button down and vest. I was chilly, to say the least, as we walked back from our visit to the Washington Post.

Speaking of which, WE WENT TO TOUR THE WASHINGTON POST. The newspaper will be moving from the building it has inhabited for about 60 years to a new location a couple blocks away. Tracy Grant, the Post’s deputy managing editor, gave us a tour and referred to the building as a stye, but a historic stye and dear to the Post.

We sat in on a news meeting and toured the newsroom. Tracy was also kind enough to give us a copy of Katharine Graham’s autobiography. I’m looking forward to reading about the woman and family who made the Post what it is today.

Now, it’s back to work on my story, which I hope to have up this week.

Basketball and homesickness: an update

As I think about my last few weeks here at Scripps, I’m overwhelmed with homesickness. I’m ready to be back in barbecue country with my family, but I already miss Washington.

Basketball

My most severe bout of homesickness came Sunday when my beloved Kansas Jayhawks played little brother Wichita State University in the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament. Confident throughout the first half, I had no idea how poorly the game would turn out. I’ll be proud of my hawks, though, forever.

I wish I had been home. I saw photos and snapchats from friends watching the game, and I was unbelievably jealous. I wanted to cheer on my team in the company of people who were as pumped about it as I was. My roommates sat patiently, watching the game for my sake, though they didn’t care about. My roommate Tori documented all the yelling I did during the second half, which was pretty funny to read over. These are some of my favorites.

*jumps on couch* WOO! Did you see that dunk?

My god, get it together

Seriously, I need everybody to pull for Kansas because Joe [fellow intern who was pulling for Wichita State] is going to be such a pain tomorrow. A vote for Kansas means a vote for peace.

Some of the other quotes included less-than-polite language.

The evening ended with me eating ice cream from the carton while wearing my Kansas footie pajamas. It was rough.

IMG_3671national public radio trip

Thursday we took a trip to NPR, and it was incredible! I bought a mug for my friend Miranda, whom I miss. I think she had a small aneurism when I told her I was going to NPR.

One of my favorite things about NRP was its adaptability. Radio may not be the king of news mediums, but NPR manages to stay relevant. Through podcasting and an online presence as well as local affiliates’ ability to connect with their audience, they’re still growing. I also thought it was cool that their building is equally up to date. They have a green roof to conserve energy, and the newsroom is very open and lit. The hallways have full-length windows that let in a ton of natural light.

It was obvious that the newsroom had plenty of energy. I would love to work there for sure, so maybe I should study some radio techniques.

Stay tuned next week to see if I actually put in the effort to make a chocolate strawberry mousse torte for Easter.

New York, New York!

Hello, blog!

As promised, I’m here to update you about my weekend in New York City. The CMA convention was an amazing experience, and I’m grateful I was able to go. I attended the convention with my internship supervisor Jody Beck, our multimedia fellow and my fellow interns. I took my very first Amtrak train from Washington to New York, which was so much more pleasant than flying.

Once there, it was all journalism all weekend. A true dream come true. I plan to apply for fall news editor back home at the University Daily Kansan, so I did my best to tailor my session selections with that in mind. I attended sessions about features writing, data journalism and the Medill justice project at Northwestern. I attended several sessions about all aspects of sexual assault and dating violence reporting plus one about general campus crime reporting. In total, I think I ended up with about a dozen story ideas, and I started keeping a brainstorming list that will help if I do become news editor.

Thursday

Thursday I attended a session about digital leadership. Mandy Jenkins, an editor at Storyful, told us about her career, which took her from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to Cincinnati to a D.C. startup to the Huffington Post to a New York startup. Now she’s at Storyful, and she said she owes everything to her digital skills. That was quite the eye-opener for me. I can take a decent photo, and I can put together a graphic. I’m striving to improve (and thank goodness) because I learned that digital gets you in the door.

My second session was about the reporting in the Rolling Stone rape article. Soon after a Rolling Stone article about a sexual assault at the University of Virginia came out, others found holes. And while there were problems with the article, it got a few things right.

  1. Sexual assaults are kept under wraps at many universities, and it’s a huge problem.
  2. Awareness doesn’t solve everything. When a victim/survivor reports, the process has to be in place.
  3. One in five women will be sexually assaulted and 12 percent report.

However, the story had holes. Out of respect for the survivor, the reporter agreed not to contact the accused perpetrator, which left the article vulnerable.

One of my favorite sessions was about the Medill Justice Project. They work with their students to investigate wrongful convictions, and they built a database of cases of shaken baby syndrome. I hope to work with investigative and data journalism, so it was an inspiring presentation that I hope I can learn more about.

After our sessions and the keynote, we waited in the cold for tickets to the Daily Show for over an hour and didn’t get in. It was unfortunate, but I’m glad we gave it a shot.

We explored Soho and hung out around Manhattan for dinner and had a great time. I didn’t know, but apparently pita burgers are a thing…

tHE REST OF MY TIME IN NEW YORK…

Was incredible and I won’t bore you with details of every one of my sessions, but I uploaded my notes from the conference.

We stayed through Sunday afternoon. Saturday we caught glimpses of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum but didn’t get to spend very much time there. I want to go back to the met. Sunday we went to Ellis Island, which was pretty fun though I had been there before. Being the history nerd that I am, I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like the step off the boat and go through the insanity of coming into the country.

I have to admit, getting off the ferry felt a little insane, but I can only imagine what it must have been like to come through Ellis Island.

Washington is home

I realized as I came out of the metro tunnel Sunday evening that I felt like I was arriving back home. In New York, the cars always seem like they’re about to hit you, the subway platforms are tiny and smell bad, and inexplicable moisture seems to fall from everywhere. I love New York. I have had phenomenal experiences each time I’ve traveled there, but Washington is significantly cleaner, which I appreciate. It was odd calling it home, but I really do love it here.

Coming up…

Right now I’m working on a couple stories. I’ve been working sexual assault Clery data to examine the 100+ universities that are under investigation by the Department of Education, so I hope to finish that soon.

I’m such a good blogger

I swore to myself I’d blog throughout my internship experience.

Well…here we are two months in, and welcome to my blog!

I’m interning at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, but right now I’m in New York City. We just wrapped up the College Media Association conference, and we’re exploring the city today and tomorrow before we head back.

So far I’ve written about education, gas prices, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and more. It’s been a whirlwind of experiences that I’ll talk about from here on out.

Featured photo by Jody Beck. SHFWire interns/fellow (left to right) Jordan Gass-Poore, Victoria Knueven, Jose Soto, Alicia Alvarez, Sean McMinn, Allison Kite and Joe Mussatto.

T-minus 3 days and counting

I can’t believe I only have three days left in Spain. I’m already sad to be leaving. When I got here the first night I thought a month was going to be a ridiculously long time, but this month has flown by. Though there have been moments when I wanted to hop the next plane home, I fully believe this has been an incredible experience that I’m sure I’ll remember forever.

Bull fight

Friday (June 20), we went to a bull fight! When I was little I was under the impression that bull fights were just when the matador and the bull ran around with that little red flag for a while. I watched six bulls get slowly and brutally killed…so that was an experience. I didn’t have a particularly large appetite at dinner…thank god we had fish.
The matadors work in teams of four and weaken the bull until they finally stab a three foot sword into its back and it falls to the ground. It’s traumatizing. But then the matadors bow and and people cheer and sometimes throw roses. One lady threw her panties…I about died laughing. Rylie and I were trying to figure out if she brought an extra pair or took hers off and thew them. Either way it was one of the funniest things I’ve seen. I personally hope she did a Zoolander move to take them off.

Saturday

Saturday we explored and checked out some Hogueras (the giant statue things), which was really cool. My host brother told me that the Hogueras often are the artists’ way of protesting against things they don’t like. They often picture Spanish politicians, famous people, etc. and are a form of criticizing. I think that’s really interesting. They were all really pretty, but I think the people of Spain probably get more out of them because I know I personally am not well-versed in Spanish politics.

Sunday

Sunday I went with my host family to my host mom’s brother’s house for lunch. It was a big group of family members 10-12 and we sat out on the patio with more food in front of us than I knew what to do with.

We had sea food, olives, bread and I was pretty much full by the time they brought out the main dish. I’m still not sure what it was called but it was like paella made with noodles…I’ll ask my host mom at dinner tonight. It was so delicious and I was so stuffed…and then they refilled my plate. I thought I was going to die. But it was beyond delicious. Everyone then sat around and talked and swam in the back yard pool.

It was really fun being around a big family because they reminded me so much of my family. My host mom’s sister-in-law had a garden and she picked all kinds of things and packed them up for my host mom and another family member to take home. She reminded me a lot of my Aunt Jenny. My host mom’s brother was really nice and kinda reserved. They all teased each other and talked about their family and I felt really welcome and like I was with a harder-to-understand version of my family. The only problem with the afternoon was the fact that they speak Catalan with one another. They had to keep reminding each other to speak Spanish for me, which I thought was kind of funny.

Monday-Wednesday

The three days we had off for the fiestas were such a whirlwind that I’ll have to cover them all together. I’m not entirely convinced of the chronological order. Monday night we went out dancing with Jessica’s host mom’s grand niece (I think I got the relationship right there) and had a ton of fun. I only kinda looked like an idiot while I was dancing. We then decided to try to stay up until the sun came up on the beach…that didn’t work well. Spaniards start partying much later and then party all night, so we figured why not? So we sat on the beach for a while and then about ten minutes before sunrise, the police kicked everyone off the beach so cleaning crews could come in. It was still pretty to see the beach kinda lighten up, but I would’ve loved to have seen the sun come up over the water. We then walked home and I slept forever.

Tuesday was “La Cremá,” which is when they burn the hogueras statues. It starts with a single firework launched off the castle and they burn the official city of Alicante hoguera in la plaza ayutamiento first. They light it with firecrackers, which I think is cool. We went to an hoguera closer to the beach because everyone wants to see the Ayutamiento Hoguera, so it’s hard to get into the plaza because of all the people. After the hoguera burns the firemen put it out and they often spray the crowd. At our hoguera everyone chanted, “Agua! Agua!” but one of the other Americans in our group said that at other hogueras they often chant offensive things to the firemen to get them to spray them. It was really fun, but the water was FREEZING!

Wednesday we slept in and tried to go to the beach but it rained. I got the last of my souvenirs bought at the pottery shop! I’ll let you know how my exams go. I’m planning to write another blog Saturday before we leave.

¡Hasta luego!

The three-week mark

On the one hand, I feel like I’ve been in Alicante but at the same time I can’t believe I will be home 10 days from now. I left KC three weeks ago today not knowing really what to expect. In that time I’ve made new friends, tried a ton of new food (both good and bad), gotten a little lost, gotten really tan and had moments where I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go home that instant or never leave Spain in my life. In my last blog I talked about Granada which means I’ve neglected this big time. Sorry I don’t have wifi on the beach. Let’s hit the highlights.

MACA (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante)

As a large group, we checked out the MACA after class Tuesday the 10th. I really enjoyed the art though I didn’t understand a lot of it. Our tour guide had an accent that made her hard to understand. I came up with ridiculous interpretations of the art and shared with Others, especially Rylie. At the end of our tour we got to go out on this terrace and walk on a bunch of marbles…which was kinda weird. But pretty cool.

Playa de San Juan

In Alicante, we have la Playa del Postiguet (the beach) but nearby is a much bigger, cleaner beach called Playa de San Juan. We (Jessica, Rylie and I) took an afternoon trip Thursday, June 12 after class. The sand just about scalded the bottoms of our feet but it was worth it to see that clear blue ocean. There weren’t thousands of cigarette butts everywhere and it felt like paradise. Something that has surprised me about Spain is that EVERYONE smokes. Is crazy! Don’t worry, I haven’t picked up the habit.20140619-124607-45967207.jpg While we were at San Juan we found a place where we could kayak for 4€ which was awesome…except that we didn’t know where we were allowed to take the kayak so we just kinda floated around instead of taking it out and exploring like we later found out we could. We had fun though. We got a pretty sweet pic of us with our kayak.

Spain World Cup Game

Friday night (6/13) we went out to this cute little outdoor bar to watch the Spain vs. Holland game, Spain’s first game of this year’s World Cup. We had a great time but Spain lost 1-5, so we learned some less than kind words in Spanish from hearing those sitting around us. Though I normally don’t care about soccer, I’m enjoying the culture around it. It’s a religion to some people here. I think it’s a lot of fun. P.S. All of the games are at like 9 p.m. at the earliest because the World Cup is in Brazil.

Isla de Tabarca

20140619-221347-80027240.jpgThe morning after the Spain game (6/14) we got up to go to la Isla de Tabarca, about an hour off the coast of Alicante. It was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. We were surprised to find that people actually live on the island and you can rent houses and hostels. We looked around a little before finding a little rocky cove and taking a swim. I don’t deal well with rocks that have squishy algae and sea things, so it was an adventure for me. But we did some swimming and exploring! I got my roommate an espresso cup that says Tabarca! It’s kind of adorable. Then Saturday night we saw some fireworks! The fiesta Hogueras runs for like two weeks. It’s ridiculous how seriously they party here. The fiesta celebrates San Juan, and there are currently statues under construction all over the city. And on Tuesday they’re gonna light these four-five story cardboard, wood, plaster, etc. statues on fire!20140619-221447-80087276.jpg

Yesterday!

Yesterday we saw Spain lose to Chile…Spain is having some trouble with this whole soccer thing. And then we saw fireworks. Lynzee, one of the girls in our group, lives right on the Plaza de Los Luceros, and we got to watch from her apartment building roof. It was crazy amazing.20140619-221527-80127854.jpg

Today!

20140619-221613-80173081.jpgToday (June 19…Most of this week was pretty laid back so we’re skipping ahead) we went to the Museo Arqueológico de Alicante, a painted pottery store we found the other day and a clothing store! I really enjoyed the archeological museum, but I don’t feel like I know what all was in there. I don’t know a lot of archeological vocabulary words in Spanish. Museums are easier in English. But they had things from the province of Alicante from ancient times through Mediaeval times. They also had an Ancient China exhibit but we only got to see a little bit because the museum was closing. We found this adorable little pottery store where I bought things earlier this week for my dad and brother. They’re pretty cool. If I’m good and don’t spend too much money during the fiesta, I’m going back for this clock that I’m kind of obsessed with. Rylie got gifts for her family and it wasn’t too bad. I think I spent 21 euros and she spent 25. We’re pros. So in Spain, a lot of girls wear these fun, colorful crazy pants and I finally got some. They’re navy, turquoise, white and orange and I love them and I am going to wear them every day until I die. Well, that’s about it. I’ll be home in 10 days! I don’t know how I feel about that.

Granada

¡Hola!

Today is Monday, June 9, and I spent this Friday and Saturday in Granada, Spain! It was probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

We left Alicante Friday at 8 a.m. in a charter bus and arrived in Granada about 12:30 or 1 p.m. By the way, getting up before 8 a.m. has not gotten any easier. When we got to Granada we walked around and toured the city. The streets are tiny and old, so every time a car drove through, we thought we were going to die. It’s beyond beautiful, and it feels like living in a fairytale.

Friday

Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain

When we arrived Friday, we went on a tour of the city before finding a tapas place for lunch. I had a salad, carne con salsa and flan. They really know how to eat in Granada. Everything I had was beyond delicious and I already want to go back.

Next we went to La Capilla where Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand are buried. Being a history dork, I loved it. Ferdinand and Isabella were the ones who gave Christopher Columbus the money to go to the new world. Next we went to a cathedral in Granada bigger than anything

Cathedral of Granada

I’ve ever seen. The cathedral of Granada was built in the fifteenth century during the Spanish Renaissance according to the ever-correct Wikipedia. Our tour guide told us that it was supposed to be larger, but the king ran into financial issues and the architect died. I can’t imagine it being any larger. It’s like a castle.

After some more tapas for dinner, we went to a flamenco show. Flamenco wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, but I loved it. I was expecting a flamenco dance to be a partner dance similar to the tango, but it was more like a short play. I have no idea what the story was because I barely caught a word, but the dancers were so talented I didn’t care.

Saturday

I’ve decided to stay here and live in Alhambra even though I know it’s not possible. After breakfast Saturday, we took off for Alhambra, a fortress in Granada. It was largely built and used by the Moors when they controlled pain but was renovated by the Christians in the 16th century. I loved the mixture of the two styles of art and architecture. We walked almost five miles all of Alhambra, and I never got sick of it.

Patio de los leones, Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Patio de los leones, Alhambra, Granada, Spain

I got some solid souvenirs in Granada, but they’re a surprise, so I can’t share. I’m having trouble finding something for my brother. If you’re reading this, Jamie, you’re tough to shop for. Really tough. After Alhambra we ate tapas (again…still loved it) and went back to Alicante.

I told my mom I was going to stay here and be a Spanish princess, and she said I was the princess of Overland Park Ward 3, but it’s not quite the same.

Sunday

Playa, playa, playa. We’ve been to the beach now at least four times, and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it. However, the water was a little chilly on Sunday and some dude ran by me and my friend Jessica while we were trying to slowly get into the water without freezing to death. We were a little bit upset.

After the beach, our ritual is to get ice cream at this gelato place near the coast. Why is ice cream so more delicious here? I don’t know, but I never want American ice cream again. I had NUTELLA GELATO on Sunday. What could be better? Two of my favorite things smushed into one creamy delicious piece of heaven in a waffle cone. I still don’t know how to say waffle cone, so I just point and say “este,” which means “this.” I should Google translate that one.

I’m really enjoying my classes, but I’m not diggin this whole get up the morning thing. Oh well. Hasta luego!

Día siete

It has come to my attention – because Rylie’s mom is upset with me – that I haven’t blogged. I’ve been enjoying Spain! But let’s see…

Saturday

I met my host family Saturday! My host mom’s name is Iris and she loves to host international students. She’s had students from Japan, the U.S. and a bunch of other places. She says she thinks that you can learn a lot by hosting an international student. She has a son named Alejandro who is only in town on the weekends. He works in Alcoy during the week. He’s really nice and he remembers to speak slowly and use more basic vocabulary for me. I felt like I couldn’t understand a thing they said when I first met them. They took me to the bus station to buy a pass for the days I have school because the University of Alicante is a little ways north of town. I get confused sometimes when I hear prices here because they say them so quickly and I don’t always catch the number of euros and cents. It was kind of an overwhelming day but their apartment is really cute and not too far from the other students.

Sunday

Sunday was a ton of fun, but I started getting a little homesick. It’s easier to avoid homesickness when I’m with other Americans because I don’t have to worry about how to say things or other things like that. My host family took me to two cathedrals in Alicante. El Concatedral San Nicolás de Alicante and la Basilica de Santa Maria. They were beautiful! And enormous. I have pictures that I need to upload from my iPad, but when I do, El Concatedral San Nicolás de Alicante is the one with the blue top and the la Basilica de Santa Maria is the one with all the stonework. You’re not allowed to take pictures of the outside, and I didn’t want to be too touristy when I went with my family, so I didn’t take pictures then. But I took them on our group tour with the program on Tuesday. After that my mom made almuerzo (lunch), which is really late here. Breakfast is around 7, lunch is around 2:30 and dinner isn’t until 9:30 or even 10. It’s kind of an adjustment, but I like it. After that I met up with some of the other American girls and we explored a little bit.

Monday

The first day of study abroad is a lot like the first day of middle school, high school or college. I met two other American girls on the bus on the way to the university, which was a miracle because I had no idea which stop I needed, where the building was or who was going to be in my class. One of the girls is named Hannah, and I have both my classes with her every day.

Monday was a pretty big day in Spain because King Juan Carlos I decided to abdicate his throne and put his son in power. Everyone in Spain was reading and watching the news all day. It’s interesting to be here because a lot of people are talking about Spanish politics while it’s in the news. A lot of people here in Spain don’t want to have a monarchy any more because they want a republic like the U.S. However, the people that want a republic – at least the ones I’ve talked to – liked Juan Carlos. They think he’s a good king; they just don’t want a king. It was definitely an interesting day.

Tuesday

Tuesday was a lot like Monday only a little less scary. I had a better idea of how to get to my class and I knew what it was going to be like. I even knew people in it. I joked with some of the other students that I didn’t think I was going to have homework. I thought my job was to get really tan. Homework in the summer isn’t fun. But by Tuesday, I was already noticing a difference in my Spanish. Though it’s still kind of difficult, I don’t find myself asking people to speak more slowly. I can now keep up with the pace even if I myself can’t speak that quickly. By the end of this month, I’ll be a talking machine.

Tuesday we also had our tour of Alicante, which was mostly a tour of El Castillo de Santa Bárbara. If you don’t know what the castle looks like, Google it now. The first castle was built in the ninth century, and I think the oldest part not is from the 17th century or so. It sits on top of a huge hill, and you can see the whole city from up there. From the castle, you can also see el El Concatedral San Nicolás de Alicante, which they call Santa Claus’ summer home. How cute! Like I said earlier, we then went to la Basilica de Santa Maria, the oldest church in Alicante. Though the building is Gothic, the facade is Baroque, which I thought was pretty interesting.

Wednesday

I’m finally getting tan. Wednesday we went to class and Jessica, Rylie and I went to the cafeteria and the library right after. Cafeteria food is no better in Spain. Cafeteria food must be a universal evil. We got really turned around in the library trying to find a table, but we finally got to sit down and pretend to get some work done. I also sent some post cards! I hope those make it to the U.S. before I’m back. We went straight from the library to the beach and laid out. Finally I’m only slightly pale instead of having moon-pale, alabaster skin. By the time I come home, I’ll be really tan or “morena.”

Thursday

That brings us to today! It’s been a week since I left but I already feel like I’ve established a routine, which is good. After class today Rylie and I kicked around town with her fancy camera and took some pictures. The city is already setting up for a fiesta that runs from June 20 to 24. They take parties seriously here. We found a really cute store where I bought a swimsuit coverup for me and a headband for my sister. If you’re reading this, you’re welcome, Leah. We also went to H&M and looked around a little. We were pretty tired from our first week of classes though. My classes start at 8 a.m. When I’m home I strategically schedule them later. Tomorrow we’re going to Granada, so I’m pretty excited for that. Hopefully it won’t take me a week to blog about that.

Hasta luego!

Día uno

Plaza de los Luceros

Plaza de los Luceros

We’re in Spain! I can’t believe we’re here. We flew into the Alicante airport about 10 a.m. local time May 30. Which felt like 3 a.m. for us. We found our way through the airport to the bus station by some kind of miracle and then chased a bus down only to have it sit there for five minutes before it left. That was embarrassing.

People have been really nice when we completely butcher our pronunciation in Spanish…hopefully that will improve with time. When we got on our flight from Madrid to Alicante I started questioning the Spanish I had used to talk to the customs officer in Madrid. For a little while, I thought I had said “una mesa” instead of “un mes” when he asked me how long I was going to be in the country. “Mes” means month. “Mesa” means table. That would’ve been really awkward.

We checked into our hotel around 11 and then explored Alicante. We had to down a couple cafés con leche first because we had been up for about 22 hours at that point. Oddly enough, we got coffee at an Irish pub. That was weird. Regular coffee with milk here is like an unflavored latte in the U.S. I think I can get used to that.

Rylie with a Tostada...turns out it's just bread with cheese.

Rylie with a Tostada…turns out it’s just bread with cheese.

After getting some coffee we explored the shops and the area near our hotel. Then we hit the beach. We’re going to need to do that a few times so that we aren’t so pasty white for our whole trip. When we went through customs in Madrid the guy who checked Rylie’s passport asked if she was going to the beach. When she said yes, he said, “Tú eres como crema,” which translates to, “You are like cream.” It was nice of him to be concerned about Rylie…I made fun of her. The customs officer at my window was really nice. He asked me what I was doing, and I said I was a student. At the end of our conversation he told me my Spanish was better than his English. I’m 86 percent sure that was a lie.

IMG_0041

We found some stairs…we haven’t figured out what they led to.

The beach was absolutely gorgeous. You can see the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, which stands on top of Mount Benacantil, from the beach. The Castillo de Santa Bárbara is on our tour coming up on Tuesday, so we’ll get to find out more about it, but we might try to go sooner.

So far today (May 31), we’ve found some coffee and we’re going to do some more exploring and check out some cathedrals, maybe the Plaza de Toros.

Check back to keep up with our trip! I’m hoping to have a photo gallery from our first day uploaded later, but this Wif-Fi is taking a while and we want to go explore! And look at Rylie’s blog: Rylie in España.