Saturday, April 27, 2013

2 Weeks Out!

Wow, I am only 2 weeks away from embarking on my summer adventure! And today it finally felt like summer outside. The sun was shining brightly and temps broke 60 degrees! I feel like I have so much left to do in these two weeks to be ready! Hopefully I can knock a lot of things off of my to-do list this weekend.

We received our housing arrangements the other day, so that is very exciting. I put the address of my home in Google Maps and creeped around on street view to see the building and the street surrounding it. Avila is so absolutely gorgeous and I cannot wait to walk around those streets and see the beauty for myself. I know my camera is going to be getting a good workout over the summer! As for my host family, we do not know many details about them at the moment. I know many of the students stay with "host moms," middle-aged women who live alone and have an extra room or two. I have the name of a woman who is my host mom, but I do not know if she is married or has any other family living with her. I will have to wait and see! I think I am going to bring my set of American measuring cups and a few recipes with, so I can cook/bake something new for her to try. I do not have an American roommate either. When we were applying, Rico told us that some of us may be paired with other students from here because they have a very limited number of host families. However, they must have had more than expected because only two sets of roommates (4 people) are sharing rooms. So I will be by myself, but I'm sure there will be another student living somewhere near me. I am now trying to think of a good gift to bring for my host mom! Please let me know if you have any good or creative ideas, I could use the help!!

I keep looking at beautiful pictures of Avila and cannot wait to experience it all myself.
I have also been in more contact with the other students from UND and EMU who are going to Avila too! We now have a Facebook page and so students have been communicating about flights, weekend trips, and plans for the extended weekend. I'm excited to meet all the students and hopefully make some new friends. I found three girls who are on the same flight I am from Atlanta to Madrid, so that is really nice! We are not sitting by each other, but just having other people there when we land in Madrid will be a nice comfort and aid in our quest to find where we need to go. It is going to be so weird to hop off a plane 12 hours later, and be in a completely new place speaking a totally different language. Hopefully the jet lag isn't too bad!

I have so much to do, but hopefully this weekend I can pick up the last few things I need, figure out some of my packing details, and work on budgeting for my trip. Oh yeah, and studying for finals should probably be thrown in there somewhere too.

Espero que lo pasen bien este fin de semana!

Monday, April 22, 2013


Wow, this trip is really becoming a reality!! We have just 2 short weeks of classes left, then I have two final exams, and then BOOM! I'm boarding my plane and heading to Spain. It's crazy. 18 days away. That seems like nothing when I look at it, and it really is. I need to get my butt in gear with planning and packing.

I have my suitcase with me now, so I can spend some quality time figuring out what clothes/supplies I want to bring and how they'll fit. I have my medium/large-ish sized suitcase, my backpack, and a small shoulder bag. That's where I'll be keeping 6 weeks of my life.

I've really been trying to practice and work with my Spanish in everyday situations as much as I can. When I'm walking to class, I'll look around and think to myself in Spanish how I would describe what I see, or what I might say in a certain situation. I also think of words that I don't know in Spanish once in a while, and then try to think of how I would describe the word in a roundabout way to hopefully communicate what I mean. For example, if I wanted to tell my host mom that I needed to buy some shampoo, but I couldn't remember the Spanish word for shampoo, I'd describe it as "in a bottle, I use it to clean my hair" and hopefully she'd get the message and say the word, and then I'd remember what it is. Simple little things like that to help make life easier. I also want to sit down and look up some common phrases I'll be using a lot or things I may need to ask people like "I want to go to ____," or "Can you repeat that a little bit slower, please?" Useful phrases like that I'm going to want to know without having to think about it. I feel pretty competent with my Spanish skills, but I know when I'm completely immersed and they are speaking quickly and with a strong accent it'll be something to adjust to, but I am ready for that challenge.

Rico, our chaperone and head of the program, sent us the itinerary for our trip the other day which also makes this seem so real. On three of the Saturdays, we will take day trips as a group to other Spanish cities: Segovia, Salamanca, and Toledo. We also have one 4-day weekend where we are free to travel independently wherever we'd like to go, so that will be really fun. I will have to talk to some of my friends and see where we'd like to adventure to. We can get really cheap flights between countries like France, Italy, and some other neighboring countries, so that would be kind of fun. He also gave us a preview of our daily schedule. We will have breakfast at home, classes from 9am to 1pm on the weekdays, and then come home for lunch. Some afternoons there will be fun daily activities like tapas, Spanish card games, playing soccer, Spanish movies, cultural things like that. Then we have some free time in the late afternoon and evening, and dinner around 9 or 10pm.

I am getting very excited for my trip and cannot wait for all of this fun to commence!! I'm also excited for it to be summer and for all of this snow to melt. Hopefully that'll happen soon! Hope you are all having a nice spring! Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message, I'd love to hear some thoughts from you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

One Month

Un mes. One month. ONE!

In one short month I will be boarding a plane to Madrid, flying 12 hours across the world to my new home for half of the summer. It's coming up crazy fast, and I feel like I have so much to do before then! Everyone here has Spring Fever and is so anxious to be done for the year. I will admit it, I am too and can't wait for it to finally be summer (especially because of this LONG winter we're having up here). I really enjoy when people ask me what I'm doing this summer, because instead of the classic "going home and working" or "I've got an internship at Altru," I get to say I'm going to Spain and see how they react! It's going to be a lot different having to continue school and keep taking classes in the summer, but I am ready for that challenge. And the little change of scenery won't hurt either :)

In these last 30 days here, I have lots to do. I need to pick up a few more things I need for my trip, get all my paperwork and travel plans finalized, and try to figure out my packing! My advisor told us we should lay out all of the clothes we want to bring, and then take only half of them. It'll be a challenge, but I just have to keep telling myself I don't need everything, and I'll have access to laundry in my home there so I don't need THAT many outfits. One interesting thing about Spain is most places do not have dryers and everything is hung to air dry. With that being said, I also want to make sure I'm bringing clothes that won't take forever to dry and won't lose shape/fit weird if they are not thrown in the dryer.

I have only 16 days of class left this year at UND! SIXTEEN! It's crazy! Finals are sneaking up quickly and my classes are wrapping up. I can't believe my first year of college is already almost complete. It's weird for me to think about how much has changed in this past year and where I am in my life now. A year ago, I never would have imagined myself packing to go to Spain at this point, but here I am doing it and extremely excited about it. It will be different to be that far away from my family, friends, and everyone back home, but I will be meeting so many new people and doing so many wonderful things. Thank goodness for Skype! I'll keep you all updated as I find out more information about my trip!

Here's my "family" group from orientation. Most of them are going to Norway. We're pretty cute :)

Tienen un día maravilloso!

Hello World!

Hello everyone! My name is Michelle and I am currently attending the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. I am double-majoring in Physical Therapy and Spanish, and my Spanish major is what brings me to this blog. This summer (2012), I will be studying abroad in the beautiful city of Ávila, Spain! Ávila is located about 68 miles northwest of Madrid and is the highest provincial capital in Spain (1,132 meters). It is the birthplace of Santa Teresa, and has many great sights I can’t wait to see! It is also well known for the intact walls it has surrounding the city. I leave in May and will be studying there for 6 weeks. The program I am using is run through Eastern Michigan University and so I will be going to Spain with a few other students from UND as well as Eastern Michigan. We will be taking classes through the University of Salamanca.

I never imagined myself studying abroad, but now that it is real and actually happening I am extremely excited about it. My plane tickets are booked, I’m registered for classes, and my housing papers have been submitted! It is all happening so quickly! I decided in February I was going to study in Spain this summer and now I am leaving in just 30 short days! ONE MONTH! We had orientation two weeks ago which gave us a ton of information and makes this whole process seem even more real. I am staying with a host-family and will hopefully hear by the end of this week/beginning of next who I will be staying with. I am excited to be immersed in the Spanish culture and enhance my Spanish speaking skills while taking classes and traveling around the country. At this point, I am just working on finishing up some last paperwork and figuring out what/how to pack! We are only allowed to check one bag so I need to discipline myself with what I bring.
I will keep you all updated as my journey gets closer, and can’t wait to give you all an inside perspective on my adventures in Ávila!