<![CDATA[aventuras de abigail - Blog]]>Sun, 14 Feb 2016 12:46:37 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[La más viajera]]>Mon, 21 Dec 2015 00:53:34 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/la-mas-viajeraIf there's one thing I've learned about traveling, it's that I want to do more of it. ​

My flight back to the states takes off in less than 24 hours (with a quick stop in London for high tea) and I'm already feeling nostalgic of the past few months, probably the best of my life. A few memories along the way...

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Rosas (Costa Brava), Spain
  • Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Baiona, Spain
  • Fortaleza, Valença, Portugal
  • MADRID, Spain
  • Ibiza, Spain
  • Segovia, Spain
  • Toledo, Spain
  • Munich, Germany
  • Valencia, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain (round 2)
  • Sevilla, Spain
  • Cádiz, Spain
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • PragueCzech Republic
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands 

​More places to see, more people to meet, more languages to learn ¡ay, caramba!]]>
<![CDATA[La exploración de Madrid mediante el transporte público]]>Mon, 21 Dec 2015 00:24:49 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/la-exploracion-de-madrid-mediante-el-transporte-publicoEl sistema de transporte público en Madrid—el metro, el autobús, los búhos—es, sin duda, maravilloso. Especialmente si tú vives lejos del centro y lejos de las universidades, el metro es un modo muy eficaz, limpio y rápido de llegar a otros sitios. Sin embargo, pronto te darás cuenta de que si sólo vas en metro, te perderás la posibilidad de ver la mayor parte de la ciudad y todas las vistas imprescindibles que tiene. Así que te propongo una nueva manera de explorar la ciudad sin tener que dejar de usar el transporte público:
Primero, deja un poco más tiempo para llegar al sitio dónde vas. En lugar de salir de la estación de metro más cercana a tu destino, elige una estación un poco más lejos. Pateando las distancias que separan tu destino de donde vengas, observa las calles, las historias, los edificios… Toma notas mentales en una libreta (siempre traigo una en mi bolsa o bolsillo), o en tu móvil sobre los sitios que te parecen los más interesantes, por ejemplo, los restaurantes y bares que son particularmente atractivos y animados o simplemente sobre cualquier cosa que te llame la atención. La próxima vez que estés cerca o cuando tengas más tiempo libre para explorar, sabrás a dónde ir. Cada vez que regreso a casa desde la universidad, voy por una línea de metro diferente y salgo en una parada diferente y por eso conozco mi barrio muy bien. Es así que tengo una larga lista de restaurantes y tiendas de todo tipo a los que quiero ir cuando disponga de más tiempo. Además, investiga y aprende las rutas de los autobuses cerca de ti – en mi opinión, los autobuses son mucho más cómodos, con luz natural y asientos grandes, que el metro – y puedes ver la panorámica de la ciudad por sus ventanas. Siempre voy a la Universidad Complutense en autobús: con mis auriculares y música buena, el viaje de la mañana al campus se convierte en un agradable paseo.
Mi último consejo para explorar esta magnífica ciudad en transporte público es hacer lo que llamo “autobús-hopping”. Me he vuelto mucho más atrevida con esto, ya que no siempre sale bien…. Asegúrate de que tienes un mapa y que no tengas prisa. Familiarízate un poco con los autobuses, y cuando estés caminando a algún sitio y veas un autobús que va en la misma dirección, súbete hasta la próxima parada (o dos, o tres), y sal. ¡Voila! Ahora estás más cerca de tu destino. Puedes subirte de autobús en autobús hasta que estés donde tienes que estar. Es divertido, estrafalario y una forma eficaz de acostumbrarte a la ciudad. En fin, se aprende a través de errores y descubrir un país nuevo y ciudades nuevas, para mí, es la mejor manera.
Tenemos tarjetas ‘MetroCard’ ilimitadas aquí. ¡Así que aprovéchalas!
<![CDATA[Gratitude journal]]>Wed, 14 Oct 2015 10:05:28 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/gratitude-journal2 more reasons to be infinitely thankful:
Reason One: Just booked flights to Copenhagen and Paris!!! My heart skips a beat whenever I remember that I can very soon put Denmark and France on my list of countries visited. In the next month I’ll also be visiting Barcelona, once again, and Sevilla, both on the coast of Spain. It doesn’t seem real that I’m traveling to all these amazing places, I haven’t been able to fully internalize that this is my life. I’ll be seeing new friends and old friends, people I just met in the past few months and people I’ve known my whole life, roommates and classmates and teammates; my makeshift family. Of course I’m hoping (and planning) to meet even more people and forge new friendships, as I have been through all my explorations. I have to stop, take a deep breath, and let the feelings of gratitude run over me as I digest how lucky I am to be in this place, to have so many amazing people I can connect to.
Reason Two: I’m writing this as I sit in the Spanish sun, now more than 2 months after I first started enjoying it’s warmth. In some inexplicable way I feel like I just got here and I feel like I’ve been here for a lifetime. As cliché as it sounds, the birds really are chirping and the sky really is blue. I do miss New England’s fall foliage, but I can’t help but blissfully drink in these European rays, and the sangria that’s served alongside. (I always knew I was a summer person.) It’s certainly autumn weather here, the nights and mornings are chilly, there’s a crispness in the air throughout the day, but every afternoon still reaches a clear, comfortable seventy degrees, which very well may be my favorite temperature. 
Madrid me mata.

<![CDATA[Living is learning]]>Wed, 30 Sep 2015 08:18:30 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/living-is-learningI’m writing this as I sit in my political science class…aula 5.1.02 en el campus Getafe de Universidad Carlos III…while more than 50 students and a very animated professor rip into my home country. In so few and so many Spanish words, they dismantle a system that I have spent the last few years of higher education attempting to study, memorize, understand. And here, halfway across the world, I learn more. It’s one thing to read lines in a textbook, to select the perfect answers in perfectly round bubbles on a white and blue sheet of perfectly rectangular paper. It’s another thing to be stranded in a political debate in which I can learn more in 5 minutes than in 5 years, to see how a foreign policy decision made by tight-faced American men is not just a newspaper title but can somehow, after twisting and weaving and squirming its way through all the murky liaisons of politics, tangibly affect the young Spanish girl with rose-colored glasses sitting next to me. ]]><![CDATA[Oktoberfest!!]]>Wed, 23 Sep 2015 19:12:37 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/oktoberfestT - 10 hours until I'm hopping on a flight alone to Munich, where I will attempt to navigate this lovely city via their intricate metro system. Good thing German, in as much as I know, sounds like someone regurgitating a tissue. If I never post again, I probably drowned in beer or choked on a bratwurst. Wish me luck. Prost!!! ]]><![CDATA[life summary, speed round]]>Thu, 17 Sep 2015 22:41:18 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/life-summary-speed-roundAs I've tried to stay in touch with my friends and family all over the world, wether back in the states or studying abroad in some amazing country or other (shout out to my pals in France, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Vietnam, Morocco, Australia... the list goes ON....) I've come to form a pretty overarching summary of my life. I know I haven't been writing much, but that's probably a good sign since I've been so busy away from my computer. And not busy in the way I'm used to being busy, what I can't help but call the "American busy," with multiple sports teams and clubs/societies and events and tedious homework assignments and a constantly ringing phone and constantly looming deadlines... this is the type of busy where I can wake up in the morning, (by morning I really mean a few hours after the sun has risen), and choose what I want to do for the day. The power to choose...until now I don't think I ever really knew how amazing that liberty is. Obviously, I still have classes to attend to, and a gym membership to get my money's worth of, and some responsibilities (such as making it home for dinner with my host family, 8:30PM sharp). But for the most part I have an endless list of things I want to do, not things I think I should do, and I'm actually able to just meander and decide based on what I'm feeling. Every day is a different hidden café, a different neighborhood to explore, a different park to sunbathe in, a different museum where I can spend my afternoon in awe. Every street is lined with restaurants and bars and stores, ranging from the tiniest dives (a dark basement bar decorated with graffiti, strewn with crumpled napkins used by locals chatting away in spanish,  featuring a menu of cheap, ice-cold beer served with free rounds of tapas) to the most expansive and dazzling (7-story clubs with pounding music, hundreds of bodies dancing, luminescent bar counters being dutifully worked by glamorous bartenders pouring up exotic cocktails...) ... you get the idea. So here is a bulleted list of all things I can think of and semi-appropriately share to the public, to make it easier on myself and anyone that's curious about my life:

(1) My home-stay is awesome, it's a bit far from the center but the metro system and buses are really easy so getting around is a piece of cake. I'm in an expensive residential area north of the Salamanca district, which is the extremely swanky and high-end area of the city. It looks like a Spanish version of the nicest areas in Manhattan. The only real bad thing is I have to take cabs home from bars/clubs which is averaging around 8-10€ every night I go out... definitely tough on the wallet. I attempted to figure out the "búhos" aka night-bus system and probably will never try that again, it's a story for a different time, but basically I ended up half an hour outside the city AT THE AIRPORT wearing a clubbing dress and holding nothing but my cross-body purse (read: gum, lipgloss, phone, wallet). 

(2) My host parents are both 65, so freaking cute, it's more like living with grandparents than parents. The dad, Joaquin, is literally the character from Up--the Pixar movie--with a funny mustache and huge glasses. The mom, Carmen, is such a sweetheart. She's a little society lady with all her friends from the pool and her friends from the university and her friends from this and that calling her at all hours of the day. They're both about 5 feet tall, which makes us look particularly strange when we walk down the streets together...
...​(since I'm almost 6 feet tall). At night they shuffle around the apartment in their little robes (that drag on the floor behind them) and slippers. I literally just tower over them, it's hilarious. My "brother" is Jesús, he's 32 and has his own apartment so I don't see him that much, and he's a fashion designer. I know he gives my outfits the one-up and is probably aghast by the amount of Forever 21 I wear. For the most part the parents let me do my own thing, I can come home from clubs at 4AM and they don't care as long as I'm quiet. I'm not home most of the day because I've been at my university, or exploring the city, or out with friends, but usually I get home and try to have at least one or two meals with my parents so we can spend some time together and chat. I want to form a bond with them and not just be a visitor in their house for a few months. Spending time with them also really helps my spanish, since neither of them speak a lick of english, I have to understand to survive. Speaking of spending time, check out my growing recipe page: Carmen is teaching me how to cook! :) Yesterday she lent me her family's Galician recipe book from hundreds of years of compiled recipes... I'm so excited to really delve into learning some basics of spanish cuisine. 

(3) The city is so. fucking. amazing., I'm obsessed. I don't think I could love a place more.  I've been here for a few weeks and am considering trying to move after I graduate. I have way too many pictures to upload, I don't know when that will happen, but if you just Google Image "Madrid" and see for yourself, it ACTUALLY looks like that--the photos aren't lying. It's probably the most beautiful city I've ever seen. There's just so much to do and see, I already know a semester isn't enough.

(4) If you do it right, everything is really cheap. I have an unlimited city transport card so I've quickly become an expert at the metro, I can get anywhere I need for free (during the day, that is...the metro closes ~1:30 AM). There's a tradition called the "menú del día" at almost every restaurant which ranges between 7-10€ and includes a first dish, a main course, an entire bowl of bread, a drink, a coffee, a dessert, and usually something on the house as well (a small salad or tostada). Safe to say you can eat very well for very cheap if you know where to go. The university cafeterias offer a college-food version of that for 5€ or less. Drinks at the right bar are anywhere from 1€ - 3€ for what would be $10 in the U.S., and club covers are generally around 10€ but they include 2 free drinks, so it's worth it. There's also little shops on almost every single street of the city called "ALIMENTACIÓN," fondly called "Chinos" by the locals due to the Asian descent of the people that own and run them, and these little stores are like marked-down convenience stores. They sell everything from food to toiletries to alcohol for only a few euros, the downside being that they only accept cash. (Clearly an under-the-table situation). I have been spending more money than I want to but I know it's because I'm just settling in and trying to figure out my way, I'm hoping in a few weeks I'll be able to reign it in and have a tighter seal on the ol' wallet. 

(5) I really like my friends here (I have a solid crew of a few people that I’ve made friends with from Wesleyan, wasn’t that tight with them before Spain, but now I am). Since I didn't go abroad with anyone I'm really close with I've had so much freedom. It's good and bad, for example I don't always have that one person that really knows me and that I can just ask to chill with and not feel any pressure, but the upside is that every night of the week I can go out with a different group, or every day at lunch I can sit with 5 new people, and not have anyone expecting me to do something with them. By the nature of this lifestyle, I've been able to meet a ton of really cool folks and make a lot of friends. In addition to people from my program, which is made up of students from Vassar College and Wesleyan, I've also been trying to go out with and meet people that actually live in Madrid, such as spanish students from my school and a few locals I know. I'm making it a serious goal of mine to integrate into real spanish life and not just spend the semester with Americans. I've been out a few times with only spaniards, which can be hard since everyone talks so fast... (I'm almost fluent now but in a loud bar, semi-drunk, everyone yelling in street-Spanish... it gets a little overwhelming). Tomorrow night, for example, I’m going to a spanish house party which will hopefully be KEWL. This entire experience has forced me to practice putting myself out there and kinda take leaps of faith by asking people to get meals with me or go out to bars with me and whatnot which is a boost of confidence for the social abilities. 

(6) The weather has been amazing, it's only rained/been chilly once. Most days still reach the 80's and the sun is so strong, the best part is that it's a dry heat (since Madrid is in the mountains) and I can say for sure that I don't miss anything about muggy, New England humidity. My hair doesn't get frazzled, I don't show up to class sweating after walking across campus, and I have yet to see a mosquito. It also drops to the high 50's/low 60's at night, which is so perfect since I don't have AC and I can sleep with my window open to get a niiiiiiiice, cool breeze. 

That's all folks! ♡

<![CDATA[All you need to know is...]]>Wed, 09 Sep 2015 18:15:25 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/all-you-need-to-know-is


<![CDATA[quick slip]]>Sun, 30 Aug 2015 22:50:22 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/quick-slipI made it! In Madrid, safely in my home-stay, absolutely adore my parents and got so lucky with an amazing apartment in a super nice area on the outskirts of Salamanca. I'll write plenty on all that later though. Life is good.

The quick post I wanted to make before unpacking and going to sleep is about my first (of what will be many) unfortunate and comical experiences here, which pertains to nearly assassinating my host father. As hosted students, we're supposed to bring some small gift to present to the family as a thank you and ice-breaker. Being fairly uncreative, I brought chocolate-covered cranberries and all sorts of other traditional American sweets as well as a homemade cake from Santiago. Of course I give these to the host mother and she's all thank you's and smiles. Later while we're talking and getting to know each other she informs me that her husband, my new father, is extremely diabetic and so for the most part they don't really eat desserts besides fresh fruit and the occasional bite of ice cream. After dinner, she proceeded to make a ceremony out of presenting my awkward compilation of candy and sweets on a variety of fancy dishes and brought them to the table for dessert. Side note--in Spanish culture it's considered very rude to refuse food or gifts from people. My host dad clearly experienced a brief moment of panic before saying "muchas gracias, muchas gracias" and serving himself as I awkwardly tried to insist that it's really okay, he doesn't have to eat them, it was just a gesture of thanks and I wouldn't be offended if he didn't want it or couldn't have it. He proceeded to choke down half a cake and a few bites of the chocolate before heading off from the table. As my friend Meghan said, there's a very good chance he's shooting up insulin in his room right now and trying not to die on the spot, so that's great. Go me. Next time I'll be a normal person and bring an appropriate housewarming gift like...say...a candle. Or a picture frame. Sigh.]]>
<![CDATA[Adios to Santiago; Off to Madrid!]]>Sun, 30 Aug 2015 22:49:51 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/adios-to-santiago-off-to-madrid
Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
PictureOne of the aforementioned very old buildings... not sure what this one is called

Hola hola :) 

Sorry for being MIA, the internet at the university I’ve been living at for the past 2 weeks blocks certain websites, including my blog (and Netflix). Womp.

Despite that inconvenience, my time here has been awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pumped for Madrid, I've been itching to get there for 6 months now. But this place is beautiful. I’ve toured and explored (and gotten lost) all over the winding streets of Santiago, and can basically sum up these 2 weeks by saying that I've seen a lot of old buildings. Very, very old buildings. 'Catedral de Santiago' is a world heritage site and one of the most important constructions in Spain, if not Europe, if not the world (to religious people and historians, at least. One of the Jesus’s apostles—Saint James the Great—is buried there. Apparently people are very excited about that). 

As much as I love culture, though, I think I’ve been more amped about the fact that my dorm has coffee vending machines and that I found a place in town selling 1 pizza. That's a bargain meal if I've ever seen one. Not everything is super cheap here but most things are significantly less expensive than in the states. You can find a decent bottle of champagne (cava) for €3, and the regular wine is even less. Whoever said the whole “wine is cheaper than water” thing wasn’t lying.

PictureLearning spanish like a pro

Speaking of alcohol, people drink here literally every night. There has yet to be a morning where I’ve woken up not feeling very close to the edge of death. Having wine or sangria or cervezas (beer) is a very regular thing with dinner and/or lunch, depending how Spanish you’re feeling that day. If a waiter at a restaurant likes you, (s)he generally presents the group with a round of café licor shots on the house no matter what hour of the day it is; it's an awesome tradition except for the fact that I'm not really the type to always enjoy being tipsy by midmorning. Honestly, it's probably time to cool it with my enthusiasm for the drinking culture since I have to get up at 8AM for classes. Listening to hours on hours of lecture in another language is a new form of torture when you feel like your skull is doing the tango with a chainsaw. I told one of my friends from home before leaving the states that I wanted to set up an IV for sangria while in Spain, and I didn’t realize how close to the truth that was going to be. No worries though, I’m making sure to complete my balanced health diet by averaging 6 coffees a day and consuming enough bread and olive oil to feed a small nation. In the near future I should probably search for something that resembles a vegetable. 

This part is for the parents—I actually am learning a lot of really cool stuff. One of my classes is “language & literature,” and in addition to reading short stories and poetry and theater and whatnot my professor dedicates some of the classes to just learning colloquial Spanish. She teaches us what phrases are cool, what will help us fit in as Spaniards, and what makes us wear a neon sign on our foreheads reading “idiot American tourist, please rob me. Safe to say I’ve successfully mastered delivering the phrase “fuck off,” which will probably be necessary at some point this semester.  I'm also taking a history of Spain class which--surprise—is about the history of Spain. Also very cool but you'll definitely be bored if I describe what we're learning so I won’t bother. (Same with my Art History class, pretty self explanatory).

Right now I'm in the Santiago airport awaiting my flight. I don't really know anything about where I'll be living, have zero idea what my host family will be like, and have never been to Madrid in my life, so I'm currently experiencing a confusing (and semi-uncomfortable) blend of extreme excitement and extreme nervousness and extra-extreme exhaustion. Not sure if they have TUMS in this country but I need to find the pharmaceutical equivalent ASAP. On the whole exhaustion topic, I’m still in the process of trying to swing a schedule at my new university with no classes before noon but also no classes after 3PM and also also no classes on Fridays.  I’ll let you know how that goes. 

Hasta luego!

<![CDATA[Surviving, even..enjoying?]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 23:29:03 GMThttp://aventurasdeabigail.weebly.com/blog/surviving-evenenjoyingSuper quick check-in: I have arrived in Santiago de Compostela, way up on the northern coast of Spain. The rest of my program arrives tomorrow afternoon, so I'm spending the night in a hotel. First thing I did was almost accidentally pee in the bidet. Frickin' Europeans and their strange hygiene tendencies. 

The flight here was daunting because I left my family, now I'm really alone, but went pretty seamlessly. There was a minor debacle in the Barcelona airport with a friendly security guard that was attempting to help me carry my purse off the security belt. I am accustomed to traveling through Logan airport, in Boston, or JFK; in these airports when an officer picks up your bag after going through the scanner, it isn't a good sign...generally means all your personal items will be splayed out for the world to see and examined a bit too closely. The guard carried my purse to the metal table at the end of the belt and placed it there with a nod and a smile. We both stood there for a minute smiling at each other and pointing at it and saying sí. I was expecting him to strip-search the inside for explosives, and was trying to give him the go-ahead. He thought I was a crazy person grinning overzealously and repeating "sí" while pointing at my bag like it was a special present, just for him. 

In the grand scheme of all things that could have gone wrong, this was no big deal. (I survived.)

I don't really think of myself as much of an explorer, the original plan was to cuddle up in my hotel room's massive king bed and watch movies for the evening. Maybe even paint my nails. (Girls gone wild, I know). In the spirit of adventure, however, I've procured a map from the lobby (thank god the word for map is "mapa," gotta love spanish) and I'm heading into town to do some pioneering. Wish me luck not getting Taken on my first night.