Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wellllll that was fun!!

I'm finished with exams!!
Everything is done a bit different here in France....when you have a final exam at ucf you go to the classroom that the class is in and take the exam with your teacher present. The exams here are in the auditoriums and there are multiple classes in there. It was my entire class with a bunch of french students, and none of our professors were there. There is assigned seating and you have to keep your bag/backpack/purse at the front of the room during the exam. Luckily our professor, who is also in charge of our study abroad program, was there for all of our exams to help us fill out papers. There's a special packet that they give you to take your exam and you have to fill it out a certain way.

Yesterday I had Management Accounting....which can be compared to taking an exam in Finnish...it was foreign to me. HORRIBLE! The girls from ucf that came here last year said they all failed the exam, but they ended up passing the unit...(I'm not sure if that was with the help of ucf or not). Oh well, I tried my best, that's all I can do. What will be will be....

Today we had Regional Tourism at 9:00am. The class is taught by the person in charge of the study abroad program. That exam was MUCH better than I thought it would be...thank god!! I felt bad for the students in my class who aren't native english speakers though. It's so much harder for them because they have to first read the question over and over again until they understand what is being asked and then try to provide the correct answer. Speaking english well is completely different from having to take an exam in english. Most of the American's thought it was pretty easy, the non-americans thought it was a bit difficult.

At 2:00pm we had our last exam (for unit 5). We were told that the exam was going to be one of the 4 classes in unit 5. So we needed to study for all 4 classes, but we would only have 1 test for 1 class...it would be a surprise! I love surprisessss
These were the 4 classes:
- The Loire Valley Castles
- Food Culture Management
- Getting to know a destination
- Wine Studies
So yes, we should have prepared for all 4 classes, but who does that?!? We're college students...in France. Considering we only went to the last 3 classes (listed above) maybe 4 times, and didn't learn much AT ALL, we had a feeling that it would be on the castles. The students last year had an exam on Loire Valley Castles, so we assumed that's what our test would be on. WE ASSUMED WRONG! It reminds me of what my 10th grade biology teacher, Mrs. Atria, said: If you assume you make an ass out of u and me.

Sooo we all studied like crazy for Loire Valley Castles. We get to the exam and they pass the paper to the first person. I think Katja was the first person to get the exam and she said "It's food culture management!" We all burst out laughing...you've gotta be kidding me!! Soooo we took an exam that NO ONE studied for! Luckily, it was food culture management so I was able to bs my way through the thing with knowledge from classes i've taken at ucf. Hopefully I did ok....i'm just glad it's over!!!! :)

I have a presentation tomorrow afternoon and then the semester is over!!!!
Heading to Prague and Vienna on Thursday :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Beautiful Barcelona

We took a taxi around 5:30am on Friday to get to the airport...we were greeted by prositutes once again. lol When we looked at the weather for Barcelona it said it would be rainy all weekend and it was the opposite! We were so lucky! We found our hostel and grabbed some lunch nearby before we were able to check-in. After we checked-in at the hostel we went to La Sagrada Familia (by Antonio Gaudi)which is a temple that has been under construction for years, and will continue to be under construction for years to come. I remember visiting it in high school...I forgot that it was (& is always) under construction.

La Sagrada Familia

After La Sagrada Familia we took the metro and then walked to Park Guell. It's crazy because you take 3 or 4 escalators (that are outside in the middle of buildings) up to the top of this hill. Once you get to the top, you have an amazing view of Barcelona.

Escalator going up to Park GuellThe girls at the top of Park Guell

Park Guell
Jazmin recommended a tapas restaurant called Inopia for dinner so we decided to try it out. It was AMAZING! It was worth every euro cent! Everything we ate was delicious! After dinner we walked around the city and down by the water for awhile. With no luck finding a bar we wanted to stay at, we decided to call it a night.
Saturday was Henna's birthday!! We had to check out of the hostel that morning, so we left all of our luggage in their luggage room. The weather was perfect so we headed to the beach!
Katie and I at the beach
We didn't realize the weather would be so perfect so no one brought their bathing suits, but we just laid on the beach in our clothes. We decided to lay out on the sand....for 2 hours! ...with no sunscreen! All that wine we've been drinking in France must have taken all of our braincells from us. I have NO idea how, but out of the 6 of us I think I was the one who was the least burnt...and I have the fairest skin. I don't know how it happened, but I'm so thankful! We all got sunburnt though! The last 20 minutes or so we were on the beach Amy and I went for a walk. We couldn't get over the fact that we were hanging out on the beach in Barcelona...we loved it! Henna, Anna, & Megan and I grabbed some lunch by the beach...pasta and?! you guessed it! Sangria! When In Rome.... After lunch we walked along the beach and then took the metro to the Picasso museum. It was awesome! There was a section of the museum that had Picasso's interpretation of the painting Las Meninas by Velazquez. I thought it was cool because we saw Las Meninas at the Prado in Madrid. :) After Picasso we headed back to the hostel to change clothes and get ready for a LONG night! Since we already checked out of our hostel we had no room to get ready...so we got ready in the public bathroom in the lobby of the hostel. All 6 of us.
The whole time we were laughing at everyone's stupid sunburn's and the horrible tan lines we would have. It was actually a lot of fun, and only person walked in to use the bathroom. After everyone was ready we went to put all of our bags in lockers by the bus station because we had to take a bus at 3:45am to get to the airport to leave. Like I said...it was going to be a long night! Megan's friend has been studying in Barcelona and he recommended a place for us to go to dinner. We attempted to go there, but didn't know you needed a reservation so we found a place down the street. Dinner was a lot of fun! We surprised Henna with a cake :)

Henna's birthday dinner!

After dinner we met Megan's friend and he took us to a shot bar called Chupitos. They have the craziest shots! The place is VERY small and VERY crowded, but once you get a spot at the bar it's a lot of fun. We took a shot called Boy Scout....They place the shots on the bar and start a fire directly on the bar. They give you a marshmallow that you roast until the fire is out. Then you dip the marshmallow in the shot (to help it cool) put it in your mouth, then take the shot! All of the shots are crazy like that, and usually involve fire.
Boy Scout Shot After Chupitos they took us to a club. We stayed in the club for an hour or so until 3am when we had to leave to go to the bus station. Katie, Henna, and Anna and I were waiting at the entrance of the club for Megan and Amy...but they didn't come. We weren't going to miss the bus (and our flight) because of them so we just left. We cut it really close on time! We got on the last metro to get to the bus stop at 3:40am. When we got off the metro we literally sprinted our way out of the metro, across the street, and to the bus. Katie said she would go first to make sure the bus wasn't leaving, while the 3 of us got our bags out of our lockers. Luckily we made it just in time....without Megan and Amy. The funny thing was that Henna and I shared a locker with Megan and Amy, so we had all of their stuff with us. There was nothing else to do but take their stuff. We could have put it in the locker again, but I would have still had the key. When we got to the airport we weren't even sure if our flight would be going to Paris because the flight to Paris that evening had been cancelled. Luckily our flight was scheduled to depart! One problem...we still had the girls bags. I was trying to figure out what we were going to do with their stuff, when they walked into the airport! They were very lucky because they were able to take a bus at 4:10, which we didn't even know about. The schedule that we had from the bus station said that the next bus (After 3:45am) left at 5am...which would have probably made them late to the airport. I travel with a bunch of monkey's! haha
Soooo luckily we all made it to the airport, now we just had to make sure we didn't kill each other lol. We got on the plane and made it to Paris. We had to take a bus into the city, which took about an hour. Then took the metro to the train station where we had about 4 hours until our train left to go to Angers. We all napped in the train station. Then we napped some more on the train! When we got to Angers we were all exhausted, gross from going out and not showering, and ready to be back in our rooms. Overall it was a wonderful trip and we all had a blast! I will definitely have amazing memories from my London & Spain trip! :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Madrid, Spain :)

We arrived in Madrid late Tuesday night and took a taxi to our hostel. We had a warm welcome by a million prostitutes lining the road that our hostel was on...awesomeee.
Wednesday we had breakfast at our hostel and then made our way to the Royal Palace to see the changing of the guards.

Royal Palace

It only happens on the first Wednesday of every month, so we went on the perfect day! It was cool to watch, but we were watching from the outside of the palace so we missed some of it. They start the whole thing on the outside and work their way to the inside of the palace for a performance...we probably would have watched from inside if we would have known. After the changing of the guards we went inside the Almudena Cathedral right next to the royal palace. We then walked by Plaza de la Villa to get to Plaza Mayor.

Plaza Mayor

It was crazy seeing Plaza Mayor again and remembering my last trip there. (The summer before my senior year of high school I went on a trip with Mrs. Journey and two of the cities we visited were Madrid and Barcelona). I definitely enjoyed my trip in high school, but since I've gotten older I have a greater appreciation for everything! We had lunch in Plaza Mayor. Sangria and sandwiches.
Enjoying lunch in Plaza Mayor

After lunch we strolled the city and worked our way to the Prado that evening. A lot of the museums are free for students after 6pm. A lot of the art in the Prado is different then what I am used to. I think it's much darker and gloomier, but I'm definitely glad we went. We had sangria and paella for dinner in a plaza not far from our hostel.


It was deliciousssss :) We were all SO full after dinner that we went back to the hostel to rest...and we ended up sleeping for a couple hours lol. We had all planned to go out that night, but Anna and Amy weren't up for it after the nap. Katie and Megan wanted to go out and they somehow convinced Henna and I to go too. Bad ideaaaa...the amount of creepers in Madrid is RIDICULOUS! We went to two different clubs (we got in free thank god!) and were constantly being approached by guys. We weren't having that much fun so we decided to head back to the hostel. We were able to walk by the prostitutes once more on our way back...we actually saw them doing their job when we woke up to have breakfast, when we would take a break in the middle of the day, and when we would go out at night...sad, but true.
Thursday we headed to the Parque del Retiro. It was so nice! We each got an ice cream and walked around the park. We walked around the lake and sat on the steps of the Alfonso XII monument for awhile enjoying the amazing weather. Then we decided to take a ride in the paddle boats...it was a lot of fun! :)

After the 45 minute boat ride we walked through the park making our way to the botanical gardens.

Palacio de Cristal All the girls :) We walked through the Botanical Gardens, which was very pretty! We all agreed that park was just as beautiful though..and the park was free! After the botanical gardens we split up for a little while to eat dinner, do some shopping, etc. and then met back up around 8:30pm. On the tourist info map it said that the Templo de Debod was the best place to watch the sunset so we decided to check it. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Madrid!

View of Madrid as the sun was setting

Templo de Debod

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello London!!

I left on April 30th for a 10 day trip to London, Madrid, & Barcelona! It was SO much fun!

Friday we left Angers in the morning and made it to London in the late afternoon. Once we got to the airport we all went our separate ways because Anna was staying with friends, a few of the girls were staying with Amy's family, and Henna and I were staying in a hostel with 3 other girls who were on a different flight. We took a bus from the London-Stansted aiport to London which took a little over an hour. We walked for quite awhile along Hyde Park to find our hostel, checked in, and went to dinner at a Thai restaurant down the road. We thought the whole situation was kind of funny considering that an American girl and a Finnish girl (who have been studying in France) were visiting London, and eating Thai food. I love it! After dinner we took the tube (aka metro)to Notting Hill and walked around for a little while. We headed back to the hostel to meet Charlotte, Kim, and Shannon who had taken the later flight to London. We talked for awhile about our journey's to London and then went to sleep to get ready for the next day.

Saturday we had the free breakfast at the hostel which usually means cornflakes and white bread with jam lol then headed to Starbucks to energize ourselves. Some of you may be thinking that I shouldn't have had Starbucks, but it's literally on every corner in London. It was a cultural experience haha! We took the tube towards the Tower Bridge! We walked past the Tower of London Castle and right around the corner was the bridge.
The Tower of London Castle

The Tower Bridge

We crossed over the bridge and walked along the River Thames to St. Paul's Cathedral. We took the infamous phone booth pictures there.

St. Paul's Cathedral

In a phone booth outside of St. Paul's!

We walked back across the river and walked by the Tate Modern Museum. We were going to go inside, but decided to save it for another day when the weather wasn't so nice. We never ended up making it back there which is a little disappointing, but I'll just put it on my list of things to do on my next visit to London! :) We went to a place called Eat. and grabbed a sandwich and some snacks to eat outside. The weather was beautiful! After lunch we continued to walk along the river towards the London Eye. There were a lot of street performers which was fun to watch. There was a group of hiphop/break dancers, people playing music with aluminum trash lids, a woman with over 1,000 peircings(..gross!), and the typical people who are dressed up as mickey mouse, a mime, and other characters. After reaching the London Eye we headed back across the river towards Westminster Abbey and Big Ben! There was a protest going on right outside of Westminster Abbey. It was crazy and awesome! lol
The London Eye

Westminster Abbey

Big Ben

Protest outside of Westminster Abbey

We walked to St. James Park and took a short nap in the sun and then walked through the park. We saw Buckingham Palace from a distance, but were saving that for another morning so we could watch the changing of the guards. We walked from St. James Park to Picadilly Circus, which slightly resembles Time's Square, but on a much smaller level. Anna met us there and we went on a search for a place to eat. We found a local pub and I had fish & chips which was delicious!! :) We then attempted to find a place to go out for drinks, which was relatively unsuccessful. It was raining outside, we were exhausted from walking all day and every place we went to was either really crowded or the wrong age group. We ended up staying at a bar that wasn't too crowded so we could sit down inside and have a London ale. We met a guy whose dad lives in Tennessee and one of his favorite bands is Sister Hazel..small world! We hung out at the bar for a little while then decided to call it a night when an old creeper spilled a beer on Charlotte.
Sunday we met Charlotte's friend Priscilla in the Liverpool area and she took us to a couple markets. The markets were huge and amazing! Henna and I wanted everything we saw!

We walked around there for a little while and then had a late lunch at an Indian restaurant. After lunch we went to another market which was just as amazing! After a couple hours at that market, Priscilla left, and the 5 of us (me, Kim, Shannon, Charlotte, & Henna) walked around for a little while longer. We were heading back to the tube when we spotted these amazing looking drinks in the window of a bar called B @ 1. There was a sign that said they have 2 for 1 happy hour on Sundays until 12am soooo we decided to go inside and see how it was. We were sitting at a table and my camera fell off my lap onto the ground and dieddd! :( And we had just ordered our first drink so NO it was not caused by drunken debauchery...just stupidity! My camera was 4 years old and was missing 5 out of the 11 screws that held it in place, so its not shocking that it died. The bar was so much fun though! They played great music, the drinks were amazing, and the bartenders were a lot of fun! Six hours later, with no money left in our wallets, we decided to call it a night.
Me and Henna...last picture taken with my camera :(

Monday we headed to Abbey Road to take the infamous Beatles picture walking on the crosswalk. I was suprised that nothing has been done with that crosswalk because there were at least 40 people there trying to take pictures while cars were driving by. The whole thing was a little bit chaotic, but it was fun! There was a guy there that would take a polaroid pic for you for 5 pounds. I bought it so we could all get in a picture, and so we didn't have to deal with stopping traffic again lol We then attempted to go to Kings Cross Station which is where platform 9 and 3/4's is from Harry Potter. We ended up not going in because we would have had to pay for a metro ticket..not worth it! Kim, and Henna & I walked around and did some shopping while Shannon and Charlotte went back to Westminster Abbey to see a choir performance. We all met back at Picadilly Circus and went to dinner at a Chinese restaruant with Priscilla (Charlotte's friend). It was a lot of fun going with Charlotte! We told Priscilla and Charlotte to order for us, so they ordered around 6 dishes for all of us to share. It was fun listening to them speak Chinese to each other and to the servers. The food was delicious! Charlotte said that it was real authentic food that she would have in Hong Kong, which made her miss home a little. She told us about a couple dishes that were popular just in Hong Kong and others that were popular in China. We walked around Soho after dinner and enjoyed the city.

Tuesday we checked out of our hostel and headed to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. It was awesome! There were so many people there! After the changing of the guards Shannon, Kim, and Charlotte left to catch their flight to Ireland. Henna and I headed back towards the hostel to do some shopping and pick up our bags at the hostel. We mostly window shopped because we had already packed our bags and knew we didn't have room for anything else. We met up with Anna and took a train to Gatwick-Airport to head to Madrid! We met up with Megan, Katie, and Amy at the airport and shared stories from our trips. It was weird seeing them in the airport because we had expected to hang out with each other in London. We ended up not seeing them at all because we had no way of communicating with each other.
Overall London was AMAZING!! I fell in love with the city! I didn't want to leave and I want to go back already!

That's all for now...I'll post more pictures from London (after I steal pics from the girls) and blog about Spain soon.