Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The ULTIMATE Make It Work

For dinner tonight, my madre made me my favorite salad but added cucumbers.





If you know me at all, you won't need any further explanation. But just for context, a bowl of cucumber is more horrifying to me than if I was presented with a bowl of worms/intestines/brains/maggots/poop/chicken fetuses. Combined. 

Let it be known that I actually tried. Which is a serious testament to how much I love my host mama. I actually ate about half of the cucumbers in my salad, using the "swallow pill" and "drown with water" strategy.  It was so painful. The taste, the contamination of my other beautiful vegetables...everything. If I had it my way, I wouldn't even have eaten any of the vegetables that touched the cucumbers because I can taste the cucumber on them. But I had to make it work. How you would feel if you were forced to eat a bowl of rotton fish vomit is how I feel when eating cucumbers. 

I couldn't finish.

Which is another serious testament to how much I hate cucumbers. 

I am a respectful eater. What do I mean by that? It's easier to explain in examples. For instance, I am a "vegetarian," but when our Istanbul couchsurf hosts made us an entire home-cooked dinner on our first night of meeting them, I didn't blink twice when I saw that the main entry was chicken. I ate that entry without a single word of complaint. Yes, I would have preferred not to have eaten the chicken if it were in my control. But I am not the type of person who could go out of her way to not eat something that was so generously made for her. And the idea of how uncomfortable that would have made our hosts feel makes me uncomfortable. It's just not how I was brought up. Or, when I went hiking with Will and some friends last week and Will's mom generously made "bocadillos" (sandwiches with chorizo or sausage)  for all of us. I would never bring myself to say "thanks, but no I can't eat these sandwiches you prepared for us kids who you never even met before because I am vegetarian." I am not saying that if you would do that that you're a bad person. People are vegetarian for a lot of reasons, a main one being religious. No judgement at all, I'm just talking about me personally. I've even eaten two pieces of  cucumber in middle school once I was visiting my grandparents in China just to make them happy.

But this was just too much. There were too many cucumbers in this salad. 

You have no idea how stressful this entire experience was. How hard I tried to get myself to finish all the cucumbers. How horrified I was at the idea of wasting the food. I didn't want my madre to think I didn't like her cooking, or that I'm a brat. I may sound like a complete nutso right now, but that is how much I hate seeming rude or ungrateful to elders. It's also just how much I love my host mama, because I know that when she adds extra vegetables in my salads it is because she just went grocery shopping and wants me to have the biggest, most complete salad possible. At one point, I was literally considering sneaking the  cucumbers into a napkin and then going outside to throw them away later. But I realized that if I didn't speak up then my madre would think I like cucumbers and keep giving them to me. 

Thank god my host mama had to get up for something and saw my cucumbers (after not being able to force down anymore cucumbers without literally having to throw up) in my bowl. She was so nice about it, of course. But still, I felt kind of bad. I'm just really glad my host mama was so nice about it. 

So okay, maybe making it work would entail that I either A) grew a pair and told my madre myself that I don't like cucumbers or B) ate all the cucumbers. But at least it worked out in the end. 

I'm going to stop this post now because even the idea of the cucumbers that are sitting in my stomach right now makes me feel kind of sick. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gran Hermano

Gran Hermano time is silencio time.

Imagine two 20-30-year-old mothers jumping, screaming, and singing during the opening credits of a television show. It's quite a sight, I promise you.

Gran Hermano is a reality show featuring a group of 20-something people living together in a house. The house has a "big brother" robot voice that tells them things (that I don't quite understand). And of course the majority of the group is young attractive and super hormonal Spaniards. One of the girls is from Córdoba! Apparently, we have something like it in the States, but I never even watched MTV before so I really wouldn't know (Am I the only kid who grew up on Disney Channel? Lizzie McGuire, anyone?) It's funny because the title, "Gran Hermano," or Big Brother, is named after the George Orville novel, who I actually have heard of because I read his book 1984. Clearly the point of this is that I was, and still am, the coolest kid on the block.

No, but this show is really funny because it is clearly the trashy reality tv show of Spain. And my two sisters Merchi and Ana love it. They silence the boys whenever it is on and refuse to talk to them until comercial time. I'm in the living room with them when it is on, but honestly I don't think I would like it even if it was in english. But it is the one show that the kids immediately shut up and surrender the remote control for. 

And even without spanish fluency, I see the exact same trashy reality tv drama that is mirrored in all the Kardashians-Go-Shopping-With-Teenage-Mothers-Who-Are-Obese shows we back in the States. Is it still considered a common ground if the common ground is cultural travesties?

Don't mistake me for hating, though. I love Gran Hermano now too, but more so because I like observing the viewers more than the silly people in the show. 


Turns out I didn't actually eat goat brains.

After talking with Inma about what we did this weekend, she assured us that the waiter was joking with us and was just trying to scare us.

Well, he definitely succeeded in that.

Also, apparently he said sheep brains, not goat brains. Not that that matters anymore, because I am BRAIN-FREE!

Wait, that came out wrong. Language problems...

Teaching Things

Tomorrow is my first day of volunteering! I am teaching english to a group of immigrants in a 1.5 hour class, once a week.

To be honest, I've had a lot of experience in the teaching/tutoring realm. Ever since middle school through college, it has been study buddies, summer camps, teaching piano, TA for PH116, Peer Health Exchange...etc. And I think it is fair to say that I've done pretty well in all these extracurricular activities.You know what all these have in common though?-youth, english and structure.

My class is going to be a comprised of immigrant adults taking english classes in order to try and find work in the U.S. This makes me nervous because I feel a lot more pressure as an instructor. Not trying to pass off elementary school education as unimportant, but at least if I royally screw up with kids (honestly, my math is so horrible I don't know if I am qualified to teach adolescents skills I barley have) someone along the way will help them learn what they need to learn. And it's things like adding and subtracting...totally not that fundamental to life, right? These immigrants are relying solely on me, Jennifer Zhang. To learn a completely new language that is essential to their future lives. This feels really important and I, having not even met them yet, already feel a very serious obligation to deliver my very best teaching service. My volunteer coordinator tries to assure us that anything we teach will be useful no matter what, so maybe the pressure is coming mostly from myself. But still. I already feel personally invested in supplying these immigrants with the best, most useful skill set of english needed to help them succeed in the States.

Which brings me to problem dos:

How am I expected to be the best educator I can possibly be when I have to teach in Spanish? A language that I am currently in the process of learning? Madre mio... 

And finally, every past tutoring or teaching job I have done came with some sort of structure. Usually program directors give us a relative schedule or at least a precedent of what tutors did in the past. In PH116, the class I TA for at Berkeley, we have lesson plans from all the students in years past. And, all the TA's meet once a week for two hours to share lesson plans and brainstorm what activities or discussions we want to have for that week's class.

Here, I'm being thrown into the pool without floaties on. And for this hypothetical situation we are going to pretend that I wasn't on high school swim team and that I actually don't know how to swim. Yikes!!

No lesson plans.  No materials. No syllabus. No precedents. All I am given is a classroom, and a 1.5 hour block of time.

There were actually a few other volunteer options I could have selected, including tutoring younger children, but I selected this option because it is something different and more challenging than anything I've done before. Okay, also because on the first day of orientation, I thought I was just going to "check it out" but then ended up signing up. Language barrier problems for the win! But no pasa nada, I am actually really glad I ended up with this group. There are four other students from my program teaching their own classes too, so at least we can sort of plan together and share stories about how our classes went...or how horribly I have failed. We'll see.

And SPEAKING OF TEACHING, today I got a job!!!! Our program director Inma emailed us this morning about an opportunity to privately tutor a family's child for 10 euro an hour and that whoever responds to the email first gets the job. SCORE! So glad I decided to check my email during our snack break. Starting next Wednesday, I'll be getting paid to spend an afternoon with a 4 year old girl and play with her while speaking english. I don't even have to teach! I guess the mom just wants to give her daughter early exposure. I think is wonderful because I know from taking chinese school back in the day, that learning a language at a younger age is the least painful way to become fluent. Compared to my volunteering, this should be much easier I hope! I'm excited to get to know new people, and I love kids a lot, but honestly I am just so gosh-darn-happy to be earning some money. All I do these days is withdraw withdraw withdraw.

So yeah, lots of exciting things happening. I'm hoping too that these opportunities, especially volunteering, will help improve my spanish. Who doesn't like a win-win scenerio, right? 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Street Art in Granada

I love the graffiti in Granada so much (sorry for sounding like a broken record player), that I wanted to compile all the pieces I was able to see during my trip onto a single post. Unfortunately, my pictures don't do it justice because for me at least, a lot of the beauty isn't just the art itself, but also the way it complements or changes its surrounding environment. It's the contextual picture of the scenery and art placement put together that makes the art even more fascinating.

Either way though, the pieces are beautiful. There is clearly a lot of artistic talent in the city of Granada. Which makes sense based off what I've been learning in my Spanish Lit/Cinema class, since a lot of Spain's famous art figures are from Granada. Look guys, I'm learning in my study abroad! About actual relavant things!


  • Visited the Alhambra, which is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I have ever seen. It's an ancient palace from the old Arab empires. My pictures nor words will never do it justice. You just have to go see it for yourself in person.
  • Ate delicious tapas! Granada is renowned for having the best tapas around and now I can say I see why.  
  • Got to see a lot of beautiful street art. I love graffiti art work and I think it adds an interesting flavor to the surrounding street and neighborhood. 
  • Was invited to eat lunch with Julie and her spanish family. Spanish culture is unique in that it doesn't encourage visitors in the house. Which is why being invited over was a real treat and such a lovely experience. I love Julie's spanish mama and her lovely dog Haida! 
  • FUNNY STORY, when I gathered Julie and her family to take a group picture, Haida the dog immediately LEAPED onto the table and insisted on being in the picture! Greatest dog ever.
  • FUNNY STORY part 2: took down a 6" tall ex-football player boy on our way back to the hostel. Maybe I'm stronger than I look? We got honked at too...but long story short, we made it back alive. 
  • Again, accidentally ate goat brains. It may have been unintentional, but at least I can say I really "absorbed" the authentic culture of where I was? Yay? 
  • Bought awesome fatboy pants. They're puffy with a cool bohemian pattern. Can't wait to wear my matching pants with Julie in Portugal! 
  • Was brought back to life at a teteria. Thank god Julie and I are on the same page are on really similar pages when we need it the most. 
  • Partied in gypsy caves until 4:30 AM with a bunch of international students from all over Europe 
  • Saw the Sierra Nevada mountains.
  • Spent the entire weekend with Julie Brown. 
  • Successfully caught the bus back to Cordoba with only 1 minute to spare, and spent 3 hours taking in beautiful scenery with Yalda while riding back home. 
Easy to say, it has been a great weekend. 

And you know you are having the best possible home stay experience when, after 72 hours of exploring/eating/sleep deprivation, you get off your 3 hour bus ride, enter your apartment, and get that yeees, I am home feeling. Great weekend, great life.

Inside the Alhambra

Inside the Alhambra

One of the 8937422394 tapas I had this weekend

Julie, Tara and their spanish mama.
Posing by the Alhambra

The Alhambra
Look at the Sierra Nevada mountains! 
More beautiful views of the mountains
Friendship! Love! White on Yellow love!
On my bus ride home

Losses in Translation

Language barriers make the easiest tasks become hikes to Mt. Everest. For instance, trying to tell someone how you almost locked yourself out of your apartment becomes a 2 hour long Odyssey monologue. Painful, long, and really awkward to hear. Luckily, I haven't had too many serious mishaps yet. But language barriers can quickly go from something comedic to serious, especially if you're dealing with things like allergies, electronic malfunctions, or taxi/bus driver directions. So far, my language barrier experiences have been the "shake my head in shame" kind, and not the "crap, do I need to call the US embassy?!" kind. 
  • In Cordoba last week, two high school classmates who are studying abroad in France and London came down to Córdoba for a day trip. It was really fun showing them around and getting tapas with them. While ordering tapas from Casa Santos, a tapas place well known around town, I tried getting myself a cup of vino blanco but ended up with fino, which is a wine unique to Cordoba. It has kind of a weird fishy taste and isn't my favorite drink. When I took my cup and took my first sip, I thought, god damnit, I got stuck with fino AGAIN!? This has definitely happened to me more than once. Sigh.

    This is what a NOT free "tapa" looks like
  • In Granada this past weekend, I was getting tapas for lunch and was trying to figure out which ones were free to choose from with my wine. Accidentally ended up ordering a 9 euro entry somehow, while thinking it was a free tapa the entire time. Ouch for my wallet, but at least it was really delicious for my tummy.
  • Again in Granada, I accidentally, not knowingly, ate brains. We were eating at a very well known and delicious restaurant called Casa Juanillo (It's in the Sacromonte district-up in the mountains by the gypsy caves and a gorgeous view of the Alhambra). There weren't too many vegetarian options, but I see "Tortilla de Sacromonte" and decide to order that. Tortilla is really common in Andaluz and is just eggs and potato cooked into a nice, spongy, cake-type thing. What I got though was different from any tortilla I've seen. It was much for thin, like the egg "bing" I was used to eating from my parents. No problem. I eat my tortilla thinking nothing of it. It is pretty good, nice and spongy and flavorful. I guess I never caught the part where our waiter jokingly told us "there is a surprise ingredient but I won't tell you what it is until after you eat the food." HONESTLY, if I had caught him saying that, I wouldn't have gone within 10 feet of the plate. Maybe it is because I'm chinese and I come from a culture of people who eat weird and disgusting things (I.E fish brain, blech!!!), but that sentence right there is the dead giveaway that you are about to consume an internal organ. But no, OF COURSE, I didn't hear or understand him saying that. Which is how I ended up eating goat brains in my tortilla.
Let me just repeat myself one more time for emphasis.

During my trip to Granada, I ate goat brains.

You know what, I forgot what the original point of this post was. Now I can't stop thinking about the goat brains again.

The end. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Apple Skins

It's true, I never learned how to skin an apple, because my parents did it for me until the age where I could deal with eating the skin.

This past Sunday, some friends and I agreed to meet up at 8:30 am for a hike. Of course, I crawled out of bed at 8:06 am. Running on a very tight schedule, I rushed into the kitchen to grab an apple for breakfast and pack my water bottle. (Side note: living in a world without Berkeley Time has made me realize how horrible my punctuality is). It's cold and dark, and I am the only one awake in the apartment. Except for my little brother. I turn around from the sink and see Currito sitting at the table, staring at me with his big, wide, un-humanly awake eyes. 


I quickly hand him my apple and reach for another, when I hear rustling behind me. I turn around to see Curro grabbing a knife, in an attempt to skin his apple. Without a second thought, I took the knife from him and began butchering his apple. I would use the verb "skin," but that would imply that I didn't cut off more than 50% of his apple in my attempt to peel off only the thin, waxy exterior. Oops. I handed him back his apple, now completely cut up in different angles and barely recognizable. Still, it was without skin. By this point it is 8:40 am and I have 4 missed calls. But the usual, stressed out anxiety you get from being super late to somewhere, was replaced with a warm feeling accomplishment. For being able to peel an apple for the first time, and to be able to do it for someone else. 

I've never been a big sister before. I'm an only child and in my entire family, I am the baby. So skins get peeled for me without me even having to ask. How else could a girl get away without knowing how to skin one herself for 21 years? But for some reason, this small random incident sticks with me because it reminds me that for the first time in my life, I am not the baby. In fact, someone else is instead of me. 

I'm not trying to imply that I deserve a marching band and ten gold stars for taking the time to skin an apple. This is what should be done. I'm only reflecting on this very nuanced but noticeable change in my lifestyle, because it really is a unique and interesting experience for me. I am happy to say that I'm enjoying the role-reversal though. I just hope that I'm playing the part of older sibling correctly, and not letting my Only Child show. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love From Abroad

Happy Valentines Day from España! Here, it is called dia de enmorado (day of love) or simply, dia de saint valentino, after the actual saint. I don't think the holiday is as commercialized, which is refreshing.

So last year, I spent Valentines day in the library studying with my friends.

Passing love notes in the library like a Taylor Swift song but better

This year I got to spend it with my travel group eating delicious cheap food in Spain, followed by a night of wine and clubbing.
Very delicious and authentic dinner at Sociedades de Platos with the group

Very typical wine of Córdoba
Club Gongora with Melanie, me and Virginia
On both days, I have felt equally loved.

Happy Valentines Day! May your life be filled with l o v e from family, friends, life and most importantly, yourself. I think this year, my Valentine is my Life. I just love it so, so much right now. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scenes de Córdoba pt 3

Yesterday, I was walking from my apartment to a new cafe where I was meeting up with some of mis chicas to plan future trips. Usually, since my apartment location is very central, everyone meets on my street. This was the first time I walked by myself to Cort Ingléis.

On the way there, I asked a nice, 20-something year old boy if I was going the right way. He ended up walking me the entire way to the cafe, since he said (?) that his apartment was nearby anyways.

Before I continue, (since I know you're reading this, Mom) let it be known that this wasn't creepy at all. It was broad day light. And this boy was seriously so kind and patient with me. Maybe it sounds creepy when it is being told second hand, but if you were there you would have also seen how nice and not serial-killer-esque this person is.

On our walk, we spoke spanish together the entire time, even though I felt like a baby when listening to him talk. I learned that he was studying for his LSAT and that he has lived in Córdoba all his life. His number one choice for law school is in Barcelona and it is one of his favorite cities, even though he has rarely travelled outside Córdoba.

It was a really nice walk and I am so glad I put myself out there and talked to a local. "Excuse me, how do I get to..." is probably my most fluent phrase in Spanish as of now (So surprising! Said no one). This may be one of the first times where being a direction-inept Asian has seriously benefited me. It's such a great way to meet nice non-serial-killer locals. 

Introducción: el capitulo de español

Empezando hoy, escribiré algunes algunos entres entradas en mi blog solamente en español. Este es un practico para mi español porque necesito practicar más. Lo siento, porque mi español ahora es como el español de un bebe o más mal...entonces, mis entres entradas no seré muy interesante. Seré muy aburrido. Fundalmentalmente, estos entres entradas son para mi solamente.

¡No preocupe, porque la mayor parte de mi blog ya será sobre mi vida en Europa...y en ingleis Ingléis también!

PS) Si podrías leer en español...lo siento para todos mis errores. Estoy tratando (o puedo le culpo google translate...jajaja)

PSS) ACTUALMENTE, para continuando un aspecto cómico en mi blog...aquí es la translation de "google translate" antes de yo cambié mis errores. (También, todos los errores no es para mi, porque google translate es muy extraño a veces y no es muy exacto)

Starting today, I will write in my blog algunes enter only in Spanish. This is a practice for my Spanish because I need more practice. Sorry, because my Spanish as Spanish is now a baby or more wrong ... then I will not enter my very interesting. I will be very boring. Fundalmentalmente, enter these are for me only.

Do not worry because most of my blog and my life will be over in Europe ... and ingleis too!

PS) If you could read in Spanish ... sorry for all my mistakes. I'm trying (or google translate I can blame him ... lol)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Survived Carnaval de Cadiz and You Can Too

Here's how:

1. Know what you are getting into

Carnival is a week long celebration in all of Spain that involves comedic theatre shows (that you can watch on television), lots of costume shop sales and of course, drinking. The most well-known celebration though, is held in Cadiz, which is the oldest city in Spain. Cadiz is a small city by the coast that hosts a famous street party on Saturday in conjunction with the traditional carnival festivities. To give you a better visual, think ginormous, unlimited Halloween-frat party but with a wider age range and even wider range in costumes. The party starts around 9pm and doesn't end until the morning. Most people come from different cities that will send buses to and from Cadiz. Kind of like your grad-night ceremony, the bus sends you to Cadiz and picks you up in the morning. In between, they leave you to your own chaotic, drunken devices.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

2. Wear the shoes you care about least, but make sure they are comfortable

Because you will do a lot of walking. And there is a lot of pissing. Guys and girls piss all along the streets, all night long. The best is when you see a row of princesses standing along the street with their penises whipped out, doing their business. It's cute because they're like bathroom buddies, but guys!

3. Go all out with your costume, because everyone else is

One of the best things about Carnival is that it isn't just a parade of girls in their underwear and bra costumes, trying to best each other in who has the skinniest body and skimpiest outfit. People here take the meaning of  costumes literally. The most common costumes of the night that I saw were: chickens, cows and pirates. And let me just say, most of those chicken men I saw were pretty damn sexy. But there was pretty much everything you could think of, from playing cards to the Joker to spidermen, and lots and lots of cross dressers. Spanish guys know what's up.

4. There will be body parts

Oh yeah, fake boobs and giant penises were also a popular costume accessory. Just go with it, it's *~!*~cArNIvAaAaLlLlL~*!*~

5. You might see your mom there

Seriously, there were some upper-middle aged folks walking around, with their plastic beer cups and giant cervezas in hand. Try to get a picture with them if you can because they're awesome.

6. Dress Warm

When you're drinking and walking around in entirely crowded streets, you don't feel the cold. But as the night transitions into morning and earlier buses start leaving, you start to feel the cold. No one cares about costumes at this point, it's best to just layer up. Especially if your group decided to go all out and isn't leaving until 6:45 am.

7. Pack!

I chose to bring a backpack and fill it with booze, jackets, a water bottle and a lot of snacks. There are definitely pros and cons to bringing a backpack (note: our friend Taylor left her backpack to go to the bathroom and got it stolen), mostly regarding thief and pickpocketing. But personally, I'm pretty cautious about my stuff especially when I am partying in a foreign place. If you keep your belongings on you at all times or make sure someone is always watching it, you shouldn't have a problem. Besides, people are too busy drinking and peeing on streets to pickpocket you.

8. Be ready to walk

Kind of along the same lines as bringing comfortable shoes, carnival isn't exactly one specific event. When you get dropped off, no one really tells you what is going on. All you see is that you are all the sudden completely surrounded by drunk, dressed up people. So you follow the crowd. Except as you keep walking you realize the streets get more convoluted and it becomes more like a maze than singular pathway, and there really is no destination. The point of carnival is to do just that: walk the streets, talk and meet and take pictures with new people, and drink continuously. There will probably be lots of shouting and loud singing involved, too.

9. Take pit stops for the bathroom

Honestly, ladies, we can do anything men can do. And if the time calls for it and you got to go, it is totally okay to pee in the streets. My friends and I formed friendship circles and had females take turns peeing in privacy. It isn't really a big deal, we can make it work. But personally, I would advise just stepping into the closest open bar and peeing there. The streets are literally flooded with a disgusting mixture of booze and other people's piss, and my friend Lyna accidentally flashed her ass at some guys who were looming in the corner. Oh, and I think I splashed pee on my friend Will. Talk about
friendship on crack...sorry Will!

10. Pee before you get back on the bus

Why is carnival sounding to be all about taking a piss? Anyways, you are in for a long bus ride so you would rather take a piss on a piss-infested alleyway surrounded by drunken strangers than have your kidneys explode on that 4 hour bus ride. Trust me.

11. Spanish buses are the worst! Be prepared!

Our spanish bus was literally moving at 30 mph, making our supposed "3 hour trip" turn into approx 6 hours. Don't be the group that stupidly decides to start drinking right away because 1) you have a long night ahead of you and 2) again, what will you do when you have to pee? IT'S ALL ABOUT PLANNING AROUND PEEING CONSTRAINTS.
Your spanish bus will also likely start playing really horrible 80s spanish music at full blast on your ride home, at 6:45 am, when your poor exhausted body just wants to sleep. You'll sleep through it, but you will probably be really annoyed and wake up with the worst songs ever stuck in your head.

12. People are going to yell at you if you're Asian

If Lyna and I had a dollar for every time we heard "CHINITAAAAAAAA," I wouldn't be paying tuition anymore. Lyna and I worked with it though and just laughed back, YEAAAA, CHINITTAAAAA. WANT A PICTURE WITH THE CHINITAAAAS? Honestly, people weren't trying to be offensive and everyone was drunk. Whatever. We made it work.

13. Don't fixate on a big group

Even though we  came in a big group, we got separated almost instantly. Me and Lyna decided to utilize the buddy system approach going in, because we expected this to happen. We just made sure that at the very least we were always together in order to maximize safety and fun. Us Chinitas had a fcking good time together though before we somehow reunited with people.

14. You find people when you don't try

This is a rule of thumb for almost everything in Europe, but it proved especially true last night. Don't try to find or reunite with your group, it honestly won't work so don't waste your phone minutes. If you keep walking around with your buddy, eventually you will miraculously run into people you know. I don't really understand why this is so, but it is.

15. Let Go and Have Fun

Honestly, being stuck in a freezing city without any means of going home is daunting. I've definitely never partied that long (nor been around that much piss...) in my entire life. But I definitely made it work and had an absolute blast. Keep an open mind too. Take pictures with people. Talk to people and let them talk to you. Take shots with strangers. Y.O.C.O: You Only Carnival Once. And towards the end, when everyone is starting to feel really cold and tired and just wants to go home and sleep, it is important to keep your spirits up. It's all part of this unique experience not many people get to have.

16. Have Fun but don't go too hard

You don't want to be that person throwing up or feeling nauseous on the bus. Nor do you want to be that person getting sick on the piss infested streets. Not that I was this person, but just saying. And actually, despite the crazy party that Cadiz is, I didn't see much of this kind of behavior while I was walking around. Europeans know how to party just the right amount, case #195 of things Europeans do better than us.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blisters, Best Friends and Things

Haaaayyyyyy, sexay laaadayyy
Mmmm, check out all that yummy goodness. You might be wondering what the point of this post is, but no, it isn't something really disgusting or fetish-ey, I swear. And what does this have to do with my best friend David? Because he is gross? Small and red? Painful and annoying? Moist all the time? Why don't I just pull an Annoying Teacher moment and respond with All Of The Above. 

Jokes! I should try being nicer because this is supposed to be a special birthday post! 

David Lin is the best best friend anyone can ask for (but no one else can have him. ESPECIALLY not youknowwho. This kid is allll mine, suckahs!). And the reason why my most recent bloody addition to my body reminds me of him, is because David is also my go-to-doctor (If you are reading this, UCSF, this guy is like, the next Greys Anatomy, but smarter and way sexier than Sandra Oh. No offense). David never lets me get away with just letting my scabs fester and sore like the 5-year-old-me wants to do. He holds my hand (lets me practically BREAK his hand), applies that god-forsaken-painful-as-bloody-mary-giving-birth alcohol swab, gives me a new band aid, and makes sure I don't get my sore infected. He is seriously just the bees-knees.

Well, this new blister came from my stupid new flats that I tried to break in. (Fck you, flats). And of course I recently ran out of bandaids and haven't been doing anything to actually take care of this blister. If David were here, then the blister probably would have healed by now. But today, I finally got down to business and bought myself alcohol swabs and new bandaids. I'm a Big Kid now! (PS DAVID after you read this, can you email me the name of that cream stuff you always use on my injuries after you use the alcohol swab? And possibly how to say it in spanish? THANK YOUUUU <3 )

Before I stray too far...the point is, I really miss my best friend. Not just because I have a really painful wound on my foot, either. I miss him when I see a beautiful person in the park. Or on the street. Or pretty much anywhere because, lets be real, this is Spain. I miss him when I see something that annoys me. Or when I am eating. When I am craving indian food. When I'm tired. Basically, all the time. This kid is literally the 2nd half of me. 

And I wanted to make this specific point on my blog, because I don't want my blog to just be flowers and rainbows like a My Little Pony episode (DESPITE the name of my blog...oops). Studying abroad is definitely one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life, but that doesn't mean it's always easy. This past week, I started to get a little homesick. Except for me, homesick namely ties itself to people more than locations. My family...my friends...and I just want people who are reading this, as well as myself, to know that it is okay to have these feelings. To not have every second of every minute of your travelling experience feel like you're taking shots of Felix Felicis (if you don't get that reference, get out. My blog has a special anti-spell for your kind. Oh and Alvin, *cyber-high-five* because I know you of all people appreciate this the most). It's okay to sometimes just feel ridiculously tired. After-all, we may want to, but we don't actually have golden livers of immortal oxes like we think we do. Unfortunately. So if you stay in one night, you aren't completely wasting your experience abroad. You can still be having a good time over-all. Everything is balance. After-all, there is a huge difference between taking a vacation abroad, and living abroad. 

Oh yeah remember that time you were a muddafuqqin PRINCE?! 
So, David, back to you (sorry I always make everything about me because I am a self-centered bitch! #sorryimnotsorrywhuttttt). Happy birthday. I wish I could celebrate with you or at least eat a disgusting amount of junk food with you. I don't think it is possible to internationally ship ice cream though...but I am sure your day will be fantastic, because you are so fantastic. I don't need to list all the reasons why I actually couldn't live life without you. Because if I did that then there would be a long line of other bitches wanting to get at you while I am gone and you know I just cannot have that. Recall the self-centered bitch thing? 

(Oh, but what the heck. Maybe I'll show you off just a teeny. Just to make them other chics jealous. Haaaaa!)

Thanks for being you. Thanks for all the memories. Thanks for all the tear inducing laughs. Thanks for hearing me cry. Thanks for crying with me. Thanks for blessing me with a friendship without fear.  Aside from family, there isn't anyone else I trust more to stay in my life, regardless of what happens in the future. That's something not many people can say they have, and to think I've had you since we were six. Thanks for accepting me. Thanks for listening to ALL my things. Thanks for those old days when we talked on the phone for hours. Thanks for still being my friend even though I was really rude and gave you back your zebra stuffed animal that one time (I hope you still have it...).  Thanks for still being my friend after that other rude time where we flushed your poem in the toilet. Thanks for being my horcrux. Thanks for cooking for me. And being good at it too. Thanks for teaching me how best to shop at 99 ranch market. Thanks for letting me borrow your pajamas. More importantly, thanks for being the same size as me, you stupid skinnyass 6pack bitchhoe! I hate you! Thanks for being muy guapo so I can tout you around like a super handsome best friend chihuahua that makes other girls jealous. Thanks for sitting next to me on our future oneway flight to Hell. Thanks for all the things in-between that only you and I understand. To the moon and back, you are my best best friend. 

Happy birthday <3

Since I started this post with something so ugly, I figured I should end it with something the opposite. As in, DAYUM lookit those FINEEEEEE specimens. No one is as attractive as us because we are the MOST attractive. Like, aaaaactually though...<3

Another Post About Death

Two days ago, a member of my host family passed away. I was in the kitchen grabbing a fruit, when my madre started talking to me about dinner plans. Mainly, whether or not I would mind eating late. Her speaking speed is very fast, but I distinctly heard the word muerte. It means death in spanish. 

Of course I insisted on eating out. I didn't want to make her have to cook dinner for me. I also didn't know what to say instead of "lo siento." Which, to me, sounds too childish and juvenile to encompass how truly sorry I feel. From what I gather, her cuñada, or, sister-in-law, was hospitalized randomly out of no where and then passed away shortly after. I cannot say from what, nor would I ask. I do think she was very young. While I have never met this person, I do know that my host mother has a heart of only gold. She does not deserve sadness. From the outside, she seems to be okay. She is still cooking all of our meals and going about her business. When she talked to me about the funeral that was held today, she spoke with a blunt but gentle tone. 

My program director said that, in times of tragedy, it is the Spanish custom to buy sweets and say "para endulcar tu tristesa" which can roughly be translated to: in order to sweeten the sadness.I love learning about other customs, and think that this practice is very interesting. I just wish I didn't have to learn about it this way.

I bought my host family a small gift and made this note. 

In my own words, RIP. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Important Things

I, being the technically savvy Steve Jobs protegee that I am, have added categories to my blog posts. Queu trumpets and confetti, por favor!

SO, if you are going through some sort of existential, midlife crises...or maybe you just found out your mom is a lesbian or are one infomercial away from running away to become a clown and/or nun? Or perhaps you've hit the lowest of the low and have become a vegan. I'm just throwing out all the possible reasons why you would be bored or scared or lost enough as a human being to want to read my blog. If any of those apply though, 1. I am sorry. And 2. now, if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you can navigate my blog based on places I've been or certain subjects. Certain subjects being food. At least it's not vegan though!

You're welcome.