Missed Quotes and Stories

Some quotes and smaller group stories from the trip.

  • “‘Look at the gazelle!’ ‘Gazelle? Did you name it?'”
  • “Worst case or worst case…”
  • “At the minute…”

Pick up lines we learned

  • “Estas como un queso”-“You are like a cheese”
  • “Estas como un tren”- “You are like a train”
  • “Nena”-Baby

We didn’t totally understand these pick up lines and I don’t think anyone tried one so we weren’t able to find their effectiveness.

Other stories and scares.

  • At one point last week, a few days before my story was due, I received a call from my teacher’s phone. I was a little confused at first as the person sounded nothing like my teacher but believed it to be her. She let me know that my story would not work as is and I would have to instead focus on all renewable energies instead of just wind power. Then she said that this extensive new paper would be due tomorrow by noon. This is where I became even more suspicious as the voice sounded as it belonged to Gina Garcia, the group’s resident prankster. Sure enough it was all her. I had been successfully, at least for a little bit, pranked.
  • Our spirit animal guide Emily picked out some member’s spirit animals and made a post about it. Seeing as I got a sloth, one of my favorite animals, I can’t really complain. http://emilypollak.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/in-other-news/
  • There has also been a lot of food exploration in our group as some who do not enjoy sea food have found it present at almost every meal. I even tried anchovies on a tapa and was scared because it wasn’t that bad. It brought back memories of my old kindergarten teacher who would eat saltines and anchovies every day.

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Differences I’ve Noticed on the Trip

  • While Madrid is faster paced than Salamanca and not as many people take siestas, there is still a period from around 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. where finding open businesses, except for restaurants, can be a chore.
  • Spanish people can sniff out tourists. While I’m sure I would be able to notice some tourists in the States if they were holding up maps or other touristy things, Spanish people know just walking down the street if I am a tourist.
  • Beer doesn’t seem to have the same stigmas attached to it. As in any time of the day you can see people drinking it. One restaurant I walk by everyday offers a breakfast sandwich with beer, and it seems to be a best seller. One other difference is when you order one in a restaurant there is normally only one type of beer on tap, Mahou, which is what you will get unless you specify you want a bottled selection such as Heineken.
  • There are crazy drivers. Even if the walk signal is still green if it is getting close to turning than some drivers will honk to get you to walk faster.
  • “Tapas culture”- restaurants will give out free small sandwiches with a drink as some type of appetizer. While recently they have started to charge for these there are still tapas restaurants such as “El Tigre” and “Tapas 44” which give out plates with various tapas on them when you order a beer or sangria. They are delicious.
  • As mentioned before soccer is a religion here and the uproar will soon be heard more clearly as the World Cup kicks off (see what I did there?) this week and Spain’s first match is Friday against the Netherlands. .
  • Hopefully on my trip through the rest of Europe, if it happens, I will be able to see even more differences between Europe and the States.

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Closing Time

LAST DAY FOR THE GROUP! Only four students will be staying in Spain longer than dialogue was originally scheduled. After a farewell dinner most of the group will make the early morning  trek to the Madrid airport to catch a ride back to the States. Unfortunately for the rest of us everyone seems to have different ideas and ways of travel for the rest of their trip. I will be meeting up with my brother as he flies into Madrid late Tuesday and then we will have to struggle with what we will do in limited time in such a huge continent. While talking with my Mom and Dad they brought up the idea of visiting my cousin and her husband in London which sounds like a great idea as long as the travel fees aren’t too much. But who knows what will possibly happen. I also hope to meet up later with at least one of my travel mates at some exotic place in Europe. One girl is backpacking through Europe, visiting Prague, Brussels, Berlin and Amsterdam, so visiting at least one of this places would be nice. Before I leave there is some cleaning that must be done. Dishes pile up in our sink very quickly and it would not be kind to leave them all for my Spanish roommates. Then there comes the laundry. I am on my last pair of clean socks and shorts and have no idea where a laundromat is so a wash today is a must. While my Spanish has progressed I do not believe I will be able to manage my way through a haircut as my hair has grown very long and curly, not my favorite look.  I also have some blisters on my feet from walking around in my shoes which now feel a little tight so I plan on buying a cheap pair of loafers. This is just one of the extra costs of Madrid. One of the parts of Salamanca I miss the most, and after our talk today it seems like a group wide sentiment, were the home cooked meals provided by our host families. Shopping and, when I don’t feel like cooking myself, going out for food have raised the amount of money I spend a lot. Also being in Madrid, a much more expensive city than Salamanca, has not helped. I feel bad complaining about being in such an amazing city and country so I will stop here.

The past five weeks have been such an experience and again I can not thank everyone single member of my group for making it so special. I wish everyone a safe trip home or around Europe and good luck with everything in life.

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The Home Stretch

I know that my final paper will bring an end to my travel in Spain in the year 2014 but I can’t wait for it. Before my rant I want to give a thanks to all that have helped my papers throughout the last five weeks, WHAT IT’S BEEN FIVE WEEKS? Yes it has, Carlene, Dylan, Geoff, Maria and others in our group have helped my papers so much that my name has appeared in the Boston Globe. This group has given me so many tips and hints that I feel my writing has improved on an exponential level. While I had my last piece about the soccer game published awhile ago my final piece about wind power in Spain has taken an absurd amount of work. Maybe absurd is not the best word as others in my group have slaved over their pieces and I have lucked into some easy, albeit interesting, stories. This last story though contains delays, complaints and even murder…alright no murder but it was still tough. A non-company related organization in Spain, the Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE), which is in charge of promoting wind power throughout Spain was changing offices while I tried to contact them five days of the week. Pictures and interviews became almost impossible as I tried to track them down for an official comment. With my passport and a little bit of stretching the truth, “I’ve written stories for the Boston Globe”, I was able to get upstairs and talk with the some very kind people. They felt bad about not receiving my messages but I let them know that I was just glad it worked out.

Another struggle I had was trying to get pictures of a wind farm for my paper. At first our photographer Maria and I were going to go to a wind farm close to Madrid, we weren’t quite sure how we would get there but it turned out it didn’t matter. I used a map of wind farms in Spain on a wind power website to find close farms and the companies that run them. The first company I called said that the map was wrong and the wind farm was closer to France than Madrid. First letdown. Then the second company would not allow us to visit, guess we weren’t famous enough. Second letdown. Then I visited the AEE for a second time to try and find some models or pictures but only ended up giving them my e-mail for them to send me pictures. I have bad handwriting so I believe that and my long name contributed to not receiving any of the pictures. Third letdown. But all is well I have almost completed the piece and just in the nick of time.

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Trip to a News Station

Today our group made our way to the western outskirts of Madrid to visit Radiotelevisión Española (RTVE), Spain’s national public broadcasting service. This service is comparable to NPR in the States in that it is funded by the government and it provides some of the best reporting in the country. The trip was SUPPOSED to start at 10:45 a.m. but about half of our group of hooligans was held up when a train was stuck in the station for about half an hour. Non-deterred we made our way to the station. As is tradition in Spain we had to pass through tight security to get in and the guard made sure to warn us that pictures are not allowed. This is a common occurrence when we go out to special buildings. I would understand if it were an art museum where flash may damage the paintings but this also happened in most of the rooms in the Senate building and now at some places around the studio. While not the biggest deal in the world it’s a little bit of bummer to not be able to visually document some very interesting places we visit.

The tour started in the radio section of the company and we were able to view one of the most popular shows in Spain according to our guide Arturo. One of my favorite parts of the trip was after viewing the radio segment Arturo seemed giddy with excitement and explained that he often listens to the show on his drive and that it was nice “…to put names to faces”. There was also celebration in the recording room as the clock struck 12 as the anchors had been talking since 6 a.m.. From there we moved through several different types of radio recordings: sports, weather and music. It was awesome to see how much attention and time is being devoted for every radio show. Then on our walk, which was quickly turning into a quest as the size of RTVE started to dawn on us, we made our way to the TV studios. In the first door were two different show sets, one the Spanish equivalent of E News dealing mainly in celebrity gossip and one which our guide compared to Shark Tank in that inventors pitch their ideas to a board to try and receive funding. I don’t know why, my theory is that the beating hot sun sapped some energy from me, but around this part of the trip I began to feel very tired even as we walked onto more sets of some of the biggest shows in Spain. The largest one we walked on was actually being filmed while we were there and it was a news show that I have seen on TV’s throughout restaurants in both Madrid and Salamanca. The show is one of the most watched news programs in Spain and according to Arturo we were just minutes away from seeing a very famous chef make a quick dish for viewers to follow a la Rachel Ray. Even though the quest had sufficiently tired me out it was one of my favorite visits for it allowed a deeper look into broadcast journalism and I can say saw some pretty famous people in action.

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Family Time

On Sunday I made the first call home E.T. style. Unfortunately my Ma was not home but in a surprise twist my middle brother Jordan had made the trek home from Colorado where he’s been for the past six months or so with his girlfriend. We were able to talk over the phone which has not happened since late April before I left for Spain. He filled me in on his travels and plans to return to Burlington, VT to work at Shelburne Farms as a waiter. The rest of the conversation was filled with jibes at each other and sports talk. Fairly common talk for us. He was then lucking able to wave down my dad who was most likely on a tractor (he’s a farmer). I mainly filled him in on how my time in Spain has been going, though we do e-mail frequently, and talked about I hope they can get all the hay in for the summer before I get back. Which reminds me of a picture I’ve been meaning to post.

They even do it out here!

They even do it out here!

Seeing these sent shivers down my spine. Haying is one of the worst jobs because the only days it can be done are the hottest and it entails throwing 30 or so pound haybales onto a truck and then stacking them so they won’t fall off. Then unloading those bales in barns in a neat fashion. And the chaff. The chaff that it everywhere; in your nose, eyes, shoes and sticking to the sweat covering your body. In summary I’m not jealous of my brother and other workers on the farm.

I will probably call back today to talk with my mom and let them know that I finally tracked down my brother who is stationed in Germany. He plans on flying into Madrid on the 10th, when most of our dialogue flies home, and then figuring out what we are going to do for the 9 days we are going to spend together. It should be a fun bro-deo.

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El Escorial/ Senate Building

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June 4, 2014 · 2:14 pm

Long Weekend

Sorry for the break between posts here’s one for the weekend.

On Friday it was one of my roommate’s birthdays and he planned on having some kids over. During the day Friday I scrambled to finish up interviews for my third story on wind power in Spain so that I may be able to fully experience Madrid. While I again struggled to find a anecdote that will fit my story I was able to talk to enough knowledgeable people that I called it a day and prepared for my first Spanish  birthday party. Starting at eight people from destinations all over the globe started to pour into our small apartment to celebrate. I met several new people including girls from the United States who were also studying abroad. I also learned some Spanish birthday traditions that were different than those of the United States. Not many people bought gifts for the birthday celebrator with the few exceptions being champagne, food and of course a birthday cake. The celebrator is the first to take a bite from the cake, normally without utensils. Also there was no happy birthday song instead everyone showered “Feliz Cumpleanos” upon the celebrator.  With the celebration picnic for our teacher’s daughter’s birthday still fresh in my mind it was definitely interesting to see how the birthday parties differed.

After our excursion( pics later) on Saturday I spent the afternoon trying to figure out if I will have a home in Boston next semester and some minor cleaning of the apartment. Then our group set about planning our trip to one of the most famous buildings in Madrid. Kapital is one of the biggest disco-techs in Madrid with a whopping seven floors of bars, restaurants and dance floors. It opens at midnight, a huge difference from the bars in the United States , and stays open until six a.m. We got there much earlier than everyone else and were able to scope out this amazing place. The first floor was a huge stage with a general admission dance floor in front of it and booths you could reserve surrounding the floor. Above the floor there was open space six stories high with all sorts of laser and fog technology. My favorite floor in the building though was the fifth where  the dance floor surrounded by three bars looked down over the entire club. It was also a special night for the club because they were celebrating the 19th anniversary of their opening so the place was packed by 2 and the music was tremendous. My favorite part of the night though was a man who  had one of the weirdest contraptions I have ever seen on him. I’m still not sure how it worked but he had six electronic tablets on him that produced different sounds when he tapped them. He was amazing at this and played some of the best music of the night.

Annnddddddd Sunday was a recovery day.

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Toledo and Sunsets

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May 28, 2014 · 4:05 pm

Photos from the UEFA Championship

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May 28, 2014 · 2:59 pm