OKTOBERFEST! Munich, Germany

Wow. What a weekend. This was my first trip to a new city in Europe! Before this trip, Spain had been the only place in Europe I had been. So clearly this was an exciting time for me. Immediately off the plane I was thrown into a city with a new language (German), and a new transportation system! I have determined that those are the two most important factors to adjust to when traveling to a new country. 

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a whole lot of Munich itself. It fact, we barely saw anything besides the streets between our hotel and the festival. The festival itself was amazing though. I have never seen so many people dressed up in lederhosen and dirndl’s. First things first, we had to buy our own. They are stupidly expensive and I’m planning on selling it when I get back home but it was worth it!

 

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Those are the outfits that we bought and wore! It was freezing in Munich around this time (October 4th-7th), but again, it was worth it. On Friday, we got to the festival too late to get into a tent so we wandered around instead, getting familiar with it and trying some of the authentic food! It was insane how drunk everyone was. I get that it was a beerfest but I really didn’t expect to see so many belligerent people! It was quite the sight. 

Okay, so my friend Lauren Frank who I have known forever from MI is also studying abroad in Madrid this semester. We had been trying to hang out for weeks but it never worked out. Low and behold I am walking around a festival with over 600,000 people and I physically BUMP into Lauren! I didn’t even know she was going that weekend. What are the chances?!

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Anyway, Friday was pretty lowkey. After checking out the festival we got some beers and walked around a park close to our hotel. One of our friends got food poisoning and all 7 of us were sharing a hotel room so that was interesting. Luckily the rest of us were okay.

Saturday was our day to go hard. We woke up at 7:00am, made it to the tent by 7:30. If you want to get into a good tent it is very important to go early and wait in line. We wanted to go to the Hofbrau tent (the tents are separated by different brands of beer). We chose this tent because we heard a lot of Americans go and it is one of the most young and rowdy tents! We met up with some other kids from LMU who are studying in Bonn, Germany and got in line for the tent. Two hours later, we were let in and RAN to a table to claim it! Once we got in we ordered steins. They were each as big as my head and cost 10 euros. It was some of the best beer I have EVER tasted in my life. However, it was extremelyyyy alcoholic. We didn’t quite realize this at first.

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Let’s just say after a couple of these (2 for me, 3 for the guys), we were good to go. I remember looking at the clock and it was only 10:40 but felt like it had been all day. We were done by 12, off to the hotel to pass out because we simply could nottttt hang. 
 
One of the highlights for sure was watching people chug. Occasionally, someone would stand up on a table with their stein, hold it up to the crowd and then proceed to chug the entire thing. If they didn’t finish it, the crowd would boo at them and throw food! So needless to say, you didn’t stand up there unless you were confident in your chugging abilities. I had the pleasure of watching three of my friends do it. I couldn’t believe it. 
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The crowd went absolutely WILD when they finished chugging. Drinking lots of beer leads to having to pee a lot. We learned after almost peeing our pants in line, to get in line 30 minutes before you will have to pee badly. It was scary witnessing how badly everyone had to pee that was in line. One girl took a leak under the sink and got thrown out by the security guards. It was quiteeee the sight. After exhausting the tent, we took a ride on the ferris wheel and enjoyed more of the food!
 
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I bought one of the steins hoping to bring it back to the states but unfortunately it broke 😦 Overall, Oktoberfest was so much fun but also so exhausting and so drunken. I was happy to get home to Madrid and recover for the next couple days!!
 
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^loved Auf Wiedersehen. It reminded me of my initials and then my last name!
Ta Ta for now.
 
xoxo,
Adrienne

REAL MADRID GAME!

The moment you’ve all been waiting for… okay, more like the moment I’ve been waiting for… I finally got to attend a European professional soccer game!! For those of you that don’t know, I spent lots of my days in high school waking up at 4:30am in order to watch the English Premier League or Champions League games live. I insisted they were better that way. My favorite team was always Manchester United, maybe because Christiano Ronaldo was my favorite player and he played for Man U. Although Christiano has moved on, my favorite team remains the same. Plus, he now plays for Real Madrid so I got the best of both worlds!!

We originally wanted to go to the game on James and Irwin’s birthday but it was against Atlectico Madrid which means it would be a bloody good match (as the Brits would say). That being said, the tickets were way beyond our budget. We decided instead, to attend a Wednesday night match against FC Copenhagen (a team from Denmark). We know there would be a good chance Real Madrid wins, but the tickets were cheaper and it would be all the more exciting for us!

Highlight by far: we bought FRONT row tickets. That’s right, up, close, and personal to Christiano Ronaldo himself as well as all the other players. Here are some pictures from the game!

That’s right… I took these photos from where I was sitting! My other highlight was making it on TV. I saw the camera guy filming me as I walked down the stairs to my seat and I waved and smiled. I looked away and then back and he was STILL on me! I didn’t think about the fact that I could potentially end up on TV, but low and behold I look up at the screen and there I was! Not only that, but I got back to my apartment and the doorman AND my host mom both said they saw me on TV from their homes! They said I am famous now 🙂
One of the greatest experiences thus far. I would love to go again.
xoxo,
Adrienne

Segovia Day Trip!

So that same weekend we went to Toledo on Saturday, we went to Segovia on Sunday! Segovia is an hour North of Madrid and is similar to Toledo in that it is a smaller town with much more beautiful architecture and touristy things to see. My group mostly agreed that Toledo was a better experience because there was more to see and we just had an all around better day there. That being said, we also agreed that out of the fewer things to see in Segovia, they were actually more beautiful. There were three main things to see in Segovia.

1) The Aquaduct. Holy hell. This was the most amazing structure I have probably ever seen in my life (though this opinion may change over the course of my semester abroad…) 

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Sorry for the excessive photos, I just can’t get over how pretty it was. It was originally build with no cement foundation and no substance holding the stones together. Just gravity and something to do with physics (that I don’t remember the name of). 

I had about 5 heart attacks during this trip because the boys kept wanting to climb to sketchy places to get photos and me being the mama bear / worry wart that I am kept getting scared that someone would fall or something terrible would happen. I yelled at them every time. 

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Alright, this one was fake. He would have been fine dropping the 5 or 6 feet down 🙂 

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2) The Cathedral. This out does any other cathedral I’ve seen in Spain this far, even the one in Toledo. What is with Spain and beautiful churches? I don’t know what this one was called but the weather was perfect and I caught some great pictures of it. On the way back we even caught it with the sun setting and the lighting was perfect.

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One more picture of the boys terrifying me… below this was about 100 foot drop. Everyone kept coming up to us telling us how dangerous it was for them to sit there eating their sandwiches. Believe me, I knew.

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3) The Castle. I didn’t get the best photos from the outside of it because I would have had to be far away from it to capture its’ full beauty. Please google Castle in Segovia though and you will know what I’m talking about. We paid to enter it and even got to climb to the highest tower! 

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Well, that’s pretty much all for Segovia. These two day trips were definitely worth going on. It’s always nice to learn more about the country that I’m living in and to see how cities differ from each other. Next, I’ll update you on my weekend to Valencia, the Real Madrid game and Oktoberfest!

 

Miss you guys xoxo,

Adrienne

 

Toledo Day Trip!

Hola Amigos! I would write more in Spanish but let’s be honest, it would take too much brain power after all those midterms, and you probably wouldn’t understand it anyway. I have decided that it is smarter to post shorter recaps more frequently versus longer ones every now and then. I never find the time to put together all my big posts and I want you guys to hear about stuff as it happens!

One weekend we made a day trip to Toledo, an amazingly beautiful, small city just one hour South of Madrid. Our friend from LMU who is currently studying in Jerusalem joined us on the trip as well. We already have a great group but it was nice having him along for the ride!

When we arrived, we immediately saw older looking buildings with magnificent architecture (something that is present but rarer in the city of Madrid).  Image

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Toledo is small in comparison to Madrid, but it had a lot of ground to cover. We weaved in and out of small alleys, up and down various streets, up hills, and saw some of the prettiest views I’ve seen in a long time. This was my favorite….
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Maybe I should take up photography. (Just kidding…) Although it is super nice having my new camera with me at all times. I’ve captured more than I ever would have with my iPhone and I will be really thankful to have these hundreds of photos later on. 
 
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We always find the best Kodak moments as well. Here is Adam (our friend studying in Jerusalem) and Sean posing creatively…
 
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When we first arrived, we went into this hole in the wall cafe and it turned out to have the best paella we have eaten thus far. It was relatively cheap for seafood paella and well needed after a long bus ride early in the morning. 
 
One of the coolest buildings we saw was an old cathedral in the center of Toledo. We couldn’t go in but we took photos outside of it instead. 
 
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After walking around for hours, we decided to get some lunch and 2 bottles of wine and find the perfect spot to eat it. Low and behold we walked around a corner to find the perfect cement ledge overlooking a river and never-ending hills. It could not have been a more perfect spot.
 
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^ Our view from lunch. Incredible, right? This also ended up being the perfect spot to take “sigma chi flag pictures”. Sigma Chi is the fraternity that the boys on our trip are in and they take the flag everywhere, hoping to find the best views so they can take a picture with it there. Us girls decided to give it a try first 😉 
 
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Then the boys gave it a go.
 
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Which one’s better? If you say theirs, its okay because I at least took the photo.
 
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Not a bad view, eh?
 
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Or this one? The good news about Toledo is that there were SO many beautiful views. The bad news being that finding all these spots required making treks up HUGE hills in the boiling heat. So let’s just say I was a sweaty mess when it was all said and done. Definitely worth it.
 
Here’s a group photo! If you have any questions about Toledo, let me know. Definitely recommend it for a day trip to anyone going to Spain 🙂 
 
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xoxo,
Adrienne
 

First couple weeks in Madrid!

Hi everyone, sorry that it’s been a while since I’ve caught you up on my Spanish conquest! I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a month. Time is truly flying by (as I knew it would) and I am doing my best to soak up every last second of it. I have been doing a lot this past month, but starting this weekend I really begin my travels all around Europe!  It’s weird to think that I’m pretty much 100% used to living in Madrid. Now when I go out of town, I am relieved to return back to Madrid as it is a familiar place and my temporary “home”.

Things I LOVE(d):

1. The Cerveceria – there is a chain of cervecerias called 100 Montaditos that we have come to find is extremely popular all over Spain. There is one in between our apartment and school and we go there quite often. On Wednesdays and Sundays, everything on the menu is only 1 euro. It has 100 different kinds of bocadillas (mini sandwhiches) and really cheap but really good beer. We often get tapas here or grab a casual beer before going out. Me drinking beer? I know, it’s weird. Must be a Spain thing. Image

2. Soccer – Something I was really worried about before coming to Spain was how often I would be able to exercise and where/what I would do. Lucky for me, my university provides lots of fun workout classes and pickup games, my favorite being soccer every Sunday from 2-4! I thought I would be terrible the first time because it’s been so long since I’ve played but that wasn’t the case. As the only girl showing up to what was supposed to be a coed pickup game, I managed to score two goals and assist one. The only bad news about the timing of these games is that I will be gone lots of weekends coming up. Still though, knowing there is a soccer field 10 mins walking away is really nice!

3. Night life – I’m sure you all are wondering how the night life is. It’s insane it what it is. Going out at midnight, staying out until 7am… it’s a crazy lifestyle! There are two huge night clubs Joy and Kapital that are quite famous in Madrid. They are both HUGE with giant dance floors and loud music. It’s a fun environment and activity however It’s so intense that I must keep it to minimum of maybe once every two weeks. When we aren’t at a club, we often hit up local bars, some with dancing others with soccer games on TV, etc.  Also, I may have already mentioned this but there is an AMAZING pizza place in Sol (where all the bars and clubs are) that we go to almost every night after being out. I’ve made friends with one of the workers and every time I come in he yells “Hola Adriana!” allows me to cut the entire line and usually gives me free pizza. Then he proceeds to make a comment about how much my friends and I eat and we talk about our days (in Spanish of course). I love it.

4. Retiro Park – By far the most beautiful park I have seen in my life. Sorry, Central Park, you just aren’t quite there. Imagine that but bigger and more beautiful with some of the prettiest and most interesting architecture you’ve ever seen. Not to mention the little lake in the middle of it. I spent almost two full days roaming around the park as one was simply not enough! The first day, we walked the streets surrounding the park and ate at a bomb restaurant where I had amazing chicken curry.

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Then we walked through the park and saw the Palacio de Cristal! It was breathtakingly beautiful. Image

After that, we walked through a contemporary art museum in the park. To my surprise, it had some really cool stuff!

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On day 2 at Retiro, we got a bottle of wine, rented a paddle boat, and paddled in the lake for an hour. It was beautiful and relaxing! Here James doing all the work while I sat back and relaxed…

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And a view of this really cool thing…

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That day we also attempted to visit Museo del Prado but it was closed. We did see really cool buildings, walked into an old church, and witnessed a big (apparently famous) bike race where people from all over the world were gathered to watch.

5. FOUND PEANUT BUTTER!!!

One of the things I had been craving was typical American food. All they eat here are tapas, bread, more bread, carbs, potatos, bread, and like maybe one slice of meat with it all. I’m constantly craving fresh ingredients, protein, and even sugar as I walk so much and don’t get a lot of fuel. One day while wandering in a grocery store I came across a jar of peanut butter. It literally made me so happy, I bought bread and jam and must have made 3 PB&J’s right there. Fun fact. It was delicious.

Things that were funny and/or weird:

1. Bought a 2″ hair straightener…

I was in desperate need of a hair straightener so I went to a common department store called El Corte Ingles. I got the cheapest one, only 13 euros. The box looked normal sized and the picture was most definitely of a hair straightener, so took it home. When I got home I opened the box to literally find a 2″ hair iron, one that could fit in the palm of my hand. Are you kidding?! Low and behold on the back of the box it said “his and hers” meaning it was nothing more than a bangs straightener (or something weird.) As IF that would work on my mane of hair.

2. I look Serbian

I’m not kidding when I say that on three completely separate occasions, three complete strangers have approached me and directly asked if I was Serbian. They swear I look soooo Serbian. I thought that was interesting because I’ve never heard that and don’t remotely know what Serbians look like. It made me happy though! Looking exotic is a good thing, right?

3. Two of my roommates switched to kitchen privileges…

…meaning I awkwardly eat alone. Well actually it’s me and our 4th roommate “The Russian” as we call her since she doesn’t speak English or Spanish and we really don’t even know how to pronounce her name. Makes for interesting table “conversations” filled with gesturing, awkward nodding, and laughing. When all fails and the language barrier brings you down, giggle. That’s what I’ve learned thus far.

Moral of the story, Madrid has been treating me more than well so far. I’ve gone on two day trips to Toledo and Segovia and one weekend trip to Valencia since I’ve gotten here but I will talk about those in my next post. Don’t wanna overwhelm you!

For now, I love you all and miss you all. This week I am sitting FRONT ROW at a Real Madrid soccer game and then I am off to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest!

Oh, and here’s a pretty picture of flowers that I took with my new camera.Image

xoxo, Adrienne

Bienvenidos a Madrid!

Hola amigos!

Sorry it has been a while since I’ve been here and yet I haven’t posted. Life has been crazy so far and I hadn’t gotten the chance to keep you all updated! I arrived safely in Madrid after two long (but easy) flights. Immediately upon exiting the airplane, I was already forced to test my knowledge of the Spanish language. Simply hailing down a taxi and telling the driver where to go was a challenge. Quickly however, my brain switched to Spanish mode and I remembered the key phrases and words necessary to converse with locals. When we arrived at my host family’s apartment, we were shocked at how small the elevator, front door, and entry way were. Everything seemed miniature! That being said, getting our hefty suitcases into our room in the back of the apartment was a struggle and a half (we’re girls, you can imagine how much we brought).

Here’s outside our apartment…

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Our host mom greeted us at the door as did the smell of fish (that hasn’t seemed to go away), and lots of kisses and hugs were exchanged. Our host mom’s name is Mercedes and she may be the sweetest, cutest little woman I have ever seen. Besides my Grandma of course. I was reminded once again how much I suck at Spanish and it was a struggle to say anything more than “si!” or “gracias” to her. Mercedes has a daughter, Marta, who is about 30 and does most of the cooking and caretaking.

We settled into our room, unpacked, and were eager to explore. My roommate Sophia and I decided to explore. We got lost right off the bat of course, and met some interesting people on the way…Image

Sophia and I were shocked at the number of times we got asked to take a picture WITH someone. Do we really stick out as Americans that much?! Must have been the huge Canon DSLR strapped around my neck that gave it away.

Anyway, after much walking, we returned to our house to eat dinner. Dinners usually consist of a protein and some kind of salad or side. No sauces or dressings are used which is weird to me but also seems a lot healthier. That along with the amount we seem to be walking has made for a very healthy, and very sore legged, lifestyle.

In the next couple of days, we had explored the area. We found our campus (a 35 minute walk from home), and a giant sports park right in between. This excited me because there is a huge track, soccer fields, tennis courts, a driving range, and much more. I was delighted to see that working out wouldn’t be as big of a struggle as I may have thought.

We met up with our other group members from LMU on orientation day and attended our first couple days of classes. The classes here are not as much of a joke as other abroad programs, seeing as this is a permanent 4-year campus for some students. My classes are interesting and my professors are really good. I only have one American professor… then 1 British, 1 Irish, and 2 Spanish, all with thick accents. Que interesante!

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I’ve been walking everywhere. My friends and I still haven’t perfectly mastered the metro system, but we will. It costs 1.5 euros each way too which is expensive so we are looking into getting a monthly pass. I am already sick of walking to and from school every day. Our house is not in the most convenient location, but oh well. We can easily take the metro to Puerta del Sol which is the city center in Madrid. It is way less residential and the architecture is stunning. It’s fun to get drinks and tapas there or simply shop around.

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As for my Spanish, in just 10 days it has rapidly improved. On the second day of dinner with my host fam, I was already speaking full sentences rather than jibberish. The only thing stopping me from speaking Spanish 24/7 is that my classes are in English and most of the students at my university are American (or English speaking). Two of my friends, Sean and Irwin, are pretty much fluent though and so we help each other practice Spanish and improve.

In terms of nightlife here, it’s never dead. Despite this, store seem to open and close at the oddest times and I’m still getting used to that as well. The weekend starts on Wednesday or Thursday night and we stay up until 7 or 8 in the morning. It’s a weird lifestyle. I’m used to sleeping in, but not until 2:45pm. I’ll have to get used to that. We went to Kapital last weekend, one of the coolest night clubs in Madrid. It was insane.

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I can’t wait to tell you more about what goes on. Today we are going to try to plan our European adventures for the rest of the semester! I have class now so I’m gonna go, but I’ll keep you posted.

Hasta manana familia, te amo!

Adrienne