Thursday, 30 December 2010

Goodbye 2010.

The more I think about this year, the better it has been!
Many ups & plenty of downs, but all in all a very special one. I could probably go through every month and find one very good thing and something to be happy about (I won't). But from one student house & meeting some great friends, to mine and my close friends 21st, to visiting my dad & step mum in their new house in Turkey, passing my 2nd year of Uni and finally moving to Spain and starting a part of my life I've only ever dreamt of, it all really has been great.

The most important part has been the company throughout this year, without a doubt that has probably been what has made it. There are always a few that leave your life but the best always stay and more will eventually join, and for that I am very grateful! My family, friends & boyfriend have all been wonderful and I love them all for putting up with me for so long (especially through the pre-Spain stress!) So Thank You All for being amazing.

All I hope for 2011 is that it keeps bringing me all the adventures, all the excitement & all the loveliness that has been with me through this one. Which, really all comes down to me. 'Life is what you make it,' after all .. So here's to another great year :) keep happy & smiling & have a great New Years Eve!

Sam xx
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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas. ClickClick!

It seems Christmas came and went in a flash.

Its strange to type this knowing that it is now all over! Already!
I guess the travelling and a not-very-festive Estepa didn't make me realise just how soon Christmas was when I got back. I had a couple of days catching up with everyone and reassuring my brain that I actually do understand the English language, stopping myself from speaking Spanish and getting my hair done (it was almost criminal what was going on on my head), then before you know it; its Christmas!



I spent Christmas morning with my boyfriend, his family and my dog for Christmas breakfast (let the mountain of food eaten that day commence) present opening and trying to stop my dog from eating their cat. Then, back to mine for Christmas dinner, more present opening and film watching.
It was a great day and I was lucky enough to receive a Canon EOS 550D (something I have always, always wanted!) plus all the gadgets to go with it & a Tamron Macro Lens! Yippee!


I'm now a week and a half into being back in Leeds & I've loved it all and its not even New Years Eve yet (something else to look forward to.)

Estepa has some living up to do.
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Christmas. ClickClick!

It seems Christmas came and went in a flash.

Its strange to type this knowing that it is now all over! Already!
I guess the travelling and a not-very-festive Estepa didn't make me realise just how soon Christmas was when I got back. I had a couple of days catching up with everyone and reassuring my brain that I actually do understand the English language, stopping myself from speaking Spanish and getting my hair done (it was almost criminal what was going on on my head), then before you know it; its Christmas!



I spent Christmas morning with my boyfriend, his family and my dog for Christmas breakfast (let the mountain of food eaten that day commence) present opening and trying to stop my dog from eating their cat. Then, back to mine for Christmas dinner, more present opening and film watching.
It was a great day and I was lucky enough to receive a Canon EOS 550D (something I have always, always wanted!) plus all the gadgets to go with it & a Tamron Macro Lens! Yippee!


I'm now a week and a half into being back in Leeds & I've loved it all and its not even New Years Eve yet (something else to look forward to.)

Estepa has some living up to do.
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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Home time!


My original Christmas plan was to fly home on the 23rd December... Thanks to the snow (and the only time I will like snow interfering with my flights) that is meant to hit England next week means I have had to change my flight to THIS Saturday!! Yaaayy..!

My 2 weeks at home has changed to 3 and I am super excited. Especially after coming across last years Christmas photos, now I really can't wait. 
I'm packing my suitcase tomorrow & heading to the airport Saturday morning!

Blog you from the other side! x




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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Estepa & the Chocolate Factory.

I live a town most famous for exporting & selling Mantecados & Polvorones in the whole of Spain.

Mantecados being; rich, crumbly cakes that come in different flavours and are in brightly coloured wrappers. Did I mention they are made of pork fat? Mm. Well yes, not exactly the vegetarians choice. But they are weirdly very tasty and melt in your mouth. Usually flavoured with cinnamon. (which, from October the air in Estepa has smelt exactly like that.)

Polvorones are cakes without the bake. They are made from butter, sugar, milk, almonds and flour and are compressed into powdery little sweets. More like biscuits.
Also very good.

In Estepa the main Avenida is almost back to back with factories, 'despachos' - shops, and the smell of things being baked. They didn't open until October, but now they are full of Christmas decorations and Spanish people buying them by the box full for their houses.

Today we went on a mini crawl of all these lovely shops (and a factory of where they are made, pretty impressive), in which you get to try before you buy, so its safe to say I'm pretty full of cake at the moment.
In fact, the first thing anyone said to me when I came here was, 'This is the town of Mantecados, at Christmas time; everyone gets fat.' 


I can now see why.



















- BlogPress from my iPhone
Location:Estepa
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Claro.

Right?

Wrong.

I just liked the picture. Maybe one of these days I can say that, (haha.. who am I kidding?) or maybe say it right in the face of any Spanish professors that ever doubted me.

Anyway, when it comes down to it, I am actually really very proud of myself for these first 3 months in southern Spain. Without getting too 'deep' on everyone, I feel like I've developed as a person, my self-confidence has grown and my public speaking / in front of classes is evident, as I think it was pretty much non-existent when I came here, even things down to my general sense of direction (anyone who knows me knows I could get lost in a corner) have improved. So everything is changing for the better.

Now, its coming to the end of the first third (Jesus, where is time going?) of my Year Abroad and the more I think about how much I've learnt here, the happier I feel. Really, I know I'm nowhere near the end result I would like/hope to achieve by May, but from what I came with; I know within myself I've improved.
My listening skills if anything have gone through the roof and I still sometimes surprise myself when I realise halfway through 30 minutes of a conversation that I'm sat understanding a good majority of what is going on.

Speaking, on the other hand ..

Pft... There are good days, there are bad days. Grammar is my downfall, I've always known that, it's trying to fix it that is difficult. But, like all good things I'm hoping it will work with time & eventually I'll get there.

When I think back to September, I know I can say a lot more things now (guess there would be something going wrong if I couldn't!) than when I arrived. Also, its almost as if everything I've ever learnt at uni has left my brain & I'm starting from scratch, because now I'm actually learning 'general conversation' rather than, 'The ice caps are melting, what's your opinion on this?!' I now know how to converse, ask more questions, use better tenses, rather than staring blankly at people if they asked me anything.

So for now a little improvement is good enough for me. I have my goal & I'll get there. Just got to keep on keeping on and fingers crossed I'll be talking like a good 'un by the time I leave!
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Friday, 10 December 2010

Funny, how these things work.

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Because sometimes it's good to treat yourself..

Over,

And over,





And over again !
Ah, I love Seville. And it's food.

I sometimes feel like I have to prove to myself that I can do things, this was one of these days.
I travelled to Seville for 2 hours on my own, I shopped, I spent too much, then I got hungry. So I went to a very fancy looking restaurant on the corner of the main shopping street. Its always busy & the food smells great.

In I went, with about 6 bags of shopping, which the guy placed on a chair beside me. I asked (in Spanish, clearly) "What is the best thing to eat here?" - I loved saying that, and will use it a lot more in the future. I got a surprised look, then he shouted to the chef, which was then followed by an amazing ensaladilla rusa, the best I have eaten in Spain and a tapa of gazpacho with jamon & eggs on top. They were amazing.

I then noticed dessert. At least 15 different desserts, all handmade, all different sizes, colours. Eclairs, cakes, pastries... So I thought with my gut & asked the woman "Which is your favourite?" - I ended up with that great looking little pudding above. A layer of cake, cream, whole strawberries, a layer of 'tocinillo de cielo' - egg yolk & sugar, and more cake.. It was so good.

All washed down with tinto con limon - red wine & lemon, water & green tea to finish.

Happy stomach.

Now I just need to get myself down to that gym...


- BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Sevilla
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Thursday, 9 December 2010

I take it all back.



See this post, at the bottom.. The musician I met claimed he was famous. I doubted it. He just seemed like he was some crazy guy from the street, possibly cracked up.

I'm now finding them all over YouTube and possibly one of these days they could make it.

I'm copying the album to my iTunes now & loving that I have a signed original! Its in scruffy Portuguese writing, but my name & date's on it .. Definitely an irreplaceable souvenir.

Guents dy Rincon.
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El Día Contra la Violencia de Genero.



On the 25th November my school put on this play. It is a performance in support of the International day against domestic violence.


The drums are played by students & when the song starts & a girl sings (around 4mins 40), that is one of the students too, I got goosebumps. I also loved the ending, that definitely made me smile. They are such great kids and the message it portrays is really great. 


It was put together by our Bilingual co-ordinator Ana Muñoz. 


Enjoy! :)
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Wednesday, 8 December 2010




Massive Attack - Protection.


And you can't change the way she feels
But you could put your arms around her


[...]


You're a boy and i'm a girl
But you know you can lean on me
And I don't have no fear
I'll take on any man here
Who says that's not the way it should be

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection



Love this song so much.
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Lisboa, Rain & Caipirinhas.

The 3rd - 8th December, for some wonderful reason, was an extra long 'puente,' - meaning bridge in Spanish and basically like a Bank Holiday. So for the 6 days from Friday morning to today, Wednesday morning, we (Nick, Danica, Rachel, Mike & Christy) decided to plan a trip to Portugal, seeing as we're 'close.'



'Close' maybe only by looking at a map...

On Friday morning we had a 9 hour trip ahead of us. One bus into Seville, at 10am taking 2 hours. A coach from Seville to Lisbon at 2pm, taking 7 hours. Fair to say we were glad to get off and use our legs after so long.

We checked in at Hostel Shiado right in the centre of Lisbon. Honestly, it was an amazing hostel and easily the best I have ever stayed in so far. For the location, the price didn't need to be so cheap and the service didn't need to be as great, but it was. The staff were really friendly & spoke multiple languages, always helps when you don't know any Portuguese at all, the breakfast (muesli, cornflakes, good bread, croissants, fresh orange juice, tea/coffee & an apple) was always fresh, tasty & plenty of it! The rooms were modern and clean, the bathrooms too. Which I've got to admit is the first time I've ever used a hostel bathroom (shower), usually they look like you might catch more things while you're trying to clean yourself than is worthwhile. Oh, and there was heating in the bedrooms! After being in a flat for three months without any heating, that feels like you're somewhere in the Antarctic, this was a great bonus.

Lisboa Centre.

Monastery Lisboa

The first day we explored a lot of Lisboa. Not sure I've ever done so much walking. We saw the Monastery, Castelo d. Sao Jorge, ate in a tiny but great café, walked around Lisbon at night, which was lovely because of all the Christmas lights and then later had some typical Portuguese food.. Although I'm still not exactly sure what I ordered.
Portuguese soups & beers.
Café.
My favourite part of Lisbon was the tram that runs through most of the city centre. They are tiny, yellow & white, the insides look like something from the 1950s and you pay 1.50 euro to just ride around wherever you want. They were cramped and slightly smelly, it was a bumpy ride but very fun and a great way to see some sights.



Me & Christy on the tram.


One thing I noticed, is that Portugal has a very 'old,' feeling to it. You can tell by the many multi-coloured buildings that the majority have seen better days. Also (probably just because of the weather; rain and icy cold!) for a lot of the time, I felt like I should be in Russia or Poland. The Portuguese language is very unusual sounding, to me anyway. It has a lot of similar sounds to Russian, but with Spanish / Italian accents. I kept expecting someone in a big furry hat and long trench coat to come over and say 'zdrastvweetye.' I did love being somewhere I didn't understand the language though, in a way is was a nice break from Spain and not having to focus on what was being said. But clearly it did have its disadvantages and you do end up feeling slightly hopeless!

Anyway, on one of the nights we went out into Lisboa to Barrio Alto, a place full of bars & restaurants. We happened to bump into this guy, who was a street musician. I had had too many caipirinhas by this point and decided to barter his album down to 7 Euros. He then decided to sign it, as he claimed he was already famous, and then sang my name to the beat of one of his songs.

He definitely made the night interesting! And actually the CD isn't too bad. It was worth 7 Euro for the entertainment anyway.

The next day, its safe to say I suffered from a caipirinha nightmare of a hangover. We then had to travel for 14 hours back to Estepa... The fun.

We set off at 9pm Tuesday and got back here at 11am Wednesday...

Although a great time, I've definitely had enough of coach journeys for a while.
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Moving.

I've left my old blog to move over here to Blogspot!

To catch up on previous adventures (if you really want to) click the link above. Hopefully this new layout will encourage me to post more as I seem to have been defeated by TravelBlog / I'm not convinced anyone really read it. Possibly one person, (my mum), but then again ...

Anyway fingers crossed for more posts, more readers and more adventures!

Hasta luego!
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