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New Blog!

July 15, 2013

Hi!

In case you missed my last post, I’ve started a new blog with a company I’m starting called Enrou! Wanted to give you a sneak peek here of what we offer on the other site. Check it out! http://enrou.co

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New Blog!

June 25, 2013

logo-big textThis blog is now inactive (I’ve been back in the U.S. from studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain for one year ago yesterday! Where did the time go?)

Since then, I began a new journey by starting my own company, Enrou. Enrou is an online one-stop-shop for consumers to buy products from socially conscious brands that focus on international community development. We seek to create tangible ways to make sure consumer purchases have a positive social, financial, and sustainable impact on developing communities worldwide.

Our website and blog can be found at http://enrou.co . You should definitely check it out to get more info about me and what new adventures I’m taking as an entrepreneur!

What I’m Going to Miss (am Missing) about Salamanca

January 26, 2013

The most exciting part of a long journey back to Salamanca after vacation was sighting these beauties from afar and knowing I was close to home.

*Disclaimer: I originally started this post before I left Salamanca. Since I never got a chance to finish it and forgot about it until now when I signed back into my WP account for a class I’m taking, some of the verb tenses are not consistent. Whoops sorry! But I figured, better late than never! 

As I mentioned in my last post, 6 months have come and flown by. In these past 6 months, I had such a wonderful time living and exploring Salamanca. These are the top 8 things that I decided before I left that I will miss the most. And I can attest that 7 months later, I definitely am.

1. Laid back life style

Plaza Anaya was a popular place for people to come and hang out. I especially loved coming here on Sundays where people would play music on the steps of the school building, and I could watch all the cute little Spanish children and puppies frolic around.

I once heard someone say, “In the U.S. we live to work. In Spain, they work to live.” After spending  six months here, I can definitely agree with this statement. Who wouldn’t love this philosophy?

2. Walking everywhere

Kelsey & I took a walking tour of Salamanca together on one of the first beautiful, sunny days we had. Photo courtesy of Kelsey.

Maybe I should put this one at number 1, because honestly, I love being able to walk anywhere you need to go. If I was ever bored in my room, I could easily put on some shoes & go wherever I wanted — shop, eat, or  just sit and people watch.

Being able to walk anywhere you want to gives you exercise, it gives you time to yourself, it gives you more opportunities to do things, it lets you be spontaneous, and most importantly it gives you freedom.

3. Plaza Anaya

Sitting at this spot right here got my through 3 gruesome weeks of studying for finals.

I remember the first time I saw Plaza Anaya was when my Salamanca friends who visited LA the year before offered to show me around on one of my first nights there. I had no idea where I was at the time, but as soon as we turned the corner and stepped into this plaza I was in awe.

Nestled between the “New” Cathedral (constructed between the 16th & 18th centuries) & historic university building, Plaza Anaya found itself as my favorite go-to place in Salamanca for its space to lay out on the grass to study, sip my Pancake’s coffee on a bench and read poetry before class (I was taking poetry classes. I’m not that sophisticated & cultured), or just sit on the steps of the cathedral and watch the golondrinas fly by.

4. Pinchos/ Tapas- Don Quijote & Mandala

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Tortilla de Patatas

Everyone knows about the famous Spanish tapas. For me though, I found that my perception of them was a lot different than I had originally thought before coming to Spain. I always thought of tapas as more of a meal composed of a bunch of different small dishes — which it is in some tapas bars. For me though, I preferred pinchos at my favorite cafés either in between classes, or between 5 & 7 p.m. to curb my American eating-schedule appetite.

My two favorite cafés that I found in Salamanca were Don Quijote & Mandala. I loved to get a café con leche and either tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette), tostada de queso de cabra y mermelada (a piece of bread with goat cheese & marmalade), or napolitana (chocolate croissant). And the best part: a coffee & pincho only cost €1.80!

Probably one of the best things about these trips to these cafés was that they became less about satisfying my rumbling tummy, and more about the spending time with friends and in a few cases making new ones — something that I miss dearly.

5. Plaza Mayor

This picture was taken on my last night in Salamanca. I think it captures the spirit of this place quite well, if I do say so myself.

The Plaza Mayor is said to be the most beautiful Plaza Mayor in Spain — and while I haven’t been to them all, I definitely would agree based on the ones I have been to. Not only is the Plaza physically beautiful, it also serves a function that I love. The Plaza acts as a meeting point for everyone in Salamanca. Throughout the day you see people of all ages congregating in the Plaza — sometimes it’s used as a place to meet before heading over for coffee or for a night out, other times people come here to sit and chat with their friends, maybe grab some fro-yo, McDonalds, or Telepizza to eat, too.

6. The Bells of the Clocks

This picture was taken accidentally by my camera (thus the odd angle), but I still kind of love its quirkiness

While I am used to the sound of bells ringing each hour at UCLA, there’s something about hearing all the bells of Salamanca that I just loved. Maybe it was because they reminded me of school back at home and it was comforting. Maybe it was because I know that the UCLA bell isn’t really a bell (it’s really a recording which kind of ruins the magic) and to know that these were real bells made it more special. I don’t know. But I do know that I loved sitting outside or in my room and hearing all the bells ring and knowing exactly what time it was without needing to look at my cell phone or watch.

7. Nightlife

Paniagua time with some cool people

Something that cannot be forgotten on this list is the nightlife. I remember when we first got to Salamanca our director, Rodrigo, explained to us the excessive amount of bars in the city. This realization continued on my tour with my friends from Salamanca, as well as when I went to Bilbao to visit and my host brother & sister’s uncle told me “Oh Salamanca. Mucha fiesta.” But I promise you, I did not make my decision to go here because of the nightlife because, in fact, I didn’t even know it was that well-known.

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Kandhavia was my fave place to bust some serious moves. 

Thanks to Salamanca being a university town as well as the abundance of bars, prices were low and cover charges didn’t exist (look at that econ being applied to everyday life!). And for someone who goes to school in Los Angeles where most of the nightlife exists in Hollywood, or Downtown, cheap is hard to find. The fact that I could go and dance the night away without spending money was phenomenal, and something that I will definitely miss.

On top of the nightlife being cheap, it also goes, and goes, AND GOES all night long. Since the sun sets later (around 9-10 pm), and dinner is eaten later, everyone’s schedules are pushed back compared to ours in the U.S. No one left to go out before 11:30, and that would be considered early. Most people tended to wait until at least midnight, but leaving at 2 am would not be considered strange. And as someone who is a night owl, I loved this aspect of Spanish nightlife.

8. My Friends

The gorgeous ladies who came to dinner with me to celebrate mis cumpleaños

And the last thing on my list, but certainly not least, is my friends. Because of this study abroad experience, I was fortunate to meet people from all over the country & all over the world. When I first got home, I was looking at a map of the US that’s hanging in our office & realized that I knew people associated with most of the states – how cool is that?! Even more, because Salamanca is a city filled with international students, I was lucky enough to meet people from Hungary, France, England, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain (of course), Argentina, the Domincan Republic, Cuba, the list goes on and on.

Me and some of my best friends from the trip at La Alhambra in Granada

Throughout these friendships, I have learned so much: simple things like grocery stores across the U.S. aren’t all the same (we have Albertson’s on the west coast, the South has “Git ‘n Go” –sooo Southern!-), that English in the UK can be very different from ours here in the US (swimming costume in place of swimsuit or spots – say this in a British accent. It sounds much cooler – instead of solids when playing pool, aka snooker), to more complex conversations such as what Europeans really think about Americans (p.s. most of the people I talked to don’t hate us as much as you think and were sympathetic as to why we don’t speak multiple languages. Although I didn’t let them be too sympathetic. We need to step up our language game, America).

In the words of Lily, “The few, the brave — the studies with Spaniards.”

Overall, I met some pretty amazing people in these past 6 months. An amazing thing about this experience is that it is so short, so everyone seems to become very close, very fast. With all of the international students that I met, we all had a common similarity – we all decided to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Already, we had something in common. From there, there are other main similarities between us all (we all want to learn and practice Spanish, we all have similar personalities who are willing to endure endless paperwork and Visa headaches to have this experience, etc.). But beyond that we also had many differences. Before this experience, I feel like I always found myself around similar types of people – not because I didn’t like others, just because our paths didn’t cross and wouldn’t cross. But in Salamanca, I met so many different types of people from so many different places and it really opened my eyes to the world.

And so I would like to finish this post by saying thank you to my friends that I met on this trip. You have all taught me so much, as well as have spent wonderful memories living and experiencing the aforementioned points with me. ¡Os quiero y os echo muchísimo de menos! ¡Hasta luego!

Back Home

June 26, 2012

Well all, I’m back home in the U.S. 

And as I mentioned in my last post, I was really busy studying for finals — and let me tell you I was actually studying — so I wasn’t able to update the blog. So far, all my studying has paid off though — so far I know of 2 classes that I passed!! Un milagro. But also, a lot of hard work.

That being said, I didn’t get to update the blog. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to finish it off. I am planning on recapping the things that I never had time to write about before. I know I’m not abroad any longer, but even if it’s just for myself, I want to finish what I started and have a complete journal of my time abroad and the transition back home.

And now that it’s summer, I’m not traveling around the world, and I’m not 5 minutes walking from all my favorite shops and cafés, I have plenty of time to do it.

Thank you all for your support. Can’t wait to continue my blogging experience with you all, even if it’s from the couch of my childhood home, rather than 6,000 miles away in España.

Besos,

Jessica

Quick Update

May 19, 2012

Palacio Anaya- Where I have classes and have been spending a lot of time in front of laying out and studying.  

Okay, so I know I’ve been MIA for a while. After Semana Santa, I just had too much to update, and not enough time to do it.

School is finally winding down (classes are done minus one that still has class next week) and studying and writing papers has officially commenced. On top of that, the weather has FINALLY gotten nice. So instead of hiding from the cold in my room writing blog entries , I’ve been spending more time outside studying and hanging out with friends before they leave.

For a short recap of what I’ve been up to:

  •  Semana Santa (Spring Break) was great. Morocco was so cool, Paris was fun, and seeing my mom was AMAZING!
  • I went to Granada with ISA & it was beautiful.
  • My birthday followed soon after, and I had such a great 21st! I celebrated with friends in Salamanca and then went to Marbella & Málaga for the weekend to get away from the cold and soak up some sun on the beach.

So, sorry for the absence. Maybe if I get some more down time I can do a few more updates about the topics above before I come home (in about a month), but I have A LOT of studying ahead so we’ll see.

Thanks for the patience. & wish me luck on my finals (I’m gonna need it).

La Música

March 27, 2012

Me and the girls at one of my favorite places to dance in Salamanca – TBO. My playlist is basically a shortened version of theirs. | Photo Credit: Reneé

For those who know me (either well or not much at all) you probably already know that I love to dance. And with dancing, of course, comes music.

So I thought I’d share with you all some of the most popular — and my favoritesongs that I have heard (mostly at the discotecas where I can showcase all my moves) since being here.

Click here to listen to my Spanish Top 20 Playlist. 

Bailar – Dancing

Lindsey, Sofie, me, and Marissa take a break from dancing to snap a picture.*

While we’re talking about the music, I thought I’d comment on dancing. In general, people in Spain don’t dance like we do in the U.S. or to the extent that we do. When I ask people why they aren’t dancing, most say it’s because the Spanish don’t dance well — Not with that mentality you won’t! I try to explain my philosophy of dance — it doesn’t matter what you look like just move your body, enjoy the music, & have fun. They normally just laugh and tell me once again that they can’t dance -__-

A few people have taught me how to do the typical Spanish dance, though. It involves clapping your hands and stepping your feet. Each time I have been told I’m good at it, but I’m pretty sure even the least coordinated person in the world would be good at it. Just saying. Compliments are nice, but not necessary in this case.

But since people aren’t bustin’ moves like I’m used to, many times my friends & I feel like we’re putting on a performance for some people. We’ve literally had people form a semi-circle around us and watch us — kind of awkward, but we weren’t gonna let their curiosity ruin our fun! We’re thinking we should start asking for donations to help fund our café con leche/napolitana/pincho/yogur helado addictions. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this post! Spring break is coming up next week so I’ll be gone for a while. I’m off to Morocco then meeting up with my mom in Paris (so excited!!!)

¡Hasta luego!  

*It was Carnaval (aka Spanish Halloween during Mardi Gras) that night by the way. I don’t dress like a nerd on a regular basis. Although, my costume did give me lots of freedom while dancing. And I loved using my suspenders as a prop.

Goodbyes & Realizations

March 16, 2012

Mine & Kat’s first picture together (along with our friend Molly)

So, my roommate, Kat, just left to go back to the U.S. Her program is over and now I’m all alone in our little room. Along with her, my friend Kortney and a whole group of people who came with me in January are going home. And I don’t want them to leave!

And while this makes me sad to see them go, it also makes me realize how fast time has gone by. I remember when Kat and I first met in Madrid we were talking about our programs and that even though hers ended in March it was still “so far away.” Now it’s here and it seems like Madrid was a few weeks ago.

So far, I’ve been here for two and a half months and I cannot believe it. February flew by (1 month ago I was in Sevilla, and classes had just started). Oh wait, it’s also already the middle of March… AHHHHHHHHHH!!!

And while I haven’t regretted any of the things I’ve done here, there is still so much more that I want to do and accomplish — namely make some more Spanish friends so I can practice speaking more. Oh, and passing my classes would be nice, too.

And with that being said, I am making a promise to myself — here on this blog so it’s public and I can hold myself accountable to it — to seize even more opportunities, take more risks, make myself even more uncomfortable, and work my butt off in my classes.

Visual reminder | Photo Credit: Pinterest

And lastly, goodbye Winter 1! We’ve had some good times together, & I will miss you guys! Here’s some pictures of some memories we’ve shared. Oh! and if any of you are ever in LA (like I told Kat) dime (that’s dee-meh for all you English speakers out there & it means “tell me”, not “dime” as in the coin).

Kat & me at the Real Madrid v. Barça fútbol game

Traditional pic. in Sevilla

Eating the most delicious churros rellenos with Liz, Reneé, Kortney, Kat, and Lindsey

Kelsey and Kortney waiting to soak Sofia for her 21st

The girls feasting at the most delicious vegetarian restaurant

Molly, me, and Kortney

Didn’t forget about you Julia! Gonna miss you & that contagious smile!

Alex, me, and Julia on the stairs in the Plaza de España, Sevilla

Another traditional pic with Molly & Kat in Segovia

Reneé, me, Marissa, Lindsey, and Kortney in Lisboa, Portugal