What a busy week it’s been! I guess that’s why I haven’t had time to update this blog.

On Monday, Lauren and I were able to pick out what classes we’re going to be taking. Since we’re both doing psychology and needed similar classes in order to fulfill the major requirements back at New Paltz, we wound up with the same (AMAZING) schedule. On Thursdays from 10:15-11:15, we’re taking Intro to Narrative (we’re supposed to take one English or history class in addition to our psychology classes), then from 11:15-12:15 we have Individual Differences, which, given the description we heard, sounds like Psychology of Personality. On Fridays from 9:15-11:15 we have Exploring Investigative Psychology, which involves forensics–something I’ve always been curious about, and from 12:15-1:15 we have Health Psychology. AND THAT’S IT. Only four classes, only twice a week. I’ll sure be doing a lot of traveling during my weekly five-day weekends!

In fact, Sarah (my roommate in New Paltz who is studying in Dundee, Scotland right now), Lauren and I are planning a trip to London and Paris in a few weeks! I’ve actually been to both London and Paris before, but it was when I was 11 and was with my dad and stepmom for our “family honeymoon”. We only spent five days in each city and, being so young, I don’t think I was really able to appreciate it as much as I will this time around, even if I’ll still only be spending about five days in each city.

On Tuesday we had to go to campus to meet with our tutor groups, which every course (major) has several of. Tutor groups are groups of about 15 students, led by one professor/advisor, that meets once a week to discuss anything related to the course the students are on. I think this is a great idea because it helps to build the community which can be hard, especially at a large school like Huddersfield. Everyone in our group, which is, aside from Lauren and me, comprised of first years, was nice and welcoming and a bunch of us ate together during our lunch break, which was nice. The only part of the group that I’m not terribly enthusiastic about it that it meets on Wednesday afternoons, so we’ll have to go to campus when we otherwise wouldn’t have to. Such a hard life I lead!

On Wednesday, Lauren and I went to the not-as-exciting-as-I’d-hoped Societies Fayre (fair), a big event in which all the societies (clubs) and sports teams tabled and tried to get students to join. That night, I went to the first meeting of the LGBT society, which was held in the Graduate, the bar in the Students’ Union, and then moved to a bar in town. Some “meeting”! It was definitely a lot of fun though and I met some great people.

On Thursday, I met up with two of the girls I met the night before, both of whom are named Kirsty, and their friend Maria, for the Freshers Fayre, where local businesses came to campus and bombarded all of the first years with free EVERYTHING that no one really wants! I spent most of the rest of the day with the Kirstys and Maria.

Friday was pretty low-key. At night, I went to a party outside (yes, literally, outside) one of the halls in the complex I live in with one of the Kirtsys and a few of her other friends. Eventually, a group of us went back to one of their flats where it was actually warm and where we were audible to each other. We spent a few hours there, which I enjoyed. People really seem to enjoy my accent!

Yesterday, Lauren and I went on our trip to Manchester! We had to leave pretty early in the morning and I was extremely tired from the night before, but once I’d finally had some breakfast, I was ready to begin exploring Manchester–which is a wonderful city! There’s a lot of shopping there, a TON of pubs, and many beautiful buildings which I must admit, give New York a run for its money. It was too bad I was so tired or I would have liked to do more exploring. Lauren and I did sit near Piccadilly Square for about an hour and watch the people and pigeons go by, which was both entertaining and relaxing. I fell asleep on the bus ride back (as I did on the bus ride there), and when we got back to Storthes Hall, we ordered Chinese food and had a quiet night in.

This morning I was supposed to go to Liverpool, but I woke up still feeling exhausted and a bit sick, so I decided to skip it. Lauren tells me it was absolutely amazing and that she, Berit, Lucie, and a new friend they made from Finland, Marianne, want to go back very soon, so it looks like I’ll be able to see the city shortly anyway!

I start class on Thursday, which is probably a good thing since I can definitely feel my brain rotting. I’m glad I have this blog to update (even if I did slack off this week), otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d actually have no brain left at all.

Here are some pictures from Manchester:

Retiro, Rastro, and very little rest

I wish I had time to write a blog entry more than once a week because so much happens in one week that it’s hard to recap everything….

Last Sunday I visited the Retiro park in Madrid for the second time, but this time I took some pictures! It is a humongous park, comparable to Central Park in New York City. I left Getafe around 5pm and arrived at the Atocha train station close to 6, then waisted some time walking around lost as usual, but I ended up running into this huge outdoor book sale. Most of the books were in Spanish, but I also found A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway so I was surprised.

When I finally reached the Retiro I walked around this man-made lake where people were rowing boats. Around the lake there were a lot of street performers. I took some video of this one band covering a Bob Marley song. They were pretty good. I also spotted Minnie Mouse and Barney walking around. It was pretty funny.

I ended up finding a place to sit underneath a tree and I did some homework and wrote a letter back to the U.S. For only 78 euro cents you can send a letter to the US and it takes less than a week! It’s great.

On Monday I started my first week of classes without Spanish, and for the most part my week went pretty well. I start most of my classes at 9 or 10:45 in the morning and get out either by 12:15 or 2 and then have the rest of the day to nap, or be productive….

On Monday I got a pet fish, Norton! He’s adorable. He’s a telescope eyed goldfish and has these HUGE eyes and tiny little body. Although he has such big eyes, their positioning makes it hard for him to see straight ahead of him so I have to direct him with my finger in order for him to find his food. He’s really dumb but very cute.

On Tuesday, I started my documentary film class and I LOVE IT!!!! It is so much work but it’s a lot of fun. For this one week I had to watch 3 full length documentaries just to catch up on the past two weeks, and I had to write a paper on what we had learned the weeks I had missed, and I still have to analyze a short documentary for this coming Tuesday.

On top of all the individual work, I am working with my group to produce our own documentary. Our topic is the aftermath of dictatorship in Spain; how Franco has affected people’s lives and how Spaniards deal with such a negative past. The crazy thing is that when we all went to meet in Sol (central Madrid) to discuss our project, we landed right in the middle of an anti Franco protest. Members from la Asociacion para la Recuperacion de la Memoria Historica (directly translated: Association for the recuperation of historical memory) were there with posters of family members that had been killed during Franco’s reign and we’re protesting against the reopening of the monument to Franco at Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), where Franco is buried. We met a lot of great people that were very eager to be interviewed for the documentary. We even met Emilio Silva, the author of the book “Las fosas de Franco” (The mass graves of Franco) which I’m reading right now. Everything seems to be fitting right into place with this documentary project and I’m really excited!

As for my economics classes, I’m more worried. They all seemed reasonable until Friday when my econometrics professor went over the first problem set and I was completely lost! And of course I was the only person lost in the class because they had all learned all these formulas in their previous classes. Even though I’ve taken econometrics before in New Paltz I had no idea what was going on so I’m pretty disillusioned right now. I have a quiz on Friday and I’m probably going to have to stay in my room studying all week in order to pass. Not fun.

What was fun was Friday night. Me and the girls from New Paltz along with an Italian girl and a girl from Denmark that we both met at UC3M went to our first Spanish concert, with Spanish music. Believe me its actually rare to go out at night in Madrid and hear Spanish music. It’s insane how many times a day I hear Lady Gaga. My neighbor sings “Alejandro” every day, and unfortunately for me the walls are paper thin. Spain needs to start embracing Spanish music more because the band we saw on Friday, El Sombrero del Abuelo, was really good! They were a mix of flamenco with funk and rock. I might go see them again in a month when they return to Madrid. In the meantime, Getafe is having a music festival this weekend so Madeline and I might go for a day and check out the Spanish artists.

Today I went to Madrid’s famous Rastro, this huge outdoor flee market, but I really wasn’t too impressed. I was expecting more antiques and hand made items but most of the stands all offered the same kinds of clothing, bracelets, etc. There were some interesting stands. For example, one was selling these strange gas mask/ military mask things… and there were a couple of stands that had some authentic Spanish comics… most of which were adult comics lol. Other than that I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary or anything that caught my eye. The highlight of my trip there was the food, of course 🙂 All the little restaurants around there were serving “tostas” which are open-faced sandwiches on baggette bread. They are delicious!

Anyway, here are some pictures of el Retiro, el Rastro,  some pictures of a night in Sol, some of the protest in Sol. I tried to upload video of some street performers and the protest in Sol but unfortunately the files were too big.

Hasta luego,