Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm on American Ground!

Hello to everyone!

This will be my last blog. First of all I would like to thank all of you for taking an interest in my life and my adventures as I traveled abroad! I arrived last Friday and it has been a whirl-wind of a first week back.

So let me start off with the journey home. Perfect! So perfect. All of my flights were ON TIME! AND my roommate Andrea and I had the same flight from Madrid to Philly-- we got to ride together after some strategic seat requesting :) It was the best way to end an experience like study abroad... with her, my first friend and my roomie :) We parted ways in the Philadelphia airport and then I came on down to the Southland! But let me interject here... culture shock-- hearing English and understanding it totally expected it-- understanding it with such ease-- SHOCK. Weird I know. I was welcomed with loving and tearful arms in Atlanta by my Mom, Steve, Eli, Melissa and Nathan. Melissa and Nathan were a small surprise :) and it was relatively brief because it was late, but still great to see them. On Saturday after trying to catch up on a little sleep, I went to my Dad's and Portia's and eventually that evening we ate Mexican food with their friends/roommates Rachel and Gordon and Michael and Kelly--- another small surprise (brother and sister-in-law)! I knew they'd come to Tennessee ;) At the restaurant I thought I might have cried when I heard and spoke Spanish, but I didn't-- not yet at least. It was so much fun to speak it, and I miss it terribly. I have to say here that every time I say I miss Spain or anything about it it's coupled with an equal affection for America and my home.... just so you know :) Moving on to Sunday was just a relaxing day at my Dad's and that night we ate grilled American hamburgers, so good! Kelly and Michael left on Monday (Memorial Day) and I made my way back to Mom's where there was a Memorial Day/I'm home party!! Friends and family, and friends that are like family came! Steve grilled, I ate, we had bbq, it was bliss, taha.

THEN on Tuesday I woke up deathly ill, I thought I had the swine flu but it turned out to be some type of tonsillitis blah. So for the rest of the week I've been in bed and on the couch. But starting yesterday (Saturday) I have been feeling better. I'm on the job hunt now... (if you have anything feel free to let me know) and I will be spending my first summer since the beginning of college at home. This should be interesting... haha, no I'm sure it will be great!

That's all the news I have, thanks again for all of your love and support over the past 5 months. This was one of the most memorable, shaping, amazing experiences of my life and I love that you are interested, so GRACIAS! :)

Some of you I'll see around Maryville, others Murfreesboro, or Gatlinburg at the family reunion, and still others I will just have to plan road trips!

Thanks again!!

This is Elisabeth now in Seymour Tennessee signing off :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Only 2 more weeks....


My time here in Spain has flown by to say the absolute least. Oh, yes Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there!

From the last time I blogged I have spent the last 3 weekends in, Uppsala, Sweden, stayed in Murcia for a weekend, and just got back from Almeria, Spain.

In Sweden I stayed with my friend Ginger. She is working with Campus Crusade and has been in Sweden for almost a year now, she'll return to the States in July,,I think. It was so nice to see a familiar face, someone who KNOWS me. We went to Stockholm and took a ferry across the Baltic sea to an island. It was such a nice and relaxing day. The people in Sweden were wonderful. We went to a BBQ that one of her Swedish hosted, and we ate Fika, and my last night there Ginger cooked Swedish meatballs. All very fun activities and good food. Fika is comparable to tapas here in Spain in my opinion. It's their time to sit down, get together and eat... but it's not dinner or lunch. I had a slight adventure upon my arrival to Sweden. I flew with RyanAir and sometimes they put you at airports that are not close to anything-- happed to yours truly. But no worries I took the bus to Stockholm just like Ginger instructed me to do, and my plan was to wait in the bus/train/metro station till I could take a train to Uppsala. Weeeeelll, the train station closed at about 1 so I was a little stranded in the city for 3 1/2 hours till it opened again and I could purchase my ticket. Haha.. ohhh adventures in Europe. Don't worry sports fans I was safe ;)

Next stop--- Murcia

The girls in my program planned an American party for all of our international friends and it was "country" versus "gangsta," it was fun. A good night and good weekend. Andrea and I spent a lot of time together (more than usual) we took about an hour walk to Espinardo (our campus) just because we felt like it. It was a very laid back weekend. I catch myself appreciating every little thing I can during these last few weeks.

Last stop--- Almeria

We went and stayed with our friend John-Micheal, he's from Louisiana and lives 10 minutes away from the beach here in Spain. We met him at Las Fallas in Valencia about a month ago. Andrea and I really wanted to get out of Murcia one last time... so we hit up John-Micheal. We stayed out on the beach the entire weekend and relaxed. It was so refreshing. On Saturday night he cooked a Fish Fry... it was amazing. Good fresh fish from Spain with Zatarain's batter from Louisiana equals a little piece of heaven on earth. I was so nice to not have to cook, and eat wonderful food. Almeria is a cute little town and if you look hard enough you can see the north African coast from its coast.

It is a very surreal feeling to be leaving this place I've come to love. Today on the bus I realized it was my last bus ride returning to Murcia. I am very excited about coming home but I know there are many things I will miss from Spain. There will be a blog about all that I'm sure after I get back to the States... I'll keep you posted and let you know I made it back safe and sound :)

Until then... have a great Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Por fin un blog! (Finally a blog)

Well let me start off by saying my spring break was great, April 4-18! Nicole and I traveled around Southern Spain for Semana Santa. We then went to France to see the beaches of Normandy and Switzerland. We did a lot! So this blog will have highlights and cities and maybe some silly stories.... I’ll warn you, set aside some time for this one…. sorry :/

Córdoba: Nicole and I embarked on our travels on Saturday morning and headed to Córdoba bright and early. Córdoba hosts a mezquita or mosque which is unique because it has a Cathedral in the middle of the Moorish architecture. Nicole and I visited the mezquita the morning we left and also stumbled upon a Semana Santa procession during Palm Sunday. We had a lovely Spanish breakfast, toast and coffee. Folks, try toast with tomato (chopped up) and olive oil... it's wonderful. Oh yeah, we took a horse ride through the city our first and only night there and I just like the way Córdoba feels. It has more Arab influence than Murcia and it seems like more character... maybe it's just because it was a different city...

Moving on--

A small definition for Semana Santa: It is Holy Week here in Spain and is a HUGE deal. Spain is a Catholic country, but I'm told the Spaniards go to the church for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Anyway, I learned that the processions in Southern Spain are different from the ones in northern Spain... and Sevilla is the best place to be during these festivities. Sevilla has the biggest, longest, processions. The nazarenos carry the pasos (like floats) completely out of view under the pasos.

Sevilla: Ohhhhh Sevilla. After a peaceful bus ride from Córdoba Nicole and I arrived into Semana Santa CRAZINESS in Sevilla! We get off the bus with our backpacks, her duffel bag, and my big suit case (dumb decision on my part) and hit the road again. After following our directions from we're making great progress through the city--- then BOOM people EVERYWHERE, in the newest, nicest Easter clothes I've ever seen, and let me interject here, we have never felt more under dressed in our lives.. no exaggeration. Apparently we missed the memo that stated it's absolutely impossible to maneuver through the streets once the processions start and mind you the women were doing it in heels! Anyways we decide to RENT lockers at the 2nd bus station in Sevilla. The 2nd bus station is significant because this city is HUGE compared to our little Murcia... Anyways we ditch the bags, take our backpacks and night clothes and make our way to the hostel. And don't worry every corner we turn has a procession waiting on us! Haha, it's all very funny now that I think about it, but we were tired, a little confused, and ready to check in and park it for a little while. We finally made it to our hostel, which actually has security on the street in front of it because the 1000 dollar reserved seats were on that street. After hopelessly explaining that we had to cross and get to our hostel the guard responded with a "but of course" attitude and was very understanding.

OK my thoughts on Semana Santa... it was amazing. I had a presentation about Semana Santa last semester and knew its origin and history, but to live and experience was amazing. By the way, it originated from people displaying Biblical scenes for the poor who couldn't read (that’s a tiny definition). There is a huge amount of money that goes into it, and I don't know how I feel about that.. because I crazy thoughts about money BUT, no need for a soapbox . I don't know all the politics of it; I just know this was on the list of things to do,,, DREAM MET :) About 2 ½ days into our trip and after seeing quite a few processions Nicole and I wanted to do something a little off the beaten path. Sooo we did! We rented little hidropedal (paddle boats) and went down the Guadalquivir Rio. That was a fun night. We also went to the Sevillan Cathedral which is the biggest gothic Cathedral in the world! I could say much more, but I have to move on to Madrid and out of country travel 

Madrid: By this point Nicole and I were a little exhausted and it was such a blessing to be able to stay with a missionary family that Nicole knows in Spain. Yes she has all the connections over here. This family opened their home and we were able to eat solid, good food, and get adequate rest. We saw a procession in Madrid which is not nearly as significant or impressive as the ones in Sevilla. We went to an art museum and saw La Guernica by Pablo Picasso. That was nice ice! An original by Picasso… check! My wonderful friend Jaime that has made an appearance in many blogs was also in Madrid while we were there. So he took us out for tapas and showed us some more of the city. Staying in a home and being with a true friend made Madrid worth it for me.

FRANCE- Let me start off by saying our trip to France started nice and smooth from the plane.. and then took a turn for the worst when we had to stand for 2 hours (after not a lot of sleep and a long morning) on a train in a small corridor in-between carts and next to the bathroom. We step off the train in Bayeux and are in the middle of nowhere. My initial thought is, everyone is from this town, there’s probably a parking lot, and we’re probably going camping tonight. Alas, a hotel sign and information! The nicest, somewhat odd, French man (who spoke great English) helped us and within 30 minutes we were in our hostel. Where they spoke LIMITED English. “You pay now please,” was what Nicole and I got out of it… but it was a great private room with breakfast included. Anyways in Bayeux we rented bikes and biked 7 km down the road to another small city… where I got a flat tire! Oh adventures in Europe! Obviously I survived, and we then went on a tour to see the beaches of Normandy where I specifically saw:

American and British military cemetery, Museum on the battle of Normandy, Arromanches, German bunkers, Omaha Beach, and Point du Hoc. I can’t articulate how it made me feel. I am Proud to be an American, in a way I’ve never known before. I can talk face to face with anyone who’s interested in more detail because there’s not enough time for my feelings on everything. But I loved it, the country side I saw of northern France was gorgeous! The trip was definitely worth it, and I suppose one day I’ll do Paris—but I’m completely satisfied with the little town of Bayeux…

Next and lastly was Switzerland. I have been to Colorado, and a piece of my heart is in the mountains out west. But another small piece is in the Alps. It holds the most breathtaking, clear, clean, and quaint views with some of the nicest people I’ve encountered while abroad. We took a relaxing “scenic” train from Geneva to Interlaken, where our train went in and around the Alps. After arriving to Interlaken we ventured out to an even smaller town and saw glacier made water falls that have been there… well I guess since the beginning of time, but I’m not really sure. We relaxed in a small English/Swiss café. One of the nights our hostel (restaurant/bar downstairs, beds upstairs) had a live band that played--------- BLUES!! Ah it was like a little piece of America right there in Interlaken Switzerland! I am so impressed at the ease these people use with alllll kinds of different languages. It was almost bittersweet to leave Switzerland, 1) I was coming back to school 2) I truly fell in love with that little town and 3) because I knew and know that my time left in Spain is short and will fly by.

Random thoughts:
*I would recommend things off the beaten path any day over seeing a museum in a city!
*I can be resourceful when I have to be.
*Always keep your passport on your person 
*Quit planning and holding the itinerary so tight and just travel and enjoy!
This trip went very smoothly, with only a few minimal bumps along the way so thank you for allll of your prayers.

Hasta luego!

Friday, April 3, 2009


I haven't packed yet!!! Haha, typical 11:45 pm, procrastination= yours truly. Last weekend I went to Segovia and Madrid with Amy, Nicole, Mindy and Lara. Mindy and Lara are 2 girls who are missionaries in Murcia that we met through the Restrepos (missionary family here). While in Segovia we saw the Roman Aqueducts, and I took a picture while the 4 of them stood illegally on top of them! Haha, oops, typical Americans. The next day (they have a car) we drove down to Madrid and went to the Prado Museum and a PARTIDO DE FÚTBOL (A GAME OF SOCCER)!!! Spain played Turkey and it was a world cup qualifier game.. Spain won of course, Viva España!! I learned last weekend that I really enjoy northern Spain's scenery. It is so much more lush up there, it's a nice break to see grass. But I still like Murcia and its weather :)

FYI, my spring break has officially started and I will be MIA for the next few weeks. I am going to tour around southern Spain and go to Córdoba, Sevilla, and Madrid (which is not in Southern Spain) and THEN my friend Nicole and I are going to France to see the beaches of Normandy and Switzerland.. to take in all of the beauty Switzerland has to offer. We wanted to stay in Spain for the first week of our break because Semana Santa has officially started. I actually saw a procession in Murcia tonight on my way home from Plaza Santa Domingo (central location in Murcia) and tonight they were all wearing blue capes. When I do finally post pictures do not be shocked at the attire... nazarenos and capirotes wear large capes and cone like hats during the processions. The clothing looks very similar the KKK but it's not, obviously because I'm in Spain.

I'll be back in 2 weeks!

Happy Easter, and Happy birthday to Steve and Christian :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I’m back, but not for long…

So much has happened since the last blog. I went to Ireland!! The best country in the world, besides America of course. Andrea, Havens, Ashlee and myself all set out on our Irish adventure on March 14 and we spent some significant time there. The first night there we landed in the Dublin airport and could not become accustomed to people speaking English (with an amazing accent) We kept saying greetings, leavings, and questions in Spanish. After riding on the top of a double decker bus we arrived to our hostel with few problems—however I almost died while crossing the street. Why you may ask, besides the fact that it’s me and completely something I would do… they drive on the wrong side of the road!! (I can say that because the majority of the world drives on the right (right position, not right correct) side of the road. It was amusing, and on the streets at cross walks they have arrows and huge words saying LOOK RIGHT or LOOK LEFT… I learned quick. Our hostel was great. A small bed and breakfast hostel with breakfast included. They asked us coffee or tea, haha I’m not sure if that’s even questionable in the states anymore—but we opted for tea. The Pillar is managed by some guys from Serbia and they were so hospitable and good managers. The first two nights the four of us stayed in a room all together, it was crowded but very manageable for only 2 nights. We explored the city a little and then went to bed that night.

On Sunday we walked to the Guinness Storehouse—quite a hike but the pint you receive at the top makes it worth it. Let me interject here, I don’t like Guinness, I try for Kevin and Michael at the family reunions, and to be a cool little sister—but I hate it. It’s hairy, stout, thick, bitter, has bad freshman memories attached to it, and I don’t like it. HOWEVER in Ireland ah, amazing… the best pint of Guinness I’ve ever drank in my life, oh I liked it! It’s like a beer milkshake, haha yummy. The museum was fun because it showed the evolution of Guinness, it’s history, it’s maker—Author Guinness, the progression of advertisements throughout the years and other milestones for the beer since its beginning. As I said, when you get to the top of the storehouse you get your very own pint of Guinness. The top level bar is about 7 floors up and you can look out over the city of Dublin. Afterwards we went to a restaurant and relaxed and ate GOOD food.

On Monday we wanted to get out of the city—so we jumped on the only remaining tourist bus and went to Malahide castle. It was so weird for me to see furniture from the 20th century, to be in a castle that was in working condition and a home until this past February. The castle grounds were beautiful, the grass is so green. I appreciated this because I’ve been living in a concrete city for 2 months and took notice immediately. Oh, our bus tour was led by an Irishman between 60 and 70. I don’t really know how old he was, grandpa age for sure, and he was so great!! Accent and all, very scattered but could not have asked for a better tour guide. After the castle we went to the beach I can’t remember the name—the Velvet coast maybe—a coast of Dublin and the body of water is the Irish bay. Beautiful views again, and the entire time we were there the weather was great. No rain, can you believe that? No rain in Ireland, and it was relatively warm also. I have fallen in love with that place. I want to return, when it’s not tourism central and I want to go to different cities, or rather different places that aren’t really a metropolis area.
Next we went to see Trinity college, and the buildings are Victorian style (I think) and everything is still in working condition. There wasn’t much to do without a guided tour but walking around was perfect for me. After Trinity we went to Phoenix Park, which is the biggest park in Europe—again I noticed the beautiful green grass and took it all in while I could. We stumbled upon a pick up game of rugby, so of course the four of us parked on a bench and enjoyed the show for a while.

Tuesday, was the St. Patrick’s Day parade!! Oh so much fun. The parade is a big deal as far as school bands are concerned, and it had many competitors from all over the world (including a lot from America). Later that night Andrea went out to Temple Street. Temple St. is the college strip I think, we had a BLAST, we danced, met Irishmen, and took lots of pictures. I discovered a cider ale, Cashmel’s (I think) that is sooo tasty—there’s another beer to look for at a specialty stores beer conisures (someone please tell me how to spell that!)

Wednesday we left the land of English and nice people and flew back to Spain… and we almost missed our plane! Haha, typical—but we didn’t. I rested for a few hours and then the next day headed to Valencia for Las Fallas.

Thursday- LAS FALLAS, oh what a crazy event in Valencia. The people spend all year making paper mache (spelling?) figures that are HUGE. Then at about 12:30 they have a fireworks show—and then they light them all on fire and burn them to the ground, that part of the evening is called "La Crema." It was crazy to be around, and I’m not sure that I want to do it again, but it was still fun.
THEN that morning at 2 am, Laura, Jamie, and I went hopped on a bus and went to Barcelona. My time in Barcelona was very short, but I got to see the Gaudi's architecture in a park and the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi was a very innovative architect
for his time. Also, my friend Justin (from Dra. Judith's class at MTSU) tapped me on the shoulder. He is studying in Pamplona and we both happened to be in Barcelona, at la Sagrada Familia at the same time!! The best surprise this whole trip.

I finally returned back to Murcia at 3:30 am Sunday morning. The next day I went to the English speaking church in Torrevieja—it’s actually a retirement community for people from Britain. Haha, it was still nice to have a service, and sing songs in English.

I think that covers all of the adventures thus far. More to come later!!
And the majority of pictures are on facebook, but not shutterfly yet, sorry non facebook users...

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm going to Ireland tomorrow for St. Patrick's Day!!!! That's exciting. 1) I'll be in a country where the speak ENGLISH, and 2) It's Ireland!!! AAA I can't wait. FYI I've posted more pictures on shutterfly for your viewing entertainment :) They are of Cartagena and Carnival.

Last Saturday I went to Caravaca, (it's a pueblo in Murcia). This city's big attraction is in it's Catedral there is cross with a piece of wood from the cross of Jesus. Now, I was expecting a big hung of wood, or like a wooden cross with an old piece of wood in it, BUT I should of known better. The cross is in a room of the Catedral, and it's not wooden it's gold and silver and very ornate and in that cross is the piece of wood, but you can't see it and just have to believe them. So, as far as I'm concerned I saw it :)

This week Andrea's brother and his friend, Lara, came to visit. They were both great and I got to tag along a little bit and it was nice to see other Americans and have a small piece family around, even it wasn't mine haha, on SATURDAY Andrea took them to Rincoun which is our little restaurant/tapas bar that we go to on the weekends just to unwind and relax and have yummy tapas!

I think they enjoyed themselves then on SUNDAY Jaime took all of us to Cabo de Palos. Which is on the coast, and just south of La Manga... so we drove to La Manga del Mar Menor (the sleeve of the smaller sea) and it was beautiful...I think this is my favorite coastal area thus far. At La Manga you can see the Mediterranean sea and Mar Menor the coast cuts in between the two bodies of water and ah, it's gorgeous.

This school week was a little tiring because we had a couple of presentations and a History (Spanish History of course) exam all on Wednesday. But hey, if I was in the states it would be nothing because I would be accustomed to the work load. But my learning consists mostly of trying to decipher what someone is saying to me, how to speak back to them without sounding like a caveman, and traveling :) Oh well it's over now and I'm sooo glad- everyone is still friends and there were no deaths in the process of this stressful week!

THURSDAY night Andrea and I hosted a little going away fajitas dinner for her brother and Lara. Travis (her bro) was the chef and it was sooo good. It's amazing what a little packet of fajita mix can do. Almost all of the girls from my program came and our new friend Mark. I met Mark yesterday at McDonald's with my friend Ashlee-- and he noticed our mannerisms and English to be quite American. BUT what sold him was I was wearing my Chacos (outdoorsy sandals)! Ashlee and I asked him and his Spaniard girlfriend Bea to sit with us. We sat there and talked and ate for about 2 or 2 1/2 hours. He does a lot of hiking, and knows all of the good spots here in Murcia, so I think he's going to take me and anyone else that wants to go one sunny weekend. He came to fajita night and I think he thouroughly enjoyed the American companionship... he's from MN and has been here for 6 months. That's the majority of the highlights this week.

FYI- I'm leaving for Ireland for 5 days, coming home then going to Valencia for Las Fallas (big celebration, maybe comparable to the 4th of July, and then I'm going to Barcelona. So I'll be MIA starting tomorrow. I'm uploading all the pictures to shutterfly and facebook I can before I leave but the internet is being temperamental..

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Oh yeah, I just got a package from my bible study-- THANK YOU!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Toledo y Salamanca!

Last weekend I went to Toledo and Salamanca. It was fantastic, like every other city I have visited in Spain. Toledo is the most beautiful city I've seen thus far in Spain. It sits on a hill over looking a river. FYI- Toledo was the capital city of the Visigodas which means it's an ancient capital to an ancient people. In Toledo I went to a Catedral. This Cathedral has an area of biblical paintings-- and in it there are ORIGINAL paintings of El Greco, and Rafael. I was with my friend Jamie and when the tour guide said "son originales" (they are originals) we got chills! It was amazing. Oh yes, important fact this trip was a part of my ISEP study abroad program which means somewhere in the oodles of money I paid for it. However, we went with ERASUMUS, and ERASUMUS is a huge study abroad program for students here in Europe. I love my American girls, but it was nice to mix things up a bit-- even though 10 out of 12 of us stayed in the same room at the hostel! Haha, I've decided, good or bad, and counterproductive or not I love my American social network and comfort zone. We are like a family and it's so great. Moving on, after only a few short hours in Toledo we drove on to Salamanca. COOL CITY, it has a university that dates back to 1218, not only is this historic college still in use, but it's another beautiful building here in Spain. It's in western Spain and very close to Portugal. After going to 2 very tourist cities I have decided that I thouroughly enjoy Murcia's size. Sometimes it feels too small, but I would rather know where everything is, than be lost after 2 months here.

Two months--WOW my time is flying! I feel like the new has worn off, and real life has set it. For example I gave a group presentation today and have other homework I should be doing. I'm not complaining, and these aren't bad things but it no longer feels like a vacation. My internet has been pretty temperamental so I'll get pictures up asap.

I think that is the highlights for this week-- remember you can email me with questions (or MAIL me anything!) haha

Hasta luego

Oh yeah, that's me and Janelle (best New Yorker I've ever met!) in front of the city on a hill-- Toledo