March 20th, 2012

Celebrate Me Home

March 20, 2012

Celebrate Me Home

It’s Tuesday and I am late in writing to you yet again…I think the European lax ideas of tardiness are starting to rub off on me.  All of my apologies, I am now caffeinated and ready to share!  So, to start where I left off…midterms ended (thank God) and break was upon us!  Spring break held the promise of so many enticing prospective destinations but I ultimately decided to venture out of Rome and visit the land of tapas, flamenco dancing, bull fighting, and where two of my best friends are currently studying.  Spain was the name of the game.

First stop: Madrid!  My friend Lauren and I flew into Madrid late (in American

Madrid!

terms) Thursday night and grabbed a taxi to our hostel.  Our Chicago roommate and best friend Emily was there waiting for us!  What a perfect start to our trip.  True to Spanish custom we did not go to bed upon late arrival but rather ate delicious tapas, drank copious amounts of sangria and stayed out as late as our bodies would let us.  In the following weekend we visited the Palacio Real, the Prado Museum, Plaza Mayor, and the St. Michael Market to name a few of our adventures.  We met up with another Loyola friend, Donais, who had studied in Madrid the year before.  She introduced us to some local friends and we hit the university nightlife scene.  It was a wonderful end to a spectacular weekend.  Luckily for me, it was just the beginning of my Spanish adventure.

Adios Madrid! Buenos dias Alicante!  Alicante is a small, southern beach town where the sun shines with promise and the people are some of the kindest I’ve met! Emily is studying at a university there and living with a host mom, which differs

Seaside in Alicante!

greatly from my dorm style living in Rome.  We walked the town soaking up the sun, sipping on café con leche and hearing all about Emily’s adventures in this gorgeous town.  The beach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea was flawless and locals and international students alike were taking full advantage of it.   We met some of Emily’s amazing friends and even had a true Spanish lunch with her house mom, Salome.  Despite about 4 years of Spanish language experience I am nowhere near fluent in the quick paced language.  Regardless, Salome spoke slowly and beautifully in a pace that I could understand and I felt like I was getting the kind of experience I could only dream of.  She made typical Spanish dishes and we spoke of politics and women’s rights for a delicious and leisurely 2-hour meal.  The next few days were characterized by climbing.  We climbed to the top of the Alicante castle and up the hill of a neighboring town to its gorgeous main plaza.  The views of the sea at sunset are some I will never forget.

Sad to say goodbye to Emily but excited about continuing our adventure, we headed up the coast to Barcelona.  Wow!  I have never experienced a cooler city in my life.

Parc Guell

The nightlife rages until morning, the food is spectacular, the shopping is divine, the people are beautiful, and the architecture is some of the most interesting I have ever seen!  I felt like a grown up kid walking around CandyLand in Parc Guell with the sandcastle-like creations of Gaudi.  We decided the city was too big to explore on own so I did something I thought I would never stoop to.  Yes, I took the infamous red tourist bus.  Sunglasses and scarves allowed us to feel incognito while boarding the bus stamped with “we aren’t cool enough to be from here” on the side.  The English speaking tour was actually thorough and helpful and I decided ultimately being cool was overrated anyway.  I shed my sunglasses and really took in the city from the roof of the bus…it was perfect!  Our other Chicago roommate and great friend, Thomas is studying in Barcelona this semester as well.  We grabbed dinner with him and got the honor to meet a bunch of his international and amazing new friends.  We played a traditional game with Germans, listened to Parisians talk about home, and played American beer pong with friends from the Netherlands.  It was the most internationally enlightening 21st birthday party I have ever been to.  As the week came to a close I was sad to say goodbye to Spain and to my old friends, but alas the time had come to pack up our messy hotel room and fly back to Rome.

The next week occurred without too many stories to share.  Midterms have slowed to a halt and I had time to take a cooking class and learn how to make homemade pasta with pesto sauce…yum!  The weather has been wonderful and we passed most of the week sitting in the courtyard soaking up the Italian sun.  The whole sunny week led up to one of my favorite holidays…St. Patrick’s Day. I was jealous of my friends’ Facebook and Twitter posts about the bright green river and two-day citywide celebration happening back in Chicago and it caused me to miss home quite a bit.  Who celebrates an Irish holiday in Italian Rome? A group of about 10 of my JFRC friends and I hit the town in our green shirts searching for any type of measly festivity.  We found it, but it wasn’t so measly after all.  The Irish pubs, the Italian restaurants, and the streets alike were alive with celebration.  We met new people, drank great beer, and celebrated until morning.  I found a comfort in Rome that day.  We really aren’t all so different after all.  After my week in Spain and my holiday in Rome, I have realized we are all just people looking for reasons to celebrate and to laugh.  I feel at home in this sentiment.

“May the road rise to meet you.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rain fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.”

Cheers!

Christine

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