Aidan McGrath ’11

I’m currently flying from Dublin, Ireland, after making a quick pitstop to see my new cousin Jake before heading home to Boston. How is it that my time in Palma has finished so quickly and I’m writing the final blog of my JYA experience? Our group has been experiencing the most confusing mix of emotions what with final exams and presentations, packing up our lives in all senses of meaning and the inevitable “Good-bye” encounters that have secretly been looming in the back of our minds since last August. This is it: the grand finale. And what a finale it’s been!

Last Friday, 5 of us rented a semi-automatic car, a lime-green Renault Twingo (try imagining a clown car in green), and set out for a three day experience never to be forgotten. After picking up the car on Friday evening we traveled to the beautiful mountain town of Deia where we explored its tiny streets and took in the beautiful views including the nearby panorama of Sa Foradada. The same night we drove up to a spot called Na Burguesa, a restaurant perched atop a mountain overlooking all of Palma including the Bellver Castle. We stargazed and shared some chocolate and watched a fireworks show that was happening down along the shore.

The next day we took the car on a journey to the north of Mallorca to a beautiful area called Formentor. We went to the pristine beach there for a couple hours and then drove to the Cap de Formentor where a giant lighthouse and indescribable view greet all visitors–such an amazing sight that will be etched in my memory forever. That night was my final dinner with my madre’s family. We ate traditional Mediterranean and Spanish food and I even got a few presents! That night also marked one of our last times out to the infamous Paseo Maritimo…cue chorus from “Memories” by David Guetta & Kid Cudi (or maybe “Nosy Neighbor” by Akon?).

Sunday was the day of all days: the same group traveled to a high-class area of Mallorca called Magaluf for a Kooks concert marking the opening of the new Mallorca Rocks Hotel. Ok, so describing Magaluf as high-class is actually a huge stretch…basically it’s the Mecca for English hooligan tourists in search of a week of absolute debauchery. Guys walk around shirtless and girls in bikinis, all showing off their newly-acquired sunburns and brandishing some sort of fruity mixed drink. The streets consist of bars, casinos, arcades, restaurants and, of course, tourist traps. You would never know you’re in Spain–instead the atmosphere is more like a mini Florida…but with no dignity…Panama City Beach anyone? We decided that since we avoided being tourists all year we deserved a one night lapse of Spanish-ness. What a hilarious, unforgettable time. The concert was great, the after-party a riot and the group bonding the highlight. Monday was our last day with the car so we drove to an awesome lagoon beach called Cala Pi in the South of Mallorca before returning Twingo to the airport. I can honestly say that the memory of my final weekend in Mallorca will stay with me always.

One can’t prepare for the range of emotions felt from having to pack up and leave Palma after living here for a year and making such great friendships and memories. On Tuesday I went to Son Hugo (the pool) one last time to say goodbye to the whole team and I didn’t realize until then how much I was affected by everyone. I became so comfortable with them and the abruptness of my leaving was just so hard to comprehend on both sides. The finality finally hit me when Marcelo, the coach, and the rest of the team gave me a round of applause for my year with them. I hope I see them again in the future.

Yesterday I bought Antonia a bouquet of flowers and got her a photo of the two of us to put in the picture frame that I got her at Christmas. I thought it would be a nice touch to close out the year together. When she got home she walked into the kitchen and just let out some silent tears. I think it hit her then that I’d be heading home soon and it was tough for me to watch her come to that realization.

This year the best TV show in television history, LOST, came to an end and I found that the outcome of the show had a lot of themes in common with my study abroad experience. Ok, yah, the show was set on a beautiful island just like Mallorca but the ending had a lot to do with alternate realities and loving relationships. The whole last season of LOST highlighted the happenings not only in reality on the island but also in a separate world in which all of the characters experience happy, meaningful, love-filled lives, unlike the troubled backgrounds they all came from in real life. When the characters die in real life they enter into the happy reality with all of their loved ones and then “move on” to what is presumed to be heaven or whatever you want to call it. Now, I’m not saying that I or any of us come from troubled backgrounds in real life—I can safely say that we all have lived happy lives up until this point. But god knows that problems arise for everyone sooner or later in life that cause grief and pain. After living in Mallorca for a year and not having one negative memory or regret, just happy memories with friends and family, I like to think that my “happy reality” will be like my experience in Mallorca. Thanks LOST.

I’m gonna end this blog with what I used to do in my earlier blogs: some insiders. I think it’s the perfect way to sum up the time that we’ve spent together over the past year. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blog and has been living vicariously through me in my island paradise. Also, I want to commend the HC Study Abroad program for making me spend a whole academic year in a vastly different culture from my own. My eyes have been opened and I now realize that a year is necessary for a truly meaningful experience.


First, to my best European friends:

Vanda – Jenny and I are gonna miss the hell out of you. Thanks so much for introducing us to Slovakian cuisine…and drink! Haha. I’m definitely glad you got to come to the Kooks with us, too! We’ll be awaiting your arrival to the U.S. soon…get ready!

Ricardo – Dios, ¿dónde empiezo? Hmmm…la clase de Pomar…muy buenas memorias (menos el examen jaja)…la noche hasta la madrugada en Moon con Jenny y Wan Yi…FACE PAINT por todas partes…la comida de tu cena de cumple (¡qué bueno que fue! ). Hombre, nos veremos muy pronto!

Now to my fellow HC Palmaniacs:

Carnie – I’ll always remember…ok, we get it, you’re good at bowling…and ruit…oh, and when the slapping starts, you know they’re doin’ well…Eco Village?…almost as bad as Wan Yi for taking photos…

Jasmine/Baby – I’ll always remember…How much is this drink?…Hooker boots…Shandy…Pomar’s pic of your ancestor…the walk back from Lucas’s house that one time…ghetto dancing in Tito’s…Finger/Fang Associate 1…Wan Yi! Stop taking pictures!…Infinity 2008 & Stereo Love…

Lightweight Laday – I’ll always remember…I really need to get some bread!…CINCO!…that Bar Cristal sangria…table-dancing in Crazy Cow…los ojos locos…uh, not Corner Bar again…favorite words: generally & apparently…I think you need help finishing that…

Future Mrs. Parker – I’ll always remember…unnecessary trips to the Porto Pi Carrefour…getting along before bowling…SHUT UP!…not getting along after bowling (haha)…hair-dying success (?)…becoming a HC student after using STAR…y’all, ah swear ah don’t have an accent…

Momica – I’ll always remember…Red wine spill? Quick! Get the club soda and hand soap!…shoulder napping…it’s ok, I’m gonna have cats when I’m older…cradle robbing!…Fergie? Virgil? What was his name anyway?…same wardrobe as Liz…verbally attacking Canadians…

Negrita – I’ll always remember…Alright, let’s go hit it hard…ciega eyes…eyepopping tongue clicks…wanna buy me [insert pretty much anything]?…35 year olds…la vampiresa (what?!)…Jenny’s JM competition…Look at those buoys…your tiny, weirdo limbs!…

Lizarran – I’ll always remember…the fun times in IBIZA…the fun times at Carnavale…Manacor street crew…Joan Antoni…RED CARD…I swear, if you zap me one more time…same wardrobe as Monica…your power of invisibility…isn’t getting into Abraxas fun?…

Abuela – I’ll always remember…those damn glasses…hey guys it’s ANDY…so selfish to think…journaling entries in general…your raps…[whisper voice] “technology”…reina de vocabulario…what is that trailing from your bedroom window?…red light means stop…Annieland…Australians & boats…hah. Kooks concert…

Donkey Dedo – I’ll always remember…Ibiza champagne sunset…sunsets in general…Takin’ it off together…Finger/Fang Associate 2…Do you like mushroom pizza?…your idea’s good but, like, don’t you wanna do this instead?…crushin’ on Juan Miguel…the shoulder seduction move…ice-cream eating ability…mmm mariscos…Grillmeister…

P.S. – Yah, I did zap a bunch of your phones before taking off from Palma…

Today I emerged from underneath my rock where I’ve apparently been since March and my first priority was to update my blog! Haha. Ok, so I’m not very good at the updating but I would like to briefly share what I’ve been up to for the past 2 or so months:

  • Trip to Berlin with my friend Maura to see the Cranberries in concert: awesome time and made some great German friends in our hostel who also went to the concert
  • Visit from my family during Easter week at the beginning of April: we had fun family times staying at the Marriott, exploring Palma and the rest of Mallorca, and tasting new foreign foods like paella…mmmm, right mom?
  • My last trip of my Junior study abroad experience to London & Norwich, England, at the end of April: saw pretty much all there was to see in London in a day thanks to our day metro pass and had a great time with the group
  • Outing to our first nude beach, Es Trenc, which is one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches on the island. No, we didn’t take anything off (Akon anyone?) but I now know that wrinkles occur in many other areas than just the forehead…thank you old people.
  • I had a week straight of 4 hour-long Chemistry labs at the beginning of May…in Spanish…I became a pro at smiling and nodding and pretending to know what I was doing. Thankfully I had a genius lab partner. Gracias Sabrina!
  • Survival of Hell week(s) this past week and finally completing all of my exams, papers, presentations and class outings, thus bringing my Junior academic year TO AN END! Between Monday and Friday of this week I literally had due 2 exams, 2 extensive papers, and 2 presentations…don’t even get me started on the 21 page chemistry paper I finished the week before! Roll on summer and Senior Year!

And that brings me up to today Friday, the 28th of May, Graduation Day for the HC seniors of the class of 2010. It’s so hard to believe that a year from now my friends and I will be walking across a stage and receiving our undergrad diplomas and going on to start our lives (or, if all goes according to plan, forgoing the start of our lives with more school). Who am I kidding, I can barely wrap my mind around leaving Palma this year, let alone contemplate graduation. This past Wednesday was our final dinner with all of the madres, students and directors gathering for a celebratory meal to top off the year. I guess you could say that it started to hit me when all of the cameras were flashing in our eyes that our Palma family would soon be leaving our paradise and dispersing to our separate corners to reunite with family and friends and ultimately to return to reality. But then again, what I felt at that dinner won’t compare in the least to what I will feel as I begin to pack up all of my belongings or as I say my final goodbye to Antonia, my madre, or as my last flight from the Palma airport takes off bound for home.

Ok, I really need to stop the sentimental stuff here cause I’ll just get even more depressed. I still have 2 weeks packed with beach time, island-exploring, concert-going (the Kooks on June 6th!) and, of course, food-eating! I’ll be sure to put up one last blog before I leave the island and, in true avid-Losty style, I’ll relate the outcome of my favorite show to my whole year abroad. Prepare to blow your mind. To close, here are a few photos from my past couple months.

Hasta pronto!

Last week I accomplished one of those “Gotta-accomplish- this-before-I-die” milestones: I trekked onto the African continent. Between the 12th and the 15th of March, Jenny, Monica, Bryana and myself traveled with an agency called DiscoverSevilla to the north of Morocco in the Rif Mountain region. On Friday morning we left Palma for Sevilla and met up with the bigger group there before we embarked on hour journey. Thinking we would be the only students in a group filled with old, wrinkly tourists, we stepped onto the bus confidently and quickly realized to our shock that we were just 4 of 55 American college students heading to Morocco. I guess we all think alike. If you think culture shock in a new country is bad, try reverse culture shock after spending every waking hour speaking and living the epitome of Spanish lifestyle…scratch that, Mallorcan lifestyle. We didn’t know how to act! Everyone else was just…so…American! Which isn’t a bad thing, but one should know when to drop the Blackberry or the “Bro” act and prepare to soak up the radically different culture that we were about to experience. Let’s just say that we were proud to be part of the HC Palma Study Abroad Program by the end of the trip.

From Sevilla we drove to Tarifa, Spain and then took a ferry across to the Morocco. We arrived in Tangiers and then drove to our beautiful hotel in M’diq. The first day we spent in a mountain town called Chefchaouen, whose streets are all painted sky blue and white according to Islamic tradition. There I bought myself a traditional Moroccan mini-djellaba (sweatshirt-type thing made of wool…i think). The next day we spent in one of the biggest cities in Morocco, Tetuan, where we explored the markets and sidestreets and got to sample some products at a local farmacy and view, but not buy, the handmade Moroccan rugs at a local vendor’s shop. In our last few hours in Morocco we got to ride camels and spend some time on the beach, which we had great weather for. Upon our return to Sevilla, we made our way to the Sevilla airport where we had decided to camp out for the night to save a little money since our flight was at 7:30 in the morning the next day. Little did we know that the airport would close for 3 hours between 1:30 am and 4:30 am and we would be forced to sleep on the ground halfway inside the airport and halfway outside (in between 2 sliding doors) during that time. We looked like homeless bums…me especially because I was wearing my Moroccan frock and carrying my extra clothes around in a big plastic bag. It was definitely a hilarious experience that I won’t ever forget!

Experiencing Morocco was amazing; it was unlike any other lifestyle I had ever witnessed before in my life. African countries in general are known to be very undeveloped but you just can’t understand the extent of the situation there until you see it–and Morocco is one of the more wealthy African countries. Streets are tiny and in the big cities they’re filthy and people crowd around make-shift stores in the open-air marketplaces and sell their crafts, foods, clothes and other goods. Bathrooms are the big shock–in public areas, they are usually just holes in the ground separated into stalls. Coming from such developed countries as Spain and the U.S. and then witnessing Moroccan lifestyle is definitely a huge transition but it was one that I was prepared for and ready to experience. As a group we were able to look past all the differences and take Morocco for what it really is: a country with beautiful landscapes, friendly people, great weather, delicious cuisine and unique lifestyles.

I’ll leave you with some photos of the trip. In a couple days I’m heading to Berlin to meet up with my good friend Maura who’s studying in Leon, Spain, and see a Cranberries concert (old Irish 90s band that’s great–remember that song “Linger” that’s always randomly on the radio? maybe “Dreams” from the Ireland commercials?). It should be a good time and expect another update soon.

Oh, and my family is coming wicked soon–April 2nd! Can’t wait.

Hasta pronto

Hey all,

So today my friend Kendra just left after her quick 4 day trip to Palma. She’s a sophomore Spanish major this year, also on HC Swim and Dive, and she’s gonna be studying in Palma next year. She definitely got good weather during her short stay here. First day was a little cloudy but had a perfect temp. We walked around Palma and I showed her the main streets and plazas, all the while gawking at the awesome pastries and candy stands set up here and there (the ones on Las Ramblas are deadly). The next day we took a walk along the beach and on the Paseo Maritimo, perused the “tenderetes” or “small shops” that were set up in La Lonja and Es Baluard (que comida y cositas!) and we made a list of all the restaurants she would have to try next year. It was a pretty long list. The third day was by far the best. We spent literally the whole day laying out on the beach at Illetes in the 65-70 degree weather and enjoyed the crisp, clear, blue sky and I even took a dip in the freezing Mediterranean. So, yeah, I can officially say I was on the beach and swimming in the ocean on March 1st this year….o ya, let’s not forget the sun burn I got. Apparently sun screen is necessary even when it’s not summer… Then, yesterday we had a lazy (can it get much lazier?) day: I had a class around lunch time so we went to the UIB and I showed Kendra around the campus and afterwards we went to El Museo Es Baluard and looked at all of the weird contemporary art. We finished the day with a long walk to the port of Portixol for a paella dinner and we called it a trip. Kendra left Palma feeling ready for her junior year abroad and I left with a rising jealousy that she gets to spend all of next year here and I don’t. Seriously, I only have 3 whole months left of my year abroad?! What?! Actually, no, I’m never leaving Palma…it’s never gonna happen…

Anyway, next weekend a group of us is going to MOROCCO and then the week after that I’m going to BERLIN. March is gonna fly by. Then my family comes the first week of April and I have 2 weeks off for Semana Sants. Expect upcoming blogs peeps.

Hasta muy pronto y que todo vaya bien en los EEUU!

Haha so yah I haven’t updated in so long. Sorry peeps. Let’s see. 3 weeks ago the Palma group went buck in Madrid together for a weekend paid for exclusively by Holy Cross. We got to see the many sites of Madrid including the famous art museum El Museo del Prado, La Plaza Mayor, El Parque del Buen Retiro (such an awesome park) and La Calle Gran Via, where we were staying in an awesome hotel. I got to meet up with my buddy Rob from high school, who’s studying abroad in Madrid, and we got to catch up on how life has changed since graduating. That’s one of the nice things about studying abroad, being able to meet up with friends in different parts of the world and enjoy everything that that particular area has to offer together. Good times.

The week after Madrid was the first week of the 4 weeks Exam period. I only have 2 exams this semester so I have a lot of time to study and also some time left over for a little bit of traveling. Over this past weekend I went with a few of the Palma chicas to Sevilla (Seville in English), Espana. We had an awesome time seeing all that this beautiful Andalucian city had to offer. Flamenco and tapas are really popular in Sevilla–I guess you could say that all of the Spanish stereotypes for Americans exist, in part, because of the more traditional way of life in Sevilla. It’s also just a beautiful city and great for studying abroad as there’s a nice mix of culture and nightlife. Definitely a fun, worthwhile place to travel to if in Spain. It’s also good for a number of other things: Treeclimbing. Picking oranges off of trees and realizing that you probably shouldn’t have eaten it cause it was tongue-numbingly bitter. Watching the brutality of duck procreation. Making those funny photos where you stand in front of a fountain and make it look like you’re spitting water out of your mouth…and possibly into someone else’s mouth. Spaceage trams and not buses. Dutch crew teams. Walking into 5 star hotels looking like you live in a trailer park. And finally, top 10 lists and acrostic poems.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now but I’ll try to be better about updating in the coming few weeks, though they’re most likely just gonna be filled with studying, swimming and a whole lotta not much else…until my friend Kendra comes to visit on the last weekend in February and I have a 2 day swim meet (which I’m pretty excited for).

Take a look some of my photos for the time being. The first is of the Palace in Madrid and the rest are in Sevilla.

I’m finally sitting down to write my first blog of 2010 after a couple weeks of technical difficulties with the blog (couldn’t log in–problem is solved, obviously). My Christmas and New Years were packed with traveling, last-minute shopping, more traveling, site-seeing, and very little sleep. I left Palma on December 20th for an 8 day trip home to Boston for Christmas. I love Palma and my life there but home with family is definitely the best place to spend the holidays. After a productive break (I got to see all of my family in the Boston/NH area and a lot of my friends), I flew to what would become my new favorite European city: Paris, France.

I came to Paris with some slight apprehension, as do many Americans. Obviously the famous sites were not the problems but moreso, the people. French people, well, Parisians, tend to have a very negative reputation that precedes them regarding their treatment of foreigners, well, Americans. I’ve heard horror stories of French people not wanting to help American tourists or of them being difficult for no reason at all and also of them refusing to speak English . So obviously I was a little nervous when I stepped off of the plane and realized that I had only gotten through French 101 at HC. What I came to find was that the French were completely opposite to what I had thought previously. They were helpful and actually very kind, especially towards us Americans.

There was a huge group of HC students staying in Paris for New Years, especially in and around the hostel where I was staying. It was nice to be able to travel with a big group to all of the sites and hear all of the stories from the different study abroad programs and from the HC campus. We traveled to many beautiful sites in Paris together: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Notre Dame, the Sacre Coeur Basilica, the Moulin Rouge, the Champs Elysees and the awesome grounds and Chateau at Versailles (which I was lucky enough to visit twice). Paris is another European city filled to the brim with sites and culture.

After staying in Paris for 5 days, Jenny, myself and our friend Kevin all went to Amsterdam together for 2 nights which turned out to be quite the experience. Amsterdam is a very…umm…different city. There are certain, let’s say “privileges”, that one can enjoy during their stay there which would normally be, well, outlawed in other countries. That aside, the ambience of the city is unique and quaint and there are some cool sites to see there such as the Heineken Beer Factory, Vondelpark and Anne Frank’s house. Good times were definitely had.

I then came back to Palma and had another week and a half of first semester classes. I don’t have finals until February so classes were basically halted for the Christmas break. I also had another swim meet last weekend which was a good time. I swam the 100 IM which normally isn’t swum in the U.S. past the age of 12 or 13 but after not having swam for a good 3 and a half weeks prior to the meet, the 100 IM seemed better than the 200 or 400 IM which were my only other options. All went well and fun was had.

Finally, the past few days have been packed with local festivals that are held every year commemorating the patron saints of various villages around the island. Saturday was the festival of Sant Antoni which was held in the town of Sa Pobla. The night was great! There were tons of people packed into this small town to see the traditional show that’s put on full of characters with over-sized heads and devils that run around scaring people and setting off fire works. The night concluded with a huge fire works show and a massive town barbecue in the streets on the multitude of bonfires that were lit. 

In addition, yesterday was the festival in Palma named for Saint Sebastian. There were concerts in literally every plaza in Palma with some famous Spanish groups as well as grills for barbecuing and stands selling candy and crepes. Obviously the amout of people in the streets of Palma was crazy! We had a great time listening to the Spanish music and we even entered into what we thought was hell when we were at the Cathedral (funny right?). There were demons setting off fire works and “chainsawing” people as a music group was banging tribal beats. The experience was actually really cool. Palma is awesome.

This weekend the Palma group is going on a HC sponsored trip to Madrid so that should be a lot of fun. Then next weekend I have another swim meet….then finals period starts at the beginning of February. I should be well prepared by the time finals roll around though. I’ll update again soon.

Hasta luego.

The word for long weekend in Spanish is “puente” (actually, it means “bridge” but i guess it could make sense if you really analyze it). This word can be used to mean anything from a  three day weekend to  a 5 day mini vacation. Either way, puentes are AWESOME and gratefully welcomed in any culture. The past weekend in Spain fell into the rare “6-day-mini-vacation” category of puente and obviously I took advantage of it by traveling to one of the most popular study abroad destinations in Europe: ITALIA! The richness of history and culture that still exists in this country is unmatched by most others and the plethora of indescribable sites that it contains is truly mind-boggling.

We, Jenny, Liz and I, started our journey last Wednesday, December 3rd, by flying from Palma to Barcelona and then Barcelona to Venice, Italy. Upon arrival in Marco Polo Airport (sweet name) we were directed to take the Vaporetti, or “water bus” to get to our hostel. In case any of you live under rocks, Venice is a city in Northern Italy that was built on a grouping of over 100 tiny islands in a shallow area of water, all connected by over 400 bridges. For this reason, many of the streets in Venice actually aren’t streets–they’re canals. The popular modes of transportation in the city are boat, water taxi or, famously, the gondola. During our stay in Venice, we were lucky enough to experience what’s known as “Acqua Alta” or, “high water” which are periods of low-level floods in accordance with the tides. So as we walked through the streets of Venice and got closer to the shores of the canals and the brinks of the rivers, several inches of water began to flood the streets up. The added rain raised the water-level ever more deeper. Catwalks were set up for the crowds to navigate through the flo0ded streets. It was the weirdest yet most interesting thing I had ever witnessed. Since it was raining on the only day that we were in Venice, we weren’t able to take a ride in a gondola but that didn’t stop us from experiencing all of the other interesting things that Venice had to offer. We toured the Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, il Palazzo Dogo, and we got to see all of the unique Carnaval masks that filled the stores. Venice was one of the most beautiful and unique cities I have ever visited.

After a full day in Venice, the girls and I took a train to Florence to meet up with Nolan and check out what his life was like studying abroad in Italy. Florence is a quaint city that is the perfect setting for Study Abroad. It’s small enough that you can get to know it easily but it’s big enough to have variety. It also has a lot of culture and beauty. On our first full day in Florence, Nolan brought us around to all of the important sites: the Duomo and the Baptistery, the Ponte Vecchio, the Santa Croce Basilica and (just as important) a cool Christmas market. Let me just take the time to say that Italy is not the place to go if you are on a diet or you’re following some sort of strict food regimen. Literally every meal that I ate in Italy, from the cheapest pizzeria to the nicest ristorante, was delicious. If I were to study abroad there, I would return probably 50 pounds heavier. No lie. I was in heaven. Pizza, pasta, gelato, paninis–everything that could keep me happy forever, Italy provided. After a fun night of barhopping and discotecas, we woke up the next day and met Nolan and some of his college friends and went to a soccer match between Florence and Atalanta. Though the teams weren’t the best in the league, we still had an awesome time and Florence ended up winning 2-0! Definitely a good time. After the game, we left Nolan and his friends and booked it to the train station to catch our train to Rome.

The first night in Rome was low-key because we arrived there late. We got dinner in a local restaurant (oh man, what a ridiculous experience…but it was fine…i swear it was fine), used the internet and went to bed so we would be ready for an early morning start at the Vatican. The next morning, we got ready and took a very crowded metro ride to the Vatican where we were greeted with a line that was literally a 4-hour long wait just to enter the Vatican museum. This didn’t sit well with the three of us so we decided to invest 40 euros into a guided tour of the Vatican. What a payoff. Not only did we skip straight to the head of the 4 hour line, but we also got a tour by a ridiculously smart old American man named David. He brought us through the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica and we learned a lot of really interesting information about the unbelievable sites we were seeing. The three of us agreed that it was 40 euros well spent. I really can’t describe all of the things that we saw in the Vatican in writing because it really is impossible to do so. You need to go there and witness it for yourself. The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica are truly jaw-dropping. I’m so glad that I was lucky enough to witness this awesome place.

After our time in the Vatican, we headed out towards the other sites of the city. We walked past the Mausoleum of Hadrian a.k.a. the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Palazzo di Giustizia, crossed a bridge there and walked to the Piazza Navona, a square that was built upon the ruins of the ancient Stadium of Domitian. After walking through the Christmas fair that was being held in the Piazza, we walked to the Pantheon, an ancient pagan temple that was converted to a Catholic church, and ate pizza outside of its steps. From there we walked to the Trevi Fountain, an awesome and immense stone fountain, and ate huge cones of gelato. Next, we saw the Roman Forum, the ruins of the ancient city of Rome and we ended up at the Coloseum just as the sun was setting. The name definitely fits the structure: the thing is HUGE! But what an awesome site to see. As I said before, Rome is huge and there is so much to get to but what’s good is that you can literally spend all day walking and you will see so many different sites. I think my favorite out of them all was either the Coloseum or the Vatican.

After our long day of walking, we took the bus to a district known for its food/bar scene. We ended up getting great food for free in one of the bars and the three of us had a great night chatting about life as we barhopped. We finished the night with a canoli…and then an unnecessary slice of pizza…content with all that we had seen over the long day. The next morning we left Rome early to Frankfurt, Germany, where we waited for our connecting flight to Palma. But we never stopped thinking about the awesome memories we made on our Italian adventure…and of course all of the new inside jokes we had (“just slip it in any way and it’ll pop out, like toast” -thanks David).

So that brings the blog to an end. I’m so excited because all of the Christmas lights are lit up now in Palma. It finally feels like the Christmas season. Can’t wait for my favorite holiday! I’ll post again after Christmas. Here are some pics from Italy for ya in the mean time:


So, last Monday, November 16th, was my 20th birthday! Can’t believe I’m not a teenager anymore. Seeing as Monday is not the greatest day for birthday celebrations, I decided that I’d celebrate it for the whole week because we had so much going regarding fiestas and fun stuff. Monday night the HC girls and Eva Vives (ex-HC Foreign Language Assistant) took me out for Ensaimadas and hot chocolate. Think of Ensaimadas as fried dough with powerdered sugar only fried in olive oil so it’s not as bad for you. They also surprised me with a nice big bag of candy. They know me too well.

On Wednesday night, there was a huge fiesta in the town of Inca to celebrate the start of the daylong market held every year in Inca called “Dijous Bo”. The festival is complete with animal pens, venders, food, bars set up in the streets, music/night clubs set up in the streets and a huge crowd of people! We all had a great night and I definitely enjoyed being there to continue my birthday celebrations.

On Thursday I got a package from my parents full of things from home: some clothes, my DVDs, new swim suits, birthday cards from family, an LSAT Prep book (excitement?) and, of course, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the best cereal on Earth. Thanks family.

Saturday was the day of my second excursion with my History of the Earth class. We went to a few small but beautiful towns called Valldemossa and Bunyalbufar to see the cliffs and the rock formations in the mountains and along the coastline. The science part was boring but being with the students from our class was fun because we got to hang out and joke around. Plus, the professor is a really cool guy and he makes sure that you understand everything before he moves  on. We say we know what he’s talking about but we actually have no clue. After the excursion, I went back home for a nap and a couple hours later all the HC girls came over to my madre’s to celebrate my birthday and also my madre’s birthday which was on Wednesday (weird that we were paired together, right?). Jenny’s madre Rosa also came and another one of my madre’s friends. Needless to say, we had an great time. My madre Antonia bought tons of good food and wine and she got me a chocolate cake that said Happy Birthday on it. We put a little music on and the night was perfect. After celebrating, we left our madres and went out to La Lonja (area with tons of bars) for some drinks. I definitely had an unforgettable birthday week!

That’s everything for now. This week we have our HC sponsored Thanksgiving dinner together and next weekend Jenny, Liz and I are going to ITALY together! Hell ya! I can’t wait!

Talk to you soon


I’m gonna try to keep this short because I always seem to take so much longer writing my blogs than I do my papers. Haha. So last weekend I was in Barcelona for 3 days, one of which was HALLOWEEN! I flew from Palma at 11 at night with Annie (obviously it was a RyanAir flight) and after a slightly traumatic flight we arrived into Reus which is an hour an a half outside of Barcelona via bus (obviously it was a RyanAir flight). I definitely have to agree with Annie when she said that flying on RyanAir is like entering the Twilight Zone: passengers are rushed to their unassigned seats, people eerily burst out in laughter when someone’s luggage doesn’t fit into the overhead compartments, seats are made of bright yellow and blue plastic, and once the plane lands in it’s destination, no matter how far the trip was, triumphant horn music sounds–as if it were a godly feat that the plane actually arrived unharmed.

That aside, we arrived into Barcelona with no problems and on the next day we met up with all of the Holy Cross people that travelled there for the weekend: some from La Coruna and Leon, Spain, some from Florence, Italy, and some from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Together we saw the incredible sites that Barcelona has to offer including La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and La Parque Guell, all of which feature architecture by the famous modern architect Gaudi. We also saw the Gothic Cathedral, the Picasso Museum, Las Ramblas, and the boardwalk along the ocean. There is so much to see in Barcelona–we could have stayed the rest of the week and still not have seen everything!

After an awesome Halloween night (15 euro pub crawl…need I say more?)and some more siteseeing the next day, the whole group of HC students went to an All-You-Can-Eat Japanese sushi restaurant. 15 euros for a conveyor belt FULL of food. The night couldn’t have gotten any better. The next day we left to our respective sites feeling like we accomplished a lot during our time in Barca.

The past week was nice because we only had 4 days of classes. Once Saturday arrived, however, Jenny, Wan Yi and I were all work and no play. We had an excursion trip with our History of the Earth and Life class to a nearby beach where we spent the day (9am to 4pm) studying rock formations along the coast. Don’t let me forget the intense hiking/climbing we did to see all these different natural rock sites…and without safety harnesses/climbing paraphernalia. I thought I was gonna die at least 3 or 4 times! And we have 3 more of these lovely excursions before the end of the semester. And my professor is crazy. Sure, he’s a nice guy but he vehemently denies that global climate change is happening! I constantly have to bite my tongue in his class so not to break out in a heated debate. But I guess some good did come out of the trip: we got a lot closer with the other students in our class and some of the Masters students that came along as well. Plus, it was a beautiful day for hiking.  Once I got back home I was exhausted from the trip and took a nice long siesta to get me ready for the night’s activities…

Ok, that brings me up to present day. I’m not traveling outside of Palma at all during the month of November but I have a HC sponsored trip to the Cuevas del Drach (“Dragon Caves”) next weekend with the girls. Should be fun. I’ll post again soon.

Also, I’d just like to say that today is my sister Sinead’s 13th birthday (what?!) so HAPPY BIRTHDAY SINEAD! Hope the karaoke machine is a lot of fun!

Hasta pronto!

P.S. – So much for this post being short haha

Where do I begin with this one? Let’s see. Now that I’m sort of in between fluency of two languages, I find that there are certain words that really only hold their specific meaning in that language, words that just don’t translate between languages. Anyway, to describe my past weekend in Switzerland, there’s only one word that I feel that I can use that accurately describes my feelings upon returning from this incredible place…and it happens to be in Spanish. The word is the verb “flipar” which, in essence, is a mix between “to freak out” and “to blow one’s mind”.

Jenny and I left for the airport after class on Friday around lunch time to embark on our journey to Interlaken, Switzerland. After a short delay, we took off and landed in Zurich an hour and a half later. From Zurich we had to take a train to Bern and then change there for a train to Interlaken. It sounds complicated but it was so easy. By the time we changed trains in Bern, it was completely pitch black out and we couldn’t see any of the countryside on the trainride there. The buildup to what we were gonna see the next morning was almost too perfect.

Once we arrived in Interlaken, a small town set between two lakes in the Swiss Alps, we met up with Jenny’s best friend Nolan (studying abroad in Florence), his college roommate, Matt (in Salamanca), and Matt’s friend Eliza (close to Florence). Even though we didn’t know each other too well at the beginning, by the end of the trip I can say without a doubt that we became much closer after experiencing Interlaken together. After settling into our hostel, the Happy Inn Lodge, we went to an “authentic” Swiss restaurant (ran by an Asian family obviously) for cheese fondue and were pleasantly surprised at how well bread and cheese could fill us up. After eating we made our way to a small corner bar which seemed to be a local hangout for 15 year olds. Hah! It was still fun to get to know one another and try out the Rugen Frau (google it), which was good but probably would have tasted better out of a boot (I hope you don’t have to google it). Apparently tourists like to steal them from the bar so we couldn’t get one…but we got the next best thing…hah, I love inside jokes…Anyway, after that we headed back to the hostel to get some sleep for the early morning wake up.

The next morning we woke up at 8:15, got ready and stepped out to a beautiful, crisp fall morning. It took us about 10 seconds until we were reminded of where exactly we were. Literally all around us, in plain view, were jutting mountains with snowy peaks. It’s so hard to describe how gorgeous the scenery was in Interlaken. You have to see it for yourself. We made our way to the supermarket to buy picnic food for the top of the mountain we were planning to visit: fresh bread, Swiss made cheeses and a few different types of meat. We planned on taking a cable car up a mountain called the Neiderhorn around midday and we had some time on our hand before leaving so Jenny, Nolan and I decided to go on this ride called the Heimwehfluh. We didn’t really know what that meant but it involved taking a lift up part of a hillside and then riding down a coaster type rail in a single-person car with a break in the center. Sounds innocent but it was actually death on wheels. Nolan and Jenny went before me and it seemed pretty fun (from what I could see of the first 3 seconds) but after my turn that opinion quickly changed. My break didn’t exactly work so when the “Slow down” signs came up I pretty much zoomed right past them. When there was a sharp turn I felt like I was gonna fall out of the thing and when I rounded the last corner at a cool 35 mph (not lying) I was greeted with an abrupt crash into the back of Jenny’s car! If I’ve ever had whiplash in my life it was after riding this death coaster. Still, it was a funny, adventurous decision that I don’t regret. I had to get my adrenaline fix somehow. Interlaken is the adventure sport capital of Europe which means that people go there specifically to skydive, paraglide, hang glide, go canyoning, river rafting, etc. Of course, all of these things were way to expensive for us college students so we went for the 14 franc death train.

After this, we travelled to Beatenburg to catch the cable car and we made our way up the Neiderhorn. The sight at the top was incredible. The panorama of the Alps with Interlaken at the bottom in between 2 lakes was so beautiful. The picnic was another nice plus. This was definitely 50 francs well spent (Swiss francs are about equal to dollars).

Next, we went back to Interlaken and bought tons of Swiss chocolate at the supermarket. This chocolate is SO good. I bought a box of Lindt balls and some Toblerone…yah I know you can get them in the States but they tasted so much better in Switzerland. Then we all went back to the hostel for a short nap (well…game of Kent). For dinner, we took a free bus to one of the lakes, Thun, and shared some wine on the banks. When it got dark we went to a local restaurant for gulash and schnitzel and then we went out to none other than Hooters, Interlaken, which was fun and a cool way to bring the trip to an end.

The next morning Nolan, Matt and Eliza left for their train early and Jenny and I explored a little more until our train arrived. When we changed over in Bern we explored a little there, too, so we got to see a little more of Switzerland than what we first imagined. After a bit of a wait in the airport, we left for Palma ready for a good night’s sleep. Overall, the trip was amazing and is definitely gonna be hard to top. Though, this weekend I’m meeting up with some HC people in Barcelona for Halloween, so it will have contenders…here are some pics from the trip and I’ll be sure to update soon about my trip to Barca.

Hasta luego