20/11/2013

3 Months Later...

It would appear that I said I'd write another post about my 'overall Erasmus experience', but I think we can all see that I didn't. And to be perfectly honest, it's been so long since I got back that all I can remember is eating excessive amounts, barely any rain, lots of sun, swimming, incredibly cheap rent which included bills, and complaining about my workload which is absolutely nothing on this year (did someone say dissertation...?). Put simply, take me back right now.

I instagrammed a picture of me working but I took it at this angle
and put a filter on it because I'm moody and deep.

I don't really know what to say here. I was expecting to continue writing about university and its differences with Spain (and of course there are a few) but it's blindingly obvious that I haven't. So... I think I might as well start now. 3 months late... At least I'm consistent in my terrible time management skills.

My Year Abroad Grades:
I think I just about scraped a 2:1. The end of year marks aren't averaged out into a grade in second year, but you can all go away if you think I'm showing the actual awful grades I did get, however, if you average the marks out, I think I get about 59.8/100, which, when rounded up, is just a 2:1. And I'm accepting that. I don't know how I'm doing this year as yet, although I'm desperately hoping it's slightly more than a 59.

What are you studying now?
I'm studying the Victorian Poetry and Culture and Imperialism modules this year. I'm equally writing a dissertation on South Asian women in literature. To be honest, I'm actually meant to be writing an essay right now for Victorian Poetry...

Has your time in Zaragoza influenced your work in England?
Definitely. I wouldn't be studying Culture and Imperialism or be writing my dissertation on the subject I've chosen if it wasn't because of Otras Literaturas at Zaragoza - I'd never studied literatures from other countries before that, and it was almost an overview of the most prominent postcolonial literature (from India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand) and the various reasons behind it. It gave a really good springboard to learn more about the colonial process and its outcomes. Equally, I actively didn't choose the Modernism module because there's only so much Modernist writing that a person can study in their lives. Not again. Never again.

How does Zaragoza compare to England?
Ormskirk is cold and rainy; Zaragoza is cold. I can't pop to various Spanish cities for a weekend without paying an arm and a leg anymore (I don't think you can understand how badly I want to just go somewhere - my year abroad's given me a terrible wanderlust). Rent is extortionate in England: I'm paying more for my room here than I did in Zaragoza - which is smaller and the building is a lot less pretty - and then on top of that, I have to pay bills. Brilliant. If we can just put Edge Hill in the centre of Zaragoza, then my life would be so much easier.

Anyway, I'll be trying to keep posting regularly (regularly definitely translates to intermittently in this case) however I won't give a specific timeframe as, let's face it, this has happened this time. If anyone has any other questions, feel free to harass me over the internet.
Let's do this again soon though, yeah?

09/08/2013

I'm home!

I know, I know, I said I'd write this post the weekend I got back to England, but I didn't and I thoroughly apologise to all those who were anxiously waiting for it (hahaha - I'm such a laugh). Anyway, this post is going to describe the process - is a process? - of coming back from a year abroad. I'll be writing another one with an overview of my Erasmus experience soon, but not just yet because, well, I promised to write this one last month.

I triumphantly returned from Zaragoza on July 12th, landing at Liverpool John Lennon Airport; it was a wonderful flight, particular highlights were the 20-or-so Scouse schoolgirls who talked NONSTOP while we were waiting for the flight, and watching La Vida de Pi on the AVE with bacon-queso crisps that my dad decided he didn't like. To sum up the flight, twenty high-pitched Scouse accents are a bit grating when you haven't heard one for almost a year. 

I want to get out of England again already! 

A few days after that, I had to have an interview with some tutors from Edge Hill to tell them about my Erasmus experience, etc., and it's a part of my year abroad grade (I don't know if it's the same at other universities, so I'd check how you will be graded as you might not have to do it). In hindsight, I think I spoke too much during the interview, as I was in there for almost an hour and a half, and I really should have revised what I'd studied throughout the year - or at least taken my Kindle - as I was asked quite specific questions on what I'd read throughout the year, and different genres and time periods that I'd studied. Honestly, I couldn't remember a thing, I must have read about 20 different works of poetry and literature for just one class, let alone the 8 others. Ah well. I'm still waiting for my overall grade for the year (if it's not too terrible, I'll post it on here once I get it) but I think I was meant to receive it weeks ago, so I don't know what's happening there.

Oh! Also, in classic Edge Hill form, I got the second half of my Erasmus grant the other week, about 3 weeks after I'd finally returned home. I was originally told that only the last month's money would be kept back, so after suffering for the second half of the year on next to nothing and getting deeper and deeper into my overdraft, I've suddenly got a load of money I wasn't expecting. Thanks Edge Hill (I guess... maybe?)

I'm going to include a jump here, if you want to carry on reading, I'm going to start talking about my personal life (like, what I've been doing since I got home..). If that interests you, click the little thing, if it doesn't, no pasa nada, carry on down the page. 

11/07/2013

Exams: The Aftermath

I've just realised I haven't written anything in over a month, and of course I have to update you on the joyous month that was the exam period (and what I've done afterwards). 

Firstly, I passed every exam bar one. Ask me why I failed one when I got between 7 and 9s on all my other exams. Oh wait, I don't know. It was absolutely the worst because I don't know (and still don't know) why I failed, especially as I thought I'd bossed it because the questions were on the parts that I knew the best. Oh well, it's water under the bridge now. According to Edge Hill, they can arrange some sort of reassessment (?), in all fairness, I'm very confused about the whole thing and just actively try to forget it ever happened.



The classic mi ciudad picture

So! After exams! My lovely friend Mark came over for a week the day after my final exam, so the week involved sunbathing, lying in the sun, being tourists, tomando el sol, and quietly drinking. Oh and a really good/terrible film with Natalie Portman in. I collected him from the airport in Barcelona - any reason to spend the day in Barcelona - where we ate some food and sat in the sun near the sea, and then began the 4-hour bus journey home, where we sang Disney songs and a child threw up. That night we went out (and everyone left Zaragoza the next day), then spent the rest of the week in the park, or at Las Playas, and spent one day being tourists and looking around the Pilar and things. It was a top top week. 

Me and Mark having a right laugh in the castle

This week has been a bit more depressing, yet still been excellent. It's my last full day in Zaragoza today, so the week's had a bit of an end-of-an-era feel to it as I've been packing and trying to organise myself and things of that ilk, but obviously I've still been sunbathing and having a laugh in the pool and literally eating my weight, so it's been good. :) 

There's going to be a final 'this is what I thought of my year abroad' post coming to a computer screen near you before the end of this weekend, but I guess the next time we'll meet, I'll be back in England. How triste is that? Super triste. I'll leave you with the most appropriate song I can think of for my penultimate day in Spain, with Spanish translations, of course.


12/06/2013

Procrastination 2.0: Teaching

Heyyyy, 

I managed to struggle through last week's 4 consecutive exams, although I don't know how - I'm pretty sure I got about 8 hours sleep throughout the whole week. I've already got one of my exam results and I can safely say I've passed one of my modules and got half of the credits I need for this year. Where the other credits are going to come from though, I have no idea. I'm not the best at getting exam results (my stomach's gone all fluttery just thinking about it) so I'm going to move swiftly off the topic until I've finished all of my exams and I've got all of the marks back. Until then, though, I'm going to have to fill the blog another way, which brings me to today's topic... teaching!

As I've mentioned in other posts, I've been teaching English whilst I've been in Spain. Loads of people I know teach in specific English schools or academies, but I don't, I give private classes instead. Why? Because I didn't think it through, when I came to Spain, I had no idea that I'd be able to teach, because obviously I have no particular qualifications except being English and doing an English degree - and doing the first year of an English degree isn't particularly good preparation for teaching English as a foreign language. Anyway, the story of how I fell into teaching: I was out one night, and a girl who was a language assistant in a school (hi, Lisa) was talking to me about teaching, because the English teacher at that school was looking for a native speaker to do some conversation classes with her daughter. The next day I was given her email address and it turned out she had some neighbours who were looking for an English teacher too, so she introduced me to them, and I began teaching their kids as well. 

I only teach on Mondays, not for any particular reason, that's just the day that all the children I teach were free, and I give three classes and each is an hour long. I teach (or taught) children of different levels, a 12-year old girl who is a really fast learner, but had only just started learning the grammatical features of English; a brother (aged 12) and a sister (aged 10), the brother knew the basics of English and his sister didn't know anything, but their mum wanted me to teach them together (I've stopped teaching them now as it was getting to the end of the school year and they had other things to do); and a 13-year old boy who speaks English really well because he'd been on summer camps and to academies when he was younger.

The 10-year old girl made me this because it was our last class.
#bestteacher


Because of their different levels/abilities I had to teach different things and in different ways. For example, with the 12-year old girl, I'd focus specifically on grammar, then ask questions using that grammar as conversation practice. With the brother and sister however, I taught basic nouns and verbs, and then asked the brother to put it into the past tense or future, so he'd be tested too. The 13-year old boy was a different kettle of fish too and with him the classes are more conversation/vocabulary based as he generally understands most grammatical functions in English. 

Doing conversation classes is hard. Harder than teaching in an academy (in my opinion). You have to plan your lessons in advance, and you have to be the judge of what would be an appropriate topic for certain ages and certain abilites, as opposed to being given a curriculum or a text book and being told to teach from that. I equally have to print out and find my own resources, and make sure they're all correct and things. It's hard, man.

Anyway, to sum up this incohesive mess, I like teaching although I didn't choose to do it originally, but it's hard and stressful and I'm not entirely sure whether I'm doing it right. Ah well. 

That's it. I'm going to go and convince myself to revise... at some point in the future. 

04/06/2013

Procrastination: Learning and the University

I'm meant to be revising, but surely writing about my exams is the same as revision? Yeah, I'd say it definitely is. Anyway, I'm going to let you know exactly how the Universidad de Zaragoza works, the subjects I've studied, and why I suddenly agree with spending thousands of pounds of higher education (although the £9000 a year thing is still pretty steep...).

I don't have any pictures of the university,
so the pictures for this post are going to be like this. Sorry in advance.


Right, so, the university is Aragón's main (or only) public university, there are private universities in  and around Zaragoza too, because Zaragoza is the capital of Aragón, so it makes sense that most of the universities are based here. A public university in Spain is one which is funded by the region it is in, so the prices/quality differs from region to region (thank you, Wikipedia). I have no idea how much it costs to go to Zaragoza, but I can only assume the students aren't going to leave £30,000 in debt - although neither am I.

The university isn't as fancy as other universities, and by other universities, I mean Edge Hill, as that's my only basis for comparison. In most of the classrooms, there is literally just a blackboard and a projector screen. By blackboard, I mean blackboard, not a whiteboard, a blackboard. With chalk. It's a bit of a culture shock when you first get here. In a similar vein, there aren't as many resources as there are in the UK. There isn't a library filled with computers (haha, as if there's a library filled with computers at Edge Hill - YOU KNOW. YOU GUYS KNOW.), it's instead filled with books. But maybe not enough books for each course, which I know could be an English complaint too, but there is seriously like one copy of each book for a course. While we're talking about the library, if you return a book back late, you don't have to pay a fine, instead you CAN'T TAKE OUT ANOTHER BOOK FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME, which was a truly marvellous shock when I was writing an essay. Good one, Zaragoza.

When I say that there aren't enough books for each course, it's not necessarily a bad thing (i.e., you'd only need them if you were writing an essay) because you have to buy all the compulsory texts, which are photocopies of the books instead. Compulsory texts in Spain means compulsory, or it does in Zaragoza anyway. It's not in the loose 'just as long as you have a general idea and know who said it' sort of English approach to Literary Theory - which, of course, isn't the English approach and I have never blagged any exam or essay because of this technique - the Spanish approach is more 'remember that small insignificant part of the text you didn't highlight? You should have done. Welcome to hell' sort of way. I panicked in the first lot of exams when that happened.

Speaking of which, exams! Wonderful, wonderful exams. It would appear that, at Zaragoza, there's no such thing as a coursework-only module. Essays are generally optional (unless they aren't, listen in the first few classes or that'll come as a bit of a shock to you) and the optional essays are used to bump up your grades from the exams. The compulsory essays, however, are torture. When I say torture, I mean that I've only had one really bad one - although I hear other courses set horrific essays - and I handed it in a couple of days ago. It was 19 pages of hell. Hell here is 'A Study of the Illocutionary Act and Its Use in British Sitcoms'. Ugh.

For English courses, I have only had one open book exam, and all the others have been closed book, however not in the English idea of 'closed book'. It's more of a 'six-closed-books-and-three-essays-and-four-literary-theories' sort of approach to an exam, so you're more being tested on your memory and ability to revise than your ability to analyse (of course, analysis is involved in the exams, however context seems to be the be all and end all - most exam questions tend to begin with 'contextualise and analyse...'). I have a terrible memory and a complete inability to write a cohesive argument in a time limit, if exams are your forte, though, you're in for a treat.



I think now I'll let you know about my classes, if you're all ok with that? Yeah? Good. Ok. So. The credit system in Spain is different to how it is in England, in that, at home, there are about 6 modules a year, all amounting to 120 credits, because each is 20 credits. En España, however, each course is worth 6 credits, and the overall amount I need to get is 60 credits (if you're a language student and this is your year abroad, however, the amount of credits is significantly lowered). I had to choose 10 modules in total. These were: Historia de la Lengua Inglesa I, Estudios de la Novela Inglesa, Literatura y Cine en los Países de Habla Inglesa I, Estudios de Literatura Norteamericana, Variedades Geográficas de la Lengua Inglesa, Gramática Inglesa II, Otras Literaturas en Lengua Inglesa, Tendencias y Contextos del Cine en Lengua Inglesa, and Literatura Inglesa IV. Some (*ahem* two) of my classes are absolutely pointless. I won't name names, of course, but the tutors generally just go through that week's reading in class - no powerpoint or anything - and that's it. For another of the two, the students do presentations on the readings, which get marked, however the tutor says no more about the topic, and I, personally, find it really difficult to make notes on presentations given by my classmates in the offchance they're wrong. But that's only two classes.

And that, to my knowledge, is everything I know about studying at Zaragoza, or everything I can remember anyway. If you have any questions about it, just let me know. :)

Also... If you're studying too (and don't want to, and are in university), search #gcse or #alevels on Twitter - or the equivalent if you're not from England - or just the words on Tumblr and cackle maliciously. #schadenfreude  

01/05/2013

Bilbao y San Sebastián

Ok, so, being the traveller that I am, I went to Bilbao and San Sebastián a couple of weeks ago, and it WAS DEAD GOOD. Gather round, children, let me tell you what happened.

The day began much like any other: the sun was shining (because I live in Spain), the wind was blowing at a balmy -5ºc (because I live in Zaragoza), and it was the beginning of the puente (once again, because of Spain). I, of course, had overslept until about 10am, hadn't packed my suitcase, and the bus was leaving at 11:15am. So we got a taxi, ended up there early and stocked up on food (well, crisps), and then off we went!

Bilbao is in a really weird location. It's a city, but it's surrounded by mountains, and there's a river running through it, but because of that it isn't too much like a city, even though it really is. The area of Spain is sometimes called España Verde - Green Spain - and looks just like the English countryside. Except in Spain... Obviously.

This is the Río de Bilbao
Bilbao is home to the Guggenheim Museum, lots of nice buildings, a pretty big casco viejo, and some parks. It's the same as most other Spanish cities, except a bit greener. The Guggenheim was really good, their current exhibition - L'Art en Guerre - made me a bit sad, but it's still really good. Although I think the main attraction point is the actual building, as opposed to the art inside. Well, it was for me, but then again, I'm not the biggest art-lover (by that I mean that I didn't travel all the way to Bilbao just to look at art). But even so, go and have a look.


The Guggenheim Museum from across the river
Inside the Guggenheim


Tall Tree & The Eye - Anish Kapoor

Maman - Louise Bourgeois


Plaza Nueva in the Casco Viejo















Then, we went to San Sebastián and it's so so so so so so so excellent. When I say excellent, I don't mean that there's loads to do there, but it's one of the prettiest places I've ever been, and my new life goal is to live there. It's by the sea - a really clear sea - and it looks like France, but in Spain. Like, if you've ever been to France, you should know what I mean. Speaking of which, you could drive to France from San Sebastián in less than half an hour. There's a huge area for pintxos (like tapas, but Basque) and you can walk up Monte Urgull, which has an old lookout and you can see the coast. It's really nice. Go there, but only for a day, you might run out of things to do.

This is a building near the harbour/La Concha beach 


This is along the river, looking down towards the centre of town

One of the beaches, from halfway up Monte Urgull

This is the same beach - continuity, amirite?!

And this is me and Tom being a laugh. Awww...
Then, it was time to come home, so we boarded the bus back to Zaragoza (after Tom left the tickets in the room we were staying in and we all had a panic), and off we went. However, there was a proper rough looking guy on the bus, and, as he walked on, he hit a guy's plant on the seat opposite him - don't ask about the plant, I don't know why he had one on a seat. Anyway, we got about 2 hours into the journey, and these two guys started calling each other name that are too rude for this blog (they're not, I just can't remember what they said), and then plant guy stood up, walked across the bus, punched rough guy in the face and ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. Everyone on the bus stood up to watch/shout '¡ayyyy, cuidado! ¡cuidado!'. I'd like to reiterate that we were on a bus at this point - a 4 hour bus journey - so the bus driver had to pull over on the motorway, and split them up. And then about 2 hours later, we arrived back in Zaragoza. Standard Spanish sojourn.

And that was Bilbao and San Sebastián - nothing really happened, but it was a really good weekend.
Adiós!

26/04/2013

'Calorcito de los dioses': Valencia and The Expo

Calorcito de los dioses is a phrase that Marta, one of my students, tentatively tried to translate during one of our lessons, it means when the temperature is just right, like, perfect (for example, going inside on a cold day), her brother laughed when she said it and said 'jajaja, es una frase muy típica'. Either way, last week - and when I went to Valencia y Gandia - it was between about 25 - 30ºC, depending on when you went out, so it was just right, maybe even the perfect temperature in my opinion.

City of Arts and Sciences. Found on Google.

Valencia is on the coast, just over halfway down Spain, if you're looking at it on a map. It's famous for the City of Arts and Sciences, and being the home of paella. I was only actually in Valencia for a day, so when I realised my camera wasn't charged after I set off, I couldn't sort it out, so I don't have any of my own pictures to include, but it started to rain anyway so they wouldn't have been excellent/wouldn't have made you that jealous. Anyway, in Valencia, I walked along the park in the centre - there's a park which just cuts through the entirety of the city, it was once a river but it flooded the city once so they moved it, which it would appear is something you can do. At that point it started drizzling, so we went into the Torres de Serranos, which was one of the old entrances into the city, and it had a really good view of Valencia from the top, unfortunately I'm scared of heights and it took me about 20 minutes to get to the top, but even so. It's really cheap to go in too. Because we were in that area, we walked over to Valencia Cathedral, which is interesting too, and features the Holy Grail (quite a lot of people think it's the actual Holy Grail too - I'm not really sure where I stand on the matter), and an arm in a box. Seriously. Just go in for the arm in the box; sack off the audio tour because THERE'S AN ARM IN A BOX FROM THE 12TH CENTURY OR SOMETHING. I couldn't get over it. Then we went to the Science Museum and had a right laugh; it's in the City of Arts and Sciences, so the buildings are really impressive too. Just go to Valencia. Just go. It's good.

The Expo is an area of Zaragoza which was built for the 2008 Expo, which was about water (Zaragoza has the Ebro running through it, which is a huge river... well, huge-ish, it flows out to Barcelona). The site of the Expo has lots of massive, modern buildings and sculptures, and although it's a bit run-down -  the economic crash made original investors for the buildings pull out due to lack of funding, as they were going to move into the offices after the Expo had finished - it's still really interesting to walk around. And, as it was a sunny day, it was even better because, well, it was sunny.
The following are all pictures I took at the Expo (I took more, but these are the best ones...):





That's all for now, hasta luego. :)

08/04/2013

Marzo: lo que pasó

I hadn't realised it had been over a month since I wrote my blog. Normal service shall resume, don't worry. Anyway, I'm dedicating this post to what happened in March, just so you can all catch up. 

Sooo... During March, it was St Patrick's Day, which meant a day of drinking, or, in my case, a day of waking up late and finally going to meet everyone, then getting some food and realising that everyone else was insanely drunk, and so going home. Oops. It was still good, like, so can't complain! 

The following weekend (well, the following Thursday - Sunday), my parents came to visit! We went up the Pilar, which induced a bit of a panic attack in me and my mum (I think a fear of heights might be hereditary...), and ate absolutely loads of food. The Saturday they were here was the beginning of Semana Santa, which is the week leading up to Easter Sunday and involves parade after parade after parade. So, on the Saturday, we had lunch, went to Parque Grande, went to the Aljafería, and then got caught up in a parade. The parade was mental (for someone who isn't Spanish), they wear hats/face masks which I think are called capirotes - please correct me if I'm wrong because I honestly don't have a clue. Then!!! We went for tapas and had some very overpriced ham and eggs, so it was excellent.



This is the view from the top of the Pilar

Standard Spain...
Dad getting into the spirit of things




















After they went home, it was just three days before the Easter holidays started, so it was a case of quickly handing in an essay and attempting to start doing the work I had to do over Easter (I did none of it, obviously). The next few days I cracked open one of the books I have to read - surprisingly good, thank Salman Rushdie - whilst going 'er... should we go to Valencia?', the answer to which is always 'yes'. So Valencia was booked and that was that. Also I went to see 'Oz', and it's dead good so you all definitely need to go and watch that too.

That's it. That's March. That's literally all I did in March. #wild
Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of 'Becca blunders around Spain' because I need to tell you about Valencia también.

If you're interested in what went down on the Saturday, my dad's made a video of it, which definitely features at least one terrible picture of me. I would have put it at the bottom of this post, but Google is a cruel mistress.


25/02/2013

I went to Madrid and did nothing else with my life

Oh hey there, ¿qué tal?

Firstly I'd like to alert you all to the fact that I'm almost up to date with Glee, so that's alright and you can all stop worrying. It's proper kicking off on the programme though. Of course, that's not why you're here (although why you'd prefer to hear about my life instead of the inner workings of Glee, I have no idea...), and instead let me regale you with tales from my exciting life. 'Exciting' here meaning 'average going to uni, watching TV, rolling around on the floor shouting 'HELP I'M SO BORED', doing uni work (... sometimes), and going to Madrid for about 3 days.

Madrid is the capital of Spain, so obviously I had to go at some point. And also because el boyfriend   was going to watch something football-related (it was 'Man United v Real Madrid'. He says it was a 'good game' and that 'it was daunting celebrating the United goal in the Madrid end'. He equally '[wants] to be viewed as a mysterious character', but that's nothing to do with football).

Wikipedia - the greatest, most reliable information provider EVER - says that '[Madrid] is the third-largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-largest in the European Union after London and Paris', which is definitely interesting, and probably an essay topic for many a Spanish student the world over. Or not. I haven't a clue, no hablo español. Anyway, the Spanish royal family live(d?) there, I reckon it's the past tense, but then again, where else would they live? I have no idea; I'm only providing my opinion. They don't live in the palace though, although I only know that because I went in and had a look around. 



This is inside the palace, you're not allowed to take pictures. F-word the police.

We also were very very cultured and went to two art galleries - the Reina Sofía, and the del Prado. Fancy fancy fancy. The Reina Sofía is a more modern art gallery - it's the one with Picasso's Guernica in - and you're allowed to take photos and things, except not of the Guernica, alas. However, please enjoy some cultural diversions for a couple of seconds:
This is the entrance to the Reina Sofía
The boxes are part of a book sale, and the huge sculpture is by Roy Lichtenstein

Cubo de Nylon - Jesús Soto

This was part of a larger exhibition on Feminism, the images surrounding this one
focused on waitressing and submission to men. 

Spain is very Anti-Capitalist I've noticed. Although this is written in French.

If I can't include any Picasso, you can have some Dalí instead.

After those artistic musings, which I'm sure you very much appreciated (because I did - I can be quite a stereotypical English student, you know), we went to El Retiro, which is a massive park, and had a wander around/got a bit lost. There was another exhibition the Palacio de Cristal which is basically a very fancy greenhouse, and the exhibition was loads of string wrapped around the inside. Mental. We weren't expecting it, to be honest. And then we went in a rowing boat, because we're romantic as romantic things. Although I did most of the rowing, because I didn't get into the boat for romantic reasons. Just had a laugh rowing lol. 


This is the string wrapped around. It's called 'Two Golden Rings', by Jiří Kovanda.
Also I took this picture. A* GCSE Photography student, thank you.

This is me having a laugh in a boat. Look at that grin. Terrifying, truly terrifying.
The next day, we went to the Prado, which had much older paintings, and I had a bit of a look at pictures by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: or literally just Raphael, and a student of Da Vinci, but we spent so long trying to remember their names that they deserve a mention. Anyway, because the paintings were so old, I couldn't take any pictures. 'WHY?!', I hear you cry in your masses. Well, dear readers, it's because the flash is too bright and something to do with acid. I did work experience in an art gallery in Year 10, which is why I remember about as much as I do of my Science GCSE: 'something to do with acid'.

After this (like directly after) we triumphantly returned to Zaragoza, powered by sour cream and chive Pringles (the best ones, if you're not in a Paprika mood, of course) and the man driving the bus back. 

That's it. That's my Madrid blog. It was good. I'll go back to whinging about uni from now on. 

05/02/2013

Why Spain isn't England, and other tales

Hola! 

I'd like to begin with a picture from Zaragoza (I really need to start showing you what Zaragoza is actually like).

At Christmas, they build a lifesize Nativity scene in the Plaza del Pilar, complete with palm trees and little buildings that you can walk in. Although I went in the middle of the day, but it's huuuuuge. And excellent.

And now normal service shall resume:

¡¡Han terminado los examenes!! 
Cheeky bit of Spanish there... In the only version of the past tense I can use confidently. It still shows that I've learnt something, right? 

Anyway, the exams. They are truly nothing (NOTHING!) like they are in England. You're actually tested here, like, on things that were mentioned in passing in one class; not that you aren't tested in English universities, of course, those wonderful pillars of education, standing proud amongst a sea of mediocre foreign universities, charging thousands of pounds a year to give us the best education possible (I may be being assessed on my blog...). But seriously, English universities are actually better than the Spanish public universities, of which I attend, and that actually is because we spend so much money to go there. I know; it's a revelation. I know what you're thinking, young English university student with the joy of graduating with £30,000 debt, you're wondering if it's worth it. My answer is yes. Why is it worth it? Because in Spain they still use blackboards. I'm not joking.

This has lead me to consider the differences between our great and noble nation, England, and the equally great and noble (albeit much more confusing) nation, Spain. 

  • I shall firstly address the electric kettle issue. There are none. I've seen one that cost about 35€. I have to heat my water on the hob, and the kettle I use actually whistles. It's like being in the past.
  • No one is fat but everyone eats all the time. 
  • If you don't eat fish, drink wine, or rabbit, you're a social pariah when it comes to eating out. I am a social pariah when it comes to eating out. 
  • I've had a banana and biscuit flavour fromage frais. It was nice, and I thoroughly recommend the English yoghurt sellers to pick it up.
  • I equally think there should be more panaderías in England.
  • Sharing food is normal and you should do it to make friends (I did this today, in exactly the same way I did in Year 2 of primary school: 'Do you want some of my Kit Kat?').
  • A dreadlock mullet (I have no idea if that's its name) is a popular hairstyle. You have to just accept people's lifestyle choices and discuss this with anyone that isn't Spanish.
  • Older Spanish ladies wear mink coats; if they're less fancy, they wear long puffa jacket things with belts, like this, and generally from El Corte Inglés.
  • People use either plain or squared paper in Spain. Lined paper is pretty much unheard of. 
  • When in doubt, compare the weather to England (this works especially well if you're from the North).
  • If you finally get to grips with a verb, don't worry, it can be used 700+ different ways and you can always learn more ways to use it. The fun truly never stops.
  • You have to kiss people when you first meet them on both cheeks. Even if you think they're not Spanish. Besito, besito, besito. 
  • If they don't have a small dog, they're not really Spanish.
  • Dubbed films/TV programmes are common. As are (the truly excellent) game shows.
  • El Corte Inglés is brilliant. It sells everything (relatively expensively, but still...) Want an Innocent smoothie? Corte Inglés. Want something ridiculously Spanish? Corte Inglés.
  • Chino shops also sell everything. Very cheap. Everything. From socks to spanners, and kitchen scales to terrifying statues of Jesus. 
I reckon that's all for now, but I'm going to Madrid next week, so that's a super fun post to look out for!

16/01/2013

Two months of silence and this is all you get?!

FROM PINTEREST


Happy new year! 
We haven't seen each other for over two months - I hope I find you well and happy and full of good things, and that Christmas, New Year, and (of course!) November were fantastic.

Now for the updates - in PICTURES!! Oh yes. 


So. This is Barcelona in December. I know, right. I went there with a scarf on and was greeted with this. Zaragoza is always cold, so yeah.


And then this is me in front of the Sagrada Familia having a right laugh. 

I went to other places there too, but I think I took about 150 pictures and I'm hardly gonna put them all on this post (you'd be bored to death). So we'll move swiftly on to two weeks after this, when I went back to England for Christmas - and by that I mean, sweated my way across Barcelona again, with too much time to spare and a too big suitcase. Oops!

Christmas, this year, was a bit of a depressing/excellent time. Depressing (get ready... it gets emotional), because my tiny little dog died on Christmas Eve (don't say I didn't warn you about the depressing thing). She was really ill, and had an operation to find out what was up, and they discovered cancer and had to put her down. Subsequently, December 24th featured a rather melancholy troupe of Pollards going to the cinema to watch Skyfall. It was a surreal day to say the very least.


This is a picture of me and my dog having a chat when I got back for Christmas.

Christmas Day was cooooool though. We ate loads of food - of course - and did a Christmas Quiz which I'm pretty sure my Mum made up. It was weird, and me and Sarah (my sister - hellooooo!) lost anyway. On the Christmas note, I would share some truly wonderful pictures of my face from my tiny little sister's instagram, but I don't think I can because I'm not that technologically advanced. And the pictures are actually awful so I'm not going to. The ones that I can nab are on my mum's facebook and involve me and my sister in onesies - a sight I equally don't think you want to see.

After Christmas was, well, after Christmas. It involved me lying around on the couch for a few days, seeing my one true love, Mark for pizza and drinks (which I was not fully expecting) and far too many pictures taken on the tram ride home. And also a late-night viewing of the first episode of the new series of Miranda. SUCH FUN.

We make a beautiful pair <3
The day after this I went down to the Deepest, Darkest South* (of the UK) to see my good pal/boyfriend. Highlights include: walking up a hill; eating; looking a scaffolding surrounding a castle and a cathedral; walking back down a hill; eating; getting wet feet; buying new shoes; eating; getting sore feet from new shoes; walking up a hill; walking back down a hill; going to Pizza Express; and having a general laugh really. He then came back to Manchester and I made him stand in the rain as I shouted FEEL THAT?! DO YOU FEEL THE NORTH ON YOUR SKIN?! THAT'S THE NORTH, THAT. Not even joking, it rained everyday he was there. 
*the East


Then, it was time to go back to Spain, but not before seeing Clare and Emily (I'd include a picture, but no pictures were taken of our pizza-eating, shopping-doing, laugh-filled trip into Manchester). But it was excellent to see them and they're my #1 girlz 4evz IDST.

Anyway, now I'm back in the icy tundra that is Zaragoza. And it's exam season. And I'm stressed. I'll make a whole special post about how much I hate exams after next Monday. But it's taken three hours to write this as I'm a massive procrastinator.

Wish me luck!