Posted by: meganlpiper | July 27, 2009

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Last minute photo shoots...

Last minute photo shoots...

I have an ipod here filled with all of my favorite music, and I think about song lyrics and how they apply to life often. JoJo and I talk about music and movies all the time, laughing and quoting songs and lines that remind us of where we are here and what were doing. While talking lately about it being our last week here, and how we all feel about it- I thought of a song. Home by Micheal Buble

 Yes, we all love it here, but a little part of me (a big part of some people) is ready to go back home. I know that I am lucky to have done this “Im lucky I know”, and I will always think about this trip as one of my favorite college experiences “and I feel just like Im living someone else’s life, like I just stepped outside and everything was going right“. I visited Paris, one of my most desired trips. “Another summer day has come and gone away in Paris and Rome…” I am fluent in Spanish now, and I know some amazing people as a result of this trip. “May be surrounded by a million people, I still feel all alone…I miss you, ya know” So this last week will be a bittersweet one. Agridulce en espanol…I am sad to leave, trying to get in every little experience that I can while also passing my exams, by the way. But Im excited to see my fiance, my family, and my friends! Its amazing how much can happen in the lives of those you love when you step out of their world for a mere 6 weeks. Im going home to begin wedding planning, to see the house for the first time that we have put an offer on, and to step back in as a best friend to some of the greatest people.  “Ive had my run, but baby, Im done…I wanna come home.”

So dont worry, I will live this last week to the fullest, soaking up all that is Spain and Segovia with our group dinners, study sessions, last minute photo shoots, and trips through the streets up to Plaza Mayor. I just wanted you to know how it is when you are so far away with only a little time left, loving every minute of it, but also thinking about everything you have to look forward to in your return.

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 25, 2009

The Fountain of Youth

Water on the trail beside the Castle

Water on the trail beside the Castle

They may not be drinking any particularly magical water here, actually I wouldn’t recommend drinking the tap water at all, but there are so many older people here who are not old at all! This is an interesting thing for one to notice I guess, but something that has impressed me about Segovia is that people of all ages are out and about throughout town. The daytime is filled with people walking in the streets, in the parks, in the stores, and in the restaurants, and night life is the same, dying down around 11 or 12pm.

I love how there are older people everywhere. They are out together, walking around and enjoying life. Even when canes are involved, you see them dressed well and observing the people as they experience life. When I say life, I dont mean the actual living and breathing, I mean the act of living well and with liveliness. Is it that they walk a lot and exercise regularly by doing so? Im not sure, although this is a great factor to think about. Is it that they relax and take time in the middle of the day to rest and be with their families (siesta)? This seems like it would lead to a happier life, if not a healthier one. I really would love to see the United States adopt this trend. Maybe the younger adults and children of the older community take better care of their older loved ones- keep them as a vital part of their life and everyday activities. Im not sure, but I love it.

An older man walking through a favorite park of ours

An older man walking through a favorite park of ours

So grandparents and parents- listen up! Walk around! Relax! Take time to get out of the house and people watch, enjoy your surroundings. We need you here, and living your life to its fullest! We can all take a little piece of Segovia to heart in this way, without even a sip from the fountain of youth.

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 23, 2009

Art in Life

Guernica by Picasso

Guernica by Picasso

We have excursions every week, alot of the time it has been to castles or cathedrals. This past week it was to two museums in Madrid. Museo del Prado and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. I loved them both. I took an art in life class at GSU last semester, because as a Senior- I thought that would be the best time to take freshman art? Go figure…I believe everything happens for a reason though, and I am so happy I had this class right before my trip. All of the art that I saw in the museums, I remembered from class. I felt so excited to actually see it and experience it in person.

In the Museo de Prado, no pictures were allowed. I bought a coffee table book for my house, though, because unlike most of the others- I loved this museum the most. Its art is more classic, and for some reason I just liked it. In Reina Sofia, pictures were allowed, and I have a ton (Museo de Reina Sofia Pictures on Facebook). This may be boring to some people, but I really enjoyed it and cant wait to come back one day and experience even more art and museums.

*Special thanks to Melissa Lovingood, my art professor at GSU!

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 23, 2009

Real World Segovia 2009

Real World Segovia

Real World Segovia

Have you ever seen the television show on MTV, the Real World? Of course you have, everyone has seen it. You dont want to watch it, because its dramatic and totally scripted, but you catch the reruns and end up watching it for an entire Saturday…or at least I have…ANY way, this trip is just like that. Minus the cameras, the script, and the tons of viewers at home.

How is it like the Real World? Well let’s see…the tagline of the show is “This is the true story… of seven strangers… picked to live in a house…work together and have their lives taped… to find out what happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting real…The Real World.”

This is exactly what happens here. You take 18 people, put them in the same town and make them get to know each other and interact closely for six weeks. You have different personalities, different agendas, different religions, different views, etc. It’s definitely an interesting experience. What you dont get to see, because this is not a tv show is the butting of heads. the love affairs, the arguments, the friendships, and the eye opening experiences. We have all types of people, complex and different at different times…wild, calm, smart, cocky, annoying, independent, moody, kind, funny, gay, straight, manipulative, honest, etc. etc.

It’s definitely a learning experience. You have to self reflect on how things go with others, how you view things that are going on, and how to be an adult in this situation or how to continue to be young and restless. Stay tuned for more episodes…only a few left, and the finale is always the best!

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 22, 2009

While you were sleeping…classes in Segovia!

Edu explaining the history of the Aqueduct

Edu explaining the history of the Aqueduct

While you sleep at night (You are 6 hours behind in the US), we take our three classes everyday from 9:15am to 12:30pm. Classes. We do have those here, as we are “studying” abroad.  While it may not be the main focus or the favorite part of all of us here- we have to do it. We are all together for our first two classes, History/Culture and Literature, and then we split up into an Intermediate or an Advanced Grammar class. I will teach you what these classes are like, the best, the worst, how hard it is to stay awake, and how I feel about them. Let the lesson begin:

First class of the day: History and Culture with Edu

This class is fun, interesting, and I like it. I dont find it to be hard, its just a matter of following the history. Edu is a great story teller, but I dont always follow him, lost in translation I guess. He is young, and his phone goes off at least once a day in class. We have homework once a week in our book. This is the only class that I have a book in while in Segovia. You do need notebook paper or a notebook for this one, actually for all of them. Most people bought them here, but I am happy to have a notebook that I can open and close to put papers in. Bring paper with you if you do this becasuse they dont have loose leaf notebook paper anywhere. I have been doing well in this class with the homeworks and with the one paper we have had to write.

Second class of the day: Literature with Paco

Oh Paco, what an interesting man you are! Paco leads us on our excursions on Fridays as well as teaching this class. He gets aggravted with us sometimes bc we dont stay together walking fast enough and we talk too much, but generally I think its going well. He is a grandfather type figure, wth his old man jokes and good sense of humor. His class is definitely work. We have a poem in spanish everyday, and he talks it through with us. The deep meaning, the literal spanish meaning, etc. All in Spanish though, no english at all so you need a good spanish dictionary (see the what to pack post for my recommendation). We have to write summaries of the poem every night, at least one and a half pages. I have been getting A’s on them, which I am happy about. Once, we had to memorize a famous poem in spanish, everyone is this country seems to know it. (Cordoba) I enjoy learning about the literature, but sometimes you just dont feel like writing about them. Most people dont pay attention that well in this one, trying to stay awake, but Paco also expects us to talk to him alot- interaction is key.

Third and last class of the day: Grammar with Emmy

This class is the more advanced of the two grammars. I love love love Emmy. She is so precious, and an interactive, fun teacher. She keeps us talking about our evenings or weekends or about ourselves to work on our speech. However, I have the hardest time with the material in this class. I think my foundation of spanish grammar is not very stable, which makes it hard for me to continue to build on it. We have homework in here that she goes over in class. She has only taken it up once, and we were all in trouble because we had not worked hard enough  on it. She is so cute and funny, and its a good way to end the day.

The Professors of the trip, L-R Paco, Suazo, Emi, Me, Edu, and David

The Professors of the trip, L-R Paco, Suazo, Emi, Me, Edu, and David

After class, we have the option of using the computer lab for internet for about an hour. Most of us just hang around to talk to each other or plan weekend trips. Classes should be one of the most important things here, but they arent. We help each other with homework and staying awake just to get through it so that we can have more outside of the classroom experiences here in Segovia. I hope you learned a little something, or at least now you know that I actually have been going to classes!

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 22, 2009

Pickpockets in Paris

Metro

The one time I dont have my hand on the closure of my bag (aka satchel), someone sticks their grubby paws in it. I have read online and heard to be very careful, as I am obviously American in other countries. I keep my things in front of me, am aware of my surroundings, and I have been fine. Until Paris.

We were in the metro, trying to get to the airport to some back to Segovia. I knew which line to take but couldnt figure out where to find it in the metro so I got my purse out of my rolling suitcase to get the map. I figured out where we were going exactly, and I just kept the purse on my shoulder because we were almost there anyway. My money and ID are in my jacket pocket, and my passport is in my suitcase under clothes. In my bag I have tissues, headphones, an ipod (btw Jonathan, its yours…), my camera, my flip video camera, and other random stuff.

I was waiting to get on the metro train, walking toward the open door, not in a crowd or anything, and I feel someone right up on my back. I turned around, looked down at a sweet little girl whose grubby little hand was trying to get into my bag. I instinctively snatched my bag towards me and reached out and back handed her across her chest, knocking her one step back. I yelled something entirely inappropriate at her, she was shocked at first and then fell into her undoubtedly rehearsed loud victim approach. I got onto the train, shaken up for sure, and she stood at the door and smiled. Her robber guardian took her hand and quickly led her away in the direction of their next tourist victim.

Looking in my bag now, camera-check, ipod-check, flip video- check, tissues-check, chapstick-check, money in my pocket- check…nothing stolen. Now I only wish I had hit her harder and knocked some sense into her. The economy sucks here too, but come on people, really? your kids? Anyway, be careful when you travel- its the little ones that will get you!

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 22, 2009

J’adore Paris

In love with Paris

In love with Paris

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2014232&id=195400016&l=fac41aa3ce

I love Paris. No, I am in love with Paris. I had the most wonderful trip for my long weekend, with moments so exciting or wonderful that I just closed my eyes at times and said, “I love it here”. Everyone is so beautiful and the food is amazing, the stores are incredible, everything!

We spent the night in Madrid on Friday in the same Hostel building as before, really nice. This time it was one floor down at Hostel Trina or something like that…We all hung out for a while, talking and having fun. One of the girls got her nose pierced, which she had been thinking long and hard about. It was such an interesting place, though. One of the many prostitutes on the street (in the middle of the day) in this one specific street, led us to the right shop for piercings. It had pictures, rather graphic, of piercings they had done- right on the street for you to see. Use your imagination on what body parts there were…exactly. Saturday, we flew out on Ryan Air, which it is worth it to go ahead and cough up the money to fly airSpain or some other airline bc Ryan Air is cheap. Scary even…anyway, in Paris we stayed in a hotel called Madeliene Opera, a small little two star hotel that was old and sweet in the Madeliene area of town, which is wonderful and Parisian with beautiful shops and quaint cafes.

The hop on hop off tour bus was a great idea, we used it the whole time to see the city and get around. Everyone had a great time, even with different agendas for the trip. The planner in me would have liked for everyone to spend most of the time together, but the important thing is that everyone accomplished their goals in the short amount of time that we had. My goals were to see as much as possible while also experiencing a true Parisian lifestyle. I went to the Louvre and Notre Dame alone, took many pictures, explored with just y own thoughts. It was really wonderful. Ian had been ther three times so he showed me, Joanna, Cherae, and Anna around, while JoJo also met up with her Parisian GSU friend, Clairevia (spelling?). I walked with Ian through the city, especially the Latin quarter, and explored. We met a French friendm whose completely Parisian one room apartment we got to see. It was tiny, but its Paris- how great to live there! She showed us the non tourist area, where we went to a little bar with the best music and interesting people. I loved it!

Ian and I agree that theres nothing like an adventure; we missed our night boat tour by one minute after running through the metro/ city of Paris lost and looking for the boat. How bad can it be when you are lost, but in Paris? Everything happens for a reason, so while disappointed, I look forward to my next experience in Paris to have something to do for the first time. Another adventure was a near pickpocketing experience, check the next post for that.

 The food in Paris was amazing, with chocolate crouissants for breakfast and amazing lunches and dinners. Not to mention the chocolate that, of course, I could not resist. It really is one of my favorite places in the world, and I have so much to see when I come back one day.  I have so much to say abou Paris, I thought I should write it in segments so that I could get it all in eventually so I will add to this as I think of things, like for example- how I would love to learn French now. I will be looking in Savannah for classes to take. I hated not knowing the language where I was- without Ian, I would have been lost. I love speaking two languages, like when people came up to me and needed directions in spanish, or when gypsies asked if I spoke English to ask or money and I say “espanol”. I cannot wait to go back with a wider vocabulary of French! Pictures are coming soon!

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 15, 2009

Back to Barcelona

The beach in Barcelona!

The beach in Barcelona!

Here are my memories from Barcelona,

Friday night, we arrived very late and very tired. We checked into our hostel..which by the way, exemplifies completely the picture of false advertisement. Do not stay there! The website for the hostel was well put together and interactive, which made me feel like they must have it together. Wrong. We lucked out on getting an extra bed because the man didnt know how many people I had even booked the hostel for originally.  Now that I know Barcelona, I would have stayed on the other side of Las Ramblas, in a better location. We had a good time talking and laughing, and preparing for the weekend.

Saturday morning we woke up around 11:30am. This thoroughly stressed me out as I was missing out on the city. We got ready, bathing suits on, and went to eat. Eating took forever, but we finally made it to the beach. It was dreary outside, but very fun. We ran into a group of students from Georgia Tech, and one of my girlfriends, Jill Matthews, from GSU (who also worked with me at the RAC) was with them! How exciting to find an unexpected friend in another country and city!  Although, she had gone to explore, and I never actually saw her, it was nice to know I had a friend in Barcelona besides the ones I was with! On the beach, there were tons of women who wanted to give massages for money, people selling coconuts, people selling henna tattoos, people sculpting sandcastles for tips, etc. We looked around at the shops (mistakenly thought there was a target…sad day), the boats, the people, etc. Joanna’s family was in town for vacation, and she graciously let Christina and I go to dinner with them. We took a pedicab to the hostel as we no longer wanted to walk, and didnt really have the time- what a fun experience! We ate at a beautiful restaurant right on the main street, Las Ramblas. I had Paella, a signiature spanish meal of rice, tomato sauce and different shellfish. We had the best time getting to know her family. We then met up with the rest of the group, dodging street vendors, performers, and pick pockets. We had a very interesting, a little stressful evening of los barres. My favorite lounge was called Sinatra. Very classy, very chill, very me. That evening, in true slumber party fashion, many of us piled into one room for gossip and giggles. Thats the only way to describe it- you would never guess all the things that you share with people over old Dominoes (wanna be) pizza and ratty hostel atmosphere! As Trey would say, “we were one step up from homeless”…arent those memories some of the best though?

Sunday morning, Trey’s train left early so Christina and I (the two moms) went in our casual comfies (not really pajamas) to walk him down to the metro station to help him get home. We got him on the right path, literally, and then ran to experience as much as possible in the short day we had left. Nick, Rachel, Kami, and I took the advice of Joanna’s family and booked a hop on hop off tour of Barcelona on an open air bus. This was the best decision because we were the only ones who really got to see the city. The pictures are mainly from this. I wanted mostly to visit Barcelona to see the architecture of Gaudi. While we didnt have time to stop at each place, I am so happy that I saw the city. We caught up with Sarah Beth at the train station to make it back home to tranquila Segovia. The trains here in Spain are amazing. Plenty of room, just enough security, and like a plane but better. If only we had this in the U.S.!

Overall, I really like Barcelona. I think it should have been more planned out, and my advice to future travelers is to know what you want to do and see and also how to do it. I will be fully ready for my next adventure to Barcelona. I didnt do any research before this trip, which is unlike me, but I had a great spontaneous…and interesting…time. Check out the pictures a couple of posts below.

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 15, 2009

Planning Paris

Below is a Google document that I created and then sent out to all the students going to Paris. We are meeting tomorrow afternoon to decide our plans and schedule for the long weekend. Take a look at all of the things I would like to do! Ill update you on our solid schedule once we have one.

http://docs.google.com/View?id=dk4t32h_67fp5wzdcj 

~M

Posted by: meganlpiper | July 13, 2009

Take a dip, if you like!

Barcelona. Pictures.  http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2014104&id=195400016&l=680a89b09d 

This past weekend has me taking my longest siesta yet…which means Ill finish this post this evening. Welcome to Spain. You want something now…and everyone else takes half of the day off.  Open 10-2 and 5:00-9:00.

Back after siesta!

~M

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