Granada, Spain: First Impressions

And just like that I’ve been in Spain for three full days. I keep having to recount on the calendar from both shock and exhaustion. I slept like a baby the first night here, leaving me somewhat ready to live the sleepless life of a Spaniard while taking in as much as possible. Between the walking tours and host mom bonding, I have some thoughts on this beautiful city:

Architecture // Arquitectura

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While I fell in love with UD for its “old” brick buildings and style, Granada takes that love for old architecture to another level. There are plenty of modern buildings to appreciate, and I won’t romanticize the simple apartments, but the historical buildings and albayzín take me through time and space with their many influences and styles.

Coffee // Café

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I’ve seen just one Starbucks since I stepped off my plane, and it was in the Madrid airport. I’ve passed a Dunkin’ on the daily as we’ve explored, but I am continuously drawn to every single small coffee shop we pass. I’ve managed to surpass my host mom’s expectations by not just not having the jitters from their “strong” coffee but also needing more coffee throughout after the cup she gives me with breakfast. My cortado experiences haven’t failed me, but more importantly the black coffee is also much smoother than in America.

Food // Comida

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Not everyone here eats breakfast, but when they do it can easily be a cup of chocolate and fresh churros without judgement. I could go for a syrup soaked french toast any day in America, so that sweet alternative is nice for when the typical coffee and toast doesn’t cut it.

The unspoken motto here is that lunch is the most important meal of the day, which so far have consisted of a rice-with-red-meat-sauce and then carrot puree with chicken wings. With nothing too terrifying (yet), I’ve taken on that big meal every day with open arms and a mouth open wide. Don’t even get me started on the magic of tapas.

Other // Otro IMG_8444.jpg

It’s been an overwhelming couple of days, but I could not be happier to be here. I knew coming into this that I would go outside of my comfort zone, and here I am waving at it from a distance–churro in hand. The biggest surprises continue to be the struggle of showering and how quickly I go from understanding my host mom to being completely lost. It’s more apparent to me now than ever that a smile means the same thing everywhere. I can only imagine that my Spanish discussion class will help me, only after the initial pain of getting into the swing of things. It’s been easy to forget I’m actually going to come out of this trip with another grade on my transcript.

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It’s flown by more than anything, but I already have great memories to show for it. Bring on the next 4 weeks.

Hasta luego,

Casey

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Studying: Coffee House Composure

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It can be hard to focus in college. So many people and activities and food. It’s important to find a place to really be able to focus, whether it be in the library or dorm. After my first semester in college, I know I prefer studying in coffee shops or cafés. Some people may not have found their favorite place personally, but even during my winter session I get the best work done when I leave my house and venture to a new setting. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is definitely my cup of coffee.

Why Coffee Houses?

  • But First, Coffee: Coffee is both a cultural phenomenon and basically an essential item to function. Cafés/coffee houses have an endless supply of it (shocker, right?!), as well as varieties of tea, delicious pastries, or even the occasional healthy foods. Although Starbucks is great, more unique places tend to have different and better things to offer.
  • The People: Small coffee houses are usually stocked with original characters and quality service. Both the customers and employees are usually conversational and pleasant to interact with!
  • Noisy, but not annoying: Working in complete silence is just a call for distractions for me as little things tick or tock. Too much noise is a distraction in it of itself. I find the low buzz of conversations and steamers the perfect complements for a study session.
  • Energy: Not to get too hippie-hippie here, but my past three reasons all add to the feelings of a coffee house or café. I find them so cozy, comfortable, and straight-up motivating. Most other people there are also studying, and everyone is hyped up on coffee and cream.
  • Even science supports the coffee-shop-studying-movement!
  • Who does’t want to feel like the cast of Friends?
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Gif from giphy.com

Make the Best of it:

  • Know Your Budget: Know going in that you are going to only buy one cup and a muffin so that you do not keep ordering coffee as you spend more time there and accidentally drop $20 on coffee in one day.
  • Try New Things: Those giant menus are created for a reason. Don’t order the same thing every time you go and it will help bring more excitement to what you are studying!
  • Get to Know the Staff: I have yet to master this, but having the people know your name and/or order could really make your stressful study days a little bit better.
  • Don’t go every single day because the day you skip will be filled with a caffein withdrawal headache.
  • For anyone in Newark, Delaware: Brew HaHa and Brewed Awakenings are the best things to ever happen on Main Street.

You’ve got nothing to loose, except maybe some money.

Please join me in my coffee house obsession and check out your local places, especially if you are a student or if only just to support a small business at the end of the day!

Your Caffeine Enabler,

Casey

Hello October: My September Favorites

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It looks like goals are not going to be my thing, but I have definitely found some favorites!

  1. My Suite mates

I was really nervous about making friends going into college. I have yet to find my true group, but what I have for now is completely fine with me. I love my roommates and suite mates, or at least the ones that have not moved out. There has been very little drama, but we managed to have two suite mates move out and one move in. The three OG are the best, even if they aren’t perfect. I could not have been more lucky. They are helpful, caring, and very entertaining. (They do not know about this blog so I am going to hold off on pictures… for now)

  1. Café Studying

I was told that I should find my own niché going into college and that is exactly what I did. A lot of people I know like the library or the dorm lounges, but I am willing to pay for tea or coffee whenever I need a place to study. I crave the sounds of the steamer and cafe chatter. The idea of becoming a regular at Newark’s Brewed Awakenings in basically my goal in life right now. My productivity levels increase so much when I am there. I can’t wait to go back as I type this, and I was literally just there

  1. Ocean City, New JerseyIMG_7278

As much as I enjoy my suite mates, I was overjoyed when I had the chance to get away for the weekend in OCNJ. The house (my grandma’s extra house) is being kept open all year for my sake, so of course I had to check it out. I didn’t realize it until I got on the road, but I missed being alone so much. I also missed fresh air and the open road. The full weekend, although still full of homework and laundry, was more than I could have asked for. I love Ocean City so much and I cannot wait to go back.

  1. WaWa

IMG_7389National Coffee Day came and went this September. Last September I would not have cared, but now I am a changed *college* woman who needs coffee. Wawa was my supplier for that, and now many other things. I need to start a petition for more WaWas nationwide for when I go home to Chicago. Wawa does not have all that much, but for some reason I just love it. It’s probably because of all of the sweet foods and subs (hoagies?!?!).

  1. Food

Walking is my main form of transportation is college, but unfortunately I am usually walking to or from places with food or near food. Be ready for some posts about Insomnia Cookies and Newark Deli & Bagel, among many other places, once I get my hands on more of their menu items. While my dining hall food is okay, the off campus food just a short walk from my dorm is amazing. Fingers crossed exercising is in my favorites next month. #FightingThatFreshmanFifteen

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September was a roller coaster ride, but a good month over-all. I won’t go into detail because I want to safe all the juicy stuff for full posts of their own.

This was a short list with nothing to specific, but I just really wanted to post SOMETHING. I am slowly getting my lift together here at UD, but I am going to test out a new system so I can post more. Wish me luck.

Hope everyone had a great September!

Casey