Sunday, November 9, 2008


So I had the opportunity to fulfill one of my lifelong wishes last week, and it was amazing. Brienne and I got to go to London! We were there for 4 days, and I seriously loved every minute of it. Saturday was quite the experience though, it poured all day long and we were walking around the whole city with one hour of sleep. The night before was Halloween, and Brie and I went to an institute Halloween party outside of Madrid. (We were hippies haha) We tried not to stay out too late, but by the time we got home and finished packing and everything, we only had an hour to sleep. Our flight left at 6:30 so we had to be up very early. Anyways, that day we flew from Madrid to Standsted airport and took a bus into London. After we had gotten off the tube at Bayswater station, we trekked off in search of our hostel. We got lost in a matter minutes because we didn’t have a map or anything! We were getting all stressed out and walking in circles when we turned around and there was Rebbie! (Rebbie is our friend that is doing study abroad in London right now.) We were very relieved and together we found our hostel. Our hostel was…..ok. It definitely wasn’t pretty or fancy, but hey it was cheap! For the first night, we got the “suite” room, which consisted of two bunk beds and a bathroom with a shower in the room. It really wasn’t that bad. We had two Japanese roommates, and they had declared the bottom beds so Brie and I got stuck on the top. It was quite interesting getting up and down of those beds with random people below you. And the best part was that my bunk bed was seriously the squeakiest thing ever invented. I could hardly breathe without it moaning and groaning underneath me. It was very annoying to say the least. I had to lie perfectly still while I slept or I would wake up everybody in the room. It was fantastic. Anyways back my day….

On Saturday, we saw many cool sights and walked all around the city. First, we went to Leicester Square to buy tickets for the broadway Momma Mia! and also went to Trafalgar Square and hung out with the huge lion statues. We got to go inside the National museum where we saw paintings by Van Gough, Rembrandt, Velázquez, and many more. (I can’t remember all the names… sorry!) For lunch, we went to Borough market where there were hundreds of little tents and tables set up of every kind of food there you can imagine! We also saw the London Bridge (which is actually the ugliest bridge there, nothing special about it at all) and all of the other really pretty bridges. My favorite one was probably the Tower Bridge. We walked alongside the Thames river all the way to the House of Parliament and the famous Big Ben. We also saw the London Eye and the Globe Theatre. We also got to see Westminster Abby, although we didn’t go in. We were all tired, wet and cold so we went to Rebbie’s favorite cupcake place called The Hummingbird and got a delicious nutella cupcake. Then we went back to the BYU Center where she lives and all three of us took a nap on the top bunk of her twin sized bunk bed. It was great. That night, we all went and saw the new James Bond movie!! And yes, I know its not out in the US yet J. It was very good, I recommend it to all. We just barely missed the premiere which all the actors and Prince William attended in Leicester Square, that was a bummer.

The good news about Saturday was it was the only day the weather was awful. On Sunday, it was a very nice day and Brie, Rebbie and I walked through all the parks all the way to Buckingham Palace. We walked through Kensington Park, Hyde Park, Green Park and James Park.

They were all so gorgeous! The leaves had turned red, yellow and orangeand it was beautiful! The parks there really are amazing, and there were tons of people out there on a Sunday stroll just like us. Buckingham Palace was beautiful as well, and the British flag was flying which meant the Queen was there. After that, we all went home and got ready for church. Rebbie has a calling in a Spanish ward there, but Brie and I really wanted to go to church in English for once, so we went to the singles ward. Sadly, we got lost and were very late to Sacrament but it was still nice to understand some of church for a change! After church we went back to the BYU center to eat dinner with all the study abroad students. It was very nice to be with people who spoke English and were members of the church! We had a lot of fun and then we went on another walk around London to see the city all lit up at night. It was amazing! I really love that place.

Sadly, Rebbie went on a trip to Wales and was gone on Monday and Tuesday, but we were very lucky to have Brienne’s cousin and his wife take us around those days. On Monday, we met up with Brittan and Hilary and their cute little baby Nora. While Brittan studied, the rest of us went out sightseeing again. We ran over to Buckingham Palace and made it in perfect time to see the infamous “changing of the guards.” The guards march up the street playing music and enter the Palace courtyard and rotate the guards on watch. We also got up close and personal with some of the guards near the Palace, but they weren’t very good at the “no moving” rule. We explored more of the city, including the British Museum. That was seriously the coolest museum ever! I could spend days and days in that place. It had so many different artifacts from all over the world dating from thousands and thousands of years ago. We saw mummies and an Easter Island head and the goatee of the Sphinx of Egypt. There were Buddha’s and ancient Aztec artifacts and the real Rosetta Stone. It was pretty amazing that so many valuable things from all over the world were in this one museum in London. After the British museum, we all met up and had lunch together and after that Brie and I went to explore Harrods. For those of you who don’t know what Harrods is, it is quite possibly the biggest department store in the entire world. It was the most insane place I’ve ever been! They have everything you could ever imagine there, including a pet shop complete with little doggy dressing rooms and thousand dollar clothes. Ridiculous. In the children’s section, there was designer everything (like Gucci, Dior, etc.) and of course there was a huge section dedicated to the most extravagant and expensive jewelry. I even found a fur coat there that was more than £54,000. That’s in pounds people, not dollars. And keep in mind that it takes almost 2 dollars to make one pound…. It was outrageous!! I felt privileged just to touch the darn thing. Brittan made a very good comparison of Harrods. He said it was like the “Great and Spacious Building” and I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. It was pretty awesome though, I could go on and on about all the crazy things we found there but I'm sure it would bore you to tears. Just promise me you will all have to go experience it yourself one day, ok? After our adventure at Harrods, we got to go see Momma Mia on broadway! It was amazing! After a long day of sightseeing we got in our nice, comfortable, quiet top bunks and rested up for another wonderful day.

On Tuesday, we went to the Tower of London. It is a really old castle where many members of the royal families used to live. It also holds the Crown Jewels, the most amazing collection of jewels in the world. We started off by joining in a tour by the legendary “beefeaters” who told us a lot of random but interesting facts about the castle. We then went to the main attraction, the Crown Jewels. In that display, they have the 1st and 2nd Stars of Africa, the largest diamonds ever cut. They also had many huge rubies, sapphires and pearls. I really liked seeing all the old crowns and scepters used by royalty back in the day. We spent a couple more hours exploring all around the castle and its grounds, it was gorgeous. Then we went to do what we do best… shopping! We shopped up and down Oxford street, the most famous shopping street in London. We also explored Piccadilly Circus and other tourist attractions. Then we met Hilary and Brittan for dinner and just laid low the rest of the night. Our flight left very early the next morning, so we were up before the sun was again getting ready to travel back to Madrid.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I was so glad that I got to go. It was a very nice change to be able to speak English again! I could ask people questions and get help when I needed it, it was amazing. I could also understand what was going on around me for a change!! It was funny because it took me a while to get out of my “Spain” mode and speak to people again. I usually just node and smile a lot here, but in England I could actually speak to people. At first, I would still say “si” and “gracias” to almost everybody because I was so used to just speaking in Spanish. So coming back to this crazy foreign country was quite a transition. Well that's all on my trip to London, I promise I'll be better at keeping up with this thing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spanish Class

Yes, I am taking a Spanish class here. And I know you’re all probably laughing and thinking, “Britt can’t learn Spanish!” and I'm starting to think the same thing….it is so hard! But I go to class from 10:45 to 12:45 Monday through Friday and I am actually learning a lot. There are about 13 people in our class and it is extremely diverse. There are 4 of us from the States, 4 from Germany, and 1 of each from Italy, Indonesia, Great Britain, India, and I can’t remember the other one. Pretty crazy huh! The craziest thing about the class is that IT IS ALL IN SPANISH! Yup, every word! Our teacher, Fran, “claims” not to know any other language so we all have to speak in Spanish the whole time. When you don’t know any Spanish at all, that can be pretty difficult! I am learning a lot but I get lost sometimes too. I'm not very good at pronouncing the words here and I don’t know why! When I was taking French, it was a lot easier to pronounce things compared to Spanish. But hopefully I’ll keep catching on and studying and be able to learn it! It definitely is an experience sitting in that class though I can’t help but laugh all the time. Brie and I have also made quite a few friends so that’s fun! Stefie is from Germany and Ghia is from Indonesia and it’s fun to get to know them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My New Family!!!

I absolutely love my family here in Madrid. I was very nervous to come here and live with people I don’t know but it has been so fun! My Spanish mom, Ester, is very very nice and super cool. She speaks English perfectly so its fun to talk to her about everything. Her husband Pedro is also very nice even though I haven’t been around him much because he works until late. Alejandra (Alex) is the youngest and she is 5. She has more energy than any other little girl I’ve ever known! She is also extremely smart. She knows English very well because she is in an English school in Arturo Soria (our area of Madrid) and takes classes in both Spanish and English. She goes to school from 9 until 5 everyday! I honestly don’t know how the teachers keep her attention so long. I can’t even control her for an hour! But she is really sweet and I have a lot of fun with her. Jorge is the middle child, and he is 10 years old. He is also extremely smart and goes to an English school as well. He is the biggest sweetheart ever, I just love him! At dinner, he helps me with my Spanish and is very good at not laughing at me when I know I sound totally ridiculous. That boy never stops talking and is always telling me stories about his family or people at school and it takes us forever to get any of his homework done but hey it makes it fun for me! Pedro is the oldest and he is 12. Pedro is a slower learner but again he is such a sweet little boy. He goes to a normal Spanish school and takes an English class there but doesn’t learn very much so he’s the one I mainly work with. We work on the basics like sentence structure and vocabulary so I have a lesson book and go through it with him everyday.They also have a housekeeper, Gladys, who doesn’t speak or understand English at all so that’s interesting! But she wants me to speak to her in English so that she can learn so we will see how that goes! I wish I could speak to her in Spanish though because I desperately need to improve in that area but I'm supposed to speak English 24/7 with my family so its hard to get practice in. So I designated dinner to be my time to practice my Spanish so hopefully that will help me! Oh ya, I forgot Timmy the dog. He is very crazy and hyper just like the rest of the family but I like him most of the time. He isn’t trained at all so that makes it hard but oh well. So that’s my family! Its funny because they are a lot like my real family. They already treat me like their older sister and I’ve only been here 3 days but I love it so much. They are very sweet to me just like my brothers are and we get along great! We also play a lot together and I seriously love being at home with them. There is never a dull or quiet moment here, just like at the Maxwell house! I’ll keep you posted on the family a lot, I'm sure that will be what I talk about the most! I really did get very lucky :) I haven't taken any pictures of the house yet, but it is beautiful! I will also take lots of pictures of the family this week. Hasta Luego!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Our Days in Madrid

Our boat ride around the lake in Parque de Retiro. Me and Brie did most of the paddling... figures right?
Awkward pose in front of the wall enclosing the statue of King Phillip in Parque de Retiro.
Our day trip to the Museo Del Prado. We saw like a million paintings, that place was huge! We did see some pretty cool stuff though, I liked it alot.
Standing in front of the Cathedral next to the Royal Palace. They have the coolest buildings here!
This is in Plaza Mayor, a really famous plaza in the center of Madrid. There was a lot of street performers and restaurants and just a lot of people everywhere. We hung out here almost all day the first day we were in Madrid.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


My first real night here in Spain was very amusing. In the city of Villaviciosa, it was their annual city fiesta. It is much like our city celebrations at home, with a carnival and fireworks and all that. On Thursday, there was a band called Fondo Flamenco that was performing in the middle of the city. Rogelio invited me to come with him and meet his friends and go to this concert, so I went. I actually loved the music, even though I didn’t understand a word! The atmosphere at the concert was much like it is at home, a bunch of teenagers crammed together singing and dancing to the music.
On Friday, Brie and I went with everybody to the carnival in Villa.

That night we just got to know everybody and stood around in the parking lot all night! Its funny to hear them try to speak english to us, we get a kick out of it.

Everybody here is way nice and tries to help us get around with our awful Spanish. I love living with the Molina’s but I'm very excited to go live with my host family! Sorry if my blogs are very boring, I'm writing it more for myself, that's why it's so long! I'll try to make them more interesting but I'm not promising anything...

Getting Lost...Part I and II

So if traveling to a place you aren’t familiar with is difficult, then living in a country where you don’t know the language is impossible. My goal for the day was to find the bus from Villaviciosa to the Príncipe Pío station in Madrid. I only had two euros with me because I hadn’t taken out any cash yet, but it was only 2 euros to take the bus so I thought I would be ok. As it turns out, I got on the right bus but going in the wrong direction for about 20 minutes or so. When the bus driver reached his last stop, I had to get off and try to find my correct bus, which I found pretty quickly. I was feeling confident this time, and reached into my wallet to give the driver my money. The only money I had was 1.20 euros, I had to pay my other euro to get on the first bus. When the bus driver realized I didn’t have enough money, he stopped the bus in the middle of the street and opened the doors. I couldn’t believe my luck, he was kicking me out! Yup, I got kicked off the bus in the middle of the street with cars behind me honking and everything. I was shocked and embarrassed, so I quietly got off and started aimlessly walking. It sucked. And to top it all off, Brie called me right then to tell me that she was lost too! We were both laughing a lot because it was pretty funny that we were both wondering around places that were very far from our destination. But we got it all figured out and we finally made it to Madrid.
After taking the bus to and from Madrid a couple more times, I again was feeling pretty confident that I knew where I was going. This time, on my way home from Madrid, I got off the bus stop way too early and ended up walking for a ½ a mile or so on the side of the highway. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there had been a sidewalk or something. But no, just a little dirt strip running parallel to the highway. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous but I just kept walking and eventually I found my house. What an adventure it is living in Spain!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Molina Family

I am staying with the Molina family for a couple of weeks until I can start teaching with my host family. They live in a really cute city called Villaviciosa just outside of Madrid. The parents are Rogelio Sr. and Maria Asun Molina and they have two kids, Rogelio and Natalia. The son is my age and speaks English and lives at home and Natalia is a couple of years older and lives in Orem.

The parents don’t speak English very well but they are the nicest people ever! Rogelio is a dentist in Móstoles and his wife is a surgeon. We can understand each other enough to communicate the basics but that’s about it. They also have a housekeeper named Susie. She is from Brazil and speaks English as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to live with, they are all very nice and I feel so at home already.I have my own bedroom and bathroom while I'm staying here and it is awesome! My room is so sweet, I love the slanted walls and the view. The house is amazing in general, I love everything about it. In Spain, all the houses are surrounded by tall fences so every house is totally enclosed. Its different but I like it. ¡Adoro mi casa en España!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My 20 Hour Flight...

I'm finally here in Spain! The flight here was very long and interesting, I barely made it on my flight from JKF to Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday. My flight from SLC got in over a half hour late and I had to get all my bags and get to the International terminal to check in for my next flight (because I fly standby) and I didn’t think I was going to make it in time. So I'm running around trying to get there and I, of course, get on the AirTrain that isn’t running. For some reason the one ahead of us was stopped and we couldn’t move anywhere so I had to take the other one all the way around the airport to get to Terminal 1. It took me over an hour to get there, so I knew there was no way I would ever get on my flight that left in less than 30 minutes. And the people at the counter didn’t speak English very well, so it took them forever to check me in and get me ready to go. I ran through security and up to my gate to find out that they put me on the wrong flight! With that flight, I wouldn’t get into Madrid until midnight and Rogelio was picking me up at noon so it would be a disaster. So I walked around looking for the gate from which my correct flight was leaving from and I luckily found it! They were just about to leave but they waited for me to get on and got my bags off of the other flight and I was on my way to Germany! It was really a miracle that I got on. But there were so many different kinds of people on that plane (all of which are on Linsey’s team, by the way) it was so funny to hear everybody speaking different languages and see their different cultures. The airport in Germany was pretty cool, it was super nice inside but I was only there for a short time. I did try to read a newspaper in German while I was waiting without much success, I mostly just looked at the pictures. When I finally landed in Madrid, I couldn’t find Rogelio and Brienne anywhere, so I wondered around forever and tried to get some euros to call them. But I must have gotten the wrong number because a Spanish lady answered and hung up on me when she didn’t know what I was saying. I couldn’t help but laugh at my situation…. I was alone in the airport with all my bags and couldn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t have any euros and I hadn’t slept for a very very very long time. The only hope to finding Rogelio was to call him and when I thought that would work, my lack of Spanish worked against me and I was helpless again. Great. I was so tired and just wanted to sleep but I just kept walking around until I finally saw Brie, it was a very happy moment for me. Between Brie and I, we had 6 bags to fit into two of the smallest cars I have ever seen. It was hilarious trying to put down the seats so that our stuff would fit but we managed to shove it all in there somehow. After the airport, we just went back to Rogelio’s house to met his parents and unpack everything. So the flight was long but it could have been a lot worse, I'm just glad I made it to Madrid in one piece!