Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Alicante June 23rd-28th

June 23, 2011

NO CLASS!!!! Since the festival was going on all of this week, we were lucky and had class canceled today (Thursday) and Friday!!! However, even though we had class canceled we still had a trip planned. Today we went to the Ohim. Ohim stands for Office for Harmonization for the Internal Market and this is a branch of the European Union.  OHIM . We got to all listen to a Scottish man named mark who explained how the European Union works and its purpose. The Ohim is the largest office branch in the European Union and if you wish to get a job there you have to speak at least 3 languages. this particular agency of the European Union is responsible for registering trade marks and designs that are valid in all 27 countries included in the EU

We enjoyed listening to Mark because he was quite humerous and because of his Scottish accent! He told us of one story in particular where Nike came to Europe and began opening stores to sell their brand shoes and athletic clothing. Once they opened they were brought into a large legal battle because a European man had previously received a patent for the term "Nike". Now he obviously did this as a scam to get a lot of money, but because the Nike company did not have the European patent for the term Nike, they could only sell article with the swoosh symbol on them. Therefore the use the term Nike on the shoes and clothing, Nike has to pay this man an annual salary to "borrow" his term Nike. So basically if you are a genius and come up with an amazing product make sure to receive patents in the US and Europe!!! I really enjoyed this trip because it was extremely neat learning about all the history behind forming the European Union.

After the bus ride back, we went to lunch with some of the students from class at a wonderful restaurant named Lolita. We had amazing salmon appetizers, potato soup, fish paella and amazing chocolate donuts and ice cream! It was delicious!

After a long a nap, we were supposed to meet some friends from the class downtown at 11:30pm for some of the festival activities. On this particular night, everyone goes down to the beach and sets up small bonfires. Then they all write down their wishes on one sheet of paper and their regrets on another. At a certain time, they throw their wish sheet into the ocean and their regret sheet into the fire and then they all swim in the ocean. Well starting at 10pm we waited and we waited and we waited for a bus or a taxi. Any means of transportation was impossible that night because of all the people out and about for the festival. Each bus that came to the stop just kept driving because they were full :( We were really sad that we didn't get to meet up with our friends, so around 1 am after waiting 3 hrs we enjoyed some amazing Magnum ice cream bars and nice walk around the villa.

June 24, 2011

FIESTA HOUERAS!!!!!! Today we also didn't have class thanks to the festival, so we got to sleep in!!! After we slept in we enjoyed a great lunch and then took a walk over to the close Outlet Mall. All of a sudden the night before, Anna's camera had stopped working. Therefore she wanted to find a shop to fix it or buy a new one. Also, I needed to purchase some tennis shoes due to a foot injury. Since we had arrived in Alicante, I had experienced some major foot swelling. One of the student's husband is a doctor and looked at it but said the only thing I can do is stay off of it until I get back to the states to get it X-rayed. Well walking around Europe it is not always easy to find a place to elevate your foot. ha ha So I wanted to get some tennis shoes to give me foot some comfort while walking. So we enjoyed walking around the outlet mall with two of our classmates, Jessica and Anne. I found some tennis shoes, but Anna had to buy a new camera. After walking around we all sat down at a cafe and enjoyed some cold drinks and discussed the upcoming night filled with festival activities. After a while, it was time to return to the Villa and prepare for the festival! We put on some of our clothes that we didn't mine ruining and my tennis shoes for comfort! Then we all loaded the bus to head downtown at 7pm. Once we got downtown we all went to a Pizzeria with our classmates to eat before all going our own ways for the festival! The pizza, salad and sangria were great!!!!

At dinner with Anna 
The restaurant

After dinner we all ventured out into the packed streets to walk around and enjoy the festival! We enjoyed walking around and looking at all the statues, shopping and eating chocolate churros! The churros are sooooooooooo good. I could have eaten like 10. However, once it got close to 11:00pm we made our way to the main festival statue in front of city hall. After we fought our way through the crowd and got into place we just had to wait. We passed the time by with taking pictures and observing all of the different kinds of people around us! Finally a few minutes before midnight, fireworks started going off and the celebration had begun! The festival is centered on these unbelievable statues that are so elaborate and very tall! Each neighborhood in the city of Alicante has one and then spend loads of money on making them! However, at midnight the city starts to burn them all, hence the festival name "Hogueras" which means bonfire. The first one to burn is the one by city hall and then they go throughout the night burning over 100 statues! While the burning is going on there is music in the street and people dancing everywhere!!! Also, the firefighters tend to spray the crowd more than the actual statue that is on fire. Everyone chants "Agua, agua, agua, agua!!!!" so that the fire men will hose them down. Needless to say, we were soaked after watching the statue burn! However, we loved it! We started to chant with everyone and dance in the street to the wonderful music! It was so much fun and refreshing since we could feel the heat from the fire.

The main statue for the festival!

The huge booths in the streets that were restaurants and had dance floors. 

Huge servings of Paella!

Yummy churros!


The statue is beginning to burn!

The end result 

After watching the main statue, we continued around the city until almost 2am watching all the statues burn! We had a blast. However, we had to catch our bus back to the villa at two or we would have been stuck downtown because the traffic is so bad! By this time we were exhausted from an amazing night at the Festival Hogueras!

With ladies wearing the typical dress of the festival!

Found some Vikings as well!

June 25, 2011

Of course we slept in after a crazy night at the festival, but we were pretty much lazy all day! We worked on some class work and just recovered from the night before! Then I ventured downtown with some classmates to watch the fireworks that they do every night for a week after the festival! The fireworks were amazing!!! They were so beautiful! They had a lot of fireworks that look like "palm trees" once they go off and they are the firework of the city of Alicante since they have so many palm trees here. We got to relax while watching the fireworks and eating some churros! It was a very relaxing day!

June 26, 2011

We definitely took advantage of our downtime on the weekends and enjoyed sleeping in a lot!!! However, today I decided to spend some time by the pool relaxing. It was wonderful laying out and swimming in the pool! After some time, I went back up to the room and enjoyed a siesta and got ready for dinner with some classmates. Several of the people from our Memphis group decided to take the tram up to another island called Campello and have dinner by the beach. The tram ride out was gorgeous since it was all along the beach! Once we arrived in Campello, we all walked down to the boardwalk and enjoyed the amazing view of the ocean! Then after a short walk, we were at our restaurant for dinner. It was great because our table was literally as close as you could get to the ocean without being on the beach! It was so relaxing enjoying a dinner with some amazing new friends. After dinner, we made the necessary stop for gelato and enjoyed it while walking by the beach.

El Campello 

Dr. Hall, Cody and Anna 

Babs, Megan, and Me 

Amazing salad

Yummy Pizza!


We then had to catch the last tram back to Alicante. Once we arrived back, we had to take taxi to get back to the Villa. So we had to split up and Megan, Cody, Anna, and me all got in a cab together. Now, from what I have experienced with cab rides in Europe, is typically the moment you get settled in the cab the driver turns up their favorite local station that plays all this music you can't understand. Not this driver. He immediately turned the station and Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much" was playing. We all immediately began singing and dancing around in the cab! It was hilarious! Our cab driver really got a kick out of it. Once we were back at the Villa, we all went to bed to get ready for our last day of class the next day.

June 27, 2011

Today was our last day of regular class before our exams. I have really enjoyed my time at the University of Alicante and have learned so much, so it was a sad day, because I knew we were getting so close to the end of our time there. After class, we had to begin packing up, sending postcards, and all of the lastminute things we had to accomplish before we left. Then we enjoyed a last supper with all of our Memphis classmates at the Villa. It was so nice, but also sad to say goodbye to some amazing people. I am really looking forward to keeping in touch with many of them once I return to Memphis! after dinner, we then went to meet up with some of our friends from Michigan that were there for a graduate program. We had so much fun just talking with them and discussing northern and southern differences and life in general. I am really blessed to have met so many amazing people of this wonderful adventure!

June 28, 2011

EXAM day!!!! This was our last day to be in class with all of the amazing people we had met! I was so sad, but was cheered up with our cute graduation ceremony. They called up each student and Dr. Hall gave each of us an award. Mine was the best death stare! ha ha (There were some Italian students staying at our hotel and they would always try to skip line, so I would always shoot them the death stare and yell at them! ha ha) After the graduation, they surprised us by not having to take any exams!!!!!! I was so thrilled, but I knew I would pass anyways because I had some amazing spanish teachers. We then spent the rest of the time saying our goodbyes. It was really sad. I have met some of the absolute nicest people through the program and can't wait to come back one day to visit them all!

I graduated!!!!

The class



Veronica and Andrea!!!!



After our goodbyes, we went out to eat with some of our friends from the class for a goodbye lunch. We enjoyed eating tapas and looking back on all the fun memories of the course. After lunch, we said goodbye for like half an hour! It was so sad. I know that they all have plans to come to America, but I am just not sure when I am going to see them again. However, I know that we will always keep in touch and try to visit whenever possible!!!

Anna, Natasha, and Alicia 

Diego, Elena, and me 

My best friend Natasha :)

All of the girls :) So blessed to have met these amazing women!

Later that night as we were busy packing and getting ready for our trip to Barcelona and then Italy, I was so happy to get to skype with my best friend and Alpha Gam little sis, Erin Hatley who is now Miss Tennessee! I was so extremely glad to finally get to talk face to face instead of through voicemails and texts. I am so extremely proud of her and all her accomplishments. I am so lucky to have her in my life.

I had a really hard time going to sleep because I was so sad to leave Alicante, but I just kept reminding myself of the good times ahead in Italy!