University of Washington

Summer A Term 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Daily Diary 7/27 The final day

The Final Day

It was a bittersweet morning. Literally, the coffee was bitter and the Maria cookies were sweet.  It was our last breakfast as a group at the dorms. I ate quickly, rushing to be done so I could have more time to work on my presentation. I wish I would have soaked in the moment more, savored my food and slowed down long enough to enjoy one of the last group conversations we would have that day.

After lunch we all dressed up in our nicest attire and it was finally time for the big presentation. I rushed over to the Leon center for the very last time and found my seat amongst the array of chairs. To my surprise there were many guests, including Magda and Manuela, who was skyping in. Even a student from the language center which I had personally invited had come to watch us present. When the presentations started all was silent and the last day of our study abroad seemed to finally begin. 

Although we had started our formal presentations, I did not feel any sense of sadness until two of our group members had left and gone to do their own travels. First Octavio left to catch his train for Madrid and later Tarra left as well. There were many hugs and goodbyes as we realized it could be a long time before we would reunite. However, it was not until after dinner that we would all go our separate ways.

Once the hard part of the day had reached its close we dined at a fine restaurant called Zuolaga. The appetizers, main course and dessert were exquisite. To start with we had freshly-baked bread (or at least freshly heated) and a traditional Léon drink. It consisted of tomato sauce, watermelon squares and pieces of cured beef all combined in a tiny cup. Then we chose either a fish patty or leek soup. In the words of Santos, either fish pudding or leak pudding. After hearing Santos’ description I was unsure what to expect. How could both vegetables and fish have the texture of pudding? Fortunately the leek soup was delicious as well as the main course of sweet tender pork and prunes which followed. For dessert we were each given a slice of cake which we all believed to be cheesecake. However, after tasting we realized it had the texture of flan with the taste of cheese so we are not sure what it actually was. Our final dinner turned into a celebration of Juliana’s birthday, she turned twenty years that midnight.

Daily Diary June 22nd- 23rd

July 22nd 2013

Following the three day weekend, the group that went to Portugal and the group that went to Valencia made our way home. That Monday morning we were all sad to leave Valencia, not only because Valencia was beautiful, but because that meant our time in Spain was coming to an end. We took a high speed train at 8 in the morning and made it back just in time for lunch at the dorms. It was great seeing everyone and exchanging stories about our weekends. After that we all got settled back in and enjoyed some down time as we prepared to present our assignments. We had been assigned to approach three different categories of people, older generation, a family, and youth. We were instructed to introduce ourselves... "Hello my name is ____. I'm a student at the University of Washington. I'm in Leon studying youth unemployment. This is my research question. What do you think? Is it relevant?" Granted this all had to be in Spanish. The assignment provided more struggles for some students than others, as the range in our group varied from previously knowing no Spanish and being a native Spanish speaker. Approaching a stranger can be very intimidating, but add a language barrier and the task seems daunting. At around 6 pm we all made our way to the Leon Center.  We all sat in a circle and each person had a turn to share their experience. Some of the interviews went really well for people and they found a valuable resource. And other interviews brought a lot of laughs for us. One example being Tarra trying to tell a lady that her yogurt looked good and the lady thinking that Tarra wanted to take her yogurt. This assignment definitely pushed everyone outside of their comfort zone, and it also helped us realize how many valuable resources may be out there if we just ask. 

July 23rd 2013

On this day we had our last Spanish class in the morning and then the afternoon free to do research and work on our presentations. Many of us worked on our papers and started making our powerpoints.At 5 pm Julie and Edgar came to the dorms to take us to the cooking class. The cooking class was a 10 minute walk. We got there and our instructor had already started some of the meal prep. She said that on the menu for dinner was Sopa de Ajo, Paella, and Limonada. We all helped by cutting the oranges and lemons then got the juice out. We were all a little taken a back when she added 2 bags of sugar, but we figured we shouldn't question the cook. 

We helped with a lot of the cutting and stirring, but she definitely did most of the cooking, which was probably for the best! We asked her a lot of questions about what food was most typical in Leon (paella), what dessert was her favorite (arroz con leche), when she started cooking (around 40 years ago), and overall we really enjoyed getting to know her! She told us about when she was 22 working in a restaurant and there was an international cooking competition in Leon. She entered a few of her dishes just to see how she would do. The competition is set up so that know one knows who cooked what, it is all based on the taste. She was in the park when she received a phone call informing her that she had won. She was so surprised and so excited. She went on to enter the competition the next five years with different plates, and won every time. Needless to say we were all so excited and honored to try her cooking.

All the food turned out incredible and we were so happy to have had this experience!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Daily Diary July 17-18th

            My day began gloriously: by sleeping in! While I should have been productive and gone to the market with some of the group, I couldn’t help but take that morning to recover from a hectic few weeks! Though as seen through Facebook, it seems like the market goers had an interesting morning, filled with animal carcasses and cow brains attached to tongues (thank you all for posting those pictures on Facebook, it was lovely to open my feed to those pictures for the rest of the day). Though I don’t like to miss opportunities, I think I’m okay with having some of these stories told second hand. And, I got to have some quality bonding time with Toli (spelling?), our dynamic maid. She thought it was hilarious how long the inhabitants of the second floor slept in that morning, and we chatted in broken Spanish (on my part) about our sleep schedule, our upcoming trip to Valencia and our families. It is amazing how people can communicate even though there is a language barrier. Though I am sure she thought I was slow since I took a long time to respond, I think she just appreciated that I tried to speak Spanish with her.

For your viewing pleasure: photo cred Sonja Khan

            Later that afternoon, we all met at the palace to watch the movie Ay, Carmela!. The movie was about a makeshift family during the civil war who were captured by the Italians and made to put on a show in front of the army and the POWs. Since my project is on film, I was particularly excited to watch the film, as it gave a lot of insight into the history of Spanish film. I was not disappointed. Though we had to guess at some of the scenes since the disk was scratched, it was a very emotional movie that portrayed some of the horrifying conditions of the civil war.

            After the movie, we went to the plaza to see the 15 M meeting. When arrived, there were no obvious signs of a protest group, so we hung around awkwardly trying to scope the scene. After a few minutes of standing around, Claire and I went to get some much needed helado, and when we came back we were still deliberating on whether or not to go over to the group we assumed was the 15 M. Eventually, Mitchell got up the nerve to walk somewhat close to the group, and once they noticed him hovering, they began speaking to him and Julie. Eventually, the ‘16 M’, as we called ourselves (Edgar’s idea), merged with the 15M, and we all purchased cute buttons to commemorate our first 15 M meeting. They were discussing a march the next day that the whole country was going to participate in, and while we would not be there for it, it was interesting to see how the dynamic of the group worked.
            The next morning, we had our language class at 930. As part of the beginning class, we attempted the challenge of learning the verb ‘to be’ as well as clothing, foods, and weather. Our teacher, Marta, was so sweet and helpful as she tried to teach us all the things we wanted to learn, (such as the Spanish word for blueberry). Meanwhile, upstairs, the other group was discussing their travel plans for the three-day weekend and creating fake schools? They were having a vibrant discussion, nonetheless. This was a hard class for all, since everyone was so anxious to get to our three day weekend excursions to Valencia and Porto.
            After class, everyone ran back to the hostel to quickly eat and pack, and then we were off to the train station!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Student Presentations-July 25, 3:30 p.m. UW Leon Center

Saludos, Dear Friends,

We are pleased to invite you to a presentation at the University of Washington Leon Center at 15:30 (3:30 p.m.) on Thursday, July 25.  This event will showcase the research projects of students participating in the UW Honors Program's, "Social and Artistic Representations of Youth Unemployment in the Eurozone: Germany and Spain as Case Studies". Students (17) from a range of disciplines have spent a total of almost five weeks in Berlin, Madrid and Leon. The presentations you will hear represent group and individual research related to the larger theme of the program. Student topics range from education, immigration, healthcare, arts and performance, and globalization. 

Where: Leon Center  (Palacio del Conde Luna, 2nd Floor) 
Time: 3:30-5:30/6:00 p.m. (15:30-18:00) -- approximate end time
(a reception will follow the presentations)

Please be our guest for all, or part, of the presentations. We look forward to seeing you next Thursday! 

You are also welcome to visit the special exhibit currently housed in the museum at the Palacio del Conde Luna: 


Julie Villegas y Edgar Kiser
Program Directors 

Saludos Amigos, queridos amigos:

Tenemos el placer de invitarle a la presentación en la Universidad de Washington Centro León a las 15:30 (15:30) el jueves 25 de julio. Este evento será un escaparate de los proyectos de investigación de los estudiantes, que participan en el Programa de Honores UW "Representaciones sociales y artísticas, de desempleo juvenil en la zona euro: Alemania y España como estudios de caso". Estudiantes (17) de una serie de disciplinas han gastado un total de casi cinco semanas de Berlín, Madrid y León. Las presentaciones que se escuchan y representan el grupo de investigación individual relacionado con el tema más amplio del programa. Estudiante temas van desde la educación, la inmigración, la salud, las artes y el rendimiento, y la globalización.

Dónde: Centro León (Palacio del Conde Luna, 2 º Piso)
Hora: 15:30- 18:00 - hora de finalización aproximada
(Habrá una recepción después de las presentaciones)

Por favor, ser nuestro invitado para todos, o parte, de las presentaciones. Esperamos contar con su presencia el próximo jueves!

También te invitamos a visitar la exposición especial actualmente alojada en el museo en el Palacio del Conde Luna:
Los espiritus hablan. El arte de los indios Makah


Julie Villegas y Edgar Kiser
Directores del Programa

Monday, July 15, 2013

Daily Diary: July 13-14

On an early Saturday morning, we awoke to a sunny sky. We quickly hustled to the language center and awaited our wonderful guide, Javier. Before long, we were off to Galicia, and the bus became silent as everyone tried to catch up on their sleep. Our first stop was at La Villa del Cebreiro, a small little village in the mountains where pilgrims begin their journey to Santiago de Compostela. Many still complete the journey today and we saw quite a few bikers and hikers. The original houses, which contained both the family and their animals, were preserved and it was like walking back through time. Everyone grabbed a few snacks for the road, and we hopped back on the bus to enjoy our scenic route to Santiago.
The beginning of the journey!

The view from the mountain.

An hour or so later, we arrived to the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela. Javier reminded us that we were not truly pilgrims as we had not walked at least 100 km nor biked/ridden a horse for at least 200 km. In the heat, we set off on a quick tour of the plazas surrounding the famous Santiago cathedral. The cathedral was built in the shape of a cross, so we began with the Northern end. There, at the end of their long journey, the pilgrims enter the building. The plaza is called the Plaza de Azabacherías, which refers to the black mineral that is sold there. 
Plaza de Abacherias
 Afterwards, we made our way to the East side, the Plaza de Quintana. It is split into two different elevations, the lower part being called Quintana de los Muertos, as it used to be a cemetery for sick pilgrims that died after the journey, and the higher part being called Quintana de los Vivos. There, the Holy Gate stood, which only opens during the years that the 25th of July falls on a Sunday. The plaza was beautiful and expansive yet relatively empty due to the sun.
Plaza de Quintana
On the South side, we came upon the Plaza de Platerías (silver) where silver objects are bought and sold. Through that gate, the pilgrims exit the cathedral.
Plaza de Platerias
 We finished our tour on the Western side at the Plaza del Obradoiro (stoneworker). This provided the most impressive photos of the cathedral. With our stomachs rumbling, we were dismissed for lunch. A few of us found a great deal (10 euros for a drink, appetizer, meal and dessert!) and we spent the rest of the time waiting in the shade for our tour of the Santiago church. We began by touring the inside of the cathedral, which was built in the Romanesque style and richly decorated. The Portico de la Gloria, a stone façade of Judgment Day was particularly impressive.
Cathedral of Santiago
 For the second part of our tour, we climbed to the roof of the cathedral, which had concrete steps as a roof instead of tejas. This resulted in some beautiful views of the city! More city views were also available from the top of the monastery we visited. We finished off the night with a delicious dinner and bed.
Claire being a translator.
 The next day, we set off for the coast! The excitement at every patch of blue that we could see between houses and trees grew until we arrived at a breathtaking pit stop. A few pictures later, we were back on the bus.

Slightly excited.
We arrived at Castro de Barona where an old Celtic village stood centuries ago. As the day warmed, we watched the fog disappear to reveal amazing views of the ocean and coastline. We spent an hour or so exploring the area, and as a rock climber, I was glad to be able to scramble on a few of the boulders! The ocean looked so inviting and a few braved the cold plunge. However, we felt slightly out of place on a nude beach so we slowly made our way up the hill again, looking forward to our beach time in Coruna.
The remains of the Celtic village.
 And our time in Coruna did not disappoint. Sun, sand, and surf all came together in a perfect combination and we all returned back to the bus a little redder than before. Our last stop was at the Torre de Hércules, the oldest working lighthouse in the world. Since it was reconstructed so much, we debated whether it truly deserved that title. However, the views from the top were spectacular. It was VERY windy at the top but we managed to get a few photos without hair in our faces!

El Torre de Hercules.
Afterwards, we made our way to the Plaza Mayor of La Coruna. We snuck some illegal lunches on the bus and slept the majority of the way home. Though exhausting, the trip was a success and after a taste of the ocean (for some of us, literally), we look forward to the three-day weekend for more!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Daily Diary: July 11-12

Thursday was our first day here in the lovely city of Leon! We went to orientation, where we got some helpful information and our student cards for the University of Leon.  And the staff showed us a really cool Macaw exhibit being put on by the Leon Center, containing displays of various Macaw handicrafts.  I thought it was really great that the Leon Center was able to create such a strong relationship with the Macaw people given the past history of Spanish conquistadors.  I also enjoyed the stories that went with several of the crafts, which gave us some insight into the religion and view of life that the Macaw people had.

After our orientation, we got to have a lunch break and returned to the Center for our language classes.  I thought we'd have a class on the Spanish language, since it was a language class, but instead we had a class about the economy and the crisis in Spain.  Our professor talked to us in Spanish, and we all responded in Spanish, which was difficult because sometimes I couldn't catch quite what she said.  It might have been because she was talking fast, or as a native speaker she slurred some of her words.  I took a few years of Spanish in high school and Spanish 203 at UW, but it was still difficult for me to understand the videos that she showed us as during class.  Everyone in the videos talked really fast so it was hard to comprehend at first, but our professor helped explain what was going on, so we all still learned a lot!

On Friday, our day started with a lecture from Miguel Albin, a young man who talked to us about youth unemployment and some of the current political issues in Spain.  It was a very engaging talk, and I enjoyed all the videos and articles that he showed us.  I found the evictions topic and the diferentes scandal to be particularly interesting.  Both of those are situations that I couldn't really imagine lasting for a long time in the U.S.  For example, if someone didn't pay their mortgage, they were legally evicted from their homes.  I never would have imagined that people would protest this on the streets to get media attention and call the police! I remember we saw an instance on this the first day we arrived in Madrid, and I was really surprised that there was even a possibility for the home owner to not be evicted.  It was a really interesting contrast to how the government works in Spain.

After the lecture and another lunch break, we went to visit the Sierra Pambley Foundation, and listened to a talk about the Foundation and it's work in the community.  The discussion also developed more broadly in regards to the economic situation in Spain.  Afterwards, we were given a tour of building, which was really fascinating due to it's long history.  We had the opportunity to enter the main library, which had changed ownership a couple times due to Franco's dictatorship.  It was great to hear that despite all the conflict and turmoil of the past, the culture and knowledge within the books were maintained.  Below is a picture of the shelves and tables in the library:

After our tour of the Foundation building, we were taken the Sierra Pambley museum, where the home of a former owner was now available for public viewing.  The museum had several floors, and our charming tour guide took us through the entire place.  It was really amazing to be able to see furniture and other home items from so many years ago.  The story of the man who planned out the whole house before his wedding, but didn't actually get married, was really depressing when we saw how detailed he was with his planning.  There were even rooms for the future children and toys for them to play with! I didn't know we weren't allowed to take pictures, so I snapped a few shots of the fine china and decor that was in the home before the tour guide reminded us.

It was really a shame that was the case, because I really wished I could've taken some pictures of the beautiful 'French palace' room on the next floor.  It was well decorated, painstakingly restored, and when I stepped in there I really felt like I'd been teleported back to 18th century France.  It was absolutely amazing, and I REALLY wanted to take pictures! Alas, I couldn't, and soon afterwards our tour came to an end.

Outside of the museum was a beautiful cathedral across the street, and just from looking at it, it also made me feel like I'd been teleported hundreds of years back in time.  I thought it looked like a very typical cathedral, made sometime in the Middle Ages.  It made me wonder what it looked like to the people who were living in Spain back then.  The structure must have had a much different aura to it than it does now, a building in a busy street.  I don't necessarily think that it's been diminished due to modernization, but I think it would've been truly outstanding in medieval Spain.  I feel very fortunate to have had an opportunity to see it myself.

Friday ended with our return to the dorms and a student group dinner in the dining hall.  It was a busy couple of days, packed full with a lot of activity, but I think we all learned a lot from.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Daily Diary: July 8, 9 and 10

July 8, 9 and 10: The Madrid Chronicles

July 8th)
Our first day in Madrid started out with a group breakfast outside at a cafe close to our hostel: Hostel Malasaña. There, we met Magda Diaz Gorfinkiel, our guide and coordinator here in Spain, and ate a tasty breakfast (choices = toast, tomatoes and olive oil, toast and jelly, or a croissant and jelly). It was pretty entertaining watching the Malasaña community wake up while we enjoyed our food and conversation.

Magda then led us on a tour around Madrid. We stumbled upon a street protest - they were protesting a lady being thrown out of her apartment, and it worked! This is apparently very common nowadays, as many people in Spain are unavoidably unemployed and are unable to keep up with their mortgage and rent payments. It's amazing how the community in Spain comes together to defend each others' welfare!

Our group then had a break to get lunch and explore until our group dinner, so Cynthia, both Janes, Jessica and I went on a quest for tapas, which we found and consumed. We then, like typical tourists, went shopping and got manicures! It was quite an amusing moment when we realized that Jessica was able to speak to the shop owners better in Chinese than the rest of us trying to eloquently express ourselves with our limited Spanish vocabulary. We then, of course, got lost on our way to the hostel - it took almost an hour to find our way back. It turns out we were walking around in circles around a block that was right next to the hostel! Wasn't planning on making that mistake again...

We then enjoyed a group dinner with the group dinner at La Cocina de San Antón. The food was so fancy!

July 9th)

We started off this marathon of a day early at 8:30, before the city of Madrid actually wakes up as a community. We took three train transfers to the Baltasar Garzon offices, where we listened to four individuals involved in the 15M movement (the Spanish equivalent of the occupy movement). Each speaker had a different perspective, ranging from the educational standpoint to outlining an individuals' basic human rights.

We then visited a cultural center in Matadero, where we learned about the role of contemporary art in bringing the community of Matadero together.

Later in the evening, our group visited Picnic, a bar Malasaña, where we were lucky to be able to listen to and interact with three individuals: a UW alum film artist, an actor and graphic novel writer, as well as a woman who as successfully defended her dissertation regarding the 15M movement. It was extremely illuminating to hear these very different perspectives about youth unemployment - one being a formal analysis and the others being firsthand experience - not to mention extremely entertaining; we didn't anticipate that Magda would not be able to join us for this event, so we all enjoyed a jumble of Spanish and English (and perhaps some Spanglish as well) during the presentations.

July 10th)

Our last day in Madrid! Our day was pretty much free - the only two requirements being to check out of our rooms at 11am and to be back at the hostel in time to start our journey to León.

My free day began with some last minute packing and an excursion with a few others on an adventure to get churros and chocolate. We were successful - they gave us 20 churros and a liter of chocolate for less than nine euros! We ended up going to the supermarket to buy fruit to attempt to finish up the excess chocolates

There was some time to kill before we all had to be back at the hostel, so people split off into groups - some wandered around the Malasaña area, some visited museums, some got their hair dyed, and some enjoyed the air conditioning of the hostel's lobby. Jessica and I ended up getting Madrid hotdogs and frozen yogurt! By the time 6:30 came around, everyone was back and had gathered in front of the hostel to start the next leg of our journey.

The journey to León started off with the sweaty and slightly hectic of all of us having to lug our suitcases up and down countless flights of stairs while taking the public transport to the train station. The travel part of our journey, however, ended up with the peaceful and scenic train ride to León (it was a fast train that traveled over 200 km/hour!

Once we got to León, we met Santos - a language teacher at the university of León, who led us on a short 15 minute walk to the dorms we would be staying at. The walk was a great way to wake up from the train ride - it was also hilarious to see the street light that signals pedestrians to walk was an animated green man!

Once we got to the dorms, we were pretty exhausted and ready to settle into our rooms. A (slightly tired) cheer went throughout the group when we realized that we'd each have a single room with a bathroom and that we wouldn't have to worry about paying for our meals! We were then sorted into our rooms (some people traded of course), and went to unpack and prepare ourselves for the adventures to be had in León!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Daily Diary July 6-7

July 6, 2013

Late into the morning, I woke up to the sun shining through my 4th floor window at the hostel. This was our last full day in Berlin, and I wanted to make the most of it. Roxana and I had been talking about going to Potsdam, so I mustered up my strength, knocked on her door (possibly waking her up), and we headed out on the S7 train. We used the U-bahn map that Julie had given us along with our metro passes which indicated that the S7 terminated at Potsdam hbf. To our surprise, the train terminated at Wannsee, 3 stops before our destination. The metro routes had changed since the publication of the map we were holding (Feb.  2013) and the new map at the station (May 2013) showed us that we merely had to hop on the S1 to get to Potsdam.

Once there we had no trouble finding the stand where we were able to rent bikes, which was conveniently located on the platform. There were only three bikes left – if we had arrived any later there may not have been any more. We navigated our way through the station, taking some of the slowest elevators known to man, and bought a town map at the tourist information booth.

We ended up not referring to the map very often because Potsdam has maps on the street and very useful signs pointing us in the direction of the main attractions. The first stop was St. Nicholas’ church, whose tall dome was visible from the train station. Roxana observed that the edifice looked surprisingly clean for having being built in the classical period. It turned out the church was in the process of being renovated, and consequently the inside was not as impressive as the exterior.

Next we headed to Schloss Sanssouci, the main reason for our visit. We entered from the outskirts of the park, and every step into the park was more breathtaking than the last. The main palace area was closed to bikes, and in an attempt to find an alternate route we came across a family of swans chilling by a lake. There were a few ugly ducklings that were actually not very ugly, but rather fluffy looking and larger than ducks. In my attempt to get close up video and pictures I was almost chased by one of the parent swans but survived unharmed thanks to Roxana’s warning.

The bike route happened to be on the other side of the entrance, but failing to consult our map, we locked up our bikes with some difficulty (we were only given one lock for both bikes) and headed into the gardens on foot. The gardens were very symmetrically laid out, and it seemed to be the peak season for flowers. Tiered gates adorned with ivy decorated the path up to Schloss Sanssouci, which stood magnificently on the top of a hill. In front was a fountain surrounded by white statues where people relieved themselves from the heat by the misty fountain spray. We made our way up to the palace and marveled at its beauty. San souci, meaning without care, was the summer palace of Frederick the Great and was decorated according to the rococo style which followed the baroque period. The interior décor of this time period were works of art, breaking free of the strict regulations defining the baroque style. We were eager to visit the inside of the palace, but the tours were sold out for a couple of hours so we decided to purchase the last time slot at 17:30 and explore other places first.

We headed off to the city center and had a nice German salad whilst sitting in the shade on Brandenburg Straβe. From the restaurant we could see the Brandenburg Gate (Potsdam’s, not Berlin’s) and a clock tower. With our stomach’s content, we hopped on our bikes again and biked through Sanssouci park, this time finding the correct route. The park looked large on a map, but it was much more manageable on a bike and we were able to see all of the main attractions.

Potsdam's Brandenburg Gate

 In front of the New Palace

 New Palace

 Chinese House


We finally made it back to Schloss Sanssouci and ate ice cream bars before heading to our tour. Though Sanssouci is of a modest size (for a palace), the interior décor did not disappoint. Every room was ornately decorated with chandeliers, paintings, sculptures, etc. and I was only half listening to the audio guide because my energy was focused on observing every little detail of every room. My personal favorite was the concert room, where there was a gilded spider web on the ceiling centered on where the chandelier hung down from. Unfortunately I was unable to take pictures of the rooms because I did not pay the 3 euros for a photo permit. 

After returning to Berlin I grabbed a Döner Kebap for dinner with Tarra and ate while sitting on the bridge. Then I packed up most of my belongings and headed to Amar’s, the Indian restaurant we had visited frequently and come to love. We had a lovely evening wrapping up our stay in Berlin and were treated to complimentary drinks.

July 7, 2013

Today was our last day in Berlin. After checking out of the hostel, Stephanie, Lynn, and I went to the Ostbahnof train station and reserved tickets for our post program travels. The woman helping us did not speak very much English but we were able to communicate by her speaking German to us and us responding in English. She was very patient and helped us for the better part of half an hour.

We headed back to Die Fabrik to have lunch. Lynn had been raving about Die Fabrik Café’s meatloaf (read her daily diary) and so as our last meal in Berlin the chef made us a special order, as they were still serving breakfast. Even with high expectations the food was absolutely delicious. At the end of our meal we snapped a photo with Ostana, one of the waitresses we had gotten to know. She invited us to friend her on facebook and offered to show us around Berlin if we ever came back. 

We still had an hour to kill before heading to the airport so Lynn and I went to Fuhrpark to sit in the sun instead of in the hostel lobby. We returned after 15 minutes because we could feel our skin starting to burn.


Julie, Edgar, and Manuela arrived at the hostel and we gave Manuela a card signed by everyone in the program. Manuela escorted us to the train station and we had a bittersweet goodbye with her. She made our stay in Berlin so wonderful and we will miss her a lot.

The flight over to Madrid was fairly smooth with a bit of turbulence and we arrived a half hour earlier than anticipated. No one’s luggage got lost, though Edgar did experience some trouble with his suitcase which did not roll. After two transfers and some wandering, we finally found our hostel and tripled up into rooms. Most of the rooms only had two beds but one room had three singles which the guys gladly took. Exhausted from the day’s travel, everyone grabbed dinner and headed to bed.