Pa amb oli. If you say it really fast it sounds like baloney, like the sausage. Yet this Spanish staple is far simpler and has found a far surer place in my heart. Pa amb oli means bread and oil in Mallorquin (Catalan). This simple and delicious treat would not satisfy if it were made with what I often consider suburban staples, in the US. The inexpensive, shelf-stable, bread might crisp if toasted but the chemical preservatives would hide the rich taste of whole grains. The crust of sandwich bread could never imitate the crunch of fresh oven roasted, peasant style loaf bread (sold in Spain by its weight). Canola oil, butter or other cooking oils (inexpensive olive oils included here) can not imitate the rich flavor of good olive oil, nor produce the sweet and salty bites of sea salt sprinkled over the top. These three simple ingredients. Bread. Oil. Salt. So simple and so balanced in their flavors might seam dull to an american palate, which is so often flooded with bold flavors, but it is worth your time. Try. Taste the simplicity. Bread. Oil. Salt. Each ingredient rich in its own right, together create the subtle and tender flavors which are a staple in my diet here. Bread. Oil. Salt. Pa amb oli.
I was a prepping goddess when it came to studying abroad, if I do say so myself. I read and I researched and I still got it wrong. So maybe not so much on the goddess part. Well here are my top ten essential, and often forgotten, things to pack for studying abroad. Please note I will try to be general in my list, but this is based on my experiences in Palma de Mallorca, Spain and not everything may apply to your program.
- Something Personal:
This is THE biggest peice of advise that I can give. Bring something from home that makes you feel at home. It dosen´t matter how silly it is. Just do it. You are about to step into another world where nothing makes sense, bring something that reminds you you are ok and centers you. I brough pictures from home, snow ornaments, which I hung up when the first snow fell in MN, and a stuffed otter my boyfriend gave me. There have been moments when I have needed all of these things to help keep me centered and when I don´t need them, they are still nice to have around.
- A rain coat that can fit something warm underneath. I brought a great rain coat at REI (this one) Buy one if you don´t have one and buy one you like. When I have traveled there has always been rain and it is one of the most warn peices I own. Plus I have a great polarfleece that fits under it. Whit this combination I was more than warm enough when I visited Sweden in November, though if you are going where there is actual snow you may want a real winter jacket.
- House shoes. Also known as slippers. If you are living in the mediterranean, or at the very least, in Spain, your host family will expect you to wear these at all times in the house, without exception. If you are traveling any time that is not the summer the tile floors will be cold and they will be nice to have. I promise. In the summer just use your shower shoes around the house.
- Shower shoes. Also known as flip flops. Buy a pair for when you travel. It is not really every apropriate to go bear foot in a hostel and you don´t want to be without these babys in their showers, trust me. Buy a cheep pair. They are worth more than the few pennies you will spend.
- A chico bag.
These things are AMAZING! They are heavy industrial bags which hold a ton. I use mine in the states too and I can get groceries for a week for one person, with extra room, in mine at any given time. When not in use they fold up into their own little bag, which is attached to the bag so you don´t loose it. There is a little clip attached as well so I just clip it to the inside of my purse. These are especially nice for studying abroad for a million reasons, but I´ll just keep it to two. 1. They charge for bags in europe all the time. This is your cute solution, they have more manly colors too it that is an issue. 2. They are the perfect beach bag. It holds my towel, lotion, lunch and drink, often a bottle of wine or beer, without any problem. Plus I don´t have to worry about getting my nicer bag dirty or sandy. Find your bag here.
- A host gift. This you will want to have when you arrive to stay with your family. If you are not living with a family disregard. Your gift does not need to be lavish or large, it should just be a little bit of where you came from. Make sure to pack a small something that is good for all ages, just in case your family has kids. I brought: photo book of my home state, jam my aunt made, and a magic growing moose (which was the biggest hit). Tip: Make sure you know how to describe it in the language you will communicate in. I had to look up raspberry.
If you have a strong preference for school supplies bring your own. To assume that the rest of the world writes notes like where you are from is a false one. For example in Spain you are not likely to find G2 pens or refill lead for mechanical pencils, some things that irk me. Also if you like lined paper, be prepared to search, it is likely line free or gridded. Though if you choose to explore the local note taking style you just might find something you love.
- *LADIES ONLY* Bring your own supplies. You know what I mean. They don’t sell them or if they do they sell them 10 at a time at 10 times the price. Find the room, you can fill the empty space with goodies to bring home from your travels. This is NOT the area to live like the locals. Not if you don’t want weird looks when shopping or to replace your intimates all the time.
- A digital camera. You may not use it all the time, but there will be that one trip where you want it. You might be off to the amazon, or a safari, or Stonehenge. You will want pictures. If you are super into photography, bring two, your nice one and your I might not cry if I destroy it camera. For me the is a large DSLR and a small point and shoot. I can take HD when I want and I can take beach shots without worrying that I will destroy hundreds of dollars of photography equipment. If nothing else your family and friends will want to see pictures, so take a few to post to the book of faces.
- In the end bring your dreams and goals. Well duh you say, but I will add one thing to this conventional words of wisdom I will add this. Write them down. Write down these early feelings of amazement, of hope, of dreams. Keep them somewhere where you can look at them regularly. There will be times you get lost in life, writing them down helps you remember what an amazing journey you are about to embark on. Embrace it. It will change you and try you, inspire you and do to you all the things I can not put words to.
If you are studying abroad or have studied abroad do you have any other recommendations? Just packing your bags to leave? Feel free to post your packing questions and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
I hope this helps you and, as they say in Spain, buen viaje!
OK. So I am still working on uploading ALL of my pictures from winter break, but I do have an awesome video for you today. (OK sorry about all of the italicizing) So one of the many things, and one of the few not dull to talk about things, that I worked on before I left for vacation was this video. I worked on it with my friend Erik, who is who posted the video for me. (THANKS ERIK!) I must warn you that it is all in Spanish, but I have translated all of the text into english. You can find it below the video.
When you hear the words Balearic Islands, Mallorca, or Palma it is likely that you imagine the white sandy beaches and Mediterranean sun, but the islands, especially Palma de Mallorca offer so much more for you to enjoy. If you want to have a great time when the sun has set, for then euros or less, we have five ideas for you that you won´t find in any guide book.
One of the things you need to start your fabulous night in Palma is one of the Mediterranean sunset. They exist nowhere else in the world. One of the best parts of the sunsets is that they are FREE. You can see a spectacular, but different, sunset in every part of the city.
If you are looking for the young crowds in Palma on a Tuesday or Wednesday night you need only look in one place, the Ruta Martiana (Tuesday night route). A beer or a glass of wine with a tapa is only 2 euros. With more than 12 small bars, this is a great place to pass an inexpensive night.
It is not important what type of music you like, Palma offers a wide variety of live music every night of the week. Two examples of great places are Shamrock, on the Paseo Maritimo, and Blues Ville, near the cathedral. Both bars offer live performances of Rock, Reggae, Blues, and more. Have a drink, or two, and have a great night out with your friends for less than 10 euros.
A well known tradition in all of Spain, and especially the Balearic Islands, is a night in one of the best clubs in the world. Every weekend you can find an inexpensive and lively party in most of the clubs. If you leave before the sun rises you have left before the party is over.
If you don´t want to pay for a great night out, or you want something a little more relaxed, you have the opportunity to see the beautifully illuminated monuments around the city. The cathedral is a great example of a place which is more beautiful and more precious at night. Also, if you are in Palma during the holiday season you have the unique opportunity to see the lights all around the city. They create a special sense of magic.
See you soon and safe travels!
So I have decided that I am far better at blogging when I have something specific to write for, like Monday Morning Sunsets. So I have decided to make Fridays Top Ten days. What better way to end the week right?! So this week I thought we would start with the top ten things that I love, so far about the program I am in Spain with. (Shout out to my Advisor Antonia who is in China this coming week at the CIEE conference.)
These are in no particular order
- My Advisors Antonia and Susan, who navigate all of the red tape in Spain for us so that we don´t have to and are always willing to help us out.
- Living with a spanish family. My family is crazy and I love them, they made Spain feel like home and tirelessly help me with my spanish.
- My program is tiny. It makes it easier to not get lost in the comfort of home and means that I have more friends from Europe than the states.
- Small class sizes. The classes with CIEE have all been pre-aproved by my university and are with the other (4!) students in my program. This is especially awesome in my spanish class where we go at the pace of the students.
- Excursions. Some days an excursion to some part of Mallorca sounds like the worst thing in the world, until you get there. I have explored far more of the island, often with private tours of cool places, than I ever would have without their assistance. Plus, all of the excursions are free.
- Major 4 day vacation included. This semester we spent four days in Madrid. Every thing we did, except the extras at night, were paid for and navigated by CIEE. It was a great way to see the city and it is included in the cost of the program.
- It is cheaper that at home. This is my last comment on money, but you cannot deny that it is nice paying less to study in Spain than to pay out-of-state tuition in Iowa. Plus all Iowa students get a special automatic scholarship in Palma. (Free MONEY!)
- Application assistance. Any time I had a question there was someone to answer it and they always remember the questions I had asked in the past, so there was never any confusion.( I don´t care if a computer is the reason for this, it is still awesome)
- I get to pay my school directly. That is awesome.
- All the plans we still have for the next 10 months. I am so excited I can hardly wait and I know CIEE will make it awesome.
Pictures to come soon ( I promise) but, first a list of somethings I learned today.
- Sometimes swimming to an island off the shore is a good idea, sometimes there are sharp rocks, but it is still a good idea.
- Sunscreen is a must, tell your friends. Seriously sometimes they burn and it looks painful.
- Sometimes in Spain women don’t ware tops at the beach. Ok… maybe it happens a lot. Get used to it, just be careful when taking pictures
- Political protests sometimes lead to your bus being rerouted, but sometimes it means there is good music for free as you walk home too.
- The key to my apartment goes in the opposite direction as the one in the US. Oh and when you switch from mumbling angrily in Spanish to swearing in English, people notice.
- You hit the button for the floor you are on not the floor you want when you are calling the elevator. If you hit the floor you want it goes up there instead. Oh and you have to manually open the first of the elevator doors.
- Sometimes Spanish families talk loudly and all at the same time, this does not mad that they are mad. Seriously you probably did not say anything wrong.
- Massive groups of motos in the street at night are confusing, loud, and awesome to watch from your balcony.
- Spaniards drive like they all own the road, fact. Watch where you are walking.
- Oh Ya one more for a round 10 of todays lessons. THIS ISLAND IS FRIGGING BEAuTIFuL!
Did you learn anything today?