Pa amb oli

Happiness

Happiness

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.

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Top 12 from 2012

This post is long past due and something I have wanted to do for more than a month now. Here are 12 awesome things from 2012. Without further ado, here they are in chronological order.

  1. Madison with the BF: I spent the week after New Year’s with my my boyfriend. I spent the week being shown off (introduced) to family and friends and exploring the beautiful city of Madison, WI.
  2. Dance Marathon: I danced FTK (for the kids) at U Iowa’s Dance Marathon. A 24 hour dance celebration (participants are not supposed to sit for down from 6 pm Friday night until 6 pm Saturday night.)that works to raise money for children’s cancer. (more info here) It was one of the hardest experiences of my life. I didn’t make it all the way. I confess. I almost feinted at the end from exhaustion. I would not trade if for the world. I don’t think I will do it again.
  3. Jar meal: My BF and I save all of the money we find, or bet each other, for fun spending only. Slowly quarters, nickles and dimes go into the jar. Our first jar money purchase was a meal for under 10 dollars.
  4. Easter: My best friends and I continued our tradition of celebrating Easter together. After a month of lent it felt great to cook meat and sweets to share with friends.
  5. Being the National Communication’s Coordinator (NCC) for The University of Iowa Associate Residence Halls (ARH) This one doesn’t really have a time, it is several things in one. In 2012 that meant winning the school of the year award in our region, along with several others. That meant organizing three different schools to go together to Boulder, CO. That meant all of the great memories with ARH and NRHH
  6. Hunting and Fishing with my dad: Maybe this makes me SUPER Midwestern  Maybe this makes me sentimental. Maybe those things are both true, but either way, I am always happy to spend what time I can just my dad and I doing our things. Be it fish, foul, or bear.
  7. Moving to Spain: I won’t blither on about this too much. Read back posts if want that (joking…mostly). Let me just say it has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life. It all began here (if you are interested)
  8. Madrid: Our first trip with CIEE, just a few weeks into our program, we were off to Madrid for a long weekend. We bonded as a group and I began to realize what this was all about. Check out my post from the time, Madrid in My Lense. 
  9. Sweden: The 5 days I spent in Sweden were amazing. I have never been to a place so different yet so like where I am from. I could read the body language of people. I could see for the first time where my people come from. It was beautiful and so like home I cried on the bus after I woke up from a nap and thought I was home for a minuet. (Don’t tell anyone it is a secret). Posts from that trip: Hello Sweden!, Monday Morning Sunset: StockholmMonday Morning Sunset: SwedenWhat’s Up in Uppsala and, Top Ten Surprises from Sweden.
  10. Peninsula with the parentals: Spending the holidays with my Dad and Connie was great. It was great to get to see them again. It was enchanting to spend Christmas in Segovia, and the New Year in Madrid.

Dia de San Francisco: Also known as gawking at animals day

"Don't I just look fabulous?!"

“Don’t I just look fabulous?!”

While San Francisco was not from Mallorca, the man who founded the city is. (fun fact) For unrelated reasons Dia de San Francisco (Saint Fracisco’s day) is a big deal in Mallorca. It is important because it is the day that animals are blessed by the catholic church. While my Spanish madre was too embarrassed to bring our funny looking animals with us there were some great people/animal watching opportunities as the paraded, from the cathedral to the church of saint Francisco, to be blessed. Check it out!

When cat marries mouse.

When cat marries mouse.

"Oh when the saints go marching in..."

“Oh when the saints go marching in…”

The small lead the large.

The small lead the large.

The dalmatian seamed wired in Palma, where small dogs rule, and than I realized he was walking two goats.

The dalmatian seamed wired in Palma, where small dogs rule, and than I realized he was walking two goats.

This dog was too special to walk, so he road in a basket. The lady next to him has a fish in a pale.

This dog was too special to walk, so he road in a basket. The lady next to him has a fish in a pale.

The prize of coolest animal goes to the lady with the owl.

The prize of coolest animal goes to the lady with the owl.

Top Ten: Packing Panic

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.

  1. Something Personal:

    My mediterranean snow.

    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.

  2. Three fabulous rain jackets on the left. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A chico bag.

    I have the blue one with birds!

    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

  6. 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.
  7. My fave. pen in da world.

    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.

  8. *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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

Just another Monday morning sunset

I was talking to my mom on skype the other day and complaining that I did not have any cool sunsets to share on Monday. Like any mom she set me strait real quick and reminded me that not all sunsets can be beautiful some just have to be ordinary. I have gotten so used to the spectacular here, it has become ordinary. I forgot how much the view from my room takes my breath away sometimes. Today’s sunset is not specifically spectacular, but it sure is beautiful.

Happy Monday Everyone!