Thursday, January 31, 2013

Parks, travel, and to-do lists-- oh my

This week has provided a representation of all four seasons here in KC.  We had fall on Sunday- a day where I enjoyed a gorgeous day in a Topeka park with my boyfriend.  Then on Monday came summer, which I enjoyed with my roommate and a run along a trail near Brookside, called the Trolley Track Trail.  We conquered the tail end of it from 55th to Volker, then went along Brush Creek for a gorgeous day.  Tuesday was definitely spring with the amount of rain, but you know what they say, January showers bring February flowers?? (for Valentine's Day, right?)  Finally, Wednesday and today, winter has finally decided to arrive.  Bringing with it snow, frozen sidewalks, and freezing wind to just make it that much easier to wake up and go to class.  Oh, Midwest weather, you always win.

In other news, I am very excited to report that I have officially booked hotel rooms for Amsterdam!  For being a part of the Global Grundfos Challenge- see my earlier posts about this event here and here- the company decided to pay for our plane tickets to and from a few select European cities.  While I wasn't intending to do so originally, Sarah, one of the other competitors invited me to join her to go to Amsterdam for a few days following the competition in Bjerringbro, Denmark.  With someone to join me, I am very much looking forward to our relaxing trip to another European city following a stress-filled week of competition.

Additionally, this week has held a surprising amount of stress due to a very long to-do list that I've compiled throughout the week.  The cold and flu season also seems to be making its rounds at Rockhurst as many people are missing class.  However, today proved to be LITERALLY the most productive day I have had in... probably a year.  So I have prevailed and everything seems to looking good :)

Hope all you readers have a fantastic week, and enjoy the clips from one of my favorite shows (click on the word LITERALLY)!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

January day

Kansas City has proved itself to continue to be a chilly reminder of the winter I was hoping to avoid.  But nothing can keep class away.  Just a few things on my mind this afternoon- I finally got to see Les Mis earlier today- I love afternoon movies on the Plaza-- they're the perfect way to start the weekend!

  • I can already tell with the first week of classes that I will be plenty busy this semester, even though I will have fewer meetings than in the past.  While this is the third semester in a row I have had a full class schedule of 18 hours, I know that my homework level will definitely be increased-- junior year everyone!  
  • Yesterday, I went with my roommates to Yogurtini on the Plaza for the first time in quite some time.  I remember when I went to Yogurtini for the first time my freshmen year, with Social Mentors.  The whole school had been buzzing about the "froyo place on the Plaza" that everyone just had to try!  And recently, Rockhurst got something similar in P-Sub: a froyo machine with different flavors and toppings to add on that are weighed just like at Yogurtini!  (I have yet to try it- but one of these days, that'll be just what I need between classes)
  • I can't believe how quickly time has passed since I began at Rockhurst!  I'm not even a senior, and I can already tell that my time in college is fleeting.  This isn't all bad though- it makes it easier to enjoy all the little things.  :)
  • I have several friends celebrating birthdays this semester, (including mine!) so I'm looking forward to lots of excuses to make cake and enjoy dinners out all dressed up.  (at so many of KC's amazing restaurants)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Barcelona- each day better than the last

Thursday after our lesson, we arrived at the Port of Barcelona and were surprised to discover that we were going on a boat ride around the port!  For a few people, the motion was difficult to handle, but I for one found it to be a really fascinating experience!  After we spent the first part learning about the large amount of volume the port handles every year, we got to see where they were adding on, and where every part of their services were managed.

That afternoon, I took a little break from too much site-seeing and after a fun wander around the market, I spent the afternoon in a cafe down the street, just people watching and absorbing every part of my experience in Spain!  The fresh produce, fish, and every type of food imaginable is so amazing to see in the market.

La Fortaleza
City Hall
Friday, as our last classroom day, we had our lesson on the history of Spain.  Most years, this comes at the beginning, but our professor had been out of town for the first part of our trip.  Oh well- its still fun to learn about!  Then we went to a tour of city hall.  That building also had amazing history!  I loved how many similarities I saw between that city hall and La Fortaleza (the governor's house) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (ok, mostly just on the inside or something- putting them next to each other takes away some of the similarities in my head!)

Friday evening, we were able to eat dinner as a large group at La Taula- a discovery by our professors that had some of the most amazing food I have had!  It was really fun to have as a going-away celebration at the end of a long few weeks.
At La Taula

Saturday we took a train to Monserrat, a mountain near Barcelona known for the historic Benedictine abbey that was also built there.  After touring the church and seeing the Black Madonna, we went up one part of the mountain on a fernicular which took us to an area with astounding views and the chance to see where the original hermitages were located.  Our professors even went all the way to the top and ventured along the edge with all of us students!  Finally, after most of the group went back to town, one other student and I climbed up the other side to a cross with even more incredible views.  This hike, while it was very steep, was one of the best parts simply for the experience.  The separation from the rest of the mountain gave us views of the monastery and the surrounding cities that were un-paralleled.
At the top of Monseratt- our second trip up
Climbing down the mountain the first time
Our awesome professors and a few students

On our final day, I began by attending church at the Barcelona Cathedral, or Basilica La Seu.  I can say that it was one of the most beautiful masses I have ever been to.  They had a very impressive choir, and about 13 priests holding the mass.  Combined with their use of incense and the overall environment in the cathedral, and I was overwhelmed by the whole experience.  Next, by the recommendation of our professors, we went to a little bakery for hot chocolate and churros which was much appreciated on such a rainy and cold day (the first of the trip).  Later on in the day, I went back to La Rambla and finally got the gelato I had been wanting the entire trip!
The chloister- there were geese and a rooster in the middle!

Monday was the last day, which started at 4:30 am (Barcelona time) and ended 18 hours later, at 5:30 (Central time)-- time difference makes it seem awkward.  The plane rides were long, and jet lag is going to be quite a challenge to work with, but every second was worth my incredible experience in Barcelona.

I have never been in a place where I am simply astounded everywhere I go at the history of a place, the view of a city, or simply the look of a building.  Beginning to learn about Spain in high school, and now having the opportunity to finally travel there was such a wonderful way to start 2013!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Barcelona... Not just another day

Every day has just been incredible here!  As I was reflecting on my experience, all I could think about is how  often I have just been filled with "wonderment" (ok, wonder is more appropriate)  as I'm simply walking around somewhere.

Waking up Sunday was just a phenomenal day.  We began by heading down to the Gothic Quarter to see Santa Maria del Mar, a church that was built during the 14th century.  I could not believe how well done the whole church was when it had been created so long ago!  My favorite part of that morning however, was when we went over to the Museo Picasso.  We took some small little streets and alley-ways and it was just so gorgeous and tranquil (especially when I got separated from the group for a few minutes later on).   

Later in the day, a group of us including Professor Fitzpatrick, Professor O'Connor, and Professor Janusik headed to the Roman and Greek ruins.  I can say right now that I wasn't super looking forward to this part, but I definitely wanted to take advantage of the day!  But because of how excited and passionate my professors are about every part of this trip, I can say that I really enjoyed it!  How can I not be excited about what appears to be old rocks when someone else is telling me the purpose it might have served in the past??

The architecture on this Cathedral- called La Seu Cathedral- was absolutely incredible!  It was built between the 13th and 15th centuries.  

Later that night, at the FC Barcelona game.  I was astounded to see so many people in one place! 

Monday, we went to Sagrada Familia after class.  My camera died halfway through my visit- the pictures are just on my phone from that day.  But we went up the towers, and I loved this view watching the cranes move over the top of the two towers.  Even with tourists all over, there was still work to be done at this incredible place.   

Tuesday we had a tour of Barcelona Activa.  I thought their business was incredible- helping entrepreneurs start their businesses is something that few people have the knowledge to do.  I loved the view as we were walking to their center downtown.  

Wednesday morning we visited a logistics center outside a small town about 45 minutes away from Barcelona called Igualada.  We had a gorgeous view of the mountains the whole bus ride up and I was pleasantly surprised how entertaining it was to see how their product moved about the warehouse in order to get to the end customer.  

Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon both included tours of places designed by Gaudi (I guess Monday could be included in that too!  The Casa Batlló modernist home was absolutely incredible!  They said that there were no straight lines in his design and I would believe it- with the curves in the ceiling, walls, windows and doorways, I'm not sure where else they would be. 

Then Wednesday afternoon we visited Parque Guell.  I learned that at one time he had hoped to have a whole community full of houses on this hillside (it has gorgeous views from every angle)  This picture was taken where he would have had the center of the community.

As each day has new adventures- I don't want to miss out on any one of them, so for now, farewell.  Only a few more days left of my fantastic adventure!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Barcelona- still going strong!

I can't say that I have been let down yet by this city!  There really, is nothing that has not been less than amazing!  (other than the exchange rate- I'm still a college student!)  But it is just an absolutely gorgeous city/ area, even though its winter!  Its been fun to have an "extended" Christmas season since today is the last day of Spain's celebration of Christmas (the Epiphany).  Tonight we are planning to go by the Three King's Day Parade too.  
Christmas-y lights displayed

I am absolutely loving that our classes the past two mornings have tied together with the businesses that we are visiting in the afternoons.  Our first class was about Innovation, where we visited a company called Mazel Group which is actually an engineering/ design company that has 9 companies involved.  These companies do everything from designing trash cans that communicate with the trucks to making plastic parts for our vehicles to designing concept cars.  

Our second class about Corporate Social Responsibility tied very well with the small winery we toured called L'Olivera that employs workers with disabilities with the intention to teach them skills that will benefit them later on.  This winery, although small, actually produces the "official wine of Barcelona" 
L'Olivera buildings from the vineyard
And today we've visited a winery that is much larger, but still strives for very high standards both worldwide and nationally called Torres.  
Main building for Torres

But really the best part about being in Barcelona is experiencing the city like we did on the first day.  Yesterday, we attended the most incredible fountain show with lights and music that put Vegas to shame!  (not that I've been there- but in my imagination it would)

And I've also still been in love with the cute alleys and streets all over the city.  
Just one example of what I find to be the most gorgeous streets

I'm very much looking forward to seeing even more over the next 8 days remaining in Spain!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Barcelona- here we've come!

I'm sure I won't be updating this every day of this trip, but I'm so excited about today, that I want to write about it immediately!  We arrived in Barcelona around 10 am (3 am central time) this morning (the 2nd of January).  After about an hour of impatiently waiting for our bus to arrive to take us to the hotel, we arrived at the hotel only to wait another hour because many of our rooms were not ready.  We freshened up as much as we could in the small space shared by several girls in another student's room and headed out to sight-see in our first day in Spain.  After getting cash and a subway ticket for 50 rides each, we made our way to La Rambla, a street full of shops, restaurants, stores, and historical monuments.  We split up into smaller groups and five of us headed out to find a meal.  My group ended up in a cute little bar/ restaurant that served a wonderful meal that was filling, not too outside of the box, and most importantly- within our college budget.  It began with wine and ended in coffee, as is the Spanish custom, which put us all in the perfect mood to go out and explore more!  We started walking down the main street of La Rambla toward the Mediteranean Sea and ended up stumbling into the Monumento a Colón, a statue of Christopher Columbus pointing toward the New World. 

The streets are just so incredibly gorgeous.  The architecture everywhere is just amazing!  We found a shop with a beautiful mosaic on the outside that said "Founded in 1820".  The history just bleeds from the city!  But what was even more incredible to me was noticing how in a city like this, it just seems to move like a living, breathing organism.  I've always heard that comparison, but never really understood it!  But while traversing through the bowels of the city, just how connected everything had to be was incredible!  The movement of people from place to place is what keeps the city alive all throughout the day.  (and I've only been here 8 hours!!)  
 The streets of Barcelona near La Rambla (others turned out too blurry)
 Me with the one of the lions surrounding Christopher Columbus
Quynh, myself, and Megan in front of the boats on the pier.  Do we look sleep deprived??

Well, enough for tonight.  I don't want to ruin all of the amazing parts of the city for everyone.  I'm sure there will be MANY updates to follow in the near future!