I, my friends, have been a bad blogger. 

This post is solely for the purpose of stating my apologies for neglecting this blog and my readers for the past month. I have gotten a few strongly worded emails wondering what has been happening, and I just wanted everyone to know that sometimes life gets in the way, even in España

Things That Don't Stop Just Because You Live Abroad

Bills
Responsibilities

Reminders of home
"They are totally playing our song!" Oh no, wait. You aren't here. And I'll have to spend, like, $10 to call you to tell you that.
Laziness
I think we can all agree sometimes Ryan Gosling and popcorn are just so much better than fiesta-ing on Saturday night.
Bills
Loneliness
Carelessness 
Glass breaks. Coffee spills. I have 2 left feet and trip and fall down stairs, no matter the country. 
Bills
And have I mentioned the bills?
The truth is that living here it is just that....living. Another destination on a map. Another place where people work, live, play, siesta and fiesta. 

Overall, I apologize for being a bad blogger the past month. But life just got in the way!
 
 
You know You Live in Spain When:

-Every toddler around you has better style than you.

-Your own two feet (or Renfe) will take you anywhere you need to go.

-You add 'super' to any Spanish adjective to make it sound extra special.

-There is a can or jar of recycled olive oil next to your stove.

-You hear "GOALLLLLLLLL!" being shouted from somewhere within your apartment building.
(No joke, literally just happened while I was writing this blog.)

-You basically hock a loogie everytime you say 'jamon, jugar" or any word beginning with jota.

-You eat a bocadillo while keeping the foil wrapped around the bottom.

-You know a man in his 30's whose mother still does his laundry.

-You scan Mercadona at 9:10pm on a Saturday night just in case you are missing something you will need for Sunday's comida.

-You pay for other people on your birthday.

-Your new name to every stranger on the street becomes either your hair color or your nationality.

-The old couple walking hand-in-hand next to you makes you think of Allie and Noah from The Notebook and smile.

-You know the best place to store clean pots and pans is inside of the oven.

-When you, for the first time in your life, fall in love with a country and a culture. And never let it go!

And coming soon: You Know You Live in Valladolid When...
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Your new life's staple.
 
 
Things I have learned during the past 3 months:
-How to use a city bus system.

-Don't sweat the small stuff. You will miss that bus, take the wrong turn, and say the wrong verb conjugation sometimes. No pasa nada.

-There will always be things that remind you of your home, no matter where you are.
-Watching movies in Spanish > watching movies in English, especially the romantic ones.

-The rules of futból.

-The actual words to the Macarena.
-How to really enjoy a cup of coffee when I need that caffeine in my sangre the most.

-The reasoning behind "From the lost to the river" and "Very well, Fandango."

-Where the best tapas are.
-A little bit of Portuguese. "Nossa, nossa..."

-Eat it first, then ask what it is. 

-Sometimes the best experiences will come from the unplanned, inexpensive, kind-of-strange adventures.
-Skype is the best invention for holidays away from home.

-How to make a mean authentic Spanish paella.

-The best siestas can come from just 10 minutes of closing your eyes in silence after a long day of high-schoolers.

-Blogging is fun. And helps you share the things you love with people who may never know them.

-It's important to make new friends from different places and cultures.
And the most important lesson I've learned in my year in Spain so far is the power of being positive. So, here in Europe, there in America, or wherever you are, live life with a good attitude, and disfruta la vida even when things don't work out as planned.
 
 
I don't particularly believe in New Year's Resolutions. Let me clarify.

I believe in constantly resolving your life to be the best version of yourself, in everything you do and everywhere you go. 

That being said, I do think that the new year is a beautiful time to begin this. A new date on the calendar means a fresh start for most people. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, where auld acquaintance be forgot.

But, is once a year really enough?

Here are my most recent resolutions. Maybe they will take a year. Maybe more. Maybe less!

Resolutions:

-Become more disciplined.

-Learning something new every day.

-Cut out the difficult things in life.

-More fiesta, less siesta.

-Blog more. (Lucky for you!)

-Go an entire day without speaking a single word in English.

-Take more chances.

-Save dinero.

Whatever your resolutions, why wait until January 1st to start them?
 
 
I have been home for almost a week. And in that week, I have been indulging in many of the American things I have missed the last four months living in Europe. 

One of them, Starbucks Peppermint Mochas.
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Is there anything that says Christmas as much as a peppermint-flavored, over-priced coffee in a holiday-red cup?
While at Starbucks, I placed my order, and gave them my name, per usual. 

It was what happened next that shocked me.

As I went to use the one-person bathroom inside while waiting for my coffee to be made, I shut the door behind me, and waved my hands in the air to turn on the light. After a few seconds of this, I realized something.

I am in the United States now. The lights don't react to a censor, like in Europe. There is an actual light switch! And there I was, waving my arms around like an idiot, wondering what was wrong with this bathroom.

You have seen the Reasons Why I am 25 percent Spanish. Almost exactly 3 months from that blog post, being back in the States has shown me just how Spanish I am becoming.

How Spain is Changing Me:
-I'm never hungry here until actual lunch time. That is, 2:30pm.

-I told my little brothers they needed to put on socks while walking around on the tile floor.

-I can't help but sit and enjoy my coffee instead of walking around with it.

-I no longer pull out my cell phone during family dinners.

-I speak in Spaniard-English to everyone.
Examples: "It's the same." "Tell me." "And you?" and "As you want."

-I ate a piece of fruit last week with a knife and fork.

-Spicy stuff is seriously spicy for me. I even found myself thinking "¡pica!" when I bit into dinner last night. 

-I knew right away that the man on the phone in the store yesterday was from Argentina because of his Spanish accent.

-I want to sit and eat in a restaurant for hours and hours, not get up when we are finished.

-Staying true to my blog title, I still want to take a siesta everyday.

What do you think....am I 40 percent Spanish by now?
 
 
During my 9 hour flight over the Atlantic I was not in the best mood.

I was happy to be coming home, claro, but I was a little fed up of the improper traveling etiquette I saw all around me. 
10 tips for the Non-Experienced Traveler: 
(Yes, I'm talking to you, people from flight 741 that made my day a little bit longer...)

1. At security, your shoes come off. And your belt. Is it necessary to step through the scanner three times before you realize you are wearing a metal belt with bottle caps all over it? 

2. Coats and jackets go on top of luggage. It's like Tetris, people. Only so much space for so many things. Make it happen.

3. Incessant talking is not something anyone can handle for 9 hours straight. I love talking about Spain, and I'm sure your night in Salamanca was very crazy, but enough is enough. This isn't a tea party.

4. Arm rest space is 50/50. Can't you take the hint with the gentle nudge I'm giving you with my forearm? 

5. Don't even get me started on raising the armrest. Don't you know it is there to set boundaries? I just met you, I'm not that kind of girl.

6. I think you're great. But, also, I don't want to straddle you while going to the bathroom. This isn't a movie theater. You're not blocking anyones view. Stand up and let me out. The leg swing is just, not cool.

7. Hey David Guetta, turn down your Ipod, DJ. I can hear you from 2 rows back OVER my in-flight movie.

8. I can't lie, rubbernecking me and looking out my window gives me a little bit of a creepy vibe. 

9. Window shade: open or close. Choose one and stick to it.

10. And finally, an apology, because I'm sorry person behind me, but I feel entitled to the right to recline. There is only so much space.

Am I a cynical traveler? Not at all. Do I love flying? Yes.

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and all of the bad etiquette aside, I love the experience of traveling no matter how long the flight. 

For those who don't know proper airline etiquette...if nothing else, you make things interesting! Now that you've read my blog, hopefully you know what not to do.
For those of us who are experienced travelers, no matter how long the flight or how bad the day, we know there is no feeling quite like arriving at your destination. For me on this particular trip, nothing could put me in a better mood than coming home, finally.
 
 
In less than 24 hours I will be leaving Spain for Navidad and flying over the Atlantic, home to Florida.

All things I have missed about home will be waiting for me when I return, and I couldn't be more excited!
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The Florida sunset on Siesta Key beach

Things I will be indulging in during the next 2 weeks:

My bed

Carpeted Floors

Siesta Key beach

Going shopping on a Sunday or during the hours of 2pm-5pm

Frozen yogurt with do-it-yourself toppings

A dryer

Redbox DVDs

Driving

The Target dollar-spot

Degrees in Fahrenheit  

Being barefoot and not being judged

My mom's home cooking

And most of all...MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS that I have missed so much while being across the world thinking about them constantly.
My bags are packed and I'm ready to fly home. Santa Clause has a new name this year: Papa Noel to my family because he is bringing lots of Spanish goodies (in my suitcase).

¡Hasta mañana, Florida!
 
 
Dorothy said it best. "There's no place like home."

Living across the world from the home I have always known, I've created a new home for myself.
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Not my house, exactly. But the Plaza Mayor.
Valladolid, Spain has been my casa nueva for about 3 months now. I knew and fell in love with the city last year after spending several weekends fiesta-ing (and siesta-ing) in the city. 

When I was given the opportunity to choose where to spend the next year, there was no hesitation. But that doesn't mean everything has been peachy-keen here. Every city has it's advantages and disadvantages. Inspired by a friend's post, I have decided to come up with the Pros and Cons of my new city life.

The word Valladolid in Spanish has no meaning, but is said to be derived from the words 'Valley of Sun'. A popular nickname for the city is Pucela (pooh-thell-uh).
Pros
-True Castellano (Castilian Spanish) is spoken here.
-We have a fútbol team. And they aren't terrible!

-Campo Grande. There's nothing like reading a book in the park and enjoying the view on a gorgeous afternoon.

-We have an airport.

-With the city's new AVE high-speed train you can get to Madrid in only 50 minutes. Choo choo!

-Valladolid has history. Christopher Columbus died here.
-Living in the capital city of your region means everyone has visited, knows someone who lives here, or passes by on their trip to whatever sitio. Easy access.

-3 wine-making regions surround us. Riberia del Duero, Rueda, and Cigales. Bottoms up!

-The clock in the city center above Caja Rural is what I like to think of as a Mini-Times-Square. It always lets me know how late I am as I run to catch the bus.

-The University of Valladolid evens out the ratio of elderly people to jovenes in the city.

-IKEA is opening in December. Take that, other capital cities of Spain! We have furniture and meatballs.

-The architecture is easy on the eyes.
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View from Plaza Zorilla up Calle Santiago.
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Plaza España
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My apartment is on the other side of this building.
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The bridge I walk across a few times a week.
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Out with the skyscrapers, in with the old Cathedrals.
Cons
-The weather.

-The weather.

-Did I mention the weather? Valladolid gets what is said to be "Nine months of winter and three months of hell." And added to that, there is the famous fog and frost.

-Your own two feet are your main form of transportation. Not always a bad thing, except in that frio weather.

-The prettiest Cathedral and biggest/most beautiful Plaza Mayor are not here in Valladolid.

-Valladolid does not have cobblestone streets, so we miss out on the romantic Spanish night-time glow.

-With 300,000 people it is hard to make friends. ¿Como se dice "lost in a crowd"?
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Not always a bad thing! Getting lost in a crowd of handsome Spaniards is nothing to complain about!
But, if the weather and the population are my only two issues, I've got nothing to complain about! Valladolid's pros outweigh any cons the city may have.

As much respect as I have for Dorothy, I prefer to side with Anonymous. "Home is where your heart is."

Who knows what the next year will bring, but this year, my heart is here with you...Valladolid!
 
 
Calculation complete.
I am confident in saying that I am about 25 percent española.
My name, my appearance, and my place of birth scream Americana.  But that doesn't mean I can't be a little bit Spanish!
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Reasons why I am part-Spaniard:

I take siestas.

I don't have to carefully examine the euro coins when paying for that café con leche anymore.

I walk in the shade, even if it's out of my way.

I am sometimes late to appointments or obligations and it doesn't matter.

I can name and locate the 17 autonomous regions of Spain and 9 provinces in Castilla y Léon on a map.

I blame things on the crisis.

I pay more money to sit on the terrace.

If I have a sore throat, I wrap a scarf around my neck and it heals it.

I have the Spain Spanish accent when I speak. Gracias: gra-thee-as

I can cook a mean tortilla de patatas
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My dad helped me with this one last year.
Reasons why I will never be fully Spanish:

I can't say 'hasta luego' in 3 syllables.

I enjoy butter on my bread.

I have spent more than 3 hours in the past week lost on the city bus system.

I will always have an American work ethic and schedule. Lo siento, mis amigos.

There is always something I need on a Sunday.

Other than the most popular ones, I know none of the names of the Spanish soccer players, nor which team they belong to.

I know the words to the American songs that come on in the bar, and never hesitate to sing a long. 

I stick out my hand for a handshake on impulse when I say hello. And yell "Oh my God!" when I'm excited.

I still take photos with statues and buildings around the city.
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Spanish by heritage, no. By habits that I can't break? Impossible. 

But by lifestyle? I am well on my way!
 
 
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After being back in Spain for a few weeks now, I have become settled into my new vida
The week has been filled with errands of a foreigner. I have mastered the final paperwork for my visa, received a spanish identification number, opened a bank account, and learned how to use the city bus system. All in another language. Eh....¿Como?

With each walk to the extranjeros office, trip on the bus, or walk to the supermarket, I pass things that make me remember the reason I am here.

It's the little things that I forgot about when I was gone that add to the reason of why I love this place so much.
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The noise from the crosswalks as you're crossing the street.

The little kids on the streets trying to get their mother's attention yelling "Mama, mama!" in the most urgent way.

The jingle for Mercadona

The peacocks walking around like they own the park, Campo Grande.
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The yellow tint of street lights at night.

The life in the street, no matter the day or time.

English spoken to me by Spaniards. "I am from Espain. He went to the esoccer match and left because he was very boring."

The awkward moment when you go in for a handshake as an American and then get kissed on the cheek, twice. Dos besos.

The Camino de Santiago seashells placed around the city.
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The thought has crossed my mind this week of "What the hell am I doing here?". 

But, with every new day that passes, I am finding something that I continue to love about Spain.

And each time that same thought comes to mind, I know that I can just open my eyes and ears to all the wonderful things around me and remember that sometimes it is the little things that mean the most.