January/February

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So it turns out that I’m the worst regular blogger ever, oops sorry! So since my last post in December, I’ve had a few hectic months including an incredible Christmas. It was great to return home and I enjoyed all the creature comforts including underfloor heating – the dream after freezing pisos and stone flooring.

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Christmas dinner

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NYE with my homegirls

So after a lovely Christmas back home with my family, friends and an unfortunate amount of French projects (I wrote about 20,000 words in French in total!) I returned to my favourite city to continue my year abroad and final semester in Spain.

Hitting the beach in January

Back in my favourite sunny city

A busy January included finishing off projects, regretfully saying goodbye to some lovely people (including housemates) and meeting some great new people. However February is where the real fun began; I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Madrid, Granada and celebrate my 21st.

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One of our last nights with our favourite Greek Albanian

Madrid is fast becoming one of my favourite cities in Spain. It is totally different to London which is a massive city with more than just one centre, whilst Madrid’s main city centre seems to be pretty compact and, after a while, quite easy to navigate. I love the atmosphere and the fact that if you walk a few minutes outside of the city centre, you would never guess you were in the middle of a capital city.

The main point of going to Madrid was to see George Ezra. It was my first experience of a Spanish gig and we were lucky enough to be almost near the front and thanks to the fact that we were both taller than the crowd, we had a great view of George working his magic. I love the fact that during the quiet songs, the Spanish audience were shushing each other – quite different from an English gig and it made me smile, they obviously appreciated the music.

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George Ezra in Madrid

My 21st birthday was a lovely day, full of food! I decided that instead a fiesta on a Friday night that I would do something different for my birthday. I decided to invite my closest friends over for a nice meal but with a twist, because I don’t eat meat (and never have in my life), all the food was vegetarian. I was so surprised and thankful for how much effort all of my friends put into creating different dishes that we could all share – I’ve never eaten so much food!

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Vegetarian feast

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The coolest kids in Alicante

Granada was a great experience and reminded me of how nice the city was (the lovely weather for the first day helped as well!). I forgot about how great it is to order a beer and get tapas for free; this needs to be brought to England! We went to the Alhambra which was pretty impressive but huge, I think in 3 hours we only saw about half of it in total.

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Selfie with the Alhambra

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La Alhambra

Got a lot more excitement planned for my final months in Spain including exploring the South, lots of tapas and lovely visitors.

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Hasta luego xxxx

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Madrid

December

So the last few weeks of Alicante have gone by in a literal whirlwind! We’ve been to Madrid, had many lovely Christmas dinners and suffered under the weight of the last minute essays – the majority done under the influence of a horrible hangover. However I thought I’d dedicate a whole blogpost to the wonderful city that is Madrid.

Madrid was an amazing experience and enabled my two flatmates and me to get into the festive spirit thanks to the Christmas decorations which filled all of the streets. We were lucky enough to find a hostel right in the centre of Madrid which was also close to the main shopping area… Our bags were definitely a lot heavier by the time we got the train back to a much warmer Alicante! We started the first day with a late lunch in an American diner complete with milkshakes, waitresses dressed in converses, massive hamburgers and the best sweet potato chips available in the world.

Yummy milkshakes

Yummy milkshakes

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The American diner

Afterwards we braved the crowds and the rain and spent the rest of the day running from shop to shop in search of the perfect accessories to complete our Madrid going out outfits. I managed to find these beaut boots from Zara and my lovely velvet backless dress from H&M.

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Zara boots – my new favourite winter accessory

We’d been told that a club called Teatro Kapital was the place to go on a Saturday night as it was a club with an impressive seven floors. So we drank our wine, sang to Taylor Swift and took our time getting ready in our Madrid hostel room before braving the cold again to hit up Kapital.

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Ready for Kapital

In reality, although I had a hilarious night out, I don’t think Teatro Kapital was worth the 28euro entry (plus two drinks) and think my great night was probably due to who I was with… Instead of seven floors full of different music and dance floors which is what we expected, we discovered only two main dancefloors and five bars (including an empty karaoke bar) within the club. Perhaps we went on the wrong night as it was pretty quiet and maybe on certain nights it is completely different…

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Kapital

The second day was full of hangover sightseeing and despite getting back to the hostel at 8am and checking out at 11am, we managed to get an impressive amount done. Firstly we stumbled across a market that was selling all different kinds of foods including an amazing selection of olives which were temptingly cheap. Within the market, there was also a variety of festive gifts being sold including these gorgeous decorated eggs which were Christmas tree decorations.

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The best olives in Madrid

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Christmas eggs

After the market, we went to the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Cathedral de la Almudena which was a beautiful cathedral right next to the Royal Palace. Unfortunately we couldn’t enter the Palace as there was an official event occurring but we were able to enter the Cathedral which was preparing for a special mass later on that day. Straight after the cathedral, we went to the Museo Prado and were lucky enough to unwittingly arrive at a time where it was free entry into the museum. Despite being tired and having walked miles, I particularly enjoyed the art gallery which had some of the most impressive piece of art I’d seen.

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Hungover sightseeing

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Inside the Cathedral

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Cathedral door

After coming back from Madrid and making it through the strange airport-strict security controls of the Spanish train stations, I had one of my best weeks in Alicante which was full of festive fun. So I thought I’d combine all my festive fun into one Christmas filled blogpost which is coming soon!

Feliz navidad y hasta luego!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (or not)

December

It’s the second week of December and I can’t quite believe it. I’m used to thousands of fairy lights strung all over the streets in England, winter/Christmas markets, bitter cold, Christmas songs on the radio… Instead I’ve got sunny days, beautiful sunsets, a feeble attempt at true Christmas fairy lights (sorry Alicante) and no advent calendar (still need to go to Mercadona to hunt one down!).

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On the beach in early December

It’s certainly a different type of build up to Christmas – but I’m not complaining about still being able to sometimes wander about in just a cardigan and jeans. I think this Christmas is going to be that bit more special as I am definitely going to appreciate being back at home, as it is my only opportunity until I return to England to go back to university in September.

We’ve recently taken to walking up to the top of the castle and watching the sunset over Alicante. It is definitely my favourite walk to do in Alicante and always clears my head when I’m feeling a bit stressed over uni work or a bit homesick. We also did a hung-over walk along the beach; definitely a positive of living next to a beach, the sea air definitely wakes you up after a heavy night of chupitos (shots).

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Walking up to the top of the castle

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Hungover walks

My discovery of the week was Café Valor on the explanada which is the best place to go if you have a chocolate craving (which I and my housemates always do!). There is a selection of different chocolate calientes (really thick amazing hot chocolate) including ones with cinnamon, orange and white chocolate as well as the best churros in the city. I was in chocolate heaven.

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Waffle from Café Valor

We have lots of plans for the next upcoming weeks so I still have lots to look forward to amongst all the littered deadlines coming up for the last lot of essays and portfolio work.

We have a girls trip planned to Madrid to get into the festive mood with a nice long girly weekend including going to a spa with red grape soap, sightseeing and of course lots of shopping in Zara/Mango/Pull and Bear/Topshop… I’ve bought my head warmer so I don’t catch a cold in Madrid (crazy how different the weather is in different parts of Spain – Madrid will definitely be freezing).

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Ready for Madrid

We also have been busy bees creating our own little winter wonderland in our lovely flat – so that we can all get into the Christmas spirit. Christmas songs are being played every night and we are all snuggled up as the nights are getting that much colder each week. We also have many different Christmas dinners planned so we don’t miss out too much on the run up to Christmas despite going home only five days before the big day.

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Creating a winter wonderland in our kitchen

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Snuggling up after too many fiestas

So lots of festive fun coming up in the chicas locas (y chico loco) piso.

Hasta luego!

Cubalitros, la playa y la universidad

November

I moved to Alicante in September time so this first blog post is probably a tad on the late side… It’s hard to know how to describe these first few months without detailing everything that has happened to be me ever! So I guess I’ll start by introducing where I’m studying, what I’m doing and who I am!

I’m Millie (or Mele if you’re Spanish and can’t pronounce my name), I’m a modern languages student who started learning Spanish as a clueless beginner at university as well as keeping up my French and sort of remained clueless ever since. My Spanish skills currently involve “como eso” and miming whatever I am trying to say but, fingers crossed, with time I’ll be able to babble away like some of the other fabulous language students that I’m forever jealous of!

Gazing over Alicante at the Castillo de Santa Bábara

I shall be studying in Alicante, Spain (in case the title of my blog didn’t give it away!) for a year and have decided to study a mixture of Spanish and French modules to keep up my French. I’m still trying to figure out if that was a clever move as I try and understand the teacher talking a mixture of Spanish and French at 8am every Wednesday morning.

Alicante

Alicante

Alicante is a perfect city in which to be an Erasmus student – as it has a vibrant night life. This takes place in “El Barrio” which is full of different bars, pubs and small clubs all in an area of winding streets. Every student (or sometimes scarily young-looking teens) goes to drink in El Barrio before moving onwards to the main larger clubs. I don’t want to know how many cubolitros (a litre of vodka and mixer for 2,50 euros) I’ve consumed during my time being a student here, nor the amount of cañas… But Alicante is a guaranteed good night out; especially after a cubolitro or two!

Cubolitros

Alicante happens to be quite a small city which means that you see the same people so many times, that it isn’t long before you create a large network of people that you know; something which is incredibly important and helpful for those shy people like me. Being a small city doesn’t mean that it’s a boring city, the beach is the perfect place to chill after the stresses of uni (proud of the fact we still went in the sea in October) and Alicante has a host of different quirky streets and shops – such as a winding street randomly full of massive toadstones – I’ve been here for almost three months and I’m still discovering new places to go!

Postiguet Playa

Postiguet Beach

I’ve also been so lucky with my flat (something that most Erasmus students have nightmares over) and have managed to find a room in a skyscraper flat that overlooks Alicante which means the views are incredible – perfect for daydreaming out of the window. My flatmates are also the nicest people and are my Alicante family which is perfect for creating a sort of home away from home especially as it is not exactly easy to flee back to my cosy home in Wiltshire when I’m feeling a bit down, ill or just generally homesick.

Two of my compañeras de piso and me

Two of my compañeras de piso and me

View from my bedroom window of Plaza de Toros and the Castillo

View from my bedroom window of Plaza de Toros and the Castillo

The university experience is a lot different than I expected. When I first thought of university in Spain, I had visions of chilled out lessons, not much work… how wrong I was! Perhaps Alicante University is particularly strict, but they love their registers and attendance lists and god forbid you miss a lecture or session! I also have only slightly less than the workload I had back in Southampton despite the fact I am only taking half the amount of credits to allow me to focus on my year abroad project (YARP – probably a lot more will be written about this fun 6000 word project) so it should be interesting to see how this all turns out!

That’s it from me for this week, this girl has gotta revise her Spanish subjunctive,

Hasta luego!