Saturday, June 27, 2015

Montjuic: Beautiful Parks in Barcelona & A PhD Student's First-Year Rant

I realize I've been MIA for the last month, but I have a good excuse! 
Montjuic Park, Barcelona - BREATHE
Three and half weeks of intense working (schools close shortly!), practicing for the DELE B2 official Spanish exam (3 weeks to go!), studying, and preparing for my first year PhD project plan and presentation to the board (a few days ago).  Basically, it was a 15 minute presentation with 30 minutes of intense questions and suggestions so you can have 10 days to revamp what you're doing and re-submit it (in progress!) Not to mention planning a pilot-study so that I can test my instruments this summer on my 'guinea pig' friends to make sure they're A-OK for my real participants this fall ;)

Terrace studying fun!
This involves many, many 3-4 hours of sleep nights. I have managed a few trips to the gym, walking the lovely Kiara (who is in LOVE with my friend Olivia), cooking a couple healthy three course dinners for a midsummer night's fun ;) and a couple of beautiful brunches with Olivia (one Canadian item I miss is the concept of brunch!). Other than that, I've been shut up in my beautiful apartment/terrace sorting out inventing linguistic tasks, trying to program a horrible software called DMDX  to get it to do my bidding (ick!), and typing up an academically sourced plan for the next four years of my life.

Fried egg, chickpeas, peppers, avocados and tomato sauce!

Orange juice and cava on the Terrace (at 10 am)

My Happy Study Buddy!

Yup, that's the life of a PhD student. 

I love it!

Now, in the hopes the  paragraphs above haven't bored you to death with geek-iness, here is a much overdue slideshow of Montjuic Park. Sean and I visited the park and spent the day lazy-ing around the first week of June (he was kind enough to jet over here from France to puppy-sit the weekend I was in London and stayed the week)

In case you haven't made it to Montjuic yet, it is spectacular - we barely saw half of it. It is a mini-city of wonder, with a cemetery, many gardens, a restaurant with a lovely three course meal for 15 euros, fountains, museums, part of a uni department,  modern art structures, a funicular, a castle and more. It's only a couple euros to take the metro/funicular up from Parallel station to have a beautiful, quiet view of the city. Enjoy the slideshow! (If you are on a mobile device that does not allow Flash, please click here for the link, or here for the still photos.

Don't worry...I do have summer adventures ahead aside from pilot project data analysis--- beginning with a week in Bordeaux  mid-July, three weeks in August to return to childhood passions (the piano and writing fiction), days on the beach reading novels, and two weeks in the UK for a couple of weddings in August. Summer!!!

Monday, June 01, 2015

London Fun: Four Days Back in My Favourite City

Four days in London was the perfect break to my hectic life. Andrés and I flew off to my favourite city Thursday night and arrived, an hour later than planned, to the Swiss Cottage area of the city. I would definitely recommend staying there. It's on the Jubilee Line and is in a cute residential area with great English breakfasts for you meat-eaters. We were at Avoca House Hotel, a simple but budget enough bed and breakfast. Andrés had never been to London before - yes, really- so I was in planning euphoria and took him to see all the sites.  We started with the London Eye - which closes at 9:30- we barely made it! The timing was absolutely perfect, as we got on at dusk and it was dark out by the time we stepped off

Hola Londres - te echo de menos :)

Photo credit:
Friday night, after a whirlwind four hour walk down the Thames and to all the tourist sites, Andrés and I met up with Alexandra and Alex to see a beautiful play. I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time the month before and I would never have imagined they could do such a good job interpreting the story. Basically, it's about an autistic boy, Christopher, and his emotions, and the challenges he faces in daily life. The opening scene shows him finding his neighbour's dog, dead, on the front lawn. His response is emotional and he cannot control the noises he makes - this leads him to be a prime suspect in the murder. As a smart kid who loves prime numbers and puzzles, he sets off to find the identity of the murderer - and other secrets. The way his emotions are portrayed is phenomenal. Spend the forty quid and see this amazing play. 

Andrés actually took all the photos - so here is the slideshow I made of them:
If you are an Android user, please note that Flickr uses flash, so you won't be able to see them on your tablet/  HERE instead to view the photos; you can click on the first one and flip through.

We may not be back right away -- Marrakesh is next on the horizon --but we will definitely be back to see another play, or even a musical together. London's energy is unparalleled --- it was the perfect four day escape from reality. Now, off to an intense six weeks of long days planning and executing my pilot study, cramming for the DELE B2 Spanish exam and hitting the gym. Then, it's off to France with Sean and Kristin for another week long break in Bordeaux. Hasta pronto :)