Sunday, July 31, 2011

Registration Has Started!

Hey everyone! How is your weekend going? The good weather is finally back in Spain, so I'm enjoying the beach again. We had a really bad week, but now I'm focused on my tan again (what a stressful life I have right now...). But I have something to remind for all Berkeley students! Registration for the courses for the Fall '11 term has started. It started last week and you should go online to Blackboard and Selfservice and check your appointment date.

Even if your date hasn't arrived yet, you can already start preparing your schedule. Berkeley College gives a lot of freedom regarding that aspect, which I love, but it also makes it a bit more complicated when it comes to choose your courses. Some people, like myself at the beginning of my degree, get really confused with what courses they should be taking the next quarter, what times to choose etc. Let me give you some advise after having done that three times already. 

First of all, if you're taking the summer quarter off, just like I did for this summer, you have to send an e-mail to nycadvisement@berkeleycollege.edu, so that they can re-activate your account. You may find that you cannot access to Selfservice, well that's the reason.
Regarding the schedule to chose, there are many ways you can do it. The first thing I recommend to do is to check your degree progress, which you can do also online through Selfservice. There you will find what kind of courses you still need to take. Be careful and check the pre-requisits for every course. You don't want to enroll a course that you cannot do because you don't have the pre-requisits! 

Once you know what options you have, go to the schedule and check the times. What I do is I write the different options on a piece of paper, so that I can see it clearer. I recommend you to take classes that are close in time. What I mean is that it's a little bit annoying to take one class in the early morning and another one in the afternoon, for example, because then you will loose the whole day for a couple of courses. Moreover, if you compact your classes, you will have more time to study, to enjoy the city and above all, to get an internship! 

Since I usually take four courses every quarter, I try to squeeze them in four days, so that I get one day a week without lessons. That day can be really useful if you want to do an internship, since they might ask you to do one full day. I usually take courses that take place from Monday to Thursday. That way I have Fridays off.

Also, I wouldn't recommend you to take only the courses you like. I know there are subjects that we don't like and we tend to leave for the end... I would try to combine them with those which you like, that way it won't be that hard! Otherwise, in the end you will have a quarter exclusively with subjects that you don't like. I also try to do those as soon as possible, so that the end of the year feels like it's more fun, but that's totally a personal choice.

Finally, some times I receive questions from anonymous readers (which is totally fine!), but then I can't find any way to answer them. I have opened an e-mail account so you can send me anything you want if you don't want to publish it here. It is berkeleycollegelife@gmail.com. Don't hesitate to send me your questions there, I will be happy to answer you or try to direct you to the right person regarding anything I talk about in this blog, NYC, Berkeley College, etc. I will try to do it as soon as possible! However, for Berkeley College issues, such as doubts with the registration process, I recommend you to visit the Berkeley facebook pages, they are really quick on answering and for sure they will give you more accurate information. Here's the link to that one: http://www.facebook.com/BerkeleyCollegePage.

Before I leave, I wanted to share a great video that our fellow Berkeley student Elijah, posted.
It's called "Berkeley Anthem" and I'm sure you guys will enjoy it! He's got talent!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and see you soon!

Friday, July 29, 2011

International Firework Contest 2011

Hey everyone! Today more than writing I'm video-blogging. I've actually spent quite a long time editing it even if it's quite simple, but I hope you guys enjoy! Yesterday the festival week of my hometown, Blanes, came to an end. I talked about it a few blogs ago, but just to remind you, every year at the end of July the International Firework Contest takes place in Blanes, this year the 41st edition fo the contest was celebratd. Every night from 10:30pm to 11pm there's a firework show at the beach. Every day it's from a different company/place. This year we had a lot of variety and we still don't know who was the winner, but we definitely enjoyed every night!


Hundreds of thousands of people gather together at the beach to watch the show every night. In fact, we had to go a few hours earlier to get a good spot. Unfortunately, one of the nights in this edition had to be missed by most of the people because it was raining really badly. Since the fireworks are shot by an electric system (and not fire) there was no problem shooting them under the rain, so the contest went on. I've enjoyed a lot and as a local from Blanes, I believe I'm an expert in the fireworks field. We all believe we are in this town! It's funny to hear conversations about the last night's show. People know what it takes to win the competition after having seen it for so many years: certain colors are more difficult to get, design, rhythm is very important too, originality, size, noise... 

Here's the list of participants for this year:

Focs d'Artifici Europlá SL ( Valencia )
Fuegos artificiales Hermanos Ferrandez SL ( Murcia, Spain )
Pirotecnia Malta Fireworks ( Malta )
Pirofantasia Carlos Caballer SL ( Valencia, Spain ) 
Pirotecnia Parente Fireworks ( Italia ) 
Pirotecnia Zaragozana SL ( Zaragoza, Spain )

There's many people working for it. Every day a team of professionals spend hours preparing the show that later on people enjoy. There's also a huge emergency team that takes care that everything is ok, since the city is extremely crowded (you can't even walk if you're close to the sea side). So I thank all of them for the great job they did, it was a great year for the Blanes festival! 


Here I leave you with the video I just uploaded. I hope you guys watch it and enjoyed! I mixed videos from all the companies with the parts that I think were the best. I uploaded it in HD, you can change the definition.

I hope you enjoyed it and I really recommend you to come for next year, you're more than invited! :) See you soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Arenas de Barcelona

Hey everyone! Today I'm going to mix bull fighting (which I warn I don't like at all) with shopping. No, I'm not crazy. That's what they did in Barcelona. They turned a historical bullring into a shopping mall, and the result is actually beautiful.


First of all, let me give you some information about bullfighting and Catalonia. The parliament of the Catalan region passed a law that bans bullfighting. This law will apply soon and I'm very happy. I know that many people thing that bullfighting is something like "football" in Spain, but it's not. Of course, many people still like it and it's a very active thing in other regions. However, there are many people against it. The reason why I agree with the law is that I don't think the suffering of an animal should be part of any show. I know animals are killed so that I can eat my burger, but this argument doesn't work for me to support bullfighting. I understand it's a big tradition, it makes a lot of money and it doesn't have to be forgotten, but this doesn't mean they should be doing it forever as there are countless things we did in the past as a tradition we don't do anymore. Well, enough about bullfighting and laws, let's go shopping!


Arenas de Barcelona was one of the most famous bullrings in the city, and it was built more than a century ago, in 1900. It stopped being used as a bullring in 1990. Then they decided to turn it into a huge mall featuring shops, museums, theaters, restaurants, etc. The idea was to keep the exterior design intact, which they really did! The way they constructed it was amazing. I used to work around Plaça d'Espanya (the square where it's located) so I had seen the construction before. I'm sure it was more complicated to keep the facade than to destroy and build a brand new one. 


If you happen to travel to Barcelona, I really recommend you to stop there. The best thing is that they have built a huge terrace on the top and the views are unbelievable. You can see the whole city skyline, including the famous landmarks Sagrada Família, Torre Agbar or the MNAC. There are also terraces where you can eat, and if it's a sunny day, it's a great idea! 


Another good spot in the mall is the Museum of Rock. If you like music, I'm sure you'll enjoy it! Here's the link to the website of the museum: http://www.museudelrock.com/.

Here I leave the link to the official website of the shopping mall, where you can find more detailed information: http://www.arenasdebarcelona.com/. Now it's time for me to go and enjoy some more Spain before I leave (which will actually be quite soon... it was so fast!). Even though the pretty weather is gone and it's been rainy for a couple of days... I think I'm getting pale again! I hope you are enjoying your summer and see you very soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Deepest Sympathies to Norway

Well, the title says it all. This has been a weekend with awful news. First of all I'm very sorry for the tragedy in Norway. It's certainly one of the places in the world where I wouldn't expect things like that to happen. I know it's a tough one for the country and I'm also sorry for all the Norwegian students at Berkeley, which are actually a lot. In fact, one of the good friends I made this year at Berkeley was from Norway, which makes even more shocked since I got to know how nice and peaceful Norwegian people are in general.


There's still a lot of information to know from what happened this weekend. However, with what's already there I'm already completely shocked. I just hope the authorities make justice with the author of the terrible crimes committed, even though I know that won't fix the pain. I'm especially sorry for the family and friends of those who innocently lost their lives. As I'm reading the news, I'm getting really scared to see that all these was provoked by a human being.

If it wasn't enough, another piece of news was spread around the whole world. The artist Amy Winehouse was found dead in her house in London. Hers is another sad story for this weekend. She was only 27 years old and had so much talent. We still don't know the causes of her early death, even though all the speculations talk about it being related to her publicly known addictions to drugs and alcohol. It's a pity that her career as an artist was so short, because with her last album (which was released about five years ago) she got an earned success. From that point on, her face was very often in the tabloids (at least in Europe). Unfortunately, most of the times they were related to her personal dramas rather than her career.

As a music lover, this is a very sad and important event. She had been in the news recently due to the cancellation of her tour, which was very sad for the music industry too. We tend to think that super stars live great lives, but many of them go through a lot of drama and I really hate it, because it leaves the music in a secondary role. Anyways, Amy will be remembered and I'm sure we'll be listening to her everywhere this days. 

Even though these news aren't nice to digest, I hope you all had a great weekend and again, my deepest sympathies go to Norway. See you soon!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Study Abroad Opportunities at Berkeley

Hey everyone! I was checking Facebook today (I actually do that more often than I should) and found an interesting post in the Berkeley College Facebook page. You should like it if you haven't done so yet: http://www.facebook.com/BerkeleyCollegePage, because it's the best way to get all the news and information about activities and whatever is going on at the school. For international students, you can also join this one: http://www.facebook.com/BerkeleyCollegeInternationals?ref=ts. Finally there's also one for the NYC Campus, where you can get information about all the activities that take place there: http://www.facebook.com/BerkeleyNYC. It's great how Berkeley is all over the social networks!

Back to what I was saying, I found this great post in the Berkeley page. A student asked about studying abroad, and then magically Berkeley answered with a link to the official website of the school with information about studying abroad. I personally hadn't heard much about it before and I think it's great that we have this opportunity. Since I'm already studying abroad, I don't think I will do that (even though someone said "never say never"), because it would be like studying abroad abroad. However, from my own personal experience, I do highly recommend taking advantage of it. Berkeley College has partnerships with many other schools around the world, and it's not as complicated as it seems. 

According to the official website:
"Berkeley College's overseas partnerships provide a number of exciting opportunities for students to experience an international program of study.
At Berkeley College, study abroad opportunities allow students to understand and appreciate world cultures other than their own and prepare for leadership roles in the global market place.
Students who want an international experience, can take advantage of Berkeley's solid relationships with institutions of higher education in a number of countries including Ireland, France, Spain, Mexico, England, Germany, and Chile.
Students who wish to study abroad should contact the Advisement Department."
 This is the link: http://www.berkeleycollege.edu/academics/Overseas_Programs.htm.


I have been studying abroad for a while now, and in more than one country. It's a whole new experience compared to studying in your own country (which I have also done). There are countless reasons why I would recommend it. However, I must also say that this is not the best thing for everyone. I have seen people having a bad time with it, even though it usually ends up pretty well. If you want to do it, you really have to want it. That's the first thing. Besides that, there are many other reasons to be motivated to study abroad. You will learn a new language (unless they speak yours), you will get to know other cultures first-hand, you will be able to travel more than usual, you will expand your network worldwide, you will get new skills, your degree value will be enhanced, etc. 

What's more important to me, you learn a lot about yourself. Being abroad puts yourself in many situations that wouldn't happen back home. The way you solve them, adapt to them or escape from them will teach you a lot about who you are. If I compare the person I am right now to the person I was a few years ago when I was still living in Spain, there's a huge difference. I've got new perspectives and points of view, and that changes your mindset. To me, studying abroad has been a blessing!

I hope you don't feel like I'm kicking you out of your countries, but really you should think about it! Keep enjoying your summer and see you soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Hey everyone! Let me tell you something about my city today. If you've ever been to Barcelona, I'm sure you know what Sagrada Familia is. It's the most famous monument in the city and it's breathtaking. It's my favorite piece of art, and the artist is Gaudí (who is also my favorite artist ever.) One of the fascinating things of the Sagrada Familia is that it's been on construction since 1882 and it's not finished yet. I had the opportunity to work there for a while, with the audio guide tours, and it was great to be in such a place. If you're ever in Barcelona or close to the city, I'm telling you that this is a big must, you have to visit it! It's like going to New York and missing Times Square.
"The Sagrada Família, is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.

Though construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882, when Gaudí took over the project in 1883 he transformed it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear, Modernisme forms with ambitious structural columns and arches, and including a rich variety of Christian symbols in the design."
(Read the whole article here)
 It's such a big place that it's impossible to talk about everything in a blog. In fact, when I decided to write a post about it, I started doing my research and I went crazy trying to fit all the information. Every single detail in the church (even if I prefer to call it a temple) has a story behind. The smallest detail has a huge meaning. I have done the whole tour many times, and I was equally amazed the first and the last time I did it. In this kind of situations, it is somehow pointless to try to explain with words how beautiful it is. What I can say is that when I was working there, I saw many of my costumers cry. Most of the people gave really positive feedback, which is always nice for any job. 


The Sagrada Familia has changed a lot over the years. Since it's still in construction, you can visit it twice in a decade and find it completely different. That's what happened last time I was there. When I finished working there, before I left to New York, last summer, the inside of the church wasn't finished. When I came back and visit it (this time as a tourist), the inside part was already finished and it was just incredible. I had heard the guided tour many times, and I had pictured it in my mind. However, seeing it with my own eyes was a different thing. 


One of my favorite parts of the tour is the view from the top. You can go up by elevator and once you're up you start going down the stairs. Those stairs are super tiny, but the atmosphere up there is awesome. You're above the city, and the view is spectacular. Moreover, all the details you discover from the top make the place look like a real wonder. Since Gaudí was really inspired in nature, sometimes it feels like the temple was meant to be there just as the trees in the forest. 


If you're interested and you want to get more technical and historical information (that I wasn't brave enough to sum up) you can visit the official website: http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/. If you're ever around when I'm in Barcelona, don't hesitate to hit me up, and I offer myself for a tour there! I love talking about Gaudí and fortunately, this is not the only building left from this genius! See you soon!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Internships in New York

Hi everyone! How was your weekend? I hope the brave ones that took the summer quarter aren't having a hard time. Lately I've been thinking a lot about next year and I've been making a lot of plans (as I usually do). I thought a lot about starting an internship. Studying in New York is a huge investment, not only the tuition is expensive compared to other places, but also the costs of housing, meals, etc. are quite bigger. Having that in mind, once you're there, you need to make the most out of that time. 

One of the best ways for students to apply what they learn at school into the real world before getting a job is doing an internship. New York has tons of companies that are willing to have interns, and students should take benefit of it! In fact, many people come to New York exclusively to do an internship... so now that Berkeley students have a campus right there, we should take advantage of the opportunities the city offers.

There are countless reasons why students should do internships. First of all, it's a learning experience that you can't get in a classroom. Even if you have an excellent professor, you need to be in the real environment to learn how real jobs are. Moreover, it's a great way to make contacts. Most of the job positions in the US are found by networking rather than by job postings. In many schools, such as Berkeley College, doing an internship is part of the curriculum and all students are required to do a minimum of hours of internship, which I think is great. I didn't do any serious internship during the first year because I wanted to focus on school first and take my time to settle in the city. However, I did some volunteering which was also a great experience and it's somehow similar to an internship even if it doesn't usually last as long.

Now, how to find internships? It's actually not that hard! In New York there are many options. First of all, if you have some companies in mind where you would love to intern you should try and check their website. Most of the companies offer the possibility to apply for a job/internship through their website and they actually announce any job openings they have there.

Another option is the school. Not every school has it, but some provide a service that will find you an internship and even a job. Fortunately, Berkeley College has career service. This service is included in the tuition, so you don't have to pay for it if you're a student. Honestly, that was one of the points I kept in mind when deciding which school I wanted to attend. Many of my classmates found great internships using the career service, and they help you with many issues related to this. You can visit their blog, where they post really useful information, to have an idea of the things they do: http://berkeleycollegecareerservices.blogspot.com/.

Another option is to find internships in websites such as Craigslist. I talked about this one when I wrote about housing in New York. Nevertheless, Craigslist.com also has a section for "jobs" where you can actually search for internships. You can see all kinds of internships there and it's worth to have a look. However, if you're looking for a more accurate website, I would recommend you www.internships.com. Here you can find them by field, location, company, ect. The website offers a lot of possibilities. You can create your profile with your résumé and directly apply to the internships you like from the same website. All kinds of companies post their internship positions there, so I would highly recommend checking this one out.

I hope I didn't bother you speaking about working in the middle of the summer, but I can't stop myself from thinking about next year! Which is actually closer than it seems... You guys have fun and see you soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Story of Deception by Francis Alÿs

A few days ago I told you about my last adventure at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). In the temporary space there was an exhibition called "A Story of Deception" by Francis Alÿs that I liked a lot. I have been researching about him and his work and I actually recommend you to visit it before it closes the 1st of August. It's one of those exhibits that not many people appreciate. In fact, during the time I was there, I heard many people complain that it wasn't art. I respect their opinion, and I can understand why they think so to some extent, but to me, that was amazing!

Here's what the official site of the museum says about it:
"This exhibition draws on the Museum’s unique and important collection of Alÿs’s work, highlighting three recent major acquisitions—Re-enactments (2001), When Faith Moves Mountains (2002), and Rehearsal I (Ensayo I) (1999–2001)—which include video installations, paintings, drawings, collages, photographs, and newspaper clippings. These works present an investigation of methods of social action, from rehearsals and re-enactments in urban environments that address the politics of public space to large-scale communal participation where the culmination of many small acts achieves mythic proportions. The exhibition, which is conceptually grouped around these three thematic bodies of work, also includes additional artworks that the artist has developed around the idea of rehearsal and re-enactment in relation to progress in art and everyday life" (Full article here)
There are two pieces of this exhibition that I particularly liked. Both of them are videos and made little sense the first time I looked at them. I found a part of them online, watch it first:




This one was entitled "Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing". The guy in the video walks around Mexico City pushing a huge ice cube until it completely melts down. The message is quite clear, as well as powerful. While I was watching it I was actually having a weird feeling of wasting my time while actually understanding the meaning of it. I'm not going to start an argument about this being art or not, but the truth is that this part of the gallery gave me a lot of food for thought.

The other highlight for me was another video installation which was actually really cool. It was a grey room with couches so people could comfortably sit and a big screen in the wall. There was a video playing about a guy chasing tornadoes with a camera. Yes, exactly as you read it. You can see an extract from it in the following video, but you won't get the feeling from it. I really recommend you to go see it! 


Even if you might end up hating me for making you go there promising that this was exciting and then finding out it wasn't your cup of tea, give it a chance! You have the whole MoMA in the lower floors to explore anyways! See you soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Post-Vacation Blues

Hey everyone! How's the summer going? Mine is being quite sweet so far. I'm still home and really relaxed. This is so different from my life in New York. Basically, because there's not much to worry about. However, this feeling sometimes drives me crazy! I'm one of these people who doesn't know how to be on holidays. This is why I'm busy even when I'm on vacation. Right now I'm doing all the things I wanted to do during the year and said I'll do them "when I have time." I'm reading all those books I wanted to read, I'm painting, I'm learning a lot of things that have little to do with my major, I keep writing this blog, I'm taking time for myself and spending it with people I can't see during the year and I even wanted to learn how to play guitar! Which I'm leaving for a little later, "when I have time." 

To be happy I need to be busy. Even if busy means sunbathing. Children in Spain have a 3 month summer vacation, from mid June to mid September. I guess it is so because it's really hot in here! When I was a child, I remember I was already bored by the first of August and I wanted to go back to school really badly. I wasn't old enough to travel by myself or to get a summer job and I didn't have much to do. Therefore, I had no problem going back to school and finishing my long holidays. However, now that my holidays are much shorter, I find it harder to go back to the real world. Nevertheless, there are people who have big trouble with that. It's the post-vacation syndrome, the difficulties in the process of readjusting to life after a vacation. 

I found 8 nice tips in the website www.roadandtravel.com that might be useful if you find it hard to go back to life after your amazing trip:

1.) Return to your daily routine slowly. They recommend us to come back from our trip a few days before starting work or school, that way it's not that shocking.

2.) Share your adventure. It always feels nice to share your stories and adventures with your friends, classmates or colleagues. Keeping them for yourself can be frustrating. However, be careful on how much time you spend showing pictures, if you don't want your friends to get bored with you!

3.) Take care of your body medically. Make sure you're health is good after your trip. It is usual to have problems after having changed your diet, traveled to a different climate, etc. See a doctor if you're feeling anything weird in your body!

4.) Eat sensibly. If you had an exciting adventure with a lot of physical activity and now you're back to the office, be careful on how many calories you're eating, since you probably won't need that many!

5.) Stay in shape. If you did a lot of sport during your vacation, you're probably in the best shape. Don't ruin it now that you're back and keep exercising!

6.) Turn your vacation thoughts into action.
I'm sure many of you have done that, I include myself here. I make a lot of plans during vacation, because I actually have time to think. Probably those are awesome plans, make them happen!

7.) Have a vacation escape. You might have a long weekend when you can run away from the city and go to the nature or wherever you feel relaxed. There's no need to wait for next summer to do such a thing!

8.) Plan your next adventure.
Planning things keeps me alive, that's why I start preparing for the next adventure right in September! It makes you have something to look forward to! 


For those who are already back from holidays, I hope that was useful! For those who are still in holidays, keep these lines in mind! And for those who doesn't have a holiday this summer, I'm really sorry! See you soon!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Barriers International Students Face

Hey Berkeley! I just found a very nice and easy website with tones of information for international students. It talks about international students. There are many of us in the United States, but not everything is as easy at it seems in the pictures we see on the schools websites. In this particular site, the author talks about the difficulties an international student finds when trying to adjust to the new place. She divides it in four different sections: culture shock, social barriers, academic difficulties and financial pressure. Here's the link to the website, written by Fangfang Gao as a final project for the University of Florida: link.

Concerning the culture shock, I blogged about it several months ago, when I talked about the different stages an international student goes through. From that post, I got many responses from other international students that, like myself, had also gone through the same stages. If you didn't have a chance to read it, here's the link to it if you're interested: link. Fangfang also differentiates four main periods, which she calls "a fascination period, a frustration period, a gradual adjustment period, and an acceptance period." Everything I have read so far about this topic outlines the same adaptation process, even though, as I said in that blog, everyone experiences the stages in different ways and timing.

Social barriers are another obstacle to overcome when studying abroad. Usually international students arrive to the new country knowing no one, which means they have to build a social network (and I'm not talking about Facebook) from zero. It depends a lot on the kind of personality and the culture where they come from, but it is very usual for international students to hang out with people form their same nationalities. I think that's not the point of studying abroad. I think you should use this opportunity to build a network as diverse as possible, which I think is very enriching. However it takes time to overcome the "awkwardness" of joining conversations, making new friends and lose a bit of shyness. 

Another challenge outlined in the site I mentioned are the academic difficulties. The main issue here is the language. Students who come from a country, such as mine (Spain), where they don't speak English, might find it difficult at first to fully understand what the professor says. What's even harder is to write all the projects and exams in a language you're not used to. Moreover, I would say it also takes time to adapt to the studying system. In my own experience, studying in the US is completely different from what I used to do back home, where classes are not so participative and you don't have to do so many projects, but more final exams. Even though I prefer the US system much better, it still takes time to understand it and to make the best of it. However, many schools have special courses to help you adapt to the new system and language. For example, at Berkeley you can take ESL (English as a Second Language) courses and college skills courses, which will prepare you for college.

Finally, the author talks about financial pressure. International students have it harder to be qualified for financial aid in the US schools. Moreover, being a non-resident often makes the tuition higher than if you were one. Even though it's harder, there are still opportunities to get some help in the financial aspect. However, it is always wise to be ready before you go there and arrange all the financial issues beforehand.


I'm really happy that Berkeley College has so many international students. I hope the information here was useful! Have a great week and good luck with your classes! For those who are enjoying the summer, keep doing so! See you soon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Target Free Fridays at MoMA

Hi everyone! Let's get back to New York, since I have been wanting to talk about this for a while now. Have you ever visited the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)? If you haven't, Friday is your day! If you have visited already, maybe it's about time to go back! I'm suggesting Friday because you will save the 20 dollars the admission costs. The Target Fridays start at 4pm until closed. However, I would recommend going there like half an hour earlier to be sure you get your ticket (they deliver tickets at the entrance because the space is limited, but they're still free).

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
I've been in this museum many times, and I still love it. Modern art includes a lot of things, it's not only about "weird stuff my little nephew could do" as many people have told me. I think there's something for everyone in the museum. Hanging out in a room with works of art from Van Gogh, Cézanne, Mondriet, Picasso, Dalí or Monet, to name just a few, is priceless! There are paintings, sculptures, furniture, audiovisual works... and it's so big I haven't succeeded on seeing it all in one visit. Fortunately, being free on Fridays I can go and visit it section by section in different days.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso
First of all, let me tell you about the museum itself. It opened on 1929 and was founded as a response to the conservative Metropolitan Museum. It's said to be the first museum dedicated to modern art in the world. At first, it was located in a huge apartment on 5th Avenue (in the corner with 57th Street). In 1939, the collection was so big that the museum had to be moved to a bigger location, the one where it is now (53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues).

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni
I recommend visiting it from the top to the lower level. In the highest level there are temporary exhibits. I will talk about the one I saw soon, because I really loved it! In the same floor, you may find the audio guides stand, where you can grab one for free. They're very helpful and easy to use, you just need to press the number you see by the works of art. However, no matter what's your order or how much of the museum you visit, I'm sure you will find something interesting! The pictures in this blog are some of my favorite works at the MoMA, but I would need a lot more space to put all the ones I like. 


Hirondelle Amour by Joan Miró
It's amazing to see the original works of artists I have studied so many times at school. There are also many artists from my country with works in this museum, and that felt great! Dalí, Gaudí, Miró... I love all of them. However, since I worked at the Miró museum in Barcelona, I really enjoyed finding some of his greatest paintings there, they are really amazing (picture above this paragraph)! I hope you visit it and enjoy it! Have a great week and see you soon!

Here's the website of the museum for more information: www.moma.org

Saturday, July 9, 2011

San Fermin Festival

Hi everyone! This week there's a huge celebration in a region of Spain, Navarra. Many people have asked me about it, because it's famous worldwide. It's the San Fermines. The whole city of Pamplona is a big party, and the most famous thing is running in front of the bulls, yes, that's right! I'm not really sure if I like that part or not (I'm not really into having fun with animals)... but it sure is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of San Fermines. Here's what the Internet says about it:
"The festival of San Fermín (or Sanfermines, in basque language Sanferminak) in the city of Pamplona (Navarre, Spain), is a deeply rooted celebration held annually from 12:00, 6 July, when the opening of the fiesta is marked by setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo, to midnight 14 July, with the singing of the Pobre de Mí. While its most famous event is the encierro, or the running of the bulls, the week-long celebration involves many other traditional and folkloric events. It is known locally as Sanfermines and is held in honor of Saint Fermin, the co-patron of Navarre. Its events were central to the plot of The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, which brought it to the general attention of English-speaking people. It has become probably the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain. Over 1,000,000 people come to watch this festival." (Link here)

Even though this celebration takes place only in Navarra, many people associate it with the whole country. Many non-Spanish people have asked me about it, and I find it funny how some of them told me they started celebrating it in their countries. Most of the people know it because of the running of the bulls. However, there's much more than that! Since I'm not really into this part of the celebration, I don't pay much attention to it, but I know for someone who has never seen it, it can be quite shocking, and I understand how people who hasn't been raised here find it crazy (even I do)! 

They close some streets in the city, from the place where they let go the bulls to the bullring. People who want to run, have to do so in front of the bulls. However, many people are crazy enough to stay close to them and touch them. Sometimes there are serious incidents, mainly because some people who don't know how to do it, participate in the run. I think only people who have been trained should do it, since it's quite dangerous.

Here's a video where you will see an explanation about the festival and how international people live it.   


This happens every morning during the whole week, but after that, there are many other events. There are concerts, massive meals, etc. around the city and there are crowds of people just about everywhere. This event is becoming quite international and year by year, the amount of foreigners attending is increasing. Who knows if you may be up for it next summer!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Danger of the Sun

Hey everyone! No, I'm not talking about science or astrology today. This is the time of the year when we love going to the beach the most. However, there is something we should keep in mind. Sunbathing can be dangerous! I grew up in a beach town, and it's always crowded in summer. I'm used to see tourists looking like tomatoes and still going to the beach. I wonder how they sleep at night, since this really hurts! I'm sure they are not aware of the danger of getting sun burnt.

Being tan is seen as something attractive for most of the people nowadays. However, getting a tan means nothing but damaging your skin. Not that I'm white at all, in fact, I'm one of these people who gets dark really quick. I've been only one week here at home and I already look like chocolate. Nevertheless, spending the day under the sun is not my thing, and I always try to take care. I got sun burnt the first day I arrived and I freaked out, that's why I'm blogging about it today!

Why do we like to get tanned? Last winter my skin was quite pale, since I had a short summer and I didn't have any sunbath in New York. When I came back home for Christmas, many people asked me if I was ill because I was that white. However, it used to be the other way around a few decades ago. Being white was more attractive than being tanned, and it was also a social status sign. The only people who got tanned were the farmers and people who had to work outdoors. Rich people didn't have to work outside, so they didn't stand under the sun. Everything changed. Many people (specially girls) spend hours and hours under the sun getting their skin as dark as possible. Those farmers and workers from past centuries used to protect themselves with a lot of clothing so that the sun wouldn't affect them, but today no one really covers up to protect from the sunlight. 


The biggest consequence of sunbathing too much is skin cancer. People don't know much about it, so we don't care as much as we should, but most of the cases of this type of cancer are caused by sunbathing! The National Cancer Institute says:

"Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. They usually form on the head, face, neck, hands and arms. Another type of skin cancer, melanoma, is more dangerous but less common.
Anyone can get skin cancer, but it is more common in people who
Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned
Have light-colored skin, hair and eyes
Have a family member with skin cancer
Are over age 50

You should have your doctor check any suspicious skin markings and any changes in the way your skin looks. Treatment is more likely to work well when cancer is found early. If not treated, some types of skin cancer cells can spread to other tissues and organs."

There are many things we can do to prevent ourselves from it and to protect from sunlight during the summer months. The easiest one is to avoid the hours when the sun affects the most (usually between 11am and 5pm). Even after or before these hours, we should always use sunscreen. To know which kind of sunscreen you need, you could ask to a specialist in a pharmacy. If you're skin is not too light, you may use a sunscreen between 30 and 50. You shouldn't spend too long under the sun, and you should use sunscreen frequently (at least every 20 minutes), specially after swimming or sweating. After having a sunbath and specially if you feel you're burnt, you should have a shower and use after sun lotions. To avoid other consequences, it is important to drink a lot of water and eat properly.


I hope you take care of yourselves and that you enjoy your summer! Have a good one, see you soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July

Hi everyone! Yesterday was a normal day in Spain. however, 4th of July is a huge thing in the US. I wanted to come back home for summer, but I would have also liked to be there to see it with my own eyes, especially for the famous firework show. A couple of days ago I told you about the fireworks contest in my home town, so I've been watching them ever since I was a baby! However, the 4th of July means a lot more for Americans. As an international student, it wasn't until this year when I really got to know the meaning of this celebration. First of all, let's see what the day is all about:

"Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States." (Link here)
It seems like I missed a huge party! However, some of my friends are still there and I know they had a big party. The most popular thing, at least from what I've heard in New York, is the Macy's firework show. This store seems to have something with big parties, remember Thanks Giving! This is the link to the official website, where you can check out the pictures from this year and get information for the next one. I'll try to see it some day! Macy's did a great job. I've seen it all through Youtube and the firework were just amazing. Moreover, they had a show right in the Statue of Liberty where even Beyoncé, one of the biggest American superstars, performed.

This is the video from Beyoncé's performance as seen on NBC. She's performing her new single "Best Thing I Never Had": 

However, fireworks and superstars is not the only thing they do this day. There are many other traditions, which are way cheaper and more social, such as barbeques! The point is to celebrate freedom, which I think is very important for the nation. I think it's necessary for younger generations to know how hard it was for Americans to gain freedom and make the USA the country it is today. I'm glad that this celebration is still alive and I'm sure it will be so forever, because it's part of the country's identity and it brings up the American values.

I leave you with a video about the firework show that took place in the city this year, I really wish I had been there to see it!



I hope you enjoyed the day. Have a great week! See you soon!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blanes, My Hometown

Today I'm taking you out of New York City to introduce you my beautiful hometown, Blanes, where you're always invited! This Spanish town is located to the North of Barcelona, in Catalonia. It's the first town of the Costa Brava (Brave Coast), which is the most beautiful coast you will find! Blanes has about 40,000 inhabitants, even though this figure increases significantly during the summer months, where many tourists and people who has summer houses come to spend the hot months.


I was born and raised here, and maybe that's the biggest reason why I love it so much. Moreover, if I had to choose a place to go and relax, besides the Saaremaa Island in Estonia, that would be Blanes. The most beautiful thing of the town is the coast. There are many different beaches. The S'Abanell beach is the largest one and belongs to the Coast of Maresme, which has nothing to do with the Costa Brava. The next beach, Sa Palomera, is the first beach from the South of the Costa Brava. This coast is characterized by shorter and rocky beaches, that's why it's called "Brave". 


The town is not very big, even if it's considered to be a city for Spanish standards. However, it has several attractions that might leave you speechless. The beaches are an amazing attraction by itself, walking through the seaside is a very good way to spend time. There are many outdoor bars around the beaches and the walks are very nice. There are markets and little stands with art crafts during the whole summer, and they make a great atmosphere. The beaches are also in very good condition, most of them are very clean, have showers and even first aid staff. In many beaches, they have fun stuff to do as well. There are water sports, sailing boats, or water motorbikes you can rent. 


One of my favorite places of the town is the botanic garden "Mar i Murtra," the one you see in the picture above. It's an incredible place and I promise you the views are insane. It's located on a hill by the sea and you can see both sides of the town (the hill is the one you see in one of the pictures above with a castle on the top). For 6 Euros, you can enter the garden and enjoy all parts of it. You can check it out in the official website http://www.marimurtra.cat/ . Whenever I have friends visiting, I always take them there. The pictures always come out very nice and they always enjoy it. It feels like being in one of those posters with paradise beaches!


The best time of the year to come to my hometown is at the end of July. It's the festival of the town, and during the whole week, there's a firework show every night that gathers thousands of people in the beach. It's the international firework contest and every night there's a different country participating. It starts at 10pm and lasts about half hour. They are really something else. Whenever I think of my town I remember the firework contest. I used to wait for it all year long when I was a kid. It's really exciting and it's always incredibly crowded! Apart from the firework shows, there are concerts, amusement parks and tones of events going on during those days. Check the firework contest for this year here: http://www.blanes.cat/focs/index.html. I can't wait for it to come since this year I will be here to enjoy it!

I also have to mention the food. As you might already know, I love eating! In Blanes we usually follow the Mediterranean diet, which I love. Since we are in the coast, we eat a lot of fish and seafood. There are many good restaurants by the seaside which offer great quality food and service while enjoying the amazing views of the beach. Don't forget to hit me up if you happen to visit the town and I'll take you to the best ones!

I'm enjoying a lot being here. I actually feel like a tourist, even though this is the place I should call home. I guess I have been away too many years. I left the town to go to University in Barcelona and well, after that I've only gone further and further until I got to New York. However, I will always find time to come back here, because this place has something other places don't. I'm really proud that I was born here! See you soon!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Street Market at Bleecker

Hey everyone! Have you ever walked around a street  market in New York City? Last weekend in the morning I woke up because of the noise in the street, since my room faced Bleecker. At first I thought it was a construction, since they usually do them whenever most of the people want to sleep! I tried to continue sleeping but I couldn't anymore. It wasn't until I opened the blinds that I realized what was going on in the street. Right in front of me there was a huge street market and a lot of people walking around. Even if they had woken me up, it looked like a lot of fun and I decided to check it out. 

It started in at the intersection between Broadway and Bleecker Street. And it went all the way through Bleecker until 6th Avenue, quite a big market I would say! Since the day was great, there were many people outside and the atmosphere was very nice. I can't say if the market was for anything in particular, because I found a little bit of everything there: clothes, food, useless funny stuff, and art crafts.


I'm not really into clothing, I rather get most of my "spectacular" collection in the same stores, because then I don't have to think about it, so I can't talk much about this part of the market. What I can say is that they had a lot of accessories (bags, purses, fake jewelry, etc.) and the prices were rather cheap compared to the rest of stores in SoHo. They also had some stands dedicated to promote different organizations. For example, The New York Times had one where you could subscribe to the newspaper and get some "free stuff" as reward. I also saw a stand with a lot of kittens in small cages. I thought it was a bit cruel, because I don't like seeing animals in these situations, but they were actually advocating for an NGO that fights for animal rights. I hope those kittens didn't get hurt then!


My favorite part of this kind of markets is food! Especially in New York, they always have an amazing cultural variety in food. First of all I found tropical fruit stands. Once I started walking, I found Mexican cuisine, Indian, Chinese, Italian, French and even Spanish! There's something I always find in food markets, the deep fried Oreo cookies! They are supposed to be Italian (or at least they sell them in the Italian stands), and they are just delicious. If you ever find them, you have to taste them! It's just an Oreo cookie covered in some kind of bread and deep fried. The cookie gets really soft and, ahh, it's just delicious and I'm getting hungry right now! It was funny to find the Spanish stand as well. They were offering "Tortilla de Patatas" (the Spanish omelet I talked about a few weeks ago) and "Paella", the star dish from my country. I will talk about this Spanish meal later on, because since I'm in Spain at the moment, I'm enjoying it every weekend! Not that I can cook it (yet), but my father is a master and he has a lot to teach me in that field!


Another interesting thing were the art crafts. In the street markets I always find something I had never seen before. This time it was a stand where they were making wooden roses. Yes, roses made out of wood! They actually looked and smell like the real flower, but this one needs no water and wont die unless you burn it. They were kind of awesome, but I'm not sure if I would recommend it as a gift for your girlfriend if she's expecting the real thing! 

At this time of the year, there are many markets going on in the city. It's a good plan for weekend mornings! See you soon!