I don't remember if I posted anything about Halloween, but I seem to recall writing about gleefully gutting and carving a pumpkin, so I think I may have posted about Halloween. In the event I did not, let me know- because there are some funny pictures you should all see. Suffice to say I'm lucky my flatmates didn't take my rather manic glee at being allowed to carve the pumpkin all alone as a sign that I was definitely sick in the head! :P And much fun was had by all.
So we'll move on to my birthday. First of all, it was during reading week for History. Reading week can most accurately be described as a whole week's break from one subject of classes. If you are only in one subject, as most students here are, this means a whole week with no classes during which you sit in your room or the library and study diligently like a good student...
...Yeah. Right. And then pigs fly. So anyway, it was History's reading week, and I had no class on Wednesday, which was ever-so-conveniently my birthday! YES. So the night before (we have to go back there) I went over to a friend's flat, and we proceeded to play a game of revenge on her evil boy flatmates who wake her up at 3AM hollering. It was quite simple, really. She invited everyone over, and a majority of them being Spanish, a deafening racket was duly accomplished. Suddenly, at midnight, I looked at my friend Edu and said, "Hey! It's my birthday!" which of course they all knew already. He counted to three and by some strange occurence everyone knew that was the queue to sing happy birthday. So they sang happy birthday to me in the hall at the top of their lungs, punctuated with some good drumming on the walls. And since I didn't have to be up the next morning I stayed out late and had a grand old time.
The next day I pretty much did nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. I must have stayed in my PJ's til after noon, and after my shower I put on other bumming-around-the-flat clothes til I changed for dinner. My flatmates had told me only, "You should be ready at about 7:45 (I think it was) and wear something nice. Not too nice, but nice anyway," to which I responded, "Oh, so you mean like my church clothes." They laughed, and I still don't know why! But suffice to say that is almost exactly what they meant. So at 7:45 I was ready to go and we walked to this restaurant with terra cotta colored stucco and a covered porch with a blue door. Little did my flatmates know that I'd been pining for weeks to try this little place called Abuelo's (that they'd chosen this one place over another Mexican place in town was a special bit of birthday luck!), and little did we know we were about to experience the most legit Mexican food I've had since I got here. It was very good- I had a margarita and a burrito with guacamole on it. We ordered chips and salsa too, and here is where the first big shock of the night took place. That salsa was HOME MADE. Just like mom's. I mean... really. Just like mom's. Not in the figurative sense, but in the more literal sense. It tasted (almost) exactly like my mommy's salsa! I happily dug in and they remarked that it was spicy as I piled it on tortilla chips and munched away like it had been months since I'd had good salsa.
Anyway, dinner was excellent. They wouldn't let me pay for my part, and they got me a box of chocolate and a beautiful picture frame with pressed roses in it, in which I am going to put a "family picture" of us. Anneleen got me a little saucepan and a frying pan, she said, so I wouldn't have to always use someone else's. We were joking about me using everyone else's things to cook with, and I said, "In other words, 'I got you these so you can use them and leave them sitting dirty til they cool without irritating me.'" and we all laughed because of course that was one of the reasons she'd gotten them, besides wanting me to have my own. We'd had a discussion the week before because I kept leaving people's pans dirty on the side to cool off, because I won't put cold water in a hot pan (though they will!).
At the end of dinner, we went home, chit chatting the whole way. I was so happy, because ALL my flatmates were all there together. I love nothing better than to have all my friends in the same place. It's like all is definitely right in my little world when this occurs, and is in fact the best birthday present of all. But I was a little bummed I hadn't gotten to do anything with to foreign kids on the night of my birthday, and in fact wouldn't even see them til next week! But of course I'd just had good food and I had my flatmates- so I really wasn't that bummed out. And I reckoned I'd just go home, drink some hot chocolate, and go to bed. Perfect end to a perfect day. We even talked about it on the way home. Anna said, "I think it's time for hot chocolate," and I agreed wholeheartedly as we walked in the door. I went to open my bedroom door to throw down my stuff when all of my flatmates began acting suspiciously. By suspiciously I mean they had all bunched up in the hall and were looking at me. I looked at Anna and arched one eyebrow at her and she said, "I think maybe you should open the door..." and I laughed, because of course I'd just heard a chorus of "SHHH! *giggle*" coming from in the living room. I believe I said something like, "Oh my gosh, you didn't!" which is really rather typical. I couldn't think of something less cliche'd to say? Honestly!
So I opened the door, and about 30 people shouted "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" and started singing to me, and Nerea, who is probably the one I'm closest to, just about tackled me giving me a hug. I don't believe I stopped grinning for the entire evening. I had no idea they were all going to be there! And they were ALL there (except for one who was in London with his mates). They'd all signed a card and there was a cake and I honestly don't remember what I wished for. But I blew out the candles and then DID go and chuck everything in my room. From (I swear) thin air, they had all conjured like 5 cakes and several bottles of wine (good wine, or... good for Uni kids on budgets. Not the nasty cheap kind, anyway) and even something that was quite reminiscent of champagne and indeed may have been. We had fun and eventually took what Nerea also calls a "family photo". It was pretty epic, and I'm gonna go ahead and send it even though you can see some of that aforementioned alcohol crowding up one corner. We had to set the camera on the microwave and set the timer, which was PRETTY funny.
Mmmmkay. I'm sorry it's big, but I wanted you to be able to see everyone. I want to point out my flatmates and Nerea, but I'm not naming everyone else because there's a ton of them. So, in that first row behind me you'll see four girls sitting. On the left of these girls, next to the guy in the red shirt, that's Nerea (Spain, of course!). Then next to her is Nuriya (red and grey shirt, Kazakh), Anneleen (red shirt, Belgian), Anna (black and multi-colored shirt, English), then Faustine (black shirt, silver necklace, French) and on Faustine's other side is Alex (she's wearing blue and is standing). I believe we counted and in this group, there are over ten countries represented. It's utterly insane! I love it. It was probably one of the most memorable birthdays I've ever had in my life. For a whole two hours, I got to have everyone I know and love here in One Place where I could be with all of them. And I had no idea it was going to happen! The Spaniards had gone to lengths to subtly and completely convince me that they wouldn't see me! Which is really pretty amazing when you think about it, because I'm usually pretty good at detecting when someone is lying, but they were so SUBTLE about it, I just hadn't the foggiest clue. And I didn't expect my flatmates would be able to get ahold of any of my other friends, cause the two groups really never interract. I didn't reckon on Faustine, who contacted Attila, (The Hungarian. Yes, laugh, go ahead. Everyone does. Yes, that's really his name, and yes, he is really Hungarian.) who contacted EVERYONE else. What a group!
It's funny, because I've reached the point where I really just want to come /home/, now, please, but I can't imagine not seeing my crew at least once a week. Even when I don't see them, I know they're there. And I can't believe that one day in June we're going to have one last gathering and then all go our seperate ways, and it won't ever be the same again. It makes me want to spend every second I can with them. Unfortunately we've all just been slammed with homework so I haven't seen them lately, but I'm setting something up this week, if I have to further deprive myself of sleep to do so. What's a little sleep lost when it's taken up by time with friends?
But, my waxing sentimental aside, it is indeed 12:30AM, and I'm sleep deprived (I really, really am.). So I should probably be making some attempt to get to bed! I'll fill you in on the other holidays (I had Thanksgiving twice. Yep.) including Guy Fawkes Day later on! Hopefully with more pictures, but it's all gone completely INSANE these last few weeks of semester, so this may be the last you hear of me til about Christmas.
As always, much love to you all! I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!