Friday, May 31, 2013

The First Week

How do I even begin to write this?!
I'm wrapping up my fourth day in Spain, and I can definitely tell you two things: I love Spain, and city life is very different than what I'm used to!

After an incredibly long 23 hours of traveling, I finally stepped onto the streets, where I was promptly greeted by the traditional kisses on both cheeks from my host parents! They are both beautiful Spanish people that speak absolutely no English. Jose and Rosa have three grown daughters and ten grandchildren, which they find great joy in talking about. One of their nietas (granddaughters) lives in the same apartment building as them, and excepting my sisters, I'm not sure if I've ever seen a cuter 5-year-old!

So far my days have been incredibly long, as I first battled slight jet-lag, and as walking 11+ miles everyday caught up with my poor feet. There is so much to see and to do and I need to continually remind myself that I have two whole months here- I don't need to pack everything right away! Adjusting to life in the city is different, as I've been walking so much, there's a lot of noise and people, and I spent my first few times out in the city wandering around lost. But each day I get better at navigating and hopefully blending in with the locals! Except my blonde hair... I stick out a little, as people like to comment on sometimes.

Oh right, and there's that little fact that nobody (okay, barely anybody) here speaks English. But my Spanish language abilities have improved so much in only a few days! The first day I barely spoke, as my lovely roommate can communicate much better than I can, but even with my fellow students from America I'm only talking in Spanish and it is forcing me to learn the necessary words very quickly. I can even talk quickly sometimes! It can be frustrating, especially because my host parents like to talk and explain things but I can't understand them very well. I'm hoping that will change soon!

There's so much more I could write about, but I have to stop somewhere, si?
Tomorrow I get to visit an ancient city from Roman times and experience a professional futbol game!

Adios Amigos!

(and a few pictures to leave you with)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18, 2009

Also happening this summer is my family's move from central Michigan to central Indiana. Thankfully, I'll miss most of the work due to being gone, but I'm currently going through my room trying to part with all those mementos of life I've kept for upwards of 14 years here. Among the teeth I had pulled a decade ago (not kidding- can anyone tell me why I still have these?!), the piles of clothes that I would never again be caught dead in, and the dusty books yet to be read, I found a stack of my old notebooks and journals.
Out of curiosity, I flipped in one of them to this exact date, four years ago. And ironically, this is what I have recorded:

"May 18, 2009.
.... Before that, though, I'm going to get really good scholarships and go to a university. Probably a Christian one, in Michigan. I'm going to travel- a lot! Before I die, I'd love to go to every continent! I want to study abroad in college - In Europe. Maybe a few different places in Europe, actually. Ahhh I have such plans for my future.
Even though I'm excited for all these great plans, I'm scared - now. The thought of not living with my family really scares me - as a 15-year-old. I'm sure I'll be fine when it's time."

Funny how well my 15-year-old self knows my 19-year-old self.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Just another studying-abroad blog.

It is routinely said that every college student should consider traveling abroad at some point in their four years of undergrad. And far be it from me to disregard advice!

So here I am, 10 days away from embarking on an entirely new adventure of my own. And, sticking to the pattern of college-kids-studying-abroad, I will be documenting my time through the use of a blog. Throughout the past few years I've looked at countless blogs of students in different corners of the world, and knowing that it's my turn now is both exhilarating and somewhat unbelievable.

True, I'm not spending an entire semester in a foreign country (for I was unwilling to sacrifice one of my precious semesters at my beloved school, or forgo the student government position I hold), nor am I brand-new to traveling. I've been to Europe for a total of 11 weeks before in my life, visiting 8 different countries. I've flown by myself before, I've ordered breakfast in a different language, and I've taken enough pictures to fill up multiple albums. I won't be completely alone on this adventure either, as others from my university will be in the same city, one even in the same house. Yet these factors in no way discredit the 10 weeks of living in a brand-new foreign city, with a language far different from my native tongue, I am about to experience.

So I haven't even let yet, how can I already be on a fourth paragraph? Let me tell you- this summer has been long anticipated. I've spent years dreaming of living in a foreign city, I've spent months carefully building into my (slight) language ability, I've spent weeks going through my clothes trying to decide what to pack, and I've spent days going over every detail of what is about to come. I've never experienced such a level of nervous excitement. My whole self is currently an oxymoronic mix of being so excited I can hardly contain myself, and being so nervous I think of every horrible thing that could go wrong.
But it comfortingly boils down to one simple truth which really is all I need to remember:
I'm about to begin the summer of a lifetime.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Little Things

Well, Sophomore year is a wrap. Crazy how time flies - I'm halfway done with college!
So, probably like most people, transition can make me reflective. Going from studying and taking finals like none other last week, to suddenly having days at a time with nothing scheduled or demanded of me, I've been experiencing a culture shock of sorts. Hence, an even more conducive environment for reflection. Anyway, as I was thinking back over this past semester and all of the awesome things that happened, all the places I was able to go, all the events I was able to attend, and things along that nature, I came to a realization. Sure, I can look back at these past four months and pick out certain days and even weeks that were particularly memorable, like spring break in Florida or going to a concert, but that's not all I want to remember about this season of my college career.

See, for me, this semester wasn't just the big, memorable events. It was listening to Becca's "guilty pleasures" playlist every morning. It's was Mel's daily screaming, and becoming familiar with every root in the gorge. It was learning to be okay with taking selfies for Snapchat, and eating meals with a team I wasn't even on. It was coming back exhausted from work, smelling like coffee grounds. It was watching Iowa games, losing so many close ones. It was taking out the trash for roomchecks every Wednesday, and making 150+ pots of coffee in the mornings. It was sitting with the council every Friday for family chapel, and missing most of Mondays' and Wednesdays' due to having to leave and eat early. It was eating Louise's famous butter-and-Parmesan air-popped popcorn while laying on their shag rug, and taking almost every single one of my showers in the third shower on the left. It was talking to Mom on the phone for a few minutes every week, and stringing soft Christmas lights above my bed. It was chewing an obscene amount of spearmint gum, and never going a night without my fan on.
This semester was made up of the little things and the lovely people that make me love my life oh so dearly.