Being thankful.

I’ve always walked through life with this skewed idea that I’m untouchable. I’ve been hurt before, yes, by many people and in many different ways. I’ve never thought of myself as immune to emotional heartache or physical pain. But in certain ways, I viewed myself outside the scope of normal human-human interaction in such a way that traditionally “bad” things couldn’t happen to me. When I was a kid I’d easily shake off the warnings that my mom gave me about talking to strangers, being kidnapped and, when I got older, being raped. Even as the DC sniper attacks were in full swing back in 2002 and several people were killed within 30 minutes of my house, my 8-year-old egocentric mind decided that I simply would not be one of the victims. And that was that.

As I’ve grown older, the shield I thought once surrounded me has slowly melted off. I started to hear more and more stories about friends being sexually assaulted, neighbors being robbed, and peers committing suicide. These tragedies tiptoed closer and closer into my protective bubble until, one day, it popped.

I have to assume that everyone goes through this transition. The evolution from the individualistic mind of a child into the vigilant, self-conscious mind of an “adult”. I don’t think I’ve officially crossed the line into adulthood, and I honestly don’t know if I ever will.

But something that’s helped me take another step into the right direction is having my wallet stolen. My wallet, which had 70 euros, a credit card, a debit card, and 2 IDs tucked inside. Oh, and a week later, having my phone stolen. Within a two-minute time period.

Part of me is mad at myself. For not keeping a hand on my bag every second. For not separating my credit cards or my cash. For not keeping my phone in a zippered pocket.

And part of me is just sad. Sad that we live in a world where those procedures are necessary. Where we have to lock up our belongings 24/7 because people can’t control their magnetic hands and sticky fingers. Sad that putting trust in humanity is an “irresponsible, immature” thing to do now.

Of course, I only had material possessions stolen from me, and for that I can only be thankful. For that I can only forgive. I just hope that whoever has my belongings now needed them more than I did.

I feel very Jesus-y now. And I like it.

And my faith in humanity has been sustained by the wonderful friends and mentors that I’m surrounded by.

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My study abroad program celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday with some actual American food (finally!). The evening was filled with turkey (fish for me), mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, patatas bravas (alright, so maybe not the most American food), corn, cranberry sauce, bread, tarta de manzana, and quite a lot of alcohol.

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I feel so lucky to be spending these 4 months with such a wonderful group of people. All of the homesickness and nostalgia I was feeling on Thanksgiving melted away as I got to sit around a table with 12 of the strangest, nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met. And I’m starting to realize that when I go home, I’m going to be feeling a different kind of nostalgia — for Sevilla, for traveling, for Spanish food, and, most of all, for all these humans that I’ve grown to love.

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Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

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another video for you.

Hello all!

If you’re reading this right now, that means I’m in Barcelona!

You know, no big deal. Just heading off to BARCELONA for the weekend.

But that means that I can’t work on the other posts that I have planned for ya’ll, so in the mean time, please enjoy this video of my friend Riley and I trying to submit a sitcom. It’s a laugh. I mean you might laugh. Maybe. If you don’t…..I guess you can just wait for the next post.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Granada means pomegranate.

Hola a todos!

Welcome back to the blog — thanks for stopping by! I do appreciate it 🙂

Today I’ve got a fun post for you about my weekend in Granada. It’s been a couple of week since I’ve returned home, so sorry for the delay, but come on guys, I can’t revolve my life around ya’ll!

But since I know how pick you all are, I’ve made sure to pack this one full of some *pretty pretty* pictures just in case these “words” are too hard for you to read.

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Friday morning started out with a *ahem* wonderful 8am bus ride to Granada. From Sevilla it’s only about 2.5 hours — but I was cranky about getting up early nonetheless.

We arrived in Granada and (barely) managed to find our way out of the bus station and into the center of town, where we hailed a cab and got to La Alhambra.

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Ooooooooh buddy did I not know what I was in for.

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I’ve briefly learned about La Alhambra in my “Historia de Sevilla” class, where my professor compared it to the Alcazar in Sevilla. The Alcazar isn’t too interesting to me (sorry all you history buffs out there), so I actually wasn’t looking forward to La Alhambra that much. What’s more, several people had told me that La Alhambra wasn’t that incredible — that it was just “another palace”.

 

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BOY, were they wrong.

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The Alcazar ain’t got SHIT on La Alhambra.

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I remember from my history class that one of the kings of Spain (Alfonso XI or something?) had seen La Alhambra and requested to have his own built within Sevilla. Well, if that’s true, I sincerely feel bad for the builders that had to take the beating from the King when he found out how badly the Alcazar compared to La Alhambra.

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I mean, seriously guys, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen.

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First of all, Granada has mountains, which I’m not really used to in Sevilla where it’s almost as flat as east Texas. But the mountains are so incredibly beautiful, and La Alhambra is snuggled within them!

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The Arabic architecture is so prevalent everywhere you look.

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And it’s so big! I mean, you could HOURS exploring this place! (Emily and I spent about 3.5 hours there). There are countless rooms to see, gardens to stroll through, fountains to sit around, lookouts to indulge in, and kittens to play with. KITTENS, GUYS! This is the real deal!

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Another kitten montage, because I can’t help it:

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And there was a wedding. Here’s a creepy picture I snapped:

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I often get bored by historical things. I’m not a huge proponent of visiting a historical sight just because it’s something you’re “supposed to do”. But I promise you La Alhambra isn’t just for tourists. If you’re ever in Granada, you must go! YOU MUST. YOU MUST!!

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We then headed to our hostel for a (3 hour) nap.

I was actually really surprised with the quality of our hostel. It was relatively close to the center, with a clean private room for us, and bathrooms with toilet paper (a rare commodity in Spain). The guy at the front desk was super helpful about fun spots around the city and, to top it all off, one night was only 10 euros. Hot diggggggity dang! I’m a rich woman.

In Granada, whenever you order a drink, you get a free tapa, which is GREAT. Although the tapas are significantly smaller than normal tapas. Which is not GREAT.

So Emily and I went out for drinks and “tapas” — and then finished off our night with pizza and two rounds of gelato.

That’s right people. Two rounds of gelato. In one night. We’re not ashamed. So get off your high horses! If you were in Spain, you’d be doing it too.

The next day was fun, albeit super busy. What’s more, we had to carry our backpacks around with us all day, as we were to catch the bus back that night, so our shoulders were having massive pains.

We started off by hitting up this vegan restaurant for brunch. What a gem that place was! Super trendy, with really nice staff and ACTUAL food. It’s hard to eat a real breakfast here sometimes, as Spaniards mostly just have coffee and toast. I felt like a King.

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We continued by walking around the center of town, and then going to the Capilla real , where Isabel and Fernando II are buried. It was really beautiful inside, but unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to use my camera, so you’ll just have to use your *imagination*. There was one wall in the chapel with such an extensive mural that Emily and I stared, analyzing it, for about 20 minutes. We’re nerds like that.
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We then explored all the shops in the center of the city. They were really amazing and had some really cool stuff for really good prices. It actually reminded me of Morocco a lot — which isn’t surprising at all, as Granada has a lot of Moorish influences.

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We saw some bubble-blower guys, which made me really happy:

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And a place called Schawarma King, which made me equally happy.

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And some amazing street art which, you guessed it, made me really happy.

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And we saw the Universidad de Granada, which was founded in 1526 — wowww!

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(of course I had to take a picture of the Health Sciences building)

Annnnnd we saw the church where Emily’s host mom was married! Ah!

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Finally, we lugged ourselves to the bus station. We were both messes — tired, smelly, with hurt shoulders and empty bellies. We hadn’t eaten in around 7 hours, so things weren’t lookin good.

 

 

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But we made it to the bus on time (after stopping for an asparagus and mayonnaise sandwich — it’s not as strange as you’re thinking, trust me) and snapping at each other a few times.

And this trip was incredible, even though it was only two days. I mean, the entire city of Granada is so beautiful — even the bus ride there and back was fun, just looking out at the countryside. It’s so incredible how different the landscape of Spain (and Europe in general) is from the U.S.

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It was also nice to travel with just one other person. Sometimes I get a little anxious traveling in large groups, having to make plans with everyone or agree with everyone on where we’re gonna go, what we’re gonna do.

But one person is jussssssst right.

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Until next time, folks! Have a lovely day! (Hi, mom).

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some much needed familiarity.

Before leaving for Spain, I binge-read as many travel/study abroad blogs as possible and read countless buzz-feed type articles with titles like “10 Things To Expect From Studying Abroad” and “The 15 Things Nobody Said Would Happen When Studying Abroad”. I did my research, I read first-hand experiences, I watched Youtube videos. I was prepared … or so I thought.

The truth is that nobody can really prepare you for what it will feel like to move 3,777 miles across an ocean away from your family, friends, and everything you considered normal.

I’ve never really been one to feel homesick … but I realized that’s because the only people I ever miss at school are my parents, who are only a 3-hour drive away. But being in Spain … I miss literally everyone and everything. I’m away from my parents, my brothers, my friends, my classes, my comedy groups, my piano, my ukulele, my cats, my campus, my DOMINOES (I can use dining dollars from my meal plan to pay for pizza back home — dear GOD how I miss that).

And I’m not putting down Spain, regretting my decision, or wishing I was home. Knowing what I know now, I still would’ve chosen to study abroad. I undoubtedly love it here and grow to love it more every single day. But there’s just something so odd about being ripped out of everything familiar and placed into a new city with new people, new buildings, a new school, and a new language.

Last week I was plagued with a serious bout of homesickness. Everything I looked at reminded me of home or of school. I cried quite a few times.

I was convinced that everyone back home was forgetting about me, that nobody wanted to skype me, that everyone was becoming better friends with each other than with me, that they were realizing they didn’t even like me.

I saw pictures of parties, read stories about homecoming (hate that I missed it), watched videos of friends. I wished desperately to be home.

And then I realized, like always, I was being irrational. Of course my friends miss me, of course they want to skype, of course they still like me! People back home have classes, extra-curriculars, lives. I’m jealous of all of them having fun at school? They’re probably jealous of me,  basking up the Sevillian sun (85 degrees and up, baby), touring around Europe (and Morocco), eating churros and helado and tapas like it’s my job — basically on vacation.

And, of course, a little present from my Mom helped to cheer me up as well.

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A surprise box with too much chocolate, just enough cheesy cracker snacks, too little peanut butter, and, Lord save us all, NUTS! NUTS! NUTS!. I haven’t had nuts since leaving the US, and let me tell you how nice it felt to have those little suckers in my mouth again (that’s what she said).

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And then, to finalize the end of my homesickness, Lauren came to visit!

One of my bestest friends ever, Lauren is studying in Prague at the moment and came all the way from the Czech republic to see me! She’s the best!

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I cried when I saw her.

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Food and sweet notes from Mom are definitely helpful, but nothing beats seeing an actual, live person that you’ve been missing. What a precious stone, that one!

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A weekend with some much-needed girly catch-up and all the helado you can imagine.

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Lauren has a blog as well! You can check it out at: www.czechoutthepragueblog.blogspot.com.

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See you cats l8r (and please enjoy the above incredibly creepy picture of a baby. I cannot be stopped.)