Thursday, June 21, 2012

6 days

I found this quote. I really think it speaks a great message.

Having a safe, comfortable place to go is
Having someone to love who loves you back is
Having both is a 


I only have 6 more days to go.  
I can barely remember what I was doing 6 days into my stay. I think I was just coming home from the beach in Cadiz. And I was getting ready for my first day of school. 
I didn't speak much.  I basically said, "Si, Si, Si..."

Now I am walking around town all alone. Taking the public transportation.  Taking buses, trains and planes by myself. Speaking to strangers.  Taking care of business.

I am excited to get home.  But I am not homesick.  I can remember the first two weeks here were hard.  I thought that I was gonna go home soon and that my stay here wasn't for real.  It really hadn't hit me yet.  It was crazy.  I think I was a few weeks into the program when it truly hit me.  I said, "I am here for some time." "I am not going home for a while."

I'm feeling kinda like that right now. I know I am going home.  But it still hasn't hit me even though I am excited to see my family and friends.

I know people that seriously do not want to go back home.  I get it.  I don't want to give up my freedom. I don't want to lose this new culture, my new language and friends. I'm going to miss the beauty of Europe.
The students here have built strong relationships with their host-families and friends.  They maybe even know their host city and country better than their own.  I know both Sevilla and Malaga like the back of my hand.
But everyone should remember that they have a home and a family right back in their country.  Someone is going to be happy that  their child, grandchild, nice, nephew, sibling or whatever has returned.

Life will be really different when I get back home to the states.  But being here has made me really appreciate  my country. And even though the USA isn't perfect and some people have some strong opinions... I am proud to be an American.
I also like this saying about life.  Because life is always changing.  Another lesson I have learned here.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
Lao Tzu

But I have had a year full of experiences.  I am kinda sad that it's over but also glad that it happened.
Now, I am going to focus on the year ahead! I have a lot to accomplish.  Bring it on.  I am ready for anything.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Funny the way things all work out.


My last full week of school just ended.  I have packed a box to ship home.  And I have everything organized.  If I needed to leave tomorrow I could.  It's crazy to think that my time here is pretty much almost over.  I have had so many adventures. Crazy dreams and silly conversations.  I have made so many friends and talked with a lot of new people from all over the world.  I am genuinely excited to be going back home. I don't want to leave Spain though either! I have my friends and my family here, but I also have my friends and family in America to whom I need to return.

I'll miss the crazy Spanish heat down here in Andalucia! Sweat rolls down your your back if your outside for only 5 minutes.  I'll miss the incredible shopping. Zara, Stradivarius, Mango, Lefties... I'll miss the ease of traveling.  I'll miss the culture.  I am a southern Spanish girl. Funny because the southerners here in Andalucia have a different accent than those in Madrid or in Bilbao.  Kinda like how people in America can have a southern accent and a New York accent. What I really like about Spain?  Is that there is a concrete culture.  It's pretty typical to sit down to watch a futbol or soccer match here. It's pretty typical to go to the store to buy fresh loaves of bread every morning or afternoon. It's pretty typical to cut off jamon iberico right off the pig's leg.  I love the Spanish atmosphere. During the Spring everyone is so excited for Semana Santa and Feria.  The summer is all about spending time with friends and family and going to the beach or to the pool. The way they talk. It's so beautiful.   They have lovely sayings like, "If you chase two rabbits, Both will escape." They talk loud, and they talk a lot.When I am with someone new, I usually have a quieter voice and someone always tells me to yell because they can't hear me.  I love the sense of familia and amistad (friendship).  I love being able to get away with a few things that we teens can't do in the States. I love Spanish TV. The News has this little jingle that makes me happy every time I hear it.  I love "Aqui no hay quien viva" and "La que se avecina". They are the best shows on the planet.

It will be a little weird to have to do my school work in English.  Ya know?  Even though I speak English here sometimes, I haven't done any important school work excessively in English.  My notes are in Spanish. I usually study in Spanish...

I love that in America everything is different.  Every family has their own traditions. My family has special traditions on Christmas Eve and New Year's.  My family puts a cross our heads with honey after we celebrate the breaking of the bread on Christmas Eve at our house. And My mother always leaves us a quarter underneath our plates on New Year's Eve.  America is made up of different cultures from all over the world. It's a mix. That's what makes my country so special.  I love referring to the USA as "mi país" or my country.   But I love being able to relate and Identify with a whole other culture and country. What's acceptable, what's not. How the school systems work.  What family is, when the meal times are...etc.

Here the people are usually categorized in a few groups. Now I have near and dear friends who are very different from one another but special in their own ways. Here are examples..
- "Los Canis and las chonis" The cool kids.  They usually look like this...

-  " Los gitanos" or a Gypsy
Lot of times have long hair.  They are a very different group of people.
- " Los pijos" Love expensive labels.  Always are perfectly dressed. Not a single strand of hair out of place.  The boys and men with a pretty colored sweater over the shoulders.
- " Los freakis" Those who kinda dress in darkish colors. Goth, rock, punks.
- And there are other groups that still exist.  But just those are the ones that are special to Spain.  I know that they are people like this everywhere, but it's different when you are here.  You just have to come and see for yourself.
I can't even try to explain it.

I know I have changed.  I have realized that I am one person.  Even though some things don't seem to be working out my way and everything is going down the tubes, I know that there is always someone else worse off than I am.  And time keeps moving forward.  It'll pass.  I have accomplished so much. I now believe that life isn't about "finding yourself" it's more about who you create yourself to be.  You understand the things you like, and the things you need, and you work to achieve them. You build your life with the things you have worked to achieve.  It's all about having the right attitude.  I also believe that it's totally OK if you just want to feel hurt, sit down and cry. I am human and I can't be totally put together all the time.  Even when other's think that you should just "get over it" or "settle down" or "rub some dirt on it and carry on."  Just cry and/or feel a little sorry for yourself.  It doesn't matter that you fall down and hit rock bottom. What counts is whether you pick yourself off the ground or not.   That's what matters.  It's getting up.  Shaking it off.  And putting one foot in front of the other and moving on. And not dwelling on the past helps a lot too.

When I touch down in New York I have to catch a flight to Detroit.  After that, I am going home.  Finally. After 10 months.  I have seen my family on skype.  Talked to them.  But I haven't seen them past their torsos. I haven't physically touched them. It will be nice to have something familiar back in my life.  Of course I'll miss everyone and a lot of things here.  But I have had a great 10 months of experience.  I've overcome a lot.  I've picked myself off the ground numerous times.  Ya know? It's funny the way things all work out.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Bilbao, The Guggenheim, Aston Martins, and German kids!

ça va?

Haha just practicing my French. I have a test.

Hi.  How are you guys?

Well, I am OK. Things are coming to an end VERY quickly here and I feel that I don't have enough time to do what I want. I leave to Madrid the 28th and the flight is the 29th.  aaaaaaaaa

I want to go to Marbella, (The LA of Spain) and Gibraltar, (Technically you are in the UK when you go there, but you can see Africa) and Nerja, one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen.
I want to hang out with my friends here in Malaga and in Sevilla. I want to go back to Madrid, go to the beaches in Portugal, hang out at BBQ's, sing, dance, laugh, go to the Feria de Malaga! Just have a great Spanish Summer. Well, if I save up my money all this year, I can come back next summer. I'll be 18 and it will be a nice break right before college! (Now I am going to get an e-mail from my parents)

I am continuing to have dreams in Spanish.  I don't want those to end. I wonder what will happen to them when I am back in the States and there is English all around me. I usually watch my TV in Spanish.  Very rarely will I switch it to English. I watched 'Gone with the Wind' last night.  I really liked that movie.

When Scarlet realized she truly loved Captain Red and not Ashley , it was way too late. She begged and pleaded for Red to stay.  When that didn't work she asked him what will she do without him.  He finally turned around and said, "Frankly, I don't give a damn." End scene.  I LOVED that part. For so many reasons.

I just occurred to me that I haven't heard little kids screaming in English my whole entire year here.  I hear random people speaking English walking down the street.  I hear students, teachers, my American friends.  However, not little kids.  Like when they are playing.

So right now, I am feeling a little like I did right before I left.
- What will happen?
- What am I going to do when I get there?
- Will I like it?
- How am I going to feel? Happy, sad, angry, miserable, homesick, joyous...etc.
Do you see how these questions can be asked at either end of the experience?

School gets out the 22 of June. Oh take me now!  This is horrible! It's sunny, and hot, and worst of all I can see the beach while I am sitting in Physics Class.  Dios Dios Dios.

This past weekend I went to Bilbao with my family for my mother's nephew's first communion. Phew that was a lot of possessives.
I loved it up in the North. It is SOO green.  It feels kinda like being in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The bluffs, the winding river, trees, trees everywhere! It's so different from down here in the south. It's beautiful.  The ocean is close by. So I have been in the south, the middle, and the north of Spain.  Oh how I love this country.

Well, my host-mother's family is from Bilbao. I had mentioned it to her that I wanted to go if possible.  And I went! I met up with a friend in AFS while up there.  Her name is Lena and she is from Germany. I stayed with her family for two days. They are the most welcoming people ever. She introduced me to her friends and showed me around downtown. Most of you may know that a Guggenheim museum is in Bilbao, Spain.  I took TONS of pictures of the museum.  I went in. However, just the entrance.  I didn't have enough time to spend inside looking at all the wonderful art.  I spent about 3 hours in the Prado in Madrid!

I took the metro into the center with Lena and her friend Anders after we spent the day going to little towns with her family. In the town of Getxo (Het-cho) there is an enormous bridge that connects the two banks of the river.  It transports cars from one side of the river to the other town.  But it's quite an unusual bridge.  You'll see.

The flight up there wasn't bad.  About an hour and a half.  I went from Friday morning until Monday morning.  But on Friday, I had to get up at 5.15 am and be ready by 5.30. The flight left at 6.45! What a morning. I left with my two brothers while their dad drove us to the airport. (Which is about 10 minutes from my house) I was so exhausted when we got there.  My mom was already there.  She is an air-hostess and she was in London the day before.  So she just caught a flight to Bilbao. Anyway. She meet us there and we took the bus right to the corner two blocks away from her sister's apartment. Very convenient. That's another thing I will miss, the ease of travel.  Really, it is a LOT easier here.  Well after we settled down. I took a nap with Sara until 12.  Then my brother's and I took a walk down to the museum.  After that, we took Manolo up to the coast for his surf lesson.  The little Puebla is called Mundaka.  Just a little fishing, surfing village. And the drive is curvy and steep.  I was a little car-sick.

On Monday morning, Lena's host-dad took me to the airport.  I feel so proud.  I got through security.  Found the gate. Got to Malaga. Found my way out! (That was the part about which I was most freaked out!) Just that little bit of independence and trust.  I love it. I thrive on it.

Anyway, when I got home.  We had a German exchange student in our house.  His name is Sebastian (I have no idea if that's German or not) and sadly, he went home today.  Very nice kid.  I enjoyed his company a great deal.  One night Manolo, Sebastian, and I stayed up until 12 in the morning looking and and talking about cars.  A natural conversation. I love cars. So I wanted to show Sebastian my dream car and with him being from Germany, he was super excited.  I asked him why he was so excited and he responded, "I think that a person's dream car tells something about them." (Oh and by the way, I don't speak German, he can't speak that well in Spanish. But he can speak English.) So I finally revealed that I love Aston Martins.
I mean, who doesn't? It's a beautiful, discrete, luxurious car.  Not flashy like Ferrari's or Bugatti's.  And not cliche like BMW or Mercedes.  But it comes with a lovely price tag.

Anyway.  I will post pictures from Bilbao. Trust, me. You will love them.  I also used a cool effect on my iPod to take pictures that looked like they were taken in the 60s or around there.   
I am going to Sevilla again in the morning to see my friend Noelle and watch my brother's rowing competition!

The Guggenheim and 'Puppy' a giant statue made of flowers. 

Me, with the university right behind me. 

Me and a guy dressed up in traditional get-up. 


My awesome host brother. 

Took this.  Isn't it pretty?

Cool dude. 

Other cool dude. 

mon oeil 



El Puente 

That's how the cars are transported across the river.  I also tried it out.  Very cool. 

Their Ayutamiento or City Hall was built in the mid 1300's. I think. That's what Anders told me.

Well that was my week.  I'll post soon!