Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Made It!!

This is a long post, so hang in there..

Day 2 in Granada, Spain. Hmmm. How to put all that I want to into one post. I simply can not. But I will do my best. I shall start at the very beginning because that is a very good place to start.

I left Asheville August 15. I visited family in Memphis for 4 days and then went to Texas to see my parents and youngest sister. Then on August 26 I flew to Atlanta where the lovely and gracious Leslie Sloan picked me up from the airport. She drove my luggage down from Asheville for me so I wouldn’t have to pay for it every time I got on a plane. What a great friend. We stayed with my friend Megan, who is equally awesome. Seriously, I need to find a way to stop having just less than 24 hour trips to Atlanta.

That night we properly celebrated America by eating BBQ and buying lots of candy for me to take with me. Of course, I was kind of (ok really) a nervous wreck thinking about traveling to Granada. I think I slept about 3ish hours that night. Got up and unpacked/repacked my bags for what was probably the 10th time. Nervous twitch. Insuring that everything was accounted for except my beloved Chacos which I left in Texas on accident Leslie and I hugged Megan goodbye and drove to the airport. Leslie dropped me off and I cried a lot (not afraid to admit it). Made it to my terminal. My first leg of the trip was to Miami where I had a 10 hour layover. Yes, 10 hours. And might I add the Miami food court has THE worst food choices inside security. But I finally found some food after walking up and down the airport terminals for an hour. Settled down and began making my pre-departure phone calls. It was during those 10 hours when I think it finally hit me what I was about to do. And to be quite honest I had a moment when I considered missing my flight and returning to Asheville. But what’s the fun in that? No adventure there. So I took some deep breathes and boarded my direct flight to Madrid. Oh, did I mention the fact that every single TV in the airport was tuned to Hurricane Irene coverage. I thought I was going to go insane.

But anyways. On my flight I made friends with an 18yr old guy from Honduras who was dressed in a suit and was supposed to fly business class but they oversold so he had to sit in coach with me. He was very nice and spoke English. So we talked for about an hour. Then, the next thing I knew it was 5 hours later. That’s right, I slept 5 hours straight. Woke up just in time for breakfast and to prepare for arrival. When I got off the plane in Madrid I was so nervous. But I went through customs just fine and actually retrieved ALL of my luggage which was blessing. Here is a visual of me walking through the airport/Madrid: I had a large REI duffle back that I carried like a backpack, my rolling suitcase and my red backpack strapped to my front. But the great thing is most people are traveling and this apparently normal.

Found the Metro and hopped aboard. While on the train I overheard a lady asking which way to the bus station. The very bus station I was going to. When I changed Metro lines I was waiting on the platform for the train and she came up and asked me if it was the train to the bus station stop. And so I became friends with her. She is Ukrainian but has a house in Seville, Spain. We ended up going to the bus station together and she helped me find my bus and figure out where it left. Truly a God-send. She would leave me with her luggage while she went and asked all sorts of questions. Then she gave me a speech in Spanish about how I shouldn’t trust anyone but that I seemed nice enough and she liked me. It was crazy.

We said our goodbyes and I boarded a bus for the 5 hour ride to Granada. It was a fantastic bus ride. There was even a bus stewardess who served us many snacks and drinks. But I was so tired and ready to arrive. I seriously would be looking out the window and then a half hour later wake up.
Arrived in Granada 7:30pm local time and my program director picked me up. He drove me to my new home in the center of the city where I met my family. The house is nice and very spacious. I have a small veranda and a room to myself. I get three meals a day and laundry once a week. I walk everywhere and love it!

That night I was beyond tired so Germán filled me in on everything I needed to know for the next 12 hours. I had class the very next morning at 9am which included a placement test in Spanish. Mind you, since stepping off the plane I had 24 hours of speaking only Spanish. My brain hurt. Anyways, I woke up late, my alarm didn’t go off. My Spanish mother walked me to the school where Germán introduced me to the school director and the secretary. I started taking the test and then went to class. During my break I had to finish the test. The school in which I am attending classes is very small and private. So far I like it but the only other students are American and they all know each other. How do I know this? Because I would introduce myself and they would say “Oh you are that girl from North Carolina who came all by yourself. Wow!” It was crazy. I was the total new kid in the class. It was super hard. Germán came to get me at 12:30 when my classes were finished and we met up with another American girl and he gave us a quick walking tour of the surrounding area. My head was spinning at this point. So full of information. Oh and I forgot one minor detail, I was super stressed because I thought I had lost my wallet with all of my essential things. It was so terrifying. But I found it way later in a secret compartment in my suitcase. Good thing my tired self is on top of things.

Germán took me back to my house and my house mother made lunch for me. You see here, they eat breakfast at 9 or 10, lunch at 2:30 or 3. Then comes fiesta from 3-5. Shops completely close down for 2 hours. Then open back up from 5-9 like a completely new day. I spent most of the afternoon trouble shooting my lost wallet. Then my new friend Georgia and I did some shopping in the evening. Right now there are major sales happening that only happen twice a year. It’s awesome. Hanging out with Georgia made me feel a lot better and less overwhelmed. Later last night we even went back out together. She had made an Italian friend who had lots of random friends in the city and we all went out together. I met people from Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Denmark. It was so great.

That sums up my first day in Granada. Started out very hard and ended well. Today is my second day and so far things are a little better. I have class from 9-12:30 Mon-Thurs but the rest of the time is free. 

It’s pretty crazy. Hard to believe I am here for so long. Hope you stuck with the entire post. Sorry there were no pictures, didn’t feel comfortable taking out my camera yesterday but I promise, they will come and my posts will not be anywhere near this long.
Until next time..

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Here. We. Gooooooo!!!

Life is often times referred to as a book. With chapters and pages and paragraphs. I like this metaphor because a book is always changing. You don't just stay on the same page. You move through the book. New characters are introduced, some of them leave the story, some of them stay for awhile. There is adventure and mystery, happy times and sad ones. And unless you have read the book you have no idea what comes next. 

And thus brings me to my point. I feel as though I have just had a major turning of a page and a new chapter is beginning. I left Asheville on Monday morning for a year. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Leslie Sloan and her adorable children, Asher and Lucy, took me to the airport. I cried my face off leaving them all. The last three years in Asheville have been defined by many, many things and one of these has been the Sloan family. They have loved me so well. They have walked with me through some of my darkest days. And I don't know if I will ever thank them enough. They took me in as part of their family and never thought twice about it. My heart is so sad to leave them. I think I left a piece of myself behind and I left it in their spare bedroom. But that is how you know relationships are worth having. That you miss people when you leave them and know that they feel the same way. But you know that even though you are sad, life still moves on. And those relationships are never lost and that they influence the rest of your life. 

I left Asheville on Monday. I flew to Memphis where my aunt Lisa, uncle Mitchell and my four cousins live. I will be here with them until Friday when I fly to Texas to go to Boerne and visit my family for a week. During that week I plan to stuff my face with Tex-Mex, get a sunburn, maybe suffer from heat exhaustion, hang out with family, and do lots and lots of Texas-y things. Then, I pack my bags, fly to Atlanta and then wake up on August 27th to begin my journey to Granada, Spain.

Spain. For a year. Not coming home for Christmas. Now that is what I call an adventure. I think the best part will be the getting there. 8 hour lay over in Miami (bleh), overnight flight to Madrid. 1hr Subway ride to the Bus Station then a 5 hour bus ride to Granada. I will arrive at approximately 20:00 or 8pm. THEN I will wake up the next morning and GO TO CLASS!!! yay me! But seriously, I can't wait to do this. I have already accepted the fact that I won't remember the first two days of my experience due to lack of sleep and jet lag will probably be my best friend. I also feel like I need on of those little purses Hermione Granger has in Harry Potter that has infinite storage space inside. Like a mini Mary Poppins bag. That would be wonderful. 

My feelings about leaving for a year. I am nervous. I am excited. I am sad. But most importantly, I am super fired up. As the day gets nearer, I feel the excitement building right alongside a healthy travel nervousness. It will be a real test of my travel skills and my ability to keep my cool. And I am ready. I plan to try and laugh at myself as much as possible and be ok when things don't happen the way I think they should. But prayers for safe travel would greatly appreciated and welcomed. Thanks.

I am willing to publicly admit I have cried waaaay to much in the last week. All for different reasons. But looking back on it I think it is because I don't really have the words to express what I am feeling and so I just cry. I cry because I look back on the last 3 years and smile and know that the Lord has provided for my EVERY need whether I asked him to or not. I have never gone without. He has been faithful in so many ways whether I wanted  him to be or not. He has loudly proclaimed His love for me everyday of my life, especially in the last 3 years. And I know he will continue to do so and it probably won't look anything like what I think it should but it will be exactly what I need.  And it is that love combined with the love of others that goes with me to Spain. I am not alone. The Spirit of the Lord is not something that lives in America. He has a home inside of me and that puts a peace in my soul that can not be moved.

So here's to adventure!! I plan on updating this blog regularly. So stay tuned.

WARNING! this could get pretty incredible.