Thursday, May 31, 2012

Family Visit

My family made it to Spain!! Well, half of them anyway. My mom, dad and Anne arrived in Granada on Saturday evening. We spent the first few days in Granada. I showed them everything (almost) that i've been doing the last 9 months. Basically everything but going to school. ONLY JOKING!! Whether you believe it or not I actually went to class and finished the year well. And had a lot of fun in between. It was really neat to be able to have my parents sort of see what my life was like. They got to meet my host family and see where I went to class. They were pretty impressed with what I had been up to. It is my dad and Anne's first time in Europe and everybody's first time in Spain. It is so fun to see the looks on their faces at some of the stuff we do. It has been unbelievable because I can communicate with everyone and I know my way around southern Spain pretty well at this point. A lot of times they have no idea what is going on and I get to take charge and tell them how it's done.

Anne and I at the Alhambra

After some very sad and tearful goodbyes to my best friends in Granada, my host mom and my program director we headed down in our rented car to Nerja a beach town i went to in September. Absolutely gorgeous. We ate breakfast and spent a few hours walking around on the beach of the Mediterranean. Then we hopped back in the car and headed to Ronda, a mountain town I visited 3 months ago. A great hit. Here is the only family photo we have so far..

Ronda was great but we weren't finished. Got back in the car and drove to Sevilla. Spent all day yesterday galavanting around Sevilla. My parents have been very impressed with Southern Spain and I have fallen a little more in love with it. 
Today we are in Cordoba and tomorrow we head to the last stop on our list, Madrid. 

I can't believe I left Granada. It definitely feels like it was time to go but after leaving I realized just how much I actually loved it there and this feeling has only gotten stronger in the last 72 hours. 
But thankfully I have an equally awesome place waiting for me to come home, Asheville NC. 
4 more days with the family! Couldn't be more thankful that they were able to make the trip to see me. It definitely means a lot.

See you in 4 days America!!! Get ready.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

¿Que hora es?

In 2 days I get to hug my parents and my sister, Anne. IN SPAIN! I couldn't be more excited. I finished classes on Tuesday and I have been attending going away festivities the last 3 days non stop. Definitely doing all that I can to take advantage of my time left here. Stuffing my face with tapas and not sleeping at all.

I can't even begin to explain the mix of emotions that I have. On one hand I could not be more excited to see my family and then go back to the US and start my new chapter in life but on the other hand I have spent so much time here and had experiences that I could have never imagined for myself. My life is so simple and easy here. 3 words to describe my time would be class (sometimes...only kidding Mom and Dad), tapas and traveling. What a life! I have learned so much about myself and the world around me. But that being said I ready for the challenge of coming home. Because it will be a challenge, but an exciting one!


On another note, the video below will probably only be funny to some people but as a person studying Spanish and remembering when I first started to study it is hilarious. It is a 3 minute clip of a fake Soap Opera in which the actors only know basic phrases, numbers and the days of the week in Spanish. Spanish people apparently do not find this video funny. But all I can think about is when I started Spanish in 8th grade and this is literally what we learned. What a long ways I have come since then. So enjoy, even if you have no idea what is going on.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Next Step

I have been doing a lot of thinking about coming home and what that experience will be like. I have absolutely no idea what it will feel like but I have had all sorts of repetitive nightmares about it. Inception type nightmares. Those are the worst. The truth is I am actually super excited about coming home. It's time.

Lately the image I can't get out of my head is me stepping off the plane in Asheville, NC on June 5th and just standing in the middle of the airport, laughing out loud. Laughing at the unbelievable moments (almost all of them) of the previous 9 months. The fact that at 22 years young I have seen and done more things in 9 months than most people have the opportunity to see their whole lives.
Laughing because it happened, and is over, and that I not only survived, but thrived. Laughing that it wasn't a dream, that I really did go live in southern Spain for 9 months consuming massive amounts of tapas and speaking spanish.
I don't think I will ever fully process the craziness of these past 9 months. My list of things I have 'taken away' from this experience is endless. But above all, I am excited for the next step in life wherever that will take me. I have one semester of school left when I get back home and after that I have no idea what's next but somehow, I am perfectly ok with that..


Blue Ridge Mountains. home.

Don't worry Texas. I didn't forget about you. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

One Month More.

"Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of conflict. Patience is not waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Let's be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand."

              -Henri Nouwen Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cabo de Gata

Two weeks ago I was laying on the beach nearest to Granada with some friends talking about what we were going to do for the upcoming 5 day weekend we had last week.  They were all going on a beach trip to this place called Cabo de Gata near Almería, Spain about 2 hours away from Granada in the south of Spain. I seriously had wanted to go but was unsure financially how I would manage it. But then one of their drivers had to be back to Granada early so they were going to need someone else who knew how to drive stick shift to drive the 2 cars they were going to rent back to Granada. And then I realized that I don't have that much time left and that all my friends were going on this trip and I should just suck it up and do it. So i happily agreed to drive. What a trip it ended up being. 13 of us total, 2 cars, giant beach house for 5 days. I try and just give you the highlights.

On Thursday three of us met after class to go rent the cars. I had rented a car last semester and the process was super easy so I didn't even think about all of the things that could go wrong, but boy did things get crazy. We had to take the 40 min bus to the airport to pick up the cars. Since I had been a late addition to the group and my friend Sam had booked the cars I never bothered to read any information on the cars what so ever. Also, the other driver was not 21 which was apparently a rule. So we showed up to the airport and began to try and collect the cars we had already paid for. Well, I don't have a credit card and they did not except debit or cash. Then they busted the other girl for not being 21 and then my friend Sam was going to just pretend she was a driver but she forgot her passport which was needed to rent the cars. So we ended up taking the 40 min bus back into granada. Sam ran home for the passport and my friend Brette and I stayed on the bus. Well little did we know there were no more buses back to the airport. but the now off duty bus driver said he would drive us back to the airport b/c he had to take the bus there anyways. super cool guy. He even ended up driving back through the city to pick up Sam and our friend Katie who was going to now help us rent the cars.

Another 40 min bus ride later we showed back up and finally got the car situation taken care of, 6 hours later...

Woke up early and hit the road but not after receiving a 200 euro fine on one of the cars for parking in a loading zone (not mine). That was special. Finally got everyone together and got on the road. Almería is in the only desert in Europe and happens to be close to where a lot "Spaghetti Westerns"were filmed. They buildings used film are still there and when you drive along the highway you seriously think a group of native americans on horseback is going to come charging over the hills shooting arrows at you. It's super cool. We didn't visit the old west towns b/c they now charge to see them and we were all thrilled at the fact that we were just in the same area as them.

Finally made it to the beach house. It slept 10 but we had 13 so there was a lot bed sharing that happened. Weather ended up being fairly terrible for beach going but we all agreed that if the weather had been too good we would have never gone exploring. The second day we were there I ended up having to drive a girl to the emergency room to get stitches in her foot after she stepped on a piece of broken glass in our house. That was crazy. I had to go ask a neighbor where the hospital was. Super hilarious because as soon as we left the hospital we drove 30 min to another beach and were exploring. Super bizarre. We spent 5 days driving around without maps (best feeling in the world), climbing rocks, laying on beaches, eating junk, laughing until all hours of the night and enjoying our freedom. We all agreed that it was one of the best trips ever. No body wanted to leave and we have since then all hung out everyday since returning to Granada.

 Here are a few pictures from the weekend. A few of them my friend Katelin took because I was really good at forgetting my camera.

yep. that's real

our house!

Day 1 of exploring


water was so clear!

storms a brewin'

drive dancing

scaring one lane mountain road

San Jose, a gorgeous beach

North Carolina buddies! (Katelin)

San Jose

San Jose

Day 4 beach. 

love these girls (Katelin & Sam)

our beach by our house.

We came back to Granada on Tuesday and only had to go to class Wednesday and half of Thursday before it was the weekend again. Sigh...what a rough life. Thankful for every minute of it! One month from today I will be getting on a plane America bound. There's a crazy thought.

Viva España!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Can't Say I Didn't Warn You

Spent some time going through my old blog posts since being here and I got all the way to last August and I read this that I had written right before I left the country:

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

WARNING! this could get pretty incredible."

I can't say I didn't warn you...

So thanks to all of you for putting up with reading all of the unbelievably crazy awesome fantastic things I have been able to do while studying abroad and sharing in my joy even though I know at times some of you are seething with jealousy. Hang in there, 2 months and it will all be over and I can go back to posting about things that everybody (mostly everybody) understands again. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Munich, Germany

Last stop on the list was Munich. It proudly carries the slogan of the Beer Capital of the World. They tell no lies. But far more important than this fact is the city of Munich itself. What an incredible place. It was the birthplace of the Nazi party and pretty much everywhere you went had some kind of connection to the Nazis. Talk about crazy. Of course, the entire city center was bombed by the British and the Americans in WWII and Hitler knew this was going to happen so he had photographers go throughout the city and take super detailed photos of EVERYTHING. Then he hid them in an underground bunker and later when the American's came back to clean up their mess the photos were discovered and they were able to rebuild the city exactly like it used to look like. So all of the new buildings look just as they did before the war but just made out of concrete. It is super crazy.

There were some buildings and churches that survived the war and being able to stand next to those was just unbelievable. We went on a free walking tour that ended up being about 4 hours long in the rain and cold but was by far the best walking tour I have ever been on. The guide who lead ours was so excited about everything he talked about. It was almost overwhelming to be standing in the streets of a place I had only seen PBS specials about.

What amazed me the most were the German people. They are incredible people. Not just saying that because pretty much my entire family came from there. I mean their work ethic is impressive. 60 years have passed since the war and it almost looks like nothing ever happened. And the people themselves are super open about everything that happened. I had the privilege to know 3 guys from Munich and 2 of them took us to coffee on Easter. So fun to be shown around by people who live in the places you visit. Makes them so much better. Becky also had a friend in Munich and he took us out 2 nights in a row.
The weather was absolutely horrid but I almost didn't mind.

window shopping in Munich is a sport.

cathedral on Good Friday. safe from the wind and rain

Marienplatz and the Glockenspiel

famous permanent outdoor market

copper strip is a memorial to people who defied the Nazis in Munich. cool story behind it.

Hafbraühaus-place where Hitler did a lot of his Nazi party organizing.

locals (very special ones) have a place to store their personal biersteins in the hofbrahaus

church that wasn't bombed

standing wave that is known world wide. there are always people surfing on it

walk through the Englischer garten

surprise snow on Easter morning

walk through the Olympic Park from '72

we got let into some of the training facilities to use the bathroom by what we are only assuming to be a German olympian of some kind..

so awesome. and very very cold

really cool hang out spot

Granada from the sky

Now I am back in Granada awaiting the arrival of my family on May 26. Seriously cannot wait to see them 9 months is a long time..
But for now, I am enjoying the time I have left here knowing that it will be gone before I know it.


Prague, Czech Republic. Honestly I'm not even sure. We were only there 2 days and it was so different than anything I had seen so far I don't think I was fully able to grasp the city and country. We arrived by train and the first night we were there, we met a guy and a girl from Mexico and a guy from Costa Rica and went to eat Mexican food with them. Sounds completely bizarre but turned out to be amazing. They spoke spanish with us a lot so we were able to keep our spanish speaking skills sharp both days we were there. We also took a walking tour of Prague in Spanish with them. The whole experience was pretty surreal. The city is very beautiful and old. We even witnessed a bunny race. yes, you read that right. A bunny race. Happy Easter. Spent a lot of time in the Jewish quarter of Prague and walking across the famous Charle's Bridge.

We spent 1.5 days wondering through the streets of Prague in awe of all of the detailed buildings and the castle on the hill. The 2nd day it rained all day and was about 35 degrees outside so we went back to the hostel to relax.
main drag leading to the city center

crazy clock

Franz Kafka. He wrote Metamorphosis

Czech Koruna 18= 1 US dollar

my little buddies. i have 12 of them in NC..thanks Nana!

Bunny Races

Fairy Tale

Charles Bridge

After you have a burger and eat some 'desert' you can have a free wife...i just wanted WiFi

the 'WifeFree' place

awesome cathedral

fantastic views


Charles Bridge

The Dancing Building

what a language

Prague train station. we took our bus to Munich from there.

What a beautiful place! So glad we made it a part of our trip.