Monday, May 13, 2013

To my parents, who have helped me to be who I am today.

Just thinking about my experience, where I am now, and how I got here. I have my mother and father to thank for always pushing me in the right direction. 

Mis Padres
Os quiero porque vosotros me amasteis primero!
Quiero que sepáis que me doy cuenta,
Os debo tanto.

mis amigos,
que me enseñasteis a ser valiente

De esta forma,
Sois mi luz en la oscuridad,
La voz durante un duro silencio,
Y lo sois todo para mí

Os quiero porque vosotros me amasteis primero.
No olvidaré que siempre me querréis.

My Parents
I love you, because you loved me first!
I want you to know that I realize,
I owe you so much.

who have taught me to be fearless,

You are my light in the dark,
The voice during a hard silence,
And you are everything to me.

I love you, because you loved me first.
I will not forget that you always will.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Un día de tristeza es un día perdido.

With just one week left in the semester, I've definitely gone into hyperactive mode. I have my bags almost packed. I'm thinking about everything except for what I should be thinking about: finals. I'm going to study this weekend as much as I can, while trying not to think too much.

Once again, my life is about to change. How do I focus on my upcoming tests with so many mixed emotions? I'm so upset to be leaving this amazing lifestyle that I've assimilated into, but I want to see my family. I can't even think of the fact that all of the people I have become so close to in the past few months will be all over the world, but I can't wait to see my friends at home. I will miss seeing the faces of so many amazing people every day. The helpful and welcoming CC-CS staff, my professors, my host family, my Spanish friends. I will miss the life here. There are so many activities to do in Seville. I will miss being able to go outside and go kayaking just a few blocks away. I'm definitely going to have to do some adjusting when I get back to America.

Nothing will ever compare to the experience I've had while abroad. Although this feeling is 100% bittersweet, I'm going to smile through everything and just roll with it. To me, frowning throughout the day is basically just throwing it away. This experience has taught me not to waste even a single day!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Cockroach. La Cucaracha.

This is what I found last night at 2a.m. 

I proceeded to smash with a shoe, however I could not clean it up. Disgusting.
I left Livia a sweet note for the morning that says, "Look, cockroach. I can't move it. I killed it."

Spain has the biggest cockroaches I have ever seen. I'm officially scarred and will have this song stuck in my head for days.

La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar,
porque no tiene, porque le falta
marihuana que fumar!

That is all friends. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Swing of Things. La Vida Cotidiana.

I have been spending so much time outside of Seville. I've been to The Palms in the Canary Islands and to Lagos, Portugal. Both trips were amazing. I've been so busy while I'm actually here in Seville, that I've not been writing! Sorry! Now it's time to write long papers and study for finals, so here goes: a quick blog entry to update you about a few things.

I've seen some of the most important cultural events that happen here in Seville! Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria are two of the biggest and most important festivals here.

Traditional dress
Semana Santa is a huge religious celebration in Seville from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. It was started back in the 16th Century! It consists of  a lot of processions of "pasos," which are huge statues that are carried through the streets by people dressed in penitential robes with hoods. A LOT of people in the streets for an entire week. It was an awesome experience!
One of the Pasos

The entrance to the Feria
 (Rebuilt every year with a different design!)

Feria begins just two weeks after Semana Santa, and has been in existence in Seville since 1847. The festival started as a livestock fair during the reign of Queen Isabel II. The fair runs for six days and for the duration, a huge portion of land is completely covered in "casetas," which are basically tents that are owned by prominent families, organizations, political parties, clubs, etc. Some are private and others public. Every day from dusk until dawn of the following day, you'll find tons of Sevillanas in these tents. They dance, eat and drink all night. During the Feria, Seville is more beautiful than ever. The city is painted in all colors. Lots of polka dots. Men dress up in suits and the women dress in flamenco dresses. There is also a part of the fairgrounds that has tons of rides. I loved Feria- another great thing about being in Seville during the spring semester!

Can I just hide here forever?

I leave Seville for Indiana in just sixteen days and it is such a bittersweet feeling. Everyone told me that once I finally got into the "swing of things" here, I wouldn't want to leave. They were right. Seville is my home. I've settled here. I have a perfect routine and I love the lifestyle. I have a great Spanish family; my host mother is seriously my best friend. She gives me so much support and I can tell her anything. I care so deeply about the girl I have been tutoring and I feel so sad knowing I won't be around to teach and help her as she grows. The friends that I've made will all be in different parts of America and the world. I won't be able to see their faces every day ever again. I am just now getting used to everything, and although I'm ready to see my friends and family in Indiana, I'm not ready for my life to change!

After being away from home for almost 4 months and it feeling like 2 weeks, I have realized that time FLIES. What scares me is the thought of it being five, six, maybe seven years before I get to come back to visit. So much will have changed. When will I ever get to travel to another country for three and a half months again? This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Experience, Perception, Understanding and Awareness

Until you experience something firsthand, I don't believe you can fully comprehend it.

Sure, you can have a basic understanding of something, but I believe it takes a hands-on, face-to-face experience to have a true insight in regards to what you think you know. There is something about experience that is for me, beyond words.

When we learn about something that we haven't actually been through, we simply learn the facts. We might be able to demonstrate sympathy, hospitality and mutuality without having been through a situation (it is undoubtedly important to do so), but without having the experience we might never truly have a grasp on it. For example, you might be there for a friend when they lose a parent, but if you've not lost a parent you'll never truly know the feeling. You can over-exaggeratedly tell yourself you have no money, but until you've been flat broke you can't fathom what it's really like. Only after we have experienced the event, may we actually begin to conceptualize it. In reality, an experience teaches your entire being. As much as you let it, the concrete experience allows your mind, body, and soul to learn.

Experiences can change our perceptions completely. 

Indeed, we all perceive things quite differently. However, I think that as an American it would be wrong for me to say I didn't have a few preconceived notions about the Arabic culture as a whole before I traveled to Morocco. It's true. The fact that the world has stamped the title "Third World" or "Developing" on it doesn't help either.

Listen, Morocco was not the cleanest or most developed place I've been to, but I did notice that things were a lot more developed than I had expected. Most of the people I saw in Morocco were desperate, but they were at least working to make a living. Everyone came up and tried to somehow get money out of me. The areas I went to are highly dependent on tourism, and this is what they know. The people are not stupid. They simply do not have the resources that are readily available to many other people (like myself). They make due with what they have and they do what they have to do. I've been thinking for a few days, and am realizing just how much I judged these people before, without truly understanding anything about them. I feel terrible now. After seeing how they live with my own two eyes, I'm not sure I could ever make it work with as little as they do. In the end, the fact is that people are people. No person asks to be born into any certain flesh, place or culture.

You have to experience the bad to appreciate the good.

Seeing all of the things that they DON'T have in Morocco made me realize just how lucky I am. I've had all of these amenities for all my life and this experience made me even more thankful. I know that I can never fully conceptualize the life of a Moroccan because I am not a Moroccan, nor have I had to walk a mere step in their shoes (or lack thereof). I no longer judge this group of people, and it saddens me to think of how our perception of what we don't know is generally manipulated by society (among other things).

I've seriously taken so much away from this. This experience has made me reflect on my entire existence.  I realize now that a true understanding is most definitely based on experience. We need exposure in order to gain a fair perception. If we can't do that, we must at the very least be able discern the correlation between understanding and experience.
The town square of Chefchaouen

 Where the clothes are washed

 I'm sure this was only one of the daily chores

 Typical Moroccan clothing

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Que agradecido. I'm not even sure if I could be more thankful.

With just over a month left, I'm not sure I want to go home! This experience just keeps getting better and better for me. I have been given so many opportunities and I'm so thankful. I couldn't be more thankful. I thank the Lord every day and night for this. I am so happy.

The weekend before last, I went to Paris with a group of friends. We stayed for two nights. We had a really good time. We left our houses at 3:30 a.m. to catch a 6:15 a.m. flight! When we first arrived, we found ourselves in the heart of the city with absolutely no idea where to go. It was so complicated trying to find our hotel but we did it. By the time we got there, we were all completely exhausted. We didn't rest though! We went to Versailles. It was so beautiful. The whole time we were there, we all just kept saying that we couldn't believe that was actually someone's house. Louis XIV had some serious taste.

Dinner that night was amazing.. and expensive. I will always remember Paris as having some of the best food ever (although I didn't like the cheese at all). It was totally worth the ridiculous amount of money spent on meals. The next day we went to Notre Dame. I even got to go to Saint Patrick's day mass there. I am so thankful for this! The inside of Notre Dame is breath-taking. There are not even words to describe it. The stained glass, statues, gates, pillars. It's just all beautiful. Then we went to the Eiffel Tower.. It was so cold out, but we still went to the top. We went back at night to see the lights, which was also awesome. I'm not even sure how to put the Paris trip into words. It  was just a lot of fun with a great group of people.

In front of Notre Dame

This past weekend was the start of Semana Santa. Semana Santa is a holy week in Seville. I guess people from all over the world come to Seville to see it. Currently, Seville is packed with people. Its basically like spring break for lots of people here and most of my friends traveled to other countries. To save money, I got a group of people together just go see the Mediterranean Sea for a few days and relax. We went to Mallaga, which is only about three hours away from Seville. Unfortunately, it was raining and cold most of the time but we were on the coast so that made it all okay. What a wonderful smell the sea has. You'll never understand it until you actually get to smell it. Seriously, its amazing to experience it. I wish everyone I know could do the same.

Anyways, I know this is a terribly boring blog post. I just don't know what to write and I also don't feel like sitting at my computer for extended periods of time. Have a good day! (: 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finalmente. This is what I have been waiting for.

For various reasons and after giving it a lot of thought, I decided that moving to another home here in Seville was the best option for me. So that is what I have been up to this past week: packing, unpacking, adjusting and getting to know my new family.

It turns out that I made the right decision. I am so happy here. Finally, I have something to write about.

My señora is the most amazing woman. I have known her for less than a week, but already I feel as though I have known her for my entire life. She treats me like I am her own child, and her good friend at the same time. She is welcoming, and makes me feel comfortable. She corrects me when I say something wrong, and laughs with me about my mistakes. My friends and family would appreciate how good she is to me. Before I moved, I was having trouble. I didn't know who to turn to and now, this woman comes into my life.. I feel like I could stay in Spain forever. I was meant to find my way to her home.

She is like a mix of the most influential and caring women in my life.. Such a role model for me. She reminds me of so many of them: My mom, Aunt Cindy, Grandma, Beth Ecker, Momma Tina, Val Haas, Debbie Kulwicki, Annette Kraner (sorry if I forgot about you at the moment).

I look up to my señora because she is independent. She has a sixteen-year-old son, and she works hard. She works (every day), she cooks (her food is delicious), she cleans (her house smells so good), she always looks good. She is educated. I think she does it all.. but that's not all she does. It gets better. She's an artist! What a coincidence. Her paintings are all over her house. Her style is different than mine and get this- she wants to learn from me! Just as I was thinking that I could learn so much from her, she asks me if I want to paint. WOW! As soon as I have time, we're going to paint together. This is like my dream come true. I've been craving this. I can't wait to get creative here. I have an constant urge to express myself. I have so much to put onto a canvas.

I can't  believe my stay is almost half way over. I love this lifestyle and I don't even want to think about going back to my normal routine at home. Qué triste..

Anyways, Its now 9:41pm here, and I'm getting up at 3am to go to Paris in the morning.. My bag isn't going to pack itself!

I can't believe my life is this amazing. I'm so grateful for everything. Life is perfect. Thank you again to everyone who helped me get where I am today.

¡Tengan un buen fin de semana!