“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it” -Henry David Thoreau
It’s really over? I can’t believe that my semester abroad has come and gone already. I am so incredibly happy to be home and to see my family and friends and my room/bathroom-although the jet lag is not so welcome. There’s really no way to sum up this blog or my experience in one conclusion. Just for my own sake though, I’m going to list in order the cities I went to during these past 5 months.
Spain all together: Segovia (duh), Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada, Salamanca, Avila, Sabadell, Vic, Costa Brava
London, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Rome, Geneva, Interlaken, Paris
Makes me tired just looking at it. The most asked question so far: what was your favorite place? NO CLUE! Every city I went to had such different qualities and adventures, it’s just too hard to try to pin point one right now but maybe after a little thinking one might emerge as the winner. I realized somewhere near the end of the end of this journey that none of these amazing trips would have been made possible without money, and for that I feel truly blessed that my parents, and a lot of my own hard earned cash were put to such great experiences. I am so so lucky and will never forget it. Unfortunately, I’m just too tired to write a whole post on the last few weeks in Barcelona (with a few days in Paris) and the Spanish holidays I experienced so just ask me!
I will really need to ponder everything I’ve done in the past 5 months to fully grasp the important things I have learned about the world, and myself in it. I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who read this blog throughout the semester and I’m glad there was a way for me to share my journey and hopefully talk someone into seeing or doing something that they haven’t. I haven’t decided if I will completely end writing on this blog but this is definitely the end of writing about this last semester. once again, thanks so much for reading.
I never thought this day would actually come. I am sitting with my host mom and sister for one of the last times ever. Tomorrow, I am leaving Segovia. Although I am lucky enough to not be leaving Spain quite yet because I’m heading to Barcelona for Christmas, it is a very very bittersweet time.
As I write this as one of my last blog posts about Segovia, I realize that between all my trips to amazing places, I haven’t written anything at all about my host family, who has been the rock of this entire time here. As I write this I’m sitting int he same room as them that I have sat in thousands of times. My host mom Marisa is 55 and I have to start out with is physically disabled. However, she is one of the strongest women I have ever met, (kind of like my real mom-how do I deserve these people?) and she has never let her disability get in the way of her life. I respect her immensely for that. On top of her amazing strength, she’s one of the funniest and most open people I’ve ever met, always singing (in fact right now she is), humming or most of all talking to herself. I could go on and on. I also have a “sister” but she is not Marisa’s daughter, they have been friends for a very long time though. Maria is 28 and she has acted like my big sister since the second I got here. She always made sure I understood what they were saying when my Spanish wasn’t as good as now. She is also hilarious, always singing or saying something funny. I can tell that she truly cares about me and takes care of me, maybe how my real brothers should- jkjk! The three of us are constantly laughing and I have so enjoyed being a part of their lives. To live with someone for 3.5 months without knowing them before is a very long time. Cue the crying while I say I will genuinely miss them so much.
My title refers to what I think is the moral of my story here in Spain. Before I came, everyone would ask me questions of what it’s going to be like here and I think my response to everything was, I’ll figure it out. On every trip we took there was always one aspect that we really weren’t sure how was going to pan out. We’ll figure it out. Indeed we did! I believe that in all these experiences, I have truly figured it out-my life that is. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve figured out anything more than anybody else has or that I’m enlightened or something, I’m just saying that from this whole thing, I have figured myself out.
While I move onto the next and last chapter of my journey which is in Barcelona with some family, I feel so blessed that I was able to live my dream and I can say without a doubt that I will never forget it.
I actually did it. Threw myself off of a 300 ft. cliff into a canyon. BY FAR one of the scariest and most rewarding experiences of my entire life. I have never been so terrified in my life and also never laughed so hard either. It is a feeling unlike anything you will ever feel. The owner of our hostel in Interlaken said it perfectly, as in the words, maybe not the English so much. “Before, you’ll be shit scared but after, you’ll feel like you can topple your own shadow.” SO incredibly true. I was the first person to go in our group of about 20 people, not sure why I felt so fearless but I was the first crazy person to go. In addition to the canyon jumping, I got to spend 4 days in Switzerland with 2 best friends. It is definitely one of the prettiest places I have seen yet. The 3 hour train ride from Geneva to Interlaken (and back) was one of the most amazing landscapes with the gigantic lake and the Swiss Alps beyond it. The town of Interlaken was so cute and surrounded by snowy mountains. Geneva was also, of course, an amazing city with unforgettable views. The country was super expensive as a whole but I figured with such beautiful views, they should charge more! Although I loved Switzerland, I’m gonna leave the writing at this and let the pictures talk for me. It’s a fiesta day in Spain tomorrow…can you say no alarm?!
Embrace yourself for who you are… and then go jump off a cliff in a squirrel suit. -Unknown
—Love this quote, and even better that I will be jumping off a cliff this weekend-obviously harnessed-I hope! I’m not going to say exactly when just for the sanity of my parents. YUP going to Switzerland tomorrow with Maddie and Anna-Grace and we will be doing some extreme stuff. Pray for us! Happy December everyone!!
As Thanksgiving looms, I am a little sad that I can’t be there for the holidays with my family and for the amazing food, no-doubt, that my brother is going to make. However, I can still celebrate the holiday from way over here in Segovia because I have so much to be thankful for, especially everything I am able to experience right now. What a great time to write a little about this past weekend.
We left for Rome on Thursday afternoon and got there just in time to be reunited with the London Crew! It was a rough few minutes when I realized that I not only forgot my camera, I never even thought about putting it in m bag. While I was upset, I was determined to not let it get me down for the rest of the weekend. After this minor bump in the road, we found a cheap bus and found our way to the hostel where we met Kumar, the guy at the desk at the hostel who was very nice, told us a place to eat for dinner, called ahead for us, and then proceeded to ask what time we would like our (included!) breakfast delivered. Yes, you read correctly, this was a hostel and they brought us breakfast. My kinda place! We walked the short 5 minutes with our stomachs rumbling to the recommended restaurant and were not disappointed. From the little pitchers of wine, to the mushroom/sausage pizza (couldn’t resist for the first meal), to the free half-full bottle of limoncello at the end, I would definitely say we had a good first meal. On what we thought was our walk home to the hostel, we stumbled (literally) upon a pack of Greek boys. After the obvious first question by Chel: “heyyy hows the crisis?!” we proceeded to follow them to a karoake bar. We found the mic and literally became the party. I’m still unsure if it was because we immediately started singing and dancing or if it was that 6 crazy/drunk American girls came rambling in. Probably a combination of both. Either way, it was a blast!
The next morning we got up bright and early to get going and see the never-ending sights of Roma. Not before our breakfast delivered to our room, complete with Cappuccinos, fresh OJ, every kind of croissant, bread and nutella. With all that sugar in our systems, we set off straight for the Colosseum. This incredibly famous site is as cool as the pictures that everybody has seen. Its hard to believe that something so big was built so long ago. After that we walked around a little, saw the amazing white palace, some ruins which, are literally everywhere, incredible! We then found the bus (free or not, we definitely didn’t pay, oops) to take us to our noon time slot at the smallest country in the world, Vatican City. First we went to the Vatican Museums. Although this was very cool, with the most artwork and statues I have ever seen in one place, we hurried along to see the Sistine Chapel. This was really not what I was expecting because it was full of people, and very bright. Nonetheless, it truly is a masterpiece by Micheal Angelo and I’m so happy that I saw it. The next place deserves its own paragraph.
St. Peters Basilica. Any book or picture does not do it justice. Even gigantic St. Peters Sqaure and the facade of the church does not convey the interior. When I entered the door, I literally felt like a truck hit me. I immediately split from the group as I always do in museums and such. This church gave me the most indescribable feelings. I not only couldn’t breathe, I started tearing up. Again, unexplainable. You might know (if you’ve read Angels and Demons, you definitely know) that St. Peters Basilica is a memorium/burial place for not only St. Peter but for all popes. Peter was the faithful apostle to Jesus. Jesus said “On this rock, I build my church”. Of course this is a figurative reference to the Catholic church and how it was built up with the help of Peter. This can also be taken literally. First, Peter in Latin is Pietro which means rock and the church was also literally built up around the tomb of St. Peter. Pretty cool, right? I spent about 2 hours inside the Basilica looking at the amazing grandeur of the architecture, the countless paintings and statues and just soaking in how amazing it was. For a while, I sat on a ledge near the altar/stairs leading to St. Peter and started crying a few more times while taking in the surroundings. I feel so lucky that I got to have this experience and see such a powerful place.
After that emotional experience, it was obviously time for some food. We went to the Trevi Fountain, snapped some few gorgeous pictures, and got the hell away from all the Asian tourists. On our way to the Spanish Steps, we grabbed some pizza, a bottle of wine and 4 cups, and popped a squat on the infamous steps. For the millionth time since I’ve been here, I felt so blessed that I could be eating great food in an amazingly historical place with 3 of my best friends. After sitting for a long while, we hopped on the metro towards our hostel/palace, freshened up, and met the other girls at a restaurant nearby. The food and company were amazing but that is not my I will never forget this dinner. We started getting rowdy after the first 4 bottles of wine, but once we hit 8 (one per person), I realized that was child’s play. The waiters started getting flirty, the table of old, creepy men from across the room offered us some of their cake and chestnuts, gladly accepted. We waltzed our way into the kitchen and had a little dance party with the chefs and waiters, I’m sure breaking several health codes, not that we or they cared. The best part, however, was the nice older French couple sitting near us, that had been staring and smiling all night. The man offered me some amaretto and when we were given a whole bottle of limoncello, we shared with them. They shared a French military song and I tried on his glasses for a while. We basically made this place our playground and after too long and 9 empty bottles of booze, we realized it was time to go. Where else than the karoake bar from the night before? Another party started and many shots had, around 3 we decided to turn in.
Ill make this last part short, promise. Saturday, we had planned to take a train to Florence but when we figured out the ticket was 90 euro and our budgets couldn’t handle it, we stayed in Rome. Saw the palace again, the Pantheon, some ruins with a bunch of cats living there and more gelato on the Spanish Steps. That night, we went back to the same place from the first night for another outstanding meal. As the poor college students we are, we did not book a hostel for this night because our flight was at 6 am. This meant we were sleeping on the floor in the airport. Although saving money is nice and it made for some great stories, I don’t think I would EVER do this again, just for the sake of my hygiene. yuck. Pictures (from my phone and other people’s cameras) to come soon!
So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I hope everyone eats double for me. After classes tomorrow, yes we actually have classes (how rude), we are having a little Thanksgiving lunch with our whole program, professors included, and everyone is bringing something. I’m sure it will be fun and different! This weekend Anna-Grace is coming and I can’t wait to show her around the place we have called home for the past 2 months!
Do as the Romans do
—I plan to-by eating. A LOT. Off to Roma tomorrow and a day-trip to Florence! Ciao!!