Saturday, May 29, 2010

John Deere

God must understand my bit of homesickness, and is sending me small signs...

The most exciting was yesterday, when I went for a jog. I was running along a fairly busy street (remember, Salamanca is a small city) and saw...A TRACTOR. Yep, a true, big ol' green John Deere. And it wasn't in a field, it was driving down the road, approaching a stop light. I thought for a moment I was back in Roanoke. Or anywhere in the midwest, for that matter.

I love the little things that make me smile!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm alive

Well, I survived exams! But before I exhale, I wait to see my grades. I have no idea when they will be posted (as I've mentioned before, the university system is very different in Spain). Keep your fingers crossed! They were more difficult than I anticipated. Vamos a ver.

It is strange: with the end of exams comes a sense of finality. Yes, I have a month and a half left. Yes, I am ready to see my family and friends. But at the same time, I am not sure I am ready for this adventure to be over! After years of planning, I cannot quite comprehend that my semester abroad is almost a thing of the past. So very strange...

But, now that exams are over, the travel planning begins! More adventures await me here in Europe. And I know that as this great chapter ends, there are only more wonderful experiences to come. My time here has been so wonderful, both challenging and inspiring, it would be impossible to say that the experience will ever end. It has changed me for the better, (with the risk of sounding trite) and will therefore be with me always.

My thoughts and prayers are with my dear family now more than ever, and with my whole heart I wish I could be home to share hugs and tears while celebrating my uncle Bob's life.

Un abrazo y un beso.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Countdown

I found this handy little gadget to track the rest of my days here! Please don't misunderstand-I am not wishing away the days, at all! I have many adventures left and cannot wait to see more of Europe! At the same time, the thought of seeing my friends and family after 6 months is this is all in fun. Plus, I am often asked how long I have until my return, and you should all know that math-even simple counting-is not my strong suit!

See you in fifty-five days!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Drum roll please....

My return date is drawing near: exactly eight weeks from today! And though my brain should be focused on studying for exams, I have let myself start thinking about all the wonderful things I miss about the good ol' red, white, and blue...(please excuse me if my list appears is strange the things you start to miss when you are gone for a long time!):

1. MY FAMILY (there is a whole separate list of things I miss about my family)
2. My friends (another list)
3. My bed
4. Fresh vegetables
5. Being in the same time zone as the majority of the people in my life, and being able to call them from my cell phone, whenever I like
6. Driving
7. Diet Dr. Pepper
8. Jeopardy
9. Watching TV shows in English, on a television
10. Eddy, my cat. And the other animals at home.
11. Cooking
12. Speaking/hearing English regularly
13. Not seeing ham everywhere
14. Free water
15. Eating earlier
16. Healthy breakfasts
17. Chips and salsa
18. My dad's enchiladas...yum.
19. My semester grade being composed of more than the final exam
20. Whole grains
21. The radio
22. Picking flowers from my parents' gardens
23. Not feeling foreign
24. The English measurement system...I hate conversions
25. Using the twelve hour clock

Now, I would hate for you to think I am wishing my time away! I am in love with Europe, and so grateful for this amazing opportunity...And so, to balance my homesick-list, here is a list of things I will miss about Spain and Europe (and some are the opposites of items on the previous list, which just means I wish I could have the best of both my worlds!):

1. My friends
2. The laid back culture
3. Taking weekend trips to different countries
4. Speaking Spanish regularly
5. Tapas
6. Sangria, calimocho, agua de Valencia...these are all tasty drinks!
7. The history
8. Tortilla española
9. Dos besos
10. Meeting people from, literally, all over the world...each day
11. ¡Siesta!
12. Going to mass in churches older than the United States
13. All the amazing architecture
14. The Euro bills
15. Being able to walk everywhere I need to go
16. Having a whole week to study for exams, and three weeks to take them
17. The art museums
18. Taking pictures so often
19. Wine being cheaper than water
20. Drinking wine with lunch
21. Seeing beer in vending machines and at McDonald's
22. My cleaning ladies : )
23. La croissantería
24. The nightlife
25. The fashion

There are many more things I miss about the states, and will miss about Europe! I am sad to leave, looking forward to my European travels, and estatic to see my family and friends again!

Now...back to studying! Thanks for your prayers.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Long time, no posts....

Hello! I cannot believe it has been over two weeks...well, it is believable considering the travels and studying (or attempt at studying) I have been doing in the past few weeks.

Lena (friend from Bellarmine) arrived on Monday, May 3, and our adventures started! We stayed in Salamanca until my classes ended on Wednesday, and on Thursday we headed to Santiago de Compostela...

A beautiful, small city. The Cathedral is an amazing example of art and architecture (with a huge incense burner), but what is more impressive is the reason Santiago de Compostela attracts so many tourists. This city, the cathedral, precisely, is the end of The Way of St. James. A pilgrimage technically is any walk which begins in one's home and ends at a pilgrimage sight, and therefore, there are many paths to Santiago (there is a path through/leaving Salamanca). The traditional pilgrimage begins in France (with The Pyrenees), and follows the route St. James himself walked. His remains are kept in the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. A mass is held for the pilgrims everyday at noon, and on Fridays the large burner is usually used. We were lucky enough to be able to attend this mass (well, the first fifteen minutes we had to wait outside, because the church was filled, but then we were allowed in and able to observe the mass. The most enchanting part of the city is the number of pilgrims still making the trek, which can take weeks to months. And for purely unselfish reasons...simply to walk in the footsteps of a saint, and grow closer to the Lord. I have added this to my dream list: finish El camino de Santiago!

After this adventure we spent two days in Porto, Portugal. I fell in love with Portugal when I went to Lisbon, and found the same charms in Porto. I must admit, I prefer just had a cleaner, more colorful feel. But we spent our time well and took in all the sights (while learning to navigate the city bus system!). We tried the famous Portuguese sandwich but I cannot say it was our favorite meal...We enjoyed a picnic on the beach, and though it wasn't warm enough to even consider swimming, there is something so inspiring about the ocean, it was a lovely day. Lena was able to see first-hand the European obsession with "futbol" when we walked into a plaza to find disgruntled fans angry with all the fans of the winning team celebrating by honking horns, waving flags, yelling taunts...the police were also hanging out in the plaza, keeping an eye on things, thankfully.

From Porto we took an early flight to Madrid to spend our last two days before Lena left for the United States. I was very excited to see Madrid, because up to this point all I knew was the airport, and I knew that well. I was expecting a big city feel, but the neighborhood of our hostel was busy, but not overwhelming. We took in the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, the Prado, the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Santa Ana, Parque del Buen Retiro (this park is absolutely amazing-I could have spent an entire day there!). A sucker for art museums, especially after taking two different art history classes in Spain, I loved the Prado, but there was so much to see it was a bit exhausting! I plan to go back to Madrid to see the other art museums. And revisit the park...

I came back to a large study load...I have my first exam on Tuesday! I am trying to stay calm (and not scratch my scalp too much) and just take it one day at a time...prayers are greatly appreciated, however!

Though I vowed that I would not take the time to blog or post pictures before Tuesday...I am always looking for an excuse to put off studying, so I hope you enjoy! And I hope I pass my exam...

I am missing you all more each day!

Un abrazo.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reality Check...

No quiero deciros pero me olvidé de soy estudiante...ahora realidad ha llegado hasta mí. Tengo que estudiar. Mucho. Para vivir aquí es muy diferente que Louisville y hasta ahora no he tenido hacer mucho tarea cada día. Y ahora es difícil para estar en modo de estudio. Mis examenes empiezan el 18 de mayo, con iconografía-lo más difícil. Solo tengo que aprobarlos pero tengo mucho miedo...agradezco sus oraciónes! Cuando regreso a Louisville, los 19+ horas de clases que tengo serán muy difíciles....pero, no me puedo quejar: este semestre es increíble y vale todo.

¡Feliz día del Derby! (Soy casi una chica de Kentucky, después de todo!)

Un abrazo.

I hate to tell you all this, but I forgot that I am a student...and now reality has set in. I have to study. A lot. Living in Europe is a far cry different that living in Louisville and until now I have not had to study much each day; the final exams here make up our grades. And now it is difficult for me to turn on my study mode (I'm not sure I ever had this mode, actually). My exams begin May 18, with Iconography-the most difficult. I only have to pass them, but I am very worried...I appreciate your prayers! When I return to the States my 19+ credit hours will be difficult. But, I cannot complain: this semester is worth it all.

Happy Derby Day! (I am almost a Kentucky girl, after all!)