Unanswerable Questions: Why Him?

First off I just want to apologize for the hiatus without warning. If you do not follow me on facebook, you probably do not know that I have had 3 exams in 2 days. (I think I did well in 1 of them and HOPEFULLY passed the other 2).

Like I said, I’ve been “studying” a lot. This means I’ve been sitting in my room searching google news, espn, and internet window shopping. Of course my favorite form of procrastination is Youtube. I mean come on, it’s addicting. My favorite thing to do is look for poetry and I found this video by a new favorite poet of mine, Rudy Francisco.

It hit me hard. Especially the line, “Why him?” I think this poem really summarizes what keeps me motivated daily. I am truly blessed with a loving family and and a life filled with endless possibilities. Sometimes I think that my life could have been so different. What if  God intended me to have a different family, a different life? Where would I be today? Would I still be the same person? Or in my case would nurture overrule the nature of my genetic codes?

I guess this poem is just some food for thought. I think what is better than asking why him, is appreciating what you have and not what you lack, and whether it is luck or a divine hand, these questions may go forever unanswered. I think this new found appreciation will help you with compassion and empathy for your neighbor who may be less fortunate than you. I know for me, this question motivates me to make the world a better place and society a little more forgiving.

Un beso

Roses:

  • NO EXAMS!
  • Going on vacation
  • Good poetry that makes you think

Thorns:

  • Having to ask why him?
  • Headaches
  • Not passing exams

Killing People with Kindness

I like to think that I act my age, that I am a somewhat mature individual. However, other days I feel like I act like a 5 year old. When this happens I just feel like kicking myself. Sometimes here in Spain, I feel like I’m back in high school. Honestly, high school was not the best time in my life and not  the best Katie. She’s too:

  1. Judgmental
  2. Rude
  3. Annoying
  4. Whiny
  5. Argumentative (ok, I’m still this way … but I’m working on it!)

And every time she’s around I feel like I’m losing all the progress I have made.

Mind you, she mostly comes out during times of great stress and sleep deprivation. But I feel like all sleep deprived people act that way. Anyway, the point is I don’t like her. I also feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of her because the program I’m in is small and I can’t please everyone. This is difficult for me. I want to be a part of every group, but when I don’t feel a part of really any of them it makes Spain all that more isolating. I mean I don’t think anyone likes to feel disliked and not included, but for some reason especially here it just really irks me. But instead of being the bigger person and treating people with respect and kindness, I treat them how they treat me, cold and indifferent. Seriously, am I still in elementary school? Relationships aren’t about revenge or an eye for an eye mentality of retaliation.  I absolutely hate this about myself. I need to be more like my mom and my best friends, who are so warm and receptive. It’s something I’m really going to start striving for.

I can be brash and frigid at times and I think that really shuts me off from a lot of different people and experiences. Hopefully this is just age and not a personality trait. I think sometimes it comes from the deep insecurities of not being liked. Yes that’s right I still worry about making friends, like the first day of Kindergarten. I guess for me it’s rough because I met some of my best friends in Kindergarten; where you made friends because you either sat next to each other or had matching lunchboxes. I will never be liked by everyone and I need to do a better job at taking that in stride and not getting so flustered.

Not everyone needs to be my best friend. I need to work harder at making friends for the sake of both networking and companionship. Close your mouth and open your ears and listen to those around you. Treat people with the kindness that everyone deserves. You never know what people may teach you.

Un beso

Roses:

  1. Shedding insecurities
  2. Making new friends
  3. STOP JUDGING

Thorns:

  1. Feeling like I’m in high school
  2. Beating myself up
  3. Acting immature

I’m an American

I don’t know about you, but I was pumped for President Obama’s re-election campaign video, “The Road We’ve Traveled.” The only reason I knew the dates for this week (usually I check my phone every day) was because I knew the video was coming out on Thursday.

I’ve always wanted to live abroad, but one important thing this trip has taught me is my love for America. Lately I’ve been telling my friends that I don’t think I could live anywhere else. And it’s not just because of the food or the comfort of family, it’s about the endless possibilities I have in America. It’s about the history and culture that fuels my pride in my country. I guess you would think it would be the opposite. You would think from the scoffs about American history and politics from Europeans would make me more like my friends; they told me they would rather live in Europe or be a citizen of any other country. It’s actually just the opposite for me. I take pride in my country’s accomplishments and I recognize the political, economic, and social blunders we have made. But in a country as large and diverse as America, with differing views on every topic available, it’s surprising we’ve only had one true secession from the union.

I don’t think my love for America is just because I’m a history nerd and political junky, I think it’s deeper than that. It comes from the fact that I wasn’t an American citizen until I was in the 1st grade. It’s because wherever I go, no one thinks I’m an American. Here everyone thinks I’m from China, which I’m not I’m Korean. But more importantly than that, I’m an American.What upsets me the most is that just because I’m not Caucasian, it automatically leads to assumptions that I could never possibly be American. It’s also frustrating that people think my Asian heritage is more important. I was raised by white people. I’m an American first, I wouldn’t even consider myself a Korean second. It’s because the only culture I’ve ever known is the American one (and yes there is a culture, it’s just not as defined as other countries), and quite frankly I know a lot more than most native born citizens. For example:

  • I know the preamble to the constitution
  • I can name all 44 Presidents in order
  • I can name every state and point them out on a map (I know a majority of the state capitals as well)
  • I have the ability to talk about major historical events and even some lesser known ones (just don’t ask me dates)
  • I know we have 27 amendments to our constitution (I can name a few … I need to work on this one)
  • I starting taking a citizenship quiz here but it had 90 questions and my internet is slow. However, I got through 30 questions and I had 100%.
  • I know what the stars and stripes on the flag represent
  • I keep up on politics (sometimes only from the Daily Show/Colbert Report/Google News … don’t judge I don’t have a tv)

I don’t know if any of these things can really qualify me as an American, nor do I know what really being an American means. All I know is that many of us take our citizenship for granted. We live in a country where are voices can be heard. I know there is a lack of representation in Congress and well quite frankly a lack of progress. While money allows you to have a louder voice, grassroots movements are possible. Look at Kony 2012, and whether you agree with it or not, it has proven that your ideas can be shared and gain public awareness. Also look at the Bush vs. Gore case, where conspiracy theorists may suggest that the election could have had a different outcome if the votes were recounted.

This post took a drastic turn. I thought I was going to talk politics and about the presidential election, but I guess this was more important. I’m proud of my country. I’m proud of the fact that with motivation, encouragement and the right connections you can achieve the “American Dream.” If you have poor testing skills and mediocre grades you can still get into a good school. Your major is not dependent on your ACT/SAT score (obviously there are some exceptions). You’re Bachelors Degree doesn’t even need to pertain to your future career. Nor are you stuck in the same industry your entire life. The possibilities are endless, and that’s what I love about America.

If you take anything away from this (if you can finish reading this … sorry for the long post), take some time and appreciate all the privileges you have as an American citizen. Trust me, no matter how fed up you are with our political system we have so much to be thankful for.

Un Beso

Roses:

  1. Appreciating my life
  2. Being a citizen of America
  3. Arriving home for our Independence day

Thorns:

  1. People not thinking I’m an American
  2. Racism
  3. Stereotypes

A few lists

This is a form of procrastination from my homework and as a reminder that my time here is very limited. You think 6 months is a lot of time when really it is flying right in front of my eyes. I can’t say that I really know myself all that better than before but I’m creating new dreams for myself and just seeing where they take me. As of now here are some random dream jobs I find interesting: 

  • Writer/researcher for ESPN’s Documentary Department. Seriously these are some of my favorite videos of all time. 
  • Own a bookstore with a cafe (like John Rollin’s … does anyone remember that place?), and have poetry slams and afterschool programs promoting literacy.  The store also needs to have two Burmese cats. 
  • Publisher for children’s books. 

Those are just some fun things I’ve been thinking about. But don’t worry, I’m not getting ahead of myself. I really want to try and focus more of my time here in Sevilla. So I am creating a list of all the things I want to accomplish before this semester is over. 

  1. Drink some agua de Sevilla
  2. Go to the animal market on Ave. Torneo
  3. Go to a local food market 
  4. Witness a Bull Fight in the Plaza de Toros
  5. Eat ice cream at Rayas
  6. Eat at Bar Ajo Blanco
  7. Check out Metropol Parasol
  8. Eat churros from the stand on Calle Arfe 
  9. Visit La fabrica de cerveza
  10. Find Velazquez’s house
  11. Visit Sevilla Cemetery 
  12. (when it’s warm) Play in the fountains at Alemeda de Hercules 
  13. Drink at Bar la Goleta
  14. Find the aqueducts
  15. Olive oil tasting (way cooler than wine tasting) 

Those are just a few on my list. 

Un Beso

Roses:

  1. 2 hamburgers in one day
  2. Getting used to my schedule here
  3. Getting excited to take classes at home

Thorns: 

  1. Time 
  2. Not doing work
  3. Not having a good study spot 

Sometimes Life Just Hits You … KONY 2012

*Disclaimer this post will have far too many themes/topics in it. I apologize in advance. I should write more than one post but I’m not in the mood. 

Today was one of those days where all of the frustration from the past months has built up and compounded. Like Atlas, I feeling like I’m holding the weight of the world on my shoulders and to be honest I don’t know where all of it is coming from. I assume it’s from:

  1. Language barriers. Sometimes (like today) I just don’t want to speak Spanish. No one understands me and I feel like I have lost a huge part of my personality.
  2. Not having  set schedules in my classes. I never know when we have exams or homework.
  3. Not being able to register for the classes I want because I need permission from an instructor/need to interview for it.
  4. Not being able to talk to the people I care about most on a regular basis. Spain can be extremely isolating. Let’s me honest, you will always need to talk to your mother.

While I still feel slightly frustrated, something helped put my life in prospective. I got on facebook (por supuesto), and I saw that one of my favorite organizations Invisible Children posted a new video about Joseph Kony. And this video helped me put my whole life in prospective, so I thought I would share it with you. It’s a 27 minute video, so give yourself time to watch it, but trust me it is worthwhile.  This video takes the time to explain the atrocious actions of Joseph Kony in Uganda, the fate of the children,  and what you can do to help.

I think this campaign is ingenious. Not only is the graphic design amazing (that bipartisan dove is so awesome!), but also they are using social media sites for publicity. I tried to lead a book drive for Invisible Children my senior year in high school and it was one of the biggest failures that has ever occurred in my life. But you would never know I didn’t have the support of my peers if you looked at their facebook walls today. Kony’s video is everywhere! This is an example of peer pressure being used for betterment of society.

Also, this video reminds me that one voice can make a difference. It revives my faith in the political system of the United States. Some may think their voice doesn’t matter to politicians, but this campaign is proving the opposite. Our Congressmen/women are our voices for policy, so we should be executing our rights as citizens to tell them what we find important. I urge you to not only vote but keep your representatives informed about what you find important. If we don’t speak up, they will never know.

This video inspires me in so many ways. It inspires me to:

  1. Be more thankful for my wonderful life
  2. Strive to improve the world
  3. Achieve my goals
  4. Find a career where I can help others

I hope you feel inspired as well!

Un Beso

Roses:

  1. Youtube
  2. Being inspired
  3. Remembering what is important

Thorns:

  1. Frustration
  2. Abuse, exploitation, and murdering of children
  3. Knowing the faces of celebrities better than mass murders (I’m guilty of this as well)
  4. The media controlling what we know

The Fight Between Man and Bull

“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.”

-Ernest Hemingway

(The poster for the upcoming season)

Bullfighting has been a part of Spanish culture for centuries. Yet today across the world, people discuss whether bullfighting is a sport/art form shrouded in tradition or barbaric killing of an innocent creature. No matter one’s feeling, tourists are still drawn to this attraction and many have an internal struggle over whether it is appropriate for them to attend or not.

For me, I don’t have this internal struggle. I choose to look  at it as an art form, a preservation of a time period, or a tradition that existed long before The Americas were even discovered. While I understand that tourism helps fuel the trade and that this once honorable sport has been diluted by the masses, the essence still exists. It all comes down to the fight between one man and one bull.

We can argue that the bull has no fair chance of surviving. This is very true. The bull must survive the taunting of the torero’s team before actually meeting the man (or now woman!) he must face. While there are posts on the BBC and PETA about bulls being tampered with before fights, from what I know (which is very limited), there are laws that set regulations for the age, weight, and abilities of the bull must be fully functional and in good condition. Yes there may be cases of tampering, but hey there are also cases of steroids/physical tampering in sports in America. Let’s not have a few unfair fights ruin the image of those who fight fairly. Also let us not forget, that if the bull preforms in a truly spectacular manner he will be indultado or pardoned. Where he will live the rest of his days happy, because they never allow the bull to fight twice and well he deserves it. Bulls have good memories and will be overly aggressive if they had to fight twice. If I were getting stabbed by skinny people in shiny outfits I would want revenge the next time I saw them as well.

It’s a sad fate the bull faces when entering the ring. I will never deny that. It’ s like when Harry Potter enters the forbidden forest and knows he is walking to his death. I’ve talked with some girls on the program and they have problems with the fact that the Bulls are raised to die. I can understand that, but at the same time I also eat meat so every animal I eat was raised to die. If one does not always eat organic/free ranged animals, then who is to say that these animals live worse lives than the bulls raised to fight. They live happy lives on farms well up until 4 years old when they are old enough to fight (at least it’s the case in Spain). If you really think about it, isn’t that the case with anything on this planet? We all die, animals and humans alike. And in many cases we are only remembered for our deaths if they are tragic. Sorry for the morbid thought, but it’s true. If the bulls death wasn’t so tragic, if he was raised just to be our next hamburger would we all care as much (other than the animal activists /vegetarians of course)? It is a tragic way to die with all of the stress and the pain, but hopefully in the end the fight will not last long and the kill will be clean.

I’m not a blood thirsty person. I don’t even like gory movies. I’ve even dabbled in vegetarianism for awhile. However for me what it comes down to is tradition and art. When done right the graceful movements of the torero and the clean kill of a bull can hopefully remind me of a time in the past. Who knows, maybe if I’m lucky I can see a bull pardoned. Or I might be a vegetarian for the rest of my life if things go poorly. Whatever the case may be I may only live in Spain once. Also, it can’t be any worse then watching the Chicago Cubs lose every year.

Roses:

  1. Tradition
  2. Bulls that get pardoned
  3. Having the option to view a bullfight

Thorns:

  1. Bloody death
  2. Sad bulls
  3. Discourse over tradition and cruelty

Happy Accidents … An Evening Photo shoot

My friend Emily recently suggested that I carry my camera around with me more often. I took her advice today, and it was a happy accident to take some pretty cool pictures. I usually don’t carry a camera at night, because most of the time I’m going out and it’s not safe to have a nice camera (i.e. read the story about my jacket!) Here are two shots from tonight.

This is the Isabel II Bridge in Sevilla. From the side I took the photo, university students hang out by it during the day and Bottelon at night. I love the reflection of the light on the water, and the sky! Today it sprinkled which is the 3rd time it has rained all winter.

This picture looks a lot cooler small, I was disappointed seeing it on my computer. I liked the composition of how the water in front was in focus, but it’s harder to see because the lights aren’t reflecting on it. People kayak/paddleboat/do other activities on boats all the time on the rio. I assume when my family comes they’ll want to kayak as well.

Today, I learned I need to carry my camera more!

Roses:

  1. Taking unexpected pictures
  2. Croquetas at lunch
  3. No class tomorrow
  4. Planning my trip during Semana Santa
  5. Playing MASH in class

Thorns:

  1. Pictures looking a lot cooler on my camera (aka small) than on my computer (aka large)
  2. Taking the tram
  3. Chapped lips