Odd Stage in Life

I’ve been thinking about where I’m at in my life, and it kind of freaks me out. A lot of people say that this is “the best time of my life.” I mean I’m having a good time right now, but I’m only 20! If this is the best time of my life, honey, we’re going to have a lot of issues.

No responsibility is great. I don’t worry about bills or taxes or where my next meal is coming. But at the same time, what am I really living for? I’m not saying this in a suicidal way (I LOVE LIFE!!!), but more as a philosophical thought. Maybe it’s more my personality, but I find this time in my life to be very selfish. And while I need to take this time to be selfish and to figure out who I am and what makes me happy, I also can’t spend the rest of my life living this way. I thought about this on my way home from class, what is the purpose of success or life or happiness if you have no one to share with? Don’t worry mom, I’m not rushing down the aisle just yet because I’m not even talking about a romantic  relationship, I’m talking about having a life you share with the loved-ones around you.

As much as I feel loved right now, I also feel very isolated. During my time abroad I feel as if I have changed a lot. It leaves me feeling like no one knows me anymore. My old friends remember me for who I was and haven’t been able to see all of the progress and change for the better I’ve made in my life. My new ones only know what they’ve seen so far and while I think I’ve grown they have a more shallow view of what I am. Granted, I’ve only known them 4.5 months out of my 20 years. It’s an almost freeing and scary moment to realize this change in you. However, no matter how many personal achievements I encounter in my life I feel like they are depreciated because of my age.

People have always told me, “you’ll understand when you’re older” or “you’ll think different when you’re older.” The fact of the matter is, I am older. These are my views and if you don’t like them then I guess we can just agree to disagree. I feel like older generations always say that we’re not listening, but I really think that they aren’t listening. That they spend so much time belittling your thoughts and feelings because they are different from their own. They’ve forgotten the values of discourse. They just think that everyone will “grow-up” and be just like them. I argue for the sake that you hear and understand my point, but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to change yours. I respect the views and arguments of others. Contrasting views help me learn and understand the world and society better.

Change is bittersweet. Sometimes I wish I was in elementary school again, where my biggest worry was if I got a bad report card sent home to my mom. Now I have to worry about graduating early vs. graduating in 4 years, studying abroad again in London, what industry I should enter, and how to beef up my resume. It’s annoying that I keep looking towards the next step. It’s annoying that I feel pressured by peers and society and my mother (haha just kidding on the last one) to find the next path I NEED to take. I want to get off of the path. I am sick of hearing, “so a Spanish major and a Community Action and Social Change (aka government/poli sci/psych/soc) minor what are you going to do with that?” To that I want to yell: WHAT EVER I WANT TO BE, THAT’S WHAT!

I’m sick of having to be on a path. I don’t need to go the conventional way, I’m making my own path and figuring it all out on the way. I know I’m not going to grad school right away. I know I probably won’t love my first job. I know that I’m going to end up in some weird city, at some weird job that I never intended and it’s going to be awesome and we’re all going to laugh about how I got there. Who knows, the world is my oyster. I will do with it as I please.

Un beso!

Roses:

  1. Not caring (but caring enough to get me by)
  2. Finally writing blog posts
  3. Ideas hitting paper (or should I saw webpage)
  4. Drinking ice tea (I’m obsessed)
  5. Milka chocolate with oreo filling!
Thorns:
  1. Not starting my paper
  2. contacts not working
  3. Being able to write a whole blog post faster than I can write 5 sentences in Spanish

 

Reunited in Barcelona, Marbella & Gibraltar

My mom won a work trip to come to Spain, so I tagged along. I was so excited to finally be able to see her. The road to Barcelona was a little bumpy. I hadn’t realized that I had a field trip the day I was supposed to meet her, so I was forced to change my ticket which cost an extra 50 euros. I have no idea why I did this because the field trip was a complete bust and a waste of my time.

The actual flight was a lot nicer. Since I only had 2 hours the night before, I forced myself to stay awake (for the field trip) and I went to be at 9pm. I woke up super early 5am and headed to the bus stop. You know you’re in Spain when …

  1. The disco across the street from you is still bumping music
  2. People are just starting to walk home in their club clothes
  3. A couple is making out in front of the police, as their friend gets a ticket
  4. You get hit on by drunk men

Word of the wise be careful when flying with Ryanair. The tickets are cheap but they overcharge you on everything, which is obviously where they make their money. For example if you forget to print your boarding pass, for them to print it for you it cost’s 50 euro! Also make sure you measure your suitcase (if it’s a hard suitcase) before you travel. They have this contraption where they make your place your suitcase if it’s a hard suitcase and or looks like it is overstuffed and will not fit in the overhead bin. I watched this poor guy not be able to fit his suitcase because the wheels did not fit. It cost him 50-60 euro to check his bag! (they will not turn your suitcase sideways … because most people do not check bags). If you have a backpack or other bag that fits under your seat you’re fine. But remember ladies do not bring a purse! They only let you have one bag, no matter how small your purse is they will count it, so make sure it fits into your purse. Vera Bradley large duffel bags will fit, as long as they aren’t filled completely! Ok sorry, I just thought that may be helpful to someone someday.

Back to my actual trip! Instead of typing out a long essay (like the Ryanair rules part) I’m just going to list my favorite and least favorite parts of the trip, and of course show you some of my pictures.

Favorites:

  • In Barcelona
  1. The Gaudi buildings
  2. The metro system
  3. The beds at the hotel
  4. The culture
  5. Seeing old friends (from Sevilla and Portage!)
  6. People thinking I was fluent and complimenting my Spanish
  • In Marbella
  1. Seeing monkeys in Gibraltar
  2. Eating takeout
  3. The pool
  4. Tomando sol!
  5. People thinking I was fluent and complimenting my Spanish

Funny story about takeout in both Marbella and Barcelona: The waiters were all Chinese and since it is strange to see someone else with Asian heritage they just assume you speak their language. I certainly do not. The waiter greeted me with Ni hao, which I responded with hola. I think they were just happy that I spoke Spanish instead of English, and when I said thank you in Chinese they were very pleased.

Another funny story about translating, one time we were in front of the Sagrada Familia. A couple who I assume were Polish or German asked in “rough” English (or was it Spanish?) if I know how to work the public bathrooms. I explain in Spanish that they need to use smaller euros (as in 10 or 20 or 50 cents). As I was explaining this, a nice, old Spanish man tried to explain to them where to find free public bathrooms. Turns out this couple doesn’t really speak Spanish, so I had to translate for them where it was in English. I was happy to help them out (at least I hope!)

Least Favorite:

  • In Barcelona
  1. Too big of a city to really learn the language
  2. All the  signs were in Catalan
  3. Having to travel with old people (obviously not my mom!)
  4. NO FREE WIFI
  • In Marbella
  1. It was only a resort
  2. The beach wasn’t all that nice (the pool was a lot better)
  3. An old lady pee’d outside behind a bush
  4. Sleeping on a cot.

Despite the problems, it was 

I loved this market, you could buy anything from …

… meat to …

… candy to …

… fruit and …

… seafood!

Mom in front of the old catedral in Barcelona

Roger and Mom in front of the Sagrada Familia

Ceiling in the Sagrada Familia

The holy family by Gaudi – Christ growing up

My favorite house of Gaudi – Casa Batllo

Such a smart monkey! He’s using the wire to climb down the mountain and then …

… and then he uses the wire to swing to the podium!

“I’m so smart!”

I can’t wait until my brothers come to visit!

Un beso!

Roses:

  1. Wasting another class time
  2. Remembering the fun vacation
  3. Having nice weather

Thorns:

  1. 2.5 weeks until I start taking exams
  2. Only have fast internet at school
  3. Missing pets that I become obsessed with monkeys

Mis Clases en Sevilla

I realized that I haven’t written a post about my classes in Spain. I guess it’s good that I didn’t post this sooner because in all honesty I don’t really like my classes. I find them to be boring and like I’ve become less intelligent while being here. It seems strange but I miss the stress and competition that I used to feel in my umich classes.

Here is a list of classes I’m taking here:

  • Filosofia Moderna (Modern Philosophy): My professor is adorable and only expects that I show up for class. My program director told me that I had to do something, so I’m writing him a book report on the philosophy of Harry Potter. It is a long class it’s 2 hours long, but most of the time I do other work during it. Mostly because philosophy is way over my head.
  • Geografia del Mar (Oceanography): I had to take this for a natural science credit. It is super boring. The professor is nice, but I have a lot of homework due at the end of the year and he doesn’t exactly spell out what we are supposed to be doing. I guess I shouldn’t complain, because we get to take a field trip to Gibraltar … but I get sea sick. We’ll see how this goes …
  • Grandes Maestros: This class is about the great Spanish artists, sculptors, and architects. It would be interesting if the teacher had any structure. He is really old school, and shows us slides of all the works. This doesn’t bother me, he just jumps around the works of each artist a lot and never really writes down the name of the work and or artist. However, when he writes it down it isn’t much better. He is on the other hand extremely nice so I guess I can’t complain too much.
  • Historia de los EEUU: US history post-revolution to President Obama. This stuff is my jam. I got a 6.2/8 on the last exam which is the second highest grade in the class. If it wasn’t in Spanish, I wonder if I would’ve done better? I was pretty proud of myself. I also love the professor. He is this very old man, who can’t hear me. I also have a lot of Spanish friends in this class, probably because this is the only class I participate in. This is my last exam in June and after this I’m home free!
  • Paisaje y Medio Ambiente Urbano: This class is about Urban environment and planning … I think. I have no idea what is going on in this class. I did pretty awful on the exam; however, I did pass. I can’t understand either of the professors, nor do I think I would if it was in English. I took it because I need an indiscipline class to graduate. Which praise the lord I’m graduating early!

Wow this is a debbie-downer post! To cheer you up after reading me vent, you get to look at this website! https://www.kittybloger.wordpress.com

Un beso!

Roses:

  1. Graduating on time
  2. Feeling academically challenged
  3. Looking forward to going home to UMich
  4. Crazy excited for next semester

Thorns:

  1. Not getting football tickets (the internet order wouldn’t go through)
  2. Feeling stupid
  3. Not caring about my grades
  4. Not paying attention in classes

 

My first vacation alone: Malta

WHOA WHOA WHOA, where have I been? I’ve been on two vacations and bogged down by a lot of work but don’t worry, because I’m back! Let me start off with my first vacation!

Semana Santa or Holy week is a really big deal in Sevilla.

(Here is the only paso I saw, it was raining the entire week. Each local church carries a paso or float to the Catedral. These cofradias (brotherhoods) dress up in traditional outfits which look like colorful versions of the KKK)).

This is the time when tourists from all over flock to the city, thus most Sevillanos leave for the beach. We had the week off, so my friend and I decided to leave for the beach as well, our beach just happened to be an island in the coast of Italy.

To be honest we only went there because it was super cheap, but it terms out it is very beautiful. We spent the week relaxing and exploring the island. Successively Malta is a party island. Maybe that is only the case when it gets warm out, because Caroline and I didn’t find it to be all that exciting. Instead of partying we went to 2 movies and sat around in the hostel. The island isn’t that big and the scenery isn’t all that diverse. There are a lot of rocks and water and to see everything you have to take a bus. The buses were an interesting experience, mostly because I get car sick. Instead of writing more, I’m just going to let you look at some of my favorite shots.

Caroline walking on the beach.

A side street in Valletta (the capital of Malta)

All of the buildings looked pretty dilapidated and the windows had cool balconies

Malta the land of lions and … unicorns?

Another interesting window

Flowers in the Blue Lagoon

Malta has good rocks to climb …

…and good places to fish!

Pretty flowers!

More flowers on the top of the Dingli Cliffs

We spent the day in Gozo! (an island a part of Malta?)

Azure Window on Gozo. We climb around the water to get a closer look and we climb to the top to get a better look of the island. Little did we know but this is dangerous, oh well I survived to tell the story!

I fell in love with this house in Mosta!

I want to say this is the 3rd largest free standing Dome in the world (I could be lying)

A picture of the dome from the inside. I had to snap it fast because mass was in progress!

High fives all around for Malta!

Un beso!

Roses:

  1. Having fast internet
  2. Vacations!
  3. Beaches

Thorns:

  1.  Internet in class
  2. Not wanting to take my finals
  3. Thinking about all the work I have to do!

My Life is in a Rut

I feel stuck in the same schedule and it’s suffocating. I’ve realized that I really do love school and learning. While I used to be improving my Spanish (I’ve hit a major wall here too), now I feel like my brain is turning to mush in class.

I try to do things out of the normal but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Hopefully my vacation during Feria will turn this feeling around!

Roses:

  1. Finally appreciating my very expensive education
  2. Trying new things (whether they are successful or not)
  3. Eating Ben&Jerry’s (thanks for the extra cash Grandma!!)

Thorns:

  1. Being bored in class
  2. Not speaking Spanish enough
  3. Feeling bleh

Sorry for yet another hiatus!

So I took a vacation to Malta and I haven’t really had time to put up the pics yet (it’s my goal for tomorrow!)

Here is a quick update of my life:

  • I’ve gotten most of my grades back and I’ve so far passed all of my exams! (I even have the second highest grade in my history class)
  • I read a book that has changed my outlook on life.
  • I am on the 4th Harry Potter book
  • I read for 20-30 minutes before bed every night
  • My filosofia prof is letting me write a book report on the filosofia de Harry Potter
  • I get to see my mom very very soon!
  • Life has kind of hit a schedule, so it’s not as exciting right now

More information to come!

Un beso,

Roses:

  • passing my classes
  • registering for classes
  • being content with life

Thorns:

  • hitting a rut
  • not paying attention in class
  • missing my family

He left for a package of Skittles … We Are Trayvon Martin

If you haven’t heard about Trayvon Martin, then you are probably living under a rock and or studying abroad. I first heard about the case from one of my favorite poet’s tumblr. Joshua Bennett had posted the now famous petition circulated by the Martin Family, and at first I thought it was one of those incidents where they didn’t have all the facts. Where the police were blamed, but the lines of justice were so blurred that anyone could be at fault. The more I read, the more I think that this isn’t the case.

This story is everywhere. You know a news story is big when it shows up on ESPN.com (I mean come on it’s only supposed to be about sports). However, major stars like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade from the Heat and Amor’s Stodamare from the Knicks and  Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush donned hoodies in solidarity for Trayvon, forcing the matter to transcend the Florida town and occupy world headlines and pop culture. Some (like a British columnist) said the case is about “gun control”, and a girl (who is no longer a friend of mine on facebook) said “you hear about white on black crime, what about  black on white crime?”  While both of these have some validity in their point of views (no matter how much I don’t want to agree with them), it is beside the point. Race relations run deep in our countries history. Some may argue that the turmoil we have now are due to our ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1897. However for me the issue is less about race, and more about profiling and the death of a young man.

I think we all profile. We all make snap judgments that can be detrimental to our relationships with others. I think that George Zimmerman was wrong, but think about it, we all judge people for the clothes they wear. We shouldn’t only be mad at Zimmerman, we should be mad at ourselves. This incident should be a wake-up call for so many Americans  humanity. I thought in this day-in-age we would be passed judging others based on their appearance. However, Trayvon was killed because he looked “suspicious.” His hoodie has become iconic and created a revolution. Hoodies do not indicate a “hoodlum.” You are not dangerous based on the clothes you wear. I wear hoodies all of the time, especially when I travel. I can’t even count all the times I’ve put on a hoodie in brisk weather, it’s the perfect weight to keep me comfortable. It’s almost an automatic thing for me too, if I leave the house I’ll grab a hoodie. When he was leaving the house, I bet he never thought that hoodie would contribute to the end of his life.

I think this case has turned more into a movement and a broader social issue, that we forget it was the death of one 17-year-old boy. The media likes to defame people to get a bigger headline and create more controversy. They try to turn Trayvon’s suspension for finding traces of marijuana as if he had an issue with drugs. They try to take photos of him from the internet to define him as a “gangster” poser. These issues have nothing to do with the case, they just distract from what really happened. The media wants to create a bigger story, but what’s a more shocking headline than: an unarmed child being killed, and nothing being done to persecute his killer? But do you know which over-hyped headline gets to me? The media’s argument that the main photo of Trayvon isn’t recent. They argue that it’s a lopsided representation, that he looks so young with his innocent baby face. To that I say, any photo of him demonstrates a young and innocent face. He was only 17 years young. I also think that his family chose a photo that represents him in their mind. To them he will always be their baby. I’m sure even if he had ever reached the aged of 50, his parents would still see him as their baby and envision him in this manner.

It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to think that he just threw on a hoodie and walked out the door to run to the local corner store. He was getting a snack, something I do so often here in Sevilla or even back at home/school. He probably said he was leaving, but I’m sure he didn’t say how much he loved and cared about his family. I’m sure his last words to them were nothing profound. I imagine they were something like: I’m running to the store, I’ll be right back. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine watching a loved one leave, thinking that they were just running a quick errand and they never come back? I can’t tell you how upset and sick that makes me feel. You never really think how much someone means to you when you’re running errands. You never think to tell them goodbye or give them a big hug and kiss and tell them how much you love them. You never think you’re going to be shot when you run to the local store. You never think that your death will become a major social movement. You never think about these things.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this story. I read new articles daily and every time I finish reading them, I just think about saying I love you to my family. I think if anything the death of Trayvon should make us hold our loved ones a little tighter. And most importantly, don’t let them think they are unappreciated, you never know when it’s the last time you’ll see them.

Roses:

  1. Family
  2. Knowing how loved I am
  3. Signing a petition to support Trayvon Martin

Thorns:

  1. Death of such a young man
  2. Burying your child
  3. Defamation of the deceased