Friday, May 8, 2009

Musings on the best semester of my life.

The moments of this day are my last in Valencia.

It's bittersweet.

I'll start off by telling you what I've done so far.

This morning, I woke up at 5:30 and quickly put some clothes on before heading out the Xátiva, where I caught the metro to the beach. I met Jess and Macy there, and we sat on our towels and watched the sunrise. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

We stayed out on the beach until about 10:30, and then the wind scared us away. We decided to go all out, and so, for the 3rd time in 3 days, we headed out to Palmaret to have horchata at Daniel's.

We came back into the city around 12:30, and I got home around 1:00. I hung out downstairs with Matilde for a little while, and then we had lunch: eggplant al horno, with a rice dish including garbanzo beans, chorizo, and some veggies. Also, for dessert, we had strawberries and whipped cream again. It was Matilde, César, Miguel and me, and they made a toast to me... "Que regreses a España muy pronto". That you come back to Spain soon. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying.

Since then, I've been packing up the last of my things, and writing notes.

In a little bit, I'm going to meet up with Jessica and Macy at our meeting spot. One last time. We're headed to the Torres de Quart, after which we're going to meet our friends for a goodbye get together in the park. I'll come home around 9:00 for the last dinner with my family, and then Matilde, César, and Marta are going to take me (and maybe Lindsey) up to the Mestalla, where we will meet the rest of our group and the bus to Madrid.

And that will conclude my journey here, in Spain.

I've learned so much these four months.

The language, of course, is the most obvious. I feel like I'm at a conversationally fluent level, although I still have so much more to learn. It's such a blessing though - being able to communicate with so many more people than before. I find comfort in the fact that the Lord has clearly put a purpose in Spanish for me - I'm excited to see what it is!

I've also learned a lot about evangelism. The way my friends love each other, but even more, the way they love the lost in Valencia, is so encouraging. In the Bible belt, religion is viewed so differently. Here, the number of believers is so few that religion is never a topic, anywhere. But my friends, my amazing, incredible, God-serving friends, make it a topic. And they never drop it. I love that.

I've learned so much about myself, as well. Little things. Like the fact that I CAN live in a big city - almost preferably. Or the fact that I'm a huge fan of museums. I could stay in a museum all day long. I also learned that I like comfort zones - and that's something I've had to learn to get past. The Lord has put me in so many uncomfortable situations this semester, but I've learned to embrace them instead of fear them.

Leaving Valencia is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done. Saying goodbye to the people I've come to love more than my own life. My friends. My host family. Jessica and Macy and the rest of my classmates.

However, I know that although my four month study abroad program is over, the Lord will still continue to provide me with new adventures and romance me in new ways.

So, although I am coming home with a heavy heart for what I'm leaving behind, I am returning with joy and anticipation for what is to come. And in every circumstance, I will be content.

Now, I conclude my blog. Thank you for all who have kept up with my life while I've been 1.000's of miles away. I'm excited to see each of you again, face to face.

Until my next adventure...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

One more night in Hollywood

My last full day in Valencia Spain.

I woke up around 8:45, got ready, and went to the Xátiva metro stop, where I hopped on, all the way to Palmaret. There, I met Jessica and Macy, and we went to have HORCHATA! Again! For breakfast! This is what happens when you want to soak up every moment you possibly can.

We stayed there until a bout 11:15, and then took the metro back into Valencia. They headed to school for their last day of classes, and I headed downtown to go to the Mercado Central and just hang out for a little while - the day was too gorgeous to do anything else.

I came home around 2:00 for lunch, and we had chicken and potatoes, with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. Talk about delicious.

After lunch, I packed a little bit, and then around 4:00, headed out to the park by Mislata. I walked around for about an hour, enjoying how gorgeous the park is, the day was, Valencia will always be. It was amazing.

Jessica and Macy joined me around 6:00, and we just sat, listening to music, talking, reminiscing.

At 8:45 or so, we headed across the street to the Carrefour (Wal-Mart) to buy goods for Gaby's birthday party tonight. We ran into Samu there, and Elias later, and we all bought our things and went back over to the park, where we met up with Dovis, Gaby, Dabid, Dani, Markos, and the 3 Cardenas sisters. We moved into the grass and had a picnic there. It was so fun!

Around 12:00, everybody started to leave, and that's when it got hard. Some of our friends we won't be able to see tomorrow, and so we had to say our goodbyes to Dani and Dabid. All three of us lost it. It's unbelievably hard for me to bid my farewell to the people that have grown to be my best friends, knowing that I may never see them again.

Dovis took me home, and I sat and watched a little bit of tv with Matilde before heading up to bed. Now I plan on getting some good rest for my last few moments in the city I call home.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

El Último Mendigueo

My last day of school at the Universitat de Valencia. I would say it was bittersweet, but there was really nothing sweet about it - I don't want to leave!!!!!

Anyway, I woke up on time, had a nice breakfast, and got dressed. I rode my bike to school this morning, for the last time. I had two tests this morning - Conversation and Composition. I think I aced both of them.

Conversation class with Virginia
Composition class with Edu

After our composition class, our teacher Edu took us all out to drinks. We didn't realize he was going to pay for us until after the fact. What a sweetie!!! I had to leave early to go study for my last exam, and because I normally don't hang out with people in ISA outside of class and a lot of people are staying a few weeks longer to travel, there were some people I had to say goodbye to. My first round of good-byes. It was really sad!

After getting a little emotional, I left to study, and at 3:00, I aced my History test. I feel so good about all of my exams. I love Spanish. Here's my history class with our FABULOUS teacher, Adela García Valle - I want to be JUST like her. She is so smart and fashionable and genuine.

When I finished up at school, I biked to meet Macy and Jessica at our meeting point, the Aragón bridge. From there, we walked some side streets we'd never been on before, all lined in beautiful palm trees,

and finally headed to my house. We dropped my bike off, and then they came in and met Matilde... she was so cute. They can see why I love her!

At 6:15, Juan and Laura (Dovis' parents) came to my house, shortly followed by Dovis himself. While we were waiting on the slowpoke to get here, they met Matilde, as well. It was kind of cool - my home life and my social life had been kept separate (not intentionally) this whole semester, and finally, at the end, the cross paths a little bit.

Jess and Macy hopped in the car with Juan and Laura, and me with Dovis, and we headed out to Alboraya, where the Sáiz-Ferrero family treated us to horchata and Daniel's. It was so sweet. We all just talked and talked, and Laura showed me pictures of all their recent excursions. It was a precious time.

Juan and Laura had to leave around 8:00, and so we re-said our goodbyes. This time, I cried a little more, and so did Laura. This whole saying goodbye thing is SO HARD!

J&M and Dovis and I went to the beach for just a little bit, in Alboraya.

We looked for shells and played on the little playground, and then, around 8:50, we headed to the Cabanyal to meet up with: Markos, Dabid, Gaby, Samu, Miguel, María, and Lukas for our last mendigueo - when we go around town and share food with the homeless. I cried some when we prayed beforehand, especially when sweet Dabid prayed for us.

The groups were me, Macy, Dovis; Markos, Dabid, Gaby, María; and Miguel, Lukas, Samu and Jess. Here's Dovis driving his car, BadDovis:

Also, at 12:00 midnight, Gaby, Dabid's little sister, turned 18!!! So we sang Happy Birthday to her, several times, and Dovis and I even did a little freestyling for the birthday girl. It was so special ;)

Dabid and I making 1-8 for Gaby

Around 1:45, Dovis dropped me off at home, and I came in, read a little, and then hit the sack.

Con el corazón roto,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Two Down, Three To Go

I did the whole fall-asleep-with-the-light-on thing last night. How miserable. So I woke up this morning around 6:30. I couldn't go back to sleep (which NEVER happens to me) so I just studied some more, and then went down to breakfast. Both Matilde and César were up, too, so we all had breakfast together.

Afterwards, I studied some more, then got ready for school. I headed out to catch the bus around 8:45 and got to school around 9:20. SUCCESS. Our first class was Culture, and the test was great! I feel so good about it. I should get a 10. In between this class and our next, Megan, Katye, Anna and I went outside and quizzed each other. At 11:45, we went back upstairs and took our second test of the day, Literature. But before we got started, we got a class picture with our professor... can you pick out which he/she is?

The lit test was fairly easy, although there was one random question about some obscure piece of information we never actually talked about but was in one of our handouts somewhere. Other than that, I got every other question, so I should get a 9.75. Hopefully.

After school, I walked home. It was another gorgeous Valencian day. I listened to my Spanish music the whole way. When I got home, Matilde was cooking lunch, and proceeded to tell me all the steps of Arroz Marisco (similar to paella but without the vegetables). While in the kitchen, Marta, my host sister, comes in. She works at a bookstore, and last night, when I was asking about the book fair and buying a dictionary, she told me she'd check for me. Unfortunately, the good dictionary that I was hoping for cost about 60 euros - completely out of the question. Well, it turns out, sweet Marta bought me a small Spanish dictionary, as a gift. And not only that, but she bought me another Spanish book just for me to read. I started crying... it was the sweetest thing in the whole world.

When lunch was ready, we all came down to eat. The whole family was here: Matilde, César father, César son, Marta, Miguel and me. We had rice with sepia, shrimp, and jumbo shrimp, salad, bread, and for dessert, and nice little pastry. We had so much fun - and they told me that, out of all the students they've had, I've reached the highest level of Spanish! I was so flattered!!! They said I could be a teacher. I don't know about that, but I still took the compliment :) We just talked and enjoyed each other. At the end of lunch, I took advantage of the opportunity at hand and grabbed my camera. Here's my sweet family:

After lunch, I came up to my room and studied for my History test. As a break, I watched the latest Gossip Girl episode. Sarah - I can't wait to chat all about it with you soon. Around 4:30, I headed to the Plaza de Toros to meet up with Jessica and Macy, and we went souvenir shopping. It was a successful afternoon. We also went back to FNAC (Spanish Best Buy) and listened to music for an hour and a half. So fun.

I headed home around 8:15, taking in the surroundings I've become so accustomed to.

The police station across from my street
Calle Molina (my house is the first yellow one on the right, 3 down)

I saw this beautiful cross on the way, too. Sunday was a special holiday in Spain, and so a lot of cross are up on the street corners. It's a neat tradition. 

Shortly after I got in, we had dinner, Matilde, César, Miguel and me. It was spinach with raisins and crab meat. Sounds weird, but it was actually really delicious. We also had ham and cheese sandwiches and fruit.

Since dinner, I've been packing and studying. The whole packing thing is stressing me out. I took stuff home when I went to Dallas, and still I'm having trouble fitting everything. It's so annoying. Maybe it's a sign that I should just stay here....

Reflexionando una vida en España,

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Final Countdown (de, da, de, daaa, de, da, de, de, da...)

With the sun rising, the birds chirping, the coffee pot going, all the things of dawn running their courses, I, too, began my journey through May 4, 2009. I got off to a great start, getting shared, fed, and dressed in a record breaking 20 minutes. Then I was off to school on bus 89.

I got to class - this morning was Conversación and Cultura. Both were good and uneventful. During the break, Megan, Katye and I sat outside and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.

At lunch time, I went out and sat in the park across from the facultad and had a little picnic in the sweet sunshine. I took the time to study a little bit, as well. Afterwards, I went over to the ISA office and hung out until class time.

Three o'clock was History with Adela. My favorite class. We talked more about medieval Spanish and how cool it is. I want to study lingüistics (it has the two dots in Spanish, and now I can't remember if it does in English, too. Am I negating the declaration, now?) for the rest of my life.

After class, I caught the bus home. When I got here, I sat and chatted with Matilde for a while, then came up to start my afternoon of studying. It turned into an afternoon of Skyping as well - Mom, Mary Ev, Jacob, the whole crew. Plus I fb chatted (who knew?) with Kasey, Cristina, Austin from Kamp, and one of my kampers, Sabrina! It was so great. I also got the chance to spend some time with Marta, my host sister, when she needed help with an English paper she was writing. It was really sweet.

Because I have such a lovely next two days of exams, I should probably try and get some sleep. Wouldn't you say?

Si tuviese la gripe porcina, no tendría que irme de aquí.... Alguien páseme un cerdo, por favor!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

El Último Culto en Calle Quart :(

As you probably canNOT tell by my title, today was our last day at la Iglesia Evangélica Bautista in Calle Quart. Bittersweet.

The girls (Macy and Jessica) and I woke up this morning around 9:30, had a little breakfast, and then got ready for church. We went in metro to Gran Via, and then walked the rest of the way to Calle Quart 134, our church away from home.

It was wonderful. The songs we sang, we were very familiar with. The message given by sweet Pastor Eduardo was fabulous. And we even had communion. Afterwards, we chatted with Dabid, Ivan, Reveca, and some other friends. At last, we bid farewell to our sweet pastor. He reminded us that we would always be welcome and at home here in the church, and that it had been such a pleasure to know us these four months. Of course, the pleasure has been all ours.

When we finally left, sadly and on the verge of tears, I caught the bus home. I spent the rest of the afternoon, UNFORTUNATELY, studying for my 5 tests this week. That's right. Five tests. Two on Tuesday, and three on Wednesday. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. This semester has been infinitely easier than a semester in Auburn would've been. I'm just stating the outlook of my last week in Spain. Five tests.

Anyway, I got some good studying done, but I did have a few breaks. Parts of movies, reading. Stuff like that.

When I'd gotten home, no one was here. And since I'd spent all afternoon shut up in my room, I figured, around 10:00, that Matilde and César probably had no idea I was here. So I went down and made my appearance, and in fact, my hypothesis was right. Matilde ended up making me a little dinner: left over pasta, a hot jam and cheese sandwich, a strawberry drink, and some leftover pastel from their day out on the town. She sat down with me, and we just chatted. After I'd finished eating, we moved into the living room, where we read the newspaper, watched some TV, and talked about Spanish refrains. She taught me one at dinner that goes like this:

Que comer y rascar
Todo es empezar

It literally means, to eat and to scratch, all is to begin. She taught it to me because at first, when she asked me if I was hungry, I told her not really. But once I began eating, I ate a lot. Hahaha! Get it?

Anyway, I finally went up to my room around 12:00. I talked to sweet Lauren Keith on Skype for about an hour, and then went to sleep.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Barça or Madrid?

So, I woke up this morning at the Cardenas at 11:45. We all slept in and it was SOOO nice. For some reason, when I sleep in a bed for the first time, I always get a really really good night's sleep. We had breakfast - a little bit of everything: cereal (nuts), crackers, crepes, fruits. With orange juice and milk. It was luxurious.

Afterwards, around 12:45, I headed home. I caught the number 90 bus back. Matilde and César were there, working on the new barbecue on the back patio. They're doing it all themselves and it is amazing. I relaxed in my room a little while, getting everything back into it's place and reading some. Around 2:30, we had lunch: macaroni, fish, shrimp, with bread and fruit, of course. It was SOOOOOOO good. I love the pasta here. And of course, being a port city, the seafood is extraordinarily delicious and fresh.

After lunch, I went up to my room to study some. I also read some of my book. At 7:30, I headed out to catch the 89 bus towards Aragón. I stopped in at Consumo to buy my supper and a few treats for the night. Then, I headed down to the Cardenas' apartment. Cristina met me there so I could drop off my things.

We headed down to Pub Irlandes on Aragón at 8:15ish, where we met up with our friends (Jazmín, Abi, Markos, Lukas, Dabid, Gaby, Samu, Dovis and his cousin Fran, Palma, Johnny, Elias, and Dani) to watch the game that the whole city was revved up and crazy for: Soccer, Madrid against Barcelona.

This is the biggest game in Spain. And I mean... it's huge. Most people in Valencia go for Madrid, because Barcelona is in Cataluña, and most people hate everything Cataluña. But the Cardenas, and me, pulled for Barcelona. Which turned out to be the best choice, because we won 6 - 2. Which is unheard of in fútbol! It was sooo fun. It felt like the Auburn-Alabama game, it was so crazy!

Afterwards, we went back and had dinner at the Cardenas. We hung around, talking and playing, until about 11:00, at which time, we went to Nikanna, a cute little club on a street behind Aragón. We stayed there dancing until about 2:00... we had such a good time, all of us!

We headed home, and Cristina, Abi, Jazmín, me, Macy, Jessica, Esteban, and Markos played HUMOR, a board game, and then the girls had a mini girls' night, eating ice cream and watching girly things on the tv, and then we zonked!

I love my friends.


Friday, May 1, 2009


I woke up this morning at 7:20, and, in a state of zombie-ness, got coffee, STRONG, got ready, packed my stuff, made a bocadillo, and around 8:10, headed up to the train station. 

There, I met Macy, Jessica, Dovis, Markos, and the Cardenas, Jazmín, Cristina, and Abi. We bought our tickets to NAVAJAS and hopped on the train, just in time.

Navajas is a small town in the province of Castellón, just north of the province of Valencia, but still in the Autonomous Community of Valencia. 

It's like the US (Spain) divided up into states (Autonomous Communities) and then divided up even further into counties (provinces). Except there are no where near as many A.C.'s as states or provinces as counties.

We rode the 1.4 hours to Navajas, getting there a little after 10:00. 

We walked from the train station, through the town, and to the river. That's the main attraction in Navajas - the river and the water falls. And of course, it's in one of the most mountainous regions of Spain, although the mountains aren't big at all. Needless to say, it was beautiful.

We spent all afternoon, from 10:30 to 5:30 in a little grassy knoll next to the river. There were a good amount of other people there, too, enjoying the day. I forgot to mention that today was a holiday in Spain, like our Labor Day.

We played, read, talked, had a picnic, sunbathed a little, explored, took loads of pictures, listened to music.

It was so perfect - a vacation away from a vacation, basically. A nice little day excursion. As a sidenote, the flora and fauna in this area is breathtaking. Here's a little peak:

After we left the river, we went up to the town and walked around for a little while. It is so quaint and beautiful, and situated nicely in the mountains.

We stopped at a little bar and got ice cream, patatas bravas, and cokes.

When we were done, we headed back up to the train station, where we caught the train back to Valencia.

The landscapes and little towns along the way home were so beautiful, they would take your breath away. The pictures don't do it justice.

When we got home, it was about 8:00. Dovis took me home, where I showered and got ready. Then I headed over to the Cardenas' house. Their parents are in Barcelona, which means there are enough beds for them to have spend the night company!

I dropped my stuff off at their house, and then we headed over to Lukas' piso (apartment). He was having a barbecue, and there were so many people there! Lukas, Ester, one of Lukas' roommates, Markos, Dovis, Dabid, Gaby, Johnny, Esteban, Samu, Elias, Dani, the Australian whose name I don't remember, and of course, Jess, Macy, Jazmín, Cristina, Abi, and also a friend of the girls', Palma.

We stayed at Lukas' until about 1:30, and then went out to find a place to go dancing! Unfortunately, because of the holiday, all the places were closed. So, after playing around in a little park for 2 seconds, we ended up just going home. 

All six of us girls headed back to the Cardenas', where we almost immediately went to sleep.

Contenta con un día pasado perfectamente,