Tell the World that I’m Coming Home!!

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It is very hard for me to write this post. Tonight is my last night in Barcelona… There! I’ve said it! But do I really believe it!? Part of me still thinks that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and get ready to see my Second Grade boys. The other part knows that I’m getting on a plane headed for the U.S. These last three weeks have been more than I could imagine. I can honestly say that I will leave with no regrets. I did everything I wanted to do and more.

I feel absolutely blessed to have been placed with a family that I consider my own. They have been so good to me, and I could not thank them enough for allowing to be a part of their family. I am not good with good-byes, so I will tell my host siblings that I will see them later when I kiss them good night. They surprised me with a very cute teacher notebook, pen, and case after dinner. I will have a hard time trying not to cry in the morning.

My sweet Second Graders made me a book of drawings as my good-bye present. I don’t think I’ve gotten so many hugs and kisses from 7 year-old boys! Even the boys who weren’t on my good side gave me hugs and said bye. I have been very lucky to work with some amazing teachers. But there’s something about Mr. Rodd that sets him apart from the others. His personality is so caring and he goes out of his way to make sure his students knows that he loves them and wants the best for them. Even though he is the biggest ladies man (he denies this fact) that I have ever met, I am very grateful for him!

I think on my last night is Spain, I am going to relax and watch a movie. It’s nothing crazy, but I feel that it’s fitting because three weeks ago I watched a movie before I came. Our NINE HOUR flight to New York leaves at 10:45 AM. Soon after that, I will be home! :)

I love this place and will cherish every moment I have spent here.

When in Rome… DO NOT do as the Romans!!

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First and foremost, I would like to give a huge shout out the Autumn for being the best travel buddy I could ask for. She was very protective and always trying to be one step ahead of our disaster of a trip.

Let me begin this post by saying that, yes, Rome is beautiful. The history and the sites are absolutely amazing. It was really cool to touch Ancient Rome on more than one occasion. HOWEVER. Rome was way more stressful than relaxing. We spent Thursday (May 1st) to Sunday (May 4th) in Italy. But our troubles began in Barcelona. Autumn and I set up a plan to meet at a very specific metro station that neither of us had been to before. Little did we know that this station was the size of an airport!! It took us 45 minutes to find each other. Only by the grace of a small WiFi connection did we finally meet up. So we jumped on the train to the airport to fly to Rome. When we landed in Rome, the plan was to go to the hotel and drop our stuff off before we met up with the other girls. We catch a taxi from the airport to the hotel… 70 Euros. That’s how much it cost us for the taxi ride. Our hotel was on the opposite side of Rome from the airport and then it was about 30 minutes away from the city itself. So we check in, and find our room to be very nice! The bathroom was a little cramped, but we didn’t have a problem with it. I texted Alicia so we all could meet up later on in the day. The lady at the front desk told us there is a bus stop right down from the hotel that we can take. So we find it as soon as it is pulling away. The next one comes around in 40 minutes… So together, Autumn and I, decide to walk a little to see if there is anything around the area. I kid you not: The 3rd and 4th Italian people we see are prostitutes! Our hotel was in the Detroit of Rome. We walked back to the bus stop and had prostitutes on our far left and far right. So we decided to wait in the hotel lobby for the next bus. We think we’ve got it the second time so we go back out to the stop and wait. This magic bus never came back. While we were waiting an old man circled and stopped by us 3 times asking if we wanted a ride. Then two other cars stopped for the same reason. Autumn and I were mistaken for prostitutes on our first two hours in Rome. This is just the beginning of our four-day weekend… Later that day we met up with Alicia, Madison, Lindsey, and Sandy. We had a good time and saw Trevi Fountain!! The day was coming to an end so Autumn and I had to go back to our hotel. The magic bus has a stop right outside of the metro station we used. So we waited, and waited, and waited, and it FINALLY came…. Only for the driver to tell us that it was stopping for the night. So we took another taxi from the metro station to the hotel. End day one.

Day two we woke up, had free breakfast, and decided to take the hotel shuttle to a train station. This worked 1,000x better than the magic bus!! We found our way through the metro and we thought we had it. The challenge took place when we tried to meet up with the other girls at their hotel… We got turned around and it took us… I don’t even know how long to walk to this place. But we finally found it. We all rested for awhile before we set out for the day. We saw a lot! My favorite places were the Spanish Steps and Popolo Fountain. I swear I’m going to be in such good shape based on the amount of walking we did this day and the next day. We decided to stay with the other girls at their hotel so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting up early and waiting on the magic bus. It was a good choice!!

Day three, all six of us woke up in the same hotel. We met up with their professor and coordinator, who then took us to see the Vatican! We didn’t go inside because there was a 3 hour wait (ain’t no body got time for dat!!), and we wanted to see other things as well. So here’s the part of Rome that NO ONE tells you about. You gotta eat, right!? I paid 16 Euro for my lunch that consisted of ravioli, mushrooms, and a can of Coke. Right after lunch, Autumn and I went INSIDE THE COLISEUM for 12 Euros. Let that sink in for a minute. I paid more for my food that lasted for 30 minutes than I did for a major historical site that has lasted for THOUSANDS of years… I call BULLSHIT! The Coliseum was absolutely amazing, though. It was really cool to touch Ancient Roman stones and take some pretty cool pictures while we were there. We also walked down to Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II. For those of you who don’t know what that is, Google that shit! It is the most impressive piece of architecture I’ve ever seen. I could literally look at that building for hours and be perfectly content. We had another long day of walking, but it was much better than the first few days. But of course, there’s a tricky part!! Now Autumn and I need to go back to our hotel for the night. We go back with the girls to grab our stuff, and then head back immediately. The metro station is super packed and the metro itself is even more crowded. Autumn has to push me though so we can get on. All of the sudden this Asian man starts yelling “MY POCKET! MY POCKET! YOU TOOK MY POCKET!!” This poor man was pick pocketed by someone right in front of us!!! He grabbed the man who he thought stole his wallet, but it was actually another man. But the man who took it either freaked or was trying to pass it off to someone else & threw it on the ground outside of the metro. Thank goodness the Asian man was able to get his wallet back, but it scarred the shit out of Autumn and I. We both just wanted to cry, we were so freaked out. But our troubles don’t end here… Apparently we got on the WRONG connector metro and ended up in a station that we had no idea even existed!! It wasn’t even on our metro map so we had no idea how we got there. After having such an adrenaline rush from the pick pocket scene, we were so mad that we got on the wrong train. Keep in mind we’re still trying to catch the magic bus at a very specific time and location. After waiting for a little, the correct train finally came, and we even made it in time to wait and see if the magic bus was real or not. So we’re now waiting on the bus. There are two drunk homeless-looking men and a prostitute waited for the same bus. We chose to stand next to the prostitute. After about 10 minutes THE MAGIC BUS ARRIVES!! And we actually got on it with no problems. It was super sketchy but it was taking us right where we needed to be. Now because we’d never ridden the magic bus and it was late at night, we weren’t sure where exactly to get off. So Autumn asked the prostitute for help. This very nice lady did not speak a work of English, but she helped us out and told us exactly where we need to be! We were very thankful for her. The bus dropped us off on the other side of the high way from the hotel. Now, remember how I said this place was the Detroit of Rome? We had to cross this SUPER sketchy bridge in which the ladies of the night do their work… It was covered in condoms. Props for having safe sex, but good lord find a trash can!!!! Needless to say I thoroughly washed my feet when we got to the hotel. End day three.

Our last day was a travel day! We had our last free breakfast at the hotel, and even caught the magic bus on the way to the metro station. Sure, it was jam packed with people but we got on it with plenty of time!! We did have a minor freak out when the train headed for the airport was arriving at the station in 3 minutes and we still didn’t have tickets, but we made it!! The fight home to Barcelona was absolutely wonderful, because we knew exactly where we were at, we can semi-speak the language (Autumn is fluent, but I’m definitely not!! lol), and we have a family to come home to!! I’ve never been more excited to see the Barcelona coast line than I was today!

While Rome had its good parts, the bad parts out weighed them by a mile! Our quote of the trip was “Screw Rome” and for good reason! I can now check it off the bucket list and never go back!

I’m Walking on Sunshine!

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I can’t believe I’ve been in Barcelona for a week already!! I stay busy from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. Today in school, some of the parents came to watch what happens in the classroom. The students did an excellent job presenting their Science unit. They were also extremely well behaved, it was unreal! I was very impressed. After school, some of the girls and I met up with the girls from St. Paul to go to Sagrada Familia. It was absolutely beautiful on the inside!! The stain glass windows were amazing! I’ve decided I want windows like that in my future house. I bought a book about Gaudi in English and when I got home, I had my host siblings take turns reading it aloud. They both did very well! They are the cutest. Lucas loves to read, and Vania has very good speaking skills. It’s nice coming home to work with them. They get really excited to work with me & that makes me very happy. I am very lucky to have such an awesome host family! 

The Hill has nothing on Barcelona!

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These past two days have been absolutely amazing! My host dad has taken me to so many different places, that I am blown away by all of the things Barcelona has to offer. Last night, he took me and my “sister” to Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s house, and the Magic Fountain. Gaudi’s architecture is pure brilliance. Even now I’m at a loss for words, because there is no way to describe how impressive his work is. We were out and about for a solid two hours and saw so much. Barcelona at night is so full of life and color, it’s impressive. The Magic Fountain was amazing. It consisted of a light, music, and water show all wrapped in one. We sat on the steps of the museum that is behind the fountain for about 10 minutes just watching the fountain. It was very peaceful and calming.

Today, we got up to take Vania to a First Communion event and then met up with my friend Sarah. Alberto, Lucas, Sarah, and I went to Parc Guell. OMG. First of all, the climb up this hill was absolutely ridiculous. Sarah and I could feel the burn about half way up the hill. Keep in mind this hill was like walking from DUC to FAC. It wasn’t very long, but it was stupid steep!! Secondly, it was literally one of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen. Again, Gaudi is an architectural genius!! There was so much color and the view of the city was amazing. It wasn’t huge or anything, but there was a lot to see within it. We stopped to watch some street performers who were very entertaining! Sarah came home with us for lunch (pasta with pesto sauce!) and then we went back out to see Montjuic. It’s this huge fort on top of one of the hills by the Mediterranean Sea that you can see the city. The very was spectacular. The city is so full of history and important land marks, that it’s mind blowing.

Sarah and I are going to be stair masters by the time these three weeks are up. We have probably walked a solid 10 miles today. To reward ourselves for working out so much today, Alberto took us to the best ice cream shop in the city. And I kid you not, it was the best ice cream I’ve ever had (and that’s saying something because I’ve consumed a lot of ice cream in my time).

The more I see of the city, the more I fall in love with it. I miss my family at home, but if it wasn’t for graduation I would definitely stay longer. I am have so much fun and staying so busy that I have to stop to think: “I am in Barcelona, Spain. How cool is that!?” Everyday I am so thankful to wake up in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Trains, Planes, and Buses

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Today was a good day at school. I actually got to see how Mr. Rodd teaches and how the students interact with him. The students really respect him and do their best to please him, for the most part. Mr. Rodd’s 30th birthday was today, so the students sang “Happy Birthday” To him in English. I never noticed the lisp that everyone says Spaniards have until about 40 of them say “bir-ttthhhhh-day!” It was the cutest thing ever!! I gave him the WKU garden flag & his stamps, and he was so grateful! He even showed off the stamps to the other teachers and the students. The day was long, but not too shabby overall!

After school four other girls and I went into the City Center & explored. We took a few Red Towel pictures here and there. But the best thing we saw was Cathedral de Barcelona. It was absolutely amazing, inside and out. I was awed by the architecture and the stations inside. We spent about 2 or so hours in the City Center and then ventured back to where we came from. This is where my evening gets interesting. So  most of the other girls don’t live near me. So I had to take one metro back by myself. This was extremely nerve racking, because I was terrified I would miss the stop (even though it ended up where I needed to be) and I was over conscious of the pick pockets. Luckily, I survived this part with flying colors. I went up to the street level of my metro & began to walk home. On my way up the hill, I saw a bus sitting in the same direction that I needed to go. So I asked the driver if he was going to stop 126 (remember this number later). He spoke very little English, but did his best to help me. I thought we had an understanding so I felt good. Well… Then we pasted the turn that I needed to take. Right then and there, I knew I was on the wrong bus. Thankfully, after many tries, the bus driver was able to point me in the correct direction. Fun fact: There no bus stop near my house that is 126! I have no idea where I came up with that number, but it sounded good at the time. I was so thankful for the bus driver. He tried his best to help me even with the language barrier. I tried to give him a tip, but he wouldn’t accept it. The people here are just genuinely nice here and that’s really comforting. It makes me excited for tomorrow’s big adventure! My first weekend in Barcelona!!!!  

Adventure Awaits!

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I have been in Barcelona for two whole days now! I’ll take a minute to re-cap from the very beginning.

On Monday (4/21), mom & dad took me to the Nashville airport to get on the first plane. The plane was small, but nice overall. I had to switch seats with a lady who had a baby because her seat was the emergency exit & babies couldn’t sit there. I was able to take a nap on the plane to New York. I woke up just in time to see the city skyline and take a few blurry shots of the Statue of Liberty! We landed without any issues (other than my ears painfully popping) & went straight to our next gate. We had two hours to kill until we boarded the next flight. At long last our anxious nerves got the best of us as we boarded our plane to Barcelona. It was very surreal. I tried to watch “The Family” on the plane, but the head set was messed up, so I just gave up. The dinner on the plane wasn’t too bad. Chicken in brown gravy, rice, and vegetables. Sleeping on a plane is the worst. There is literally no good way to do it, and to make it worse, my ears popped even worse. When I woke up from my “sleep,” I woke to the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean. It was absolutely beautiful. And now for the best part: After about an hour and a half, WE LANDED IN BARCELONA, SPAIN!!

Going through security was not fun. It was really hot and there were two plans worth of people trying to get to the other side. After receiving my first stamp in my passport, I grabbed my luggage and then we met Kristen! She took us to the bus & gave us a quick run down of the day’s events. We went to the school to meet our host families first. Alberto was there waiting for me! He took me home to see the house & drop my bags off & then we went to the fresh food market. It was the coolest market I’ve ever seen. Carmen would have LOVED the variety of veggies and fruits! I was amazed with all of the colors and the selections. Alberto gave me some nuts dipped in white chocolate & then in milk chocolate… I fell in love with the food right then & there. I could spend an entire post on the food alone! After the market, we rushed home for lunch (chicken in a lemon marinade) & then back to school for orientation. The school has about 5 floors (probably more) & is huge!! They have a boy’s side & a girl’s side. I have 2nd grade boys. Orientation was nice. we took a tour of the school & had a small reception to meet our teachers. After that, I got to meet the rest of my family!! Vania is 9 and Lucas is 7. They are the sweetest kids ever. They’re full of energy & many questions, but I love every minute of it! Ana is so sweet. She definitely made me feel at home. We had a nice family dinner together (pasta!), and then it was off to bed! Day one: CHECK!

This morning for breakfast, I had dried, sweetened fruits & hand squeezed orange juice. Alberto drove Vania & I to school (Ana took Lucas to a doctor’s appointment). I met Mr. Rodd on the playground & we got started right away. Today, in Barcelona, is Saint Jordie Day. The men give women roses & the women give men books (it’s similar to Valentines day, but way more romantic). All day we did activities to celebrate Santa Jordie. It was a little on the crazy side, but very fun indeed! During lunch, some of the girls & I walked around the block near school. The weather was too nice to stay inside. The afternoon flew by really quickly. I met up with Vania & Lucas to meet the nanny. We went to the metro to buy my a ticket & then rode the bus home. On the way home, we missed a stop but luckily it wasn’t too far out. When we got home, I helped Vania with her homework, we played for awhile, & then had dinner (potato omelet!!!!) These last two days have been so busy that my head is still trying to catch up with the idea that I really am here! So far everything has been wonderful & I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds!

And then there were 7 days….

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Words.

That is literally how I feel about this. There are 7 days left until my flight to Barcelona. Count them: 7. That’s one week. Five weekdays and 2 weekend days. These past two weeks have disappeared. I can only imagine how fast these last 7 days will fly by! Is this real right now!? The biggest journey in my life will start in one week from today….. Whoa, dude. That’s an intense thought.

My To-Do list for school is getting shorter while my packing list is getting longer! I have my bank account set up & ready to use abroad. My international phone plan has been set up. And I have gotten most of my gifts for my family, teacher, and students. Let’s just hope I’m not missing anything that I absolutely need! (Because of course that would be my luck.)

I have finally gotten into contact with my host teacher. He seems like he’s going to be a lot of fun to work with. My host family has been checking on me to make sure I have everything ready. They’re so sweet! I already feel like a part of their family. I cannot wait to meet them in person!! I definitely feel like they will make my transition very easy and comfortable. I know I am going to miss my family and friends here at home, but I am so grateful that they have supported me every step of the way. 

Now back to the To-Do list! Hopefully staying busy will keep my mind busy with happy thoughts. I know this is exactly where I want to be with my life, but I can’t help but to admit I’m a little nervous. I have worked very hard for this, so I will make the best of it!! :) 

It’s the final countdown!

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There are officially 18 days separating me from Spain. There has been a lot going on in the last few weeks. I’ve been in contact with my host family, bought new luggage (who knew luggage shopping was such a challenge!?), and spent time with my own family. School has gotten intense with trying to wrap up last minute assignments, but I’m okay with it. It only means that the moment I’ve been waiting for is just around the corner!

I am so ready to be on that plane, flying into the biggest adventure of my life! All the stress of the past four years feels like it’s finally worth something. I can honestly say that I don’t regret anything in life, because I’ve worked so hard for what I have and I’m thankful for this path that I’m on. This trip is just icing on the cake!!

It’s getting more and more real everyday! I couldn’t be more ready for this.

This is a test.

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It is a test of my character. A test of my skills. This is a test of the person that I am becoming.

On April 21, 2014, I will be flying to Barcelona, Spain to finish my student teaching placement. Words do not even begin to describe how thrilled I am to have such an amazing opportunity. This is my final semester of my college career and I will end it with a bang! I am not holding back, because I want this for me. I want to have that moment of “I saw the world before I had to get serious.” I want to experience a culture that can’t be given to me other than embracing it first hand. I want to share what I have learned with my friends and family, and ultimately with the students who I will one day teach. I want to be able to not have any regrets about what I didn’t do when I had the chance.

So here is the series of events that led to where I am so far:

  • On October 28, 2013, I got accepted into the Student Teach Abroad Program
  • On February 27, 2014, I received my flight information
  • On March 5, 2014, I received information about my host family

It has been a long process, but in a little less than two months it will all pay off!

Here’s to new doors and to living life to the fullest!