Because I go for morning walks.

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I spend my Holy Week traveling with two friends to Dublin, Ireland and London England. These two places are cities I could have spent weeks in, but we did our best to compact everything into a few days long trip.

We felt really at home with the English speakers, time frames, and customs that were very similar to our own, but definitely got a kick out of all the accents and different terms they use in the UK. Rubbish bin. Refuse bag. Porridge, not oatmeal. You get the idea.

Anyways, on our last morning in London my friends wanted to sleep in before we got on our last bus through the English countryside to the airport. Here is a little snapshot of the English countryside

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It really does have fluffy ponies, and sheep, and spotted horses and cows. It amazes me that everywhere I go really does look like the postcard, and that these places are real and tangible.

Anyways, as my friends were sleeping in I decided to go find a little park (garden, as the would say in London) and read my book. I set out with my book, the typical Spanish translation of a John Green chick flick novel.

On my way, I walked by the river Thames, and moseyed through a park. I love that homey feeling being riverside gives me! Thanks, Willamette Valley.

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Then I continued my way towards Westminster Abbey and the Parliament building. The architecture of these buildings is really cool! I spent some time sitting in the lawn enjoying the company of my book.

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I kept walking around, taking in the sights and sounds of London, and enjoying a beautiful quiet morning. I was even asked for directions, the ultimate sign of looking knowledgeable and not intimidating! I always count it as a success if someone asks me for directions.

To all you readers out there (not just readers of this blog, but lovers of books in general), you understand how books can take you to a different world, with new places and people and experiences. I set out for a literary experience, but instead got a 3 dimensional moment that I couldn’t find in a book. My book became my travel buddy, just a reason to go on a walk. I suppose that books can take you on adventures whether they are open or closed.

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Toledo

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On another trip with my school, we visited Toledo. We stayed in the historic center of a the small town, surrounded by its city walls and complete with narrow, stone streets and alleyways. Here are some Toledo highlights:

1. The ABSOLUTE best experience was singing in the Monastery. As we toured the monastery with my classmates, our teacher Carmen asked somewhat jokingly if any of us could sing a Gregorian chant. i spoke up and said I knew songs in Latin, though they weren’t Gregorian chants. Because I spoke up, this happy music major got the opportunity to sing, solo, in an age old monastery. My classmates and teachers all were surprised and said they enjoyed it, but for me it was the idea of singing in a place where the same words had been sung many times before with such sentiment. I love the thought of traditions and songs that can be passed down to so many people and heard in so many places and times. I really do cherish being able to sing in the Monastery of Toledo.

2. Meeting an adorable old man that makes jewelry. Toledo is famous for their gold plating and inlaid gold, and it really is beautiful. Some friends and I happened upon a shop where a precious old artist showed us how he made the jewelry, offered us student discounts, and was incredible sweet and kind. He really made my trip, and we made his day by asking to take pictures with him.

3. Chasing the sunset. We were able to find a beautiful sunset and look over part of the city. Sometimes I think that life should be measured in the beautiful sunrises and sunsets you see.

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1. La experiencia mejor de todo el mundo era cantando sólo en el monasterio. Durante nuestra tour, mi profesora de arte nos pregunto si alguien puede cantar algo de la música Gregorio. Y por eso, era valiente y cantaba sola en latín por todo mis compañeros. Que feliz estaba como un estudiante de música! Mis profesores y compañeras eran sorprendidos y le gustaban, pero para mi me encanta la idea de ser parte de la tradición de cantando palabras en latín que estaban cantado muchos veces antes que yo. Me encanta que era parte de una tradición, y era una bendición para cantar en el monasterio.

2. Conocí un viejo que fábrica la joyería. Toledo es famoso para un tipo específicos de oro, que es muy bonita. Era muy simpático y sacábamos fotos con el.

3. Mirando el cuando la puesta del sol. A veces creo que es mejor para medir nuestras vidas en cuantos vistas bonitas vemos.

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My typical singing face. Cara típica de cantante.

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The monastery where I sang! El monasterio donde canté.

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The cute old man. El anciano simpatiquísimo.

Sevilla v. Real Madrid

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Let me tell you, attending a soccer game was one of my favorite Spanish experiences thus far. Futbol is a BIG DEAL here, as it should be. Just last night as I was walking home I could hear cheers from bars, homes, and people watching the game on their smartphones as they made their way through the streets. Sevillans sure love their soccer.

Emily and I showed up early to the game, and we encountered a crowd waiting outside. Apparently they were waiting for the bus that brings the players.

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Everyone was already super excited. There were a bunch of police on horses and others keeping people away from the bus. Soccer is a serious matter. We were just happy to finally have our real tickets in hand.

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We went in and found our seats, which were surprisingly a great view! Oh, I forgot to mention that the game started at 10:00 pm on a Wednesday night, which explains how it is possible to watch these games live from North America. The life of a Spaniard. Anyways, we ate our bocadillo picnic and watched the crowd fill in. And fill in it did! We we soon part of a Sevillanista army, the whole stadium full of red and white. Real Madrid didn’t even stand a chance.

The game itself was probably the best soccer I will ever see played. It was super exciting, and now I definitely believe that Spain has some of the finest soccer in the world. Because the game was in Sevilla, the entire crowd (minus a few choice Madrid fans) was rooting for the same team. Here each soccer team has an anthem, and the crowd sang together, chanted together, cursed together, and celebrated together. It was incredible being part of this overwhelming soccer experience. One new experience for me was their distraction tactic: everyone whistling at once, which creates an absolutely horrid sound.

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Though I am not a Madrid fan, one bonus was seeing Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s most famous soccer players. He was there. IN PERSON. I just thought that was cool.

For the longest time, the game was tied 1 to 1, but SEVILLA PULLED THROUGH in the end. That is right, folks! Sevilla beat Real Madrid, the hotshots of the soccer world. I think I am converted into a Sevilla fan forever.

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Ronda

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Ronda is a smaller town about 2 hours from Sevilla. It is the epitome of Spanish; the people, the white houses, the beautiful setting, the history of the town-all Spanish to the max.

Ronda es una pueblo casi 2 horas desde Sevilla. Es demasiado española, las casas blancas, el paisaje, y la historia.

I was privileged to get to experience Ronda (now one of my favorite places on earth) twice in the same week. Both experiences were unique and magical in their own way.

Afortunadamente tenía la oportunidad conocer Ronda dos veces en la misma semana. Los dos experiencias eran maravillosos en su propia manera.

My first trip was with the University of Sevilla choir. We had a concert in the Iglesia Maria Luisa, which I later found our was built in the 15th century and was where royalty used to watch the Corrido de Torros. My day began by chasing a trombonist down the street by my house, because the choir was very relaxed in its ourganization and I was hoping he was going to the same place as me and could help me find the bus. It turns out that he had no affiliation with our group. Whoops. Later, another American in the choir and I followed another choir member down the street and successfully located the bus! Our plan had been to wait for people in black clothes to walk by and follow them to where we were supposed to be. Foolproof.
Para mi primer viaje a Ronda, fui con el corro de la Universidad de Sevilla. Cantábamos un concierto en la iglesia María Luisa, del siglo XV. Al principio del día, no sabía nada sobre nuestra concierto: donde estaré, como llegare, absolutamente nada. Finalmente encontraba una otra americana del corro, y pensábamos en un plan buscar personas vestido todo en negro, y síguelos a nuestra autobús. Somos inteligentes.

Anyways, we explored the city a bit, and then went to the church for our rehearsal, and later concert. I have never performed in a mini-skirt, in a cathedral, frozen because stone does a GREAT job of keeping the Spanish heat outside, standing on a bench rather than risers, or with a Spanish choir. And it was beautiful, in many ways. What struck me was how I was in an entirely new place, but carrying on their tradition. This choir performs the same Mozart requiem at the same church every year. It was a well supported tradition, proved by each seat being full and audience members standing for the full duration of the Requiem, as well as the encore we performed (have you ever heard of an encore to a Requiem???). I was able to partake in this tradition, with people of a different nationality than myself, and in all walks of life, young and old. It was special to sing in a significant place with such significant people, and be a part in this significant tradition.
Explorábamos las ciudad un poquito, y fuimos a la iglesia para ensayar. Nunca en mi vida estaba en un concierto vestido en un mini falda, en una catedral, casi muerto de frío porque la catedral está construido de piedra, de pie en un banco, con un coro de españoles. Era tan bonita. Me encanta la idea de su tradición, y a mi me encanta ser parte de su tradición de cantar este réquiem de Mozart que cantan cada año en el mismo sitio.

The second trip, I went on a day trip with my school. Our grammar professor had explained to us that he never tires of visiting Ronda, and now I can see why. After a picnic lunch accompanied by two great guitarists playing Hotel California and Hey Jude in a Flamenco style (this really exists!), myself and two other friends decided to try and find the waterfall that was located under the bridge where we ate lunch. I had been starving for a piece of nature, and the green fields had already begun feeding my soul. I am so proud to be a part of this creation.
El viaje segundo fui con mi escuela. Comimos nuestros bocadillos con una serenata de Hotel California y Hey Jude en el estilo flamenco, dos amigas y yo buscábamos por una catarata del puente famoso de Ronda. Echo de menos la naturaleza, y en realidad el paisaje, el verde, y una aventura de la naturaleza era una necesidad para mi.

Little did we know, our trip to find the waterfall turned into a full-on, cliff scaling adventure! There are metal rungs in the side of the cliff that you can go down in order to get near the waterfall. The cliff went straight down, so we climbed straight down with it.

Once again, this is one of those “you had to be there to really understand” moments. But the combination of good company, the trust of my new friends as we scaled the cliff, along with the fact that I was wearing a skirt and hiking with my purse, surrounded by the most picturesque scene of Spain, really spoke to me. My friends mentioned how they often think of how much of life they feel like they are truly living in the moment and living to the fullest. My time outdoors and living in a spontaneity that I haven’t been able to easily grasp in Spain made me thankful to be alive and to have chances each day to truly live. We talked about the trust and encouragement we had in each other as we climbed, and how our grand hike was a metaphor for our lives each day in the way that there is encouragement through relationships, and safety in trust.
Era una experiencia que nunca voy olvidar. El sentimiento de confianza y seguridad de mis amigas nuevas en una situación inseguro era impresionante, y estaba en el momento en uno de los más bonitos lugares eh visto en mi vida. Con mi falda y bolsa, no era tan preparada hacer subir y escalar un acantilado, pero tenía una mentalidad de “carpe diem”.

My experiences are my own, but I am glad to have great and thought provoking people to share them with. Cheers to Kelsey and Audrey, who made me sore, scared, appreciative, and pensive. I look forward to thousands more days of truly living.
Mi experiencias son sólo mis experiencias, pero tengo ganas de estar en el momento exacto y tener más oportunidades espontáneos y impresionantes como eso.

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Andorra

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Andorra is a small country on the border of Spain and France. I had no idea it even existed, but I had the privelege of visiting and exploring the town of Andorra la Vella with my friend Olga.

Andora es un pais pequeño entre España y Francia. No tenia idea que lo existe, pero tenia la oportunidad visitarla y conocer la capital Andora la Vella con mi amiga Olga.

It is absolutely beautiful, and sourounded by the Pyrenes mountains.
Es perfectamente bonita, y adentro de los montañas pireneos.

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In Andorra they speak a conglomaration of languages: Spanish, French, Catalan, and English were the ones I recognized. It is popular for the spa, as well as great skiing and other snowy adventures. Here is a summary of my time spent in country number seven on my list.
En Andora hablan bastantes idiomas incluso Español. Frances, Catalan, y ingles. Es una destinacion popular porque la Spa y tambien los lugares esquiar y trek en el nieve. Aqui es un trato de mi tiempo en este pais.

We took a bus from Barcelona to Andoraa, and got a great view of Northern Spain on the way.
Fuimos en bus desde Barcelona a Andora, y vi el paisaje maravillosa del Norte de España.

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We arrived and checked in at our hotel, and searched for somewhere to eat lunch. Lunchtime for a Spaniard is 3:00-4:00, but after arriving at 3:30 nowhere was open! I guess crossing a border can make a big difference. FINALLY we found an open restaurant with tasty sandwiches.
Llegabamos a hotel, y teniamos mucho hambre. Es tiempo almorzar en España es a las 14:00-15:00, pero todas los restaurantes estaban cerrados. Una frontera cambia mucho. POR FIN encontrabamos un bar con bocadillos ricos.

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We returned to the restaurant multiple times to eat, though the waiter thought I was crazy for ordering water to drink and asking for pizza without tomate…apparently tomate is tomato sauce, and not tomato as a topping.
Comimos en este bar muchos veces, pero el camarero no entendio porque quiero beber la agua y comer una pizza sin tomate. Claramente estoy estadounidense…

We cafe hopped a bit and found a lovely patisserie with a much nicer owner. She was great to talk to and educated us about the specialty pastries. I had a yummy buttercake with almonds.
Fuimos a varios cafes y un patiserie con una deuña simpatica. Ella nos explicaba sobre todos los pasteles y postres especiales al region.

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We returned to this place as well and had nutella crepes for breakfast.
Regresabamos comer crepas de nutella.

The second day we continued to explore the city. We went on an AMAZING hike on a pathway that goes around the entire city. The view was spectacular and it was incredible to be in the Pyrenes.
El dia siguente explorabamos la ciudad. Mi parte favorito era una caminata en un sendero alrededor la ciudad en los pireneos. ¡Que vista espectacular!

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We even found some hiking buddies.
Conocimos algunos amigos.

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Later we were delighted to look out the window and see snow. SNOW!!! I missed the snow in Oregon this year so I was completely overjoyed to get a taste. Literally. The snowflakes taste the same in Europe, in case anyone was wondering.
Mas tarde, era nieve! No estaba en Oregon durante la tormenta de nive, y por eso estaba tan emocionada para el nieve.

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They were the biggiest, fluffiest flakes I have ever seen.

We also met some interesting people. I guess they enjoy the snow differently in Andorra?
Conciamos estes personas que tambian les gustan el nieve en una manera…diferente?

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Later that day we spent time in Caldea, the largest and most popular spa. I had never been to a spa before, and it was wonderful to relax after traveling, classes, and constantly thinking in Spanish. The best part was swimming in a warm pool outside in the snow and having the fantastic view of the Pyrenes. It was surely an experience to remember.
Lo mismo dia fuimos a pasar tiempo en Caldea, el spa mas grande y popular. Lo mejor era esta en los aguastermales afuera con los pireneos y la nieve. ¡Que bonita la experiencia!

Semana 8

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I have been in Spain for about 8 weeks, the longest time I have ever been away from Oregon! And clearly I have been a bit behind on my blog posts…sorry to any readers I may actually have! 8 weeks in Spain is enough to have a ton of fun, experience the ups and downs of culture shock, and start to understand how life works in a new culture.

Estuve en España 8 semanas, el tiempo más largo estar afuera de Oregon. Claramente necesito blogear con más frecuencia…lo siento a todos! Durante mis 8 semanas en España tenía muchas experiencias agradables, memorables, y difíciles. Empece entender como es la vida de una cultura nueva.

Here are a few musings.
Aquí están algunas pensamientos.

I am not Spanish. In fact, I am very American. I do American things, have fun in an American way, and sometimes I can’t even stop myself when I know I am about to do something very non-European. I order water at restaurants (and YES i really do want to drink water), I fold my sheets at hostels, and I work my hardest to not smile at people as they walk by as my American mind tells me is correct as a default. I eat fruit for breakfast. I have never been in a country different than my own where I have a chance of blending in with the culture because of my appearance. Because I can visually blend in in Spain (meaning that Europeans generally have a similar skin color and physical features), it has made me realize than my mannerisms, attitude, and way of interacting with others really shows my culture.

No soy española. Por supuesto soy estadounidense. Hago cosas americanas, divertirse en una manera americana, y algunas veces no puedo ser europeo por nada. Por ejemplo, bebo agua en restaurantes, y sonríe a personas en la calle cuando olvido no es un costumbre aquí. Como fruta para el desayuno. Nunca estaba en un país donde mi apariencia no es claramente diferente que las personas que vivan allí. Entiendo que mis acciones y pensamientos son estadounidense, y no sólo es una diferencia de apariencia.

It has made me realize I am from the United States, and feel like being from the United States is the wrong answer in many situations. It has also made me realize that it is okay to be who I am, and it is okay to be from where I am from. Being “American” is not all that I am, but it does play a huge part in the values that I have. Traveling has made me realize that some of my “American values” are great, and are something that I stand for. It has made me realize that the world is not centered around the United States, and that there are certain values that I don’t share with the majority. Most of all, I have discovered that other cultures have values to, and while they are different than what I grew up with, many are great and important, and I hope to use in my life in whatever corner of the world I am in.

Soy de los Estados Unidos, y a veces aquí siento que esto es una respuesta incorrecto.ahora entiendo que es mejor ser quien soy, y soy de mi país y mi estado y mi ciudad. No soy sola estadounidense, pero es un parte de quien soy. Entiendo que algunas valores de mi país son buenísimas, y existen otros valores que no apoyo. El centro del mundo no es los Estados Unidos. Otras culturas tienen valores también, y son diferentes que míos, pero muchas son buenas y importantes, y espero que voy tener una mezcla de valores en mi vida.

Being abroad is hard. The roller coaster of culture shock stages is real, and for me week 8 was about as tricky as it gets. Having a tough time in another country doesn’t mean you want to go home. It means that adjusting to something new on a permanent level is hard, and it is natural to react to it. But however difficult it is, the results and experiences are a million times worth it.

Estar afuera de mi país es difícil. El choque cultural existe! Pero para cada momento difícil hay momentos recordables.

Being abroad is great! Though there are hard moments as mentions before, there are tons of amazing, once in a lifetime moments that make every second worth it. I am learning to value these moments, and to make everyday interactions into memories.

Estar afuera es fantástico! Tengo valor en cada momento de mi tiempo aquí.

There is a carefree attitude that I have developed, which I think is very common to living or studying abroad. Trying new things. Being spontaneous. Being more confident that normal because I will probably never see these people again. Making mistakes all the time, and accepting that I can’t be perfect so I might as well be happy. Just trying things for the sake of it. Not worrying because a million things could go wrong, but chances are the majority of things will go right.

Tengo un actitud nuevo sin preocupaciones que creo es típico cuando estudia o viva afuera. Probar cosas nuevas. Ser espontáneo. Ser mas confidente porque no va a conocer estas personas otra ves un su vida. La aceptación que no voy ser perfecto, y la idea que puedo hacer cualquier cosa sin problemas.

I love Spanish, and I am thrilled everyday at the opportunity I have to speak the language in another country. At the halfway point in the semester, I can look back and see how I have been blessed by being here, and look forward to the blessings that lie ahead.

Me encanta el español, y es una bendición cada día estar en un país que lo hablan siempre. El medio semestre puedo entender que mi tiempo aquí es bonita y especial, y tengo muchas mas oportunidades en las semanas que vienen.

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la iglesia

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I went to church here this morning.

I don’t even have words to describe this experience. I wish pictures could do this Cathedral justice, because this experience really was worth a thousand words.

Everything about the service and the church was grand and powerful. The songs were in Latin, played on a beautiful pipe organ with music that filled the room. The whole experience made me feel so small. Now, being a petite person in general, I usually feel small. But that is one of the things I love about life, feeling so small in the presence of so many great things. That is why I love the beach so much, just to share an existence with the massive expanse of the ocean. I love being so small and insignificant in size, but then remembering how I have such worth and meaning in the eyes of God.
That is how being in this cathedral makes you feel. Tiny. Barely a speck of dust on the face of the earth in the face of something so ornate and massive. Yet I could literally feel the years of history that had passed in this sacred space, taking part in a liturgical service that so many people have taken part in before me, and will take part in years to come. We happened to go to the Cathedral de Sevilla on the Sunday of the Festival of Lights, and we lit candles and followed the leadership of the church as we “Marched in Peace” around the inside of the sanctuary. It was a bit of a magical experience, getting a little private candlelit tour with the rest of the congregation. Marchemos en paz.

If only I could have documented that experience, and the pictures could express the grandiose nature of the Cathedral, and the organ music and chants of the clergy could be heard.

I guess you will just have to come experience it for yourself.

Fui a la iglesia aquí este mañana.

No hay palabras describir la experiencia, especialmente mis palabras en español. Ojalá que los fotos pueden describir algo, porque mi experiencia era tan fantástico.

La misa era muy poderoso y mágico. Los canciones eran en latín, y usaban el organ grande acompañar todos canciones. Sentaba muy pequeño a causa de este experiencia. Bueno, entiendo que soy baja y más pequeñita de la mayoridad de personas, pero eso es algo que me encanta. Me gusta sentir pequeño en la prevención de algo grande y maravilloso, como el mar. Me encanta sentir pequeño y insignificante, cuando realmente yo se que Dios es lo más grande y maravilloso, y soy significante en sus ojos.
Eso es como yo sentía en el catedral. Muy insignificante en un lugar masivo y decoraciones extravagantes. Pero podía sentir todos años de historia, alabanzas, y adoración en este espacio sagrado durante la misa. Por suerte, o bendición, estábamos al Catedral primera vez durante el Festival de Luz, y cada persona tenía un velo y marchábamos en paz por todo el catedral después los líderes de la iglesia. Era un momento mágico tener un tour de catedral con las velas y sacerdotes. Marchábamos en paz.

Ojalá que se puede visitar el catedral y tiene un momento como así.

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