Changing Beings.

travelquote

I have been in Spain for over 4 months now and I’ve been reflecting on aspects of myself that are different since my new life here. I use to think that it was such a cliche to say that people change when they travel, but it really is true. I have noticed so many new things about myself and I have changed in so many ways already in the short time I’ve been here in Madrid. Or maybe, we don’t change, but we discover things about ourselves that we never knew before.

One vast improvement (at least for me) is that I am significantly less shy. I would describe my former shyness as debilitating. Really. I would miss out on opportunities because I was too shy to ask someone a question or for more information. That has definitely changed. While I was in Paris, I had no issues walking right up to people to make sure that I was heading in the right direction or for recommendations of places to eat that were nearby (and I had to do this in French!). This is, by far, the change that I am proudest of since moving to Spain.

Another thing that I have noticed about myself is that I no longer care what other people think about me. It’s so liberating. I use to base so many of my decisions on what I thought the reactions/opinions of others would be. Not anymore. I do and wear and say what I want and I don’t care what others think of it.

Sort of along the same vein as not caring what people think is that I am much more outgoing. This may be due to the fact that I live in a European city where I know next to no one and have the mentality of “when will I ever see these people again?” that causes this…but I like it.

I have also found that I am much less dependent on others to do things that I would like to do. I use to hate doing things on my own – even going to the convenient store. Now, I’ve traveled to Paris and London all on my own. I’m thinking of doing another solo trip to Paris in May because there are so many things I still want to see there. Plus, the puente in May is about 6 days, so I could see the things I want without feeling rushed like I did during my last trip.

All of these things may seem insignificant to others, but I am really proud of my little accomplishments/changes. I hope they stay with me even after I leave Spain.

What things have you discovered about yourself when you’ve traveled?

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New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve been back in Spain for over a week now and it has been nice to get back into the swing of things. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed teaching my students until I went back to work on Tuesday. The kids were a lot more enthusiastic about being back than I had anticipated. And it’s always nice when a group of 11-14 year olds are super excited to see you and are asking you all sorts of questions about your holidays. The only damper on my first week back to school was my terrible jet-lag. I was on Maryland time for the vast majority of the week, which meant that I was terribly sleepy at work and wide awake when I was trying to fall asleep at night. All of that’s over now, though, and I’m back on Spain time.

This past year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for me. I went from not knowing what in the heck I was going to do, to applying to be an auxiliar in Spain, waiting in limbo until I found out whether or not I would be accepted, and then prepping everything for my move to Spain. And in the spirit of this new year, I have decided to make some resolutions for the first time ever. Here are a few of my resolutions for 2013: More

Home.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.

I really love this quote by Lin Yutang, though I don’t think I ever truly could relate to it until now. Being home in Maryland these past few days has been wonderful. I thought I would feel like a stranger in my house, but it’s been amazing to me how quickly I fell back into my old routine. There have been definite moments where I have thought to myself, “Wow, this feels so different than Spain.” Those moments, however, have been more in stores, on the metro, or while watching TV. When it comes to time with my family, however,  it’s like nothing has changed.

When so many people think of “home” they think of their room and their bed or places in their town that they love. Living in Spain these past few months and now returning to Maryland for the holidays has made me realize  that for me my home isn’t my house, my room, or even my state. My home is my family. And it is nice to come to this realization. When I started this Spain adventure, I thought that maybe I’d like it so much that I’d want to stay in Spain/Europe for a few years (and I would certainly like to do another year in the BEDA program), but I don’t think I can ever see myself settling down in a place where my family is not. I know that for many people that is not the case, they could settle down anywhere and be fine with just seeing their family every once in awhile. That is just not the case with me. And I am okay with that.

I leave for Spain again in a few days and I plan to enjoy the rest of my time there to the fullest and make as many memories as possible, but I love the fact that I know that in a few months I will be reunited once again with my family. I don’t care if we are in Maryland, Spain, Puerto Rico, or Timbuktu, as long as I am with family, I’m home.

London Calling!

For the people who really know me, they are well aware that I am a huge Anglophile. It all began when I was 10 years old and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. From that point forward, my love/obsession with England only increased. When I knew for sure that I would be doing BEDA in Spain, one of the first things I told my friends and family was that I would finally be able to travel to London. Two weeks ago, during the puente, I was finally able to travel to this wondrous place!

Upon arriving, the first thing I did was take the metro to my hotel so that I could drop off my bags. The metro for my hotel was King’s Cross Station (Yes, as in the King’s Cross from Harry Potter) so you can imagine my excitement. I had found out a few days before that there are Chipotles in London, so my first order of business was finding the Chipotle closest to me. I think that when I walked in through the door of Chipotle I could faintly hear the angels singing. Here is a picture of my bowl before and after: More

Paris! Sorry That This Post is So Long (I Think It’s the First Time I’ve Used the “Read More” Option).

People who know me well are aware that I am obsessed with 3 cities: Madrid, London, and Paris. I am currently living in one of my dream cities and I was lucky enough to visit another last week during the long weekend. Paris was everything I dreamed it would be and then some.

I’d heard from so many people that have been to Paris that I would be disappointed when I saw the Eiffel Tower in person. Well, they were wrong. I was a like a giddy school girl the entire time I was at the Eiffel Tower. I could not stop smiling. People probably thought I was a little crazy. I can’t even fathom someone being unimpressed by the tower. The Iron Lady is beautiful and awe-inspiring! I managed to ask an Italian girl that was sight-seeing with her mother to take a picture of me:

After my stop at the Eiffel Tower, I meandered over to the Musée d’Orsay. I can definitely say that the Musée d’Orsay is my favorite museum. I LOVED it. I know so many people love the Louvre, but the Musée d’Orsay has such charm! Plus the exhibition they had while I was there was impressionist paintings, which I love!!  More

10 Things I Miss from the Good Old US of A.

I’ve been here in Madrid for a month and a half now and I think that’s plenty of time to realize certain things you miss from back home. Here is my list:

1.

Chipotle. I would give anything to be able to have a carnitas bowl with some guac.

2. Punctuality. It is very well-known here that Spaniards aren’t the best at being punctual. If a Spaniard tells you that they’ll meet you at a restaurant around 2 for lunch…expect them at 3. That’s just the way things are around here. I’m very big on being punctual, so this is a bit of an adjustment for me.

3. Eating Times. I miss having lunch at noon and dinner around 6. This whole lunch at 2 or 3 and then dinner around 9 (and that’s early) is rough for me.

4. Stores, restaurants, and banks being open the entire working day. I can’t get use to places closing here for the siesta. And banks closing at 2:30? What is up with that? Most people work here until around 4 or 5, so when do they have time to go to the bank? Thankfully, my bank is open late on Thursdays, so I know that’s the only day I can go to the bank.

5.

American TV. I really miss watching my TV shows as they air live. I enjoy things like sitting down on Thursdays at 9 to watch the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Also, it’s very easy to get spoiled here since all of my friends have seen the episode before me. I have to be super cautious while browsing facebook in the morning so I don’t get spoiled.

6. Movies. Most films here get released much later than in the US and you have to really hunt for a place that will play them in English. I can’t deal with dubbed movies. It is not the same. I’m dying to see Perks of Being a Wallflower and there isn’t even a mention of when it’s going to be released here in Spain. Just to give you an idea of how much later movies come out here: Magic Mike came out over the summer in the USA and it just came out last weekend here.

7. American sports. I love the Yankees and I love the Steelers. Not being to watch a lot of the games/having to watch them by streaming them on my laptop is no fun. My Yankees are the in the playoffs right now and I’m generally sleeping when the games are being played  😦

8. Target and Kohl’s. Those are my two go-to stores in the US and they don’t have them here. I miss them so much…it’s really kinda pathetic. OH and I miss Bath&Body Works. I mainly miss the wall plug-ins/candles. I keep getting emails from them talking about candle sales for fall and they make me sad.

9. Kraft Mac and Cheese. I know that I can find it in places like Taste of America, but it’s ridiculously expensive! I miss being able to get a bulk pack at Costco for cheap. And there is no mac and cheese as good as the blue box.

10. Family (including dog) and Friends. This goes without saying. My family and friends are, by far, what I miss the most here in Spain. And the time difference can make it difficult to call/skype/facetime people. This is my current background on my laptop:

I miss my doggy 😦

Now, I will say that there are also many things that I prefer about Spain and wish we had in the US. However, that’s for a different post.

What things do you all find you miss from home while abroad?

Toledo in Pictures.

When you click on a picture in the gallery, on the bottom right, there should be an option to see the pictures in their full size right underneath where it says what type of camera was used for the picture.

Anyway, I highly recommend going to Toledo. It is culturally diverse and so beautiful. The cathedral alone is worth the trip.

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