Saturday, April 28, 2012

This is How the Story Ends...

"A man usually finds his destiny on the road he took to avoid it"


I can't believe I am about to say this, but this will be the last official post for my study abroad experience. It's been a long and short 3 months, and I find myself completely torn on how to feel. They should give you an emotional handbook to these things. Unfortunately, there's not and I'm left to wrestle with my feelings on here with you guys. There are so many things I have on my mind, and I'd like to share what I've learned from doing this. But first, some housekeeping.


First, I want to thank anyone who kept up with this blog. If i ever made you laugh or even think, then I've done my job as a writer. The goal was to keep a comprehensive journal with authentic entries. I have never lied in this blog. Every thing I've said has been true. I hope you've enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed writing. I am also considering keeping a blog once I get back, but we will see. As always, I'd love your feedback. 


We will leave Trujillo on April 29 for Madrid. We'll be in Madrid until May 2, then fly to Atlanta. I will get off in Atlanta and thankfully am being driven to Fort Mill by a friend. If anyone is really anticipating my arrival (ha!) I should reach Charlotte at 8 or 9.


The first things I suppose I'll start with is the intense amount of growth I've noticed in myself during this time. And I'll preface that with this: studying abroad is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Those who say it is easy are lying. Because they never put that on the brochure. Among talking about travel, new friends, and new experiences, they don't usually say, "oh, and by the way, you're actually leaving all your friends to go somewhere you've never been with people you've never met and OH they don't speak English." Who the hell would go? But unfortunately, as I've discovered, you rarely figure out how strong you really are while staying in your comfort zone. If I had a penny for every night I cried in my bed, well, I wouldn't be flying coach to the US. But that's the weird thing: crying only lasts for so long, and at some point you realize that it's sink or swim.
Most of the time, you'll swim. I never would've believed that I could live with a family, learn to comprehensively speak Spanish and travel all over Spain alone. But I did. And the big lesson: you are so much stronger than you think, if you only believe it. 
One of my favorite quotes is this:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is so true, and I don't know if I would have ever figured that out on my own. These three months feel surreal. like they're something I could've only dreamed about. I've stood on top of a mountain, and heard my name echo through the canyons. I've seen sacred altars and images. And these are moments I'll never forget. Every now and then you get the chance to do something incredible, and be changed for the better. Without this program, I would never have met my family, and now I can't imagine my life without them. Because you're not just a student to them; they don't do this for the money. They pick you up and immediately give you a key to their house, no questions asked. The trust is immediate, and the bond is instant. You mean so much to them. Their ways are different, their food is different and their language is different. But their love for you is the exact same. Love and family transcend all barriers, and they are more powerful than you could ever realize. 


But here's what I've figured out study abroad is about.
It's not about traveling
It's not about the family
It's not about the language
It's not about making people believe in you.
It's about making you believe in yourself. 

So what's my sage advice now that I can say I've lived in a foreign country? I feel now that having traveled to Portugal, England, the Netherlands and all over Spain i have at least a little credit to my name. My advice to anyone considering study abroad is that if you're waiting for a good time to go, you'll never find one. Studying abroad means putting your entire life on hold. The good news is, the people who matter will be there when you get back. 
But my advice to you, no matter who you are, is quite simple. Ironically, the best advice usually is. And it is the exact same advice my Dad gave to me. These words are more powerful than I ever could imagine, and I just now realize that.
My advice to you, is and will always be:
Just get on the plane. 
No matter how scared you are
Just get on the plane.

Campers, It's been a pleasure to write about my adventures. But it's time for this stranger to leave a new found home for her homeland. 

-Celeste Seymore

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Some Final Photos

Hey everybody,
Just wanted to post some final pics of "headquarters" before I have to pack it up for the big trip home. I really appreciate all the letters I've gotten, they mean a lot to me! Can't wait to see everyone soon!!
Btw, today was the last day of exams so I am pleased to report that I am officially done!! And also officially a senior (whoa....) 



Hell week is thankfully over!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Galicia

So, this was our final trip (crazy right??) before we make the big puddle jump to America. We left Thursday and headed towards Orense, a city in the province of Galicia. A little geography to put things into perspective: we headed north to the mountains. We drove a little, arrived in the college town of Salamanca, and then continued to Santiago de Compostela, where we stayed the night. We got the amazing chance to walk on the roof of the Cathedral here. We're talking walking on shingles here. If you know me, you also know I'm not a fan of heights, but I survived. We also saw the excavations under the church which were also REALLY cool. Dead people=awesome. From there, we returned to Orense for a night, and then it was on to the mountain town of San Xo'an. And when I say mountain, I mean mountain. We stayed on the peak of a mountain for a brief and VERY cold night and then returned back through Salamanca on our way home to Trujillo. I'll let the pictures do the talking :)

Salamanca

Salamanca

Move, please

so I can take the same pic :)


Santiago de Compostela

Trying to be artsy



The roof of Santiago de Compostela




Santa Trega. The land across the river is Portugal!



Sick ride, right?
Peak of Santa Trega



San Xo'an: where we ALMOST froze to death



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monfragüe: Nature for Breakfast


The wildness that has been Semana Santa did not stop today, because we all laced up our hiking boots and headed to Monfragüe National Park this morning for a hike. The park is extremely beautiful, but its safe to say everyone got their workout. It's safe to say we will all be super sore tomorrow. But the views we found made up for all our climbing :) Enjoy!
Grass

Kat and I

These shoes were made for walkin'....
Yay!
Rocks




Monday, April 9, 2012

No One does Easter like Spain



Wow....to sum up my first Easter in Spain, all I can say is wow.....
So, when one usually imagines Easter, they think about Church services, cute frilly socks, dresses, Lunch, and Easter eggs. Well, let me just assure there were no Easter eggs here. When I returned to Trujillo Saturday, I got home just in time for Chiviri. Chiviri, which I never figured out why they call it that, is the celebration that only occurs in Trujillo for Easter. Easter is a day of celebration in Spain, because as we all know Jesus rose from the  grave. (I did my research campers).
And celebrate we did. Cause if there's one thing Spain knows how to do, it's party.

It all started Saturday night, where around midnight everyone took to the plaza for dancing and music. This is the one event to my knowledge where public drinking is ok, so everyone brings their alcohol with them. However, glass is not allowed, so various plastic containers were being used. I knew I brought my camelbak to Spain for a reason :) So, we filled our water bottle with wine and what not, and took to the streets. This party went on until about 6 AM, and then it was back home for a quick nap, because the next day was Easter, or Pascua. Everyone woke back up and prepared for the biggest party I have ever seen. My host sister and I dressed in the traditional Easter garb. And let me tell you, it took about ten minutes to get into that thing with a LOT of help from my Madre. There's plenty of pictures, but basically it consisted of socks, bloomers, petticoat, skirt, shirt, and corset. Apparently the Spanish don't believe in breathing. Again, everyone takes their trusty alcohol filled water bottles and head to the plaza for dancing and drinking. This party started around 1 PM and didn't end till about 9 PM. And let me assure you, that is a long time to be drinking in a corset. 
But, when in Spain, right? :)
After 8 hours of partying, I dragged myself home, cut myself out of my costume and passed out. 
So, enjoy the pictures! This is the most crowded I have ever seen Trujillo. Many tourists come for Chiviri. We met many visiting Americans and one Brit who won our hearts, and mocking comments. 
It was at this moment I realized how lucky I am to be here, and how I will most likely never experience an event like this again. I also can't believe I only have 23 days left in Spain.
Sorry, USA, but you'll never beat Spain when it comes to Easter.









Stephanie, also in costume

Oh, corsets....









Saturday night



Before


The Madness

Classic