This post is long past due and something I have wanted to do for more than a month now. Here are 12 awesome things from 2012. Without further ado, here they are in chronological order.
Madison with the BF: I spent the week after New Year’s with my my boyfriend. I spent the week being shown off (introduced) to family and friends and exploring the beautiful city of Madison, WI.
Dance Marathon: I danced FTK (for the kids) at U Iowa’s Dance Marathon. A 24 hour dance celebration (participants are not supposed to sit for down from 6 pm Friday night until 6 pm Saturday night.)that works to raise money for children’s cancer. (more info here) It was one of the hardest experiences of my life. I didn’t make it all the way. I confess. I almost feinted at the end from exhaustion. I would not trade if for the world. I don’t think I will do it again.
Jar meal: My BF and I save all of the money we find, or bet each other, for fun spending only. Slowly quarters, nickles and dimes go into the jar. Our first jar money purchase was a meal for under 10 dollars.
Easter: My best friends and I continued our tradition of celebrating Easter together. After a month of lent it felt great to cook meat and sweets to share with friends.
Being the National Communication’s Coordinator (NCC) for The University of Iowa Associate Residence Halls (ARH) This one doesn’t really have a time, it is several things in one. In 2012 that meant winning the school of the year award in our region, along with several others. That meant organizing three different schools to go together to Boulder, CO. That meant all of the great memories with ARH and NRHH
Hunting and Fishing with my dad: Maybe this makes me SUPER Midwestern Maybe this makes me sentimental. Maybe those things are both true, but either way, I am always happy to spend what time I can just my dad and I doing our things. Be it fish, foul, or bear.
Moving to Spain: I won’t blither on about this too much. Read back posts if want that (joking…mostly). Let me just say it has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life. It all began here (if you are interested)
Madrid: Our first trip with CIEE, just a few weeks into our program, we were off to Madrid for a long weekend. We bonded as a group and I began to realize what this was all about. Check out my post from the time, Madrid in My Lense.
Peninsula with the parentals: Spending the holidays with my Dad and Connie was great. It was great to get to see them again. It was enchanting to spend Christmas in Segovia, and the New Year in Madrid.
1. Photo crashing BF in Madison.
2. Posing for dance marathon with amigas.
3. The food (minus a few things)
3. The man who finds the money holds the money
3. We really didn’t cheat on this one
4. ARH Board of Directors 2012-2013
4.The three Iowa delegation’s in Boulder, CO. for the international residence hall associations conference
5. Foul hunting with my dad, “uncles”, and cousin.
6. Fishing with my dad and favorite dog, Buddy.
7. My first real glimpse of the island of Mallorca. I didn’t know what I was getting my self into yet.
8. I am as fierce as a bull in Madrid.
8. Floating Building and Garden Walls: Group Photo of our CIEE group
9. A night walk in Stockholm. Sweden
9. Our second day in Uppsala we went for a bike ride.
10. New Year’s in the Plaza del Perta de Sol. Madrid.
10. During our day trip to see the roman aqueducts in Segovia.
I was a prepping goddess when it came to studying abroad, if I do say so myself. I read and I researched and I still got it wrong. So maybe not so much on the goddess part. Well here are my top ten essential, and often forgotten, things to pack for studying abroad. Please note I will try to be general in my list, but this is based on my experiences in Palma de Mallorca, Spain and not everything may apply to your program.
My mediterranean snow.
This is THE biggest peice of advise that I can give. Bring something from home that makes you feel at home. It dosen´t matter how silly it is. Just do it. You are about to step into another world where nothing makes sense, bring something that reminds you you are ok and centers you. I brough pictures from home, snow ornaments, which I hung up when the first snow fell in MN, and a stuffed otter my boyfriend gave me. There have been moments when I have needed all of these things to help keep me centered and when I don´t need them, they are still nice to have around.
A rain coat that can fit something warm underneath. I brought a great rain coat at REI (this one) Buy one if you don´t have one and buy one you like. When I have traveled there has always been rain and it is one of the most warn peices I own. Plus I have a great polarfleece that fits under it. Whit this combination I was more than warm enough when I visited Sweden in November, though if you are going where there is actual snow you may want a real winter jacket.
House shoes. Also known as slippers. If you are living in the mediterranean, or at the very least, in Spain, your host family will expect you to wear these at all times in the house, without exception. If you are traveling any time that is not the summer the tile floors will be cold and they will be nice to have. I promise. In the summer just use your shower shoes around the house.
Shower shoes. Also known as flip flops. Buy a pair for when you travel. It is not really every apropriate to go bear foot in a hostel and you don´t want to be without these babys in their showers, trust me. Buy a cheep pair. They are worth more than the few pennies you will spend.
A chico bag.
I have the blue one with birds!
These things are AMAZING! They are heavy industrial bags which hold a ton. I use mine in the states too and I can get groceries for a week for one person, with extra room, in mine at any given time. When not in use they fold up into their own little bag, which is attached to the bag so you don´t loose it. There is a little clip attached as well so I just clip it to the inside of my purse. These are especially nice for studying abroad for a million reasons, but I´ll just keep it to two. 1. They charge for bags in europe all the time. This is your cute solution, they have more manly colors too it that is an issue. 2. They are the perfect beach bag. It holds my towel, lotion, lunch and drink, often a bottle of wine or beer, without any problem. Plus I don´t have to worry about getting my nicer bag dirty or sandy. Find your bag here.
A host gift. This you will want to have when you arrive to stay with your family. If you are not living with a family disregard. Your gift does not need to be lavish or large, it should just be a little bit of where you came from. Make sure to pack a small something that is good for all ages, just in case your family has kids. I brought: photo book of my home state, jam my aunt made, and a magic growing moose (which was the biggest hit). Tip: Make sure you know how to describe it in the language you will communicate in. I had to look up raspberry.
My fave. pen in da world.
If you have a strong preference for school supplies bring your own. To assume that the rest of the world writes notes like where you are from is a false one. For example in Spain you are not likely to find G2 pens or refill lead for mechanical pencils, some things that irk me. Also if you like lined paper, be prepared to search, it is likely line free or gridded. Though if you choose to explore the local note taking style you just might find something you love.
*LADIES ONLY* Bring your own supplies. You know what I mean. They don’t sell them or if they do they sell them 10 at a time at 10 times the price. Find the room, you can fill the empty space with goodies to bring home from your travels. This is NOT the area to live like the locals. Not if you don’t want weird looks when shopping or to replace your intimates all the time.
A digital camera. You may not use it all the time, but there will be that one trip where you want it. You might be off to the amazon, or a safari, or Stonehenge. You will want pictures. If you are super into photography, bring two, your nice one and your I might not cry if I destroy it camera. For me the is a large DSLR and a small point and shoot. I can take HD when I want and I can take beach shots without worrying that I will destroy hundreds of dollars of photography equipment. If nothing else your family and friends will want to see pictures, so take a few to post to the book of faces.
In the end bring your dreams and goals. Well duh you say, but I will add one thing to this conventional words of wisdom I will add this. Write them down. Write down these early feelings of amazement, of hope, of dreams. Keep them somewhere where you can look at them regularly. There will be times you get lost in life, writing them down helps you remember what an amazing journey you are about to embark on. Embrace it. It will change you and try you, inspire you and do to you all the things I can not put words to.
If you are studying abroad or have studied abroad do you have any other recommendations? Just packing your bags to leave? Feel free to post your packing questions and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
I hope this helps you and, as they say in Spain, buen viaje!
It is the great day of turkey and thanks in the US right now and my feeling of nostalgia and homesickness are at a new high for me. This will be the first holiday that I will miss with my family, ever. To be honest I have been missing all of the things and people I left at home and wish I could visit, at least for Thanksgiving. In all of these moments of self pity about being half way around the world I thought it was an opportune moment to reflect on the top 10 things I am grateful for here in Spain.
First and foremost I am grateful for the parents who support me financially and emotionally, the friends who don’t make me feel like I am missing out too much, and a boyfriend who is patient and kind.
My family here in Palma, they make me feel loved and are ever patient with me. Plus, my madre is a great cook, which makes my stomach SUPER happy.
That I get the chance to study in one of the most beautiful places on earth. A place which is so unlike where I am from and in which I find new things to delight me every day.
The two little rat dogs that have stolen my heart and are warming my lap as I write this. They are so ugly they are cute and they are as sweet as can be.
My bus pass. It is nearly impossible for Americans to get one, but CIEE worked tirelessly to get through the red tape of Spain. Now I pay 1/4 of the cost each month to get to and from school, I get to use the fast lane, AND my card beeps when I use it.
Skype. this one might be cheating a little, but I am REALLY grateful for it. It lets me see and talk to family 5,000 miles away and last time I checked that was pretty amazing.
Snail mail. I have always loved getting letters and packages, but hear they have taken on such a greater importance. Each time one comes it is like someone is sending me a little bit of themselves. I read letters over and over. I even open packages in a new way, more slowly and with more appreciation because they are so hard to send to Spain.
Fire places. My family may not turn their heat on when it gets cold, but there is almost always a fire in the fire place at night. Plus we grill in the fireplace at least once a week. I never expected a luxury like a fireplace and it always make me feel all warm inside.
I cannot forget all of my friends here in Spain. They make my life crazy and keep me a little more sane and centered.
That I get cook not only my first Thanksgiving meal, but that I am going to get to share it with all of my friends here in Palma, for many of whom this will be their first Thanksgiving.
Dinner with the gang: pan roasted chicken, roasted sweet corn, broccoli, garlic mashed potatoes, fresh bread, fried onions and garlic, local Swedish beer. Yeah we are pretty awesome.
People looked like ME! I was starting to feel comfortable with the fact that everything about Europe was different from me, including how people look. My first day in Sweden I was tempted to point at people and tell my friends “LOOK there’a another one,” every time someone walked past.
Northern Minnesota and the Swedish country side could be twins.
When we got to the airport we had to walk for like 3 min on the tarmac at night. Don’t believe Ryanair when they tell you the airport is in Stockholm.
People kept expecting me to speak Swedish. I don’t, but I realized what it must be like for the people in our group with mediterranean blood who always get mistaken for spaniards.
Halloween partying in Uppsala. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was surprised and had a FABULOUS time dancing the night away in a college town.
4:30 PM. That is when it got dark in Sweden. It was the closest I have ever been to the arctic circle and you could tell by the way the light changed.
Diego. My uncle Dave’s friend who I had lunch with in Stockholm. He is a Spanish expat and we had an amazing meal and shocked all the swedes by talking loudly in Spanish.
The food. There is not a lot in my diet back home that closely resembles Mallorcan food, the opposite was true in Sweden. Oh and the food was delicious too.
“Family” Dinner. All of my friends and I made a giant dinner together one night. One of my friends even fried onions in butter for the first time in her life.
Sweden. I never expected to see Sweden while I was here. It was beautiful, welcoming, and I LOVED it.