September 30, 2018

What is the Permanence?

While in Spain I have been joyous, surprised, sick, nostalgic, worried, elated, confused, tired… the list goes on. I could cycle through all these emotions in one day, one week, and now, one month. Emotions are constantly changing and sometimes I can’t even put a word to what it is I feel either in my body or my soul. Sometimes they can definitely be out of alignment, and that is normal. Experiencing two different sensations, in two different languages, leaves room for exploration and understanding of what is actually going on.

I move through my days in the wake of my heart, meaning what’s on my mind, will show. When I want to share my glee or my sorrows, I have two choices. In my Spanish homestay, I have the choice to retreat to my room, or work through them with those around me, in Spanish. Sometimes the emotions have been so obvious, my host Mom will want to know what made my day or knock on my door and ask what it is on my mind and if I want to talk.

I have always chosen to share.

In Spanish there are two verbs that we conjugate to mean, “I am.” One is permanent (ser) and one is temporary (estar). The “two meanings” can be noted between “I am from the United States” (Soy de los Estados Unidos), and “I am very excited” (Estoy muy emocionada).

When I say I’m from the United States, that’s something that is a characteristic of mine that won’t change, so we use the verb, ser. On the other hand, my emotions will. When I think about what I will say to someone when we’re conversing about a feeling or state of being, in this one particular moment, we use the temporary verb, estar.

Sometimes all it’s taken for me to let go of the unease or discomfort from the feeling of being hopeless is to think about what I’m feeling, in Spanish. When I realize that my state of being and the adjectives I’m using to describe myself are something that is in constant motion, I stop and remind myself;

everything is temporary.

Spain and Spanish continue to remind me of this, each day I wake up here.

Emotions are temporary and can change in a minute. This is why I have chosen to devote my time while I spend abroad to embracing what I can, while at the same time letting it go. Both the good and bad, the easy and challenging, the sweet and sour. We cannot have one without the other, so we might as well try to make friends with both.

Studying abroad is pushing me to live each moment like it’s fleeting, because it is. I only have so much time in Spain, and this, this is absolutely the time to have the most positive attitude I can. I want to soak in all the delight and learn from the trials.

xo, Hallie

September 18, 2018

Day Trip to Peñiscola

Just about an hour and a half drive from Valencia, Peñiscola (peninsula in English) is an old town known for it's castle, Greek & Roman history, and it's appearance in Game of Thrones. The buildings are white, the mood is calm, quiet, and the Mediterranean extends as far as the eye can see. We enjoyed a relaxed day touring the castle and hanging on the beach.

I realized on this trip I love listening to the sound of the waves with my eyes closed because it's a guided meditation in itself.

Water, specifically salt water, the thing that is most ample on Earth, connects to the pattern that makes us live when it reaches land, (our home).

It almost feels as if the water holds us when we swim.

xo, Hallie

September 15, 2018

9 Things to do in Valencia, España

Hola from Valencia! I have the opportunity to study abroad here for the next three months. I've been here for a couple weeks now and starting to adjust to the different lifestyle, customs, language, and city. It feels like a dream. Time simultaneously feels stopped in the moment and spanned throughout a lifetime. I always knew I wanted to study abroad and I the first place that came to me was Spain. I first started studying Spanish throughout my four years of high school. I continued studying Spanish in college, and now I'm here taking five classes, completely taught in Spainsh, to come back to the States to finish a few more classes and have a major in the Spanish Language. It just made sense. 

A few things that I'm adjusting to right now are the timing of meals (and the type of food), the slow pace we keep throughout conversations and "plans," and of course, learning how to move in the city by means of transportation, conversations in Spanish, and operations in life with my host family and new spaces.

Within the first couple weeks, we've done a lot of exploring! I want to share a few favorite things we've done so far.

1. Enter the City: Torres de Serranos
This is one of two entrances to the center of the city that were built in the 14th century. As a medieval town, Valencia was surrounded by a wall. This will take you to the historic district which is home to the bustle and energy of the city.

 2. Visit Barrio del Carmen & Colón
The Carmen Neighborhood is the heart of the city. It's cute and combines the historical buildings and feel to the modern activity of today. You will also find Colón street which is an area where you'll find a lot of retail shops and people. The older architecture takes my breath away after each corner we turn.

 3. Pick up groceries at El Mercado Central
The biggest and most beautiful market in Valencia, you'll be able to find almost any fresh fruit, veggie, meat, fish, or bread you need.

 4. See the skinniest building in Europe!
While walking in the historic district near the central market, we actually just happened upon it! It's about 3 ft wide and I'm not sure if anyone lives there anymore.

 5. G-E-L-A-T-O
Duh! There is a different protein in the milk here, so my tummy is happy. Gelato is always a must to cool off while enjoying the sounds on a bench in the center.

 6. Walk into the next café you see
We were looking for coffee so instead of resorting to our map to find one close to us, we just told ourselves that we would go into the next one we saw. It ended up being the next shop in our route and we found ourselves here. It's so rewarding to find scrumptious places on your own!

 7. Walk along the bridges: La Puente de Las Flores
There are eight bridges in Valencia that connect the north to the south over a dried up river bed. This one, lined with flowers, is my favorite so far! They are real flowers and they get changed out for special events and the seasons. I'm excited to be here for a bit to see a new color scheme!

 8. Spend time in green space: Jardín del Turia
Valencia is a vibrant city with athletic people. There are always people walking, running, or riding bikes in the old river bed. It's now a garden area with pathways, ponds, and palm trees. It's a beautiful place to enjoy the sunshine while having shady options too!

9. Be Spontaneous: Jump In a la Playa de Malvarrosa
One of our first nights here we went to the beach and ran into the Mediterranean Sea. The water was warm and it felt like a hug. I definitely want to go back with nothing and hang in the water a while to float in the salty sea.

xo, Hallie
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