Passport to Paris

Here’s the way overdue Paris blog. With the semester starting to wrap up things are getting busy. 

Because of our lack of planning skills, our flight to Paris left at 3:15 when I’m not usually done with classes until 4:30. So I was forced skip the majority of my history class and Latin Rhythms. Given that we only had 4 more classes until the performance at the time, I was a little panicked. I couldn’t allow myself to complain too much because it was our fault and we were going to PARIS.  We landed in Paris around 8pm leaving us enough time to grab dinner and plan out our weekend before crashing for the night. 

First on our must-do list was the Eiffel Tower. Before I go into too much detail about our first tourist hot-spot, let’s talk about how we got there. A bunch of people at school had already been to Paris and were giving us advice when they told us that the metro system was so relaxed. To suggested that we buy the 10-pass and conserve it all weekend, squeezing 2 or 3 people in on one ticket. It was a struggle, but we fit Jess, Rachael, and me in the turnstile on one ticket. We were exiting at the Eiffel Tower stop when we metro security demanded to see our tickets prior to leaving. I was holding the one validated ticket, so I got off ok, but Jess and Rachael were each slapped with a 45 euro fine. Obviously I didn’t let them take all the blame, and we split the 90 euro debt between the 3 of us. What a welcome to Paris!! Not only did this put a damper on our day, but so did the cloudy/foggy weather Paris was having. After that obstacle, we continued on our way to the Eiffel Tower. My first view of it was super anti-climactic. It was so foggy/cloudy that we couldn’t see half of it! Needless to say, we were a little bummed with the events of the day so far. 

Near the tower there were these lines of bear statues representing and decorated by every country. We had a good time guessing which bear belonged to which country before we realized they were in alphabetical order; that kind of ruined the fun. Of course, we had to strike a pose with the USA bear when we stumbled upon it. After marveling at all the countries’ creativity, we were off to the Arc de Triomphe. We’ve seen one in almost every other country, but they’re all modeled after this arc of arcs. It’s like all the others were merely preparing us for the astonishing Arc de Triomphe. We snapped our pics before taking over the rest of Paris. Next on our list was the Sainte-Chapelle. It was small but mighty; one of the prettiest churches I’ve seen in my 3 months here. And that’s saying something taking into account I saw 10 churches in Rome alone. First of all, there’s a statue of St. Louis on the first floor. The upstairs was almost all stain glass depicting the entirety of the Bible. Starting with Genesis, each panel of stain glass represented a book of the Bible and encircled the chapel. At the back of the church was a special representation of Revelation, the Rose of the Apocalypse. 

Being the 90s kids that we are, we couldn’t leave Paris without seeing Notre Dame. As we were walking there, we laughed to ourselves about how we probably wouldn’t know as much about it if it hadn’t been for Disney. So Walt, we thank you. Notre Dame was fabulous, gargoyles and everything. There were even a plethora of pigeons outside where 2 ladies fed them. They flocked around all the tourists searching for food. I almost got to hold one! 

We’d hit up a good majority of our touristy hot spots and spent the rest of the day roaming the streets of Paris, stopping to get crepes along the way. Jess was in search of a winter coat for our upcoming Germany trip. Our friend told us about this thrifty, trendy area so strolled the streets scoping out some good sales. With our bad sense of direction and unusual misfortunes, we weren’t able to locate the cheap shopping district. Instead, we settled with dinner and crepes for dessert. I love crepes!!!! Nothing beats nutella and banana. With our stomachs full, it was time to call it quits.

Saturday we took a train to Versailles. Yes, the Palace of Versailles!! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing all of the things I learn about in my history classes. Throughout this whole semester my history class has been talking about King Louis and the French Revolution. It is 876534x more interesting to learn about these things when I have the historical visuals right in front of my eyes. Because our visas are good for a 6-month stay, we’re considered members of the European Union and were able to get into the Palace for free! We even got free audio guides, compared to other museums and such it was a steal! It took us almost the entire day to walk through the Palace and we didn’t even get to see everything. The property was bigger than I could’ve ever imagined. How one family felt the need to take up that much space is unfathomable to me. Rooms on rooms on gardens on fountains. It was overwhelming. The gardens themselves were probably larger than the entirety of SLU’s campus. Since it was another dreary day in France, none of the fountains were turned on and a little bit of beauty escaped the Palace. It was a long day of walking; by the end we were dead. We left the property and recuperated at a crepe shop. On our way back to the train station we came across an outdoor market which we just couldn’t pass up. I swear if I lived in Europe for the rest of my life I would have way too many clothes. Everything is just so cute!! I was the proud owner of a brand new sweater before we left Versailles. 

By the time we got back to Paris, it was dark enough outside so that we could get our much anticipated look of the lit-up Eiffel Tower. We stared in awe. Our first anticlimactic view made the lit up version 0987654x better. Just when I didn’t think it could be more awesome, it started twinkling, every hour. It was magical. Unable to resist, we just had to go to the top that night. We rode the elevator all the way to the top and got the best view of Paris night life. We hung out up there for a while, realizing how lucky we were to be living out this dream. 

Sunday we spent our day admiring the works of art in the Louvre. We asked the receptionists at our hostel how much time we should set aside for the museum and he jokingly suggested 3 years. So, there was no way we were going to be able to see all of it in the 4 hours we had planned. We did our best to see the main attractions including the Mona Lisa and armless Aphrodite statue. Of course, we had to imitate all the art; I perfected Mona’s smile. 

We needed an energy boost after our 4 hour hike through the Louvre so we stopped for some crepes before seeing the Love Lock Bridge. It wasn’t a long walk from the Louvre, but we got lost and made it one before we finally found the famous bridge. Every chain link on that bridge has at least one lock strapped to it with the a couple’s initials scripted on the side. The idea is to put the lock on the fence and throw the key into the river, how romantic. As we were wandering across the bridge, awe struck at the amount of locks, we witnessed a man propose to his girl friend. It was so cute!! They even asked us to take some pictures for us. It was so adorable listening to them on the phone calling all of their relatives to spread the good news. Lovestruck, we headed back to the hostel to pick up our bags before hopping on a bus to the airport. We got back late Sunday night so it was nice to be able to sleep in our beds before running to class in the morning. 

Paris was fabulous. I’d have to say that I enjoyed getting crepes after every meal more than gelato. I just loved them! This whole going to a new country every weekend is so much to take in. Sometimes I have to remind myself where I am and which language to speak. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped into someone in another country and said “lo siento” (I’m sorry). Or when we return to Madrid and madre serves us dinner and I say “merci”. It’s getting so confusing! Such an abroad problem. I don’t think it’s hit me yet; all of the things I’ve been doing. It’s unreal. I feel like I’m going to get home and be like, “Did those 4 months really just happen?” I’m not looking forward to that day. But it’s not over yet! After Paris came London. 

What a weekend. 

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Molly Who?

I promise that I will blog about Paris, but I have a lot of things to write about in this moment. 

I’ve had so many experiences abroad that I can’t even try to sum up how much I’ve changed, for the good. I knew that I was going to leave my comfort zone the second I hopped on the plane to Madrid, but I had no idea that I would make it this far away. I’m not even sure if it exists anymore. Let’s start with my  love of the language barrier. It doesn’t make any sense, but I tend to be more outgoing with people when they don’t speak my language. Aside from my newfound outgoing personality, my food horizons have expanded beyond anything I imagined before coming here. Tonight’s dinner is a prime example. Madre made us the traditional Spanish paella which has shrimp in it. 3 months ago I wouldn’t have even touched American shrimp with a 10 foot pole, but tonight I had no choice. Staring back at me on my plate was a full on shrimp, Spanish style, AKA eyes, skin, and everything else. And it wasn’t just one little shrimpy giving me those beady eyes, there were about 6 on my plate. Madre has cooked us paella before, and I was able to avoid eating the shrimp. There was no escaping it the second time because as I was eating around the shrimp, Jessica and Rachael were asking madre how to go about eating them the correct way. She demonstrates first by ripping the head off, sucking it’s brains out, pulling off the legs, and lastly peeling the skin. I couldn’t have been more grossed out. Having to desire to rip my shrimp’s head off or eat it for that matter, I left them on my plate. Madre didn’t let this go unnoticed and started preparing my shrimp for me. I had no choice but to eat them now. Rachael and Jessica got quite the show as I stuffed them in my mouth. There wasn’t enough bread in the world to disguise the taste of shrimp in my mouth. But dinner continued and I finished my plate. It was such a feat. At the end of dinner I was waiting for someone to present me with a “Good Eater Award”. 

You’re starting to wonder, who is this girl eating shrimp? The Molly I know would never do that! I have no idea what happened to that Molly. Europe has changed me. Not only have my food horizons expanded, but also my sense of adventure. Before coming to Madrid, Morocco was one of the trips that I knew I wanted to take. I couldn’t wait to ride a camel through the African desert. But as the semester went on, problems arose and it didn’t look like it was going to happen. The safety level of Morocco was questionable and there were plenty of other trips to fill the void. While everyone was moving on and accepting the fact that it just wasn’t in the cards, a part of me held on. After a lot of planning, tension between friends, and a few skype dates to the US, I decided to travel to Morocco by myself. I booked a 2 day-1 night desert tour. The tour group arranges transportation from the airport to my hostel and from my hostel to the tour so I won’t actually be traveling alone; I just won’t know anyone. I can’t believe that I’m doing this. This is going to be so far out of my comfort zone I’m not sure I’ll be able to find my way back. I literally booked the tour/hostel/flight about an hour ago and I’ve already experienced so many emotions. 

I’m excited because this is what I wanted to do and I found the guts to go ahead and do it. I’m nervous because this is obviously something I’ve never done and I’m going to be in an environment unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m scared of the unknown. I mean, it’s MOROCCO. I have no idea what to expect. And I’m crying because of this clashing of emotions. This is so unlike the Molly that left the US almost 3 months ago. If you would’ve asked me before I left if I’d ever hop on a plane to Morocco by myself, I would laugh in your face; no way in hell. But somehow it’s going to happen. I can’t believe my life. Who gets an opportunity like this?! Could I be any luckier? I’d like to thank Sheila for allowing me to do this. If she hadn’t given me the “go” this wouldn’t be happening. 

I think this is all going to hit me when I get home. Right now, there isn’t much time to let everything that has happened so far this semester soak in. Like, I just got back from Paris on Sunday night, am leaving for London Friday morning and coming home Monday afternoon, leaving the next Friday for Morocco and coming home Monday afternoon just in time for the dress rehearsal for our Latin Rhythms performance, doing the actual performance on Tuesday night, then leaving for Germany Wednesday afternoon until the following Monday which then leaves me with less than 2 weeks of classes/finals in Madrid. This semester is going to be gone in a blink of an eye. 

I just have so much to look forward to and have so many emotions. Being abroad has opened up a whole new side to me that I didn’t know existed. I’m doing so much and I’m only 21. I couldn’t be more thankful and happy. I will definitely have a mouthful of thanks to give at the Thanksgiving dinner SLU is hosting on Thursday. 

What a rollercoaster of emotions. 

Nature is Calling

We had traveled the past 3 weekends before Geneva, Switzerland. So I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few regrets about booking this trip at the beginning of the week. Lots of SLU students were taking this weekend to hang back in Madrid including Jess. But Rachael and I impulsively booked this Geneva flight anyways.

Our impulsive flight booking had its problems. Not only were we slightly regretting it, but we booked a flight too early in the day and had to skip the last 30 minutes of our last class. For me, it was Latin Rhythms and since we’re getting closer to our performance, I was nervous about missing it. We weren’t going to hold ourselves back though. We were determined to make this one of our favorite trips and that’s exactly what we did.

 There was almost no time to wallow in our worries during our 1.5 hour flight. We arrived in Geneva around 8:30pm where we were greeted by our friend, Ben. Remember the guys I met in our Dublin hostel? They offered to host us in their dorm for the weekend so that we could save 200 euros on a hostel. They’re seriously lifesavers and way too nice! So Ben picked us up from the airport and we headed back to their Webster University dorm. We were exhausted from the school week and traveling so we just chilled in their dorm for the night.

 Friday morning we got up bright and early, no different than any other weekend, and explored the city of Geneva with Carl (Ben’s roommate). They’d been living in Geneva for over 2 months now, so he really knew what he was talking about. It was crazy. There were mountains surrounding us on all sides. Such gorgeous views. At one point in our tour, Carl casually says, “Those mountains over there are France.” How cool is that?! It was such a quaint little town. Quaint as it is, it’s also very overpriced. It has something to do with the higher working wages they receive in Switzerland. The streets are lined with Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and Jimmy Choo stores; it’s very materialistic. Rachael had to register for classes mid-afternoon so Carl took us to their school to use the internet. After the stress of getting into classes was gone, we ate lunch at a place recommended by Carl and Ben and Rachael and I continued to discover a little bit of Geneva on our own. The boys told us it was impossible to get lost in Geneva because you can always follow the river home. Lies. We got very lost. The problem occurs when you lose site of the river and can’t get your way back. Whoops. Leave it to us to get lost in the city that you apparently can’t get lost in. We eventually ventured back home and crashed for the night. Ben and Carl were such great hosts. They didn’t let us sleep on the floor/couch. They always let their guests (they’ve hosted a lot of SLU people) sleep in the beds. So sweet.

No different from any other weekend, we woke up at the crack of dawn to take a train ride to Interlaken, Switzerland. Rachael and I wanted to do some hiking in the Alps so Ben and Carl suggested that we visit Interlaken. They educated us on which trails to climb and sent us on our way with their legit hiking backpack and maps. We caught up on sleep during the 3 hour train ride. As soon as we got to Interlaken we went to the grocery store to get lunch supplies. With a nutritious meal of bread, cheese, pretzels, and chocolate, we were off to hike the snow-capped Alps.

We climbed for an hour and a half not really sure what direction we were heading. Per usual, we struggled to find the correct signs/path and had no idea where we were. For a while, that was perfectly ok. We were just hiking and loving life and the view. It was obviously Autumn with leaves of varying shades of red surrounding us. I was having the first of many awestruck abroad moments of the trip. We hit a point where we knew we weren’t on the right trail; it was that moment when you lose the feeling of “wonderfully lost”. It took us longer than we would’ve liked, but after getting “wonderfully lost” we finally found the trail that Carl suggested we hike. Turned out we needed to take a second train just to get to it. So we hopped on that and were on our way once again. Once we got off the train we had the option to hike up the mountain or ride a gondola up. Since we were already behind schedule, we decided to ride the gondola. My ears popped the whole way up but it was so worth it. The view was phenomenal. And we had finally made it. After the gondola ride we continued hiking up the mountain. We didn’t have enough time to make it all the way to the top, but we still made it to the snow level at about 1600 meters above sea level.

 At that point, we needed to start the 2+ hour hike down the mountain to catch our train back to Geneva. I wish we could’ve spent more time at the top. It was one of the coolest things I’ve done since I’ve been abroad. The hike down was something else. You wouldn’t expect it to be that tiring. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we’d been up since 5am and hiking all day. We climbed down at a decent pace and I only fell twice! I think I enjoyed it so much because it was just us. We rarely saw any other people on the trail, a nice switch from our busy lives. About halfway down the mountain my legs were telling me that it was time for a little break. So we found this open patch that had this stump placed right in the middle. We stopped and sat there on that stump for about a half hour just admiring what was in front of us. The stump overlooked the little town surrounded by the snow-capped mountains. At that moment in time, there was nothing more I could’ve asked for. I was one happy girl.  I couldn’t believe that this was my life: sitting on a log on the swiss mountains with a view like that. It was phenomenal. Words can’t describe how awesome it felt. It took a lot to get up and leave that spot. I was so content just sitting there staring at the mountains and the beauty of Switzerland. That 30 minutes made Switzerland a competitor for one of my favorite trips. We continued with our trek down the mountain and just as we reached the bottom it started getting dark. Perfect timing. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. We found some dinner before boarding our train back to Geneva.

 Our weekend couldn’t end without us almost missing some form of transportation. On our way home, we had to transfer trains twice. We only had 4 minutes for our first transfer and our first train was 2 minutes late. So if you can do math, that left us 2 minutes to run to the second train. And run we did. The only problem was that when we got to the platform, there was no second train. Classic. We panicked for a hot second before we made the decision to hop on the next train to Geneva despite the fact that we didn’t have the correct tickets for it. Just our luck, the train workers came around to check tickets. We told them our situation, begging them not to kick us off. They went on to tell us that our original train had a problem with the engine and actually never came. So, thankfully this time it wasn’t our fault and we made it home safely.

 Sunday we allowed ourselves to sleep in a bit before bumming around Geneva for the afternoon. Unfortunately, almost everything was closed. So we just walked around enjoying ourselves.

Our flight left at 6:30 am Monday and trains didn’t run to the airport from Geneva that early, so we were forced to sleep in the airport Sunday night. Except I really didn’t get to sleep. You see, I also have to go to school here and I had a test Monday afternoon. I was up all night studying in the airport on Sunday. If that’s the price I have to pay to experience Europe, I’m willing to pay it. This is why I haven’t been able to blog until now. I didn’t sleep Sunday night, got home to Madrid at 9:30am Monday, came home and crashed till noon, got up, went to take my test, crashed again, did all of my homework for Tuesday, and finally got a few more hours of sleep. But my week wasn’t over yet because Thursday I had to give a History presentation and had a Spanish test. And immediately after giving my presentation in History, I skipped the rest of that class and Latin Rhythms to leave for Paris. We spent this weekend in Paris and got home around 1am Sunday morning. Needless to say I crashed as soon as we got home and caught up on my sleep for the week. That brings us to today. 

It’s been a crazy week and I don’t think it’s going to slow down until the end of the semester, which is approaching a lot faster than I’d like. We’re almost down to a month. Eeeeeek. I don’t like the sound of that. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. I never want to leave!

What a week. 

All Roads Lead to Rome

The hardest decision I made all weekend was pizza or pasta? Rome has had my favorite food so far. We spoiled ourselves with pizza, pasta, wine, and gelato everyday. And for those 4 days, I ate like a queen. This was our first long weekend, so we departed from Madrid Wednesday night so that we could enjoy our extra day in Roma. 

After Dublin, my fear of missing a flight has escalated. Every time I’m sitting on a plane I can’t help but be thankful that I made it. This time around I had no problem since our flight ended up being delayed an hour. So we arrived in Ciampiano pretty late and still had to take an hour or so bus ride to Rome. By that time we were starving a walked into one of the first pizzerias we found open at 2am. After we stuffed our faces with our first Italian meal, it was off to the hostel to sneak in a few hours of sleep before we ventured around the city. 

Our motto is still: I’ll sleep next semester. Or in some cases: I’ll sleep when I’m dead. We woke up after a measly 5 hours of sleep and put on our walking shoes. The public transportation in Rome is awful. There’s only 2 metro lines and buses only come every 20 minutes or longer. Madrid spoils us with 10 metro lines coming every 3 minutes or so. When we were leaving the hostel, the map somehow ended up in my hands. Obviously I was obligated to be tour guide Molly. I hammed it up a bit and played tour guide the rest of the day. Everyone would be proud to know that I led us to our first site, Santa Maria della Vittoria church, successfully. From there we church hopped for the majority of the day stopping at different piazzas and fountains for necessary photo ops. Walking around the city was pretty fabulous. There’s an old, historic building on every corner. So much history in one city. 

 We were really free-wheeling it the first day because our friend Hannah’s flight didn’t get in until 5pm. We wandered from important building to fountains to piazzas snapping photos left and right until it was time to meet Hannah. Lunch and dinner were my favorite times of the day. I ate pizza and pasta at every meal. And it couldn’t have been better. Of course we had to top off every meal with gelato too. When in Rome.

 Again, we didn’t sleep much. Long days and short nights were necessary to see everything we wanted. First stop was the Pantheon. It was a pretty spectacular building that used to be a church. After a little while we continued with our tourist tendencies and headed to the Trevi Fountain. It was the Lizzie McGuire movie in real life. We pushed our way through the crowd to get the chance to toss our coins in and make a wish. When we’d worked up an appetite throwing coins and making wishes, we started scouting out a place for dinner. We met up with Jess and Alex’s friend Amy who is studying abroad in Rome and ordered ourselves a bottle of wine with our meal. The rest of the night was spent admiring Rome by night, catching a glimpse of the Colosseum all lit up.

 The next morning we were up bright and early once again. We were hopped on the 2-line metro to see and visit the Colosseum in the daylight. We explored the ruins for about 2 hours before we had to go to the Vatican to make our tour time. The Vatican was phenomenal. I had to constantly remind myself throughout the trip that I was in ITALY. And in the VATICAN where the POPE lives. It’s all so crazy. I feel like it isn’t going to fully settle in until I’m back home in the states. We had bought tickets in advance for the Vatican Museum so we got to skip the 2+ hour line to get in. I was overwhelmed by the size of the Vatican. Monstrous. We were there for over 3 hours and didn’t get to fully appreciate everything. We followed the herd of people through the museum that ended at the Sistene (Sixteenth: S/O to J.Biebs) Chapel. I was almost too excited to see the chapel that I couldn’t focus on the art that was in front of me. It was nothing less than I expected. I managed to snipe some pics, but they just don’t do it justice. They were some of the most elaborate paintings I’ve seen and on a ceiling. Kudos to you, Michelangelo.

 Exhausted from all of our sightseeing, we jumped on the metro back to the hostel for a much needed nap before we met up with Amy and experienced Italian night life.

Before we went bar hopping, we stuffed our faces with more pizza and pasta. I couldn’t study abroad in Rome merely because I would get fat off all the carbs. Since transportation in Rome is horrible, we ended up walking a while to meet Amy in the bar area. I was wearing wedges. On cobblestone. I don’t even feel the need to say what a horrible combination that is. My trip tally was up to 10 by the end of the night. Our Italian night out began at the chocolate bar where we toasted to a fabulous trip in Rome with shot glasses made out of chocolate. From there we just kind of bar hopped following Amy’s Rome friends. Unlike Madrid, there weren’t any promoters handing out free drinks so after making 3 stops or so, we were done for the night. Due to the awful transportation, it took us 2.5 hours to get home.

Like I said before, we’ll sleep next semester. We had got home super late from the bars and had to get up early to travel back to the Vatican to see the pope. Ready for our blessing, we planted ourselves in St. Peter’s Square to get a good view of Benedict XVI, conservative clothes and all (we had to have shoulders to knees covered to get in). Around noon the crowd was getting restless and we knew the pope would be out soon. When he made his grand appearance through a window, he said some prayers before giving out blessings in 7 or 8 languages. With each blessing, sections of the crowd roared with excitement. It was another awe struck abroad experience seeing the pope in the Vatican. Right after the Pope’s blessing we rushed to get in line to view St. Peter’s Basilica. You know how we entertain people wherever we go; this was no different. The line for security just to get into the Basilica was tremendous, so Jess, Rachael, and I may or may not have hopped over a railing to catch up with the half of our group towards the front. Rachael and I managed to climb between the bars, but Jess wasn’t about to attempt that and decided to go over instead. Except she’s afraid of getting down. So she got stuck at the top of the railing for a little while before managing to find her way down. Everyone was staring and talking about us because Jess was about 8 feet high standing on the railing in the middle of the Vatican. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard in my life. We’re such a group. Despite that obstacle, we successfully made it into the holy grail of churches: St. Peter’s Basilica. It may have topped all the other 10 churches we visited. It was grand and extravagant and bigger than any church I’ve ever seen. We even got to stop for a moment in front of Pope John Paul II’s tomb.

On our way home from the Vatican we stopped for gelato before continuing our day with some more sightseeing. Unfortunately, the Forum closed before we could get there. We made up for it by visiting another church. The last, but not least tourist site on our list was the Spanish steps. We climbed to the top, sniped our photos, and found a restaurant for our last Italian meal. Oh, do I miss it already. It was still pretty early in the evening so we decided to get another glance at the Trevi Fountain by night. And we could all use a few more wishes. We hung out there for some time just sitting on the steps, soaking it all up. We had to peel ourselves from the steps to go back to the hostel and sleep. Our flight left at 6:30am and we were an hour bus ride from the airport. Sleep was almost nonexistent last weekend. It was rough getting out of bed at 3:00am to catch a bus to the airport. We got back in Madrid around 9am Monday morning and were home by 10:30am. This gave me only 2 hours to sleep before I had to go to class. I know, rough life abroad.

I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. We had a great dynamic within our group. I laughed all weekend long. I loved exploring the city and just seeing everything. To think that this is going to be my life for the next 7 weeks is unreal. I’m so lucky to have this opportunity.

Today and Tuesday were spent doing homework and catching up on some sleep. Since I didn’t have class until late today, I dragged Rachael with me to find the Taco Bell here in Madrid. Per usual, I didn’t do my research well enough and led us to the ghettos of Madrid. Whoops. Unfortunately we didn’t find the Taco Bell before I had to go to class, but no one got shot so that’s a plus. It’s always an adventure with us even when we’re traveling around Madrid. 

Tomorrow I’m leaving for Switzerland. Going from gelato to chocolate. I can handle that. I’m pretty pumped. Seriously loving abroad life. Why doesn’t everyone do this?! 

What a trip. 

Luck of the Irish

This weekend in Ireland was perfect. It was the first time I wasn’t ready to come home to Madrid by the end of the trip. Two and a half days was nowhere near enough time. However, if you would’ve asked me at 5:30 on Thursday night if I was going to be enjoying Ireland that weekend I would’ve said no. Jess and I agreed, someone upstairs loves us and we were meant to be in Ireland. 

I got out of class at 4:30 on Thursday. Jess was going to meet me at the metro stop by the dance studio so we could go to the airport together. She was running a few minutes late, so I didn’t see her waiting when I got out and panicked. I walked around the area looking for her for 20 min hoping to run into her. When she was nowhere in site, I decided to walk back to school to look for her there. At this point it was 4:50pm and [we thought] our plane left at 5:55. I was obviously worrying that we weren’t going to make it in time as we rushed through the metro. We were 4 stops from the airport when Jess looked at me and said, “Oh no, I’m not sure if I should tell you this. Don’t cry. But the gates to our place close at 5:25.” I nervously asked her what time it was. “5.25.” If I wasn’t freaking out before, I was now. A few choice words slipped and the second that metro stopped we ran for our lives towards terminal 1, which happened to be the farthest away. Our luck. I’ve never run so fast in my life. Carrying my huge backpack didn’t make it any easier. Let me set the scene. I had come straight from Latin Rhythms so I was already pretty sweaty when we got to the airport. Running through the terminals we sweat through every layer of clothes we were wearing and our hair looked like we just got out of a swimming pool. Jess was wearing her Spanish pants with her liquids, passport, and other things in her pockets. The weight pulled her pants down and she was running with her pants halfway down. We were a hot mess and a half. In less than 5 minutes we made it to terminal 1, a feat in which I still can’t believe. We got to security and they wouldn’t let us through without getting our boarding passes stamped. They sent us away giving us directions in Spanish to the office to get the stamps. I was flustered, so my Spanish was a little rough and we struggled to find the correct location. We ran from one end of the airport to the other twice before we successfully had a stamp on our passes. After that I took off even faster than before. Jess’s sagging pants slowed her down, so I ran ahead hoping to tell them that we were still coming. At this time our plane left in 5 minutes. We sprinted back to security where we were visibly red, sweating, and panting. On the way Jess was jumping over people’s suitcases and small children. I may or may not have knocked over a barricade in the process. Hot messes. They let us through the line first because our situation was urgent. In our rush, we forgot to take our computers out of our bags before they were scanned so we had to get in line again. I had no time for these shenanigans. After the security check we didn’t waste time putting our computers away or our shoes and belts back on. We continued to run through the rest of the airport barefoot with belongings in hand. We arrived at the correct gate when we saw a huge line of about 70 people or so. I haphazardly asked someone in line if they were waiting for the flight to Dublin at 7:55 (I actually meant 5:55 but since it was 17:55 military time it got lost in translation). When they said no, Jess and I darted to the front of the line to talk to the airport worker. He spoke English (THANK GOD) so in my shortness of breath I managed to ask him if the plane to Dublin left yet. He told us not to worry; it was still there. In pure disbelief I said, “No, the flight that leaves at 5:55pm.” He again reassured me that the plane was delayed and it was sitting right outside the window. I’m just gonna go ahead and beatify that man. It was at this point that we threw our shoes, belts, computers, and backpacks on the floor and plopped down to cry. Tears of pure joy flew from my eyes. Jess was in hysterics, laughing and crying at the same time. We couldn’t believe our luck. We were making quite the scene. Everyone in line witnessed us racing to the gate and were now witnessing us crying on the floor. Needless to say, they were entertained. As we blew by them, one guy yelled, “Tienes prisa?” (Are you in a hurry?) Others just laughed at me for mixing up 17:55 with 7:55. We pulled ourselves together; put our computers away, and our belts and shoes on before doing the walk of shame to the back of the boarding line. When we sat down in the seats we couldn’t believe our luck. An hour prior to that we never thought we’d be on a plane to Dublin.

 3 hours later we landed in Ireland. It was unreal. We were ready to go to the hostel and crash. I turned to Jess (who had written down the directions) how we to get there. The look on her face was priceless. “I pulled a Molly.” She left the directions in a notebook at home. Our lives are such a joke. What was worse that neither of us could remember the exact name of the hostel. Was it Four Corners? Four Castles? We didn’t know. Halfway through our bus ride, Jess has an epiphany and remembers Four Courts. Thankfully the bus driver knew of it and was able to give us directions. This was our first interaction with the saintly Irish folk. Everyone is just so nice!! We settled into our hostel and started planning our weekend adventures.

I’m pretty sure the desk workers hated us for the mass amount of questions we bombarded them with. We knew that we wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle. And we couldn’t pass up walking around Dublin as well. Unfortunately, doing all of this in the 2.5 days we had wasn’t super doable. We decided to take a train ourselves to Blarney Castle, a 3-hour ride, and a day trip guided tour to the cliffs. With our plans set, exhausted, we crashed for the night.

Our motto of the trip: We’ll sleep next semester. So at 6am we were up bright and early to board the train to Cork to visit Blarney Castle. It was a 3 hour train ride away so we used that time to catch up on our sleep. After the train we had to take 2 more shorter bus rides to get to the castle grounds. I’m surprised that we didn’t get lost during this trek. The castle was AWESOME. We climbed through caves, dungeons, and walked through gardens in addition to trekking up to the top of the castle. The stairs to the top were a little scary. The stairwell was super narrow and there was even a rope to hang on to because they were so steep. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the top, including stopping in all of the side rooms. The view was gorgeous. It was green for miles. The safety regulations are nowhere near as strict here in Europe. There were lots of little crevices/holes that anyone could easily slip on and fall. We could get right up on the edge of the top of the castle. It was invigorating. After climbing all the stairs we were rewarded with the Blarney Stone. I bent over backwards, threw my head down and gave the rock a good smooch. They took pictures for us but charged 10 euros for them so we passed on that. It was a cool experience because you legit have to stick your head down a hole in the top of the castle while holding onto 2 bars to kiss it. So worth it. With our new luck from the stone, we headed back down to explore the grounds. It was a lot bigger than I expected. We could’ve spent all day walking around the area. We spent the last few hours exploring caves, walking in the gardens, and learning about all the little nature attractions. There were wishing stairs, witch’s stone, and things of that sort that all come with a legend behind them. As it got closer to our train’s departure time, we stopped at a cute little café for lunch before hopping on the bus back to the train station. Once again, we were on time and everything went smoothly. I think we’ll look back on this trip and realize that this was the turning point of the semester. It’s horrible that it took us this long and such a frightening experience, but I don’t think we’ll be late for anything for a while. We’ve had enough of that.

We once again slept on the train ride home so that we could rest up enough to enjoy the Temple Bar neighborhood that night. We walked around the area for a little while before deciding which bar we wanted to go in. We ended up choosing one with live Irish music. We sat down and ordered our first Guinnesses and was it fabulous. I’d have to say it’s one of the best alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had.  Loved it. Jessica was trying to get me to talk to some boys there before a man walked up and starting with us. Leave it to us to attract the only Spaniards in the bar. Turns out he was from Madrid. So we had a nice little chat and he complimented me on my Spanish accent. Needless to say my night was made. When he left Jessica was still trying to get me to talk to some Irish boys. Eventually the group of guys we had our eye on came over to us and told me I had a nice smile. I was flattered and we started chatting with them. Unfortunately he wasn’t a true Irishman. He was originally from England and moved to Dublin a year ago. We stayed a while and talked with him and his friends before we needed to head home and actually get some sleep. But before we left, he asked me for my phone number so we could meet up tomorrow for another drink. Jess and I struggled to remember how to use the area code/+ on our ancient pre-T9 phones before we successfully exchanged numbers. He was slightly drunk at this time so we weren’t actually expecting a call the next day. I went home a pretty happy girl. Gave my number to a boy and was complimented on my Spanish accent. Successful night.

Saturday was yet another early morning. We were up by 6am to get ready and meet our tour bus for the Cliffs of Moher at 7. This was a little bit shorter ride than the Castle, but still a 2.5-hour trip. This time we had a tour guide who told us tidbits about everything we were passing. We drove through Galway while our guide pointed out all the attractions, occasionally hopping on/off the bus for photo ops. Before we got to the Cliffs of Moher, we made a pit stop at some much smaller cliffs. I was amazed at these ones so I couldn’t wait until we saw the real deal. I loved that we could get right up to the edge. It was quite the experience to just sit and dangle my feet of the edge of the cliffs. So unreal and invigorating. The next stop was lunch. We ate at another cute café for lunch. With our stomachs full we were off to the Cliffs of Moher. Our tour guide advised us to go up on the right side of the cliffs first because it had a much better view and was the easier climb of the 2. So we followed his suggestion and made the trek. What we weren’t prepared for was the railing that kept us from the edge. My heart sank a little. I was worried that the whole thing was going to be like that. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. On the left side we had to jump over a barricade to get to the edge, but it was so worth it. I got to sit on the ledge and dangle my feet. I couldn’t have been happier sitting there. No picture could do that view justice. It was phenomenal standing there and looking out. If Jess and I hadn’t been with a tour on a time limit, we would’ve sat there all day. I had such a blast walking along the edge. A couple of people walking by told me and Jess to step back because we were making them nervous. It was just so incredible. I never wanted to leave. What made it even better was the perfect weather we had. Both days the sun was out and there were hardly any clouds. It hadn’t even rained at this point. I was shocked that we’d spent 2 days in Ireland without using a raincoat. An hour and a half later our tour guide dragged us from the cliffs to continue with the day. We stopped at a few points of interest on our way home, but nothing could compare with the cliffs. We rolled into Dublin around 9:30pm. Since we’d been up since 6, we just headed back to the hostel.

We got back to our hostel to meet some new roommates. I was a little nervous when the bathroom was covered in hair dye. I walked into the room and one of the guys asked me if I was at the pub crawl last night. When I told him no, he was confused because thought I looked familiar. Not thinking anything of it, I continued with my activities. Jessica walked in later and the 4 of us got to talking. The 2 boys started with the casual ‘where are you from’ and we did the same.  Small world: turns out they were juniors from SLU-Missouri who are studying in Geneva, Switzerland and visiting Ireland. Even smaller world: one of them is friends with Rachael. Turns out I also had a class with him and had mutual friends with the other guy. It was too weird.

 Once again, we didn’t waste anytime on Sunday.  Our flight left at 5:05pm so we were under a little bit of a time crunch. We still wanted to do see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, do the Guinness tour, and the Jameson Whiskey tour; all before 2:30pm. Before the sun was fully up, we were admiring St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We weren’t able to go inside due to mass services, but it was fantastic looking from the outside. From there we went straight to drinking. Like true Irishwoman, we were ready to do the Guinness tour at 9:30am. You bet we were there early too. 45 minutes actually. Like I said, I think this was a turning point for us and we won’t ever be late again. The tour was pretty neat. We saw how it was made, how they use the different ingredients, and even learned how to pour the perfect pint. After we enjoyed our Guinness, we were off to the Jameson whiskey tour. Jess’s dad is a huge fan, so we had to go so that she could get something for him. The tour was a lot different that Guinness. It was guided and much shorter. At the end of the tour, the guide picked 8 people to be whiskey taste testers and I got to be one!! First they made us try the Jameson whiskey, which is supposed to be the best because it’s triple distilled. Then we had either bourbon or a Scotch whiskey (double distilled) I can’t remember followed by the good ol’ American Jack Daniels (single distilled). It was obvious that the Jameson triple distilled was the best. Hands down. After all my tasting, I got a nice little certificate showing off my skills.  We then got lunch before heading back to the hostel to get our luggage and catch a bus to the airport.

We successfully made it through the airport before our flight left. Seriously we’ve turned over a new leaf. I can’t believe how much we got done in the 2.5 days we had in Ireland. I’m pretty proud of us. And other than our mishap in the beginning, everything went perfectly. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend.

I was sitting at school today thinking to myself, “Did this weekend really just happen.” I have to remind myself, “I’m in Madrid.” And I’m getting to travel all over Europe. I can’t believe how awesome my life is here. This truly is the semester of a lifetime. Each day I think about how hard it’s going to be to go home. There is never a dull or boring moment here. Everything is an adventure. 

It’s the Little Things

Now that we’ve hit our halfway mark, I’ve started to think of all the little things that I love about my daily life in Madrid that I’m going to miss in the states. For starters, I’ve grown quite fond of the metro. The need for a car doesn’t exist. The metro literally goes everywhere and we’re about a 5 minute walk from the nearest stop. It’s all too convenient. 

I love SLU-Madrid too, or SLUM as I’ve been told it’s often called. The courtyard where everyone sits is just so cute and the weather is almost always perfect for sitting outside. I love that I can sit out in the courtyard and hear 4 different conversations in 4 different languages. I will say that I sometimes miss the occasional 300+ people lecture when I could fall asleep without being noticed, but I’ll pay the price if it means I can stay in Europe. I love Latin Rhythms. I’m getting college credit for dancing and having a blast. In class on Thursday we’re having a workshop on dips and finales for tango. And Tuesday we’re starting to learn choreography for the show. It’s the best. 

I love that I can just go people watch/shop in a plaza full of people after school. And I love that people are out in the streets no matter what and how there are street vendors on every corner who pick up their blankets of merchandise when a cop car comes. 

I love the “Hola chicas” we get from Alfonso when we walk in the house. And I love the occasional wine that padre brings us without madre’s knowledge. 

There’s just so much to love about Madrid and being abroad. The US has a lot to live up to when I come back. 

Here are some pics of the park across the street from our apartment. Yesterday Rachael and I just decided to walk around it for a bit before going home after school. We stopped and swung on the swings for a while. 

This is the life. 

My Weekend with Ignatius

It’s been almost a week since I last blogged…here goes nothing. 

This weekend I wasn’t worrying about directions, what attractions to see, missing a flight, or paying for food. This weekend was all about Ignatius of Loyola. However, there wasn’t going to be much relaxing until my talk was written. I knew it was going to be a late night, but I didn’t think I’d be pulling my first all-nighter of the semester writing a speech for a retreat. Rachael promised me she’d stay up and help me since I was so nervous but around 3:30am she passed out. Can’t say I blame her; it’s all I wanted to do. 5:30am rolled around and I wrapped it up, set my alarm for an hour later, and conked out for a short-lived nap. 

My alarm rang way too early. Rachael and I were headed out the door before the sun was even up to meet the bus at SLU. Shockingly, we were the first ones there! Guess there’s a first time for everything. You bet I passed out the second I hit that bus seat. 6 hours later I woke up in Azpeitzia, Spain. Our day began with a introduction to the retreat center and a tour of the Holy House. It’s a medieval tower where Ignatius was born, recovered from the infamous cannon ball to the knee, and later converted to Christianity. These are the things you hear about being at a Jesuit University, but to see them in person was unreal. Our night continued with one of the fanciest retreat meals I’ve ever eaten. At lunch and dinner there was a bottle of wine at every table and we were fed 3 course meals each time. Shortly after dinner we all crashed. 

7:30am wake up call came a lot earlier than expected. There wasn’t a second to waste, our agenda was pretty packed. We ate breakfast, had morning prayer, and listened to some talks before we ventured into the city to visit the church where Ignacio was baptized, la Capilla de La Magdalena. We also got to celebrate mass here. Spain really loves there churches because after that we toured the San Sebastián church. 

We got a break from tours to explore the area on our own. It was raining the entire time we were there so not many people ventured outside. Rachael and I fought through the rain and soaked up the fabulous views of the mountains. We were literally right up there with the clouds in the most northern part of Spain. It was gorgeous. I couldn’t get enough of my surroundings. Pictures don’t do it justice. With all the rain comes the greenest landscape. Pure beauty. On our journey around Loyola we came across some sheep. We also found some donkeys. Unlike the sheep, the donkeys came right up to us and let us pet them!!! We named them Sprinkles and Sunshine. They were a blast. By the time we left Sunshine and Sprinkles we were soaked to the bone and were ready to go back to the retreat center for a talk and Reconciliation. 

Now I was starting to sweat. After Reconciliation I had to give my talk. When I walked to the front of the room I was shaking like no other. Telling almost 35 strangers about my personal struggles and ideas was quite a large leap out of my comfort zone. But as I said in my speech, “When I stepped onto the plane to Madrid, I told myself I was not only going to leave the country, but also my comfort zone. So here I am, standing in front of you all 4,426 miles from it.” The topic of my talk was “Jesus: God’s Covenant to Us”. That seemed like a pretty dry subject to talk about for 10 minutes, so I swayed a bit from it and reflected on a prayer from Thomas Merton. It goes:

“GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Despite my lack of eye contact with the audience, people complimented me on my bravery to give a speech throughout the rest of the weekend. It was invigorating. I can’t say I enjoyed standing up and reading it, but the feeling afterwards was phenomenal. In our small groups after my talk a guy stood up and gave me props for stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing my speech. I couldn’t have been more flattered. Hearing people’s reactions to my thoughts/story was eye opening. It’s definitely something I’d consider doing again for sure. 

The retreat was at its climax. We were fed another 3 course meal before touring yet another church. This time it was the Basilica de Loyola. I didn’t have many expectations at this point; we’d seen so many churches. Our Jesuit tour guide, Javier blew me away. We were sitting in the Basilica in the dark when Javier started playing music. With each new song a different part of the Basilica lit up. Near the end, vibrant music played and the entire church was full of light. It was something to see. As if we weren’t impressed enough with the Basilica, Javier took us up to the balconies to walk around. We were literally walking around the domes of the church. I had one of those awe struck abroad moments. I was thinking to myself, “Who else gets a chance like this?” I’m living a once in a life time opportunity and I’m so thankful for this experience.

What scares me is that we’re halfway done and I only have 59 days left here…WHAT. We’re making the most of the rest of our time here. This weekend we’re going to Ireland. The weekend after that: Italy. Then Geneva, Switzerland, Paris, London, and Germany. That leaves us with 2 more weekends in Spain. I can’t believe how fast time is flying by. 

Anyways, the night tour of the Basilica was the last thing on our agenda for Saturday. Sunday was another early morning. We got to have mass in the room where St. Ignatius recovered and converted to Christianity. It was incredible to be in the exact room, yet another awe struck abroad moment. After mass we had some time to reflect on the weekend before we boarded back onto the bus. Proud of their Jesuit traditions at SLU, we couldn’t drive home to Madrid without stopping at St. Francis Xavier’s castle. Two hours into the bus ride we pulled off the main road to explore the castle of Francis Xavier’s family. These sites have definitely given more meaning to the Jesuit surroundings I see at school in St. Louis such as St. Francis Xavier College Church. The castle was almost more of a museum than anything and hardly any of it was the same as it was back in the day which was a little disappointing. An hour or so later we were back on the bus again, but this time on our way home Madrid. 

I couldn’t have asked for a better, more relaxing weekend. It was full of new friends, new perspective, and new experiences. 

What a weekend. 

Classic

Yesterday started on the wrong foot and never seemed to get better. I woke up to an e-mail saying that my academic standing went from good to satisfactory (it’s all orgo’s fault), tripped in the middle of the street walking to school nearly getting hit by a car, and got my midterms back. I also failed horribly at responding in Spanish class and fell asleep in History which didn’t go unnoticed by the teacher. So I was really looking forward to a better day today. And a better day it was. 

Some friends wanted to try the Burrito Bar we went to this weekend and asked us to go with them. So Jess and I got up a little earlier than usual to grab lunch. What was great about it was that we were early! There’s a first time for everything! We ate our burritos/nachos and had a nice little time. Jess, Alex, and I didn’t have class for another 2 hours, so we hung back after everyone left and did some homework. 

Since I have to give a talk at the retreat on Saturday, I spent a lot of today reflecting/working on my speech. I sat outside on a cute little patio at school, put in my headphones, and went to work. When I had made significant progress, I headed home to get some homework done. I’ve been dreading doing my Spanish homework all day because I still haven’t recovered from the last 14-page story I had to read, none of it which I understood. As I began reading the story for tomorrow, I was understanding it much better than the previous one. I actually sped through it and even enjoyed it a little. Weird. 

Before madre and padre got home, it was Jess, Rachael, and I home alone when the door bell (from downstairs) rang. We didn’t know what to do, so we ignored it. In the next 15 minutes, it rang 3 more times. On the 3rd ring, we decided that we should probably answer it. Since I speak the most Spanish, I was voted to do the talking. I was struggling to comprehend what the man on the other line was saying, but I managed to tell him that María and Antonio weren’t home. The man continued to ask me if I was their daughter. It was kind of a compliment to think that my Spanish sounded good enough to make him believe that. I got quite a kick out of it. Since I didn’t understand what he was saying, I never fully responded and he ended up hanging up. We felt bad and decided to go downstairs to talk to him face to face. Turns out it was just the doorman relaying a message to madre and padre. He was confused on the phone because he didn’t understand how I was speaking Spanish yet had no idea what he was telling me. Story of my life. I’m a much better speaker than listener. That’s where Jessica comes in. She’s better at comprehending while I talk. We tag team like that.

Last night at dinner, madre told us that she made zucchini for dinner tonight. Yesterday really wasn’t my day. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to dinner, but after the first bite I realized it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. It turned out fine; maybe I am getting better at eating. After dinner we parted and went back to our rooms to finish up homework. Ten minutes later padre comes into mine and Rachael’s room with a bottle of wine and 3 glasses. He stayed and chatted for a bit after pouring a glass for me, Rachael, and Jessica. He has to be one of the most adorable people in the world. At least in all of Spain. Before leaving our room, he reminded us once again that we can’t tell madre. We had just started sipping our wine when he came back in with a bowl of potato chips. Seriously the cutest man ever. 

I’m so glad that today was better, but sad that almost another week has passed. Time needs to slow down! But I’m super excited/nervous for this weekend. Lots to look forward to. 

What a day. 

¿Cuánto cuesta?

I knew it was going to be a good day when we saw a baby kitten on our way to the metro and it let us pet it. Jess and I were more than tempted to bring it home and ask madre if we could keep it. When we were done playing with the kitten, we were finally off to El Rastro (the outdoor market). 

“How much does it cost?”-The most common phrase used at El Rastro. We decided to come back to El Rastro this weekend because there was so much left untouched from our last visit. We got up early this morning to beat the crowd. It was quite a success. Rachael and I got fanny packs for traveling; they’re pretty fabulous. I bought a few gifts and even got a leather jacket! T’was a good day. When we had covered all the ground we headed home for a much needed siesta. 

Dinner wasn’t quite the success that shopping was. For starters, I’m getting very sick of soup. We have some crazy soup almost every night. I don’t know if it’s the flavors that I’m hating or the large quantities madre gives us. Either way, it’s getting rough. A typical dinner lately has been soup (ranging from tomato to mushroom), meat (usually steak) and a pastry for dessert. At home a not a big steak fan, but when I finally take the last bite of soup, those steaks are some of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Tonight, not only did we get steak, but a whole tomato sliced up and doused with salt on the side. And yes, I managed to eat the whole thing. When the time came I was so ready for dessert. But we didn’t get a pastry tonight. Nope, just so rice milk/pudding. I thought I was doing so well with eating more foods, today that idea was crushed. Not only did madre make me eat a full tomato, she decides to tell us at dinner that in less than 2 weeks, we’ll have it our half way mark. WHAT?! Rule 1. of studying abroad: Never mention the day we have to leave. NEVER. I can’t even fathom leaving this continent. I’m in love. 

After dinner we retreated to our rooms to get some homework done. Jess and Rachael have all of their midterms this week, so the 2 of them went straight to work which forced me to get some things done. 

Next weekend I’ll be going on a retreat to the place where St. Ignatius of Loyola was born/converted to Christianity and developed the guidelines to Ignation Spirituality. I may also be giving a talk in front of everyone there so here’s to praying that I can reflect and write a good speech this week. 

What a day. 

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