Colorful view of undies from outside my bedroom window
After being in Barcelona for five weeks I feel that I have so much to say. When responding to messages people have sent me I find myself responding with paragraphs when I am asked a single question. I find myself going on and on in conversation with new friends and acquaintances. This is undeniably due to my experiences here, abroad. My mind is being exposed to new ideas and ways of living. I am truly excited and I feel a constant need to express everything that has been on my mind. I have decided to write as much as my schedule allows. I hope that this next year, full of adventures, will contribute to one of my life goals, which is to write at very least one book. Over the past few years I have been leaning towards the idea of writing an autobiography, an idea that has been inspired by the autobiographies of Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass. As I respond to messages via email, and such, I have come across a certain eagerness in my writing to share what I have learned, my concerns, questions, and ideas with the world. Thus, I have decided to post some of these responses (edited, of course!) in hopes that these may be of some use, a sort of rough draft of my future autobiography. Here, I will post the first of these responses. I would love to hear any comments : D
Yes I’ve got a good base out here and keeping in touch with some good people back home (like you!) who are making this transition much smoother, and of course my Mom and Pops. Of course I will take this knowledge everywhere I go and spread it like wildfire!…I don’t always get a chance, or give myself a chance, to write more so when I do write for school I try to express myself and my emotions, thoughts, epiphanies as much as I can throughout that assignment so that it has a similar effect. It is my goal to publish at very least one book in my life. Ever since I made this goal I’ve been thinking that I would like it to be an autobiography, and since then that idea has not changed. I want to leave my mark and make an impression on the world and write about it. What really inspired me is reading other peoples autobiographies, like Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass. I always told myself that’s going to be me one day!…Furthering my passion for life….I’m just going to start with when I was on the final leg of my trip to Spain with my Mom. We were boarding a place in Atlanta to Barcelona and this interesting thought came and slapped me in the face. I thought, wow what if they don’t accept me? What if they don’t accept me as a Latina? Because when I went to high school I was teased left and right about being too light and people didn’t believe that I was Mexican. During that time I was enraged and wrote a ton of poems about how my indigenous was stripped from me and how I am Mexican and Nicoya no matter what people think. I had to come to terms and accept my light skin like many people have to do the same for their dark skin. It was then that I had to wrap my mind around that fact that no matter what crowd I am in I will always stick out no matter what, being a light skinned tall Latina. So being on this plane brought back those memories. What would people think of me and how would they react? It was a 9 hour flight so by the end of it I had reminded myself that any where I am I will stick out. That’s just my reality so it’s going to be all good. I am who I am and it’s better to be confident about being a little different. I reminded myself that the reason I am doing this is to mark the beginning of my life long goal to travel the world and visit as many places as is possible in my short lifetime. This is the beginning, I told myself, and sure it’s a little scary because everything is unknown right now but soon I will feel at home in Barcelona…I hope you find this interesting…This is the beginning of me expanding my mind even more, being open to other ways of thinking and living, and being. I am very excited, a little nervous and scared but that’s only natural, I feel. I barely know anything about this place. I’m here to learn about it and that’s all I want to do with my life. Learn, take that knowledge with me, spread that knowledge and enjoy my life.
Well, I have been in Barcelona for only about 3 weeks, but these 3 weeks have been packed full of adventures. My Mother and I flew out of SFO at 7am and landed in BCN 8am the next day. We were exhausted and spent most of the day sleeping and resting. That night we went to Las Fiestas de Gracia, basically a party for a week in one of Barcelona’s districts. We visited La Sagrada Familia, a famous church in the Gaudi style, Tibidabo, La Pedrera, Castille Montjuic, the beach, the Gothic Quarters district, another church called Santa Maria del Mar, and many, many more places. Mostly tourist attractions.
Towards the end of my Mother’s stay in Barcelona my emotions had gone awry. I was nervous and anxious about having to be here without her. She helped moved me into my temporary dorm where I am staying now while searching for housing. We shared a tearful goodbye but we are in regular contact now through email.
Our program, University of California Education Abroad Program, UCEAP, has set up a few introductory classes before the regular semester starts which we call the Intensive Language Program. We are taking grammar, culture, Catalan, and conversation. Thus far I have learned a great deal. I am brushing up on my Spanish. I am talking faster and with more ease. In culture class we have learned about the Spanish Civil War, the Franco dictatorship, and compared both to the United States. We have learned a few basic phrases in Catalan so now I can read the billboards and street signs! I am rather enjoying these classes and hope to learn more as we progress.
I have made plenty of friends here in the program. Each person is so interesting and I feel fortunate to hear everyone’s story and to be learning from them. What a great experience this has been. And to think, we haven’t even started school yet!
As I searched for housing I was referred to a beautiful Colombian family that lives close to our university. The family is a married couple with a 19 year old son and a 16 year old daughter. I will be sharing a double for a great price and a window that overlooks the street in a beautiful neighborhood, Les Corts. I am very excited to be living with them because when I visited them I felt like I was with my own family. I felt as though I was in Nicaragua lounging in the living room re-telling old stories. I felt absolutely at home with this family and I can’t wait to start living with them. Although I came to Spain expecting to find a Spanish family to live with I am extremely happy that I was lucky enough to come across this family. I’ll be learning about Colombian culture while at the same time learning about Spanish culture. How much better does it get?!
I am very excited and with each passing day I become more and more comfortable with the idea of living here. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity! Thank you World. I love you.
P.S. The University of Barcelona makes me feel like I’m at Hogwarts.
HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE!
The phone number I currently have will not work while I am in Spain. Please contact me through facebook : D
About to register to vote for Obama while I’m abroad!
I hope to one day perform with such gusto as these ladies!
‘Since the First Carlist war, the hat not only has become a central symbol of Basqueness but also gained international popularity and is generally associated with the political left. Argentine leftist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara saw no contradiction in using the image of the beret, because it is the hat of the underdog fighting the establishment,’ p.146
It’s just days before my big trip to Spain, 6 to be exact, and I am in the process of going through the suitcases I left unpacked when I moved back from San Diego. I’m going through all the pictures and letters I’ve received over the years. As I’m reading the letters my fellow members of Ballet Folklorico wrote me before the end of the year, tears stain the pages I hold in front of me. Tears of happiness that I have been blessed to know these people I have come so close enough to love. Tears of sadness that it may be a very long time before I see many of them again.
I am so glad to be embarking on this once in a lifetime experience, but it’s bitter sweet nevertheless. I will have to put a year of folklorico on hold. A year of bonding with some of my closest friends on hold. A year of exploration of Southern California on hold. It’s sweet, however, because this means I will gain a year of learning the art of flamenco. I will gain a year of making new friends and altering my lifestyle to mirror that of a new place. A year of the exploration of all of Europe! I am truly excited. As the end of the school year creeped steadily upon us and as the rays of the summer sun shone on our faces, family, pets, friends, and home towns I began developing a, sort of, bucket list of things I want to do and places I want to explore while I am away in the enchanting world of Europe:
1. Italy: Rome, Sicily, Cinque Terre, Venice
2. France: Paris
3. Germany: Berlin Wall
4. Malta: Mosta, Emcita
6. Spain: Ibiza, Elosogui Beret Factory in Tolosa, Join a performing Flamenco group, Volunteer, Work, Intern
7. Travel by myself
I welcome any and all suggestions as to what I should experience while in Europe!
Lastly, I would like to thank Shruti Shrivastav for helping me start this blog, all my friends and family who encouraged me to take this trip and continually tell me to ‘Be aware of your surroundings’ and ‘Have fun!’ I would also like to thank all the teachers, from Cali Calmecac and Roseland Prep, and professors from UC San Diego for pushing me to do better and never let my standards drop for myself. Thank you, especially, to Page Piccinini and Professor Arvaniti for writing letters of recommendation for the Abroad Office for me. Most of all I would like to thank my parents, Veronica Cruz and Jerry Pinell for making this trip possible. It was you two who encouraged and inspired me most to be the best person I can be, and that includes pursuing an education and exploring the world to have a better understanding of what it means to live, to open my eyes to different manners of living and be an accepting individual. I hope that everyday when you think of me I make you proud. Thank you. I love you both and will miss you. Wish me luck, y’all!