Can I tell you a funny story?

So this one time….I spent 7 months outside of this country, studying, working, and living.

I know. This blogpost is incredibly overdue, but I keep pushing it off. It may be because I have tons of Spanish essays to write (PSA: never take two Spanish classes at once if you can help it), but it’s probably because I have been avoiding it. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I tend to be a very happy person. The way I maintain this happiness is, quite frankly, I live in my own little world. What this means is that, as much as I love and miss Spain and the people that I met there, I don’t allow myself to go back there mentally. I am here now, I need to be happy in the moment, and I can’t do that if I am constantly in Granada in my mind! So as much as I only remember good things from my time there (were there any bad things?!), I avoid thinking about it too much, unless I am procrastinating on my aforementioned Spanish essays. What I am trying to say is, writing this makes me sad. I am not in Spain and I am not in India, exploring, learning, and enjoying. I am in Ithaca. Which, really, isn’t so bad either. At all.

So I got back on August 20th. And it was crazy. Life in the US really is way more fast-paced than life in Spain and in India. I got back and I had 3.5 days at home. 3.5 days to see all my aunts and uncles and friends and cousins as well as to pack and wash clothes and buy whatever I needed for school. Of course, it got done, only because I had no choice, but there I was 3.5 days later, packing my way up to Cornell. I got here, classes started and guess what, it’s October 17th! I guess I never really had a chance to sit back and really MISS Granada or Mumbai. It was go go go since the moment I got off the airplane. Which, to be honest, I am completely grateful for. It made my “adjustment” much easier.

My “adjustment” back to the US, Cornell, and American Life really wasn’t that bad. I tend to just take whatever I get and run with it as much as I can, because the way I see it, what else are you going to do? It’s better than being upset about things. So anyways, I got back to Cornell, and miraculously, everything fell back into place. I saw all of my friends who made me feel like I never left. I was so floored by my friends. Not that I didn’t know they were amazing before, but it was so humbling to see all of the remarkable people that I know here again. It was like I fit back into the puzzle perfectly. Apart from seeing everyone, I was 100% ready to get back to the hotel school. The great thing about being abroad was that, although I loved taking liberal arts courses, they reinforced my decision to be in the hotel school. The break energized me to get back into my routine. All in all, I could not have been happier to be back. It felt right. It felt like home.

Then, my normal course load kicked in. I was not used to this amount of work, and it was hard. I suddenly and desperately wanted to be back in Granada. Thankfully, I did come to terms with everything. Life is, well, back to normal.

Now, when I see pictures of Granada or hear about Mumbai in the news, I think about my time in both of those places, and it feels like a dream. I think to myself: did I really walk along Plaza Nueva and Chowpatty Beach as casually as I walk along Ho Plaza? It’s weird. Where is home? I feel like I am coming home when I come back to Ithaca, Gaithersburg, Granada, AND Mumbai now. I guess that’s a good thing, but it is definitely hard. It means missing people all the time, wherever I am. I can say, though, that I would never change the past few months for anything. I am eternally grateful for all of the incredible people I have met and all of the unbelievable opportunities I have been given .

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Hello Bombay!

Just a disclosure – I wrote this during my first week here, so it is a little out of date, but nonetheless:

Mumbai. Rickshaws. Sea. Buildings. Cars. Motorcycles. Stores. Food. Street Food. Markets. People. Lots of people. Mumbai is one of the craziest cities I have ever been to. Between all the smells and people and noises and things, it’s hard to find one’s peace.

Somehow, even though sometimes there are not so pleasant smells, tons people pushing past you, incessant sounds coming from the honking cars, thousands of cars stuck in incessant traffic, and streets filthy with dirt, the city manages to have more than a certain charm. People who live here are known as Mumbaikers (or Bombayites) and they are their city’s biggest fans. They will defend their city to the end. Everyone here loves it. And it’s easy to see why. The city has a vibe that is un-paralleled (at least in my experience). For lack of a better word, it is simply and quite vivaciously alive. There is always something to see and always someone to talk to. There are people happily talking on the streets and haggling in the street markets for cheaper produce. Children are  running around in their school uniforms. And the colors. There are so many colors here. The buildings, the clothes, the food. Everything. I never knew before coming to India that so many colors even existed.

One can say that India is a hard place to live for someone who has lived all their life in the US, and yes, I have to admit that there are differences, but I leave it at that. There are differences. I don’t think one lifestyle is better than the other. All the things that we are used to in the US are simply things that we are used to. Things that don’t matter if you have the people you care about. In my experience, even the worst place on the planet (though I suppose I haven’t been there yet) can be bearable, I would even say enjoyable, if you have good company.

So, here is to 2 more months of constantly being challenged and surprised and confused. To 2 months in this crazy, amazing city.

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Hello from Mumbai!

Hi Everyone!

I have tons of updates coming soon, but I have had some problems with my internet. The problem being that I don’t have any in my apartment haha.

Anyways, just wanted to check in and say that I am loving it here and that my life is COMPLETELY different than in Granada, but I am super excited to tell you all about work and what I have been doing here so far (The scope of which doesn’t extend past my internship too much haha, but still!).

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to share either! I keep forgetting to take some. That will be my homework assignment for the week 🙂


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Hasta Luego

The day arrived and finished as quickly and as ardently as every other day I spent in Granada. It was my final day in Granada. My final day in Spain. From the moment my eyes opened in the bright morning light, I felt a gnawing in my stomach. No, it was not hunger pangs (for once in my life!). It was the effect of all of the emotions I was feeling all at once. It was the effect of all of the memories and relationships from my 5 months in Spain. It’s funny, isn’t it? How sometimes your body knows what you are thinking and feeling before your brain does.

Now, I sit in my aunt’s house in London, wondering, how did this semester begin, take place, and finish in what feels like the blink of an eye? How did it end so quickly? How could I have been drinking Cafe con Leche in Plaza Nueva merely three days ago?

This semester has been the greatest of experiences and adventures. I have been given the opportunity to see and experience places and events and festivals and families and communities and individuals that I would not have been able to experience from Ithaca, NY.

I came to Spain to practice, well, Spanish. If I were being completely honest, I deliberately chose to go abroad partly because I knew I would be taking a bit of a break from the normal Cornell course load this semester, but my personality forced me to come to Spain with a goal: to improve my Spanish, at the very least. Along the same lines, I decided to pursue a minor in Spanish – with which my time abroad would help immensely. Other than this one goal, I came to Spain with an open mind. I wanted to learn, but not be under constant pressure that is present at Cornell. I wanted to learn from relaxation and from the people and culture around me. I wanted to learn from professors that are experts in their fields. Subjects that wouldn’t be done justice at Cornell.

And I did just that. I took classes on Islamic art and architecture (which has a great influence on the culture and look of Granada) and classes on the European Union and classes on the Internationalization of Spanish businesses. And not to sound cheesy or cliche, however, more important were the lessons I learned outside the classroom. I learned that there is such a thing as a work-life-balance. I learned that English only gets you so far. I learned about Spanish and European history. I learned about the Spanish people.

I realized that our actual knowledge, our wisdom, you can call it, comes from the people in our lives. We learn a little bit (or a lot!) from every person that we meet. The single most important part of my semester abroad was the getting the opportunity to meet all of the fabulous people I did. Honestly, I don’t know if I got lucky, or what it was, but the people in my program (with IES) were some of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life.

When I first arrived in Spain, I didn’t want to be friends with any American people; I really wanted to be friends with only Spanish people. At the same time, I really enjoyed the company of the American friends I had already made through the program. I did have a couple moments of crisis: should I have made more Spanish friends? Should I have hung out less with my American friends? To be honest, I don’t know. What I did realize, though, was that even though these friends all came from the same country as me, there was still a lot I could learn from them and their experiences. Most of the students who went to IES Granada this past semester attend small liberal arts colleges in all different parts of the U.S. I really enjoyed learning from their perspective and from their experiences because they are so different from mine. They were people who I value highly, but would have never met at Cornell.

The most important thing about this semester for me though, was the opportunity to live in another country and learn the culture of the people who live there. Though I hang out with American friends, I did have Spanish friends and I did interact with my family and even with the people I encountered in my daily routine. Each of these people provided me with another opportunity to learn. Throughout this semester, I learned that the greatest skill we can have is to understand people, because we are always going to be dealing with people in our lives, and if we can understand and work with a greater number of people, the greater advantage we have and the easier it is for us to improve our communities.

And finally, whether I like to admit it or not, I think I have changed a little. I would like to think that I have taken a little bit of every person I have met and every place I have been. I would like to think that they have become a part of what help to shape who I am.

So, here is my farewell to the beautiful city under the Alhambra hill, Granada. The city which will forever hold a place in my heart.

PS – I am going to be working in India this summer at the Leela Mumbai, so I am going to keep blogging from there! Check out the hotel here, its fabulous!

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AWOL in Granada

This past Saturday, I spent the day about an hour’s drive from the city of Granada in a six-star hotel that is so luxurious that it is not quite part of the town next to it. I spent the day at the Hotel Bobadilla for a wedding, but alas, I was not a guest. In my opinion, I was there for an even more fun reason – I went to go work the wedding! I spent the day setting up tables and place-settings, moving and arranging candles and flowers (lots of flowers!), and helping guests. Sadly though, by the end of the day, my allergies caught up with me – must have been all that flower-moving! It was a blast nonetheless!

For one of my classes here in Granada, I participated in an internship. I was lucky enough to be placed with a Wedding Planner. I have been working with Theresa Guthrie at AWOL in Granada (it stands for A Wedding of a Lifetime – how cute!) since February, and I finally got to see, quite literally, The Wedding of a Lifetime. My time with AWOL has been amazing. I got the writing experience I have been craving for so long through my responsibility to keep up and write in the AWOL blog (a link if you are interested). I got to help plan small parts of a couple different meetings. I got to meet couples and florists. And finally, I got to attend and help set up for one of the most beautiful weddings I could ever imagine.

Needless to say, I had a great experience with my internship, and I highly recommend getting a job or internship while abroad if you can and if you have the interest. It is important to remember, though, don’t do something you don’t enjoy! You will be wasting your time and your boss’s.

Here are some pictures from the wedding:

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IES Nerja/Cabo de Gata

One of the best parts about studying abroad is the fact that you get to travel and see new places. One of the even better parts about studying abroad is that you get to meet new people and form new relationships.

The great thing about Granada specifically is that it is so close to so many different places. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, the beach, and other gorgeous cities are all within a couple hours bus ride from here. Two weekends ago, some friends and I decided to take advantage of this, and we went to Nerja for the weekend. Nerja is a BEAUTIFUL beach town about an hour’s drive from Granada. The great thing about the trip was that I got to spend time with my friends. It really is amazing how close we have become as a group. I was talking to some of them, and we realized how ridiculously happy we all are and how much we all love each other. Every single person in our program is incredibly open, and we are pretty much all one big 75 person family.

Then, last weekend, IES organized yet another beach trip to Cabo de Gata which is a very secluded coast. This one was with the WHOLE group. We hiked 14 km on Friday through a beautiful route and spent the day on the beach on Saturday. I was a little bitter because I wanted to do kayaking, but there was no space left. haha It was still incredibly fun. We all hung out on the beach and talked and enjoyed the beautiful water and sand. We all were slightly nostalgic on the way back, though! The trip made us realize how little time we have left!

A couple pictures from the trips:

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Feminism in Spain

Hola a todos!

I am so sorry it has been so long since I have updated. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t for the life of me think of what to write, so I pushed it off for many many days. Of course, in the last hour I have come up with a thousand and one ideas, so expect quite a few updates in the upcoming days.

So anyways, as you all know (I hope!), I am doing an internship with a wedding planner here in Granada. I’ll write another post about that because that’s a whole other story. I loved loved loved my experience as an intern for this wedding planner, but there is so much to tell!

Ok, I promise I am getting to the point. For this internship, I am required to take a lecture along with it where we talk about the working world in Spain among other things. I originally thought I was going to hate that class and that it was going to be a waste of time and that it was pointless. I soon came to realize that it was my favorite class and, quite honestly, the most useful! Our teacher is amazing, and we learn so much Spanish because we get to talk to much. We also learn so many useful things about life and about the work world in Spain and in Europe.

Yesterday for this class, we had a guest speaker who is a professor for graphic design and marketing (her blog, if you are interested). She gave a talk about the place of the woman in the Spanish workplace. It was really interesting and left me with a lot to think about. Get this, during the time of Franco (Spain’s dictator for a large part of the 20th century), the government published a “Guide to being a good wife”. It was all about how a woman shouldn’t work and should keep the house clean and should always be happy. It was quite silly. The part that struck me the most was that Franco died in 1965. That’s not that long ago, my mom was born 10 years BEFORE that! Nonetheless, it seems that most of Spain has more of less the same mindset as America today when it comes to Women. There have been great improvements in women’s importance and say in society, but there are still some issues. More or less the same issues. In BOTH countries. But America has been fighting this for longer. This movement that started in Spain in the 60s started in the 20s for America. How interesting.

Also, we talked about how men are more, let’s say, “outgoing” here. Some people in my class seemed to be very uncomfortable with some of the men here, but to be honest, I didn’t really notice a difference. I am sure there is one, but I don’t really pay any attention to it in the states, and I don’t really pay attention to it in Spain. Moral of the story: open your eyes. observe the world around you. stay true to yourself, but don’t be complacent because it’s easier.

Lastly, a link that follows this theme, some food for thought:

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Those Last Weeks

I am quickly realizing that I only have 34 days left in Granada. Though that still seems like a lot (it’s a month for goodness sakes!), I know that the time is absoloutely going to fly by. I have papers upon papers for next two weeks before I have my exams. After my exams, I have a week in Granada to say bye to the city that will have been my home for 4 months.

The end of anything always comes along with planning for what is coming next, at least for me! So I have been thinking and thinking. What do I want to do with my life? Where do I want to live when I graduate? Where do I want to work? Would I come back to Granada? Will I lose my Spanish after returning to the states?

At least, I know what I am doing for the summer. I did mention this before, but I AM GOING TO INDIA to work at a really big hotel there! Although I am excited to go and I know it will be an amazing experience, I am a little sad. This will be the first summer I spend away from home and away from D.C. India is going to be interesting. For the first time, I am going there to live (rather than as a tourist). I will get to finally try out the train system, see what types of clothes people wear to work in India, learn how companies work in India, and go to the beach after work (well this one is just me dreaming haha).

Craziest thing. By the time I arrive back in the states, I will have been away for almost exactly 7 months. The longest I have been away my entire life! What an adventure. Someone pinch me.

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The World Goes On

The Boston Marathon Tragedy.  Gun Control Laws. Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest. And whatever is happening in North Korea.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I joined the Cornell Debate Team. I absoloutely loved it. I got to talk a lot (my favorite activity), I got to learn a lot, and I got to meet some really cool people. It also forced me to stay up to date on things that were happening in the world. It quickly became an obsession of mine to read multiple news sources every day. I loved knowing what was happening in the world, and I loved discussing it. I continued reading the news for a while after quitting the debate team last semester, but I slowly stopped. For some reason, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t read about another person dying in Syria. I couldn’t read about the devastating earthquake in Iran. I couldn’t read another rape story. There came a point where everything in the news just made me sick to my stomach.

There came a point where I just avoided any type of news. It was at a point where it was close to unacceptable how little I knew about everything was going on around me. You could say I was in denial. Then I came to Spain, and it became slightly more acceptable to not know anything about the U.S. at least, and I wasn’t really having many political discussions, so I was saved for a while.

Then last week, I went to Morocco. It was the first time I had been in a Muslim country, and I sincerely hate that this is true, but there is a significance to anyone’s first visit to a (specifically) Muslim country. In today’s society, “A Muslim Country” means something different than it did 50 years ago. I went to this country and I learned all about life in a non-secular society. Naturally, many many political topics came up, and I was once again enlightened to what was going on around me. There were so many questions. How is dating in Morocco? How is the education? Why do some women wear hijab and others not? It also raised a lot of discussions about things going on in other parts of the world. It dawned on me that I had NO idea what was going on in North Korea, I didn’t know any of the pop culture trends in America, and I definitely didn’t know about anything in any of the other countries in the world.

Being in Morocco made me lose a bit of faith in the human race because having just returned from Morocco and having met some of the nicest and most hospitable and open people in my life, the tragedy at the Boston Marathon took place. Immediately, social media pages were scattered with people pointing fingers at “Arabs” and “Muslims”. It made me, quite frankly, angry. I know that logically, human nature is to want to put the blame on someone, but to me, it was ridiculous that many jumped to that conclusion with absoloutely no backing. Those people had voiced their opinions without informing themselves first.

Being in Morocco made me realize that really, the most important skill in any person’s arsenal is the ability to understand people. In our entire lives, we are always going to be dealing with different types of people, and the greater variety of people that we have knowledge of, the better we can serve our society. I really did have a once in a lifetime experience. I was given the opportunity to experience (and try to understand) the culture in a community that is completely different than that of the  United States.

Somehow, I know that this skill is intermixed with my knowledge of world happenings, and I would like to begin to inform myself about the world once again, but it’s still hard. It still just gets to me that all of those stories in the news are REAL and I am sitting here, on my computer, in Spain, where my biggest problem is my 10 page paper due in 2 weeks.

On a happier note, check out this website my friend showed me:

Also, some pictures from Morocco:

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When the extraordinary becomes just ordinary

Have you ever experienced that feeling when something extraordinary slowly just becomes plain ordinary after some time? Perhaps after 1, 2, 3, or 4 years at Cornell, you no longer marvel at every sunset over Libe slope or at the beautiful foliage in the fall. You stop yourself one day and wonder how you just walk by that beautiful sight every day without stopping on your way to class, while during your first semester, you would stop and study and picture and instagram every flower, tree, and view.

The same sort of thing has happened to me. Life in Granada is normal. Schoolwork is picking up. I no longer gaze at the Sierra Nevada mountain range on my walk home. I don’t feel like an explorer every time I discover a new street. It’s just normal. Just as if I were back in Ithaca…except not.

Life in Granada is notably different from life at Cornell (in many many good ways, and some not as good!), but I supposed you could say that the “honeymoon” phase is over. I am still in love with this city, but it doesn’t have the intrigue of a wrapped gift anymore. Quite honestly, life got in the way of my love affair with the city. I’ve papers to write, exams to take, and meetings to go to.

Though it is sad that this ‘honeymoon’ phase of my abroad experience is over, I am secretly excited! It feels like Granada is where my life is right now. It finally feels like I have moved here – not that I am here for a visit. It finally feels, well, normal and un-exciting. Maybe I am grandma, but I love the un-exciting things just as much (if not more!) than the exciting. There is a certain comfort in them. There is a certain accountability and stability in them. How weird. I LIVE in Granada.

I just have to remind myself to take in those beautiful moments every once in a while 🙂

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