Another long post:D Take it in sessions, if you must! (But you must..)

I've finally completed the 4 assignments for my pre-departure course seminar. The course isn't required but something I opted for. There's incentive to it, of course, I earn an extra credit or something like that. Maybe it's 0.5 credit, so why not? 

Why did I not turn in all of the 4 assignments based on the deadlines? 1) I didn't know there was a course syllabus with stringent dates listed. 2) the assignments when I looked at them, (yes, at the appropriate times) were not as intriguing as I hoped.. and, I'll be honest, required a little too much time then I was willing to offer at those designated times. Boom.

The assignments: My Country Fact Sheet (33+ ?'s), a Hopes and Fears Exercise (less demanding), Travel Planning Exercise (fictional but still annoying, for lack of a better word(; ) and lastly, a Letter to Self. Committed to having another post before the 1st of December dawns upon me, I took the Letter to Self exercise as a perfect method to express what's been going on in my head lately. I did follow the guidelines that they suggested but I more so tried to incorporate my ideas into in a way I saw fitting for my third post. Here it is! (Minus the direct references and addresses to myself.)

I don’t think of Granada anymore as my last resort in program options—but instead as my first legitimate opportunity!

In a very general sense I hope to do a lot of ‘firsts’ and new things. This seems like a very achievable/easy task seeing as I will be in a new area of the world I have never been and traveling with people I am unfamiliar with. Having said that, I want to meet many new people and establish friendships that will last a lifetime. I sincerely hope that I am placed with a family in a homestay that is a perfect fit so I can honestly say that I have a European family away from my home in American suburbia.

I’m currently working with some Bradley networks (former Study Abroad students, now EXPERTS!) that are giving me the 411 on life in Granada and I am learning more and more about the country before the new year sets in, which is extremely comforting.

I’m incredibly anxious (but words cannot truly express how I really feel) about starting this new chapter of my life. That’s how I see it; it is the next step and path of my design. The experience will be what I make it! So what do I aim to make out of it?

My main goals for the experience have not changed really since the October 1st deadline when I turned in my application to the program… Culture, Culture, Culture, Travel, fluency with the Spanish language, stay fit, and have fun! I fully expect myself to be doing more extracurricular activities rather than studying intensively as I do here in my undergraduate studies at Bradley as an International Studies and Spanish double major. As a Division-I athlete I have committed to being a tremendous STUDENT-athlete/at the highest level possible, even if this means I don’t have as much of a crazy social life as I have had in past semesters (Exhibit A: this fall semester 2011 being enrolled in my final Advanced Seminar in International Studies course where I had to complete my senior thesis, a 41+ page research paper of my design). That being said, I cannot wait to wholly embrace the Spaniard classmates and new Central College friends I will acquire.

I cannot ignore the fact that I do still have some anxieties and apprehension in my ‘planning’ periods of preparation before I actually depart:

A.     A few have already mentioned how “mad” I am to be traveling on Friday the 13th. But I am not superstitious. I have faith. I am meant to be in Spain next semester.

B.     Upon going to the Spanish Consulate General in Chicago, on October 26th, the employee told me that I would have my Student Visa back in approximately 3 weeks. It’s been 5…

C.     I’m a heavy packer, whether it’s a 2-day trip, a week-a-way trip… I see this as a ‘potential problem’ to say the least. I have already been advised to not bring too high quality of clothing/dry clean only clothing because the methods of laundry do not always account for these needs. I have already been advised not to bring too much clothing simply because I’m going to want to do some major damage there because of the extremely cheap sales in Granada. That’s obviously not a problem for me; I love to shop. But I’ve already been doing shopping for Granada.

D.     The weather. I’ve somewhat heard mixed things about weather. I really want to be a fashion icon in my skirts, dresses, and heels I’ve been purchasing lately. I’ve been reminded that Granada is neighbored by mountains…

E.      Are there going to be viable options for men and dating? Because there sure aren’t where I’m from! (Obviously this isn’t that important but it’s something I’m thinking about!)

F.      Will I be disregarded because I am American? Or accepted because I am American?

G.     When I try to engage in conversation with a Spaniard, will I receive a response in English…in May?

H.     Will I get homesick?

I.        Will I be 100% prepared come the New Year and the weeks following prior to departure? There’s so much to do… prepping for my international change with credit card companies, cell phone companies, insurance, and the works..

To just name a few…
Every day some “anxieties” pass and new ones join the ones simultaneously circulating around in my head. I challenge myself to continue to dream while I’m there. And after I’ve done some adequate dreaming, I need to Dream Bigger. The things that I haven’t had time for this semester, I want to do as much as possible in my final (& ONLY) ‘free’ semester as a NARK (again, a non-athlete regular kid)! Specifically these types of things will include but are not limited to reading, writing, travel, and photography, as well as overcome J. All of the above.

And to conclude: in this trip I will be my biggest challenger & supporter!

 
 
I thought it would be neat to post the personal statement I was required to submit with my application. I actually had to submit a personal statement twice because I had first applied (and almost completed) an application to the Sevilla program.

After changing my study plans, I revised and resubmitted it for Granada. It portrays my desired outcomes for the experience, why I am engaging in this opportunity, and gives a little insight about travel and the sharing of culture means to me. Please enjoy! (Although, It is a little long[:)

A good majority of my dreams growing up have always been centered on traveling the world. I'm fascinated by people, culture, language, and the traditions that keep these things spanning worldwide. I honestly believe that I was meant to be outside of the United States. I come from a multi-cultural family and ancestry. Four different languages can be heard in my household at any given time and I just wish that I could say that I fully comprehend every conversation being had.

One of my favorite hobbies is photography. In my travels across the globe that I planned for myself and my future as a young child, I desired to capture all of the beautiful places, faces, and dreams that I came across. In my undergraduate studies I knew that studying abroad for an extended period of time was going to be a mandatory experience. This correlated very closely with my academic career plans when I declared an International Studies major (in addition to a later declared Spanish major). As a Division-I collegiate student-athlete I knew that my time to engage in this kind of activity would be extremely limited; I would have to put one of my biggest dream on hold until I completed another personal dream of a D-I athletic career was, until the very last semester of my undergraduate academic experience. The past 3 1/2 years as a student-athlete at a private university have constantly challenged me to go above and beyond in everything that I do in order to achieve success as well as stay driven by determination and dreams. After 3 1/2 years of life every day in an area of the world that I have become so accustomed to I am ready to accept a new challenge in the world of the unfamiliar!

Spanish culture in particular is one that I have a strong desire to know better. In my final year at Bradley University my biggest goal in addition to completion of my double major is becoming fluent in Spanish. I currently am enrolled in three upper level Spanish courses back to back that I attend three days out of the school week. I have had exposure to the language for many years now in Spanish courses since elementary school. I long to have personal exposure in a culture where I am able to fully absorb the language.

After the acquisition of a second language I know I will be ready to face any other challenge that may come my way. After I have mastered the Spanish language I will then commit to conquering the French/Creole languages.

I have traveled abroad two different times to Europe in the past. The first was a 9-day "Eurotour" planned with my competitive club volleyball team in 2008. On this tour we visited Prague in the Czech Republic, Maribor in Slovenia, Vienna in Austria, and Munich in Germany. In addition to submersing ourselves with the unfamiliar land we also had the chance to partake in numerous conversations with European natives in team excursions and competitions against professional-level female volleyball teams.

In summer of this year (2011) I enrolled in a U.S. Foreign Policy class in Madrid, España, for a 16-day program offered by my university in the heart of Madrid, Puerta del Sol. With a few of my friends I was able to gain some firsthand knowledge of what living en un pueblo español is really like. This short summer trip had me anxiously awaiting another adventure overseas and back to Spain. I am overly excited to finally be submitting my application to commit to completely delving into my #1 vision, even if this time I must go in at it alone.

My objectives are to learn as much about Spanish culture as I possibly can. Every day I want to become more comfortable in conversing with the natives and expressing myself in the language. I speak English at home with my family but I would like to be able to speak Spanish effortlessly with my mother at home upon my return.

I aim to share the knowledge that I acquire with the world around me upon completion of this program. I will do that with the words and with the images I plan to capture while I am there. From prior experience in the country, I know that the images and the story of my experience can only attempt to graze the surface of the vast amount of beauty that lies in that region of the world. I hope that after living there for a few months I can produce something that equates to even a "satisfactory" representation of that.

My extended-stay in España in the Spring will serve as the foundation for many studies and travels abroad (as well as return trips!) in the future that will lead eventually to habitation outside of the United States, como yo siempre he deseado en mis sueños.

 
 
I've been meaning to create this blog since I first started my application process for a study abroad program. The application deadline was October 1! So I'll just briefly visit that time:

Studying abroad for an entire semester has been something I have always wanted to do. As a Division I student-athlete playing volleyball, my time would be limited to pursue this endeavor. Every semester we train, travel, and compete ---until our senior year, spring semester when we become NARKs (non-athletic regular kids).


My search for a suitable program was not an easy one. My first desired option? The beautiful city of Sevilla, a city that I have only dreamed of going to. After visiting Madrid in the summer (May 2011) to study for 2 weeks I had every intention of finding my way back there! Unfortunately, at Bradley there is no directed program to that part of Spain. Next viable option? Back to Sevilla! 

In my current semester at Bradley, I am finishing up my first undergraduate degree in International Studies. In Spain I will need to finish my double major, in Spanish. I have 3 more required courses to take while I am there before successfully complete my second undergrad degree. Unfortunately for me, these three courses weren't guaranteed in the Sevilla program!

Which lead me to my final decision: the city of Granada! In order to get the three class requisites that I need, I have to test into the highest program 'Estudios Hispanicos'....