beginnings, endings, and mugs of butterbeer

Another old post, borrowed from the old blog. After returning from Valencia last summer, I spent the remaining 6 weeks before classes living on my own at the apartment, alternating between part-time work on grounds and interning with a Spanish professor during the week. It was fitting, after all, since my part-time job consists of me working with words on pages. Sometimes poetry, sometimes manuscripts of fiction novels, sometimes letters to old friends.

And working for upwards of 6 hours a day in almost total silence, save for an iPod plugged into my ears and a new set of texts by my side, I had ample time to muse about anything and everything. After a visit to Orlando that winter, though, and a looming final film on the horizon, my thoughts turned, unsurprisingly, to a childhood full of magic wands, flying broomsticks, and a boy with a scar on his forehead.

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hola, buenas, chao, y hasta

June 24, 2011

Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve learned quite a lot. That is, of course, the general aim when one studies abroad, but what I’ve learned stretches far beyond the limits of an entire semester’s worth of two classes condensed into four short weeks.

I’ve grown to love a new country; I’ve gained a level of confidence in my speaking ability which I never would have had otherwise; I’ve learned many useful [mostly inappropriate, though colloquially acceptable] new phrases; I’ve adjusted to a new eating, sleeping, and academic schedule; I’ve been introduced to beautiful architecture, delicious foods, and amazing sights; I’ve met incredible new people; I’ve found myself feeling lost and uncertain; and I’ve found myself breaking out of my comfort zone and adapting to a new way of life.

But most of all, I’ve learned that I still have so much to learn about the world.

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arabian nights in the south of spain

June 20, 2011

I’ve already mentioned the dichotomy between Spain and Portugal, two completely different environments for two countries so close to one another, but I didn’t realize that the same feeling could exist within Spain itself. Of course, in the back of my mind it was obvious; after all, the United States is an enormous mixture of cultures, accents, cuisines, and ambiance, so it would only make sense that a country as old as Spain, rich with a history of regionalism, would be similar.

Mostly, though, I think it was the prevalence of Arab culture permeating through the narrow streets of Granada, subtly transparent as it was, that really struck me.

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playas and ñamñams

It has been almost a full year since I hopped aboard a plane at JFK on a flight to Madrid. It was a study abroad trip; 4.5 weeks in Valencia, 6 miles from the coast of Spain, and fully immersed in a sleepless country – music blaring from dusk until noon the next morning, hours upon hours spent in cafes and restaurants, miles strolling through busy streets and small shops, and an entire world of culture.

Before I transferred over to WordPress, my old blog was set up at Blogger. There, I detailed my journey in Spain, but I wanted to give you all over here a glimpse into the beauty of the country. So here are my words, taken from the old blog like pages from a journal.

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♫ merry christmas, ring the hogwarts bell

During December of 2010, I visited Orlando with two of my cousins and my sister, Yusra. Orlando, to be sure, was a lovely city to be in during the winter; the weather was perfect, strolling downtown in the relative quit was beyond peaceful, and the greenery still lining the trees was a welcome contrast to the skeletal branches of Virginia.

But the real gem, and purpose, of our visit was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I’m quite certain I may have actually teared up when  I first caught a glimpse of the castle. I man, it was more or less my entire childhood bursting to life before my eyes.

Between the quaint replica of Hogsmeade to the castle interior, every detail was accounted for and nothing went unnoticed by my keen, knowing eye. I entered the park expecting to spend the weekend scrutinizing this and that – Ollivander’s isn’t nearly cluttered enough, the Three Broomsticks looks nothing like it did in the films, they’re certainly going to leave some of the candy out of Honeydukes – but was pleasantly surprised to find absolutely nothing to criticize.

Well, I suppose, aside from the fact that the park isn’t within walking distance of my apartment, but I’ll give them a pass on that one.

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