Archive for October, 2008

So it’s Monday and I am officially (and willfully) unemployed. I feel free. I’m watching the Santa Ana winds blowing through the bright green leafs of the trees and the clear blue water of the pool outside my window. When I was a kid, I used to run outside and play in these same winds. I’d let it blow through my hair and my clothes; I’d lean against it and its invisible force would hold me up. 

I think that, maybe, there’s a lot of invisible forces that hold us up. And this past week, saying goodbye after goodbye to so many people that I care about, I realize that over the last three years its been the love and friendship of these people that has been holding me up. 

In five days, I’m going to Spain to expand and challenge myself, but it’s really been here, in California, where I have gotten to know myself, and I’ve learned I can make it through just about anything. As I see friend after friend and hug goodbye, I can feel myself turning the page, but I know it will be a place I’m never truly away from and one I will visit often. 

This is not to say I will never return to California, I just know it will never be the same again. 

I happened to find this book someone gave my mom as a gift when she graduated from college. It’s called The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, and I’ve loved reading it because it feels like, maybe, it’s something my mom would want me to know. It sums up a lot of how I feel:

“How shall I go in peace without sorrow? Nay, without wound in the spirit shall I leave this city.

Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and long were the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from his pain and his aloneness without regret?

Too many fragmants of the spirit have I scattered in these streets, and too many are the children of my longing that walk naked among these hills, and I cannot withdraw from them without burden and ache. 

It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin I tear with my own hands. 

Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst. 

Yet I cannot tarry longer. 

The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark.

For to stay, though the hours burn in the night, is to freeze and crystallize and be bound in mould.”


In the past three years, I have experienced the biggest heartaches, losses, and challenges of my life. And leaving here, the place of these heartaches and the healing that has taken place since, is going to be strange and sad. But, I know something bigger is calling me, and moving on is what I have to do.


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It was around 9PM last night, as I finished taking an online Spanish placement exam for my classes in Barcelona, that I realized my Spanish is about as rusty as the old Honda coup that’s been sitting in the side yard of my childhood home since Reagan was president. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was not terribly disheartened, nor was I particularly surprised, but as I looked at my computer screen full of words, phrases, and syntax I either didn’t recognize or only found vaguely familiar, all I could think was: “Andrea, you have a lot of work to do.”

But that, after all, is why I’m doing this. Sure I’m expecting Spain to be amazing, and beautiful, and fun, but I also know it will not be easy. I mean, all that “mind-expanding,” “life-changing,” “self-improving,” “language learning” mumbo-jumbo which is the real purpose of this journey are not really going to happen with out my full participation and willingness to work.

Which was why I only let myself feel defeated by the placement test for a moment. How can I feel defeated when I have this amazing opportunity to improve?

Now, packing, on the other hand…. Let’s just say that if there was a placement exam for packing, I would most likely be placed in the remedial class, or maybe just not allowed to enroll at all. I can imagine receiving my rejection letter from a school we’ll call “University of Basic Life Skills,” stating: “We’re sorry, but we do not accept students who have not met our ‘folding clothes before putting them into a suitcase’ and ‘knowing how to decide what and what not to take on a trip’ prereqs.”

Ok, well, maybe I’m not that bad…but then, it depends on who you ask. Anyway, I am lost as to where I should start, and so, as a result, have simply just not started yet. Probably, I will pack as I usually do, all willy-nilly and border-line panicky the night before (a method frowned upon by the aforementioned fictitious University), throwing clothes in my suitcase and making last minute, cut throat clothing decisions that I will later regret. (Cut to Andrea in Barcelona “Ugh, I can’t believe I decided not to bring ____”).

But, oh well, who cares? Because, did I mention, I’ll be living in SPAIN?!?

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Last days

Tomorrow is my last day at work, at UCI. And then onto my last weekend in Orange County. Followed by my last few days in California. I’ve been saying good byes left and right. And from my left and right I keep feeling the warmth and support from so many people, and I couldn’t feel more grateful.

Today, Peggie walked with me to the parking lot after work. She says:

“Hey there short-timer!” then we walk a few steps, smiling and laughing.

“You’re going to have such a wonderful life! I’m so proud of you!”

And I almost cried. Thanks, Peggie.

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Barcelona is waiting for me. It’s been pulling me towards it like a long lost friend for about nine months now; living, bustling, thriving in the back of my mind. I don’t know why it was Barcelona that decided to curl up in my brain and take up residence, but I’ve been wanting (or needing, rather) to travel and live abroad for a long time now, years I’d say. I started actually turning this need/ want into action last December, where I sat alone in my apartment the morning after the Christmas party my roommates and I had thrown. After all the noise, and bustle, and laughter of the party had died down, after our overnight guests had woken up and waved goodbye, and after my roommates had helped me clean up a bit and then left themselves, I sat alone feeling empty. Empty and knowing that I was ready to find a way to fill myself up. And so, my friends, I did what any 23-year-old child of the new millennium would do: I began searching the web. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I was thorough and I was determined. I looked high and low: at grad school programs, at teaching abroad programs, at blogs about living abroad, at information site after information site dedicated to travel. I tried, to the best of my web searching abilities with all of my twenty-first century heart, to leave no stone unturned, no website of interest unread.

If I had started that search with only an inkling of needing travel, I ended it with a feeling of absolute certitude. Just imaging myself abroad began to fill up my empty spots and make my fingers tingle. I no longer had a choice: this was where my life was going. I wasn’t sure exactly where, or how, and, to tell you the truth, after months of research and looking for options, I can’t even remember how Barcelona became my goal, but I knew I was going to head out into the world.

And so, here I am now, sitting in a Huntington Beach Starbucks, just two weeks away from my departure. I wanted to start this blog for a few different reasons: to keep my family and friends up to date, to keep myself writing, to have a recorded account of my travels  (you know, the usual reasons). I will write a couple more entries before I leave, and then try to update it weekly while I’m in BCN. I can’t tell you how excited I am to get going, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with all who read.

Side notes:

-I will be posting pictures soon! (I have nothing to do with the ones that show up now on the side bar).

-The picture on the top of this page has nothing to do with Barcelona. It’s just one of my favorite pictures I took in Seattle, and I didn’t want to post a picture that wasn’t mine, you know, in case of copy right and such.

-Please feel free to comment and share this page, even if I don’t know you. Thanks! 🙂

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