Spring Update

Life:

Everything is looking great at this moment in life. I can’t complain. I will be back in Madrid for another school year teaching English. I got accepted into the BEDA Programme and that means I can stay in Spain on a new visa up to four years. I don’t know if I will stay in Madrid that long, but the idea is entertaining to me. I need to start getting ready to go home for the summer. I need to get a ticket, start packing, working on getting a new visa, and many other things. I am going to sign up for a GRE course back in the States and plan to be a student mostly this summer. I can’t wait to have the GRE under my belt. My next goals in life will be NYC and NYU. I still want to travel and teach overseas for a little bit; before, I return to the States and possibly start a doctoral programme in International Education or International Communication.

Tulips in the Netherlands:

I went on a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I got to see the tulips in bloom. The fields of tulips were colurful and just beautiful. I’ve never seen so much colur in one space. I spent about 4 hours in the Keukenhof Gardens and really enjoyed the beauty the flowers. It was so lovely. I went a little crazy taking pictures of the flowers. Overall, it was a great experience to visit the Keukenhof Gardens. I knocked something off my bucket list. I feel accomplished.

Amsterdam:

Amsterdam is a unique city built with canals and waterways. Plus, some people live in boat houses. This city is very different compared to other cities I have visited. The city is a very open minded and I find comfort in this fact. I am a little odd and sometimes don’t fit the mold of what society expects.  There are BDSM bars, coffee shops, and many other unique things only found in Amsterdam. One of the many reasons why so many people flock to this city is because of the legalisation of weed and prostitution.

Some people come from the U.K. to party on the weekend and have a grand time. Then, head back to the U.K. During a walking tour, I discovered that locals in Amsterdam are tired of all the tourist coming to their city to trash Amsterdam and party. The city is working on finding a solution to solve the problem. I wasn’t aware of this problem until my visit. Amsterdam is a party centre for some. Not for me though.

I was impressed with the city’s museums. I went to two museums: the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. Lots of Dutch artists found in this museum. The Van Gogh Museum houses a lot of works by Van Gogh. Also, holds the record for having the most works of Van Gogh in on place. If you like Dutch artists or Van Gogh, you will be pleased with your visit to these museums.

If you move fast, Amsterdam can be seen in two days. I don’t think I care to go back anytime soon, but when I am older I will possibly return to Amsterdam. I have too many places on my travel list to visit, so I want to focus on seeing new places.

Future Trips:

I have 2 more trips planned;before, I return to the States for the summer. I am going back to Barcelona in a couple of weeks and will be heading to Marseille in France in late June. I will spend this summer planning some trips for the coming school year. This year I plan to start saving more of money for my future. I need to start getting more serious about my future.

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An Emotional Visit to Auschwitz

On March 18th, 2016, I went to Auschwitz a concentration camp in Poland. The experience of visiting this concentration camp opened a door that showed the un-beautiful and evil side of humanity. I still can’t believe how recent the crimes that took place here happened. It was nearly 71 years ago when Auschwitz closed on January 27, 1945. The Red Army (the Soviets) liberated the prisoners of Auschwitz. I’ve read a lot on this topic.    Plus, I’ve watched many documentaries about World War II and Auschwitz. I have learned a lot, but all the learning I have done didn’t prepare me emotionally for my visit.  There isn’t anyway to emotionally prepare for a visit to Auschwitz. The emotions one will experience will be dark, depressing, and just shock.

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I experienced all kinds of different emotions while at Auschwitz. I was mainly in a state of shock during my visit. It’s one thing to watch or read about Auschwitz, but to be present at the crime scene where such evil was committed is a totally different level of emotion and realism. I couldn’t believe around nearly 1.1 million people were murdered at this concentration camp at the hands of the Nazis. It’s a massive camp with smaller sister camps nearby. For me two exhibits set everything into reality: the room with all the shoes and the room with women’s hair of the murdered victims.The hair and shoes once belonged to a living person. A person with a name and life story that disappeared from this Earth in less than two hours to ash. No more and lost to time. GONE. To think this happened is a very eerie feeling and bone chilling.

All the torn and dusty objects on display still can’t help someone comprehend the large scale, for the mass destruction that took place at Auschwitz is unfathomable. One in six Jews who died in the Holocaust were murdered here, and more people died here than the British  and American lives lost during World War II combined. The life lost here is the highest in the history of mankind. It’s so high that I had a hard time trying to imagine the people lost. It’s impossible.

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As I was touring Auschwitz, I felt a heavy emotion of sadness over come me. I felt this way the whole time as I was walking around the concentration camp. This heavy emotion was like a dark rain cloud above me. Kinda of like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh with his little rain cloud that follows him around in the cartoon series. I can’t remember another time in my life where I felt such strong heartache and misery at one time. These emotions were deeper than spells of depression I have experienced in my life. When I was in my late teens to my early 20s, I had some very dark spells of depression that I had to wrestle through. It’s hard to describe such senses in writing. To feel these depressing emotions and to fully understand what I am explaining, one needs to make the trip to Auschwitz.

Many people call Auschwitz a museum, but to me it is more than a museum or memorial. It’s a cemetery to those who were murdered by the Nazis. There are no individual tombstones marking every single victim killed, but there are building remains from 1940-1945 and memorials setup as reminders of what happened to all the victims. The victims’ ashes were thrown in the nearby river or placed on the soil.

Going to Auschwitz is a form of paying your respects to the victims of the Holocaust and remembering the evil that was committed there. As mankind as a whole, we mustn’t forget these evil crimes committed. We need to remember what happened and never repeat such crimes. If we forget, we have set a destiny of repeating such tragic and horrendous crimes again to our fellow brothers and sisters of the human race.

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One thing that really annoyed me while I was at Auschwitz was the lack of respect had people had for this place. I saw a lot of people taken selfies with selfie sticks. Let me ask. Would you take a selfie with a dead loved one in their casket? The answer is probably no.I think it’s unacceptable to take selfies with selfie sticks at such a place.

I recall seeing people taking selfies with the entrance gate with the famous words Arbeit Macht Frei sign. Just made me sick seeing people take these pictures. Another incident was a person climbing over a chained off area to get a selfie with the remains of one of the crematoriums. Absolutely totally no respect for the victims of the Holocaust. Seeing people have no respect, made my stomach twist and turn. I was very sick seeing these people take out a selfie sticks and take pictures at Auschwitz. I definitely believe selfie stick should be banned at this location because it is a cemetery and memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

I do realize that humans react differently to events, stories, and ect. However, I still believe many people would experience the same kind of emotions I described above. I just do not understand how people could think it’s a great idea to take a selfie with the remains of a crematorium where innocent peoples’ corpses where burned and turned to ash. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think it’s very disrespectful to take pictures of this nature here.This was the only thing that made me very upset about others at this concentration camp. This is my only complaint. Now on to why everyone should visit Auschwitz.

I believe everyone should make the trip to Auschwitz. Why? Auschwitz shows mankind how evil and dark the human race has been. It’s an important reminder that humankind mustn’t tread in those waters again. Seeing Auschwitz shows the soul the dark side of human nature that is possible if one is allowed to do such horrid acts against their fellow brothers and sisters of the human race. We mustn’t forget where we have come from because if we forget we are doomed to repeat such atrocious acts. History can and will repeat itself, so it is our duty to be educated about the events of the past and not to forget what mankind has done.

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After this trip, I feel that I am better human because I have seen the remains of what happened at Auschwitz. Going to Auschwitz has been on the major life changing highlights of my life.  I am aware of the dark side of humankind and how this evil can act towards fellow humans. I pray we never enter this realm again. We must never forget what happened during the Holocaust.

Solo Travel: Why I Love Going Solo

Over the last year and a half, I have become very fond of solo travel. I have been on many solo trips to Paris, London, Munich, Vienna, Italy (Rome, Florence, Naples, Scotland, and more. As female solo traveler, I find power and freedom in going to places by myself. It is a rewarding feeling to know that I planned and put a holiday together by myself. This gives me confidence in believing that I can do anything in life that I want to accomplish.  Solo traveling makes me a stronger human.

I love going on trips by myself because I can promote more personal growth. Plus, allow myself to discover the world without other people affection my views on life. During my holidays, I don’t feel alone on my trips ever.  Because no matter where I have gone by myself, I have always met many people on my trips. When traveling by yourself, you are never truly alone. Some way you meet other fellow travellers on the road.

Safety is very important to me. When traveling alone, I always put my safety and well being at the top of my list. It’s all about using common sense. Bottom line is don’t leave your common sense  at home. I don’t put myself in unsafe situations. I take care of myself because I can on depend on myself while I am traveling by myself.

I love how I can focus on what I want to spend my time on in a city. If I want to go slow, I can take my time and enjoy what I want to see. There are times that I want to move fast and have an action packed day. When I was in Paris, during the November 2015 attacks, I had one day see what I could in Paris. I got up early and went out to see the major attractions of Paris. Plus, I saw the Eiffel Tower twice in that day. It was amazing. I hope to go back to Paris next spring, so I give the city of lights a proper chance. I enjoy creating the pace of how I will move and see things during my holiday.

I am hoping to spend another year in Spain and then move to Korea. I am running out on places to see in Europe. Don’t get me wrong I love Europe and living here. However, I want to see other parts of the world and allow myself time to see new cultures and learn a new language.  While I am in Korea, I want to go to Japan, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and more a few other places.  For places like India, China, and Thailand I will go on a group tour so I can be safe.  I want to experience life, be happy, and travel.

Update 19/2/16

At the start of February, I went on a weekend trip to Romania and Transylvanian. Other than traveling, I have started walking 3-4 times a week with a friend. My back is doing a lot better compared to a year ago, but three weeks ago I pulled a muscle in my back and was home for over a week. I was nervous about my back causing me to go back to my back doctor. All that matters is that I can go to work, walk, and live a normal life.

On the 15th, I got news that I had been waitlisted for a master’s programme in Madrid. I am hoping to be back in Madrid next school year. I am having to wait till May to find out if I will be in Galicia or Madrid. So nerve wrecking at times because I want to know where I will call home next school year. I want to stay in Madrid. I recently booked everything for Semana Santa. I plan to visit Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Prague, and Poland during the break. I still need to plan a trip for the long weekend at the end of April. Also, I planned a weekend trip to Barcelona. I am looking forward to experiencing Barcelona in the late spring. This is everything going on in my world. I can’t believe March will be here soon. I only have 4 months left till I fly home for the summer. Time is flying by too fast here.

Leaving Early from Spain Through the North American and Language and Cultural Programme

I’ve been wanting to write a post about my experience leaving Ministry of Education Programme early. During March, I made the choice to go home early. For most of the summer, I was worried about jeopardising my chances of being able to participate in the Ministry of Education Programme for the 20115-2016 school year. Why was I worried? I didn’t find enough information about leaving early and how it would effect me in the Ministry of Education Programme.  I think anyone would be nervous about making a choice like this and not fully knowing what the end results would be. Especially, if you are living and working overseas.

I have been very lucky with the school I was assigned to work as an auxiliary. My school was fine with me leaving. This may not be fine in other communities in Spain. I have been in Community of Madrid for nearly two school years now, so double check with the community you work in. It depends on the school  and community you work for and if they are willing to let you leave early. As long as you follow the exiting process with the Ministry of Education, you are fine to come back for another school year. Before I left Spain for the summer, I had to write a letter stating that I was leaving early for a summer job and that I didn’t expect pay for the month of June. After the letter was submitted to my boss, I was free to go and it didn’t jeopardise me coming back. I still had some doubt in the back of my mind that I was going to have trouble.

When I got back to United States, I had to apply for a new visa to come back to Spain. It was a pain, but worth going through all the pain to come home early. Plus, I had to request a Spanish background check from the U.S. I got my background check without any issue. It took two weeks to get the background check. I was surprised about that because Spain is notorious for taking forever to accomplish anything.

When I returned to Spain, I made an appointment to get a new NIE card. I got back to Spain and had no issues with getting a new NIE card or going back to school. Also, when applying for new NIE card you act as if you are getting a NIE card for the first time. My visa is about to expire at the end of December, but I can now come and go as I want without any problems.  Again this is a reminder that everything works out in the end.

Visiting Paris During the Terrorist Act

 

On Friday the 13th of November, Paris was attacked by a group of terrorists in the 10th and 11th districts. Before the attacks happened, I was finishing dinner with my tour group. I was 10 minutes walking distance from the restaurants, cafes, and bars where the shootings and bombings took place. I am still in shock about how close I was to the events. This event was a wake up call for me about life and death. This was the first time in my life that I had experienced a close call with death. I could have been caught on the street walking back to my accommodations and shot dead. Thankfully, I took the underground back to my hotel. At the moment, I am still coming to terms with the possible fact that I could have been killed in Paris. This fact still sends chills down my spine. I am thankful I wasn’t killed, but it is still tragic that there were victims from this awful crime against humanity.

I pray ISIS is destroyed, but I do realize another group will come into power. I wish bombings and shooting were not in this world. It’s awful to do such acts against your fellow man. Even though there’s negativity in the world like ISIS, there is still beauty and good in this world. It was amazing to hear and see how citizens of Paris were allowing strangers into their houses and cab drivers were offering free rides home to people. It’s amazing to see the world support France during her time of need. I am sad how this event was highlighted and how other events like this have not been brought to the attention of the world. Events like this are happening in many places around the world that the media chooses not to cover. The world needs to join forces to wipe out this evil and make the world a better place for all of mankind.

I know this event has made some Americans nervous about traveling to France, Europe, and anywhere else. This kind of event could take place in my hometown of Austin, Texas, or anywhere else in the world. This event has not changed my views on traveling and living overseas. Life and bad things happen, but we have to keep on living. I am not trying to sound cold when I say this, but I am trying to make the statement that life moves on and we mustn’t be stuck in the past. Life is meant for living in the present and not in the past. I will continue to work and live in Madrid, Spain, and travel throughout Europe because this is my dream. Nobody is going to keep me from achieving my dreams.

I pray for a better tomorrow where there are no acts of terrorism.

Landed in Madrid on 23/09

Yesterday was not too bad. I landed in the late afternoon in Madrid. I didn’t have a bad case of jet lag.   I wasn’t in a lot of pain, I have had a back problem for the last year  ,during my flight. Last year I was dying during my flight with pain. My back has some what healed. I hope this problem becomes less and less. I ended up sharing a cab to the centre and got to my hostel by 5:30 p.m. I am so glad to be back in Madrid. Now I am just trying to focus on trying to find a piso (flat) in before work starts next week The weather is very nice right now. I can wear tights and light sweaters and not feel like I am going to die from the heat. It’s been a little hard trying to find a place. I hope I land something soon. Girl Scouts starts up next week. I am looking forward to this school year. Good vibes. Good vibes.