Because I switched my phone over to Spanish back in August, that’s what my Siri speaks, and sometimes my weather app glitches so sometimes I just ask Siri ¿qué es el tiempo hoy? meaning “what’s the weather today?” One day I guess I was just being a minimalist and asked ¿qué es el tiempo? expecting a little sun or some clouds to pop up, but Siri responded “el tiempo es una ilusión.” Um what? Well, in Spanish tiempo can mean “weather” or “time” depending entirely on the context, so since I didn’t specify “today” she interpreted it as “what is time?” Wow Siri, so deep.
But now that I think about it, Siri is completely right! I am absolutely flabbergasted that it’s already March. It wasn’t until I started planning out my semester that I realized just how little time I have left here. I know I titled my last post “halfway there” but I swear it’s practically over and I’m already beginning to feel the bittersweetness of it all coming to an end. I think this semester is going by so fast in comparison to last semester because even though I arrived in August, we didn’t start class until September, and we had a week long break in December and then another two week (Christmas) break before final exams, so everything was much more spread out. This time February went by in a flash, partially because it took me two weeks to just finalize my class schedule. March will be a blur of exams, half of April is Easter break, 2 friends are coming to visit at various times for a total of 2.5 weeks, I have a bit of time to study, and then BAM. Finals. Over.
Which brings me to summer. For which I still don’t even know which country I’ll be in. But don’t worry, when I know, you’ll know, because I’ll (hopefully) be so excited that I won’t be able to keep it to myself.
Anyway, I’m jumping ahead of myself. This semester I’m taking four classes, three in English and one in Spanish(!!!). I tried to pick a favorite but I’m not sure if I can, so I’ll pick a least favorite: Uncertainty Analysis. It’s really just a fancy name for statistics. Yes, it’s necessary because really engineering ultimately relies on statistics, but oh my goodness it’s such a confusing and mind-numbing subject. And please, someone explain to me what a gram squared is. I would love to know.
I’m also taking Coastal Engineering and Geotechnical Engineering (part II) which are two of my design electives and I find them both super interesting. Coastal is about waves, patterns, statistics, and designing coastal structures like ports, docks, etc. And it made me realize that my physics 2214 class (waves and optics) was actually somewhat useful for civil engineering purposes and worth all the pain. Emphasis on “somewhat.” Geotech is about designing tunnels, excavations, and foundations, and after learning about soil last semester, we finally got to learn about ROCKS!! So enthralling, I know! (But seriously, it’s quite cool). Not to say that the basic engineering courses aren’t practical because they’re absolutely fundamental, but it’s so cool to finally be taking classes where all of our calculations/work have more visible and tangible results.
Lastly, I’m taking Environmental Engineering, or rather Ingeniería Sanitaria. I think one of the interesting parts so far is that now I know how to describe a great many illnesses in Spanish. We also went on a mini field trip to the waste processing facility in Meruelo, which is where all the waste from the Cantabria region goes. The facility includes screening processes, a compost area, an incinerator, and of course a landfill. It definitely cemented both everything we learned in class and the smell into my brain.
Overall, my classes require a bit more effort this semester and I no longer have the luxury of no classes on Fridays (I knew it was too good to last) but I already know it’s going to be just as much fun as last semester, if not even more so.
In support of that theory, a few weeks ago I went skiing for the first time ever!! When I pictured studying abroad in Spain, skiing on a snowy mountain never entered the picture, but I’m so glad it did. The two girls I went with also happen to be from Florida, and only one of us had ever been skiing before so it was a rough start. Lessons were really expensive so we decided to wing it and the second I got off the ski lift at the top of the bunniest of bunny slopes I fell as flat on my back as my skis allowed me. The slope monitor lifted me back up and steered me in the right direction, but then I couldn’t figure out how to stop so I had to make myself fall again to avoid colliding with the barrier (still at the top of the slope). Thankfully after that I learned rather quickly, and even though I definitely fell the most that day I mastered both green slopes and managed to only fall on the really steep part of one of the blue slopes. Everyone told me that afterwards my legs would be super sore, but the only agujetas I had were in my shoulders and upper back from lifting myself back up each time gravity got the best of me.
Speaking of things I’m really not good at, I found a Salsa/Bachata class at a little hole-in-the-wall bar offered every Wednesday night. Before the first class, the last time I had done any sort of dancing was my freshman year when I took Swing Dance I and II as my two required PE classes at Cornell (which I loved), and this reminded me how much I enjoy dancing. I’m not the greatest at it but the teacher has a great sense of humor and explains things really well and it’s a great excuse for a brain break in the middle of the week. I just wish I had found it sooner!
Another “first” that I would never have expected to happen in Spain: baking apple pie! (And how appropriate that I’m posting this on Pi Day). Anyone who knows me knows that I will never not bake and that my repertoire is pretty encompassing. Except for pie. I made a chocolate silk pie for Pi Day in middle school and I made a pumpkin pie last year from the innards of my first ever jack-o-lantern but that’s about it. Honestly, for the majority of my life I didn’t even like pie.
Anyway, my niña and I were planning on making apple crisp (easier and tastier than apple pie in my opinion), but when I walked in the door she told me she had bought some pre-made pastry and wanted to make apple pie instead. I saw no reason why not so I said let’s do it! Then she informed me that she didn’t have a recipe…so I just googled one. And it actually turned out great! It was so simple that in the end the most tedious part was just peeling, coring, and slicing a million (ok fine, more like five hundred) apples. And she decided to get creative with the leftover dough, which I thought was really cute.
Last news update, but certainly not the least, in December I decided to submit a very last-minute application for the Clark Construction Scholarship (Clark Construction is a huge Civil Engineering company in NYC) and this past month I was selected as the recipient for the 2016-17 academic year! It’s awarded annually to a “top civil engineering junior who has shown an interest in and aptitude for construction.” Honestly I wouldn’t have described myself as a “top” anything, but I’m so glad that my experiences and what I had to say made an impression on them. Shoutout to Sam, one of our professional mentors in Bolivia/the coolest and most joyful engineer I’ve ever met, for writing my letter of recommendation!
Thank you so much for reading my blog! Quite a few people (many more than I would’ve ever imagined) have told me that they read every single post and always look forward to the next one, and I’m incredibly flattered. If my blog makes someone’s day just a little bit better then it’s served its purpose. I wish I had as much diligence writing these posts as you all do reading them 😉 I’ll do my best to post again soon. ¡Hasta luego!