So Much More to Learn

I think I might be getting the hang of things here. Emphasis on “might.” Every time I start to think that I finally have life here figured out…I realize how much I really don’t.

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When I think I finally have all my ducks in a row but then I look in the mirror… life man.

But that’s ok! I’m here to learn about more than just engineering, right?

Speaking of being educated, I’d like to take a moment to say that if you’re eligible to do so, please do this country a favor, educate yourself, register, and

GO VOTE!!

Please. Do it.

So I voted this morning! Yup, I went through all the over-seas shenanigans so I could have a say in the currently slightly dismal-looking future of America. At the very least I can stop tearing my conscience apart trying to decide the lesser of two evils because as much as I don’t like any of the options, what’s done is done.

On a happier note, so far one of my favorite things about living in Santander is actually my job. I teach English to kids from two different families: twice a week with a sister(12) and a brother(14), and once a week with two brothers(11, 4) and a sister(1). I love all of them simply because I love kids in general, but I especially love getting to see the older kids twice a week because it’s a bit less like babysitting in English and more like goofing off, discussing crazy American politics, and baking real American desserts in English.

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Notice the brownie batter moustache

Honestly I probably shouldn’t have started with the brownies because now all they want to make is brownies…

Lately I’ve been expanding my repertoire (another French word used in English Mich!) of recipes from other countries and so far I have Irish Brown Bread and Quesada.

The bread is a recipe from my Nana that we found in my Granddad’s kitchen when I visited last month. It’s a simple but dense bread (more like cake I suppose, except it’s not sweet) made with whole wheat flour. Apart from being a bit singed and hard as a rock on top, the rest of it came out pretty well for being my first time making it. It goes great with jam or even just a little bit of butter.

Even though it’s much more common to just buy it from a grocery store, my host mom made some fantastic home-made Quesada so before I moved out I made sure to ask her for the recipe. It’s also a very simple recipe and the texture is somewhere between cheesecake and flan, but it has lemon zest and cinnamon so it has a very unique flavor that I don’t know how to describe. With the amount of sugar and butter that goes into it I think it’s definitely a dessert but my host mom always served it with breakfast so who knows, really.

Those who know me know that I was on the cross-country team in high school, and those who really know me know that I was never a very fast runner (but of course I did it because I loved it). I never really stopped running but the business of Cornell definitely made it hard to run more than a couple of miles each week so it was really exciting to run in my first official race in about 3 years. And when I finished the 5K with a time only 24 seconds behind my official high school PR, I was pretty ecstatic! (If you’re not familiar with running times, 24 seconds is kind of a lot, but when you’re talking about my PR, my best time ever, and the fact that I was still feeling a bit under the weather, that’s really not bad at all considering I haven’t been running nearly as intensely as I did during XC season).

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The on-campus international student organization planned a kayaking day-trip on the Río Sella in the region of Asturias (next to Cantabria). My partner, a really sweet medical student from France, and I kayaked 16km through the beautiful mountains and greenery. Since it’s the end of summer, some parts of the river were very shallow so we had to get out and drag our kayak through freezing cold water that was only a few inches deep several times, but overall it was fantastic and definitely worth it.

My most recent international endeavor was going to paris for a weekend and meeting up with Michaela, another fellow Cornellian studying in France this semester. We definitely related on all subjects study abroad: making friends, traveling, new languages, and new norms. (Props to Mich for surviving the stereotype of rude French people that is surprisingly accurate more often than you would think)

And instead of a hostel we stayed with a childhood friend of my mom’s originally from Ireland but who now lives within 10 min walking distance of the Eiffel tower (thank you again Helen, you are amazing!). I met her and her family for the first time when I was in Ireland visiting my granddad when I was 7. I remember playing with her three kids, her daughter being only a few weeks older than me, and I hadn’t seen them since then so after 13 years it was so lovely to spend some time with them.

In terms of touristy things we saw:

  • the Eiffel Tower, which was super interesting from a civil engineering perspective
  • the Louvre, which was thoroughly overwhelming due to the sheer number of paintings per square foot but my inner artist greatly enjoyed it
  • the Arc de Triomphe, of which my favorite part was actually getting to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night!
  • Versailles, my inner AP Euro history geek’s dream

 

The less touristy things included:

  • a very French family dinner the first night, complete with the entreé (more French Mich!!), cheese, salad, and dessert, in that order
  • a visit to Shakespeare and Co., a beautiful bookstore that I could probably live in
  • Germaine and other cute little streets with cafés, secondhand bookstores, knick knack places, chocolate shops, boulangeries, and patisseries (in one chocolate shop I tried chocolate covered spices! It was super cool but unfortunately my tastebuds aren’t that refined)
  • Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame and brunch at Holybelly! (Ok Holybelly is kind of touristy because it’s English-speaking and very American, but it was fantastic all the same)

After all this time adapting to Spain, heading to France and getting hit with a whole other language, culture, and set of expectations has reminded me that studying abroad is about so much more than just studying in school.

I would absolutely go back in a heartbeat ❤

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