Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Every Summer Has A Story

Today is the first day of my senior year at Westminster College.

[WOW. I cannot believe I just typed that.]

Where did the time go?  I feel like it was just yesterday that I was gathering my gear for Spain and taking finals. Now here I am rushing around, getting internship forms signed and my graduation application turned in...

Summer flew by.

Just four months ago - on May 3rd - I took off to Spain with 25 of my peers (including my best friend, Kelcee) to study Spanish while traveling the Camino de Santiago, also known as, The Way of St. James. This journey is an ancient pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the remains of Saint James the apostle are supposedly buried. Although all of the students from Westminster traveled The Way for math or Spanish credit, we each had our own personal reasons for embarking on the Camino - whether it be religious, fitness based, spiritual, and/or personal.
Toledo
For me, it started as a fitness goal and ended up being my very own "eat, pray, love" journey. This rewarding experience came at just the right moment in my life: a time when I needed to reflect, regroup, and re-acknowledge who I was and who I want to become. While hiking 14-20 miles a day and enjoying the countryside of Spain, I had plenty of time to think about things I had not thought about in some time and to discuss them with people I wouldn't have connected with (or even met) if we had not been thrown together.

It was a beautiful month - full of learning and growth.

With Kelcee & Edward in Toledo

Over the course of 28 days our group hiked over 200 miles. By day we conquered the trails; following yellow arrows while stopping often to discuss the days events over vino y chupitos with other peregrinos. (We stopped so often at the bars, we were jokingly deemed the "American baragrinos" by other pilgrims on the trail.) While hiking we met many fascinating people from all over the world: a man who was walking the Camino to spread his late wives ashes, a New Zealand couple on their honeymoon, a young man who eerily asked us "Are you happy?", and three "lost boys" from California, Brazil, and Germany who taught us how to live more freely. One of our girls even fell in love with a  man she met in Spain!

Our experiences during this time were unparalleled. We danced from dusk til dawn at La Kapital in Madrid, slept off our jet lag on the steps of a cathedral in Toledo, straddled the border of France and Spain while on our way to Roncesvalles, walked through the streets of the Running of the Bulls, and hiked through the snow to O'cebreiro (okay, okay maybe a few of us took a taxi that day...but how else would we have met the cute driver who brought us tequila while we were in the middle of nowhere so that we could celebrate Kelcee's 21st?)

Chocolat con Churros
Hostel
Jet lag Naps
Sure, there were days when a taxi looked like a better option than the 28 km hike staring us in the face. Our backpacks grew heavy at times, we became tired of living off of bread on bread on bread, and yes, I did end up with an IV in my arm upon completion due to a cocktail of severe dehydration, a double ear infection, strep throat and ammonia, but it was worth it. Every single step.


Almost to Santiago!
Its been months since I left Spain, and yet, I still cannot manage to fully wrap my mind around the events that spanned over the course of that life changing month. Snippets of memories come and go throughout my days, and only when I am together with my Camino friends am I able to reminisce out loud. After all, some things are meant to be kept private, and this is one of those things for many of us. It was an opportunity I will cherish forever.
The 'Baragrinos'
(Meredith, Edward, Christina, Kelcee, Noah, Jono, Me, Matthew,  Kayla)
I parted ways with my Camino group in Madrid on May 29th. From there I flew into Stuttgart, Germany to spend a week with my family and celebrate my brother's high school graduation. (Alec is going to be attending and playing football at the University of Dubuque in Iowa as a freshman this fall). It was great to be back home, if only for two weeks.

He's graduated! 
The rest of my summer was spent in Salt Lake City; nannying, teaching cycling classes, celebrating my 21st birthday, laying by the pool with my amazing friends, and moving into my new townhouse on Foothill with my roommate, Ashley.

Celebrating my 21st with close friends in Park City
(Hannah, Erica, Me, Ashley)
There was also a quick weekend getaway to Vegas with my best friend, Erica, and her sister, Malayna. Like most twenty-somethings, we LOVE Vegas. It is the perfect place to break from reality and party it up. Who wouldn't love the 118 degree weather, VIP pool parties, late nights at the clubs, sushi dinners and outlet mall splurges? We left that mini-vacation speeding down I-15 with an extra television remote (don't even ask) and plenty of stories to last us till next summer.

The Marquee with Malayna & Erica
Okay, after typing that I'm REALLY not ready for summer to be over...

But classes have begun and there is no delaying the onset of the 2013-2014 school year. It's time to admit to myself that I am officially a college senior.

My friends and I constantly joke about "the days when we will finally have money and more free time."But now that I am a year away from the possible 'dream scenario', I am nowhere near ready. The past three years at Westminster have been incredible. I have learned so much and have met many wonderful people, and yet, there are still so many classes I wish I could fit in before I leave; so many things I wish I could be apart of now (and in the future) that I did not make time for previously.

When I was in high school I used to spend my free time in class (okay, or maybe more like all of Algebra class...) planning out the courses I'd be taking the following year, the places I'd intern for, and the colleges I'd apply for two or three years down the road. I'm a planner; a control freak. But now, for the first time in my life, I have to let go and learn to live with uncertainty. It's time to place faith in myself, my abilities, and time. I have absolutely no idea where I will be this time next year, and surprisingly, I think I'm okay with that.

For now, I'm going to keep busy and enjoy the rest of my time at Westminster.

This semester I'm enrolled in two COMM classes: COMM 490 and COMM 322. I also have a social media internship with KSL in downtown Salt Lake City and a general marketing internship with Christensen & Hymas Law Firm in Draper. On top of all of that, I am teaching my two cycle express classes Monday/Wednesday 7-7:45 am in HWAC.

I hope all of you had a fabulous summer as well and that you are excited for this upcoming school year. Make sure you take time to reassess where you want to be, where you are headed, and where you want to go. Be thankful for the people who have helped you along the way and who continue to guide you. Fall in love - over and over again. Not just with a significant other, but with Westminster, Salt Lake City, your passions, and your friends. Take advantage of everything that your school has to offer, network, sit at the front of the class, and ask your Professor how their day is going. Don't be so cool that you skip out on all the dorky, fun orientation activities. Smile, stay positive, take care of yourself, apologize when you're in the wrong, and don't get hung up over silly things.

Study hard, make good choices, and most of all, live it up! You are only in college once, sometimes its okay to stay out much too late with your friends or to skip class for that trip to St. George.

Good luck and thank you for continuing to read my posts, it means so much to me!

- Lia



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