Parte 1: Chicago y afuera…

Just got back from an excursion to see the preserved finger of St. Teresa, followed by a drink with our culture class profe (who’s only 23). I’m at an internet cafe for a little bit before supper, so I suppose it’s time to begin relating to you my epic saga (which is, of course, still very much in progress).

We had adventures before we even left the U.S. Last Thursday Anna and I drove to Chicago with my friend Luke. He was helping his brother there move, and we hitched a ride. There were some interesting adventures trying to find places to park the huge van, getting a parking ticket, and coming muuuuy close to running out of gas in the middle of Chicago…. but in the end all went well.

 I also was in Chicago in time to see Nathan graduate from Loyola. Here’s me being awkward, Nathan being graduated, and Shanell being… well, less awkward and less graduated?

The commencement ceremony was long but interesting. Now I think I need to get my PhD just so I can wear the hats. You can see them in the picture because of said hats (the red ones). Nathan got his masters’ in English, so he’s in there somewhere with the others who have white trim on their hoods.

We crashed on the floor of Luke’s brothers’ apartment… all three of us on one blanket, no pillows, kind of hot and stuffy, but after shlepping around so much I slept like…. a girl who’s been shlepping around a lot.

Since Luke’s brother lives in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, we ate a lot of amazing (and cheap!) Mexican food. Anna and I got a head start on practicing our Spanish. That is, we got a head start on mangling the language. It did not bode well for our fast-approaching trip to España.

On that note, the Spanish here in Spain is much easier for me to understand than the dialects from Mexico, South America, and the United States. They do have the accent that is muy español, but it sounds nice now that I’m used to it. I’ve already started to pick it up; don’t be surprised if I come home with a lisp.


On Friday we shlepped around some more, got lost thanks to my excellent sense of direction, found our luggage, and shlepped that to O’Hare airport via the train.

I haven’t really felt nervous throughout all my preparations for the trip, and I’ve adjusted to the pace here very well. In fact, the hardest part about the trip so far was the airport. I’ve flown to and from Nashville a lot in the past year, and I’ve never been scared of flying… even though I still find it completely illogical that this huge hunk of metal filled with people manages to stay in the air at all. But while waiting for our flight it really hit me that I was leaving the country for over a month, and leaving everyone familiar. As much as I enjoy words, I need to see and hear and touch people. (Except not as creepily as that sounds.)

As it turned out, my anxiety evaporated at liftoff. It’s my favorite part of flight: feeling the ground push away. Anxiety gave way to excitment, which gave way to more anxiety of a different kind that comes from nine hours on a plane. We had a two-hour layover in Milan. I think these photos represent our sentiments fairly accurately (unwashed hair and all!)


Anna and I were both so exhausted that we slept for the entire two hours between Milan and Madrid, and woke up when we finally landed on Spanish soil….


…and I guess I’ll have to leave you with that cliffhanger, because it’s time for me to salir.

Hasta luego, amigos mios.


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