Saturday, July 28, 2012

Move Out!

     In just under a week, Sibley and I will move out of our dorm room and begin our last section of summer. After living here for a year, it feels strange to remove my posters and my belongings, packing them away to return home. Memories of the crazy adventures of the past year come flooding back to me. The weirdest part is that I know that during the next semester, I won’t bring most of these things and I will be creating totally new and different memories.  
A collage of 504 during various stages of the year. What a great year!
     As I was cleaning my desk and organizing my things, our roommate Jess went around the room and picked up various items that had become associated with my room.

"Are you going to take this with you to Spain?” She asked, pointing at a turtle pillow or a picture or a blanket.

    I laughed and kept cleaning, folding clothes and putting them in a suitcase. What will it be like, I wonder, living in another home, in another country? I am sure it will be strange and unfamiliar, but also thrilling and exciting.
    As I pack my things, I feel ready. I feel like I can adapt to the new culture in Spain and hopefully even become a part of it. Each day I find a new picture of a Spanish cathedral or museum and awe at the beauty of it. I am captivated by the great history of Spain and all that it has contributed to the world. I can’t wait to take it all in and experience it LIVE and in person! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

We're maybe a little excited.

A few days ago, I was sitting in the living room when I heard Amanda start yelling from her room.  “SIBLEY SIBLEY SIBLEY, check your email, CHECK YOUR EMAIL!” As she came bursting into the living room, I pulled up my email in order to learn why my normally calm and collected cousin was shouting at me and bouncing off the walls.
This is pretty much what she was doing.

Sure enough, I had an email from the study abroad office.  I opened it and saw that it contained our homestay assignment for this fall.  Amanda and I are going to be roommates! (Again!)  We had requested each other on our housing questionnaires, but that was no guarantee that we would be together, so I was excited and relieved to see that we will officially be living with the same family.

Even better, the email contained a letter from that family.  It was written in Spanish, which, while not unexpected, we still found really exciting.  They are a family of three—a couple and a son several years younger than us.  In the letter, they explained that they are a thirty minute walk or a fifteen minute bus ride from the university, and they are looking forward to helping us have una experiencia inolvidable en Espana, an unforgettable experience in Spain. 

Of course, after reading all of that, I was as excited as Amanda, so we bothered our other roommate and probably the residents of the room below us by dancing around the apartment like crazy people.  Now we’re working on a letter back to our host family, but it’s taking a while to figure out, in Spanish, how to express how much we are looking forward to meeting them and how much we appreciate them opening their home to us.

Summer seems to be flying by.  We leave six weeks from tomorrow!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Squires to the UCF Knight

A glass paint project I created this
 summer featuring the UCF Knight
      During the previous Fall semester, Sibley and I both participated as squires to the Knight through the UCF Equestrian Club. It is an incredibly exciting position that we will miss while we are in Spain. At the beginning of each UCF football game a fearless knight enters astride a gorgeous white stallion to lead in the band and begin the festivities of the game. They rear and bow as the crowd cheers and showcase the proud and elegant Spanish Walk.
           As squires, we were responsible for getting the Knight and Pegasus, the stallion, ready for their performance. We dressed them and prepared them, complete with gold glitter on the horse's hooves. We also had to act as guards, making sure people didn't run up behind the horse or out in front of him as we moved toward the field. Additionally, we always had to watch the clock so that the Knight would be ready at the designated time, heading out to pump up the crowd. And while we won't be at the Knight's side this fall, we will be able to see the ancestral home of our friend Pegasus during our time in Spain.
       Pegasus, or Maluso as we know him, is a beautiful Andalusion stallion, and a retired star of the famous Lipizzaner Tour Show which has a base in Central Florida, on loan to UCF as our mascot. The tour show is famous from its origins at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria.
A rider showcasing the classic Spanish Walk
     Spain is home to a comparable riding school, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Located in Jerez de la Frontera, it is famous for its Dancing Stallion show, showcasing the elegant and traditional grace of Spanish riding.  They provide tours of the grounds and stables and allow visitors to watch practices and tour the Museum. They provide education in many types of horsemanship and prepare many riders for international competition.
     As the time ticks down (less than 60 days!) until our trip, we are becoming more and more excited. Each day brings us closer to this fantastic journey. We will embrace every new experience in the coming semester with the courage and adventure of a noble knight as we expand our horizons and explore beautiful España! I can't wait!

Friday, July 6, 2012


On Sunday, like most inhabitants of Spain and of Europe at large, I watched the Euro Cup final.  Naturally, I was rooting for Spain.  I tend to get anxious when watching important sporting events on television, so I was both excited and relieved to see two beautiful goals in just the first half.  This meant that during the second half, I could relax and enjoy the show as Spain dominated defensively, and just to be thorough, snuck in two more goals once Italy was a man down in the final portion of the game.  It was an impressive display of Spain’s characteristic finesse, and immediately after the game, sportscasters were already dubbing the Spanish team possibly the best national soccer team ever.

While I take a greater interest in soccer than your average American, I am still a casual fan, only watching full games when they’re important enough to be on TV.  Here in America, that means pretty much just the World Cup and the Euro Cup and occasionally the Olympics.  So even though I like soccer and I watch it when it’s on, I cannot begin to appreciate the significance of this win to an actual Spanish fan.  For the last few months, if Spain has been in the news, it has been mentioned in the same sentence as the word “bailout.”  Thanks to this team, when Spain has been mentioned on the news, it has been in the context of an unprecedented championship victory.

Considering that Spain is a country of enthusiastic fans at any time, I know that these difficult financial times make this win sweeter than a Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA title combined.  Congrats, España, and I’m hoping for more Spanish championships in the future!