Wednesday, February 6, 2013

7 Months Later

I find it hard to believe sometimes that 7 months ago I was living far away from home on foreign soil half way around the world. Sometimes the whole thing just feels like some distant dream until I look at all of the pictures. I look at picture after picture, each with carrying its own memory. I think to myself "wow I can't believe I actually did all of this."

I remember when I first got back to the United States during the summer; I was absolutely miserable. I missed my friends, I missed going out till 3 in the morning, I missed my host family. The only thing I could think about was a way to get back. So I got myself a job working at the Rockies game making a minimum wage paycheck hoping that I could save up enough money to schedule a returning trip. After a while life just started to pass by and my life here in the United States began to consume me again.

Before I knew it summer had come to an end, and school had started up again. Upon return I realized that there were parts of the United States that I really did miss a lot. I actually missed my school, and all of my old friends and acquaintances. I was excited to share with all of them the new adventures that I had been on, and the things I did on the way.

When school started so did high school soccer, so I decided I would play my last year of high school soccer at North High School. During this experience I had to maintain my grades to remain eligible so I could play games. Playing on a new team, I easily integrated myself with a bunch a strangers and made an entire group of new friends. (I guess going to Spain showed me how to make new friends easily) I worked my way up to captain as our team went on to win our first 7 games. Later we had a hard mid season slump but still managed to make the playoffs and host the first game. We ended up winning in the first round then losing in the second round against Broomfield High School. We had a successful season with ups and downs, but we made it. We became the first North team in over 20 years to win and host a playoff game. Playing high school was so fun and if I could do it again, I'd be right back on that field in a heartbeat.

I guess I can say 7 months after returning home from Spain I see what direction I want to go in, I guess now I've got a plan. Being able to learn Spanish in Spain has been life changing for me. For the first time in my life I can speak to my grandparents in Spanish; Currently I am in a stable relationship with a girl I care about, and I wouldn't be in this relationship without knowing Spanish.

My main focus now  is in getting accepted into a university WITH scholarships. It would be nice not having to owe a lot after I graduate in the next 4 to 5 years. So far I've been accepted to Regis University and Metro State College. I've started applying for scholarships and I hope I get a nice chuck of money to help me out.

I remember when I was in Spain, and I felt like I never wanted to come back home, and that I wanted to live in Spain forever. Coming back to the US has made me find my place. This is home, it's where I was born, where I was raised, where my family is, but Spain is home too, because over there I have more friends, and a special family. I know that whenever I return I'll have a place to stay and people who will accept with their arms open. It goes both ways as I will open my arms and accept any of my Spaniard friends to come into my home here in the US. I think of my life in Spain as the greatest chapter of my life. Now I just keep going forward, with an optimistic future and an outstanding past. This concludes the blog of my travels in Spain; all I can say is that I can't wait to go back!

Esto no es una despedida, sino un hasta pronto. No se cuando voy a poder volver, pero cuando vuelva, sera una gran fiesta!!!!


Monday, February 4, 2013

A Day of Travel

            I left Granada the 26th of June, 2012 around 3:00am. I had been out with friends that night walking around town saying good-bye to the place I had come to call home. Then the harder part came, when I told all of them friends good-bye. I had decided to stay up because I knew I would be traveling the entire next day. Later I sat with a special girl named Rosa; we sat together in the balcony of her apartment until I looked at my watch and realized that it was time to pick up my things and hit the road. Rosa’s mom also named Rosa happily agreed to take me to the airport to say good-bye. After I had spent so much time living in the woman’s house, she treated me as if I were one of her own.
            Finally, we got to the official airport of Granada, which was a small one-runway airport. At this point I put my baggage down to hug Rosa, her mother,her brother Fran, and Jess (an exchange student I had spent the whole year with). Then I picked up my luggage and began to board my plane, looking back only once. In that moment it hit me, as I took my seat, I realized my exchange year in Spain had finally come to an end. I was shocked, absolutely speechless. It occurred to me that two years prior to this particular moment, I had been applying for a Rotary Youth Exchange Scholarship to be able to go on this trip in the first place, and now right before my eyes it came to an end.
            The jet engines turned on and the plane began to speed down the runway, then liftoff. Since I was exhausted at the time, I fell right back to sleep. Later, I remember waking up after hearing the captain over the intercom say “Ya estamos alcanzando Madrid, momentariamente bajaremos. Espero que hayan tenido un viaje comodo, y gracias por elegir Ibera”. The plane landed shortly after, and I was now in the Madrid international airport. I had a very faint memory of it from 10 months earlier when I first arrived in Spain. It was still the same busy international airport that I remember with tons of travelers and announcements over the intercom, but everything seemed completely different then the first time. First off, I had achieved my goal of learning Spanish. I understood that Vuelo 190 se ira momentariamente meant that flight 190 would be leaving momentarily. 10 months earlier I was completely unaware of what the announcements were saying or if they even concerned me. I utilized the new language I learned when I asked a man at the information center for directions on where to get to my returning flight back to the US. He told me to take a bus to a different terminal a few miles away.
            While I was on the bus I remember seeing many of tourists speaking in many different languages, so excited to be on vacation. It made me think of the time I arrived in Spain, and I was so excited to finally be on exchange. Then I got to terminal E, went through airport security, and waited for the return trip back home. While waiting I saw a coke machine and drank one just before I boarded. Then they called for us to board, Atencion,todos los pasajeros yendo a Atlanta, Estados Unidos, ya estamos embarcando. Tengan sus cosas listas para ir. That was it! I knew then that I was probably not going to see Spain for a long time to come; I took my seat and began to reflect on everything. The first memories were those I had the day I got there 10 months earlier, being in a country where I didn’t know the language, when everything seemed so new and different. Then the second day I was there I went with my friend Fran to go play basketball in a park in Maracena. The day when my friend Piti took me out to see the vibrant city of Granada, I remember being so dumbfounded by all the old architecture and places in the streets. Then I remembered my first day of school at IES La Madraza, and how I was terrified to start school. I then thought of the week were I tried out for a soccer team, and got denied so I signed up for a basketball team. I then went on to meet great people and true friends like Navarrete and Luis. I thought of the times I went with my friends to la joventud on Friday nights to break-dance even though I knew I wasn't any good, or the times me and friends would go out to bars to shoot pool or play Foosball with complete strangers.  I remembered las manifestaciones, when I marched with the Spaniards against the injustices of the system, and the craziest Halloween I've ever had where me and 10 friends all crashed in Javi's house for the night. Or the times where me all the guys from school would go out and play football sala until we were all too tired to continue.
   It reminded me of La feria, a weeklong carnival that came to town, where my friends and I would go out and hit on all the gorgeous girls we could find. These would be memories I’d keep forever, and experiences I would never live down. When I arrived in Atlanta, I got stuck in US customs, causing me to miss my flight to Denver. So I waited in the airport until the guest services found me a new flight. After getting through US customs and waiting 5 hours in Atlanta,  I finally got on to my next flight back to Denver. I wasn’t sure if I was ready or not to return because my mind was still obviously 
stuck in the past. But nevertheless I came back, changed, but still Jose 

My last week in Spain

Right after getting back home from Barcelona, I had about two hours to get naked, shower, get dressed, and  nice pants that I had bought in Barcelona, a nice pink shirt, and the blazer my host mom's friend let me use. I walked out of my house with style! Later that night I met up with my entire class in a park south of El Centro, and we hung out there for a few hours. Later, we all went together to a discoteca Granada 10. That night was a special night for me, I got to party and have fun with all of my school friends util 8 in the morning. Then me and a few friends tired as can be went to go eat churros with chocolate. The best breakfast in the world!

Me with Rosana

Leticia and I

Rosa and I

Natalia an I

Estefania and I
Me and the Guys

Me Raquel and Adri

La Granada 10 Discoteca

After I we went for the churros, I decided to say good-bye to all of my basketball friends down at CB Granada. So after partying all night, I went to go play basketball at 9 in the morning! I don't know how my body could physically handle it but I still ended up playing! I then said good-bye to my three coaches, Fede, Mayte, and Pablo. Then I said good-bye to Navarrete, Coke, Carlos and Sergio from my team. It ended up being an emotional day; I remember getting home at like 4pm the next day. While I was eating lunch, out of nowhere, I just broke down and started crying uncontrollably. In that moment it just hit me, I knew my time in Spain was just about up, because I already started saying my good-byes.

Two days later I returned to school to take a few tests that I had missed while I was in Barcelona, which were for economics and history. I ended up passing both of them. Even though my grades weren't necessarily good, I ended up passing all of my classes except for math. It was a huge accomplishment for me, especially because I thought I would fail everything in the beginning of the year. It was harder than I thought it would be but regardless I was proud to have passed everything else except math. Also my class threw a surprise party for me. My whole class was there with food, drinks, and a video of me at the end of it!  It was another moment in which I broke down in tears, but I was happy to have gotten the opportunity to meet so many incredible people. They told me that I could come back anytime to visit, and I guess someday I will.

Two days later a few friends of mine invited me to the beach to celebrate la fiesta de San Juan. We went to the beach of Salobreña while Spain was playing against France in the Euro Cup. Spain ended up winning 2-0, and while we all stood there in the dark, I heard everyone start singing "Yo soy Español Español Español", which is a song the Spaniard sang for their national team. Then we set a fire on the beach, watched the fireworks, and dozed off. It was perfect, an absolutely perfect night that I got to share with all of my friends right before I left to the USA.

The bonfire on the beach (not the fire we lit)

On my last day the Rotary asked me to give a presentation on my entire year in Spain, based on how I felt and what I did. At first I had no intention to give a formal presentation on my last day in Spain, but my host mother later convinced me that it needed to be done. So I did it, I gave future Spaniard exchange students a presentation on all of the things I did while I was on my exchange. It actually felt good; it gave me closure to reflect on my time spent there. While I lived there I never thought of my experience as a whole, only in specific parts. At the end of my presentation my rotary gave me a brand new Spanish soccer jersey with my nick name "Guit" on the back. When I finished my presentation I was surprise to find a group of my friends waiting for me; they were going to take me out for the last time. At this point I said good-bye to my host family and left my packed bags with my friend Rosa. These are some pictures of my last night.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Get Away to Barcelona

Statue of Christoper Columbus pointing out to the sea, so am I

Left: Cataluna, Middle: Spain, Right: Barcelona

The house of Guadi

Me listening to a electronic guide

Me at the official store of Barcelona FC

"Camp Nou" right behind me (stadium of Barcelona FC

Sagrada Familia

I had less than two weeks left in Spain and my leaving date was just around the corner. I became very stressed by school because we were finishing off our finals. I was just stressed because I knew that I would be leaving soon and I  didn't want to leave. I just loved the Granada, and couldn't imagine the idea of coming back home. I just needed to get my mind off of leaving but in my heart I couldn't.

So my aunt Fuensanta already  had plans to go Barcelona with her friend Maria del Mar. So I decided to go with them to just get away from everything that was making me depressed. To just clear my mind for that particular moment in time.

So I left with my aunt Fuensanta, Maria del Mar, and my grandma Lola. Were first stopped In a town in Murcia were Maria del Mar worked. While we we there I remember the Euro Cup was going on and there was a very enthusiastic environment to see Spain's soccer team go up against Italy. So while I was in Murcia I watched soccer games the entire time.

The next day we went to Valencia to see the Aquarium of sea life. It is one of the bigger aquariums in the world and the biggest aquarium in Spain. So we hung out there all day and then returned back to Murcia. The next day we drove all the way to Barcelona and then stayed in the house of some family member who lived there.

On the fourth day My aunt Fuensanta and Maria del Mar took a bus into downtown Barcelona to see the beautiful city. I honestly have to say Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. We got to the peak of the city and the view was incredible.

Another cool thing about Barcelona was that the local people spoke Catalan. Catalan is a different yet similar language to Spanish. It has a unique sound.
While we were in the streets we would hear people speaking in Catalan, and street signs would be in Catalan. It almost made me feel like I was in a different country. I had once again felt like a tourist in Spain!!!!

In all of my life I had never thought that I would actually go to Spain and see Barcelona, and here right before my own eyes I was there! It was Real. During this 6 Day trip I just let my mind go free, and released it from all the stress that was depressing me. I was happy, and optimistic again.

This is a picture of my hand after I fell off a 10 foot wall in Barcelona. I almost died! I guess it was the best way to end a trip, probably one of the best trips of my life!