Tug of War

Well, a little more than 72 hours ago I was handed a (fake) diploma and flipped my tassel from the right to the left, signifying that I had accomplished something rather grand and amazing: I graduated college.

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I don’t have a really cool backstory. I’m not a single mom like our student commencement speaker on Sunday is. I didn’t face financial difficulties while in school like so many others of my generation. My path to graduation was relatively smooth, but I’m still overwhelmed that I actually made it through four years (has it really been four years) of this process.

My willingness to get things done went downhill exponentially since returning from Spain. I’d like to think it’s because I fully embraced the slower-paced, “no pasa nada” attitude. Really, it was just a typical case of senioritis. But I did get things done and while I’m waiting on final grades still, I’m 50% sure I did, in fact, pass all of them in the end (just kidding mom and dad I’m 100% sure).

This year, as I’ve noted a few times in this blog, on social media, and in person, has been one of conflicting emotions. Coming home for my senior year meant just that: coming home. It meant leaving a country and boy I grew to love to finish what I started in August 2012. But it also meant starting a year of being at the top of the food chain, of taking classes almost entirely within my fields, of seeing friends day in and day out, and of being 21 (hollering at you Kilroys). Senior year for me also meant a year of lasts: Last Regatta, last Honors mentoring meeting, last advising appointment, last finals week etc. It was a year of lasts before I fully expected to begin a life of firsts abroad once again. And in some cases, those events were indeed the last ones I will ever attend.

But life is funny and God has a great (adjective used loosely) way of laughing at humanity’s plans.

I’ve had a few months to prepare for this. The writing on the wall has been there for awhile as far as the most logistical course of action for my future and I officially accepted my place in the IUPUI Masters in Sports Journalism program in April….and deferred my teaching position in Madrid until 2017.

That decision was heart-wrenching. It was like a blown-up version of my decision senior year of high school to forgo my dream school and number one choice in favor of the one closer to home, offering me a full-ride.

Four years later, that decision turned out to be literally life-changing and I wouldn’t alter the past even if I could. I can only hope that in another four years, the bittersweet feelings of being in Indy for 15 more months also fade away and leave only the best of memories in their place.

And so, with my summer grad course beginning on Monday, I begin another year of lasts, this time for real. Last year of working for my office, last year of dance, last year of classes ever (After 16 years it will be about time). And the last time I will ever walk across a stage in a gown that makes me look fat (come on guys it’s been a few hundred years and graduation fashion hasn’t fixed this problem??) will occur on May 14, 2017 and by August 2017, I will be heading back to Spain, with a bachelor’s AND a master’s degree in tow.

I told my boyfriend once that the act of saying goodbye and leaving was worse than actually being gone. Saying farewell is a conscious decision to part ways. Even if you don’t have another viable option, there’s this overwhelming feeling of guilt along with the sadness and angst and worry wrapped up together in a nice little package from hell. Once you’re actually gone, it gets easier, though there are obviously still moments of incredible sadness that we aren’t together. But it’s not like I can just buy an international ticket on a whim.

I felt the same way about this decision to complete my masters while I have the funding to do so. Up until the moment when I sent the email accepting my masters placement and deferring my teaching position, I agonized. Was this really fair to Ale to make him do another year of long distance? Did I really want to put myself through another year of school when I was already struggling to finish the race strong with this first degree? Did I really want to be stuck in Indy when a lot of my friends were moving on after graduation?

And then I sent the emails and notified everyone. Effectively I “went through security” and I was at peace.

Logistically and financially, this is the best of all possible scenarios. It means that I go to Europe as fully-equipped academically as I possibly can be to find a job in my field after my teaching stint. It allows me to graduate with two degrees with a small fraction of the debt most people have when they leave school. It means I’ll be around for both my brothers’ graduations. And it ensures that once I move across the Atlantic, I can put down roots without feeling like I missed out on a great educational opportunity.

So here’s to one more year of feeling torn between two places, but on a good note, another year of memories with my best friends, in one of my favorite cities in the world, of amazing opportunities, of learning from the best faculty, and spending a lot of time with my family.

Off the Normal Path-A discourse on student government

I don’t do this very often (ok ever) but bear with me.

For the last few months, the Campus Citizen, IUPUI’s student-run media outlet, has been investigating IUPUI’s student government: Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG).

What it has found is disturbing and troubling to say the very least. I had the honor to join the Citizen’s ranks for the first time to contribute a piece to the investigation. Below, read the timeline of articles that have been published thus far and then keep reading my two cents.

  1. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/1/29/the-systemic-problems-in-iupuis-student-government
  2. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/12/f9n7kfr5i9ftuo97zpz2orrcq2p89s (Mine)
  3. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/12/tuakf60udfjotq9y5isn6edfr4r2iv
  4. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/12/student-and-staff-react-to-the-systematic-problems-in-iupuis-student-government
  5. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/19/opinion-deflections-distractions-and-iupuis-student-government (Editorial by our editor in chief)
  6. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/19/dean-of-students-addresses-record-transparency-among-student-organizations (Opinion on an open forum by the dean of students)

It is that last article that leads me into what pushed me to write this.

At said open forum, IUPUI’s Dean of Students accused student media of embellishing stories.

“I think the important thing about student media is you look for a juicy story and if there’s not a juicy story they try to create a little bit more juice. And I think the media is like that—it just bleeds and bleeds.”–Dean of Students Jason T. Spratt, advisor to USG/GPSG.

I do not care what side of this current issue you are on as an IUPUI student, faculty member, staff member, or outsider looking in. That is a highly, highly disturbing statement. If someone is going to make a statement that is tantamount to accusing the Campus Citizen of being unethical, he/she better be willing and able to back it up with facts and details on where the Citizen erred in its reporting: in my own article, in David’s or in any other piece that has or will be published.

The Dean of Students has repeatedly stonewalled Citizen reporters seeking comment on the issues in student government and asking for any explanation on why it has happened. For my own article I was told I could not have an in-person issue due to “time constraints” though I had given no deadline and only suggested a possible day for the interview. It is amusing to me that he would use a campus-wide forum to so openly declare his feelings on the work of the Citizen when he would not say anything like this to our faces (literally) and will not (cannot) explicitly declare that our reporting is falsified or exaggerated.

Instead, Spratt hides behind insinuation and monologues on our reporting and behavior as a media outlet. Spratt repeatedly called the Campus Citizen “student media” in his quotes from the forum, perhaps in an attempt to devalue the work it has done, make it less reputable. The Citizen is run by a talented group of individuals who are NOT paid for their work, unlike several key members of student government. I count myself lucky and honored to have gotten to be a part of the publication and this group of “student media” members before I graduate.

Furthermore, I love this campus. IUPUI is home to me and I will miss it and the people in it terribly when I finally move on (be it in the next few months or later). I work for campus in two different capacities. I have dedicated hundreds upon hundreds of hours to its student organizations as a member and a leader. I have represented this campus to the best of my ability nationally and internationally and done so with pride.

What the student government is doing and what Spratt said about student media is incredibly insulting. While it does not fully diminish what I have accomplished here nor my overall feelings for IUPUI, it does make me pause to know that the Dean of Students does not believe that I have acted ethically. That without knowing me and without offering any facts to back up his claims, he would accuse myself and my colleagues of exaggerating stories for…fun? to gain page views? to alleviate boredom? Or even all of the above as he did not bother to clarify why he held that particular viewpoint.

I am angry and frustrated that we are being accused of wrongdoing due to our dedication to uncovering truth and bring accountability to a government organization. At every turn we have been outright lied to or unintentionally misled, both of which are unacceptable for a government handling thousands and thousands of dollars and purporting to work for the general good of the IUPUI campus in everything it does.

 

I hold no belief that any member of student government is acting maliciously. But there is a clear lack of guidance and accountability within both USG and GPSG and it is creating an atmosphere in which the student presidents and their executive boards have an insane amount of power and responsibility with little to no oversight. That is wrong at any level of government.

Neither myself nor the Citizen know what the ultimate outcome of this investigation will be. But for my part, all I want is accountability to be brought back into a system where there should have already been checks and balances.

Thank you for reading. Support your student governments. Be smart and well-informed students so that you can, if not be involved yourself, promote and encourage good governing practices within your universities and the world at large.

 

{I found this article to be incredibly interesting in light of the above articles and events that have transpired: HERE )

 

Slow Down PLEASE

All the times I wished for time to speed up last fall are coming back to haunt me. Life sped up in a very real, somewhat terrifying way this week. Post-graduate plans (A, B, C etc) that seemed like hypotheticals just a month ago became very very tangible and this week became much closer to reality than they ever have.

I expected it in some ways. You go through four years of college expecting for life and plans to start working out as you near graduation. The scary part comes in when you know 100% what your absolute life dream is, but aren’t sure which path is the best to get you there. And then life throws a lot of different options at you and really could care less that you have a Spanish capstone essay and online French homework to finish and mulling over post-grad plans were really not on the agenda for this week.

So real life is catching up the virtual, hypothetical life in my head. Finally. And while it’s a bit of a free fall, it’s also immensely exciting:)

Christmas in Sevilla

Hey all!

So sorry for the prolonged absence. But I finally have my beloved mac back with me, have uploaded my pictures, and am set to regale you with stories of my Christmas vacation back in Spain.

I’ll get it out of the way and just remind everyone that it was 65F on average and while it rained a few times, was mostly beautiful. And I came back to the current tundra environment, a decidedly less self-advantageous event than when it was the other way around last year.

Anyway.

Christmas in Sevilla was beautiful, as to be expected. The city, as with everything, goes all out for holidays and Christmas was no exception. Lights and decorations everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Even in Ale’s little suburb/town there were lights all through the center district’s streets and roundabouts. Love it.

Side note that men do not appreciate the beauty of Christmas lights quite enough and I got a lot of flack for my (and I do quote) “thousands of pictures” of them (there were less than 100 ok). But it’s ok because I know all of you will enjoy my careful documentation. Someone’s got to be appreciative of the work the city did.

 

I slept a lot the first two or three days I was there (jet lag hit me hard), but then things ramped up!

The first night we went out to eat we went to the same restaurant we had gone to for my birthday last year that I had loved. We got almost the same meal (still as delicious as ever) and were going to try out a new place for dessert, but decided against it as it started to pour as we were leaving the restaurant.

IMG_6626IMG_6629IMG_6630IMG_6871(The aftermath of running in the rain. My hair survived because Ale let me be the one to run–in heels–under the awnings of buildings. Such a gentleman).

We spent a lot of time trying out new places to eat when we weren’t eating with his family. One of my favorite nights there we’ve also both decided is one of our favorite memories together period.

Raise curtain.

So on the night in question, we had planned to go into the city center so I could see the aforementioned lights, walk around, and get dinner and dessert (at the place we missed earlier in the week). In short, a very nice romantic date night.

His dad was nice enough to drop us off in the city center so that we didn’t have to walk to/from the metro or wait for the bus (an iffy prospect in the evening). About 2 seconds after jumping out of the car and his dad speeding off, Ale realized he had left his phone at home. As I couldn’t use my data and Ale didn’t know his dad’s work phone number, we were stuck without any way of contacting people. Or finding the restaurant for dinner as the directions were on Ale’s phone.

Adventure started. Because of the phone issue, we ended up getting dessert first because we knew where that was located. Guys. This dessert was life-changing. I’m pretty sure our waiters were making fun of us for ordering dessert at 8:30 p.m. (an early dinner time anyway) without any accompanying “real” food but it was worth it.

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Ale got a triple chocolate something or other. I got what this “sevilla orange” concoction of deliciousness. And we both got champagne (the specific Barcelona kind “Cava,” though Ale won’t cop to it. The Catalonians are a taboo topic around his house). I also want to point out that I took close-ups of dessert but he made me delete them because he wanted you all to know that he did, indeed, buy me champagne as well. I’ll admit that it would have been a sin to not include it in the picture so there you all are.

We spent some time wandering around looking for the actual restaurant before walking all the way to Alameda de Hercules where we had had our first date. Let me tell you that is a hike in heels, no matter how short or comfortable they were when you left the house. To our horror, the bar we had met at changed the decor (how dare they) but we still got to see a light show and wander a small Christmas market.

We saw more lights: Las Setas all lit up (top right); the light show set to the Barber of Seville (bottom left. The poetic nature of our location was not lost on me and I giggled my way through half of it); a Christmas tree made of beer bottles (#OnlyInSpain); and a Nativity display at El Corte Inglés.

By this time it was 9:30 or so and we were hungry. So back into the main center we went.

We wandered street after street. Went through several plazas. Followed rabbit trails. Asked numerous people since we knew the name and general area it was located at. And still couldn’t find this restaurant. We were both starving at this point, around 10:30, and my feet ached so we started walking down a final street to take a shortcut up to the main avenue to get to a restaurant he did know about near the bus station.

Lo and behold on that tiny side street was the restaurant we had spent about two hours looking for. To this day we aren’t sure if God was bored and just messing with us or wanted to teach us a lesson about perseverance. I’ll get back to you on that. But the food was excellent and so was the wine.

End to that story.

So over the holidays in Spain, jamón ibérico and gambas (basically jumbo shrimp) are the norm in terms of food. I think we had both almost every day I was there so we made a point of eating anything but when we went out.

Funny story about gambas: So the first time I had them in Spain was last summer at his house when his dad brought out a huge plate of them…with everything attached. And I mean everything. It’s like at fancy restaurants with fish and lobster. The tail, legs, eyes (entire head really) etc…all attached. And staring at you with their small beady little horror-filled eyes.

I made the mistake of saying as much to Ale and his dad last summer and they have never let me live it down since. It came up every single time we ate gambas over the holidays and come to find out, it is apparently a story they have shared with the rest of his family. So for all I knew, to them I was the “American girlfriend who thought the food was looking at her.” But c’est la vie. His family was still very kind to me (I had three Christmases this year between my two sides of the family and his family so that was fun).

Ale and I got to do and see a lot over our two weeks together. We saw an adaptation of an Oscar Wilde play in Spanish, a giant Playmobil exhibit in his town, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve Spanish-style. Those of you who know me have seen the NYE pictures on Facebook. For the purposes of not having to ask everyone in the pictures if they care about being on the blog, I won’t share those. But here are a few I can:

 

Ok so in order of the pictures:

  1. We had a BYOB policy for NYE but we provided the snacks. So that his parents wouldn’t get into said snacks (as we bought them way in advance), we hid them in his room. And yes his parents did somewhat half-heartedly look for them.
  2. On NYE in Spain, it’s tradition to eat twelve grapes, one for each stroke of the clock at midnight. It’s harder than it sounds and quite honestly it’s a choking hazard, which is probably why our safety-obsessed American culture doesn’t follow suit. Ale’s dad gave me a long explanation for why this is the custom. It involves rich people in Madrid and also the French (they won’t admit it but the Spanish are fairly obsessed with France so this is pretty par for the course in terms of cultural explanations).
  3. Our incredibly awkward prom pose but I still absolutely love this picture (shout-out to my grandfather for picking out the dress for me for Christmas). Ale humored me and let me take a lot of pictures that night since we were so dressed up. I also want to point out that this was my first year being kissed at midnight (My timing with previous relationships did not coincide with this particular holiday) and it almost didn’t happen because as he said, “My parents will be there!” To which I said, “Ok so what?” I got my way.
    1. Side note about this: I have never really been the kind of woman to demand that I get my way in everything. Obviously I am always right and should, but most differences in opinion aren’t worth the argument. BUT. I am a complete sucker for traditions and so with those I do hold my ground.

Over the holidays we also went to see Star Wars VII. Ale and I had promised each since before I left that if we were still together, we would wait to see it until Christmas break. Kudos to him because he turned down several offers to see it with his best friends and I turned down an offer to see it for free with my dad (ok who am I kidding I saw it for free anyway because #chivalry). The wait was 100% worth it. I loved the movie, the old and new characters, and it was a great cinema experience. Also Ale left with a Darth Vader water bottle which I have it on good authority he still has.

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Overall, it was an amazing two weeks. Anyone who has gone through a long-distance relationship knows it’s really quite difficult. But that reunion at the airport was worth it a thousand times over and I can almost cry on demand thinking about it. It’s very different to see a flesh-and-blood human being than a pixelated Skype version (don’t get me wrong. We would not have survived this without Skype). We talked about things that had gone well/poorly during our first stint apart and we realized that while it’s definitely not the arrangement we would choose if we had a say in the matter, being apart has made us trust each other more and better communicators. Overall, it has helped us grow our pure friendship, the base of all healthy relationships, without having the PDA couple-y physical part to use as a crutch for not growing as human beings together. Both of us are super pumped for his visit this summer, when I finally get to be the one to play tour guide to Indy/the United States (it’ll be his first visit stateside)!

Anyway. Here is the very much belated Christmas post. Thank you all for your patience❤

 

 

 

 

2016 Update

Hi all!

So after enjoying many happy years of pleasant relationships with my technology, it appears that a new era has arrived, starting with the death of my phone over thanksgiving, the death of my computer charger right before Christmas, and then, while in Spain, the death of my charger/computer charging port (accidentally fried oops).

I did intend to get a lot of work done on many things while in Sevilla, including a blog post or two, but with a dead computer that’s a little hard. I’m using my mom’s computer for the moment while mine is in the shop. A blog post (or two because we all know me) is coming as soon as my computer gets back and I can upload pictures.

But the short story for now is that I spent the happiest of happy two weeks back in my favorite city with my favorite person. It was incredibly difficult coming back but we both agreed that at least this time we are more secure in our relationship and have a better handle on how to deal with long distance.

In addition, I have graduation to look forward to and starting a new adult chapter in my life come May so this semester holds a lot of excitement for me.

I hope you all had a restful and peaceful Christmas vacation. Stay warm:)