Até Pronto, Brasil

As many of you probably already know from Facebook/Twitter (Where HAVEN’T I posted about this tbh), I am heading to Rio de Janeiro TOMORROW to cover the Olympics.

YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY.

I scored an internship with the U.S. Olympic Committee, along with three other students, to cover the 2016 Summer Games.

I’m excited, pumped, thrilled, ecstatic, joyful, where’s my thesaurus.

Covering the Olympics is my dream. It combines everything good and wonderful in this life: writing, sports, traveling, and a never-ending parade of cultures and languages.

I found out three days after graduation, after going through a multi-step application process in February/March. Best phone call of my life (shout-out to my entire family for not being home that day so I had to scream and scare my dog by myself. Dogs don’t know how to differentiate between, “OMG MY HUMAN IS IN TROUBLE I MUST BARK AND FIX IT BECAUSE #BARKING” and “OMG MY HUMAN IS EXCITED I MUST BE CALM AND LET HER HUG ME AND CRY AND NOT BARK BECAUSE BARKING IS BAD BAD DOG OMG KENNEL TIME”).

It was the latter kind this time around.

25 days of my life will revolve around sports and only sports pretty much 24/7. As in there are a few beach volleyball games scheduled for midnight local time so you think I’m kidding? I’m not.

Sports are the greatest. If my career lets me write features and profiles in any journalism specialty, I’ll be happy. If I get to do that within the sports world? I’ll be over the moon. In no other subset of society do you get such emotional extremes and such an intricate intersection of people from literally all walks of life. It’s fascinating to watch and it’s fascinating to write about and be in the middle of. Bonus of being a journalist not an athlete is that I don’t have the bruises and injuries to go with the thrilling parts.

I am going to try my best to update the blog with pictures and stories as I go but I suspect many of them will have to wait until I get home. But never fear! They will be coming at some point.

 

 

 

 

When Spain Came to Indy

So three weeks ago the boy came to the good old U.S. of A.

I was super pumped, obviously, to see him, but also to show off my life. I don’t get a chance to play tour guide to Indy very often. I mean. I do city bus tours for work, but those still have a focus on IUPUI and the relationship between school/city. I don’t get to show the fun side of Indy or even introduce my culture to someone for the first time. Just imagine what would happen if I even mentioned a bar during a tour to 17-year olds. Chaos. Panic.

Anyway.

We started our trip in NYC, the Big Apple. Ale’s first text to me stateside was to tell me he arrived safely. The second was to tell me he had eaten the best burger of his entire life.

Welcome to America.

NYC was as overwhelming and awesome as ever. By the end of every trip there, when I start getting the hang of the metro and bumping into people without saying “sorry” every time, I start thinking that maybe I could be a New Yorker. I could totally do it. And then I remember that I’m a city girl but not a BIG city girl and would get eaten alive. Oh well.

After a few days, it was time for Indy.

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Enjoying my fave bar, Kilroys, which I have snapchat him countless times this past year.

I’d been warning him for months that as this represented his first trip to the states, and his first chance to meet any of my friends/family aside from my mom (who came to Spain last year), he was going to have to put up with a fair number of introductions. We aren’t sure when he’s coming back so this was my chance to have the people closest to me get to know the guy I’d been raving about for the last year and a half (HOLY CRAP IT’S BEEN A YEAR AND A HALF WHAT).

It’s a strange thing to view your hometown through the eyes of someone who never has. Even students who visit, just by their Americanness*, have a basic frame of reference. Ale had no basic image in his head to go off of because nothing in Europe is anything like the Midwest. The Midwest itself has its own culture within the larger US sphere.

It’s a doubly strange thing to see your hometown through eyes that haven’t been trying to escape it for a year. I’ve been planning my departure almost since the minute I came home July 31, 2015. So what an odd thing to have the boy I love, from the city I adore, come to this city I often feel like I can’t ditch fast enough.

And what an even stranger thing to have him love it here. Three visits to Longs Donuts (pretty sure he misses that basic yeast donut more than he misses me), multiple nights staying up late munching on popcorn and talking, fake Thanksgiving, a proper American rite of passage: a 4th of July celebration, and meeting countless people filled our days. We went laser tagging, target shooting (‘Murica), got deep dish pizza, and watched three seasons of Modern Family. All in the 14 days he was here.

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Ale said he loved this burger. I saw it person and it was just as magnificent so I can’t really be offended. 

It was a mind-bending experience. I’ve spent so much time this past year trying not to hate the hometown I once loved, the city I’ve lived in for the larger part of 22 years, the city that holds all my childhood memories, my milestones, my college years, my family.

But slowly and surely, as I loved on him for 14 days, so I got to rediscover and grudgingly learn to like (love is a strong word after all), my city again.

In the process, it made this the most agonizing goodbye yet.

 

While I obviously spent 7 months in Spain last year, coming home still almost like coming home from a drawn-out vacation. He and I said goodbye, with the plan to reunite at Christmas, but with both of us only tentatively expecting that two people with no long-distance experience would actually make it.

December really was like coming home from vacation. I spent a glorious two weeks in my favorite city on earth and then came home. Another goodbye, another set of planes, and boom. The next day I was back in class.

But this…This time, instead of the American going to Spain, the Spaniard came to the States. And he invaded (in the best of ways) my city, my culture, and my life instead of the other way around.

I accidentally drove to the apartment we were staying at twice this last week instead of my internship (which is a mile down the road). I went to Longs almost ordered half a dozen before I remembered that he wasn’t waiting for me to share them with and I really shouldn’t have 6 donuts on my own. I watched the one remaining episode of Modern Family season 4 that we didn’t quite finish and kept looking over, expecting him to sympathize with grumpy old Jay whenever I didn’t. I leave my car multiple times a day, preparing myself to tease him because he doesn’t slam his door hard enough, and then remember that mine was the only one being used now.

It’s much harder to ignore the traces of someone left behind than it is to be the one brushing off those pieces of yourself into someone else’s existence.

So we said goodbye at the airport until Christmas, I looked up plane tickets as therapy the minute I got home, and we started finding our way back to long distance normalcy.

And so another countdown begins. Or rather two. One to Christmas. One to next summer, when I move to Spain semi-permanently (permanently? Who knows).

But for now, it was another goodbye. Another year of this craziness. But one with a renewed appreciation for my hometown, for the people in my life, and my life itself.

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Am I surprised he let me take this? Yes. Yes I am. But no regrets. 

 

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🙂