Tapas

Perhaps it’s the recent Republican takeover of the United States Congress. Perhaps it’s the fact that my Spanish boyfriend is moving to Tokyo soon due to visa expiration and a job opportunity*. Whatever it may be, as I sit here eating my tomato soup, I have a deep longing to Move Out Tha Country.

But wait- shouldn’t I work on operation Move Out My Mama’s House first?

Can I work on both simultaneously?

Here is my current statistical information: I dropped out of university with one year to go. I am a few hours away from completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training, and today I had a really great second interview for a yoga teaching position. I work part-time at a minimum wage job.

I love, more than anything in life, dancing and performing spoken word poetry.

I can carry on a “deep” conversation in French and speak extremely broken, present-tense Spanish.

I’m a little bit all over the place.

In yoga teacher training, we learned the importance of slowing down, of appreciating the present moment, and of living through the “boring” moments of life with passion and vigor (the name of the latter concept in Sanskrit is funnily also a Spanish word: tapas). That means vacuuming with a lust for life. Appreciating the present moment also encompasses letting go of over-thinking, worrying, and overly planning for life. I am for sure one who struggles with overly planning for life. If we are always planning ahead then one day we will just die having never really enjoyed life. It is in this regard that maybe I shouldn’t be so focused on the end goal of leaving and should have fun in and appreciate my current life.

However, they say that Moving Out Tha Country requires a plan. On all of these travel blogs in which the authors describe their ability to afford going abroad, they tend to emphasize having a clear-cut goal, working like a madwoman or man, and living like a pauper for X amount of months; for example: I want to backpack around Southeast Asia for 9 months. I will work 60 hours a week. I will significantly cut back on my social life and eat as cheaply as possible. I will stop pampering myself. I will put away X amount of dollars per month so that I will be able to leave by X date. They say that this saving-up lifestyle is pretty miserable but ultimately worth it once abroad.

In yoga, though, one also learns the importance of ahimsa, or kindness and compassion to both others and oneself. Therefore severely denying oneself in order to save money is, in my opinion, not very indicative of kindness to oneself. How can I be a yoga instructor, telling other people to relax and eat healthy, enjoy life and not work oneself to death, all the while metaphorically (and probably literally) starving myself? Additionally, many travel bloggers talk of moving back home to save money on rent before the big trip. I am saving so much on rent but am ultimately denying myself my own sanity by living at home.

I have all these schemas in mind: go back to school in Fall 2015 (when admissions at my nearest university are next open) and study abroad in Southern France for Spring 2016 (back when I was at university, I was majoring in English and minoring in French); save up for a TEFL course in Barcelona and find a job teaching English there (Spain is one country that doesn’t require a Bachelor’s degree in order to obtain an English teaching job) (I also have some issues with the morality of teaching English abroad, but that’s a whole other essay. I could probably also get over these issues if teaching English really does provide such an easy and fantastic means of living abroad.); try to find a job working at a yoga retreat in a beautiful, exotic location; see if I can find a regular yoga teaching job in a city abroad (Barcelona? Maybe that’s where I belong, as it’s the city that keeps coming to mind); save up (or don’t save up) with no real goal in mind and see where the wind blows me. Maybe Spirit will guide me to the country of my subconscious dreams at the right timing.

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^Some girl doing yoga on the beach in Barcelona

*Trust me, I’ve already been through the whole thought process of “Maybe I should move to Tokyo to be with him,” or “Maybe one day our paths will reunite in Spain,” or “Maybe he’ll get a green card and come back to America and then I should stay here,” or, “I’m not going to make a life decision based on a guy,” or, “Life decisions based on a guy are beautiful.”

My brain, man.

La Fin! L’extrem! El Extremo!

It’s been over 6 weeks since I’ve returned from Europe, but I decided that I might as well properly conclude my blog. I left off in Barcelona, at which I had a couple of remaining days…

After a very long night of partying, I leisurely slept in and then proceeded to go to Park Güell with DeeDee, my Texan friend, Rachel, my Santa Barbaran friend, and Rory, my Scottish friend! Park Güell was created by Gaudi, who, as you may know, was known for his outrageous architectural style; basically, he created a lot of weird shit. Anyway, after getting lost and walking uphill for dayz, we arrived at this gorgeous, funky park overlooking the city and the Mediterranean Sea! It was spectacular.

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(Rory, DeeDee, Rachel, and me)

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After hanging out there for awhile, the four of us went to eat at… Subway… then we went back to the hostel for a siesta.

That night, we ate a most delicious meal in our wonderful hostel with all of the other guests. Later on, a giant group of us went out, but my two Australian friends, Lenny and Tom, and I somehow got separated from them at a bar. We thus didn’t know which club they were going to and ended up having to call it a night early. Hungry, we found some late-night kebab to eat, and then something very, very scary happened as we were walking back to the hostel: a man ran up to Tom and tried to mug him. I had never before experienced something like that and didn’t know what to do. Tom struggled with the guy, and Lenny somehow talked him out of taking anything from Tom or hurting him. We’re pretty sure that the guy had a knife, though. After convincing him that none of us had anything valuable, he eventually gave up and left. It was really scary, but thank God that everyone, especially Tom, was okay!

The next day, having recovered from the previous night’s episode, a group of us- Tom, Lenny, their friend Roman, DeeDee, her friend Austin, and I- all went out to sightsee. We walked up to this hill that had an amazing view of the entire city, and then proceeded on to the Olympic Stadium!

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(The view, with the Sagrada Famiglia)

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(Tebow-ing at Olympic Stadium with, from left to right, Austin, DeeDee, Roman, and me)

Then we took this ski lift/glass tube thingy up to an ancient fort. The ride up was really cool and had stunning views, as did the fort! It was right above the Sea and so, so beautiful! The sun was shining on the bright blue water, which expanded forever…

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(Pimpin’ ain’t easy… with Roman, Austin, Tom, myself, and Lenny)

DSC01528 (The view from the ride)

DSC01547  (The view from the fort)

Afterward, me and the boys went out for some paella and sangria, and it was SO BOMB. I do actually regret not taking a picture of it, but we were at a restaurant with no English speakers in this very vibrant part of the city, and god damn was it good! If you don’t know, paella is a giant plate of seafood atop delicious rice, and it’s meant to be shared with multiple people. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Finally, we went back to our hostel for, of course, a siesta. Then, as it was my last night in Barcelona- and in Europe altogether- I went out dancing with a giant group of people from our hostel. It was really fun and a wonderful way to go out with a bang. However, as my flight was pretty early the next morning, I literally came back, took a 45 minute nap, and then finished up packing and went to the airport. I was so exhausted and very sad to be leaving Barcelona. I totally fell in love with this city- the people, the sunshine, the beach, the food, the laid-back yet vibrant feel, the streets, the art, everything- and could have stayed there forever. Yet, coincidentally enough, a guy from my hostel named David just so happened to be on my same flight! I was flying to New York and then LAX, and as he was from New York he was on the first leg of my flight. We thus went to the airport together and, upon boarding the plane and seeing how empty it was, sat next to each other! David had been backpacking around Europe for the past several months, and how funny that we would both end our journeys on the exact same day on the exact same flight. Anyway, we bonded on our flight home, and it was so wonderful to meet an awesome new friend as a way to officially end my trip.

Being on that flight home was bittersweet in every sense of the word and very weird. I think I’ll make another blog post in which I elaborate on this further and reflect upon life after being abroad. Stay tuned… =)

My New Favorite City

To end my European adventure with a bang, I decided to have my very last stop be Barcelona!! I had heard tons of great things about this city, so my expectations were quite high to say the least. I arrived at night to a hostel that some friends had recommended to me, Hostel One Paralelo. Valerio, the hot Italian guy working the front desk, greeted me and immediately fed me some pasta for dinner. I would soon realize what an amazing hostel this was. It had a very social environment, making it really easy to meet interesting and fun people, and one of the staff members cooked an amazing dinner for EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE HOSTEL EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Thus, after eating my fantastic pasta, I met some people in the common area and went out to a bar with them- two Americans, one Scottish guy, and a Mexican girl who worked for the hostel.

The following day, I decided for the first time in my entire trip to take a walking tour with my hostel. Everyone in the tour group was American, and I would soon find out that the hostel was filled with Americans! It was so weird! Anyway, the tour was actually a cool way to get to know some people and see the city- we went to some churches, a giant food market, and different places that the film Vicky Christina Barcelona was filmed, such as a café by a modern art museum and a square with a church and a big fountain.

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Nearby that was a bar where Hemingway hung out back in the day!

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We also saw really cool street art and drank from a fountain that, according to legend, guarantees our return to Barcelona <3.

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At the end of the tour, we went to a bustling little lunch spot in which one must stand whilst eating. We ate fantastic sandwiches and drank pink champagne!

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We then walked on a promenade near a palm tree-lined harbor on our way back to the hostel. Filled with sunshine (Barcelona was a l’il chilly but very sunny the whole time- in December), it reminded me a lot of Long Beach. One we got back to the hostel, it was siesta time, which I love. I just love the schedule of life in Barcelona (and throughout Spain for that matter). The Spanish come home from work around 2 PM for a siesta (a nap) and subsequently have lunch around 3 or 4 PM. Then they go back to work and don’t eat dinner until at least 9 PM. Then, if the night calls for partying, they leave to go out the bars and clubs at midnight and don’t come home until the sunrise. Everything is just delayed and relaxed, yet they still go out and do fun things. I found the city of Barcelona itself to mirror this- it has a very vibrant energy to it yet is laid back at the same time. It think that’s why I loved it so much.

That night, after eating one of my hostel’s famous dinners with all of the other guests, I went on a ghost tour with the hostel for lack of anything better to do by myself. It was pretty lame because we basically saw everything we had seen earlier that day yet with a creepy story attached to it. When it was over, we all went to a bar and then a really fun club! Unfortunately for the three Aussies who had just flown in that day and were soundly asleep in our room, my two new American friends and I came home very late and, in vain, tried to be quiet. DeeDee and Austin (the Americans from Texas) and I couldn’t stop talking to each other and giggling, even though we kept shushing each other and saying that we needed to go to bed. We got to know the Aussies a little better (Roman, Tom, and Lenny), and they eventually forgave us for keeping everyone awake until 6 AM…

And that was only the first 36 hours!