Hailey's Blog

all about the world, written by a college girl

el fin

dear reader,

here’s to a summer of getting lost. a summer of laughing until I’m crying, late night talks about life, meeting people from around the world, canceled flights, endless bowls of gazpacho, and new friendships. here’s to getting lost (literally), but also being so found. being so found spiritually, emotionally and infinitely more.

we say that traveling changes us. it opens our eyes, it broadens our prospective, and of course, we learn. however, traveling does so much more. it isn’t even fair to say that living abroad changes us; it transforms us. we truly get the chance to absorb cultural differences, develop friendships with people from different countries, and for me, it really made me realize what is important in life. this summer has shown me the value of simplicity and happiness.

simplicity, is something i’ve never really had in my life. anyone who knows me knows i love to plan, i worry a lot, and i always am thinking a billion thoughts. nothing about those things are simple. i am not a go with the flow person. but this summer has taught me patience and to not stress about the small stuff, because a lot of it, we can’t control. of course i still stress about random things, but this summer i have learned not having a plan sometimes is okay, even good. for example, this summer for one of our trips we went to france and Switzerland, and we didn’t really have a plan. we spent our first night sitting by the river in Lyon with these random people from france and mexico, and we just talked about life. the next day we took the sketchiest (I’m not exaggerating.. it was bad) blabla car from Lyon, France to Geneva, Switzerland. they literally dropped us off in a FIELD on the side of the road outside Geneva. we had no plan. thank goodness we had katherine’s friend, Ben, who speaks fluent french with us. anyways though, long story short, we had no plan. but this trip ended up being one of my favorite. in Lausanne, a small town in Switzerland we stayed in, we ended up at a local music festival that night, and were with all locals and it was probably one of the coolest and most unique experiences of my life. so long story short, sometimes not planning and just going with the flow creates the best of memories.

I have also learned about simplicity with materials. in spain, they don’t have 4 cars per family. they don’t have a television in every room, and you know something crazy, they usually don’t have air-conditioning. gotta love southern spain. but really though, they live much more simply. it has made me realize that i don’t “need” a lot of the things I thought I did. they don’t live in a culture of excessive wanting like we do in the states. they are content. and Moroccans? even more content. when i visited these markets in Morocco, they had donkeys caring all the goods still through the streets, they had flip phones still, and they had very different living conditions, yet they were some of the happiest people i’ve ever met. privilege really hit me in the face that trip.

okay and happiness. this summer has been a lot of ups and downs I’m going to be honest. I have not been happy every second, I struggled with homesickness, which is something I wasn’t expecting. every moment wasn’t shining and happy, but I am soo glad every moment wasn’t. this summer was real. like i said, I got lost. but I also got found this summer. I found Jesus, and I have felt a happiness like never before. this summer has made me happy. the day I got asked for directions on the street (BEST DAY EVER). Just kidding, but honestly, it’s the small moments that really create the greatest happiness. happiness doesn’t have to be this unreachable thing that i think many people make it out to be. its just that, in our world today, people always want whats next, we are never satisfied with what we have right now. and living and growing through Jesus this summer, I have learned to just be happy with what I have, and to enjoy the moment. that, to me is happiness.

anyways, this post is a bit long and my writing is not very professional on these things, because i am pretty much just writing out exactly my thoughts. we only have 5 days left in spain now, and i don’t really think i am ready. i will write again soon.

hasta luego,

hailey

t-20 days

dear reader,

it is just starting to hit me that I have less than 20 days left in spain. this summer has been nothing less than incredible and ineffable. if i could spend a year here, i would in a heart beat. everyone says people go to study abroad to “find themselves”, which I honestly don’t really know what that is suppose to mean. yes we learn and grow, but i really think we grow because we are challenged. back home, we are comfortable. we have our friends, our family, and we don’t need a map to go to the store, or a translating device to order dinner. the first few weeks here in spain, i was in a honeymoon, and everything was great. it felt like a vacation. but after about 5 weeks in, things got a little harder. i found myself just wanting to be able to have typical american food like chicken salad, or a good steak; lame, i know. but after week 5 or 6, i started to feel really settled. and now, I don’t really want to leave. of course I am excited to go home and go back to school, but there is just something special about europe. there is something special about walking to the store every morning and getting fresh fruit, or sitting at a market and meeting people from all around the world. and, there is something so special about being able to have a home cooked spanish meal everyday with our host family, and conversing only in spanish. these are things i won’t have at home, and i am going to miss, a lot more than i think.

this summer though, i don’t know if i would say I found myself. i have traveled alone before, been to Europe alone and i go to school out of state. i am used to doing things on my own, and i like it. however, this summer i found something so much greater than myself, i found God. how cool right? i was not expecting it. I have always been a christian, but i hadn’t found God yet. i would go to church one week, and be gone for 4 months. it was not consistent, and i had so, so much doubt. this past semester, i felt really incomplete. i felt like i was missing something from my life, and i could not put my finger on it, but it was most definitely faith. this summer, I have started doing bible studies with my roommate (big shoutout to her for answering all my questions and always reminding me what is important). we have done them in coffee shops, in the parks, even just sitting in our room talking at night. and trust me, for a long time I have been so in and out with faith, trusting and not trusting, but this time is so different and its incredible. God is pretty cool, and how cool to say i found Him in spain? what a summer.

anyways though, this weekend we are heading to Amsterdam, and then the next weekend we are going to Lisbon! i am beyond pumped. time is going by fast but slow at the same time. kind of weird I know, but i am happy with all of it. this summer i have learned a lot about myself. i have learned that i am inpatient, i love alone time, i love Jesus, and that i literally love cheese on bread. (never liked it back home what was i thinking). i am going to miss the cheese, and ham, and bread, oh and did i mention the 1 euro wine?

besides all the amazing cultural stuff and finding God though, i am also taking 12 hours this summer. they aren’t hard classes, but they are each 2 hours and 15 minutes, which is long because back home most of my classes are only around 1 hr. however, one of my classes is called economics and politics in the European union, and it is the best class ever. I am an econ major so that makes it great already, but adding the politics part makes it even better. our professor is also super cool, and literally knows everything about the EU, and the united states. that’s another thing I have learned from being here, everyone here knows relatively a lot about the united states. but I feel like back home, many american’s don’t really know much about Europe, or european politics or the economy. after 2 summers abroad i have definitely realized that we are a very ethnocentric culture. i think it is so important to have international influence and exposure to really understand the world and have an appreciation for other people and cultures; after all, we all are sharing the same earth .

cheers,

hailey

 

days in sevilla

hola!

the more this trip goes on, i realize the more i forget. there are a lot of times I will think to myself, “I need to write this down, I can’t forget this moment”, but then, I forget. life moves fast, and we forget. with all of the distractions in todays society, it is easy to forget the most important moments. we are distracted by taking a million pictures of everything, texting, facetiming, and scrolling through social media. I’m immune to it just like everybody else. but sometimes, it is nice to just sit and write, or simply sit down with a good book and read. sometimes it is nice to have simple distractions like these.

in the past month in sevilla, time has gone so quick. we wake up, go to class, go for a glass of wine some days, come home, eat dinner, and fall asleep. living in a city is exhausting. anyone that knows me knows I love cities, but it really is a wakeup call living in one. for some of the best, and not so best things. for example, it is hot in sevilla, and everyday we walk a mile and a half everyday there and back. it doesn’t seem far right? but 3 miles in 100 degrees can sometimes be a lot. and that’s just 3 miles to school. if you want to go get tapas, shop, or anything else, add another 4 miles. living in a city is so much different than small town norman, oklahoma, where everyone jumps in their cars for a short ride to class, or campus corner which is literally half a mile from everything.

besides this though, living in a city is everything i could’ve dreamed of, and more; especially living in sevilla. the people are so nice, the food is so cheap, and the beauty is indescribable. living here has really made me realize a lot about culture. about what we value, and what we consider things we “need” vs. what we want.

living in spain is much simpler, hands down, and i love it. the work is much more relaxed, family is so important, and they don’t need a million things to be happy.  for example, every sunday is for the family. everything is closed. the grocery store, banks, and cafes. on our street where we live, there are no cars. its simply just for walking. we come out on the balcony everyday just to see a bunch of families out, dad’s and mom’s, grandparents and children. it is the best. also, everyday we have a big lunch with our family, our host dad even comes home from work, and then after, we all take a siesta and relax. another thing, no one has 5 cars. no one has cars for everyone in their family, even if they can afford it. it is much more simpler. you walk to el centro to shop, go down the street for fresh bread and groceries, and you still hang dry your clothing. it is just so much different.  and i love it.

somedays i find myself really missing home, even counting the weeks till i get to go back, and be at school. what can i say? i love OU, and i miss my family. but the closer i get, the more i fall in love with being here. I have had to stop myself on this trip a lot, whenever i catch myself complaining about even the small things; because I am spain and I know this is a blessing, and a once in a life time experience. without my parents, and God, I wouldn’t be here, and I cannot thank them enough for this experience. I am excited to see what the next weeks bring, maybe soon I’ll try to write one of these in spanish. (‘:

hasta luego

hailey

making comparisons

hello!

so, i have officially been abroad now for over a month, and I can finally say I have noticed a change in my spanish, especially my accent. speaking spanish in a foreign country when its not your first language can be intimidating, especially when you’re a little shy, like me. thankfully though, i am finally adjusting and opening up and I am beyond excited to see what will happen to my spanish in just the next couple weeks. I only have 4 left, like what! where has time gone.

anyways, the first session of our classes is ending, and most of our friends are leaving, and I am really sad. I have found some of my best friends here in spain, and a great group of new friends. coincidentally, many of them are from texas, so it won’t be hard to have a reunion.

next week, is the fourth of july, one of my favorite holidays. although i will be in spain, I am more than okay with that. a couple of us students are going to get together and make some american foods such as pizza and hotdogs to make up for missing the holiday.

as time progresses though, i am realizing a lot more about myself, and just living abroad in general, and also living in a city. i have noticed that a lot of people on our program, including myself, make comparisons, constantly. I don’t think comparisons are bad, but i have noticed them a lot. for example, when we go to a restaurant and something reminds us of something back home people will be like ” oh, this is like what we have back home” or ” this beach reminds me a lot of the one that we have here..” and so on. comparisons are not bad, but they are something i have realized a lot.

things are different here in spain, and that is okay, it’s a different country. I love some of the things that are different here, but i also miss some of the things back home. but I feel like this is okay to be like this. anyways, I am going to finish studying for my finance final. also, this past weekend i went to lagos, Portugal and it was absolutely beautiful, here are some attached pics.

hasta luego,

hailey

Switzerland and France

hello!

this past weekend we traveled to Lyon, France and Geneva, Switzerland. and what an experience. I had been to france before, but only paris. and to be honest, i didn’t really like it. of course it is very pretty, and you have to go to see it, but it just was not one of my favorite experiences. this time, we flew into Lyon, which is a city in eastern france. and wow, did I fall in love. I went with my roommate katherine, and we met her friend ben there, who is french, but grew up in the U.S. while in Lyon, we got to explore, meet locals, and we had the best picnic I have  ever had in my whole life. his cousin, lucy, lives in Lyon. on Friday night, we met her in the park and she brought a bunch of local, french food. and let me tell you, no bread or cheese will ever to compare to that in france. lucy brought 4 different cheeses, olives, bread, meat, rosé, and pastries.

after that night in the park, the next morning we headed to geneva in a bla bla car. and if you’ve never heard of bla bla car, basically it is a super popular carpool system in europe, and honestly i don’t know why we don’t have it in the states. the bla bla car was sooo sketchy. we met up with these 2 french hippy guys, and their car was the dirtiest i’ve ever seen, and i’m not exaggerating, it was bad. apparently it is so unusual for bla bla cars to be like  this, but oh well, the guys were nice.  we were listening to french music, and “imagine” by john lennon and driving through the swiss alps; it was a wild experience.

once we got to geneva, we spent the day exploring and hanging out by the lake. that night we took another bla bla car to where we were staying , in Lausanne (aka the  most beautiful place i have ever been). once we got to Lausanne we checked in to our airbnb and we cooked some dinner. ben is from france, so he cooked us some homemade ratatouille and crepes for dessert and it was delicious. we also brought some wine in france, and made some tinto de verano with it. if you have never had tinto de verano, I highly recommend. it is a traditional drink in spain during the summers. basically its red wine on ice, then you add either sparkling lemonade, or just sparkling water if you don’t want the extra sugar; it is my favorite drink ever. but anyways, that same night, we found ourselves at a free music festival in a village. we walked up right when this african band was playing and wow was it cool. we were literally the only american’s there; it was completely local, and something I hope i’ll never forget. the next day was spent exploring as well, and the very last day, we spent swimming in lake geneva in the swiss alps, at one of the most beautiful beaches i’ve ever seen; its name was Lutry. i highly recommend. our flight actually ended up getting canceled this weekend, and we were suppose to come back sunday. we had to push it to monday; but I am beyond happy it got canceled.

picnic food

picnic food

Morocco

hello!

i am a little late to post a blog about this, but I have to write about Morocco because it was so amazing. 3 weeks ago we headed to Morocco with our program ISA, and traveled to the cities of Meknès and Fez. morocco was different than any other place I have ever been. we took a bus from sevilla to the coast, and then took a ferry from there to Ceuta. Ceuta is a little city that is on the tip of Africa that Spain owns. After the 1 hr ferry ride, we headed to the bus to cross the border. crossing  the border was one of the most eye opening experiences i have ever had. as we pulled up, there were hundreds of people from morocco lined up to cross the border into spain for just one day. they were crossing to get normal, everyday goods. there were old people, pregnant women, and kids trying to jump the fence. i was shocked. as i sat in the bus and looked out the window, privilege hit me in the face really hard.

this trip to morocco taught me a lot. even spain already has. in america, we have a culture solely  based on wanting. we cry when our iphone screen breaks, get upset when we don’t have free wifi, for heavens sake we even have wifi on all of our planes. new technology devices come out monthly, and we drive everywhere. we drive even if its less than a mile from our homes. we are privileged. and yes I know a lot  of american’s don’t have all of these things, but for the most part, we live in a culture of wanting. always wanting more. I didn’t really realize this as much until I came to spain, as well as morocco. there are so many people in this world that live off of so little, and yet are still so much happier than a lot of people with so much.

in morocco, we went to La Medina, which means old city. it is the biggest market in Africa, and wow was it cool. we went to a leather branding place, carpet shop, and a pharmacy. the pharmacy was different than you’re probably thinking though. they had fresh spices, rose water, and moroccan mint tea, which let me tell you, it is soo good.

craziest experience we had in Morocco though was hands down the arab bath, the Hammam. in Fez, some moroccan students took us to one. it was wild. all of us girls took off everything, and went into this super super steamy hot room. on the sides of the concrete room, there were little faucets. they had a cold water port and a hot one. we had to fill up our little bucket with some water, then, this lady slapped some brown gel on our body’s and it made us supper slippery and greasy. then, she called us over one by one, and scrubbed out whole bodies. it was insane, and honestly tickled and i couldn’t help but laugh a little. it was such a cool, cultural experience. on our way back from the Hammam, the call to worship came across the whole city for Ramadan. it was so cool, and all in arabic. I have never been in a country with a set religion. it was so different and just incredible to see. i am so happy I was able to travel to morocco. it really opened my mind and my eyes. this trip so far has made me change my prospective in a lot of ways, a lot of good ways.

Fez, morocco 

Medina in Fez

mint tea

fresh couscous

bienvenidos a sevilla

hola!

it has officially been about 3 weeks since I have been in Sevilla, and I absolutely love it. living in Spain is a lot different than just visiting for a week or two. in the past 2 weeks, I have learned that you don’t eat dinner until 10pm, you eat a sandwich or a piece of bread with cheese and ham for breakfast (how awesome, right?)  that tinto de verano (red wine + lemonade on ice)  is usually cheaper than water, and that walking past the cathedral is a pain because there are a thousand tourists that stand in your way on the way to class.  i have learned much more than this however, a lot about finance, in my international finance class, and I love it. I have also learned about old Spanish literature pieces such as La Celestina, and El sid. Our Spanish Literature class is hard. It is exactly like a real literature class that we would have back in the States, but all in Spanish. We analyze poems, sonnets, and books. every night we get to come home to our amazing host family and usually have dinner for about 2 hours with them. we have talked about the things going on in Barcelona with Catalonia, the language and the slang used here, and so much more. speaking of we, I have to mention my awesome roommate, who I lucked out with. on our program, we are paired with a random roommate based off a short survey; and I have never gotten luckier. Katherine goes to A&M and honestly is the coolest human i’ve ever met (and funniest).

it has only been a short amount of time, but it is truly flying. I knew I would always love Spain but I never thought I would like it this much. Sevilla itself is incredible. It is the perfect size, the people are so kind, the shopping deals are surreal,and most of all, the culture is incomparable to any other place, in the best way. the prices are so reasonable and I could not have picked a better city to live in for this summer. last weekend we went to Morocco and it was so amazing, and so different than anything I have ever experienced before. This weekend, we are heading to Granada and Cordoba. In the coming weeks, we are planning on going to Amsterdam, Palma, Malaga, Cadiz, Portugal, and anywhere else we can go for cheap.

anyways, i should get back to studying for finance. right now we are at a coffee shop right on our street drinking cafe con leche, with pan con tomate, our whole ticket for 3 people was 7 euro. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say enough great things about this place.

hasta luego

hailey

 

 

 

Adios America

T-1 week until I leave for Spain for the entire summer. The thought of it is frightening, but also thrilling. I will be going to Sevilla, Spain for 10 weeks this summer. Although I have been to Spain before, and this will be my fourth time to Europe, I am still incredibly nervous. The thought of moving somewhere I have never been, with people I have never met, is kind of unsettling. But then I think of everything. I think of how incredible European culture is, how  beautiful the Spanish language is; and I think of how much I love learning about new cultures.

I am not unaware that I will experience culture shock, unlike before, when I was just visiting Europe for 2 week blocks of time. I know it will be different, maybe even challenging at first to live with a host family. It will hard to adjust to eating dinner at 10:30-11:00 every night. But these adjustments are things I am excited for. I am excited to adjust to a new way of life, and mostly, I am just excited to be able to study in a different country and culture again. It is truly an experience like no other.

I will be taking 12 hours, traveling to new countries, and (hopefully) gaining fluency in a language I love. Last summer, I had the opportunity to go to Arezzo, Italy. However, this trip was only a little over 2 weeks; almost not even comparable in length to the 10 weeks I will be living in Sevilla.

I know that this summer I will not be happy every second. In fact, I think this is a flaw in most of our thinking before we go abroad. Everyone always says how amazing it is, which it is. However, every moment isn’t amazing. Before we go abroad, I feel like many of us students have this pre consumed thought that every moment has to be perfect. But that is not even close to true. There are times you will be homesick; I will be homesick. You will want to go home, speak english, or simply just have the convenience of hoping in a car to do everyday things. However, it is okay to feel like this. It is okay for every second to not be perfect, and I think that is a really important thought to keep in mind before heading abroad.

Next week I head off to Madrid, then to Sevilla by the end of next week. I am going to Morocco at the end of May, and hopefully plan to visit Portugal, Eastern Europe, Ibiza or Majorca, and some other places. I plan to blog throughout this trip. Last summer & every time I go abroad, it really opens my eyes & inspires me to write. I am so excited for the food, culture, language, music, flamenco dancing, & more. Thanks for reading (‘:

Saludos,

hailey

Stomp Down 2018

This year I attended Stomp Down, an annual step & strolling show put on by BSA, NPHC, and a couple other sponsors. A couple of universities travel to OU to compete with groups from our school, and the grand prize was $3000 , wow. I attended one event on slam poetry last year by BSA and absolutely loved it, so I was so excited to be able to attend this event this past weekend.

When we sat down around 7, groups from National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) got up in their jackets and letters and began strolling and dancing. It was so fun watching them, because their dances are all so intricate and have so much meaning behind them. The music and energy made me want to get up and dance so bad, but a couple months ago I attended another step & stroll show, and I learned that imitating the dances, or walking in between the stroll lines is considered very disrespectful. That being said, watching was all we could do, but I absolutely loved it. Here at OU, I am on Panhellenic Exec, and I am in a Panhellenic sorority, and our traditions are totally different from NPHC. Sometimes I wish we had more cultural things like they do, but it isn’t really comparable in Panhellenic sororities. Strolling dates all the way back to times of slavery, when Africans would dance in a circle to show unity and strength. Stepping on the other hand began during the late 1900’s, when the first show began at Howard University.

Since then, it has broken out all over the U.S in National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities and fraternities. As they strolled around the room, you could feel the sisterhood and brotherhood they had with their groups. It was honestly amazing, and you could really tell that this is so much more than just a social organization.

At Stomp Down, there were 5 performances, however, my favorite one was probably the last one because it was a probate as well. A probate is when they introduce the new members to the campus. Probates are public, so anyone can go, but they are a very important step in NPHC fraternities and sororities. The newest members wear masks and they have to present the history, and reveal themselves to the crowd, and they often have to step or stroll as well. In this probate, the three new members had a mask, and a military looking outfit on. When they presented themselves, they repeated all there history, then they had the mask ripped off them, as well as their shirt, and then they sang, and did a stroll, along with some stepping. As they were revealed, the audience went wild. The energy of this whole experience is honestly inexplicable.

I loved going to Stop Down this year, and it will be one experience that I will definitely remember in detail, because it is so different from what I am used to. I love going to things like this because it is so amazing to learn about others cultures, and traditions. Not only do you learn, but you really gain a greater appreciation and understanding. I cannot wait until the next stomp down next year.

Global Engagement Day 2018

At the beginning of April, we had our annual Global Engagement day, which this year was put together but my good friend Hennessy. Last year, I wasn’t able to attend this day, but this year I was, and I am so glad.

Basically Global Engagement Day is a full day of panel discussions, and presentations lead by GEF’s, on different topics. The discussion I went to was about women and minorities abroad. I was so excited to hear from other peoples experiences, especially since I am about to go abroad for the entirety of this summer. On the panel, there were many diverse individuals represented and I absolutely loved getting to hear everything they had to say.  One of the men on the panel who identified as gay, talked about his experience in Paris. Although he said being gay in Paris wasn’t any harder than it is here, he explained how being tall was the harder part. He said he had trouble fitting into showers, beds. This is something I never even thought about. He discussed how the Parisians are just not large people, they are small, and he talked about how he felt as if he stood out because of his size, not his sexuality, I found this very interesting. Another individual talked about they’re trouble with pronouns in different countries. They talked about how in Iceland, where they were from, the pronouns for transgender persons are the same pronouns as people use for objects. They discussed how they didn’t want to use these pronouns, and I don’t blame them. How could people place a human being and an object in the same realm?

This panel was very eye opening and I found it very inspiring to hear both peoples happy times, and sad ones while abroad. A good point one of my friends brought up that I really took importance to was that you don’t always have to enjoy every second of being abroad. He said that of course when we think of it, we think of being happy, and having a ball every minute. We don’t think about the times we will be sad, or homesick, or just really want to see our parents and family.  This is something I think is important for everyone to remember. Because in my opinion, sometimes when we are struggling, we are truly growing the most. I am so glad this panel occurred this year, and I am so glad I was able to absorb some different view points and learn about others experiences.

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