Calm Before the Storm

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”― Henry Miller

Another weekend has come and gone. Time is flying by! It was my last weekend in Toledo until the end of my program in mid-December. Tomorrow the countdown begins: One month until I board a plane bound for the good ole US of A. To be honest, I never want that day to come. If I could bring some of my family and friends (and certain American foods!) here to Spain, I doubt I would ever go back. The fear of reverse culture shock is much stronger than my initial fears of culture shock. It’s warmer here. The classes are easier. I can travel with ease. Everyday is a new and exciting adventure. There’s lots of siestas and fiestas. What’s not to love? I still have trips to London and Paris to look forward to before I say goodbye to my friends and hello to my parents who will be visiting me in Toledo. I plan to cherish every remaining day and not dwell on my impending return until the time comes. Overall, I just feel so thankful that I ended up taking a risk and committing to a semester long study abroad.

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Most of the weekend, I studied, relaxed, and spent time with friends. In the last few days, it has become drastically colder in Toledo. I’m afraid I’ve adjusted too much to the warm weather of central Spain that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed for the majority of the semester. Temperatures are now in the 40s or 50s, although it feels much colder to me. I’m afraid I’ll be in for a rude awakening when I’m back in Minnesota on December 19th!

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On Friday, my school took a day trip to Segovia, which is just 2.5 hours north of Toledo. It is in the region of Castilla y León, a beautiful area with more mountains and green space than Toledo. We toured the Alcázar of Segovia, a castle that once served as a fortress, royal palace, and prison. It inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. The highlight of the castle tour was climbing to the tower and looking at the views of the city. The combination of fall colors and mountains was gorgeous. Next, we took a walking tour of the city and stopped at the famous aqueduct. It transports water from a river in the nearby mountains and into the city. I was shocked to learn that the aqueduct is completely unmortared, meaning there is no paste or binding holding the granite blocks together.

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After the aqueduct, we ate lunch as a group and then returned to Toledo. Although Segovia is a small city similar in style and feel to Toledo, I could have spent a lot more time there exploring. Unfortunately, it was very cold and windy when we were there; we even saw a few snowflakes! I was happy to return to Toledo where it’s at least a few degrees warmer.

This weekend, I am traveling to London! I am thrilled to visit my friend Nara who is studying there. It will be nice to see a friendly face from home and have a London expert to travel with. My ideal London to-do list includes: visit Buckingham Palace, take a quick spin on the London Eye, take a double-decker bus tour, meet Kate Middleton, take a picture in a red telephone booth, visit the house from The Parent Trap, eat fish and chips, see Big Ben, “mind the gap” and take the tube, and see The Lion King musical. Most of that seems pretty realistic, right?

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