Monday, December 3

She Lives!

Oh goodness, it's been over a month since my last blog post! I hope none of you thought I was dead, because I definitely didn't plan on taking that hiatus from blogging. I'm so behind, it's embarrassing. Because it's been so long, buckle in for a long post, I do apologize. So, since my last blog post what have I done? I've gone to Spain with the entire Study Abroad group, which is about 30 people, maybe a bit more.  I've traveled to Croatia with a small group of six, which was truly fantastic because I got to know each one of them more than I was able to when we travel in a large group. Not to mention the ten days I spent traveling through Italy.
I was blessed enough to buy a new camera, since mine has been acting funny since the monsoon at the Cliffs of Insanity in Ireland, and the one I wanted was cheaper than I anticipated, which is a huge blessing. I was able to buy a Canon EOS 1100D, which is a DSLR, with an additional Tamaron zoom lens, which has been dubbed "The Black Mamba" by my friends. It's the ultimate stalking lens, which is a huge help when wanting to take pictures of things you can't get close to because you're in a bus, or on top of a city wall.
I've gotten tattoo number two! For those of you who don't know, I got a small tattoo over the summer, in white ink on my wrist that reads "enough" in handwriting quite similar to my own cursive to remind me that I am enough for Christ, no matter what. It was inspired by Matthew 5:5 (Message Translation) which says "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." Tattoo number two is a piece on my feet, which isn't actually completed, but it's close to being done. It's two picture frames, one on the right foot of the lake near my home, and one on the left foot of the English countryside. It reads: "Not all who wander are forever lost." It's to remind myself that no matter how far I am from home, whether that be my earthly home in Lake Worth with my parents, or my spiritual home with Christ, I'll always find my way back. It's really a beautiful piece, and I'm refraining from posting too many pictures till it's completed and healed.

Other than those few major things I've been doing school and volunteering, nothing to exciting other than a couple long papers on ethical standpoints. Our ethics professor believes people argue best when they're arguing themselves, so we each had to write a paper on a topic that contradicts our personal beliefs, so I'm had to write pro death penalty, and it was quite a challenge. My other paper is on the morality of sexualized media, and why there should be stricter rules and regulations by the FCC to make sure we are protecting our children and youth. It's really great stuff, definitely the way I enjoy spending my weekends.

I'm going to skip over Spain and come back to it in another post, because it was such a long trip, packed with a ton of cultural insights and experiences (such as cooking classes, festivals, and bull fights). I also want to leave the option open for people to skip that post, since there will be some graphic images from the bullfight. I'll post about Italy as soon as I get my pictures gone though. Read more about Croatia after the jump!
So, now that I've got everyone caught up, let's talk about Croatia. Let me just take this moment to say for those of you that know nothing about Croatia, you are in the exact same boat I was in before this trip. Being in Croatia means looking one way and seeing the ocean, and looking the other direction and being faced with towering mountains. The language sounds like a unique blend of Spanish and Russian, and the people are passionate about their country, many not wanting to join the EU which is to happen in the next year, if I'm not mistaken. There is gelato and seafood everywhere you turn, however not necessarily together. It is my new favorite country. I traveled with five of my friends, Aaron, Sawyer, Brady, Sarah, and Mallory to Croatia at 1am on a Wednesday, and flew to Dubrovnick, where we stayed in two apartments, and cooked amazing food for ourselves. The first day we just enjoyed our apartments, strolled to the beach, which was literally less than three minutes away, and ate gelato. It's was a fairly relaxed day, which I think we all needed after not sleeping the night before.
Day two of our trip we made our way to the Dubrovnik city walls, which are, in short, spectacular. It's about a 1.2 mile walk, a lot of which is either stairs or incline, but it it well worth the energy. After the walls we made our way to a seaside restaurant where I had the creamiest prawn spaghetti I've ever tasted, it was fantastic. We then made our way into old town to do some souvenir shopping and to have some gelato, which we ate on a religious basis the entire time we were in Croatia. Then we stumbled across the candle shop. I know in the states, when you think of candles, you think of scented wax in a jar with a wick. They make your house smell nice, and provide a bit of light when your power is out. No, not in Croatia. In Croatia, in this shop, candles are art in and of themselves. I refrained from taking pictures in the shop, since that's usually frowned upon, and I was not looking to get yelled at in Croatian, but here is their website gallery. If you can imagine hundreds of these carved candles lining glass shelves and hanging from pegs, that's what this place was. One of the girls, Sarah, went a little crazy and bought about six of them, meaning we had to figure out how the heck to bring them back, especially considering we all packed in backpacks, which were full to the brim.
After shopping to our hearts content, we made our way back to the apartment so that we could change and go to the beach. Sawyer, Brady, and Mallory decided that they were going to get in the ocean. It wasn't cold in Croatia, per say, we've all gotten used to the bitter cold of the UK enough that the mid 60's weather we experienced in Croatia felt like shorts and sandals weather (of which we took full advantage). However, it's not actually warm enough to jump into the ocean, especially as the sun was going down. But the three of them were determined. After they were thoroughly soaked and we were all ready to eat, we made our way back to the apartment to cook dinner again and watch a movie.
Day three we made our way to Split where we went to Diocletian's Palace, which is spectacular! We climbed up the bell tower, and got a bird's eye view of the entire city- amazing! We turned in for the night, and the next day headed out early to catch a beautiful sunrise, which was definitely worth the early hours! After we headed to Split's Croatian History Museum, so that Aaron could learn about his "motherland's" heritage. His ancestry is from Croatia, and I can't even begin to explain how happy he was when someone recognized it in his last name. Sometime in there we stopped on some ruins and Mallory, Aaron, and Sawyer started to jump around, much to the surprise and awe of some Asian tourists who were passing buy. After the quick parkour break, we headed to a park to get another great view of the city. Needless to say, it was an eventful day.

 The next city we made our way to was Zadar, but by the time we got there it was extremely late. Insert Scary Hostel story here. Basically, what happened was we got to the hostel a little earlier than we had anticipated, but still not early enough that it wasn't pitch black outside. We get to the hostel which looks a little sketchy since it's undergoing some construction in the off-season. It's all locked, nobody is answering the door. All of the sudden, Brady is gone. Where's Brady you guys? Then a knock from inside the hostel. BRADY!? Is that you? Yeah! It's me, I don't know how to open the door from in here.. It's bolted from the outside, you can't. Well, I went around through the back door, I'll come show you. Brady comes out and leads us to a back door which is unlocked- we can't decide if we're relieved or even more afraid. It's still dark inside, and we're finding our way around by the lights on our cell phones. Finally, I found the light switch, thank goodness right? False. No matter how many times I flip it, the lights don't come on. At this point, the other girls are freaking out and talking about every ending to every horror movie we've ever seen. We finally find our way to the kitchen where the lights work, and we decide to just sit in here for a little bit till someone shows up. Then, just as Sarah decides to go to the bathroom, and just as she is passing the door, it opens. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so afraid in my life. The hostel owners had showed up- and because we were early nobody had been there before. The whole situation was hilarious to me, but the other girls were definitely not happy about being that afraid. After all that we only had time to go to dinner. There's also a sea organ and a solar panel light display that plays to the music the sea Organ makes, but the panel was off, and the organ was playing music, but it was low tide. Still cool, and I definitely want to make my way back there when it's warm and sunny and the organ is playing beautiful music. After that we made our way to Zagreb, which is the capital city. While waiting for our flight we made our way to the Broken Relationship Museum- which is a museum of things people felt represented their past relationships. It's really cool, and was dubbed the Museum of the Year in 2011 for all of Europe.
 And that was the end of our trip to Croatia. We made our way to the airport, and after Aaron ripped his boarding pass and freaked out, we made it on the plane alright and trekked our way back to Oxford. Next post: Paris! Then Italy, then Spain. I might have to finish catching up once I'm back in the States. At this point, we only have about 8 days left here in Oxford!