La Alhambra

Today I spent 5 amazing and exhausting hours getting lost in the wonders of the Alhambra!

IMG_1265The Alhambra is a palace and fortress located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain.  It was originally constructed as a fortress by the Muslims in the 700-800’s and was later converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.  It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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alhambraThis place is absolutely exquisite!  As I looked around at the intricate ceiling designs and washed out walls I could almost feel the intensity of all of the history that has happened in here, from a Sultan’s reign, to gypsy squatters, to Catholic conquest and influence.

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IMG_1379I think the most impressive sight however is when you are standing at the top of the Alhambra you can see the entire city of Granada, as well as the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains!

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La Alhambra is truly a sight worth seeing and is one of the many reasons why I am absolutely in love with Granada!

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What I’ve Learned So Far

I have now spent two full days in the beautiful Granada Spain, and I have to say it has been a huge culture shock… a good one that is!  I could not have picked a more perfect place to live for half of the summer!

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Here are some things I have learned so far:

  1. Everyone here is extremely beautiful and well dressed
  2. Public Displays of Affection are a normal and accepted thing
  3. You could lick the marble streets of Granada because they are so clean
  4. The University of Granada is considered an Ivy League of Europe
  5. Andalucia has national nap time (siesta) and literally everything is closed from 2-5 pm
  6. Granada is a young hippy town
  7. Granada means pomegranate in Spanish
  8. A discoteca beats any club in America
  9. You get free tapas with any alcoholic beverage purchased
  10. Granada has 250 days of sunlight
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El Mercado

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Sierra Nevada Snow Peaks

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Central Ciudad

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Albacin – Arab community

Adventure Time

About a month ago, I made a spontaneous decision to go on a weekend trip to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina through a program at my school.  Without knowing a single person, nor what to expect when camping in freezing cold weather, I embarked on what would become one of the best weekends of my life.

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The group of people I was traveling with consisted of 10 students like myself and 2 trip leaders.  Sitting in an 8 hour car ride helped us become fast friends as we shared our past experiences and knowledge with each other.

Our first adventure was hiking 6 miles of the Appalachian Trail to reach Max Patch, a bald patch overlooking miles and miles of beautiful mountains.  I have seen a lot of sights in North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains, but I don’t think anything will ever compare to what I saw and how I felt when I reached the top of the patch.  The sun was slowly setting and I was staring at what looked like a painting, because it just doesn’t even seem believable that such a sight exists.  In that moment I felt so powerful and serene; I could have stayed up there for the rest of my life.  The vastness of the mountains was a wonderful reminder that there is so much out there that I have yet to learn anything about, and it made me very appreciative of my life, and excited for what lies ahead of me.  All of the small petty problems that we get ourselves so wrapped up in on a day to day basis seemed so meaningless and minuscule when I was standing up there and it made me happy that I am learning to see the big picture more often then I used to.

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After an extremely cold night in the tents, our next destination was to Black Balsam.  We went on an amazing uphill hike to the top of the mountains and again saw a magnificent view.  This was a very enjoyable time for me because the group of us just sat up there for what seemed like forever just talking and sharing stories with one another.

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Another extremely special moment was that night; the weather had warmed up a little bit and from our tents you could hear no noise from cars, see no artificial lights, and instead see a view of the sky much like a planetarium setting – only a million times better.  All of us took our sleeping bags outside and just laid under the stars to which I stared at for hours and hours.  It was one of the most beautiful experiences and witnessing multiple shooting stars in one night was also a plus (hopefully some wishes will come true).

Our last adventure of the weekend began the next morning when we woke up at 4 am in order to go in a sunrise hot air balloon.  As we were waiting in a huge field, my heart was pounding with excitement as the balloons with brilliant colors were being blown up.  Sailing in that balloon was incredible; the view of the world from that little basket was definitely a perspective you cannot experience anywhere else.

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This weekend couldn’t have been more perfect even if I tried.  I made amazing friends, gained even more of an appreciation for nature, learned some new things about myself, and took risks!

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Happy Mother’s Day- A Million Reasons Why My Mom is the Best

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Today is a very special day to celebrate the leading ladies in our lives, our wonderful mothers.  I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation towards my mom because not only does she put up with my excessive talking, unrealistic ideas, and messy habits, but she accepts them and secretly loves them (I think…).  My mom is the most intelligent, caring, and strongest person I know.  She has always been there for me as a mentor, an advisor, and a best friend to laugh with.  I feel so lucky each day to have a mother like mine, who I can tell literally anything to without judgement.  So here come the Thank you’s…

               Thank you Mommy for:

  • Nagging me about my need to improve my time management skills
  • Doing my laundry 5 times a week while I was still living at home
  • Staying up with me when I had nightmares until I fell asleep
  • Making fun of me for my lack of hand-eye coordination
  • Letting me borrow your makeup
  • Sitting through the Harry Potter movies, even though you hate them
  • Letting me perform songs in front of you in my Snow White costume when I was younger
  • Granting me with the best sister in the world
  • Letting me borrow your clothes when I had a date
  • Teaching me to be overly hygienic
  • Bopping your head back and forth when you hear a song you like
  • Allowing me to dye my hair any color I want
  • Trusting me
  • Staying up on the phone with me while I rant on about my problems
  • Being the gossip queen of the world
  • Being the first person I tell all my gossip to
  • Using “LOL” and other lingo when you text me
  • Taking care of me when I was sick
  • Yelling at me when I don’t put sunscreen on
  • Making amazing Mac and Cheese
  • Dancing on the tables when you go out
  • Supporting me, regardless of how rash or spontaneous my decisions are
  • Telling me when an outfit looks horrible on me
  • Giving me the confidence I have today and encouraging me to follow my heart
  • Letting me smell your hair when you dye it
  • Making crystal light iced tea
  • Believing my opinions are valid
  • Helping me learn what is right and wrong
  • Being the “cool mom” that all my friends in high school envied, because she sat down and talked to them just like anyone else
  • Being an Lebron James groupie
  • Putting up with my singing in the shower
  • Being the most well balanced person I have ever met
  • Giving me the best advice
  • For always loving me and for always being my number 1 fan.

So as you can see, you are hands down the best mom in the entire universe.  I love you and Happy Mother’s Day!