My Senior Bucket List

Since the semester ended, I’ve realized that after the summer,  I only have one semester left to graduate. Now before that happens, I want to do a few things around campus. So… I’ve created a bucket list.

My Senior Bucket List:

1. Go to Spirit Splash

2. Go to a Greek life event

3. Do all the campus trails

4. Kayak/Paddle board at Lake Claire

5. Complete the Challenge Course

6. Tailgate at Memory Mall

7. Go ice skating at Light UP UCF

8. Submit a paper to a conference

9. Take KnightLynx Downtown

10. Pegasus Palooza

11. Go geocaching on campus

12. Participate in a protest

13. Take a free workshop at Technology Commons

14. See a production at Theater UCF

15. Go for a swim at the Leisure Pool

16. Take a photo with Knightro

17. Step on the Student Union Pegasus Seal

18. Do an all-nighter at the Student Union during finals

19. Make graduation cap awesome

20. Graduate/Go to graduation

Source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/the-list/os-things-to-do-before-graduating-ucf-20150311-post.html

Spring semester is finally over!

This semester was the most frustrating of them all. And I don’t have much to say about it but that I’m so glad it’s over. At the end, I realized that the things that happened, happened for a reason and that now I have an idea of what my future is going to look like.

Sometimes you just have to remember that even though after the sunset you’re left in darkness, the sun always rises the next day.

The very very basics… Bonjour!

Classes are finally over and I get to live again. I get to learn all the things I want to learn during the entire summer and not the ones my textbooks impose on me. I get to start this summer with a clean slate.

Almost two months ago I decided to learn French for numerous reasons, but mostly because it has been a language I have always thought about but never really taken seriously. Now that I study literature and want to learn about the world, French appears to be everywhere. From the French names I can’t pronounce and the cuisine I’m unfamiliar with to the provinces and cities I have yet to explore in France. I have never been to Paris, and even though it seems to be on the top of everyone’s travel list, it’s not really on the top of mine. But it’s still there, because even if I’m not one of those true romantics, there’s still a certain magic that showers the city of love that I’m in love with.

That’s what I think about when I hear the language. French sounds like magic, it sounds like gloves holding a glass of cognac next to a gentleman with a mustache and a naked woman in a black and white image smoking a cigarette while  laying on top of her lover. French has a certain way of being silly and mysterious, It sounds like my next target.

I started the evening by typing “how to learn french” in Google, even though I’ve clearly learned throughout the years how to look for resources by picking up techniques for learning languages. I clicked on the Babbel site an started their basic lesson…

1. Bonjour!

2. Bienvenue!

3. Comment tu t’appelles?

4. Je suis Monica.

5. Ça va?

6. Bien, Merci.

From this lesson I learned that I’m going to be watching french films throughout the summer and that I’m going to start by focusing on how the language sounds. Once I get the phonetics right, everything else should be able to flow.

Bienvenue to my journey!

The King abdicates on the first day of class? (June 2, 2014)

It was finally here. The first day of classes had arrived and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was in Spain and even though all I wanted to do was explore the entire country, I was excited to experience school abroad. Naturally, I got lost and eventually found the classroom. Everything seems so silly now that I think about it, because the buildings are actually pretty small. But because everything was new, it seemed like a huge labyrinth at the time.

I woke up earlier than I should’ve, because that first day of classes you’re excited and your body suddenly becomes an alarm clock, after not being able to even hear an alarm for the first five months of the year. I arrived early to find my class and walked around the buildings taking it all in. I was studying in Spain. It was a big deal.

defiende la educacion

My first class of the day was called, “Obras Maestras de la Literatura Espanola a Traves del Cine” which roughly translates to “Masterworks of Spanish Literature through Film”. It was from 9:00am to 11:30am and we were to discuss the syllabus and medieval literature on the first week.

As the classroom, full of mostly girls, was enchanted by the captivating accent and attractiveness of the Spanish professor, we all received breaking news early that morning. Our professor pulled up the Spanish newspaper and the headlines were the same in the English and French papers as well. Everyone was taken by surprise and we were there experiencing a historical event:

The King of Spain had abdicated!

History:

In 1969 Franco chooses Prince Juan Carlos to be the next head of state expecting him to continue the authoritarian regime. Juan Carlos becomes King two days after Franco’s death on November 22 of 1975 and his father abdicates in favor of his son in 1977. Soon after enthronement, Juan Carlos introduced reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime and begin the Spanish transition to democracy.

During the break between classes I could hear faculty members and students discussing the topic. People were reading the newspapers or switching between channels to encounter the same news in every one of them.

My second class was called “Spain and the European Union” and naturally we discussed the breaking news of the day. I learned a lot that day about the monarchy. The King doesn’t really have any political power anymore, however he does have complete immunity, which I found was insane.

I went home after class to eat lunch with my host family and discussed what everyone else was discussing as well. We watched the news on T.V. while eating paella and I learned about the different views that Spaniards have about the monarchy. While the older generations that have been through the Franco regime in one way or the other, believe in the importance of the monarchy and see it as a fundamental part of Spanish culture, the younger generation believes in change and mostly do not believe in the purpose of having a monarchy anymore. The younger generation want to have a say in the future of their country.

paella

The next week or so would be full of conversations about the King and the future of Spain…

Source: wikipedia

I’m going to Peru!

Source: www.allianceabroad.com
Source: http://www.allianceabroad.com

In all honesty,  out of all the places and countries in the world, Peru wasn’t really on the top of my list.

I never really learned much about it and it still remains a sort of mystery in my mind. However, last semester I took a class at the University of Central Florida called “Geography of Latin America” and I learned a few things. The class was online but one of the funnest classes I’ve taken so far, and I’m in my senior year.

I had just come back from backpacking Spain where I had to plan, make itineraries, research places and prices, bus schedules and buy plane tickets and the big project for this class, which was worth most of our grade, was to plan every aspect of a trip that would include four countries: two in South America, one in Central America and one in the Caribbean. I chose Peru, Brazil, Panama and Cuba. I’m still not really sure why I chose Peru, but I did and I learned about important places and popular cities. I learned about traditional dancing and typical foods. Machu Picchu seemed so beautiful in pictures and the indigenous population as well as the Quechua language intrigued me.

I’ve been meaning to go volunteer abroad for a while now, but it never was the right time. It was either lack of time, or money or whatever other unexpected event. I started saving up and paying little by little and even though for most of the time I thought I was going to South Africa, I randomly decided to go to Peru.

I think this class really made an impact. I’m so curious about indigenous populations in Latin America and especially intrigued by their languages, that this seemed like the perfect program. I’m going to Peru this summer with Reach Out Volunteers. I bought my plane ticket, I made the final payment, I have a backpack and I’m waiting for the semester to end so I can start getting ready for the trip.

The volunteers will be teaching and working to build green houses in an indigenous community in Urubamba. We’re going to learn some Quechua. We’ll visit indigenous families and learn about Inca textiles. We have the opportunity to stay with one of the families for a night, and we’re even going to have a cooking class.

The second week “is going to be full of adventure as you take on zip lining and mountain biking through the Sacred Valley! You will also have the opportunity to visit one of the most famous destinations in the world: Machu Picchu, the mysterious Lost City of the Incas, now a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. On the first visit to Machu Picchu, you will be able to hike up to Intipunku (Sun Gate) to observe the panoramic view over Machu Picchu at sunset. After observing this breath taking view you will begin a hike back down to the main city of Machu Picchu Inca City, before continuing down the hill to Machu Picchu town” (ROV Peru Program Book).

This is what the adventure is going to look like:

It’s time to learn French!

As I listen to “Je t’aime moi non plus” I realized that even though I don’t understand the lyrics, only the “Je t’aime” part of it, the tone explains a lot about the situation.

IMG_7102.JPG

French music is beautiful and it saddens me that I don’t understand what is being said in the songs. Besides this, when you study literature like I do, you encounter French everywhere and at some point I want to read the French classics in French and enjoy their literature as well. And how wonderful it would be to stroll down the streets of Paris talking to the locals in their native tongue. I know that French films have this sort of realistic, crude and artistic point of view and I want to understand them. So, because of all of this, I’ve decided that it’s time to learn French.

I remember that the first language I showed interest in learning was French. I was young an curious and loved to buy books at the Borders bookstore when they existed. I was 11 years old and I wanted to learn French. I already knew Spanish because it’s my native language and I learned English in school even though at the beginning I didn’t really like it.

So, my mom bought me a brand new Berlitz course that had just come out called “French Premier” and I went home and started the course. The course had 5 CD’s and it was a complete audio course. I don’t think I ever went past the first CD, I got bored at some point and put it aside.

Now, almost ten years later, I want to start again. It’s never too late, right? I still have that Berlitz course on my bookshelve always reminding me that some day I had to go back to French. Well, today is the day. There are much better resources now and the internet makes it really easy to learn languages, so there is no excuse.

I still remember a few greetings and phrases so I’ll start from there…

Bonjour! Je m’appelle Monica.