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tuesday, june 2, 2015 the beginning
So this is it. The day has finally arrived when I depart for Europe to start my summer adventure. While at the time it felt like a very long wait for this day to get here, it now feels like it happened in the blink of an eye. And let's face it, it's always fun anticipating an adventure, but I certainly hope the actual experience will be a lot more fun than the wait. How can it not be?

For those that don't know, I wrote a proposal for a grant through the Lilly Foundation in which they award $10,000 to 100 teachers each year to fund their dreams. I spent fall break of 2014 writing this proposal, and while it took many, many hours to finalize, I actually had a blast writing it. I learned so much about traveling while doing my research, as I'm certainly not a pro at finding budget-friendly flights and hotels or any means of transportation. And when it was all said and done, I felt that I had written a solid proposal. Perhaps even a winner.

It was Valentine's Day when I found the official envelop waiting in my mailbox. I saw that the return address said "Lilly", and that's all I needed to see. I quickly ran into my kitchen, opened the top of the envelope, pulled out a little bit of the letter until I saw the words "Congratulations!" Without risking my masculinity too much, I can comfortably say that I shed a tear. Okay, I fell to the floor and sobbed, but that reaction was warranted! In that moment I knew that my dream of seeing Spain was going to happen, and my emotions were a mixed bag of triumph, hesitation, relief, and excitement. And just so you know, I'm still feeling a little bit of all of those.

It's now 2:44PM, and I'm at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at gate E17 waiting three hours until my departure for Barcelona. The flight here was great, minus the four-month old who sat directly in front of me and preciously cried for twenty minutes. Thank goodness for Beats headphones! I was able to get some really amazing pictures of the sky, and you can see them below.

So here's what I learned on my first day of travels:

  • Sign your passport before you start traveling internationally. Not that the absence of a signature yielded any problems, but it would have saved me a little bit of time. And embarrassment.
  • The cuter the baby, the louder the cry.
  • I had a feeling that I'd want to wear jeans and a sweatshirt jacket today, cause man was it cold in the airports!
  • While waiting at the terminal to board my flight to Barcelona, I overheard a lot of Spanish conversation and felt invigorated that I understood everything. I'm about to rock Spain.

This is just the beginning! The real fun starts in twelve hours when I arrive in Barcelona and start my European adventure. I hope you'll continue to follow me on this journey and live vicariously through my travels. There's so much that I'm going to experience and share with you guys, and I can't wait to get started. It's going to be a great summer!!

a year later...
It's hard to believe that this trip was a year ago. It's always been this way for me that most of the fun is actually anticipating such an experience. You know, for years I had wondered what it would be like to get on a plane and travel in another country for a few weeks. I never, ever thought I'd get the chance to do just that, but thanks to the Lilly Grant, I was able to spend 39 days traveling through Spain and France (a little). I remember the days leading up to my departure: buying the essentials for a 5.5 week trip, researching destinations, booking hotels, buying train tickets, learning the streets and metro routes. It was so much fun doing all of that, and I was mostly surprised at how easy it was. Doing all of the pre-planning definitely made me more aware of what I was doing while abroad, and it got me more excited for the trip.

I remember being oddly calm this first day of travel. I could have easily freaked out because I was doing all of this by myself, but I had many conversations with myself leading up to the trip, and I felt good about what I was doing. I wasn't nervous or scared. I was just ready. Furthermore, it seems that I just wanted to put myself to the test to see if I could survive it. Not only did I survive it, but I'd say I rocked it. I didn't have a single problem during the 39 days that I was there, and I thought for sure that something would come up. Maybe I'd lose a shoe, my wallet, my luggage, or my credit card. Oh, I guess the only hiccup would have been that I didn't have my PIN to my international debit card (I didn't tell anyone about that...). Luckily my neighbor signed for the delivery of the PIN and then texted me the four digits a few days into the trip. That could have been slightly messy.

As mentioned in the journal post, there was a Spanish family sitting next to me in the terminal while I waited for the flight to Barcelona. It was very empowering to hear their conversation and understand what they were talking about. Not that I figured it would be a problem, but I felt good about being immersed in that for the next few weeks. Before leaving, I had watched some YouTube videos of short films from Spain so I could become better acclimated to the accent, and that definitely helped tune my ear.

Overall, this day was for traveling with the real fun beginning the next morning when I arrived to Barcelona. It was the beginning of an amazing adventure!

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