Marquette Global
20. October 2014

In mid-September, Our Casa Bayanihan group was privileged to travel to Naga, Philippines, to attend the Peñafrancia Festival, a form of devotion to “Momma Mary” in which a people march with a sacred statue of Jesus’ mother around the city.  It was the first time Casa had made the trip, and the pilgrimage was very life-giving in many ways.  We got to partake in the Voyadores Festival in which groups of students from various schools dress in colorful costumes and perform elaborate dances in honor of Mary. The cheers and the vitality of the crowds were contagious as we clapped and joined in shouting “Viva!”

Capturing the Filipino spirit of dancing through the rain at the Voyadores Festival!

Casa Batch 6, as we call ourselves, got to meet with the families of four of the five Ateneo de Naga students.  What a blessing it was to share delicious meals and quality time with loved ones of new and endearing friends. Another gift involved getting to meet Ateneo de Naga students from Casa Batch 5 and share stories of our praxis sites and of life after Casa. Reflecting with others on the meaning of pilgrimage as it applies to Peñafrancia, Casa, and our earthly journeys was beautiful in that we discerned the importance of appreciating the preset voyage and not always focusing on a destination in the future. I heard different U.S. and Filipino perspectives about personal significances of Mary, devotion, the festival, and communal expressions of faith.

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20. October 2014

Hi all! It’s officially been a little over a month in Paris and time is flying by! Over the last couple of weeks I have been diving more into school which means visiting less of the big touristy places in Paris. Instead, I’ve been enjoying spending time in the quiet corners of Paris like going to the outdoor and reading/relaxing by the Seine. It’s been great learning how Parisians spend their free time and thankfully the weather has continued to be great.

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Hanging out on the Seine Right: musicians playing at one of the many outdoor markets in Paris

In addition to exploring more of Paris, I recently started my semester long classes at school which are a mix of French language classes and French culture classes in taken in English. One of my classes in a French Phonetics class, which will hopefully help me get rid of my American accent so I can stop embarrassing myself with the native French speakers here. Another class of mine is one of Parisian architecture class, which thankfully I get to take in English. Paris is full of the most beautiful buildings from all different periods of time and I’m so excited to learn more about them in my class’ many field trips around the city. I’ve always loved how Paris is so rooted in its past, and when you are there, you feel like you have fallen through time. There is a short video that showcases the diversity and beauty of Paris from filmmaker Paul Richardson which you can see here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/briantron/paris-is-love#4iawra6

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17. October 2014

I never really considered myself a soccer fan or player. As a child I participated in my local Park District league and this summer I found myself catching glimpses of the World Cup only because my friends were glued to the television for each game. Like I said—I am NOT a huge soccer fan, I barely know how the game works.

So if I told you that two weeks ago I found myself in the thick of the excitement at an A.S. Roma soccer game, would you believe me? Believe it or not, this is exactly where I found myself.

When I purchased my soccer ticket I had no idea what to expect. Shortly after I entered Stadio Olimpico my friend and I ended up five rows behind one of the goals. We were surrounded by a bunch of Italian boys, cheering, yelling, and screaming for the A.S. Roma team.

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The sea of orange and maroon jerseys.

At first I was shocked— a deer in headlights. No Marquette basketball game or Chicago Blackhawks hockey game had prepared me for anything like this. I was in a sea of maroon and orange jerseys and could barely hear myself think with all the Italian comradery and commotion around me.

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17. October 2014

I did it. I set out on an adventure and I didn’t let anything stop me. My very first trip that I took in Spain was to Barcelona. By myself…

By no means was it the original plan. My roommate Maddy and I had plans to go to Barcelona the third weekend of September. I was going to spend an extra day exploring and return on Monday because I didn’t have class. The plan was set and I was ready to buy my ticket.

As it got closer to the departure date, I rode my bike over to the bus station to purchase a round trip ticket from San Sebastián to Barcelona and back. I kid you not, as I was swiping my credit card Maddy had tried to call me multiple times. I didn’t see the missed calls until after I had already bought my “nonrefundable” ticket when she told me she wasn’t going to be able to come. As sad I was that she wasn’t going to go on this adventure with me, I couldn’t let this stop me. I knew this was something I had to do and wanted to do. Even if it meant going alone.

So I did. I got on the bus at midnight on that Friday night after class, slept not-so-well for 7 hours, and when I woke up in the morning I was in Barcelona!

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16. October 2014

This last weekend I took a four-day holiday to Cairns for spring break. I wasn’t sure what I should expect of Cairns, since I’ve never heard of the city, but the weather was forecast to be in the upper 80’s and sunny all throughout our vacation so I knew it had to be a good time. I was traveling with 12 other students, some of whom go to the University of Queensland, while the rest of us go to ACU.
We got into Cairns at 8:30 in the morning. We didn’t have any activities or tours planned for the day, so we decided to start our spring break off on a relaxing note. We got settled in to our hostel, went grocery shopping, and then headed to the beach. There was a small lagoon area right in downtown Cairns, which was a big swimming pool with neat fountains that overlooked the beach. It was definitely an awesome place to spend the morning! 

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15. October 2014

One of my favorite memories from my first week in South Africa was walking into the kitchen of our house and hearing one of my favorite artists, Ben Howard, blasting out of someone else’s speakers, and one of my favorite memories from the past couple of weeks also happened to involve Ben Howard. My friend and co-worker, Thabo, walked by my desk in the office of Beautiful Gate, my service site for the semester, singing and dancing to some of my favorite lyrics, “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong, keep your mind set, keep your hair long.” I was so ecstatic that I jumped out of my seat and hugged him, eagerly asking, “So did you like the CD?”

Thabo casually singing one of the songs from the CD I burned for him affirmed something that I had been thinking throughout my whole time here. Music really is the ultimate international language, and it brings people together. Music is such a consistent thread throughout the fabric of Cape Town, and I am loving having the chance to experience and enjoy it.

Just like anywhere else, music here has many different genres, but if I was asked to sum up South African music in two words, it would easily be drums and dancing. A couple of weekends ago, I experienced plenty of both when I went to a popular local “restaurant” called Mzoli’s with some friends from work. I use the word restaurant lightly because Mzoli’s is more like a meat market and party. It’s a huge braai (South African barbecue) with a DJ and tons of people. Everyone spends hours there cooking out and dancing with their friends. Our friend Zanele got so into the music that she borrowed another man’s drum and started playing so well that a circle of admiring, grooving strangers formed around her.  

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Zanele killing it on the drum while Caitlin and I laugh in awe.

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15. October 2014

To say that I’m not completely indulging myself in the food here in Spain would be quite the understatement of the century. Although we have now moved into our apartments and we don’t go out to eat as much, the fellow exchange students and I still look forward to Thursday nights. After finishing class during the day, it’s not uncommon to take a siesta, get freshened up, and meet a group around 8 or 9 at night for “pintxo-pote.” This Spanish delicacy is, if I do say so myself, one of the best parts to San Sebastian and one that anyone who visits should experience.

The streets, let alone the bars, become filled with hungry people ready to spend their nights enjoying tapas and drinks and chatting with friends. What makes pintxo-pote night the best is that you start at one bar and have one pintxo with a beverage for only 2 euros. A pintxo is basically tapas—it’s just the Basque name. There is always a grand assortment of delicious Spanish pintxos to choose from. For a girl who’s willing to try anything and everything (and finish it all), it’s by far one of the most impossible decisions when choosing which pintxo to have. But needless to say, it’s a fun time starting out at one bar and making our way to another. With the beautiful summer nights we have been having in San Sebastian, all I have to say is: is it Thursday night yet?

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Delicious Spanish pintxos!image

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12. October 2014

Taking the train along the coast provides the prettiest views even before we get to the beach to surf!

Vendors with delicious hot food, sweet treats, fresh produce, and beautiful flowers line the rows of Old Biscuit Mill Market, a Saturday hot spot.

12. October 2014

I’ve officially been in Spain for a month now. Not sure if it seems like it has been more time or less. I quickly discovered that one of my favorite Spanish foods is Spanish tortilla. Also, I surprised myself by starting to love raw tomatoes when I never liked them before. There’s nothing better than some raw tomatoes drizzled in olive oil. I would’ve never said those words a month ago. Also, anywhere you go here the freshly squeezed orange juice is amazing. The only confusing thing is having to specifically ask for a glass of water, or else you’ll get a bottle and have to pay for it. I don’t really see Spaniards drinking tap water at restaurants, it is usually from a bottle. I found this to be strange.  

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We had a three week orientation class and have had the past week and a half off. Tomorrow we start classes and I am excited to finally have a schedule here. I am also looking forward to signing up for an intercambio. Intercambios give students the opportunity to practice Spanish and meet Spaniards while also helping the Spaniards with their English. I would be paired up with another Spanish student and we would meet up and speak Spanish for half of the time and English for half. This will be very helpful because it can be difficult meeting Spaniards at school.

 

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