Stinky Moments & Sweet Gifts

Hello, girls! I heard you just had a fun-filled science festival! I can’t wait to hear all about it. I’m sure you learned some cool things and met other strong, smart, and bold girls like yourself!

These past two weeks have been filled with unique experiences and unplanned events that made them memorable.  A few weeks ago, I ventured to a local town with a group of Spanish students and two of my American friends studying at the university. My study abroad program let us know about a great opportunity to help out the community we’re staying in. So, my friends and I decided to participate in a service project to beautify the small town of Cabrerizos located just a short bus ride from Salamanca.

My friends Andreina and Georgia went to the service event with me.

Like many things in my study abroad experience, there were some unexpected surprises.

We met the group in the afternoon and rode the bus to the town. Upon arrival, we made our way down to the trail where we picked up trash and recyclable objects. To our surprise, the service event concluded atop a hill that overlooked the city. There was a beautiful green landscape all around us and pastries and hot chocolate when we arrived.

Georgia and I loved the sweets at the end of the event!

It was a great experience that allowed me to interact with local Spaniards while helping out the community I’ve learned to call home.

Here is one of the beautiful scenic views we saw at our service event.

Though I enjoyed being home for a while, I was anxiously waiting my trip to Paris, France with two of my friends in my study abroad program this past weekend.

Jorge, Peter, and I enjoyed spending time in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The trip was great but had a rocky start! The recent labor union strike or la huelga left us stranded at the airport for over 12 hours waiting for our flight. Since many public employees did not attend work that day, we had to sleep in the airport to make sure we did not miss our flight. Talk about an experience! After a long night, not showering, and limited food, our day of traveling by plane, bus, and metro was extra exhausting.

Riding the metro is a great way to travel around the big city and rest your feet!

Once we finally settled into our tiny hotel, we searched for a good place to eat. We ended up indulging in two pizzas for the three of us! To our delight, a French man who spoke English came over to our table and offered us dessert after our meal. He must have noticed how tired we were because he talked to us about traveling and helping out people along the way.

Jorge and I in front of the Louvre museum.

Sometimes it is the most unexpected things that change your outlook on things. A day of picking up trash just to see the beauty of nature is worth every smelly piece. Making sacrifices so others can stand up for their rights is even more humbling after a gift from a stranger. What are some unplanned moments you’ll never forget? How did they change your outlook on something?

Victoria Gonzalez
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Salamanca, Spain
Spring 2012

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