“Hey Cara, what are you doing after graduation?”

“Hey Cara, what are you doing after graduation?”

 

DSC04143I am going to give you a quick life update. As many of you are aware, I will be graduating from Pacific Lutheran University in 15 short days.

Now, the first thing everyone wants to know is what you are doing after you graduate.

Well, I am here to tell you just what you want to know and the answer is I do not know!

I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for me, and to be completely and utterly honest I do not really want to know right now.

Life is a great big adventure and my adventure is just getting started. Now that is not to say I have not thought about what I am going to do, but for now I am going to walk across a stage in 15 short days and step into the unknown. I am going to go home and watch my little brother play baseball. I am going to watch one of my best friends get married! I am going to take some time to be intentional about my decisions and then I am going to get a job in my field somewhere that I really want to work, doing something incredible.

Details about my life updates:

I am graduating with a BA in Communication with a minor in Religion and an emphasis in Public Relations and Advertising.

Recently I received notification that I won an award for Leadership in Innovation. The award “honors a student who has demonstrated innovation through thought and action, and who has contributed greatly to the improvement of the PLU community or student experience in a transformational and groundbreaking way.” Someone else nominated me for this award, and it is an honor to receive it.

If you are still reading, you are probably wondering why I am going to DC during my last week of college courses. My friends, Brooke Wolfe and Olivia Cook, applied for a research grant under the DJS Fud (the same fund that fully funded my trip to the Philippines to film More Than a Mission) to do field research on the reparation process at Georgetown University. We will be interviewing students, faculty and staff who are members of the Working Group, which is the institutions innovator in appropriate response to the institutional racism that has existed on their campus for decades. I am here to help with their interviews and to do video and audio recording of the interviews for archival purposes.

On another note, my friends and I’s app, ParticiPoints, recently received 3rd place at the PLU business plan competition (think like Shark Tank), winning $2,000 to help us with launching the app. The app is fully functional and in the app store. If you are a PLU student, please download it and check it out, if you are not a PLU student you can still download it and see what we have been up to, it just will not be particularly relevant to you. We plan to do a full launch in August 2017. Therefore, I will be working on that with my business partners throughout the summer.

My documentary, More Than a Mission: Stemming the Sex Trade in Angeles City, premiered last week and we will be submitting it to film festivals as a student produced documentary short. When we are finished showing it at festivals we will begin distributing to the public. I will be making a few small changes to the doc prior to submitting it in the coming weeks.

Additionally, PLU just launched their Peace Corps Prep program and I will be one of the first four people to graduate with this certificate. The program requires a series of course work, internships, language proficiency, resume and interview prep and volunteer hours specific to the sector of the Peace Corps you would like to serve. My certificate prepared me to work in the Community Economic Development sector and I am currently in the process of applying for positions with the Peace Corps leaving around February 2018.  (So keep your fingers crossed that they accept me.)

Beyond that, if there is anything else you would like to know feel free to message me, set a coffee date, give me a phone call sometime, but please for the love of all things holy do not ask that dreaded question anymore.

With so much love,

Cara

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On the Road Again….

Guess who’s back, back again…

(if you aren’t singing “Shady’s back, tell a friend..” after reading that are we even friends?)  

I’m back and I’m off to my newest destination, Washington D.C.

Since my last adventure, my head has been buried under a pile of books, well rhetorical books. As a Communication major, there are not many textbooks involved, but I have been frantically editing my documentary, More Than a Mission: Stemming the Sex Trade in Angeles City while attempting to finish all my course work.

 I know if you “follow me” on social media you probably have this perception that my life is but a dream, hopping from one tourist destination to another in pursuit of the best panoramic views. What you do not see, are all the weeks I spend in the library from open to close, only leaving my place to attend a meeting or one of my several jobs.

Throughout the last four years I have managed to juggle work, school, being a student-athlete *now retired*, co-founding a business, and co-curricular activities, among other things. 

With that many balls in the air, occasionally, I am bound to drop one.

 Like this morning, when I slept through all three of my alarms and my friends had to find my house and come knock on my door at 4 am to make sure I didn’t miss our flight to D.C, or last night when I forgot to send the updated draft of a t-shirt design to my boss. (Thanks Rob for putting up with me!)

Okay Cara, why are you talking sh*t about yourself?

I’m not. I’m just writing to say hi, everyone. My life is not as put together as it seems and if you are struggling to get through something right now whether it be work, school, death of a loved one, running a start-up, feeling lost, I am right there with you. And I am here to say keep chugging along. The grind is worth it. The tears are worth it, the lack of sleep is worth it and the half hour friend dates because that is all the time you have, is worth it.

To my fellow graduating seniors, it has been one hell of a ride and I am so excited to step out into the unknown, knowing that no matter what I will always have the support of my squad. Because if we can get through this, we can get through anything.

Girona

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Girona

It was 9:35 am when we arrived at Sants train station in Barcelona. It was our first time booking our own train adventure and our first time stepping foot in Barcelona Sants.

Our newfound friends Jordan and Jessica were coming along for this adventure and had anticipated that Shannon and I knew what we were doing.

Jordan is one of those rare individuals in life who flies by the seat of her pants without a care in the world. My favorite people are the ones like Jordan, nothing bothers her and she is up for virtually anything.

Jessica on the other hand, runs on a tight schedule. She always knows her next move before it happens and does not like unforeseen changes. Unfortunately, for Jessica, Shannon and I are winging life. We thrive on the unexpected and seek out the unknown. We love the sense of adventure that comes from blind decision-making. The thrill of the unknown is like a drug for us we crave it, routine bores us. Of course, there is always a time and a place for this but our travels are the perfect time to cave into this deep desire to explore the world without a plan.

Before arriving at the station, we had decided our day trip would be to Girona. We knew nothing about Girona, except that one of my professors had said it was necessary to visit, a quaint little city.

We looked at the monitor for Girona, finding a train scheduled for 9:49 am, just enough time for us to buy our tickets and find the terminal. Having never booked a train ticket, we sought the nearest attendant who sent us to a booth.

After waiting 5 minutes in line, we asked the ticket sales person, “Cuatro alquileres para Girona, por favor” (Four tickets to Girona please).

In which she responded, “Tu necesitas usar la machina ahí” (you need to use the machine there) pointing towards a machine that looked like an ATM.

We looked at her with confusion, “…..pero, no hay alquileres para Girona aquí, pero la mujer ahí nos dio que aquí nos podrían ayudar?”  (but..there are no tickets for Girona here? but the women over there said you could help us).

By now, we had already missed the 9:49 am train to Girona.

Jessica was fuming, her jaw was tense her face red with frustration at Shannon and I for not figuring this out before and for being so leisurely in the morning. Ticket-less and still not sure how to buy tickets we returned to the monitor to find the next train to Girona. The next available train was over an hour later, at which point I turn to my friends and said, “Let’s go to France!”

Shannon looked at me giggling, “Maybe, how long does it take?”

“You are insane,” exclaimed Jessica as she stared at Google maps looking for a city to the north that had a train leaving in the next 15 minutes.

I laughed and said, “No, seriously forget Girona, let’s get on the next available train northbound, wherever that takes us.”

Jordan shrugged her shoulders and said, “Okay, why not.”

After about thirty minutes of debating where we were going, we returned to our original plan and bought a 10:50 ticket for Girona. With a half hour to burn, we decided to venture to the nearest restaurant, an upscale McDonalds, to grab a coffee before heading to the terminal.

Our happiness returned to normal as caffeine started to run through our veins.

Shannon looks at her phone we had 10 minutes to get through security, find our terminal and board the train.

After another 5 minutes of searching, we found our terminal and jumped on the train as the doors were shutting.

Feeling accomplished I turned to my friends and said, “We made it”

With a glare and smile, Jessica nodded.

Shannon laughed, “BARELY.”

We were off on our next adventure having learned the value of planning. Trains wait for no one.

Sitges-Carnival.

In my last post I explained what Carnival is after having gone to the opening night of Carnival in Barcelona, but after watching the opening ceremony filled with explosives and performances and lively people I decided I had to head to Sitges for Fat Tuesday to really understand what all the hype was for.

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For Carnival, people dress up in all sorts of costumes and go watch/participate in a parade. Naturally my friends and I went to the dollar store and spent five dollars on a “costume”. When we arrived we spent three hours watching the entirety of the parade in a group of local families.

We giggled with some old folks as they enjoyed the parade and the confetti being cannoned into our faces. At about eleven we decided to search for food and the beach before getting on the train back to Barcelona.

We came up short on our search for food, as most of the businesses on the quite side, local side of town were closed at that point. I was determined to find the beach before I could leave so we abandoned our search for food and headed down a quiet ally that had been mostly untouched by the confetti of the week.

Two blocks down we could see traces of the beach, we walked out of the ally and walked into the middle of the biggest street party I had ever seen.

The three hour long parade we had just finished watching was circling around the beach in what felt like a never ending line. The confetti only multiplied, people lined the streets in what felt like a jungle. The drunken stupor of the people passing by us was somewhat tribal.

Men were fighting in what looked like two bucks fighting over a doe. Ruthlessly hitting one another and then after accepting defeat trotting off to the next bar to pick another fight.

There was vomit and broken glass under mountains of confetti. Women were passed out on benches the beach was filled with friends and lovers alike. My only surprise was that there were no skinny dippers braving the water.

It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. It was like watching a horror movie unfold in front of you, the most shocking and entertaining form of people watching I have ever encountered.

 

Carni-What?

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Carnival!

Similar to New Orleans Spain celebrates a strange festival called Carnival, the week before the beginning of Lent.

To understand why I think this is strange, it is important to know that lent is a religious practice, used in Christian denominations (predominantly Catholicism). It is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday in which Christians “prepare” for the resurrection of Jesus. Often this preparation is through some sort of a fast, not a physical “I am not eating” fast, but a fast of the things that get between us and Jesus. Today people often give up social media, sweets, alcohol. This fast is meant to cause a re-focus on Jesus and should be filled with prayer and “clean living”.

The irony of the lent period is that often times these are things that Christians should already be doing in their everyday life.

I suppose it should not be a surprise that the holiday before lent would be just as ironic.

Carnival is a week long party where people essentially “sin” as much as they can to “get it out of their system” before the lent period of fasting (clean living). So, to prepare to prepare for Jesus people party for a week straight.

 

 

Granada.

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The Alhambra

I am in love with Granada. For so many reasons Granada has become, and has thus far remained, my favorite place in Spain. Why? Well for several reasons. 

First, let’s talk about the definition of a Tapa or Tapas. 

According to Wikipedia, “Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold or hot. In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine.”

In Barcelona, tapas are just that, delightful little snacks. Usually containing some form of potatoes, bread and Jamon Iberico (aka the best ham you will ever consume).

However, in Granada the word tapas takes on an entirely different meaning. Granada is the birthplace of the tapa but tapas are not just little snacks here. They can be entire meals of anything, paella included. When you say tapas in Granada, you are actually talking about a plate of food served as a “thank you” for ordering a drink. 

That means for every drink you order, you will receive a free snack, or in some cases meal. Yes that is right I said FREE. Nothing is free you say? Well when I spend two dollars on a “Tinto de Verano” (wine mixed with juice) and come out with dinner too it feels free, if not just incredibly cheap. 

Okay cool Cara, free food, but what is so special about Granada?

Aside from the copious amounts of free food I consumed during my stay in Granada, the Arab influence in Granada makes it unique from the rest of Spain. 

We had the opportunity to go to a Hammam (Arab bath) and it was an experience so unique I wish I could relive the whole thing.

Upon arrival, I walked into the Arab baths and was guided to a room to change into my swimsuit. I was then ushered to a room with five different pools all with varying temperatures. The rooms had ornate tile decor and carvings on the ceilings. 

We were invited to spend two hours in the “spa” and receive a massage followed by laying on a hot stone. We were also able to try Moroccan Mint Tea, which was absolutely to die for. 

Aside from this experience, we were able to tour the Alhambra, a palace that has grown and endured through many different reigns.  

We spent a great deal of time walking through the maze of the Verea Caves. A neighborhood of gypsy houses carved into the side of the mountain and painted white to improve the appearance. As minimal as these caves are, I was able to see the vast differences between the Spanish Gypsies and the Gypsies in Romania who live in shanty homes in gardens unsafe to venture in. 

Most of all though, I loved Granada because of its proximity to nature. Granada lies in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. You can smell the fresh mountain air throughout the city and the quaint “river” (more like creek) that runs through town adds to the unending charm of the city. This was a place I look forward to returning to.