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  • This past summer I got the opportunity to study abroad in Seville, Spain, um, something that I had always wanted to do my entire life. Um, I was also really excited that I had a friend coming with me from UT. It made the whole experience a lot less scary and I was just really excited to do it. We got to Spain and received our classes that we had signed up for and I got into a flamenco class and though I had wanted to take this class, there was another class on the list that I was really scared to take, but really felt that I needed to take it. It was a class on the Camino de Santiago, which is an ancient pilgrimage that ends in Santiago de Compostela at the cathedral where St. James’ remains are. And it was recently made popular by Emilio Estevez’s movie The Way with his dad Martin Sheen. And the class that was offered was two weeks in the classroom learning about the Camino and a week actually walking the Camino. And I am the kind of person who, um, doesn’t work out ever and am very not in shape and so the thought of walking 70 miles in 5 days really terrified me. Another thing that I was really apprehensive about was, you know, leaving my friend for a week, that she was kind of my comfort in this different country. I didn’t want to leave her for a week and, um, really put myself out there I guess and be with these people I didn’t know at all. But I really felt strongly that I needed to take it and my parents were able to talk me into it and make me feel good about it so I signed up for Camino de Santiago. And our two weeks in the classroom went by so quickly and all of a sudden it was time to go. And so we departed Seville and went to northern Spain to start our walk. And the first day we started off pretty light doing about 13 miles and I felt really good about it. I was able to keep up with everyone, I was really enjoying the scenery, it was beautiful. It was, um, lots of green hilly pastures, lots of farmland, beautiful blue skies, the weather was perfect. Um, the Camino is also littered with a lot of, not littered, but um kind of decorated I guess you could say with a lot of, um, things that other pilgrims leave behind and there’s mile markers that people decorate and so really it was just, uh, just a fun experience to see all of that. And I felt really good about it, but as the days went on my pep and vigor kind of died out and my body, um, became unhappy with me and I went from being one of the fastest people in the group to one of the slowest. And, um, I can’t even tell you how many blisters I had on my feet, my knees and ankles ached, my hips hurt from my backpack. It was a mess. And so when day 5 came around, our very last day, I was not even sure if my body was going to make it. I hung back and did the last bit with one of my friends who had hurt her knees in my class and we, um, arrived a few kilometers out of the city at the Monte de Gozo which is kind of your last little checkpoint before you get to the city and our whole class was there waiting for us to do the last bit with us. At this point I had really grown close with all these people and really felt like they were supporting us and waiting for us and you know, helping us do that last little bit. And so we did the last 3 kilometers all together as a class and arrived at the cathedral in probably one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life. Um, I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it, um I was really happy that at that point that I hadn’t let fear, uh, get the best of me and uh stop me from doing something that was really just such a once in a lifetime opportunity. And being able to go into the cathedral and see St. James’ tomb, do all the traditions people have been doing for so long um, was really really special and um one of, one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life.
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