My First Love: Diving

Those of you who know me well know that I haven’t had the easiest time as far a injuries and illnesses in my past few years at Auburn. It is actually a wonder that I have made it through my senior year (diving-wise) and I thank God that I did, but He had other plans in store for the end of my career. I believe that everything happens for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that when I hurt my knee at SECs I wasn’t disappointed. I knew that it could possibly mean cutting my career a few weeks short, and as my coach and I both agreed upon, there was no reason to go to the Zone meet (which is a qualification for NCAAs), injured and not diving anywhere close to my best. Although it wasn’t pretty, I finished SECs and was able to score a couple points for the team, and today, my coach and I officially made the decision not to participate in Zones.
Things don’t always end the way we expect them to, but recently, I’ve learned that it’s more about the process than it ever has been about the ending. Throughout my diving career, I have had the privilege to travel the world, meet some of the best friends I will ever have, and push myself to do things I never thought I could mentally or physically do. In my career I’ve been to China, England, and Canada, as well as all over the United States at the national level. I dove for my high school and then had the blessing of competing for the university of my dreams, where I have grown so much as a person and found my calling as a nurse. I’ve competed in the NCAA championships, made SEC finals, and won a few dual meets… and these are the times I will remember, because I did all of them for the betterment of my team. I can’t explain how amazing it has been to be a part of this team, but luckily I know that that’s not going to end just because my four years are coming to a close.
More than anything, diving has given me a lifelong passion. From the first time I stepped on a diving board at my first summer league practice when I was 7 years old, I was hooked. There have been many, many hardships along the way and more often than I would like to admit, I questioned why I was putting myself through this. I had numerous coaching changes and for years, had to drive an hour each way to practice. I was often alone at meets, finding others to coach me, and we struggled for practice time. In college, I have often been pushed to my mental and physical breaking point and have dealt with injury and illness after injury and illness. But it was always worth it when I got to share a win with my teammates or finally get the satisfaction of nailing that dive that I’d been working on for years. However, this year, I’ve learned that it’s not really about the diving or hitting my dives perfectly. It’s about the person that it’s molded me into and what I’ve been able to contribute to my team, on and off the pool deck. I am a harder working, more dedicated, resilient, and appreciative individual because of this sport and for that, I am forever grateful.
With that being said,I don’t consider this a “goodbye” to the sport but rather a transition. Even though I am no longer competing, this sport is a part of who I am and will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will miss it greatly, but I know that the lessons I have learned, the athlete I’ve become, and the friends I have made aren’t going anywhere. I can’t wait to see what is in store for Auburn at NCAAs and in future years and am excited to enjoy this beautiful sport from the “other side”!

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Oh The Places You’ll Go

With only less than 7 hours remaining until I’m on a bus to the airport, I cannot believe it is actually over. Today I found out that I made all A’s and said goodbye to some really amazing people. Since I can’t exactly find a way to sum up my experience here, I decided to make a list of some of the things I’ve learned during my month in Spain. Enjoy 🙂

1. Finding Wifi (‘Wee-fee’) anywhere and everywhere that you can is absolutely essential, especially when traveling.
2. The news in Europe is much more graphic than in America and I found that out when I was eating dinner and a pile of blood appeared on the screen. It does make you much more aware of what’s happening in the world though.
3. Although people in this country may not be in a rush to do much, they are certainly in a rush when they get behind the wheel, so use precaution when crossing the street.
4. Air conditioning really is not a thing here and I understand why they use those paper fans.
5. Navigating public transportation is not for the faint of heart.
6. Europeans in general are much more worldly and know significantly more about the world than the majority of Americans. Get it together, America!
7. Siesta is a gift from God and should be a universal law.
8. Studying abroad is like a roller coaster- there are highs and lows. One minute you love everything about it and the next you hate it and just want to go home. You just have to “ride the highs” and remind yourself why you decided to do it in the first place!
9. Even though things here are unusual, they are not wrong, but simply different, and it’s been very cool and eye opening to experience a different way of life.
10. As amazing as it’s been to live a different life for a month, I love the life I have and wouldn’t trade it for the world!

This has been one of the most unique experiences of my life and I’m so sad that it’s over but cannot wait to get home. I will definitely appreciate home so much more now!
Ok, that’s enough of the sappy sap. Since our bus to the airport is at the ungodly hour of 4am, which means I would have to wake up at approximately 3am, I am joining Team No Sleep for the night. It’s really better for everyone involved since I don’t even think I would be able to function if I were to wake up that early. Time for one last hoorah with the group downtown, and then tomorrow it’s back to the greatest country on the planet! See y’all soon, and thanks for following along!

Muchos abrazos,

Carlina

Birthday, Live from Lisboa

Hola mis amores!

Well, only two days remaining! So crazy.

So, Friday was the big 2-0 (HOW AM I ALREADY THAT OLD), and the day started out great right away! At the table during breakfast Marisol left me a present which was the cutest little Teddy Bear. I had my last final on Friday and it went really well, it was so nice to be done worrying about school even if I still have to go until tomorrow. Two of my teachers brought the class cookies for my birthday and made everyone sing. The teachers are so nice here and so much more personable towards the students than most college professors I’ve had in the states. We came home and laid out and ran, our usual afternoon routine, and after dinner went to meet people in the plaza and got ice cream and stuff. All in all it was a great day! Then at 1am, it was off to the train station to Lisbon (Lisboa).

The train was definitely an experience, as there were 8 of us from my Auburn group in the same little section facing each other. Everyone was pretty wound up for a while, but it was a lot of fun. Eventually we were able to fall asleep and I’d be lying if I said it were comfortable to sleep like that. We were pretty crammed and it was freezing, but at least I slept a little because we got off the train and started a long day right away. We took the metro to this little market and then went to this really cool little vegan cafe for lunch, and saw two really beautiful churches. After some more walking around we went back to the hostel, which was yet another interesting experience. I have never stayed in one so I had no idea what to expect. My room consisted of 3 bunk beds and luckily everyone in my room was from my group, but the rest of the group stayed in a room of 10 people and some of the people in that room were random. The hostel was actually very clean though, and they served free breakfast and had free wifi along with a bunch of activities that they offer throughout the week. It’s definitely geared for college students and young travelers but I would totally recommend Lisboa Central Hostel if you ever find yourself in Lisbon. After a little rest we went to dinner and, being the Americans we are, when we saw a Hard Rock Cafe we all got a little nostalgic for some American food. Overpriced? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

The next day we left the hostel around 10 for another day of touring. We took our time walking down to the coast and stopped at some little shops along the way, and finally made our way down to the water. It was so pretty and the boats were huge. Even though we didn’t make it to the actual beach itself, it was definitely good to smell the salt of the water. It was also cool because I’ve seen the Atlantic Ocean a bunch of times, but now I was seeing it from the complete opposite side. We took a tram a few miles down the coast to see the tower of Belem, which is a castle-looking tower that’s actually built in the water and it’s been there since the 1400s. It was very cool, I’ll post pictures on Facebook. We spent some time just sitting by the water watching the boats which was glorious. After a quick stop at a famous pastry shop, it was back to the hostel to rest. We played a fun game called fishbowl in the hostel and met a guy from Australia and a guy from France who kind of tagged along with our group the rest of the day. For dinner, we went to this Portuguese/Brazilian style steakhouse. It was very strange but so worth the price for how much food we got! There was a buffet with a bunch of different vegetables and cheese and I don’t even know what else, and then they came around and gave us each several different samples of different types of meat, a fried banana, and a grilled pineapple with cinnamon (my favorite of the night). It was very different, but so good and a fun dinner. It was a fun weekend and I’m glad I got to try so many new things that I’ve never done before. However, after 4 weekends of traveling around, I think I’m done being a tourist for a little while!

After that we headed back to the train station for an overnight ride home. I slept a little better this time, and we arrived in Salamanca around 5:30am. Luckily I had one more skip day so I took advantage of that and caught up on my sleep and have had a very relaxing day of hanging out at the pool, getting a workout in and walking around the city doing some last minute souvenir shopping. Tomorrow we have our last day of class and then home on Wednesday!

I should probably get back to packing soon since our room currently looks like a bomb went off. All my friends and family can vouch that I’m a last minute packer, so you should be proud that I’ve even already started!

See you in just 2 days, America! Can’t wait!

Besos,
Carly

Livin La Vida

Hola Amigos!

I can’t believe I have started my last week in Spain! In one week I’ll be back in the US… sad but super excited at the same time!

So this past week I had my midterm for Language class which went really well, and then Thursday night some of the girls went shopping. The “rebajas” (sales) here are amazing and there are some awesome stores. Even though I’m not much of a shopper, even I couldn’t resist las rebajas!

Friday night we left at 11:30pm for Barcelona.. Oh what a journey that was. Thankfully, the 10 of us from Auburn were an “aggressive group” (as told by others on our bus) and most of us pushed our way to our own seats on the back of the bus. I put my traveling-in-buses experience from dive meets to good use and slept on the floor of the bus with my blanket and ever so famous Auburn pillow pet. After an eventful trip, we finally arrived in Barcelona around 10am. The adventures continued when our hotel rooms were not ready, so our lovely tour guide Fernando decided we could leave our bags in a closet at the hotel and go as we were into the city for the whole day… thanks Fernando. Some of the girls changed clothes, but that was about the extent of freshening up. Add this to the heat, and I’ve never felt more disgusting. It’s ok though, because we had an amazing day anyways.

We got most of Saturday to tour around on our own, which was nice. Our group from Auburn walked down to the pier and the beach, and I can honestly say it was the prettiest beach I’ve ever seen. The Mar Mediterraneo is the real deal, people. We stayed there for awhile but had to be back by 4:30 to tour the Picasso Museum. I’m no artist, but the museum was actually really cool. Then afterwards, we stumbled upon a really cool street show where people of all ages, from children to elderly people, were making the biggest human pyramid I have ever seen. Apparently it’s a big tradition in Catalonia, the region of Spain Barcelona is in. Fun fact- they don’t speak Spanish in this part of Spain (they can, but they don’t), they speak Catalon… so that was another challenge. Just after I get used to Spanish, I am now trying to decipher another language! It doesn’t look too different from Spanish when written but when spoken, they sound really different.

Sunday was definitely my favorite day. We were up bright and early to tour another beautiful art museum, and then afterwards, I made a little deviation from the group to go find my long lost roommate(s) Val and Jordan. To make a long story short, I walked around for quite some time looking for them but finally found them, and we had such an amazing day touring around Barcelona and catching up. Since the metros stop running on Sundays at midnight, I was back on the metro to my hotel before then and getting ready for bed. It sucked having to leave them, but I’ll see them soon! 🙂

Monday we just traveled back from Barcelona, another long drive, and Tuesday it was back to class. Tuesday night was the last night this week that we were really able to do anything since finals start Thursday (tomorrow), so our whole group made the wise decision to go out. Now, I’ve said before that the Spanish party late, and that goes for weeknights as well apparently. It was a late night for all involved, but I wasn’t even out as late as most! If you know me, you know how I get when I don’t get my sleep. All in all though, it was a fun, entertaining night.

Today it’s been study study study with breaks to run and do some abs in the park, and to eat dinner (it was pizza night!). I should probably get back to that since I do have 3 finals tomorrow -___- This weekend a bunch of us are headed to Lisbon, Portugal. I’ve never been, but it doesn’t sound like too bad of a place to celebrate my 20th birthday!

See you all so soon! No veo la hora!

Besos,
Carly

2 Down 2 To Go…

Hola!

Well, we are officially into week 3 of 4 of my temporary life in Spain! It seems like it’s been so long but so short at the same time. Good news is, the Spanish is starting to really come together; it isn’t so mind boggling anymore to sit through 5 hours of Spanish classes and conversations with the host family are becoming more smooth and substantial.

So this past weekend I went to Andalucia (which is kind of a vague term… it would be like saying ‘Oh, I went to the Southwest’ in the States). But more specifically, Andalucia is the southern region of Spain and I visited Sevilla and Granada. There were only 4 of us on the trip from my Auburn group. There were also some kids from University of Delaware and a big group of high schoolers from New Jersey (that was a treat) on our 7 hour bus ride. We arrived in Sevilla on Friday afternoon and did some touring. Sevilla is what I would describe as stereotypical Spain- bright colored clothing, beautiful/colorful buildings, gardens, and HEAT, wow the heat. At night we had free time so my little group from Auburn went and saw a Flamenco show which was definitely the highlight of my excursion down south. I find dance fascinating anyways so to see a type of dance that was so different and cultural was very interesting to me.

Saturday morning we went and saw a famous palace in Sevilla which was absolutely breathtaking, and then it was on the bus to Granada. We toured a cathedral here and then had the rest of the night to ourselves so we went exploring. If I had one word to describe Granada it would be lively- everywhere you look there is something going on. We saw many bachelor/bachelorette parties and even one bride to be riding a donkey through the streets. There were live street performers every which way and endless little markets selling extremely cheap souveneirs, and also SO MANY GYPSIES. Granada was definitely a fun, interesting place to be. In the morning we toured the Alhambra which was very, very cool- but not gonna lie, the 4 hour tour in that heat was a little much- and then it was back on that bus that I have become so familiar with. We arrived back in Salamanca at 10:30pm, ate a quick dinner cooked by the ever so lovely Marisol (who is one of the greatest ladies ever, btw), did our homework and went to bed.

This week of school has been filled with projects, oral presentations, and midterm tests. I actually get more rest during the weeks than on the weekends though because of all the traveling, but hey, so not complaining about that!!! The heat this week has been out of control. It’s almost unbearable to even be outside during the day. Since it would be a death sentence to try to run in this heat, this morning Julie and I had the bright idea to wake up at 6:15am before the sun had fully risen and do our run then. It was a struggle trying to wake up, but it was worth it to see the sunrise at the end of the run. We’ll probably do the same tomorrow. I might be crazy but at least I’ll (kind of, maybe, slightly) be prepared for morning practices this fall? Anyways, I have a test in Language tomorrow- a bunch of us met at a cafe to study earlier which was a lot of fun, but honestly was not too productive, so wish me luck :/ We leave Friday night for an overnight drive to Barcelona and I cannot wait!

Miss you all so much and see ya in 2 weeks exactly!

Hasta Luego,

Carly

Toledo, Burgos, y mas de Salamanca

Hola!

Already more than a week down! Wow! Time is definitely starting to fly even though my days are jam packed with craziness and the days seem quite long in the moment. Starting with last Friday, aka 4th of July:

Friday, after class a bunch of my group met up in Plaza Mayor, and since there’s really no American food besides the lovely McDonald’s, the next best/closest thing in our minds was Mexican food. We sat outside and ate and talked, but had to be in bed early because at the crack of dawn the next morning we were on a 3 hour bus ride to Toledo. I don’t even have words to describe the beauty of this city. I have never seen anything like it. Interesting observation: I did not see one local who was out of shape while in Toledo and I can understand why- the entire city sits on a giant hill. I definitely got a good quad workout that day! We toured a bunch of different Cathedrals and saw a famous painting by El Greco, and had some time to ourselves for lunch. We arrived back in Salamanca that evening, only to board another bus Sunday morning for Burgos! Fun little side story- when we were walking to the bus meeting place at 7:15 am, there were still people out from the night before! The Spanish sure do love a good party. Anyways, the weather for this trip was not as cooperative but for the most part we were able to avoid the rain. Burgos is more of a quaint town but still with plenty of beauty. We saw more beautiful, historic landmarks here before it was time to board the bus back to Salamanca. These bus rides would be a lot worse if my group were not so funny. We have also mastered the art of sleeping in an upright position by now.

Monday it was back to class and the struggle was real trying to get up that morning. Needless to say I definitely took advantage of my siesta time that day. The past two days after class we have been laying out at our apartment complex’s pool while doing homework and have been starting to go on runs. 4 or more miles isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by this much beauty! Last night we met up with people downtown to watch the World Cup and tonight we will probably do the same. It’s no lie that these Europeans love their “football”, which I have accidentally called it a few times! We have seen and done so many cool things already, but some of my best memories so far are just sitting in the Plaza, people watching and hanging out with my group, listening to whatever live street performer is playing that night.

Classes have been really good and I actually enjoy going. My favorite so far is my culture class, and today we learned some steps of a flamenco dance! 5 hours straight is a long time to only hear and speak Spanish, but I have met some really cool people who I would never be able to otherwise communicate with. Off to dinner soon cooked by the one and only Marisol (our house mom). She’s such a great lady and an amazing cook. We told her the other day that she should open her own restaurant! This weekend we go to Andalucia which is the south of Spain, cannot wait! I’ll keep ya updated. Miss you all and hasta pronto!

Carly

Getting into the swing of things

Hola!

Things are finally starting to feel normal here! Yesterday morning we took our placement tests for classes and then a few other people in my group and I went and visited the Cathedral in Salamanca, which was built in the 1500s. I can’t even explain how beautiful and HUGE it was! We climbed all the way into the bell tower at the top and had to take the tiniest staircases. It is really built like a castle, almost. I will try to post pictures of it on Facebook soon. Then we went to an orientation for all the international students from all around the world who are studying here this summer. We listened to a lecture (in Spanish) which I didn’t understand much of, and then they had free snacks and drinks for everyone. We ate lunch and then took our first siesta which turned into a two hour nap… It seems like we are still a little jet lagged so the siestas have been great. This morning was our first day of classes! I am in school Monday through Friday from 9-2:15 straight which makes for a really long day, especially when the teachers only speak Spanish. These are not English-to-Spanish courses- the teachers speak ONLY Spanish and nothing else the entire day. It was kind of exhausting. Something I hadn’t anticipated is that some of the other people from my classes are not English speakers (they come from China, France, Brazil, etc.) , so the absolute only way I can communicate with them is in Spanish. It is kind of interesting because these are people that I would never be able to communicate with if I saw them on the streets but Spanish kind of brings us together because we are all trying to learn it. After class Julie and I had to go and buy new adapters for our chargers because mine blew a fuse yesterday, which is something that would totally happen to me. We walked a long ways to the store only to realize that it was closed for the siesta, which most shops do from around 3-5pm. We waited for it to open and got our adapters which are working fine, and then went and signed up for our trips we will be taking to Andalucia July 11-13 and Barcelona July 18-21 (!!!!!). Now we are getting ready to go out for the first time downtown, which I am super excited for! I’ll let you know how it goes! Hasta luego!

Carly