Snow In Barcelona?

As Spring Break approaches, I can’t help but get lost in memories of some great adventures in Europe I had last Spring…

It was a very interesting semester abroad because everywhere we went on the weekends it would snow. Seeing cities like Amsterdam, Prague, and Berlin under a blanket of white is quite awe-inspiring but after two months of hiking through snow in the heart of every European city, one starts to get annoyed with the white fluff. That’s exactly why we chose to visit Barcelona during spring break.

Since it had snowed on every trip up until Barcelona, we were hoping for the famed Mediterranean weather. Unfortunately as we looked out the window of our landing plane, we found that Barcelona was planning a little surprise for us. Locals told us it was the first snow in seven years and worst snow in twenty-two years. At this point, I was ready to give up on touring the continent and wanted to fetch a boat to Morocco! Nobody else in my party seemed to like the idea though, so we checked into our hostel and dreamed of warmer weather. Luckily when we woke up the next day, all of the snow had melted and Barcelona was back to normal.

Barcelona continued to be full of surprises though, and the most striking memory of the whole trip was due to the snow. On the third day, we went to Montserrat, a monastery in the mountains outside Barcelona. In total, we took a 30 minute subway ride, an hour train ride, and a 30-minute cable cart ride to get to the monastery. After our two hour voyage, we reached a village covered in a foot of snow. We had set out that day to go hiking around the mountain, so we did exactly that. Five hours later, we decided we were too cold and our feet were too wet to continue. We completed our return voyage back down the mountain and decided to do something quite different… we went to the beach. While it was a little too chilly to get into the water, we did take off our sweaters and bought some takeout to sit and watch the waves roll onto the sand.

Never have I experienced such an amazing day before, and it was all thanks to the snow. I am really anticipating the memories that the snow will provide us this winter.

~Chris Shockey, Spirit & Traditions Decorations Chair

Counting Down to Spring Break

Spring Break is so close I can almost taste it. Only one more week of turning in papers and taking exams until we are all free for a week.  Last year, my roommates and I took a road trip down to Miami and spent more time driving than on the beach (which actually wasn’t too warm but still a lot of fun). This year I am going to Florence, Italy to visit two of my best friends, Amy and Ally, who are studying abroad!

When I booked the plane tickets over Winter break, the day countdown was in the upper 60’s and now it’s in the teens! When I get there I’m going to stay in a hostel for the first two nights and I know what you’re thinking – “Hostel?! Like from that creepy horror movie where everyone dies?!” – Yes, that’s where I’m staying. I’ve never stayed in a hostel before but I’ve heard that as long as you don’t leave any valuables there during the day it’s safe and perfect for a college kid’s budget.

In addition to touring the city and eating a ton of pizza, pasta, and gelato, I’m planning to go to some of my friends’ classes with them. They’re both taking classes like Wine Tasting 101 and Italian Cooking. I had to plan this trip a while in advance (to get a plane ticket) but I know my roommates are still deciding on what to do with the one week of freedom until May so this is probably a good time to ask yourself, what am I doing with those 216 hours?

-Dani Smith, Spirit & Traditions

Spring Break Destination: Harrisonburg

As we all try to get settled back here at JMU after we all took our separate journeys this past week I thought that you might want to try to mentally extend your break for as long as possible. Enjoy the recollections of our very talented writer and VP Maeve Rafferty’s fond memories of her March adventures during her time in college.

I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy when I hear of the exotic places some friends are going for break.  A few girls are headed to the islands- an all inclusive resort, others headed to key west, some jumped on cheap deals for a cruise, one friend is flying to Africa {take me with you!}.  And me…where will I be?  Right here, in the lovely Harrisonburg… Unless, I decide spur of the moment to book that flight to San Diego where my cousin invited me to stay with her and soak up the west coast.  I can picture it now…toes in the sand that I have not seen in what feels like years because my warm boots have been holding them hostage, fresh ocean breeze and sun…warm sun- what does that even feel like?

But I want to be… here.

My freshman year, I jumped on the bandwagon and took the trip I had been waiting for since I left for college- Spring Break Cancun 06’. Looking back I can say it was fun, yet nothing that I could not have been doing right here at school, minus the beach and pool bar.  It was an adventure and while I look back with fond memories, I apologize now to my future kids- you won’t be going.  You will be mad at first, but I promise you will thank me later.

Sophomore year, I learned from past decisions and planned my own break, a road trip to Atlanta, where my older sister was living at the time.  My mom jumped in on the idea of awhole week with her girls and decided to come along too.  It was perfect.

Junior year is the one I will always carry close to my heart.  I was studying abroad in London and we decided to explore Italy.  I loved everything about the country, the reflection and shadows of the sun bouncing off facades of walls in Venice- it all made sense to me.  This is what the great painters of our time hoped to capture in all the portraits that hung in museums we travelled too.

I could have spent months in Florence.  The free view, sitting atop Piazza de Michelangelo, never failing to grab a 5 Euro bottle of wine, block of fresh cheese and warm loaf of bread.  Oh and gelato, lots of gelato.  I refuse to admit to how much we spent on one serving.  I had immense guilt for being so impulsive with my money, until I took the first bite, it was at that moment all regrets and feelings of embarrassment simply vanished, gelato is too good.  We sat at the Piazza for hours, watched a couple that had just gotten married have their photos taken- we were complete strangers yet so apart of their moment. Finally, we made it to my favorite stop of all, Cinque Terra.  The other places I fell for- Cinque Terra I feel in love with. I had never felt so at peace.

Each spring break offered something different to me and I feel blessed to have had each experience.  There is no way I could top last year and while escaping this small town, to soak up the warm sun with a daiquiri in hand, sounds like a dream, I don’t feel right leaving.   Therefore, despite sounding odd and to some a bit boring I have planned to spend my time here, in Harrisonburg.  I want to enjoy my home for now, in a few months I will be some place else, not sure where but am overjoyed to find out.   I plan on giving this place the attention it deserves, like an old friend you have not seen in quite a while.  I intend to enjoy its treasures I have been too busy to notice.  Or maybe, going back to that honesty thing, I will just sleep all day and finally finish that novel sitting on my nightstand.  All I am sure of is that my plan for now is no plan and it feels like the perfect one for me.

Thanks for having a listen.

– Maeve