What I (Almost) Wore to Church

These pictures crack me up. They were taken months ago but never made it onto the blog. I didn’t think the dress I almost wore to church here in Avila but instead ended up trading for a sweater and slippers a few short hours after the photos were taken would hold any particular interest for you all. I say “almost” because our darling host mom forgot on this particular Sunday that we had told her of our plans to go to church. She started making us an elaborate lunch minutes before we were supposed to leave. Yes, lunch. Church starts pretty late over here in the land that honors sleep enough to devote three hours a day to its healthy maintenance. Viva la siesta!

Anyway, we probably should have gently reminded her according to the boundless honesty of the Spanish culture, but in reality, we really needed to stay home to work on homework anyway.

What’s worse? We had to catch a flight yesterday and didn’t go to church yet again. *GASP!* I know. Heathens one and all.

Thrifted dress and headband, K-mart sweater leggings, Charlotte Russe T-shirt, Payless shoes

Just pretend I’m winking in the above picture instead of awkwardly holding one mascara-smudge eyelid half open. “LOL, I’m so cute in my sundress and sweater leggings. Wink wink! GTG to Sweden now. BRB!”

Also, don’t be jealous about the short sleeves sans jacket. It wasn’t (and isn’t) anywhere near being warm enough to leave home dressed like this. I took my coat off just long enough to get the photos taken and then slithered right back into it. Can’t wait to return to New York where we get four seasons in the standard order and where church typically doesn’t interfere with eating or sleeping schedules.

Actually, I take that back. Sweden is the most beautiful place I have ever visited in my life, and I kind of want to live here forever. Pics tomorrow!

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: So Little Time


  • The wall is the most iconic thing about Avila, and we still haven’t climbed up on it after more than four months.
  • I mentioned a certain Mary in last week’s A&AT. This girl went to high school with Josh and I in the tiny trailer school back in northern PA. How on earth did we all end up in Spain at the same time?
  • Cowering under the table in grammar class as the imperfect subjunctive mood gets the better of me–and my dear professor taking a video and posting it to YouTube!
  • My little sissy having a bad day and not being able to be there for her 😦
  • Fertility goddess statues in art class.
  • The Spanish train system hating my friend who came to visit Monday, but she finally made it here!
  • Finals coming up muy pronto!
  • The projects my classmates put together to sum up our experiences in Spain. I laughed and cried. Mostly laughed. 
  • Prezi. I haven’t had an excuse to use this program in so long.
  • Allie spotting me 20 euros to buy red desert boots. I am really European now!
  • Having Monday afternoon coffee with choir buddy Monica Claire. Haven’t seen the girl in five years, and now here we are in Spain! Talk about names I haven’t heard since high school . . .
  • Mary coming to visit Avila this Saturday.
  • Spending time with all of our wonderful Swedish friends next week!
  • Meeting up with Rob in Madrid and then giving him a tour of good ole Avila.
  • Hopefully going out one of these nights with all of our Madrid-based computer engineering buddies we met in Dublin. 
  • My Nuria ❤. She lights up my days. Unless it happens to be grammar class . . . then I hate her.

Equally Awkward and Awesome: So many places to go and people to see, so little time.

    The Final Countdown

    Today was an incredibly bittersweet day for me.

    Today marks the last day that our class will be together under the instruction of Jose and Nuria, our amazing though slightly insane professors. We still have a week of travel time and then finals, but we will never be sitting together in that room again with these two people who have taught us so much more than Spanish.

    Twenty days from now I will be on an airplane crossing the Atlantic Ocean for my home, and this is the first day that it has crossed my mind that Spain might be a home of mine as well.

    It’s so cliche— “I studied abroad and it changed my life. I wish I was there now.”

    In all honesty, I was so busy viewing this as the best vacation of my life that I almost missed the fact that there are people here in Avila that I love. I didn’t want to be that sentimental or condescending girl who left her heart in another country far superior to the cultural illiterate United States. Without noticing it, I became that girl who is crying one moment because of how much she is going to miss her European friends and laughing the next because of how blessed she has been to know them.

    With its odd customs, uncomfortable social norms, confusing city structures, and foreign language wrapped in layers of incomprehensible accents, Spain seemed like an exciting place to visit but too strange a place to call home.

    How silly of me. Home isn’t a place. It’s people who love you ❤

    So this is me refusing to say goodbye, my loves. I plan on enjoying every moment with you these last twenty days in Europe. Know that you have changed me and that, God willing, we will see each other again. If it doesn’t happen in this world, we know it will in the next. So there is no good bye–

    There is only “hasta luego” . . . see you later.

    "Joyous It Stretches Like a Lizard in the Sun" (Marseille)

    It’s hard to explain, but Marseille was one of the happiest-feeling cities I have ever visited. This is odd because the people were not particularly happy. In fact they were mean and downright grumpy in most cases. The city itself, on the other hand, was alive with art, music, food, fashion, and the beauty that only a rich history and prime real estate on the Mediterranean can bring.

    The title of this post is taken from the French song “La Canabiere,” named for Marseille’s main street and cultural hub. This beautiful street (sort of a hipstery Times Square–or maybe Soho in London) stretches from the city’s Old Port right on the Mediterranean sea all the way up a hill to the church where Joan of Arc used to pray! Pictures of Old Port and the church are coming up, but for now just enjoy the small joys that make up La Rue Canbiere.

    So magical 🙂

    This statue is an actual library. You can borrow books out of the giraffe!

    Ah, cafe culture

    More photos of Rue Canbiere after the jump!

    This cafe name made us laugh. No one really speaks English in France, so I doubt anyone knows how this sounds.

    Photo Shoot: ‘Athletique Chic’ Part 1

    I am not an athletic person. 

    I try to stay healthily active and I really enjoy a nice competitive game of water polo, but my talents do not typically relate to anything in any way “sporty.” Be this as it may, I do consider myself a fashionable person, and for this reason I found myself feeling just slightly pressured by the athletic-inspired fashion trend that first hit the runways last year and has only been growing stronger since then–not because I’m super influenced by trends, but because I hate limiting myself to a romantic/casual chic style. I don’t want my style to be easily defined as anything other than very “Jessi.”

    All the fashion philosophizing aside, from now on I’m determined to make more of an effort to incorporate an urban athletic element into my look. 

    In all honesty, I also have a fear of looking like I’m just getting back from the gym. This is why I decided to combine some high fashion and girly elements with my mesh shorts and t-shirt combo. The shredded tee is a DIY, by the way! Gotta layer a tank under that one . . .

    For information on the characteristics that I believe to define a “sporty” style, check out this post.


    Fan Art: Brooke Bundy as The Hunger Games’ Octavia

    I know that The Hunger Games series is old news now that the film has been out for a month, but guess what? It just hit screens in Spain this weekend! It’s still a hot topic here! Also, no, I haven’t seen it yet because it is quite important to me that I get to watch the film in my native language. Therefore I wait.

    Now, I first got into digital fan art based on literary film adaptations when I (somewhat obsessively) placed Professor Severus Snape into a digital time machine and featured the result in this post. It’s so rewarding to take an image of the actor who will be recognized by audiences everywhere as this particular character and then alter it to depict a situation that maybe was in the book but hasn’t appeared in the films.

    I was amazed when I read that critical characters such as District 12 mayor’s daughter Madge Undersee and Katniss’ naively lovable prep team had been completely written out of the final film script. When I heard the news, I assumed (hoped!) that these character’s would make an appearance in future films since they become rather important to the plot of the series. After all, the casting of stylist Cinna’s team of Flavius, Venia, and Octavia has already taken place.

    After finding a picture of actress Brooke Bundy who will hopefully be realizing the character of Octavia in the film versions of Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I had all I needed.

    Image adapted from Bart Nagel Photography

    Say hello to prep team member Octavia.

    She is described in The Hunger Games novel as pretty and plump with pea-green skin and bright pink hair. The fuzzy pink butterfly brows were a personal choice ;-). I like to think that this is what she looks like without any makeup on or her hair done. As odd as she may look to us, she is very plain for a Capitol citizen in this particular picture.

    In the future, I hope to make some representations of Flavius and Venia as well–not as much because I’m a huge fan as because they seem to be a fun challenge for a fan artist.

    What characters from book-to-screen adaptations do you wish had made the final cut? There’s Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring, Winky the female house elf in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire . . . I could go on, but why don’t you tell me in the comments?

    What I Wore: Miss America

    Target jacket and t-shirt (the shirt is Josh’s), DIY tie-dye corduroys, and Payless boots

    Yes, we’re still wearing jackets here in Avila. Sometime full-blown winter coats. I think this particular freckle on the face of Spain is a little confused when it comes to the seasons, because it reached sunny and 70 in January here while it is now rainy and (if we’re lucky) 50.

    On the other hand, I could really care less, because in a little over three weeks, I will be enjoying Rochester‘s balmy spring weather. And you know what? I really couldn’t care less if it wasn’t sunny in my hometown right now. I’m so excited to go back to my busy life.

    Not that the break hasn’t been absolutely lovely and the experience of a lifetime. It’s as if Josh and I got to have a gap year and work towards our college degrees at the same time. How many young married couples get to do that? No, we’re really at a place right now where we’re excited about everything. We can’t wait to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of our last few weeks in Avila, every drop of knowledge out of our last few Spanish classes, and every memorable moment out of our final trip–our friend-filled trip to Sweden; but of course, we also can’t wait to return to the US.

    I may be a world traveler now, but I am also an American girl. 

    While I wouldn’t trade the mind-opening opportunities I have encountered here in Europe for anything, I miss the breadth of opportunities my home country has consistently provided for me all of my life. I am thrilled to be able to return to take advantage of them with new appreciation.

    Take that, Avila weather!

    Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Vive la France!


    • The usually breathtaking Palaise du Longchamp being under construction the one day we’re in France. I had basically dislocated my hip walking up the hill to this castle in heels, so I was pretty disappointed. Guess we’ll just have to go back sometime!
    • Also, my hip. I am way too young for this.
    • Being happy about getting holes in my clothes because it means I can throw them out instead of trying to pack them back up next month!
    • The combination of head cold and throat cancer that is the French language. I . . . I mean, yes, honey, of course all languages are beautiful . . .
    • Remember how I just said in last week’s A&A that I hadn’t had an IC flare-up in forever? I guess they were saving up, because Saturday night marks the worst flare I have ever had in my life.
    • Getting up at 5:30am to catch a 6:20 train that would get us back to Avila in time for 4.5 hours of classes.
    • Not a single street light on the street where our hostel was located. Sketchiest ever!
    • The look of disgust we got from every French person who realized we a) did not speak French and b) were Americans.
    • The blasted cold weather here while Rochester basks in 80-degree rays!
    • Forgetting to post this awesome list of creative, must-try date ideas to Facebook and Twitter yesterday.

    • Taking a romantic day trip to France with my hubby. A day trip. To France. For just a day. Just because we can!
    • The couldn’t-have-wished-for-better weather in Marseilles while it was raining here in Spain 🙂
    • Seaside cities/towns. I can’t get enough of that salty sea air.
    • A tourist train around the coast of France and up to the Notre Dame de la Garde. Such beautiful Mediterranean views.
    • Growing up without TV. Now I feel so spoiled whenever I stay anywhere that has cable!
    • Interview with Eugenio Merino today! (via email, ho-hum) Would ave been nice to meet him in person. He’s causing quite a stir here.
    • Shorts. When I can wear them.
    • Getting offered a job as a writing tutor back at Roberts. I’ve wanted to do this for so long!
    • The lovely Maria letting us crash at her place in Madrid while we waited to catch our mad early train. Hope to see you again really soon, girl!
    • Gourmet dinner on the French Riviera Tuesday night. Yeah, that happened. 
    • Going home to our loved ones in less than a month 🙂