Being on a Spiritual Journey + A Prayer for Overcoming Fear

Every day it takes me about 40 minutes to walk to my classes, which gives me a lot of time for reflection. It's my guaranteed alone time where I can practice gratitude and put myself in a grateful headspace. If you follow my Instagram, lately I have been sharing a lot about Melissa Wood of Melissa Wood Health. I just started doing her workouts (in my tiny little room on the floor, lol) and everything she stands for is really speaking to me right now, so when I heard her recommend the book "A Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson, I immediately purchased it. I have been reading it a little bit every day, along with listening to Oprah's Super Soul Podcast. Today I was listening to an episode (click here to listen) that really shed a light on everything that I've been reading in A Return to Love and something in me just felt like I needed to get home and immediately write this blog post.

Going to Catholic school, we prayed before every home game, no matter the sport, and, as a senior, I got the privilege of reading the prayer. Instead of finding something online, I chose to write them myself, which sparked something in me that really began my spiritual journey. Normally, people constantly being on their phones is my absolute pet peeve, but, today, I was that annoying person that walks on the street on their phone without looking up because I didn't want to lose my thoughts and my prayer in that moment. I know not everyone believes in God or organized religion and that's totally okay, maybe prayers just aren't your thing. I believe every human is on their own journey and has the right to choose what they want to believe or read. I'm only sharing my journey and my experiences and, although I choose to talk to God, you can just as easily talk to the universe or your own inner self. I think that we all have that inner voice inside that can come out and make you feel afraid or like you're not good enough. What I've been reading and what I felt compelled to share (to myself and to you reading) is that we are capable of changing our own minds and (without getting too "woo woo" hahaha) really manifesting our dreams into our lives. Sometimes we just need a little help.

My Prayer Today:
Dear God, my prayer today is that you allow me to tear down the walls and barriers of fear that I've created in my heart that make me afraid to love and accept the much bigger plan you have for me. Allow me to be present in every single moment and carry gratitude in every breath that I take for all the blessings you continue to bring into my life. So often, I feel like my plan and the narrative I have created for myself is more important than the greater plan that you have created for me. When I feel afraid of all that I know I am created to be capable of, open my heart to LOVE your plan, whatever that looks like. I am grateful for your constant presence in my life and that you continue to provide everything that I don't even realize that I need. Even when I feel like I'm totally alone, I know that you are there. Walk with me and help me to choose to show up in every moment, so that I can be all that you have created me to be.

Sending you so much love,

Week 2: Getting into a Groove + London, England

September 11th is actually the National Day of Catalonia (kind of similar to 4th of July here), so we were off school that day. There were tons of crazy things, like protests, human towers, and rallies, going on in the city because of current political events in this region of Spain, so it was very interesting to experience that and having that go own literally blocks away from our apartment. We spent some of the day at our apartment pool (actually on the roof which is nuts...and yes, I know we are spoiled haha). I spent the rest of this week in Barcelona getting back into "school" mode and into a routine. 

London, England was our first weekend trip and we learned a lot to say the least.....First, I guess I should mention that our expectations were pretty high because it is a pretty iconic place. Second, obviously, we've never really traveled on our own before so we didn't really know how to plan a trip or know what we were getting ourselves into, LOL. SO, with that being said, here's what we did:

Transportation: We flew Vueling Airlines there and had no problems. This is what I was most worried about because I had never heard of this airline and have heard some horror stories about budget airlines, but we had a great experience there and back. We had to take the train and then the London subway (called the Underground) to our hostel from the airport, which was pretty expensive....we spent about $100 on transportation roundtrip, which we just weren't anticipating. We bought the 2 day Underground pass which was pricier than we thought, but it ended up being worth it because we never had to cab. 

Hostel Experience: I went with my roommate, Jess, and another sweet new friend, Nellie. The three of us had never stayed in a hostel, so again, had absolutely no idea what to expect. We stayed in an inexpensive hostel near Hyde Park/Kensington, which we didn't know, is one of the priciest areas in London LOL. The hostel itself was not sketchy or run down at all and we never felt unsafe there, which was obviously the most important thing. Looking back the whole experience of staying in a bunk bed room with 10 strangers was actually hilarious... Anyways, not really sure we will stay in a hostel again because the price of some Air Bnb's is very similar for way more privacy, but never say never.

Eating Out + Nightlife: First to note here is $$$$$$. Food, drinks, and even just getting into bars and clubs was absolutely outrageous. At one point, the bouncer to a club asked us to pay and we turned around and walked the other direction. We would get breakfast and coffee and think it was cheap in terms of pounds and then when I went to look at my bank account, the amount that cost in US dollars made me want to weep hahaha. In terms of the "going out" atmosphere, we didn't do a ton of research before hand because had high expectations because Barcelona is so amazing, so we were definitely let down a little bit.

What We Did: We paid for a Hop On, Hop Off bus which allowed us to see everything we wanted to see and get off when we wanted. I would highly recommend this if you have a lot of things you want to see in a short amount of time. Friday, we got to shop all around Regent Street and saw Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben (which was under construction which was a let down), and Tower Bridge, which we got to see lift up and that was really cool. Saturday, we went to see Abbey Road (if you're a Beatles fan) and explored all around Camden Market which was so cool. There were tons of yummy food trucks and vendors we could check out, so we really loved that.

What We Learned: Because we had high expectations like I said, our trip didn't really measure up to what we thought. Because there were so many "famous" spots, we didn't really feel like we had to plan that much, but we definitely learned how important it is to have at least a rough schedule of what we were going to do on such a short trip. We also definitely should've researched more about restaurants, clubs, and bars more geared towards our age and price range LOL. No regrets though, I'm still really glad that I got to experience the city.

I wrote this post on two different days, so hopefully I didn't leave anything out, but I just wanted to document this trip and share all my photos with my family and friends on my blog. Now that it has officially been three weeks, I have a lot on my mind that I want to share in more serious post, so I'm going to make time to write that this weekend while I'm not traveling. Unfortunately for my wallet, I've eaten SO much good food everywhere so make sure you're following my Instagram accounts for all the pics! If you're reading this and you're someone close to me, just know I'm thinking about you every day and I miss you! 

Sending sooooo much love,

One Week In Barcelona: How I'm Adjusting, Sights We're Seeing, and What's Up

Hola from Barcelona!!! I can't believe 1) that I'm finally here and 2) that I've already been here for one full week. I thought I would share some photos and a brief overview of what we've done each day so far to update my friends and family. But first, a little on my transition...

The transition into the culture has actually been a lot easier than I thought. Of course, it is obviously different than Kentucky and there is a language barrier, but the "intense" culture shock that I was expecting hasn't really hit me (yet anyways!). I'm hoping to pick up a little Spanish while I'm here, but because Barcelona is a bigger, more tourist-y city, I can get by with the bare minimum for now haha. 

I really have had a stress free time traveling here and navigating the city so far which I'm grateful for. I am taking all the classes that I needed to take for my International Business minor, but we've only had two days of class, so I can't speak on that just yet. Being in a city that is much bigger than Lexington has been a little overwhelming, but the public transportation and walking has been easier than I expected. I'm excited about continuing to build friendships with all the incredible people that I've met so far. It is a weird feeling making so many memories and meeting totally new people without my friends and family on the same continent, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I just want to take advantage of every moment. I actually just planned a trip to London for this weekend with my roommates, so I'm excited to explore England, which I've never been to before. Before that, here's a little glimpse of Barcelona!

Sunday + Monday 9/2-3: Travel days. I got in around 9am Monday, Barcelona time and took the bus with my group to where I'm staying. It's called a "residencia" and it's kind of like a dorm/hotel situation. I share a bedroom and (teeny tiny) bathroom with my roommate, Jess, and there is a kitchen on the floor that everyone shares. I tried to include a quick little video, so you can hopefully kind of see what it's like. There is a restaurant right next door that has super cheap croissants and coffee in the AM + tapas and sangria at night, so can't really complain about that. Monday night we had our first program meeting and after that decided to attempt to beat the jet lag with pizza and wine because duh. 

Tuesday 9/4: We got to sleep in a little bit, but we had another program meeting that ended up being pretty long, but when we broke for lunch, we headed to check out Placa de Catalunya briefly. We also got to do a bus tour of different parts of the city and then explored our area for a little bit. Tuesday night (after an obligatory siesta), we decided to go to a couple bars with other people in our program and eventually ended up at Opium, which is a pretty popular, tourist-y night club-- haha. It's been very interesting seeing how different the "nightlife" culture is. 

Wednesday + Thursday 9/5-6: I had a pretty chill day Wednesday, but in the evening, we got to tour La Sagrada Familia which was pretty incredible. Thursday was my first day of classes. I have two classes Monday/Wednesday and two classes Tuesday/Thursday. We discovered we are a 10 minute walk from a really awesome shopping mall (which could be dangerous...), so to celebrate our first day of school we headed over there and had the most amazing Italian meal and cava sangria.

Friday 9/7: I'm really lucky because we get a few tours and trips that are included in our program. Our first one was Friday and we started with a tour and tasting at Codorniu, where they make cava (the Spanish version of champagne). Then we spent the day exploring Sitges, a little beach town about one hour from Barcelona. Friday night, we siesta-ed and checked out Razzmatazz, which is another night club that's pretty close to our place.

Saturday 9/8: Another chill day. We got brunch and shopped around our neighborhood. We spent a lot of time planning our trip to London and mapping out what other countries we wanted to visit and the spots we wanted to see in Barcelona, so stay tuned for that!!

Sunday 9/9: I'm going to wrap it up quickly I promise.... Sunday we had a day full of sightseeing: Casa Mila, Brunch + Cake, and Park Guell. All must see spots in my opinion and I think the photos speak for themselves really. Also, I know I'm not Bella Hadid or anything, but I was really just having a moment in some of these photos LOL.

So that's all for now! It's been a really fun week and has definitely gotten me so excited for what's to come. I just want to reiterate how unbelievably grateful I am for this opportunity. I've been in such a great place in my life the last few months and this semester is no exception. There are always going to be high's and low's and different seasons of life, but this is a really good one for me right now and I feel really blessed.

I've been on Instagram a ton the last week updating stories and posting, so for more "personal" pictures and photos around the city, follow @baiginthiel . Obviously Balanced Baig is in full swing as I am eating my way through the city pretty much LOL, so click here to follow all the food pics.

Thanks for reading. xx