Rachel Beihl
Rachel Beihl
Spain 2018 - 2019
Hi! I'm Rachel Beihl. For the next few months I will be going through a life changing experience in Valencia, Spain working in child care and social welfare. I will be working with children from under privileged backgrounds, providing them with a safe and fun space to learn. Additionally, I'll be organizing all kinds of workshops, sports, or cultural activities, serve as role model and mentor, be an international friend for the children, and help create networks for marginal neighborhoods. Read More About Rachel →
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Expect the Unexpected

*Leaves the U.S. with a week old cold and no medicine.*

Me: I’m fine. It’s just my body re-adjusting to this Northern weather.

*Arrives in Spain with flat mates who are also sick.*

It’s fine. I’ll just clean, eat really healthy, and drink some tea.

*Has Bronchitis during second week in Spain.*

“I’m so tired. I’m dyinnnggggg. I can’t sleep. Ahhhh!”

*Goes to a doctor in Spain – Begins 3rd week in Spain.*

See, I knew it’d pass. (Meanwhile I’m on steroids and antibiotics and two other prescriptions).

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I am overwhelmed at the pace of life right now. On the 19th of November I’ll be on my way to Madrid to take the GRE. A part of me is anxious because I’ve been extremely sick and unproductive these last two weeks (at least in my eyes). Yet, I’ve given my best along the way and the other half of me is a bit more understanding. Nevertheless, I am still trying to jump into a healthy routine and it’s already my 3rd week here. Trying to reach my normal energy level has been a challenge. I can’t wait to finally feel 100%!

Anyways, let me fill you in on my two-week journey thus far.

As my mini-dialogue expressed, I’ve been sick since the week before I left for Spain. This made my departure from the U.S. quite interesting. My flight from Newark, NJ to Charlotte, NC  was just fine. At this point I could deal with my sniffles. However, traveling grew more painful as the day went on. On my eight-hour flight to Madrid, I was lucky enough to have an entire row to myself. Yes, I sprawled out across four seats during the entire flight. I wish my body would have let me fall asleep on that flight, but instead it kept reminding me of how sick I felt. By the time I reached Madrid the next morning, I was EXHAUSTED. Oh, how I wished I could have been in Valencia already. Instead, I spent seven hours in the Madrid airport. The “best” part of it all was getting lost and having to check back in with customs. Ha! I was a walking zombie. I could not even process what was going on. I remember facetiming my boyfriend and tearing up because I was past the point of exhaustion. I did my best to stretch, read, play music, and keep my mind busy. Unfortunately, my immune system said, “Sorry girl. I’m clocking out,” and it did.

I was beyond grateful to have finally reached Valencia, Spain. Sleep was the number one thing on my mind, but it was not the first thing that I was able to do. Instead, I bonded with my flat-mates and fellow volunteers. They have been such a sweet, fun, and lively group of individuals. A few of them are from Germany, one is from Switzerland, another from Poland, and another is from Washington State. I was surprised to find out that I was the oldest in the group. I expected to volunteer with a variety of ages. Instead, they’re all 18 years-old, straight out of high school, ready to drink and party. Then there’s me, your 23-year-old nanny and college graduate, who’s ready for bed by 11:00 p.m. I suppose our priorities are just a tad different, but that’s okay! I’ve enjoyed working and growing with them these past two weeks.

However, in regard to my health, these past two weeks have been a fiasco. The medicine I picked up from the pharmacy was 100% ineffective. My body was not having it but I still tried to stay active during my first week in Spain. From bicycle rides to the beach, to joining the other volunteers on early afternoon excursions, I pushed through it all. I even joined them on Halloween night.

Side note: the night I learned that Valencia parties until 7:00 a.m. Can you imagine my face when I was told this? My jaw dropped and I shook my head. I was used to my own family parties lasting until 3:00 a.m. in the morning, but 7:00 a.m. Excuse me, what? New York City, you are not the only city that never sleeps. I can’t hang and I’m not ashamed!

I digress. Anyways, my cold escalated and turned into bronchitis. I grew miserable.  My energy and moral was low. I was coughing so much that my sweet elderly neighbor Keke knocked on my door to make sure I was okay. I cried. I was so tired of being sick and I missed having my loved ones around. I’ve also been anxious about the GRE and my college applications. My body needed time to relax and I was not giving it what it needed. It took me until the end of my second week here to finally go to the doctors. Four medications later and I’m slowly getting back to feeling like myself again.

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Now, I’m sure  you’re wondering how the volunteer work has been. It’s been an amazing learning experience. In the two weeks I have been here, I have journaled endlessly about all the things I have learned, the things that I’d like to do, and the things I never knew. For example, I came across a video one day discussing the cons about certain volunteer trips. I was a bit disappointed at myself for not thinking twice about the matter.  This was my response after watching the video:

It’s interesting to watch this now that I’m already on my “Travel with a Purpose,” scholarship. I’m glad that I came across this video because it raised a perspective that went unrecognized in my mind. If I’m being honest yes, I feel a built guilty after watching this video. However, I believe that video has added on and changed how I will spend my time here for that same reason. How can I give back in a way that will actually be helpful to the children I work with? That’s the question I’ll be asking myself everyday. If nothing else, I want to be a role model and help these children use their minds and embrace the process of learning and thinking for themselves. I wish I had the money to help the organizations here, but I can’t change their situation at the moment. But I can give them the tools they need to grow. The next couple of months will be filled with learning. I’m still thrilled to have this opportunity but even more thrilled to learn how to be a better advocate for the children here.Volunteer Tourism

The children I work with range from six to seven years old. Majority of them have come from different parts of the world, some from Africa, Pakistan, and South America. In the time that I’ve spent with them so far, I can tell that these children need structure, consistency, and better examples of of how to interact with different cultures work as a team. However, it’s been a challenge for me to maintain order in the class room while the teacher is gone. The children aren’t difficult to be around. What’s been difficult is  trying to tell them to be quiet and sit down when all they want to do is hug, talk, and smile with me. It’s unfortunate that I’ve been sick for the first two weeks, but I am so grateful to have 3 months with these children. Week by week I’ll be learning more and hopefully adding to their activities and helping open their minds. Next week, I’ll be playing the ukulele for them!

Hopefully my blog post improve from here on out now that I am starting to feel better! Enjoy the photos! (If you click on the images they will automatically rotate themselves.) Technology can be weird sometimes.

I love you all.

Xoxo!

Wish me luck on my last week of reviewing for the GRE. Been studying since May (on and off) will I ever feel ready?

 

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Last Day in the U.S.A (Until 2019)

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.  – Maya Angelou

More than a month ago I compared myself to the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I was hustling and rushing to get everything done. Can you imagine what the end result was? Ha, let me tell you.

From September 28th through October 13th, I tried to check everything off my to-do list, from packing and sending e-mails, to studying and saying my goodbyes.  Just when I thought I covered all my bases, I realized I had dropped the ball on obtaining my Spain Visa earlier this summer. I thought I still had time to contact the embassy and  Spain consulate in the U.S. Clearly. I knew I needed a visa to stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days.  I had contacted both the D.C. and N.Y.  consulates via e-mail, in hopes that they would be able to answer some of my questions, but they did not. After informing them of the steps I had taken, they shut me down before I could ask my questions. Who’s to blame? Me. Life moved extremely fast this summer and I shouldn’t have underestimated this process. Everything about that experience screams, “First time traveler.” But that’s alright, I accepted my mistake and made the necessary adjustments after. As the singer Aaliyah cantered, “If at first you don’t succeed, you can dust yourself off and try again.”

On a more personal note, saying good bye to my Nashville family was not easy.  The day I left Nashville, I was with my boyfriend Trevor and holy cow did I cry! I knew I was going to. I live in the moment and when the emotions roll in, I let them come full force so that I don’t let them linger any longer than they have to. I cry because I love deeply. I don’t know what tomorrow may bring but I do know  I am loved and I value every moment I share with others.

Now, the driving part was actually easier than I expected. It was a road trip party for 1. I drove 10 hours to Washington D.C. to see my childhood best friend Bella. The next morning  finished the last 4 hours of my drive. Since then I’ve been seeing family and friends non-stop. Studying for the GRE was not a thing these last two weeks, but that’s okay. When I look back at my life at least I know that I prioritized the things that matter most to me.  It’s important for me to be around my loved ones because we have such a unique relationship. Plus, I know that I’m a hard-working, driven individual. I may not know what lies ahead, but I know it will be rewarding.

Everyone asks me if I’m excited or nervous for this trip. My response is, “Neither.” I’m more curious than anything. My social and cultural upbringing, along with my life experiences, have prepared me for this trip. It’s going to be a new experience, a new world, a new life style, and I am prepared for this new journey. It’s going to be challenging but that’s the point; I want to be pushed out of my comfort zones. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I am beyond thankful for this Lumos scholarship. The journey continues my loves.

Follow my blog account on Instagram for more photos and posts of my journey! @lifebeyondthevines.

Life Beyond the Vines

Con cariño,

Rachel Mercedes Beihl

P.S. I am 100% balling my eyes out tomorrow when I say goodbye to my parents. (:

 

 

The Smiles Before Spain

7 Weeks and Counting!

I feel like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland when he says, “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” While everything is set up for Spain, I am scurrying to finish my home “to-do list” before I leave. During these past 18 weeks post-graduation, I have been hustling! I’ve been nannying, tutoring, adjusting to living on my own,  preparing for graduate school and experiencing everything else in between. It has been a summer for the books for sure! With all the events that have happened this past year, it feels as though time is flying more than ever, for better or worse. But I am extremely proud of all that I have accomplished along the way. Before I know it, I’ll be headed on a 14 hour drive home to spend time with my family and then off to Spain for four months.

I have not spent a significant amount of time thinking about the trip. Honestly, I try to practice not fixating on anything but the present moment. It’s healthier for me to live that way. Plus, I’ve been preoccupied with an eventful summer. Realistically, the present is all I have time for. The emotions have come in waves and up until now they’ve been extremely spread apart. At this moment I am filled with curiosity and excitement. The only one thing I worry about is what might happen to my loved ones when I’m gone; ya know, the type of things that are out of my control. Unfortunate events occurred while I was away this past year, and it’s natural that this is a worry of mine. Although it’s not easy living 14 hours away from large family, I’ve managed to do very well thanks to FaceTime and the amazing group of individuals I’ve befriended in Nashville. Our special bond has carried me a long way.

That’s why I remain positive, happy, and thrilled for this trip because everything in me can feel that this is where I need to be and what I need to be doing, and it feels right. New beginnings like these are my favorite. It can be unnerving, but I love the emotions attached to the unknown. I’ve always believed in the wanderer that lives inside of me. I can’t wait for what this new experience brings.

Con cariño,

Rachel Mercedes Beihl

P.S.

I want to end this post by promising to be extremely honest with you and with myself during this journey. Honesty is humiliating, humbling, and beautiful but it is also misunderstood. We expect others to be honest with us, yet we spend more time lying to ourselves than anyone else. I myself have done this numerous times but I am not ashamed. I remind myself that perfection is not the goal, growth is. That is why I have spent the last four years seeking the most authentic version of myself before the lies altered my perception of life. Although it has been a personal journey, I have opened my world to the public through blogging and Instagram in hopes of inspiring others. By no means has this journey been easy but it has most certainly been gratifying. I am beyond excited for the new journey that is to come and the lessons that follow. For more insight on this journey follow my Instagram blog @lifebeyondthevines! xoxo