The GoGlobal Blog

Month: September 2017

Exploring: Trial and Error

Exploring: Trial and Error

During this past summer, I started thinking about where I wanted to travel while in Spain.  Then when I arrived, I saw the list of cities to visit with the Erasmus group (they are a group that organizes trips, tours, and parties for international students).  But their trips don’t start till next weekend.  This past weekend, I was getting restless in Sevilla and wanted to go exploring in another city.  Luckily my friends thought the same, so later that night we booked some cheap train tickets to Cádiz.  I did some research to find places to visit in this ancient, ocean-side city and planned a general path we could take when we arrived on Saturday morning.

The rest of the week flew by and before we knew it, it was Saturday morning and we were waiting in the train station to begin our first trip outside Sevilla.  There were four of us going, and we were split up between 2 train cars.  Two of us got off 1 stop too early, and we had to take a taxi to try and find the other 2.  But luckily the meeting spot we picked was easy to find.  Crisis averted.  Now it was time to explore.

Our first stop was a Roman theater tucked away in the winding roads.  Unlike Sevilla, Cádiz had more of a Roman influence.  The ruins were only recently discovered so there is still archaeological work being done. They rebuilt part of the seating to resemble what it would have looked like a thousand years ago. It was very cool to see!

 

Next we stumbled upon the Cathedral of Cádiz.  We were going to go in, but there was an entrance fee, so we took a quick peak and started walking again.  We found a quiet cafe off the main tourist path and had a quick lunch. 

 

 

We went to the Market of Cádiz.  This was very cool.  I love exploring different foods, and the markets all over Spain are the best way to see the wide variety of foods Spain has to offer.  Because Cádiz is know for the seafood that is caught fresh everyday, this market had a very large section devoted to just fish and other seafood.  Some of the tuna that they were selling were over 6 feet long.  Everything was so fresh!

 

 

Our next stop was a tower in the middle of the city.  In order to get to the top, we had to climb 6 flights of narrow, glass stairs, squeezing past the people that were coming down from the tower the entire way.  But the view at the top was spectacular!  Every part of the city could be seen: the cathedral, the market, some old military forts, and the ocean.  This city was so beautiful.

After we climbed back down, we made our way to the gardens near the ocean.  We saw beautiful flowers, giant trees, lots of cats, some ducks, a waterfall, and some swings.  Everything was very picturesque.

We walked along the ocean until we came to the Castillo de Santa Catalina, an old military base on the edge of the ocean.  It was like a small city.  There was a chapel, huge walls, watch towers, and many buildings that are now filled with historic artifacts about important moments in the city’s history.  We walked all around the base, imagining what it would have been like to see it up and running.

 

 

Whenever someone says they went to Cádiz, the first question asked is which beach did they go to.  So we took our siesta on a small beach between the two military bases.  The water was so refreshing, but the sun was hot so we left to find some food.

Many small restaurants lined a street near the beach, so we decided to try one of them.  Now an important thing to remember in Spain is that no one is ever in a rush. If you sit down to eat, expect to be there for at least an hour.  The service is at times very slow in comparison to what is usually expected in the US.  But the restaurant we picked was very attentive and had amazing food.  I had some tortillitas de camarones, which is a famous shrimp dish of Cádiz.

After our very filling dinner, we walked to the second military base and watched as kids jumped off the walkway into the water.  It was closed, but we got some great pictures of the ocean and the city.  On our way back, we stopped and each bought a bracelet to remember the first trip we took in Spain.

Sitting in the train station, exhausted and a bit sun burnt, we quietly sat thinking about everything we had seen that day. Besides a few small bumps, it was a successful trip.  The bit of planning I had done before the trip to find the main sights had helped a lot and let us have more free time to relax on the beach or eating.  The only thing to remember for next time was to remember to ride the train all the way to the city and not get off 1 stop early.

My Internship in Rome (Week 2)

My Internship in Rome (Week 2)

This semester in Rome, I was fortunate enough to get hired as a marketing intern for a company called The Roman Guy. The Roman Guy specializes in various VIP tours of different tourist attractions all around Rome, as well as several local food tours in different areas. As an assignment for my class ROST 370, I am required to reflect on my experience of working as an intern for this company.

Specific Tasks

This week at the Roman Guy, I had almost the same tasks as last week. I found good reviews on trip advisor and posted them to our website, I continued to edit blog posts using the blog life cycle, brainstormed and researched ideas for my companies study abroad blog, posting on our company’s instagram, and I completed my Underground Colosseum essay for our website. Information from my marketing class that I took last semester has been helping me a lot so far with this internship, making certain marketing strategies a lot simpler for me to complete because my professor taught me this previous semester.

Learning Objectives

One of my learning objectives is to attract and communicate with travel bloggers in order to help market The Roman Guy tours and blogs. I have started to work towards achieving my learning objective because I have been interacting with some bloggers on instagram. I will find bloggers in the area and reach out to them, or bloggers that already know our company I will post their pictures and give them credit to our thousands of followers and they will do the same in return. Although this is just the start, by the end of my internship I hope that I could attract a wide variety of bloggers in order to help market The Roman Guy.

Challenges

Something that I have recently found very hard for me to do is to write for several hours without losing focus. I can easily lose focus if I am working on the same project for too long. My coworkers on the other hand can sit and write for the whole entire day without any breaks. Some efforts that I have been making to fix this is that I set a goal for how much I want to write and a certain amount of time, and when I achieve that goal I give myself a small break and go for a walk around the office. I also switch up my tasks frequently, so that I don’t get easily bored of doing the same thing.

What impresses me about my internship

Like I said last post, the main thing that still impresses me the most about my internship are my coworkers. It amazes me that in the marketing department, all of the girls will sit on their computer for several hours straight without any breaks and just write for that whole entire time. All of my coworkers experience in their field really impresses me and also how well everyone works together as a team in the small office to be successful.  

Expectations for the Future

In the future, I am going to continue working towards improving my writing because next week I have my study abroad blog due. On this blog, I am researching the best places to see amazing street art in Rome. After writing about six places, I have to go to each of the places and take/edit pictures of the art on my own. After I finish this project, my next project will be working on a different Rome Key Attraction post for the Roman Guy’s  website.

My first trips!

My first trips!

Hello again,

It has now been a little over three weeks into my study abroad experience in Madrid, and everything is going great! I haven’t been keeping up with my blog because I have been busy with school and traveling, so I apologize that this is late!

About a week and a half ago I went on a day trip to Salamanca with SLU, and it was so much fun. Salamanca is a city in Spain that is filled with cobblestone roads and amazing architecture, making it a beautiful city. The trip was super fun, and it was amazing to learn all about the history. We had the opportunity to climb to the top of the University of Salamanca building, and look over the whole town. The view was so pretty, and totally worth the 3 euros it cost. My friends and I had no choice but to take a million pictures. I swear we were up there for like an hour. On the front of the building, there is a frog etched into it, and there’s a belief that if the students find the frog, then they will pass all of their classes. Our tour guide actually showed us the frog, and told us that we will pass all of our classes! So that was good to hear! When my friends and I came across the plaza mayor, we saw there was a spin class being held right in the middle of it! It was so fun to see, and they actually played Livin’ on a Prayer! They said to sing along, and we were probably the only ones. We looked very American and totally stood out, but it was totally worth it! We also saw a wedding being held, which was super beautiful. Like imagine getting married in Salamanca! They were taking pictures in front of an amazing building, and singing some spanish song and looked like they were having the time of their life! Overall, it was a pretty cool day trip!

Some of my classes are getting a little more difficult, so I’ve been checking out different coffee shops that are perfect for enjoying some coffee and to get some studying done. One coffee shop I found is called La bicicleta cafe, and I am totally obsessed with it! It is super cute on the inside, and has the best “cafe con leche”. One of the employees there speaks english, and these two girls were ordering their coffees and weren’t sure how to pronounce it, so the employee was telling them that “Spaniards are shameless”. My friend Alex and I overheard and he said again that it is good to be shameless and “not give a shit”. We were laughing, but honestly it is really good advice! His accent and the way he said it made it funnier than it was, but being shameless and just living life is a really good thing! The employees are super fun there, so I’ve already gone there a couple times to get some homework done! My classes are definitely easier than at Loyola, but there’s still work and studying to do. My host mom thinks since I’m not taking any nursing classes that I’m on a “four month vacation”. I thought that was really funny because even though I don’t have as much work to do and will be traveling around a lot, I definitely still need to focus on school! Considering that I am in fact “studying” abroad, and not just spending 4 months in Spain!

As you guys probably know, I was living alone with just my host mom, but I actually have a roommate now! Her name is Jasmine and she’s super nice and we get along great! I was excited to hear that I was getting a roommate because I live kinda far from my friends, so I thought it would be nice to have one in my house! We have already gone to starbucks together, and hopefully a trip or two. Who knows! That’s the beauty of studying abroad because you become friends with someone and then typically go on trips together! No one really cares! All people want is just someone to travel with and make memories with. One of my favorite things about studying abroad so far is that mostly everyone is so open to making friends and travel plans together!

Anyway, last weekend I went on my first trip to Mallorca! Mallorca is a beautiful island off of Spain, and the perfect location for a super fun and relaxing getaway! It was a short two days, but just the right amount of time because at the end of the trip I was totally exhausted. Alex and I woke up at 4am in order to make our flight, so we were tired from the start. There was also a totally embarrassing moment where I fell in the airport and a lot of people saw. It was really funny, and I just got right back up, but waking up at 4am will do that to ya! Alex and I thought about the employee at the cafe and laughed about how I should be shameless about it. I’m not even going to describe how I fell, but let’s just say it had to do with one of those moving walkway things! Anyway, after we arrived, we first walked around Palma de Mallorca, and enjoyed seeing the cute shops and street performers. Then, we made our way to the Cathedral de Santa Maria, which was probably the prettiest building I have ever seen! Eventually we made it to our airbnb, and enjoyed some snacks while sitting on the terrace that had a beautiful view of the ocean! The next day, we stayed at the beach for about 6 hours, and then made our way back to the airport. It was very short, but super nice to be able to just relax on the beach! We found some really cute cafes and had some really good food too! Definitely a good trip, which makes me super excited for all of my future travels!

Alright that’s it for now guys!

¡Hasta luego!

Chào Việt Nam!

Chào Việt Nam!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Vietnam for a month now. Time is going by so fast and I need it to slow down! Going into college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I did not think that I would end up studying abroad in Vietnam but I wouldn’t have it any other way. One of my favorite aspects about Loyola’s Vietnam Center study abroad program is our partnership with Vietnamese students who live at Bách Khoa (BK) Dormitory, which is also the dormitory all of us are staying at during our time in Vietnam. The BK partners have been amazing at showing all of us around Ho Chi Minh City and taking us to the best places to eat. They are all so friendly and fun to be around. They have also been wonderful at teaching us Vietnamese phrases and words that come in handy when interacting with Vietnamese locals.

A few Loyola students and BK partners hanging out and drinking cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with condensed milk).

 

Ho Chi Minh City is a city full of motorbikes and the traffic here does not cease to amaze me. The traffic in Vietnam is completely different than the traffic in the U.S. First, there are not a lot of traffic lights or stop signs in Vietnam. Motorbikes are constantly weaving past pedestrians and other motorbikes and vehicles on the street. Motorbikes will cut in and out of lanes and even drive on the sidewalk. Crossing the streets was very intimidating at first since motorbikes don’t usually stop for pedestrians to cross. Instead, pedestrians would have to wait for a small clearing on the road and start crossing while incoming motorbikes are driving around them. The most important thing about crossing the streets in Vietnam is to walk at a steady pace and in a predictable fashion.

 

 

 

 

The streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

 

 

 

 

Not surprisingly, the weather in HCMC is HOT. Every time I leave my room, I can immediately feel the humidity and myself beginning to sweat. The weather does take a while to get used to but fortunately, you can easily buy cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with condensed milk) or sinh tố (smoothie) to cool down for about 20,000 VND (a little bit under 1 USD) or less. I’ve also gotten a lot of mosquito bites in Vietnam, which is not fun at all, but everything else about the country makes up for it!

 

The beautiful view of the city from a rooftop cinema.

 

One of the best things about Vietnam is the food. Vietnamese food is not completely foreign to me since I grew up eating it all the time but being able to eat Vietnamese food in Vietnam is simply amazing! There are a lot of places to get food around the dorm, which makes it very convenient. A latest food obsession of mine – and a lot of other Loyola students – is bột chiên (fried rice flour cake). The only way I can describe this food is that it has a texture similar to potatoes and it’s cut into little cube sized pieces. The food is fried with eggs so the outside of each piece is slightly crispy and the inside is soft. It is delicious and one of my go-to meals. My favorite spot for bột chiên is across the street from the dorm and it only costs 18,000 VND (about 80 cents).

Bột chiên (fried rice flour cake)

 

Phở (Vietnamese noodle soup)

 

Bún thịt nướng (noodles with grilled pork and fried spring roll)

 

Vietnam has been fantastic so far and there is so much I could still talk about. I look forward to learning tiếng Việt (Vietnamese language), spending more time with BK partners and fellow Loyola students, and to all the adventures in store for the rest of the semester.

 

This is one of my favorite pictures because it was taken at a baking class with my BK partners Quỳnh (left) and Ngọc (middle).

 

The view from my dorm room.

Capri State of Mind

Capri State of Mind

Another early morning for a wonderful day trip. Capri was on the top of everybody’s list of places to visit, so naturally we booked a last-minute train and ferry to the island. Coming in to the island by ferry offered a stunning view of the rocky cliffs and sparkling waters. I grew up spending summers on the East Coast, so I was extremely happy to be close to the water again. I wished there was a sailboat I could rent for cheap to get out on the water! We got there by 10am, and the place was already a hub of activity. There were buildings climbing their way up the steep hillside, and taxis with open roofs and small motor scooters  weaved in and out between tourists.

The first view of the port we had.
The port area is full of boats, big and small!

The first thing we did when we got there was try and find out how to get to the Blue Grotto. We ended up paying 14 euros and getting on a tour boat, which we thought would take us inside the Blue Grotto, and take us on a tour around the island. The boat motored out of the small harbor and into more open water, with the sun glinting off the surface like hundreds of ice crystals. The air that whipped by held only the faintest traces of salt, but I could feel it sticking to my sun-warmed skin.

We passed by huge cliffs, other tour boats, and smaller, private ones. The guide pointed out major spots on the island, and we saw a few other grottos. They were small, and the tour boat would turn around and stick the back end, where we were sitting, in as far as it could go. The water was absolutely gorgeous, and was my favorite shade of blue. I’m grateful now for the opportunity to visit such a beautiful place!

The bluest water I’ve ever seen. 
The Faraglioni cliffs.

The most disappointing thing was not getting to go inside the Blue Grotto. When the tour boat approached it, there were about eight other boats already there with passengers waiting to get in line for the rowboats that would enter the Blue Grotto. The guide told us that it would be a three hour wait, time that we didn’t have. So we went on our way with only a glimpse of the outside.

Back on dry land, we made our way to the small rocky beach. I hadn’t brought my swimsuit, but two of my friends had so they jumped right into the water. I stood taking pictures of my surroundings, while my other two friends walked a little down the beach to a outcropping made of huge rocks. I was content just to stand with the air blowing around me, shaded by the trees behind me.

The small, rocky beach where my friends swam.
Andrew and Selena jumping in!

We found lunch at a uncrowded little restaurant, one of many lining the touristy street. Three of my friends then had a ferry to catch to Sorrento, while my roommate, Audrey, and I stayed. We’d catch our ferry back to Naples at 6. In the hour we had left, we did our last minute shopping (I got a postcard and handmade sandals, and she got a sweatshirt) and got gelato from the place we’d been eyeing. The sun was now blocked by the island itself, so the port was in the shade, dropping the temperature a few degrees. It was still beautiful out, and I didn’t want to leave.

All in all, Capri is worth it. I had a great time, and although we didn’t get to go into the Blue Grotto or see much other than the port area of the island, it was worth getting up at 4am for. It’s a photographer’s dream, and so I was content.

The port area with tourists galore.
Nothing goes as planned but go with it

Nothing goes as planned but go with it

If I could give one piece of advice to someone abroad traveling on the weekends it would be to not expect your travel plans to go perfectly 100% of the time. Sounds a little grim, I know but trust me, it happens and when you’re staying a hostel and the Wi-Fi doesn’t really work and you’re trying to message your mom not really freaking out, it happens.

I’d like to think somewhere along the lines in my planning I went wrong but I didn’t, the travel gods just had other plans for me. It’s not like we didn’t make it to our flight on time or our flight got delayed, all of that went perfectly fine. It was arriving in Edinburgh, Scotland sleep deprived and only being there for an hour when our flight back got cancelled. To be fair our arrival in Scotland was accompanied by a rainbow but for whatever reason we were not going to be lucky. For what reason did the airline give us that our flight got cancelled? They didn’t give one. I’d like to say getting the full refund was pretty nice but when you only paid 16 pounds for your return flight, you would rather just cut your losses. (Although I did take the refund because college) So we get to our hostel, we check in, and start scrambling to find a way home and of course the Wi-Fi isn’t working. We checked every airline for a flight back Sunday night or Monday morning because I scheduled a class on a Monday. After every airline was checked and they broke my heart by telling me there were no available flights I thought this is it, I’ll never make it back to London. I’d like to point out that my sleep deprivation kept me a little calmer then I normally would’ve been in this kind of circumstance. We looked at every transportation alternative and it got to the point that my friend said, “You look for food and I’ll try and find us a way home.” Bless the transportation system from Scotland to London because we found one. To make this train though, we were going to have to get up at 3am Monday morning. After calling the train station and having some firm words, we were able to get on at a closer stop and were rewarded two more hours of sleep.

I’m not trying to say that your travels won’t go well or that it’s all doomed, all I’m saying is that if something does happen that it is fixable and you’ll look back on the experience and laugh (although I wouldn’t have minded being stuck in Scotland). This small mishap didn’t ruin our trip one bit and I highly recommend going to Edinburgh, Scotland but every transportation system did have it out for us that weekend. Count your transportation blessings and three cheers for coffee.

My Internship in Rome (Week 1)

My Internship in Rome (Week 1)

Ciao! This semester in Rome, I was fortunate enough to get hired as a marketing intern for a company called The Roman Guy. The Roman Guy specializes in various VIP tours of different tourist attractions all around Rome, as well as several local food tours in different areas. As an assignment for my class ROST 370, I am required to reflect on my experience of working as an intern for this company.

Specific tasks

Working as a marketing intern for The Roman Guy is an interesting job because all of my assigned tasks frequently change and I am never stuck doing the same thing. For my first week, my job has been very writing intensive as I have been working on creating and editing blogs, writing an article about the Colosseum for our Rome Key Attractions Page, and posting on our company’s food instagram (The Roman Foodie). So far, classroom knowledge has helped me a lot because I am able to use an abundance of information that I learned about marketing from taking the class this previous spring semester and apply it to what I am working on at my internship in order to help market our content better.

Learning objectives

 

As an intern, I was required to create several learning objectives that I want to achieve by the end of the semester. One of my biggest learning objectives was to improve my writing skills for blog posts and various social media apps, and have the whole marketing department critique my work for improvements. Little did I know that my first week on the job I would already be making progress towards my learning objective. I am not the most confident when it comes to my writing, but I am happy that my internship had my beginning tasks be writing intensive because then that way I can have more time to improve on this skill throughout the semester. There is a lot more to blogging than what meets the eye. At our company, we have a checklist called The Blog Lifecycle where there are about 15 different extensive tasks that need to be completed in order to have a successful blog post. My first day on the job, I learned all about the cycle and this is what I am using as my guideline in order to improve my writing skills and create a successful blog post which will ultimately help me make progress towards my learning objective.

 

Problems and Challenges

Some problems that I have had involving my internship is writing for an extensive period of time. Sometime I have to be writing the entire time I am working which can be around five hours. At first it was hard for me to stay focused, but now I am getting used to writing for a long period of time and also finding out about the free espresso machine in our office made everything a lot easier. Another one of my challenges is using public transportation to get to my work. During my first week, I learned how to correctly use the regional train the hard way as I accidently got on the wrong train and it took me about 25 minutes outside of Balduina. This was scary, because I had no idea where I was and it was getting pretty late at night. When I asked several people for help, they ignored me or told me that they didn’t know how to help me. Luckily, I found this one extremely generous lady who helped me get on the right train and she even taught me how to correctly use the Rome transportation system so that I would never make the same mistake again. Now I always leave a bit earlier so that I can make sure that I have enough time to get to where I need to in order to prevent getting on the wrong train from happening again.

What Impresses me about my internship

So far, the most impressive thing about my internship is all of my coworkers, as they are all extremely talented and good at their jobs. The Roman Guy is an extremely small company that is very successful, so it is amazing to see how the whole staff works together to create great content and get more customers. I am very lucky to be working in the marketing department with my coworkers Lorna, Sian, and Francesca, because they all very experienced in the marketing field and they all inspire me in many ways. It is only the first week and I already have learned many new things from them that I can apply to my future career.

Expectations for the future

In the future, I am expected to keep improve my writing skills as I have to create about 10 blog posts total for our company’s Key Attraction Page. I expect this to be very difficult, because each post needs to be thought out and edited carefully. It also takes a long period of time to create just one post, so I am ready for this challenge that I will be facing in the future.

I am so excited for the future and to see how my internship will help me grow as an individual, and I will keep posting updates on my work. Arrivederci!

Living my Pinterest Dream

Living my Pinterest Dream

Hey guys!!!! I’m so excited to share my travel experiences with you all, thank you for reading! I hope I can inspire you to see this beautiful world, please don’t ever forget, to travel is to live.

Travelling to Spain was something that I dreamt of for years. I have learned about the language and various traditions since the 7th grade, and now I would finally be immersing myself in the beautiful country where all the culture has flourished. Even before my semester began in Madrid, my friend, Michael, and I took a trip to Barcelona and the island of Mallorca…and I absolutely fell in love with both.

Our Airbnb hosts were incredibly nice, which was already a great impression of the Spanish people. The first half of our trip was spent at the island. Our Airbnb apartment was right off a main street in the city center, Palma. We lived right across a beautiful bakery, with Gaudí-esque architecture.

The Gaudí-esque building across from our Airbnb!!! One of my first pictures on Spanish soil

We spent time exploring the city center with all the beautiful avenues marked with shops, bars, bakeries, and restaurants. But one of the highlights was a beach called, Cala Major, where I stepped into the world of my Pinterest boards and all the travel pictures that I pin, read and dream about. It was truly magical. This beach paraded crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean as well as amazing sea cliffs that Michael and I swam through to get to the other side!!! Super adventurous and definitely worth getting up close to these rock formations.  

 

Cala Major sea cliffs

 

Another highlight of Palma was a town called Sóller. 

The tram we took to and from the center of Sóller to the harbor

 

Yet again, I felt shaken in a positive way, and I was left in disbelief at the postcard views that were before me. My dreams were becoming a reality. I was no longer the dreamer living off of my Pinterest board to feed my travel bug, but I was transforming into the Pinner who inspires others to travel through their pictures and experiences. Sóller is a harbor so there were boats all over complimented by colorful architecture on the mountainside of the U-shaped shoreline. It was completely breathtaking.

                                             

 

Our next stop on this end-of-the-summer adventure was Barcelona. And, once again, I fell in love. But this time, with Gaudí. I could write a novel about our time in Barcelona, from the gigantic Gothic cathedrals to the churros & chocolate to Gaudí’s incredible masterpieces to the Olympic port and beaches. However, I will keep my focus on Gaudí.

The Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí, definitely made his mark in the city of Barcelona. Of Parque Güell, La Casa Batlló, La Sagrada Familia, and La Pedrera, I have to say La Casa Batlló was my favorite Gaudí building. The entire design, like a lot of his art, was inspired by the sea where the iron balconies mimic seaweed and the colorful building itself is constructed of all curves and waves; absolutely no straight lines.

Casa Batlló at night

To get to La Sagrada Familia, Michael and I took the train-even though you will hear this time and time again, let me just say, the metro system is SO, SO easy to navigate in Barcelona. It is fast, easy, and cheap. I remember coming up the escalator to the street of La Sagrada Familia and as I turned around, there it was. This giant masterpiece. I had absolutely no words at all. I was in awe. The carvings are just marvelous and so detailed. It takes a mastermind to not only imagine, but create such a treasure. I am beyond grateful for this start and I cannot wait to share about my experiences in Madrid, where I am finally studying. Spain has already left me speechless as I lived my Pinterest dreams.

Rooftop of La Pedrera

 

La Sagrada Familia

~To travel is to live 

 

 

My ricebowl

My ricebowl

Salaam!

This is our 3rd week in Amman– koolshi mumtaz (everything is excellent)!!!!

Abigail’s host baba (who lives in the same apartment building as us) took me to the masjid for friday prayer and it was incredible. We parked pretty much in the middle of the street and when we came out after the prayer, cars covered the whole street, parts of the sidewalk too. And there was a truck selling grapes and shampoo haha. It’s seriously so beautiful to see the strength of faith in people. Any faith, it is just beautiful to see it in someone’s eyes that they really feel faith in their heart. Seeing the street covered with cars and people made me so happy because it shows how much love there is for faith and how good it makes people feel. Even at home I am always happy on fridays to watch all the people coming from such different places to pray together. It reminds me of Ramadan when so many Muslims go to the masjid to pray late at night and then we wake up again before the sun even rises because the love and feeling of faith and peace in our hearts is so strong.

Classes are amazing. We are taking arabic, refugees and displaced populations seminar, refugees health and humanitarian action seminar, and a research and methods class. We have arabic for three hours twice per week and it’s so much fun! Majority of people in Amman can speak english so we have to try our best to talk in Arabic with each other and anyone else we meet here! For our refugees health and humanitarian action seminar, every week guest speakers from NGOs, health providers, and universities come to tell us about what they do and the history of current refugee crisis and so much information about issues/risks facing refugees and the host countries that they are coming into. We also have many field visits to the offices and centers of these providers every week!

A professor that visited us last week taught us about the challenges and stress that is put on Jordan for hosting so many Syrian refugees. We talked about how limited the resources are because right now Jordan is the third most water stressed country in the world. And while the basic needs of refugees are far from being met, Jordanians are rapidly running low on their own basic human needs. She left us with this, “The cost of three tanks can feed 600,000 refugees for six months.” Crazy to think about the constrasting effects and costs of violence vs peace.

But yeah we are learning so much and we are also so lucky to be with the families that are hosting us! Geri (my and Hannah’s host mama) has been taking us to her friend’s pound class which is an all girls cardio class where we use drum sticks it’s the most fun gym class I have ever done and it makes me feel so strong!!

Geri also took us to her friend’s son’s engagement party the other day and I didn’t have anything fancy to wear so I went to the mall to buy a dress (I found the most beautiful green turkish style dress) bought it and then when I was riding the taxi home, the driver ripped me off and I forgot the dress in the taxi… lol it’s all good. Hopefully someone really nice and cool has it now <3 But I did learn so much after that. My baba, mama, and my friend Sawsan told me before I left to stay really alert and guarded while I am here and I think I got to comfortable. It helped me realize that a lot of people here are in poverty now because there is not that many good paying jobs and sometimes people can get desperate and take advantage of others. So anyways I learned that even though it is good to allow myself to trust and feel comfortable, I really have to protect myself and stay alert. Safety first :))

Anyways anyways sometimes it is really easy to feel too confident or too comfortable and of course its good to have that feeling but also I have to always remember that I am still learning, I will always be learning, and I definitely do not know everything so its best to listen to my parents and all the other people who love me <3

“And hold out your empty ‘ricebowl,’ as it were, and see how the universe and love fills it to overflowing, time after time!” -Ms Penny

 

 

Beaches, Star Wars, and Bull Fights

Beaches, Star Wars, and Bull Fights

It has been a few weeks now since I started classes and exploring Sevilla.  Everything is starting to feel more familiar: the food, the streets, the language.  I have even visited a few beaches!  The first week I went on many tours of the city with a group called Erasmus.  This group organizes many events for international students from all over the world to meet each other and make the most of their study abroad experience.  The tours are great, with lots of history included and free food after! I also went to a beach in Portugal called Tavira and a beach near Cadiz called Bolonia Both were so beautiful!

If anyone is a Star Wars fan, then the Plaza de España is the place to visit.  This breath-taking building with influences from all over Europe and even Latin America stars in Episode 2 of the Star Wars series.  On my way to the shuttle for school or if I walk into town, I get to pass this plaza and I am amazed each time.  Whether it is during the day, when the sun is setting, or during a late night walk, it never ceases to fill me with awe.

The park that this plaza is a part of is one of the biggest in Spain, and was a gift to a Spanish queen’s sister.  It is filled with sparkling fountains, intriguing statues, and intricately-detailed buildings.  Walking through this park is a nice way to end a stressful day or pass a lazy Saturday morning.

One of the things I love the most about traveling is trying the new food.  One of the coolest things I have found throughout Spain is their markets.  Sevilla has two markets just a block away from each other.  One market, the Market of Triana, is an older market in what used to be a Moor castle.  It is full of vendors selling everything from fresh fruits to the famous Jamon Iberico.  There are even cooking classes offered to anyone interested in expanding their culinary skills.  I spent an afternoon wandering through this wonderful place and plan to go back again.  The other market is just across the river.  There are more prepared, traditional Spanish dishes here.  I found a huge octopus at one of the vendors!

 

I was able to visit the legendary bull fighting ring as well called the Plaza de Toros.  I went on a day that was very hot and had to wait almost two hours to go on the tour, but it was free and definitely worth it.  Before actually entering the ring, we walked through displays of paintings and sculptures all about the history of bull fighting.  I also saw many of the trajes de luces (literally suit of lights) that famous matadors wore during the corridas (bull fights).  I had learned about the corridas in school so it was very fascinating to see everything come to life.  I walked through the chapel that the matador goes in to pray one last time before entering the arena and the stables where the horses wait for their turn to enter.  When I finally walked through the gate into the arena, I was stunned.  It was as if I entered a different world.  Turning around taking in the thousands of seats, I imagined the anxiously matador awaiting in the sand for the moment that would determine the rest of his life.  The doors where the bull enters were opposite of the balcony where the king and queen sit when they visit the corridas.  I left feeling as if I had traveled back in time. 

 

I hope to keep exploring not just Sevilla, but all of Spain.  I am finding a good balance between studying and wandering around the city, which was something I was nervous about.  A good family friend gave me some advice before I left and I have repeated it to myself every day since I have arrived.  He told me that I am going to have rough days, days where I won’t want to do anything.  But I should try to do something exciting every day, especially the challenging days.  So whether it is just a walk through the park or I go to explore the city, I try to do something every day.  Every day is a new day to visit something else, and this has made my experience even more memorable.  I am taking it one day at a time, and each day is bringing a new adventure that I cannot wait to share.  Hasta luego!