The GoGlobal Blog

Category: Spain

Life Update

Life Update

It feels like I’ve been here for over a year, but it’s only been a little over a month. I’m still homesick, but my mom told me I’m “Alec sick.” I’ve been traveling a bit since we last talked, which has been a major distraction. My classes are going well but I have little motivation to do much during the week. Let’s not talk about that, though. The fun part: where have I been these last few weeks?

As mentioned in my last post, I went to Naples the last weekend of January. This was a school run trip for our orientation, but it was still fun because I met a bunch of cool people. We did a bunch of history museums and such, which is not my favorite, but I made the most out of it. Next stop: Florence, Italy.

Florence has been my favorite city by far. It was a girl’s trip so, of course, we shopped and ate! We went to Gucci, Zara and the leather market and bought some fun things. We saw two different wineries’ in Tuscany on Saturday, which was so fun and interesting. We ate so much pasta and bruschetta that I am ready for some American food (definitely Chipotle and Canes). It rained most of the time while we were there, but my friends and I made the most of it. Next stop: Berlin, Germany.

I traveled to Berlin with a bunch of my friends from Loyola & Dayton during the second weekend of February. We ate some German sausage and drank German beer, which if you know me, I was not a fan of (check out my featured photo). We saw the Holocaust memorial and it was extremely eye opening. We also went to the Berlin Wall, which was full of super cool graffiti. It rained most of the time in Berlin as well, so we weren’t able to see as many sites as we wanted to. The main reason we went to Berlin was for the Louis the Child concert. It was so fun, but extremely overwhelming for someone who is 4”11. The highlight of my trip was definitely eating at a fake Chipotle. Next stop: Barcelona, Spain.

Maddy, Maddie and I traveled to Barcelona this past weekend. Barcelona is definitely my 2nd favorite city. We did some shopping (of course), saw the Sagrada Familia and Gaudi’s House and watched the Barcelona soccer match at a restaurant outside the stadium (mostly to send pictures to my dad). The views were gorgeous, and I slept a lot, which was much needed. The Cheetah Girls movie was definitely one of my favorites when I was a little girl, so I loved seeing all the spots they were at. Barcelona reminded me of Chicago, and it made me smile. Next stop: Milan Fashion Week.

My four friends and I are traveling to Milan this Thursday for fashion week, which is totally up my fashion alley. I get to shop for an outfit, which is even more exciting. I have been doing a lot in Rome during the weeks as well. I see a different Church every Wednesday for my theology class. My friends and I go to restaurants in the city center to get off campus for a little bit at least once a week. We went to dinner on Valentine’s Day and my family sent me flowers, which was definitely a happy! Midterms are coming up and FOMO is a major issue in my life right now, but I’m powering through.

I hope you all enjoyed my little life update. Alec is coming in early March and my parents are coming in late March, so I am really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and getting hugs! Before I know it, I will be back in the states, but I am really enjoying myself (and my homesickness). Thank you for reading this long, long post!

Talk soon xoxo.

Falling in Love with Spain

Falling in Love with Spain

Whilst being in Europe, we all get excited to go see all of the different countries especially because traveling is cheaper in comparison to America. My advice to students who want to study abroad would be to pick a handful of places you absolutely would love to travel to and plan those out. There may be a lot of pressure to hit a ton of countries, but as I have experienced these past few weeks, getting to know the country your living in is an incredible feeling. I am studying in Alicante which in itself is a beautiful city, my friends and I have been able to take trips to nearby cities in day trips, discovering hidden gems. A lot of these places have less mass tourism and are much more authentic, allowing us to get an intimate feel for the country we’re in. Altea is a small city on La Costa Blanca, or the white coast, which was a small town on the Mediterranean filled with immaculate white homes and buildings. We found a small restaurant where they insisted we get the lasagna, it was the best I had ever had, it was so fresh and rich. It was a lovely city and we had a perfect day. The next day we went to Calpe, another city a few hour from Alicante on train, where we hiked up a mountain there. The view was absolutely breathtaking, you could see for miles, even into other cities. We were above the clouds and able to see beyond the horizon. After, we had dinner on the beach and relaxed along the coast. I have had many of opportunities see the countryside of Spain and have had the pleasure of meeting manylocal people. When I go back to the states, I want to feel like I actually lived here, so I am so glad I’m able to travel within the country and immerse myself in the local culture.

Sitting in Altea
strolling through Altea
Views from Calpe

 

Calpe and Yoga

 

So I Moved Across the World

So I Moved Across the World

Hi, my name is Jaylinn, and this semester I decided to move to Europe. It’s crazy to think I decided to live across the world without ever having been here. But I knew it was something I had always wanted to do. Living in Spain is definitely a drastic change, but I would not trade it for anything in the world. It’s important to research ahead of time what to expect, for example, I researched social norms in Southern Spain. Europe is relatively similar to the United States but the little things like kisses on the cheek instead of hand shakes can throw you off if you aren’t aware. I also listened to Spain top 50 on Spotify to know what music they listened to. Lucky for me they listened to Latin American and some English music which I was familiar with. Although research beforehand was very helpful it’s important to keep an open mind and observe the first few weeks. Because of this I didn’t experience much culture shock, of course a little is inevitable though. So far this experience has taught me so much about myself in such a short amount of time. It’s the first time I had lived on my own outside of a dorm and has taught me about independence in that sense. Also about how much broader the world is outside of America. People from all over Europe are always in Alicante, and it’s common for people to move to other countries and just pick up on the language. Most of all out of this journey so far I feel like I have learned to keep an open mind, when it comes to experiences, cultural norms, and everything else in between.

October 2nd Update: Seville, Cadíz, Gibraltar, Algeciras

October 2nd Update: Seville, Cadíz, Gibraltar, Algeciras

To say that the past couple of weeks have flown by is an understatement.

Almost a month ago, I completed orientation and arrived at my host house in Sevilla, Spain. My roommate and I were greeted by our host mother, and soon developed a friendship with her as she helps us improve our Spanish every day.

As far as traveling goes, my friends and I planned a weekend trip to Algeciras, where we enjoyed the beautiful beach and took a 30 minute taxi to visit Gibraltar, a British territory, where we hiked to the top of the rock and saw the only natural community of monkeys in all of Europe. The views at the top of the rock were spectacular, and the monkeys were very social with many of the tourists.

This past weekend, my study abroad program coordinated a day trip to Cadíz. On the way, we stopped in Santa Maria for a brief winery tour and tasting. Upon arrival in Cadiz, we went on a historical walking tour of the main city and enjoyed exploring the beaches and open-air markets.

Aside from my travels to Cadiz and Algeciras, I have really been enjoying getting to know Sevilla! This past weekend, a nations fair opened and my friends and I had a lot of fun trying the food and dessert from other countries. I look forward to going to; France, Morocco, and Austria, however am trying to plan as many trips as possible while I am in Europe!

One of the many monkeys we saw in Gibraltar. It was amazing how used to humans they are. We made sure not to feed any, but were told that they bother guests for a snack! Here, you can also see the view of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean sea from the top of the rock.
This picture was taken at an outdoor flower shop in Cadiz
One of the many things I love about being in Sevilla is having access to many vibrant and unique stores and restaurants. This is a local tea shop

 

Orientation in Madrid

Orientation in Madrid

Hola a todas!
Tonight concludes our very hectic two-day stay in Madrid as part of API’s orientation for Sevilla students. Yesterday when I arrived, I met other API students and the director at the airport. From there, they loaded us into a bus and when we arrived at our hotel I got to meet my roommate for this semester! I definitely appreciated how they gave us the opportunity to room with our future roommates before we even arrive in Sevilla. This allowed us to get to know each other better all while experiencing new and exciting things. After an informational meeting we all went out for a group dinner, where we were able to socialize with more students.
This morning, we got an early start as we walked from our hotel to The Palacio Real where we toured the palace. It was amazing to take the time to appreciate such a beautiful place. We had a short break for lunch and after lunch we walked to the art museum- Museo del Prado where we were able to learn about the works of Goya. Tomorrow we will embark on yet another journey to Toledo, where we will stay for a night.

Major takeaways:

– There is a certain shared sense of vulnerability amongst the students in my program- entering a new country with a different primary language. Because of this, it has been easy to make new friends. My advice is to talk to other students, even those you would not typically strike up a conversation with. A lot of times you will find that sharing your experiences abroad thus far-even some of the more embarrassing ones- will help you form connections with other students.
-People will make their intentions/goals while studying abroad very clear within the first day or so. It’s more than okay to make friends with people who have different intentions than you, but I have found that hanging around those who have similar travel goals as you makes you feel much more comfortable when exploring and makes for less awkward situations in the future. If your #1 priority abroad is to immerse yourself in the culture, you might regret limiting yourself to going out to American clubs every night because that is what the majority of your group wants.

 

Taken while walking to the heart of Madrid. I loved admiring the architecture

 

One of the many magnificent ceilings in the royal palace

 

Madrid to Mallorca

Madrid to Mallorca

Time is running out, and finals are fast approaching. Earlier in the semester a couple of friends and I decided to book a trip for the long weekend before finals week to the island of Palma, Mallorca.

I’m not sure if it was because I know my days are numbered now, but this trip was by far my favorite. I arrived with only two expectations: laying on the beach every day for the whole trip, and leaving with a heavy tan.

Not only were my expectations met, but they were surpassed. I made friends with other guests at my hostel and we tanned on the beach and went on adventures for the three days there. I went cliff diving for the first time, visited a palace, took a picturesque train ride to the other side of the island, and partied with people I just met! It seems like a dream, how perfect the trip was. It made me realize that talking to people who didn’t come on the trip can add to your plans, not take away from them.

Of course, I was afraid to do a lot of what I’ve done, but I’ve also conquered a lot of those fears now. I’m terrified of heights, so cliff diving seemed ridiculous to me, but I went anyways. I still have no idea how I mustered up the courage to jump, but I did, and even though I landed wrong I’d do it again any day. You don’t have to do anything as extreme as cliff diving, but you should do things that push you out of your comfort zone.

The last night I was there I got to see the sun set over the mountains and the ocean, while thinking about my study abroad experience. As often as it is repeated, I really do believe you have to go into all of it with zero expectations, ready to change plans again and again, and be open to new experiences. My time studying abroad wouldn’t be as amazing as it is without trying new things.

    

Buen Camino

Buen Camino

During Semana Santa (which was essentially my Spring Break) I walked 165 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. I walked for 8 days, with my only goal being to each day get closer to Santiago. There are many different routes, but I walked along the French Way, which is the oldest route and one of the most common for pilgrims nowadays to take. I began my camino in O Cebreiro, which is the first pueblo on the French way in Galicia, a northern region of Spain. Walking the camino has been a dream of mine since I began to learn Spanish, and I know that I couldn’t spend a semester in Spain and not do this.

My program ends May 18th but I don’t fly back to Chicago until June 1st, so my original plan was to walk the camino in my final week of being in Spain. A few weeks before Semana Santa I realized that if I were to swap trips around and do my camino then, I would have 10 days to walk rather than 5, so that is what I did. What that meant though, is that I had to prepare for this 165 km (approx. 100 miles) journey in just a few weeks. I have always loved the outdoors but I had never gone on a hiking excursion like this before, meaning that I had no idea what in the world I was getting myself into. I began to do what I do best– aggressively research and make so many lists to feel somewhat in control of this situation in which I couldn’t even fathom what to expect.

I am a planner. I plan down to the detail because planning,  for me, takes away the a bit of the anxiety about the unknown. I made an excel document detailing which place I would end up in that night, and which albergue would be the “best” to sleep in, but after day one, I ended up disregarding my carefully detailed work. Regardless of how much I wanted to plan, this was a time where I needed to give up control and just exist. Now, that sounds like a lovely thought, and now it is, but I figured this out because the first day I was on the top of a mountain in a middle of a snowstorm. I arrived in O Cebreiro the night before to find a pueblo covered in snow (it felt like a whole different world than Salamanca, which, that same day, was 60 and sunny). I was told by the woman working at the albergue that the following day we would be unable to walk on the pilgrimage trail, but rather we would have to follow the highway until a pueblo named Triacastela. I immediately asked myself what I had gotten myself into, and in that moment I felt entirely underprepared. I hadn’t planned on arriving in Triacastela until my second night, but that first day I hiked there along the highway and through a snowstorm.I arrived to the public albergue freezing cold and soaked to the bone, but I had arrived. Despite the wretched weather, you are always greeted by other peregrin@s with the greeting buen camino. All along the camino you hear this being spoken between pilgrims, as words of encouragement, solidarity, and community.

    

That first day, I began to develop my camino routine. Each night (minus the ones in Santiago) I stayed at the public albergue in the pueblo. The region Galicia has a network of public albergues solely for peregrin@s, meaning that you needed the pilgrim’s credential in order to stay there. Each morning we had to be out of the albergue at 8 am, which meanta 7:30 alarm so I could throw on clothes, brush my teeth, and pack up my bag. Most mornings I got breakfast in whichever pueblo I slept in, and then I walked until I reached the next place I would be sleeping, arriving anywhere between 1 and 5 pm.

Most of the time, I had no idea where I was. Along the camino there are yellow arrows marking the way, so you never had to think too hard about where you were going. A man I walked with for part of a day said to me, “out here, there are only two names for towns: the next and the last.”When you’re walking, pueblos come and go as you walk through, and time doesn’t really seem to exist because your day consists of walking and sleeping. This disconnect from reality brought me a lot of peace– I didn’t have to think about anything except putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the next town.

     

I walked the camino sola, by myself. Before leaving, both my real parents and host parents were worried about me going out into the mountains by myself for ten days, but doing so allowed for me to have one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I began my camino with the intention of using it as a time of reflection and to spend time being connected to God through prayer and nature. I left everything happening in my life back in O Cebreiro, so I was able to focus my energy on being with God. The first day of walking I listened to the playlist I had created beforehand, but the more I walked in silence the more comfortable the silence became and the more out of place the music felt. There were times when I walked with others, but most of my time was spent by myself, in silence, surrounded by incredible beauty. When I did run into other peregrin@s, though, I was welcomed with open arms– there is a wonderful community of support between peregrin@s along the camino.

After about a week of walking, I arrived in Santiago de Compostela. My last day was about a 20 km walk, and it poured the entire way. I arrived at the cathedral the same way I arrived to my albergue the first day: soaked to the bone and freezing cold. But this time, it was the end of a journey rather than the beginning. The cathedral was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I returned to the cathedral more than once so that I could really take in everything. After my first visit, I went to the oficina de peregrinación, so that I could “officially” complete my camino by receiving the Compostela stamp in my credential passport. The reality that I had arrived didn’t start to set in until the next morning, when I didn’t have to wake up at 7 to walk more. I spent the next day and a half exploring Santiago, visiting the Cathedral, and reflecting on the experience I had just had.

     

After that week, I felt closer to God than I had thus far while living in Spain. I had intended to use my camino to be in conversation with God and to strengthen my relationship with Her. I was on a Jesus high, and as always, I didn’t want that feeling to leave. Going back to Salamanca, I felt at peace. My entire body hurt, but my soul was calm. I was utterly exhausted, but recharged at the same time. There were points on my camino where I felt a jealous of my friends who were spending the week traveling to places like Amsterdam, Berlin, and Budapest, whereas I was in the mountains, walking until my body couldn’t take anymore. Ultimately though, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Since coming home from Santiago, I have begun to notice the indicators for the camino wherever I go, and each time I see one I feel at peace again.

Seen in Cádiz, Salamanca, and Brussels!

Pretty in Paris

Pretty in Paris

Make sure to visit this at night for a stunning light show every hour on the hour
If you can afford it, the views from the tower are breath-taking

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited Europe before. I saw some cities in Spain, France, and Italy, and loved them all enough to come back. Recently, I returned from a trip to Paris, which I saw last time I was in Europe.

I thought I wouldn’t have much to do, since I’d been to the Eiffel Tower, seen inside the Louvre, and entered the Notre Dame, but I didn’t have enough time to visit half of what I wanted to.

As preparation for this semester abroad, I hunted down works of fiction that took place in Europe as inspiration on where to visit during my stay, and I had a few new ideas on what to see in Paris. This trip was so fun because it was like a scavenger hunt, I was either viewing the touristic attractions in a new light or visiting places a tourist would normally walk by.

Be sure to look for the cat if you don’t have the time to read part of a book in there
A complicated, beautiful work of art. If you think it’s pretty on the outside, wait until you walk in

I highly recommend reading a couple books that take place in the countries you’d like to visit, because that way you’ll learn about new places to visit, or gain more knowledge on places you already know of.

Thanks to the books I have read, I was able to visit the church of St. Etienne du Mont, Shakespeare & Company, and learn more about Point Zero.

I learned Point Zero is where all distances in France are measured. Apparently if you make a wish on it, it’ll come true, and if you don’t make a wish, you’re bound to return to Paris again one day.

Don’t worry, I made sure to stop at Point Zero before I left Paris, but I can’t tell you what I wished for, or it won’t come true!

It’s worn away from the tourists walking past, to Notre Dame
Halfway done??? What???

Halfway done??? What???

This weekend I took my first solo trip. I spent the weekend in a hostel in Granada where I explored the city and built relationships with the others in my hostel. As I wrote this, I was on the bus home from Granada; I went first to Madrid and then I had a shorter ride back to Salamanca. I am exhausted from this weekend, but it was so wonderful and will absolutely be a trip I remember for a long time.

I began traveling at about 8:30 on Thursday evening, and I arrived in Granada at 6:30 AM on Friday. Overnight but travel wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable way to do this weekend, but I was able to spend the full day on Friday exploring Granada because of it. My hostel was about a 35 minute walk away from the bus station, so after a cup of cafe con leche I hauled myself and my backpack towards my home for the weekend. Throughout the semester I have been collecting photos of graffiti that has caught my eye, and the graffiti in Granada did not disappoint.

It was pretty early and I technically wasn’t supposed to check in to my hostel yet, so on my way I just wandered, took my time, and took in the sights of the city. I lived in the neighborhood Albaicín, which is located above the city center which means that it has some of the most amazing views you can find in Granada. I stumbled upon a beautiful view on the way to my hostel and decided to sit and journal for a little bit. I wanted to spend a weekend by myself in part because I wanted to relax and recharge, but also to reflect on the semester as it has gone thus far.

In the past few years I have realized how introverted I am, so even though I am very social and love spending time around others, it drains me of energy. I anticipated a weekend where I didn’t really talk to other people and would just be spending time with myself, but what I did not anticipate was how wonderful my hostel would be. I spent the weekend in Makuto’s backpackers hostel, which is unlike any other hostel I have stayed in. Immediately upon arrival, I felt like I was being welcomed into a home. It still wasn’t technically time to check in, but one of the employees got me set up with a shower and breakfast. In all other hostels I have stayed in the people living there keep to themselves, but at Makuto there were multiple rooms designed just for people to hang out and be in community with one another.

After I got showered and changed, I went back out into the city to explore. I walked around the city center, ate some lunch, stumbled upon a beautiful garden, and wandered. The beautiful thing about traveling alone is that I was able to wander without a destination without having to be mindful of what others are wanting to do. I just walked without any intentions, and experienced the sights of the city. After checking in later, I took a siesta (because I am now adjusting to the relaxed Spanish lifestyle and get a little cranky if I don’t get my daily nap oops), and began to talk to some of the people in my hostel. I ended up going for tapas with a group of 5 people– it felt like a group of friends though, rather than people I had just met. We went to a few different tapas bars, and spent the night enjoying each others company.

The next day, rather than going out by myself, I went on a journey to the Alhambra with a few new friends from the hostel. We didn’t have tickets, but there are a lot of places you can visit for free! We spent a few hours there, but we could have spent the entire day because it is so huge. Afterwords, we got chocolate con churros and pizza for lunch which was exactliy what I needed at that moment. We then relaxed at the hostel for a bit, before it was time for the guided walking tour!! Every night at about 6, the hostel provides a free walking tour of the neighborhood, which takes you to all the beautiful viewpoints. The last viewpoint was on a MOUNTAIN!! We climed a mountain for one of the most beautiful views I have ever experienced. We came home, and it was time for dinner. The hostel has a family dinner every night, and last night we had paella. We didn’t do much for the rest of the night, besides spend time with each other, and it was so wonderful.

I miss my mom. A lot. I miss my friends and family, I miss Chicago, I miss the kids I work with, I miss my apartment, I miss my dog– I miss home. A few days ago, I talked to my mom over facetime and I told her how much I missed her and how hard it is to be thousands of miles away from her. She asked me, “do you regret going to Spain?” because she said it worries her, how much I miss home. I was actually talking about this with a friend a few days before my mom and I talked, but I didn’t come to Spain to have an easy time, I came here to learn and grow. I’m not in Spain to feel comfortable, because if everything were comfortable I wouldn’t be growing. I have been in Spain for two months now, and these months have been incredible but they have also been so difficult. Despite the hardships, though, I have grown so much in both my Spanish but also as a person. I just spent the weekend in Granada by myself without having second thoughts. Two months ago, I would not have been able to just up and go to a city I didn’t know for the weekend without another person, but here I am.

This upcoming week marks the beginning of Semana Santa, Holy Week, but it also marks the beginning of me walking the Camino de Santiago. For about ten days I will be walking a section of the ancient pilgrimage trail by myself. I won’t be fully alone because there are going to be many other pilgrims walking the trail, especially since it will be semana santa. I have gotten all my gear, bus tickets, know where I will be sleeping each night, and now it just needs to be time. This is something that I never would have been able to do prior to being here.

I may miss my family endlessly, and I may want nothing more than to be in my apartment surrounded by my best friends, but if I were to have spent this semester in Chicago I would have had a regular semester and wouldn’t have gone so far out of my comfort zone and wouldn’t have grown as much as I have. I miss the comfort of my life in Chicago, I miss the monotony of every day life: walking to class, taking the train to work, being at the IC all night; however, I am so thankful for the experiences I have had, because without them I would be stagnant rather than growing. 

The Time of my Life ™

The Time of my Life ™

I have now been living in Salamanca for a little bit over a month– things have been incredibly difficult, but at the same time I am having a wonderful time. I’ve been having an internal struggle because studying abroad is made out to be the ~best time of your life~ and while I do love Spain, my life is far from perfect here.

As you know, the first weekend I was pickpocketed and was without a phone or access to money for two weeks. For those two weeks, I stayed in Salamanca, explored the city, but didn’t have the means to do much else. I spent a lot of time by myself (which is something I am very thankful for, because I am very introverted), but at points I felt very isolated because I was only able to communicate with my family and friends when I was on my computer. Since I had to be on my computer to communicate, I spent my time either at home or at school, the two places I had wifi. This meant though, that I spent a lot of time with my host family. My family consists of me, my host mom Gloria, my host dad Jonas, and whatever group of students we have that week. Gloria and Jonas are a young couple, which has allowed for us to connect on a familial level, but also on a level of friendship. Gloria cares for me as if I were her own child, and for that I am so grateful. I miss my family and friends so much, but I now have my family here.

The first month was honestly pretty lonely. I have generally been very good at making friends, but for whatever reason, I still don’t feel as though I have settled into a solid group. I have definitely made a bunch of surface level friendships with people I see in class and enjoy talking to, but there are only a few people who I have cultivated a deeper friendship with. I realized this last week, and I have since been making an effort to grow the friendships I do have. Reaching out to others has always given me anxiety, and it still does, but I am trying really hard to do so. Since, I have been spending more time with Alyssa, who is my closest friend here. We only met about a month ago, but she is a person that feels like home and has a comforting presence– she is a person that I love being around. I also have been spending time with Colvin, who is the one other person from Loyola that is studying in Salamanca. We are in completely different programs, so we do not have any classes together or any mutual friends, but it has been so nice having a familiar face around.

I have also found myself feeling a disconnect between myself and faith here. Right before leaving, I was feeling very solid in my faith: I was working with the after school program at my church meaning that I was there 6 days a week, and I just became an official member which was so so exciting. I came to Salamanca and found a church, but I am oftentimes not in the city on Sunday mornings due to traveling. I have recently started going to church programs throughout the week with another friend of mine, Rick. It was very hard coming to this place where I do not have a solid faith community, but I am excited to begin building this new faith community.

While things have been very hard, I have also had some wonderful experiences. Last weekend I traveled to Prague and visited Mickey, a close friend from Loyola who is studying there for the semester. We spent time cooking together, exploring the city (on public transit!!! Heck yeah!! Their transit system there is super neat), and just enjoying each other’s company. Prague was absolutely gorgeous– we saw the Lennon wall which is a space of peace and graffitti started by students after the fall of communism, which was without a doubt my favorite sight. Leaving Prague was one of the saddest moments of my time abroad, because it was so lovely to be around one of my best friends again, but we will be seeing each other in Madrid next weekend, so more adventures to come!

      

This past weekend I traveled to Lisboa with my program. The weather was not superb (it was pouring about half of the time), but the city was stunning. Pictures we took could never do it justice. Lisboa is well known for their ceramic tiles which are all over the outsides of buildings and are absolutely stunning. The first night, API treated us to a wonderful dinner where I had some amazing fish and mashed potatoes (I had no idea how much I missed mashed potatoes, wow). I spent time with the people around me, and it was very wonderful. I felt like I really got to know a lot more people on this trip, and I really made an effort to cultivate friendships. My friendships with Alyssa, Kim, and Liam (along with those of a lot of the girls in my program), grew a lot this weekend, and for that I am very thankful, even if the weather wasn’t the best.

      

All in all, things have been a complete rollercoaster, but for that I am grateful. I may not be having the picturesque time of my life that study abroad is often depicted as, but I have learned and grown so much, even in the past month. My host family doesn’t speak English and all of my classes are in Spanish, so the only time I speak English is when I am with others from the United States. Ultimately, I am here to immerse myself, and I am doing just that. The Universidad de Salamanca is an incredible school and I love my classes (especially Las mujeres en la historia de españa) along with my professors. Considering how much has happened, the fact that it has only been a month baffles me. Regardless of how hard this first month has been, I am very thankful to be here learning, exploring, and growing despite the trials that come my way.