The GoGlobal Blog

Category: Spain

Spring in Spain

Spring in Spain

I’ve only been in Spain for one month, but sometimes it feels like a week and other times a year.

I started off the first two weeks getting to know Madrid, the city I’m living in. At first, Madrid seemed huge, like a bigger version of Chicago, when I was looking at the maps. Thankfully, the family I have here walked me around all day (seriously, I had to wear comfortable shoes) and I got to know it pretty well. Madrid’s public transportation is just as good as Chicago’s, but you definitely walk around a lot more here; just keep in mind even the sneakers here are stylish.

Now that I’ve gotten to know the city better, I’ve become accustomed to wandering around streets in between classes or going to El Retiro, a big public park that used to belong to the Royal Family. I think I got a little too confident with how easily I adjusted to Madrid because I let my guard down and got my phone stolen while shoe shopping! It was pretty inconvenient, but I survived and got a really cheap one here, and it just became a lesson to keep tabs on my belongings at all times and listen when people tell me Madrid is known for pickpocketing.

As for traveling, I’ve stayed in Spain so far, but I’ve gone to other cities like Segovia, Salamanca, Granada, and Toledo. I highly recommend getting a guided tour because the things you learn are worth the money. I got lucky going to SLU Madrid because they offered day trips with a tour guide

to some of the cities, and it helped me get to know other students who are now my friends. Even if you aren’t interested in the trips, it’s an easy way to meet other students you’re in class with.

Coming from Chicago, I thought it’d be a bit warmer. But yesterday we had our first snowfall since I’ve been here. It was beautiful, but I was unprepared for the weather, so I highly recommend a good coat. Even if the weather is nice when you go, packing a couple of sweaters never hurts.

The hardest part about living here is trying to balance study with travel. I’ve taken to doing homework all day, in between my classes as well as after, so that I have my weekends free to travel. I also use the time on buses to catch up on my reading for class.

Of course, I still have some adjustments to make, like getting used to how late they have lunch and dinner here, but it’s totally worth it!

 

A Series of (Un)fortunate Events

A Series of (Un)fortunate Events

Spain has been home for almost two weeks, and in this past week I have been hit with more bad luck than I imagined would happen in the whole semester. I like to consider myself a generally prepared and organized person, but despite all of my preparation for the semester, everything seemed to go wrong this past week.

I thought it was bad getting sick in Chicago while my mom was 3.5 hours away in Michigan, but that was nothing compared to getting sick in Spain, with my family being over 4,000 miles away. We arrived in Salamanca on Sunday evening, and Monday was spent taking our placement exams and exploring the city. Salamanca is beautiful, especially the Plaza Mayor at night. My classes started at noon on Tuesday, and I decided I was going to wake up early so that I could eat breakfast and relax a little bit before going to class. When I woke up though, I felt as though I had been run over by a train. My muscles ached, my throat was aggressively sore, and I had a splitting headache. I popped a few dayquil, had some tea with breakfast, and assumed that this was just my body being upset with me for being out a little late the night before. Being in class was miserable– I could barely keep my eyes open and my body hurt so badly that I wasn’t able to focus at all.

I am living with a host family this semester: my parent’s names are Gloria and Jonas, and it is the three of us living together in an apartment. Neither of them speak English, which has been so amazing for my Spanish skills, but was difficult when I was sick. In introductory Spanish classes they teach you basic vocabulary for many topics (I remember having a unit on doctors and sickness in Spanish four), but I didn’t have the vocab to say more than simple things like me duele la garganta, la cabeza, y los músculos. I knew I should go to the farmacia, where Spaniards go to get medicine before they go to a doctor (you’re able to get more than just over the counter medicine here, it’s a lot different than in the US), but I was dreading it because of my lack of Spanish medical knowledge. Luckily, I never had to go because Gloria gave me some medicine that made me feel better within hours. I spent most of the week in bed, though, because my body was absolutely exhausted. I talked to a lot of friends who had been abroad, and apparently it’s super common to get sick in your first few weeks because traveling takes a huge toll on your body.

By Thursday I was feeling a lot better, which I was very thankful for since API had a planned excursion to visit Sevilla this past weekend! Things were looking up– I felt better, and I was about to go explore a beautiful city with some friends. The city was stunning. My friends and I spent the first evening exploring, ate some delicious gelato, and went out on the town for a little bit. The next day we saw the Real Alcázar, the Cathedral, and then had more free time! My friends Harrison, Nicolas, and I spent our siesta time on the roof of our hotel, which had a patio overlooking the city, and then Alyssa and I went out exploring again until it was time for dinner! Everything was so wonderful, and I was loving the city.

 Here are me and my friends Cady, Sofia, Kim, and Alyssa at the Real Alcázar!

That night, we went out again, and at about 3 am (nightlife starts late in Spain, I’m usually a grandma who goes to bed at 11 pm, what has this country done to me??), I realized that my purse had been unzipped, and that my phone and wallet were no longer in it. I froze, and felt my heart drop. This was my nightmare. I was in a foreign country with no phone and no money. I always tried to make sure I was paying attention to my purse and thought I did a good job but like my dad said, people who pickpocket for a living are far better at stealing than you are at protecting. I called my dad in a panic from a friend’s phone, and we cancelled my credit card and put my phone on lockdown mode. In that moment, as I was crying on the side of a road in Sevilla, I felt utterly defeated and as though nothing could go my way. But, God has a way of creeping in and reminding me that She’s going to take care of me. I lost my ID, but the week before I left I renewed my license because it was due to expire in April when I turn 21, so a new on is on its way to me soon. My dad also realized that even though he never insures our phones, my phone happened to still have insurance. That means that a replacement phone is getting to my dad tomorrow, and will then be sent to me! Most importantly, my passport was in my hotel room, and I only lost the 20€ that was in my wallet.

Sunday we packed up the bus and headed back to Salamanca. We left at 2 PM, and were supposed to arrive in Salamanca around 9. But, of course, when we were a little less than halfway into the trip, our bus broke down in the middle of nowhere. We were about 1 km away from a little town called Torremejía, where we set up camp for a few hours. We had no idea how long fixing the bus would take, so we explored the village. As we were walking around, off in the distance we heard music and saw a group of people in the streets. We decided to go see what was going on and to our surprise, it was a group of maybe 50 dancers and 20 people on a giant percussion contraption parading around the streets. A girl from Torremejía came up to us and asked why we were there– it was a town of about 2,300 people, so our group stuck out like a sore thumb. She told us that this was a group called Comparsa Las Monjas, and that they were practicing for a parade they were going to be in next week. Although our bus had broken down in the middle of nowhere, seeing them practice was without a doubt the highlight of my time in Spain so far. I highly suggest checking them out on Facebook, they are such a cool group!! We didn’t end up getting back to Salamanca until about 1:30 AM, but that didn’t even bother me because of the amazing experience we had had in Torremejía.

As this week (and especially this weekend) happened, I had moments where I felt utterly defeated, but I also had amazing moments that I am so thankful for. Everything seemed to go wrong, but like my dad also said, bad experiences make for great stories down the road. Yes, I am annoyed that I have 11€ in cash and that I have to use my computer in order to communicate, but I am safe and surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family, both in Salamanca and back home. Before I left, a close family friend sent me a card filled with love and wishes that I would have many experiences that would bring me closer to God as I traveled. Although this week felt like a disaster, I can’t help but reflect on how thankful I am for my dad, who helps me stay calm as I feel like my life is falling apart. For my friends, who sit with me on the side of the road in a city we don’t know, and who give me hope and encouragement as I feel like my life is falling apart. For this experience, the good, the bad, and everything in between. And for God, who reminds me that even though things go wrong, She is always looking out for me. 

Is this real?

Is this real?

Studying abroad in Spain has been a dream of mine since I began studying Spanish and it is nearly impossible to wrap my mind around the fact that I am here, and that this is really happening.

‘The week leading up to my flight, I was incredibly nervous. I began to do what I do best: make lists. I made multiple comprehensive packing lists, detailing what I would be bringing and how it would be packed. The night before my flight, I sat in my roommate’s bed and cried, feeling overwhelmed and underprepared for this journey in front of me. Even in the moment I said goodbye to my dad in the airport, Spain was still just an idea rather than reality. I have been dreaming of this semester for so long, and it is finally happening, but it still doesn’t feel real.

I have been in Madrid for three days now, and it feels like a dream. The first day I was here, I spent the morning and early afternoon aimlessly exploring the city with a new friend, Emma, simply taking in the sights of the city. We ended this excursion with a pitcher of sangria and a large plate of paella, a delicious Spanish rice dish (we learned from our director later that night that only the Americans order sangria, oops!).

     Here we are, as we explore the city!

Visiting el museo del Prado was an incredible experience. I have been passionate about Spanish art since studying it in high school, and today I was able to see the obras maestras of Velázquez and Francisco de Goya– something I had been dreaming of. Las meninas by Velázquez literally took my breath away when I saw it. I was in awe– the painting was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The same thing happened when I saw el tres de mayo by Goya, pictures of the painting will never do it justice.

For lunch yesterday, I had the best tacos of my life. I know that tacos are definitely not Spanish food, but a friend told me that I needed to eat at Takos al Pastor, so Alyssa (another new friend!) and I went after the trip to the Prado. Those tacos honestly ruined all other tacos for me and I’m not even mad about it. For dessert, Alyssa and I went to a cute pastelería and got sweets: mine was called a pepito de crema!

     

Today brought about new adventures: an excursion to Toledo (a city south of Madrid in the region Castilla la Mancha), lunch at the local market, and a visit to the Reina Sofía which is home to my favorite painting. Toledo was stunning– we were taught about the history of the city, while exploring the cathedrals, synagogues, and the streets. During our free time, Alyssa and I stumbled upon gorgeous views overlooking the countryside. When we got back to the hotel we went to the market near the Plaza Mayor for lunch! We both had paella and I got a tapa with mozzarella cheese, jamón serrano, and jam on bread (can you tell that I am loving the food here?).

 

Visiting the Reina Sofía museum has been the highlight of my time in Spain so far. As I said earlier, I love Spanish art, and the Reina Sofía holds many paintings of Picasso, Dalí, and Miró. For years, I have been looking forward to seeing Guernica, Pablo Picasso’s obra maestra. This is one of my favorite paintings, and I don’t even have words to describe how it felt to finally see it in person. No picture can truly capture how large the painting is– I stood in front of it for 20 minutes just taking it all in.

It’s only been two days, and I don’t think the culture shock has hit me yet, but I also don’t know what to expect that to feel like! Tomorrow we will be going to Salamanca which will be my home until June, and I am very ready to be settled in. My nervousness from a few days ago has melted away, and I have a renewed excitement for the rest of this semester.

 

Amsterdam, aka cutest city ever!

Amsterdam, aka cutest city ever!

Hello!

So, after the week that my sister and cousins visited me, I went to Amsterdam! My friends went there sooner, but I couldn’t go on Friday because my family was still in Madrid, so I met up with them on Saturday.

When I arrived, I took the airport shuttle to the hotel we were staying in for the weekend to meet up with my friends. Then, we went back to the airport and got on the train that took us to the central station in the city. When we got there, I was so happy to see how cute Amsterdam was and all the Christmas lights everywhere. It was the first city that I’ve gone to where they had some Christmas decorations and I loved seeing them! It made me really homesick though, but I tried not to think about that because I was in the cutest city ever!

Jackie and I in Amsterdam

We were starving so after walking around a little, we found a place that had gluten free pasta and it was really good. After that, we made our way to the I Amsterdam sign and went ice skating! It was so fun! I can’t ice skate very well, but I didn’t fall at all so I call that a win! However, my friends and I saw a girl fall and she definitely broke her wrist. It was so crazy. My friends and I (also nursing majors) tried to help her and make sure she was going to get help. We were all careful after that. Anyway, it was so fun and it was also hailing at one point and for some reason that made it even better haha! When we were done, we were literally freezing so we decided to go buy some hot chocolate. It was amazing because my hands were literally frozen. Then, we were pretty hungry so we stopped at a place that was selling fries and literally whatever sauce you want. I tried it with spicy mayo and it was so good! We continued walking around while eating our fries and just enjoyed seeing the city! It was a really good day! We were pretty tired though, so we made our way to the hotel.

The next day, we woke up early and made our way to the Anne Frank house! We had a little history lesson before and then got to go inside the Secret Annex. I read her diary as a kid, so I was really looking forward to actually seeing it! It was really cool and an amazing experience, and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to see it. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for her and her family to live there for 2 years. She wrote in her diary that they couldn’t run water or speak too loudly out of fear that the people below the Secret Annex would hear them. It’s amazing how much of an inspiration she is, and that there are millions of unknown stories just like hers. The Anne Frank house was definitely my favorite part of the trip!

The I Amsterdam sign!

After, we bought some souvenirs and had a little snack. I tried a stroopwafel (which has gluten in it lol oops) and it was sooo good! It’s made of two thin layers of dough with caramel in the middle and is a popular snack in the Netherlands. Definitely worth eating gluten for. After that, we went to the Van Gogh museum and got to see a lot of his amazing artwork and see how it developed throughout his life. It was a really cool museum! After the museum, we got dinner at a pancake place. Since they didn’t have any gluten free pancakes, I ordered an omelette which was actually really good. We continued walking around Amsterdam after that, and got even more fries. They were so good I had to get more! Eventually, we made our way back to the hotel for our early flight the next morning. It was a pretty short trip, but I definitely enjoyed my time in Amsterdam! I wish I could have seen the bench from the fault in our stars, but we actually forgot. It was okay though because the original one was stolen lol. There’s one next to it that everyone uses for pictures, but it’s not actually the same one from the movie. If it was, I definitely wouldn’t have forgotten. Anyway, I loved Amsterdam and it was an amazing trip!

best week ever!!

best week ever!!

Hey everyone!

So this is a little late because I’ve been super busy lately, but Thanksgiving week was my favorite week here! My sister, Rachel, and my two cousins, Shannon and Corrin visited me in Madrid! We wanted to go to Barcelona, so we planned a short little trip there. We were only there for 25 short hours, but it was definitely a trip worth taking.

When we arrived, we first went to the Sagrada familia, which was amazing! It was funny because when we were walking there, some buildings were blocking it. Google maps told me that it was like right in front of us and I told my family, “There it is!”. They were confused because we still couldn’t see it and then all of a sudden, it was right in front of us. That moment was so breathtaking and mind blowing. It is so beautiful. Gaudi, the creator of the Sagrada familia, did an amazing job designing it. It is also interesting because it isn’t like a typical Spanish cathedral. It looks very modern and something like I’ve never seen. The painted glass all over the inside is stunning. We all really enjoyed it! Since we were super hungry, we then decided to get some dinner. We found the perfect place right by the Sagrada familia. We sat outside where they had giant heaters, and ate some paella and pasta. It was the perfect dinner right after such an exhausting day. Since my family was super tired from their long flight, we went back to our airbnb and hit the hay.

Park Guell

In the morning, we woke up early to go to Park Guell. If you get there before 8 am, they let you in for free, so we forsure wanted to take advantage of that. We left at around 7:45 am, which should have been enough time because our airbnb is a 5 minute walk from the park. We ended up going the wrong way though, so we made it at 7:59am!! It was a close one, but super funny because we were literally running up a hill so we wouldn’t have to pay. Anyway, Park Guell is the public park designed by Gaudi. His house was even in the park too, and it was funny because we walked right by it and said it was a cute pink house and later we realized it was Gaudi’s house lol. Anyway, the paying section of the park has an amazing view of the city and a really cute area for pictures. Since we were there early, we got to see the sun rise too. It was definitely worth running up the hill lol.

After Park Guell, we decided to be spontaneous and go to the beach! We only had a couple hours till our flight, so we needed to be fast. It took an hour metro ride, a little walk, and then we were there. We were hungry, so we decided to eat lunch at a restaurant on the beach. It was really cool and the ocean was so pretty. It was nice catching up and eating by the water. After lunch, we spent some time on the beach. Corrin and Shannon were looking for sea glass the entire time, and Rachel and I were just hung out and took some pictures. It was really fun and a good last thing to do before leaving. Since Corrin, Shan, and Rach aren’t used to flying in Spain, they were really worried they were going to miss their flight. I wasn’t worried at all because getting through security doesn’t take that long, but they were totally freaking out. Don’t worry though, we made our flight with plenty of time to spare! After arriving in Madrid, we went to burger king for dinner lol. Why burger king in Spain? I don’t know haha. They were hungry and wanted it, so I chose not to argue with them. After that, I checked them into their airbnb and then went home and ate dinner with my host mom.

Retiro park!
Selfie on the boat!

The next day, I skipped class so I could show my family around. Don’t worry, it was only my dance class. First, we went to Retiro park and went in the little row boats in the pond. It was super fun! At the beginning, Rachel and Corrin were both rowing and it wasn’t really working. We all wanted to try rowing, so we kept rocking the boat while switching seats. Haha I thought we were gonna tip the boat over. Thankfully, we didn’t! After Retiro park, we went to Cherry pecas, a mexican restaurant by my school, for lunch. Our food and drinks were so good! After, we walked around Puerta de Sol, which is the popular shopping and touristy area in Madrid. We went into a million souvenir shops, listened to a mariachi band in the square, and also tried chocolate with churros. (I even had some too because how could I have studied in Madrid without at least trying a bite?) It was sooo good! My cousins didn’t really like it, and I couldn’t believe it! After churros, we made our way back to the airbnb. Rachel, Shannon, and Corrin needed to get up early Tuesday for their day trip to Toledo and El Escorial. Since I have class all day, they planned day trips for Tuesday and Thursday.

On Wednesday,  we slept in a little bit and then walked around the park by my house. After that, we made our way to cien montaditos, a restaurant that many students go to by my school. Every Wednesday, they have mini sandwiches for 1 euro. They aren’t gluten free, but they have other things like nachos too. We hung out there for awhile and enjoyed the food and tinto de verano. After lunch, I brought Rach, Shan, and Corrin to my flamenco class to watch! They said they really enjoyed it and wanted to join in! My dance teacher, Yolanda, is super funny and speaks only Spanish, so Corrin and Rachel were very confused the whole time. Shannon could understand her though, so she was the translator lol. Anyway, I was really happy that they enjoyed my class! After that, we went to a rooftop bar called Circulo de las Bellas Artes. It had a beautiful view of the city at the top, and we got to watch the sunset! It was a great place to enjoy a glass of wine and talk. We stayed there awhile and then made our way to my house. My host mom had invited my family over for dinner that night for pasta, salad, and some tapas! It was so good (of course because my host mom is a wonderful cook), and my family really enjoyed it! It was cool introducing them to my host mom and showing them where I have been living for the past 3 months!

When we celebrated Shannon’s bday at Ojala!

Thursday was Thanksgiving and Shannons birthday!! Unfortunately, I had a spanish presentation and other classes, so I couldn’t go to Segovia and Avila with them. I already went to Segovia though, so it didn’t really matter. After my classes, I met up with them and we went to a restaurant that I made reservations for. The restaurant is called Ojala and it has a super cool beach bar in the basement. There is literally sand on the floor and you sit in cute little beach chairs. It was the perfect place to celebrate Shannon’s birthday! We had a great time at the restaurant and then explored Madrid’s night life a little more. It was kinda sad that I couldn’t spend Thanksgiving like I usually do every year, but I was happy I could celebrate it with some of my family. It made me miss my parents and my brother a lot, but it was okay because I knew I was going to be home before I knew it!

 

On Friday, we woke up and went on a nice walk to the Royal Palace of Madrid! We took a little detour to see the templo de Debod, the ancient Egyptian temple that was donated to Spain. We went at the wrong time though because it is best to see at sunset. It was still cool to see though. When we arrived at the Royal Palace, we decided we needed to go inside. It was super pretty and had so many different rooms. Shannon could not get over the fact that they have a room for just silverware lol. It was a fun last thing to do before they catch their flight back home. I went halfway with them to the airport to say goodbye. It was sad, but I was still excited for my last few trips here. Also, I was going to Amsterdam the next day, so I was super excited about that! Overall, I am beyond grateful that they visited me and enjoyed seeing what I now consider my second home. It was a really amazing week with them!

Waka Waka (this time for Africa)

Waka Waka (this time for Africa)

Hey guys! If you don’t understand the title of this blog post, it’s from Shakira’s song! Anyway, this blog post is mostly about how I went to Africa and crossed another continent off my bucket list, but first I’m going to talk about Halloween. 

I’m sure you guys all know what day it was 2 weeks ago. If you say Halloween, you are correct! Halloween in Madrid was very interesting. It is definitely not as big of a deal as it is in the states, so I actually forgot about it. I know, how could I forget Halloween? Well, not everything is decorated all spooky and scary. The only reason I actually remembered was because all the Americans I was around kept talking about it. I definitely wanted to have a chill night and watch halloween movies and eat candy, but my friends wouldn’t let me. They told me I would regret it if I didn’t go out and do something fun, so that’s what we did lol. We had a pretty good night, but Halloween in Madrid is kinda crazy. My friend Shrina can verify that it wasn’t that great, but hey, it was an experience right?

Two weekends ago I went to Morocco, and it was an amazing trip! I knew a lot of friends going, so I have been looking forward to it! It was through Discover Excursions, and it was nice because all of our food, transportation, and hotel was paid for in advance. It was nice to have everything planned out for us, but it was a pretty exhausting trip. We first had to take a 7 hour bus from Madrid to Seville to meet up with the tour guides. Once we met up with them we got on another bus, a ferry, and a bus one more time and then finally made it to the hotel. After 12 hours of travelling, we ate dinner at our hotel and then fell asleep. The next day, we took a 2 hour bus ride to Chefchaouen, aka the blue city! Mostly everything is painted blue, and it is really amazing to see. Unfortunately, it was raining a little bit, but I tried to stay optimistic. When we arrived, we had a tour and then some free time. The tour was really interesting because it is an undeveloped city and houses don’t have ovens and there’s also a communal laundry area where they use river water and washboard type things. It was really interesting to see this different way of life and imagine what it would be like to live there.

Of course we wanted to take a million pictures, so we started at the most famous steps in the city. We ran into these two Irish guys who were professional photographers just travelling, and he saw my bright pink umbrella. He asked if he could borrow it, and then went to show me how I could use it as a “prop” to get really good pictures. It was super funny because this guy was doing really girly poses to show me how I can use the prop. (On my instagram you can see that I followed his advice lol). After, we just walked around and ran into a super nice lady doing henna. My friends and I each got a henna on our hand, and then continued walking around the blue city. Overall, it was a really good day and the bus ride back to our hotel had really pretty views!

The blue city!
After we got henna on our hands!

That night, we had some free time and then ate dinner. The meal was actually gluten free itself, so they forgot that the dessert wasn’t and that I couldn’t eat it. When I asked him if it had gluten, he took my plate away and brought me back an apple on a pretty plate lol. All my friends were laughing, but I was fine with it. It was a pretty good apple! After dinner, our tour guides told us to meet us on the top floor for a “surprise”. When we arrived they told us to sit against the walls and then presented a Moroccan show! It consisted of 5 men in traditional outfits and 3 of them were dancing and the other 2 were banging on drums. One of the guys at one point was dancing with a tray of candles on his head! It was really cool and super interesting to see, plus everyone was super into it! Then we joined in and had our own little dance party, which made it a super fun night!

The next day, we went to Tangier. We had a little bus tour around the city, where our tour guide described how Tangier is a rapidly expanding city. He said that in the last 20 years it has grown so much that the airport used to be 10 km outside the city, but is now included in the city limits. It was interesting to see an underdeveloped city and also a developed city that is continuing to expand in the same country. Our first stop in Tangier was to the cave of Hercules. It has a famous cut out in the shape of Hercules’ face that has a view of the ocean. The cave got its name from the legend that Hercules pushed apart Africa and Europe. Also, the tour guide told us that there is only a few times a year that you can actually see the sunset from inside the cave. It was interesting to see! Our next stop was to ride camels on the beach! It was really fun, but also a little scary and bumpy! I seriously thought I was going to fall off lol. The baby camels were super cute, and it was a really cool experience. When else can you say that you rode a camel in Africa? Yeah exactly!

Julia and I riding a camel!
In Tangier by the beach!

After our camel ride, we went to the old section of the city and visited a Moroccan pharmacy where they sold all kinds of natural products. Morocco is known for producing argan oil, so it is actually pretty cheap to buy. In America it is so much more expensive. They sold many different lotions and other products that smelled amazing! There was no way I could walk out without buying something. After that, we spent some time walking around and shopping. Then, we had some lunch and made our way to the ferry to embark on our 12 hour trip back home to Madrid! By the time I got back to Madrid at about 7:30am I was exhausted! It was so much traveling, but definitely worth it in the end!

Last weekend, I stayed in Madrid and got some homework and studying done! I didn’t do too much, so there’s nothing really to blog about. Im super excited about this weekend though because my two cousins, Corrin and Shannon, and also my sister Rachel are coming to visit me! I’ve been a little homesick lately, so I can’t wait to see them and show them around the place I have been calling home for the past 2 and a half months!

San Sebastian and Rome!

San Sebastian and Rome!

Hola!

This blog post is all about my weekends in San Sebastian and Rome! Just warning you now, this is a long one, so make sure you have some time if you wanna read it all.

San Sebastian is a town in northern Spain and it is the cutest little beach town. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a super chill and fun weekend. San Sebastian was about 2 and a half weeks ago, and it was one of my favorite trips. I really enjoyed it! The only thing that got me down was the rain, but it wasn’t too bad. My trip started off with a 7 hour bus ride, which actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Once we arrived, my friends Julia, Rachel, Benita, and I dropped our stuff off at our hostel and then started to walk around. We were blown away by how beautiful it is! We grabbed some lunch and then made our way to the mountain that we were about to hike up so we could watch the sunset. It was kinda rough, but once we made it to the top it was totally worth it. We took a million pics at the top and then found a good spot to watch the sunset. It was so beautiful and an amazing view!

After the sunset, we just grabbed some dinner and walked around a little more. We wanted to get to bed early because in the morning we were supposed to go to a little town in France for a day trip, however, I actually forgot my passport in Madrid! So unfortunately, I couldn’t go. It turned out to be a good thing though because everyone says if you study abroad, you need to go on a solo trip. I had the day in San Sebastian to do whatever I wanted! I ended up at first getting starbucks (of course right?), and then going to the aquarium. I also did some shopping and bought some souvenirs. It was a really good day! I wanted to go to the beach, but it was drizzling on and off almost all day. I did find a pretty cool spot to relax and enjoy the view though! That night, my friends and I tried pintxos, which you have to do when coming to San Sebastian. It’s really cool! Different bars have many plates of food out, and you can try a portion of whatever you want. It costs only 2 euros per portion, which is a pretty good deal! We went to 3 different bars, and the bartenders were super fun to talk to. We also met two australian guys who just graduated high school and took a year off to travel around Europe. It’s easy to meet a lot of cool people from travelling around! The next day, my friends and I went in a cable car up a mountain to see the view! Once we got up there, it was breathtaking! We also got to ride a roller coaster around the top of the mountain. It was actually really fun, and we weren’t expecting it to be like a mini roller coaster. It seemed like we were riding over the ocean, and it was honestly so cool.

After that we made our way down the mountain and found a place to eat lunch. They had really good burgers and gluten free bread. I was super excited about the bread lol. Definitely my chow of the trip. Oh let me explain what that means. My friends and I have a pow, wow, and chow of every trip. The pow is the worst thing that happened, wow is the best, and chow is the best thing you ate or drank. It’s pretty fun comparing everyone’s pow’s, wow’s, and chow’s. Anyway, after we ate we walked around a little more and made our way to the bus station for our 7 hour ride back to Madrid. I really liked this trip, and even though I forgot my passport, everything worked out for the best!

Before we rode the roller coaster on top of the mountain!
View from the top of the mountain!
The beautiful sunset!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay now about Roma! I fell in love with Italy! And it was really cool because it was the first time I was outside of Spain. I kept responding to Italian in Spanish lol. Anyway, the trip started out kinda rough. Because Jackie and I are broke college students, we decided to sleep in the airport the night before our early flight. We decided we would lose some sleep instead of 30 euros on a taxi. Jackie fell asleep, but I was definitely not comfortable to fall asleep on a cold floor. So I got two hours of sleep on the plane and that was it lol. When we arrived in Rome, we got some coffee and did some of the touristy things. We saw the Victor Emmanuel National Monument, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, and also the Pantheon. We ended up getting about 35 thousand steps that day. I was so exhausted! For dinner, Jackie and I met up with our friends who are studying abroad in Rome! I know a lot of people studying in Rome because Loyola actually has a campus there. My friend Francie is in nursing with me and one of my really good friends, so it was really good to see her! At dinner, they had a student deal that included a bunch of food and some wine for only 15 euros each. It was so good and the dessert wine was to die for! After dinner, we were in Rome so of course we had to get gelato. It was probably the best gelato I have ever had! Then, Francie and I went to our hostel to try to get some sleep because we were so exhausted.

Since Francie studies in Rome, she was my tour guide the entire weekend! My second day in Rome consisted of Francie and I going to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We spent the entire day there, but took a break to get some pizza and gelato. I was really surprised how many restaurants offer gluten free pizza and pasta! Because we were at the Colosseum, I had Lizzie McGuire stuck in my head and was constantly singing “What dreams are made of”. It was a really fun day! At night, we went to a gluten free restaurant and as we were walking across the river, we came across a street performer on the bridge. He was amazing! He was singing American songs, so it was really fun to sing along with him. He even attracted a huge crowd of people because it was obvious he loved performing. Francie and I listened to like 10 of his songs before continuing to explore Rome. I got to meet some of her friends and we had a really fun night!

The next day, my last day in Rome, we went to the Vatican to see the pope. He was performing an Angelus ceremony. We didn’t have a good spot, so we could barely see but it was still really cool. After, we went into the St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the largest church in the world. It is crazy how big and beautiful it is! After that, we got lunch and met up with one of Francie’s friends! We did some more touristy things, and then I had the night to myself. I went to get dinner and ate some gluten free pizza one last time. The waiter was super nice and we had a pretty good conversation about travelling and a bunch of stuff. I stayed one more night in the hostel and then woke up early and went to the airport to come home to Madrid. I loved Rome, and so far it is my favorite trip! Rome is amazing, but unfortunately the public transportation sucks, so you can’t expect to get anywhere fast in Rome lol. Other than that, it was an amazing trip! I still can’t believe how much money I spent on food. I had enough pizza, pasta, and gelato to last a lifetime lol. No, I could never get tired of Italian. Well that’s it for now guys! See ya later!

France and I at the Colosseum!
The Colosseum!
Segovia, Madrid, and Cordoba!

Segovia, Madrid, and Cordoba!

Helloooo! 

So, it’s been awhile. I haven’t had the opportunity to make a blog post recently because my computer broke and I wasn’t able to use it for awhile. So, I’m gonna try to catch you guys up on what I have been up to. Because I haven’t posted in awhile, this post won’t have any pictures, but you can see them all on my facebook!

A little over a month ago, I went on a day trip to Segovia with my friends Julia and Rachel. After arriving at the train station, we took a cab to the Roman Aqueduct. It’s original purpose was to bring in water to the city. Now, it’s just kinda there and something that looks really cool. Actually, it is one of the best preserved elevated aqueducts! We then walked to the cathedral and then did a little tour. With it’s beautiful gothic architecture, it was amazing inside and out. After the cathedral, we went to the Alcazar, which means its a Spanish palace of moorish origin. There are many Alcazars around Spain because it is where the royal family would stay when visiting different cities. We decided that paying the extra 2 euros would be worth the view at the top of the castle, and we were right! We had a view of most of the town and could even see the cathedral. The 152 steps were kinda rough, but the view was totally worth it! Overall, the day trip to Segovia was super fun and very interesting!

The next weekend I actually stayed in Madrid and had a very relaxing weekend. It was nice to relax, and catch up with family and friends from home. I think I facetimed different people almost all day long. I realized I couldn’t stay in my room the whole weekend though, so I decided to explore Madrid a little bit more. I ended up going the Prado with some friends, which is an art museum in Madrid. The artwork was super interesting, and it was a pretty good day learning more about the history of Spain. During the week in my flamenco class, we had a super fun day of trying on different flamenco outfits. We had a little photoshoot, and it was so fun! After that, my friend Julia and I went to a cute coffee shop called Monkee Koffee and hung out there for a little bit and did some studying! As a snack, I bought a “bowl of fruit” and it was honestly so good. They mixed the fruit with honey and some other stuff that makes it a pretty popular snack that students get while studying here.

The weekend after that I went to Córdoba with Jackie! It was the weekend of our fall break, so we decided a short two day trip would be perfect. Afterall, we still had midterms that we needed to study for. Córdoba is a super cute town about a 4 hour bus ride away from Madrid! It is full of flowers and narrow cobblestone streets, and I loved it. The only problem about this trip was that Jackie literally almost missed the bus. I was standing in between the door, so the driver wouldn’t leave without her. I thought I was going to have to go by myself, but thankfully she made it! When we arrived, we walked around the town a little bit. It’s a pretty small town, and the main things to see is the cathedral and the alcazar. We did those the second day we were there, so the first day we had a pretty chill day of getting to know Córdoba. Of course, Jackie wanted to go to cien montaditos. I don’t know if I talked about it yet, but it is literally the best place ever. They have the best tinto de verano and it is only 1.5 euros. So, we went to cien and had some tinto and then we ate at The Good Burger. (I know, we are in Spain, and we are eating at an American restaurant? I guess we just miss America lol). We ended up eating there because it was kinda difficult to find gluten free places in Córdoba. We were only there for two days though, so it wasn’t too bad.

So, our second day in Córdoba we did all the touristy stuff. First, we went to the Alcazar. The best thing about it was probably the garden. It was so pretty! Jackie and I enjoyed looking at all the flowers and taking a million pictures. The next thing we did was go to the Mosque that was turned into a Cathedral. It had a mix of Christian and Islamic characteristics that made it super interesting to see. After that, we were starving so we found a place to get lunch. It took so long, and the service was super bad. We ended up getting our food over an hour after we ordered. We did know we were in Spain though, so it was kinda expected. For those who don’t know, bad service is typical in Spain. Don’t expect to have a quick lunch anywhere in Spain. We’ve definitely gotten used to it. Overall, I loved how cute of a town Córdoba was and it was a perfect trip for two days.

My next blog post will be about my weekends in San Sebastian and Rome! You’ll hopefully be hearing from me soon! Hasta luego!

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!

Madrid Madrid Madrid!

Madrid Madrid Madrid!

¡Hola!

So I am now about a week and a half into my study abroad experience, and I’m still having such a great time! Now that I’m getting used to my classes, I am starting to think about the real reason why I came here: to travel! Travelling is my passion, and I can’t wait to plan all the trips I want to take. Even though I can’t wait to travel, most of my friends and students around me are spending their free time looking at flights trying to find the cheapest one. Like how boring is that? I mean I guess it’s cool when you find a good price because then you get to go on an awesome trip for super cheap! However, it’s still a hassle looking up flights all day. I’m not even kidding, so many of us are constantly on our computers and once in awhile you’ll here “omg this flight is 40 euro round trip!”. Then a discussion on if they should just book it now or wait for later. They were making me think that I need to get going on planning my trips, so I decided to book one! My friend and I made the spontaneous decision to go to Mallorca for two days! We’re super excited, and you guys will hear all about it in a couple weeks! However, I can’t go anywhere else until I know more about the city I am living in for 4 months, so this weekend was all about Madrid!

 

We’re always getting coffee somewhere
The Royal Palace of Madrid

My friends and I explored Madrid as best as we could! We first walked around Sol and then went to Retiro park, which is super beautiful. We rented row boats for 6 euros and got to spend an hour rowing around a lake, which was so fun! We also went on a bus tour and saw the amazing architecture and learned a lot of history. On the tour, we also visited the Royal Palace, which is super beautiful! Like if I could live there I totally would. Anyway, it was such an amazing weekend learning all about where I’m going to be living for the next four months!

 

 

At orientation, SLU told us all about how there are different phases of our study abroad experience. First is denial, then we experience culture shock, and then acceptance of our new life here. So basically they told us that we will be so caught up in being here that we will deny that we are homesick or the feeling that we don’t belong. They said that eventually we will fall into a pit of depression and most likely want to go home. They were so brutally honest that we thought they were joking. Unfortunately, they were not. But don’t worry, I haven’t fallen into my pit of depression yet! Hopefully I won’t but apparently it’s inevitable. So that’s fantastic, but it can actually be beneficial to us because we can then learn more about Spain and everything about it. That’s what I’m hoping at least! So right now I am still in love with Madrid and everything about it! My classes are getting a little difficult, so I’m starting to realize that I’m not on vacation and that I still need to focus on school. My classes are super interesting though, so I’m excited for everything that I’m going to learn! I’ll let you all know if I fall into my pit of depression, but honestly if I do I don’t think it will be bad. I’ve already made so many friends, and I can’t wait for all the trips I’m going to go on! Well, that’s it for now! ¡Hasta luego!