The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Rafael Gutierrez

Hola! My name is Rafael Gutierrez, a junior at Loyola University Chicago, studying Political Science and International Studies with a minor in International Business. I grew up in St. Paul MN but now my family lives in Nashville TN. Some of my hobbies include playing soccer, riding my bike, urban exploring and keeping up on current events. I am currently studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain at Universidad Loyola Andalusia through the exchange program my school has set up. I chose to study here because I would like to continue improving my Spanish and learn more about the rich Andalusian history and culture of the city. In addition, I have always had a keen focus on domestic politics, cultural events, history and daily life. I look forward to writing about things of this nature and I hope to encourage others to want to travel and study in the capital of the Andalusia region.
Simplified Spanish Politics: One thing is for sure: New Elections

Simplified Spanish Politics: One thing is for sure: New Elections

The reason for not writing about Spanish politics since my first post is because there frankly has not been any new installments to the procedure until recently.

The Spanish legislative system is organized as a bicameral parliament whereby citizens vote for the representatives of the Senate and Congress of Deputies (which holds most of the power in the bicameral decision making process) through proportional representation of the provinces. These representatives in turn vote for a President of Government which would be their Prime Minister. But before the voting for a President of Government can occur, the political parties represented by the Senators and Deputies must form parliamentary groups due to the fact of the diversity of political parties. The most recent election of representatives produced a situation of “impasse” in which 7 different political parties with a considerable number of representatives were voted in and no clear majority was available to vote in a President. This is the reason why nothing has come about in the months since I last wrong about this situation. Political parties are not very disagreeable. Every political party has a distinct agenda in which their constituency must rely on them to fulfill, for example the Podemos party led by the hippy Pablo Iglesias has a left leaning platform agreeing with PSOE on this matter yet one of its main provisions is that Catalonia should decide its independence. Due to this divisive issue that no other left leaning party agrees with, combined with the fact that Podemos holds 44 seats in the Congress of the Deputies, the situation of impasse has persisted.

Once a parliamentary group has decided they could gain enough of the representatives’ support to vote one of their own as President, their proposed candidate meets with the King of Spain, Felipe VI, to discuss the possibility of being invested in. This procedure is simply a formality given the fact the King doesn’t hold any actual powers, all his decisions are authenticated by corresponding bodies of the government. The leader of the political party then makes a speech in front of the rest of the Deputies and Senators, setting up his plan of action and requests their vote. Once this has taken place, the voting begins. If the invested candidate doesn’t receive the absolute majority in the first round of voting another voting session will take place 48 hours later and if he doesn’t acquire the simple majority in the second round then back to drawing table. If no new president is voted in within 2 months since the first investiture session then new elections are called by the King of Spain.

This is the situation Spanish people find themselves in, their representatives were unable to agree upon a candidate thus new elections on June 25th will take place, in the hope of a different turnout (and not so obstinate representatives).

After onlooking this procedure first hand in Spain, I found it satisfying that in the US we don’t have a multiparty system. Given how difficult it is to come to an agreement with two bipolar parties, I couldn’t imagine adding a third to the mix.

Feria de Abril

Feria de Abril

I could just sense the anticipation and excitement of the Spanish students in my classes for this week of dancing, drinking and eating. Considering it only comes once a year and it’s a tradition that dates back more than 150 years, which most of these students’ families have participated in, I could sort of understand where they’re coming from. But at the same time,was it really that necessary to cancel 3 days of university classes for it (Some students couldn’t even hold themselves back from going to the Feria during Monday and Tuesday’s class).

Sure, it’s a beautiful event to encounter, with the colorful “trajes de flamenco” that women wear and dance in and men dressed in their Sunday’s best but to go everyday of the week and partake in the repetitive action of drinking, eating and dancing, I simply couldn’t fathom. But then again according to the locales it’s one of the most exciting times of year.

The feria takes place every year on the same grounds in the Remedios neighborhood of Sevilla. “Casetas” or little houses that each family or organization sponsors is set up. Inside these casetas there are usually two sections. In the front you will find tables set up to eat and in the back resembles a small disco tech with a hardwood floor and a bar, where people dance Sevillanas. These “Casetas” are usually decorated on the inside with paintings, scarves and objects that represent the cultural history of Sevilla. Also, each facade of the Caseta has a distinct name or image that differentiates it from the rest.

As you walk out of a Caseta you will find yourself in an area called Real de la Feria, where many other families have Casetas. In the streets you will see people chatting in groups and horse drawn carriages and people riding horses. It seems a bit like you’ve been transported back in time with everyone wearing their traditional costumes.  As you walk west you will run into the “Calle del Inferio” or hell road. This area has numerous amusement rides, a circus, and other entertaining fair games. This area also included bumper cars which I partook in with a friend and it had been probably 10 years since I last sat in one. In addition, later in the evening you have impromptu “rebujito” stations composed of a cardboard box and the ingredients that make a “rebujito” on top, which is the official fair drink. The complicated cocktail contains sherry wine and usually 7-up. It’s a sweet and refreshing drink that can ONLY be consumed during the Feria.

In addition, if you are interested, in the center of the city, there are bull fights going on in the official stadium, Plaza de Toros. Though, I was interested in seeing a match they were not only too expensive for my budget but they were also too violent for me to handle.

As I walked the streets of the Feria, observing people from all ages dancing to the sounds of the sevillanas, I could just sense their pride and joy in partaking in these events. La Feria was more than just a once a year fair with tapas, roller coasters and lots of horses, it was a demonstration of their passion, honor and commitment to their rich history and culture.

Semana Santa in Sevilla

Semana Santa in Sevilla

Even though it was 3 weeks ago I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about it since it’s kinda a bit deal here. So what is it right? Semana Santa means Holy Week in Spanish and it’s a very religious celebration the whole week before Easter.

This week is celebrated all around the world in Christian cities but no place does it like Sevilla. Everyday during this religious week there are what they call “pasos de cofradias” in which a team of “costaleros” (sack men in spanish) carry on their backs heavy lifelike wood or plaster sculptures of individual scenes from Jesus’ arrest and his burial and images of the Virgin Mary showing grief for the torture and killing of her son.

In Sevilla, and many other Andalusia cities, they close down the main streets in the old center and place barriers so that people can’t walk in front of these processions. This creates a maze for pedestrians to try to navigate the city because it forces people to venture into the back alleys and hidden streets of the center to find an alternative path. In front of the cofradias walk the “penitentes”, who dress in long purple robes and they are the ones who are deeply asking for forgiveness. There are also people dressed in white robes with pointy hats which are referred to as “Nazarenos” and these costumes are hard to ignore given their resemblance to what KKK members in the US wear. But of course this tradition has been going on for hundreds of years so we must respect the cultural relativism. The “Nazarenes” sometimes walk barefoot and even have chains around their ankles to resemble their attachment to Jesus during this time. Also, some processions have music accompanied by a Capella choirs while others are quiet and somber.

This is really peaceful time in Sevilla. Most shops are closed and people gather in the streets to pray and pay tribute to churches and the bear witness to the cofradias making their way through the streets. This is another unique cultural celebration that shouldn’t be ignored during your visit to Sevilla.

Spring Break 2016

Spring Break 2016

I realized that after booking my flight to Milan and Paris for Spring Break 2016, every single previous Spring Break of my college career I traveled abroad, so it was no surprise to me that I was going to travel again this time around. During my freshman year I participated in the Rome Start program and I went to Amsterdam and Berlin. Then during sophomore year, I booked a flight to Tel Aviv using a $400 credit I’d received for being bumped off a plane during Christmas. And this year, I decided to go to Milan and Paris. In addition, I had the opportunity to travel to Gibraltar.

This time around, though, I was fortunate to travel with my girlfriend, so it made the trip much more comforting. The first place we went to was Gibraltar, which is nothing like Spain in which it is connected to but that makes sense because it’s actually part of the UK . I could go into a long history of why its part of Britain but I’ll spare you the bore and instead summarize with it: Spain ceded the land in exchange for an agreement to have the monopoly of African slaves in 1704. A.K.A. brilliant British imperialistic move. Highlights of Gibraltar were the spectacular views of the coat facing Morocco and visiting the wild monkeys on top of the massive rock, which you simply cannot miss. Besides this, unless you enjoy British food or miss reading road signs in english, there isn’t much to do and one day there is plenty.

Next, we flew to Milan with Ryanair for under $60 and stayed the first night a few blocks away from Il Duomo, the centerpiece of Italian gothic architecture and also main landmark in Milan. Milan is a hustling and bustling city with people dressed nicely but with little tolerance for tourists. Clearly the largest city in Italy right when you step off the plane and take 35 minutes to get into downtown and all you see out the window are harrowing concrete apartments and billboards for FIAT cars. Again, Milan is a one day city, tops two. Given its reputation for fashion, I researched some shops that sold surplus designer clothing and found a few. But again, its high end designer clothing so even 50-60 percent off is still far more than I would spend on a t-shirt. Of course, the architecture in Milan is gorgeous and should not be taken for granted, so if anything I enjoyed walking around the city.

After the first night in Milan, we took the train to Turin and spent a day exploring the charming and friendly city. I received great vibes from this city and would like to visit again in the future. Everywhere we went people were as flighty as they could get. The man working in the pizza shop joyfully inquiring about us to the drivers stopping for us even when there were no stop signs. The friendliness was palpable compared to other Italian cities in the south and Milan. In Turin, there seems to be more to see than Milan and much easier to get around (by foot). There is the Mole Antonelliana (a massive spire that formed part of a former synagogue and now is National Museum of Cinema), the Turin Cathedral in which you can find the world famous Shroud of Turin, the Royal Palace of Turin and finally the second largest Museum of Egyptian antiquities in the world. All worthwhile destinations.

We then took the train further south and west to a little town called Bra. This was where would spend the night and get some fresh country air. But to be honest, we came here to visit my sister who was studying at the nearby University of Gastronomic Sciences. But I deeply missed the countryside and longed for it once we left the next morning. Also, the train system in Italy is good; nothing like the train in Spain that is monopolized by the government so they charge ridiculous prices for short trips. In Italy, it is much different, there are two big train companies that offer many options for time and price. So for a round trip ticket from Milan to bra, it cost me $25, with a 7 hour layover in Turin. I would highly recommend taking the train to get around Italy.

After our countryside adventure and visiting two of Italy’s largest cities, we headed to Beauvais from Milan for around $36 (again Ryanair). We actually did not fly into Paris, I would like to make this completely clear,  Beauvais is a town in the north of France (50 miles from Paris) but Ryanair claims it an airport that represents Pars, trust me it’s far from it. This transfer of settings no problem thanks to blabla car and an online website that provides a seat in someone’s car. This was perfect for two travelers searching a cheap ride to the real Paris. When we arrived to Paris we had to take the metro a few stops to arrive to our hotel which was conveniently located practically right in the middle of map of paris and just smudge to the north. This was all too convenient that the plethora of transportation methods. The hard part was choosing what to do with only 3 days. This was far far too little when you consider what this city has to offer, you could spend your whole life here and still not see it all. Since I had been to Paris a few times in the past I wanted to dedicate this trip to the not so seen neighborhoods of this fine city. So one of our days there, we rented velibs or the bike renting service which is only 1.70 euro per day for the first 30 minutes, and explored the part of the city that was off the beaten trail. We hit up the Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement and also the Canal St. Martin. Both very worthwhile areas that few tourist were found in. And for dinner we went to the world famous Chipotle Mexican Grill. Yes, I know what you may be thinking, “what the hell are you thinking?!”. Well I’ll tell you exactly what. The fact of the matter was I simply was craving far too much to not go and my palette simply wasn’t into the french cuisine not was my wallet.

All in all, by the time Monday rolled around, I had forgotten all the places I had been because time went by so quickly. But as the old saying goes, all good things don’t like forever. My only hope is that I’ll be able to follow this past break with one in 2017 that will be just as action packed and thrilling.


Sports Day and All-inclusive Vacation

Sports Day and All-inclusive Vacation

A few weeks back I received an email from the sports coordinator of Loyola in Sevilla inviting all the international students to a sports day hosted at Universidad Loyola’s Cordoba campus. I participated realizing the travel was covered. But to my surprise only about 5 other international students accepted. I was able to have my ass handed to me in tennis and failed miserably at playing basketball. My skill level in both sports were at a terribly low level, especially in basketball where I can’t even handle the ball at full speed nor shoot the ball without being off by more than a foot.

But to my surprise I received another email from the same sports coordinator at Loyola a week after the sports day, asking if I wanted to join the team and play in a national Jesuit tournament. I accepted, again, because everything was paid for, including the hotel room and all the meals. Easily a no-brainer and an excuse to see another town in Spain.

The tournament took place in Úbeda. Also, in Andalusia like Sevilla but a much smaller town feel to it. Also, it was situated on a hill. The bus ride was 3 hours and a rollercoaster of comfort. When we first got onto the bus it was hot but as I feel asleep I was awaken by cool air blasting through the vents. Then hot again and the process continued for the majority of the trip. But once we got there I was ready to rumble. Wearing my Nike running shoes and asics shorts, I was ready to play. There were two sets of teams, like any team, the starters and the second string. I formed part of the second string in all sports. I would only come on for short periods of time if one of our main team members was tired or got injured. It was a rough game, both because my teammates kept getting tired and for me because I played a lot more than I anticipated. The match ended with the other team beating us by at least 15 points. But I wasn’t sad because I kept looking forward to the fine hotel we checked into later that evening, which I would later find out was a four star establishment.

My objective on this trip was not to win games but rather bath in the freeness of the weekend. I did accomplish this all without spending a dime. Later that afternoon, there was an award ceremony which Loyola won handily in the majority of categories. I was then truly proud to represent the Loyola Andalusia basketball team. Then at night a group of students went out to what I was told the only club in town and of course the only genre of music they played was reggaeton. But by now I need to assume that if the club is located in Spain then they will only play that kind of music.

The next morning we all left Úbeda on the school charted bus and headed home. It turned out to be a relaxing and enjoyable weekend without having to spend anything. I thought about if this could be realized at Loyola in Chicago and I thought never would the school pay for everything of this sort of club teams, even if we were regional champions and fortunate enough to have the opportunity to represent our school at the national tournament as the club soccer team did. But anyways, another reason to study here and bath in the glory of automatically making the basketball team by just showing up.

Sevilla: (Trying to be) The Bike Friendly City

Sevilla: (Trying to be) The Bike Friendly City

When I first arrived to Sevilla, I knew right away I wanted to buy a bike. One of my favorite hobbies is riding my bicycle and exploring new parts of the city, so after two weeks of longing for one I finally bought one from Decathlon (a Europe-wide sports store). The least expensive bike the store had was the one I chose. A simple, single-gear, foldable bike was what I was looking for and that’s what I got. I spent 160 euros for it and another 15 for a chain lock.

Finally, I was mobile on two wheels. The speed of travel that bikes provide especially in cities like Sevilla where there is only one metro line going east-west and a slow bus system that stop at every stop. Biking is the way to go as long as you know what your doing (and those around you). Another plus, is that the city of Sevilla has over 75 miles of designated bike paths all around the city center and outskirts as well which you would hope would make the city a great destination for bikers. But that is not all the truth, although the bike paths on city streets exist, locals and tourists alike do not respect the paths. People here are oblivious to their even existence which is extremely frustrating when trying to get Uni on time. I frequently find myself use my bell to inform people that they are about to get run over. But the truth is that I cannot complain I am glad that Sevilla is trying to become more like other Nordic countries and establish bike paths that serve the whole community but certainly more signs must be placed around the city informing pedestrians they are walking on a bike only path. Also, keep an eye out for cars. I have recently almost gotten hit by inattentive drivers who think they always have the right of way. Usually they turn and seeing there are not pedestrians they are good to go but bikers exist as well.

Although, these bike paths are extremely expansive and you’ll find them on a continuous network all throughout the city, the planners had to compromise with nature. Some paths are narrow slivers of green path and others in which you must avoid trees. Even sometimes they merge with the road but the green path will continue to guide you with convinient barriers to protect you from malicious cars. One other thing to note is that although there are many miles of bike paths in Sevilla, the city center is where it really lacks. The narrow, cobblestone streets do not make an ideal path for bikes and are extremely painful to bike on given their uneven nature but I suppose there is always a plus to things and consider it as an excuse to ride slower and enjoy the gorgeous sites.

El Carnaval de Cadiz

El Carnaval de Cadiz

This past weekend I visited the coastal town of Cadiz to participate in the Carnaval of Cadiz. Thanks to I Love Spain, a student travel agency, and 22 euros I got to sit on a coach bus for one-and-a-half hours each way with other students from Loyola and University of Sevilla. I looked at this opportunity as a way to see a new city and finally see the ocean. As it turned out, I was indeed able to see the ocean but didn’t really get to know the city itself. For one, there were hundreds of belligerent kids in costume running around yelling and trashing the poor city, impaired my impression of it. Also, I was expecting some performances by the chirigotas, which are satirical groups but I saw non of this because I was too preoccupied with finding the ocean. This I was able to accomplish but no thanks to the poor guidance of what I thought were local residents. But alas the ocean! The great open sea, that I so longed to see. I walked down to the edge of the water and simply sat there enjoying the sounds of the waves crashing nearby. The good life had finally arrived but was unfortunately interrupted by the loud sounds of rambunctious children in the city. As I returned to the center of Cadiz, I tried to locate myself on a map and realized Cadiz was in fact a peninsula sticking out from southwest Spain! But the streets very much reminded me of a medieval Andalusian city with the charm of a coastal town and the wind is something to note – constant and powerful.

As I rode the bus back to Sevilla at 2 am,  back to civilized law and order, I thought to myself this can’t be the Cadiz that people had referred to as the “little Havana” of Spain. Was this Carnaval a real tradition or simply an excuse to get drunk and pass out in the streets? There must be more to this city that people traveling here are missing out on.

Simple Spanish Politics: A Background

Simple Spanish Politics: A Background

As the weeks go by and I continue to live and study in Sevilla, I’ve begun to try to uncover deeper layers of Spanish society and one that cannot go unnoticed especially in 2016 is Spanish politics. As one fellow student told me, “It’s a mess”. As I read through news articles from El Pais and El Mundo, Spain’s leading newspapers and also some outside media, I begin to understand the current scene a little better.

So let’s start from the beginning of the current “mess” which happened a little more than a month ago, on December 20th 2015, Spain held the most heated elections since the post Franco era in 1977. Four major political parties went head to head in general elections to elect all 350 seats in Congress of Deputies and 208 seats out of 265 seats in the Senate, which together formed the Cortes Generales, Spain’s bicameral legislature. For decades though Spain’s two major political parties had been the only players in town. If you prefered the right of the political spectrum you voted Partido Popular (PP), and if you leaned to the left you would vote for the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). Voting for any other party would have been a wasted vote, similar if you were to vote for the Green Party in the US.

But this year was quite different; there were two new cowboys in town. The Podemos Party, a newly formed party unmistakably on the far left. Which was led by energetic Pablo Iglesias, a self-defined Marxist with a knack for populism and emanating a hippie vibe with his long ponytail and casual apparel.

The second – Ciudadanos – a party whose voters historically supported the policies of the PP but have increasingly grown weary of the PP’s recent stream of corruption scandals. The leader Albert Rivera has been referred by many in the Spanish press as a ‘politibot’ due to his robot-like prescence and sole purpose of leading a political party. He is young, clean cut, good looking, boasts a nice head of hair and without a doubt, an expert at kissing babies.

So how did these two new parties gain so much popularity that they were able to take hold of 105 seats in the Congress of Deputies, creating a political standstill? One must take a look at what is going on overall in Europe. Migrants are rushing to the shores of Europe demanding humanitarian assistance, Europe is still recovering from one of largest financial crisis in a generation and finally with corruption scandals across Europe and especially in Spain, voters domestically were ready for change in political parties.

Now, Spanish voters have demonstrated their opinions by casting their votes for new parties and have upset the powerful Partido Popular. Without an outright majority the party’s leader and current Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, is currently meeting with the King of Spain Felipe VI (a ceremonial procedure) to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition of parties to take control of the Congress of Deputies. But recent news has indicated that no party wants to cooperate and form an alliance. If this is the case, another election may take place to produce new results. I shall keep the readers updated of the unfolding events here in the coming weeks but at the moment there is a hung parliament.

Second Week in Sevilla

Second Week in Sevilla

The good part of going to a new place is that the first two weeks always seem like a nonstop party. Every new turn you take in the city or every new activity you embark on feels like a constant adventure and keeps you engaged for a long time. Sevilla is a small city yet I continue to find new paths to take on my bike and I continue my best to get to the know the city.

Another thing that is unique is the schooling system; at first resembles in many ways the American university system, classes twice a week, lectures that try to involve the class and sometimes discussions. But then you look at the syllabus and realize that in most of the classes the final exam is worth 70% of the final grade! This is extremely intimidating and most of all keeps you on your toes because you realize that anything the professor talks about throughout the course could be on the final. In addition, the grading scale here is different, to pass the class you must receive a 5 out of 10, which doesn’t seem that difficult until I heard from a professor that in the Macroeconomics course of last semester, only 47% of the class passed, it becomes even more alarming. Though, I’m not sure if that is just a reflection of the poor studying on the part of the students or if the exam was actually impossible. I’m hoping for the former. Also fortunately, I won’t be taking any Economics courses but rather taking law and international relations classes though I still may have trouble understanding the professor. In three of my classes the lectures are in Spanish, fortunately two of my profesors have allowed me to take the final in English (who knows if that will make it easier) while my fourth class is all in English. So far in all my classes there has been a lot of lecture which is boring but I have to keep reminding myself about the final and I have forced myself to continue to review the notes.

As my second week in Sevilla comes to a close, I continue to find the most mundane of bike rides a constant thrill. Also as I ride by the historic center I often stop and stare in admiration at the gorgeous architecture, especially in Plaza de España and next to the Cathedral of Sevilla. Places that will soon fall into the background of the city, still leave a deep impression on me.

First Week in Sevilla

First Week in Sevilla

Its been a week since I set foot on Spanish soil and the time has flown by. They always say the first week is the fastest but I must brace myself for the next weeks to come. First weeks in new places always seem like a party, many of my colleagues went out and got to know the bar and disco-tech scene in Sevilla. I participated but I only during the odd days of the week. I am living with a host family after all and I feel responsible to inform then of my whereabouts, although they are very flexible with my last minute plans.

It surprises very much me that I am the only student staying with a host family out of 41 other International students (Erasmus, as they are referred to in Europe). I don’t quite understand the logic behind their choices, if they wish to learn more about the local practices and language why wouldn’t they want to do it. I guess most people have a different agenda than me and would prefer to not have any constraints on the impromptu schedule.

As far as my host family goes, they feel like my second grandparents. Both welcoming and friendly. The grandfather is an avid soccer fan of the local Sevilla FC team and watches every La Liga match on TV. The grandmother is articulate with her kindness and cooks me a delicious dinner every night. They have a large extended family who come over every Friday to have lunch and socialize. The grandparents have four children to which three of them have at least two children. So lets just say every Friday its like a little party here.

Living with a host family, in my opinion, is a must if you really want to get a closer understanding of how a new society functions and it’s an excellent way to continue practicing the language. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons why you chose to study abroad? Some people’s concerns are that the host parents will impose draconian law on you and will not let you ‘go out’. But this should not be the case, the key is communication. First thing it to get your host parents numbers and use WhatsApp to message them your whereabouts. It’s just like living your own parents in the US. You need to build trust between them and after a few nights of returning on time, they will have faith in you that you will make the right decision.

Highlights from my first week are as follow: going to my first Sevilla FC match at their home stadium (which happens to be 1 block away from where I’m living, in an area called Nervión). There really isn’t anything like it in the US. Sports team in the US are a predominately new phenomena and there exists many sports teams to be a fan of, which dilutes the overall force behind a particular team. In Spain and much of Europe soccer is the main sport to watch, play and root behind. In addition, most cities have only one high level team so the passion is increased even higher. To top it off, most soccer teams have been in continuous business for over one hundred years (Sevilla FC was founded in 1890!), so generations and generations of families have supported the same team and have been there at every up and down.

Next highlight is that I bought a folding bike. In my opinion this the best way to see and get to know the ins and outs of a large city. When you bike you have the freedom to go anywhere you’d like but without the hassle of having to stick to the road; you can go up on side walks and make illegal turns. This will also be my main form of transportation to and from the University. The ride to school is around 20 minutes and it certainly beats the time it takes to ride on the public bus and beats paying at least 10 euros for a taxi.

Finally, right off the bat I’ve gotten to know quite a few people at the university, mostly international students but also some Spanish students. The International students are predominantly from Europe, i.e. Germany, Finland and The Netherlands but there are also some students from Central and South America, i.e. Peru, Guatemala and Mexico. I like to hang out with the latter students because then I get even more practice in Spanish.

In conclusion, my first week has been a smooth transition from my Chicago life (even though the first few days I felt like I was living in the 3rd dimension due to the jet lag), I am taking four interesting classes: International Public Law, International Markets, EU Law and Constitutional and Territorial Organization of the State. The grandparents I am living with have been treating very well and I the students I have been meeting are interesting. To top it off, the school lunches are still provided by Aramark but it certainly couldn’t be the prison level experience because the food tastes 3x better than those at the Lake Shore campus.

Stay tuned for more in-depth cultural and political analysis next time.