Week 8- Fall Break-Italy!

This week my friend and I spent our whole week in Italy. It was a really neat experience and I loved it. We started off in Rome and I must say Rome is really great it’s filled with so much history. I really enjoy living in Europe because there is so much history background. There’s no just starting at when America was discovered but there’s so much more here! People lived here long before and it is so cool to see all the ancient buildings and things left behind. Rome I’d say was the most history filled city I’ve see with all the Romans left behind.

Colosseum in Rome

Colosseum in Rome

After Rome we headed to Milan and that wasn’t too excited other than seeing the duomo and the shopping center. Milan I feel was one of the cities I found to be least pretty, it reminded me of a suburb with not a lot of money. There was a lot of fog and smog there too. It wasn’t the prettiest of cities. After Milan we headed to Florence and I must say Florence was by far my favorite place of Italy. Florence was breathtaking! I felt Florence was the city I fell most in love with.

The Duomo in Florence

The Duomo in Florence

The view from a hill. Beautiful!

The view from a hill. Beautiful!

We’ve seen so much history and been to so many museums while in Europe it’s all been so neat. I must say the pasta is better in Italy and i fell in love with tiramisu! it was so good, i want to learn how to make it. Tiramisu is an Italian dessert kind of like cake made with a cream filling and a taste of coffee. It’s really yummy.  After Florence we headed to Venice and that too did not disappoint. It is so neat to see a city off in an island and all the different islands are connected by bridges.While I was there I heard that Venice might be under water in the future, since the water is rising.

Tiramisu in a cup! so good.

Tiramisu in a cup! so good.

Venice, only way to get around is by boat or walking over bridges.

Venice, only way to get around is by boat or walking over bridges.

At the end of the trip i was exhausted and we didnt get back till Sunday and unlike back home once were out of the airport we have to take public transportation back to segovia. First the metro then the hour long bus ride we were so happy to be back in segovia. We missed our home.

Some differences and similarities I found was that wherever we went to any restaurant or place they never picked up after themselves. In europe everyone eats a three course meal, even at restaurants. They always sold beer at mcdonalds which was something different and they always had a mccafe like an actual cafe, in its own area. Unlike the U.S i feel that they’re a bit more proper when eating their meals and with the alcohol part they’re just more accustomed to it, like alcohol isn’t seen as a bad thing, it’s what everyone drinks.

Back in America

Now that I’m back in the states it’s been quite the adjustment. My biggest problem was adjusting to the time difference. I would wake up way too early at times but I would fall back asleep later. I’m really glad I get a few weeks off before heading back to school. I really need this time to adjust, get used to things, and reconnect with people I missed.

The first thing I did when I got home around 1am was shower and fall asleep but the next morning my moms delicious tamales were waiting for me. I sure missed my moms cooking so much!

I feel like i’ve had to adjust to being around all the americans and speaking english now. English is all around me and I have to get used to speaking it on a daily basis. I still get flashbacks of Spain but I don’t miss it terribly.. yet. It feels like the 3 months were a dream. I still can’t believe I was in Europe.

A lot of friends and family want to know all about my trip and it feels like I say the same thing over and over, I think i’ll make a script and repeat it to every person that asks. I really enjoy showing all the pictures I took and reminiscing on the memories.

I feel study abroad has helped me tremendously, i definitely grew as a person and experienced new things. My life will forever be marked by my study abroad experience.

Week 12- Thanksgiving

This week we had out thanksgiving dinner AHA does for us. It was potluck style but we did have a turkey which was really good.Like any celebration people celebrate in Spain we had our lunch at a restaurant near our school. We all dressed up went to class then headed to the restaurant to eat.

The turkey!

The turkey!

How we felt when we were done.

How we felt when we were done.

Overall this week went well. Classes went well and outings with the group are always fun. I finally feel like Segovia is my second home. I’m accustomed to the culture and the living, it’s going to be different when I go home.

 

Week 7- Midterms

After our last week of great excursions it was time to get back to study mode and focus because midterms were up next. Unlike back home we didn’t get a study guide to know what was going to be on the test but we did have review days which were really helpful because our professors let us know what was going to be on our tests. I was a bit nervous for these tests because they were going to be in a whole different language and although I know the language it was still nerve racking because maybe I’d forget what to say and how to write it in spanish. But just like back at WOU our tests were split up into two days, half the classes Wednesday and the other half on Thursday.

Monday and Tuesday consisted of review and lots of studying. On mondays i also have my internship at Caritas. I really enjoy volunteering there, the people are all so nice and after a few weeks we’ve had a good group of 10 people that come on a daily basis and really want to learn. We have a diverse group of people in our class we have people that have never learned any english and then we have others that know a few things and are a little better at English but they’re all learning. Pronunciation is the key thing everyone needs help with.

Caritas, The organization where I volunteered at.

Caritas, The organization where I volunteered at.

Since we all had midterms coming up we all headed to a cafe to study all together. I’ve developed a slight addiction to Cafe con Leche (Coffee with milk) it’s really good. I’ve noticed the coffee here is a lot more strong and the amount you get is way smaller. A lot of people get what looks like a shot of coffee, i dont know how they can handle that, i bet it’s really strong. After talking to one of my proffs he mentioned a lot of people here like the strong stuff and even dark chocolate is preferd more than milk chocolate. Talking about chocolate, I miss hershey’s chocolate, they dont have that here but tehy do have Kinder and Milka which I believe is chocolate from germany. Chocolate from Spain is Valor.

Cafe con leche and a piece of bread

Cafe con leche and a piece of bread

I feel midterms went well and once they were over it was time for fall break! Italy for 10 days! I’m really excited! Rome-Milan-Florence and Venice. It’s going to be quiet the trip with just my friend alison and I but i’m excited. First off is Rome we left Thursday night and arrived Friday morning. And so the Italy adventure began!

Week 15 – Farewell Barcelona

Well, the time to leave Barcelona has come and gone (Sorry about my last post being late, again). This week was really stressful and emotional for me. Bank account was going down, finals this week, and having to say good by to all my friends and leaving Barcelona. I didn’t get a chance to explore Barcelona much this week, I really had to focus on my studies to make sure I did well in all of my classes. I was surprised to find that my classes and finals were more intense here than at home (in my opinion at least).

After finals were finished we had a farewell dinner with our whole program and we all ate typical spanish food one last time and talked about our past semester here and how fast it went by. Our program director also made a video for us with all of our excursions and it made me realize how many amazing trips we all took together, and how close we’ve all gotten. Leaving this amazing group of people was one of the hardest and emotional things i’ve ever had to do. We became our own little family.

Another guy in the program actually made his on video of all of us from his point of view in Barcelona and I just wanted to watch it over and over again! I can’t believe its over. I am happy to be home, but I will always cherish my time in Barcelona and the amazing people I met during my time there. I didn’t realize how much my time here had changed me. It opened my eyes to other cultures, made me more patient, more open to taking risks, and asking for help. It’s helped shape me to be a better student, and a better person.

Week 14 – Last full week in Barcelona

It’s hard to believe that my time here in Barcelona is coming to an end. I just have this week and then its finals week. I am almost wishing I would have decided to stay through one more weekend after finals to hangout with other people in my program. I have become to close to other students in my CISabroad program and BarcelonaSAE, It feels like i’ve know these people my whole life. Leaving them and not knowing when i’ll see them next will be one of the hardest things about leaving Barcelona.

Since I had so much homework this week I didn’t get a chance to explore Barcelona much this week, but I did find out about a local hangout and awesome view point called “Bunker del Carmel.” I had time between classes one day and decided to take the easy hike up there, and oh was it worth it. It’s the best view point i’ve seen since to date of Barcelona. It made the Sagrada Familia look small! I could see the whole entire city, and I could see all the different barrios (neighborhoods).

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I also treated myself to a “fish pedi” this week, which I think may be illegal in the US? Not quite sure, but it was one of the strangest things i’ve ever done! It felt so weird knowing fish were bitting off dead skin on my feet, It took me a minute or so to stop laughing. I also went to a local brunch restaurant called “Brunch and Cake” where they only serve bunch, and all day. It was one of the best meals i’ve had in Barcelona!

Week 13 – Vienna, Prague, and Budapest (Last weekend of traveling!)

I finally got around to seeing Gaudi’s church or otherwise known as La Sagrada Familia, and it happens to be maybe a 10 minute walk from my apartment so I see it from the outside all the time. Seeing it from the inside was just crazy, Gaudi’s work is almost unreal. Everything is so detailed, unique, and properly placed. The stain glass windows on the inside illuminate shades of a rainbow through out the church, which just adds to its beauty. The work on the church began on 19 March 1882 from a project by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. At the end of 1883 Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works, a task that he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

Inside La Sagrada Familia

Inside La Sagrada Familia

It felt like I had just returned from Morocco when I had to turn around and repack for my next trip! Myself and two other girls in my program decided to do a “mini Eastern Europe” tour for our final weekend of traveling. We flew to Vienna from Barcelona and wow is it beautiful! Reminded me a lot of Paris, just smaller but equally as “posh.” We visited a few churches and a house that was known as the “tree house” and walked around the city. The next night we went to Prague and it was an interesting city, we walked up and thru the Prague castle, saw the John Lennon wall, and the  “old town” of the city, but didn’t get to see as much as we’d like since we only had one day.

Christmas Markets in Vienna

Christmas Markets in Vienna

St vitus cathedral in Prague

St vitus cathedral in Prague

Parliament in Budapest

Parliament in Budapest

The next two days were spent in Budapest, which was definitely my favorite of the three! Everyone we met was so nice and welcoming. The buildings/neighborhoods were beautiful, food was good, and there was a lot to do. We visited the parliament, a cave church, walked around town, and went to a bathhouse. A bathhouse can vary by definition, but the one we went to in Budapest was like a huge outdoor hot tub that people hang out in, but also a spa. We all got massages, it was so relaxing. The parliament was really fun to tour actually, we got the tour in spanish to challenge ourselves…it was still quite hard to understand. I originally didn’t plan on making this trip, mostly because I had no interest or any idea what there was to do or see in these countries/cities. I am so glad that I did go though, I saw some beautiful places and learned a lot about these countries. It also hit me that my time to leave is fast approaching, and I don’t want to leave! Three months have passed by way too fast.

Week 12 – Morocco

This weekends trip was through a non-profit organization called Morocco Exchange, and their whole goal is to give you a real non-touristy experience; which I feel like I definitely got. We missed a day of class this week in order to do the program Nov 21-24th. We arrived in Tangier, Morocco about 230 pm that Thursday and thats where we met our program coordinator Kristen, I went with a bunch of people in my program since we were all encouraged to do this particular program ( a group of about 15 people).  I went into this very open minded because I honestly I had no idea what to expect, and after weeks of traveling around Europe i’ve learned that nothing is going to be like what I expect!

Roof top of the women's center- Tangier.

Roof top of the women’s center- Tangier.

We started our trip with a drive to the local women’s center in Tangier and got to learn about the program that they have there, which is for women to come in, pay a small fee, and they are taught a skill. The main skill that was taught was two different types of rug making (modern and traditional) so that they can make a living with this learned skill. We also got the opportunity to ask anything we’d like to the women who ran the women’s center while we were eating dinner, it was interesting to learn about what they think about the U.S and current issues around the world. They were all every educated and open to answering all of our questions and I really enjoyed the time I had there.

Our room at our home stay in Rabat

Our room at our home stay in Rabat

We left that evening and had about a 3 hour car ride to Rabat, which is the Capitol where we would meet our host families for the next two nights. The drive went by fast and myself and two other friends of mine in the program grouped together for the same host family. One of the girls in our home spoke english very well, but everyone else…not so much. The language barrier was a little strange at first, but after getting to know the family and eating dinner it didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. I don’t know how to explain it, but even without being able to communicate to our “host mom” we still all felt very welcomed. The food we ate was AMAZING, possibly the best meals i’ve eaten since I started school in Barcelona. We all at together out of a communal dish, very different, but I got used to it.

dinner at our home stay

The next day we got the opportunity to hang out with Moroccan college students in the area, and I went in thinking they might be a little more conservative than maybe other students in the U.S but oh was I mistaken. They we’re all so open with everything! We talked about everything from gay rights to our favorite musicians/actors; it was so much fun and an awesome learning experience. We hung out at the beach and conversed over some hot chocolate, it was a good day. This night was our last night with our host families and it was so sad leaving, they all made me feel so welcomed and told us we could come back and stay whenever we liked.

Houses in Chefchaouen

Houses in Chefchaouen

Our last full day was spent in Chefchaouen , which is a much smaller town than Rabat or Tangier, and almost all of the houses there are painted some shade of blue and its absolutely beautiful. We got to meet with a family in a small village for lunch, we had to hike through a bit of mud since it was rainy, but definitely worth it. We all cut up bread, fruits, vegetables, and meat and sat around a table cloth and ate together. We got to ask the family questions about their lives on the farm the dad owned, and basically how life is there for them. The next morning at about 6:45 am we all woke up and went on a small hike to the Rif Mountains to see a view of the whole village from a high point, and oh was it beautiful. The sun was rising over the mountains and you could see for miles and miles. Unfortunately, after this we had to head out to the airport and back to Barcelona for the rest of our Sunday.

Village view from the Rif Mountains in Chefchaouen.

Village view from the Rif Mountains in Chefchaouen.

This particular trip was very eye opening for me, I didn’t feel like a tourist in this country I got the opportunity to feel like apart of a family and see these cities from a locals point of view. Learning about a Islamic country was so intriguing and eye opening, and it has me more of an educated person and also made me appreciate the luxuries I have in Barcelona and at home. I will definitely go back someday! I loved every minute spent in Morocco.

Week 11 Paris

So this week was pretty normal, homework, class, coffee, and caught up on a few of my favorite American shows. In my Urban approach to Spain and Europe class we went on a field visit to the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona. This particular area is focused on art, culture, and music. It’s an up and coming part of the city, it has an urban feel to it with a mixing of low/high income residents and housing. There are a bunch of cute “artsy” shops, vegan/vegetarian restaurants, vintage shops, and graffiti in every corner. It’s probably my favorite neighborhood in Barcelona. The city has made it a priority to rebuild and bring people to the neighborhood, and it’s actually the only neighborhood in Barcelona where the foreigners outweigh the born residents with 60% of the residents being immigrants. That was the highlight of my week, and then this weekend I went to Paris! It was a really short trip though, a Friday to Sunday. I saw the Eiffel tower (of course), Norte Dame, the “lock bridge”, Moulin Rouge,  walked around downtown Paris, and the Luxembourg Gardens. We didn’t get time to go to The Louve, but definitely doing that next time I go, because there will definitely be a next time!

La Raval field visit

La Raval field visit

Norte Dame

Norte Dame

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

Week 10 London

This week I made a spontaneous trip to London with one of my friends here! We literally decided to book tickets/hostel just two weeks before. London was probably one of my favorite trips. I got to see and take a ride on the London eye and see a view of all of London, it was incredible. I also took the “Queens walk” where you walk along the river and see all of the bridges, graffiti, and a lot of shops. I also went to Buckingham Palace, which was beautiful but I honestly thought it would be bigger! Its crazy to think that I was right outside the royal palace. It was really nice to be able to communicate easily with everyone because they all speak English! Don’t get me wrong I love Spain, but it was nice meeting locals and being able to keep conversations going. We didn’t get the chance to visit any museums but we did stumble into a modern art gallery along the Queens walk and got to appreciate some of the local artists work. I didn’t do much in Barcelona this week, it was one of the girl’s birthdays so we all went out to dinner, and I didn’t have much homework so you could say it was a good fun filled week.

View from the London Eye and Big Ben

View from the London Eye and Big Ben

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Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace