I am very sad to say that this will be my last post on my study abroad blog. Over the past 4 months I have learned so much, about the world and myself. I’ve been so blessed to have this experience and live my dreams. I am happy that I decided to blog about my journey, and have followers like you supporting me throughout all my adventures…so thank you!
There are many people that I could not have done all of this without, and I just want to give them all a quick shout-out.
- Thanks to my Nana and Papa for always supporting me…even though I know you worried every single day about me! Thanks for being my #1 blog followers too!!
- Thanks to my brother, who always managed to tease me on Skype and make me feel like I was back home.
- Thanks to my best friends, who kept me laughing 3,000 miles away and always cheered me up when I was homesick.
- Thanks to Mark, who bravely watched me venture across the world, to live in Spain for 4 months, with a smile on his face. That’s not an easy task for a boyfriend to do, and I am so grateful for his non-stop support in every new adventure I take on!
- Thanks to my past teachers and professors (some of whom follow my blog), for helping to shape me into the person I am today. I would have never been interested in international relations, Spanish or traveling if it weren’t for some of my favorite teachers/professors who inspired me! (You know who you are.)
Finally…there are two very important people I owe it all to.
Mom & Dad. You guys never cease to amaze me. I am inspired and motivated by you every single day of my life. I could have never accomplished all that I managed over the years without your love and support. I wasn’t afraid to adventure out into this world because of you both, so thank you.
This ones for you...
THANK YOU MOM & DAD FOR GIVING ME THE WORLD. XOXO
I knew I wanted to write a post when I returned home regarding all the things I learned during my time abroad. It is obvious that living in a foreign country for 3.5 months will teach you a lot, but what exactly did I learn? There are some apparent things every study abroad student learns, and some things that I honestly didn’t expect to learn about.
My Lessons Learned:
This one is pretty obvious, and was one of the main reasons I went abroad. I wanted to become better at Spanish. Before leaving, I had taken some advance Spanish courses for my minor. I was able to read and write relatively well, but speaking was a different story. However, I certainly learned quickly once I was living with a woman who spoke no English. It is challenging, but exciting to be able to speak another language. I was able to catch on to slang and colloquialisms of Sevilla. Before I realized what was happening, my brain began working in Spanish. What I didn’t expect to learn, however, was how to speak a little of some other languages…such as Arabic, French, Portuguese and Italian. I also became very proficient in the art of charades while abroad, especially when my words failed me and the language barrier was too high.
(My “intercambio” (talking partner)Macarena: she’s a Spanish student at the University of Sevilla and the sweetest person!)
I guess it is clear that I would become a better packer while studying abroad. Since I traveled on air planes that charged for suitcases, we always packed what we would need for our trips in our carry-on bags. I am a very indecisive person sometimes (especially when it comes to clothes). But when it came time to pack, I always had to choose a few outfits and hope the weather prediction for the weekend was true. I also learned to not only pack efficiently, but quickly. I can’t count how many times my roommate and I left packing to the last minute. (Not necessarily out of choice but because we were always busy!) At the very end of the semester, one hour before I left Sevilla for my flight home, I was still packing. And then a half hour before leaving, I was sitting on my suitcase in an attempt to get everything to fit. (That was out of choice because I couldn’t believe I was really leaving Spain). When it came to packing it was all about versatile items, such as light jackets that could be taken on and off depending on the temperature. I also learned how to work with less. The packing skills I acquired while abroad will come in handy for the rest of my life!
How to Relax
Living in a country with a slower paced lifestyle than the US, I learned how to truly relax. For anyone who knew me before I left, I was always very busy and always very stressed! This trip was like an extended vacation for me. I finally learned how to slow down, take a deep breathe and enjoy the things around me. I started planning less and less, and celebrating each moment more and more.
Living in a computer aged world, where I was always able to rely on my phone or GPS to help me find my way, I was forced to revert back to reading a map during my time abroad. I can still remember my first day in Sevilla, when my roommate and I had to navigate our way from the center of the city, back to our apartment in Triana. (Getting lost was a normal occurrence my first week abroad). More importantly, maps were most important when visiting other countries. I remember relying on our map of Rome to get us EVERYWHERE. (At least in Paris and London we had some friends to show us around). We would have never found the Trevi Fountain without a map! Being able to read maps, whether city maps, metro maps or bus maps—is a skill I have acquired while living abroad. It is the best way to figure out a city quickly. In all honesty, I think I prefer a map over a GPS now!
This was one of the most important things study abroad taught me. I wouldn’t say I was particularly impatient when I left for Spain, but I certainly did not have the patience I have now. In Europe, Spain especially, people do not mind waiting in lines. My average wait at the post office was 25 minutes, and the average wait in a grocery store check-out line was 15 minutes. As an American, I am not used to waiting like this, but people overseas don’t seem to mind as much. The people in Spain definitely walk slower than in the States too, and no one is ever in a huge rush to get anywhere. My friends and I would constantly joke that we were on “Spain time” when we would show up late to a meeting place—because Spanish people are always late.
Another aspect of patience I learned was listening. At the very beginning of my time abroad, I learned how important patience is when it comes to speaking another language. Lucky for my roommate and me, our host mom was equally patient when it came to conversations. It’s important to not allow yourself to get frustrated when you don’t understand—even when someone repeats themselves three times and you are still confused. Spanish people in general are very patient, not only when it comes to waiting in line but when it comes to speaking with foreigners.
I don’t know how obvious this was to me when I was first planning to study abroad, but saying goodbye to my parents in the airport made me realize that I had no choice but to be courageous the next few months. This was the first time in my life I was truly on my own. Yes, I live at school, away from home, but if I want to see my parents it is only a short drive for either of us to visit. Then suddenly I found myself 3,000 miles away in a foreign country.
Although people often view courage as huge heroic acts, I see it a little differently. Courage is climbing 551 steps to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica even though I’m afraid of heights. It is taking a chance on a trip to Africa and having it turn into an amazing adventure. Courage is asking directions in a country where you don’t speak the native language. It is trying new food…like blood sausage and duck liver and bulls tail. No matter how outgoing you are, courage is something living abroad will teach you. There is no doubt that Spain and the other countries I traveled to tested me every chance they got, but it made me a stronger person in the end. I am so proud of what I achieved and who I have become from living abroad.
(Top of St. Peter’s Basilica!)
Getting Lost is OKAY
I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I learned that getting lost is okay. Sometimes, when you wander off the beaten path, you stumble upon some of the coolest things. I used to hate getting lost when I was in the US, but there was something tranquil about getting lost on the streets of Paris or the back roads of Sevilla. Eventually, you will find your way… but enjoy getting lost in the meantime. It is something I never appreciated before, and now I realize it is all part of the journey.
(One day when we were lost in Sevilla, my friends and I Stumbled upon this!)
Of course I understood what friendship meant before going abroad. But friendship takes on an entirely different meaning when you live abroad with someone. I was blessed with an amazing roommate and best friend to live and travel with. We saw each other at our absolute worst. We comforted each other when we were homesick and we laughed hysterically over saying the wrong things in Spanish. We took care of each other when the other caught a cold and we looked out for each other, wherever we went. Kayla was my family while abroad and made me realize how truly important it is to have the right type of friends in your life. I cannot express how much I appreciate all the times we had together adventuring around the world. It is certainly difficult to be with someone 24/7 but Kayla and I just worked together. It takes a lot of trust, patience and understanding when living with a friend abroad. I now understand more about true friendship than ever before. Thanks Kay!!
As strange as it is to say that I learned about love while abroad, it’s true. Love is a universal language and my host Mom made that clear right away to us. She explained (in Spanish) that she wanted her home to feel like our homes back in the US. She wanted us to be comfortable and always reminded us that she was there for us if we had questions or needed anything. Although we didn’t always understand each other…smiles and laughter were always understood. It feels like just yesterday I was meeting her for the first time—worried about living with a complete stranger. Before I knew it, she was family. A little over two weeks ago, I stood on the side of the road in a group hug with Kayla and our host Mom, waiting for a taxi to take us to the bus station—all three of us crying because it was time to say goodbye. There are no language barriers when it comes to caring for another person, and my host Mom taught me a lot about hospitality, kindness and love.
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place”
So you’ve all been following along on my study abroad journey, following me from country to country, enjoying a culture and history lesson…but what about all the stuff you didn’t see?? You might be wondering what I was doing when I wasn’t jetting off to Paris and London! Well, I decided to do a little fun post, so maybe this will help answer that question. (P.S. This might be my favorite post yet!!)
(P.S. Speaking of questions, don’t forget to send some in to me for my blog post! Any question you might have about my study abroad experience…can be tough questions, silly ones, whatever you have on your minds! Send them to Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on any post! I hope to hear from you guys!)
Study Abroad: Behind the Scenes Edition!
What did I occupy my time with during the weeks and (few) weekends I was in Seville?? Well to begin…I had classes. Yes, that’s right, there’s actually “studying” involved in study abroad. Monday and Wednesday I sat through 8 hours of class, but I had all other days off, so it worked out! In all honesty, I rarely had a lot of work to do…some exercises for my Spanish class, a short reading and maybe a brief paper here and there, but nothing compared to what school is like back home! So if I wasn’t in class…or doing homework…then what??
Let’s see…while in Sevilla I spent my time hanging with my host family and friends as much as possible. And what do Spanish people do when they’re together? Eat and drink of course! And when I wasn’t doing those things with my family or friends, I was napping……in preparation to do those things later! Sounds crazy, but it’s true! The culture here is very laid back. Life here is more centered on family, friends and community! Everyone takes their time eating…they don’t mind walking slow…and stopping for a drink at a bar during your lunch break is perfectly acceptable!
But enough talk…let’s get to the good stuff: pictures!!
Here’s a little behind the scenes look at my time abroad…
Drinking sangria by the Rio Guadalquivir…my favorite hobby in Sevilla!
(Just kidding Mom, studying is my favorite hobby)
Going out with the girls!!
Questioning (daily) what I was eating for lunch…
P.S. That is blood sausage in my soup & yes I tried it.
Watching Spanish Wheel of Fortune.
Getting maps drawn for us by our (very caring) host Mom on how to get to the Post Office.
(Believe it or not we followed this map and found it.
So if you got a post card, you have this map to thank)
And Churros con chocolate.
And more drinking.
Going to “Mi Barrio” (a local bar) on Saturday nights with our host family!
Listening to Luis sing Sevilliano and flamenquito music at Mi Barrio.
Hanging with our host Mom & friends.
Eating Cien Monteditos (my favorite place) every Monday after a long day of classes.
Buying cheap (but really good) wine at the grocery store.
Bringing Spice Girls karaoke to Spain.
Drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.
(Which I didn’t know Spanish people even celebrated…)
Eating Chocolate Kebab at 1:00 am during Semana Santa.
(because the city literally doesn’t sleep that entire week)
Getting overly excited about chocolate kebab at 1:00am.
Teaching our Spanish friends American drinking games.
(Except we had to play with Sangria)
Going to a barbeque at our friend’s apartment.
Watching the sunset from the roof of the apartment.
Soaking up the beautiful Sevillian weather.
Going to a neon party.
Complete with face paint, confetti & dancing.
That’s what I was doing these past three months when I wasn’t jet-setting off each weekend.
I was eating, drinking, dancing, laughing & most importantly loving…
Loving my friends, my host family & everything this beautiful city has to offer me for the past 3 months.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to live abroad and meet some of the most incredible people! My host family feels like real family to me and I love them so much, and will certainly miss them. I feel like I’ve known the friends I made here my entire life. Sevilla is a home to me now, and I can’t wait to return one day soon. This city has seen some good days, some bad, and even some crazy —but it has never let me down.
I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted! As you can imagine, the last few weeks of study abroad have been very crazy! I’ve been doing my best to enjoy this city before I head back to the States.
Some of you know (and some of you don’t know) that I had some very special visitors this past week!! Two of my favorite women came to visit me in Sevilla for a little vacation!!
We were blessed with beautiful weather, lots of good laughs and adventures!! Besides getting caught up in the craziness of Semana Santa, or “Holy Week” here in Sevilla, we did so much stuff the week they visited! Here’s a glimpse of the things we did!!
I was lucky enough to take these two lovely ladies to “Mi Barrio”, which is a bar very close to where I live that my host family likes to go to! Actually, my host brother’s wife’s family owns the bar, and her younger brother sings here every Saturday! It is one of my favorite things to do in Sevilla!
My beautiful Mom!!!
My US family meets my host family!!! (On the left is Guillermo, my host brother and his wife Salu. In between Salu and Kayla is my host Mom, Puri, and behind her is our other host brother, Jose! I hope you recognize the Americans!) Love these people!!!!
After drinks, dancing and singing, we headed to my host Mom’s apartment for dinner!! Usually Spanish people only have family and very close friends over to their house, so it was an honor my Mom and Mrs. Schulze were able to come for a visit!!
The rest of the days are a blur of visiting all the best places in Sevilla…eating too many Tapas…and drinking too much sangria (if that’s even possible)!!!
Pictures along the Guadalquivir River!
Pictures of Parque Maria Luisa!
Of course, a visit to Plaza de Espana! (One of my favorite places in Sevilla)
Tapas and Sangria along the river! (Duhhhh)
We also visited the Torre del Oro, and went to the top for a view of the city!! (The inside is actually a naval museum). On Monday’s it is free entrance!
Views from the top!!!
On Tuesday, we had the chance to escape the craziness of the city and take a bus trip to the beach-town of Cadiz in the very South of Spain!! It was a beautiful day, filled with sun, sand, gelato and drinks!
Another “must-see” in Sevilla that we were able to visit was “Las Setas”, or the mushrooms! They seem very modern and out of place in the city, but it has the best views of the city! It’s one of my favorite places to go at night!! It only costs 3 euros to go to the top and comes with a complimentary drink from the bar! We were able to see the sunset over this beautiful city I have been lucky enough to call home!
Their last full day in Sevilla, we were able to visit the Cathedral and go to the top of the Giralda.
I think I have mentioned in a previous post, but this Cathedral is the third largest in the world!! It’s truly breathtaking!!
It is also home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus!! He actually left from Sevilla on his voyage to the America’s!
The columns in the Cathedral are so massive!! (Thanks Mom for being my example to show how big they are!)
After walking around the Cathedral for a while, we decided to climb to the top of the Giralda (which was once part of a Muslim mosque but is now a bell tower for the Cathedral). It wasn’t stairs we climbed, but rather 34 levels of “ramps” so people could push carts to the top.
But it was worth the hike up for these incredible views of the city!!!
A view of the bull fighting ring in the distance!!
Looking down on the plaza and tiny people below!!
Of course, some mojitos by the river after hiking all the way to the top of the Giralda!
Then after some lunch, we ended our last afternoon together with a paddle boat ride along the river!!! (AKA…Kayla and I paddled while the Mom’s enjoyed drinks in the back…) But it was really fun!!
After paddling for an hour, we met up with my host Mom and host family for some Churros con chocolate!
We certainly accomplished a lot this past week! I’m so blessed I was able to share my experience in Sevilla with them both!! We all had such a blast!!!
Thank you for coming to visit me guys!! It means so much to have been able to show you both around! Love you very much!!