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
Now that I’ve had time to readjust and organize my pictures, I’ve decided to share with you some silly ones I’ve taken in some really cool places! For those of you who are not familiar with the term “selfie”, it’s basically a picture you take of yourself! Now that we have things clarified, I hope you enjoy my edition of “Selfies All Over the World”!
Trevi Fountain Selfie
Vatican Museum Selfie
Top of St. Peter’s Basilica Selfie
Tower Bridge Selfie
Big Ben Selfie.
London Eye Selfie
Eiffel Tower Selfie #1
The Louvre Selfie
Venus de Milo Selfie
Mona Lisa Selfie
Arc de Triomphe Selfie
Eiffel Tower Selfie #2
Sunset at the “End of the World” Selfie
Torre de Oro Selfie
Plaza de España Selfie
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.email@example.com 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.
As you probably know by now, Sevilla is a very old city, filled with many traditions! Spring is huge for Sevillianos because it means 3 very important things: Bull fighting season begins, Semana Santa (or Holy Week) and Feria! Unfortunately, I will not be here for Feria since my program ends a few days before it begins, and I will not be going to any bull fights.
However, something I did take full part of was the craziness of Semana Santa here in Seville! It begins on Palm Sunday: “Domingo de los Ramos” and ends on Easter! Although Spain is predominantly Catholic, these festivities are less about religion and more about tradition!! (This tradition is over 600 years old!!)
It is very difficult for someone to understand the true madness of Semana Santa unless they experience it for themselves.
What exactly makes Holy Week so big in Sevilla? The Processions.
What do I mean exactly? Basically, there are different “brotherhoods” (hermandades) associated with different churches that process through the streets in their color garb, holding crosses and candles. Usually a marching band will lead the procession. At the very end, there is a “Paso”. There is no word in English for these things (one might be able to call them a religious float). They are very old…and priceless!
About a week or so before Semana Santa, you can go into the various churches throughout the city to see the Pasos on display before they process through the city! Here are two that we were able to see in Triana (where we live).
These Pasos are carried by 30-50 men, who are all in formation underneath it. They are hidden by a curtain around the bottom of the Paso, so only their feet are visible. This gives the illusion that this is floating down the street, to the beat of the marching bands drums. These Pasos can weigh more than 11,000 pounds. The men underneath carry it on their necks/shoulders. They rotate who is underneath every 10 minutes or so.
Men who just finished carrying a Paso.
A Paso being carried in front of the University of Sevilla, our school!!
Some members of the brotherhood walk barefoot, to honor Christ. These men/women are called “Nazarenos”. The ones that carry the cross do not wear a pointed cap like the others.
The pointed hats are called “capirotes”. Although this seems very eerie to an American, it is very traditional for Spaniards. During the day, some children will process with their mothers/fathers and wear miniature outfits of these.
Like I said before, the brotherhoods come in many different colors, including all white. Although in the United States we associate this look with the Klu Klux Klan, the nazarenos were around much longer than the KKK! Although I must admit, it was very difficult when I first saw the all white ones!
Purple “capirotes” as far as the eye can see! Some processions can take almost two hours to see in its entirety!!
Palm’s decorating balconies in honor of Semana Santa.
Chairs in “El Centro” for people to watch the processions from!
A procession crossing the Triana bridge into “El Centro”. The Pasos are taken from their church and paraded through the streets to the Cathedral, and then back to their church again!
These processions go from around 1pm-3am. Families and children stay up all night to watch them! They truly are incredible to see!
On the evening of Holy Thursday into Good Friday is the most famous night. Processions go all through the night, until 11am the following day! This is known as “La Madruga”. Most of the night processions are silent, and people will wear black on Holy Thursday and Good Friday to mourn the death of Jesus. It is to symbolize a funeral for Jesus.
The traditional dress for women on these days is called “La Mantilla”. This consists of a black dress and a black veil. Men will wear suits, as if attending a funeral. It is very beautiful to see.
I did not want to actually take a picture of the women, so this image is from Google! It was so hot here in Sevilla on Thursday, yet everyone was still in dress clothes and black! The processions continue on Friday evening, which is when we headed out to see them!
The audience will go silent as the Paso passes by them, and then applaud after it has gone by. It’s very interesting to see. There are no marching bands following these silent processions.
I am fascinated by tradition and culture. Semana Santa was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced! Although it is very tiring, due to the sometimes crowded and long processions–they are worth seeing! I must admit that by the end of this week I was not too pleased having roads blocked off by processions. It feels as though the entire city shuts down for this week, which makes it difficult to get to certain areas!
Yesterday was the last day of big processions, and today is a day meant for relaxing. This will be the first Easter I will be away from my family. I miss them a lot, but I will be seeing them in 11 short days!
It is going to be very difficult to leave such an incredible city, filled with beauty, tradition and life! Happy Semana Santa everyone, and Happy Easter!
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!!
Hola mis amigos!
Yesterday, our study abroad program took everyone to the Southern city of Malaga for a day excursion! The exciting thing about Malaga: it’s on the beach!! Yay!!
However, sadly, we woke up yesterday morning at 6:30am to the sound of rain in Seville! Besides the fact that it was early, the bad weather outside made it almost impossible to get out of bed! But after 3 hours on a bus, the sun decided to make an appearance just in time for us to arrive in Malaga!
You can imagine I was a happy girl!
But before we actually got to see the beach, we had a couple tours! First stop, the Cathedral of Malaga, also called “La Manquita” (which translates to one armed lady). Although this seems strange, let me explain! While the Cathedral of Malaga was trying to be finished, the American Revolutionary War was going on. As you may know, Spain supported the revolutionaries in their fight against the British. Instead of putting the money towards finishing the other bell tower, the city of Malaga decided to donate it to the American revolutionary war effort!
Which is why one bell tower looks like this!! One is finished, the other is not: making this Cathedral a one armed lady, or manquita! Thanks Malaga for your support!!
Like most Cathedrals in Spain, the inside of this one is decadent and beautiful! There are some unique characteristics though..
This painting…although nothing out of the ordinary, hangs above the main entrance to the Cathedral! What is unique about this painting, is the canvas that it is painted on: elephant skin!!
Also, notice how these windows don’t glow with colors from stained glass, like the other windows do? Part of the Malaga Cathedral was actually destroyed during the Spanish Civil war, when Franco bombed the city. The original stained glass was destroyed. (Very sad that a civil war destroyed part of such a beautiful Cathedral!)
After a little history lesson in the Cathedral, we headed off the Pablo Picasso Museum for a lesson in art! Picasso was born in Malaga but actually did most of his work in Paris (in Montmartre, if you remember from my last post.) This museum holds many of the pieces of work once privately kept by Picasso himself. We were unable to take any pictures inside the museum, so you’ll have to imagine the crazy cubist images we saw on your own!
Finally, we got a quick walking tour of the city. Here is an Ancient Roman theater. They discovered the ruins about 60 years ago when they were hoping to make a garden/park area here! Behind the Roman ruins are the remains of a the Arab rule in the South of Spain. This picture captures two cultures in one! The Roman ruins date back to 1st century B.C! So crazy!
Also something interesting, in a plaza near the Cathedral, large replicas of newspaper headlines are displayed on the ground, from the day when Constitution was announced in Spain.
Now for the good stuff!
“Malagueta”, the name of the beach sculpted in the sand!
It felt nice to hang out on the beach for a while! Although we were dressed for rain, that didn’t stop us from taking off our boots and dipping our feet in the Mediterranean! After a long week, where I must admit, I felt very homesick, the beach cheered me up a lot! I’ve always believed there’s something healing about the ocean!
Hello again! As I mentioned in my previous post, last night, my friends and I headed off to Cadiz to spend the night at Carnaval. Cadiz is a beautiful city, in the South of Spain that sits right on the beach! It was decorated with lights and signs all over downtown!
What is Carnaval you may be wondering? I myself, am actually still wondering…(and I spent a night there!)
Basically, it is a two week long celebration…with performances by groups who sing witty songs, contests and other events! Saturday night of Carnaval (the night we went) everyone wears costumes!! The crazier, sillier and more outrageous-the better! I noticed that a lot of men will cross-dress as women, or dress like babies. I saw some pretty creative outfits! Unfortunately, Kayla & I were on a budget, so here’s what we went as!
We were fairies, or “hadas” in Spanish. We wore white tights and tutu’s, put flowers in our hair & painted our faces!! It was cheap and easy, but still very fun!
Fairy makeup & hair!!
My other (crazy) friends…Jess & Kristina went as nerds, Stef went as a Discover Excursions tour guide (the group of people we went with) and Allie went as a vampire!
Since I didn’t bring my camera to Carnaval, I didn’t take a lot of pictures. It was hard to capture the amount of people dressed up and in the streets!
People…everywhere!! Drinking, singing and hanging out in the streets….all…night…long.
Carnaval was certainly a crazy experience!! We arrived in Cadiz at 7:30pm and our bus didn’t leave until 3:00am to go back to Seville! It’s hard to keep up with the Spanish, who are used to partying until 5-6am on weekends! My friends and I just barely made it to 3:00am! By the time we got back to Seville, and made it to our beds…the birds were chirping good morning!!
Although it was a long night, Carnaval was certainly an experience unlike any other. This country is so full of life and their celebrations truly show that. Again, I am so blessed to be living here! xoxo
Friday morning Kayla and I departed with our study abroad program for Cordoba and Granada for the weekend! (Both cities in the South of Spain) It took us about 2 hours to get to Cordoba! Here are some pictures of our first glimpse at this small city!
Now, there really is only one large tourist attraction in Cordoba, which is “La Mesquita”, or the Mosque. In order to understand this grand building, you have to understand a bit about Spanish history! Cordoba was one of the three Arab capitals in Spain when the Muslims invaded from North Africa. (The other two capitals were Seville and Granada!)
In the year 785 A.D. the construction of La Mesquita was started on top of the old Christian Church that was previously in Cordoba (San Vincente). As you know, Spain was eventually reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs, including Cordoba. King Ferdinand III defeated the Arabs and reconquered Cordoba in 1236. Instead of destroying the large mosque the Muslims had left behind, Ferdinand believed it to be cheaper and wiser to transform the mosque into a Cathedral! Today, La Mesquita (the mosque) is actually a Cathedral! (But it feels like both on the inside, very unique!) Let me share some pictures so you can see what I mean…
Inside La Mesquita there is a large courtyard where little rivers of water run through it. In all mosques there is a place for people to wash there hands, feet and face before entering!
Similar to the Cathedral in Seville, there is large bell tower attached to the Cathedral/Mosque in Cordoba. This “minoret” was once used by the Arabs to call the city to prayer.
A glass part of the floor to see the old ruins from the Church of San Vincente before the mosque was built over it!
The column and arch pattern goes on forever inside this huge mosque!
As you can see, this doesn’t feel like your average Cathedral! But then you turn a corner and find this!! Ah, that looks much more Catholic!
It’s hard to describe how truly unique (and strange) it is to be walking through endless aisles of columns, arches and red…then stumble upon a crucifix, white ceilings and an Altar, just in the middle of a this ancient mosque!
This huge building can hold 20,000 people inside it. It is absolutely massive!! Although it is no longer an actual mosque, but rather a Cathedral, la mesquita is still a beautiful example of the rich Arab influence in the south of Spain!
If you plan on visiting Cordoba, you really only need a day! It is a very small city, but worth the stop on the way to Granada!
Adios Cordoba! Stay tuned for some posts on my trip to Granada and my visit to Alhambra! xoxo
Sadly, this will be my final post on Morocco! After an adventurous morning of riding camels, we traveled along the coast to “Hercules’s Cave”, a very famous place in Morocco. Legend has it, Hercules’s once lived in this cave!
When we entered the cave, it seemed just like any other cave…
When we turned the corner of the cave, we saw a lot of sun coming from a large whole in the cave wall!
When we got closer…this is what we saw!!
It was so beautiful!! The waves were crashing into the bottom part of the cave! (If you look out into the water, you can see the different shades of blue/green, which is where the Mediterranean is mixing with the Atlantic!)
Just hanging out in Hercules’s “love shack” (what our tour guides referred to the cave as)
After visiting the cave, we went to a Moroccan restaurant near the beach!
After a yummy (and spicy) meal, we headed off to the small beach town of Asilah! This town is very famous for an art competition they have every year, where artists from all over the world paint the walls of the city with murals! It’s beautiful!
Check out some of the pictures I took while walking around the city!
I took this picture for my best friend back home who loves sunflowers! (Hi Liza!! Miss you!)
The above picture was one of my favorite of the paintings!
Soaking up the gorgeous Moroccan sun!
After walking for some time, we came across this patterned wall! It is called the relationship tree and you are supposed to sign your name on it!!
Can you spot my name?
Left my mark in Morocco! Hopefully one day I will make it back to see my name again!
Love the color of this door!!
Cats are EVERYWHERE in Morocco.
Asilah is a beautiful town, along a breathtaking coastline. I had a great time walking around the streets and soaking up the fresh salt air & sun! Finally, we boarded the bus to head back to the ferry & home! While on the bus to Tangier, we noticed two kids holding on to the back of our other bus (traveling in front of us)! Our guide said that it was very common for kids to do that! Why? They are trying to cross the boarder into Spain! When the bus stopped, the kids hopped off and popped open the back and climbed inside the engine area!! (This is when I took the picture that’s below) They rode like that for a while, until some police noticed and yelled at them to get off! Apparently, illegal immigration to Spain from Morocco is similar to the problem we have in the US with Mexico. These boys were probably only 12-14 years old!!
After a choppy ferry ride and long bus ride, we didn’t arrive back to Seville until almost 11:30pm! Although I was very tired in class on Monday, it was all worth it! I saw some of the most incredible views and met some awesome new friends!
To end my post, I’m going to share some pictures I took on our ferry ride! The sun was setting over Morocco as we traveled along the Strait of Gibraltar! So beautiful!
Morocco will forever hold a place in my heart! I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to go on this trip! Tomorrow I am off to Cordoba and Granada (Spain) for a weekend with my study abroad program! Stay tuned for posts about these travels! xoxo
Uh oh…guess what day it is? GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS.
Happy Hump Day everyone!! I am back once again to share some pictures from my weekend in Morocco! My favorite part of the trip was when we got to ride camels near the beach!! Check out the awesome pictures I got of me & my new friends, and our stunning view!!
We traveled to the West Coast of Morocco to the ocean! This happens to be where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic! The beaches were so beautiful and untouched! It’s hard to tell in my pictures but you could see the different colors of the two waters merging together!!
Hola from the West Coast of Africa!!!!!
Now for the good stuff!!! Meet my friend humpty (I named him myself). He’s a BABY CAMEL. (Not that small though for a baby…) We got to pet him and the other baby camel while we were waiting to ride the adult ones!
Camel selfies!!Smile humpty!
As you can probably see, I was really excited!!
Me and my new boyfriend…Sorry Mark (;
After taking a lot of pictures with my new friends, it was finally my chance to ride one! It was about a 10-15 minute ride around. Half of our friends went and then the other half went so we could take pictures for each other!! (We all went in groups of 5)
I had to be given a boost to get onto my camel!!
Finally made it up!!! The camels are so tall!
Casual camel trot…on the beach…in Africa!
Honestly, riding a camel was not what I expected it to be! (Not really sure what I expected…) Surprisingly, I wasn’t really afraid of the height, I was too excited! When my camel started walking I was a little shocked at first! It felt like I was riding a horse because I was going up and down as if the camel was running! (But he was just walking!!) For the first 2 minutes, I couldn’t stop laughing!!! My friend Kristina was on the camel next to me and I remember she looked over at me and said, “We’re riding camels…in Africa right now!!!” I couldn’t believe it! I probably laughed the whole ride!! It was exhilarating!
Finally, when we were getting closer to the group who were taking pictures of us, the guides who were leading the camels told us to let go and put our hands in the air!! I thought, ‘I can’t let go, I’m so high up I’m going to fall off this camel!!’ But after .3 seconds of fear, I just decided to let go!!! It was amazing!
Happy Hump Day everyone!
“It’s pretty simple. Adventure is what you make of it. And whether it is the travel, the discovery, or just the feeling of letting go…the only way you’ll ever find out is to get out there and do it.”