The culture of Barcelona is unlike anything I am accustomed to, the people are very relaxed and laid back. The timing and schedule of everything is flexible and normally later than anything in America. For example, most restaurants don’t open until at least 9am, and the bars don’t open until midnight to about 2am. People in Barcelona are very reserved in their style and are quite polite.
On a lighter note, the weather here is absolutely stunning. In my total of about 40 days here, it has only rained one day, something that I didn’t think was possible being from Houston/College Station. It’s about 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with very low humidity, so I take every opportunity I get to enjoy the outdoors.
The biggest difference I noticed on my arrival is that everybody smokes cigarettes here. Out in the streets, the beach, even in university. It’s very interesting because smoking has such a negative connotation in the States that it’s very rare to see people smoking in this amount. In addition, beer is very cheap here costing about .55-1 euro for a six-pack. They even sell beer at the university cafeteria, which was a huge surprise to me.
A very notable difference from living here for a month is the public transit system is light years better than anything in Texas. There are 4 main modes of public transit, the metro/subway, Tram, Bus, and bike, which can all be accessed easily. It is relatively cheap for me it is about a euro a day to have unlimited access to everything but bicing (the public bike sharing system used in Barcelona).
The ties to Catholicism are very strong in Barcelona still, most stores are closed on Sunday and it is usually a very relaxed day for everybody. People are very reserved and polite. They wear well-fitting clothes, unlike most Americans. Almost nobody wears shorts of any kind which was weird to see because it’s a majority in the States. The food here is great, Spanish Omelets and Patatas Bravas are hard to beat, but I have been craving some good Tex-Mex.
My semester abroad is off to a great start. The city of Milan is very welcoming, and the people are all very tolerant of my limited Italian vocabulary. The time change adjustment has been one of the biggest challenges thus far, but I am now finally dialed in and have a well established sleep schedule. My apartment has a prime central location; about halfway from University of Bocconi (where I am attending), and the city center of Milan, home of the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). The city of Milan is heavily enamored of fashion, and is hosting Milan fashion week starting today. Everyone seems to dress especially elegantly, including people roaming the streets as well as university students. They would be taken aback if they saw how American college students dressed for class! Since arriving, I have likely consumed more carbs than the average person eats in a year, but I am starting to learn moderation. Besides bread, pizza, and pasta, Milan is known for many local dishes such as Risotto and Piadina. I must also mention the gelato stops at every corner which always seem to draw me in.
Milan has enough excitement to last a full semester, however this semester in Europe is the perfect opportunity to travel around the continent. I have had the pleasure to visit Venice as well as Barcelona. Venice, otherwise referred to as ‘The City of Water’ is truly captivating. Whether it be sitting back and enjoying the gothic architecture, or floating the Grand Canal on a gondola, this town is a must-see for world travelers. Barcelona, Spain is truly a one of a kind city. The Catalonian people have such pride in their city and culture, and it’s quite apparent as to why. Getting an up close look at La Sagrada Familia was surreal, and watching the local soccer club FC Barcelona at Camp Nou was a thrilling experience. Looking forward, my next three trips include Berlin, Geneva, and Vienna, followed by St. Patrick’s day in Dublin.
I have already realized how fortunate I am to take part in the full semester exchange program, and I’m eager to experience what lies ahead.
My last month in Madrid was as bittersweet as can be…
The month of May asked me to study a lot more than I was accustomed to from this semester but was still amazing. The first half of the month we still played since finals weren’t for a few more weeks. The Aggie girls took an unbelievable weekend trip around Greece on a sailboat. We rented a boat out of athens for 4 days and 3 nights and bought grocery store food to save money on expenses on the boat. We saw the most beautiful islands and even got in some natural springs! However, as per usual: I was so ready to be back in Madrid. My love for this incredible city has only deepened more and more as the semester has gone on. I love coming home here, and I have accumulated an extremely long list of recommendations for others and things I wanted to repeat just onnneee more time before I left. Since I needed to study a lot the second half of the month, I got in the amazing habit of waking up early to study, eating lunch at the usual 2 PM with a gourmet 10 euro “Menu del Día” (3 course phenomenal spanish meal), back for more study, and then finishing off with a drink with all of the aggies. What a rhythm! As simple as it sounds, it was amazing because it was all in Spain. The last weekend before I left, I went to Barcelona to visit my friend there one last time. I brought my friend Abigiail from Purdue that we aggies had all gotten pretty close to, and we just flew in for the usual weekend excursion. My best day of study abroad happened the Saturday before I left:
-woke up in Pierre Pescador (north of Barcelona) at our friends lakehouse
-bought drinks and salads and hummus to fill a cooler
-took everything onto Marc (our friend from Barcelona)’s boat
-set off for a stunning bay where we anchored
-spent the entire day anchored here swimming, napping, singing to Abigail’s ukelele
THIS IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF
Every moment of that last month, my heart was torn between absolutely LOVING my current stage of life and HATING that life was about the ask me to leave it. This semester was the dream. People keep asking me that inevitable question: “how was Spain?” My answer holds true to the same: “It was so good in fact that I could absolutely convince myself that it never happened; it was too good to be true; I must have been dreaming for a week straight… But luckily I took photos and journaled and blogged so that I KNOW it reallly actually happened.” As I have been home the past few weeks processing it and missing it and listening to nothing but Reggaetón music, it hits me more and more how sweet this semester truly was. Adios españa… Nunca voy a olvidarte.
^Our little yacht for Greece girls trip!
^My favorite group of people forever! Love these spanish aggies so much
^dreaming of these view in Greece!
Our group of friends at our one really fancy night out in Madrid! From left to right: Lydia (me), Kelsey, Mikel, Mita, Alexis, and Abigail
And so another month has gone by… I am still amazed at how fast time continues to pass here.
This past month has been filled with even more adventures, memories, and goodbyes. After travelling for the full month of April, I spent almost all of May in Cope. Since I leave June 7, I wanted to really explore Copenhagen and check out all the places that I had wanted to but hadn’t yet. The weather became absolutely INCREDIBLE in May as well! It’s been hitting the high 60’s to mid 70’s. Copenhagen is already a beautiful city on its own, but when it’s sunny and warm, it becomes even more spectacular. I’m so accustomed the cold weather that when it gets to 70 degrees, I’m sweating like no other! I have no clue how I’ll survive when I arrive back in TX…
My friends and I discovered a wonderful little beach called Bellevue Beach here and it’s great to lay out and tan when it gets warm! Actually, it’s really interesting because on literally any sunny day, the Danes will lay out anywhere (the park, the beach, the decks near Nyhavn & Islands Brygge, anywhere!) to tan. I love seeing everyone out and about soaking up the sun! I also went to Dyrehavn (“deer park”) which is a huge park where deer roam around. I’ve also rented boats out and chilled on the canal. In the beginning of the semester I was really frugal with my money and didn’t really eat out, but since I don’t have much time left here, I’ve been balling out and eating out a ton. Copenhagen has SO many great restauraunts. You really can’t go wrong with any of the food options here.
Tourism has really picked up here so I’ve been hearing a lot more english whenever I go downtown. I didn’t realize how much I never used to hear english until just now!
My friends and I took a short weekend trip to Norway to hike Trolltunga. It was absolutely breathtaking. It was the hardest 12 hour hike I’ve ever put my body through, but it was so worth it. It’s not hiking season yet, so the entire mountain climb was covered in snow and so we had to hike with snowshoes on. It was quite the adventure.
For the past week, it seems as though someone in my dorm leaves to head back home. It is really sad and hard to say goodbye because for the past four months I’ve really gotten to know and love the people in my dorm. I found this amazing quote from a study abroad blog and I think it sums up study abroad perfectly:
“I learned to hold people and places and things loosely – study abroad is so impermanent. You come in knowing it will end, and you make relationships knowing you will leave. Yes, you can keep in touch, but it won’t be exactly the same. Everything is so fleeting and quick, but it doesn’t make it any less precious. It teaches you to, as cliche as it might be, live in the moment. I remember being on a boat in the Amazon with some friends, hearing birds and animals around us, watching the clouds reflected in the water and thinking, here I am. In this immensity, here is me, one small person, one small moment. I’ll likely never return to this exact spot, nor be with this same exact group of people again, but to be there in that particular arrangement of quickly flowing time and space was enough.”
Anywho, I’ve got 9 more days in this magnificent city. I have my accounting exam the day before I fly out and hope it goes well. My time here has been absolutely incredible and if I could I would do it all over again.
I’m getting to the last few days in Madrid, and it’s unbelievable how quickly these past few months have been. I honestly thought this great semester couldn’t come to an end and go by as quickly as it did. 4 months sounds like a long time, but it flies by before you know it. I’ve been in the middle of finals, and some have required a lot more work than I’d thought. A lot of the classes have the final as the majority of the overall grade, so finals really matter and could make or break your grade. In one of my classes taught in Spanish, the final was 100% of the entire grade for the class, so I had to study intensively, especially since the final would be in Spanish. I’m reminded that I’m actually abroad for school and classes!!
Since it’s also my final few days, I’ve been trying to relearn Madrid and be a tourist in the city again. Discovering new restaurants, going to museums, and even joining a tour or two have been some of the things I’ve been enjoying this last week. I’m even going to see the Lion King musical, completely in Spanish. It’s also been a little sad since other students and friends are starting to already go back home. I’m trying not to count the days left, but to make the days count and appreciate every last minute I have left (other than my finals). I don’t think I’m ready to leave yet and still haven’t experienced much homesickness. I’ve met so many great people from different parts of the world, tried new foods, gone on new adventures, and adopted a new culture. Madrid, te amo!!
Two months left of my exchange. I can’t tell if I’m lucky or not as other people seem to be done and are leaving in less than a month while I have a bit longer than them. But, I won’t let that bring me down. With a few trips planned this month and plans to hang out with all my friends, I was making sure that I would make the rest of my time worth it.
After coming back from my extensive two-week long trip, I wanted to relax. Plus, my mom told me how much money I’ve been spending so I had to start planning my trips better. I noticed that I had a small gap between the first week of April and Easter break and I wanted to do something that no one else really wanted to do; go to the Black Forest! I’ve heard a lot about the place and my dad even brought up the suggestion to go there when we came during January, which probably would’ve been a bad idea in the middle of German winter. I decided to make a quick trip to Strasbourg and the Black Forest due to how close they are. So, with my backpack and hammock in tow, I went off on my trip.
In hopes to save money, I planned my Strasbourg trip to be a day trip. This meant taking a 6 AM bus from Frankfurt to Strasbourg and spending around 8 hours there. The good thing was that I saved money by not needing a hostel. The bad thing was I had to camp at Frankfurt for the night as there was no way I would’ve made the bus if I left that morning, with finding a place to camp out at to escape the cold wind and night activities being the biggest issue. My time in Strasbourg was focused on going to the main sights and then moving on. Starting off at the Strasbourg Cathedral and then walking away from the city center towards the Orangerie. The Orangerie was the many focus of Strasbourg for me. It was a nice, relaxing park with students and families there enjoying the Saturday sun, and where I could set up my hammock. This ended up being where I started my March blog. After laying and enjoying the sun for a few hours, I left to continue my sight-seeing. I went towards the European Court of Human Rights and European Parliament, which I had a lovely view of the outside. With my sight-seeing done, I went back towards the city center to get on my bus for Freiburg, the capital of the Black Forest region and “The Gateway to the Black Forest”.
Freiburg was a small little university town that had a decent sized city center. But, despite both of those, it was still completely dead and empty on a Sunday. Most of the restaurants were closed, souvenir shops were empty, and finding some beer was almost impossible. I started my day by hiking up the Schlossberg so I could find a place to hang up my hammock. The hike up the mountain was painful and long, and when I finally found a nice secluded spot in the forest, I was excited! The relaxing trees and wind made the whole place mesmerizing and the people who passed by me giving me a wave and a hello just made it all the better. After a few hours, I went back to the city center in search of some beer. I found a famous local pub, the Hausbrauerei Feierling, with weissbeer, wheat beer, which I was hesitant to drink due to weissbeer not being my favorite beer. But, the amount of people there on a Sunday and the want to get a nice, refreshing, cold beer made me want to get one. To my surprise, it was pretty good! It was my first time enjoying a weissbeer! Funny enough, when describing the beer to Paulo, who also hated weissbeer, describing that the beer having a less wheat taste made it a better wheat beer. I ended up stopping by another restaurant with a selection of homemade craft beer to go along with the endless supply of weissbeer at Freiburg. This trip to Freiburg, which was short, was relaxing and the perfect trip for me to enjoy Germany.
The next two days were spent in Baden-Baden. I wanted to also go to Pforzheim, another town in the Black Forest, but decided not feeling rushed was better. Also, with the various things to do in Baden-Baden it made sense to stay for more than one day. The day I got there I went to see two things, the Trinkhalle and the Fabergé Egg Museum. The Trinkhalle was a building built by the Romans when they were originally there. The columns and the frescos lining the front of the building made the building a beauty. Funny thing is, it’s now the visitor center of Baden-Baden. The Fabergé Egg Museum wasn’t the best like most other museums I visited. For an overpriced entrance fee of 12 euros, I got to see two floors of antiques belonging to various families, but mainly from the Russian monarchy. But, in the whole museum, there were only around 3 Fabergé Eggs, making the supposed largest Fabergé Egg museum outside of Russia, a very disappointing museum. Since I had to wait for my AirBnB landlord to get off work, I spent the rest of my afternoon in the park with my hammock. At night, I went to the Festspielhaus to watch the Opera since Baden-Baden had a special series for Easter. I don’t have many comments about it as Operas aren’t my go-to performance, but the performance was still fascinating.
The next day I went to one of the key features of Baden-Baden, Friedrichsbad, an ancient Roman spa. It was an interesting experience to say the least, being that it was a nude spa and that I was the only person my age there with everyone else being at least twice my age. But, being a first experience was what made the whole spa experience fun! Later that night, I tried to go to Baden-Baden’s other feature, their James Bond-like casino, the Kurhaus. But, to my surprise, it had an age requirement set by the German government. The only casino in Germany that had an age limit. And guess what it was. 21! Seriously!? Out of all the places to have an age requirement, the one casino that I had to borrow a suit jacket for had an age limit! That ended up ruining my whole night and ruined my hopes of seeing an awesome place. The next day I ended up not really having any plans. There was the other spa, Caracalla Therme, in mind, but I thought that after going to Friedrichsbad there really was no need to go to there. So, I took my hammock and headed for the forest. This ended up being over 40 minutes of trekking through the city and going up the mountains. Climbing through trees, up hills, and past fallen trees was a bit of a challenge for someone wearing boat shoes. Heck, I even ended up with a scratch, and now a scar, on my leg from this dangerous trek. But, the seclusion in the forest was amazing and blissful. I stayed again for a few hours and then headed back down the forest and into the city. I wasn’t planning on stopping anywhere until I say the sign that said Pub. I ended up staying there for the rest of the night, because I ended up talking to one of the other patrons, a man originally from Austria working in Baden-Baden, and enjoyed a nice meal and a few beers along with the Bayern Munich v Real Madrid game.
Despite spending a bit too much money there, this ended up being one of the best trips I’ve had. The ability to do everything I wanted to at a pace I wanted to made it relaxing. I would say, that this trip was one of the, if not the best, trip I’ve had. It may not have been fun and filled with night life, but it still was relaxing and breathtaking.
Easter Break! Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava:
Now, I’ve had some friends question why I would go to Vienna and Budapest again. It’s a waste of money, it’s a waste of time, and just overall why? Well, my roommates and I, Paulo and Alexa, were planning on doing a family trip to somewhere. We originally thought of Budapest but then found out it was so expensive to just get there from Frankfurt. The next best thing for us to choose a pre-set program by known trip organizer in the German area, Pm2Am. They preorganized a trip starting at Vienna for the day, leading to Budapest for a night, and then ending up at Bratislava the next morning. Being that Vienna and Budapest were the same things for me except for going there with different people, I didn’t really feel like explaining much about it. Bratislava, on the other hand, was completely new and unexpected. Being the capital of Slovakia, it wasn’t exactly the top of the list of anyone’s place to want to travel to. Yes, it has its castle and blue church, the Church of St. Elisabeth, but other than that it didn’t have much to see. It did have cheap prices on food though which makes it enjoyable for us to enjoy food and beer there! After a few hours of relaxing and just enjoying a local café, we were on the way back to Frankfurt. Let me say this, the best way to travel is by spending your night on a bus; saves you money by not needing a hostel and saves you time, but oh god is it painful and tiring.
Classes Getting More Hectic:
The last week of April ended up being my busiest time in school. I had a full week of classes and even had classes overlap on the same day, causing a lot of trouble and confusion on what class to attend. For a school that’s totally fine with overlapping your class, the teachers don’t really know how to tell you to prioritize which one to go to. It just showed me how happy I was to know I’d be going back to a more understandable school system but also showed how sad it was that I only had one month left of my exchange program.
May was a month filled with sadness and happiness. There were a few more trips left, happiness, but then there was the ever-looming aspect of having to go home soon, sadness. But, it does mean that I must do what I can to make my trip worth it.
Alexis originally brought up the idea of going to Ibiza before we even went on our exchange program. She told me originally it was for her birthday, so I brought it up to her during our trip to Berlin. She changed it up and decided to go to Greece but still told me that Ibiza was still on her mind. So, when she told me she was going to go, I decided why not? Ibiza is known to be THE place to go to for vacationing in Europe. When I got there, it was already in the late afternoon so we just planned on walking along the beach in Ibiza Town. With swimming and relaxing on the beach being done tomorrow, we decided to just find dinner and a place to get cocktails. This was the first time I had paella, which was pretty good. We decided that we should head back to our hostel and just sleep and have enough energy for tomorrow. The next day we were planning on going to San Antonio which was on the west coast of Ibiza. Our plans to rent a scooter fell flat and required us to rent bikes instead. For someone like me, who’s at a weird in between of fit and unfit, biking long distance was going to be a pain for me. It didn’t help that I feel down twice. The first was from changing onto the sidewalk at a bad angle and causing me to fall and scrape my knee. The second, was from me trying to get my phone out of my pocket. On uneven ground. Of rocks. Leading to me getting a few cuts on my other knee and a scrape on my palm. BUT, other than my grave mistakes, the beach we got to was worth it. The nice sun and breeze made it enjoyable, while I didn’t dare jump into the water and face excruciating pain. After our sun tan, we went on our trip back to San Antonio, another painful long bike ride. We went back to look for a sunset restaurant to get food and watch the sunset. With the gorgeous view over, we needed to head back to Ibiza Town to get ready and rest up for our night out at Ibiza’s famous club, which cost a staggering 40 euros to get into! I want to say it was fun, but their choice of music made it only so enjoyable. The amazing weather and views combined with the bad relationship I had with the bike still made this trip worthwhile and nice.
After my time at Ibiza, I ended up having a layover at Valencia. Alexis told me that paella is from Valencia, so I just knew I had to spend my 3 hours looking for some! And let me tell you, I can never eat paella again. At the same price and having the same amount (but probably due to Ibiza being expensive in general) as the paella at Ibiza, it was better! The rice was softer, the flavors in the rice were fantastic, the seafood on the paella were better suited and in great quantity. I’ve never had something as fascinating and gorgeous as this for a meal.
I originally never had plans to go back to London. Being that its expensive and that I’ve already been there before. But, I had a recent liking towards Manchester United, due to one of their players, Marcus Rashford, a young player with a lot of potential and my starting player in my soccer game. So, wanting to see Manchester United and a Premier League game pushed me to take a cheap airplane ticket to go see Manchester.
Manchester wasn’t that big a city. I originally thought it would’ve been close to the size of London, but it ended up being more calm and smaller. It was nice for me since it meant that getting around to the things I wanted to see wouldn’t be that hard. Starting from Heaton Park, I walked around a bit to see the famous park/golf course. I then went back to the city center and went on my pub crawl. Despite the high prices in England, I found that you could actually find a lot of cheap, craft beer if you go at happy hour, around 4-7. The rest of my afternoon was spent going to these pubs and my path even lead me to one of Manchester’s oldest pubs, City Arms.
After enjoying their vast selection of beers, I went on my way to Old Trafford. The game was full of fans rooting for Man U against Celta de Vigo, a team from Spain’s La Liga. This was the second game in the Semifinal round of the Europa League, a competition where teams compete to get into the Champions League, where the best teams in Europe compete, if they weren’t previously qualified or were dropped from the Champions League group stage. This meant a lot as this season Man U was only 6th, where you had to be 3rd minimum to get into the Champions League. Winning the tournament meant that they get into the Champions League and have a chance to at the title. The game ended up being very two sided and a goal for both sides. But, the game was the epitome of why Americans usually don’t like soccer, with Man U playing overly defensive that even the fans were booing and hissing the players decision. The reason being is that their manager, Mourinho, is known to have a defensive playstyle, ending with Man U having an 18-15-5 record, the most ties in the league. Nevertheless, Man U ended up winning 2-1 aggregate (as they won 1-0 in the first game) and moved on to the finals to win their first Europa League title. Despite this boring playstyle, I still can say that I finally have a Premier League team to support. My only hopes now are that they don’t ever face Bayern Munich in the Champions League, otherwise I’m just going to be straight rooting for Bayern.
My final trip of my exchange would be a trip with my roommates from Uruguay, Juan and Jorge. Funny thing is, along with London, Dublin also had cheap tickets, which meant they also wanted to come too. Our plans for Dublin were really simple. Drink as much beer as we can and go to the Cliffs of Moher. The first night we got there we went straight to the Temple Bars. Being a Sunday evening, we assumed there wouldn’t be that many people at the bars. Yea right. There were a bunch open, but their oldest bar, The Temple Bar Pub, was packed to the brim. Even when a pint cost 6 to 7 euros and the music was mediocre, people still enjoyed the atmosphere. The interesting part about the night was that at the three bars we went to, they all had some sort of aspect that counters the other. The first bar, The Temple Bar Pub, had a lot of people, high costs, and the worst music of the three. The second place we went to had great music, a great selection of beers, and very little people. The third had a lot of people, good prices, and good music. It ended up just being what you wanted.
The next day we went on a walking tour around the city. It was great as we saw a lot of the city and in a way that didn’t require us to just slowly find the places. Afterwards, we went straight to Phoenix Park, known for deer roaming the plains and forest of the park. With over 40 minutes of walking, we finally found the deer and started to try to pet them. I’d like to say it was an easy job to coerce them, but it wasn’t. We found out the best way was to bribe them with leaves off the trees. Being that they can’t usually get those leaves meant that they usually would stand still and even walk to you to get the leaves. This part ended up being our favorite for the deer that we saw and for having a lot of flat land for us to toss a football and just enjoy the weather. With all the walking we did and needing to wake up at 6 AM tomorrow, we decided to call it a night and just head to bed.
The next day we went on a whole day trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. We were really worried if we would’ve been able to see the Cliffs or not that day. The forecast for the week was cloudy and chance of rain. Even the day before on our walking tour and the moment we got to Galway was raining. We got lucky though when just five minutes later at Galway the clouds cleared for the rest of the day. The Cliffs were just breathtaking. We were both in awe in what we saw there and scared of falling off the cliffs. With how big the Cliffs were, we had to do a lot of walking and trekking just to find all the best views we could. Afterwards, we went to get our first taste of authentic Irish food and went on our way back to Dublin.
My last trip of my exchange will go down as one of the best trips for me. I got to do things I wanted to do with friends I wanted to do them with all while seeing the amazing sights. This trip was the trip I’ve always wanted this semester.
Getting back home was going to be a pain. I had two check-ins (that were 23 and 53 kg, meaning that one was over 20 kg over) and a carry on to bring with me. Unluckily for me, the train station was a 20 minute walk away and there’s a hill to the train station. Luckily for me, my roommates were nice enough to come with me to help take my luggage and see me off. It took me a solid 30 minute to walk through the airport due to how heavy my luggage was, making it stressful and frustrating. The flight overall wasn’t that bad since it was an hour shorter than was planned. Until I came back and felt the humidity.
And with this, my exchange program is over. All the friends and people I made, all the places and cultures I saw and experienced, and all the things I learned about myself will forever be with me in my memories and pictures. If I could ever do this again I would, because I know that the memories I make are worth it. Heck, my friends and I have even talked about meeting up sometime for them to experience American culture and for me to experience Uruguay and Portugal, which along with Spain, Greece, and Croatia were regrets of mine for not visiting. Even though all this may never be available to me again soon, the ease of traveling and having fun, not much pressure bearing down on me while doing so, I know that I’ll eventually have the time to do this all over again. And with this, all good things must come to an end.
The last month abroad (May, 2017) I finished classes pretty early on and got to travel to Spain and Portugal for the remainder of my trip. I flew out of Frankfurt to Barcelona and loved the city. Spain is amazing for several reasons. People understand how to live a very relaxed life yet work hard and stay focused. I saw groups of people in their mid forties and fifties on the beach having a good time everywhere during the middle of the week. They are allowed much more time off than some countries. People smile, are very family oriented, speak amazing Spanish, live their live and let others live the way they want to. Obviously, I fell in love with the country and highly consider living their for quite some time after graduating!
After experiencing Spain for a week in a couple different cities and the South, I was headed to meet some friends I met at my school in Germany in Faro, Portugal. We spent our last week abroad in Lagos, I small beach town. It was an amazing experience and glad I got to end it with the people I started with in Germany.
Overall, studying abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made. Meeting people from across the world, experiencing the european lifestyle for five to six months, traveling to many different countries and making memories of a lifetime.. When can I study abroad next??
This is one of my favorite places in all of Germany and it is also a couple miles away from my school in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany. Here you have the Rhein River, rolling hills and mountains, vineyards that stretch for miles, beautiful little traditional German towns and amazing sunsets. In the month of April I stayed around this area for a couple different reasons. I had some major exams and I also ended up joining a German Club Soccer team called SSV Hattenheim. When I wasn’t studying, I was training with a team that only spoke German. This made for one interesting experience as I didn’t speak a lick of German. Practices consisted of me going to the end of the line or sitting out for a couple of minutes to figure out what exactly was going on.
April was the month of experiencing the German culture. In prior months I had traveled quite a bit and also hung out with friends from all over excluding any Germans. I loved getting the opportunity to interact with German people my age.
With this semester wrapping up so quickly (5 days?!?!?!?), I’m simultaneously wishing for more time in Madrid, and that I was already home.
I feel sacrilegious saying that I’m ready to go home – like small children would gasp and ladies faint if they heard me say it – but I am! I’m ready to see my family, my wonderful friends; I’m ready to pet my dog! I think I’d want to stay longer if I didn’t have another adventure on the horizon that was tempting my daydreams away from the one I’m living now. With this summer so full of promise and fun, it’s hard to keep myself here, especially for these last few days when I’m finally forced to study for finals when all I want to do is frolic through the Madrileño life. Realizing that I get restless after 4 months in an adventure is worrying for me though: can I have a new adventure every couple of months? What happens if I get a boring office job where I only get two weeks of vacation PER YEAR??? How do people live like that? Is that normal, and this adventure-hoping I do the oddity? If it is, I’m going to fight normalcy as hard as I can.
Odd as it sounds, going home also feels like an adventure. The prospect of a normal, run of the mill doctor’s appointment is fascinating to me; and driving! Talk about thrilling! Going to the grocery store, sitting on my own couch with my own dog, watching my own tv with a jar of peanut butter and some bacon (the real stuff, none of the jamon we have in Spain) is so exciting it’s almost unfathomable. The normalcy of life are both the things I look forward to most (in bacon’s case), and my worst nightmare (life in the cube farm). Really, my life has reversed itself – Spain, once completely exotic and foreign, is now normal, while my life in Texas is the intriguing one. I’ve carved out this little existence in Madrid, favorite cafes, regular routes to friends’ places, easy conversation with my host family, that the prospect (actually, the reality) of going back to Texas feels completely new.
As soon as I get excited about my new bacon-filled quest, I’m depressed about leaving Madrid. That life that I’ve built was hard won, I made it exactly how I like it, it’s an amazing little spot to be in, and to give all that up sounds horrible. Even if I come back later in life, it won’t be the same, it won’t be as wonderful as it is right now, because it will be different. Still, this has been a great part of my life, and every time I have the urge to stay here forever, I have to remind myself that this wonderful lifestyle would have to change: I’d need some source of income, I’d need to study more, get my own apartment, I’d have to live in the real world (which is such a sad reality of life). It’s worth it to go home and preserve this adventure exactly as the perfect time it was, while moving onto the next one.
This semester, while bacon-free, has been amazing, but I’m still ready to leave. I’m ready to pack up my whole 50 pound (or less) presence and move it on back to Texas, only to unpack, repack, and move another 50 pound part of my life across the country. I’ve learned a lot and done so much these past four months, and hopefully it’s just a crazy, wonderful start to the next part of my life.
Good news is, that next part of my life includes regular access to bacon, which, let’s be honest, is all the adventure you need.