8 Reasons Why Everyone Should Study Abroad

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1. You’ll be richer. Obviously I don’t mean money, but richness doesn’t just refer to money! You will gain the “richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”. I’ve seen this quote several times, but it didn’t really hit me until recently, until I realized that I have to leave Spain soon. When I came to this realization the other day, I had a really hard time coming to terms with it! I went on a long run and then sat and thought for a while. I realized that I’ll never be the same again because I feel at home in more than one place. When I left the United States, I cried like a baby (those of you who know me well know that I rarely cry) because I knew that I would miss the people, the culture and the things that I am comfortable with. Although I was excited for the journey ahead, there’s always a little bit of nervousness and fear of the unknown too. And now, I think I’m going to cry when I have to leave Spain. I’ve immensely enjoyed my experience here in Spain and it hurts to have to leave it all behind. Although I’m torn because I love two places so much and I love the people in both places as well, I’ve realized that not everyone gets to experience that feeling. Some people don’t even love one place. I’m so blessed to even have people and places to miss this much

2. When else in your life can you drop everything and travel the world? Usually it’s not so easy. I know personally for me, and for most people, later in life we will have families and jobs to tend to, the usual stuff. It’s kind of hard to just leave all of that to go live somewhere else and travel for 4 months…So, take the opportunity while it’s in reach.

3. Comfort zones are stupid. Why in the world do we let our comfort zones dictate our experiences? I guess I can only speak for myself, but personally, I don’t want to look back on my life and realize that I didn’t take an opportunity because I was scared. Fear can’t kill you. Another one of my favorite quotes/illustrations shows a circle and inside the circle it says “Your comfort zone” and then there’s an arrow that points to the outside of the circle and it says “Where the magic happens”. I couldn’t agree more. I think doing things that you’re afraid of is good for you!

4. You learn A LOT. Especially if you go to a country where you don’t know the language. I’ve never learned so much in such a short period of time. By “learning” I mean you learn a lot, not only about language, but tons of other things as well. Oh, and if your classes are pass/fail, sign up for a study abroad program. Now. 

5. Cultural Awareness. I’ve written about this in another blog, but I think it’s important, so I’ll repeat myself. If you’ve never lived or traveled outside of the US or studied other cultures, you might not be super culturally aware. And this isn’t a bad thing!!! I know it’s not interesting for everyone. But American culture is only one of many, many, many other cultures in the world that’s out there! It blows my mind that there are tons of other people in the world just like you and me that live completely different than we do. When more people recognize this, I think it’s a step towards being more accepting of people who are different from us in beliefs, appearances, traditions, etc and it’ll help us to realize why people are the way they are and why they do the things they do. 

6. New Perspective. As my friend Ben says, everything is 20/20 in hindsight. When you don’t have all of the things you’re used to having anymore, you realize that you may have taken things for granted and realize you should appreciate them more! For example, things to appreciate even more when I return to the United States: Being 2 hours away from almost everyone I know instead of 20, owning a car and being able to drive, American holidays, Heat and AC, Chipotle burritos, Chick-Fil-A cookies, living on campus, 3G networks, being able to talk to ANYONE because WE SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE!, etc. So maybe some of those are ridiculous, but you get the point. And the list goes on…but at the same time, there are a lot of things I know I will look back on from my time in Spain and realize that I miss so many of those things too. 

7. You’ll make new friends! I have to admit that studying abroad brings an interesting crew together in one location. All of the students in the international program at my school are so diverse, but so awesome and nice. I’ve gotten the chance to get to know a lot of them and it’s been really great. In addition to that, you make new friends at your home university! When I go back to CNU after this semester, I’ll have three more really great friends. Erin, Mary, Ben and I have had so much fun getting to know each other and traveling together. I know each one of us has expressed to each other how lucky we are to have such a great group from CNU. 

8. YOU WILL HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. I’ve been to 5 countries and 11 cities in the past 3 months, if I even remembered them all. It’s a crazy but amazing lifestyle…there’s always something exciting to be looking forward to! I will also add that I’ve spent less money than I expected to (traveling in Europe is cheap!), and I still got to do so much! 

 

Going into college, the thought never crossed my mind to study abroad. I thought I was going to follow the “normal” lifestyle of a college student, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Open your mind and go see the world!!!!!!!!!

 

Thanksgiving Abroad!

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Whoever it was in the Mundo Lengua staff that decided to do a Thanksgiving dinner for us stole my heart. It was seriously so perfect!!! We had dinner at a local bar near the office and the employees were super accommodating and friendly. We got to dinner around 9 and hung out for a while. Finally we sat down to eat around 9:30 and the antics began. It was everyone studying with Mundo Lengua this semester, almost the whole staff, and a few others who joined in the fun. First we went around the table and everyone said what they were thankful for. This circle included people talking in broken Spanish, native Spanish, broken English, native English, and French! The diversity was seriously awesome. Oh and it was some people’s first Thanksgiving dinner ever!! I was really excited for them :) The decorations were designed by Erin and purchased and assembled by Mundo Lengua. Everything looked so pretty!!! The gigantic American flag hanging on the wall was the perfect finishing touch. We ate all of the traditional thanksgiving food like green beans, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, bread and pie! Everything was really yummy :) We all stayed at the dinner table until after midnight talking and laughing so much. Around 12:30 we got up to get ready to leave and didn’t. Then we went outside to leave and still didn’t leave. There’s a joke that Spaniards can’t say goodbye hahahaha. Oh my gosh it’s so true but I love it. I didn’t get into my apartment until around 2 a.m. I think. You know it’s a good Thanksgiving dinner when it turns into Black Friday :P Thanksgiving abroad was the best that it could’ve been, thanks to my program who made it all possible. 

In all seriousness, I have so much to be thankful for, as always. This semester in particular has been so incredible, it can’t even be described with any number of words. I’m so grateful for all of the people I’ve developed friendships with, I’m grateful for my host family, my awesome professors, the ability and experience of learning a new language in another country, to be able to travel Europe and Africa on the weekends, for my program directors who make my life here 100x easier, and for my supportive family and friends back at home, of course. I could probably list a whole lot more things that I’m grateful for, but i’ll stop before I write a novel about it :) I hope everyone back at home had a great Thanksgiving. I appreciate all of the texts, snapchats, and cards that I’ve received. I missed you all too! Thanks for reading everyone!  

PARIS & ROME!!!!

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Once again, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged. November has been so busy and SO fun. I can’t even express enough how great it’s been, but I’m about to try. So, 2 weekends ago, Mary and I went to Paris!!!! We got there at around 6 pm on Friday night. We grabbed some dinner real quick and then started our packed itinerary! First we went to the Louvre, a museum that was free for students on Friday nights! I normally don’t care too much about museums but this one was awesome!! We saw the Mona Lisa in person!!! …which was an adventure to find in this huge museum haha. Everything in the museum was so awesome, the architecture, the decorations, everything. I wanted to stay longer! The outside of the museum was also really pretty, there’s a huge lit-up dome-looking structure that was really cool! After this, we went to the Eiffel Tower. The city is pretty big and we were using the metro system to get around. We were a tad bit confused, so we got off on what we thought was the nearest stop and just started walking, but couldn’t see it (tall buildings around us). After walking for a minute, we turned a corner and literally gasped when we saw it. It was nighttime and the Eiffel Tower was twinkling!!! It was so much bigger and more beautiful in person than I had imagined, it was soooo cool. Later we went to a cute little cafe and ate desert (nutella crepes and creme brulee), it was delicious!! 

The next day we had a full day of places to visit! First, we went to a popular bakery called Gerard Mulot for a coffee, croissant and macaroons :) It was all delicious (but figuring out how to order was interesting…our french is quite limited, even though we practiced). Then we went to the Eiffel Tower again, this time in the daylight and climbed up all 700 stairs! The view was amazing! During my whole trip it’s been so surreal to visit all of the places that I’ve seen in pictures hundreds of times. The Eiffel Tower was definitely one of those places! After that we went to the Arc de Triomphe which is basically a huge triumphal arch built in memory of some victory I guess…I don’t really know the history, unfortunately. Then we went to a place called Lafayette Galeries, which is basically a HUGE mall, I guess you could call it. It had a ton of floors and a few separate buildings too with shopping galore. The whole outside was decorated with beautiful lights and the inside also had really pretty decorations, lights and a big Christmas tree! I loved it! We had lunch in a restaurant there, the food was really good. After finishing up our shopping extravaganza, we visited this garden-type place called Jardin des Tuileries. It was really pretty with a pond, a ferris wheel, a view of the Eiffel tower, lots of interesting statues and best of all, really pretty fall leaves all over the ground!! Spain doesn’t have too much of that, so it was nice to see the colorful leaves :) Then after the garden, we went to find the Notre Dame. At this point it was dark outside and pretty cold! We could NOT find it for some reason. We walked around for about an hour asking people for directions and trying to follow their broken-English directions and by a miracle, we found it. It was a free to get in, and there was a mass going on inside so we had to be quiet, but it was really amazing. All of the cathedrals in Europe are so elaborately decorated! After the Notre Dame, we wanted to find the famous “love lock bridge”. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a bridge in Paris where a tradition has developed for people to attach a lock to the bridge with someones initials, a message, etc. This entire bridge is covered in locks on both sides, so much so that there are locks attached to locks which are attached to locks…there are just so many. Mary and I, of course, attached our locks to the bridge and threw the key in the river to continue the tradition and it was a really cool experience! After all of the activities of the day, we finished up our day by eating a good old subway sandwich. I hadn’t had one since August probably! Can’t go wrong there! It was only like 9 pm at this point but we were completely dead from walking around all day and climbing the Eiffel Tower. I actually can’t believe we did all of that in less than a day in a half. Honestly, the only thing that made that possible was good planning the week before we left. So, the next morning we flew back to Seville. To summarize Paris in one word: Magical. 

 

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Last weekend, Mary, Ben and I went to Rome!!! (4 days after Paris…crazy schedule, I know) We were able to stay with Sara Leming, another CNU student studying in Rome. She was gracious enough to let us crash at her apartment which was so nice and so much fun! We flew out Thursday night. On the plane someone had some crazy medical emergency 2 rows in front of us (they were making this choking noise?) and people were yelling for a doctor or someone to help…it was horrible and so scary. Luckily he ended up being okay, I’m not really sure what happened…but the guy wasn’t too young so I was pretty worried! Anyways, when we got to Rome, we had to grab a taxi, but there was a super long line to get one. Again, by a miracle, a cab driver asked if anyone else was going to this one area in town and we happened to be going there. So we only waited in line for 15 minutes instead of over an hour, thank God. The cab driver was really cool and played American music and drove like a race car driver hahaha. We sang in the back of the taxi again…not the first time this has happened :P When we got to Sara’s apartment she had dinner on the table for us :) What a nice treat after our long journey. It was really late at this point so we all crashed! Friday we visited the Pantheon, which was cool. Then we went to the Trevi Fountain…this was super cool. It’s a tradition to throw a coin into the fountain with your left hand over your right shoulder, as I’m demonstrating in the picture. You have to make that face too. Later we went to have our first big Italian meal! It was raining almost the whole weekend but we didn’t let it stop us. We ate outside of this cute restaurant that had heaters/fires going outside and they gave us blankets at the table!! It was perfect. We had such delicious pizza, my mouth couldn’t even believe it…then later we got gelato and that was also SO good. For dinner we went to a restaurant with some of Sara’s friends and had pasta which was ALSO delicious, of course! Then we hit up an American bar and it was full of Americans which felt weird because we’re so far away from the US!

The next day we visited the Vatican Museum! It was really great. The Sistine Chapel was another thing that I’ve studied multiple times in school and I finally got to see it in real life! We couldn’t go into the actual Vatican because the Pope was doing a special mass and you had to have tickets to see it. Then we went to lunch/dinner at a really really nice restaurant. It had such a cool ambiance, it was all black and had candles. Okay I’m not exaggerating…BEST pizza I’ve ever had and will ever have in my life. Everyone at the table was laughing because we weren’t even talking because we were just eating and that’s all we were thinking about. It was amazing. Later that night we visited the Trevi Fountain again, this time when it was dark out. The lights and everything were so pretty. Oh, and cool fact about the Trevi…all of the coins that go in each day are donated to the needy in Rome. Pretty cool!! 

Sunday morning we got up and went to the Coliseum! We paid a little extra to skip the long lines, but it was worth it because we didn’t have a ton of time. It was awesome! We also saw the Forum from a little bit of a distance. I studied Latin for 4 years in middle school and high school and I never heard the end of Coliseum and the Vatican and all of those places, so it was interesting to finally get to see all of it. A little bit of my Latin even came back to me, not that anyone speaks it!! After the Coliseum, we had to go get ready to catch our flight. Rome was real cool and it was even better because Sara helped us navigate everywhere and she was such a great host, thanks Sara! The Italian people were really warm and friendly too and I realized that the Italian language is quite similar to Spanish, which I didn’t really know before! 

I absolutely loved both trips. It’s hard to say that I liked one better than the other because they’re SO different. Sadly, Rome was my last big trip because it’s almost finals and I have to study a little…but I’ve enjoyed all of my travels so much and I feel soooo privileged to have the opportunity to do so. I’ve really had the time of my life. Thanks everyone for reading! 

Fútbol & Córdoba!

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I’m trying to blog really quickly about my weekend before another week passes!!! So, this past weekend on Saturday, we went on one of the trips included in the program…to Córdoba! It was a quick day trip, but we got to see a lot! The city was BEAUTIFUL…as you can see in my pictures. We went to a synagogue, the mosque of Córdoba and the cathedral that’s inside the mosque. It was a lot of history of course, but all of the buildings were incredible and have such amazing detail. We also saw a little bit of these Roman ruins in Córdoba, which are all over southern Spain, including Seville. We had a really yummy lunch of paella, a traditional Spanish dish…one of my favorites. What a fun day!

On Sunday, four of us went to our first fútbol game in Spain, Barcelona vs Real Betis (a team in Seville)!!! It was SO much fun! Of course, Spain is known for being crazy about their fútbol, and I do have to say that this is so true! I was mesmerized when I entered the stadium, it was almost completely full, (which holds over 56,000 people) and the whole stadium was roaring with chants and songs…this literally continued the whole game!!!!! Everyone was so spirited, it was great. There was a LOT of yelling when Barcelona scored. I was looking around to see peoples faces and there was so much disappointment! In the end, Barcelona won 4-1 and all the Betis fans went home sad. But, it was a great experience. I wish I could go to more games, but it’s kind of expensive! 

That’s about all for now. I’m almost through another school week and this weekend, Mary and I are going to PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!! We fly out Friday morning and get back Sunday afternoon. I’m really excited about this trip, there’s bound to be lots of adventure ahead of me this weekend. This trip in particular will be interesting because we don’t know any French and French people don’t like Americans from what I’ve heard. There will be a blog to come on this experience next week! :)

Where has the time gone?!

Las Setas

Gypsies

Gambas sopa card

Another two and a half weeks has passed, what?! Midterms have passed, the 2 month mark has passed, the half way point has passed…I feel like my time here is going by SO fast! And registration for Spring semester is over too!!! What?! The past couple of weeks have been pretty good, we finally finished midterms last week. All of mine went pretty well EXCEPT my only one in English…ironic. (I even did well on my Spanish Literature midterm which has been a pretty challenging class. I was so excited about that!) The weather has finally started to cool off here, and by cool off I mean 70’s during the day and 50’s at night :) (There’s no heat in the apartment, so I’m enjoying my warmth while it lasts!) My host mom starting cooking more soups for the cold weather, which are so yummy! (The pictures shown above).

Two weekends ago was our first weekend staying in Seville in a while, so we all did a lot of catching up on sleep and homework, it was really relaxing. Traveling has been SO awesome, but super tiring too! Last weekend, my dad visited me in Seville!!!! He just couldn’t go four months without seeing me ;) …plus he loves to travel. He came Thursday night to Monday morning. I went to the airport to get him so he wouldn’t get lost, but I had to figure out the bus system to get there…which took some planning. It turned out that these random women on the street saw me with luggage and asked if I was going to the airport and asked if I wanted to grab a taxi with them and split the cost. (I didn’t get “Taken” guys!!!) It all worked out…always with an adventure along the way. Then I was able to figure out the bus system on the way back- which is really cheap! My dad and I had SUCH a fun weekend exploring Seville. Of course, we did all of the touristy things, for me it was the second time, or third, or fourth…We went to the cathedral, a flamenco show, Las Setas, Parque María Louisa, Plaza de España, lots of restaurants, an international festival (we ate kangaroo from Australia!!!), etc. I think my dad is obsessed with Seville…it really is the cutest city ever, trust me. I took note on the cultural differences that he pointed out so that I could blog about it. Here they are: 1. Half the vehicles on the road are motorcycles. 2. The cop cars look funny. 3. The people look different (I don’t really think so…maybe I got used to it?! What?) 4. A lot of guys have long hair. 5. There are cars that we don’t have in the US. 6. A lot of women smoke. 7. The food is cheaper here. 8. You pretty much cannot find “breakfast food” at breakfast. Spaniards eat bread/toast for breakfast, but you can find eggs for lunch or dinner, which is strange to us Americans. 9. The coffee is really strong and really small portions. 10. Some of the streets are so narrow, there are lots of winding streets, and you never know what you’ll find around each corner. 11. The social scene in the streets on the weekends is ridiculous. 12. There are tons and tons of restaurants, cafes, and bars on every street 13. America definitely has more obese people…and that sums up the thoughts of a tourist in Spain. I’m really glad he got to experience the city that I’m living in :) Some of my pictures above are from this weekend, the first one is a view from Las Setas, a modern structure built above some ancient Roman ruins in the heart of the city. The picture of the 2 weird dudes dressed in black. Well…..

I haven’t talked about this at all yet in my blogs, but those are gypsies! They’re all around Seville in the touristy areas dressed up, “floating” in mid-air, and there are also women gypsies that have bundles of rosemary or a type of plant. They try to give you this plant as a “gift” or for “luck”  and then they will grab your hand and give you a palm reading with some bullcrap speculations about your future and then they expect you to pay them for this. Other times, while one is doing your palm reading and distracting you, her accomplice will try to pick-pocket you or steal from you. I’ve only been caught up with a gypsy one time and I just pretended that I didn’t understand her and managed to get away :) This is just part of the interesting culture of Andalusia. There are about 1 million gypsies in Spain, most heavily populated in Andalusia. ¡Cuidado!

Also in my pictures is a wonderful card that I received last week from my roomie back home. She saw this card and thought of me! It has a really nice message about friendship (in Spanish hehe) and she wrote the sweetest note inside :):) My friends are the best!

Update on volunteering: I’m having a lot of fun every week at volunteering! The kids are so, so, so hyper but it’s fun! I’m really comfortable with the class and I think vice versa too. We’ve taught them a lot since we started back in October…I hope they’re soaking it all in :) So far I think they are, because they all have English exams this week and from what I’ve heard so far, everyone has passed. Good stuff!

I want to write about what I think is a misconception…Recently, several people have said to me something along the lines of “Oh you’re studying in Spain, your Spanish must be GREAT…” or “Oh you’ve been here for 2 months, I bet you’re Spanish is awesome!” Well…I don’t know…some days I feel like I’m doing pretty well, and other days I feel like I have SO much to learn still. Yes, my Spanish is definitely better than the average American. But great? I don’t think so. I think the misconception here is that you can pick up on a language in a short period of time if you’re immersed in it, and I know that’s not exactly true. Learning a language is A LOT of work and takes A LOT of time to pick up on the vocabulary and grammar and the most colloquial uses of the language. My time abroad has helped me immensely, but I think the assumption that people are making is a little extreme, basically. I have come a long way with my Spanish, but I still have a long journey ahead of me as well!

I think that’s all for this update! This weekend I am visiting Córdoba with my program, a town in Southern Spain, Northeast of Seville. It should be great! And possibly even MORE exciting…Sunday I’m going to my first fútbol game!!!! Barcelona vs. Real Betis! I can’t wait :)

I’ll leave you all with this new vlog by my friend, Mary! The video is about our first 2 weekends in Spain at the beach in Cádiz (Almost 2 months ago now!) Enjoy!

:)

 

 

 

Adventures in Barcelona!

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This weekend, I went to Barcelona!!! (and Mary and Ben)! We flew Friday morning and came back Saturday night! Just to name the places we visited (In order of my pictures)- Parque de la Ciudadela,  Casa Batlló, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Parque Güell, Sagrada Familia (under construction, still), and the last picture is just a view of the street from our 5th floor hostel! As you can tell, we visited a LOT of places in a very short period of time. Just to give a brief storyline of the trip, it went like this…

5:15 am Friday morning, got a cab to the airport. Went through security. Waited for 2 hours. Tried to board our flight. Couldn’t because we had to have a “stamp” on our paper. Had to sprint through the airport to get a stamp. Went through security again. Made it on our flight…somehow, but we were the last ones on the plane. Flew. Met another CNU student in the airport who’s studying in Italy (Sara Leming). Took a bus, then a metro to the city. Ate, Explored, checked into the hostel, took a 4 hour siesta by accident, then visited this Musuem in the dark, by accident because we were looking for something else and found this musuem instead. (All of our traveling around the city was by Metro because the city is huge). We went on a walk on one of the popular streets in Barcelona called “Las Ramblas”. Slept. Saturday we visited all of the other tourist sites that I mentioned. It was lots of walking and metro riding all over the place! We didn’t get to spend much time at each place because we had to leave for the airport by late afternoon. But luckily, we saw all of the major things that we wanted to see! We somehow found the right bus back to the airport and came home to Seville! On the way home in our taxi, our driver turned on some music and I yelled “¡música!” from the back seat. He then turned on some American music and me and Mary did a rendition of Akon while our cab driver laughed at us. Solid ending to our trip.

Impressions of Barcelona: It’s huge. It’s very touristy and very diverse. Sevilla has tourists but nothing like this. Everyone in Barcelona basically knows English, so it didn’t really feel like I was in Spain! Barcelona has a lot of cool architecture. The scenery is beautiful, it has both mountains and beaches!

It was definitely an incredible experience to get to see all of the famous sites in Barcelona! One thing that is really surreal for me is remembering doing presentations about Spanish culture back in the US… I had pictures of famous sites in Spain in my presentations…and now I’m seeing them all IN Spain. It’s crazy. With all that being said, I don’t know if any place I visit will be as beautiful as Sevilla is to me. I’ve really fallen in love with the city and I feel so lucky that this is where I get to live this semester. Barcelona didn’t feel like authentic Spain because it was so touristy…I missed hearing Spanish all the time, I missed the cute little streets of Sevilla, being able to walk almost everywhere, my sweet host family, the familiar cafes and restaurants, the river, just everything. Sevilla > Barcelona. The end :)

The past 3 weekends have been so awesome: Aracena, Morocco, Barcelona…but fun and games aside, now it’s time to tackle some midterms! ¡Nos vemos!

 

Morocco!!!!

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Wow, time is getting away from me!! It’s been a week and a half since my last blog… I’m going to try to only mention the important details of the week, but i’ll probably end up being really wordy, as usual. :) So, I have had 2 weeks of volunteering so far! It’s going really well. It’s me and 2 girls from England who are a little bit older (mid twenties and finished college) and we are all teaching an English class together! The students are ages 11-13, I think. The student’s English is very basic, of course. We are going over simple vocabulary, verb conjugations, and pronouns like he, she, it, we, they, etc. We try to only speak English in the class to make it a real immersion experience! All of the students gave me a GOOD long stare when they found out I was an American, quite funny!!!! Oh also, the two girls from England said at least 5 words or phrases that I have never heard in my life…the language they use in England is more different than I thought, which is interesting. Yesterday I had a stressful experience getting to volunteering and back because my ride could not drive me and I had to use public transportation. Long story short, I had to write a note to the bus driver asking him to tell me when we got close to a certain street so that I could get off…embarrassing, but whatever. On the way back I couldn’t even find the right bus!!!! I had to ask a random lady on the street, in Spanish, of course. Thank God, she was SO nice and helpful and we actually had a decent conversation. She directed me to the metro instead of the bus because it was closer and faster. Somehow, I made it home! Good times…

Last week, Me, Erin and Mary had a chat with a Spaniard (Erin’s intercambio) over lunch at school. It was REALLY interesting for me. We talked about all sorts of things, but one thing that stood out to me is her view of Latin American Spanish. We told her that in the US, we learn Latin American Spanish (most obvious example: almost no emphasis on the vosotros verb forms) and she was absolutely appalled by this. She says that the Latin American people are changing the origins of Spanish and they don’t really speak Spanish, they speak “Spanglish”…strong statement, huh? I had no idea that the Spanish people here had such strong opinions about the way Latin American’s speak Spanish, but according to this particular Spaniard, their language is “wrong”. The more I began to think about this, the more I realized what she was saying. Let me give some examples of things that came to mind. The word for “car” in Spanish in Spain is “coche”, but the word for “car” in Spanish in Latin America is “carro”. Hmm….let’s see which word looks more like the English word. Another example, the word for “computer” in Spanish in Spain is “ordenador”  and the same word in Latin America is “computadora”. Again, which one is obviously more like English? Latin America. (Someone correct me if I’m making too much of a generalization. I’m not sure if every single country in Latin America uses these words, but I think a majority, or all of them do.) I’m not saying that one way is right or wrong. To me, honestly, they are just different. I also don’t know exactly what the origins of some of these Latin American Spanish words are, but they seem to be more like English! Whatever the case may be, I think this is interesting. I’m a Spanish nerd, I know. 

Okay, now to talk about my trip to Morocco!!! I went to Morocco Friday-Sunday with the 8 students from my program, MundoLengua and one of the program Coordinators, Antonio. As you can see from the picture of the map, we visited 3 cities- Tetouan, Tangier, and Chefchaouen. We got there by bus and boat! The boat ride was beautiful because we got to see the sunset, it was perfect (as you can see in the picture)!! The first night we stayed in a hotel in Tetouan and got up bright and early to travel to Chefchaouen. This city is in the mountains (also in my picture) and the bus ride was really really really pretty views! When we got there, we were about to take a tour of the area…but first a few of us went to a local restaurant to use the bathroom. So…the bathroom was not a toilet, (no shock to me because Kenya was the same way) but it was more like a hole in the ground. With my luck, I dropped my Ralph Lauren sunglasses in the hole of everyones pee. Cool story right…it gets better. I was seriously debating leaving them there, but Mary decided to help me get them out. She took straws and picked them up hahahaha, too funny. We then found a random nasty bucket on the ground and threw them in the bucket and rinsed them with water a few times (there was no soap, of course). I put them in a case and lets just say they are in a long long long process of being disinfected right now. Anyways, the town was pretty nice!! We had lunch there, very healthy (lots of vegetables). Oh and basically nobody there is fat. They’re way thinner than Americans at least. A whopping 75% of the population of Morocco lives on the agriculture, good for them!!! We went into a lot of shops in this town and did some haggling with the store owners (you can do this there)! Later that day, we drove to Tangier, and on the way we stopped to RIDE CAMELS!!!!! It was so fun, I love doing weird stuff like that. When else can you ride a camel?!?! (You can see me taking a picture from my camel!) Anyways, then we went to this famous cave called The Cave of Hercules, also pictured up top! It was really awesome! Then we went back to our hotel in Tangier and had another carb and vegetable and fish dinner, again (basically the same thing as the first night). Sunday morning we went to our last stop, Tetouan again! Here we took a tour of the streets and the markets. I bought some tasty pastries there! After that, we took some narrow, windy back streets with NASTY food everywhere. There were shops all along the side of the street with raw animal intestines and livers and skulls just hanging up for sale…no refrigeration or anything. It smelled so bad. There were also glass containers with food and tons and tons of bees inside. I don’t get the point of that ??? This whole area just didn’t seem sanitary to me at all. Ironically, our next stop was a natural medicine/health shop. The owners gave a presentation on all of their products and it pretty cool. Then, we went to lunch. (Side note: there were other people in our tour group from across the globe and our tour guide told us everything in English and Spanish.) One of the things we were told was “DO NOT drink the water!”. Well by Sunday we already had 3 people from our group throwing up…for whatever reason. They didn’t drink the water, but they all had tea from one of the restaurants, so we think that’s what did it. The native people are used to the water, but it’s too harsh on our stomachs because we aren’t used to it. One of the people from our tour group ended up going to the hospital because he kept throwing up and passing out and had this icky rash on his skin. So, we ended up staying at this restaurant for a long time because we were waiting for him to finish at the hospital. After that, we made the 7 hour trek back to Sevilla. All in all, Morocco was a great cultural experience. I think a lot of the students I was with were in culture shock, but I wasn’t really bothered by it. Was I super comfortable there? Not exactly. Am I glad I went? Of course. I really do believe that as Americans, we are stuck in our ways and think our culture is somewhat superior (and I think most people think this of their own culture), but in actuality, there are so many other cultures that function perfectly fine, in a very different way than we do. I think it’s important to at least realize this, even if you can’t see it firsthand.

Finally I am back in Sevilla, my home away from home, and I really love it here. School is going well. I was supposed to have a presentation this week, but it got rescheduled until “next class, or the class after that or after that”…and that’s Spanish culture for you – Flexibility. I had my first test last week, it went well. Next week and the week after are already MIDTERMS!! What?! I can’t believe time has gone that quickly. On a personal-celebratory note, today I got up in front of one of my classes (not knowing that I was going to have to- got called on) and EASILY talked in Spanish for a few minutes. I would NOT have been able to do this last semester without having notes in front of me or reading straight off of my notes. It’s the little things. Last week, I also flipped through an old notebook with Spanish homework assignments that I had to do last semester. I was laughing out loud at my ridiculous Spanish grammar mistakes. It made me feel like I’ve come a long way and I really do need to see that progress when I have frustrating days and feel like my improvement is too slow. 

And shoot, that post was longer than I wanted it to be. I guess I’ll just have to accept my wordiness. Thanks for reading if you made it through all of that craziness :) Stay tuned, because next time I post it’ll probably be about my trip to BARCELONA this weekend!!!!!!!