Posts Tagged With: Study Abroad

Be(a)rlin, Budapest, Prague, London

I was so busy traveling these past two weeks that I couldn’t update this page, so rather than go into detail about each individual place, here are lots of pictures with the highlights!

BERLIN

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Vicky and I arrived late at night and after many struggles with the public transportation system we finally arrived to our airbnb. The next morning we went to the East Side Galleries which is the Berlin Wall, this was actually my favorite part of Berlin since it is so beautiful and historical at the same time.

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After a lunch of currywurst, we headed over to Checkpoint Charlie, the Topography of Terror museum (about the Nazis and World War II), the Holocaust Memorial, and the Brandenburg Gate.

The next day, we went to the top of the Television Tower which was very crowded but the view was worth it. Then we spent the rest of the day walking around the Friedrichshain are of Berlin which is very cute and “trendy”.

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The memorial for the Jews murdered in the Holocaust

It was really interesting to see the East and West sides of Berlin now, knowing that they were so different only thirty years ago.

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Sight of the Nazi book burning

Also, Berlin has excellent chai lattes, its this brand called David Rio which is actually from California but they have it in every single cafe throughout this city!

BUDAPEST

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Fisherman’s Bastion

This was one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited on my travels. I thought Budapest was extremely beautiful, interesting, and I actually ended up learning a lot about World War II and Hungarian history. It was supposed to rain our entire stay, so right when we arrived we hit all of the main outdoor sights while we still had sun. We saw Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and the Hungarian Parliament building during the daytime. While the sun was setting we got lost in Buda Castle (we couldnt find the castle for hours until we realized the whole time we were actually inside it!). Pretty much, we spent the afternoon and evening walking around Castle Hill and looking at the amazing view of the city. Then at night, we walked back towards the Parliament building to see it all lit up.

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The next day we woke up to sunny skies again and walked across one of the Budapest’s bridges to go to their famous thermal bathes called Gellert. The process of buying our tickets and finding the baths was kind of overwhelming but once we were in the different pools it was quite relaxing. Afterwards, toured a church in a cave and walked up to Margaret Island. Since Gellert didnt have any openings for massages that day, we attempted to find another thermal bath place that did but that ended unsuccessfully. Later that night, we went on a cruise down the Danube river and got to see both Buda and Pest (yes, the city is divided into two halves- Buda and Pest).

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Hungarian Parliament Building

On Friday we woke up to an overcast sky but with no signs of rain, so we explored more of the Pest side and ended up walking to Heroes Square where there was a food festival going on as well.

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Heroes’ Square

We also visited two museums, Hospital in the Rock, and House of Terror. Both were extremely informative and my two favorite museums of the entire trip. Hospital in the Rock is a ex-hospital in a cave used during World War II and it was later a nuclear bunker during the Cold War. House of Terror is a museum located inside the house that was the Nazi headquarters and later the Soviet headquarters in Hungary.

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View from one of the many bridges.

On Saturday morning, we woke up and got brunch at the New York Cafe which is a super classy and fancy restaurant in a hotel near our airbnb. Then we got on a fifteen row propellor airplane and took off towards Prague.

PRAGUE

The tiniest plane I've ever been on!

The tiniest plane I’ve ever been on!

If cities were amusement parks, Prague would be Disneyland. The streets and buildings were absolutely adorable and everywhere we walked there were street musicians and vendors.

Old Town Square

Old Town Square

We had four days in Prague, so we were able to relax a little bit more and take our time seeing the sights. We went to the top of the clock tower, saw Olde Town Square and walked over the river via Charles Bridge. We saw the Prague Castle and ate many Chimney Cakes, chocolate, and gelato. We visited the John Lennon Wall which I have absolutely no idea why it is in Prague, but either way it is very pretty.

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John Lennon Wall

John Lennon Wall

One of my favorite things to do in Prague was take a peddle boat out on the river. It was so peaceful and beautiful at the same time.

We also went to the Kafka museum and the Film Special Effects museum, both were very interesting.

LONDON

London is Vicky’s city, which made it so special and exciting to see. Our flight out of Prague was delayed by two hours so we ended up having to take the double decker night bus back to her college campus (I was staying in her dorm). It was quite an experience since the last time I rode on a double decker bus I was five years old.

Big Ben

Big Ben

The next morning we got a semi early start and headed out to Central London where we did many of the “touristy” things such as seeing Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and of course, taking the classes phone booth photo. We even stopped for a classy afternoon tea for two!

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

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We also walked around Shoreditch, a much more hip part of the city that is filled with cute book stores, art studios, and coffee shops.

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I loved getting a personal tour of London and despite the cold weather I really did fall in love with the city!

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The Land of Chocolate

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In a city known for chocolates, waffles, and french fries I managed to eat and see my way through Brussels in 24 hours with the company of my dear friend Vicky. This marked the start of our two week, five country Europe trip. Brussels was actually exactly what I expected it to be- a small quirky city with good food and friendly people. Even though it took us about an hour to figure out what language is spoken there (turns out its both French AND Dutch), communication and navigating the city was quite simple.

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Outside the Royal Palace!

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After a quick lunch and coffee we started our day walking into the city center and exploring the streets. We wandered past a few beautiful churches and parks, passing by the European Union building and foreign embassies. Then we strolled through the Sablon area which should really just be called “Chocolate Lane” since every other store was a chocolatier. I bought some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted in my life there.

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We spent the afternoon touring the comic museum (Brussels seems to be very interested in comics, since there are many graffiti comic-murals spread across the city as well). In the evening we stumbled upon the plaza containing the town hall as well as numerous other gold plated buildings and relaxed on the clean cobblestone for some time.

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For dinner, I tried pork meatballs in a speculous (yes, as in the cookie) and dark beer sauce which turned out to be really good! Before heading home for the night we stopped to take a peek at Mannekin Pis which is literally just a tiny statue of a boy peeing. Usually he’s dressed up in one of his hundreds of outfits but that day he was in the nude.

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Mannekin Pis

The next day we walked back into the town center and saw a couple palaces and government buildings, I liked the Royal Palace the best, it made me feel like a princess. We went to the Musical Instruments Museum which is well worth the two euro it costs to get inside.

There was also a celebration going on for VE day which for some reason entailed an excellent procession of fat geese as well as around thirty food trucks and a weird “vintage-y” merry go round.

I have come to the conclusion that Brussels is the oddest city with the best chocolate I have visited so far.

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Where are all the unicorns?!

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Vicky and I in front of the university

After a crazy three hour delay, switching of aircrafts, and a free slice of pizza courtesy of RyanAir, I boarded my Friday afternoon flight to Glasgow, Scotland. About four hours later I found myself in the center of a city where everyone speaks incomprehensible English and drives on the wrong side of the road.

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by Glasgow. I honestly didn’t know what to expect other than cold weather and people with thick accents, but what I found was a cute, bustling city with plenty of things to do, places to eat, friendly people, and an impeccably clean underground subway.

I was traveling again with my American roommate, Vicky, only this time we had our friend Sam (who is studying in Glasgow) to show us around. It always makes a huge difference traveling with someone who knows the city, plus I love getting a glimpse at other people’s experiences abroad.

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We ate that night at a cute restaurant in the West end and afterwards, Sam showed us where he goes to school. The university was absolutely stunning, it felt like I was in a castle. Later, Vicky and I checked into our hostel which was by far the best hostel I’ve ever seen. The rooms were clean, cozy, and had a private bathroom! (It was called Alba if any of you are ever planning to visit Glasgow on a budget).

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The view from one of the parks we visited

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On Saturday, we spent the day hiking in a park about twenty minutes outside of the city. This was the first time in a while that I have been surrounded by such beautiful nature. We also lucked out with the weather as it was sunny all day. My favorite part of the hike was actually when we first arrived and bumped into a field of sheep. For dinner, we ate Indian food back in the city center, it was delicious not to mention the waitress was possibly the most friendly person I’d ever met. At night, we went to a Scottish pub where a musician was playing live acoustic guitar. The best part was that everyone there knew all of the songs played and seemed quite happy singing the lyrics while drinking their beers. I don’t know if this is a common occurrence, but I hope so, since it made me so happy seeing so many happy people all together, listening to good music.

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The next morning, after brunch in a tiny, hip cafe, Vicky and I walked around the Botanical Gardens. It was raining on and off but somehow we managed to wind up indoors just before every short shower. We met up with Sam again and got donuts and coffee and then more coffee. In the evening, he took us to a vegan restaurant for dinner where I had the best vegan burger I’ve ever had (even though I’m not vegan, I have had my fair share of vegan hamburgers and this one was by far the best tasting).

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Inside a monument we came across while hiking

At around 10pm I headed back to Central Station, where I hopped on an airport bound train. My flight wasn’t until 6am the following morning, but there was no public transportation that early and I didn’t want to pay for a taxi so I set up camp in the airport. It was the coldest airport I’d ever been to and with that being said I’d like to take a moment to thank the friendly barista at the 24 hour airport Starbucks who gave me tea and an ice pack filled with boiling hot water because I was shivering.

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I always love seeing my darling roommate and it was refreshing to not have to worry (too much) about trying to understand a new language and communicate in a foreign country. So, as far as favorite cities go, Glasgow is definitely up there (even though it was realllllly cold!).

On a side note, I was rather disappointed that Scotland does not have any unicorns, although they have more than enough sheep.

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A Tale of the Accidental Home Invaders

imageThis week I had the best visitor yet- my mom! She flew all the way from New Jersey to spend the week with me in Sevilla and together we visited Portugal for the weekend. I showed her all of my favorite places in the city, she really loved the cookie store and trying cappuccinos from every cafe. We also went to the Arab Baths together, which were the most relaxing two hours I’ve had in a while.

Then, on Thursday evening we rented a car and began our short trip to Portugal. The drive to our bed and breakfast was only supposed to be an hour and a half, so leaving Sevilla at 6pm should have given us plenty of time.

One tiny town in Portugal

One tiny town in Portugal

My iPhone GPS took us to this teeny tiny village five kilometers from the Spanish border. We drove through it in about three minutes and decided that Google Maps must’ve messed up because there was no way there could be a bed and breakfast in a town that only had one restaurant.

Thirty minutes later and we ended up in a town just as small where we stumbled upon the road of our bed and breakfast. But for some reason we still couldn’t find the physical place. We drove in circles for what felt like an hour and even went in to the one bar in town to ask for directions but still no luck. Finally, we drove past a house that looked as if it could potentially be a bed and breakfast, so mom parked the car and I got out and knocked on the front door. There was no answer but I definitely heard voices on the other side. Mom came over and together we went around to another front door which was already open.

imageInside, was a tiny old woman probably in her 80s or 90s sitting on a chair. My mom tried to ask in Portuguese/Spanish if this was the B&B and old woman nodded happily and told us to come right inside. So we did. She pointed us toward the kitchen and we started to hear voices that sounded like a family having dinner. That was when we really looked around and realized we had just walked right inside this family’s house during dinnertime. We thanked the old woman and went around to a third door where the father opened up and finally pointed us in the right direction of the B&B. It ended up being just around the corner, however there were no signs or street names or anything to make finding it easier. In the end we made it to the B&B, it was run by a family and we were their only guests, but it was cute and the village was very pretty.

This was the only sign for the B&B

This was the only sign for the B&B

imageThe next day we went further into Portugal and stopped in three beach towns. My favorite was Tavira, it was very cute and we ate a great meal in the town center. We spent the night in a hotel in Albufeira.

image   Albufeira was incredibly touristy to the point that we couldn’t find a single restaurant that served Portuguese food, every restaurant was British and had three hosts outside just waiting to try and lure you into eating their overpriced meals. But at least the hotel view of the beach was stunning.image

On the ride back to Sevilla, we stopped at a supermarket so my mom could take back cheese and chocolate and olive oil. Then I dropped her off at the airport and returned to my house in time for dinner.

It was a great week of eating lots of good food and spending some quality time with my mom.image

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One Week, Three Cities

Last week was Semana Santa, where every church parades its Jesus statues around town while dressed in costumes that look just like the KKK, attracting many tourists as well as freeing students from school for the week. I’m sure it is much more than just this, however, as I am not religious whatsoever nor am I very curious, I really cannot say much more. However, I took this week-long break as an opportunity to get to know more of the less catholic side of Spain.

SEVILLA

To begin the week, I had some lovely visitors in Sevilla including my roommate from last semester. They were my first real visitors and I was very excited to show them the city. We had a lot of fun walking and sitting and eating (it seems like that was all we did).

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I showed them the more popular sights in Sevilla including La Catedral, La Giralda, Plaza de Espana and El Real Alcazar de Sevilla. I also took them to all of my favorite places like the top of Las Setas at sunset, my favorite cookie store on Calle Regina, the park by the river, and my favorite tapas bar in Alfalfa called Bodega.

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La Catedral during one of our many sitting breaks.

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Plaza de Espana.

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Las Setas at sunset. My favorite view of all time.

I really enjoyed being able to show them around Sevilla because it made me feel more like an actual resident and less of a “long term tourist”. I also was able to do a lot of things I had wanted to do like ride the little boats in Plaza de Espana (best five euro ever spent!) and eat churros for breakfast.

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We had about two full days in Sevilla which in my opinion was the perfect amount of time to do everything we wanted.

MADRID

Our next destination, Madrid, was a beautiful two hour train ride away. To be honest, I was rather underwhelmed by the city. It was very beautiful but it didn’t feel like Spain, at least not the same way that Sevilla does. My friends said that it reminded them of London, it had a much more “European” feel to it rather than “Spanish”. Also it didn’t help that practically everyone there spoke English too.

One of the cuter Madrid streets

One of the cuter Madrid streets.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Madrid, I really liked being able to explore the streets and the architecture was absolutely stunning. Once again, we spent most of our time walking and sitting and eating (I think that’s the best way to travel, personally).

Parque "El Retiro"

Parque “El Retiro”

I forget what this building is called but it was very pretty.

I forget what this building is called but it was very pretty.

We went inside one museum, “Reina Sofia” which was nice. But my favorite part of this city was walking through the park called “El Retiro”. It was beautiful and gave us a shady place to sit and avoid getting sunburnt.

BARCELONA

From Madrid, we took a three hour train ride to Barcelona, which is by far one of my favorite cities in Spain. In Barcelona, I felt a lot more like I was in Spain again, even though their primary language there is actually Catalan (everyone also knows English too) and many of the residents want to secede from Spain.

We visited Parque Guell, the Gaudi house, La Sagrada Familia, Plaza de Espana, Las Ramblas, and the beach. My favorite out of all of these was Plaza de Espana because it was absolutely stunning with a beautiful fountain and steps that once you climbed to the top, you could see practically all of the city.

Plaza de Espana

Plaza de Espana.

The view from the top

The view from the top.

Las Ramblas was mostly tourists and very crowded, though looking at the cute little pop up style shops was fun.

The food was also delicious, we got tapas twice and went to this wonderful sandwich place called Bo de B where I had the BEST sandwich of my life. I am not over exaggerating, I swear, it was delicious and only 4 euros.

In Park Guell.

In Park Guell.

The view from Park Guell.

The view from Park Guell.

Overall, I think I liked showing Sevilla the best, but only because I think of it as my city and it was really great that my friends could see what I’ve been doing the past few months. My second favorite city was Barcelona probably because of all the beautiful views it had to offer (I don’t know why but I love being up high, maybe because I was short as a child?). And Madrid is third on my list only because it didn’t seem to offer as much as the other two cities, though I did eat a DELICIOUS fried calamari sandwich while I was there.

It is really interesting to be able to see three major cities in Spain within such a short period of time, it really gave me an insight into the differences within the country. I also just loved being able to spend time with so many familiar faces (shout out to Vicky, Seannie, Shelby, and Steph for making this trip so much fun!).

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That Time I Turned 20 in Africa

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On Tuesday March 21st, 1995 I was born. Twenty years later I woke up at 8:30 in the morning laughing in a hotel in Morocco (sometimes when I have funny dreams I wake myself up laughing). It was my first time in Africa and even though I was only there for less than three days I was able to see three different beautiful cities in Morocco.

We got to Morocco on Friday night and we were all very tired from the horrible boat ride from Spain (it lasted under an hour but the rain made the ride awful!). But Saturday morning I woke up giggling and feeling a whole year older with a whole lot of energy. We started the day going to Chef Chauen- the blue city. We had a hilarious guide who led us through the city on a walking tour. Many of the buildings are painted blue which keeps the mosquitos away from people during the summer.

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We toured a store that makes woven rugs and scarfs and things of that nature. It was really interesting to see them weaving, since my mom has a loom back home and used to weave as well.

Afterwards we had some free time to shop for ourselves. This was one of my first times haggling and it was kind of intimidating, you have to pretend that you don’t really want whatever it is, but you are interested enough for them to try and sell it to you. I ended up getting a few things for a very good price.

After all of the shopping and haggling we ate a lunch of chicken and vegetables and so much bread. Seriously, every time we finished the basket of bread on our table, it was instantly refilled. After the meal we were served Moroccan mint tea, which seemed to be just mint leaves, sugar and hot water but it was delicious!

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We headed back on the bus and drove to Tetouan. The view while driving was beautiful, unfortunately my iPhone camera isn’t all that great when it comes to taking pictures while moving, but I did my best.

The next morning we saw the beach where the Atlantic ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. There, we had a short camel ride on the sand.

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Then we had another walking tour of Tetouan. The streets were a lot smaller and more packed than those of Chef Chauen but it was just as beautiful to see. We went to a pharmacy-type place where we learned about Moroccan spices and got to try a bunch of samples. For lunch we ate couscous with chicken which was my favorite meal of the weekend.

The boat ride home wasn’t nearly as bad as the first one and since it was in the evening I slept the entire ride. I really loved Morocco and I can definitely see myself coming back to Chef Chauen one day in the future.

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Amsterdam Stole My Heart

Everyone that I’ve spoken to within the past week has definitely heard my feelings towards Amsterdam. I spent less than four days there, but I immediately fell in love with the city.

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I got in on Friday night and met up with two of my sorority sisters and friends, Eva and Emily, who are both spending the semester there. We went to a cute cafe/bar and got hot chocolates which are apparently really popular there (and delicious too!).

My hostel

My hostel

I stayed in hostel next to Vondlepark called Stayokay. It was my first hostel experience and it was wonderful. They offered discounted tickets to museums and attractions as well as a complimentary breakfast and cheap bike rentals. Also none of my stuff got stolen, so that was pretty exciting too.

On Saturday I rented a bike and we went to the famous and overly crowded

“IAmsterdam” sign. From here we biked past the museum district and went to the Heinneken Brewery for a tour. Afterwards, I biked around some smaller canals and explored the more residential areas. Then I went to the Van Gogh museum. That night we got delicious Thai food and walked through the Red Light District which I thought was really interesting because it is something so different from anywhere else I’ve been before. There are lots of glass windows/doors with prostitutes in lingerie standing on the other side. These windows line the streets and each one has a red light above it (hence the name, red light district). I later learned that these women have to pay 150 euros per day just to rent their window which means they must make more than that every single day!

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Eva and I during the brewery tour

Sunday in Europe is pretty much the worst day as far as traveling because everything is closed. Always. I spent a large portion of the day just walking around, exploring the Red Light District and Dam Square again during the day. I went to a photography museum as well as the prostitution museum both of which had Sunday hours. At night, I ate french fries in a cone with mayonnaise. It was delicious, and definitely an essential food to try when in Holland (in addition to hot chocolate, waffles, pancakes, croquettes, and toast with sprinkles for breakfast).

Vondlepark, right next door to the hostel.

Vondlepark, right next door to the hostel.

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I got an early start on Monday morning and made it to the Anne Frank museum before the line got crazy long (I waited about an hour- definitely buy tickets beforehand if you ever visit). I’ve been once before, right after reading the actual book, I think I knew a lot more about Anne Frank then, but it was still really powerful and moving seeing the house again. Out of respect photography wasn’t allowed inside the house, so I only got a picture of the entrance.

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Reading all about the Holocaust made me very sad so naturally, I went right across the street to the free cheese museum and replaced my sad feelings with free samples of every kind of Gouda imaginable. It was a super cute store/museum and the management didn’t care whether you sampled every single cheese (it was more a cheese shop rather than a museum, but I still enjoyed it).

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I am so glad that I came back to Amsterdam. I had so much fun (shoutout to Eva and Emily!) and actually ended up learning a lot about the city and culture. I also found that Amsterdam, like Paris, has a very cohesive look in terms of architecture, and it is very distinct from all of the other places I’ve visited.

On a completely unrelated note, it’s already mid March which is crazy because it arrived so quickly. But on the bright side, only one more week until my birthday trip to Morocco!

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An American in Paris

The day before I left for Spain, my grandma called to wish me a safe and fun trip. This was right around the time of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, so right before hanging up, she said “and please, stay the heavens away from Paris”, so I would like to start out by apologizing to my grandma, since the first place I visited outside of Spain was, in fact, Paris.

IMG_3420I had a few reasons to go to Paris, to start out, my roommate was visiting the city the same weekend, I have two friends studying there (which meant free lodging!), and the last time I was in Paris, I was three years old so I wanted to see if I remembered anything.

I flew Ryanair (which despite what everyone told me, was not chaotic nor strict, it actually just felt like any other flight) and arrived Wednesday night. The scariest feeling in the world is entering a country and not being able to speak a word of the language other than “merci” and “fromage”.

Thank god public transportation is universally very similar because I was able to figure out the metro system and get to my friend’s stop with relatively no trouble. That night we got sweet crepes and I fell asleep very quickly since traveling always tires me out.

I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to take pictures in the Jewish Quarter! Oops!

I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to take pictures in the Jewish Quarter! Oops!

The next day we got lunch in the Jewish Quarter. At the time, there were many armed guards in the area. I am not used to walking down a street and seeing soldiers carrying weapons so that was definitely an interesting sight. We ate delicious falafel and then I walked around the area, admiring all of the buildings even though it was freezing. In the evening, we ate Chinese food in honor of the Chinese New Year.

On Friday we started the morning by walking near the river and seeing the Notre Dame.IMG_3471_2

I think it is amazing to see the architectural differences between cities. Paris definitely has a cohesive look that is nothing like Sevilla (or New York for that matter), but it is equally as beautiful.

Later that day I met up with my roommate, Victoria, and two other friends to eat dinner and see the Eiffel Tower up close.IMG_3517

It was so pretty at night, all lit up! We also got very lucky with lines and were able to go to the top.

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I actually remember going to the top with my dad when I was three. I remember he wouldn’t carry me the whole way up. It’s weird how memories work.

On Saturday we went to the outside of the Louvre. I’m not a huge fan of art museums, so I didn’t really want to go inside but I do love impressionism so instead we went inside Musee d’Orsay and saw Monet and Van Gogh. The museum itself is very beautiful because it used to be a train station. We also got to cut the line because our student cards got us free admission.

The Musee d'Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay

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Afterwards, we went to the bridge with all of the locks which I thought was really pretty even with all of the recently added plywood (they had to put it up to stop people from adding more locks because they are weighing down the bridge too much!). Then for dinner we got bread and cheese and chocolate which was delicious.

I really liked Paris overall, but I must say that I am very glad I chose Sevilla to study. I prefer the Spanish way of life as well as a warmer and smaller city. By the time I had to leave, my brain was already itching to speak Spanish and see my host family once again!

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Want to Test Your Language Skills? Try Going to a Hospital

Long story short: I got a piercing back in the states a few months ago and for some reason it just now got infected and embedded itself into my skin. It’s gross, I know.

Yesterday morning I realized what had happened to my piercing so I decided to visit a local piercer and solve the problem. However, the piercer told me to go to the hospital immediately. She said there was nothing she could do and that if I waited any longer the infection would get worse and could become harmful (since the ear is so close to the brain). Afterwards, I got two other opinions from different piercers who all told me the same thing: go to a hospital. I’ve never been to a hospital in my life, and the thought of going alone in a foreign country freaked me out. But it had to be done.

So this morning I woke up and went to the ER. I waited for over an hour amongst countless people all coughing and sneezing- I could practically feel their germs in the air- until I finally saw a doctor. He led me to another doctor who loosened the earring and then cut it out of my ear. Then I had to talk to two other doctors and give them my insurance, information, etc.

It wasn’t exactly what I had planned for my Friday morning, but at least now I know how to say “ear infection” and “no needles” in Spanish.

In other news, I also started University classes this week at La Universidad de Sevilla, which is absolutely gorgeous (Fun Fact: it  used to be a tobacco factory!). I haven’t taken any pictures of the University so far, so please enjoy the view from Las Setas for the time being. I promise I’ll take some pictures this week!  la giralda

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An American, A Swiss, and A Norwegian Walk into a Bar…

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Tetería/ Hookah Lounge

Well it wasn’t really a bar, it was actually more of a hookah lounge and tetería (tea place). Had you told me two weeks ago that I would be drinking the most delicious almond tea with a group of friends from all over the world in Granada, I wouldn’t have believed it. But there I was, sipping tea in a cozy yet smoke-filled tetería/hookah lounge in the city center.

I spent this past Saturday and Sunday in Granada and even though it was a short trip, I think it was just enough time to see what the city had to offer.

Right after checking into the hotel we were given two hours of free time to explore on our own, go shopping, and eat lunch. I went with two girls to a small- yet very popular- tapas restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious (we got different types of sandwiches and two tapas to share) and I was amazed by how cheap the food was. I have to say that my favorite tapa dish is still the tortilla española, it is like a thick omelette with potatoes.

Next, we went on a short walking tour of the city. Granada is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which meant it was much colder there than in Sevilla. It also meant that the peaks of the mountains were covered in snow, which was beautiful to see. IMG_7629

The next day we went on a four hour guided tour of La Alhambra which is a palace that is easily one of Spain’s biggest tourist attractions. It was built by the Arabs but also has many Christian influences since it was completed near the end of the Muslim rule of Spain. Both of these religions are seen in its amazing architecture.

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In addition, a lot of the architecture uses plaster.
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My favorite part of the Alhambra was definitely the view from one of its towers. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. I especially love how similar all of the white houses look.

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After being here almost three weeks, I’ve discovered that studying in Spain with a language school is quite amazing. Not just because my Spanish is improving or that I get to go on trips like this one, but mainly because my friends here are from all parts of the world. While visiting Granada, I learned a lot about other cultures besides Spain through conversations with my friends and other international students on the trip.

With all of these weekend trips I haven’t had too much time to properly explore Sevilla yet, but that is on the itinerary for this upcoming week!

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