Weekend in the Mountains

My third week in Costa Rica was quite busy, with the beginning of Spanish classes at the Universidad Nacional, or UNA. Since we’re packing six credits into five weeks, we have to go for four hours every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well as two hours on Wednesday. Our professor is wonderful and incredibly enthusiastic, so four hours often flies by with only five of us in a class with her. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays we also have a class with Heidi (our resident director), which often includes field trips, so this third week was very tiring! However, at the end we got to relax and have fun with a weekend trip to Savegre mountain reserve.

One of my favorite parts about going to the mountains is the ride there. Sitting on a bus for 2+ hours of less than smooth riding may be a struggle for some people, but with a window seat and my headphones in, I am a happy camper. The views are absolutely breathtaking.

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Once we got to our cabin, one the first things we realized was that it was cold. Not nearly as cold as Valpo right now (so I guess we shouldn’t have been complaining), but when you sign up for a semester in Costa Rica, that’s not something you expect!   We still had a fun night relaxing in the cabin and meeting some new people that came on the trip with us, many of whom only spoke Spanish.

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Our lovely little home for the weekend!

The next morning started bright and early, with a bird watching hike at 5:30 am! After our long week of classes we were less than thrilled to be waking up at this hour, but we got to see an extremely rare bird, the quetzal. This bird can only be found in Central America, and our tour guide knew the exact spot to go so we would be able to see it. Maybe the early morning was worth it after all!

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Taken through our tour guide’s binoculars.   This bird is gorgeous!

 

After breakfast and a couple hours to relax and explore, our group went fishing for our lunch. Yes, you read that right—we fished for our lunch. I couldn’t believe it when I first heard, because I have never even held a fishing pole, much less eaten something I caught myself. It turned out to be a really fun time, and the trout tasted pretty good (to me at least)!

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Eboni got one!  Catching a fish for the first time is a little intimidating, so often getting it off the pole is a two person effort

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“I’m really excited about this, but please hurry up and take the picture so I can get rid of it!”

After lunch, we decided to go hiking. We got some exercise in while coming across incredibly gorgeous views!

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Betsy and I taking the “risk” of climbing slippery rocks

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Samantha, Erica, and I felt pretty “on top of the world” after finishing our hike up the mountain!

The rest of the day was pretty free, but we had a lot of fun hanging out both with the other students and with new friends on the trip. We got to practice our Spanish with the Spanish speakers, but still had the comfort of our friends and fellow English speakers around. That night, I also went outside and saw more stars than I had ever seen in my life. Although it was cold out, the sight was incredible.

The next morning brought on our next and final adventure for the weekend: horseback riding! I have never ridden a horse before, so it was another completely new experience for me. It was a little scary but also a lot of fun, and we got to ride through the mountains and streams for about two hours. It was lovely until the horses got to the end and started running! We were all very sore from it the next day, but it was a great time. There was also a running joke about my horse being the “rude horse” because for some reason he kept snubbing the other ones and trying to push in front of them! Qué vacilón!*

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My horse!

After a full weekend, we returned to our homes in Heredia. The third week was a bit overwhelming with the sudden course load, but the weekend was a wonderful reminder of the beauty of this country. Looking around at the mountains or down at the streams or up at the stars never fails to amaze me. Tranquila.**

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*One of our professor’s favorite phrases, which means “how fun/funny!”

**My favorite colloquial phrase so far, used to mean a number of things such as, “Chill out/everything’s okay/no big deal/don’t worry about it/calm down.”

Assalamo Aleykom (Hola/Hello)

So this last week has been a week of firsts.

I went to continent of Africa for the first time as I visited Morocco for the first time. Morocco is definitely an experience I will never forget. I learned so much in my short four days there not only did I learn about the language and culture, but also more about myself and what I want to do. I know, starting to get a little deep there, but seriously, if I ever have the chance to go back I would.

First, let me start off by teaching you a few words that I learned whilst in Morocco.
Salam– Hello
 B’Salama– Bye
Koolhay– eat
Sabah– 7
Shrukan– thank you
Layla Saida– Goodnight

Smiti– My name is…

Waha– Okay

I don’t think I have ever experienced a language barrier (I am a native Spanish speaker so being in Spain is no biggie), but while I was in Morocco I had absolutely no idea how to communicate. I have huge respect for my fellow classmates that have little to no Spanish in their vocabulary. Trying to talk to my host family while in Morocco was a great experience and I picked up  on a few words and thoroughly enjoyed it. My host sister did speak some English so I was not totally lost.

https://youtu.be/Skwgk9duVaU

This link will show you exactly how I felt throughout my Moroccan travels.

I want to give an overall schedule of what happened during my stay in Morocco.

Day One: Tarifa – Algeciras- Rabat

  • Boat journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Algeciras, Spain to Tangier, Morocco
  • Visit the women’s center, DARNA, including informal conversation with Moroccan students
    • This was one of my favorite activities. We talked a lot about cultural diversity, education, and women’s rights in Morocco. You would think that Morocco, being an Islamic country, women would have little to no freedom but that is not the case! Women are very educated and sometimes may even have more freedom/opportunities than men.
  • Lunch at DARNA
    • Uh, extremely delicious!
  • Drive to Assila along the Atlantic coast
    • WE RODE CAMELS!! And for the record, camels must really like me since they were trying to eat my hair and even chased me across the beach!

      Can you tell that I am very excited? (sorry it might be a little dark)

      Can you tell that I am very excited? (sorry it might be a little dark)

  • Walk through the Medina (old town) of Assila
  • Dinner with home stay families
    • Also delicious. Also, our bedrooms were freaking awesome and so was my host family! Sending them lots of love!

Day Two: Rabat

  • Breakfast
    • Did I happen to mention that Moroccan food is delicious??
  • Conversation with Moroccan students
    • Again this was very educational. It was interesting learning their point of view on things. For example, Moroccans have free education yet even with a PhD, it is extremely difficult to obtain a job. Also despite the fact that their education is free, it is not A+ quality. It is amazing to think about all the opportunities we have and yet they go unnoticed. To be completely honest, I was a little jealous at first at hearing about their free education and how they are taught English and/or French at a young age, but even then they are hard-pressed for a job.
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Some of the Moroccan students who spoke with us.

  • Visit the Roman ruins–Chellah and the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V
  • Lunch with host family
    • Need I say it?
  • Exploring Rabat’s Kasbah (old fort), street life, and the Medina market with Moroccan students
    • This was a memorable night. #IHAAAAAB (inside joke) *see video attachment*
    • https://youtu.be/uaMXFmESIi4
    • Again, spending time with these Moroccan students is very insightful. I cannot stress enough how important it is to learn about every culture you come across! Please take the time to learn something about the next country/city you visit. It will be worth your while, I promise!!
This is us yelling "IHAAAB" as we take the picture.

This is us yelling “IHAAAB” as we take the picture. (excuse the blurriness on my pictures, for some reason they upload that way)

  • Hammam
    • I definitely got to know my classmates a whole lot better after this. I suggest you research this activity on your own. I highly recommend it, though maybe in a lesser public setting. =)
  • Dinner
    • YUM!

Day Three: Rabat – Rif Mountains – Chefchaouen

  • Breakfast
  • Drive to Rif Mountains
  • Lunch with family in a mountain village
    • This family was absolutely precious. They were so open to us and friendly. They were also very curious about our culture as Americans. This was also a very different experience from all of the other cities we visited. Mostly in the way that the family lived because they were in a more rural area. #SquatPots
  • Drive to Chefchaouen
  • Settle in hostel and explore the Medina
    • Time for bargaining and henna!
  • Dinner
    • Umm…DELICIOUS!!
  • Reflection time
    • We all spoke about what we had learned and what had surprised us the most. It was an intimate moment for us as we sat around two melting candles wrapped in our blankets.

Day Four: Chefchaouen – Ceuta – Tarifa

  • Breakfast
    • Unfortunately, I was becoming deathly ill at this point (must have been all the delicious food I had been eating…overdose?) and I did not have any breakfast that morning. I was having some gastrointestinal issues otherwise known as traveler’s diarrhea, a fantastic thing really….NOT!, and I was dehydrated and eventually received some medical care. PIECE OF ADVICE: PLEASE KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED WITH BOTTLED WATER!!
  • Drive to Ceuta
  • Boat journey across the Strait of Gibraltar
  • Arrival in Tarifa, Spain

My trip to Morocco is something that I will never forget. I learned so much and from my time there I can tell you two things:

  1. Muslims are NOT terrorists. They are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. It is not part of their culture to blow things up or terrorize people. In fact, they are afraid of what ISIS might do next. Please do not let the media dictate your thoughts towards places you have never visited.
  2. Never be afraid to experience different things or go out of your comfort zone. Enjoy life and the opportunities while you have them. Privileges.

Morocco was fun and adventurous but I never thought that I would be so happy to be back home, because that is what Granada is to me now. Home. And I never want to leave.

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20 hour layover in Tahiti

It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello; hello to a new adventure. January 27th was the first day of our adventure. As we said our goodbyes, Alex and I looked at each other and smiled, knowing that this is going to be an unforgettable trip.  Though we knew the trip there may be long, we were going to make the most out of the journey. Our first flight was to LAX, which was about 4 hours with a 3 hour layover. Our next flight, from LAX to Tahiti,  was an 8 hour flight followed by a long 20 hour layover. We landed in Tahiti at about 6 am and had to fly out at 2 am the following day. We  figured that if we just walked, we would find something to do; there was only one main road on the island that circled the perimeter and at the very least we could walk toward the water and snorkel.

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One of Alex’s Pictures of the Tahiti sunset

 

After about 20 minutes of walking and no success, we started to doubt our decision … just before we were about to turn around, we saw what looked like a beautiful hotel and figured it would be worth checking out. Here we met Roland, the director of the marina there, who was one of few who actually spoke English. Roland was the most helpful person we met that day. He made a few phone calls to see what our best option was and he said since all the tours were booked due to a cruise that just docked, our best option was to rent a car and tour ourselves. He personally drove us to the rental location and set us all up. It was his selflessness that allowed us to experience the best of Tahiti. It is people like him that we are excited to meet during our journey. Throughout the day, we drove down the entire West coast of  the island, went snorkeling and were able to relax at the  Intercontinental Resort. Unfortunately the videos were cut short Rolandbecause of the GoPro dying; nevertheless, we had an amazing time..It was definitely the best layover we could have asked for.

 

 

 

The ideal packing list

Bring underwear and socks, and clothes that match the climate and cultural attitudes of wherever you’re going. This should go without saying. But beyond that, packing can be a somewhat stressful part of traveling, both for the simple weekend trips as well as for the whole semester. Some unnecessary things may sound like they could be useful, while other useful items may not occupy the foremost position in your mind. In this post, I will seek to differentiate between the useful and useless, as well as to provide some reasoning behind my assessments.

WARNING: Having only participated in the Reutlingen program, this entry is decidedly catered to my experiences in Germany.  The most important thing is to know both yourself and where you’re going, and to pack accordingly.


 

First, let’s start with the unnecessary items.

I think it’s a priority to point out that you don’t need to set up your US phone with international roaming. Furthermore, I’ll argue that you shouldn’t try to do this at all. Never mind that it can be expensive, but it also doesn’t help you contact anybody with a German phone number. If you have roaming, and you want to call one of your german friends, then your friend will also be charged extra to answer your call, and that’s no fun for anybody. Instead of using your same phone number, just get a phone when you get there. If you don’t mind secondhand phones, there should be plenty of options in the cage in the director’s basement. If you do mind, go to the store and get a €5 pay-as-you-go phone and a SIM card. I’ve been very satisfied with my service from Vodafone with the CallYa Talk&Text plan. It a per-use charge instead of monthly, and has very good rates for calling to and from [as far as I can tell] anywhere in the EU.

For the other things that one might use a smartphone, I’ll still argue that you don’t need to be able to access a cell network 100% of the time, if at all. Apple Maps can be accessed without wifi or a mobile signal, so navigation is no reason to pay the extra money. If you load the map ahead of time, then you’ll be able to see [approximately] where in the world you are without having to be connected. There are also offline map app options, such as Here, which could be worth investigating. Wifi (called WLAN in Germany) is also very prevalent, so you’re well connected when you need to be. If you find yourself on Facebook often, and think that you need to be able to access that whenever you want, roaming won’t help you, but rather enable you. You have a problem, so a bit of a Facebook break might actually be good for you.


You don’t need to bring blankets, pillows, or any other linens – these are provided by the program. Furthermore, you probably don’t need to bring your own toothpaste, deodorant, and toiletries. These can be purchased, or if you’re lucky, possibly even found for free in the director’s storage cage. Perhaps bring small quantities of these things to get you into the first few weeks, but beyond that, everything you would ever need can be bought at the store.


You don’t really need to bring your own paper, notebooks, or school supplies. All of these things are inexpensive, and can be bought in stores upon your arrival. If you’re not pressed for space or weight in your luggage, you may include these things, but they aren’t strictly necessary.

German paper is kind of funny – it looks like what we might call graph paper in the US. As an engineer, I use it’s green-tinted cousin regularly for everything, so I don’t mind it, but if you really want only horizontal lines on your paper, perhaps you should bring some of that.


Unless using a dictionary is absolutely necessary for your studies, you really don’t need to bring one. They’re heavy and take up an enormous amount of luggage space. Instead, consider a healthily cautious blend of dict.leo.org, wiktionary.org, and translate.google.com as a good source of translations and definitions. I urge caution here, because sometimes online translators can be faulty. However, if you approach them with a sense of skepticism, always looking out for errors, they can be useful. Plus, the internet doesn’t weigh anything or take up any space, leaving plenty of room in your luggage for all the other things you’d need.

An extreme example of why it pays to be careful with online translation software

An extreme example of why it pays to be careful with online translation software. For those who don’t speak German, Montag = Monday, Dienstag = Tuesday, Mittwoch = Mid week = Wednesday, Donnerstag = Thursday.



Now let’s talk about some absolutely useful things to have. Hopefully I shouldn’t need to mention passports, power adapters, and a camera. Rather, some of these things are less-than-obvious.

You absolutely must bring a carry on-sized backpack (or suitcase, but I prefer a backpack) that can hold a week’s worth of clothes and supplies in it. During the fall semester, people were scrambling to borrow such backpacks for our two-week break. This was astounding to me, since I figured that everybody would already have such a backpack. You may have good luck finding such luggage in a outdoor or sporting goods store. You might also consider asking your parents or looking around your basement or garage. Though my main bag was purchased new last summer, I also brought another smaller “basement backpack” that came to Reutlingen in 1985 with my mother. This was my bag for day trips, including to the classroom.


Have a train pass. I had one from October to January. Sure, they’re expensive (over $1000 for 3 months, less for 2 months), but so long as you make an effort to use it, it pays for itself relatively quickly. Plus the convenience of being able to get on (nearly) any train and go (nearly) anywhere in the continent is truly unparalleled. Now that mine has expired, I’m sorely missing it. I’m even debating purchasing another, but we’ll have to see. At any rate, you owe yourself the opportunity to travel like this, so buy one.


Also get the Naldo Semester Ticket. You’ll do this in the first week in Reutlingen, so don’t need to pack it before you leave, but it’s useful enough that it merits being mentioned. It’s good for busses in Reutlingen, as well as busses and trains in the immediate region. Check out this map to see where it can take you.

As an additional note on the Naldo, if you want to save on train tickets to Stuttgart, buy them from Metzingen as your starting location instead of Reutlingen. Your Naldo pass can get you to Metzingen for free, so when you select it as your starting location instead of Reutlingen, you save €2.10 each way. Paying €10.20 instead of €12.30 may not seem like much of a savings, but it adds up quickly.

If you’re looking for an even cheaper (though slower) way to get to Stuttgart take the X3 bus to the Stuttgart Airport, and then the S-Bahn the rest of the way into town. This should cost you less that €5 each way.


Bring something that reminds you of home. I have one half of a set of two stuffed elephant toys, the other of which is with my fiancée Rachel back in the US. This elephant goes everywhere with me – within reason, of course. I don’t take it to class, but it has accompanied me on all of my big adventures.

Though the socks and the phone aren't particularly special to me, I use them almost as often as the elephant. Peanut, by the way, is it's name. Of course it has a name. Because I'm grown up, I now get to decide what that means. If you're reading this, that statement applies to you too.

Though the socks and the phone aren’t particularly special to me, I use them almost as often as the elephant. Peanut, by the way, is it’s name. Of course it has a name. Because I’m grown up, I now get to decide what that means. If you’re reading this, that statement applies to you too.

If you have easily portable hobbies, bring a few of them. I regularly play with mechanical puzzles (think Rubik’s cube), but figured that I’d be able to manage without one. This was a mistake. By the time Winter Break came around, I had purchased one online, had another brought from home, and received a third for Christmas that had been purchased at a Christmas market. Now, I’m doing much better.

From left to right: Purchased online; brought from home (thanks, Rachel!); Christmas present (thanks again, Rachel) from the Ulmer Weihnachtsmarkt.

From left to right: Purchased online; brought from home (thanks, Rachel!); Christmas present (thanks again, Rachel) from the Ulmer Weihnachtsmarkt.


Bring recipes, or have them in your head, or be able to find them online. Macaroni and cheese is a popular one among non-USAmericans. Brownies are also a bit of an USA phenomenon. Be prepared to share these with your floor mates.


I figured I’d be fine without a sewing kit, which turned out to be a foolish thing to figure. Now, I have one, and can highly recommend that you have one as well.


A laundry bag, or a plastic garbage bag in which you can store and transport laundry. Thicker works better, obviously. It’s also fairly useful to have spare bags, e.g. for dirty shoes, wet towels, or smelly laundry. This can help to keep your luggage clean. I promise I’m not your mother.


Finally, it’s ABSOLUTELY BENEFICIAL to have a good system to organize small change. This is often referred to as a wallet. Make sure it has a little button or zipper pocket for coins. Also, make sure that you use these coins over the course of the semester. In the fall, a classmate had a drawer full of nearly €40 in small change, and needed to get rid of it at the end of the semester. Since I was staying (still am!), I bought it all off of him at the bargain price of €30. Though I’ve been using them as diligently as possible, I still have a long way to go. However, even if they are going slowly, the wallet is still far superior to the failed organization system that is the classmate’s drawer.

This is more than a month into the €40 in 0.20-, 0.10-, 0.05-, 0.02-, and 0.01-cent pieces given to me by my classmate. I'm doing pretty well on the small ones, but the big ones still have a long way to go. Don't travel in such a way that your money becomes organized like this by the people whom you give it to as you leave.

This is more than a month into the €40 in 0.20-, 0.10-, 0.05-, 0.02-, and 0.01-cent pieces given to me by my classmate. I’m doing pretty well on the small ones, but the big ones still have a long way to go. Don’t travel in such a way that your money becomes organized like this by the people whom you give it to as you leave.

This shows one of several "correct" ways to manage small change. You can also see what the aforementioned Naldo semester pass looks like.

This shows a wallet with a button pouch – one of several acceptable ways to manage your small change from day to day. You can also see the aforementioned Naldo semester pass.


This isn’t something that you can bring, but you’ll certainly be unprepared for a semester abroad if you come without the desire to have new experiences and go new places. No matter how welcomed you are, you will not feel like you’re at home. This is the way it’s supposed to be. It will be uncomfortable. There will be things that you won’t be able to understand or do, simply because you’re not at home. You may even experience debilitating homesickness. However, it will also be fulfilling, and eye-opening. You will not return as the same person you were when you left. And this is just the way it should be. Whatever you bring with you, come with the expectation that you will change, the knowledge that it will be uncomfortable, and the guarantee that it will be okay no matter what.

Culture Shock in Costa Rica

“Culture shock” is one of those big, scary terms that people throw around whenever they talk about going to a foreign country. They make it sound like the second you get off the plane, you will get hit in the face with so many new things you won’t even know how to function. Before the study abroad students left for our various adventures, the Valpo study abroad staff prepped us extensively for dealing with this phenomenon, but no amount of advice could have really prepared me for one of the strangest and most disorienting weeks of my life.

Saying that culture shock includes not being able to function because of all the changes is a bit extreme, but when I arrived in Costa Rica with five other Valpo students,  I definitely felt like I was instantly hit with a completely new way of life (not to mention a new language). Here are some things I’ve learned in my first week in Heredia, Costa Rica:

 

  1. It’s HOT. This might go without saying, but when you go from a Midwest winter to a Central American summer, it’s a really big shock to your body. Staying hydrated is essential, and it often feels like you have to constantly drink water. After a couple days, though, we all have been enjoying the warm weather and sunshine!

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Our whole group enjoying the sunshine on a trip to San Jose (the capital city) with our director, Heidi.  This was taken in front of one of many colorful murals found in the city.

  1. Stay clean. Contrary to what some people from the United States might believe, Costa Rica is actually a fairly rich country, and its people pride themselves on their exceptional healthcare and cleanliness. Since it’s so hot all the time, people are always making sure they stay clean and fresh, sometimes even taking two showers a day. My host mom keeps her house especially spotless. She is very particular about certain things—like me making my bed and opening the curtains in the morning. It’s also important to always wear shoes in the house!  Going barefoot is seen as bad hygiene.
  1. Ticos. Costa Ricans have acquired the nickname “Ticos,” and they often have their own way of speaking. They like to add “-ita” and “-illa” to the ends of their words (my host mom does this all the time!), so even if you’ve studied Spanish before you have to pay close attention! A few other phrases we have learned are “Que chiva!” to say something is cool, “Que maje” to say “hey dude!” and the classic “pura vida” to say that life is good!
  1. Addresses are different. Typically, the streets don’t have names and the houses don’t have numbers, so in order to find out where something is you have to use landmarks. However, Ticos are very friendly and willing to help you get where you need to go; just ask!
  1. All the houses have bars on the front of them. No one really knows why.

Case in point:

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(this is a street in my neighborhood, Santa Rosa)

  1. If you look different, people will stare. I was warned about this in advance, but it is still a pretty strange feeling to have nearly everyone turn their heads when I walk by. When I was walking home from school one day, I saw a group of children riding their bikes, and every single face was a gaping stare. For a quite average looking blond-haired, blue-eyed girl from the Midwest, this is a very new thing for me!
  1. It’s beautiful. In every direction, mountains are on the horizon. The houses are brightly colored. The food is delicious, and our host families never fail to offer us copious amounts of it. Coffee every morning is a must. The women buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the local market (La Feria), and then many make fresh fruit drinks with it (my host mom has made me a variety already!). So far, every day has been bright and sunny. Spanish music is nearly always playing in the background at my house. Our host families have taught us how to dance. Miscommunication with our host families is frustrating, but it leads to some hilarious stories. We’ve only been here for a week, but our Spanish has already improved.

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The butterfly garden at el Museo Nacional (National Museum)

 

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Our trip to Guayabo National Monument in the mountains

 

Although I’ve been out of the country before, I have never experienced culture shock to the extent that I have here. Maybe it’s the language. Maybe it’s the time frame. Maybe it’s the country. Whatever it is, I know deep down that I’m learning. I’m learning in a completely different way than I could at a classroom at Valpo. I keep reminding myself to be patient and take things one day at a time. Because here in Costa Rica, every day is a new adventure. Pura vida.

Hola desde España!

Well, I made it. I didn’t think that the day would ever come.

There are so many things that I could write about my first impression of Granada, however, my first few nights here…jetlag. Any advice that I could give is do NOT sleep when you get here; try to stay on their schedule. I was up all night long because I had slept a few hours as soon as I had arrived. Let me tell you though that Granada has a crazy nightlife. They are up all hours of the night mostly on weekends though. It is mostly a student city so you’ll see a lot of college students out in the streets.

It has been a great first week here in Granada. I got lost in the city a few times (the best way to get to know a city by the way) and made some great new friends! On the first day here to get to Granada I had to take a tiny plane where there wasn’t much room to move around. As soon as I arrived in Granada, I took the airport bus to the City Center and managed to find my hotel without losing any of  my luggage. That was an adventure all in itself.

I’m from Chicago. One reason I absolutely love Granada so far is that it’s small enough to get around, yet big enough to get lost in. Of course, that might also be because of the winding streets that don’t make much sense. Compared to Chicago, the streets of Granada are like a maze.

This is one of the larger streets in Granada. You can safely walk on the sidewalk without being cramped up against four other people.

This is one of the larger streets in Granada. You can safely walk on the sidewalk without being cramped up against four other people.

 

My favorite part of Granada is, of course, the food! Here everyone goes out for tapas. Tapas are like appetizers that are served with your drink. Mostly all the tapas involve some type of bread, but they are delicious. The best part? They’re free with your drink.

These are some tapas and they are called "croquetas". They are basically like a fishstick.

These are some tapas and they are called “croquetas”. They are basically like a fishstick.

 

 

It’s been a little crazy finally getting used to the Spanish schedule, but I am getting there. That’s all I have for now. Hasta luego!

That’s all folks!

There are really no words that can express how I feel about studying abroad.

It is truly an experience like no other.mmexport1449441646404

I was essentially taken out of my comfort zone, placed in a new environment and was allowed to flourish.

I have met so many people, and blessed with so many opportunities to travel to places I could
have only dreamed about.

My semester at Zhejiang University, has truly been an experience.

It, in a nutshell, taught me many things about myself.

I was able to meet and talk with people from around the globe, literally, and in that I could understand how everyone’s cultures are not only different but also the commonalities we all share as human beings.

Although
mmexport1448096338271 this time was short, I have made good friends that I will stay in contact with, long after I leave China.

did not have the opportunity to go to every place I wanted to, but the experiences and the people I met there will no doubt be apart of me for the rest of my life.

Thank You Chinammexport1449044315744

Student Spotlight: Emily Davis

Emily is currently in Australia! In her picture, she is at the Moreton Island!12316301_10156295366890615_6718628537361451629_n
Emily is now studying at Bond University and her favorite class is Criminal Deviance. Emily says this about the class, ” My professor is an adjunct professor, so he has lots of stories and is very familiar with crime on the Gold Coast. It’s an interesting class from seeing differences and similarities in crime and deviance from the USA to Australia.”
Favorite Experiences: My favorite experiences here so far have been getting my scuba certification, sand boarding, holding a koala, and snorkeling around sunken ships.
Tip: Australia is such a big country, you will have plenty of opportunities for anything you are interested in.
Fun Fact: Blake Lively is currently shooting a movie in Australia and is rumored to be staying only about five minutes from the University I am staying at!

Looks like you are having fun, Emily! Hope you continue to have wonderful adventures!

Student Spotlight: Izzy Gonzales

Izzy is currently studying abroad at our study center in Cambridge England!

12119009_10156258023070615_6659471209191411941_nPictured is Izzy on the island of Burano off Venice, Italy.

Izzy’s favorite class is British History with Professor Murphy. “He’s hilarious and makes the topic so fascinating. It’s cool getting to relate what we discuss in class to what we see and do when exploring England on our own.”

“I can’t say that I have a specific favorite experience, but just being able to travel Europe and fall in love with several cities has been the most amazing experience in itself. Cambridge is beyond beautiful and it’s great being only a 45 minute train ride away from London! Though it may be it’s own little island off of Central Europe, England has everything you could want: hiking the mountains in the Lake District, the nightlife in Liverpool, the beachside town of Brighton, the historical sights of London, and the little town of Cambridge that will definitely become your second home. This has definitely been an adventure of a lifetime.”

Izzy, we are so glad you are having such a wonderful time! Enjoy your last month in Cambridge!

Chocolate, Chocolate, and More Chocolate

This past week was relatively low-key, as the semester is starting to come to an end. Friday afternoon Reid, Ryan, Kelsey, and I all went to the Ritter Sport chocolate factory that’s about 45 minutes away from campus. Kelsey and I probably bought the most, I personally got 11 chocolate bars to use as souvenirs for people back home! There was also a chocolate fest going on in Tübingen this past week that several of us visited. Sunday I visited some Christmas markets in Cologne while seeing a friend who lives there for a last time this semester, which was a great time! It’s hard to believe we’re down to almost just a week left here!

Reid and Ryan being excited about the cacao exhibit.

Reid and Ryan being excited about the cacao exhibit.

Ryan reading about Ritter Sport chocolate.

Ryan reading about Ritter Sport chocolate.

Ryan getting his free piece of chocolate!

Ryan getting his free piece of chocolate!

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