That’s it. In what seemed like five weeks rather than five months, my semester in Spain has come to an end. Early Friday morning, I embarked on my 28-hour journey back to Honolulu. Returning home was certainly bittersweet, as I’m always thrilled indulge in my favorite Hawaiian foods and reunite with my family and friends. However, something just didn’t feel right. Although I was technically heading home, I also felt like I was leaving home behind. Seeing the skyline of Madrid one last time as my plane took off was heart-wrenching, as I really don’t know when or if I will ever return to Spain. When you live in another city for an extended period of time, it becomes a part of you. Being abroad has taught me that I can call a city other than Honolulu home, despite the major differences between the two cultures. Continue reading
Spring in Sevilla, Spain is undoubtedly a sensational experience. The city was literally blooming – with vibrant flowers growing alongside pastel-colored buildings and the carefree attitude of its people. The Andalucía region of Spain has a completely different lifestyle than Madrid. Andalucía is best known for its rich Spanish culture, most especially bullfighting, flamenco, art, and raw passion. It has a more laid-back atmosphere that still partakes in siestas and has a nightlife that typically lasts until dawn.
This week marked the last full week of classes at SLU-Madrid, which has ended this chapter of my semester abroad. I am officially no longer a student in Spain, and don’t know if I’ll ever will be again. It’s certainly bittersweet to realize this, as I know that I will naturally miss the friends and routine that I established here, but look forward to returning to my social life and extra-curricular activities back at Marymount.
With just two weeks left before I return to the United States, the academic realities of studying abroad have begun to hit as all of the “fun and games” come to an end. I can hardly believe that in the past 5 months, I’ve been to nearly every major region in Spain, and traveled to five new countries on two different continents. Now, I am currently bracing myself for my four final exams in the coming weeks that I have yet to prepare for.
This week was sadly our last week of the Community ESL program at my university. On Monday, a “graduation ceremony” was held for all of the students who enrolled in a class this semester. Continue reading
In Spain, Semana Santa is recognized as the holiest week of the year. Processions are held in every region of the country, commemorating the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. Plaza de Cristo Rey, the once bustling roundabout where my flat is located, resembled a gravesite at the start of Semana Santa.
The Easter holiday is celebrated quite differently in Spain compared to the States. Never once did I see ads for Easter egg hunting or photos with the Easter bunny. Rather, the processions during Semana Santa consist of floats, parades, and street celebrations that portray each stage before Jesus is resurrected on Easter. The ginormous floats are carried on the backs of dozens of volunteers and paraded down the streets for hours. Continue reading
Life’s unexpected surprises and circumstances is truly the best part about being alive. A few weeks ago, my best friend Kaleigh booked a flight to Madrid to visit me and my roommate Carla! Kaleigh was my freshman year roommate at Marymount, and the three of us have become inseparable ever since. Carla and I were devastated when she decided to leave Marymount at the end of her freshman year, but our ongoing friendship has ceased to dissolve.
This has been my first weekend in Madrid in a little over a month, which definitely made me realize how fast time is flying. Earlier this week, my friends and I finalized our plans to visit the south of Spain for Semana Santa (Holy week/spring break), which I’m so excited for. Thus, having a free weekend to recharge and unwind before doing more traveling next week has been so refreshing and invigorating.
This weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Morocco, a country in Northwest Africa. I traveled to Morocco with a program called City Life Madrid, which organizes weekly excursions to different cities in Spain and to other countries for university students. I was thrilled to visit a new country on an entirely different continent for the first time. In addition, I was even more excited to reunite with my Moroccan friend Sadeq, who studied abroad at Marymount last semester. Continue reading
This weekend, my friends and I visited the Las Fallas y La Crema festival in Valencia, a coastal city about 4 hours east from Madrid. Valencia has been my favorite city to visit in Spain thus far. It is nationally known for being the city where paella originated from, and is also a city with a very lively and passionate ambiance. You can hear the bellowing cheers from Valencia CF soccer fans and hear exuberant performers on every street corner.
Before attending the festival, we had the chance to visit La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, a grand aquarium and science museum with a contemporary design in the heart of the city. The structure vividly reminded me of the Sydney Opera House in Australia, which was quite unique and distinct from other major structures in Spain. Continue reading
Throughout my semester abroad, I’m surprised to be learning more about myself and my culture than ever before. Over time, taking advantage of opportunities that I would’ve been too afraid to do back home has allowed my confidence and judgement to flourish with each new experience.
This weekend, I traveled to Ireland on my own to revisit County Kerry, where my paternal family is from. Before boarding my flight, I began to feel so anxious and apprehensive, as I realized that I’d be spending the weekend in a new country where I knew no one – had I officially gone mad? Probably, but I knew that this trip would teach me more about a different aspect of my identity and contribute to my personal growth. Continue reading
Last night, I experienced something that I have been continuously warned about while living in Madrid – pickpocketing. My iPhone, university ID, and Metro card were all stolen from my purse in a matter of seconds. My stomach instantly felt like it had dropped from the Empire State Building when I became aware of this – I couldn’t believe that I had been so oblivious. Waves of panic, anxiety, fear, and anger surfaced as it hit me that I was in a foreign country with no source of communication, no student ID, and no way to get back to my flat that evening. Additionally, with a trip planned to Ireland next weekend, I will assumingly be traveling without any means of communication if I am unable to find my phone. Continue reading
After writing this week’s post, I had hard time thinking about a title that would best fit it. The events that have occurred are a bit scattered, and I couldn’t find a word or phrase that could tie everything together. Nonetheless, this week has been nothing but eventful — ranging from an exuberant ESL class, visiting London, and redefining home.
This week’s theme for our ESL class focused on stereotypes about Americans and the Spanish. Alex and I both thought that this would be a great opportunity to tackle some of the common misconceptions about the United States in Spain, and vice versa. We had the class break up into small groups and make a list of all the American and Spanish stereotypes that they were aware of. Continue reading
After living in Spain for six weeks, I finally feel completely settled in. Sometimes it seems like I’ve lived in Madrid my entire life, as I now know the streets of Puerta del Sol like the back of my hand and find it bizarre to eat lunch before 2 pm. Other times, it feels like only yesterday when I stepped off the plane at Barajas International Airport and typed in “where is the baggage claim” on Google Translate.
In these six weeks, I’ve developed a fairly consistent daily routine. I’ve gotten involved in several extracurricular activities at school and as a result, have made numerous friends from all over the world. A month ago however, I didn’t think I would have fit-in so well into my new life in Spain. Not to say that my first few weeks in Spain were undoubtedly incredible – as I had fallen in love with paella (Spanish rice), viewed a beautiful Flamenco performance, and dove headfirst into a culture that has now become such an integral part of my identity. However, despite visiting some of the world’s most treasured sites and assimilating into Spanish culture, I still felt that there was something missing in my life that was a crucial element of who I was at Marymount. Continue reading
As the capital of Spain and one of the most visited places in the world, Madrid is a cosmopolitan city composed of museums, government agencies, the Spanish monarchy, and a spectacular nightlife to fascinate anyone. That being said, it’s fairly easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of Madrid, especially as a visitor to Spain. Spending a semester in Madrid allows me to truly be immersed in all the exciting aspects of the city. However, I also find it important to gain awareness of the socioeconomic issues in Madrid while living here. Volunteering abroad allows me to fully integrate myself in the local community and gain a new perception on a major metropolitan city, one that doesn’t just consist of visiting the most touristic areas. Continue reading
Something that I’ve come to realize during my first month in Spain is that living abroad for an extended period allows you to fully immerse yourself in its society to the greatest extent possible. In contrast, someone visiting country for a few days may just have enough time to visit its touristic sites, but not gain awareness of the country’s socio-cultural atmosphere.
One of my goals as an international student in Spain was to participate in a community service activity regularly. During our Welcome Orientation at SLU-Madrid, we were informed of numerous volunteer opportunities supported by the university. I was particularly interested in teaching a weekly ESL class at my university to the local community. Continue reading