This semester, I studied abroad in Seville Spain, where I studied through an organization called CIEE through their Communication, New Media and Journalism program. In Sevilla, I stayed with a host family with two adorable kids and learned about Spanish culture and improved my Spanish. I had the opportunity to travel to 6 countries and 15 cities throughout the weekends and on my spring break. Studying abroad had been a dream of mine for the longest time. Seeing Italy and Greece were simply dreams come true and I can’t believe I was able to fit in so much learning, love, and adventure all into one experience.
Studying Abroad by the Numbers:
- 6 countries-Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Italy, Turkey and Greece
- 15 cities
- 3 continents
- 114 days
Snapshots Abroad: A Highlight Video:
Sevilla is the capital and largest city of Andalusia in the South of Spain–it is known for so many things and has a great history of three cultures: Christians, Jews and Muslims. It was a center of wealth as goods from the New World and the new colonies came through Sevilla by the river Guadalquivir. From its famous festivals and processions during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and springtime flowers, sun and beauty, Sevilla became a second home and overall, there was so much culture to take in!
- I lived in the historic center of the city in an awesome location by the river!
- My neighborhood was the Alameda de Hércules, a cool, alternative area with lots of shops and restaurants in the center.
- I visited the third largest Gothic cathedral in the world.
- I went to a flamenco show and shared tapas.
- I tried a variety of seafood like squid and shark (a lot of it was fried, but some wasn’t!).
- I saw the Torre de Oro, Plaza de España, the neighborhood of Triana, the tomb of Christopher Colombus (inside the Cathedral) and much more!
- I explored markets and wrote an extensive feature story for a bilingual magazine for class about a market in my neighborhood.
- I had an intercambio friend to practice my Spanish and to help her with English.
- I went inside an ancient Roman tomb in the small town of Carmona.
- I visited Itálica, to see the Roman ruins and an amphitheater.
- I spent lazy days by the river, found awesome, unique shops and danced in the casetas in Feria!
For my program, we traveled to Morocco, which was a ferry ride away from Spain (although the journey lasted several more hours than expected due to extreme delays). But it was my first time in Africa and we had a beautiful weekend in the mountains of Chefchaouen–a city of blue and white, which represent peace.
- I stayed with a host family in Morocco and met many university and high school students from there.
- I drank my first full cup of tea–which was actually quite amazing.
- Together as groups, we completed a photography workshop to explore the history of Chefchaouen.
- I had amazing conversations with my host family, with the daughter and son who spoke English and interpreted for their parents.
- We had buffets of Moroccan food and I loved it all.
- We took a hike the last day and saw incredible views of the city from afar.
At the beginning of April, I had my first beach weekend in Portugal! I booked a weekend trip through a company called We Love Spain, which organizes a variety of trips for students and the good thing is they had the whole weekend planned out for us, so it took some pressure off of trip planning! Here are some highlights:
- We stayed in Albufeira, Portugal, on the coast — where my absolute favorite beach was! It has gorgeous flowers all around it. It was beautiful!
- We traveled to Lagos, Portugal, which was a quaint, coastal town and I went to Dona Ana Beach.
- I saw the End of the World at Cabo San Vincente, Sagres — simply amazing. This point was thought to be the end of the world back in the day.
- I learned a little Portuguese and ate at a couple Portuguese restaurants.
Rome was next! And it was the beginning of my eight-day spring break trip with my two friends, Bettina and Katherine. We stayed in Rome for three days and while my two friends had already been there, it was my first time in Italy! Rome was simply amazing and such a relaxing time compared to our speedy journeys ahead of us. Here’s what I visited:
- We started with the Spanish steps and saw a lot of people selling beautiful artwork!
- Next, we headed to the Trevi Fountain to take pictures and throw coins.
- Gelato, gelato, gelato. All day, every day.
- Pasta for dinner = check! My favorite was a pasta with a salmon vodka sauce and we found out our waiter was from New York!
- We toured the Colosseum, Palentine Hill, and the Roman Forum and we went into the Pantheon.
- The most memorable experience, though, was traveling a little outside the city to tour the catacombs of the early Christians (Catacombe di San Callisto). We went underground to see where thousands of people were buried, including some popes. There were miles of tombs that went 75 feet underground. So interesting. Kinda creepy at first, but something I will never forget.
- We toured the Vatican Museums for several hours and saw the Sistine Chapel! Truly amazing.
Istanbul for 24 hours was next on the list, and Turkish Airlines was awesome. Breakfast was so cool on the plane and included red peppers (and something else I don’t quite remember). I wish we were able to spend more time in Istanbul, but it was definitely a fun experience with a couple of surprises thrown in!
- We toured the Blue Mosque, which was simply incredible and relaxed in front of the Hagia Sofia.
- We had an awesome Turkish lunch with a funny waiter. The food was delicious!
- As we went along shopping, we accidentally found a park FULL of tulips, Gülhane Park. Turns out that Istanbul was having a tulip festival for a couple weeks with 20 million tulips of 211 different kinds. Literally everyone and their families was hanging out in the park and taking pictures with the tulips, so we didn’t even feel like tourists! Even the grown men wanted their picture taken!
- We had a chance to walk through Taksim Square and eat dinner at the Hard Rock Café.
- Since our flight was out of the airport on the Asia side of Istanbul, we got to add another continent to our list!
Athens & Santorini, Greece
I’m so glad we were able to end our spring break in Greece. It was so peaceful and beautiful there. We were right in the center of Athens and we met awesome people when we went out for our lunches and dinners. Greece was definitely a favorite–from the food to the history to the people. I enjoyed it inside and out.
- We stayed in Athens for the first two days, where we climbed the Acropolis, went to the Acropolis Museum, saw the Parthenon, and more.
- Under the bright afternoon sun, we toured the Olympic Stadium.
- As the sun set, I did cartwheels by the ruins of the Temple of Zeus.
- We ate both our lunches at this FABULOUS homemade, family-run, budget-friendly restaurant by the Acropolis Museum called, Tokatiamo. It was delicious, but the people there made the experience as they helped us plan out our whole day in Athens.
- I had amazing Greek frozen yogurt and a gyro platter!
We also had the chance to take a seven-hour ferry to the Greek island of Santorini to stay there for two nights. Dreams come true much?
- We stayed at a great place called Pension George and rented a car to explore the island.
- We started at the Red Beach (but we got out of the car to take pictures along the way).
- We ate lunch and sipped smoothies underneath umbrellas on a black beach.
- We saw the sunset in Oia and explored through the tiny streets.
- I had the best Tahitian vanilla ice cream of my life at a gelato place called Lolita’s in Oia — we laughed so hard and had the best time that night!