“Realizing that you’re not really sure what “home” is anymore, because even though this is technically where you come from, you’re not sure you fit into the shape of the puzzle piece that you left behind. In a lot of ways, your time abroad felt much more like home, and maybe you won’t ever really feel settled until you can actually call it that — even if you’re all too familiar with how difficult immigration is. Being where you belong, maybe not today but someday, is something you’re willing to work for.”—
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you- it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”—Anthony Bourdain
In a few hours I’ll be on my way to the airport with 3 luggages en route to the United States. Four months ago, I was making the same exact trip to Newark airport not knowing what Barcelona would have in store for me. As soon as I arrived at my gate, I met a handful of students from my program that were about to embark on the same journey as I was. Fast forward to today, and those same kids have become some of my really good friends here in Barcelona.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people from all over the world and hear the most interesting stories through my travels. The many things I have experienced abroad are priceless and will be with me forever.
Things to look forward to
Using my real phone number back home in the USA!
Reuniting with my friends and family
Month 4 video sometime this week!
Thank you all for coming along with me on this journey through this blog. I hope you all enjoyed what I’ve had to share! :) I’ll be keeping this blog for my future travels, whether it is domestic or international, so stay tuned!
Today is definitely a bittersweet day for me as the semester comes to an end. My final exams weren’t too bad. They consisted of a ten page paper, multiple presentations, and an open-ended test.
Although now I can celebrate by not having to worry about going back to a single classroom until September, a part of me is a bit sad. With the semester being over, it means that all of the new friends that I’ve made and bonded with in these past four months will split ways tomorrow. Whether they are returning back to the United States or home country, or traveling around Europe a bit more, tomorrow is going to be very bittersweet.
In these past months, I’ve met some amazing people and learned so much about myself and life in general. Being able to learn about the world first-hand and experience a total different culture is truly a blessing. The Catalan culture and way of life will forever be with me.
Although I’m a bit sad that most of my friends are returning home tomorrow, I’m ecstatic that my mom is on her way to visit me! We’ll be reunited tomorrow morning and will begin our journey visiting more cities in Spain. :)
Friends, I’ll be back home sooner than you think! Tonight I am getting together with all of my favorite people for one last time before we all depart. <3
What an amazing weekend in Lagos! A few of my close friends here booked this trip through Discover Excursions months in advance so we couldn’t wait for it to finally come! We flew into Sevilla where we met the directors from Discover and we took 2 coach buses to Lagos! The bus ride was so fun and the trip was filled with tons of fellow Americans abroad. In fact, I bumped into a fellow Rider student on the trip! What a small world!
After settling in our apartment styled hotel rooms, we all walked down to the beach, Praia Dona Ana, where we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun and playing football. I’ve never seen a beach like this before!
After that, we then had dinner at Nah Nah Bah, one of the top 50 best burger joints in the world!! I got the Toucan Burger and it was so good!
On Saturday, we went on a Sangria sailboat cruise and went on to an even smaller boat to sail through the grottos (as seen on my previous post), which are these amazing cliffs in the water. I felt like I’ve only seen things like this only on the internet! It was beautiful to see it with my own eyes!
We then went all the way to Cape St. Vincent to watch the “end of the world” sunset. It’s called that because it is the most southwestern part of Europe, where the Romans considered it a magical place where the sunset was much larger than anywhere else. They believed the sun sank here hissing into the ocean, marking the edge of their world.
Later on that night, my friends and I went out to eat with a few of the directors at a local Portuguese restaurant. I had “Asinha” steak which includes ham, mushroom sauce, and a fried egg over steak with a side of fries and rice. It was my absolute favorite!
After dinner, we all headed out to one of the bars where we met up with the rest of the people in the program. We were able to hang out at the beach and check out the city center all day long the next day before packing up and heading back to Sevilla.
This trip to Lagos has been my most favorite weekend trip all semester. I was with my closest friends, made some awesome new friends, ate good food and saw everything that the city has to offer. Lagos has exceeded my expectations and I really hope I can return in the future!!
Time is seriously flying by! It seems like it was just yesterday when I was about to embark on this journey. We are all realizing that time is running out and there are so many things that we want to accomplish before we head back out to the United States.
My housemate and I have made a “BCN Bucketlist” with a list of many things we have yet accomplished and want to achieve before time runs out, including trying out a bunch of food spots, renting out bikes for the day, watching the sunset at Parc Güell, and so much more. There is still so much to see in this beautiful city.I love everything about Barcelona and I’m glad I’ve gotten the opportunity to live in the best city in the world.
I’ve met the most amazing people and made some great friends here that I know will be my friends for life. We’re all experiencing the same things together - being in a different country, indulging in a new culture, and most importantly, having some sort of anxiety of returning back to the states. We all are trying our best not to count down the days until we fly home, yet at the same time we’re all excited to reunite with our loved ones.
With that being said, I’m going to try my best not to think about how the time is running out and instead take advantage of everything that Barcelona has to offer!!
Traveling to Morocco with my program this week was probably the highlight of my time abroad so far. Sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar and seeing the Rock of Gibraltar into Africa was a great way to start the trip. Although we spent hours at a time on the bus traveling to each destination, it was all worth it.
Our first city that we visited was Fez. We toured the city and even explored the medina, which was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We had to dress extremely conservative as we walked through the Medina. When the local men saw American girls, they would often start catcalling and offering themselves for marriage. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Overlooking the Medina in Fez
We also visited a carpet factory and had a show displaying many of the hand made carpets with complimentary tea, we visited a leather factory and after lunch we went to a ceramic school!
The leather factory smelled so bad that they gave us mint leaves to sniff!
After Fez, the next stop was to the Sahara Desert! That was easily my favorite part of the whole trip. We stayed in huge tents and it was literally like we stepped back in time for a bit! There were no phones needed, no wifi, or anything. I never knew what time it was at all during the two days I was there. We woke up at 5 in the morning to watch the sunrise and rode camels to the local village of Merzouga.
During our free time, we would just hang out in the dunes playing with the local Berber kids. With just the little that they had, they seemed to be the happiest with our company. Dinner consisted of couscous and a bunch of meat and vegetables every night, and after, there was always a big drum circle going on with a perfect atmosphere to stargaze with a full moon in sight.
After riding camels, with one of the locals
Just chillin by our camp, the kid decided to jump in the picture last minute lol!
After two fun days in the Sahara, we had a six hour bus ride to Meknes, where we had dinner and slept. The next day we said goodbye to Morocco as we made our way back to Sevilla, Spain.
I could have never imagined ever spending my Spring Break the way I did but I’m glad I did this. It was a blast meeting people from my program that were studying in different cities in Spain. Also, meeting the local Berber people and hearing their stories was awesome too. Thank you Morocco for showing me a good time!
Time has been flying by! I can’t believe it is already Spring Break! I feel as if it was just yesterday when I arrived here. The subject of time running out in Barcelona often comes up in conversation. Most students I’ve spoken to are on the same page as I am — we don’t want to leave. To me, this is the best city in the world. The mountains, the beach, the football culture, I’m in the middle of everything and I love it. Together, we are all experiencing something special here in Spain and the thought of going back to reality seems frightening.
Anyways, for Semana Santa I’ll be on my way to Sevilla on Saturday for a day! Then early on Sunday morning, I’ll be heading out to Morocco for the week! There’s so much on the itinerary but what I’m most excited for is sleeping in a tent in the Sahara Desert!
Sunday was such a relaxing day. My house mate and I were exhausted from exploring Tarragona the day before, so we were able to sleep in until noon! My host mom’s son and his family came over for lunch. The cool thing about when family comes over for lunch is that there’s basically a four course meal prepared. Mama Clara usually starts off with some finger food like chips, asparagus, or even sardines, then has some sort of appetizer, main course is usually served with sangria, and lastly, dessert consists of some type of pastry with café con leche.
My host brother has the absolute coolest daughters! They’re only 11 and 9 years old but they were really mature for their age. We had so much fun dancing and singing to One Direction! Lol!
Carlota and Paola
Hanging out with the family was much needed after a crazy weekend of meeting soccer players and exploring a new city!
Later on, Jacqueline, my intercambio, and I met up for some café con leche near the center of the city. I haven’t seen her since the last time I posted about meeting her for the first time so it was fun catching up with her!
We found an awesome cafe near the Catedral De Barcelona. As we were catching up and exchanging languages, we heard a huge commotion outside — drums banging, fireworks cracking, kids cheering in costumes, etc. We decided to check out what was going on. As I’m writing this, I still have no idea what event took place that night. Jacqueline had no idea either but it was fun dancing with the locals and embracing the culture.
I thought this weekend would be kind of boring since most of my friends were traveling to Paris and Rome for the weekend but it turned out to be quite eventful. There’s never a dull moment in Barcelona!
ALSO: If you haven’t seen my video recap on my first month here, check it out!
Can you believe it? Time is going by so fast! I’ve been living in Barcelona for about a month now.
Exactly a month ago, I was en route to the airport ready to take on this next chapter of my life. Surely as any other student would be, I was filled with mixed thoughts and emotions. I was anxious, worried, excited, nervous - basically every emotion you can possibly feel. Being the only one from Rider studying abroad in Barcelona, many thoughts came across my mind such as, ”Am I going to make friends right away?”, “What if my housemate and I don’t get along?”, or “I hope I don’t get lost..”, etc.
I seem to laugh now when reflecting back on how I was feeling a month ago. I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to the way of life here including siesta time, late dinners and nights out, etc. The friends that I’ve made in this short period of time have been nothing short of amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better host mother and housemate. My group of friends from my program are from all over the United States. I’m seeing it all - southern accents, cowboy boots, midwesterners swing dancing at the bar, etc. - things I’d rarely ever see in New Jersey. One can learn so much from meeting people from different cultures, backgrounds, and areas around the world. I know my way around the city enough but I’m always exploring. I also have my favorite café that I go to every Tuesday and Thursday during my break in between Spanish classes.
There’s more to life than good ‘ol New Jersey and I encourage any student that’s reading this to check out their options on studying abroad! It’s been my dream since I was a youngster to be living in another country and thanks to hard work, my family, and the great staff at Rider, I’m living my dream. This is easily the best decision I’ve made while in college.
Things to look forward to:
Tomorrow I depart to the South of France for the weekend with my program!
Sitges Carnivale on Tuesday
I’m also making a video compilation of my first month here filled with tons of footage from experiences being on campus, traveling, going out with friends, etc. I’m excited to show you guys! It should be up within the next week so stay tuned!!
If you have any questions or would like to contact me, shoot me a message by clicking the “Ask Me Anything” button on top of the page.
After class on Thursday, my roommate and I had a quick dinner and headed straight to the airport where we met up with a bunch of friends for our first trip of the semester to London! The duration of the flight was about 3 hours long and the capacity of people on the plane wasn’t full at all, in fact, most passengers were study abroad students. There were also no assigned seating so we were all able to sit with each other. Everyone was beyond excited. It was definitely the most fun I’ve had on a plane ride!
We landed around midnight and just seeing everything written in English was quite a bit of a culture shock. In only 3 1/2 weeks, I’ve been so accustomed to speaking Spanish when going to the store or on the metro, etc. It was funny to see all of us correct ourselves after saying a simple “Gracias” to the cashier or bus driver at the airport.
We arrived at the flat we were staying at about two hours later. By the time we arrived, we were all exhausted and fell right asleep because we had a long day ahead of us.
On Friday morning, we got up early and went on a tour of the Stonehenge! Built in 3000 BC, these remains of standing stones are one of the most famous sites in the world.
We also had an awesome and hilarious tour guide named Benson who gave us plenty of information on the Stonehenge and tips on where to get the best fish and chips for cheap!
The best tour guide ever, Benson!
On Saturday, we toured the city through a red double decker bus! We saw all of the important monuments and landmarks, including the London Bridge, Big Ben, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Abbey Road, and much more!
Meditating with Big Ben in the background, lol.
My housemate and I attempting to replicate The Beatles album cover on Abbey Road.
After exploring the city all day, we headed out to the local pub then went to Chinatown for some dinner. A few hours later, we found ourselves back at the airport with all of our friends discussing how our weekend went while waiting for our flight back to Barcelona.
London reminds me a lot of New York City, except with gloomy weather, tedious public transportation, accents galore, and really expensive currency. The British Pound is worth almost double than the American Dollar. Also, the city was way bigger than I expected so my group of friends weren’t able to hang out with each other as a whole since we were all staying in opposite areas of the city. Overall, I had a fun time getting out of Spain and exploring this city! London has been on my bucket list for years.
Also, a big thank you to Sam, Lizzie, and Craig for their wonderful hospitality and letting my friends and I crash for the weekend.