Berlin for 25th Anniversary of the Wall coming down

Berlin for 25th Anniversary of the Wall Coming Down

Was able to go to Berlin with some friends and it just so happened to be the 25th anniversary of the wall coming down. Berlin is a really interesting city filled with history and it was nice because my roommate is German so he could explain some of the history behind the city and how the Germans view their past.

German Parliament

German Parliament

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Holocaust Memorial. When you walk into it, you feel lost and confused. Supposed to represent the confusion amongst the prisoners. The memorial itself is ironic because the stone is sprayed with a chemical that doesn't allow graffiti to stick.....however the company that makes the chemical is the same company that made the gas for the gas chambers at the concentration camps.

Holocaust Memorial. When you walk into it, you feel lost and confused. Supposed to represent the confusion amongst the prisoners. The memorial itself is ironic because the stone is sprayed with a chemical that doesn’t allow graffiti to stick…..however the company that makes the chemical is the same company that made the gas for the gas chambers at the concentration camps.

For all of the Pop Culture fans out there...Michael Jackson hung his kid out of this hotel....

For all of the Pop Culture fans out there…Michael Jackson hung his kid out one of the windows in this hotel….

Checkpoint Charlie. Section of the wall controlled by Western Allies

Checkpoint Charlie. Section of the wall controlled by Western Allies

East Side Gallery. Part of the Wall that is still standing today and was painted by artists from all over the world.

East Side Gallery. Part of the Wall that is still standing today and was painted by artists from all over the world. The white balloons were all throughout the city where the wall used to stand for the anniversary.

Good Stuff

Good Stuff

Main stage commemorating the anniversary. Extremely crowded

Main stage commemorating the anniversary. Extremely crowded

Wasn't in Bavaria...but could still find the greatest meal on the planet. Pork shank, cabbage, and dumplings.

Wasn’t in Bavaria…but could still find the greatest meal on the planet. Pork shank, cabbage, and dumplings.

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral

Remnants of the wall. You could see the different archietecture styles from the Soviets (East Germany) and the Germans (West Germany).

Remnants of the wall. You could see the different architecture styles from the Soviets (East Germany) and the Germans (West Germany).

2 Months in Sevilla

This is my first COB post, and since it has been practically 2 months since I began my semester in Sevilla, some people will say that I have been procrastinating in writing this. For me, however, I do not think it is so much as procrastination as it is a lack of time. In my ten weeks in Sevilla, not only have I completed a two-week intensive Spanish course, but I have also traveled to seven Spanish cities, and visited five countries on the weekends: France, Morocco, Portugal, Great Britain, and Germany. This amount of traveling is very exhausting, but each weekend I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore Europe (and in the one instance Northern Africa). I am not going to lie…there have been moments when I have second-guessed studying abroad this semester. However, I would never change my decision to be in Spain if I were given the option.

I feel like I differ from the majority of people who have or are studying abroad now because I would never describe this experience as a fairy tale or a dream that you are afraid will end. I promise I have enjoyed my time here, but I do miss greatly my family and friends and the majority of the aspects from my culture. The Spanish cuisine, for instance, became quite repetitive after the first few weeks here. What I originally thought would be healthy, flavorful food, has turned out only to be food drenched in olive oil and salt. Each day I miss my buffalo sauce and fried chicken more and more, and I continue to imagine my dream meal when I return to the US on December 5. Maybe it started out as a game or a way to remember my favorite foods with my friends, but now when I stare at the tortilla española on my plate—the fifth instance this week—it is quite calming to imagine in its place a big, juicy steak in only a matter of 18 days.

Even though I definitely miss home, I feel like my two months abroad have accomplished the goals that I had created before leaving Louisville in September. Not only did I want to improve my Spanish language abilities and confidence in the subject, but I also wanted to become a more independent person. When I came to Spain, it had been approximately two years since I had taken any Spanish course, and I hardly practiced the language in Louisville outside of a classroom. Ask any of my friends or family, and I am completely positive that they could relay to you just how afraid I was to be studying in a country where I had not practiced the language for so long. Even though I never believed those people who told me that my language abilities would come back to me quickly, those people were for the most part correct. At the beginning of the semester as I sat in my intensive Spanish course—reviewing those obscure verb structures and endings that I had once learned—it finally felt as if a flood gate had been opened as all the old knowledge I had grasped from my Advanced Placement high school teacher Mrs. Robke, came flooding forward into my memory. I am still surprised as to how much vocabulary I had retained after so many years, and I continue to increase my confidence in my Spanish writing skills.

As for my Spanish speaking skills, however, that is a different story. While I may be slightly disadvantaged due to my gringa Kentucky accent and the fact I cannot roll my R’s (thanks genetics), I do continue to struggle with oral communication. For the most part, my professors and my host mom understand exactly what I am saying; it is every other native who has difficulty understanding me. Sometimes, I repeat a word or phrase three times to a person, only for them to repeat it back to me exactly as I had said it, before they understand me; but other times the people give up on me. Granted, many Sevillans are friendly and are willing to help you, but I feel I have a tendency of finding all the people who become annoyed easily with Americans.

Despite this, there are times when all the cards fall into place and something special happens, something that makes you retain your faith in the whole reason why you are studying abroad. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this when you go out at night, make sure that you appreciate it and fully take advantage of it. The first time I stumbled upon a group of Spaniards who wanted to practice their English speaking, I was completely surprised as to the impact this would produce. During this weird intercambio in which I spoke in Spanish and the Spaniards spoke in English, a judgment free zone was created since both the Spaniards and I were struggling as much as the other one. It is in this zone where all the pressure of speaking perfect Spanish vanishes and you can finally enjoy speaking the Spanish language. You learn so much more in these random intercambios about the Spanish culture and the colloquial phrases used in Sevilla than any amount of time you can spend in a classroom. It is during these intercambios that you stop questioning your study experience, and you start only focusing on the positives of your time abroad—at least until the conversation ends and you remember you have assignments due in the morning.

While it was difficult for me to finally take the plunge and to sign up to study abroad in Spain, this was only the start of becoming significantly more independent. Before coming here, I already felt that I was independent since I lived in my Louisville apartment six hours away from my parents’ house. However, that does not compare to what happens in Spain. It is not only the significant distance between Europe and the US, but it is also the fact that you—and only you—are solely responsible for your own well-being. Before studying abroad in Sevilla, I had never once before traveled alone and I had increasingly relied on my family and friends for all planning. In Europe, it becomes your responsibility to plan and book everything, navigate places usually without the use of a working phone, and somehow still manage to evade the pickpockets of Europe. It is time consuming and exhausting, and it forces you to grow up and mature even when you thought you had matured as much as you could. In my time abroad, I have become wiser—especially with traveling—and I now feel that I possess street-smarts even though two months ago I only had book-smarts to my name and could not even navigate anywhere without the use of my GPS.

When I am not traveling, and the Spanish culture and people are starting to weigh heavily on me, I just have to laugh. I have to laugh at myself when I make mistakes speaking Spanish, and I have to laugh later at some of the cultural differences that earlier in the day angered me. I have to laugh when my host mom turns some of my clothes into tie-dye and yells at me for not eating my olive oil soaked vegetables. I have to laugh when I mispronounce the ending of the word for chicken (pollo), and it turns into a word completely opposite of what I wanted. I also have to share in other people’s laughter. I have to laugh with my roommate when she shares the story of her having to run to class with her backpack as Spaniards videotape her; and I have to laugh when we all share host parent stories, each more horribly funny than the previous one.

When I reflect on my study abroad experience, I realize how much of these past two months have been full of funny memories, especially over things that I never thought I would be able to laugh at. In an environment that is so different from the one that I am accustomed to, I have to place a positive spin on my daily failures and on my slight annoyances with the city. My experience has not been perfect, but I realize the great opportunity I have to experience the Spanish culture first hand for three months. I know when I return to the US, I will have these funny memories to share with my family and friends and to continue remembering my experience abroad.


Més Que Una Ciutat–Barcelona


As I sit on my balcony overlooking the park with the sun shining on my face I am struggling to put into words the overwhelming experience that I have had so far in Barcelona. Every aspect of this study abroad experience has been absolutely amazing. Nearly every person I talked to before I left for this trip told me that it was one of the best things that they had ever done and when I asked if they had any regrets it was only that they did not stay longer. I am no exception this. So far in my life, there have been only a handful of my moments that I knew in the present moment that they were truly exceptional and I would relish these moments forever. This is one of them. I am at the top of my roller coaster and enjoying every single moment that I am given. I cannot thank UofL, the donors, my advisers, my teachers, the ISA program staff, and especially my parents for giving me the encouragement and means to make this wonderful experience a reality.

When I first got to Barcelona I was honestly a little scared and nervous. Knowing no one and not being fluent in the native tongue is a daunting thing especially when you are in a foreign countries for four months. Typically, I am pretty aware of where I am and relative location, but for my first few days in Barcelona I was practically a deer in headlights and lost constantly. This was fantastic. I discovered places that I would have never gone typically and simply embraced the moment. Instead of being fearful of not knowing where I was headed, I viewed it as an adventure that would only enhance my experience of this city I was living in. Yet, with all the adventure and excitement my first few days in Barcelona were met with me being pretty homesick. Life is pretty different here and there moments when I wondered, how am I going to live here for four months? I looked at my calender and thought, “Wow, I have a long time left.” After that, the first three days felt as long as the first three weeks. Time has simply flown by. Like many others, I have met so many amazing people in my time here. My homestay mom, Rosa is the sweetest Spanish lady. She takes care of me like I was her own. I cannot thank her enough for easing my transition to this Spanish life. I have friends here now that I know I will stay in contact with and visit for the rest of my life.

Barcelona is technically a part of Spain, but anyone who is from here or has lived here long enough will tell you that it is actually part of Catalonia. Now, you might think I am just being picky by saying oh its Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and not just Barcelona, Spain, but there is a strong fervor here that Barça is truly Catalonia. The culture here is very different than the rest of Spain that I have seen. Every street sign, every menu, and most of what you will hear on the streets is Catalan. Although it may share some similarities with Spanish it is very different. Even though I do not know any Catalan I get by with my Spanish, but have learned that by extending the courtesy of greeting the locals with a little Catalan, it goes a long way. The Catalan people are very proud and have an extremely rich heritage. There is hardly a street here that is not lined with at least three or four Catalan flags. I am especially lucky because I am in Barcelona at a special moment in history where Barcelona is looking to vote for their independence in less than one week (November 9). Although it may have been blocked by the Spanish government it has not subsided the ferocity at which people are calling for independence and at the very least a democratic vote. I personally am a little biased because my homestay mom is very passionate about the issue and believes that Catalonia should be independent, but I believe it is only right for the people to be given the right to decide what they think is best.


My time here as been filled with so many great memories. September was packed with events including holidays such as La Merce (the annual city festival), which was an insane city wide festival with concerts, parades, and fireworks that rivaled Thunder over Louisville. Singing songs, dancing in the streets, walking in the parade, and lighting sparklers with the locals was a great experience. At times, I felt like I was a local and just having fun with over a million of my closest friends.


Every week here is seemingly filled with constant activities. Between going to class, laying out on the beach, swimming in the Mediterranean and hanging out with friends there really are not enough hours in the day. I can understand why the Spanish started taking siestas during the day. I have so many options here it is truly a blessing. I have gone to the Pablo Picasso museum and seen why he is so revered for his work. I have hiked the mountain to Tibidabo, the highest point in the Collserola mountain range. I have been to the clubs on the beaches and danced with friends until the sun came up. Before coming to Barcelona I had no clue what I was getting into and how much fun it would be. I cannot begin to explain to how much fun it is to get into a dance off against the locals on the metro at 2am or how wonderful it is to sit on rooftops looking at the skyline sipping on cheap Spanish wine. Living in Barcelona or Spain in general I would have thought that I would need to immerse myself in the culture but rather it kind of just wraps around you like a blanket and you begin to see why people love it here so much. They do not need all the amenities and luxuries that we are afforded in the United States (albeit they are nice), but they live for the simple pleasure of good food, wine, and company. Some of my favorite nights have been spent with friends just walking the streets of Barcelona and talking about life. I am exposed to so many different styles of living and how people perceive the same events differently; it is fascinating to me.


One of the best experiences I have had so far was going to the Barcelona versus Ajax champions league futbol (soccer) game. I decided just hours before the game I was going to go and bought a ticket front row behind the goal in the Barcelona fan section. When I bought the ticket I didn’t realize what I was getting into and since I didn’t own any Barcelona gear I wore my USA soccer shirt. I quickly realized that I needed to blend in so I bought a Messi jersey. That was definitely the right decision. I soon found out that I was in the heart of where all the dedicated fans go. They all had on their jerseys while waving their huge flags and banners around. They chanted the songs of support for the team and roared every time Barça got close. Now, Barcelona FC plays in Camp Nou which seats over 98,000 people and I swear to you every single of one of those seats was filled with die-hard fans. The stadium was electric. When Messi connected with Neymar for the first goal the stadium exploded and sounded like a fighter jet had just flown over my head. It was absolutely amazing. Later on when Messi scored the second goal for Barça, I understood why he was such a big deal. Not only is he lightning quick, but his footwork and mastery of the game are obvious. The fan section I was in began chanting his name and bowing to him like he was a demi god. After Barcelona won 3-1 it was an absolute mad-house trying to leave the stadium. Everyone flooded out into the streets and turned the city into a sea of scarlet and blue. After having been able to attend a game like that I am definitely a fan for life. I can appreciate why their motto for the club is, “Mes Que Un Club” or “More Than A Club”. Barcelona futbol is a way of life.

tower bridge

Although I am in Barcelona for the semester, it would not be a true study abroad experience without traveling and seeing the rest of what Europe has to offer. To date, I have been to Sitges, the French Riviera (Nice, Eze, and Monte Carlo), San Sebastian, Valencia, Peniscola, London, Narbonne, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Collioure, Montserrat, and Paris. I have loved each one of the places for their own unique features. My favorite (if I had to choose even though I love all of them) is probably London. In my four days there I go to see so much of the city including: London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Globe theater, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Belgravia, the National Gallery, Tate Modern Buckingham Palace, Picadilly circus, Camden Market, Burrough Market, the Eye of London, London Tower, Parliament, Big Ben, Millenium Bridge, Hampton Court, and Hyde Park. It was a whirlwind trip and I loved every minute of it. I have met some Americans who are studying abroad there and alot of them have not gotten to experience some of the things that I did in my limited time there. I did so much of that on my own and was happy I did so. There was nothing that was going to hold me back from seeing as much as I could.

Traveling and study abroad has taught me alot about Spain, culture, and myself. I have learned to not mind getting lost because I will always find something I did not know before. I have learned to try everything. I have eaten fish heads, had mussels for the first time, tried countless different types of tapas, and discovered my love for good french duck. I understand now that being uncomfortable is normal and actually good because I am much more open to new experiences now. I know that I need to be bold and just make decisions instead of letting others always decide. I have learned that you will always meet new friends and find really interesting people from all over and in my time that has included people from: Peru, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Russia, and France. Meeting all of these different people has taught me that getting to know other people enriches your life and also reminds you of your roots. While I have grown and changed as a person I feel even more proud now to be an American and a Kentuckian.

I am only a little more than half way through my study abroad and I simply am baffled at where the time has gone. It seems like only yesterday I boarded a plane to Barcelona and I know now that the remaining weeks I have left will go quickly so I intend to make the most of it. I have Prague, Dublin, and Madrid to look for to in the coming weeks and I am very excited for those. It might be cliche, but the one phrase that I think sums it up nicely is, “Life is beautiful.”

Until next time. Go Cards.