Oaxaca, tienes mi corazón

The 5 Things I miss the most about Oaxaca, Mexico

  1. My host parents, Hector and Leo.

Within the first week of my program, I knew that leaving my host parents would be the hardest part of my journey. I instantly fell in love with their soft-hearted and warm personalities. Every day when I came home from school or any activity, I would look forward to sharing the daily gossip (or “chisme”) with them and staying at the table for hours on end. Our meals together are what I miss the most- this is where I saw my abilities in Spanish really taking off. We would gossip about my Oaxacan “boyfriends,” our lives back home, and the interesting encounters of some of our other group members. My host family always told me that, when I’m staying with them, it’s like I am one of their own. They are what really made Oaxaca feel like home. I am so grateful to be a part of their family, even if just for a little while.

  1. Using Spanish anywhere, anytime

Obviously there are Spanish speakers here in the U.S., but it is nothing compared to the exposure of Spanish that I received in Mexico. I loved finally getting to immerse myself in the language and culture of the people that I have spent many years of my life studying. I have noticed that I have to consciously prevent myself from speaking full sentences in Spanish to my friends, or accidentally using a Spanish word to describe something in normal conversation. While taking notes in class, I’m often tempted to use Spanish words in the middle of my sentences. These are things that have never happened to me before, but I love them because it means that my fluency is increasing and that Spanish is becoming a bigger part of my life. In addition, the quirky little colloquial phrases were my favorite thing to learn, and it was even funnier to watch the shock and the reactions of the locals when we used them! I love teaching my friends here new phrases and using them around native speakers here in the U.S.

  1. The happiness

I can’t believe the best summer of my life has come to a close. Being in Mexico was the happiest I have ever been. The constant joy and energy of the culture in Mexico is amazing, and excitement fills the people’s hearts. I love how everyone seems to be in a good mood all the time, and everyone is always so light-hearted. Everyone is constantly joking around, dancing, and laughing with their friends. The vibrancy of the people is something I will deeply miss and keep in my heart forever.

  1. My Sol-Mates

I studied in Mexico through a program called Sol Education Abroad, and the people that shared this journey with me are called my “Sol-Mates.” Through this program, I now have friends all over the country, and even a friend from Canada. My Sol Mates and I experienced so much together: we got to explore the world together, try new foods, and laugh at each other along the way. I love that I found other people who share my same love and appreciation for Spanish language and culture, and I loved being “Los extranjeros” (the foreigners) together.

  1. The culture

I visited a Mexico that is more beautiful than any of the resorts that most people from the U.S. know. Oaxaca has 16 indigenous groups, making it one of the most diverse states in Mexico. Even better, I was in Oaxaca during the entire month of July, the month of the Guelaguetza. Throughout the month there were tons of cultural events, such as parandas (small parades) and food festivals. Oaxaca is also known for its unique cuisine, and this is something I will take with me as well. I already miss the moles, quesillo, tamales, and, most importantly, eating tortillas and beans with every meal. There are certain things that I discovered in Mexico that I will be looking for here in the grocery store, and recipes that I look forward to re-creating.

All in all, Mexico will have my heart forever. And I am already planning my next trip back.

Things I Miss About Edinburgh

Since I have come home from studying abroad, there are many things that I really miss about being in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Something I really miss about being in Scotland is not having a car.  In Edinburgh, many people do not have a car.  They just walk, bike, or take the bus for transportation.  I walked everywhere and it was really nice.  I only took the bus around 10 times the whole semester and it was to go to a nearby city or area that was just too far to walk.  My flat was in a great location, so I was pretty close to a lot of things in the city.  I do not know exactly how much I was walking, but it was several miles every day at the least.  In the week since I have returned to the US, I have really missed being able to walk everywhere I want to go.  I have decided that to incorporate walking into my life in the US, I will go for a walk every day.  Instead of walking for transportation, it will mainly just be for a relaxing activity.

One thing that I miss seeing is the pretty architecture in Scotland.  Edinburgh is such a beautiful city filled with really old and nice buildings.  They are much different than the buildings in America.  Instead of each house or business being its own stand-alone building with a yard or parking lot area, the buildings are connected to each other.  All the buildings in one block will be connected to each other.  Edinburgh is split into the Old and New Towns.  Buildings in the New Town are about 200 years old, and ones in the Old Town are from much earlier.  The oldest building in Edinburgh is Saint Margaret’s Chapel within Edinburgh Castle.  It is from the 1100s and is the only building in the castle that has not been destroyed.  Throughout the Old Town, there are many small alleyways called “closes”. They connect the upper and lower parts of town and are very cool to walk through.  It is really awesome to be surrounded by such beautiful and historic buildings.  I will try to appreciate all the architecture that is around me in the US.  I will really look around and notice the details that have gone into some buildings.

Something else I miss is being close to so many cool European places.  There was a train station about a 10-minute walk from my flat.  A bus station was about a 15-minute walk away.  Edinburgh Airport was about a 30-minute bus ride away.  I could easily travel anywhere I wanted to go.  There were several times I took a train or a bus to another city for a nice day trip.  I took a night bus to London a few times as well.  I could also go outside of the UK pretty easily.  I was able to travel to Portugal and Spain for my spring break.  I also spent St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, which I have always wanted to do.  It was awesome!  Since I have returned to America, I really miss being a bus/train/short plane from so many cool European places.

Scotland had a lot of food that I miss now.  The UK is pretty well known for having fish and chips, and they did not disappoint!  I love fish, so I was excited to eat a lot of it.  There are small take-away restaurants called chippies that have pretty good fish and chips.  In Scotland, I tried a lot of food that is different from what I usually eat here in America.  Of course, I had heard about Scottish haggis.  The things I heard about it did not make it sound too good, but I knew I would at least try it while I was there.  I was really surprised by how good it was!  It was not gross at all.  It really just tastes like meat.  I think it might be better if you do not google what it is made of before you eat it, but I definitely recommend trying it either way.  Scotland has a lot of different types of food.  I had a lot of really delicious Indian food, which I did not expect to get in Scotland.  I really liked the food I got to try while studying abroad.  It probably has made me want to try more different types of food since I have come back to America.

Something that I really miss are the great people I got to meet in Edinburgh.  The University had several events to encourage international students to meet each other.  I think we were all kind of nervous about meeting people and making friends, but it was actually really easy!  I met so many cool people and made friends from every continent except Antarctica. I also met many people from the UK, and Scotland specifically from my classes and the clubs I joined.  It was really sad to have to say goodbye to all my new friends.  However, I have been keeping in touch with a lot of them since I have come back to America.  I still talk to many of them every day.  I have made plans to visit several people.

There are so many things about my time in Edinburgh that I will miss.  I am so happy I got the chance to study abroad.  I learned so much about myself and the world.  Edinburgh is my favorite place I have ever been.  I will definitely go back again soon!

Hello from Prague!

So I wrote this two weeks ago (ish) and forgot to post it so it’s a little behind but still relevant. Here we go!

I can’t believe it’s already August and I’m going home in less than 48 hours. It’s been an incredible summer and I still can’t believe it’s been nine weeks already. Prague is beautiful and I’m so in love with this city that I don’t really want to leave.

My first week here I was honestly kind of afraid I had made a huge mistake. In orientation they talked about the honeymoon period where everything is amazing and then the low where you might start thinking this was a bad idea and compare your temporary home unfavorably to home in the states. I pretty much skipped the honeymoon period and jumped right into freaking out about the new language, the culture, how on earth am I supposed to figure out where I’m going? And oh god they want me to use public transportation, how on earth do you read the tram schedules?? I was really afraid that maybe study abroad wasn’t for me, and that I shouldn’t have come at all.

Fortunately, that feeling didn’t last long. By the end of the first week I had attended three days of class, was riding the trams with no trouble and managed to successfully navigate a grocery store where none of the signs are in English. I started to adjust and instead of feeling overwhelming I started to enjoy the cultural differences I was seeing. People are people, whether in the Czech Republic or the United States, so it was just a matter of adjusting to slightly different expectations. If you’re willing to pay attention, it’s not terribly difficult to go with the flow and fit into the crowd.

I have really loved living in Prague, but there are some definite differences it might have been nice to know about. So for anyone thinking about studying abroad here or even just visiting, here are some things to remember:

  1. It’s really quiet here – you don’t realize how loud Americans are until you get used to crowded places in the Czech Republic. And?l is a central area about five minutes’ walk from my apartment where there are two tram stops, a metro station, a mall, and a number of stores and restaurants within about 100 meters of each other. I’ve never been there at a time when there were less than one hundred people in view. In the states that many people would be making enough noise to deafen you, but here it’s barely a quiet murmur. And when using public transportation, an entirely full tram car is usually almost completely silent. It takes some getting used to, but I honestly really like it. I’m pretty quiet for the most part so I fit right in. It does, however, make the tourists who aren’t trying to be subtle stand out like a sore thumb. You can spot them immediately just by the amount of noise they’re making. The stereotype of the noisy American makes a lot more sense to me now.
  2. Do use public transportation – It’s amazing. I can get almost anywhere I want to go in twenty minutes or less without having to drive or deal with traffic. There is a huge network of trams, metros, and buses that will get you anywhere in the city and the schedules might look hard to read, but they’re actually very logical once you get over how many numbers there are. Just be aware that Prague’s public transportation system runs on the honor system. You don’t have to buy a ticket in order to ride but if you don’t once you enter the tram/bus or the ticket required areas of the metro stations you are subject to random checks by transportation officials. If you don’t have a paper ticket that you validate when you enter or a valid Líta?ka card (a card you can load with a month or more’s worth of ride credit. Definitely get one of these, it’s worth it and it’ll pay for itself with how much you use public transportation) then you may end up with a hefty fine. So follow the rules and you’re good. Plus, two months of credit was less than twenty-five dollars. And I use public transportation at least two times a day, usually more.
  3. Air conditioning is not standard. And you probably won’t find it most places – honestly, until the last week of the program we haven’t needed it. This week we’ve had temperatures in the nineties, which is somewhat unusual here, and we could have used AC but the rest of the summer I’ve been really comfortable. I have a couple of elbow length sweaters that I have worn a lot because the temperatures have usually leaned a little cool rather than too hot.

That’s all for now! I’m sure I’ll think of other things but those are the big ones anyway. Hope everyone’s having a summer as awesome as mine!

Returning Home

It has been a couple of weeks since I have returned from my study abroad experience, and it has been tough. When I first got to Barcelona I didn’t have any culture shock or any trouble adjusting to the time zone there because I was so excited to be in a foreign city by myself. My return home was a different story. For the first week I woke up every day at 6 am because it was noon in Barcelona, and I always got very tired at the end of the day when all of my friends wanted to hang out and were doing things. This was one of the first things I noticed about coming back home. The next challenging aspect of moving home was when I was hungry and when I ate. Now this may seem like a ridiculous struggle to have but when eating in Barcelona I would eat lunch around 2:30 and dinner at 8-9:30, but at home we ate at noon and like 6-7:30 so I was never hungry at the right times and didn’t really eat much with my family. Although these are small things they really play a big impact into a persons life.


The next thing that was challenging when coming back home was reverse culture shock. When I went to Barcelona I was so excited to be there and so ready to immerse myself into the culture that I didn’t experience any culture shock because I was open to almost anything, but when I returned home it was tough. When in Barcelona I would wake up every day and walk out on my balcony and look at the incredible view and then walk to class and get to look at all the architecture and beautiful sights. At home, I was either stuck in my house or had do drive my car to get to where I wanted to go, and everything was the same stuff I looked at and went to in high school. I was slightly depressed when coming home because I had moved away from this new incredible place where I experienced so many new things, and now I was back home to the place I spent 20 years of my life and have done everything there is to do. Even things such as being 20 minutes on the Metro away from the beach were tough to get used to not having since now I am nowhere near a beach. Overall it was a tough adjustment being back in my hometown instead of being in Barcelona.


The last challenging aspect about returning home was the food. Barcelona offered new food and new food experiences that I don’t have at home. Whether it be traditional tapas or a fresh seafood paella the food in Barcelona was incredible, but now I don’t have the options I did there. The first few days it was fine because I missed a lot of my home food such as Skyline and Chipotle, but after that I just wanted to be able to go to all of my restaurants that I loved in Barcelona. This summer was the greatest experience of my life and I got to experience so much culture and so many different things and I am happy and sad to be back in the United States and at UofL again, and I can’t wait until my next traveling adventure when I go abroad.


The next couple of weeks I spent exploring the city of Barcelona, and going to beaches during the week. During the weekends, I made multiple trips to Girona, the south of France, and Costa Brava through the ISA program. The trip to Girona and the south of France were involved in the same trip. Girona was such a fun trip for me because multiple scenes of the show Game of Thrones were filmed there, and it was so cool to see where they were actually filmed.

Next on that trip we visited Arles, France. This is the place where Picasso painted one of his famous pictures, and Van Gogh lived and visited the hospital for his ear. This city was quite interesting and even had a large outdoor market to shop in. The next part of this trip was a stay in Montpellier. This was a cool town with a lot going on. At night, we walked around a square and watched a bunch of street performers dancing. Below are pictures of the painting as well as the actual place that he painted. Overall France was a really cool trip seeing a lot of art and different architecture, but my favorite part of that trip is most definitely going to Girona and seeing all the different locations that Game of Thrones was filmed.

The next weekend I went to Costa Brava, a popular vacation spot for people who live in Barcelona, and it’s a lot less touristy than Barcelona. We took a bus to our hotel in Roses, and then took a boat to a very cool city Cadeques (pictured below). This was a beautiful and hard to reach city but had great views and good beaches. This is even the location of Salvador Dali’s house and it was really cool. The next day of the trip we actually went to the museum of Salvador Dali, and that place was crazy. It was like walking into the mind of a madman artist and all of the exhibits were crazy and awesome. Walking through the museum was fun and quite interesting.

These were two really fun trips filled with different arts, cultures, and beautiful views and architecture. I learned a lot more about art than I thought I would and really enjoyed all of it. The next two weekends I am going to have will be spent in Barcelona and then Ibiza and I am very excited!

5 Things I Miss The Most About Croatia

I studied abroad this summer in Zagreb, Croatia for three weeks. This was actually my first time out of the United States. I have now been home for about two weeks, and I already miss Croatia so much. I am going to pick out five international things that I miss the most since I have been back. The first thing I miss the most, which might sound crazy, but coffee. Every country has coffee, and I must say the coffee in Croatia is very different than the coffee in the states. I only normally drink iced coffee, hot coffee is not very appealing to me. This opinion of mine changed drastically when I was studying in Croatia. They do not use ice cubes as often as we use them. It was unusual to have ice in your coffee. I sometimes felt embarrassed to ask because it was a little difficult to communicate anyways. They speak their own Croatian language over there. However, I only really picked up on goodbye and hello. The coffee though, was amazing. I now look at coffee differently. I used to just run through Starbucks and grab me a quick drink because I needed caffeine. In Croatia, they don’t drink coffee for the caffeine, they drink it as a social thing. You go grab coffee and sit down and talk with some friends and relax. When I got back, I actually went to a coffee shop, got a coffee, sat down, and read some of my book. Anyways, that is the first thing I miss, the Croatian coffee! The second thing I miss would have to be the night life. Going out to bars is a totally different scene than in the states. I normally order a bourbon and coke, that’s what I enjoy drinking. When I asked for that at bars, they would give me a glass bottle of coke and a shot of bourbon. Which was a little odd, but I got used to it. I learned to not judge people as much. In the states when you go to bars, a lot of people judge you by what you wear or how you dance. When I went out in Croatia, you could dance and look like whatever you wanted and people still loved you. But, of course going out is always a great time. The third thing I miss would have to be my friends. This was the best part about the trip. My school had 100 students from 20 different countries. I met so many different people from different countries. What was the coolest part was that even though we are all from different cultures, we are still very similar. This taught me so much. Even though our country dislikes Muslim’s, I actually met so many that were awesome people. Don’t let religion or cultures effect how you look at a person. I met lifelong friends that I am already planning to go visit! The fourth thing that I miss would have to be the art and history. There is so much art and history within the country of Croatia that I got the opportunity to see. I miss waking up every day and seeing the Cathedral in my hostel window. I look at history so differently now. History is actually very important and interesting. It is nice to take a few minutes out of your day and to stop and admire the history. The fifth and final thing I miss the most since I have returned would, of course, have to be the people. The locals in Croatia that were born and raised there taught me so much. Weather it was in a ten minute Uber ride, or talking to someone in a coffee shop. I learned to look at things so differently, and I will always remember those memories. Those are the top five things that I miss about Croatia!

Most Memorable Moment While Studying in Croatia

Hello! I am Kaitlyn Morrison and I studied abroad in Zagreb, Croatia for three weeks this summer. I would have to say the most memorable thing I did while I was studying abroad was doing a one day five island visit. Let me tell you a little bit background about my visit before I go into detail. I took two classes during three weeks, which was tough. I was in class from 10am to 1pm and then from 5 to 8pm, I spent a lot of time studying. I traveled on the weekends, which I only got two to play around with. My first weekend, my school took all of us to Zadar. This is a popular city on the coast of Croatia. It was pretty neat because our school paid for all of it. It was beautiful, but I have to say my second weekend trip was my most memorable. The second weekend, we could of went anywhere we wanted. I had a small group of friends I met that were studying with me and also staying in the same hostel. I met a girl named Lindsey, who was from Texas, it was nice to meet another American. I also met a girl named Irmak, and she was from Turkey. And I met a girl named Lara, who was from Germany. It was the coolest thing that we all clicked and got along so well. Even though we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, we are all really similar. I actually met so many different people from different countries, but overall my class got along really well with each other! We all just wanted to party and travel. The second weekend, my group of four friends, decided to go to Split. It was about a four hour bus ride, which was not bad at all. We all actually slept the whole time. We rented out an Airbnb which ended up being really cheap since it was split four ways. We were only in Split for about three days. The second day, we booked a five island boat tour. This was the best day ever! We visited some very popular islands off the coast of Split, Croatia. The tour was about $115 US dollars, but we were on the boat from about 7am to 7pm. I think it was worth the money. We stopped at every island for about an hour, where we got the option to snorkel and swim. The Acratic Sea was beautiful! It was crystal clear and such a pretty blue. Within the trip, we stopped at an island to eat lunch. The food in Croatia is amazing, it was all very delicious. The cost of living over there is actually really cheap, I did not end up spending much money at all. This impacted my life so much by learning that there is so much more out there in the world. This was my first time out of the country, this whole experience really opened my eyes and showed me how other people live day by day in a different culture. Another thing I found interesting that I want to share is that the Game of Thrones is tapped off the coast of Croatia! thought that was pretty neat. But overall, that weekend trip in Split was my most memorable moment. I loved every second of it and I cannot wait to go back again one day!



I’m a huge soccer fan. You can ask any one of my friends or family and they will tell you, if there’s a day I’m not at school or work (sometimes even when I am) I am usually watching soccer. This all started during the 2014 World Cup. That’s the first time I remember sitting down and getting lost in a game. However, since soccer wasn’t very popular in the United States there were only about five teams that were regularly broadcast throughout the actual soccer season. One of those teams was F.C. Barcelona. For those of you who don’t know, they are basically the equivalent of Golden State in basketball, or the Patriots in football. I have not missed a Barcelona match in well over a year and I fully plan to be sitting at Camp Nou for an El Clasico at some point in my life. Spending the summer in Europe (Prague to be specific), I really wanted to make it out to Barcelona and see the home of the greatest team in sports (lets be honest, it’s a fact not an opinion). I’m proud to say I made it happen and the weekend I spent in Barcelona was one of the greatest I have ever had.

When I landed in Barcelona that Friday, I was greeted immediately by something we all know a little too well…humidity. Europe is severely lacking in the A/C department, so you never want it to be too hot or humid, but it was actually a welcome reminder of my old Kentucky home after a month and a half spent in Europe… even if I was sick of it five minutes later. Regardless, the next day was spent hanging out with some friends on the beach and bargaining for anything from blankets and souvenirs to mojitos and donuts (shout-out to the dude sprinting around with a plate holding them on his head). We quickly learned we were terrible when it came to reaching an agreed price, so it became a consistent joke when someone approached. They would start the offers at 15 euros and we would counter with 5. They would eventually tell us the lowest they were allowed to go was to 10 euros to which our response would be “Best we can do is 6”. Needless to say, most of the beach bargainers started to avoid us after a while. I’m sure they were glad the rowdy group of American guys only went to the beach for a day. That night, our group tried to make it into a bar crawl but a friend of ours fell in the first bar. Sporting a busted lip and a cut on his forehead, he looked like he’d gotten into a barfight. Naturally, they wouldn’t let him into any of the bars afterwards.

The next morning was the best time I’ve had on any trip I’ve ever been on. We visited the stadium of my favorite soccer team, Camp Nou. Like I said, I basically live for this team so walking through the hallways of the stadium I thought I’d never get to see was surreal. I got my photograph in front of the Champions League trophy they won in 2015 and stood with my mouth agape as I gazed at Lionel Messi’s five Ballon D’or’s. Later in the tour we were able to walk through the player’s tunnel and see the visiting team’s loccer room and the prayer room that is off to the side. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time there and may have called my parents to ask what a “healthy” amount of money was to spend on souvenirs. I have zero regrets.

I spent my last day in Barcelona touring the city on my own, which may sound lonely, but it wasn’t all that bad. First off, I simply roamed through the city. I was honestly trying to find my way back to Camp Nou, but ended up getting a cab to La Sagrada Familia. From there, I walked through the streets and made my way to the Arc de Triomf and took several photos in front of that. Since those were the top two on my bucket list I then proceeded to roam through Barcelona and eventually found my way into a large park. A little thing most people don’t realize is that parakeets are actually wild birds in Barcelona. So naturally I spent the next hour chasing them around in the park trying to get a cool picture of one. If you must know, I never did…

That’s the basic rundown of my time in Barcelona. It quickly became my favorite city in Europe and not just because I was biased and obsessed with their soccer team. Whether it was the beaches, the food, the nightlife, or simply the energy the people in the city seemed to possess, Barcelona was all around amazing. I will definitely be visiting this amazing city sometime in the future and I will definitely be back for a soccer match as well. Barcelona was truly amazing, and I couldn’t be more sad that I had to