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Dear Future Globetrotter

Flamenco show in Granada, Spain

Spain is amazing. Traveling is such an adventure. Studying abroad is a gift. I truly cherish the months that I have had the privilege of living in this beautiful country and all that it has taught me. As the semester comes to an end, a handful of consejos (advice) come to mind that I think are important for anyone about to embark on their own journey abroad. These are some things I have learned (in no particular order) during my time in Granada, Spain. Everyone is unique and has their own story, struggles, and journey abroad, so they may not apply to every person out there. But, I do think what I have observed and learned is very useful and I hope you find it to be as well.

1. Make every effort to get out of the American bubble. You are going to make new friends in your program and in your classes, and that is wonderful! But odds are most, if not all, of those people will be from the United States, which means you will mostly be speaking English and it will be more difficult to meet locals. This happened to me, and while I love the friends I’ve made, I didn’t meet many locals. It was a lot more challenging than I expected. I spoke English more than I imagined I would when at the start of the semester I really believed the majority of the language I used would be Spanish. All I’m saying is to find a balance and be intentional about meeting the locals in your city.

2. Don’t wait until you have the perfect friend(s)/group to do something you are interested in… Similarly, don’t be afraid to do things alone. The biggest example of this for me was when I took a solo trip to Manchester, England. I went for the sole purpose of visiting the Chatsworth House, which is Mr. Darcy’s home in the newest movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I really hadn’t found anyone that was interested in going there, so I went alone. It was a very challenging experience but one I really cherish. I’m the type of person that loves to share experiences with others, so at times during the trip, I felt very alone. However, this also meant I got to learn even more about myself: what I like, what I don’t like, how I travel without outside influence, and so much more. It’s okay to do things alone and you’ll even grow from it!

3. If you’re abroad to learn and practice a new language, don’t shy away from continuing to speak in that language if the person you’re talking to responds in English. This happened to me far more often that I would’ve liked. It’s usually in situations where the person I’m speaking with is in a hurry and I’m taking too long to get my point across (like ordering food at a restaurant). It sometimes made me question my Spanish abilities. Were they switching to English because I wasn’t speaking Spanish well enough? I was there to learn so I wouldn’t let that stop me from speaking. Who knows? Maybe they want an opportunity to practice their English. Just keep practicing! You’re there to learn.

4. If you see something potentially interesting or are curious about something around a corner, through an archway, up/down stairs, go explore! You won’t regret taking those few extra steps and seconds to check it out. Even if it doesn’t end up being that noteworthy, you won’t leave the country wondering what could’ve been. Plus, you just never know what you will find!

5. Learn how to use public transportation systems; it’s a great feeling when you get it down. I still struggle with it at times, but Google Maps is a lifesaver. Keep in mind, some countries are easier to navigate than others with this mode of transport, but you’ll get the hang of it.

6. Front load the time you’re living in the country by doing a lot of activities, exploring, eating new foods, meeting locals and new friends. Time really does fly when you study abroad and you don’t want finals week to suddenly be upon you and you still have so much on the table. It’s not fun to be studying for finals and still trying to cram a few more activities in. It just it makes it hard to enjoy it all. I was a victim of this… the procrastinator in me really revealed itself this semester. Don’t wait!!

7. Just take it all in! Enjoy every second and find special moments in each day. I know this is very general, but there is so much to discover and take in. Make the most of your time!

Thank you for joining me this semester and for taking the time to read about my adventures! I hope that those who are planning to study abroad have a wonderful experience. And if you are still on the fence about whether you should go or not, I have one piece of advice for you: do it! You won’t regret it.

The Alcázar in Segovia, Spain

 

Picos de Europa, northern Spain

 


Camille Meeks is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Psychology and Languages & Literature with an emphasis in Spanish. Camille will spend the Fall semester studying in Granada, Spain through International Studies Abroad as a Truman Good Neighbor Scholar.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The Joys of Hiking

Tomorrow it will have been 2 months since I left the United States and landed in Spain! 2 MONTHS! I can hardly believe how fast this semester is going. Midterms are just around the corner and then after that it’s a mere 5 weeks until finals! When studying abroad for a semester, you think you have so much time, but in reality it really does zip by.

Anywhere you are – traveling, moving to a new city, at school, at home, it is important to find something that fills your heart and that makes you feel connected with your environment. For me this semester that something has been hiking. It never fails to make me feel at peace and rejuvenated. Granada’s population is more than 230,000 inhabitants, whereas my hometown, Liberty MO, has roughly 31,000. Not only is the population greater in Granada but also the city is much more condensed. You can easily see from the city by walking in 1-2 hours, but Liberty is much more spread out than that. Additionally, I live in an apartment, with my host mom and roommate, that is about the size of my main floor at home in Missouri. It gets to feeling a little crowded at times, in the streets and at my host home.

When I need some space to myself, hiking is a lifesaver. I don’t dislike the city or my apartment, but there is nothing quite like the silence, solitude, fresh air, and the openness and freedom found in the mountains. No traces of cigarette smoke or exhaust are smelled. The air is crisp and inviting. The view of the large mountains on the horizon and the tiny cars of the city in comparison remind you just how small you are, how small your problems are, and how much more there is in the world beyond your minuscule and often clouded perspective.

I can’t express how much I love the mountains and the joy that they bring me! There are no mountains in Missouri, which may be why I love them so much: it’s extra special when I am near them. I take every opportunity I can here to explore the vast trails of the mountains while I have them in my backyard. From my apartment to the start of the trails is about a 45 minute walk; at home it’s a 9 hour drive to Colorado to find the best mountains. I am so grateful to be studying where I am.

What I have particularly enjoyed is the two times my friend and I went hiking at 6:30 in the morning to watch the sunrise over the mountains. It is truly magical. For starters, the walk through the city to the mountains is quite tranquil: the only people in the street are those returning home after a night out at the club (it’s very common to stay out all night here… I can’t keep up!) When we get to the mountains, I love how the sun first lights up the surrounding peaks before fully revealing itself to you. After hiking for an hour or two, my friend and I are of course very sweaty. As we sit and wait for the light to break over the peaks, our sweat is drying and it is quite chilly. Through this experience I realized how often I take the sun for granted. As my friend and I were shivering from the brisk wind and cool air, we jokingly contemplated would happen if the sun just decided not to rise that day: we would miss out on the beauty that it brings with it and we would also still be very cold. When the sun finally shines over the crests, I instantly feel its warmth and began to thaw. Mmm, I could just bask in the sun all day. With the sunrise, the world rises around us. What a treasure is the new day that the sun brings. And in the mountains it is even more magical.

I didn’t expect to be able to write so much about hiking, mountains and nature, and I could definitely go on. However, I will conclude with a thought I had on one of my hikes. This activity lends itself well to somewhat cheesy (yet profound) metaphors for life, and I love that. Here is my most recent one:

When hiking, it’s okay, and even encouraged, to look back at how far you’ve come and all that you’ve passed through. But if you turn around and walk back the way you came, focusing too much on that path (your past), you will never know what views and experiences lie ahead, where life will take you moving forward. Occasionally when hiking, through the mountains and through life, you will get lost and you’ll be forced to go back and retrace your steps (to spend a short time in the past), but this is only so that you can find a better path forward the next time around.

Go out and experience the nature around you! Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.


Camille Meeks is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Psychology and Languages & Literature with an emphasis in Spanish. Camille will spend the Fall semester studying in Granada, Spain through International Studies Abroad as a Truman Good Neighbor Scholar.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Spanish Food

As titled, this post is solely about food because who doesn’t love food?

One of the best parts about Spain is tapas. Tapas are small meals, basically equivalent to appetizers (most of the time) that are very cheap and quick. So basically, if America combined the appetizers of fancy restaurants with the speed and price of fast food restaurants, we’d have tapas. Most tapas cost around 2.20 euros, or about 2.50 dollars. I love going out for tapas because the proper way to “go out for tapas” is to just hop from place to place for a few hours or until you’re full. It’s a great experience because it’s cheap, still healthier than most food in America, and I get to try all sorts of different food in a short span.

One of my favorite places for tapas is La Buena Vida. It’s a very small place but the service is excellent and they have the closest thing to American food. When I’m hungry and homesick, La Buena Vida is the place to go.

My other favorite place is called Brasador y Tapas XXL. The XXL is for the size of the tapas… I made that up, but it seems right. The portion sizes at Brasador are that of a regular (American) entrée, for the low price of 2 euros. In addition, this place is right on the river and is made of glass allowing you to people watch, no matter where you sit.

As good as the tapas are, nothing beats a home-cooked meal, especially when your host mom is the best cook in all of Spain. Somehow my host mom has turned foods I don’t normally like into dishes I love. For example, I don’t even know what the food in the picture to the is called but it looks a little gross… however, I wolfed that down and loved it.

Here’s a few more pictures of some of our meals, and there hasn’t been one I didn’t like. Every home-cooked meal is accompanied by bread, gazpacho or salad, and fruit for dessert. Never in my life have I eaten so healthy and loved it so much.


Natalie Rediger is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Criminal Justice and Criminology. Natalie is spending six weeks of the summer studying abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Goodbye Spain!

Currently, I’m sitting in a very uncomfortable chair in the Madrid Airport waiting for my plane to arrive. I’m going home ya’ll! As amazing as this trip to Spain was, I am so ready to be home and eat chipotle in air conditioning. I feel like living in a different country should have been tougher than it was, but I think I had such a good support group in both my host family and friends that I never really got too homesick. And thanks to Facetime I could talk to my boyfriend whenever I wanted! As far as my Spanish goes, I would say that I definitely understand better and I can get by in conversations with a few key phrases. Personally, I think I learned more at my host family’s house and walking around Granada than I did at school. In class everything is structured and organized, but when you’re having dinner with your family there is no outline or slideshow. You jump around and make jokes. The dinner table was where my Spanish was tested the most.

I finished off my month and a half stay with a trip to Valencia with some friends. We took the overnight bus on the last day of classes and stayed for the past 4 days. There, we visited 2 vineyards, went to the beach, and walked around downtown. It was a perfect way to end the summer!

I would 100% recommend that everyone study abroad in college. Is there any other time in your future that you think you could live in a foreign country for a semester long? Eventually, we’re all going to get “real” jobs and only be able to travel for a week or 2 at a time. So pick up a few extra shifts, cut back on the Starbucks, make it work, and take the leap. No one ever regrets the adventures they take. I sure don’t.


Megan Schwindler is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying English Literature and Spanish. Megan is spending the summer abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Ya el fin

Yo apenas creo que el programa ya ha terminado; la final clase fue por esta mañana. Me sigue pareciendo a mí que nosotros acabemos de llegar, pero ya es casi agosto. Aunque es triste que el programa ha terminado, por lo menos voy a viajar más por Europa y eso me pone feliz. Nuevas vistas, nuevas ciudades, nuevos países – los veré muy pronto. El fin de una cosa es el inicio de otra. La segunda vez por España ha sido tanto divertido como la primera y me hace esperar que otras oportunidades me vengan para volver.

el Centro de Lenguas Modernas fue una gran experiencia.
Quizás volveré un día 😉

Natagnél


I can barely believe that the program has already ended; the final class was this morning. It still seems to me that we just arrived, but it’s already almost August. Although it’s sad that the program has ended, at least I am going to travel more around Europe y that make me happy. New sights, new cities, new countries – I will see them very soon. The end of one thing is the beginning of another. My second time in Spain has been as fun as the first and it makes me hope that others opportunities come to me to return.

The Center of Modern Languages was a great experience.
Maybe I’ll return one day 😉

Nate


Natagnél Frisella is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Spanish Language & Literature. Natagnél is traveling through Spain this summer 2017, concluding with the UMKC Spanish Program based at the University of Granada in Southern Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Estoy en Granada!

Well I’m a little behind in the blog seeing as I’ve been in Granada for two weeks now and not posted a single thing about it… Oops. I’ve been having too much fun to be holed up in my room writing. So, this post is about my host family, first week of class, and a couple of adventures so far.

I could not ask for a better host family. My host dad is a former Real Madrid player and my host mom is probably the best cook and the nicest woman in all of Spain.

My room!

My roommate and I live in essentially a ground floor apartment. Our host parents and four of their kids live in the upstairs apartment. For the most part, we only see the family for meals.

 

 

One of our host sisters took us to El Mirador de San Nicolas at night to see La Alhambra lit up (featured below). The only bad thing I have to say about the host family is that we live at the top of a mountain as seen below on the right. The circled car is at the bottom, and I took this picture about half way up. It takes us almost 4 minutes to walk up this hill, but my calves are looking fantastic so I can’t complain.

Manuela and I chilling at the Mirador

The first week in Granada was spent getting adjusted and attending two classes a day. One class, taught by one of our UMKC professors, is about the history of Spain. The other class was a night class that was used solely for practice and review for our placement test. The second week of school, we took the placement test Monday, and then started our real classes. So far, my classes have been sufficiently challenging. That’s about it for my academic adventures…

Here’s a little about my other activities:

The first weekend in Granada a group of about 15 or so went hiking in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We took a bus to Monachil, a pueblo just outside Granada, and hiked a 5 mile trail there. It was incredibly beautiful but also very hot. The trail took us about 3 hours, and we had a great time exploring. We met these two gentlemen along the way, and our group is featured in a series of videos on one’s Facebook page. The following pictures are from our hike:

Top of a mountain with Granada in the background

 

 


Natalie Rediger is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Criminal Justice and Criminology. Natalie is spending six weeks of the summer studying abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

Ya los exámenes finales

¡PURA LOCURA! Yo apenas puedo creer que este viaje por España y el tiempo en Granada han pasado tan rápidamente. Os escribo mientras estudio los sujetos nuevos para prepararme para los exámenes finales. Me sigue sintiendo que acabe de llegar, pero claro, esto no es el caso. Ya he estado en Europa por un mes y medio y tengo más vistas y más países para ver por las semanas que vengan antes de regresar. ¿Quién sepa de dónde os escribiré pronto? Se ha dicho que el mundo es ostra; pues, me parece que es tiempo para comer más mariscos. =P

Esperando la suerte,

Natagnél


PURE MADNESS! I can hardly believe that this trip around Spain and the time in Granda have passed so quickly. I write to y’all while I am studying the new subjects to prepare myself for the final exams. I still feel like I just arrived, but clearly, this is not the case. I have already been in Europe for a month & a half and I have more sights and more countries to see in the coming weeks before coming back. Who knows where I’ll write to y’all soon? It has been said that the world is an oyster; well, it’s seems to me that it’s time for some more seafood. =P

Hoping for luck,

Nate


Natagnél Frisella is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Spanish Language & Literature. Natagnél is traveling through Spain this summer 2017, concluding with the UMKC Spanish Program based at the University of Granada in Southern Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Helado and Heat Strokes

Last week we toured the Alhambra, a palace and fortress located in Granada, Spain. Originally it served as a small fortress until the Moors renovated and rebuilt it in the 13th century. But after the Christian Reconquista of 1492 it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. The same Ferdinand and Isabella that endorsed Christopher Columbus! History is so cool.

In the gardens of the Alhambra

So our toured started at 3 in the afternoon, which is not only siesta time but also the hottest part of the day. The day we went, it was a whopping 109° Fahrenheit. I knew it was going to be a hot day when I saw paramedics casually walking around with their gear and water jugs. Nevertheless, walking around a fortress that has stood since the 9th century was pretty amazing. I felt like I was walking in a set of Game of Thrones. 

A ceiling in one of the bedrooms
Spain is full of cute doors to take pictures in front of…

The tour took around 4 hours and by the end of it we were all exhausted, but it was worth climbing up all those stairs for the amazing view of the city we’ve all been living in for the past month. Also it was probably due to the dehydration, but I have never tasted helado (ice cream) so amazing.

From the top of the fortress
I couldn’t ask for better program leaders!

Thankfully, no one from our group had a heat stroke. But, if you do ever find yourself visiting the Alhambra make sure you bring a fan! I would also recommend going on a guided tour so you get the most out of your visit. I don’t think I would have appreciated the architecture, and I learned so many quirky facts about the kings and queens that resided there. I also need to brag about how amazing my program leaders are. Lorena and Louis have made this summer abroad so fun and I don’t know what any of us would do without them. If you’re thinking about studying abroad with UMKC, you definitely need to go with these two.

Follow me for more Study Abroad adventures!

 

Megan Schwindler is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying English Literature and Spanish. Megan is spending the summer abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Granada, Granada, Granada

 

Buen consejo / Good advice, “That which is chaos for the fly is normal for the spider.”

Hola amigos,

Hemos estado en Granada por un rato ahora.  Esta ciudad, aunque es muy antigua, me recuerda de Kansas City — es gran ciudad pequeña. Es muy fácil moverse por la ciudad andando. El grupo vio la Alhambra, que gigante!!! En la alhambra, había las tres banderas de Granada – de la ciudad de Granada, de la región de Andalucía, y de España. (ved las banderas abajo) Este sol andaluz lleva toda la energía y se necesitan muchas comida y agua para sustentarse. 😛 Encima una cierta colina, se existe el Mirador de San Nicolás, cual puede dar una vista buena de la Alhambra, así que yo saqué una foto 😉 el camino desde del centro de la ciudad hasta el mirador era un gran viaje por las colinas.

La Alhambra del Mirador de San Nicolás / the Alhambra from the Lookout of Saint Nicholas

 


 

Escudo de Granada / the Crest of Granada

Hello friends,

We’ve been in Granada for a while now. This city, although it is really old, reminds me of Kansas City — it’s a little big city. It is really easy to get around the city walking. The group saw the Alhambra, how giant!!!!!! In the Alhambra, there were the three flags of Granada – the city of Granada, the region of Andalusia, & of Spain. (See the flags below) This Andalusian sun takes all your energy and a lot of food and water are needed to survive. 😛 On top of this certain hill, there is the Lookout of Saint Nicholas, which can give a great view of the Alhambra, so I took a photo 😉 the way from the city center to the lookout was a big trip through the hills.

 

Las banderas / The flags | Andalucía/Andalusia, España/Spain, & Granada

Natagnél Frisella is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Spanish Language & Literature. Natagnél is traveling through Spain this summer 2017, concluding with the UMKC Spanish Program based at the University of Granada in Southern Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

Quien dice España, dice todo

Hello friends! Sorry I haven’t posted since I left I did not quite anticipate just how crazy life gets when you’re studying abroad. I’ve been in Spain for almost 3 weeks now and I am absolutely loving it. The first week I spent entirely with the group from UMKC, traveling on a bus from Madrid to Segovia, Toledo, Sevilla, Torremolinos, Frigiliana, Almuñécar, and Córdoba.

Frigiliana

 We woke up almost every day at 8 and spent the days exploring and walking around the cute towns and cities of southern Spain. We toured beautiful cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues and learned so much about the culture and history of Spain.

A random street in Madrid
The Royal Alcázar of Segovia

After a week of travel, we arrived in Granada around 1:30 on Monday afternoon where we met our host families and parted ways. From there I got set up in my new room and had dinner with my host family. I was surprised I could actually follow the conversation at dinner! That first week we spent getting ready for the placement test at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas building where we’re all taking classes. The biggest adjustment for me has been the lack of air conditioning in both public places and the home I’m staying in. Thankfully, my room has a little fan to keep me from dying, but most restaurants and bars I’ve visited have either had their air conditioning off or set to room temperature. Aside from that the differences are small; I get weird looks when I order ice to put in my coffee, restaurants, shops, and businesses shut down to take a siesta (nap) after lunch, dinner isn’t until 9:30, and lunch is the biggest meal of the day. But all in all, I think I’m adjusting pretty well to the Spaniard lifestyle, especially the naps! And having an amazing host family definitely makes this whole experience so much sweeter.

More to come!


Megan Schwindler is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying English Literature and Spanish. Megan is spending the summer abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.