Tourist Week Part 1

Well I have now been in Spain for a full week… wowzas. In that week, I have toured parts of 9 cities, taken about 500 pictures, and had the absolute best time of my life. Since I have seen and done so much it’s hard to write and capture every memory in a brief post so sorry ’bout the lengthiness. I’ll add in a lot of pictures so it’s not so boring. So here’s the first segment of this week with some of the top moments in each city:

Night time view of Madrid from the hotel roof.

Madrid: My first thought landing in Madrid was “crap everything is in Spanish”. I thought traveling to a foreign country would be scary and take adjustment, but I’ve been studying Spanish long enough that it really didn’t require much more effort than flicking a small switch in my brain from English to Spanish. Some friends and I had the same flight into Madrid so we met up, went through customs together, and then found our luggage. Eventually, we exited the airport and our first challenge arose… it was a debate over who could properly get a taxi and tell the driver the hotel address, but between the five of us, we did it. Even though we didn’t have to, we tipped the driver because he was so nice. The reason tipping isn’t necessary in Spain is because the tax and/or tip is already included when looking at a ticket or price tag.

Hotel shower in Madrid.

One thing that really stuck out to me was the lack of a door on the shower… as said in the Hunger Games, “the showers are weird”. My favorite moment in Madrid was going to the roof of the hotel on the very first night and looking out at the city. There aren’t many skyscrapers and other tall buildings in Spain so on the roof of the hotel, I could see for miles.

Segovia/La Granja: Segovia is a smaller city to the north of Madrid and it is known for its historic architecture, such as its Roman aqueduct. We did a walking tour of the city and saw all sorts of interesting things such as a church from the 13th century and a huge cathedral (pictured below).

My favorite part of Segovia was a tour of an old royal palace (pictured left). The tour itself was pretty dull, so a few of us broke off from the group and did our own tour. We found a dungeon that had been turned into a wishing well and explored other parts of the castle that probably weren’t meant for the average tourist. Side note about the tour, our guide was Luis and he was with us for most of the week. He was the complete opposite of boring, but during the castle tour there was just a lot of history and factual information that was far less interesting than closed doors and roped off stairs.

In the same day, we traveled to La Granja, which used to be the summer palace for the monarchs. The best part of that excursion was the 48-acre garden surrounding the palace. In the picture to the right, we’re standing at the top of a massive fountain looking back at the palace, which would’ve an epic picture if there was actually water in it. About 20 minutes after that picture was taken, it started down pouring, which would’ve filled the fountain, and I’m still a little salty about that.

Córdoba: We only spent a few hours here but we toured the Mezquita-Cathedral which was fascinating. It is a hodgepodge of architecture on the inside because control over Córdoba changed between the Christians and Muslims quite frequently during its construction.

For example, in the picture to the left, the columns are from the Roman Catholic Christians while the high archways are from the Muslims. That’s about it for my factual knowledge on that. Everything in Spain is just so interesting and beautiful. The buildings are old, but wonderfully preserved and all the cathedrals have super intricate designs inside. I could stay here for years and still be left wanting to see more.

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.

The Build-Up

Window seats are the best.

Welcome to “The One Where Natalie Goes to Spain”; a blog about my experience studying abroad for 6 weeks. I started this blog because it’s a requirement for a scholarship, but it will also be used for family and friends to receive updates on my adventures. I have never blogged before, and I am not a super open person so this could be quite interesting. Let’s do this…

Today’s topic is the build-up, meaning my pre-trip  and flight adventures.

Anybody that knows me knows that I procrastinate, which isn’t always a good thing. The trip was no exception. My flight leaves today (June 18) and just yesterday I bought my suitcase and began packing. Despite my love of procrastination, some things can’t be put off like getting a passport or booking a flight. I did those things months ago when the trip still seemed like a distant thought. Now I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board my first flight, and wow this trip feels so real. I am going to Spain…


Today was Father’s Day so this morning we drove to Omaha, had a delicious meal (pictured to the left) to celebrate, and then drove to the airport. I said goodbye to my family and proceeded to the security checkpoint…. And never in my life have I been so nervous. I’m not hiding anything or carrying anything illegal, but something about all those TSA agents breeds fear. They pulled my carry-on aside to manually searched it, and my heart stopped. Again, I don’t know why I was so nervous because nothing I have is illegal or dangerous. After waiting around for a bit, we boarded and my first flight was underway. The trip finally became real and I’ve never been more excited in my life. More to come later in the week.

Natalie Rediger

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.

Adventure Awaits

Hello all! My name is Megan Schwindler and I’ll be studying abroad in Granada, Spain this summer.  I leave tomorrow morning and have been spending the past two days doing some last minute shopping and packing for the trip.

My (kind of) organized suitcase

My suitcase is pretty organized for someone as messy as myself, but I’m still worried I forgot something! I just got back from a week-long vacation in Florida two days ago so this weekend has been quite chaotic. Essentially, I just dumped all the clothes I took to Florida into the washing machine and threw carefully packed them into my suitcase. All in all, it wasn’t too terrible but two days didn’t feel like enough time.

This was taken on my last day in Florida

My toughest decision was what books I wanted to bring (I’m a nerd, I know). I decided that four books would be the limit. I’m currently reading the last book of Game of Thrones so of course I’ll be bringing that. And then I decided I ought to bring milk and honey by Rupi Kaur because well, it’s amazing. I’m also bringing the first Lord of the Rings because I’ve never read it or watched the movie (I know, I’m so weird) but I heard it’s somewhat adventurous and I’m hoping it will motivate me to explore.  And finally, I’m bringing Women Who Run with the Wolves. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend doing so. It was the book that motivated me to study abroad in the first place!

An excerpt from “Women Who Run with the Wolves”

As far as packing tips go, I would say to pack what you’ll wear. I constantly go on trips and pack cute dresses or wedges that I think I’ll wear but usually don’t even make it out of the suitcase. Birks are an essential item in my suitcase, I wear them with leggings, cute dresses, and even to the beach. I’m also bringing a pair of tennis shoes and a cheap pair of sandals just in case! A lot of my friends and family have asked if I’m nervous or freaking out yet. Surprisingly, I’m not. For me, this is the easy part. I enjoy the packing, planning, organizing, and shopping that a trip as long as this one entails. But once I step off that 14-hour flight in Madrid, I’m probably going to freak out. But who knows?

That’s all I have for now, follow my adventure on wordpress and instagram. And to everyone who is studying abroad this summer, good luck!

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.

¡Menos de un mes!

Gofres y helado en Alicante/Waffles and Ice Cream in Alicante

¡Que rapidez! Yo apenas puedo creer que mi viaje es tan pronto. Que emocionado estoy por estar en Iberia otra vez — menos de un mes hasta que empiecen mis estudios españoles. Hace cuatro veranos, yo fui a España y tenía una experiencia bonita. Estuve en la ciudad Alicante, en la costa del Éste de Iberia. Nosotros vimos el acuario famoso en Valencia. ¡Que diversión, que comida, que amigos, que alegría! Estoy emocionado por ver una parte nueva de España, el Sur, Granada, Andalucía.

Contando los días y practicando mi acento Castellano,
23 de Mayo, 2017

El acuario valenciano/the Valencian aquarium

What speed! I can hardly believe that my trip is so soon. How excited I am to be in Iberia again — less than a month until my Spanish studies begin. Four summers ago, I went to Spain and was having a beautiful experience. I was in the city Alicante, on the East coast of Iberia. We saw the famous aquarium in Valencia. What fun, what food, what friends, what joy! I am excited to see a new part of Spain, the South, Granada, Andalusia.

Counting the days and practicing my Castilian accent,



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.

Calm before the Storm

This is my last complete week in Spain. The time has flown by and classes are almost over. I’ve already had to start saying goodbye to friends and I have begun to realize how much I have enjoyed my time here. Everything is such a whirlwind at first with traveling and meeting new families. It’s just now that we are capable of having true conversations that range from environmental problems to the lifestyles of Americans vs Spaniards. I have gotten into the flow of life here and have grown to appreciate the beauty of the desert-like environment even though I prefer the green forests of Missouri. I have learned that here everything passes so quickly and that it is important to force yourself to take a moment and contemplate the experiences you have undergone while in your new country.

11800455_1172309842785374_5097384711991340593_nView of Granada from the Sierra Nevada


My mountain city

Granada is amazing. I don’t want to attribute it to luck – I am so blessed to be in such an amazing place. The area now called Granada has been inhabited for thousands of years – and it is easy to see why.

Granada is 40 minutes from the mountains, and 40 minutes from the beach. It doesn’t get better than that.

The Sierra Nevadas during the winter have the best skiing and snowboarding in the region. During the summer, there is plenty of trails to hike and bike. Not to mention that the two highest peaks in the Iberian Peninsula, Veleta and Mulhacen are accessible from the city for climbing.

To be able to live somewhere were you can honestly snowboard in the morning, and sunbathe comfortably on the beach in the afternoon just blows my mind. It checks all the boxes. Except for the opportunity to work – but that is a different topic.

The total population is about 250,000 people in the space equivalent to Kansas City’s 435 loop. That would seem like it would be too dense, but because everything is so close, most people don’t need cars to go about their daily business. This results in a bustling, cozy, ancient city with everyone out on the streets.

I personally love the atmosphere of walking around a city with crowds. But here is different. Sometimes when you’re walking through a city on the streets, you can get a feeling. Sometimes it is menacing, like something just doesn’t want you there. But here I get smiles from the people. I get good energy from the architecture and well worn streets. No matter how late at night, there is a sense of security and warmth that this city has to offer. I love this city, and I like to think that it loves me back.

Lost in Granada?

Since arriving in Granada I haven’t done much exploring for some unknown reason. I have just gone from school to my house everyday with occasional shopping trips. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, but rather that I haven’t had as much free time as I would like. By the time the weekend rolls around I have plans to leave the city or have plans of what I will be doing. So if I do go out I have plans of where I’m going and how I will get there.

This past week I did some exploring with some classmates and found myself to be a little bit lost. My goal was to get to the Granada nursing school by walking around town with some sort of general idea of where I was headed. Along the way I found the Granada soccer team stadium. I love soccer so finding this was perfect. I didn’t go inside, but I sure found myself taking pictures of it and with it.


The nursing school was about an hour walking distance from my school so it was definitely an adventure walking around town. I saw parts of Granada that I had no idea existed or at least the idea that Granada was that big. Finally, after the long walk under the scorching sun we made it to the school of nursing.


We were able to go inside the university and be able to see how different it is in comparison to our nursing school at UMKC. As a nursing major I enjoyed this trip very much. Not only were we able to see the school, but interview actual staff from the nursing school. It just amazes me how different the school system works here in Spain and how they think our system is weird. Overall a great day spent exploring the education system as well as the city.

One of the things I know I will regret is not exploring my city, so I know that I have about a week to make up it all up. I have to be able to go out without plans and just going with the flow so I can make sure I have done it all before I leave this amazing city. I’ve started great by seeing the stadium, nursing school, and going to Parque de las Ciencias (Science Park).

image8<—– Albert Einstein!





Exploring España

We have traveled to numerous places this week, including Sevilla, Cordoba, and around Granada. One of the most fascinating things I have encountered is the numerous cultures  found in these cities and the distinct personalities each city had. For example, Cordoba has a very strong Islamic influence on the architecture of the buildings and has a more sprawling city. Sevilla, in contrast, had a stronger Catholic influence on the architecture and it was a compact city. We walked everywhere, which was an amazing opportunity to observe the different subcultures. We saw everything from the 90s grunge trends to high fashion. We watched street dancing, a belly dancer, and flamenco on the streets in the evening. It was also fun to explore Sevilla since we are from its sister city, Kansas City, MO. There was parallel architecture and even a Starbucks (definitely historically relevant)! After travelling through these cities we returned to Granada to settle in for the next few weeks. We began exploring magnificent places such as La Alhambra and the Federico Garcia Lorca Park. As time passes the true Granada becomes more apparent, as I begin to see the city through the eyes of my host family.


Sevilla. I highly suggest a carriage ride, it’s a great way to see the city and hear its history from a local. Plus you can practice your Spanish!



The Generalife gardens at La Alhambra in Granada


El accento

Everyone told me before I left that Spanish in Spain was different. It’s one thing the mentally understand something. For example, I knew that I would be overwhelmed when the time came to live in a household with no English. I knew that my Spanish was not as strong as I would have liked it to be. I knew all of these things going in – but nothing can prepare you for the emotions of truly understanding nothing that is being said around you.

I met my host brother, Carlos, next to a mall upon arrival in Granada. He had a warm smile, but the words he spoke to me sounded nothing like the semi-comprehensible lexicon that I was familiar with in my country. First of all, the people of Granada don’t pronounce the letter ‘s’. Anyone with even slight knowledge of the Spanish language will know that that is a crucial letter. It gives context. It is the difference between talking about you, or him, or her. It can be the difference between past tense, and present. It can even be the difference between something that you would like to happen. I wasn’t prepared to live a life without ‘s’.

I think it is funny how such a small thing could make you feel so insecure. Not only did it not allow me to understand anything that was being said to me, it also robbed me of my confidence to formulate my own expressions. For about  two days, all that I had in my arsenal was desperate semaphore messages that involved all parties using their entire bodies to communicate the most simple concepts. I wish I had a video crew with me to capture the hilarious skits that we had. It had to have looked like a very frustrated game of charades.

My bed became my best friend. I knew it was going to be tough mentally to be immersed in a new language, but it is truly draining. I slept a solid twelve hours the first day…although part of that may have me making a conscious decision to stay in my room due to dread of speaking to my new family.

Despite all of this, I believe there is no better way to learn. There is no other option. I’m happy to say that I am communicating nicely now. I’m far from fluent, but I have had several hour long or more conversations with my hosts and am starting to be able to discuss abstract thoughts in a less childish manner. I think this is the skydiving of learning, and that’s how I like it.


Hasta luego,



Being Vegetarian in Granada, Spain

Before bringing my journey abroad, I was living my life as a vegan in the states. This lifestyle was working out really well for me when I had my own kitchen and was able to cook all sorts of delicious, veggie packed meals. At the same time, I was aware that the life style would be extremely difficult while I was abroad and had to eat at the hand of others. For fear of being undernourished and broke in a culture that I was unfamiliar with, I renounced my veganism and instead took a pledge of vegetarianism while abroad.

Eating while traveling through Paris was hard for me because it was my first time in Europe and I don’t speak French. Life as a vegetarian got easier as I made my way into Spain and was able to read the menus in Spanish. The ‘veggie-friendly’ restaurants in Madrid and Barcelona were a bit tricky to find but they did exist for the large amounts of tourists that the cities accommodate.

Upon arrival in Granada, I had fear that I would not be able to support my diet for the city is much smaller than the others that I had been in. Upon arrival at my hostel, I immediately realized that Granada caters to the vegetarian and vegan alike. I finally felt at home after a week of stumbling and bumbling through unfamiliar streets lined with unfamiliar foods.

The hostel I stayed at was along the street ‘Calle CaldereriaNueva.’ This street is close to the town center, Plaza Nueva, and the cathedral of Granada. Despite it’s central location, affordable and delicious food and souvenirs can be found here. The street is lined with stores that appear to be directly transported from the Moorish culture that once was Granada.  ‘Mediterranean’ or Arabic restaurants fill the street offering falafel, hummus, and couscous baked with vegetables. ‘Teterias’ serving teas, coffee, and hookah entice you in with wonderful aromas and warm, cozy atmospheres. This culture spreads outward from the street and many tapa bars along ‘Calle Elvira’ also offer tapas of humus and other veggie friendly options that come free when you purchase a beer.

Another solid option for the vegetable lover is ‘Salamorejo’ and Gazpacho. These cold soups are packed with vegetables and specialties in Spain. Just make sure you ask that the dish is ‘sin carne’ or ‘without meat’ because some places will sprinkle ham on the top of the soup before serving.

Being a smaller, college town, Granada also has specially vegan restaurants. There is one right by the center of modern languages called Hicuri Art Vegan. The atmosphere is great and filled with ‘street murals.’ They have great smoothies but the food can get expensive and the menu is filled with soy options.

My favorite vegan restaurant thus far is El Oju. ( Here they serve great tapas free with a 2 euro beer. Although it is a hike from the language campus, it is well worth the hike and your non-vegan friends will be very impressed.