MENU

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.

The Next Hottest Destination

Ya que mi estudio en el extranjero es un programa intensivo de cinco semanas, los estudiantes están tomando hasta 28-30 horas de clases cada semana en la Universidad Veritas. Combinado con una gran cantidad de tarea y proyectos cada noche, hay poco tiempo libre durante todo los días de la semana – por eso, TGIF resuena fuertemente con todos cuando llega el fin de semana.

Nuestro primer viaje con el grupo de ISA estaba en el Volcán Arenal, un viaje de cuatro horas en coche hacia el norte a través del campo, que era un respiro de aire fresco desde el bullicio del centro de San José. Nos quedamos en el hotel Los Lagos, donde podíamos ver el Volcán Arenal fuera de nuestra habitación cada mañana. Durante la noche del viernes, exploramos las exposiciones de vida silvestre del hotel que incluía un jardín de mariposas, granja de hormigas, establos de caballos y un estanque de cocodrilo. También, el hotel tenía aguas termales naturales que nos hicieron sudar en unos pocos minutos, pero mi cuerpo nunca se ha sentido más rejuvenecido después.

Me registró para una excursión de tirolina y montar a caballo por sábado en la mañana, así que el transporte nos recogió en el hotel al sitio de tirolina. Según nuestro conductor, una de sus líneas de cable fue la segunda más larga en el país con 0.65 millas de adrenalina. Volando a través de la selva con el Volcán Arenal en el fondo y Catarata La Fortuna debajo de nosotros fue una experiencia extraordinaria. En algunos puntos, viajaba tan rápido que no podía abrir mis ojos, mientras que en otros cables, casi no llegaba al otro lado (a lo que los instructores de tirolina bromearon y diciendo que necesitaba comer más arroz y frijoles).

Después de doce líneas de cable, tuvimos la oportunidad de visitar la Reserva Indígena Maleku, que está representada por una comunidad indígena pequeñita. Aprendimos sobre su dialecto nativo, la ropa hecha a mano, sus creencias y costumbres culturales, y cómo su obra de arte y artesanía intrincada contribuyen a sus ingresos principales. Terminamos nuestro viaje montando en caballos que fue un desafío a veces. Cuando un caballo comenzaba un trote rápido, otros lo seguían en una carrera loca – necesitabas tener cuidado de evitar las piernas apretadas por los caballos que pasaban mientras agarrabas por la vida.

Por la tarde, nuestro grupo de ISA visitó una granja sostenible, donde proporcionaron generosamente un almuerzo saludable hecho de sus propias cosechas. También, hubo una demostración degustación de caña de azúcar, donde algunos estudiantes giraron a mano una máquina para extraer el jugo del tallo de la caña de azúcar. Gracias a esta experiencia, gané un aprecio más profundo por los beneficios ambientales y de salud de la agricultura orgánica y sostenible.

Como siempre, muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

………………………………………………………………

Since my study abroad is a five-week intensive program, students are taking up to 28-30 hours of classes each week at Universidad Veritas. Combined with a heavy workload of school assignments and projects every night, there is little free time left throughout the week days – which is why TGIF resonates strongly with everyone once the weekend rolls around.

Arenal Volcano

Our first group trip with ISA took us to Arenal Volcano, a four-hour drive up north through the countryside, which was such a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Jose. We stayed at Hotel Los Lagos, where we could step outside our room and catch a view of the Arenal Volcano every morning. We had Friday night to explore the hotel’s many wildlife exhibitions that included a butterfly garden, ant farm, horse stables, and even a crocodile pond. The hotel also had natural hot springs that worked up quite a sweat in a matter of a few minutes, but my body has never felt more rejuvenated afterwards.

Natural hot springs

 

I had signed up for a canopying and horse-back riding tour for Saturday morning, so transportation picked us up from the hotel to the zip-line site. According to our driver, one of their cable lines was the second longest in the country, coming out to 0.65 miles worth of an adrenaline rush. Flying through the jungle with Arenal Volcano in the background and La Fortuna Waterfall right below us was a surreal experience. At some points, I was traveling so fast that I could barely keep my eyes open, while at other cables, I almost did not make it to the other side (to which the zip-line instructors joked that I needed to eat more rice and beans).

Zip-lining over La Fortuna Waterfall

Twelve cable lines later, we had the opportunity to visit the Maleku Village, which is comprised of a very small indigenous community. We were able to learn about their native dialect, hand-made clothing, cultural beliefs and customs, and how their intricate art work and craftsmanship makes up a main source of their income. We ended our tour by riding on horses on the way back, which proved to be quite a challenge at times. When one horse would start a quick trot, others would follow in a mad rush – you had to watch out from getting your legs crushed by passing horses as you held on for dear life.

Organic always tastes better!
Raw sugar cane demo

Later that afternoon, our ISA group visited a sustainable farm, where they generously provided a hearty lunch made from their own homegrown crops. They also had a sugar cane demonstration and tasting, where some of the students hand-cranked a machine to extract the juice from the sugar cane. Through this experience, I gained a more profound appreciation for the environmental and health benefits achieved through sustainable and organic agriculture.

As always, thank you for reading and see you on the next post!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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 End of a Journey

My best friend and I on the plane, right before we left for the United States.

Getting on the plane yesterday morning was a surreal experience. I was ready to leave but at the same time, I wasn’t. I had spent an entire month studying abroad in Scotland, exploring, learning, and having the time of my life. I didn’t want it to end, but I also wanted to go home and see my family. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world and I am so glad I got this opportunity.

Taking my Anchor and Discourse 300 class abroad in Scotland was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I got to complete six credit hours while doing so in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. My classes were focused on Scottish history and literature and so I was able to experience everything that was talked about in the classroom. I felt like I learned more when I was lectured in class and then

The Brig o’ Doon!

immediately following I would go visit a museum or a place that directly related to that topic. For example, when visiting Robert Burns’ house, I felt like I got a sense of Burns and his work. In class, we talked about one of his poems, Tam o’ Shanter, which ended with Tam riding over the Brig o’ Doon. The next day, my class took a trip to Burns’ house and museum and I got to see the Brig o’ Doon (it’s a bridge) firsthand. I could imagine Tam riding over the bridge on his steady horse, Maggie, narrowly escaping death as the witches chased Tam. Tam made it over the bridge just in time, but the witches manage to take Maggie’s tail clear off her rump. Also, Burns is the national poet of Scotland and by going to his museum, I could see how important he is to the people of Scotland. The sense of admiration from Scotland was lost on me as an outsider, but once at Burns’ museums, I could feel their sense of pride, something I wouldn’t have gotten had I taken this class back home.

In addition, I successfully navigated my way around Scotland with the help of friends and the Edinburgh Castle. I did manage to get lost a few times, but I was always with a friend so we were able to find our way back. But getting lost wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Instead, it became an adventure and I got to see a different part of town than what I normally saw every day. I used an old fashion map to figure out where I was and where I needed to be. I read street signs (which were not always clearly visible) to navigate my way around and didn’t use google maps once! Although that wasn’t really a decision on my part, more like the lack of internet access I had. It was actually fun getting lost and then trying to figure out how to get back. It added to the experience.

I had to take a picture with a Highland Cow because they’re pretty cute. But he was more interested in eating grass and wouldn’t pose for the picture.

This trip was also filled with a lot of firsts.  I can’t nearly name them all, but I’ll try to name a few. I flew overseas for the first time and traveled to Europe. I saw a Highland cow which is a cow that can only be found in the Highlands, which is the Northern part of Scotland. I took a ferry across the ocean that carried our bus! At one point, I was on a bus while on a ferry. I stayed in hostels with six girls to a room. I climbed up a mountain that once used to be a volcano. I saw multiple Abbeys that were in ruins yet were still so beautiful. It was my first time ever seeing a castle and getting to go inside one. And lastly, I took a train underwater when I visited Paris, France for a few days.

I was currently sitting on the bus while also on the ferry. I’m still shocked we didn’t sink.
On top of the world! Just kidding, more like a mountain that was once a live volcano.

From this trip, I learned how to travel outside my comfort zone and do the things that scared me. For one of my class assignments, I had to interview Scottish citizens on the streets of Edinburgh. I am not an outgoing person, so this assignment terrified me. However, the people in Scotland are some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. They were friendly and inviting when I asked them my questions and they also asked me questions in return about the U.S. There were two people that I talked to for an hour and a half! We talked back and forth like we didn’t just meet each other a few minutes ago. At points in the conversation, we would sometimes stop and say “what is it that you call it?” For instance, I was talking about an elevator and then stopped and said: “er, I guess you guys call it a lift here.” We both found it humorous and did this multiple times. I also found a flapjack in Scotland is a granola bar and food to go is called take away. It was interesting to learn that we had different names for the same thing. At the end of our conversation, they expressed how they were glad I had stopped and talked to them as they really enjoyed our conversation. I did too. It is one of my fondest memories from my time abroad. I took a step outside my comfort zone and got an experience I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

There isn’t nearly enough room on this page or time in the day to tell you about everything I experienced in my time abroad. However, I will conclude with this: if you ever have the opportunity to study abroad, take it. You will learn more than you think and get to experience a different way of life that is similar yet very different from your own. Don’t let money, nerves, or fear keep you from following your dreams. You can overcome these obstacles and on the other side is a world full of wonder and the best experience of your life.

Thank you for following my journey with me through Scotland and I hope you get the opportunity to travel abroad one day!

Sincerely,

Nicole (official world traveler)


Nicole Wilhelm is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. Nicole is spending the month of July in many different cities in Scotland with the UMKC Honors College Program in Scotland. Nicole is involved in UMKC’s Campus Ambassadors, Swim and Dive Club, BHS Society, and Student Nursing Association.

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.

 

My First Week in Spain

During the first week of my study abroad trip in Spain we traveled! This was an amazing way to get to see so much of the country that I wouldn´t have been able to see otherwise.

On the first day, we flew into Madrid and landed in the morning. This was such an overwhelming feeling, getting off the plane into a giant airport where everything is in Spanish. Once we got to the hotel, we met our new friends and visited an art museum called El Prado. For dinner we ate at a restaurant that was in a supermarket. In the first two floors it was a supermarket with different shops for each type of food. As you got higher up there became actual restuarants. The food was AMAZING!

The next day, Tuesday, we traveled to Segovia. Segovia was my favorite city because it is very old and has a lot of history. In Segovia, we saw the Roman aqueduct where the Romans brought water from the mountains to the city. Also in Segovia, we saw the Real Alcazar, which was a castle by the royal families. The Real Alcazar had a moat for protection.

Also on Tuesday, we traveled to La Granja for lunch and see the gardens at the Royal Palace. The gardens were absolutely breathtaking and the fountains were gigantic!

On Thursday, the group can on a tour of Seville and we saw all the consulates of other countries like the United States, Mexico and Argentina. In the end, the guide showed us the Spanish consulate. The consolidate of Spain was very beautiful and there  were benches decorated by each province in Spain.


Emma Cleaveland is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Communications. Emma is spending the summer term abroad on the faculty-led 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.

Happiest Country in the World?

¿Por qué Costa Rica?
Algunos dicen que es el país más feliz del mundo. Para mí,la primera vez que oí sobre Costa Rica fue durante una de las primeras clases de español que tomé en UMKC. Profesor Hidalgo-Johnson estaba hablando sobre su experiencia del paracaidismo y urigió a todos sus estudiantes a intentarlo mientras todavía somos “jóvenes y sanos”. Mezclada con un trasfondo de nostalgia, su entusiasmo por su patria de Costa Rica incluyó a este país a mi lista de lugares para estudiar en el extranjero al final. Su paisaje diverso que abarca desde las selvas a las montañas hasta los volcanes la hace una huella irresistible en mi corazón por la naturaleza y mi espíritu de aventura.

Durante esta experiencia intercultural, espero tomar parte en la cultura como un modo de vida compartido. Estaba emocionada de descubrir sobre el aspecto del programa ISA de vivir con una familia ya que allí no hay nada más personal que compartir la comida y la conversación debajo el mismo techo.

Traeré un poco de amor local de Kansas City (en la forma de una taza como un regalo pequeño para mi familia anfitrióna) a la tabla porque en mi opinión, las charlas del café son una de las bendiciones más especiales en vida. En toda su simplicidad, hay las oportunidades de descubrimientos que definen la vida y una cierta profundidad de vulnerabilidad dentro de un intercambio que se parece ordinario y cotidiano. Así como los granos de café vienen de una región específica de origen con su sabor y infusión distinta, espero celebrar la diversidad de la vida con personas de orígenes, valores y creencias varias y tal vez, con una taza de café.

Como siempre, muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

………………………………………………………………

Why Costa Rica?
Some say it’s the happiest country in the world. For me, the first time Costa Rica came under my radar was during one of the first Spanish classes I took at UMKC. Professor Hidalgo-Johnson was sharing about her skydiving-experience and encouraged all of her students to try it out while we are still “young and able-bodied”. Mixed with an underlying hint of nostalgia, her enthusiasm about her homeland of Costa Rica ultimately put this country at the top of my list of places to study abroad. Its diverse landscape, spanning from jungles to mountains to volcanoes, makes an irresistible mark on my heart for nature and spirit for adventure.

Throughout this cross-cultural experience, I look forward to taking part in the culture as a shared way of life. I was excited to find out about the home-stay aspect of the ISA program, as there is nothing more personal than sharing food and conversation under one roof.

¡Salud!

I will be bringing some local Kansas City love (in the form of a mug as a small gift for my host family) to the table because in my humble opinion, coffee talks are one of the biggest blessings in life. In all of its simplicity, they provide opportunities for life-defining discoveries and a certain depth of vulnerability within a seemingly ordinary, everyday exchange. Just as coffee beans hail from a specific region of origin with their distinctive taste and brew, I hope to celebrate the diversity of life with people of different backgrounds, values and beliefs — and perhaps, even over a cup of coffee.

As always, thank you for reading and see you on the next post!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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.

This Natural Phenomenon Will Surprise You

A las 3:19pm (una hora más o menos), voy a salir del aeropuerto de San Luis a San José, Costa Rica, con escalas en Atlanta, Georgia y Cuidad de México, México. Espero que las horas entre mis vuelos me dé tiempo suficiente para que todo lo decanta: ha pasado mucho tiempo esperando, pero está aquí y está ocurriendo finalmente.

¿Por qué estudiar en el extranjero?
Decidí seguir otro grado en español, porque no sólo funcionará como una ventaja invaluable para facilitar la comunicación con respecto al campo médico, sino que me enamoré del misterio lingüístico que se conoce como el lenguaje. Octavio Paz, un escritor que ganó el Premio Nobel, describió el fenómeno paradójico del lenguaje para incluir tanto la continuidad como la permanencia, la diversidad y la unidad, la variación y la universalidad, todo simultáneamente. Estando en otro país que tiene sus propias características lingüísticas, geográficas y culturales, la primera manera de establecer los puntos en común con alguien es a través del lenguaje. Y nunca deja de fascinarme la cantidad de interacción sensorial y percepción de la mente involucrada en el proceso de aprender un nuevo idioma. Escuchar una conversación en español y descifrarla automáticamente en fragmentos es un paso hacia la transición de la traducción directa a la fluidez del lenguaje.

Poder interactuar con mis compañeros de clase que son hablantes nativos de español ha hecho un gran impacto en mi aprendizaje, pero estar inmerso completamente en un ambiente donde el lenguaje se expresa más allá del aula a través de aplicaciones prácticas será un punto de inflexión. Uno de mis objetivos es dejar de lado el miedo a la incompetencia o el juicio a favor de ver el crecimiento de mis errores y ganar confianza en mis habilidades de hablar en español. Propongo a todos participar en el desafío de toda la vida y la alegría de aprender un idioma nuevo: el espacio para mejorar es sin límites, y lo que es más importante, el lenguaje es algo que nunca se puede robar de ti.

Mis estudias en el extranjero empieza aquí. ¡Muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

………………………………………………………………

I’ll be staying in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

At 3:19PM (give-or-take an hour), I will be departing from the St. Louis Airport Lambert Airport to San Jose, Costa Rica, with layovers in Atlanta, Georgia and Mexico City, Mexico. Hopefully, the handful of hours in-between flights will give me enough time to let this all sink in: it has been a long time waiting, but it’s finally here and happening.

Why study abroad?
I decided to pursue another degree in Spanish because not only will it become in invaluable asset in facilitating communication within the health field, I fell in love with the linguistic mystery that is otherwise known as language. Octavio Paz, a writer that was awarded the Nobel Prize, described the paradoxical phenomenon of language to encompass both continuity and permanence, diversity and unity, variation and universality – all simultaneously. Being in another country that harbors its own distinct language, geographic and cultural features, the first point of establishing common ground with someone is through language itself. And it never ceases to fascinate me the amount of sensory engagement and perception of the mind involved in the process of learning a new language. Overhearing a conversation in Spanish and automatically deciphering it into bits and pieces is a step toward transitioning from direct translation to language fluency.

The Costa Rican flag: blue stands for the sky and its many opportunities, as well as perseverance; white stands for peace, wisdom and happiness; red stands for the warmth and generosity of the people.

Being able to interact with fellow classmates who are native Spanish-speakers has made a tremendous impact on my learning, but being fully immersed in an environment where language is conveyed beyond the classroom setting through practical means will be a complete game-changer. One of my goals is to put aside the fear of inadequacy or judgement in favor of seeing growth from mistakes and gaining confidence in my Spanish-speaking skills. I highly encourage everyone to take part in the lifelong challenge and joy of learning a new language: the room for improvement is essentially limitless, and more importantly, language is something that can never be taken away from you.

My study abroad starts here. Thank you for reading and see you soon!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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 Adventure Begins…

‘Twas the night before adventure, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the Osprey was packed with minimal clothing, in hopes of adventure that would soon be here. The boy, however, was not nestled all snug in his bed. Instead he had visions of a laptop and his very first blog.

At 07:00 CT today (6/30) the adventure begins! I will be off to New York, then leaving for Scotland in the evening! My osprey is indeed packed (my osprey porter 46) with what I deem as minimal, however, considering we will be in Scotland for quite awhile I made sure to pack a little extra than what most travel experts may typically consider as minimal, but only to avoid a copious number of laundry days.

I have always been a self-proclaimed wander-luster. Having been a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout I have gone on many adventures to many different places, however, I have never been to Europe and certainly not on my own. This upcoming trip brings a lot of emotions, but for me, it primarily excitement, as I am finally achieving one of my biggest dreams of traveling to Europe, an area that I have always kept a special eye out for on the world map in my room. The world is so vast and beautiful I cannot ever imagine spending it all in one place. The world was made to be seen and I fully intend to do so.

In preparation for this trip I have been reading many travel blogs, websites, and books. For me personally though I found Savvy Backpackers guide to traveling to be the most useful thus far. I will have to reflect on this point when I return to see if all of the advice given was actually good. If you are gearing up to travel though I would definitely recommend it.

At the end of the day, I am ecstatic to be able to travel and learn in Scotland. I am also excited to get the opportunity to do some side traveling after my Study Abroad in Scotland is completed and I intend to visit Southern Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. I will be sure to update you all not only on my study abroad in Scotland, but also whatever mischief I find in my side travels!

As my eyes begin to drift shut I know I have an incredibly busy day tomorrow and should have gone to sleep hours ago, but there is much ado when adventure is in the air, and not even the visions of sugar plums dancing in my head could lull my excitement tonight.

Until next time,

Fitz


Brandan Fitzgerald is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Business with an emphasis in Finance. Brandan is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

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.

Before the Departure

No boring, typical, or cliche summer for me this year! This summer I will be traveling all over Scotland through UMKC’s Study Abroad Program. I am so excited for this opportunity, although I am not really sure what to expect.  This is the first time I have been out of the country on my own and I am really nervous. I have flown and gone out of the country before, but I always had my parents with me, now it’s just me. I’ll have to figure out the airport, customs, taxis, trains and all that other fun stuff on my own in another country. I don’t think there is anything that can really prepare me for that, no matter how much “practice” I have had traveling with my parents. In retrospect, I never really payed much attention in the first place since I didn’t have to know, I just played follow the parents (and of course they never let me out of their sight so I didn’t have much to worry about). Now I am the traveler, responsible for it all. Ahhhh! (that’s a scared but excited ahhhh!)

I have found that planning a trip abroad is stressful! Of course, everyone says it is but you never really know until you are actually doing it and if you’re like me where you think you’re organized but really you’re not, it’s pure chaos. There is so much more that goes into it than I thought: health insurance, calling phone companies and the bank, the change in currency, the adapter thingy for electronics (who knew there was such a thing as different electricity!) and the list goes on and on.

It’s crazy to think that I can call myself a world traveler at the ripe old age of 19 going on 20. I’ll get to spend my 20th birthday in London (that’s where I am flying out of!) I feel like turning 20 is normally kind of boring because nothing exciting happens. I sure planned this trip at the right time, huh? My 20th birthday will be spent in another country! I just can’t get over that. It feels like I am going to a whole other world, which I guess I kind of am; another continent at least. This experience is going to be so surreal. I think I am going to have to pinch myself every day…  Although reality still hasn’t set in, I better start pinching myself now.

I can’t wait for that first moment when I will take my first step off the plane into another country; the feeling of awe, excitement and that jittery feeling you get when you’re in a new place that you have never been to before. It’s like that feeling when you’re a little kid going to Disney Land, knowing you are about to experience the greatest thing in your life but on a much greater scale. I’m not sure what I am going to do with myself every day. So much time to explore!

I can’t even fathom all that I will see and experience in just a few weeks. I want to see and experience everything while I am there. I am going to burn the candle at both ends as my mom likes to call it. I can picture the green scenery and rolling hills ahead of me as I sit and write this in my kitchen. The stone buildings, exquisite architecture, the Scottish history and all the people I will get to meet. I’m ecstatic to get to see a real castle because my dad always told me I was a princess and so as a kid, I always imagined living in a castle but have never gotten to see one. My little kid dreams are going to come true!

I think the hardest part for me will be packing. I love to over pack and I am limited to a 44-pound suitcase and a backpack. I also love to shop and in a foreign country, I am afraid I might just go crazy. It may be my only time there so I need to buy everything I possibly can, right? I already know I am going to get myself in a bit of a predicament. And of course, friends and family are going to want gifts too…

I also wonder how I am going to fare in a foreign country with my poor sense of direction. I get lost just going to the grocery store sometimes and I know where that’s located let alone in Scotland where I have no idea where anything is, street names or anything related to direction. All I can say is it’s a very good thing they speak English, a language I know kinda well. I’m afraid what would happen if I was going to a place where I didn’t know the language. I am predicting that I will get lost on multiple occasions, so this could get interesting. Stay tuned.

Final thoughts, I think this will be the best experience of my life, something I will remember and talk about forever. How can anything else compare to a summer abroad in the United Kingdom? I want to try and capture every moment of it with blogging, pictures and going out and doing something every day. I am going to cram a lifetime worth of adventure into one month. Think I can do it?

Sincerely,

Nicole Wilhelm, future traveler of the world


Nicole Wilhelm is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. Nicole is spending the month of July in many different cities in Scotland with the UMKC Honors College Program in Scotland. Nicole is involved in UMKC’s Campus Ambassadors, Swim and Dive Club, BHS Society, and Student Nursing Association.

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.

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.