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.

¡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.

Fiesta Nacional de España

On Saturday, my host family took me to the seaside city Xàbia. We were very lucky and had perfect sunny weather. The beach there is completely different than Valencia’s. It’s rocky instead of sandy, and the water is crystal clear.


There are also other differences in the community in general. The city has a very large British population. You can see little signs all over; there are little English bookstores, English restaurants, and people with British accents. The city is about an hour and a half drive from Valencia and it was a perfect day trip. It was also very fun to spend the day relaxing with my host family!

Me with my host sister, Marta
Me with my host sister, Marta

On Sunday, a friend of my host sister came to Valencia for a several hour layover. It was really fun, because she invited me to come along as she showed her friend, who lives in Germany, around Valencia. Of course, I’d been downtown before, but it was fun hearing my host sister’s perspective on things. Also, because Monday was the National Day of Spain, the streets were filled with fair-like festivities: banners, booths, food stands, and pedestrian crowds.

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We were thrilled to find out that almost everything was free, too! We got to climb the Torres de Serranos (normally a charged entry), and we got to see the Holy Grail (housed in the cathedral downtown) for free. The view from the top of the tower was spectacular. Valencia is a very flat city, so I very rarely see an elevated view of the city. It’s lovely seeing the sea, the mountains, and the city all at once. Also, I thought it was so cool to see the Holy Grail! It’s one of Valencia’s famous treasures, but normally you have to pay to see it, so I hadn’t gone yet. It was a very successful afternoon, overall.

The Holy Grail
The Holy Grail
view from the top of the tower
view from the top of the tower

Happy Day of the Valencian Community!

Today is the Day of the Valencian Community! It celebrates the October 9th, 1238 when Jamie I reconquered Valencia. So, in light of the holiday, I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to the city I’ve been living in for almost 6 weeks! Of course I’m not an expert on the city yet, but I want to share some of the cool things I’ve learned about this place.

“Valencia” is one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain. Valencia capital, where I live, is Spain’s third largest city. It is a very popular tourist destinations for Europeans. Beyond Castellano (Spanish), Valenciano is spoken in the community. I haven’t encountered any problems from not knowing the language, except that my university’s official language is Valenciano; all of the computers run in the Valenciano, and also most of the signs posted around the university are in Valenciano. I’m sure linguistically this isn’t terribly accurate, but it looks like a mix between French and Spanish.


I really love Valencia because it’s so much easier to be healthy here. This province grows the majority of the fruits and vegetables in Spain, so the diet here contains more of these things than in other regions. The traditional Valencian dish is “paella,” a rice, vegetable, and meat dish (usually rabbit, although there are many many delicious variations). There’s a giant, lush park that runs straight through the middle of the city, dividing the old part and the new part. The park has an interesting history. The river Turia used to run through the city to the Mediterranean Sea, but in 1957, the river flooded and caused catastrophic damage to the city; to prevent this from ever happening again, the river was redirected. The old riverbed was used to create the park! They almost built a highway there instead, and I can’t imagine how much that would detract from the beauty the city has today. Valencia is called “the running capital of Spain” which is related to the incredible 10 km running path in the park. Roughly between 6-8 pm, the running path is packed! I really enjoy running there because there’s so much energy. There are many lovely bridges that cross over the park, and here’s a photo of the flower bridge.


In the eastern part of the park, there is a series of constructions called The City of the Arts and Sciences, usually called the CAC (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias). The architecture here is crazy. I don’t know how else to describe it. I feel like I’ve stepped into a sci-fi film set every time I visit. There are five main complexes: the Hemisfèric (an IMAX theater), the Umbracle (a garden), a science museum, the Oceanográfico (the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species), and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (an opera house).


Last Friday with the ISA group, I went to the Hemisfèric and saw half of a beautiful documentary about Jerusalem (it was cut short by technical difficulties). After that, we went to the Oceanográfico. I was enchanted. I didn’t expect to love it so much, but it was amazing! We saw a dolphin show first, then spent hours touring the different areas in the aquarium. The exhibits are amazing and divided by region (tropical, arctic, etc.). They have tunnels that you can walk through and watch sharks and sting rays and all types of fish swim above your head. It’s such a cool experience and one of my favorite things I’ve done here.

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Of course, there’s so much more to this city; the old part of the city deserves an entirely separate post and a thousand photos. So until next time!

Week One

As of today, I’ve been in Spain for one week. It feels like it’s been one month! I arrived in Madrid last Wednesday, spent three days there, one day in Toledo, and then came to Valencia. It was such an excellent opportunity to see other parts of Spain besides the city I’m studying in. Each city has it’s own diversity and wealth of history.

[Madrid sunset]

[Me in front of the Temple of Debod in Madrid]



[the courtyard of Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo]

The first week has been a rollercoaster of experiences and sensations. There have been moments where I basically went numb from overexposure to foreign language, smells, sights, behaviors. If I could go back and prepare myself before I left, what would I have said? I’ve been trying to figure out what’s so different about the United States and Spain. Both are Western cultures, with similar levels of technology, similar manners of dressing, modern gender concepts, etc. etc.. The differences are not necessarily the big things, but the many everyday things. For instance, Spain is very conscious of energy and water expenditure. My host mom told me that here, water is like gold. At home, I always pretended to be eco-conscious (I recycle cardboard and don’t litter), but here I realized that it’s much more than that. Now, I turn off the water while shaving my legs, brushing my teeth, turn off the lights when I’m leaving a room even if I’m about to come back to that room. Clothes dryers are rare; everyone hangs their clothes to dry, even if they have a dryer. In addition, even though it’s very warm here, many people don’t have A.C. in their homes, and if they do, they use it for perhaps one hour in the morning and one hour at night. For the most part, open windows function as the HVAC system.  Having the mindset of conservation impacts most movements I make in my home here.

Another difference is that people don’t drink very much water here. It’s actually been one of the hardest adjustments to make. As one of the directors of my program joked, nothing is free in Spain. For example, you don’t get a free water with your meal. Actually, a glass of wine with lunch costs the same as a bottle of water! In theory: awesome. However, my body has had a difficult time adjusting to drinking less water.

There are so many spectacular new things that I’m adjusting to as well: living three miles from a stunning beach on the Mediterranean Sea; being able to walk ANYWHERE; the friendliness of the people here; the way people seem comfortable in their skin (as opposed to how much body shaming there is in the U.S., especially for women); the incredible seafood; the weather; the stunning scenery; the relaxed pace of life. I am so lucky to have this experience.

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[la playa]