Learning As I Go

This weekend contained a vacation within a vacation. Me and two friends took a weekend trip to the Amalfi Coast area which we learned is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world! For good reason, it was breathtaking. We stayed in Sant’Agnello for 4 nights and spent our days exploring Sorrento, Pompei, Positano, Amalfi, and Capri. Though this trip was great because of the amazing views, historical ruins, and incredible beaches; it was also the most challenging time I’ve had abroad so far. A lot of time was spent planning for this weekend, but few of our plans went as anticipated. Scheduled tours were cancelled, transportation was unreliable, and all 3 of us were sick with either tonsillitis, pink-eye, or a bad cold mixed with food poisoning.
Here are some things I learned during this weekend:
1. It doesn’t matter how much you plan, outside factors can cause those plans to change. I did a horrible job of adapting to the adversity we faced this weekend when things did not go our way. I let my frustration over things I had no way of controlling ruin my day 2 out of the 3 days I was there. If I would have just accepted the fact that things weren’t going to go as expected, and then move on and look forward to what I would experience instead, I would have had a much better attitude towards the situation and allowed myself to enjoy the day instead of wallowing in the frustration.
2. Just because I’m in Italy, doesn’t mean that “real life” stops. Getting sick this weekend was certainly not in the plan. Not only did I start the trip with a pretty bad cold, but the 3rd night I also got food poisoning. Again, this wasn’t something that I could control. This could have happened in Minnesota, this could have happened in Kansas. So of course it was possible that it could happen in Italy. Though it seems I’m a million miles from home and my regular life, being on the other side of the planet doesn’t change everything.
3. It’s okay to take a break. Traveling, sightseeing, and constantly being around masses of tourists is all exhausting. I want to be able to make the most of my time here and do everything possible, but it’s so hard mentally to keep going now that i’ve been on this adventure for about 4 weeks. I shouldn’t feel bad about needing a break from it and staying home for the day to relax and reenergize before going out again.
Before leaving for Italy, everyone told me how this study abroad experience would be the time of my life. What I failed to realize was that while yes, it absolutely is the most amazing experience, it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I spent a lot of months preparing myself for this trip, but the learning I’ve had to do while I’ve been here has been a major adjustment for me. Nothing comes easy being alone in a foreign environment so I’m going to have to keep learning as I go.

8 Things You Learn From Staying in London


1. There is no such thing as personal space.

A thing I noticed while in London is that people don’t really have their own space bubble. Most places you go such as the tube you will be crammed close to people not caring about your personal space.


2. Beauty is everywhere.

Literally everywhere you look there is beauty. Whether it be a park or a part of history, every single thing in London is beautiful. 


4. Restaurants work a bit different.

Almost every restaurant we went to while in London had a bar inside it. Now we didn’t know at first but quickly found out that you order not only drinks from the bars but also your meals. You go up to the bar and order and pay for your food there and then they bring it out to your table. I think this is a cool way but personally I like being lazy and having the waiter/waitress come to me. 


5. People get drinks after work.

One thing I loved about the London social scene was that people go out with friends to grab a drink after work. People will be outside all pubs enjoying a beer almost everyday around the 5pm. I think we should bring this norm to America personally. 


6. It’s more expensive.

London is a very expensive town and we knew this before going but it really doesn’t hit until your paying $14 American dollars for a meal that seems cheap in pounds. The conversion rates reall get ya. But honestly every extra dollar is worth it because I mean you’re in London! 


7. Water.

Water is very different in the UK. A popular thing is sparkling water. At restaurants you have to ask specifically for tap or still water if you want it, and most of the time they will look at you like you’re crazy. Also if you want ice be sure to ask for it because most places don’t give you ice in your water!


8.  Museums and Churches.

In London it’s kind of funny because you pay to see the churches but most museums are free to enter. That’s almost completely opposite from America. However, paying entry for those churches are 100% worth it. 

Although many of these things are different, they are all the small parts that add to your trip. London was amazing and I can’t wait to go back! 

Homebound

Day 33 – June 26th:

Monday

We got up early and checked out of the apartments and took taxi vans to the airport. Our professors and two other students were not going with us back to the states yet, so they stayed behind while the eight of us that were going back to Kansas and the three of us going back to the Bahamas checked our bags and said goodbye. This would start our long day and journey back home. I was really sad to be leaving Spain because I loved my time there and could’ve stayed longer. Our flight to Dallas was painfully long but we eventually made it. We had a little over an hour to make our connecting flight to Kansas City and it was pretty stressful. We had to get out from the back of the plane and go through our customs then get our luggage then go through customs again and then go through TSA again and get to a different terminal and our gate. Someone from our group got stopped at each checkpoint and it delayed us a little more. We were on the tram to get to the correct gate and terminal and the tram broke down in front of the doors in our terminal but on the opposite side of our gate. So we ran from approximately gate C39 to C2 because we only had fifteen minutes to make our flight and we did not want to miss it because of the tram. When we got there they had not started boarding yet so we got lucky but we were all out of breath and relieved we were not going to miss our flight home. When we got home my parents came and gave me a huge hug and I was relieved to be home after all of the stress and craziness of the last few days. I loved my time in Granada and I would definitely visit Spain again someday.

Madrid

Day 32 – June 25th:

Sunday

We were in the lobby with the rest of the students in our group at 5:35 am. The bus driver came down and took us to the bus so we could start loading our luggage. We left for our final destination, Madrid, around 6:15 am. This was the longest bus ride and it took us about four hours to get there. When we arrived in Madrid we had a few problems with checking into the apartments we were staying in. After negotiating keeping our stuff in storage downstairs we put it all down there and headed to the Museo del Prado. A group of us went and explored the museum and saw the artwork we recognized. I had a few déjà vu moments in Madrid because I had visited there four years ago. We got lunch in the Prado and it was fairly expensive but the chicken wrap that I had was absolutely delicious. We sat and chatted for a while before meeting back up with the group to go back to the apartments. When we went back to the apartments we moved all of our luggage upstairs in a much more efficient way. Then Dr. Robinson came around and gave us our tickets for the Royal Palace. My roommates (Rhiannon, Sarah, and Ashley) and I went to the Royal Palace and walked around the gardens for a little bit. I got a picture in the same place I got one my first time in Spain. When we went into the palace it was about to start storming so we got inside quickly. After going to the palace we had dinner at a restaurant and I got pasta yet again. I also had my last glass of wine. On our way back I got some gelato and then my roommates and I picked up some Malibu rum and pineapple juice. We had a final class meeting before going to bed. My roommates and I stayed up so late getting everything packed up and getting ready for bed we decided to have a big slumber party on the giant pullout couch with all four of us. It was a fun way to end the trip.


Sevilla and Cordoba

Day 31 – June 24th:

Saturday

We got up early to check out of the hostel and load up our van to travel to our next city. We went and had breakfast at a café and explored this gorgeous plaza. It was one of my favorite places to visit. I just wish we would’ve had more time to explore there. We then got on a bus for another bus ride to Cordoba. When we got there we had to decide if we wanted to take our luggage to the hostel or leave it in the van. I decided I was going to take my luggage because I wanted to have it with me and all of my clothes and toiletries were in my checked luggage. The stairs were a lot easier to haul my luggage up, but their air conditioning did not work as well as we were told it would. The front desk also kept our passports for a while when we checked in and that made me a little nervous because I have always been told to keep my passport on me at all times. To turn on any lights and the air conditioning you had to put a key in a little hole in the wall. This was a little frustrating because that means that the air conditioning was not on and it was not cold in the room. This was a little disappointing because it was 107 degrees at about 7 pm still. When we were all settled into the room we went to a mosque/cathedral. It was almost all included in one. We had a tour guide and I was able to understand more than I was during our first guided tour in Spain. After we visited there we were allowed to go off on our own. A group of us were in search of dinner, including my roommates for this hostel (Sarah and Ashley), went to the restaurant right next to the hostel and had pasta again. This place had fans that blow air and mist at you and that was really nice and we finally were able to cool off some. Later Sarah, Ashley, and I walked around onto this huge bridge and people watched for a little bit. Then we went back to the hostel and cooled off. It was Champayne’s birthday so the professors and a group of students went to get cake to bring back to the hostel so we could all celebrate. We each got a slice of cake and we sang happy birthday to her in Spanish and drank champagne. After that we went to bed and got ready to get up and be in the lobby by 5:45 am.

Sevilla

Day 30 – June 23rd:

Friday

We got up early and left to go to the meeting point with our host mom before getting on a bus to leave Granada and head to Sevilla. It was sad to leave Isa after all she had done for us while we were in Granada for a month. She even gave us all a little present because she enjoyed having us live with her. The drive to Sevilla took a couple hours and when we arrived we had a walking tour and went into a cathedral. We went up to the tower in the cathedral and we had to walk up a lot of ramps to get to the top. It was pretty cool up there and you could see all the bells that would ring. We later took our stuff to the hostel we were staying in. We had stayed in hostels in Barcelona and they were not that bad if you were backpacking but having a large group with all of their luggage was a little difficult considering that there was not an elevator and we had to take our luggage up very skinny and slippery stairs. Besides the luggage situation the hostel was really nice it was just a hassle to take our luggage up so many flights of stairs. We also got air conditioning! It was the first time we got to sleep in a cold room in Spain. Even though the air conditioning cost 5 euros per room, it was worth it. Later a group of us went to walk around the city with Ana who came with us as a guide. We had dinner at this pizzeria type place and I got some pasta because I had been craving it for so long. I got some gelato at a place next door before heading back to the hostel. Sarah and I were rooming together and we got ready for bed and stayed up and talked for a while before going to sleep.

Last Day in Granada

Day 29 – June 22nd:

Thursday

Today was our last day of classes at DeLengua and we took a picture with our class and our teachers. After class my roommates and I went shopping for souvenirs because it was our last day in Granada. We took a break at one point because it was over 100 degrees most days. I went back out after a while and bought what I thought was a skirt or a dress but it turned out to be Aladdin pants. I was slightly disappointed by this find because I thought the pattern would make a really cute skirt. My roommates and I also took our host mom out to dinner at Cantina Mejicana again. We ended up going to walk around Granada and go to a concert on the other side of the city after dinner and did not get back until pretty late. We had a wonderful time with our host mom and we made sure she knew how much we appreciated her while we were there.

Language Exchange

Day 28 – June 21st:

Wednesday

We had another language exchange today at a different location with a different group of people. I ordered a drink for once and got a mango margarita. It was my first margarita and it was delicious. We talked in Spanish to them for a while and it was a little more difficult because it was loud in there as well. There also were more of us than there were of them. It took us a long time to find the bar in the first place because they gave us the location and my roommates and I used google maps to find it. When we got there we saw a few others from our group outside but when we got closer we realized it was not where we were supposed to meet. When we were done with the language exchange my roommates and I walked back and got some gelato.

Flamenco Show

Day 25 – June 18th:

Sunday

Today was a pretty lazy day until a group of us decided to go up to the caves and watch a Flamenco show. It cost around 20 euros but it was worth it. We got a free drink with the show and we sat really close together in these long and skinny caves. They danced in the aisle and you had to watch your feet so you did not get stepped on. They had people playing instruments and singing and then the Flamenco dancers were dancing and you could tell in some of the dances they were telling a story. At one point a young girl around the age of 11 came in and was dancing and she was really good. I was amazed at how quickly their feet moved because I have no rhythm and cannot dance at all. Later they were bringing people up to dance with them and I was pulled up there to dance but I wasn’t really sure what to do so I tried but it wasn’t that great. It was a really great show and it was really cool to see everyone watching get involved and having a good time.