Travel Tip Tuesday: Creating a Playlist of Your Trip

Studying abroad in Spain meant many long nights of dancing in clubs to Spanish music (and actually a lot of English music). After I left for home, I found myself really missing that scene, so I decided to make a nostalgia playlist. Now I have a fantastic list on my iPod that I can listen to anytime and reminisce about nights wandering around Santiago de Compostela’s bar scene. Read more

The night before and the day of my departure!

As excited as I am to get back home, it’s a little bittersweet to finally say goodbye to Spain. It’s been such a long journey that I’m not really sure what else I can say here except Thank You.

Going to miss my roomies!

Love these girls!

Amy’s sister was also leaving for Dublin on the same flight, so she and Jess came to see us off! Posing with the iconic Ryanair – basically defined our year!

Last few hours.

I’m sitting here in my empty bedroom in Santiago with my two suitcases staring at me in the face, waiting to leave for the airport. Today, the day I leave and the day that I have been counting down to for months, has finally arrived and I suddenly don’t want to go. My friends are going out tonight and my roommates will be here too and I suddenly want to stay a little longer to enjoy being with everyone. I made sure to say goodbye to as many people as I could, including my photocopy guy where I always get everything printed. And as much as I’ve missed Wisconsin this year, I know that next week I’ll be wondering why I’m not still in Santiago. The grass is always greener, I suppose.

To everyone who has been a part of my journey this year, in some way or another, I just want to give a heartfelt thanks and know that you all have a home with me in Wisconsin. I hope to see you all again, and even though we live an ocean apart, I know we’ll always have a bond and friends across the world. Thank you all for making this the best year of my life.
Muchas gracias a todos. Os querré para siempre, siempre estaráis en mi corazón <3
Ciao para ahora, Santiago.

Home cravings. Nearly there.

my family. my friends. my house. indian food. milk. Tucker. my bed. english. flavor. my stuff. summer. wisconsin. cheese. brats. noodles and company. chocolate chip pancakes. any kind of pancakes. waffles. hawaiian pizza. tofu. vegan food. non-vegan food. hugs. warmth. familiar faces. ben and jerry’s. butter chicken. naan. coconut water. long islands. cookies. cupcakes. shorts. sandals. beach. harry potter books. candles. giant world map. driving. shopping. dollars. movie theater. my tv shows. harry potter pc games. sims. my shower. jacuzzi tub. massages. bicycle. gym. brewer games. packers. bars. drinks. picnics. lemonade. mac and cheese. tanning. sleepovers. 

2.

Classes have finished for the second semester and all the students, locals and Erasmus alike, are in the midst of crazy exam-crunching time, trying to remember everything from the entire semester for one exam in each class. I myself have three more exams to go before a few days of relaxation (aka packing and doing last minute tasks and shopping like a maniac) before I jet off on May 30th.

That’s two weeks away.

In two weeks I will finally again be able to see my family and friends, play with my cat, have a decent-sized computer, sleep in my own bed, eat my mom’s cooking, go to all my favorite places, have a car, and enjoy life’s pleasures that I haven’t had here in Spain (dryers, vacuums, carpets, Magic Bullets…).

But, in two weeks, I will have to close this amazing, hard, wonderful, long, and quick chapter and begin my actual life. I won’t be able to see the faces of all the amazing people I’ve met here in Santiago or jump on a 2-hour plane ride to anywhere in Europe.

And although I’ve been homesick all year, complain a lot, and often have the desire to jump on the next plane heading back over the ocean… I think I’ll miss it all. I’ve traveled more in the past year than most people do in a lifetime. I’ve tested my limits and strengths. I’ve grown a lot this year, learning more about myself, Spanish, and different cultures in general.

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned this year is that the world really is just a small place. Although I admittedly went to mainly larger, touristic European cities, they all have one thing in common – plain old survival. This may seem obvious, but not until you see it in person do you realize that all around the world, people are just doing their own thing and making their own way, just like we do at home. Everyone is, at the core, just the same. Everyone just wants to make a living, keep their families happy and fed, and enjoy a little leisure. And this is what I saw in every city. From the street-entertainment in Rome to the bank tellers here in Santiago.

The second most important thing I learned this year was that I’m okay on my own. For example, I was wondering what it would be like to spend an entire week in Rome and Paris with nobody but myself and strangers in my hostels to chat with. You can imagine the horror on others’ faces when I told them that nobody would come with me. But who was I going to hang out with? Why would I go without company? Who would I talk to when eating at a restaurant? I was worried about all this for about a minute until I actually arrived in Rome, the #1 place I’ve always wanted to visit, and realized how much I love being on my own. Nobody to bother with, can do whatever I pleased, and especially eat whatever I wanted. As a classic introvert, a week alone exploring Rome and Paris was a true vacation. Sure, I chatted with the girls in my hostel room and enjoyed their company, but as soon as I walked back onto the street I was on my own and loving it.

Now I’m not saying I wouldn’t have enjoyed having someone with me, especially my family or boyfriend/close friends, but this first-in-a-lifetime experience of complete independence was amazing. So what if I wanted to spend only 10 minutes in Pisa? Or go to bed early every night? Or have Indian food instead of Italian one night? I could do whatever I wanted, and I did. One of the most fun parts of the trip was calling my family before going to sleep at night and telling them about my day’s adventure (aka letting them know I was still alive) and hearing all their jealous, awed reactions. Yeah, it is that cool 🙂

So, now that this year is nearly over and I need to think about collecting all my marbles before heading back home, I can look back on this as a positive experience that I’ll always treasure.

Sorry to end this post abruptly but I’m getting tired and have a lovely day of studying to look forward to tomorrow!

Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

I came back last night from a fun but rainy weekend in Barcelona with my friends Jess and Katie! Katie was here with us last semester but moved to Barcelona for work for her second semester so we took a weekend to visit her 🙂 The weather was pretty lame all weekend and we got soaked for the majority of it, so we didn’t get to see much and I wasn’t too keen on sightseeing, but instead just wanted a relaxing girls’ weekend.

However, we did make our way to a really delicious Indian dinner, plus went to the famous Chocolate and Mammoth Museums. The best part of the city, in my opinion, is the Mercat de la Boquería, which is full of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, juice, sweets, and all types of fish and meat. I had a couple amazing smoothies and they only cost 1 euro each!

On Saturday night we started the evening at a champagne/meat eating bar that was absolutely packed with tourists spilling drinks all over the place. We barhopped for the remainder of the evening and tried various cocktails and shots. Since we started drinking so early and didn’t eat a proper dinner we had to end it at 1AM, which is a major fail on a night out in Spain. At least we were properly rested for the next day of walking/eating before our flight back to Santiago.

Mercat de la Boquería
Mercat de la Boquería

Mercat de la Boquería

Pretty fountain

Sagrada Familia, the cathedral in Barcelona

Yuuuuum

Arch de Triumph

Chocolate museum!

Even Chicken Little!

Football!

Up!

Chocolate cathedral!

The Mammoth museum!

Baby mammoth!

Stained glass in some church

The champagne/meat bar

Springtime in Murcia!

Murcia, Spain

This past weekend I was so happy to go back to Murcia to visit my family there one last time this year. Murcia was having its Spring festivals, which ended with El Entierro de la Sardina (the burial of the sardine – yes, the fish), which included street festivals, parades, and fireworks. On Saturday, after the final parade of the week in which the people in the floats threw toys and everybody was going insane trying to catch stuff in their bags, the whole town gathered around a giant plastic sardine that was set on fire (last couple pictures), warming us up after the chilly evening.

I also went to a concert with my cousins in the Plaza del Toro (bull fighting ring) on Friday and it was so cold outside! I’m normally tough against the cold since Wisconsin is covered in snow half the year, but I was freezing! Nevertheless, the concert was great and although I didn’t understand the words, it was my kind of music so I had a lot of fun 🙂

It was a weekend filled with family and great food and I didn’t want to leave! I hope not too much time passes before I can come back, or they can come visit us in Wisconsin (hint hint :))

Thursday’s parades with Angélica & Tía Nena

Thursday’s parades with Tia Nena & Andréa

Here comes the sardine!

The biggest paella I’d ever seen!

Dressed as a huertana with Maria Jose. Hard to describe what a huertana is, but this is the classic clothes they wore and so during festivals the Murcians dress in this typical attire.
Waiting for the fire…

El entierro de la sardina! The last part of the spring festivals.

A rainy day in Lugo

Lugo, Spain

Took a day trip to Lugo, a nearby city, on Saturday and it rained all day. But, since there isn’t any other kind of day in Galicia, it was just a regular day. Lugo is the only city in the world to be surrounded by completely intact Roman walls, which encircle the old zone of the city and the cathedral. The walls are from the 3rd century and you can walk around on top like a track, and are considered a World Heritage Site. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Lugo Cathedral

Walking on top of the Roman Wall

Muros, a 2-hour long day-trip.

Muros, Spain

Yesterday, Jess, Katie and I spent the day going back and forth in the bus to Muros. I say that because we literally spent more time on the bus than we did in the actual city. Muros is a little (and I mean little) port town on the edge of Galicia (as are all of them, I suppose). There wasn’t really anything to do, but we aim to see more of Galicia and basically just find a new city to see every once in a while. We got there around 2PM and had some lunch, which were just typical sandwiches (although Jess had a curry chicken sandwich, which means they get curry paste around here, which I haven’t been able to find). It was probably a pointless trip and we were ready to go pretty soon (especially when some creep yelled, “Love you baby” at us from his car from 6 feet away and said he’d come back). But at least I got some pretty pictures thanks to my sharp new camera!

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