The past four months studying abroad have been the best four months of my life. I cannot even begin to describe what this journey has meant to me. I have learned so much about myself, others and different cultures. I am more well rounded having seen parts of the world I was never exposed to prior to studying abroad. I have met life long friends and created amazing memories that I will never forget. I have met so many people throughout this journey that have changed me and inspired me.
These past four months taught me to be more accepting of others and to be more open to different cultures and experiences. Europe is a very different world than the United States. The people are different, the architecture, the food, the transportation, the greetings and gestures, the language, the education system, etc. I have been living in a whole new world for the past four months. It took me some time to adjust to the Spanish culture and values seeing as they are very different than my own, but I am leaving Barcelona with the appreciation and acceptance that our cultures are different from one another, and that this is okay. The Spanish and American cultures both have their pros and cons, but when it is your own, it is hard to see the cons of your culture and easy to identify those of the foreign culture. It is hard to break free from what you know and it is easy to believe that your culture is the best and only “right” culture. This is how I felt when I first got here, but I have adjusted and adapted to living the Spanish lifestyle. I appreciate our cultural differences and will take home certain aspects of the Spanish culture and incorporate them into my daily life back in America. I am leaving here with the knowledge that every country is unique and special and we all have different values and cultures and the appreciation for what each country has taught me and given me.
Almost every weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to some destination in Europe. These weekend trips are part of the reason my study abroad experience was so fantastic. I am going to take a trip down memory lane and recall all the trips I have taken over the past four months.
My first weekend trip was to Venice, Italy. I went with my two closest friends from Barcelona and we spent the whole weekend exploring. We ate tons of great pizza, pasta and gelato. We walked around the entire city, went on a gondola ride, bought venetian masks, and went to St. Mark’s Square. We also went to Murano which is known for their glass, and Burano which is famous for their wildly colored houses. I loved both of these places and thought they were so cool. I fell in love with the fact that there were no cars in Venice and that everything is surrounded by water.
Next up was Rome, Florence and Milan. This was one of my favorite trips, not because of the places but because of the company I had with me. I met up with my best friend who is studying abroad in Milan, Italy for the semester and we did this weekend trip together. I got into Milan really late at night so I did not really have the chance to see the city. Florence was cool and I enjoyed my time there, but after one day, we were ready to leave. We had seen the entire city in a day. It was a jam packed day, but we did it. Although I liked Florence, it was on the bottom of my favorite places I visited. Rome on the other hand was a different story. I loved Rome and really wish I could have spent more time there. I fell in love with the city. What I love so much about Rome is how ancient the city is and how much history there is there, yet it is also a modern and lively city.
Seeing the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum were my favorite parts about this trip. The Trevi Fountain literally took my breathe away. We went just as the sun was setting and it was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen in my life. I will never forget that moment. The way it was lit up was so pretty and then on top of that, seeing all the people there making their wishes was incredible. It is such a magical landmark. I made three wishes, one for my family and friends, one for myself, and one with my best friend. Throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain with my best friend was something we will share until the end of time.
The Colosseum was also amazing. I learned all about Roman history when I was in elementary and middle school, but seeing it first hand was something entirely different. I am a visual person, so I did not understand Roman history and the Colosseum to its full extent until I saw it with my own eyes. All the history I had learned about came to life the moment we walked into the Colosseum. The events that occurred at the Colosseum and all the work that went into building it is fascinating. My best friend and I went on this guided tour through the Colosseum and down to the Roman Forum and we learned so much new information and took away so much from that experience. There is so much Rome has to offer. There is so much to do and see and although we saw almost all the main monuments and tourist attractions, I cannot wait to go back and explore the city more. I could easily spend a whole week just in Rome.
Then came Prague, Ronda and Granada. This was a week long trip I took with my parents, which just made it all the more special. I personally loved Prague and Ronda the best. Ronda is a small, cute little town that gets its unique configuration as a result of an earthquake that occurred many of years ago. There are shops and restaurants to entertain you and there is a very lovely walk from the top of the cliff to the bottom. It is a great place to go if you want to relax and just stroll around. I fell in love with Prague. There is so much WWII history, Jewish history and Communism history in Prague. I loved learning all about the history there and was so intrigued by what I was being told. It was so interesting. If you would like to learn more about the history, you can read some of my earlier posts about Prague and WWII. The Lennon Wall was another thing that I loved about Prague. It is so vibrant and full of meaningful words. This is a place where people can come and express themselves. The meaning behind the wall as well as the significance of the words written on it are what caught my attention. I love quotes, so this wall was perfect for me. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to and I highly recommend it to anyone traveling in Europe. It is a must see.
London and Paris are the two places I have always dreamed of traveling to in Europe. Although I visited each place on two separate weekends, I was memorized by both. Overall, I liked London more, although Paris was still amazing. The Eiffel Tower was the best part about Paris. It is so romantic and magical. It was so much more magnificent in person than I ever imagined it would be. My friends and I went to see it at night, as well as during the day. During the day time, we went to the very top of the tower and got to see the prettiest view of the city. I really wish I could have gone back to see the Eiffel Tower again the second night we were there, but we ran out of time. I cannot wait to go back to the Eiffel Tower one day with my future husband or boyfriend and enjoy it together. It is so beautiful that it literally takes your breathe away. I also loved the Love Lock Bridge. I love the concept of putting a lock on a bridge with your name and your significant others name and throwing the key into the river so that your love will last for the rest of time.
London is by far one of my favorite places in Europe. I could go on and on about how much I love London, so in order to save you some time, I have attached the link to my post about my trip to London.
Madrid was a trip I went on with my school. It was a really relaxing and stress free weekend. Normally when we travel, we are up early and touring the city all day and night. It is so much fun but it is also exhausting. All my friends and I used our trip to Madrid as a weekend to recover and recuperate from the past weeks of travel. We went on a tour of the city with our school, went to the Christmas market, went boating on a pond in this beautiful park, and went to the club, Kapital. Our night dancing away at Kapital was one of the best nights I have had abroad. It is such a fun club and has such a great atmosphere. Aside from that, we spent a lot of time just hanging out in each others rooms and talking. We watched a movie and just relaxed. It was so nice to do “nothing” with my friends.
The last trip of the semester was to Dublin, Ireland. It was the perfect way to end the semester with my closest friends I made here in Barcelona. The people in Dublin are so kind and friendly. It was such a pleasure to be around them. We took a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, explored the Temple Bar area and went to the Christmas markets. I loved Ireland and wish I got to spend more time there. There was so much more to see and do! Another thing I loved about Dublin was the fact that they speak English. I did not have to worry about the difficulties that come with trying to communicate with others who do not speak your language. Ireland is such a beautiful and happy place. The energy there is so positive and it is a great place to be. I just released my post about my time in Dublin. If you want to read more about my trip to Dublin, here is the link to this post.
I have had the best four months studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. As you may have noticed, I did not write about Barcelona in this post. Barcelona holds such a special place in my heart and means so much to me. I have having trouble finding the words to express the impact this place has had on me. It is also making me really sad writing this post and seeing where I have been and how far I have come, and knowing that this journey all comes to an end in a few days. I do not want to accept the reality that I will no longer be living in Barcelona as of this Friday. I love Barcelona so much that it is just to hard for me to write about. The water works have already started and I am just not ready to say goodbye yet to Barcelona.
However, I will say that it was the opportunity of a lifetime and I will never forget the experiences I have had while I was here. Going home is going to be so bitter sweet. I am really going to miss studying abroad, traveling, exploring the different cultures and meeting new people, but at the same time, I am really excited to go home and see my friends and family. I am so grateful for this opportunity! I will never be able to explain to people the significance and impact these past four months have had on me. There are not enough words to express how grateful I am and how lucky I feel to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thanks mom and dad for the best four months of my life and the life changing journey I have had while studying abroad.