On Academics

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Nearly all my classes this semester have been related to Spain. I’m taking a class on Spanish art history, a class on 20th Century Spanish history, and a Spanish language class. My travel seminar at the beginning of the semester was about the formation of the Spanish empire. Back when I was choosing a study abroad program, I looked for a program that would let me take subjects that counted toward my major. Ultimately, I’m only taking one course that …

On Making Travel Mistakes

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On Travel Mistakes I’ve had plenty of time to make mistakes this semester. It comes with the territory of being a 20 year old in a new country. I was expecting to mess up, but back in January I didn’t know exactly how I’d do it. Now though, after a few months abroad, it’s easy to pick out my top travel mistakes. The time I took us to Chamartin suburb rather than Chamartin train station. I had put Chamartin into …

On Cities and Settling In

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The other day I was WhatsApping (text via wifi, the best app ever) my mom. I was telling her about my day and mentioned that I was going to go read in the park then head home. She replied that it nice to hear me calling my homestay “home.” I hadn’t noticed my casual use of the term, but her comment made me think. Does Madrid feel like home? Does my tiny, shared bedroom on the 9th floor feel like …

On Essays and Fire in Valencia

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Blog honesty moment: I’m writing this post instead of working on my art history paper. The paper that I’ve barely started. The paper that’s due in, approximately 36 hours. Now at Amherst, I’d be gnawing my elbow off with worry about that paper. But here abroad? It’s not bothering me too much. I know I’ll get it done. It probably won’t be as polished as the papers I turn in at Amherst, but that’s ok. Before I went abroad, people told …

Six Unexpected Experiences in Amsterdam

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This past weekend I traveled to Amsterdam, my first trip out of the Iberian Peninsula this semester! I flew there by myself, and spent two days exploring the city on my own before meeting up with another friend for the rest of the trip. Amsterdam is famous for being a liberal city, full of new opportunities, and that certainly proved true of my trip! As a solo traveler in a foreign country, I ended up with several new and unexpected …

On Language Barriers and Joining a Choir

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I came to Spain speaking almost none of the language. I took one semester of Spanish way back at the beginning of Freshman year, but that didn’t stick with me for very long. I figured, why not just go? I’d immerse myself in Spanish and come out, if not fluent, at least able to cobble together a coherent conversation.  I knew there would be a language barrier, but I thought that it would affect me in terms of my ability …

On Cafes and Just Sitting

posted in: Raizel in Madrid, Spain | 2

Back in the States I never drink coffee. Maybe it’s the terrible coffee served in Val, maybe it’s the excessive price of a latte at Rao’s or Starbucks, but coffee has never been my thing. Within three days of getting here though, I was addicted to café con leche. Café con leche is pretty similar to an American latte without the foam – espresso mixed with hot steamed milk. Typically it comes in a small ceramic mug, and the waiter …