Saying Goodbye

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Welp, I just finished my finals! Tomorrow I leave to come home to Ohio. Believe it or not, 104 days goes faster than you’d think. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d make it. There were many bad days, but there were so many amazing days too.

I think I’ve enhanced the most in my comprehension of the Spanish language. My speaking did not improve very well, but that is completely my own fault. I underestimated the level of Spanish I should have had before coming here. However, it wasn’t my knowledge that held me back, but my confidence. I only spoke to people I was comfortable with, and was rather shy in class. Within the past few weeks I’ve finally started talking and I’ve realized I’m actually improved a lot. It’s a shame I’m now done with Spanish, as I’ve completed my minor. Hopefully I won’t loose it all!

Overall I am extremely proud of myself of what I have accomplished this semester. When I applied to study abroad, when I was accepted, even when I left, it never really hit me what I was doing. Reality didn’t check in until I arrived and I still found myself wondering at times if this was real life. It’s crazy to think back at all the things I have accomplished in the past 3.5 months. I’ve been to over twenty cities and six different countries… Morocco, France, Ireland, Portugal, England, and of course Spain!

I’m ever so grateful to have had this opportunity and I encourage everyone who has the ability to do so and take the chance and study abroad also. It’s a wonderful experience that will make you grow in knowledge and also as a person. But I’ll tell the truth and be honest as well; despite the amazingness of the experience, it’s truly a test of how strong and an independent person you are. It’s not easy. It’s worth it, for sure, but not easy.

I’ve made great friends and memories that will last me a lifetime and it’s going to be sad saying goodbye tomorrow. A special shout out to my best friend I’ve made this semester, Katie. She has made this experience amazing for me and I could not have done it without her. Luckily she lives in Pennsylvania so we’ll only be three hours away from each other this summer! Our friendship won’t be ending here, that’s for sure. She’s stuck with me :)

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I can’t wait to see all my friends and family at home! I already have my meals planned out for the next week of my favorite restaurants and Mom’s home-cooking. I’m excited for some healthy food and gym time as well! :)

Thanks to everyone who has followed my blog, liked my pictures on Facebook and Instagram, sent me packages and letters in the mail, and have supported me while I’ve been gone. You guys kept me sane!

¡Adiós Sevilla!

Feria & Flamenco

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This past week was Feria in Sevilla! It’s a huge carnival full of dancing and drinking. There’s also numerous carnival rides. There are hundreds of both private and public tents called “casetas” to visit throughout the week.

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On Monday my friends and I went at midnight to see the illumination of the main entrance “La Portada.” It was the start of the biggest celebration in Sevilla!

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Wednesday through Friday I was in London, but on Saturday I was able to experience all the festivities. My host sister was kind enough to lend me one of her past flamenco dresses to wear. My favorite part was seeing all the different kinds of dresses on the absolutely perfect Spaniards. The dress was so tight and uncomfortable though, and with the 95 degree heat, I could only last a few hours in it. Anyway, I tried my best to fit in with the culture. Do I look like a Sevilliana!?

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During the day, my friends and I walked around visiting the casetas and were lucky enough to even be invited to some private ones. We rode the ferris wheel and got a great view of the carnival!

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Saturday night we went out again to see the night life. It was packed with so many people, both Sevillanos and tourists. By the end of the night I actually learned some of the Flamenco! It was a really fun experience, with a perfect end to the night with some churros and chocolate!

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My Visit to Hogwarts :)

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For my last trip of the semester, three of my friends and I traveled off to London, England for two days! Our last day of class this past week was Wednesday so we decided to take a last minute trip instead of studying for finals :)

The first day we tried to hit all the “touristy” stuff. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain but we still trudged on to Buckingham Palace to see the home of the famous Prince William and Kate!

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In order to get out of the rain, we then visited the British Museum. For not being much of a museum person, I really enjoyed this one! The Egyptian exhibit was amazing!

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If you’re ever in London, I advise you to eat at The Breakfast Club. Great brunch food and there’s a chance to “see the mayor.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t open until later in the day but apparently if you ask to “see the mayor” you get led into a secret bar from the prohibition period. Definitely on the list of things to do when I go back!

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After brunch we continued touring Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey. I kept hoping I would spot the royalty couple but no such luck!

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For dinner we made reservations at the Fable Bar which had lots of cool drinks, including “Goldfish in a Bag.” Literally, served in a bag. My friend knew a friend who knew two British guys (I know, confusing). Anyway, they joined us for drinks. It was such a fun night exchanging stories and listening to their accents! They even showed us to the Millennium Bridge which is the bridge on Harry Potter! They said it actually was completed destroyed during filming, it wasn’t just special effects!

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The next day was filled with much more Happy Potter! In the morning we hopped on the train to Hogwarts! Definitely one of the best days of my life. I highly recommend taking the Harry Potter Studio Tour sometime in your life. I saw all the actual props, wigs, Great Hall, and Diagon Alley, and more! I even tasted my very own Butterbeer :) Tons more pictures on Facebook!

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Of course our Harry Potter-filled trip could not be complete without Platform 9 3/4! After the studio tour, we went to King’s Cross to take a picture with the famous platform.

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Even though it was a short trip, it was so much fun! It was my last “whoo-rah” for the semester. Now it’s time for finals and then HOME! See you all soon :)

 

 

¡Loco en Lagos!

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I have been to many amazing places this semester and have made wonderful memories, but this past weekend may have topped off as my favorite trip…Lagos, Portugal!

On Friday, my friends and I traveled to Lagos with a program called Discover Excursion (same program I went to Morocco with earlier in the semester). We stayed in an apartment-style hotel which was really nice. During the afternoon we spent time at the beach taking pictures, catching rays, swimming, and jumping off the rocks in the water. The water was freezing but that didn’t keep us away!

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After the beach, we went to “El Fin del Mundo.” This is where they thought was the end of the world, back when the Earth was considered to be flat. We stayed and watched the sunset while listening to one of the leaders’ play the guitar. It was beautiful!

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For dinner we of course picked American, and I enjoyed my first grilled chicken salad in many months! Goat cheese is my new favorite food I’ve tried here in Europe.

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On Saturday, we went on a Sangria Cruise! Two hours of boating and unlimited Sangria was an absolute blast. We stopped by the cliffs to get into a smaller boat and explore inside the caves too.

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I still can’t believe it happened, but on Sunday morning I had the opportunity to learn surfing! I’m not going to lie, it was an absolute fail. I was terrible and pretty much gave up after wiping out a hundred times, but it was really fun! I’m so glad I got to try it out for the first time… especially in Portugal!

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It was an exhausting weekend but one of the best weekends of my life. I can’t wait to go back someday!

 

My Awesome Weekend

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Hey everyone! I’m once again procrastinating on homework and essays which are really adding up here towards the end of the semester. I had a pretty fun past weekend so I wanted to share with you all my activities :)

On Friday, we had a field trip with the program to Huelva, Spain. We visited Monsterio La Rábida (Monastery) and Las Tres Carabelas (La Niña, La Pinta, and Santa María). These are replicas of the three ships that Christopher Columbus sailed on to find the new world! In the afternoon we had four hours on the beach :)

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On Saturday, I decided to be a daredevil and zip-line from Spain to Portugal! The company was called Limite Zero, but it was located about 2 hours away from Sevilla. My friends and I rented a car and decided it would be a fun road trip experience. Lots of wrong turns and four hours later, we finally made it to our destination. I was a lot more scared than I thought I would be. The line is 720 meters and goes about 32-34 mph (taking about 50 seconds). I’m so glad I didn’t whimp out, as it was so much fun! Actually, it was pretty easy. The take-off was the worst, but the actual zip-line was smooth and beautiful over the Guadiana River. It’s cool to say I’ve been on the only cross-border zip-line in all of the world :) And we made it back to Sevilla in 2 hours on the way home! There’s a video link on my Facebook page (It wouldn’t let me post it on here) Unfortunately the take-off wasn’t caught on camera but it’s proof I did it! haha. Apologizes for the screaming!

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Somehow I still had energy after the long, adventurous day and bought tickets that night for my first soccer game! There are two soccer teams in Sevilla; Sevilla FC and Real Betis. Huge rivals, although Betis is considered the underdog of the two teams. My friends and I went to watch Real Betis play Real Sociedad. Unfortunately, Betis lost 0-1 but it was such a fun experience. We met a lot of new friends too, cause apparently being American at a Spanish soccer game means you’re a celebrity haha.

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I can’t believe there’s only 2 more weekends until I’m home! This weekend I’m going to Portugal and next week is London! Stay tuned for another post :)

Sarah

 

 

 

The Luck of the Irish

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For the second part of spring break, my mom and I traveled to Dublin, Ireland! The first thing we did in Ireland was have a full course Irish breakfast! And that was the last time we had that. Baked beans, sausage, sunny-side up egg, ham, and some kind of hash wasn’t my kind of breakfast (and my mom agreed). It was fun trying it out though!

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We went on a walking tour of the city to learn more about the important places and the history behind them. We saw the Christ Church Cathedral, the Dublin Castle, where U2 got their start (blue building), and where they party when they come back into town (Clarence Hotel), and much more.

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Believe it or not, we went on a Pub Crawl that very first night! I never thought I’d see the day I go on a pub crawl with my mom in Ireland. But we both survived and had a pretty good time meeting friends from around the world!

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The next day we toured the Guinness Factory Storehouse. After learning the ingredients, the process, the advertising, and how to “properly drink” Guinness, we received a free pint at the top! Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the dark beer but it was a super fun experience, especially since it was my first factory tour!

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After the Guinness tour, we visited the Kilmainham Goel (Jail). We learned about many of the famous Ireland leaders and heroes lived in the cells and the history behind the jail.

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We had delicious Italian for dinner (which of course had to be included in this blog). One of my favorite parts about traveling is the food! This trip, I had Italian, Chinese, Mexican, American and of course some Irish too. It was all very much needed!

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On Thursday we took a 13-hour day trip across the country to the Cliffs of Moher! Even though it was very windy and cold, the sight is absolutely amazing! It was definitely worth the hike.

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The bus stopped along the Burren Atlantic Edge to get out and take more pictures of the spectacular view. The terrain was really rough and rocky, but it made it easy to climb up to the top!

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After the hikes, we visited the town of Galway to do some shopping and a city tour. I absolutely loved this town, as it was very cute and everyone was so kind. The Irish people are extremely nice and helpful! From all my traveling around Europe, the culture in Ireland is my favorite.

On our last full day in Ireland we took another day trip, but this time south to the Wicklow Mountains. At first we stopped and toured the Dunmore Cave. This cave was a site for a Viking massacre and also home to numerous archaeological creations and discoveries.

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Then we visited the city Kilkenny visit the famous Kilkenny Castle and tour the city. It was an amazing castle!

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Finally we made it to the Wicklow Mountains! We got off the bus at the Wicklow Gap and took some amazing pictures. Wicklow Mountains National Park is where numerous movies where filmed, including PS I Love You and Braveheart. It’s obvious why after visiting the area, as it is absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous (yes, all those adjectives were needed).

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To finish off the day we visited the Lakes of Glendalough and explored one of the earliest Christian Monastic Settlements in Europe. We learned some stories about the kings and hiked to the smaller of the two lakes.

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Unfortunately the next morning I had to say goodbye to my mom. Her flight left 7 hours before mine, so after seeing her off at the bus, I went to visit the Dublin Zoo. It was a very cool zoo, with an African Savanna, Gorilla Rainforest, Asian Forest, House of Reptiles, and a Family Farm. I have to say the giraffes were my favorite!

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I want to thank my mom sooo much for throwing together this last minute trip to travel Europe with me! I had lots of fun and I’m so lucky to have her :) It was terrible saying goodbye but we’ll be reunited in just a few short weeks! I love you!

 

The City of Lights

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Last week was Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in Spain. The holiday is so big we had off school for the whole week. At the beginning of the year I planned a big trip with my friend to travel to London, Germany, and Ireland during this break. Unfortunately, two days before our first plane took off, she had to have emergency surgery to remove her appendix, and therefore was unable to travel. Terrible luck, and I was devastated. Fortunately, my mom came to the rescue and threw together a trip for her and I within a day in a half! We met last Friday morning in the beautiful city of lights… Paris! :)

The first day we tried exploring on our own and walking the city. We saw the Arc de Triomphe, Moulin Rouge, and explored the famous Avenida des Champs-Élysées. Tired from our long days of travel, we called it an early night. The next few days we learned to master the subway system! My first time ever riding a subway, and I think I did pretty good :)

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Early Saturday morning we went and ordered pastries and coffee at the nearby bakery. The pastries of course were delicious! This is something I’m going to miss when I leave Europe. We need more fresh bakeries like these in the States!

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We went on a tour of Montmartre, which was the area we stayed in. Although very hilly, it was definitely my mom’s favorite part of the city and I agree. We saw all three of the famous windmills related to the Moulin Rouge and where Vincent Van Gogh lived during his time in Paris!

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After the tour my mom appeased me and we went to Chipotle for lunch. I was so happy to be reunited with one of my favorite restaurants!

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After lunch we visited Le Louvre museum. It was extremely overwhelming. After numerous wrong turns and re-directions, we finally found the famous Mona Lisa painting! The museum was absolutely huge so we just decided to hang outside by the beautiful pyramid afterwards.

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In the afternoon we headed over to the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was amazing! We got there a few minutes before mass started so we stayed and attended mass for a little bit.

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Sunday morning we had fancy coffee at café where the French movie Amelie was filmed. Cherry mocha :)

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Visiting the Eiffel Tower was my favorite part of the trip. Not many people can say they’ve seen the famous tower, much less say they’ve gone up all the way to the top! It took over three hours in line, but definitely worth it! There was a Color Run that morning also which was fun to watch people end and celebrate from the top of the tower.

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Our night consisted of people-watching by the beautiful Basilique du Sacré Coeur in Montmontre while eating bread, cheese, and wine. With being the highest spot in the city, it was an amazing view.

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Since Spain isn’t big on breakfast, it had been a long time since I was able to eat my favorite breakfast foods. Luckily for me, I found a restaurant called “Breakfast in America.” I finally fulfilled my long craving for pancakes, bacon, eggs, and bottomless coffee! And of course I ordered a peanut butter milkshake called the “Obama” too. I was the happiest girl in the world.

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Later we shopped around and spent time watching the incredibly talented painters in Montmontre. Their work was amazing. After enjoying drinks and cheesecake, it was time to leave for the airport to our next destination… Dublin, Ireland!

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