Don’t worry, it is nothing too serious… except for maybe my bank account. I THINK I’VE CAUGHT THE TRAVEL BUG. Before leaving for Spain, I honestly did not think I would have the opportunity to travel much to surrounding countries. However, soon after arrival, everyone from my program had started to plan and book the trips they would be taking throughout the semester. I started to do a little research and realized that I could buy plane tickets for less than I could buy clothing! This is an added bonus for studying in Europe. The local transportation is quick and easy, yet the international transportation is even better. You can get to just about anywhere in Europe with a cheap flight, train, or bus. I’ll never forget the first time I bought a plane ticket here was at the beginning of my program. I immediately called my parents to tell them of my bargain deal. My dad’s response, “is the plane missing a wing”? A typical joke from my dad, but it really made me stop and think how these airlines are in business.
I am very fortunate to have traveled to several unique locations within Spain and Europe. When my study abroad program first began, we all flew into Madrid where we spent two amazing days exploring the city. This was our introduction to “culture shock” because the language, food, and sights were all new to us. Two days later, our program ventured to Toledo, the most picturesque city I have ever seen. It is located in the heart of Spain and home to the oldest synagogue still standing in Europe and El Greco’s infamous painting “The Burial of Count Orgaz”. In both of these cities, the food was very Spanish. However, Madrid offered a wider variety of cuisines, due to it being such a large city.
A couple weeks after settling into my new home in Sevilla, our program took us on a one-day excursion to Rhonda. It is located about two hours outside of Seville by bus and surrounded by mountains as a previous form of protection. “El Tajo” is a 390-foot-deep gorge that splits this ancient Andalusian mountain town in half and is a beauty sight for all. The landscape that this town overlooks is indescribable. There were no tall buildings, housing developments, commercial strips, or streets filled with cars. It was nothing but nature, and there were many moments where I just had to stop and take it all in.
Since Rhonda was solely a day trip, a few friends and I decided to visit the British territory of Gibraltar the next day. While it is still technically in Spain, it was captured in Britain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. We were able to view the Atlas Mountains of Africa from the Europe Point, explore and examine the old stalagmites in St. Michael’s Cave, and play around with monkeys at the Apes Den on the Rock of Gibraltar! The culture and feel of this territory was immensely different from the typical Spanish territory. There were several pubs offering fish and chips (delicious!) and English is their main language. This was my first time in English speaking territory for a while. It was strange being at a pub and not having to order and converse in Spanish! However, I have a deep love for the Spanish language, so I was still happy to return to home sweet home Sevilla that night :)
All of the previously mentioned places were locations within Spain. My first international trip was a tour throughout Dublin over one of our long weekends in March. I traveled with a fellow ISA student, Ali. We had done a fair amount of research before traveling, but we were lucky enough to meet a kind Irish man on our flight to Dublin who shared all of the must-sees and more with us. He told us about the most authentic pubs to eat at, the best sights in the city to see, and the best tour to go on to see the green rolling hills. We of course took his advice and had the time of our lives eating Irish beef stew, touring through the National Museum and Kilmainham Gaol, and taking a day to tour the infamous Wicklow Mountains.
The most popular sleeping accommodations for social travelers are hostels. These are in almost every city and a popular choice for young travelers looking for a cheap place to stay. Essentially, guests rent a bunk bed located in a dormitory shared with other travelers. The number of guests in one room can range from a private room to 50-shared beds. The concept may sound strange to those who haven’t experienced it, but as a traveler I can say it is my favorite means of accommodation. These hostels are normally very clean and a fun environment filled with people from all over the world. Most all travelers are interested in learning about fellow travelers’ cultures and many friendships are formed over one’s stay. I would recommend staying in a hostel to anyone!
Being in Dublin was a surreal moment for me. I have become so accustomed to the lifestyle in Sevilla, to the point where I call it home, that being in Dublin truly reminded me that I am in Europe. There is so much of this beautiful land that I cannot wait to explore. In just four months, it is nearly impossible to see it all while trying to stay in Sevilla for the majority of the time. Now that I have started to travel outside of the U.S., I do not think I can stop! There is so much of this beautiful world to see, and I hope I’m only getting started.