Time fliessss.

Well, I figure it’s high time to blog now considering I’m about a month behind and only have a month and a half left of my time here.

So many things have occurred! I’ve had multiple tests, fall break has come and gone, many interesting labs for Zoology have gone down, an excursion to a bodega was done, Halloween as a panda bear happened, and I have now officially visited another continent (in addition to Europe, of course). Guess I might as well get started telling stories sometime, eh?

With the many tests that have come and gone, I realize that the Spanish system of education is very different than that of Wofford’s. The rigor is not NEARLY the same and after this semester of slacking off and doing absolutely nothing, coming back to a full-course load spring of senior year will be a rude awakening. OH YEAH, I’ve registered guyz. FOR MY LAST SEMESTER EVER OF SCHOOL. Undergrad at least… but nevertheless… let the quarter-life crisis begin. Midterms have come and gone and things are just revving up for finals. Wish me luck, pray, do something. Ha.

As far as labs go, I finally made friends. Once they realized that I was indeed American and NOT just an awkward Spaniard (I swear, I blend in too well here…), I became a novelty. Although I understood FAR more Spanish than they thought, I would have to say my fellow classmates and lab partner Pablo were impressed by my impressive knowledge of the Phylum Porifera. Sponges, y’all. I have this whole observe things under a microscope procedure DOWN.

Fall Break was an adventure to say the least. As I mentioned before (some long, long time ago), I had a cruise to Italy, Greece and Croatia planned. Even though we were cramped in a small interior cabin in the depths of the boat, it had to be one of the best experiences of my life. One of my most memorable experiences would have to be riding a donkey up the steep moutain-side (cliff basically) of Santorini, Greece. Not something I’m likely to forget soon… I felt like was basically in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The white houses with the beautiful blue roofs were just as beautiful as my Pinterest boards depicted. Additionally, probably ate da BEST gyros and hummus of my life. Venice was another one of my favorite stops with all of the beautiful canals and winding streets – my sense of direction was more befuddled than usual. Naturally, pasta was consumed here and I was not disappointed.

Thanks to a lovely recommendation by Lara, a couple of girls and I went to a bodega in Benidorm called Enrique Mendoza Bodega. Let me tell you, I felt like such a classy little fool tasting my wine and eating my cheese. Such a random experience but one definitely worth having – I enjoyed myself thoroughly and even got a couple of gifts for people here. Wine, what’s a better souvenir from Spain??

Halloween in Spain was an interesting experience to say the least. While you don’t see many children dressed up going door to door, a ton of adults were dressed up in the barrio to go out and celebrate the festivities. It was definitely a busy night (especially for a Wednesday) and I realized a few things about Spaniards and Halloween. It’s much less about the fun, scary movies and candy and more about the alcohol and the level of bloodiness of your costume. While I was dressed up as a panda (I’m Asian, I can get away with these things) and had a little koala by my side (chuckle away, roommates. CHUCKLE AWAY.) I realized that a lot of the women just dressed up really glamorous and really bloody. The boys would dress up as women (something Spaniards find funny) or something equally as bloody as the girls. Something to keep in mind for those studying abroad here during the fall next year – panda = no. Blood = yes.

Most recently, I took a trip to Morocco with a couple of people from my program. I can say that it was a CLEANSING experience to say the least and I rediscovered the fact that I have a pretty sensitive stomach. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend going to Morocco for the camel rides, browsing the market, and the awesome tea. In addition to staying in Morocco, we spent a night and day in Sevilla in order to explore the town and catch all of the main sights and of course, enjoy some Starbucks. My host family is from Sevilla so they were definitely excited that I got to see their part of Spain and I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it. CIEE has a branch in Sevilla that I definitely would look into more if I were staying for two semesters like some girls in my program!

Alright, so it’s late and I’ve got to get some shut eye in before we head off to Valencia tomorrow. We get to go to an aquarium!! Ahem. Other than that, I’m just trying to plan another trip or two and ride through the rest of this month straight to finals and my trip home. Until then, hopefully I’ll squeeze out another blog or two!

XO, Julie

P.S. Will make a picture blog post sometime in the near future relating to this post. Quite frankly, I’m too lazy at the moment and you can creep my facebook. That is all.

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Balada Boa – che chere che che.

Oh, wait. I still have a blog? Tee hee. Sorry Study Abroad department… I’ve been kind of slack. Well, these past two weeks have had their ups and downs, I guess. Classes are now in full swing and I actually like them all a lot (shocking).

Just so I have a topic to talk about, I’ll talk to y’all about my classes! Alright, so I have a grammar class. This class is very similar to the intensive course I had at the beginning of the semester except it’s less, you know, intense. Chuckles. Other than the part where we actually do work, I enjoy this class a lot because the professor allows open discussion about whatever random topic someone brings up (literally, we talked about why European men shaved/waxed their legs). The good thing is we are still learning about grammar because our professor will stop us and correct any grammatical errors we have committed while providing our opinions.

I have a class about Spain’s popular culture, which, while similar to a class I already had back at Woff, is still very interesting. Our awesome teacher teaches us the “language of the streets” which includes a LOT of terms I am not allowed to actually use in my house. Tee hee… they’re just very colloquial sayings that I can only really use amongst peers. She also enjoys a lot of open discussion. We can talk about what we see and what we experience around us, which makes learning about Spanish culture very interesting. The funniest part is learning about all the sayings. For example, while we have the saying “black sheep” of the family, Spaniards have “garbanzo negro” or when you’re caught up in the middle of a complicated situation, you’re “en el ajo.”

My Spanish for the Health Professionals class is VERY interesting. And by that, I mean I’m the only person in there. I mean, I’m all about having a low student:teacher ratio… but when it’s 1:1, things get kind of awkward (i.e. if I ever forgot to do my homework for that class or ever get sleepy in there… awk). My professor is just super focused on me, but at the same time it’s nice because our schedule becomes super flexible and we’re able to do things like go on “field trips” to the Health Center.

My Zoology class is just a constant struggle for me. I mean, the university website is just incredibly confusing, so there have been multiple times I’ve sat in the wrong lab or go to the wrong practice problem session. But really – I have been laughed at on multiple occasions by the Spanish students (NOT NICE, GUYZ). I’m great at making friends, y’all. Other than that though, I really like all of the professors because they realize how deeply I’m in over my head (come on, Bio is hard in English for me) and they make sure I understand everything. I had my first test recently – it wasn’t bad but I haven’t gotten my grade back yet so I cannot provide a definitive answer.

So yes. Me gusta mis clases. What else has happened… OH! The program trip to Granada was this past weekend. Honestly, it almost felt like orientation again because the entire program was together but it was GREAT this time because we’re at the point where we know everyone and am pretty comfortable with each other. I had da bestest roommate and we just bonded and obsessed over our awesome shower that was in our room. (Literally though, when I’m in my host home, I feel bad taking long, hot showers and the water pressure is a tad sketchy). Granada is a beautiful place (almost made me wonder why I didn’t go there instead) and we visited the Alhambra, which was gorgeous. The weather was a bit temperamental, but the last day we were there it was sunny and glorious. Other exciting things we did – watched a flamenco show in a cave (and some of us may have danced too… tee hee) and we went to a club that was built into a cave with a terrace that had a view of the Alhambra at nighttime (El Camborio is highly recommended).

It was weird because on the way back from Granada, I realized that I was homesick. Imagine my shock when the home I was sick for was my own little casa en España. Even my little puppy was super excited to see me come back (that’s when I know I’m really a part of da fam – when the dog misses me). I’m finally starting to settle in and just enjoy being here without constantly being preoccupied with what I’m missing back home (only 40 days in, y’all. Took me long enough). Although I’m still a little distraught I missed out on recruitment (ALL DA NEW BABIES!!) and the final Boy’s Bid Day wif my sisters (ROLLER DERBY Y’ALL). Nevertheless, I was definitely there in spirit.

Meanwhile, ‘tis time for me to go do something exciting with my life (I mean, not that updating my blog isn’t exciting…). I’m on fall break right now and my cruise to Greece/Italy/Croatia is coming up on Monday, so it’ll definitely be a bit of time before I update again, but I’ll try to instagram pictures fo’ sho. Wif all the lovely benefits of technology, I’m never really more than a tweet/text/message/mention away. MISS EVERYONEEEE.

XO, Julie

P.S. Brunette Chelsea – if for some odd reason you’re reading this, sorry for sketchily downloading all of your pictures from Facebook. You da best.

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Lo más que sabe?

Oops. Guess who’s a little late for their weekly update? Alas, don’t be too surprised. Tardiness basically runs through my body much like caffeine and blood do.

I guess I would say it’s been a pretty eventful week. My university class – Zoology – started last Monday and whew, I had an interesting first class. Well, to start off, my knack for tardiness reared its ugly head when I was nearly late for my primer día. What a good impression that would’ve made with my professor, eh? Well, it takes me a good 9 minutes or so to walk to the bus stop. The bus itself takes 35 minutes to reach the school. (Yes, I pulled up my stopwatch app one day and timed this – don’t judge). Leaving an hour early isn’t really effective enough for a stress-free first day when the commute alone takes 44 minutes. Well to make things better, I get off a stop too early and end up having to walk the entire length of the campus. Map in hand, I finally find my class 1 minute before class starts.

Little did I know, my stress/rushing/overall sweatiness was completely unnecessary. Standard to procedure, Spanish professors have a tendency to roll up to class between 5-10 minutes late. Once she did start class though, homegirl went HAM. And by ham, I mean she spoke so fast I’m pretty sure she taught the hour-long class in one breath. So after class, I utilized a standard coping mechanism for stress – chocolate. It was just that kind of day. However, I am now on my fourth day of class and things have gotten much better. Basically, it’s a review of classes I’ve already had (i.e. embryonic development, reproduction, whatever).

In class today, a couple of things happened, one – I noticed today was how YOUNG the kids in my class were! I’m pretty sure this is an intro class for Spanish biology majors so… Hi freshmen. (At the people chuckling due to previous “cougar” rumors, stop it. Right now. Rude.) I’m also pretty sure these kids are young because the entire back row laughed when the professor said “invagination.” (Seriously, chicos?) The second thing that happened was I found out the professor spoke English. Naturally… I should not have been surprised because every other country (save for the US of A) is bilingual. Nevertheless, I think the only reason she revealed this fact was because I was stumbling my way through a question after class when she’s like – “you can speak to me in English. I can understand it some.” (Uh, thanks?)

Anyways, so last week a couple of other random things happened. Tuesday, I basically spent an hour and a half on the bus (there and back) to go to a seminar class that was already over by the time that I got there. So I learned that I’m really great with schedules and stuff. Wednesday, I just went to the playa all day until my class at five. Thursday, I spent the morning with mi madre in the mercadillo (which is like an outside street market – SUPER cheap everything) and I will definitely have to go back there and explore more once I have time. Friday, we went on a tour of a small mountain town in the province called Guadalest – absolutely beautiful! – and afterwards, swam in a waterfall. T’was gorgeous and cold (snow runoff from a mountain, cold? – who would’ve imagined.) Rest of the weekend, chilled, playa-ed, and went out.

Well, that was a quick recount of last week. Not too eventful, but interesting nonetheless. I’m starting to get bouts of homesickness (literally looked at some pine trees and teared up a bit), but they’re nothing I can’t handle at the moment. I finally caved the other day and had McDonald’s. I had a McPollo (chuckles!) and their fries taste exactly how the fries from the Spartanburg/Myrtle Beach McDonald’s would taste. It was incredibly comforting. But anyways, now that classes have started I feel much better about having a routine to settle into – the past couple weeks of constant change haven’t exactly worked wonders for my nerves. I definitely enjoy getting settled and consistency/routines. Meh – boring to some, comforting to others. To each their own, eh?

Well, this week begins my CIEE classes – da first class was interesting, to say the least. Spanish for the Health Professional. Why was it so interesting? I am the ONLY person in that class. Me. Sola. And no one else. The focus that the professor had on me was a tad more intense than I’m used to, but the nice thing is that being the only person in the class makes the schedule much more flexible.

So, yeeees. I guess I’m looking forward to this week and the new adventures it shall bring. Can y’all believe I’ve already been here for nearly a MONTH now? (This Friday will make a complete four weeks – holy fudge.) Alas, till next time.

XO, Julie

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Te voy a esperar

Oh hai again.

So I really wish I could tell you that I’ve been wandering to glorious places all week and have done wonderful things, but truthfully I’ve just been straight chillin’.

I finished my intensive course this week… WHEW. What a relief. It was like all the years I’ve ever had Spanish rolled into a two-week course. Rough. Although, good news – I didn’t fail the first test (yippee) and am currently hoping I didn’t fail the second one. Nevertheless, my actual university class starts soon! And by soon, I mean tomorrow. It’s like entering college again as a freshman – all the first day of school jitters and being stressed about what to wear and whether or not all the Spanish peeps will like me. OY. Also, found out this joyous bit of news – all of my classes factor back into my GPA… hmmm. Truthfully speaking though, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Plenty of people go abroad and come back with 4.0 semesters so I can only hope that’ll be me.

Well, one interesting thing I did this weekend was going out on a couple of catamaran cruises! That’s right people – multiple, glorious boat rides. We went on a huge program cruise on Friday and just chilled on da boat and took a little dip. But today, we went on a snorkeling excursion. Sounds fancy, eh? The weather was beautiful and perfect today (like it is everyday). Unfortunately, I’m feeling a tad crispy – which usually doesn’t happen because I’m all Asian and junk but the sun was supa intense today. Also, mi madre has commented on the awesome sunglasses tan I’m workin’. Lookin’ supa noms right now.

OH! GEEZ, how could I forget?! I have trips booked! Okay, so we have a bunch of trips already booked through the program. This coming weekend we’re going on a tour of the province (I think a waterfall is involved – psyched!) and Granada, Murcia, and Valencia are in my near future. But I booked a couple non-program trips wif some awesome chicas. In early November, my butt is going to be riding on a camel on a beach in Tangiers, Morocco. DREAM COME TRUE GUYZ. Also, it makes me one step closer to accomplishing my goal of traveling to all da continents. North America, Asia, Europe, and soon AFRICA. Additionally, I’m in the process of planning a cruise to… wait for it… GREECE! (Basically the motherland of a particular bushy-browed friend of mine). A couple of people and I are booking it for SURE tomorrow and I am supa excited.

Other than that, I’ve just been raging a little here and there and hanging out wif my family, who have been wonderfulll. It’s like they knew I was craving American food today (I know, too soon) so they made me freshly fried French fries. Like, cut up potato chunks stuck into a frying pan. SO NOMS. Additionally, might have scared them to death this weekend… at least I now know that a deadly combination of cheap alcohol will do wonderfully cleansing things to your body and chamomile tea will soothe a troubled stomach. HA.

Lastly, Skyping wif my wonderful amigas back home makes me Wofford-sick and makes me realize how weird I can get with y’all and not be shunned (I don’t think my program peeps are ready for that quite yet). Y’all better hold it down for the seniors and party hardy till I get back! AH! And congratulations on a SICKKK 82-0 win this weekend, football! Soccer also went 2-0 in their games this weekend. Such an awesome weekend for Woff Athletics!

Hokay. Well, time to chill wif da fam some more and get to bed to be ready for my FIRST CLASE MAÑANA!

Random pictures from da catamaran cruise! Threw in one of Sarah from Formal because A) Elis finally posted those dang pictures and B) I mees Sawah. Tee hee.

XO, Julie

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Vamos a la playa, a mí me gusta bailar.

Well, it has officially been a little over a week since I arrived in Alicante. I can’t believe it’s only been a WEEK because I feel like I’ve experienced and learned so many new things already.

Our Program!

1. Orientation is the same everywhere.

You get there, you meet people, and you do the awkward icebreaking activities. There were really helpful info sessions… who knew that Spaniards would interpret making eye contact and smiling as flirting? I’ve basically flirted with every Spaniard I’ve met then because it’s just such a force of habit we acquire at sweet ol’ Woff. What else do I do when I make awk eye contact? And gee, don’t even get me started on what giving someone your number means… HA. But we learned a good bit of information about the culture and how to get around (public transportation and buses… whoa). The amazing staff at CIEE did a great job orientating us.

Cervezas for everyone!

2. Speaking, thinking, and learning in Spanish stresses me out a bit.

Our intensive classes recently started and I could definitely say they’re INTENSE. I realized how advanced everyone else’s Spanish was when really all I could probably tell you are colors and months. They aren’t bad, but I naturally try to resort to English when I feel uncomfortable with my Spanish… which is nearly all the time. The past tense… who KNEW there were so many different kinds of past tense (has anyone heard of pretérito pluscuamperfecto? Cause I didn’t till that class). We had our first test this Friday, which I could safely say I don’t think I failed with flying colors. After our exam, the photo above happened.

Mi madre!Mi perrita!

3. Host families are definitely an experience.

I met my host family last Sunday and they are all incredibly sweet. I have mi madre, who is an older woman who stays at home and cooks a lot (trust me, I know. I’ve nommed more food here than I thought possible.) She is really nice and will always compliment me on one thing or another (Qué guapa!) before I leave the house. The one struggle I’m having is the amount of food she constantly gives me (think three course meal for lunch – OY!) However, I think she’s slowly figuring out my portion size based on how much food I leave on the plate. She’s figured out that I hate tomatoes (but in my defense, I did try to choke down a bunch before I gave up) and somehow thinks I love olives (but really, I don’t eat olives. At all.) ‘Tis very interesting, haha. I have a host brother and sister who are both around 30 and live with us. In Spanish culture, it is very common for children to stay with their families until they get married. It saves money on rent and you reap the benefits of home cooking. The heat really bothered me at first (think 80˚F in your bedroom at night when you try to sleep) but I’ve become acclimated to it.

Our bus!Hiked up a castle!

4. You will walk… a lot. Find comfy shoes.

But really. My feet were swollen from all the heat and walking. My calves are constantly sore, but think how toned my legs will be! We walk to the bus stop (ten minutes), ride the bus (30 minutes – sometimes standing the entire way), walk to class (5 more minutes), spend our day in class and then repeat those stages backwards. A walk to the beach is about 35 minutes or so. Walking to the shopping strip is about 5-10 minutes from my house. Basically, invest in some cute comfy flats before if you decide to study abroad here.

Chilling at a hookah bar!

5. Spaniards either go hard or go home.

First, I will have to tell you a bit about Spanish culture. They wake up pretty early, eat a small breakfast, go to work or school, come home for la comida at around two (which is lunch, the biggest meal of the day), take a little siesta, and then eat dinner at like ten. Afterwards, if it’s a weekend, they’ll go out… till the sun rises. Additionally, Spaniards are very social people, they drink as a form of social lubricant, not to get drunk like many of us college kids do. I didn’t take advantage of precious siesta time until a week after I got here (idiot move – who wouldn’t take advantage of built-in nap time?). So anyways, after going out with people from my program for a total of three nights, I can tell you that these Spaniards are CRAY. I came home worse for the wear, sweaty and with terribly sore feet. I can say that I’ve managed to keep up with their partying ways though. Last night was my first night staying out all night – I’m talking bright and sunny out on my walk back (and came home to mi madre sitting on the balcony with her coffee… awkward).

Just a beach photo!La playa!

6. The people of this country don’t have the concept of the personal bubble and have lower inhibitions than most.

Whether on the bus or wandering the bar scene, there is NO concept of a personal bubble. People will often be all up in your grill and constantly touching you. Not something we’re accustomed to in the United States (even with people we’re super close to). The double kissing thing, while cute, is not as fun to do when the other person is incredibly sweaty, unattractive, and hitting on you. When I say Spaniards have lower inhibitions, I just mean that they will often wear more exposing clothing (think denim shorts that show cheek) and lay topless on the beach, which is definitely something I’m not used to seeing.

WAH! Sorry this post has been so long, I’ll try to be better about giving smaller, more entertaining updates more frequently. In the meantime, I’m enjoying myself here. I’m nice and settled in now and although I still feel like I’m on a vacation, it’s slowing sinking in that I’ll be here for another four months.

XOXO, Julie

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Live from España

Well, Spain has already been a roller coaster of emotions for me.

It all started when I legitimately started packing. At ten o’clock… the night before I left… which resulted in me staying up till 4:30AM. For all of those who told me I should have started packing at least weeks in advance, please feel free to say “I told you so.” Because you’re right. That was one of the worst things I have had to do for this trip. Being practical and wanting a lot of cute clothes to impress European boys are, for the most part, mutually exclusive events. I finally crawled into bed and woke up with the worst “I did not get enough sleep” headache EVER.

On top of the headache, I wake up and find my puppy (who’s old and infirm anyways and has been sick the past two weeks) COVERED in blood. So I freak out, thinking she’s dying, and frantically try to wash off the blood. Within ten minutes of waking up, I’m soaked, covered in blood, and bawling. Needless to say, THE MORNING DID NOT GO WELL. (P.S. da pup is fine. It was a minor issue that was bandaged and fixed.)

Packing done, puppy fixed, goodbyes said (which, saying good bye to Lily was harder than saying bye to my actual family members)… and I was off.

The flights themselves were not terrible, I just wished I had gotten just a wink of sleep. So I arrive in Madrid, grumpy and sleep deprived. But it was fine, I had a three hour layover that could be spent to my heart’s content. Wrong. I had to check-in for the flight from Madrid to Alicante and for some reason, an inept desk clerk claimed that I had not paid for my second checked bag leading to a fiasco that ended up in four terminal shuttle rides, talking to more than 4 different clerks, crying out of frustration and finally, making it to my gate 5 minutes before it started boarding. Needless to say, I was not impressed with my first few moments in Spain.

Dragging around luggage in 90 degree heat all day was not a pleasant experience and resulted in a sweaty, grumpy first impression for my fellow CIEE-ers. I was disgruntled with Spain and disappointed with the whole experience thus far. Alicante was not what I expected. Where I imagined palm trees and cool breezes, I saw desert-like fields and mountains and mountains of sand. I didn’t even see a wink of Mediterranean Ocean. I was dehydrated and ravenous and the hotel room failed impress. Figuring out my Spanish phone was miserable and my mom was freaking out about what was taking me so long to get in touch.

Then I realized, I didn’t even give this place 24 hours before I judged and loathed it.

I began to see parallels between Alicante and my previous travels abroad. Some of the Iberian scenery was similar to that of Vietnam’s. The Spaniards’ unabashed staring is much like what happens to me in Vietnam. A lot of small similarities made me feel somewhat more comfortable with the whole experience and is easing me into the next four months here.

There are parallels between CIEE and Wofford, too. Classes haven’t officially begun yet, but orientation shows me that the many dynamics between people at Wofford exist everywhere. We have the trio of fratastic boys that think they’re the hottest things to have hit Spain who started taking shots as soon as we finished dinner. The typical quirky, quiet types. The crazy girls who’ll drink 3/4 of a bottle of wine before dinner but are so naturally charismatic and outgoing you can’t help but enjoy being around them. I’m fitting in to my own little bubble here, much like the lovely bubble I have made for myself at home. (Tee hee, you know who you are.) No names shall be mentioned but updates and nicknames shall occur, I’m sure.

After nomming, heavily rehydrating (I risked drinking the tap water it was that bad), and making new friends over dinner, I feel much better now and have high hopes for da semester. Meanwhile, between the jet lag and the sleep deprivation itself, I am settling in for the night to write this. (I am such an old person. My first night in Spain and I’m in bed by 10:30. Just means more energy for tomorrow night!) Tomorrow, we shall take our first dip into the Mediterranean after a city tour, so it’ll definitely be something to look forward to. But I can still say I am just ready to meet my host family and get settled there so I can stop living out of my suitcase.

XO, Julie

P.S. How goes my Spanish so far? Well. I can understand a lot of it. It’s the responding part that becomes the issue. Additionally, Spanish cuisine includes a lot of ham, guyz. But overall, has been very noms. I have reservations about falling asleep in dis sketchy bed though. Tee hee. Good night and tons of love from España.

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Here it goes…

HA HA! Well… I have started blogging much earlier than intended. How is three days before I leave early, you ask? For those of you who know me, if it isn’t done at the crack of dawn the day something is due… It’s early. Be happy I’m not already two weeks into my program.

Well, now that you’re here, let me preface by saying I am a bad blogger. I’ll either completely forget to blog or I will meticulously recount every little detail of my day. Whatever happens, just bear with me. Also, I have a tendency to write things exactly as I think them… So if I throw in the word “nom” somewhere or throw a #hashtag up in here, just chuckle a little and disregard it.

That being said, let’s start off with a couple of things I’ve learned during this whole “getting ready to leave” process.

THETADA BESTESTMYBOOS

First, plan ahead when it comes to studying abroad. I have been a Spanish major since my second semester of freshman year and knew this day would come eventually. However, deadline after deadline passed and study abroad remained such an abstract idea to me… Until spring of my junior year when I realized… Oh bother, I actually have to get my life together and go. Due to my lack of commitment, everything I did was turned in was last minute and basically an afterthought. So sadly, I will be missing out on half of my final year with the most incredible people I have met.

Passport & Visa Second, don’t stress about the VISA process. It’s tough, sure. But as long as you have everything on the checklist you are provided, you will be okay, I promise. Plan ahead about going down to Miami… And definitely do not go alone because Miami can be kind of intimidating. (However, I do not suggest bringing your mother along… But that’s an entirely different story.) I was unnecessarily stressed about this process. Just make copies of everything and be sure to have a prepaid envelope to give to the consulate because you have to leave your precious passport behind in Miami. If you need to start from scratch and get a passport also, I can’t really give advice because I’ve had mine for as long as I can remember. (Asian parents, therefore childhood trips to Asia.)

Third, change is a scary thing. I have spent countless weeks anxious and overwhelmed simply because I am leaving everything I’ve ever known behind. Puppy You’re terrified something will happen to those that you’ve left behind (after the summer I’ve had, it’s an actual concern.) This will be tough, but completely normal. There will be a certain time where denial and fear become acceptance… So don’t flake out last minute and decide not to go. It will be the biggest mistake you’ll ever make and will lead to a lifetime of what if’s. It is imperative that you realize that life back home does not stand still and that you may come back feeling out of place. Therefore, you must be open-minded and see that study abroad will broaden your horizons and more likely than not, you’re going to be a different person too.

Lastly, this will be the experience of a lifetime and too amazing and life-changing to pass up. Even though you may be terrified and scared pantsless… Take a leap of faith and know you’ll have a great time.

Till then, I should probably start packing.

XO, Julie

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