Health and Wellbeing Abroad

Studying abroad is such a unique experience in that you can explore new parts of the world at the same time as accomplishing academia goals. Such a new environment can be stressful and overwhelming at times which emphasizes that importance of establishing a routine and doing things you know will bring you joy. I’ll show you how I did it during my semseter in CPH!

One thing I did to keep sane is indulging in the food! I am a foodie and love to try new things! This picture is a Danish hotdog, so yum! But buying a little sweet treat or trying a new pastry always makes the soul happy and brightens the mood. Also, trying new foods is a great way to learn about the place you’re in whether its pasta in Italy or smørrebrød in Denmark. It’s a fun way to become inmersed in the culture!

A way to beat homesickness is to do some things that you would do at home! For example, I love to read so I visited a book shop close to my school and browsed around with one of friends! It was so fun since we had our hot coffees and it was chilly outside!

I also made sure to check out book shops in the countries I traveled to! Usually they were all in the native language so I couldn’t understand the books but its partly for the familiarity 🙂

Another thing is to make sure you leave your room or your complex. It’s so important to get out an explore the city your living in! This is a public library that my friends and I would go study at, specifically in the old library section that looked straight from Harry Potter! Exploring new places with new friends is such fun and creates the best memories!

On the topic of health, it’s important to remember that being in a new place brings colds. Taking Vitamin C everyday helped me to not get sick once! I also made sure to make meals that incorporated many fruits and veggies! Don’t worry too much about working out because you walk so much but movement everyday is important. Getting out into the sun and parks is also important for the mental health aspect! Grab a coffee and sit and people watch. Simplicity is key.

2024 CPH Marathon

Study abroad in itself is going to remove you from your comfort zone and it’s normal to feel isolated or alone at times. You’re far away from home! But! It allows you to gain so much new knowledge about yourself and the world that you won’t want to leave. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world!

Academics in Another Country

Academics! What a fun topic! I was nervous for what this would look like in another country especially after feeling so burnt out from the previous semester. I had been told different things on what the academics specific to my program would look like so I felt nervous. It also was nerve wracking because the buildings are spread throughout the city, which I am not used to.

The classes that I am taking all have similar yet different rigor. A big thing in Danish education is group work. Thus, in my Danish class, we rarely will do individual work except our worksheets and exams. For example, one of our bigger projects was to walk to an assigned neighborhood, interview a local, and then make some sort of video to complete the project. So my group mates and I had to take the metro to be able to do our project, which is not something I’ve ever had to do before for a school project. My Human Trafficking in Global Context class is heavy on discussions and has reading homework due before class starts, which is something I’ve had in my Wofford Philosophy classes.

My core course is lecture heavy and so is my immunology class but that’s to be expected of Biology classes. The class lengths are a little longer here, by maybe 10-15 minutes, but the professors are good about giving us 5-10 minute breaks halfway through. Something that I wish Wofford professors would do, but I won’t be picky 🙂 There is a lot of emphasis on learning outside of the classroom which I feel can be seen sort of in Woffords classrooms. Theres more guidance in what to study at DIS but, if I’m being honest, I don’t do a ton of studying. Why, you might ask? Well all our exams are open book, so I just focus on keeping good notes. I am grateful that this program acknowledges that were studying abroad to gain experiences!

I think that my courses of study here that are relevant to my major have helped solidify my desire to pursue medical school. I really enjoy the hospital setting and was interested in the difference between Danish hopsitals and US hospitals. From my brief visit on one, the biggest difference I noticed was insanely bright and colorful walls and decorations as well as a bike lane through all the hallways! My medical practice class has really solidified my interest in medicine because it’s taught by practicing doctors who are able to give first hand advice and stories about what we are learning. This is nice because I’m learning similar things to Wofford but have the knowledge of a physican to enhance it.

Lastly, my world view has completely expanded because of this experience. I knew of the world and other cultures before, but being immersed in a new one is the perfect way to flip your world upside down. My Human Trafficking in a Global Context class has really impacted me the most by completely destroying what I thought I knew. New definitions and new perspectives have been gained in learning of this issue. It brings in so many political factors that I won’t get into on here, but it’s definitely a much broader topic than I originally thought as well as a much more complex topic.

I think that this experience will be good for me of course, but also in the aspect of academics and learning. I won’t lie when I admit that sometimes learning was becoming a chore at school because of how content heavy in short timeframes. However, being able to immerse in a new way of learning has brought the joy back. Learning is such a gift and priviledge, especially as a young woman, so being refreshed in the mindset is a blessing. The schooling in Denmark is definitely more lowkey than the US, but it’s reminding me of why I am doing what I am doing so cheers to Denmark!

Excursions with my program!

I just returned from a week long trip with my core course at DIS Scandinavia – Copenhagen! To break it down for you, there are core courses at DIS which are similar to majors at universities/colleges. Similar concept in that it is focused on a topic, but it’s only for one semester and only one class. So for me, as I am a Biology major back home at Wofford, I wanted to choose a core course that was related to that in some way. There were a couple that piqued my interest but the one I ended up settling on is Medical Practice and Policy: Human Health and Diseases. Another major difference is that core courses have travel weeks, one short and one longer. I’ll share a little about both in this post, specifically about the academic visits we did. Every core course has these short/long study weeks. My course went to Odense, Denmark for the short tour which is in western Denmark. We went to Tallinn, Estonia and Hesinki, Finland for our long study tour.

For the short study tour, we visited the Odense Univerity Hospital for all of our academic visits. We heard from an ENT, Pathologists, and EMS. At the EMS visit, we also heard a research presentation on whether sedation vs. no sedation is better for intubation.

On the long study tour, we had a visit to a General Practitioners office where we heard from a Family Doctor in Estonia. This visit was cool because we also got a tour of the entire doctors office. In Estonia, more specialized physicians are found in hospitals and more generalized physicians can be found in practices like this. So, a gynecologist is in the hospital while a midwife is at the Family Practice. We also learned that 94% of Estonians have health insurance which just means that they pay taxes. These taxes go towards the Estonia Health Insurance Fund and is what funds an procedures or medical needs for the country.

We then visited the TEMS, Tallinn Emergency Medicine Services. This was a similar visit to the Odense visit in that they have similar practices, though different from the US. They have teams with nurses and doctors, and depending on the severity of the call, one will get sent out over the other. One thing I think could definitely be implemented into American cities is EMS on bikes! In the summers, they have EMS on bikes patroling Old Town Estonia since the roads are so narrow.

Lastly, we visited a dentist in Helsinki and an allergist. The dentist visit was in an old mental insitution but was now a space for lots of different small businesses and even a café! We got a run down of the Finnihs healthcare system as well a lottttt of statistics. I wont include them here as to prevent boredom. But long lecture short, while the Fins are voted the happiest country in the world, they have the highest numbers of people on antidepressants. I think the allergist ties nicely into why this is. In an ever evolving world, we have introduced more urban spaces. A lot of people are no longer out and about in nature and that has increased the amount of allergies that have hit our modern world. Finland doesnt see a lot of sun (we were there for 2 of the 4 days of sun theyve had so far this year) and so people are not outside. The disconnect between humans and nature is the main research topic that the allergist is researching and is why I think a lot of Fins are struggling with depression.

These study tours are all work, theres lots of free time and fun activities set up for us! For example, on a ghost tour in Tallinn, we were blessed to be able to see the Northern Lights in the city! How gorgeous! Never would I have thought I would be able to see these but here they are!

I also learned how to curl! It takes way more strength than you would think! I’ll be watching them during the winter Olympics!

We played Glow-in-the-Dark mini golf in Helsinki with our class! So fun! It was set up like a haunted house which none of us expected so it definitely was a jump scare at first! There was even a hole where the floor dropped when you made it in. Terrifying!

I was also able to feed reindeer in Finland! This was an incredible experience! On this trip, we also did the ice plunge and sauna that is really popular in Nordic countries. We went at night so it was difficult to see into the lake. They cut a hole in the ice for us and we dipped in! Such an unique experience!

I love Tallinn and Helsinki! Those excursions were so incredibly fun and I made some amazing friends along the way!

Arriving in Germany

Arriving in Germany was one of the most enjoyable experiences i’ve encountered. Although the flight to get here was long, as soon as we stepped off the plane into the Frankfurt Airport I felt an unexpected peace melt over me. The airport in Frankfurt was silent. There were no people running. No one was stressed. No one was angry. It was incredibly peaceful. After we passed through customs and received our luggage, we took a bus to the opposite side of the airport to catch our train. My friends and I were extremely confused on how the train system worked even though we could read German and we had to ask for help. We ended up missing our train, but we were able to get on the next train with the same ticket! The train to Freiburg was gorgeous. The interior was so pretty and decadent. Most of the train ride I spent looking out the window at the beautiful German country side. All the houses here look like cottages from a fairy tail. I was surprised at how much graffiti enraptured Germany, but I soon came to love it. The graffiti reveals a certain freedom of existence and intention that you can’t find in America. On the train I was able to place my first order (a water) in German and I felt so accomplished. After the train station we had to walk for about 20 minutes to the IES center. This was so exhausting because we all had two giant suitcases and we had to pull them over the cobblestone (best workout you can get). We finally made it to the IES center and there we met so many new people and played guitar and piano. After, IES provided a taxi to our dorms. The dorms here are basically just apartments. Mine has a balcony, a stove, an oven, a toaster, pots, pans… EVERYTHING. I’m excited to make Germany my new home!

Day in the Life in Milan, Italy

As I’ve reached over one month of living in Milan, I am finally feeling a little bit like a local with my routine. Growing up, I learned the importance of routine and order in my life. Of course my days are never exactly the same, but I will try my best to capture a typical day in my life of living in Italy. Monday and Wednesday’s are my busiest days with class from 9:00am-2:30pm. Those mornings begin around 7:00am when I wake up and get ready for class. I usually take a bit of time picking out my outfit because everyone always dresses so nice! This is very different from wearing my athletic clothes at Wofford, haha! Before departing for class, I grab a coffee from the coffee shop in my dorm. I always go with a cappuccino, which is hard to beat here for only 1.50. My first class begins at 9:00am, so I leave my room around 8:15am to walk to the metro. I commute to class with friends and the metro ride is around 20-25 minutes…not bad at all! Some mornings we are all sardines in the metro as there are many commuters. I have been so grateful to have public transportation here because it makes life so much easier! We normally are able to find seats about halfway through our commute when a large number of commuters leave the metro before our stop.



Each class is typically 1 hour and 40 minutes, but we only have the same class two days a week. My first class is called “The Mediterranean: A Plastic Sea.” This is my smallest class with only six students, including myself. This topic has been so informative about the effects of plastic pollution in the oceans, and specifically the Mediterranean sea. Because of this, I have been able to reflect on my plastic use and how the plastic pollution affects the world’s entire ecosystem. My second class is called “Positive Psychology: The Science of a Good Life” and we begin each class with a brief meditation session to prepare our minds. My professor travels from Brussels each week…isn’t that crazy?! All of my professors are amazing and I have really enjoyed each of their classes. Between my second and third class, I have a 40 minute break which is when I eat my lunch. Because of this short break, I pack my lunch these two days and eat at the center. My third and final class is called “Italian and American Approaches to Mental Health.” This is by far my favorite class because mental health is so important to me and I am fascinated by learning more about it. This class is so informative and I love every second of it. I am so thankful to be able to take classes outside of my comfort zone and expand my knowledge. My final class ends at 2:40 and then I usually commute back to my room.

My Tuesday class schedule consist of Italian 105 and is followed by “Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies.” On Thursday, however, I only have my “Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies” until 12:30pm. Thursday’s are very easy and I usually am able to complete a lot of tasks this day.

I normally go straight home from class, but if I don’t, I typically stop at Tre Torri and grab a bakery item and espresso. Tre Torri is a newly built, modern area that has shops, restaurants, and beautiful scenery. This stop is on my way home, so it’s always very tempting for me to get off. Once i’m back to my dorm, I usually lay down for a little and sometimes even sneak in a little nap. I also complete my homework and any other assignments that I have.

I love FaceTiming my family, friends, and Jackson in my free time! I try to talk to them as often as I can to stay up to date about everything back home! Although I miss them all like crazy, I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have and am soaking up every last bit of it. How can I not?! I’m only in this beautiful place for three more months and I feel like I just got here. Time is truly flying, especially now that my classes are cranking up!

I end my nights by cooking dinner with my friends and watching some tv. I’ve recently been watching Law & Order SVU and it is so good! I love anything crime or medical in shows, so this is right up my alley. I love ending the day with a show to relax and have some self-care time.

P.S. I have been lacking in my blog posts…I am aware of this. I am much better at staying up to date on my travel instagram @carols.life.in.europe

coffeeeeeee in vienna

As a big coffee fan I’m here to tell you the coffee places that I really like.

  1. Cafe Jelinek

Starting out with Cafe Jelinek. It’s a traditional coffeehouse, therefore the coffee won’t be the best. However, the whole atmosphere of this place is amazing. It’s also away from the touristy area and will almost always have a spot for you. It’s simply a great place to do some studying or to stop by with your friends.

2) Aufzug Cafe.

Not only is the coffee here wonderful, but the whole concept of this place is unique. Elevator-themed with the barista wearing a conductor outfit and you get to sit in a vintage elevator? How cool is that.

3) Balthasar Coffee Bar

Best place to study, the coffee is amazing, and the latte art is some of the best I’ve seen. Although often busy, usually you can find a spot.

Other places I’ve been to:

1) Elias Coffee

It’s super close to IES and a great place to study before your class. It also has wonderful coffee.

2) Alt Wien kaffee

Super cool, especially if you are looking for a place to buy coffee beans. A place to try coffee, not a place to do work!

3) Cafe in der Burggasse24

Very cool atmosphere. They even had the fireplace burning. Only wish is that they had wifi. Also the coffee was okay, not the best.

4) Cafe Little Britain

Cute and very pretty cafe.

5) Glockenspiel

This is all the way in Linz, if you ever take a trip there. However, this place had the best Melange I’ve ever tried.

6) Cafe Landtmann

High end cafe and really pretty interior, but do I really want to pay 7 euros for a melange?

7) Cafe Hawelka

They have really good soup and also a cool interior.

8) Cafe Frauenhuber

You’re probably going to go here with your German class. Oldest coffeehouse.

9) Coffee Pirates

Big interior, good for working/studying. Kinda far from me, so not a personal favorite.

10) Jonas Reindl

I got a to-go coffee here and it was very yummy.

11) Kunsthistorisches Museum Cafe

Very Beautiful, recommend going to the museum too. However, it is also pricy.

12) Good Coffee Society

Good coffee, but the place is too small. Better if you’re in the area and need a coffee to-go.

13) No Panic Coffee

Someone recommended this place to me, but I wouldn’t recommend it, there are better options. Plus the bathroom was located in the basement, which was kinda creepy.

A Day in the Life of a Student in Sevilla

My school days typically start out in the same way. I’ll wake up an hour and 30 minutes before class, factoring in the time it takes to travel to my destination. Somewhere in the middle of my morning routine, my host-mom will let me know that breakfast is ready. Contrary to your usual morning meal in the U.S, a Spanish breakfast only consists of two things: jam on toast and coffee. It is meant to be a lighter meal so you can look forward to the feast that is biggest meal of the day, lunch.

After I have said goodbye to my host-mom, it is time for me to make my way to class. Generally, I bike everywhere I go using the city’s public bicycle rental system aptly named Sevici (Se- like Sevilla, vici – meaning bike in Spanish). On occasion I do like to walk or take the bus if my legs are feeling tired. Although, nothing beats having the wind blow through your hair on a bike.

Now where I bike to exactly depends on the day. Mondays I go to the Math Department of the University of Sevilla. Unlike Wofford, the University of Sevilla’s facilities are spread out over the entire city, similar to USC – Columbia. From where I live, the Math Department is 30 minutes away, that is if I keep a good pace. However, it is honestly a highlight of my week because the path is so scenic. I get to pass by the old tobacco factory that now houses the English and History Departments, and most of the bike path is right by the river Guadalquivir. And that is not even mentioning how charming the STEM part of campus is.

Although I am only taking one math class, it is a direct enrollment course, meaning the students are mostly Spaniards. Another challenge I have discovered is that the norms of academia are much different than those of the U.S. It is expected that the brunt of the work necessary for learning should be done outside of the classroom. We only meet twice a week, once for a 2-hour lecture and again for a 2-hour lab. This means I have to set aside some time to review the notes that are published online before I attend class and any other materials I am unsure of (I am looking at you Linear Algebra). Though, I am sure the class will work to my benefit as I have had to learn how to program in MATLAB, used by many engineers and scientists.

The beautiful center of CIEE’s student center

When I am not at the University of Sevilla, I am at CIEE’s student center, where the academic culture is similar to what I am used to. These classes are taken with other students studying abroad, mostly from small, liberal arts colleges like Wofford. I have met students from Minnesota, California, Iowa, Massachusetts, and more places all over the country. Together, CIEE’s classes offer a nice change of pace from the difficulty of my direct enrollment classes.

After school, I’ll head back to my homestay to have lunch, where the television is always on as it is a common joke to say that the TV is a member of the family. Afterwards, I will sunbathe on the balcony or take a nap if I am feeling tired enough. There is not much to say about the apartment itself other than it has all your basic ammenities (except a dryer and dishwasher), plus a balcony. Life in my homestay has actually been rather enjoyable! I am getting along well with my host-mom and I will often talk to her about whatever interesting or noticable thng that has happened that day. Apart from her and I, one other student in my program, James, lives in the homestay with me, who has quickly become one of my closest friends here in Spain. I am very lucky to have such wonderful people in my life and I am so grateful for them (I have not had a chance to suggest a photo together yet so here is a photo of my “roommate” and me).

My roommate and I in the town of Aracena

My evenings are truthfully variable. Wednesday evenings are spent taking lessons in flamenco guitar, now that I have found myself a teacher! I have only taken one lesson so far, but I am excited to see what I can do at the end of the semester, especially since taking lessons was one of the main reasons I came to Spain. Mondays and Tuesdays have me occupied by my philosophy class from 6:00-8:00 pm. It is not exactly ideal but it is a much preferable alternative to having class on Friday. Speaking of which, my Fridays are entirely devoid of class, allowing me to spend even more time traveling to cities like Ronda, Granada, Aracena, Madrid, and more, which I plan on posting about in the future because there is so much to say!

My free time is a mixed bag of doing activities through my program, studying, working on summer plans, calling loved ones, hanging out with friends, clubbing, watching tv, and practicing guitar. However, my days all end in my room lying on my bed comfortably, ready to face the next day.

Here is a look at my room in Sevilla

And that is about it! Overall, my life is not that different than my life at Wofford. I still go to class, eat, study, and hang out with friends. When it comes to the minutiae though, life can look a little different from my life in the U.S. However, I am loving it! I still can’t believe I get to study in a whole other country. It makes me glad I decided to study abroad and I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance. The logistics of figuring out everything to do with classes can be taxing. Although if you can get over that hill, it is a fantastic time, while still counting for college credit too! Anyways, stay tuned for my next post and be sure to check out my peers’ blogs as well! This has been a Day in the Life of a Student in Sevilla. My name is Ethan Montes. See you next time!

Day in the Life – Copenhagen

Take a look at a day in my life at DIS CPH!

My classes are held Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday. Wednesdays have no classes for the entire study abroad program because our classes will do field studies, which are field trips. They have some relevance to the class. For example, my Danish class has been to City Hall and we are going to the ballet next week as part of our culture immersion. I have my Core Course, Medical Practice and Policy on M/Th afternoons. On T/F I have class 8:30am-1pm – Danish Language and Culture, Immunology, and Human Trafficking in a Global Context. This is a picture of my Core Course classroom ft. my professor Patrick and our collection of clementines. 👋🏼

Mornings look very different here compared to Wofford. I get up and get ready per usual but I walk 25 minutes to get to my classes everyday. I live next to Rosenburg castle so I get to walk past it every morning, and it is so beautiful.

Commuting is so different here also. Owning a car is very expensive in CPH as prices can be doubled or tripled from car prices elsewhere and parking is expensive. This is an effort to keep cars away from the downtown areas and to make it more pedestrian/biker friendly. Speaking of bikes, this is a very popular mode of transportation and you can find an army of bikes at every stop light waiting to go. CPH is not the place to try riding a bike for the first time because you will get run over by a bike; the locals will not slow down for you! 🙂

M/F I usually have a slower morning since I don’t have class until the afternoon. This usually consists of a morning workout at the dorm gym and catching up on homework for the rest of the week. I cook a lot for myself so I go to the grocery store at least 2x a week since food has less preservatives here. It can go bad quickly so I only buy foods I can eat within a few days of buying.

I also have been frequenting many coffee shops here and trying all that I can. The coffee is amazing but the star of the show is definitely the pastries. So beautiful and so tasty! This was the best cinnamon roll!

When class is over, typically I have work to do as I am participating in research for DIS also. But on the days where I have more time, there is nothing better than getting out and exploring, especially when the sun decides to come out!! This is the Nyhavn Canal and she really is a beauty! It’s so amazing to be able to explore such a beautiful city! There are so many free museums or places that offer student discounts.

Every study abroad is different but my residence housing is similar to Wofford in that I share a room with one person. Some dorms here have 8+ roommates! My housing is also unique in that students from all over the world live here! Most are students at the University of Copenhagen but us DIS kids are sprinkled into the mix. My roommate is Olivia (on the very left), everyone say hello!

DIS also has the option of a visting host family; this is a family that you are able to see but you don’t live with. It allows you to have the dorm experience and host family experience at the same time. I am so grateful for this because I get to do and see some amazing things as well as create a relationship with the sweetest Danish family. Some things we have done thus far: multiple museums, dinners at yummy restuarants, and this picture specifically is from a Brøndby IF football game! My first European soccer game! It was amazing!

Everyday here has new adventures and sights to see! I can’t wait to explore some more! Until next time!

-B

WELCOME BEAUTIFUL VIENNA

How’d you like to celebrate the start of the semester by attending a ball at the Hofburg Palace, the former Imperial Palace? Well that’s exactly what I did during my first week in Vienna. ‘Cause why not?

Evidence so you know it is the real Hofburg Palace
Would you like to dance some waltz?

The first week in Vienna was like vacay. I was exploring the city, going to IES events, and orientation (where they told us all about study abroad in Vienna). The second week was the adjusting week; adjusting to my German Intensive class (which is four times a week), into a routine, and learning to balance schoolwork vs wanting to explore the city. Also, figuring out the simple things like using the metro and grocery shopping. For example, my first time at Hofer (aka Aldi) I made five circles around the store trying to find eggs with no success. Afterwards, I was told that the eggs here are not kept in the fridge and were located in some random aisle.

My room in a shared apartment
Where IES Classes are located; in a Palace
This is one of the classrooms

My apartment is much nicer than I expected and the best part is that I got my own room. However, every apartment is different. Where I have only three roommates, other people have six.

Although I’ve only been here two weeks, I realize the best part of studying abroad in Vienna is that you can brag about going to class in Palace Corbelli. It’s still crazy to me that one of the classrooms was probably someone’s living room, but here I am now studying a course, like the Business of Wine, in the same room. The fact that we get access to a place like this is unbelievable.

Auf Wiedersehen for now!

Arrival and Adjustment: When embarking on an adventure expect to be surprised

Saludos de Sevilla! It has been about 3 weeks (at the time of writing) since I touched down in Europe and I am pleased to say I have arrived safely at my homestay.

What a journey though! The flight itself was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I figured I was going to get tired of sitting for so long. However, the flight attendants were so hospitable, I felt like I was part of a VIP club. Also chatted with an older gentleman from the U.K. who was a carpenter about finding time to create art after he had noticed me composing on the plane. I probably should have slept more on the way here, but I was too busy enjoying myself. Side note: Good Will Hunting is an amazing movie.

I nearly missed my connecting flight from Madrid to Sevilla trying to track down my luggage. Shoutout to the representative from Iberia that assured me my luggage was on the plane. Goes to show that asking for help is a great idea, especially when you need it. After a short flight to Sevilla, I got a little stuck trying to find a place to exchange currencies. I would have found one within the airport if I hadn’t gotten so worried about having to track down my luggage later. Unfortunately, ATMs just outside the arrival gate don’t have the greatest exchange rates. I managed to get a bus ticket to the center of Sevilla though after looking around.

Sevilla reminds me a lot of Mexico from the times I have visited my extended family. I guess it’s no coincidence because Mexico has been influenced a lot by Spain, from its public parks to its Spanish-style architecture. Plus, you get the same feeling that the city has been lived in, as it were, because of the advertisements and busy streets. Once I had my feet on the ground though, it hit me just how incredible living in a big city is going to be. I stood in awe of the giant buildings and abundant sidewalks that surrounded me. On my way to my hotel (because I arrived a day early from my program start date), I passed by what I now know as the “Jardines de Murillo,” or “Murillo Gardens” in English. That was when I first noticed them. The orange trees that pervade the city were the most suprising thing I encountered here. I couldn’t help but smile and stare as I walked under them. And they smell amazing!!!

Here is what it’s like passing under the orange trees
And here they are from a distance

As soon as I checked into the hotel, I collapsed on my bed, called my parents to let them know I was okay, and tucked myself in. I slept for about 14 hours because of how exhausted I was. As I slipped in and out of consciousness, I kept fearing what was to come. I was on my own now, with an entire ocean separating me from my parents. I would have to find friends, fix my class schedule, and adapt to a whole new way of living. Yet, I got the chance to explore a new world, live in a big city, and experience things I had never encountered before. It was terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. Once I had woken up and gotten ready for the day, breakfast was next on my to-do list. I am not sure how they cooked them, but I had the best eggs I have ever had in my entire life at that hotel. Iberian ham has also quickly become one of my favorite foods, and that is not even mentioning how refreshing the orange juice was.

When in Spain, make sure to buy Iberian ham

After I checked out, I picked up my luggage, exchanged my cash for euros, and began walking to my homestay. Pro tip: never grab the rosemary that people offer you on the street. Once I was let into the apartment building I was going to be staying in, I did not get a chance to formally say “mucho gusto” until we got in the tiny elevator fit for three people. It made for a pretty funny interaction as I had to shrink my body just to get everything to fit. I was expecting my room to be small, so when my host mom showed me to the room I was going to be staying in, I was pleasantly suprised. The room itself is slightly bigger than Wofford’s dorms, but it looked like the room was going to be cozy during my stay.

Actually transitioning into my host country culture was not too difficult. Sure, there are a lot of things that are different, especially meal times. Lunch typically happens around 2:00-3:00 pm and dinner is around 9:00 pm. On the one hand, I felt like I was used to this schedule already because of the similarity it bore to my family life. On the other hand though, nap time was such a welcome addition to my day-to-day! It is customary to take a nap if you so desire after 4:00 pm. For a college student that sometimes has to work later than usual to finish all my schoolwork in time, it was nice to be able to take advantage of this tradition.

There is so much to explore! I have already started a two-week intensive class to learn about some of the cultural history of Spain. It has been going great though the idea of a two-week class is strange to me. I am managing to find my way to CIEE’s student center where I am taking class. There are a lot of excursions coming up to different cities that my program has put together so stay tuned! I’ll be posting about each of these trips because each one is guaranteed to have something to talk about. Hasta luego!