Categories
Life Travel

Spain Week Three!!

Another week in Spain has come and gone so fast! I feel like I wrote my week two post yesterday, but the time is flying by and I only have two full weeks left here. This week was incredibly busy as always, with new and exciting adventures 🙂

  • I started off the week taking two midterm exams which I’m happy to say went very well! I am still quite busy with assignments but enjoying learning about business in the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Tuesday we toured the Catedral de Sevilla and it was beautiful. I’m loving all of the cathedrals I’m getting to see while I’m here, because they are decorated with such a lovely combination of religion and architecture. We also got to climb up 34 flights in the Giralda tower which offered an amazing bird’s eye view of Sevilla. My favorite kind of view!
  • Wednesday we visited Las Setas (Spanish for The Mushrooms) which is a super cool structure that you can climb to the top of and see an entire view of Sevilla. We went with our host family at sunset and the views were amazing!! Once it got dark, every single church in Sevilla was lit up.
  • Thursday we toured a winery called Bodegas GĂłngora as one of our business visits. They’ve been in business since 1682 and specialize in several types of sherry wines. We learned the ins and outs of the wine business and got to try a few wines as well! I enjoyed tasting them, as well as the snacks they put out to go with the wine (LOL).
  • Friday a small group of us took the train to Madrid! I found a cool hostel that was located in the theater district area which honestly resembled New York City a lot, especially the Times Square/Broadway area. We walked around and explored, and ended up at an Italian restaurant for dinner (I know what you’re thinking — we’re in Spain! But this place was delicious). I had a yummy pizza and we all split chocolate mousse that was to die for. We ended the night by checking out a rooftop bar and hanging out on the rooftop terrace of our hostel, where we met some nice people from Mexico and Australia!
  • Saturday was a FULL day of exploring Madrid! We had a delicious breakfast at a cafe and headed out immediately to check off several touristy spots. We went to a few cool plazas, including one called Puerta de Sol which had a statue of a bear and a strawberry tree (Madrid’s official symbol) called El Ozo y el Madrono. We got to see the beautiful royal palace, the Reina Sofia museum that has DalĂ­ and Picasso works in it and the cathedral. The cathedral was probably my favorite part — it was absolutely gorgeous inside with colorful ceilings and stained glass that I couldn’t stop staring at. We also went to a market where I tried a chocolate truffle and a Spanish treat called tejas, which literally means “roof tiles” but is actually an almond biscuit treat — yum!
  • For dinner, we ended up at the same Italian place because of how much we loved it the night before (surprise surprise) and I had pesto pasta that was wonderful. I also ended up logging 22,000 steps that day — safe to say I got plenty of exercise!
  • Sunday we had another delicious breakfast at a Spanish cafe and bakery where I had a cheese omelet and a palmera de chocolate, a chocolate pastry that’s sort of like a croissant with chocolate on top (again — surprise, surprise) and rode the train home. My roommate Audrey and I went to mass at a Catholic church and struggled to understand it, but it was incredibly interesting and we’re happy we went!
  • My Spanish is a continued work in progress, and I’m learning useful slang phrases from my host family like “How cool!” is “Que guay!”
  • As far as trying new foods goes, my host mom told me that “I eat basically everything” which if you know me is a HUGE improvement to my picky taste in the U.S.! I have been adventurous with trying food and it has benefitted me well. Some of the best things she has made for us have included zucchini and pumpkin soups, eggplant casserole, broccoli and potato casserole, paella, the list goes on! I’m excited to see what else I will try before I come home 🙂

So, to sum up: more delicious food (and copious amounts of chocolate, of course), beautiful sights and some awesome people to spend it with! I am happy and still learning so much. Thank you for continuing to read about my adventures!

‘Til next week!

Adios,

Cara

Categories
Life Travel

Spain Week Two!!

Hola again! Another week in beautiful Sevilla has passed and I’m still loving it 🙂 We had another eventful and fun few days:

  • Monday, our group toured the Real Alcazar in el centro of Sevilla, which was beautiful, but SO HOT! Going during siesta time (aka 96 degrees) highlighted the cruciality of daily naps in the air conditioning, for sure. Afterwards we decided to cool down with gelato near our house (strictly for health reasons of course) which has become a frequent activity of ours to beat the heat!
  • We rented bikes this week through Sevilla’s city-wide bike system, Sevici. Every chance we had to ride them this week, we took advantage of! It’s a fun way to get around and cuts down on our morning commute to class, and makes trips around Sevilla quicker as well.
  • Tuesday, our toilet randomly broke and began flooding the bathroom (something is seriously wrong with that toilet) which happened while I was in the shower. I’m including this because you really realize the language barrier between you and your host mom when you’re trying to explain to her what/how that happened! (LOL)
  • Wednesday, a group of us tried out a Mexican restaurant in el centro (I know what you’re thinking — Mexican in Spain?) which was an opportunity to try delicious “gringa” tacos. They had pastor meat (pork), onions, cilantro and cheese. Yum!
  • Thursday our program went to tour an olive oil factory in Sevilla called Basilippo as one of our business visits. We got to see how olive oil, specifically extra virgin olive oil, is made from the very beginning of the process all the way to the end! Our tour guide told us that we would end up learning more about E.V.O.O. than we would ever want to know in our lives, and that was definitely true. I’m good for olive oil trivia now, if that ever comes up!
    • At Basilippo we also got to try some olive oils. The first one was just the normal flavor of extra virgin olive oil, which we were instructed to place on the tip of our tongues and then suck it back into the back of our mouths to get a spicy taste (which I failed at, by the way). The second kind was extra virgin olive oil infused with oranges, and we got to try that on top of chocolate ice cream. I had several thoughts about this, considering how much I love chocolate, how much I dislike oranges, and how WEIRD that sounds to combine olive oil and ice cream. However, it was delicious! Spain has brought out a new round of tastebuds in me that has made me extremely open to new foods, which, if you know me, is a big deal (I literally eat plain turkey and cheese sandwiches for lunch at home).
  • Friday we tried out our first ever discoteca! We went to an outdoor dance club called Libano and it was quite an experience because it was PACKED and it was so late at night (The Spaniards don’t start partying until at least 2 a.m.) The Spanish dance music was awesome, though, and we had a lot of fun dancing with 500 of our closest friends!
  • Saturday I did some shopping and studying, because yes, I am actually here for a school program even though I’m sure it doesn’t sound like it! We have two midterm exams this upcoming week, which means we will be halfway done with the program (????)
  • Sunday we took a day trip by train to Cádiz, the oldest city in Spain! We basically hung out on the beach the whole time and it was such a happy day because the weather was perfect, we got to relax and I finished a whole book!! (f you’re wondering, it was Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, and I looooved it).

As for my Spanish-speaking skills, they are continuing to improve! I am still trying a bunch of new foods as well and taking so many pictures and videos. Some days I feel incredibly acclimated to the way of life here and other days I miss home, but it’s all a positive experience. A few times this week, I literally felt like I had to pinch myself while walking around town because I am so lucky to be living in this incredible place and to be learning so much. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and I am fully aware of it in a way that makes me so happy!

Here are some photo highlights from the week:

Again, if you made it to the end of this post, thank you! See ya again next week with another update of my adventures in Sevilla!

Adios!

Cara

Categories
Life Travel

Spain Week One!!

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Hola everybody! I have officially spent one week in Sevilla and I am having a blast so far. Since I’ve arrived, I’ve been going nonstop visiting cool sites, going to class and spending time with my host family but I’ve been loving every second of it! Here’s a recap of week one:

  • I flew into Madrid from Charlotte and then Madrid to Sevilla over two days with some of my classmates. The flights were pretty uneventful, but the time change meant the flight attendants were waking us up for breakfast when we should have been going to sleep! Needless to say I got 45 minutes of sleep during my traveling.
  • Once we made it to Sevilla, we met up with the rest of the program and got to explore a little bit in the city. I was so jet lagged but so happy to be there and look around!
  • The next day, my roommate Audrey and I went to our host family’s apartment to meet them and get settled. Our host family is amazing! They are so sweet and patient with us, considering our Spanish-speaking abilities are nowhere close to theirs (and I was rusty after not taking a Spanish class since December).
  • We ventured to Italica the first weekend, which is the site of a bunch of Roman ruins in Sevilla (and a recent filming location for Game of Thrones, so I’m told). Afterwards we went to la playa for a beach day, but unfortunately the weather was cold and rainy so we didn’t get much beach time. We redeemed the weekend later by finding a nice outdoor bar where some of us shared our first round of sangria!
  • Sunday, July 1 was Spain’s match against Russia in the World Cup. Our group went to a bar to watch the game with the locals, and it did not disappoint! Even though they lost, it was great to experience it with them.
  • Monday was the first day of class! We have two classes every weekday from 9:30-12:45. I’m taking a Spanish Business class where we’re learning all sorts of vocabulary and grammar that relate to business, and a Spanish for Professional and Community Engagement class where we’re learning all about business in the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Most days after class, we take naps (siestas) in the middle of the day before or after lunch. They have quickly become an essential part of my day! During this time, everyone takes a nap to rest and avoid the heat, and businesses close as well. It has made me question why American culture doesn’t include this!
  • This past week we’ve explored the neighborhood we live in which has a huge mall called El NerviĂłn. It has lots of cool stores that are all having huge summer sales called “rebajas” right now. With no sales tax and discounted prices, I may have to make some room in my suitcase 🙂 We’ve also taken advantage of the heladerĂ­as (gelato shops) and the pool we are lucky to have in our apartment complex.
  • A group of us also went to El Parque de MarĂ­a Luisa and La Plaza España which is this huge park and plaza with gorgeous trees and flowers and beautiful monuments that I could probably stare at all day. I’ve been there twice already and I’m sure I’ll be back before I leave!
  • Friday morning we left for CĂłrdoba, where we spent a few hours touring El Puente Romano and La Mezquita-Catedral, which was incredibly interesting. The mezquita was originally used for Muslim worship but was later converted to include a Catholic church that both had incredible architecture and design. We also got to walk around the town a little bit and explore which led to lots of picture taking and buying some souvenirs (I got a cool ring and earrings that were handmade in the typical jewelry style of CĂłrdoba).
  • We spent the rest of the weekend in Granada, which was awesome as well! We went to AlbaicĂ­n, which gave us the opportunity to see the entire city from higher up which was absolutely breathtaking! Later in the day we toured a palace and its grounds called El Alhambra, which also allowed us to see the entire city from the top of a tower and see the beautiful architecture and landscape of Granada. This morning we went to La Capilla Real in the center (el centro) of the city. It’s a huge cathedral that also serves as a mausoleum for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Very cool! We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring downtown Granada, where we bought more souvenirs and had tapas and gelato.
  • Other cool things to note:
    • My Spanish is getting better! I was stumbling a lot when I first got here and still am somewhat, but having to speak it with my host family all the time and in Sevilla has really helped me start become more comfortable speaking it. Hopefully by the time I leave I’ll feel like this has vastly improved!
    • The food so far has been GREAT! My host mom is a wonderful cook and has served us meals such as paella, several delicious casseroles with potatoes, pasta, vegetables and meat, and has introduced me to Spanish Nutella (which dare I say is better than the original) called Nocilla. Now I have it for breakfast on my toast! There are also these delicious cookies that have chocolate cream in the middle of two buttery cookies that I have become obsessed with and will be filling my suitcase with to take home in August. (My admiration for chocolate clearly has not changed since being abroad). They also eat a lot of bread, which is great because bread is also one of my favorite foods!
    • While it may seem like all I’m doing is eating here in Spain, I’ve also been walking A LOT and so I believe the two balance each other out. 16,000 steps in one day calls for a few chocolate cream cookies!
    • I’ve also learned some interesting tidbits about conversational Spanish language that I didn’t know before, and also how different things are here in general (like they typically don’t eat eggs for breakfast, sadly). They also sell crustless bread! I don’t know why this is so mesmerizing to me, but it is!

If you’ve made it to the end of this post and you’re still reading, wow! Thank you for being interested in my travels this summer. I have several fun things coming up in the next few weeks and will be sure to document them all here. I am loving my time in Sevilla so far and can’t wait to continue sharing it all with you!

Hasta luego! (See you later)

Cara

Categories
Life Travel

A Weekend in Wilmington

Recently, my mom and I took some time off of work and ventured to Wilmington, NC/Wrightsville Beach to visit our family, and we left wishing we could have stayed longer! It was such a wonderful weekend filled with quality family time and relaxation on the beach. Here are some of the best parts!

IMG_3207The beach weather was perfect! We spent a lot of time jumping over waves, suntanning and reading (this is one of my favorite beach activities — I was reading Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, which I highly recommend!)

We had a delicious dinner at Landfall on Sunday night. Apart from being delicious, it was also just nice to spend time all together as a family! There were 12 of us there, including Reid (who loves to make silly faces in every single picture.) When we left the sun was beginning to set, and this is one of several sunset pictures I took on the trip!

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The trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the iconic Boombalatti’s ice cream shop in Wilmington. We’ve been coming here for years and the ice cream gets better every time! I got my usual, chocolate fudge brownie with sprinkles (yes, sprinkles) on a cake cone. Yum!

Monday night we walked on the beach during sunset and some of us took these awesome family photos. The beach was a great backdrop for them and I’m so glad we have these to look back on from our trip! Of course, I had to get a “cousins” picture with my favorite boys. They are growing up (really fast, by the way. Am I old?) and I love getting to witness it, because they truly are the sweetest and funniest!

And last but not least, some of the pictures of the beautiful sunsets we saw on our trip (some taken by me, some by my family.) Lately, I’ve been documenting every pretty sunset I can, and these were a happy addition!

This trip was so needed and so appreciated. I got to spend quality time with my family (a sure way to make my heart happy), hang out at the beach (my skin is no longer ghostly pale!) and relax a little bit. ‘Til next time, Wilmington!

Categories
Life UNC

Third Time’s the Charm

I like to think that my sorority recruitment experience was quite unique. I went through formal recruitment in fall 2016, then I tried informal recruitment in the spring of 2016 (which also didn’t work) and then decided to try one more time (my third attempt) in the fall of 2017. I was extended a bid to Kappa Kappa Gamma and happily accepted it.

Ever since I was four, I have been part of a group or team. My competition dance team was my whole life for several years, and when I came to college, I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I felt like something was missing from my college experience. The sense of belonging (one of the elements of Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs, thank you Psychology 101) was mostly fulfilled by attending my dream university where I fit in well with wonderful people, but I really wanted a smaller group to be a part of.

I wasn’t sure how much I was going to love being in a sorority, but I knew I was going to try to get the most out of it that I could. It took a while to get comfortable, but now that I have, I am so thankful that I am a part of such a cool organization.

In the short time I’ve been a member, I have met people that make being in Kappa so worthwhile. There are truly girls from everywhere who all have different experiences that I’ve enjoyed learning about. This means I’ve gotten to make some incredible new friendships that I know my sophomore year at UNC would have been so different without!

It has given me the opportunity to participate in philanthropy events for some really cool causes (our national philanthropy is for children’s literacy, and our chapter philanthropy is an organization that focuses on earlier breast cancer detection.) In addition to this, our social events that involve dressing up in formal dresses or in funny costumes are always memorable. For instance, a few weeks ago I literally dressed up as a crayon!

KKΓ has given me outstanding friendships, awesome opportunities to serve my community and a chance to make UNC’s big campus feel a little smaller. The cliche does happen to be true in this case: the third time was definitely the charm!