To get away from the busy cities of Spain, hop on the next flight to the Balearic Islands for the opportunity to see beautiful crystal beaches and breath taking architecture. In the Balearic Islands you will find the beautiful city of Mallorca, which is so far my favorite city in spain. Known for growing olives and having fresh seafood, Mallorca is definitely a great place to authentic Spanish food. I would recommend ordering paella here because it is actually real paella, not the kind that comes in a package and restaurants warm it up for you.
Besides the great food, you will also stumble upon amazing beaches. Personally, I believe these beaches are by far some of the best in Spain. One beach in particular that is a must is the beach at Mondrago Natural Park. This park is a glorious coastal reserve, which offers wetlands, turquoise seas, and, of course, sandy beaches. You will not be disappointed if you take time out of your schedule to visit this area because the breath taking views and crystal, warm water is definitely worth it. From hiking to cliff jumping, there is a little bit of everything for anyone to do.
I know it has been a long time since I have posted on True Lue, but I am going to do my best to change that! Life has been crazy between booking hotel rooms to flights, but I have finally arrived in Barcelona, Spain. I arrived on May 28th and am currently all settled in with my host mother. I am very excited to share this amazing journey with all of you and I would like to begin my first post in Barcelona with explaining where I am staying in this beautiful city and what an average day for me looks like.
Well as I previously explained in a later post, I am studying abroad with a program called API and am enrolled in the intensive language program. Not having any prior Spanish knowledge, I knew this program would really kick my butt, but I also knew I would learn much more through immersing myself in the culture. In Barcelona, I am staying with a host mom and she is just darling. She is 71 years old and lives alone in a tiny little apartment near Sagrada Familia. Although my host mom and I can’t communicate very much since she only speaks Spanish, it really forces me to try to learn the language. By the way, if you are ever near Sagrada Familia walk towards the Hospital Sant Pau because you will find a lot of cute restaurants and gelato shops! I have realized this by just wandering around my new neighborhood, and have found a lot of interesting places so far. Overall, I am very pleased with my housing situation since my school is only a five minute walk away. I highly recommend, if you are interested in doing a host family, do it because you will get the best experience out of your stay. It not only forces you to learn the language, but also encourages you to eat their food, make new relationships, as well as helps you save money. Although many may say living with a host family isn’t worth it because you “dont get to be independent” and have to follow a few house rules, I definitely don’t agree. Yes you won’t be as independent due to the fact you have to let your family no when you are leaving the house and when you will return, but you still get freedom beyond that and they are almost always very flexible when it comes to meals. Most of the time if you want to stay out and have a late night, you can just call your family and let them know you will be skipping meals. Besides that, they usually don’t barge into your room, they always knock and respect your privacy. When it comes following house rules, I believe that this isn’t a negative at all because there will be rules in apartments too. For example, I can’t have a visitor come over at night and the apartments can’t as well, so honestly having rules shouldn’t determine your housing.
When it comes to an average day I basically wake up around 7:00 am to get ready and then I have breakfast with my host mom at 8:30. After breakfast, I walk to school and start my Spanish classes at 9:30 and then they end around 2:00. If you are looking for a great intensive language program look at UAB in Barcelona because I absolutely love the classes so far! The nice thing about classes is that they go by very fast because the teachers are constantly doing activities with you. I love the fast pace, since it definitely helps me stay focused. Although the classes may be fast paced, the professors will slow down if you need help, which is very important when studying a language. Since classes are Monday through Friday, I have time on the weekends to travel to other cities in Spain as well as other parts of Europe, which was definitely important to me when looking at different programs. However, some weekends I have excursions to different cities with API. For example, we just got back from the beautiful city of Mallorca, which I will definitely create a post about soon. Now on some days of the week I have field trips with my classes. For example, last week we got to explore the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona with a tour guide. Although the tour was all in Spanish, it still was very exciting to walk around this gorgeous historic center of the city. After classes, when I don’t have field trips, I usually go to the beach in the Barceloneta neighborhood or I find a part of the city I haven’t seen. My plan this week is to tour Camp Nou to see where the famous team plays!
Overall, I am very happy with my time here so far and am sad to think that I only have about two weeks left of the program. It is crazy how time flies when you are enjoying yourself.
If you are in need of feeding your sense of wanderlust and are also wanting to study another language or just need some extra credits this summer, then why not take the opportunity to study abroad? I know what you are thinking, how am I supposed to afford a trip like that? Believe me, I thought the same thing as I started searching for different programs. Like me, you most likely are getting frustrated and are becoming disappointed as you find all of these glorious study abroad programs that you have been dreaming, that are ridiculously over priced. Well I have learned out of speaking to different study abroad advisers as well as doing some research that there are plenty of ways for you to fund your program, so don’t feel discouraged just yet. Without help from others, I wouldn’t be going to Spain this summer.
Now one easy way you can earn money for your trip is simply by applying to scholarships! I know you’ve probably heard this many of times from other people, but it really does help to do this! I know many scholarships seems to have different tedious parts to their application that seem unnecessary, but just keep in mind that your effort may pay off in the long run. For example, by simply taking the time to write an essay on why I wanted to participate in my study abroad program I was able to earn a scholarship. Although it won’t cover all of my cost, it still helps no matter what. Take it from me, even if it is a $100 scholarship or a $5,000 go for it! That money could cover at least one of your text book fees for your program or maybe even your full tuition.
Another way that you can earn some extra cash is by simply writing letters and asking friends and family if they would be generous enough to donate for your trip. I understand if you feel uncomfortable doing this, because I personally feel guilty doing this at times. Instead of asking them up front, maybe ask if you could do something in return. From babysitting to car washing, you could earn some extra cash by simply working and helping others in your community. Although it is the old fashioned way, it definitely gets the job done.
If you aren’t interested in getting your hands dirty and working yourself, put together a fundraiser that allows you to sell money. For example, find a product that you know interests people in your community and invite them to your party, so that you can earn some money. I have even heard of people making a lot of food and selling it at fundraising events to earn some extra cash. You could even host a big dinner party this and sell tickets to your dinner. Go to your local church or check out different venues to see if they would be generous enough to let you host something like this to fund your program. You could even have some entertainment at this event, see if some local bands could possibly play at your fundraising party. You don’t even have to have a band play, just think of fun little ideas to get your community interested in donating money.
Now I know this doesn’t fit well on my fundraising list, but a way you could save some money is by starting from the very beginning, before you even choose a program! You can save money by simply researching to see what programs give you the best bang for your buck! Don’t just pick a program because its the first one you saw and you are in love with it, make sure to check out the competition too. Some pretty affordable and great reviewed program providers are API (Which is who I am going through by the way!), ISEP, and IES! Definitely consult with your study abroad advisers at your school to get their thoughts on these programs, but I have only heard good things about that. I know I am not an expert on all things study abroad, but I have put many hours into researching different programs and these are by far my favorite and most affordable.
The reason I am writing to all of you today is because I have some great news to share. I have been accepted into a study abroad program for this summer in Barcelona, Spain! This is one reason for my absence the past couple of weeks, I have been busy filling out applications and paper work for this amazing opportunity. For four weeks this summer, I get to study Spanish in the wonderful city as well as get to travel to other parts of Spain such as Costa Brava.
Now my excitement for my Spanish adventure has inspired me to research many great little trips one can take while in Spain. My list is not in any particular order, but these are just a few things that I hope to accomplish while on my journey.
1. Get lost in the Labyrinth Park of Horta
One of the oldest parks in Barcelona, the Labyrinth Park is thankfully outside of the tourist radius. I have been told it is an “undiscovered treasure” in the beautiful city, which is why I hope to get the chance to discover this little gem. In the park lies an 820 yard long labyrinth that has at its center the statue of Eros, who is known as the god of love. Besides the labyrinth, it also has a romantic garden that dates all the way back to the 1800s. The plus about this attraction is that if you are on a budget, admission is only €2.17 and Sundays and Wednesdays are free!
2.Ride the Ferris Wheel on Tibidabo Mountain
Obviously, I am not going to Barcelona for the amusement park rides, but instead, I want to ride the ferris wheel on Tibidabo Mountain not just for enjoyment, but for its breathtaking views. Now if you aren’t into amusement park rides then check out the Tibidabo Church, which is also located on the mountain. Built in 1902 this neo-gothic structure is definitely worth your time. I have been told that due to expensive food prices, pack some food and have a picnic! There are plenty of great spots located within the Tibidabo Sky Walk that allows you to enjoy your food as well as the panoramic views.
3.Go Snorkeling in the Mediterranean.
I have never been snorkeling in my entire life, so I feel like Barcelona would be a great place to experience this for the first time! With Barcelona’s abundance of beaches, I believe that this could be a fun plus cheap little adventure. With it only being a €5 investment, how could I pass this up?
4. Go to Dans Le Noir
If you have seen the movie When in Rome you probably remember the scene where they eat in a restaurant that is completely pitch black during their dining experience. Well in Barcelona they have a similar restaurant known as Dans Le Noir. Now I have heard that this restaurant is a wee bit touristy and that the reviews are not the greatest (3/5 on Trip Advisor), but I have always wanted to experience dining like this. Although it may be an awful experience, it sounds fun to me! My goal on this trip is to try as many of new things as possible, just so I can get the best experience out of my small time in Spain.
5. Eat in Gràcia
Full of locals and a younger crowd, this neighbor hood is becoming Barcelona’s hipster center. With many coffee spots and small shops, this area has a very artsy and friendly atmosphere. When it comes to tourist, many don’t know about this little spot in the vibrant city, which means it has a real village feel, if that is what you are looking for. In my opinion, it seems like the perfect place to runaway too.
6. See a beautiful view of Barcelona with El Carmel Bunker
El Carmel Bunker is another site that many tourist do not know of, which is nice if you are tired of being in that kind of crowd. If you head off the beaten track then you will be pleasantly surprised by all of the beautiful gems that you may find. El Carmel Bunker is the Spanish Civil War site that sits high above on one of the tallest hills in the city, which can definitely then define this as the best spot to see Barcelona in a new way.
7. La Rambla
Although I know that this is a tourist attraction, I have been told that this is a must. The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca even shows his love for the street by saying, "It is the only street in the world which I wish would never end”, so I am definitely going to take time to check this site out. If you haven’t strolled down this street then you cannot say that you have been to Barcelona because this is said to be the heartbeat of the city. Another reason you should go is because it is obviously fee to visit, so why not take time from your busy schedule to check La Rambla out. However, beware of pickpockets on this street, especially since there will be a lot of tourist about that they will try to target.
8. Create my own Cava
Or in other words, my own champagne! Since this is outside of Barcelona, if you have the time in your busy schedule, take the train to a 1000 year old farm house in the Penedes wine region of Spain, so you can bottle your own brew. Personally, if I don’t have time in my schedule to leave Barcelona, I hope to still do a wine tour or tasting of some sort.
9. Sailing or deep sea fishing in the Mediterranean
We must remind ourselves of the blue vast body of water that we are next to during our time in Barcelona. Instead of getting distracted by all of the tourist attractions, why not take the time and go on a sail boat to see a new view of Barcelona. Obviously, this is not a cheap attraction, it is around $80 for a two hour sailing trip from Barcelona, but the reviews definitely tell you that it is worth the money.
Get out your hippy head bands, your high waisted shorts, and your favorite crop top because festival season has finally arrived. It is that time of year again when the best musicians come out to play and summer fever has hit. So rid your closet of those warm winter sweaters and knee high boots and replace them with your favorite muscle tees and strappy sandals. I have been counting down the days until I could wear my beloved gladiators again, and now that day is just around the corner.
Hello fellow readers, I just got back from seeing the wonderful band, Walk the Moon, and I thought I would share my experience with you. If you haven't heard of Walk the Moon they are an indie rock band from Cincinnati, OH. If you've been listening to the radio lately you probably have heard of their song "Shut Up and Dance". Anyways, I definitely was not disappointed with their show last night. They really knew how to work the crowd and how to get everyone dancing. Let's just say I didn't even care that I was mashed in a crowd of sweaty strangers, since the music and the vibes were so great. At first I was concerned that the crowd around me would not get into the music and I would be the only freak dancing her little heart out, but they ended up surprising me. My favorite songs of the night would have to be between "Shiver Shiver" and "Jenny" because they are just fun, sexy songs that had the whole crowd singing along. Although I am not a huge fan of their new album Talking is Hard, I still had an amazing night full of great music and dancing.
I am a huge fan of concerts that involve the audience, and Walk the Moon definitely had us all singing and dancing along. So if you ever get the chance sometime this spring, check them out before their Talking Is Hard tour ends. The band still has many more stops to go, so don't miss out on this fun opportunity!
If you've ever heard of Savannah you probably already know that it is the oldest city in the state of Georgia. You probably have heard of the beautiful historic buildings, music, and food that lives there. Now I got the chance to travel there last year with my family, and although we only got to go for a couple of days, I am very grateful that I got to experience this amazing city. If you ever decide to go to Savannah check out the shops along River Street. It definitely makes for a fun day walking along the river as you look at all the boutiques. From clothes to antiques, you will be able to find a variety of items along your way. Then after a nice day of shopping make sure to check out Leopold's Ice cream near the Savannah College of Art and Design. Not only known for its delicious ice cream, but also for its marble soda fountain. If you don't have a lot of cash on you, just take the time to walk around the city and to take in the beautiful architecture. There's also the River Street Market that has lots to offer. If you have time in your busy schedule, make sure to check out the different artist stationed around the great city. Obviously, Savannah has so much to offer, and it definitely isn't a waste of a vacation. If you are looking for something more relaxed and that doesn't have a lot of tourist attractions, this is the place for you.
Hey guys! I've realized that I have yet to talk music with you, so as I stumbled upon the album Torches by Foster the People this morning, I thought I would share. Now if you know of this album it came out a few years ago, but I still love it today due to its upbeat, good feelin' kind of songs. Most of you know of the hit song "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People, but that is nothing compared to the rest of the songs on the album, at least in my opinion. Foster the People have a very unique sound. To me they are one magical Indie Rock group that I will forever seem to compare other artist to. Although they are not my all time favorite Indie band, they are probably in my top 5. I am a big alternative rock/ indie fan, so I always am keeping my eyes peeled for a band that has an interesting, unique flair and sound. Something new, that isn't the same old lyrics and the same old boy band sound. My top loved songs on this specific album would have to be "Houdini", "Helena Beat", and "I Would Do Anything For You".
Overall, this is just a fun album, especially with summer on its way. Believe me, it can't be that bad if the album was nominated at the Grammy's for Best Alternative Music Album, so it must be somewhat good.
Besides Torches, they also released Supermodel which is way more mellow compared to their previous album. Although I adore Torches their newest album let me down in a way. Most likely because their first album was an upbeat, summer party album, while in their newest one they took a deeper and more serious approach. You see in this album the lead singer, Mark Foster, tries to explore who God is, which in the end made a really interesting album. Like I said it is still a great album, I was just hoping for more songs like their previous work. Anyways, on Supermodel check out the songs "Truth" and "Best Friends", those are my two favorites. Enjoy the music!
My amazing trip to Ireland has come to a very sad, but happy conclusion and I will definitely miss the scenic beauty along with the beautiful people that live there. Now thanks to this trip I have learned a few things that I thought I would share with you. You most likely have heard these tips before, but I never took them that seriously so I hope these are somewhat helpful for your future travels!
1. Don’t pack more than you need.
We have all heard this before, but it is definitely the truth. I made sure that I packed an extra for almost everything in my suit case. From extra socks, shoes, to even extra scarves, I had a lot of unnecessary things in my suitcase. Although in some cases they were useful, most of the time these things sat untouched in my bag. I am always someone who likes to be prepared, but in this case I didn’t need to be that cautious. Since I had so much extra luggage, I was very limited to what I could bring back with me to America. We all know that suitcases have a certain weight limit that they can not go over, and you see, mine was definitely on the edge of me having to pay extra cash. I was definitely holding in my breath as I weighed my suitcase at the airport, but thankfully I was in the clear.
2. Check the weather before you leave.
This is something I forgot to do on my own before I left, and I regretted it once I arrived in N. Ireland. Although your iPhone's weather app may not be precise all the time, it still helps to get an idea of what it will be like over there. You see, I was told by my fellow N. Ireland travelers that it would be in the high 50's when really it was in the high 30's. Again, make sure you check the weather so that it doesn't ruin part of your trip! Believe me, freezing cold weather in nothing but a hoodie can make what's supposed to be a great, memorable part of your trip, something you wish you could forget.
3. Always have extra cash in both currencies.
I know I stated earlier not to pack extra things, well cash is an exception in this case. On my trip, I made sure that I had enough pounds on me for Northern Ireland, but never thought of having extra American cash on me. I ended up using most of my cash in the airport , not thinking that I might need cash once again on the way home. Overall, if you are going abroad or not, carry extra cash because if you don't have enough for the way home you just might have to eat the dreaded airplane food, which will definitely haunt you.
4. Have patience getting back to the US.
Like you all know, I have never been abroad before so as I went through security and customs I started to get very frustrated. I learned that it is a lot harder to enter my own country than it is to leave it. Overall, I was exhausted and just wanted on the plane, so once I saw the lines and the procedures I had to go through my heart immediately sank. Make sure all of you going abroad are prepared for this, just stay positive and you should do just fine! :)
The first thing I'd like to say is that if you ever get the opportunity to go to Northern Ireland then go to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim and Giant's Causeway. They are the most beautiful sites I have ever seen, and I am not exaggerating. If you don't believe me then look at the picture I took above of the Bridge above. Like I said, stunning right? This is my favorite part of N. Ireland thus far. I was able to walk alongside the coast, where I was able to view the ocean and the gorgeous landscape, and I would go back in a heart beat if I could. Even if you are not someone who is outdoorsy or isn't in to hiking, what you will see is at both places are breath taking.