Weekend in Andalucía

This past weekend was another one spent in Spain, and for once we didn’t have to fly anywhere – a break from the airport was definitely needed! We started out in Málaga on a trip with our study abroad program, and then headed west to Sevilla. Both are cities in the southern region of Andalucía, so it was also nice to have some warmer weather for the weekend.

In Málaga we started off with a quick walking tour around the city, where we visited the Atarazanas food market, the Cathedral, and the Plaza de la Constitución. After a tapas lunch, we then explored the Picasso Museum – he is from Málaga, so a lot of his history and artwork is represented here! We then walked through the Alcazaba, Málaga’s medieval Moorish palace, which overlooked the ocean and was a great way to end our tour.

We had some free time to explore, so we all spent some time sitting on the beach as the sun set. Since Málaga is a much smaller coast city, the beach was so calm and so peaceful. Once it grew dark, our whole program drove over to a dance studio (which happens to be where Antonio Banderas rehearses) for a flamenco class. All I can say is that I now have a new respect for flamenco dancers – this was one of the hardest things I’ve tried to learn!

Saturday morning we started with a huge hotel breakfast and then walked back toward the beach to the Centre Pompidou, a branch of Paris’ contemporary art museum. The art we saw here was definitely different from what we’ve been studying so far, as it was much more modern and utopian. From here, we walked along the coast to a beachfront restaurant where we ended this leg of the trip with an amazing paella lunch.

Most of the program was heading back to Madrid that evening, but while we were already in the south of Spain, my friends and I decided to go to Sevilla for the rest of the weekend. We arrived by train around 7pm, so after checking into our hostel, we immediately found dinner and began to explore the city at night. We were very centrally located, so it was super easy to get around and see the nightlife of Sevilla in the short time we had.

Sunday morning we had to pack in all of our sightseeing, as we were leaving for Madrid at 4pm that day. We started off at the Catedral de Sevilla, which was so beautiful, but since it was Sunday and mass was going on, we were unable to climb up the tower. We also walked by the Royal Alcázar of Sevilla, but the line was so long and we didn’t have tons of time, so we weren’t able to go inside here either. We ended up taking a bus tour through the city for the rest of the day, so we were able to see most major sights in time for our bus ride home.

We spent some time at the Plaza de España, which was one of the largest and most extravagant plazas I’ve seen in Spain so far. We walked around a bit more by the Metropol Parasol, got some lunch and gelato, and then made our way to the bus station for our 6 hour drive back to Madrid.

This weekend was much more relaxed than past trips, so it was really nice to take a break and have more time in Spain. It was also fun to travel with the whole program, since we don’t see everyone else as often. Overall, Sevilla is one of my favorite cities that I’ve traveled to so far, so I’m glad we were able to squeeze that in after our Málaga trip. This upcoming weekend will be VERY busy, so having a weekend to relax was definitely good beforehand.

I’m looking forward to my last month and a half here, so please stay updated for my final adventures! Subscribe below to get email updates when I post new content 🙂

Thank you and see you all next week!



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Halloween in Barcelona

Catching up on another weekend abroad! This past weekend some friends and I went to Barcelona to celebrate Halloween. We spent about three days in the city before returning to Madrid, which was definitely enough to see all of the major sites and enjoy ourselves.

We arrived early on the morning of Thursday the 31st, so we spent most of the day walking around and seeing as much of the city as we could. We passed by the Barcelona Cathedral and walked through Citadel Park before checking into our Airbnb for the weekend. This wasn’t the nicest place to say (we were told that if anyone knocks, we were not to open the door under any circumstances), but it ended up working out for the two nights we were there. After checking in, getting settled, and napping for a bit, we headed back out to walk around some shops and grab tacos for dinner.

Thursday night there was a major Halloween party at one of Barcelona’s main night clubs, so we all dressed up and went as a group. This was definitely a MAJOR Halloween party. The entire club was packed and we only lasted a short while before heading out to the beach, which was right outside the back door. Being right on the beach was definitely a big change from Madrid!

Friday was our main exploring day. We started out with a big brunch at Citizen Café, and good thing we did because we had no idea how much walking we would be doing that day. After brunch, we headed to the Sagrada Familia, which is Barcelona’s unfinished Roman Catholic basilica, designed by Antoni Gaudí. The building is supposed to be completed relatively soon, so it would be really cool to go back one day and see the finished product.

From there we walked a LONG way uphill to Park Güell. We were able to walk around some of the outside paths of the park, but the tickets to get into the museum part were sold out. It was still really pretty outside, and we were able to look over the whole city. After a quick break, we continued the hike uphill to the bunkers at El Carmel. While walking up, we were all questioning whether it was worth it (we had been walking uphill for about 4 hours now). But when we got to the top, we concluded that it was 100% the right choice. We arrived at the top right around sunset, and we could see the entire city of Barcelona. These bunkers are the highest point of the city, and keep in mind we started at sea level that morning, so this break at the top was much needed.

After hiking back down the hill (and taking a bus the rest of the way), we ended back up on level ground and hit up a hole-in-the-wall tapas bar, which we all agreed served the best croquettes we’ve had thus far. The day took a lot out of us, so after napping (again) and trying to get ready, we decided we couldn’t take another late night. We quickly tried the Dow Jones stock exchange bar, which seemed like a cool idea, but was honestly not very well executed once we got there, and then ended up at Burger King to end the night.

Sunday morning we packed up, and before heading to the airport we made a few quick stops at Las Ramblas, la Boquería, and of course, Starbucks. After a rocky flight home (and many more naps), we finally made it back to Madrid early Saturday night. Getting home that early in the weekend was such a nice change – having all day to catch up and get organized on Sunday was amazing.

In conclusion, I’m glad I visited Barcelona, but I’m even more glad that I’m living in Madrid. I can’t quite explain it, but the people, the culture, and just the city itself are more comforting and welcoming, in my opinion, in Madrid. It was definitely a cool experience to see another (very popular) part of Spain, but the more I continue to travel elsewhere, the more I realize I made the right choice coming to Madrid 🙂

It’s crazy to think about, but the months are quickly passing by and I only have a short time left in Europe! I have a few more trips lined up for my last weeks abroad, so I will definitely be posting a LOT in the next couple of months – subscribe below to stay updated!

Thank you again for following me along this AMAZING journey, and I’ll see you all next week!



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Weekend in Porto, Portugal

After a looonng break I’m finally back blogging! I took some time off from writing while my mom was visiting last week, so now I’m catching up on my last few trips.

While my mom was in town, we spent the first weekend in Porto, Portugal, which I highly recommend if you get the chance to visit! I thought we would be missing out by only staying in Porto and not seeing Lisbon as well (the capital), but after returning, I’m glad that we stayed in one place, and from what I’ve heard from others, Porto is the place to go.

When we first touched down, we headed straight for the water, which in this case was the Douro River. We grabbed some lunch at a cafe right on the river, and just relaxed for a bit until checking into our hotel (it was an early morning of travel!).

Much later in the afternoon, after a much needed nap, we headed back out into the city to shop around. The one thing you should know about Porto before visiting is that the entire city is on a hill – so you’re either walking up or down. This made our trip a bit more tiring than most, but it was good to get some exercise in! We window shopped for a while, since there are lots and lots of cute little shops in Porto, and then we made our way down to the river once more.

Right along the water there was a man singing and playing guitar, and the whole vibe was so beautiful and so relaxing, so we decided to eat dinner right above him, on a stone wall overlooking the river. You could see the town lights from across the river, and occasionally a few boats pass by. This was definitely one of my favorite meals so far, simply because the atmosphere was so unbelievable.

Day two we slept in LATE, which is very unlike us but very much needed. We started out with brunch at Zenith Brunch & Cocktails (which also has a Madrid location!), and I finally got the açaí bowl I’ve been craving since I left the states. I’ve learned that breakfast isn’t a huge thing in Spain (and I’m a big breakfast person), so finding real breakfast and brunch restaurants is a big deal for me.

We spent the morning sight seeing around Porto, first climbing up the Igreja dos Clérigos, walking by the Palácio da Bolsa, and climbing up (more hills) to the Porto Cathedral. Even just walking through the streets, we saw beautiful architecture and blue and white tiled buildings. After lots and lots of walking and climbing, we settled down by the river again for a glass of wine and some bruschetta while we waited for our Port wine tour to begin.

I didn’t know anything about Port wine before this tour (which I probably should have), but I had just been told over and over that if you go to Portugal, you must go to Porto and you must do a wine tasting. Apparently Port wine is extremely sweet and extremely alcoholic. After one sip I knew it wasn’t for me, but it was still cool to tour the different wineries and wine cellars, and learn about the history of Port wine.

Four hours and seven tastings of Port wine later, we desperately needed food and water, so once again we found ourselves at a restaurant on the river, this time on the Gaia side of the river (which is where the wine is made). Here we enjoyed some more breads and cheeses before walking home (and stopping for gelato on the way!).

Day three was time to fly back to Madrid, so before heading to the airport we explored one more part of Porto. We drove out to Foz do Douro, which is where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Since we came here early enough, there was almost no one out yet, so the air was calm and peaceful, and we were able to enjoy the beach for a moment before departing. We could walk out along the boardwalk to the lighthouse, and although the water was really rough, it was so relaxing to be on a beach again.

After another delicious brunch and one more walk through Porto’s shops, we finally headed to the airport. Two to three days was the perfect amount of time to spend in the city, as we were able to see and do everything we wanted without feeling rushed, but without running out of plans either. We then enjoyed an amazing week back in Madrid with lots more sight seeing and LOTS more eating!

I’m so thankful I was able to take this trip, and that I was able to share it with my mom as well. Again, if you get the chance, PLEASE try to visit Porto! It is so beautiful and a nice break from most other fast-paced European cities, you won’t regret it.

I have lots more to catch up on, so I’ll definitely be posting again soon! If you’d like to stay updated when I post new content, you can subscribe down below to receive email notifications. That’s all for now, so thank you for staying in touch and I’ll see you soon!



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Backpacking through Eastern Europe (Solo!)

What a weekend! Another wild experience, very different from most of my trips so far – so another LONG recap!!

This weekend I decided to travel through a number of Eastern European cities. Alone. Why? I’m not really sure, to be honest, but this seemed like a good way to experience each city to its fullest capacity, have some time to myself, and explore things I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise. I booked a non-refundable, one-way ticket to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, so that I couldn’t back out, and from there I planned my backpacking journey through Eastern Europe.

It started Thursday morning with a very early three-hour flight to Prague. Going into this weekend, I was still exhausted from the previous weekend’s trip to Morocco and hadn’t had enough time to get settled back in Madrid, so getting to Prague was a bit hectic. I wasn’t able to plan too much beforehand, so I kind of just showed up and decided to wing it from there. I went straight from the airport to the Prague Castle, and that was the start of my journey. I didn’t know much about Prague beforehand, but the city has so much history and is so rich in culture. There was SO much to see, so I spent the entire day walking around and making the most out of my 24 hours in the city.

After seeing the castle and it’s neighbor, St. George’s Basilica, I walked over to a highly recommended cafe, The Farm, to get out of the rain. This little restaurant was the perfect welcome to Prague. I had a latte and the yummiest french toast, and I was able to relax for a while, recharge, and plan the rest of my day. After lunch, I walked through Letenske Sady, a nearby park, and it was so nice to see so much nature and leaves changing color – it’s still hot in Madrid! The famous Prague metronome is also in this park, with an amazing view of the Vltava River. I then crossed the bridge into Old Town, which was so cool to walk around – it truly felt like late fall in a medieval style town, and there were even some Christmas decorations out. Here I saw the famous astronomical clock, the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, and the Old Jewish Quarter. I also tried Trdelnik, a rolled pastry covered with cinnamon sugar and filled with ice cream – so delicious!

On my way to my hostel, I passed over the Charles Bridge, which truly amazed me. Not only the view over the river and the cityscape in the background, but the energy of everyone walking around and bands playing as you cross over – it was all so cool to experience. On the other side of the bridge I walked by the John Lennon Wall as well, which is now covered over by graffiti (mostly focused on peace and love), but still such an interesting part of history. For dinner I tried a traditional Czech restaurant that was an underground tavern type of place. I got a caprese plate, and potato soup (a traditional Czech dish).

Friday morning I woke up early to catch a train to Vienna, Austria, so I grabbed a quick breakfast on the way and set off on the four hour drive. I arrived around 2pm, so I stopped first at a local cafe to get a quick lunch, and then set out to explore the city. Vienna’s city center is very modernized, with lots of shopping areas and restaurants. I walked through here a bit, and also stopped to see St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Mozart’s House, both of which are in the city center. I then took a long walk toward the outskirts of the city and spent some time in Augarten, a large park in Vienna. After a long couple of days of traveling and walking, it was nice to sit on a bench and relax for a bit (especially now that the weather was warmer too).

On my way back toward the city center, I walked through Karmelitermarkt, a small street market, and then I passed the Soviet War Memorial, which was so remarkable. I checked into my hostel early that evening and rested up since I’d have lots of walking the next day! Saturday morning I had a few more hours to explore before heading to Budapest, so I started out at another recommended cafe, Café Sperl. This was a very traditional style, classic looking cafe, and the food was so delicious. I then spent some time walking through Naschmarkt, which is a street market almost a mile long with over 100 vendors. Here they sold food, textiles, souvenirs, and other antique goods. Soon it was time to catch my bus to Budapest, and three hours later I was in Hungary.

Upon arriving to Budapest, I immediately began sight seeing since I only had limited time here. Budapest is split into two sides by the Danube River: Buda and Pest. I arrived on the Buda side, which happens to be the hilly side, so I got the hiking out of the way on Saturday. I started by hiking up Gellert Hill (which was much higher than I expected!) to see the Liberty Statue. Once I finally got to the top, the view was so worth it. I spent some time here as the sun began to set, and then I walked about a mile down the river to Buda Castle – another incredible view! The castle was right next to the Budapest History Museum, so I was able to explore both. The buildings were built so elegantly, and the foliage was so colorful – it gave me a taste of a Boston fall 🙂 At the top of the castle were walkways and bridges that stretched out over the edge, so you could really tell how high up you were. Being able to look over the entire city and see the river stretch for miles in both directions is a view I can’t even begin to put into words, and pictures can only somewhat show. Standing at the top was so peaceful, and I found a wave of appreciation for all of the hidden treasures this world has to offer.

On my way to my hostel, I stopped at a street food market called Karavan to grab a quick dinner, and they had every food truck you could think of here! I then got a long night of sleep, because by this point in the weekend I was so exhausted. Sunday morning I had a few more hours to explore before my flight back to Madrid, so I spent the day on the Pest side of the river. I first walked through a farmer’s market right by my hostel, located in Budapest’s most famous ruin pub, Simple Kert. I passed by the Dohany Synagogue, which is the largest in Europe. I then walked over to St. Stephen’s Basilica, and then the Hungarian Parliament, which are tied for the tallest buildings in Budapest. The Parliament building might be the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen. It was right on the river, and it was so large and so old fashioned, with vines of red and orange leaves all around it.

I then made my way to the Chain Bridge, which, yet again, had more amazing views. By this point I was starving, so I stopped at a small cafe for a cappuccino and a cinnamon bun (they’re so good in Hungary!). I walked along Váci Utca (Váci Street) for a bit, which is the main shopping area of the city. Finally it was time to say goodbye to Budapest and head to the airport.

This weekend was definitely a major learning experience. First, I learned that I hate being alone. I’m glad I was able to experience all of these incredible places, and I’m glad that I learned I don’t like traveling alone, but it would have been nice to have friends with me. I thought a solo trip would be something I’d really enjoy, but I’m definitely looking forward to traveling with my friends again! In the end, I think my favorite leg of the trip was Prague, because I was able to see all parts of the city (which were so beautiful) and stay occupied all day – that being said, I don’t think I would go back because I do feel like I saw everything. Budapest is a close second, and I think if I had friends to share more experiences with, I would have loved it a lot more, so that is definitely a place I want to return! Vienna was amazing as well, but I just didn’t vibe with the city as much as the other two.

I’m so grateful I was able to do so much in one weekend and gain so much more knowledge of Eastern Europe. After a long period of non-stop traveling though, I’m ready for some time back in Spain!

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Experiencing Morocco

Welcome back! Get ready for a long blog post this week – I have endless things to say about my trip to Morocco.

Where to begin! This weekend’s trip was nothing like the traveling I’ve been doing so far, and it actually reminded me a lot of the trips I’ve taken over the past five years to Central America with School The World, so I immediately fell in love. I visited the North African country of Morocco this past weekend with a large group of other BC students, which our study abroad program coordinated. We spent time in both the city of Marrakech and the mountain village of Amizmiz over a four day weekend.

We flew into Marrakech late Thursday night, so we went straight to our hotel and to bed since we had lots planned for the day ahead. Friday was our first full day in Morocco, and we started with breakfast and a discussion with a group of Moroccan students around our age about the Moroccan culture. There was so much I didn’t know beforehand, and so much that I wasn’t even aware I didn’t know. Being able to openly ask questions and talk about life with these students was so educational and so eye-opening. I went into the weekend thinking I had a pretty good idea of what life was like, but I had only scratched the surface.

These students then walked with us around the Medina and Souks, which are the smaller streets and markets/shops in Marrakech. We saw so many textiles, paintings, spices, jewelry, and other market goods which we could barter for. We then headed to lunch at Cafe Clock where we could try so many traditional foods, like couscous, hummus and pita, falafel, and even camel burgers (glad I tried one once, but I don’t think I would do it again).

After lunch we were given a tour of the Bahia Palace, the Mellah (the Jewish quarter of Marrakech), and the Koutoubia Minaret, which is the largest mosque in the city. I always love learning about the culture and history of the cities we visit, and seeing the different landscapes and architecture that is famous there. That afternoon we had some free time, so we walked back through the markets (this is when I actually did my shopping), and we got dinner at a nicer restaurant in the square where our hotel was. We tried more couscous, as well as chicken tagine, a traditional North African dish. Walking all day was a great way to get around and see different parts of the city, but the 100ºF weather made it very tiring!

Saturday morning we had another conversation with the Moroccan students we had met the day before, this time about religion. I had learned about Islam in classes both in high school and in college, and I had actually done an entire research project on Morocco during my sophomore year at BC, but this was all surface level information. I went in with very basic knowledge about the principles of the religion, and the general practices Muslim people followed. In talking with the students, I learned so much more about what daily life is actually like, and how both culture and religion are changing through the generations. Just like I see in the US, religion is practiced on a spectrum in Morocco. There are those who are entirely devoted and follow all teachings of the Quran and the Hadith, and there are others who follow just the parts they feel compelled by or responsible for. We discussed why some women choose to wear the hijab while others don’t, and how that is seen by their families, their peers, and others on the streets. We talked about how women are treated, how husbands and wives interact with one another, and how older generations interact with younger ones. Over these two conversations, I felt so much closer with the students and the culture, as I learned there are so many parallels with my own culture and religion that I was missing, while still so many interesting and unique differences that I could learn about.

After finishing our discussion, we headed toward the mountain village of Amizmiz, where our trip leader had served while in the Peace Corps. On the way, we stopped shortly to ride camels, which was a cool activity, but also made me sad to see the conditions the animals were living in. After about an hour drive, we arrived in Amizmiz where we split off with different host families to enjoy lunch in their home. Here we were able to continue our conversations about both Moroccan and American culture, and bond further with the students.

That afternoon we visited the Women’s Association, where a group of hardworking women make and sell couscous, and open their doors to other women in need, typically those divorced and widowed. We saw how the couscous was made, and listened to them speak about their mission and experiences. Next, we walked to the local Hammam (public baths), where we spent lots of time getting clean!

Saturday night is by far one of the most memorable and heartwarming nights I’ve had while abroad, and honestly in my life as a whole. We went back to eat dinner with our host families, where we spent time sharing music, talking about our lives at home, and learning more and more about one another. We then all joined up again for a party with all of the families. We dressed in traditional Moroccan clothing, tried henna tattoos, and sang and danced for hours. There was something so special about everyone coming together that night, from opposite sides of the globe, and spending time together like lifetime friends and family, that I will never forget. I met some of these people the day before, and made such deep, genuine connections with them. We were welcomed so kindly into their homes, and everyone forgot about any issues or differences in the world, and just laughed together while we danced to Moroccan and American music alike.

Sunday was our last day in Morocco, so we woke up early and hiked through the Amizmiz mountains, which were so beautiful and so peaceful. At the top, we visited the Quranic school of that region, were we had a rooftop breakfast and listened to the Imam of that school speak about his role and connection with the students there. Being able to meet so many amazing people and be so personally immersed into the Moroccan culture was so special, and it’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do had I just traveled there on my own.

That afternoon we headed back to Marrakech, and we had a very late flight, so we had lots of free time to spend back in the city. We visited the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and the Majorelle Gardens, which were both so beautiful and so inspiring. We then went back through the markets one more time to do some last minute shopping, and got a quick dinner of shawarma and fries at another local restaurant in the square. We landed back in Madrid around 5AM on Monday, so I am still catching up on sleep from the weekend before I fly out again Thursday morning.

Among all of the takeaways I have from this weekend, the one I want to stress the most is that people all over the world are such amazing people, and you can’t truly experience a culture without them. Immersing myself into a more rural area and spending time with local students and families is what made this trip so memorable and worthwhile, and my perspective on the world is forever changed because of it. Getting outside of one’s comfort zone is so crucial in order to stay educated about and and comfortable with the world around them. Some of the greatest experiences I’ve had and the kindest people I’ve met are those countries away from my own, and I wouldn’t trade these connections for anything. I am so lucky to have had these amazing experiences, and I hope more people can enjoy them too, because we are all neighbors in humanity and we all love each other at heart.

See you all next week!




Hi everyone!

I’m back again from another busy weekend of traveling. This trip was much quicker, but the weekend as a whole was still very packed. The last few weeks I’ve been leaving for my trips on Thursday mornings (I only have class Monday-Wednesday), but this weekend I didn’t leave until Friday, so it was really nice to have a day to relax in Madrid before taking off again.

Starting on Friday, I had another day trip for the art class I am taking here. We drove about an hour to El Escorial, a monastery and the former residence of the King of Spain. This was kind of like one big museum, with an old library, different historical rooms, and a chamber where all of Spain’s former kings and queens are buried. It was very interesting to walk through the various rooms that were actually used by former kings, and see all of the artwork and artifacts left there.

We then drove a few minutes to the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos), a Francoist regime monument. This monument is already highly controversial, and just two days before our visit the Supreme Court of Spain declared that Franco’s body would be exhumed from the site. This made our visit even more interesting as the environment was changed and the controversy escalated, and as freaky as it was to be inside the monument, I am glad we were able to go before his body is removed and the history is ‘gone’.

Immediately after returning to Madrid we went straight to the airport and took off Friday evening for Munich, Germany. This was the second weekend of Oktoberfest, and by far the busiest. We didn’t land until about 11:00 PM, so we headed straight to our campsite for the weekend. Yes, that’s right – we camped. After a last-minute cancellation on our AirBnb and failure to find a hotel or hostel that wasn’t booked, we resorted to sleeping in tents at the Festanation Campsite. I wasn’t too worried about this to begin with, it actually seemed like a fun idea, but once we got there, the campsite completely exceeded my expectations. I went in thinking we would be sleeping in a tiny tent on the dirt ground in the freezing cold, but the company actually had great accommodations, I was so comfortable the whole weekend, and I would definitely stay there again if I were to return. It was definitely cramped and not the warmest, but for camping in the middle of Munich, Festanation did a great job.

Saturday morning was a very early wake up and a quick change into our dirndls and lederhosens before taking the train to Theresienwiese, the festival site for Oktoberfest. We only had to wait in line for about a half hour before the gates opened, and from there it was a crazy rush to the tents. There was one tent, the Hofbräu Tent, where pretty much all college students studying abroad went to, so of course we went there and met up with other friends from home and from BC. I had been told lots of stories about the festival before going, so it was pretty close to what I expected, just much much bigger.

We hung out in the HB tent for most of the day, which was really fun to be with everyone and experience the event. Early in the afternoon, we walked around outside for a bit, got some food, and went on some rides. My diet the entire day consisted of different types of soft pretzels, but they were so delicious. Coincidentally enough I’m allergic to beer so I wasn’t fully able to enjoy this part of the festival, but I tried all that I needed to get the full experience, and despite the pain that came afterwards, I think it was worth it.

Later in the afternoon we went back to our tents to rest, and then we put on warm, comfy clothes and went back to Oktoberfest at night. We got dinner and walked around some more, and it was way less crowded at night, but definitely a bit more crazy, since everyone that was left had been there partying all day.

Overall, Oktoberfest was SO much fun and I’m so glad that I went (despite how expensive the trip was). That being said, I’m glad we only did the festival for one day, because it was so exhausting and I think another day that busy would have been too much. It was such a cool place and environment, and I do want to go again when I can spend more time and money on the weekend, but for now I’m so glad I got to do it with all of my friends while abroad.

Sunday morning we explored the Munich city center for a bit before our flight home. The city isn’t too big so it was easy to walk around a couple plazas and see all we needed before leaving. Getting home Sunday afternoon rather than Monday morning was definitely a better move, since I could unpack and get organized for the week before going back to school. As quick as the weekend was, it was still very tiring and I’m glad to have a few days in Madrid to catch up before my next flight on Thursday!

I’m finally catching up on my vlogs from each trip, so feel free to check those out on the Videos page. Additionally, if you’d like to receive email updates when I post new blogs, please subscribe below!



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Weekend in the French Riviera

I just returned early Monday morning from the South of France, and quickly unpacked and packed again to head to school. This weekend I spent most of my time in Nice, France, with a couple of day trips to other nearby cities.

My friends and I left Thursday morning for Nice, and we spend the day walking around and exploring the city. We got crepes and waffles at an outdoor cafe and they were SO delicious. We checked into our AirBnb in the afternoon, rested up for a bit, then walked a couple blocks down to the beach. The beaches in Nice for the most part are all pebble beaches, but it really wasn’t that uncomfortable. We all took a nap on the shore and then hung out and watched the sunset. For dinner we walked about a mile into the center of town. We ate at Bazar Cafe – I got spaghetti a la carbonara and for once here I felt uncomfortably full after a meal.

More of our friends flew in Thursday night, so once they arrived we headed back past the city center to an American-style pub called Wayne’s Bar. As packed and hot as it was, the music was great and we all ended up having a really good time.

Friday had the best weather of the trip, so we made this our beach day. We found a pebble-less beach in Villefranche-sur-Mer, and the view here was BEAUTIFUL. The water was so clear and so warm, and all around us were mountains with colorful houses. We ate lunch at a beach club called Deli Bo right next to us, and I had the most refreshing quinoa-veggie bowl. We walked around a bit and explored the Hotel de Ville of this area. The old architecture and the views from the top were so amazing. Friday night we went to a nice pizza place back in the center of Nice, and then went back to Wayne’s Bar (it was so much fun the first night!).

Then came Saturday, which might have been the coolest day of my life so far. We started the morning with breakfast in Nice at another small cafe called Marinette, where I got potato pancakes with tzatziki sauce, smoked salmon, avocado, a poached egg, tomato, and greens on top. I never would have imagined this combination, but it was one of my favorite meals so far. We then hiked up Castle Hill to see a waterfall and a beautiful view of the mountains on one side, and the French Riviera coast on the other.

We headed back to our apartment to change, and quickly hopped on a train to Monte Carlo, Monaco. Never in my life would I have expected to visit Monte Carlo, but it’s only 20 minutes on the train from Nice, and it is SUCH a cool place. We walked around the city for a while, which is pretty small so this wasn’t hard to do (except it’s VERY hilly!). We climbed up to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, which, like most sites we’ve seen so far, also gave us a beautiful view of the city and the coast (and all of the major yachts). We then went to the Casino de Monte Carlo, opened in 1863, and so of course we had to gamble. We only spent a little bit of time here, but the experience was so unbelievable.

The day has already been insane, and to top it off, we then got on another train…to another country. One of our friends got a few recommendations from a local on his train ride to Nice, which really came in handy. One of these was what he named the best pasta in Italy. So we went to Italy for dinner. We took the train from Monaco to Ventimiglia, Italy, and walked to a local restaurant on the water called Pasta & Basta. I had never been to Italy before, but so far this was the best pasta I’ve had in my life. Everyone warned us about the big portions, so we started off by splitting pasta dishes. I shared a pesto fettuccine with potatoes and green beans, and this was definitely my favorite. However, one we all finished, we still wanted more. So we got another round of pasta, and this time I shared a four-cheese fettuccine. Both dishes were so amazing, and so was the tiramisu for dessert. After spending the day across three countries, we finally headed back to France for the night.

Sunday was our last day in Nice, and it was rainy, so we spend the day walking around Old Town. We got crepes again for breakfast, then tried another recommended restaurant that has the most well known gelato in Nice – Fenoccio. The gelato was amazing! We tried macaroons as well, and then shopped for a bit before heading back to the apartment. Once it stopped raining, we ordered a few pizzas and some wine, and had a picnic on the beach. This was the best way to end our vacation – it was so relaxing to sit by the ocean, and it was nice to just spend time with each other before our early Monday morning flight back to Madrid.

This weekend’s trip was definitely on the longer side, so I’m excited to have some time back in Madrid this week to get organized again. On Friday I’ll be heading out of the country again, so I look forward to updating you all then!



Weekend in Palma de Mallorca

Welcome back!

This past weekend I spent about four days on the Balearic island of Mallorca, just off the eastern coast of Spain. We flew into Palma  Thursday morning and stayed in the city for the weekend, then we headed back to Madrid Sunday night.

This was a trip I probably never would have planned on my own, but I am so glad I was able to see the island – I would definitely love to go back someday! I would also like to see the other Balearic islands, like Ibiza and Minorca, and to explore more of Mallorca itself, as we mainly stayed around Palma.

As soon as we stepped off the plane, I was amazed by the island. I’m not exactly sure what I expected, I think I was assuming it would be like most Caribbean islands – palm trees, beaches, and dry land. There were definitely palm trees and beaches, but there was so much more. The boats and cars that lined the water were unbelievable, and the buildings and architecture was so rich and modern. This was definitely not like any beach I’d been to before.

Our first meal in Mallorca was exactly what I needed, and what I was missing from the US. We went to a cute brunch spot called Santina and got avocado toast with feta and an egg, mimosas, and iced coffee (which is a very rare commodity here)!

We had another amazing meal that night for dinner. We overheard a couple at brunch talking about their favorite tapas bar in Spain, which happened to be right in Palma. The restaurant is called Bar España, and I can confirm that (so far) these are the best tapas I’ve had since I got here. My favorite was burrata with pesto on toast 🙂

Most of the weekend was spent at the beach – the weather was amazing and you can’t go to an island without visiting the beach! We went to Cala Major for three of the four days we were there, since this was closest main beach. The other side of the island is known for its beautiful beaches, but it was definitely difficult to get that far without a car, and honestly any beach would have worked for us.

I’ve always been a huge beach person, and being used to the beaches in New England/Cape Cod, I’ve found that most island beaches, while they’re much prettier, are not actually as fun, because the water is usually so warm and calm. This beach, however, had waves big enough to have fun in, and the water was so refreshing. I really hope to go back some day and see the other beaches, and the other islands as well.

We had one rainy day while in Palma, which ended up working out well so we could explore the city without feeling like we were missing a beach day. We visited the Catedral de Mallorca which was SO beautiful, and right along the water. We also walked around some markets and shops, just to get a feel for the city.

The apartment we stayed in had a beautiful view of the harbor, so we could sit on our terrace and look at the water. There were about 12 of us on the trip (8 in our apartment), so we were able to all hang out, cook meals, and enjoy our time on vacation. As much as I’m so excited to travel and explore so many amazing cities in Europe, I am so glad I was able to relax this weekend and not plan too much.

The next couple of months are packed with weekend trips, so I’ll be busy but I will definitely keep you updated! See you in France next week 🙂



Semester Abroad – Prep Week

Good morning!

I am SO excited to share that this week is my last in Boston – on Saturday I leave to study abroad in Madrid! With this will come TONS of blog posts, pictures, and videos, but also lots of prep and packing right now! I figured I’d bring you all along with me as I get myself ready for the next semester, so let’s get started!

So far this summer, I haven’t done too much to prepare, as most things are last minute, like packing. What I have done already is mostly logistical––applying for a student visa, booking my flights, planning my residence, etc. I’ve picked up a few items shopping along the way as well, like an additional suitcase, and some new clothing items. However, this week is the major prep week!

Over the weekend I finally started to really get ready for my trip. I ordered any last items I needed so that they’d come in on time, shopped for any toiletries I still needed, and set a travel notice with my bank. For a trip this long, there is LOTS to do beforehand! Since international shipping can sometimes be difficult (especially when shipping things like medications), I made sure to get everything I needed ahead of time so I won’t have to worry about it once I’m there.

Yesterday I set aside a couple hours to completely empty out my closet and not only pack what I needed, but get rid of what I don’t. I am leaving a few things at home, but for the most part, if I’m not bringing it to Spain, I’m selling it on Poshmark. Since my brother has already moved out, I’m using his bedroom for now to lay out all the things I need to pack (most of the clothes are what I’ll be wearing throughout this week too, so I don’t want to put them in a suitcase just yet!).

I still need to pack all the smaller items, like my electronics, toiletries, and accessories, which I’ll be doing a little bit at a time this week. I also have a couple of things left to buy which I’ll be doing today or tomorrow, like a new backpack. I set aside one day this week for all of my pre-travel appointments as well––nails, eyebrows, and a haircut!

Once the weekend of travel starts, I’ll be vlogging my trip start to finish! I am flying out of NYC with a friend, so will be traveling to her house first and spending a few days there. I can’t wait to share ALL about my experience, and I’m so excited to be wrapping up all the loose ends this week and finally taking off! Next week’s post will be all about my weekend of travel and first impressions on Spain, so stay tuned and I’ll see you next Monday!



El Rincón

Last month I had the privilege of spending a week in the community of El Rincón, located in the Santa Cruz del Quiché region of Guatemala’s Western Highlands. El Rincón is a small community of about 40 families, with approximately 80 students attending the school which we worked with. For these 80 students, there was a total of 4 teachers and 4 classrooms.

Upon arrival, I noticed the community already had a three classroom primary school building for grades 1-6. The construction of this school was very similar to those School The World builds, which was interesting to see (please refer to my most recent blog post for more information on School The World). I was happy to see that the community already had a sturdy, comfortable learning environment for most students. The preprimary (preschool) classroom, on the other hand, was a small, tin addition off the side of the main building. Curtains were hung up around the outsides to keep the room enclosed, and students mostly sat on the floor or on small stools at a variety of makeshift desks and tabletops. There are 21 students learning in this classroom at a time (which is probably the size of an individual public restroom in the United States), and this is the first environment where these young children will go to learn, so the need for better conditions here was urgent.

Our goal for the week was to construct a new, more permanent preprimary classroom, as well as a playground outside of the school. We were able to successfully complete the project in the week we were there, and the reactions of the students and families at the final dedication ceremony made all of our hard work so beyond worth it. The old preprimary classroom that was made from tin walls was so temporary and unstable, that it was completely cleaned out and removed in less than one day – it was entirely gone before the final dedication ceremony.

One day during our week in El Rincón we were able to visit homes of the families living in the community to learn about their families and their daily lives. This is always an interesting part of the week, as it is the one time US students are able to fully step outside of their comfort zone and their own world, and into the home and culture of another. Talking to the parents and grandparents in these homes was an amazing learning experience, as they told us all about their household chores, how they make money, how they raise their children, and even some more personal stories about their hardships and losses. One family actually brought up the difference between our group and theirs, and explained how we live in completely different worlds, and so it is important to understand the way others live. This was difficult to hear, but very important in recognizing my own privilege, being thankful for it, and learning how I can use it to help others.

I have visited and worked in many communities in this region of Guatemala, though each time is an entirely new group of people, and therefore an entirely new experience. I am so lucky to have met these families and students, and I can’t wait to see the progress they make in their new classroom (as they all assured me they would study hard!). Each person I interacted with in El Rincón touched me in some way, and I hope to return to (or at least check in on) the community in the upcoming future. As always, I am so thankful to have these opportunities with School The World, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.