Spain

Bienvenido a Cádiz…y España!

Friday, September 30th, 2011

By: Sam Bradley-Kelly, Foster Undergraduate

Hola a todos! My name is Samuel Bradley-Kelly.  I am a senior studying Business Administration with a focus in Finance and International Business (CISB Program: Spanish Track), as well as a Foster Honors student.  I decided to complete my study abroad in Cádiz, Spain because of two reasons.  The first was due to the persuasion of my fellow colleagues who did this program last year.  The second was due to the Dutch students I met while studying abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico my first year at UW; they convinced me that I had to go to Europe.

Cádiz is a beautiful town situated on a peninsula in the southeast corner of Spain.  Locally-owned stores line up the allies of Casco Viejo, which is the old part of town that I’m currently living in and where the university is located. At dusk, there is the opportunity to witness photo-perfect sunsets.

As a business major, what excites me the most is that Cádiz is big for their port (along with tourism).  The port is located 5 minutes away from me and is nearly the size of many medium to large-sized ports in the US.  Another beauty, that I have the chance of strolling through every single day, is Plaza Mina which is a block from my place. Late at night, families love to find a bench or an outside restaurant to post up at and enjoy the harmonization of a summer breeze, a cold beer or helado (ice cream), and young children playing fútbol or other various games.

Many of us that are a part of this program have had the chance to also explore other cities in Spain which include Ronda and Sevilla.  Ronda is famously known for the three bridges or Puente Romano (Roman-style bridges) as well as their traditional bullfight that takes place once a year (unfortunately we left a few hours before the event was to take place).

Sevilla is one of the main connecting cities to Madrid (by plane and train) as well as to other European countries as it serves host to an international airport (which I will be using to go to Paris in a few weeks!).  Sevilla is a fantastic get-a-way especially for those that are in search of Flamenco.  I personally want to thank Madison for putting together this great trip, especially picking out a great hostel called Oasis Backpackers’ Hostel.  Also, the evening that I got to personally witness a local Flamenco show, a few of us had the chance to try out tapas near our hostel. Imagine a small plate with grilled ox sirloin skewer with honey garlic sauce.  The best part of this dish is not the meat but using the free bread to dip into the leftover sauce.

If I put my finger on one of the best cultural moments in Spain so far, it would be the night that we were in Sevilla. As we were walking to go watch this Flamenco show, we encountered a group of locals outside of a restaurant playing musical instruments and singing traditional folklore songs.  I included a picture to give visual meaning.

I look forward to continue sharing my experience with everyone over the next three months of my journey! Chao!

Video: Another Tour of the University of Navarra 2011

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

By: Kelsey Ondrk, Foster Undergraduate

Kelsey takes you on a walk through the University of Navarra Campus.

Video: University of Navarra 2011

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

By Rachel Abbott, Foster Undergraduate

 

Join Rachel on this mini tour of the University of Navarra campus.

Traveling with Aladdin

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

By Kelsey Ondrak, UW Foster Undergraduate Business Student

So being in Spain for the past 4 months has been amazing, but I have to say that my favorite trip has been outside of Spain and Europe for that matter. I spent about 3 days in Fez, Morocco with a few people from Boston that are also studying abroad at University of Navarra and had the most amazing cultural experience of my life. We arrived in Fez by plane and seemed slightly confused because I expected this desert area with camels roaming in the background, but instead, I saw lush green fields and cars. The whole idea of going to Morocco was so exciting and yet, totally terrifying all at the same time. I knew that it was a totally different culture than that of Spain and I really didn’t know how to prepare. My time in Fez was short, but truly changed me as a person. I learned about the differences in culture between Europe, America, and Morocco. It was almost inspiring because it made me a more open person. Morocco is definitely somewhere I would travel to again because there is so much I don’t know about it. To anyone interested in going, I would say go when it is safe. That is definitely the only negative part. The world is full of unsafe places, it is just incredibly important to be smart about how a person acts while he or she is there. That is definitely something I have learned while in Europe from my own experiences and my friends’ experiences.

Until next time España

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

By Kelsey Ondrak, UW Foster Undergraduate Business Student

It is unbelievable to think that my five months in Spain are now over. I laughed, cried, and grew up a lot during those months, but the absolute best part of this experience is all the amazing people I have met. Each one is incredibly unique from the other, but for some reason we all end up bonding over the fact that we are miles away from home in a foreign country trying to survive and have a good time while we are doing it. No matter where my new friends have come from, we can all bond over our time spent in Pamplona. Whether we are buying crepes together or hanging out behind the bus station, we will always have those moments.

We all went through phases where we hated Spain and just wanted to get out, but in the end, living in Pamplona has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. If someone had asked me in March when BOTH of my computers broke and I hadn’t backed up my 20 page paper that was due at the end of the week how I was enjoying Spain, I probably would have started screaming about how I just wanted to go home. Looking back, I was a crazy person. Studying abroad, no matter where someone goes or with what program, is a key part of a person’s college education. At no other point in life will I have the opportunity to study in a foreign country for a semester and gain the same experience that I had here in Spain. I know that when I return when I am older, and I will, Pamplona will not be the same, but then again, I won’t either. Until next time España.

Fastest Month of My Life

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The past month has flown by. In my last post, I said that I would tell you about Queensday in Amsterdam. Well here it is: Queensday was insane. Fourteen hours of sunshine, music, and millions of people dressed in orange. The streets were packed, the sidewalks were lined with food vendors, and families were on their doorsteps selling everything from old video games to jewelry. My friends and I found a spot in the middle main square (Museumplein) by the mainstage, soaking up the much-hyped environment that didn’t disappoint.

But life didn’t slow down from there. The next weekend I was in Munich, where I spent most of the time at their Spring Festival, a carnival located on the Oktoberfest grounds. I was also able to go to Dachau, the first German concentration camp. The day I got back from Germany, I went back to Amsterdam with a friend to do the typical tourist things—the Heineken Experience, Anne Frank House, and Rijksmuseum.

A week and a half after that, five friends and I headed to Italy, seeing Pisa, Florence, and Cinque Terre. The five days spent in Italy have been the highlight of my study abroad experience so far. Florence oozes with culture and seemingly every corner you turn is another beautiful church, monument, or museum. We were also treated to a beautiful firework show on the Arno River and an unforgettable sunset from Piazzala Michaelangelo, which is up on a hill across the river overlooking the city. Florence is an absolutely beautiful city and to be in Cinque Terre the next day was an unbelievable experience. We went on a picturesque (and somewhat dangerous!) seven-hour hike along the coast from the first village to the fifth, culminating in a quick dip in the Mediterranean Sea. The entire trip was almost too good to be true—everything from the views to the pizza, gelato, and panna cotta was heavenly.

That’s the beauty of studying abroad. In no other situation would I even imagine going to Italy for a long weekend. Nothing against Portland, but I probably wouldn’t even go there for a random weekend living in Seattle.

And now I have just completed my final lecture. The quarter has flown by and now I have two weeks to study for exams! …and go to Berlin and Prague.

Hola España!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Before leaving for Spain, I heard all about the ups and downs of studying abroad and how I might really not want to go. At the time I thought people were crazy! How could I not want to go to Spain for 6 months?! As I boarded my flight in Omaha, I really didn’t want to go. When I arrived in Barcelona, I was feeling better, but then it seemed as if everything was going wrong. Not exactly how I want to remember this experience. I was incredibly jetlagged staying in, what I later found out to be, the most dangerous part of Barcelona. I just wanted to go to Pamplona already and be settled into my apartment and cry.

For the record, I don’t speak any Spanish. I know people find that incredibly difficult to understand, but it is true. As my taxi driver from the train station to my apartment told me, I was better off using my knowledge of French than speaking English to people. Those were not the words that I needed to hear as I was already super freaked out! The one amazing thing about Foster’s programs is that I am meeting TONS of international students from all over the world. This is really an opportunity that not all exchange programs have and I count myself lucky to be able to be able to make all of these new international friends.

Pamplona is a small city in northern Spain, but anyone can get that from looking at a map. It has a gorgeous Old Town full of life and character that is very unique compared to the rest of the city. In the middle of town is the old citadel that they are renovating. Spaniards seem to think that renovating means building something new to look like the old and that bums me out because I feel like things lose a lot of character when they do that. During our Welcoming Week at the university (I totally recommend this to anyone who is studying in Pamplona in the future), we walked through the Old Town, saw the original walls of the city, and walked the San Fermines’ Running of the Bulls route. I wish I was staying until July to see the whole festival, but unfortunately the Spanish government is going to kick me out before when my visa expires!

 

Camino de Santiago

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

It’s Rachel again! Just a reminder, I’m the one studying in Pamplona, Spain at the University of Navarra. My time here is quickly coming to an end. I will be back in Seattle in less than one month! Sadly, I will miss the next trip with the Club de Montañas…thankfully the last trip will more than make up for it! Last weekend we hiked part of the Camino de Santiago along the Basque Coast. If you ignored the ridiculous amount of ETA tags along the trails, it was absolutely amazing. The weather was 20 degrees Celsius (I no longer speak Fahrenheit) and the sun was out. The bus left bright and early (as usual) and we started out trek around 9am. Other than the details of arrival and departure, I didn’t really pay attention to the e-mail explaining the trip. So it was a surprise when my phone company sent me a text saying “welcome to France…”. Evidently, we started just inside the French borders! The other important detail that I missed was that we were hiking 15 miles. Luckily I had on hiking gear; some of the other exchange students weren’t as lucky. They were in jeans, nice shirts and shoes that were NOT built for any type of strenuous activity. The views along the trails were gorgeous. We stopped in a small town for lunch before continuing to San Sebastian, where we ended. Before the bus headed back at around 6pm, we got to walk along the beach and soak our feet. Sadly it was still too cold to swim! It was an exhausting day but totally worth it. I’m going to miss San Sebastian so much!

Once Upon a Steep Mountain

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

It’s me again! I’ve been in Pamplona for about a month and I still love it. It is definitely a smaller city but I think it is absolutely charming. This last weekend I joined the mountain club at the university to go snowshoeing! I met the bus on Saturday morning at 7am. Bright and early. The trip there took a little under two hours (perfect cat nap). Once there, I realized that the level of difficulty was going to be much higher than I had anticipated. Rather than rolling hills, I was looking at a ski mountain. As in everyone else had come to go DOWN this monster, not the opposite. At least I wasn’t alone.

Everyone strapped on their snow shoes and headed out. I have to point out that it is quite frustrating when you are halfway up an extremely steep slope,  out of breath, sweating, and scared for your life only to look to your right and see people happily riding the chairlift UP. I actually think it is grounds for cruel and unusual punishment. After 3 hours we finally reached the top. The next challenge: manage to get back down. A few minutes into the decline, I was thinking I would rather climb some more. I didn’t have poles which made things a little more difficult. There was a lot of sliding . We stopped for about an hour at a rest point called the “polar club”.  It was really sunny out so we sat outside and ate our lunches before heading back to Pamplona.

I walked in the door of my apartment at around 6pm and fell asleep almost instantly. It was a hard day’s work and completely worth it. I climbed a mountain! I can’t wait for the next adventure.

 

Getting Started

Friday, April 1st, 2011

I’m here, I made it! Lets take a few steps back and begin with an introduction. My name is Rachel Abbott and I’m starting a semester abroad in Pamplona, Spain. This is where your eyes should light up and think “Hey, isn’t that where the running of the bulls is?” Yes, I am staying in a city known for crazy people who think running with angry bulls is a good idea. But I digress…I chose this program because a) I wanted to study abroad, b) the university offers business classes in English, and c) I have been studying Spanish and want to become fluent. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to practice a lot of Spanish because people kept telling me that pretty much everyone speaks English in Europe. These people obviously haven’t been to Pamplona. I soon discovered that outside of the university, you are hard pressed to find anyone that speaks English. Total immersion? Check.

I landed in Pamplona about a week before orientation because I hadn’t figured out housing yet. Although I was really nervous to wait until the last minute, I am so glad I did! I stayed in a tiny hostel in the old part of the city called “Casco Antiguo.” Over the next week, I managed to meet 4 other students on exchange that were also looking for housing and I found an apartment! I am so glad that I didn’t arrange for my apartment plans over e-mail (although I tried my hardest…). After looking at about 4 apartments I found the perfect fit: a small apartment about 10 minutes walk from campus with 3 Honduran girls. A few of my other friends who arranged living situations before they arrived are not as happy. One of them showed up only to be told that they had given her room to someone else and another ended up living with two chain smokers that never clean up after themselves. Yikes!

Fast forward to orientation and my first week at the University of Navarra. The international club at the university put together an orientation that lasted 3 days. It was an amazing opportunity to meet all the other international students.

Now I have friends from all over the world! My favorite part of orientation was the day trip to San Sebastian. Although it wasn’t sunny and a Sunday (when everything is closed) it was absolutely beautiful and the food was to die for. I can’t wait to go back when it starts getting sunny! As for the first week of school…it didn’t really happen for international students. At orientation we were handed schedules full of all the classes and given the instructions to sit in on the classes that we were interested in taking.  From that point on, we had about a week and a half to decide and register with the counselor. I didn’t actually become fully engaged with my classes until halfway through the second week. I guess that is normal!

Now that I am settled into my class schedule I can’t wait to travel around. It’s my first time in Europe and I want to take advantage of it! Next weekend I’m off to Barcelona with some of the students I just met. Hasta luego!