Friday, July 8, 2016

I'm like so totally cultured now

I finished up my semester abroad in Madrid, Spain, and have been home in Hawaii for a couple weeks now. I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a while, but I’m finding it really hard to sum up my incredible 6 months abroad!! I know it's cliche, but the best way I can put it is: an incredible growing experience. It was both challenging but rewarding, lonely but liberating, stressful yet the most exciting 6 months of my life. 

My last couple weeks consisted of studying for finals, traveling to some awesome new cities, and perfecting my Spanish. Overall, I really really enjoyed my classes at Universidad Pontificia Comillas. It was a thought provoking experience to learn through not only the courses, but the plentiful different international minds within the classrooms. I felt intellectually challenged in my classes, in the best way possible. Finals were intense and it took some time to adjust to the Spanish system of education (ie: more papers, more exams, less day-to-day busy work compared to HPU), but eventually I settled in and fell in love with my classes. I will forever remember the Universidad Pontificia Comillas as a wonderful university filled with dignified professors and fellow students!

Since I last posted, I also got to travel to Prague, Munich, London, Dublin, Cadiz, Cordoba, Lugano, Budapest, Plitvice Lakes, Athens, Santorini, and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. All were nothing short of spectacular, but I especially liked Dublin for its streets so full of life, Cadiz for its warm Andalusian atmosphere, and Santorini for its undeniably gorgeous views. Since being home in Hawaii, I have really missed the opportunity of traveling to a new city and culture every single weekend. My favorite parts of studying abroad were definitely the opportunities to learn about the history of each country from locals themselves. I learned about the Balkan Wars from taxi drivers in Croatia, about the British referendum to leave the EU from Brits in Greece, and about communist history in Prague from waiters and waitresses. As an international relations major, this was probably the most valuable experience of my whole time abroad. Here are some pics from the latest travels around the European continent. I even made a short video that I will add here as well!

You know that U curve they talk about before you leave for studying abroad? Yeah, its real. I definitely went through it. I was in so infatuated with Spain and Europe when I first arrived. By the middle, I was starting to feel a little homesick for my friends and family (and warm weather!) back home in Hawaii. But by the end, it was almost impossible to leave the country I had called casa and the people I had called familia for so long. I miss the soothing sound of cars gliding over the cobble stone streets, the wealth of languages that I overhead in busy plazas, and the FOOD, oh, the food! I cannot commend the HPU study abroad department enough for their endless help and support in facilitating the study abroad experience, and I am forever thankful for all of the memories I made while abroad. It was the most exciting time of my was a beautiful learning and growing experience that I would highly recommend to all HPU students!

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