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39 posts categorized "Spain"

Just some friendly advice.

Cold weather has finally come to Sevilla. And by cold, I mean less then 70 degrees most days. This doesn't actually match my idea of Winter weather, but if I can wear a sweater, it's good enough for me. The changing of seasons also reminds me that days are coming and going, i don't like keeping track of time here, because it tends to either make me realize how much I've missed at home mixed with the feeling that my time here is running out. The perfect definition of melancholy. However I do know I've been in Spain enough to learn a few things (besides obviously spanish), and so I thought I'd tell you about a few of them. Some of these are things I'd wish someone had told me before I got here, some may seem so obvious that you'll think "why would this girl even bother writing this",but they're relevant to me, and I have a feeling they'll be relevant to someone else out there too. So here yah go. 

Bring a water bottle. The beverage of choice here is soda, and your skin and body will thank you if you put something other then sugar into it 24/7. Keep it in your bedroom and bring it to school. 

The metro is your best friend. Assuming your public transportation is as bad as it is in Seattle where I'm from, you will be pleasantly surprised by Sevillas metro system. it's clean, it's simple, it's efficient, it's on time and it goes everywhere that's anywhere. Ask your host family to teach you how to use it as soon as you can. 

School days are days too. Obviously this depends on where you live and how your host family feels, but if you have the freedom and access to transportation, DO THINGS! Sevilla is a ginormous and incredibly beautiful city, and in my opinion two days out of the week is not enough to see it. Most of the schools here get out around 3 o clock, that gives you plenty of time to eat lunch with host fam and then hop on a bus, take a train , or walk to the city. School comes first, I'm not trying to take focus away from that, but if you don't have homework or an exam, please I beg you do not just sit around your house every afternoon. Time here goes by faster then you think, and you don't want to leave having any regrets about not going there or doing that. Grab a friend or just go alone, it'll help beat any homesickness and you'll learn more then what they could possibly teach in the classroom. 

You're gonna gain weight, and that's ok. The "Spain Gain" as my program friends and I call it is REAL and inevitable. You're in the land of paella, jamón, and my personal fav, croquettes. so embrace that extra 10 pounds and never say no to helado. 

don't feel guilty about hanging out with Americans. Everyone and their dog told me before I left, including my own dad, "Don't hang out with Americans at all, ever, or you won't learn anything". While there's some truth that you need to speak spanish to learn spanish, friends are friends. The other Americans in your program are gonna be the only people that fully understand this experience. I've met some of the most incredible friends from CIEE (s/o Ben, Jacque, Emma Hilary and Siena to name just a few) and I'm not about to avoid their company just because they speak the same language as me. They'll be there for you through homesickness, or when you just need someone to ride the boats in the Plaza de España (b/c no spanish person really wants to do that touristy stuff). I'm living proof that you can in fact hang out with Americans and still learn a ton of spanish, and you can too.

But spend time with spanish people too. Spanish kids are the BEST! I've never met people who can make something so mundane as sitting in the park so much fun. they love to sing and dance and laugh and i 10/10 recommend you join in. For the rest of my life I can say I was taught to Flamenco dance in the backyard of my host sisters best friend, barefoot and still a little damp from swimming in his pool all afternoon. make as many friends as you can, most spanish kids aren't shy and you have no reason to be either. 

Write it down. about a month ago I started bringing a little notebook to school, and whenever I hear a word that I don't know that seems halfway relevant, I write it down. when I have a chance I translate it and put it into a flashcard app on my phone. This has helped me so so much with vocabulary and I swear if you aim for even 10 new words a day, you'll find yourself saying "Como se dice?' a lot less. 

Say yes. Ok I don't mean to jumping off a bridge or anything like that, but if your given the option to partake in something safe, do it! don't let whatever fear you have about meeting new people, going to a new place or speaking a lot of Spanish scare you away. Saying yes when everything in my body was screaming no got me a trip to Milan, helped me make countless friends and make some of the best memories. so please please please SAY YES! 

These are pretty Sevilla specific, but think they can apply to a broad range of situations, wherever you might end up. DM me on Instagram if you have any questions! @alexgmcook 



The Goldilocks of Taking In Your New Surroundings

The Goldilocks of Taking In Your Surroundings


Hi guys and welcome back!

Everyday is a new opportunity that presents a chance for positive changes and opportunities.


I have a habit of overthinking every thing and missing whats happening around me. I finally acknowledged this as true when two times in one day I completely missed important conversations. First I missed an important lesson in class while thinking about one quote from the beginning of the presentation, and second I missed a whole conversation about my sports opportunities here because I was thinking about what a Spanish gymnastics coach would think of me. In fact, I think it’s pretty common to do this, When you hear or go through something that overwhelms you it’s human nature to sit and go through it over and over and over again. However, when you are on a study abroad program chances are every other phrase and each new street corner will present you with a new overwhelming thought. It’s best to accept that you have ABSOLUTELY NO idea what just happened and focus on whatever happens next. 

My adventures in trying to take in my surroundings:


First I Didn’t Want To Take In Anything: After my first week of school I had a sinking realization that as tired as the week had made me I had to do the exact something about 30 more times. I felt incredibly trapped and had someone asked what I wanted most I would have grabbed my backpack, passport, and gotten on the next flight back right into the welcoming arms of my parents and friends. I had lost the feeling of curiosity and fell into the mind set that I didn’t need to learn anything else. The things I new best (english, a slightly messy bedroom, and eating dinner before 11) were good enough for me. After some much needed sleep and little of good old High School Musical I was back to my adventurous self. 


Then I Mistakenly Believed I Had To Take In Everything: After my second week I encountered quite the opposite problem. I became overly obsessed with scheduling and planing every detail of my life and became so focused on planning I missed what was actually going on. (two great examples of my predicament provided above) At first I was happy that I was starting to feel comfortable. However a little later, I recognized it as something different. It was more a belief that if I could keep myself busy and everything organized I could rid myself of all homesickness and stress of the trip. That, I realized, was not true. There will always be moments of homesickness, stress, or even boredom. Getting distracted by planning how to avoid them instead of accepting the fact will actually make those moments worse as they will take you by surprise. In addition, at home I am constantly busy, but my life is also constantly changing. I don’t have a perfectly set routine, and I like it that way. That fact will not change in another country. As much as I like my thoughts to be organized I do not like routine.


The Present: Welcome to the present, or as I lie to call it my goldilocks balance. Of course I don't have everything figured out. I have problems with school, I miss home, I don’t always agree wth my host family, but I have learned to accept all of these things with an open mind. I can’t stay in the mindset that “everything in America is better. I want to go home” and I also can’t try to schedule, do, and learn everything at once. I need to accept each new day with an open mind. 


As I was talking about at recreo with some friends the other day. Sometimes it is important to live in the here and now without trying to make perfect sense of things. I’m sure I will learn more on this amazing journey but I am also sure it will be easier in my new mindset.


-Siena the Confused Temporary Spaniard 


PS: Morocco Blog coming soon  

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¿Yo? You can translate words, but can you translate YOU? - Emma Hilary

In the months leading up to this program, one fear was very prevalent. It was the fear of translating the one thing SpanishDict couldn’t help me with--my personality.

I’m the person who makes every day into a story to tell later. I rarely fail to participate in class and can’t be friends with people who don’t know how to interrupt me and be interrupted. I love conversations and those late night talks where everything’s out on the table. Before this program, I felt my personality was rooted in my words, my expressions, my advice, my stories.

It isn’t until your vocabulary is reduced to “me gusta__” and “necesito/quiero/voy + *verb in infinitive*” that you realize your personality is so much more.

It’s truly incredible the connections you can make outside of everything you know. Coming to a new life and culture, your sense of self changes. Suddenly you’re away from all the people you  trust and the influences that have subconsciously shaped you your whole life. And, on top of it all, you’re doing it in a whole new language. This had me wondering, can you really be you with all of these factors?

What I’ve found is that you become youin the most true form. The phrase “gotten to know” doesn’t do justice to the bond I’ve formed with my host family. As I’ve adjusted my life to theirs, they’ve adjusted their lives to me. Everybody knows that come 9:30, Emma Hilary needs to be put to bed. So, at 9:15 my host sister lays out a little dinner for me. I sit and eat and anyone who wants to speak a little English can come join me as my brain slips into it’s tired mother language.  

My personality is more than anything I’ve ever done to try and show it. My personality is my sixth sense for cookies in the house and my ability to ferociously gestures a point. In fact, I’ve gotten so advanced at gestures-with-complex-meanings, I accidentally smashed a plate last weekend at a new friend’s house while telling a story! It was embarrassing, but it was also me. And it didn’t take one bit of translating. After exchanging our “lo sientos” over a dustpan and some broken shards, an inside joke, a wonderful memory, and an even better story were born.Spain Friends!!

(That selfie was taken by my host sister on a night out. I'm the one to the left above the girl in the front!)

INSTAGRAM: If anyone wants to learn more about my experience or see some more photos, go on and Instagram DM me @suagrjinx. I'd love to chat! 

El Rastro de Madrid

El Rastro De Madrid

    As an exchange student, and probably even just a tourist, a phrase you hear a lot is —“Es muy típica de España”—. On our day out this past weekend, I cannot count how many times I heard this phrase, which in my opinion, is a good thing.

    On Sunday my host family (and their family) took me to El Rastro de Madrid. El Rastro de Madrid is an open-air market that is held on Sundays in the historic center of Madrid. It is considered one of the “must see” places in Madrid, before going, I didn’t know this, but after, I can definitely understand why. Filled with locals and tourists alike it’s a wonderful place to experience many aspects of Spanish life. It has probably been one of my most interesting experience so far.


    We arrived in the city at about 11:30, just in time for bocadillos or almuerzo (the morning snack). We walked through the first little part of the market that was filled mostly with antiques and turned off into a side street of the market. We stopped at El Capricho Extremeño, a very famous bocadillo shop, and bought four sandwiches. We split them between the eight of us and ate them outside on the street with all the others enjoying their morning snack. 



    After this, we spent hours walking around and exploring El Rastro. We saw countless antiques, beautiful jewelry, camping supplies and everything in between. We didn’t buy anything, but I am looking forward to going back with a friend to spend some time shopping. One of my favorite things of this day was stumbling upon a shop called “Taste of America”. Going to this store with Spaniards was one of the most comedic experiences of my life. We spent quite a while in this store while I explained what each (food)item was. At this point, I do think it is important to note that, interestingly, there were a number of items in this shop I have never see. I couldn’t, however, stop myself from buying some Reese’s Peanut Buttercups. 


    Next, it was time for lunch. We wandered over to Mercado San Fernando which is also a famous market, but, unlike El Rastro, it is an in-door “tapas” market. Many of you have probably heard of Mercado San Miguel located in the city center of Madrid, close to Puerta del Sol. San Fernando is the same thing, but, in my opinion, much better. This is because it has fewer tourists, more Spaniards, and is much bigger. Here we had our comida and shared many delicious dishes. I would also recommend this place. 


    Finally, it was time to start heading home (both my host sister and I have exams this week/next and had to get home to study…in fact, we probably should’ve spent the whole day doing so, but….let’s be honest, shopping and tapas are much more fun). On the way back we stopped at a small café for dessert and had some delicious pastries and coffee. We spent quite some time relaxing and enjoying the afternoon before continuing on our way home.

    I am certainly looking forward to returning to El Rastro and if you ever have a chance, I recommend it to you as you will be fully immersed in the Spanish culture, and there is no way not to enjoy it. 


Homesickness--It's just a cold. Emma Hilary Gould

Put plainly, homesickness is terrifying. More than the lump in your throat and the nagging tears hiding in your waterline, it’s the overwhelming feeling of permanence and the degrading realization that what you thought could never happen to you, is happening to you.

It hit me the day after I got to my host family. I avoided unpacking, checking my phone, even looking at the map of the United States my host family had hung in my new room; it ached to think about home. These emotions embarrassed and confounded me. Before, I had felt brave and adventurous. Now, not only did I feel misplaced and confused in my new surroundings and culture, I felt I had lost who I was. Homesickness didn’t seem to fit into the chorus of, “that’s incredible!” and “you’re doing something life changing!” that had cheered my departure from the US. For half a year I had carried this soon-to-be-accomplishment on my sleeve, wearing it as proof of the brave person I had found myself to be.

What I didn’t realize, though, as I arrived in my little stucco town and panicked over a “doomed” four months, was that this was a sickness, and, yes, I would get better.

When people talk about homesickness, they neglect to acknowledge the second half of the word—“sickness.” A cold, a fever, an illness, an ailment. They suck, but they’re not all that scary. We know that with a box of tissues, a hug from our parents, and enough Vitamin C, we will fight it.

On Sunday, I grabbed my box of tissues and my courage, and checked the unofficial program snapchat. Here I found relatability and friendship in its purest form as my fellow CIEE-ers lamented the same emotions. We blew our noses and shared our woes. We were all sick with the same cold.

I called my parents and cried for forty five minutes admitting I was homesick (because admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting better, right?) Sometimes all you need is a virtual hug and a FaceTime shoulder to cry on.

Sunday evening as my host sisters taught me the Flamenco, I metaphorically drank the sweet glass of Vitamin C. It begged me to stay in the moment and opened my sinuses to the unparalleled relationships I was making every minute.

On Monday, although Biologia had me missing the spinning stools of Oyster RIver High School lab classrooms (never thought I’d say that), I went for a run and began researching the bus lines into Sevilla. I began to incorporate routine and order into my life. I unpacked my belongings and began to feel fondly toward them, no longer afraid.

By the following weekend, not only had I thrown homesickness like a nasty cold, I had found my home away from home. I’m writing this two and a half weeks later and once again I feel brave and adventurous. I can’t wait for the months to come but I don’t even need to look forward to anything, because right now, I love it here. Right in this town, right in this family, right in this moment.

So go on and grab yourself some tissues, love, Emergen-C, and use a little stamina, because homesickness is a sickness and life’s a lot better when you know how to get better.

The 3 Week Mark.

I have now been in Spain for 3 weeks. they have been some of the most fun, frustrating, difficult and satisfying weeks of my entire life. 

    The first week of school was sort of a blur. I have 6 classes per day and you sit in the exact same room for every single one of them. yep. no changing classrooms, no passing periods. instead the teachers move to you! and speaking of teachers, they talk...alot...if someone offered me a million dollars to tell them more then 2 sentences any of my teachers said, my bank account would still be running on empty. Some just talk for the entire hour, and lemme tell yah when you're sitting in what you think is history class but there's a chance it's actually geography class because you can't really tell the difference, and you can't understand a single word, you're gonna wonder what you got yourself into. This is the frustrating part.

    As much as it sucks the first few times around, and I hate to sound like a cliché, but I swear on my life IT GETS BETTER!! Like I said, it's week three for me and not only do I know what class I'm in, I take notes, I do homework, I answer the teachers questions, and most importantly I understand (most of the time) what they say! (except philosophy class don't ask me about that one pls thanks) The first sentences you hear that instantly make sense are going to be some of the sweetest sounds you've ever heard. This is the satisfying part. (except philosophy, probably won't ever get that one I'll keep you updated though.)


    And not only that, but guess what else, I have friends!! Spanish friends!! that I talk to!! In Spanish!! craaazyyy right? the past two weekends I've spent with some of the most entertaining human beings I've ever met. I've spent wayyyyy too much money shopping, sang spanish music at the top of my lungs at a pool party, and ate tapas at the cutest restaurants I've ever seen. (croquettes, TRY. THEM.) I was also lucky enough to get to go on a trip to the beach with my host family and their cousins, who are also hosting an American  student from CIEE. She goes to my school she's the best huge shout out jacque I looveeee yah. you'll be hearing a lot about her on here. we went to a beach called La Antilla that's about two hours away from Sevilla. It was BEAUTIFUL! when you've lived on the beach for you're whole life and then are suddenly landlocked, the feeling of swimming in the ocean for the first time in weeks is indescribable, plus I got my summer tan back which is always nice. This, is the fun part.

    Oh and I joined a volleyball team!! yep, with the help of my amazing host parents we found a team that happens to be walking distance from my house. a very nervous me tried out last Wednesday and ended up making the team! I've been playing for about 3 years so finding a team not only keeps me from getting fat (@ you croquettas) it makes everything here feel just slightly more like home. And get this, my team has a tournament... IN MILAN ITALY! How cool is that?? the furthest I'm used to going is two hours to Oregon to play, but the fashion capital of the world?? That's something I could get used to. 

I've already learned so much, it hasn't always been easy but you just gotta remind yourself that the endless laughter, incredible memories, lifelong best friends, new exciting expiriances and FANTASTIC Instagram photos are all going to be worth it :) 

If you have any questions or anything DM me on Instagram @alexgmcook


Hola España!

    Heyyy guys! My name is Alex Cook, i'm from Seattle WA, i am a junior in highschool, and i'm spending a semester in Seville, Spain. i'm born in December which means i'm a Sagittarius, and if any of you follow astrology like i do, you'd know that Sagittarius's are adventurous, independent, VERY honest and most importantly love to travel. I was only 2 months old when i went on my first plane, and ever since then i've been fortunate enough to travel in 6 different continents and 30+ countries such as; volunteering in Kenya, eating euros and feta cheese in Greece, scuba diving in Puerto Rico, picnicing in Paris and boating through Hao Long Bay in Vietnam. It's in my blood, it's what i love to do and it's what i want to do for the rest of my life. That being said, life itself has a habit of getting in the way of stuff. school, homework, sports, friends, and family take up most of our days, me included. So one day in math class while i was supposed to be making graphs online, i decided, why not combine all those things WITH traveling?! And thats when i found CIEE and my new home for the next 5 months. August 2017 i packed my bags and with only two years of highschool spanish class in my brain, i was off!

    I've been in Spain for a little over a week now, i began my trip on a high note in Madrid, where i met about 30 of the smartest, bravest, craziest, happiest, most lovely people who all share similar ideas about life and the same drive to experience the road less travelled. the 3 days we spent in orientation were a blur, and soon enough i was on a train to my new life. I ended up in a town that's about a 15 minute metro ride out of central seville called Montequinto. My host family consists of my father, mother, and two sisters, Marina and Ava. It was love at first sight with them and with my new home.

 i can't wait to see what the next 5 months brings and i'm excited to share it with you as well! Below are just a few photos from the orientation in Madrid.  FullSizeRender 2 FullSizeRender
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On September 11, 2017 i took a 7 hour flight from New York City to Madrid. That day was the start of my life in Spain.


My name is Kamil Guerra, and i am from San Antonio, Texas (Go Spurs Go!). I love to draw, dance, explore, and play the guitar. I am 16 and currently a junior in high school. Before i left i worked in food service at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. I am a very outgoing person (or so i'm told), i love meeting new people and making connections and that was especially easy here because all of us students are going through the exact same thing and that's something that isn't easy to find. Back home i live with both of my parents and my older sister, Kate, she is 17 almost 18. I also have a poodle mix named bleu, we don't exactly know what he is because we rescued him from a shelter. Anyway, here are some pictures of my family.

This is Bleu. He is a very photogenic dog.


These are my cousins, aunts, and grandparents.


This is me(right) and my sister Kate(left)


Now to my life in Spain.


For the first week we had orientation in Madrid which was probably one of the best things because i feel like everyone just got really close and we got to experience Spain as tourists before we became "locals". We had a couple of classes at the CIEE center and they were really helpful because they really work hard to prepare you for what's ahead and it's very reassuring to be as well prepared as you can be for such a big thing. These are some of my favorite moments from orientation week in Madrid.

Churros y chocolate


El Mercado !



On the last night before meeting our host families, some of us hung out and tried some peel off face masks.


On september 15, all of the kids in Sevilla got on a train for two hours and headed to Sevilla where we would meet our host families in the train station. I honestly think that in those moments i had never been more excited/scared. It was honestly such a good moment and it was so amazing seeing everyone meeting there host families. I love my host family so much, i could not of asked for anything better. On the first weekend i was there they took me on their boat and we spent the weekend there. The boat was huge!

On the first day on the boat they had some friends come on for the day.

This is my host sister Silvia (far left), me (middle), and Lau (i think that's her name). Lau and Silvia are both 14 years old.


The view from the dock!

Me and my host sister.


On the second day on the boat we invited Cameron who is another student in the program, because he got a family on the coast and we were really close to where he was placed.


We went home Sunday night because Silvia was starting school the next day. 

Before i move on here is the rest of my host family.

This is my host brother, Jorge, and my host dog, Yaco.

Fun Fact: the age difference between me and my host brother is 3 days.


This is me, my host mom, and host sister.

I also have another host brother who is 21 (i think) named Nacho and there is my host dad to, but they aren't home very often so i don't have any pictures of them.


A little background before we move on. I am a junior which is equivalent to Bachillerato 1 (the grade Jorge is in) here in Spain, but since of the language barrier i was placed (along with many other students) into Cuarto ESO with my host sister. 

On Monday Silvia started school. The reason i didn't start school was because there was still some issues with enrollment process so while everyone else was at school there were around 4 other students with the same issue so instead we went to the CIEE center in Sevilla and had 2 hours of Spanish class and then an hour of exploring Sevilla with a guide. That was way better than school. Here are some of those memories.

Here was my favorite day, because we went on a graffiti tour.


Graffiti tour continued.

Las Setas in Sevilla !

This lasted for four days Monday-Thursday and then i was finally enrolled into school and i started on Friday. School here is definitely extremely different from the United States, which was expected. There are 2 classrooms that we alternate in but for the most part we are usually always in the same classroom. I think that is why the kids here have so much energy, because they barely move throughout the day. The good thing is that school starts at 7:45 and ends at 2:30. I've been having a pretty good time there even though school is kind of boring.

and finally, we have almost reached present time.

This sunday i went to see Maluma in concert with Jenn, who is another student from the program. it was such a good concert and we danced our hearts out.


I got home at around 1:30 am, which kind of sucked because the next day i couldn't keep my eyes open in school. It is now technically thursday because it's 1:24 am, but now that I've caught you all up hopefully next time my blog won't be as long, but a lot can happen in 2 weeks!

The First Few Firsts


     Over the year, I'm sure to encounter first-time experiences beyond counting, and surely many of them will be shared on this blog. Right now I get to talk about my very first firsts.
     Many of the CIEE students had been to Europe before, whether it be once, twice, or more. This was my first time. I stepped off the bus into the center of Madrid, and was expecting to get clubbed in the face with, "You're in EUROPE!" but instead I slowly melted into it. As we roamed around the city, many things reminded me of the United States. At first I could hardly tell I was on a different continent, but then the subtle things like tiny cars, men in skinny jeans, and the abundance of roundabouts made me think twice. (I swear I haven't seen a pick-up truck yet) Within the 3 days of orientation, CIEE had convinced me that I was on the Iberian peninsula. We trekked across the city, seeing statues and trying new things at tapas restaurants. As a group, those 3 days were an amazing way to end my summer. We learned about experiences to come while surrounded by complex architectural masterpieces as well as simple and wonderful colored buildings. The narrow streets of Madrid will always be my first European experience.
        Another first I'd like to share is that of my first night in Colmenar Viejo. After being picked up from CIEE in Madrid, and saying my goodbyes to my fellow exchange students, I began the longest half-hour ride of my life. My host mom Sara drove me north of Madrid to Colmenar, and I spent the whole ride nervously spitting out poorly phrased Spanish. To my delight, she spoke enough English to help me through what I couldn't say, and teach me the correct words. We talked about the most random things, and towards the end of the ride my nerves cooled down. After arriving at the house, I talked to my host brother Kimi, sister Paula, and dad Jesús. I had already met them briefly during orientation, so after a quick run around the house, I heard Kimi say, "Vamonos," and so we headed out the door. I met my first friend, Oscar, and the three of us rode bikes and longboards down the enormous but gentle slope of Colmenar Viejo. We stopped momentarily by some steps and met up with more friends: Diego and Jorge. We all then traveled to a basketball court/soccer area, which seemed to have been built by their hands. This was their hang out, with a beautiful view of the mountains and plains on the edge of the town. After shooting some hoops, (Not many shots went in) the amigos began to arrive. There was much handshaking and broken English, with questions about the NFL and my favorite soccer team. At the end of it all, I had met Sergio, Sergio 2, Sergï, Gonfi, Dami Lens, and Jaime. We played a quick soccer game, and I showed off my lack of coordination. It got dark, and just as we started back, I met more. This time, I had to get my kissy face out because there were chicas as well, and after greeting them all, I had met a total of 16 amigos. Of this group, the only names I can remember are those of JP, (pronounced Ho-ta-pey) and Irene. A long walk back home, and I finally fell asleep. I didn't have time to stay up wondering about the year to come, but my first night's sleep was great.
         The last first I'd like to share is my first paella. After having slept through the morning on my first day, I woke up and wasted much of the early-afternoon away talking with my host brother and enjoying the sedentary life on my bed. I used to think that the quickest way to get a teen out of his bed was the smell of bacon, but I can now testify to the powers of paella. That legendary dish must have magic hidden somewhere in it's yellow rice. You've probably heard of it before, and now you've heard it from me. Paella. Is. Delicious. The minute I smelled that glorious paella, I knew that from grill to stomach It would make me happy. This paella mixta (the surf-n-turf of paella) had chicken, muscles, clams, and shrimp, and after my first bite I could tell my family's meals would always be something to look forward to.
      IMG_20170916_152309_649 IMG_20170916_152309_646 I can't wait to share some more firsts in Spain. Adios!

Blog One - Me!

Hola! My name is Emma Hilary Gould and I come from Durham, New Hampshire--above Boston, under Maine, and right on the East Coast. I’ve grown up going to the beach, hiking mountains, and heading into the city for shopping and pastries. Before arriving in Spain, I had gone to the same school and lived in the same neighborhood for ten years. Much like an episode of “Gilmore Girls”, I know all the faces (and trees!) in my little New England town. However, I’ve always adored finding new faces and befriending new people. In 2016, my family spent the summer living in Cambridge, England where my parents were running a summer university program. I spent two and a half life changing months exploring Cambridge and London. In the evenings, I would head to the park where I befriended high school students hailing from all over Europe learning English. Here, I made lifelong friendships with a band of kids all united by our interest in each other’s cultures, languages, and vastly different but wildly similar lives. This past summer, one of those girls invited me to Paris where I stayed with her for two weeks. All without knowing a word of French, I danced through Paris, met her friends by the Seine, and had the time of my life with my French best friend. What I’ve learned through these adventures is that all of us are unified by our ability to connect and communicate whether that be through a laugh, a bitmoji laden snapchat, or a conversation in broken Spanish. That summer of 2016, it didn’t matter what language you spoke or the culture you had grown up in. A herd of international teens all knew how to get down to the Top 40 in a park at midnight.

After tasting the world, I was consumed with the desire to go out again. In search of moments worth “living in”, I stopped dreaming about travel and decided to do it! Right as the portal was closing, I applied to CIEE’s abroad program in Spain and now here I am writing to you from right outside Sevilla, Spain, in Los Palacios--my new home for the next three months.