Well I’ve officially been abroad for over a month now, and wow it has definitely been an adventure! There have been many days where I’m in awe constantly at my luck as I walk to class and a handful of nights where the grumble of my tummy for a good ole Jersey Mike’s #7 with some Chick-fil-a waffle fries keeps me up. Overall, I am so, so thankful for this experience.
Since I can remember, I have always loved to travel. I have loved the thrill of hopping in a car or buckling (the seemingly pointless?) airplane seatbelt, as I jet off to a new place. Traveling has always been a way for experiencing new cultures, whether in a new country or state, watching others and trying imagine what living life would look like in whatever destination I was in. Living in Spain seemed like the ultimate dream come true. Until I realized, even living in a foreign place, I still yearn to travel to other places. Thank goodness for weekends!
Since getting to Spain, I have been able to visit Madrid, Toledo, and Sevilla. Sevilla is definitely my favorite – though I may be a little biased. As for weekend getaways, I’ve been able to wander Gibraltar, UK; Tangier and Chechaouen, Morocco; and Lisbon and Évora, Portugal.
Over the past winter break, I binged watched The Crown on Netflix. Like watched all the way through 3 times binged watched. In the show, they mentioned Gibraltar as it is a British territory. Well me being uneducated I suppose, I had no idea that this territory was located right at the tip of Spain! Despite it’s being a different country, the security to cross the border was quite laughable. I was also quite disappointed that I “needed” my passport to cross the border but did not receive a stamp. While in the city, I was able to see Africa off the coast. It was only 28km away! I was also able to make my way to the of the famous rock to see the (in)famous monkeys! I was warned about the monkeys ability to act as swift thieves by my host mom before going, so I knew to keep my personal belongings close to my body. I made sure to grab a couple of pictures with them as how often do you get to see wild monkeys roaming around the streets casually? All-in-all, Gibraltar was a neat trip, but definitely got me excited to go to London later this month!
When I signed up to study abroad, there was a week excursion to Morocco that I was also able to sign up for through my program. But as it was scheduled for one of our two week breaks, I opted to spend my time and money seeing other parts of Europe. I was definitely bummed because to be able to go to Africa while being so close seemed like such a good deal! Well Jesus, as He always does, provided an awesome opportunity for me. I found a local company that takes college students on weekend excursions to Morocco. I got Zach and a couple of friends on board with the idea and off we went! Tangier, the city we stayed in, was very nice and more modern than I had expected. (Thank goodness for traveling, y’all. It’s so important for learning and expanding your preconceived notions.) On our first night, we were able to eat in a big tent made from fancy carpets and eat a traditional Moroccan four course meal and watch a belly dancer and musicians. After I was served couscous and chicken, I was in love! The next day, we traveled to Chechaouen. It was incredible! The streets, buildings, alleys, houses, you name it were all different shades of blue. I learned from our sweet tour guide, Habibi, that the city used to be green until they decided to paint it blue to keep mosquitos away. I’m not sure how accurate this thinking is – but I also did not see a single mosquito while there. On our last day in Morocco, we did as any good tourist does, and we rode camels. I have ridden a camel on OU’s campus before, but riding one on the coast in Africa definitely was a cooler experience!! Overall, Morocco was a great experience filled with yummy food and good friends.
My trek to Portugal was the most recent trip I’ve been on. This past weekend, I braved through a stomach bug (which I have since thankfully recovered from!!) to venture to this new-to-me place. I spent most of the weekend in Lisbon. Unfortunately, it rained a great deal of the time making exploring the streets of the city near impossible. I did, however, get to go to the Oceanarium, which until recently, was the largest aquarium in Europe. Now do not get too excited because let me tell ya, I’ve been to the aquarium in Dallas, TX, and it is true, everything is bigger in Texas. Despite it not quite matching up to my idea of big, it was definitely a very impressive aquarium! The most incredible thing about it was the in the center of the building was a series of two story tanks filled with sea creatures. Sharks, manta rays, and penguins oh my! On our way back to Sevilla, we stopped in the town of Évora. There isn’t too much to see city except for a cathedral with a chapel made entirely from 5,000 corps’s bones. Most accurately named, the Capela dos Ossos is a chapel inside of the Church of San Francisco. A Franciscan monk built the chapel as a part of the Counter Reformation. There was an phrase above the door to enter that reads in English, “We, the bones that are here, wait for you.” It was an interesting sight to say the least.
This adventure of studying abroad has been too good to me. I am so thankful I still have two months left to learn and explore!!
¡Hasta luego, amigos!