My Study Abroad Roommates

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Coming into my study abroad experience one of the major things that caused me anxiety was who I would be sharing my homestay experience with.  I knew that I would be having roommates (4 to be exact!) however I did not know who they were before I got to Spain.  I was hoping for the best but anticipating the worst (why do we play mind games with ourselves???)

When I landed in Madrid I was the 2nd of 5 to arrive to our apartment.  I quickly met the first girl (Chang!) and found out that the rest of the girls would be arriving shortly.  I also discovered that they all went to the same university and knew each other and had picked to live together.  Cue the worry! The rest of the afternoon I holed myself up in my room, unpacking and thinking the worst.  Pretty much my thoughts consisted of the fact that they all knew each other and therefore probably wouldn’t include me, they probably had all of their trips planed, so who would I travel with then?  What if I didn’t get along with them? etc. etc.

The rest of the girls arrived and were all super happy to see each other.  I went out to great them but after the awkward first hello everyone went to their rooms to unpack.  To make things even worse my room was located at the opposite end of the apartment and hearing all the giggles and laughter from down the hallway I could not have felt more isolated.  However, I told myself I had to put myself out there and be my open and friendly self.  Believe me it was awkward at first, but when I did that my new roommates were super nice and went out of their way to include me in things.  They included me in their first weekend adventure to Switzerland and lets just say the rest is history!

We all became super close and have made so many memories together.  (Living in a small flat in a city and having to share two small bathrooms will do that to a group of girls! ha)  The majority of my roommates live in Chicago and I have discussed coming to visit them next summer and them taking a road trip to possibly visit me in this fall at Fairfield U in Connecticut!

It is crazy how close you can become with someone in such a short period of time.  My study abroad experience would not have been the same without these chicas and I am so lucky that I was randomly assigned to live with them.  I know that we will be lifelong friends!

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Emily, Meg, Emily and Izzy… Thank you for taking me in to your group, accepting me for me and all of my weirdness and making some of the best memories that will last a lifetime! I wouldn’t have wanted to travel the world with anyone else! I will cherish not only our great adventures across Europe but also all the little moments and laughs we shared together.  I am going to miss spending basically every waking second together, but its not a goodbye, its an hasta luego!! I can’t wait for all of our future get togethers visiting one another and for our Spain reunion tour in 10 years haha.  I am so lucky to have amigas to visit now!

Also shout out to these girls for helping me keep my blog and instagram going while abroad! Without them I would not have had half of the amazing photos from my travels.  They have been the best photographers and put up with my constant need for photos ops haha. Love you chicas!  Thanks for one epic semester of a lifetime!

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Our first (really terrible quality, super awkward, selfie) photo together! Dios Mio! haha

xoxo,
H

The final weeks in Spain

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My time here in Madrid is winding down and the number of days I have in this wonderful city are growing smaller and smaller.  I just took my final trip to Valencia this past weekend and the thought of packing is starting to creep into the back of my mind.

I have had the most fantastic semester full of new friendships, amazing adventure and too many laughs to count.  But, I have a confession that I was slightly guilty about feeling a few weeks ago, and that is the feeling of missing America and being ready to go home.  Recently, as the days passed a running list in my head of things that I could not wait to do, people I couldn’t wait to see, and even certain things I would not miss about studying abroad grew longer and longer.  That list included my friends and family, certain foods, non-spotty wifi (if you have ever been to Europe you will understand!) my car, my house, the list goes on and on.  And as I thought about these things I felt guilty.  I would tell myself why am I ready to leave such a fun and vibrant city, how am I ready to stop jettsetting every weekend to a new country or destination.  How would I be able to give up my host mom’s delicious cooking or not see my new friends who I have basically spent almost every waking moment with, every day like I do right now.

However, once I began to hear people confess they were ready to return back home I began to feel less guilty.  I had a semester of a lifetime.  I saw and visited so many beautiful cities and countries.  The only word I could say that I was feeling was content. Content with my time spent abroad and ready to return home.  While there is never enough time and I definitely did not see every place I wanted to visit, I was content with the places I picked and felt fortunate enough to be able to have this opportunity.  I love traveling and know this will not be my last time in Europe.  If anything it only made me want to see more! (How could the list of places I want to visit grown since being abroad?!)

It has been 4 roller coaster months and it is just my time to head back home.  I have grown so much as a person over these last 4 months and have learned more about myself during my time here than in my last 21 years of life.  But I will save those lessons I have learned abroad for a later post and spare you 😉

I was feeling a bit burnt out in the middle of the semester.  Keeping up with your classes and traveling every weekend is tough people!  I don’t know why I had this notion in my mind that everything would all be hunky dory all the time.  But luckily my last few trips have all been kinda beach bumming so that has been super relaxing and I now feel refreshed and rejuvenated. And the adventure is not over yet!  My parents come on the last day of my finals for a 10 day journey visiting three different cities in Spain and I could not be more excited! I miss my parents so much and am counting down the days until we are reunited!

If you got through this slightly scattered and not really organized post about my feelings props to you.  Thank you for tagging along on this journey and I can’t wait to return home and have so much more time on my hands to catch up on my travel posts and create new content for this blog!

xoxo,
H

Spanish Sunset

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One of the nights we were in Malaga my friends and I decided to dress up and have a little photoshoot on the beach before dinner.  While we missed golden hour, we made it to the beach just in time to catch the sunset and snap a few photos.  It was a beautiful night.

My friend let me barrow her top for the night because I didn’t really think to pack anything a little dressier that weekend. I thought the outfit had such a fun Spanish vibe too it, between the color of the top and the choker chain necklace.  I originally did not think I could pull off the off the shoulder trend because I have broader shoulders, and for that reason I avoided the popular trend all last year.  But, after trying this top on I have to say that I am now a huge fan and don’t know why I didn’t try it sooner because the look is actually very flattering.  Let’s just say I have gone a little off the shoulder crazy and have picked up quite a few pieces in the last few weeks that I am so excited to style once the weather warms up a little. Can’t wait to show you all!

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This super simple outfit was the perfect thing to wear for a little walk on the beach and then to tapas for dinner. These are the outfits I live for, no fuss, yet still put together; the kind where you can throw your salty hair up into a bun and that don’t require shoes! Counting down the days until I have more beach weather!  Is anyone else off the shoulder obsessed?!

Thanks for stopping by!

xo,
H

Silk Scarves

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While I was packing my wardrobe into one suitcase for my semester abroad (I still question how I managed to do that!) the only things that kept running through my head was how sick I was going to get of wearing the same thing over and over.  How was I going to mix and match what I was bringing to keep things looking fresh and new? I wasn’t sure but I was up for the challenge.

The weather in Spain is pretty mild compared to where I live on the east coast (Just to clarify it is 65 degrees here in Madrid in the beginning of March and it is in the 20s back home).  Because of this weather I didn’t want to bring a ton of heavy clothes that by the end of the semester I couldn’t wear anymore.  My mom suggested bringing some of her silk scarves.  When I think square silk scarves I think 80s, however, they have been making a comeback in fashion recently so I reluctantly agreed to look through her bins to see if there were any that I liked and could incorporate into my wardrobe. It was so fun to pick out a few scarves while my mom told stories about her working days and how she wore them all the time to add personality to her boring pant suits.  I ended up choosing two colorful ones that would work with the colors in my wardrobe.  I have already worn them more times than I can count.

There are also so many different ways to style them.  Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam put together a great blog post on all the different ways here!  Her post went up after I had already been in Madrid for a few weeks and I was so happy to have a few scarves lying around to play around and style with!  I can’t wait to pair them with simple t-shirts and dresses to spice them up a little bit.

These little scarves add the perfect pop of color and breath of life to my limited wardrobe. Let me know if there is a certain way you love to wear your square scarves! I would love to know.

xo,
H

 

Picnic in the Park

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Two weekends ago my roommates and I took a much needed weekend off of traveling and spent the weekend in Madrid.  It was a very needed  break and it honestly made me fall in love with Madrid all over again.  Since we are in classes all day during the week and traveling on the weekend we really don’t get to explore Madrid a whole lot.  It made us realize we have to take advantage of the beautiful city we are living in and start to explore our “own backyard” if you will 😉

After waking up and getting ready we bought food at the grocery store across the street from our flat.  Think all your typical picnic essentials; A baguette, jamon (Spanish ham), cheese, strawberries, cookies and of coarse rosé.  We walked the short 15 minutes to Retiro Park and made our way through looking for the perfect spot to spread out the blanket and have our picnic. Retiro Park is sort of like the Central Park of NYC.  It is so beautiful and we always forget that we live so close and need to take advantage of it.  It was a gorgeous sunny 60 degree day.  Flowers were sprouting everywhere, you could hears the giddy shrieks of children playing and one of my roommates commented that this must be what Heaven looks like.  We were all just pinching ourselves at how picturesque it was.

We found a beautiful shady spot near the Crystal Palace.  We spread the blanket, popped the Rosé and kicked off our delicious picnic.  It was honestly one of the best days I have had in Madrid to date. We enjoyed the food and each other’s company all while soaking up the sun’s rays.  After our picnic we snapped a few photos and then made our way to the Crystal Palace.  It is such a beautiful glass atrium that is so light and etherial inside.  We then made our way around the pond just enjoying the weather.

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We can’t wait for even more picnics in the park as the weather gets nicer and nicer here. We also still have to rent row boats on the other side of Retiro Park so it is safe to say we will definitely be utilizing beautiful Retiro Park in the coming months.

Now on to the outfit.  The saying here in Madrid is that people dress for the season and not for the weather.  It is not uncommon to see people all bundled up on a 6o degree day with big scarves around their necks because it is still February and that is how you dress in February.  However, us Americans are the opposite. We dress for the weather and not for the season.  If it is a 60 degree day you best bet I am breaking out my lighter items.  So in order to not stand out I decided on a long sleeve jean dress and a blanket scarf to wrap around me.  Then to finish off the look a felt wide brimmed hat and riding boots.  It was springy enough but still fit into my surroundings.

xoxo,
H

Taking a Breather

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Traveling is one of my favorite things to do.  I have counted down the days until my study abroad experience where I could jet off each weekend, since I was in high school.  But what I didn’t realize was how tiring that constant go go go lifestyle could be for me personally.  As a person who likes to pack it all in and see everything, those weekend adventures can be quite action packed and for that reason, very tiring.  After almost two months of travel I just felt a little burnt out.  I felt like all I did was go to class, pack, get on a plane, explore, return to Madrid, repeat, repeat, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved EVERY minute of my travels and wouldn’t trade them for the world, but I was just feeling a bit off.

This past weekend I was supposed to go on another trip down to the South of Spain to celebrate Carnival.  But I found myself dreading going.  I just didn’t really have a desire to go bar hoping for two days and stand in crowded streets of people, but at the same time I didn’t want to miss out on a cool experience or waste a weekend of travel.  After texting my parents I finally saw the light that I was drained both physically and mentally.  They gave me the clarity to realize that I don’t always have to go go go, that sometimes its okay to take a break.  This time in Europe will most definitely not be my last, so why try to pack everything in and not be able to mentally be present and enjoy all of my excursion due to lack of sleep and exhaustion.  So I made the executive decision to nix my Carnival plans and stay in Madrid for the weekend, hang out with friends who are also staying, and explore the city that I chose to study in and just try to catch up on the little odds and ends of life that I haven’t had time for (one of them being some new blog posts so be on the lookout!) and do some homework that I have been putting off.  I always say I wish I had more time to explore the streets of Madrid and just let myself get lost and now I have the time to do that and I am so excited.  As soon as I made that decision, I felt a weight get lifted off of my shoulders and I immediately felt in a lighter happier mood.

Being abroad, I have learned that it is okay to take a little breather.  You don’t always have to be jetting off to a country every weekend or going out every night.  Everything in moderation.  Since coming to Spain I have learned that I have to do what makes me happy and not what satisfies others and I think that is one of the greatest lessons I have learned.  People always say that you grow so much as a person while abroad and I am not even half way through my time here and I have already learned so much about myself.

Anyways sorry for the little rant, I hope that I didn’t come across ungrateful because I am anything but that. Has anyone else every experienced this need for a little rest?

Thanks for reading,

xo,
H

Budapest

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Sorry for the lack of posts the last two weeks. It was midterms last week so as you can imagine I had to study and then this past week we had winter break.  But I am back with a ton of new content so be on the lookout!

Two weeks ago my roommates and I took off to Budapest for the weekend. Cue George Ezra’s Budapest 😉  With a 3 am alarm, a 6 am flight, and an almost missed connector flight the morning got off to a little shaky start.  However, the trip quickly turned around when we got to our Airbnb.  Oh my gosh, the apartment we rented for the weekend was seriously adorable. I wish I had snapped a few photos of it! It was the cutest, with really fun artwork, everything super new and updated and really spacious rooms and the best part was that it only cost each person $30 to stay for two nights! The owner was also super nice and left us with so many recommendations and advice. Here is the link to the site if anyone is interested! I highly recommend. (If anyone has any questions feel free to shoot me an email and I would be happy to answer them!)

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After freshening up we headed out for the afternoon, first stopping to eat a very nice meal at a restaurant down the street (that was also so reasonably priced for the amount of food we got!)  The owner of the Airbnb told us we had to see Budapest lit up at night so we headed out as dusk and starting to set to explore the city and boy was she right! The Parliament building gets all light up at night and it is truly magical.  After exploring we decided to get a small bite to eat so we headed to the Ruin Bars.  We specifically ate at Mosel Tov.  I highly recommend if you are ever in Budapest. We hit a few more bars and then headed home because we had an early alarm to go to the baths the next morning!!

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We woke up at 7 to get ready and head to the baths.  We specifically went to Szechenyi Thermal Bath.  It is definitely the more touristy of all the baths so the only thing I recommend is going right when it opens to avoid the crowds of people.  Also it was only 17 euro for a day pass and a locker rental and I highly recommend buying tickets online so you don’t have to wait in line when you get there!  We spent the entire 2 and a half hours we were there in the outdoor thermal pools however, Szechenyi has 17 pools in total.  I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the exterior buildings were and how relaxing it was to soak in the baths.  If anyone is worried about the water temp let me tell you, it was VERY warm! and we were there on a 35 degree day.  I could have spent al day there but we had places to go and castles to see 😉

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We grabbed Hun Dogs outside of the baths at this little street vendor (you have to try!) and then made our way back to our apartment to change and get our things for the day. We then headed up to Fisherman’s Basilian and the Castle on the Hill, then to see the Parliament Building up close.  We did a ton of walking on Saturday and as the sun set along the Danube River it got a little chilly.  We headed to a local coffee shop to warm up, where I had the best hot chocolate of my life. I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to Swiss Miss again (but actually).  My roommates and I then headed to this cool restaurant called Hummus Bar.  Just picture homemade humus and warm fresh pita…heaven.  The best part, the entire meal for 5 people was 8 euro!

We caught a flight back to Madrid Sunday morning.  With 3 weeks of traveling under my belt there is nothing better than arriving back to Madrid, which has become my new home. It was a great weekend exploring a city that is so different from the others I have visited so far this semester! It was such a cool city and also very reasonable! As always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to shoot me an email!

Also here is my Gopro Video to my weekend in Budapest!

Thanks for reading!

xo,
H