This past weekend I took the high speed train (AVE) to Sevilla. I had never before ridden a high speed train so that was cool, though unfortunately the system isn’t super economical in Spain, but it was quick and comfortable. I really like trains because they give you a good chance to see the countryside which I miss out on a lot going from urban area to urban area. Sevilla is an important city to Spanish history because of the Muslim influence there in the past and the riches it earned especially post-colonization of the Americas. All the goods taken from the Americas were required to be sent through Sevilla onto other parts of Europe. For this reason, the city has lots of historical and architectural landmarks today because it had so much money in the past. Overall, the city was great. I would recommend visiting it, though it could be incorporated easily into a long weekend trip with Granada and/or Cordoba.
Sevilla, as it turns out, is home to one of the largest cathedrals in the world. The tallest part that you can see on the right of this photo is called La Giralda. It’s the minaret from the mosque that used to occupy the same place. Just to the left of that, is a flying buttress from the Gothic addition to the church. Finally, all the way to the left of the photo, you can see the renaissance style portion of the church. When we first arrived to the city we saw a huge religious procession that ended at the church. Catholicism is serious business here.
There were tons of citrus trees around the city, especially the palace: mandarin oranges, lemons, and limes.
Sevilla is very famous for its tile work. The whole of Plaza de Espana, one of the main attractions of the city, is tiled in various patterned, colorful tiles. It was one of my favorite parts of the city.
A new peacock friend
The ancient bath house in the royal complex in Sevilla. The only other bath houses I have seen on my trips have also been in the south of Spain, in areas with lots of Muslim influence.
So, it’s finally official. I will be studying abroad in Alcala, Spain for the fall 2016 semester. I am so excited for this experience and so grateful for the opportunity. While there are lots of things to talk about in regards to this exciting development, I wanted to focus this post on how I am affording study abroad.
I think the vast majority of college students would love to study abroad yet only a relatively small percentage of them ever do. While some are limited by fear or maybe a language or credit barrier, probably the vast majority do not study abroad because they think it will be too expensive. All of my friends who are not studying abroad cite cost as the biggest reason by far. Yet, in my experience, there is money there to help you if you look hard enough.
I have been fortunate enough to have received the global engagement fellowship well ahead of my trip, taking away much of the stress associated with planning in general. So I guess that would be my first bit of advice: it’s never too early to start looking for ways to finance study abroad.
My second piece of advice: if studying abroad is a goal of yours, it is certainly helpful to be flexible as to where you will go. At least at OU, there are tons more scholarships to countries outside western Europe, particularly in countries with “critical language components.” Furthermore, studying closer to home (like in Mexico, for instance) offers great savings on transportation, not to mention the lower cost of living there compared to a lot of Europe.
My final piece of advice: use your advisors and your resources to your advantage. They are a wealth of information in most cases and want to help you as much as possible. You don’t want to leave any money on the table just because you were too shy to ask.
The main message really, though, is that even though study abroad may seem expensive, there are TONS of ways around that with careful planning and determination. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and I truly feel with enough hard work and forethought almost anyone could find themselves in the same situation as I find myself now.
As a part of the Global Engagement Fellowship, I plan to take two study abroad trips. One summer and one semester. For my summer abroad, I have applied to go to Arezzo, Italy. A city in the Tuscany region of Italy where I plan to study Organic Chemistry. In my time abroad, I plan to have the time of my life, experiencing every bit of Italy I can possibly fit in. It will take a lot of studying to learn Organic Chemistry in just a month, but I feel up to the challenge and I am thrilled to have Italy to explore during my study breaks and weekends.
The way the trip is structured, we will spend 3 days in Rome together and 2 days in Florence plus have an open weekend for travel and relaxation in the middle of the program. I also plan to arrive early so that I can travel on my own for a little bit. Packing light and studying hard is going to be a challenge, but I am up to it. I think I will be able to become culturally immersed through these side trips and my excursions during my lunch break.
My semester abroad is a bit more up in the air still. I have narrowed my countries of interest down to Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Some of my final location decision depends on what classes are available, and some on what the final costs would be.
These plans are pretty similar to what I had coming in a few months ago, but like I said, my semester is nowhere near set in stone yet.