Málaga

Views of Málaga from the top of the Alcazaba.

Málaga was a blast! Mi amigas and I left early on Saturday morning for Málaga, which is a two hour bus ride from Sevilla. As soon as we arrived, we made a detour to a nearby mall before heading to our hostel. Most of us had never stayed in a hostel before, so we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. I had found the hostel and made the reservations, so I was particularly hoping that the group was satisfied with my choice. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised. It was friendly, centrally-located, clean, and very very very cheap.

We first decided to head out to the largest attraction in Málaga – Museo de Pablo Picasso. Picasso was born in Málaga, and this museum was established here after his death. The museum was beautifully curated and I am glad to have visited it. After the Picasso museum, we decided to walk towards the beach. We ended up at a ferris wheel overlooking the water. After three circles on the ferris wheel, we made a pitstop at a grocery store for some snacks before heading to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. On the beach, we watched the sunset and sat on the rocks. It was beautiful!

After the sun went down, it got very cold very quickly so we hightailed it back to the hostel to regroup before dinner. At the hostel, we met one of our dorm mates, a girl from South Korea. She joined us for dinner at a tapas restaurant where I had jamón y potatoes with a spicy sauce. There are a lot of things here that are “spicy”…..but none of them are really spicy at all. I’m pretty convinced that the sauce on those potatoes was the spiciest sauce in all of Spain. And even then, it would be considered a “sissy sauce” by Oklahoma standards.

The next morning we got up and went to find a “big breakfast.” In Spain, “breakfast” is usually just a piece of bread or a piece of fruit. This is hardly a meal, in my opinion. We were thrilled when we found BrunchIt, a restaurant with real breakfast (or brunch, rather). I had a piece of toast with ham, sun-dried tomatoes, and rocket. Now THAT’S a real breakfast!!

With full tummies, we headed to CAC Málaga, a small contemporary art museum. It was very interesting and unique. Everyone in our group really enjoyed it and, best of all, entry was free! From there, we went to the Alcazaba, the most well-preserved palatial fortification in Spain. It was fun to explore and had some great views. We also visited Gibralfaro, which is basically a GIANT hill with the Castle of Gibralfaro at the very top. After thirty minutes of straight uphill climbing, we finally made it to the top. The incline was horrendous, but the view from the top was worth it.

After the ~views from the top~ we had dinner at El Pimpi, a popular restaurant in Málaga. I had fried Rosada Fish. It was yummy and very fresh. We topped off our time in Málaga with some gelato before getting back on the bus.

Overall, another great weekend is in the books! I am so thankful for all the weekend excursions and adventures afforded to me by this semester in Sevilla.

Semana Dos de Clases

My favorite cafe in Sevilla (so far), Filo! They has the best WiFi, coffee, & snacks. I’m currently eating their hummus.

Mi amigas and I are in our favorite cafe, Filo, making plans for the upcoming weekend. We have decided to go to Málaga for the upcoming weekend. Málaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and home to a museum featuring his work. I am muy emocionado! 

Classes have been going really well. My International Business class at the International Study Center is fascinating. Our professor is from Scotland, but has been living in Spain for the past thirty years. Who better to teach International Business?!? I have the same professor for my Entrepreneurship class which as also been very interesting. Our final paper is going to be about a product/service from the United States that we think would be successful in Spain. I’m thinking…Cheez-Its. Okay, I’m only joking, but I could seriously devour a box of the “Extra Toasty” ones right now.

My class at Universidad Pablo de Olavide, The Global Economy, has also been great. Although the course is taught in English, there are students in the class from all over Europe. Everyone offers a different perspective when we discuss international events, which is not really an experience you can get back home. I have taken several economics courses, but never one that is theory-based, so I am excited to learn! 

Below are a few photos I’ve taken while exploring the city throughout the past week. ¡Hasta luego!

Cádiz

Cádiz exceeded all expectations that I could have dreamed of. After returning home around 3:00 AM (extremely late by my standards, yet early by Spain’s standards), we somehow managed to make it on the 8:30 AM bus to Cádiz. After getting off the bus, we headed to our Airbnb and found a little cafe along the way. After a double cafe con leche, we were back on the road. Our Airbnb was nothing short of lovely. It was very modern and big enough to house the nine of us. 

It was extremely windy, as you can see!

After setting our stuff down in the Airbnb, we started a self-guided walking tour of Cádiz. The tour started at Torre Tavira, which was the highest watch tower for the Port of Cádiz. Now, there is a Camera Obscura that allows you to view the city from a birds-eye-view (I had never heard of this, but it was actually pretty cool). After visiting El Torre, we headed to the local mercado to grab some lunch. I had paella, gazpacho, and a tortilla de mariscos. I also had a Cruz Campo because it was cheaper than a bottle of water (hey, I’m not complaining).

From there, we headed to the beach. It was incredibly windy all day, and it was even worse by the water! On the beach, we found the Castle of San Sebastián. It’s located on a small island separated from the main city. We walked all the way to the entrance of the castle, then realized it was closed for siesta. Oh well! 

After visiting the castle (or at least trying to), we headed back to our Airbnb. We were all exhausted and decided to have a “girls night in.” We headed to the store to buy ingredients to cook ourselves dinner. We decided that enchilada casserole would be a good idea. Upon arriving at the grocery store, we found that it is frankly impossible to easily make a enchilada casserole in Spain. The ingredients are just not sold in the stores! Thus, we settled for noodles and red sauce instead. We had a great time cooking and hanging out in our lovely little apartment.

My tuna empanada & cafe con leche. As I said, the donut was devoured prior to the staging of this photo……

The following morning, we headed out around noon for some breakfast. I walked into a pastry shop and asked the clerk for their favorite sweet item and their favorite savory item. I ended up with a tuna empanada and a huge donut. As you can see below, the donut didn’t make it for the picture. It was devoured by the time I got to sit down…..oops. But it was delicious and (dare I say) even better than a Krispy Kreme. 

After our breakfast, we headed to the Parque Genovés Jardín Botánico to check it out. It was lovely and we had a great time walking around. After that, we went inside The Cathedral of Cádiz which, of course, was stunning. After the Cathedral, I went *back* to the place where I had purchased my breakfast and got…..another donut……and….another empanada….and proceeded to the beach. We played at the beach until we needed to head back to the train station.

This was truly the most perfect weekend I could have imagined. I think it finally clicked that I’m in Spain (!!!!). I could not be more thankful for this experience and the people who helped me in making it happen.

Burger King ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Today was my first day of classes at the CEA Study Center and I was entirely unprepared and slightly disorganized. After arriving for my first class at 10:30, I realized that I had class straight until 3:45 with no breaks. This forced me to miss lunch at my host family’s house. One of my classes ended at 2:15 rather than 2:45 and I was starving. I decided to walk the streets of Seville and see if there was anything that I could get para llevar to eat at the study center. After walking for about fifteen minutes, I ended up at Taco Bell (all other cafes that offered anything to eat on-the-go were closed for siesta). But anyways, it’s just like that saying, “all roads lead home.” After waiting in line at Taco Bell for no less than ten minutes, I realized that I was going to be late to my upcoming class. I decided to go next door to Burger King and see if their line was moving any faster.

Sure enough, it was, and I was able to get a number thirteen (the chicken sandwich meal) for a whopping 8 Euros (this is at least twice as expensive as it is in the United States). The meal was interesting, to say the least. Unlike the breadcrumbs that coat the chicken on the sandwiches in the United States, this chicken had some sort of crunchy potato coating. The fries were also slightly different. They were more like wedges and had paprika seasoning on them (these potato wedges are not pictured here). They were delicious, but definitely unlike anything you would find in a Burger King back home. The greatest differences I realized in this experience was the wait time (both at Taco Bell and at Burger King), the slightly altered recipes of the classic meals to accommodate for Spain’s obsession with potatoes, and the crazy prices. I could have had several tapas and a glass of wine for the same price as my number thirteen meal. Oh well! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After grabbing my BK, I headed back to the CEA Study Center. I tried really hard to not munch on the fries as I walked back, but alas, hunger got the best of me. I usually try to blend in while abroad but here I was, a little blondie walking through the streets of Sevilla staring at the GPS navigation on her phone while eating BK fries out of the bag…..oops…

Córdoba

My first full day in Spain was rather exciting! We got up early and headed off to Córdoba, which is about 2 hours away.

The coolest part of Córdoba is easily the massive Mosque-Cathedral located in the city center. The Mosque was built when Spain was under Muslim rule. When Córdoba returned to Christian rule in the thirteenth century, however, the local rulers thought something along the lines of this “Wow, this Moorish architecture is actually really SWELL. Let’s keep it and add onto it and incorporate Christian influences and it’ll be really fabulous.” And now, after three additions to the original Mosque, it is easily one of the most stunning cathedrals that I have ever seen. My favorite part about the Cathedral was all the light that ran through it. You could see sunlight flooding each room in visible beams. I tried to capture that in one of the photos below, but it’s not really something that can be photographed. You just gotta see it in person, ya know? 

In addition to the fabulous Cathedral, Córdoba also has a vast variety of small stores, tapas restaurants, and (my favorite) orange trees!! There are also orange trees all over Sevilla, but they seem a little more magical in Córdoba. Apparently they’re bitter, but I’m still tempted to taste one…

Okay last thing – flowers are a big component of Córdoba’s winding-street aesthetic. I must say, I’m a big fan. There’s these precious little blue pots all over the place and down every street.

El Primer Día

I never thought that I would actually be able to say this but…..I made it to Sevilla! After a whole heck of an airport mess (thanks United) and two extra days spent in Norman, I am here and I could not be more grateful! As soon as I got to Sevilla, I hopped in a taxi and went straight to my host family’s house. As pulled up to the building, I was in shock that everything had gone so smoothly. I was so ecstatic, so much so that I accidentally tipped the driver 30 EU (I don’t even think you’re supposed to tip taxi drivers here, but tbh I was just so glad to get there it didn’t even matter).

I then got unpacked and met my host mom. I then set out to do some exploring of my own. I got lost and ended up in a really cool part of town, then found my way back home. I was too worried my phone might die (gotta save some reserve in case I needed to stop into a WiFi location to GPS myself home, ya know) to take any pictures, but I’m sure I’ll end up back in the area soon.

Spring Goals and Potential Challenges

Going abroad will be so much fun — when everything is smooth sailing. However, especially initially, I worry about feeling alone. I think that this program will minimize this fear for two reasons: you are with a small group of people exclusively from the University and the duration of the program is not too extensive. If accepted, this program will be my third study abroad experience while at the University. Also, there are several people from OU attending this study abroad program. This will give me more comfort when I travel abroad for a semester. Preparing for a lifetime of traveling is one of the goals that I’ve set for my study abroad experience this summer.

The world is filled with “gazillions” of different perspectives, and recently my eyes have been opened to many that I had not considered before. After recently speaking with International students and students that have previously studied abroad, I realized that I had a somewhat narrow-minded approach to what I would gain through study abroad. Of course, I had always considered the fact that I would encounter cultural confusion, different perspectives, etc. However, listening the experiences of others really opened my eyes to the reality of all the perspectives in our world. One of my goals for my study abroad experience is to challenge myself to embrace various other perspectives and imagine the implications of my actions to the lives of others. I believe that travel can be truly influential to your actions, if you let it be. It is an important goal of mine that I thoroughly think though the implications of my actions and embrace other perspectives while abroad.

Preparing for Sevilla, Spain

I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain for the upcoming semester. I would like to share a little bit more about why I chose to pursue this specific program in Sevilla.

I have applied for this study abroad program mainly because of its location and relevancy to my major. I have always wanted to travel to Spain for my semester abroad, mostly because of my previous travels throughout Europe and Spain. I am also very interested in the Spanish language and have just completed my minor in it. I have previously traveled to Puebla, Mexico with OU, so I am excited by the opportunity to travel to Spain as well. It will be interesting to compare the two cultures, although they are both Spanish-speaking. The CEA program which I have applied to will allow me to continue my business studies. This program will provide classes that will contribute to my major. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to study abroad while completing classes that will help me graduate on time. This is not an opportunity that is available to everyone.

This program will give me the opportunity to experience a new culture with professors and faculty who are experts on the location and protocols. This is unique to the University atmosphere, and accomplishes a part of a goal that I have been working towards (and will continue to work towards): to visit all seven continents. For my entire high school career, I have been dreaming about and attempting to accomplish this goal. I also love the fact that participants in the program get to travel to several places in the region. Spain is such a beautifully unique location, and I am hoping to be able to experience it first hand.