USA

Greetings from Whitewater, Wisconsin!! Not Spain, Poland, Portugal, France, England, Morocco, or Italy…but the good old USofA! I arrived in O’Hare on May 4th and experienced a bit of reverse culture shock – so many people speaking English! So many people wearing sweat pants and sweat shirts! My mom and Mark greeted me at the airport and we headed home to one of my favorite dishes for dinner: tuna noodle casserole! 🙂 After a couple rough nights of jet-lag-induced sleep and fun-filled days with family and friends, I ventured back to Whitewater on the 8th to see my friends before they headed home for the summer. We visited some of my local favorites that I had been missing…The Sweet Spot Café, Culver’s, Cozumel, Jessica’s, and The Yogurt Shoppe. 15 of us went a Brewer game and were lucky enough to meet some of the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team (they threw out the first pitch)! I started my full-time summer internship in the First Year Experience Office (FYE) on campus on the 12th. I am loving it so far!! I worked for the FYE Office last summer as a student orientation leader. Now as the intern I am getting more experience and a different perspective on new student orientation programs.

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Now let’s rewind to my last couple weeks in Spain! Hard to believe that was a month ago already. It was quite an emotional and bittersweet week in Sevilla. My classmates and I spent a lot of time visiting our local favorites in Sevilla, just like I visited my local favorites in Whitewater upon my return! However, they are a bit different in Spain…lounging by the river, walking through plazas and parks, speaking as much Spanish as possible, eating churros with chocolate, visiting gelato and ceramics shops, tapas restaurants, bakeries, etc. I will admit that I cried at the farewell party that our school held for us. Tears of thankfulness, joyfulness, sadness, and excitement. Thankful for the most incredible experience of my life. Joyful because of the things I learned, places I visited, and people I met. Sad to leave my new family and friends in Spain. Excited to return to my family and friends in the states…and excited knowing that I will return to Spain again someday soon 🙂

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Most of my classmates and teachers on our last night in Sevilla.

After I finished my final exams in Sevilla, I went up to Madrid to spend some time with Levi. We got to relax and soak up my last week of Spanish life together. We enjoyed a weekend visit from our friend, Jeremy, from Whitewater who is currently working in Amsterdam. After Jeremy’s visit, I got to visit Levi’s school with him one last time. His sixth graders are so sweet and fun…a lot of them remembered me from my visit back in January! After the school visit we had time for one more adventure. We met my roommate from Whitewater, Maija, and her mom in Barcelona! It was such a great trip! We went on a walking tour, visited the famous Sagrada Familia church, hung out at the beach, took an interactive Spanish cooking class, and enjoyed each others company 🙂 Levi was also scoping out some sights to see with his family when they visit in June before he returns home.

ImageMaija and me in Barcelona.

As cliché as it sounds, studying abroad was truly life changing. I cannot express how incredibly happy and grateful I am to have had this experience. A more detailed and reflective post will be coming soon 🙂

The Italian Miracle

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Sometimes things happen in life that are unbelievable.. As Christians we believe in God’s power and the fact that He does miraculous things. Well God definitely took care of Kelley and I during this little adventure in Italy….

On Tuesday we took a day trip from Florence where we were staying the night. It was an hour train ride into Pisa, where we wanted to see the leaning tower of Pisa of course! Then we decided to take another 30 minute bus to Lucca, a quite little Italian town. Our main purpose of visiting was to rent a tandem bike and bike all the way around the city along the ancient city walls (a 2.5 mile loop which we did 3x). From Lucca we were ready to take the train back to Florence.

Lucca is so small that there are only a few train tracks and no one checks your…

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Spring Break

Mass with Pope Francis on Palm Sunday, an accidental trip to the Alps of Italy, 28 flavors of gelato, a handful of museums, traditional Holy Week processions in Sevilla, a trip to the beach, and a bull fight…all in one week!! Yes! Levi and I did ALL of those things during our Holy Week spring break! We had so many adventures, it was incredible! I will condense the details and save the lengthy tales for for when I see all of you in one short week! 
 
Thanks to the help of Rick Steves´ guide book for Italy, we were able to accomplish and see even more than we expected! If you’re planning a trip to Europe, add his guidebook to your packing list! We got to Rome early on Saturday morning and our adventures began! We visited the Colosseum, the Vatican museum, walked the entire border of Vatican City, ate pasta, pizza, and gelato…all in the first day! We attended Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter´s Square and somehow managed to grab seats in the front section of the square! Thank goodness…because we were there from 8:30am until 12:30pm. After the service and being 5 feet away from Pope Francis in the “pope mobile”, we tried to enter St. Peter´s Cathedral. Me, of all people, having had strict dress codes for four years of high school, was not allowed to enter!!! My dress was 2 inches above my knee. Too short!! We were turned away! Sister Patricia (my high school principal) would be ashamed. 😉 Needless to say, we returned the next morning! It was magnificent. We climbed to the top of the dome! It was a hike. We enjoyed a segway tour around the park, visited Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and more…
 
Tuesday morning we were off to Florence! We visited the Cathedral, the Academia with Michaelangelo´s sculpture of David, 4 gelato shops suggested by Rick Steves, Galileo´s science museum, and again…more! We ran into my friend, Zach, from Whitewater!!! He has been studying in Germany since September. Levi and I were walking around the Cathedral´s plaza and I heard my name. My jaw dropped when I saw Zach! I had no idea that he was spending his spring break in Italy too! I love how small this huge world can be! 
 
The town of Pisa (home of the famous ´leaning tower´) is just an hour train ride from Florence. Of course we had to see the incredible tower and take the classic pictures where it appears that we are holding it up. From Pisa we took a short bus ride to the small town of Lucca where we rented a tandem bike and rode on the path that is on top of the city’s old medieval walls! We planned to take a train from Lucca back to Florence because that is where we were staying. This is where the accidental trip to the Alps comes in…(see Levi’s post titled “Italian Miracle”).
 
After our incredible adventure to the middle of nowhere, we were on our way to Milan for our last night in Italy. We had the best pizza we have ever had (mozzarella and pesto) and got to see da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper…magnificent! We flew back to Sevilla on Holy Thursday so we could catch some of the Holy Week processions. Sevilla is very well known for their Holy Week celebrations. To get a glimpse of what it’s like, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0P662dIpdA&feature=player_embedded
 
This post is getting pretty lengthy, so stay tuned for more tales about my last couple weeks in Spain! 

School

Some of you may be wondering, “does Kelley even go to school?” And the answer is, yes 🙂 I have class for three hours every day, Flamenco dance class for two hours per week, and about six hours of internship work per week. My classes and professors are absolutely incredible! All of our final projects and presentations were due this past week and we had three exams in each class. I wrote a total of 30 pages of essays/research papers and gave 5 presentations…all in Spanish of course! 🙂 Our last day of class is tomorrow…I can’t believe it! Holy Week is our spring break, so Levi and I are heading to Italy! We have final exams during the week after Easter and then the semester is officially over! Before I head home on May 4th, Levi and I are meeting one of my roommates from Whitewater, Maija, and her mom, in Barcelona! I am so excited to see her and then to see all of you in a few short weeks 🙂 

London

What a whirlwind of a weekend! Four of my friends from Sevilla and I left for London on Thursday afternoon after class. We met Levi at the airport in London and began our amazing adventure! Here are some highlights:

  • Our lovely host! For most of our trips we have used airbnb.com for our accommodations. If you haven’t heard of airbnb, check it out! 🙂 We stayed with a woman named Barbara in her home outside of the city center. It was nice to see the suburban areas in addition to the city!
  • Our other lovely hosts! One of Levi’s coworkers has family in London. They took us on a personal pub crawl to the most historic, cool, and fascinating bars and restaurants in London. They were fantastic tour guides and treated us as if we were their own kids! We went to pubs that Shakespeare and Dickens used to hang out at!
  • M&M World!! Wow! What a happy and fun place! A four-story building of walls lined with tubes of M&M’s and lots of M&M apparel of course. The smell of chocolate was fabulously strong, the colors were bright, the music was fun, the workers were friendly! Needless to say, it was a great place 🙂 
  • Sightseeing: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Borough Market, Stonehenge (yes, we visited all of those)
  • Last but not least, the food! Of course we had the staples: fish and chips, hot cross buns, bangers and mash, savory pies, and tea. London is also known for their international cuisine. We went to a traditional Chinese restaurant in the Soho area…Wonton soup and egg fried rice with duck 🙂 

I have left out an endless amount of details, but you may find more in Jenny and Levi’s blogs that I posted 🙂 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

London is very well-known for their theater productions. There were so many different musicals and shows to choose from! Levi and I went to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Saturday night while the rest of our group was at the Harry Potter Museum. It was an incredible show! We enjoyed our Wonka bars as we marveled over the incredible music, sets, costumes, acting, and lighting. Thank goodness we are both eating sweets again! Or else we might have had to choose a different show 😉

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Here is Levi’s post about the weekend too! 🙂

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This weekend I met Kelley and 4 of her study abroad friends in London. We got in late Thursday night and had until Sunday evening to enjoy one of the biggest cities in the world. And big is the best word I can use to describe it….. I have been to other big cities: New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, but nothing can quite compare to the size of London. When we went up to the top of the London Eye (a huge Ferris wheel) we could see miles in every direction and there was no end in sight!

Friday the highlight was a pub crawl, tasting 21 different types of ale, lager.. you name it! Don’t worry they were only tastes, so it wasn’t really that much to drink. Saturday I really enjoyed the London Eye, eating fish and chips and mushy peas, and going to a…

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