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Gap Year Abroad

2 posts from February 2014

02/20/2014

Nuevas Aventuras

"We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same." Anne Frank 

I believe one of the key factors in being a successful traveler is being open-minded to trying new things! That’s what exploring and traveling is all about! I love learning about different cultures, meeting new people and exploring new places, so that’s why a gap year has fit perfectly in my life. I loved South America. Traveling around Chile and Peru and experiencing such completely different ways of life were amazing but because of high traveling costs exploring South America as a whole was a lot harder. Now coming to Europe I appreciate the fact that taking a trip to the Netherlands, for example, is completely doable and not overwhelmingly expensive. So last weekend, off we went.

 After an uneventful plane ride we arrived in Eindhoven, where things began to get fun! From there the 8 of us had to take a bus from the airport to the train station, find a ticket booth to buy tickets since none of the manual ticket dispensaries took Visa cards, buy tickets for the train to Amsterdam, take the train from Eindhoven to Amsterdam, grab a tram in Amsterdam and take that to our hostel. It was quite the process of transportation!  Luckily we are all pretty well traveled kids, and everything in the Netherlands is in English so we figured it out.

We checked into the hostel then walked around and found lunch. One of the best ways to explore is to just walk. I really enjoyed walking around the city of Amsterdam. The area is very flat, and it seems like there are more bikes than cars on the road so walking can become quite dangerous at times- dodging bikes, cars and trams all at once. It is a city built on canals along with townhouse after townhouse. Super cool and easy enough to see everything by walking.

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After lunch we went back to the hostel and got ready to go see Ellie Goulding live in concert!! We took public transportation to the concert arena because at this point we are all public transportation pros. Even after being up for a solid 17 hours the concert was amazing and I’m so happy I got to see Ellie. Goulding. Live. In. Amsterdam. Unforgettable. 

 The next day we went over the Anne Frank house. It is obvious by the long line outside that this is the main attraction in Amsterdam. We had been told that there might be a long line so we were prepared to wait. Almost all of us had read the book in school so we were excited to see first hand what she described in her diary. We were lucky with the weather the whole weekend. It didn’t rain once and we did get glimpses of the sun but the wind made it feel so much colder than Sevilla. There was a lot of wind and especially after standing around in line for over an hour it got really cold. Luckily we passed the time with fun word games so before we knew it we were in.

The Anne Frank house was amazing. The tour took us through the house from room to room, each containing important historical information providing background about that disturbing time period. The rooms also contained artifacts such as the actual pictures she glued onto the walls of her room and notes about weekly meal plans.  Personal video interviews of the people who lived in the house, along with quotes from her diary made it a really personal and all together extremely moving experience. Standing in the Secret Annex and imagining not being able to breath in fresh air and being confined to that small space for two whole years was hard to imagine, yet something I won’t forget.

 

“Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” Anne Frank

 

On our last full day in Amsterdam we got up and went to the Rijks Museum which houses Dutch art pieces ranging from the 1100’s to the 2000’s. The museum was overwhelming with 3 levels of art, but at the same time it was fascinating to look at all the famous Dutch art. Here are a few pictures I took of my favorite paintings. 

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Vincent van Gogh 

After the museum we sat outside by the Amsterdam sign and soaked up some sun before heading to lunch. You may not know this but the Amsterdam sign is a vey popular landmark for tourist and especially on a sunny day, it was packed with people. 

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The next morning we woke up and took our 15 modes of transportation back to Sevilla. It was wonderful getting off the plane and breathing in the fresh, warmer, Sevilla air, happy to be back and returning to a place I feel comfortable in.

I love traveling, exploring, and learning about new countries and their own unique cultures. There is so much to learn and discover out there, and all you need is an open mind! 

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Ciao for now! 

02/06/2014

Beyond Sevilla

"One can travel the world and see nothing. To achieve understanding, it is necessary not to see many things, but to look hard at what you do see." Giorgio Morandi

Yes, being in Europe is overwhelming. There are soo many fascinating, historically important places that seem so close, yet so far. Paris, London, Amsterdam, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, I could just keep adding and adding to the list. Trying to make a priorities list is seemingly impossible. I want to take advantage of that fact that I’m here in Europe (and the significantly cheaper flights) and travel! At the same time traveling is expensive because everything adds up and next thing you know you’ve spent all your holiday money on a three- day trip to Amsterdam. Also a big part of my decision to take a gap year was the fact that I wanted to immerse myself in a culture different from my own, and that just isn’t possible when you are on the road traveling.  Spain in itself is wonderful and there are so many diverse places throughout the country that I want to see.

Luckily the center where we take language classes offers weekend excursions, so 2 weeks ago I decided to go with the school to Granada. 

Saturday morning I woke up and headed to the meeting point where about 20 other students from the Clic center were waiting to board the bus to Granada. Clic is an international language center so aside from having class with a diverse group of students from all around the world, going on these weekend trips is a great way to meet international students. On the trip to Granada, I met a hilarious girl from Belgium, a girl from Sweden, a Sicilian and a group of very energetic Australians.

We boarded the bus and started our 3-hour drive to Granada. For me it was quite refreshing to leave the city. I loved looking out the window at the crop fields and Sierra Nevada mountains, terrain I’ve missed since leaving Chile.  

Once we got to Granada we had some free time to walk around and explore the commercial part of the city. All the bakeries looked enticing with their sweets and so Hazel, Fiona, Cori, Maggie and I decided to venture into one. Maggie and Hazel got some delicious looking chocolate churros, which are a classic sweet treat in Spain. 

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After that we did some store hopping and walked around the city. The strong Arab influence on the city was obvious. A number of stores had a variety of tapestries, lamps, and other intricate trinkets. 

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After shopping we met up with the group to go on a short walking tour of the city, starting with the Catedral de la Anunciación, where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand are buried. Up until 1492, when Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand took over the city, Granada was under Moorish rule and is known for its Arab-influenced culture, mixed with Catholic monarchy influences.  The Catedral de la Anunciaciòn reminded me of a grand cathedral I visited in Denmark, which also housed coffins the kings, queens, and other royals are buried in.

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After the cathedral we walked up through the city streets to a gorgeous viewpoint of the Alhambra at night. 

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The next morning we woke up and headed to the Alhambra. The Alhambra was a military fortress and has an incredible amount of historical importance along with exquisite gardens, palaces, architecture and designs.

I think my pictures are probably best doing the talking.  

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After the Alhambra we headed back down into town for a quick lunch. We ate at a Mediterranean restaurant, and I got a falafel which was super yummy, especially after a long morning of walking around the Alhambra. After lunch we went back to the hotel, got our stuff and headed back to Sevilla. It was nice to come back home to Sevilla. My lovely host family greeted me by saying “Ah Elena! Te extrañamos!” (We missed you!)  I was, of course only gone a night, but it was really sweet!

Life in Sevilla is becoming more and more normal each day. When I wake up for class I don’t have that slight adrenaline rush like I did my first week here, which makes it harder to get up, but oh well. I went to my first yoga class in Sevilla yesterday and tomorrow the new kids have our last “orientation excursion” to the Cathedral. I keep looking at my calendar and wanting to plan more and more but I know I have to take it day by day. I can already feel the time flying by which is scary but true so I want to be sure to make the most of my time here!  

Ciao for now!



 

Gap Bloggers

  • Eva - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
  • Eamon - Gap Year Abroad in Spain
  • Sage - Gap Year Abroad in China
  • Kira - Gap Year Abroad in France
  • Smith - Gap Year Abroad in Chile
  • Maddy - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
  • Hannah - Gap Year Abroad in Italy
  • Chloe - Gap Year Abroad in Chile