Intro to Spain/Summer Recap

¡Hola! It’s me again, hopping across the Atlantic for a third time in the past year and a half. I’m so excited to finally be going to Europe – even with all my previous travels, I have never actually set foot outside of a European airport before in my life!

But I guess I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let me explain the who/what/where/when/why of what I’m doing this semester. This semester I’m studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain. I’ll be receiving credit from Harvard (so long as I pass my courses, which is easier said than done in Spain, where it is very common to not pass courses on the first try!) I’m studying abroad via a company called CIEE, which facilitates study abroad programs quite literally all around the world. I’ll essentially be diving into Spanish language/culture headfirst – I’m staying at a homestay with a local family and direct-enrolling in La Universidad de Sevilla (both of which are terrifying prospects, since my Spanish is good, but by no means perfect!)

But I guess that brings me to one of the real reason why I’m doing this. I’ll admit that I’m usually kind of a perfectionist. And Spanish is definitely something that I’m not perfect at. Yes, that’s terrifying, but it’s also kind of cool, in a way, knowing that it’s something I can constantly improve on and don’t need to be 100% perfect at right from day one. Also, I love Harvard, but it is an incredibly intense place, and I feel as though I needed to get away for a bit. Especially growing up a 30-minute drive away from campus, I really want to get out and see more of the world!

Another random tidbit is that I’m not exactly sure the exact length of my stay here! This is less dramatic than it sounds, though – depending on the professors and/or classes I take, I might be able to come home in late December, but if some professors won’t move their exams for me, I might be coming back closer to late January! Thankfully, I was allowed onto my flights to Sevilla with just a one-way ticket and a student visa.

Since nothing too exciting has happened yet (I’m currently on flight 1 of 3 – Boston to Frankfurt, then to Lisbon and finally to Sevilla) I’d love to just give a quick recap of my summer since the last time I wrote here was when I was travelling to Dubai this past March. Here’s a quick 10-best-things-I-did-this-summer list, in no particular order.

1) Interning at the Urban Assembly (For ten weeks, and through Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC), I worked at The Urban Assembly, an education non-profit with over 20 schools in the NYC boroughs. I helped run an internship program that some Urban Assembly students were selected to participate in. These students were interning at ecologically-based internship sites, such as ecology centers and urban farms, and one of the best parts of my job was getting to visit them at their internship sites!)
2) Going to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On the Run tour (this one is pretty self-explanatory – you can imagine how in my element I was at this, especially since our seats were literally in the last row, but we were able to sneak up to much better seats!)
3) Attending a bunch of wonderful exercise and dance classes (central park circuit, Free NYC dance week, Zumba with Laci (aka my co-worker who works a fulltime 9-5 job and THEN teaches multiple Zumba classes each week!), SuferYoga with the one and only Jimmy Minardi).
4) Participating in the Montauk Sprint Triathlon (My first triathlon! Yes, it was crazy-hard, yes I’m hooked on triathlons, and yes Maggie, my little, did one too and hopefully we’ll do some together going forward!)
5) Biking up and down 4th avenue in NYC (for free and sans-cars) on a “summer Saturday” (which was SO cool – a) any new york city street without cars is just bizarre and cool in its own way, but b) being able to bike on one was just indescribable!)
6) Meeting up with friends (aka the silver lining to getting my wisdom teeth removed – I was back in Weston for one day and got to see some of my best friends and then went to see some Harvard friends a few nights ago!)
7) Seeing many a show in NYC (a ballet version of a Midsummer night’s dream, King Lear at Shakespeare in the park, Kinky Boots, Chicago with my friend Adrianna!)
8) Introduction to LUNA bars (OK, this one might sound weird, but after my mom’s college reunion, we went on this lovely family hike around Mount Tom and classic Julia, I was starving, so my mom gave me this mint-chocolate Luna bar, which is packed with all these vitamins, and it was DELICIOUS and now I can’t get enough of them and have even brought some to Spain! This also is significant because I have tried MANY different bars before, none of which I’ve really liked).
9) Swimming around my CEO’s private island (Richard Kahan, the CEO of the Urban Assembly, is one of the coolest people I’ve met – he’s a man who has worn a bunch of different hats throughout his life and now is CEO of an education nonprofit, with essentially zero education experience). Anywho, he owns this island and invited the WHOLE Urban Assembly staff to it for a summer fun day and, since I have the most amazing co-workers ever, eight of them and I took it upon ourselves to swim around this island together!
10) Getting to spend about three weeks with my family (mom, dad, sister, grandma, and cat, and joined by aunt and uncle for the last few days!) out on Long Island – the perfect way to end the summer pre-study abroad! Did I mention that I loved my summer?

I’ll be posting more soon. For now I am EXHAUSTED (I literally have slept one hour in the past 36 hours, thanks to my lovely inability to sleep on planes) and am going to sleep in my hotel room. G’night!

TGT: Right before bed, I like to list to myself three good things that have happened during the previous day. I guess you can call it my way of realizing that I’m #blessed. So, the TGT for today are 1) Not losing luggage! 2) Having empty seats next to me on multiple flights 3) Wonderful shower at Hotel Gran Lar.

Adios,
~Julia

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