Author Archives: dalebou1

Nothing to do but Smile

We are all a bit in shock.  It is shocking to think we are halfway through our last week here.  As we sat around a table in a boardroom at El Mundo today listening to the paper’s all-star graphics team, my mind wandered back to Barcelona, to the first time I sat a similar sized table with similar people.   Although we were at Spain’s largest newspaper and every word spoken was unbelievably impressive, I could not help but think about the people I was sitting around the table with and how we have changed since our first meal in Barcelona nearly five weeks ago.  Thinking back to that first night, I thought about how each one of us have changed from the people we were when we first arrived.  While the changes were stubble and gradual, we have all taken a small piece of each other and molded ourselves into one unique family unit we like to call #MSU Spain.

As I looked around at my classmates today images from our first days together came rushing into my head and I realized since that day I have effortlessly been discovering new things about each one of my fellow travelers.  Since we are together constantly our conversations have involved every possible topic and we have naturally shared our life stories, becoming best friends quicker than in usual situations.

It is expected during study abroad to experience some of the best days of your life, what is unanticipated is that these perfect days will be spent with people you have only just met.  Sharing my best days with a group of people I have known for merely weeks seems so strange, but in this short amount of time we have grown as close as friends I have known for years.  Our experiences have been as amazing as the people I have gotten to experience them with. These amazing experiences continued today, where we not only toured El Mundo, and saw some of the paper’s coolest interactive information graphics, but also were treated to a lovely lunch with the paper’s art director.  After lunch a group of us headed to the park for the rest of the afternoon while a few of us caught up on laundry and movies.  It is on days like this, that I am reminded how difficult returning to reality where our daily responsibilities reach beyond field trips, networking, and handing out with my friends.

Still in shock we only have a few days left together, we are enjoying ever last moment of this week, with our final field trip tomorrow to Segovia.  It seems that since we have arrived in Spain I have had no worries and nothing to do but smile.  As this experience ends and we return to our daily duties as students, hopefully our worry free Spain attitude remain part of us.

-katie d.

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Live from Lisbon, It’s Weekend Update with Katie, Catherine, and Alanna

I will never forget the excitement of today, the adrenalin rush I felt is unparalleled—it must be a symptom of the nasty case of the travel bug I’ve caught.  Today’s mix of emotion sent me on a whirlwind that led me here, my top bunk in Lisbon, Portugal.  The hostel, the friends I’ve met, the friends I’m with, the tile on the street; have captured me and forever changed my life.  I realized today I am a traveler and I never want to stop exploring the world.  I only wish everyone was here to share this with me, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel this weekend.

Parting with eight best friends for the weekend was more difficult than I anticipated.  While we have only known each other for four weeks, we are literally together 24/ 7 so we have become a family rather quickly, making parting ways with our ‘papa John’ and the rest of our family as difficult as saying good-bye to my true family four weeks ago.

We are now scattered across Europe, with John, Adam, Nichelle, and Lauryn in Ireland, Abbey and Laura E. in Italy, and Catherine, Alanna and myself in Portugal; while Katy and Laura F. hold down the fort in Madrid.   Although we are apart, we are still on each other’s minds; I’ve said to Catherine and Alanna at least a million times, I wish everyone were here.  As we all explore this weekend we are searching for the perfect memento to bring back for our ‘secret traveler.’

Just a quick update from the Lisbon crew.

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Sensing Spain

The feeling the night before the first day of school, the tossing and turning in bed, emotions mixed somewhere between extreme nervousness and excitement, returned as we embarked on our last day in Barcelona. With completely mixed emotions we left our beloved Cheryl and our home of two weeks, Barcelona and are now settled in quaint hostel in Madrid.

Before venturing into our new wonderland, we went out with a bang on our last day in Barcelona. After a lovely last class, with the famous Karl Gude present, where we presented our spectacular projects we worked on over the course of our two weeks, we finished the day strong with our final trips to the market and the rooftop pool and the jersey boys journeyed to the Barcelona Cathedral. We were reunited for dinner at La Fonda where we toasted to a lovely two weeks and Cheryl showered us with gifts. After our tearful good-bye with Cheryl we spent the evening saying our good-byes to Barcelona, from the metro to the graffiti, to the fountains, we took it all in for the last time before packing up for our flight to Madrid in the morning.

As I lay in bed that night, amidst my lovely roommate’s sleep talking, I thought about the evening, which felt magical, the fortnight, which flew by so fast I barely noticed and what the second leg of our journey would be like. I thought about all the things I sensed in Barcelona and how I never could have imagined what it would be like before actually experiencing it. Then it hit me, my senses have been awakened since the moment I arrived.

As we walk around in our group, my eyes are wide like a kid in a candy store, noticing every bit of architecture, hearing every sound even the odd chirping of the crosswalk, touching everything we pass (yes I’m using my hand sanitizer mom). Even the smells of the city stand out as unique, and the tastes are something we all will miss when we return to our college staples of Ramen noodles and peanut butter.

I hope my senses remain keen as I return to East Lansing, appreciating every step, breath, and day in the same way I do here, but until then here are some things that have stood out to me and I hope you will get a little taste of what we are feeling, smelling, seeing, and hearing in Spain.        

Taste: From our multiple tapas experiences to the crisp taste of the fresh fruit in the market in Barcelona, we have been spoiled with some of the best things I have ever tasted.  We each have our individual favorites for Adam obviously patatas bravas and for me the almonds from Barcelona’s Boqueria, but as a unit our taste buds have been heavily satisfied with Spanish cuisine. Since arriving in Madrid yesterday we have had our first experience with churos con chocolate, which I cannot even properly explain and I wish I could effectively bring some back for each of you to try.

Touch: Like the new things we have tasted, we have felt so many original textures.  The dirt from Parc Guell, the leaves of the beautiful flowers and the hands of our new friends, all stand out as textures I will not soon forget, but the one texture that has blown us away since our arrival in Madrid is the texture of the towels provided for us in our quaint hostel—a completely unique texture which simultaneously exfoliates our skin while drying it.

Sight: In Barcelona we were truly lucky to experience a mass amount of art and architecture with visits to the Picasso, Dali, and Miro museums, a bus tour of city where we observed the work of Gaudi; and we have already seen some of the most beautiful sights in Madrid despite being here for just over 24 hours. 

Smell: My sense of smell has been both extremely delighted and dismayed sometimes in the same moment. What I’ve grown to love about Spain is how you can never stop exploring, in a dark smelly alley could be the most beautiful flower shop waiting to distract your nose from the man who was slightly too close to you on the metro. For better or worse, these distinctive smells are Spain, whether the Boqueria in Barcelona or the fresh air in Madrid’s Retiro Park.

Sound: There have been so many sounds in these cities, new ones like the sound of the Catalan language or the familiar ones like the sounds of each other’s laughter.  Natural sounds like the ones from the abundant pigeons, or artificial sounds like the annoying Las Ramblas bird chirper mechanism sold by vendors every few steps.  These sounds will forever be ingrained in my mind as the sound of my summer in Spain. Certain sounds can evoke so much feeling emotion and memory, when a song is heard on the radio it can take you immediately back to the first time you heard it, who you were with and what you were doing.

 In addition to the sounds heard all around us, my roommate, ‘the Wright Katy’and I have inadvertently created a soundtrack to our Spain experience with the music we have been listening  to in the brief moments spent in our room.  These few songs will always be heard with fond memories of our time here. We hope they succeed in portraying our experience so far in wonderland.

-Katy and Katie 

Listen to the Sound of Spain

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The Luck of the Draw

Since beginning this adventure a week ago, I have seen more beautiful landscapes and had more travel and cultural experiences than ever before in my young lifetime.  While I hope the memories of these sights never escape me, it is the people I am traveling with that I hope to remember forever.

This small group of more redheads than boys has impressed me more than the uniqueness of Dali’s museum, or the magnificence of Gaudi’s Sagrada Famila, or even the beauty of Parc Guell.

While at home I can fall asleep in a single instant, here I lie awake at night thinking about the events of the day.  Details of the day play out in my mind with such vividness, I hear dialog and laughter, but it is revisiting the pure joy I get from the people I have been around this week that keeps me awake and the fact that I’ll be with them again tomorrow.

When choosing which study abroad to embark on, MSU allows for heaps of choice; country, subject matter, season, language, and professor.  However, one crucial element of the experience is completely left to chance: the group of students that will surround you.  This element will inevitably affect the entire trip, yet it is out of the participant’s control.   A group of peers could make or break the experience no matter where the backdrop, since you are essentially living, working, and spending every moment as a unit.

It seems we have truly gotten the luck of the draw with this group of talented individuals.  Our group dynamic constantly amazes me, the 11 of us mesh better than I ever expected.

It is hard to believe we have only known each other for little over a week.  We have moved far beyond the surface small talk of major and hometown, and are now getting to know everything from boyfriend’s names, to shoe sizes to life goals.  As we continue to grow closer and learn more about each other, I thought our loyal blog readers would enjoy a glimpse into our group dynamic, with a few words from me describing my new friends and the stars of this blawg.

Abbey is just one of those people you just want to be around, her personality is as beautiful and multifaceted as her photos.  Her grace as a dancer is transferred to everything she does, whether she is leading the group through the crowded metro or making sure everyone is having a good time when we are out at night, Abbey is hospitable, caring, and sincere.  It makes complete since that she loves to photograph people since it is so clear she loves being around them.

Adam has the unique ability to take sarcasm to a level where his statement is believable for a single instant before finding it completely hilarious.  His intelligent since of humor is magnetizing and we have all grown to absolutely love it in only a week’s time.  He is so witty and funny, and adds so much to the female dominated group.

It is so funny the impressions you get from people in the first moments of meeting.  Although Alanna is just as sweet as the first time I met her, her outgoing personality and amazing sense of humor have heightened over the week.   I originally thought Alanna was quiet and shy but as I’ve gotten to know her, this view has already dissipated.  She is full of life, outgoing and fun to be around.

When you find that friend you feel like you’ve known for years, but it has been merely days you know they are special, Catherine as a quality that makes you feel like you are with an old friend although it has been only days since you’ve met.  Her personality is as vibrant and warm as her bright red hair.

We are a group that loves a good office supply store, spending close to an hour in Konema, a Spanish office supply store recommended by Cheryl.   Therefore, if John was an office supply he would be the glue, since he is the one that keeps us all together.  Our fearless leader, John, who has been deemed ‘Papa John’ by Alanna, is so kind, protective, and fun.   Whether checking to make sure we’ve got everyone or waiting for the late riser of the day, John remains cool and collected.

Katy W. has such a lively attitude and embodies living in the moment.  Her love of trying new things, meeting new people, and experiencing everything this beautiful place has to offer is truly inspiring. She constantly reminds me we only live once and to live life to its absolute fullest. On top of her zest for life, is a giving heart, making her first to volunteer shoes to a group mate with lost luggage.

Nichelle has a way about her that makes every moment spent with her valuable as she unveils a bit more about herself in every conversation.  Nichelle, who none of us met before our arrival last Sunday could not fit in better with the group.   She is so poised and original, and after only knowing her for a few days I feel so comfortable around her already.

Laura E. seems to always be glowing with happiness and enthusiasm.  Classy and personable, her joie de vivre and smile have become contagious.  Yet another group leader, Laura E. watches out for everyone insuring their safety and smiles in everything we do.

As one of our two Spanish speakers, Laura F. is always happy to lend a hand to anyone in need and eager to improve her skills. She is unafraid of voicing her opinion and is completely individual.  Her enthusiasm and excitement for everything we do are as desirable as her mad twitter skills.

Lauryn has an amazing sense of confidence and independence, and is a perfect planner for the group.  She has the ease of a world traveler with the cautiousness of a preschool teacher making sure her classmates are having as much fun as she is.  Lauryn brings her spunk and liveliness into every situation, making everything more fun when she’s around.

In addition to the peers I was serendipitously assigned to, I speak for all of us, when I say we picked two inspirational professors, who are positive role models, and friends to each of us.   We have sincerely loved every moment spent with Cheryl this week, from the train, to the classroom, to our tappas dinners and we anxiously await Karl’s enthusiasm when he arrives this week.

They say you start to emulate qualities of those you surround yourself with; I hope there is truth to that statement because there is so much to love about these 11 individuals I have been around this week.

What a perfect first week.  Every day keeps getting better; I absolutely love Barcelona and my group!

-Katie D.

The entire group together for dinner Saturday evening after a day at the beach.

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