Abrupt Changes

With new places comes new experiences.

Nothing rings more true than this statement. Not once did I think that my flight to Alicante, a new place, would lead me down a rough 28 hours.

January 5th was the day I had engrained in my mind as the day of my departure from my home in Reading, Pennsylvania to the beautiful city of Alicante. Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans and brought forth a winter storm the night before, canceling all flights at the JFK airport. As you can imagine my initial flight was delayed 15 hours! Of course I was a upset but, I’d much rather be safe than to risk anything from happening to me. So, my out look on this was fairly positive until I reached the airport.

With thousands of flights cancelled and delayed the night before, there was no doubt that the airport was full of frustrated and tired people anxiously waiting to board any plane back to their homes. When I arrived to check-in at 11am on January 6th for my 1:30pm flight, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Lines for check-in weren’t even open and the flight before mine didn’t even board yet.

So, long story short, my 1:30 flight had been delayed 5 hours extra. Why? Well, because the aircraft wasn’t even at the gate, and when it did get there it needed fuel and a quick clean inside. What was I doing during that time? I got a $20’s worth meal at McDonald’s courtesy of Air Europa – the airline I was flying with – as a way to compensate for my troubles. I also spent a lot of time observing people especially the Spaniards that were traveling on my flight. The majority of them traveled with their families, and with all the chaos going on they were not afraid to hold back their feelings of frustration. One man for instance, went up to the front desk and started yelling at the worker because they initially told everyone that we would be boarding at 4pm, but it was now 5:30pm.

Okay, so as you can see things don’t always turn out the way you plan them especially when you’re traveling across seas. In my case, things only got worse. Once I had arrived to Spain, my first stop was Madrid at 8:45am (their time). At this point you could imagine how tired I was, but sadly enough Madrid was just my layover stop before arriving to Alicante. If you realized before, my initial flight from NYC to Madrid was at 1:30pm, but it had been delayed. Due to that, I had missed my flight from Madrid to Alicante at 6:06am. I know….its was terrible.

Moments later, I was informed that my new connecting flight would board at 2pm, 5 more hours of waiting. Looking back I honestly don’t know I did it. Sitting at the airport, trying to connect to wifi, and trying to find the best place to eat was complete torture. All I wanted was to arrive to Alicante safely, meet my host family and lay in bed.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened. I got on the 2pm plane to the Alicante airport and took a taxi to my home stay. Minutes later, I met my wonderful host parents and their daughter. The welcome was so sweet, they did whatever they could to accommodate me and make me feel at home after such a long journey. After having spent a week in their home, I’ve learned so much about them as a family as I have the city of Alicante. There’s honestly nothing to complain about. The food is terrific and the people are so kind.

In the end, I arrived safely and my horrible travel experience in some strange way was worth it.





Academic Culture: SU vs UA

Coming from a small private school like Susquehanna, to a large public school like the University of Alicante is still something I’m trying to get used to. There’s obviously the difference in language, but besides that I always seem to come across things that catch me by surprise every week. So I came up with a list of 5 differences and/or similarities between the two institutions.

1. Animals

If you’re a student at SU you know about the hundreds of squirrels that run our campus. They’re small, cute and might even grab the half eaten pizza you’ve tossed into the trash can. And occasionally, you might come across a few stray cats hiding behind the bushes. But, at UA you find cats, ducks, and turtles! I remember my first day on campus, there were about seven ducks swimming in a pool of water just a few feet from the library. It was honestly the cutest thing ever.

2. Being on time

As a student at SU you know how important it is to get to class on time because eventually it’ll catch up to you. Well, at the UA there’s isn’t really much pressure on having to be on time. People walk into class 20 to 30 mins late and it’s honestly just astonishing. At least in my class, attendance is not mandatory. So, all you really have to worry about is the final exam.

3. Communication between Students

Usually at SU, if you have a friend in your class, they’re your go-to-person who updates you on anything you might have missed or didn’t understand. You don’t really make it your priority to help another student you never talked to before. At the UA, it’s a bit different, students of the same class tend to create a group chat on WhatsApp and communicate there even if they don’t know you. I guess it’s just their way of reaching out to each other if there comes a time to do so for like a group project or a class cancelation.

4. Furniture

This ones a bit weird but I just have to address it. I remember back at SU how much students (myself included) would complain about the old desks and chairs we would use in class. But coming to the UA has made me realize how grateful I should be because the chairs here are not comfortable at all. The chairs are made out of wood and if you ever have a class in their lecture halls, it’s really bad. There’s really no personal space between you and your partner and if your above 5’7 the desk is not tall enough for you to feel comfortable. It’s miserable.

5. Disrespectful… maybe?

Okay, so back in the states you’re taught at a young age to listen and PAY ATTENTION when the teacher is talking, and if you have a question or want to speak raise your hand. In my one class at the UA all the students pull out their laptops and pretend to use it for class, when we all know they’re not. But that’s not what really amazes me, it’s when everyone decides to have a full blown conversation with each other while the professor is speaking without whispering! I recall being in class one day and the people behind me were being really loud. The professor was aware but didn’t say anything to them, he just continued as if he knew that they’re just hurting their chances of passing the class.

Well that’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading about just a few comparisons I’ve made between SU and the UA.

See you next week!


I just completed my second language course! And as a reward, my program and I took a trip to Granada for the weekend. Having spent the last month without leaving Alicante, it was nice to get a change of scenery.

Granada is a well known city south of Spain, known for its great Islamic culture. If you don’t know already, Granada was surrendered by Muslim Ruler Emir Muhammad XII to the famous Catholic Monarchs Fernando V and Isabella I in 1492. Because of this, most of the architecture and art of Granada is Islamic, with the most famous example of it being the Alhambra.

In its day the Alhambra was a city within Granada that held a palace and a fortress with few inhabitants living within its walls. But before I run off and try to explain what the Alhambra looks like, here are some pictures instead. The entrance

Patio de los Leones (Courtyard of the Lions)

Detailed work on beautiful ceiling.

The Garden

The cold, rainy weather gave The Alhambra a romantic feel.

Oh and yes…that rectangle was once a toilet.

Everything in the Alhambra took a total of 200 years to build. Today only certain parts of what once was a city are preserved today for visitors from all over the world to see.

Moving on…

Besides Granada being such a beautiful city with such rich art and history, the food is just as amazing! Whats even better are their Tapas. If you thought tapas in Alicante were cheap, you got it all wrong! When you purchase a drink you get a free Tapa and the portion size is very appropriate. So what I’m trying to say is that you can basically get yourself a meal with 5 euros!

Costillas con barbecoa, chorizo, patatas y pan.

I can honestly keep talking about how great of a weekend I had in Granada but I’ll just save the rest for another time. Scroll back up and marvel at the beautiful pictures because I just can’t do it myself.


Time is not Money

Before arriving to Spain, I was warned about time. There was one piece of advice that was particularly interesting to me. It was, ‘don’t arrive to class 5 mins before it starts because it’s pointless’. It honestly couldn’t have been more true! But, I didn’t know any better and didn’t take it into consideration.

Being on Time

In comparison to the US, the concept of time in Spain isn’t as valued. I learned that the hard way my first week of classes. Coming from a culture, where ‘time is money’ I would take the earliest train to school just so I could make it to class 10 or 5 minutes before it would start – out of respect for my professor (the usual). Well it would be almost everyday that my own professor would arrive 10 mins late!

It was unbelievable, and when if my professor wasn’t late there would always be a student walking in 25 mins with no sign of embarrassment. In much simpler terms, it’s completely normal to be late as long as you have a valid excuse.

Time to Eat!

If you thought the idea of time is bad in the university setting. The time it took for me to get used to the eating and sleeping schedule was worse. I remember back at SU when I made sure to never schedule a class before 10am. This was because I would need at least 8 hours of sleep if I would continually fall asleep at 1 am every night. The sad part is that I now wake up every morning during the week at 6:45am, so that I’ll have time to get dressed, eat and take the bus, all before 9am. By 11am I get hungry because in the US that’s lunch time. Well, in beautiful Spain lunch is typically between 2 and 3pm (horrible).

After lunch, everyone takes a nap (Siesta) for about 2 hours. Since being here I’ve only done it twice. I never really been much of a nap person. After waking up from your nap, you usually eat a snack to keep you a live until dinner time. To my surprise my first full day in Alicante, dinner was served at 9pm! Until this day, I actually like having dinner late because it puts me to sleep faster.

Vamos a Quedar…

If you have plans with someone don’t expect for them to be there right then. Leave some leverage time because who knows they might’ve missed the bus, forgot they had to work on a project, or simply forgot to meet up. This is something that’s not really much of a culture shock for me personally.


As I mentioned in my previous post, nightlife doesn’t actually begin until 11pm or 12am. With great company, drinks and music, the party doesn’t end until 7am!


Lastly, I guess out of all the things I’ve mentioned, this one is a bit of a downer. On Sundays all stores are closed even the pharmacy! In Spain, Sunday is the day for everyone to stay in, relax and mentally prepare for the new week. If you walk outside there will most likely be a few restaurants open but no shopping stores. The streets appear a little deserted and quiet.

In the end, I think it’s okay to say that Spanish people live a more relaxed life than Americans.


Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining in on the Carnaval festivities that happens every year in Alicante. When you first think of Carnaval, you might assume that it’s much like Brazil’s Carnaval. Well, it’s not…entirely. The Alicantinos refer to it as their ‘Mardi Gras’. The celebration runs from Feb. 8 through the 18.

In the span of those 10 days different activities for both children and adults are scheduled. Alicante is filled with live music, costume contests, small shows, and lots of food and drinks. Even though Carnival runs for about a week, most of the fun happens on Saturday. This year, people of all ages dressed up, I’m talking people as old as 80 years old were walking the streets dressed as babies! I’ve never seen anything like that not even on Halloween where young people are the ones who choose to dress up. Streets of La Rambla were blocked off for bars, concert stages, and everyone had some sort of costume on from cute bumble bees to outrageously politically incorrect ones (which I was forewarned about)!

I myself, dressed up as a Leopard, nothing too attention grabbing. Throughout Saturday night, I’ve begun to realize that in Spain, Saturday night of Carnaval is the only time where everyone is free to be who they want to be even if it’s extremely offensive. Thousands of people filled Center city of Alicante and danced the night away even if that meant staying up until 7am the next day (teens included). The nightlife is really strong in Spain, people don’t seem to get tired by 2am because that’s usually when the decide to go out with their friends.

Overall, Carnaval 2018 was really fun!

Sundays Are For La Paella

As you can imagine, the food here is amazing! I always find myself looking forward to meal times because there’s never a dull moment. I mean, when you have so many options at the dining table, you can’t help yourself. From Paella to patatas con carne, I love it all. The food in Alicante is heaven on earth with a large variety and Mediterranean influence. To make matters even better my host family have lived in Mexico and Argentina for quite sometime, and they prepare me some of their favorite foods from both countries!

(Paella I made at a cooking class)

Moving on, one of the most popular dishes known to Spain is La Paella. Paella is a dish filled with vegetables, rice cooked in chicken broth, pepper, colorant and your choice of meat or seafood. Since arriving here, I’ve been able to eat Paella 3 times. Although that may not seem like much, it’s actually because traditionally Paella is cooked on Sundays by men! Yeah that’s right, it’s a way of giving the women of the house a break from cooking all week.

Here’s a clip of the ingredients my host dad had for his Paella.

Even though I’ve named a few of the ingredients that go into making Paella, one must remember that every household is different and ingredients do vary. And when ingredients vary, the time it takes to make does too. When you ask a Spanish person how long does it take to make Paella, you get a tired look in response. From the defrosting of the chicken to the cooking of the rice, it’s typically 5 hours (crazy!). But it’s all worth it when you get to eat it amongst family and friends on Sunday!

Making the Effort

Spanish Class

I can’t believe it has been an entire month! I’ve met so many people, experienced a lot of culture and traveled a whole ton. In a month, I’ve even completed my first Spanish language course (hopefully I passed). You’re probably thinking what exactly do you learn and test for in a month? Well, with 3 hours of endless Spanish grammar everyday of the week, you learn…a lot. And for the last few weeks that’s exactly what I’ve been doing along side other international students.

My professor said that what we learned in one month is equivalent to a whole year of Spanish in the states. So, you can just envision how much I tried to keep up with every unit. Even though a lot of what was taught was a quick review of what I learned in the past, I actually had to work hard. And for the exam I did just that, I studied the night before and the morning of, trying to remember all the grammar rules we had learned. For the test day, I made sure to take my time. Now it’s a matter of waiting for my results 🙂

The Real Deal

As part of the integrated program, I had to enroll in an actual course at the university. A course taught in complete Spanish, and where I’d most likely be the only international student in the room. Before coming to Spain, the idea was pretty cool and easy to do. I thought I’ll just take the class, pass, and get the credits I need. I didn’t really think about all the little things that go into having an enjoyable semester in a foreign country where the university structure and language is totally different!

I mean…I took a two week class on how to succeed in a Spanish university. From how to properly ask for an early exam to finding out that it’s disrespectful to eat snacks in class. So it was bound to be a challenge.

This week I actually had my first lecture and practicum for a course called Techniques for Audiovisual Communication. We only meet twice a week, and the first day I attended I was a bit shocked. The professor, and the students were speaking so fast, it was hard to keep up. I also failed to remember that I actually have to make the effort and make friends, or else I’ll just dread going to class. I haven’t done it yet but thats because I was trying to feel things out before approaching people. Next week, for sure I’ll integrate myself more, I promise.


Spontaneous Traveling

Why not?

If you know me, I’m the type of person that is willing to try new things as long as I know what exactly I’m getting myself into. You know..the little details like how much is the travel ticket, at what time are we leaving, what exactly are we going to see? But since I’ve been here I feel like I’ve just been going with the flow. Going back to my second week here I’ve already traveled outside of Alicante when I went to Valencia, but I gone even farther…Barcelona!

To be honest, I didn’t list Barcelona as one of the first cities to travel to on my own. But, thankfully with spontaneous planning and an awesome travel buddy it was made possible. The process? Well, it went something like this:

-“I really want to go to Barcelona.”

-“Really? Me too!”

-“We should go together!”

-“When though?…Next weekend?”


After making the decision to go together, we both spent the next four days researching the best train tickets, and an Airbnb in the heart of Barcelona. By Wednesday evening we were set to leave Alicante Friday after class and spend the weekend there.

What exactly did I do there?

To put it into small words I did a little of everything. First spot on the list was La Sagrada Familia, and let me just say it was a good 13€ spent. The structure, history and spirit of the temple was breathtaking! I’ve never seen anything like it. The very famous architect of the unfinished temple, Antoni GaudĂ­ is even laid to rest inside the property.

The next spot was El Parc de Ciutadella. But before that I saw the “huge arch” (not sure if it has a fancy name) standing in the middle of the street. Fortunately for my travel buddy and I we witnessed a huge protest for what might’ve been equal pay. Thousands of people were chanting and fireworks were being ignited. From the looks of the picture below I made sure to keep my distance… just to be safe.

Okay so back to the park. All I can say is that it was gorgeous! The beautiful fountains, statues, trees and music just added to the wonderful time I was having. Honestly, no words can be used to describe its beauty, so I’ll just show you.

Oh and yes there was a dance class practicing in the Park.

Then on the last day, Sunday I went to Park GĂĽell for 2 hours and on our way back home to Alicante I stopped by and got to see Casa BatllĂł (another of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona). In between places I was able to sit down and eat at different cafe’s and restaurants too!

Overall, Barcelona was a great, spontaneous and short trip!

A Quick Rundown

Week 2 is complete and I feel like I’ve been here for a month. And no, I don’t mean it in a bad way at all. I’ve just been bombarded with history and culture all so fast. The cool thing about it is that I can’t really escape any of it-which is what I hoped for. A full immersion.

From the moment I wake to the time I fall asleep, I get more and more information as broad as the city’s old structures to how to formally ask a professor for an early exam. Besides that, I’m also living with a host family of three; Tono, Titina, and their daughter Natalia. Luckily for me, they’re a great match, each member offers me something different.

As you can imagine, my host mother is a great cook. Her meals always differ by day so I’m always looking forward to try something new especially for lunch (the biggest meal of the day). The best part is that she’s actually from Italy, so occasionally Titina will incorporate an Italian dish into the Spanish meals. My host dad on the other hand, is able to offer me previews to all of my excursions. He is truly a man of wonders, he seems to know a lot about everything. Now that I think of it, he did say he studied history. Natalia is really cool too, she’s very much into fitness and health which I love. I typically don’t see her much during the week but that’s because she’s a Pilates instructor. When I do see her, she always makes sure to tell me about the best places for youngsters to visit.

So, now that I talked a bit about my host family, I’d like to move onto some of the places I’ve visited in and outside of Alicante. Well, on Saturday the program and I visited Valencia, the capital of the region. I saw the Cathedral, city hall, the market and a few museums. Overall, it was a cool place but very similar to Alicante.

During the week, I visited the second closest beach to my house, La Playa de San Juan. And my oh my it was beautiful! Yuri (a friend from the program) and I decided to head to the beach after classes at the most convenient time – Siesta. If your not familiar with Siesta, it’s the time of day when everyone in Spain usually takes a mid-day nap so shops are typically closed, and it’s oddly quiet in the streets. The sunset that evening at the beach was spectacular, the sky was pink and blue like cotton candy!

Fast forward to today, I’m currently in Barcelona and I’ll make sure to tell you all about it next week!