My Trip in Retrospect: Part 1- Group Site Visit

Hello my dear ones! I feel like it has been quite some time since I have kept you posted on my travels, and to be honest, I attempted to update my blog abroad, but of course my tablet froze in my hotel room and I lost all of my work. That was a minor mishap compared to some other events on the trip….  So my memory isn’t quite as vivid as it was when I was actually in Spain and Portugal, but I will do my best to recapture some highlights of my spectacular vacation abroad. I am already thinking of ways to get myself back to Spain, and I’ve been home a week. That should reflect how wonderful my experience was:

Week #1- Group Site Visit for Work – Seville, Spain and Alicante, Spain

From the moment I arrived in Sevilla, Spain, I knew it was going to be a charmed trip. It was 80 degrees  and sunny on the day I got there, and my first cab driver was already throwing out “piropos”  to me within my first 5 minutes in the city .Piropos are basically flirtatious lines that Spanish men say to women to be  flirtatious, and  they are not considered to be inappropriate, although some American  women aren’t accustomed to men commenting on their eyes, their beauty, etc. Sevilla is such a charming place filled with rich history, beautiful architecture, winding cobblestone streets, and hidden bars and cafes  all throughout the city. I  talk about the city all the time for work, but to actually experience it for myself takes on an entirely new meaning for me. There are beautiful plazas, parks, orangetrees lining the sidewalk, horses in carriages waiting to take tourists  on a stroll,and it really is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been to in my life.

I arrived a day before the group participants did, so I had a  chance to explore the city and walk around for a day with one of my coworkers. Once the group site visit started, I really had very little free time.  We had a packed schedule filled with classroom visits, tours of The University of Sevilla, flamenco shows, tapas, tapas, and more tapas, internship visits, Q & A sessions, cultural visits around the  city, etc.The group was wonderful and everyone was so social and easy going. It was wonderful for me to finally meet our staff in Spain as well, as I had only known them  through email correspondence before. We spent 3 days in Sevilla and then we flew to Alicante, Spain for the 2nd part of the site visit. I have to say that coordinating a group of adults is not as easy as  it would seem. We had a very wandering group, and I almost lost 2 people  in the  airport and had to get security to call their names over the loud speaker, I had to personally wake people up in the mornings who slept in past their alarms, and we also left someone behind on a cultural tour and almost drove off in the bus without him. It was strange being the “mom” of the  group when I was actually the youngest one there. I can only imagine the stress level involved with leading a group of students on a study abroad trip.

We arrived to Alicante, Spain for the second part of the site visit, and it is on the Mediterranean coast, so it has a very different feel from Sevilla. It is a beautiful, modern, beach city that is about a third of the  size of Sevilla. It is part of the Costa Blanca ( White Coast), and it receives more sunlight than any other coast in Spain.There is a beautiful pedestrian street along the water known as ” La Esplanada” that is lined with palm trees and with lovely shops and restaurants. Some of the views here are incredible as there is a castle on the top of a hill where you can overlook the entire city. We also did a wine tasting of local wines in the region, and it was some delicious vino I must say. Alicante also makes “Valor” chocolate, which is some of the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  Our office is much smaller in Alicante, and we actually only have 2 staff members here, but I met both of them, and they were amazing and the students had such wonderful thing to say about them. We held a Q & A session with current students on the program, and each and every one of them spoke so highly of their experience in Alicante, and of Pepa, our Resident Director there. I was so proud to see the students so content and learning so much on our programs. It made me want to come back and be a student again. We ate so much here, and the last night we ate at this boating club  overlooking the water. It was  gorgeous. I have included some fun facts about Alicante and Seville  below for you:

Facts:

Our  center in Sevilla is a converted house  from 1918 that is filled with intricate and beautiful  tile design

Dan Brown, author of Angels and Demons and DaVinci Code, was  actually a student at our center back in the 1980’s

La Catedral in Sevilla  is the oldest gothic cathedral in the world

Christopher Columbus’s remains are held  in the Cathedral in Sevilla

Plaza de España was where parts of Star Wars and  Lawrence of Arabia were filmed

Flamenco dancing originated in Sevilla

People  in Alicante speak Valenciano, which is another dialect of Spanish

The Romans named Alicante “Lucentum,” which means “City of Light”

Alicante is a very popular tourist destination for Spaniards in the summertime because of its beautiful beaches

* Stay tuned for Part 2 which is my vacation portion of the trip with Jamie and Steph!!

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Holiday in Spain…. and Portugal

Hola queridos! Today marks the day where I go back to where all it began for me….. España. I will be going for work as well as well as pleasure, and I’m so thrilled to have been given the opportunity by my company for this trip.My purpose in going is to accompany a site visit that we host every year for Spanish faculty members and study abroad administration from US universities who are interested in working with us.  We show them our facilities, wine and dine them, take them on cultural visits, and let them observe classrooms, homestays, internships, etc. I’m basically along for the ride.

I remember my first trip to Spain that I took with my highschool Spanish class for Spring Break back in 2001. I was enamored by the sights and people of Spain, and I was determined that I would improve my Spanish and get back there someday. I returned to study abroad with UGA 4 years later in a litte town called Cadiz, Spain on the southern coast, and I fell in love with the country again. I also met one of my best friends, Jamie Kyle, who will be meeting up with me on this trip and we will go back to that lovely little town to try to reemerge the memories from those carefree college summer days.  I also want to ask that you to keep Steph in your thoughts as she is a trooper and is coming to Spain for her first time even though she tore her ACL earlier this week. We’ll take good care of her of course. I feel so blessed to have a job that allows and encourages traveling abroad, and I am ready to soak in every minute of it. I will be visiting Seville,Spain for a week because that is where my company is based out of and where we started our first study abroad program. I will then move to the Mediterranean coast to a smaller city called Alicante, Spain where I will explore our other study abroad program there. I’m meeting up with Steph and Jamie in Valencia, Spain where we’ll make our way down to Portugal, which I’m ecstatic about since I’ve never been. I’ll keep you all posted with my blog, and I’d like to give a shout out to Miss Katie Bingeman to wish her a very happy birthday tomorrow! Hasta pronto!!

March 3rd-7th- Seville, Spain

March 7th-10th- Alicante, Spain

March 10th-12- Valencia, Spain

March 13th-15th- Cadiz, Spain

March 15th-18th- Lisbon, Portugal

March 18th-19th- Madrid, Spain