Week 6: An experience of a lifetime
This blog was updated weekly. Scroll to read entries from previous weeks. Visit UNCG’s Instagram page and click the #UNCGabroad highlight to see clips of Dana’s time in Spain and a Q&A about studying abroad at UNCG.
I am writing to you for the final time from Spain as my summer session abroad has come to an end. My final week was a blur of me trying to do everything that I knew I’d miss in Cadíz one more time. I went to my favorite cafés, went to the beaches, I got my favorite ice creams, and I walked down all of the streets that I came to know and love over the past month. The UNCG program set up a final dinner for us all to eat together and say our final goodbyes. We sat at a long table together and talked to the people we grew to know as friends as we realized that this was the last time we would all be together. The food was great, but the memories we made together as fellow Spartans were better.
When it was finally time to go, I said goodbye to my host family at the train station. The students from the group flight gathered in a crowd, and we all said goodbye to the place we called home for the past month. In general, it seemed like we were all waiting to see who would cry first. It was me. I didn’t expect to grow so attached to the people that I stayed with and the city that I spent so little time in, but, when it was time to say goodbye, and I got one last hug from my host family, I couldn’t help but let a few tears slip out.
Everything from there was a bit of a blur from going by train to the Jerez airport to staying in Madrid to having my last flight. My final moments on the group flights with my fellow Spartans was not to be looked over, and I cherish every moment I had in the airport that I knew I wasn’t alone. UNCG was what brought us together, but I know that during this trip I’ve made friends for life.
I signed up for my summer study abroad session in Spain with only six courses of Spanish under my belt, without a passport, without ever having been on a plane, and with no idea how I would make the trip work. UNCG helped me through all of that.
I got help from UNCG’s International Programs Center and my Spanish professors and made this the best and most rewarding experience that I have had during my time at UNCG.
If you are a Spartan thinking about going abroad, my advice to you is to go for it. Do it.
Studying abroad is a wonderful way to meet new people and advance your skills to the next level.
More than anything, studying abroad was a way for me to immerse myself in a new culture while exploring the spirit that makes me a Spartan.
Do you want to study abroad?
UNC Greensboro believes every Spartan should have access to this transformative experience, whether you have a collection of stamps on your passport, or it’s your first time on an airplane.
From short-term or long-term programs, research internships to service learning opportunities, UNCG has a long history of sending students abroad, supported by a variety of scholarships and initiatives through the International Program Center (IPC).
Week 5: Pueblos, Paella, & La Playa
Hello again Spartan Family,
This week has been one of my favorites of the entire trip. It included a trip to some pueblos blancos, ancient roman ruins, a beautiful beach, paella cooking, and plenty of free time.
We ended last week with a trip to the pueblos blancos (white houses) of Vejer de la Frontera, Spain, a magical place with lots of history, cafes, and, of course, white houses. If you’re wondering why all of the houses are white, it’s because it serves both aesthetically and to fend off the heat (I would like it to be known that I am only a humble English major, but I do know that white reflects light and keeps the town cool).
After we left, we traveled a little ways to my ultimate favorite spot in all of Spain so far, and that is Playa de Bolonia. When we first arrived, we were given a tour of the Ruinas Romanas de Baelo Claudia, which included a museum and an outdoor walk viewing Roman ruins such as a theater, aqueducts, and even columns from an old market, all of which were narrated by our school guide so that we could learn on the go. I happen to be a lover of museums, so this part of the trip was perfect for me to see. When we finished our tour of the museum and the ruins, we were given a few hours to eat lunch, explore the beach, and relax (every college student’s dream when studying abroad). I got to sit on the beach with the other students, eat my lunch, and take in the beauty of the clearest beach I’ve ever seen. And that’s not all – Playa de Bolonia is on the southern side of the Iberian Peninsula, meaning that in the distance, I could see more land with huge mountains . . . You guessed it – from the beach, we could see Tangier, Morocco. Actually, because this part of Spain is so close to Morocco, we were told to turn off our WIFI so that we didn’t accidentally connect to Morocco’s WIFI. It was a beautiful sight to say the least.
To end the excitement, on Tuesday, we finally had our long-anticipated paella cooking class! I am not one to brag, but I will say that I make a mean paella . . . when guided by professional chefs in a group setting, at least. It was fun for all of the students to come together and collaborate to make dinner. We passed around cutting boards full of ingredients while talking and bonding and singing songs of Carnaval (which you will be hearing more about in my next post).
I unfortunately made the mistake of looking at the calendar and am trying not to start missing Cadiz before I leave, but it is hard. I know that this place has made a huge impact on me and how I see the world. However, I am comforted by the fact that I know this will not be the last time I visit.
Dana's Travel Album
Week 4: Exploring Granada
Hello again Spartans,
This weekend, I had the best time with my class traveling to the wonderful city of Granada! While there, we got to tour the city and even see the palace and fortress that is Alhambra.
When we arrived in Granda on Saturday, the first thing we did was put our things in our hotel room and go on a tour of the city. When we walked outside, there were so many people dressed in Flamenco and traditional clothes on horseback (I would later learn that this is for a pilgrimage called El Rocio which takes place every year). It was amazing to see the traditional Andualusian clothing next to the modern buildings and streets. Speaking of the streets, my fun fact of the day is that Granada means “pomegranate,” and you will see plenty instances of the fruit symbolically covering everything around you, including streets, buildings, lamp posts, and even ice cream – you will definitely get the message before you leave. Granada was practically heaven for someone that is interested in history and culture. As I walked around, I could hear so many people speaking different languages, eating different foods, and in different types of clothes!
Our first stop was the Catedral de Granada, which was built in the 1500s and had so many intricate designs and details. This was quickly followed up by a visit to the museum of the Catedral in which we learned about the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs of Spain) and their impact on the country. (Spartan parents: Yes, we are still learning and taking classes during our study abroad!)
The next day, we got up bright and early to tour Alhambra. This was one of the most gorgeous things that I have ever seen in my life (I finally got my hour or so time to feel like a princess!). The grounds are so well kept with gardens, fountains, rooms with designs etched into the walls, towers, and so much more. My favorite part about this was going to one of the Alcazaba towers and looking out over Granada. There was so much history to see and contemplate – in my opinion, it was truly the experience of a lifetime.
A few days later, we had another cultural experience back in Cadíz, and that was a salsa dance lesson. This was something that I was so excited about on the itinerary and it lived up to the hype. The instructor made it simple for us, and at the end of our turn, everyone was able to complete the dance perfectly…well, almost perfect!
Generally, my grades are good, and I get to go to the beach with friends or a book every day – what could be better?
Week 3: Seville & Surfing
Last weekend, my study abroad program took a field trip to the capital city of Andalusia, Seville. While there, we visited the Plaza de Espana, a live Flamenco show, and had multiple guided walking tours of the city to learn about the local culture and history.
Unfortunately, the Flamenco show didn’t let us take pictures or videos. I wish I could share, because the show was one of the best things that I have seen while in Spain! The dance has so many steps, so many fantastic dresses, and so much passion! I thought that I would be able to keep up with the moves from my Flamenco class, but it turns out that I am still just a beginner.
My favorite part of Seville was taking a tour of a palace! Well, more like the royal gardens of an ancient palace that was declared a World Heritage Site. If you have an inner botanist or are a history buff, Real Alcázar is the place for you to visit. Lucky for me, my program was able to give my class a walking tour of the palace, and I was able to learn almost all that there is to know about the history of Real Alcázar.
When we got back from Seville, we had a surfing class the next day. I never expected that I would be able to stay on my board, let alone be able to “catch a wave.” Okay, you caught me – I wasn’t able to catch a wave either, but it still was super fun to try! Bonding with my classmates on the beach after class and watching everyone try their best at something – what can be sweeter?
I am about halfway through my study abroad trip in Spain, and I am so happy with my time here. It’s been so nice to learn a language while being fully immersed in a new culture. One thing that surprised me that I liked that I didn’t think that I would like as much as I did was the food. Coming into Spain, I was a little nervous about trying traditional dishes from Andalusia, but I am loving it!
The food, the culture, the history, what more could I ask for out of my study abroad experience? If you’re interested in studying abroad with UNCG, I answered some questions about the process on UNCG’s Instagram page – check the highlight #UNCGabroad. See you next week!
Week 2: Spartans abroad in Spain
Hello again Spartans,
I have now been in Spain for about a week, and I have been loving my time here!
On my way here, I took a group flight that UNCG made available to me with a large group of my fellow classmates. It was so nice to see other Spartans wearing UNCG swag at the airport and meet up with them – especially for my first ever flight! Because we had three flights together – one being overnight – I definitely think that caused me to get closer to them.
When we all first arrived in Spain, we all had similar reactions to finally being in Spain together!
“¡Qué maravilloso!” said Diana Moreno-Herrera.
“I was overwhelmed and stunned by the beauty in the chaos of travel,” said Kristin Hogan.
“It was the most surreal experience in my life,” said Carter Schenck.
And I agree!
The first thing we did when we arrived in Spain was meet our host families. I am staying with another UNCG student and a family of three in an apartment beside the beach. I was so excited to see that I had rooftop access and that I could see the entire city, including the beach, my school, and many different tourist attractions.
The next day, we started classes. We all met in the Plaza de San Antonio, a city square lined with trees, coffee shops, and plenty of benches to relax on. I have classes Monday through Thursday from 9:30 to 11:00 and 11:45-1:15, and on the weekends ,we take trips to cultural and historical places in Cadiz.
The UNCG spirit has definitely followed us to Spain. Myself and the other students proudly wear our UNCG swag everywhere we go, and we all do our best to support and help each other when we need it.
So far we have visited the Torre Tavira, the Museum of Spain, and learned a little about the dance of Flamenco. From what I have learned so far, Cadiz is known as the oldest city in Europe, and it is located on the Iberian Peninsula. The Museum of Spain had many artifacts from the early ages of Spain. Through the artifacts of the people that have previously lived here, we were able to take a trip through time and see how Spain has been impacted through Phonecian, Roman, Arab, Catholic, and other cultures.
You can see all of the city from the top of the Torre Tavira, which Professor Sotomayor says is the Cadiz equivalent to the Empire State building. From there, I could see so many details about the city, and we got to visit the camera obscura, which works like a live camera. During the tour we also received a brief history lesson about why Cadiz needed so many watchtowers and the history of watchtower evolution.
Finally this week, we had our Flamenco workshop. Flamenco is a cultural dance of Spain that uses voice, clapping, guitar, drums, and stomping to dance. It is very popular across Spain, especially in Cadiz. This dance is an art form that dates back to around Siglo 20, but it is a very old tradition.
My favorite place has been Torre Tavira because I love to see pretty views, like the one at the top of the tower. It was very interesting to use the camera obscura and see people moving around us in real time.
What do I do to relax after classes? I go to the beach! My favorite place is the beach, La Caleta, which is right next to my host family’s house. To all of my fellow Spartans: Imagine working hard in school and leaving your classroom to realize that you are in an entirely different country and that the beach is only a five-minute walk away! La Caleta also connects to the Castillo de San Sebastián, an old and historical fortress.
I will say that my Spanish is continually getting better because every time I want to interact with someone that isn’t from UNCG, including my host family, I have to speak in Spanish. Sometimes it gets to be a little difficult, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because now I know that I am truly immersed in the language and culture.
This weekend, we will be visiting a centuries-old bodega, the Castillo de Santa Catalina, and visiting the city of Seville. Please continue to follow my journey on Instagram and let me know any questions that you might have!
Week 1: Going global
My name is Dana Broadus and I am a junior here at UNCG. I am currently an English major with minors in Spanish and anthropology. On campus, I intern as a writer for University Communications, I’m a Spartan Guide, and I’m the head officer of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Club. I am hoping that my studies will help me become a cultural anthropologist and a better author.
But first, I am here to walk you through my study abroad experience at UNCG.
Over the next few weeks, I will be studying abroad in Cadíz, Spain as part of a faculty-led program under the direction of Dr. Carmen Sotomayor and Professor Jose Felipe Troncoso in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. During my time abroad, I will be taking SPA 313 (Views of the Hispanic World Through Intermediate Conversation Abroad) and SPA 332 (Foundations in Spanish Cultures, Literatures and Films).
I have always been interested in the concept of travel, and even with my limited experience, I am in love with the idea of learning languages and other cultures. I strive to be someone that can understand and connect with people from all walks of life, and my trip to Spain feels like the first step towards achieving my goal of connecting with people on an international level.
I am considering this trip to be my first “experience of a lifetime,” and I am very excited to be sharing it with my Spartan family. Why is this experience so special to me? I am 20 years old and I have never been on an airplane, let alone left the country. This trip has been the driving factor for me to get my passport and explore my options with studying abroad.
Coming to college, I previously heard of people studying abroad, but I had no idea how extensive UNCG’s study abroad programs were. Since being at UNCG, I have connected with the International Programs Center (IPC) and the Lloyd International Honors College to learn about my options and seek support, attended educational events hosted by the Office of Intercultural Engagement, and talked to several Gilman and Fulbright Scholars who have advised me: “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes – go study abroad!”
Through IPC’s events and workshops geared towards students interested in studying abroad and seeking scholarships to study abroad, UNCG made it easy. My biggest takeaway is that anyone can study abroad. IPC has study abroad programs for every major, and it was encouraging to have support no matter what worries I have about going abroad.
While I am abroad, I hope to accomplish a greater understanding of the Spanish language and culture. When I received my travel itinerary, I was delighted to see that my entire time would not be spent studying. While I will be having class Monday through Thursday during the day, my itinerary also includes things like surfing class, paella cooking classes, flamenco and salsa lessons, Spanish exchanges with Spanish students, and trips to other Spanish cities like Granada and Seville. Be sure to follow along as I update this blog every Friday on UNCG News and follow my adventures on UNCG’s Instagram account!
Dana's Travel Album
Story and photography by Dana Broadus, University Communications