A Language Barrier?

A Language Barrier?

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You could practically fit the whole continent of Europe in the states, and it makes up almost 45 countries, as opposed to 50 states! This is hard to grasp especially when thinking about traveling over spring break and on weekends. Driving to Ohio from Wisconsin would be like visiting Portugal for the weekend, and flying to Los Angeles would be like flying all the way to London. Just to show you how diverse Europe is take a look at how many languages they speak, in addition to Spain alone!

There are a total of 230 different languages/dialects in Europe. So basically this would be like every state in the United States have roughly four languages or dialects. Sheesh! Here is only a brief summary of only the Romance languages commonly encountered in Europe.

  • Catalan is official in Andorra; co-official in the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Valencian Community (as Valencian) and Balearic Islands.
  • French is official in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and the Channel Islands. It is also official in Canada, in many African countries and in overseas departments and territories of France.
  • Italian is official in Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City and Istria (in Croatia and Slovenia).
  • Latin is usually classified as an Italic language of which the Romance languages are a subgroup. It is extinct as a spoken language, but it is widely used as a liturgical language by the Roman Catholic Churchand studied in many educational institutions.
  • Leonese is recognized in Castile and León (Spain).
  • Portuguese is official in Portugal. It is also official in Brazil and several former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Eastern Asia.
  • Romanian is official in Romania, Moldova (as Moldovan), and Vojvodina (Serbia).
  • Romansh is an official language of Switzerland.
  • Sardinian is co-official in the Sardinia Autonomous Region, of Italy. It is also spoken by Sardinian diaspora. It is considered the most conservative of the Romance languages in terms of phonology.
  • Sicilian is spoken primarily in Sicily, Italy. With its dialects, spoken in Southern Calabria and Southern-east Apulia, it is referred also as Extreme-Southern Italian language group.
  • Spanish (also termed Castilian) is official in Spain. It is also official in most Latin American countries with the notable exception of Brazil.

Of all the 230 languages in all of Europe, Spain alone shares its own five dialects. Aranese, co-official in the Pyrenean comarca of the Aran Valley is spoken in north-western Catalonia. Basque, is co-official in in the Basque Country and Navarre and the only non-Romance language in mainland Spain. Catalan, co-official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and, as a distinct variant (Valencian), is spoken in the Valencian Community. Lastly, Galician is also spoken and co-official in Galicia. As you can see, Spain and all of Europe can create many language barrier problems, especially for study abroad students like me! So far, no problems, crossing my fingers…

Spanish Food (With Fideuá Recipe!)

Spanish Food (With Fideuá Recipe!)

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I would like to share some of my favorite recipes I have made in Spain, including the most savory tastes. Before I dig in, the main differences are the abundance of jamón and pan, and every meal my host mom diligently asks ¿Quiéres más pan?, or do you want more bread? If it’s a soup, sure, but if not I am fine without carb loading every meal. But really, the food here is awesome, you should check out these photos, and if you have the chance travel to Granada and try a kebab, it’s pure deliciousness.

A few other things commonplace are bocadillos which are just big sandwiches usually with jamón or tortilla de España (compared to a thick potato omelete – recipe). Montaditos are popular too for tapas, and are mini sandwiches (great restaurant – 100 Montaditos). To top off your meals for dessert I recommend turrón a la piedra (recipe), a great dulce here in Alicante.

Now I would like to share a recipe of fideuá which I made in my cooking class. It has shrimp, crayfish, clams, oysters, and vegtables all over a bed of macaroni noodles and is very famous in Alicante. You may be familiar with paella, what Spain is know for, but just substitutes the macaroni noodles for rice! Get cookin.

Ingredients:

  • 450 g/1 lb. firm white-fleshed fish fillets, skin removed
  • 450 g/1 lb. fideos, capelli d’angelo or vermicelli noodles
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika, pinch of saffron threads
  • 450 g/1 lb. medium uncooked prawns
  • 125 ml/4 fl oz olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 350 ml/12 fl oz basic fish stock
  • 24 small mussels, cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Cut the fish into 4 cm/1-1/2 inch pieces. Peel the prawns and remove the veins, leaving 6 unpeeled. Clean the mussels. Crumble the noodles into a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water, stir well and return to the boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside in a colander. Heat the oil in a paella pan, large frying pan or wok. Add all the prawns and cook for about 5 minutes until pink, stirring often. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add the fish and cook briefly, turning once. Gently stir in the garlic and cook for several seconds. Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, saffron and fish stock and bring to the boil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the mussels and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until they open, stirring often; discard those that do not open. Stir in the peeled prawns and noodles and heat through.
  5. Smooth the surface of the Fideuà with a knife or spoon, then place under a hot grill until a light brown crust forms. Arrange the unpeeled prawns on top…. and serve.

Mount Union vs. Universidad de Alicante

Mount Union vs. Universidad de Alicante

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Spanish life is very different from back home, there are many things I am going to miss, but also customs I wish I could take with me. When it comes to the two universities I have attended the past few years, they share this same perspective. I am going to give you a quick comparison of seasonal UMU and tropical UA. First and foremost the size of the campuses is much different, which is a change to me. Mount Union enrolls about 2,200 students on a rather small campus, whereas Alicante has approximately 25,000 students studying there (with more faculty than all students at UMU: 2,319), and sits on a one square kilometer modern campus. La Rabassa airfield was located on these lands until the opening of El Altet Airport in 1967, until the university opened. Alicante is bigger in both aspects but both campuses are rather modern.

One other things differentiating the two would obviously be the climate. Mount Union has very harsh, seasonal weather with surprise snowstorms and ice glazes whereas Alicante has many palm and pomegranate trees, and a warm but dry climate. I would say both campuses are beautiful just in a different aspect. On Alicante’s campus there are many more restaurants and cafes which would attribute to the size as well.

Both places have their respective sports too. Alicante has fútbol or soccer teams (outdoor and indoor – the women’s indoor team is nationally ranked), fencing, rowing, and more, whereas Mount has American sports like baseball and football, but no rowing or fencing. Lets just say we would dominate in a football match, but fútbol would be a close call.

A few things I haven’t noticed in Spain are greek life and school spirit. They have clubs and extracurriculars, not as many, and fraternities and sororities are nonexistent from what I know. Also, in the states it is very common to select a school because of its great reputation, and people are very proud to say that they are from Mount Union or Harvard or Princeton. So far, I haven’t really gotten the sense of this, school is more so just classes and the extracurriculars you enjoy.

Classes for me in Alicante are a little different because I am an exchange student, so I am just taking Spanish courses along with some culture ones like cooking and sailing. It is to my knowledge that Alicante has a rather strong engineering program, and offers many more majors than Mount since it enrolls more students like tourism, etc. In Ohio, I am used to waking up last minute before class and getting there right on time, but here it is a whole different story. To get to class at 9:30am I need to leave my house my 8:20 to catch a train, which connects to a bus, then walk about 10 minutes to class. If I forget something at home or wake up late, tough luck!

One last thing was trying to figure out the Spanish keyboard in the computer lab!¡!¡!¡! It was quité thè experience learñing all these néw symbols. Adios!

Spanish for Business

Spanish for Business

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One of the classes I am taking here in Alicante is Spanish for Business. It’s a very interesting course that gives a perspective on how businesses are run in Europe, everything from writing resumes and cover letters to learning about leading industries. One thing that is different than the United States right off the bat is that resumes, CV’s or curriculum vitae, are universal for all of Europe and follow a certain format. The design of a resume in the states is something that helps put your resume in the good pile, of course coupled with great experience. That isn’t completely the case in Spain. Aside from that, other documents like cover letters share the same format pretty much worldwide.

Another part of the business class is learning the cultural factors that influence negotiation within the Europe business world. Certain things we went over were monochronic versus polychronic cultures, high context cultures versus low context cultures and individualism versus collectivism. Una cultura monocrónica is one where time is usually chronological and people follow definite schedules. Punctuality is crucial in this culture and exists in Northern Europe and the United States. On the other hand, una cultura polocrónica is one that doesn’t value as much punctuality but more so flexibility and exists in many parts of the world, specifically in Mediterranean countries.

High context cultures share a more personal relationship in business as people have much more in common and they have fixed expectations as well. Also, there is not as much of a necessity to write messages in great detail and be very explanatory. In contrast, a low context culture is where there is not as much personal importance and someone’s professional life is definitely separated from that of their personal life. These cultures communicate in many different aspects and usually pay great attention to detail. I would say that the United States is in the middle of both cultures, but Spain is more representative of a high context culture.

An individualistic culture is one where people have more of a personal identity, and are taught ‘I’ from a young age separate from others. On the other hand, collectivism looks at a group at large and relates to a part of a family or society. In collectivist countries, it is fundamental to be personal and have trust between negotiations. Collective countries include Latin America, Asia and poorer countries, and individualistic countries include the United States, Canada, Australia and developing Europe.

It is very interesting to see how business differs so much across the globe, but also between different parts of Spain. People in the central and southern parts of Spain exemplify different personality traits when it comes to business. These regions prefer informal topics and places, imprecision, a global vision, general objectives, flexibility, verbal agreements, charisma, passion, creative, quick thinking and talk with much energy. Certain characteristics that are not present are pretty much the opposites like high detail, preparation, punctuality, definite schedule, written agreements and structure. As you can see the world of business is very different on a global scale, but also within certain countries. Some people try to take advantage of certain customs and markets like American born Zaryn Dentzel who created Tuenti, a Spain-based, private social networking website for students and young people, which has been referred to as the “Spanish Facebook.”

Will your next venture be in Spain?

The Spanish American Culture War

The Spanish American Culture War

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Yes, Spain and the United States are somewhat different. OK, a lot different. Hopefully by the end of this post you will be able to decide for yourself which place would be the ideal place to live! Both places are unique in their own ways and there definitely are some culture clashes … just ask my host mom. I quickly found out certain things are much different here in Alicante, but I’ve been able to adapt to most of them. My list seems to be ever growing for this battle between cultures and if you would like any further clarification or more detailed stories, don’t hesitate to ask. Here we go …

1. The first difference and foremost difference I was aware of upon arriving on Calle de Foglietti in Alicante with my host family was the re-recognition of pronunciation, more specifically between the letter “z” and “s.” Authentic spaniards virtually have no ability to pronounce the letter “z” with a definite buzz, like the sound a bee makes. Therefore, my host mom and sister seemed like they were on a Saturday Night Live skit for the first month, and they covered up little chuckles after telling “Sak” that dinner was ready. Fortunately, many people in Spain are bilingual and can get a normal sounding “Zak” out, just not my family yet … I’m trying.

2. Secondly, for everyone who absolutely loves to nap, Spain is the place to be. Siestas are integrated into daily life to the point where many city stores close and then again reopen around 5 p.m. Wondering why no one is out and about in a metropolitan area in the middle of the day? Oh yeah, siesta. My host mom and sister always come home in the middle of the day to eat and then relax/sleep for a little while. I have never been a big napper, but hopefully this grows on me (see point #4).

3. Lunch and dinner are eaten extremely late in Spain. The typical lunch time is right around 2-3 p.m. and dinner floats around 9 p.m. This was one of the hardest things to get used to abroad because I am used to eating lunch at noon or 1 p.m. and dinner around 6 p.m. I am not sure exactly why they eat so late — it just is what it is!

4. Next, if you thought staying out real late on the weekends was around 4 in the morning … guess again. In Spain, nightlife is one of the highlights of things to do. Bars and restaurants are open earlier on in the night but discotecas or clubs do not even open until 3 a.m. So right when you are thinking about calling it quits for the night in the states, places are just opening in Spain. It is typical for people to get home around 7 a.m. more or less. My host sister’s boyfriend was saying how when he was younger, he hardly slept every weekend and was just out hanging out with friends. This is a hard thing to adapt to for sure, and probably the main explanation for siestas!

5. Fashionistas. In Spain everyone you see is very well dressed, and there is a pretty good fashion statement. People like to dress in neutral colors and look good before they go for a stroll around town. Also, people usually only wear tennis shoes when they are going for a run, to workout or do something outside.

6. In España, conservation is a very important topic, which has drawn interest to me since I am enthusiastic about environmental topics. The main reason for this is because electricity and water are very expensive resources and utilities. I reckon water is highly priced because southern Spain is a very dry region, and desalination from the sea is to my understanding has a rather steep price. Moral of the story is to keep lights off when you’re not using them and take quick showers (like 5 minutes max!). Also, many Spaniards do not have dryers because it racks up the bill, and it’s more common to air dry everything outside or in the bathroom. I am lucky that my host mom has one, but we don’t use it much. If you are someone who likes the feeling of ‘shrinking’ back into your jeans, I advise you to buy them a tad small in the first place here.

7. Similar to conservation is the idea of public transportation and walkable cities. This is somewhat new to me since I haven’t lived in the heart of a city before, but Alicante has everything in close proximity. You can find a Farmacía, market, café, restaurant, bank and cell phone store on pretty much every block. Many people ride buses and the train to school and work as well. The price of gas is rather high, and people in Spain drive recklessly so I wouldn’t want a car here anyways!

8. Trying to quit smoking? Don’t come to Spain or Europe for that matter. Almost everyone smokes here, so it would be that much harder to burn out that habit! Also, the drinking age is 18, but people don’t abuse it as much as I feel college students in the states do. It is rather common to just have one beer with lunch or dinner in Spain or some Sangria.

9. Olive oil is a huge industry, so it’s heavily used. Spain provides about 25% of the world’s olive oil and 50% of Europe’s. In my cooking class, Antonio (the chef instructor) comes around to our respective stations and I usually predict his words …”más aciete, más aciete” or add more olive oil! One common brunch snack or lunch entrée is toasted bread with olive oil and shaved tomato on the top.

10. Further in the food category is related to what all of us college kids survive on, coffee. The size of coffee is completely opposite of your average Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, but rather very small cups and almost shot size. This is because there is a lot of espresso and the coffee is much stronger here. Another thing that doesn’t exist is ice coffee and refrigerated milk at the supermarket. Mercadona or the market stores have cartons of milk just sitting at luke-warm temperature on the shelves! I have yet to see chocolate milk too (besides Nesquick).

11. JamónJamón. Jamón. More jamón. Let me just say that right now in my kitchen my host mom has the whole thigh of a pig, hoof included, just sitting under towels ready for some jamón to be shaved off and eaten. Ham is very popular especially on bocadillos (sandwiches) in Spain, but also on chips. Of course there are jamón flavored Ruffles!

12. Tapas are also a big difference, and most comparable to appetizers in the states. When at a restaurant or bar you can order a beer/drink and pay a little extra for a small plate of food, but if you’re lucky it will be gratis or free. Some popular tapas are potatoes with meat, ham and mantiditos (little sandwiches), and the best I have had to date were in Granada! Going from bar to bar can definitely be a substitute for dinner on some nights.

13. The concept of tipping when eating out is much different. In the states waiters, make a very low wage and bank on getting awesome tips, making service and the quality of it very important. In Spain, waiters make a higher-based salary, which makes for not the greatest service, and for this, a very little to no tip is usually left at the end of the meal. My one friend left about a 20% tip out to eat once and the waitress came running out to tell her she left money on the table!

14. Sundays in both the states and Spain are a day to relax, go to church, be with family and maybe go out to eat. The only difference in Spain is that literally nothing is open in the whole city besides some restaurants. Unless it is a really nice day, Alicante on Sundays feels like a ghost town!

15. Next, whereas it is common to invite company over to your house for some movies, a poker night or to just hangout in the states, people in Spain do not socialize in the house. The only people who really visit my apartment are my host sister’s boyfriend, and socializing normally takes place at local cafés, plazas or out on the town.

16. Lastly, since fast food is popular in the states, I thought I would mention that Alicante has McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Subway! I can’t tell you how they taste differently because I am making a pact with myself to eat no fast food while I’m here. However, one thing I could say is that the bigger chains have more elaborate design to them, have very large eating spaces and seem to be a hangout spot for younger kids!

Phew, you made it through the Sweet 16. Now is your chance to leave comments about what place you think would be better to live!

Hasta luegoo,
Sak (man am I really embracing this name, which could be a bad thing…)

5 Keys to Learning a Language Abroad

5 Keys to Learning a Language Abroad

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It has been two months into my study abroad program and I have a confession, I am not bilingual. One misconception about achieving this is that “you will just pick up the language right away,” or that one day a switch will turn and you will know everything Spanish. The truth is that you need to work very hard to achieve this milestone, and with time you may be able to accomplish this goal. Hopefully with two more months to go, I will be able to say that I am at least almost bilingual. Here is a basis that every study abroad student should follow, and perhaps read before they go to a new country and learn a new language.
  1. Force yourself to hangout with locals or intercambios. I came across a Robert Louis Stevenson in which he says, “there are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” The matter of fact is you would be surprised how open people are to help you. You are in the same world and on the same planet, just in a place where people prefer to speak a different language. After making some friends, maybe you could teach them a bit of English too.
  2. Make a pact to speak Spanish amongst Americans. For me, it is a challenge to speak Spanish amongst other USAC students because it is way to easy to resort back to English. This won’t work for everyone, but if you find another friend who is very dedicated to learning the language and totally emerging themselves in a new culture, never speak a lick of English to them. Make it be your own little manifesto.
  3. Although it may feel like you are on vacation, study and do your homework. It is important to remember that you are still in school. You start achieving a higher level when you practice a lot in bookwork, then apply what you learned to the outside world. You really have to want to learn, and constantly be motivated by the possibility of being bilingual. This is hard, patience is a virtue.
  4. Converse with your host family or roommates. If you live with a host family don’t sit in your room all day. Hangout with your new family and converse, the best learning is having people help correct you on the spot. If you live in an apartment, try to live with Spanish kids, or go out in the town and to the market to practice buying things, bargaining, etc.
  5. Above all, positive attitude!

I hope this helps anyone who will be studying abroad, is thinking about studying abroad, or people who need to kick it in high gear before the semester ends. I may go find a new intercambio as we speak, this kind of opened up my own eyes a bit! Be motivated by the possibility of being bilingual, patience is a virtue…

Hola. España.

Hola. España.

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Excited, nervous, anxious, but also born ready. There were many, many mixed feelings as the days were winding down until January 10, the date I departed from Chicago to Madrid, with a pit stop in London. As I was packing, and doing a lot of unpacking, it was hard for me to completely grasp that I would be living along the Mediterranean coast for the next six months. I definitely was going to miss my family but also was looking forward to shaping new friendships and a family abroad, amongst my home-stay and other USAC students. With that being said, there is no doubt that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and I was looking forward virtually keeping up with people at home. That presents one of the biggest challenges while trying to soak up this awesome experience with you…sharing it! But no worries, I’ll do my best to get to the point, be engaging and fun and hopefully you can try to vicariously live through my time in Alicante.

After meeting up with some other USAC students on the group flight, we finally arrived to Hotel Regina in Madrid where a five-day excursion was upon us. There were several places we visited first in the capital of Spain, all of which were very impressive. We visited the Prado Museum, which features the works of El Greco, Diego Velazquez and Goya, and the Reina Sofia Museum to view Picasso’s Guernica, a piece made after bombings during the Spanish Civil War. We also walked through the Plaza Mayor and to the Royal Palace of Madrid, where every room was jaw dropping. Another fun part in Madrid that was not part of the guided tours was the tapas restaurants and discotecas. It was very fun to get an early taste of what Spanish nightlife is all about!

Another place we visited was the city of Segovia, a place known for being home to the famous Roman aqueduct and the wonderful Alcazar of Segovia. Walking through the city was incredible and there were many buildings designed with brilliant architecture. My view from lunch was breathtaking as well, overlooking the whole city with the Guadarrama Mountains in the background. The last city in Spain we visited during our stay near Madrid was Toledo. Here, we toured a synagogue that still has working church services, which features amazing fresocs on all ceilings and more gold in one place that you will ever see! I was also able to get a shout out and quick feel good from the states on this tour. Since Toledo, Spain is sister cities with Toledo, Ohio, we were pointed to Calle de Toledo de Ohio, which easily made me smile. All in all, the tours in Madrid were tremendous and you can see some more photos at the links below! Hasta pronto. -Z(S)ak o Gustavo

Video Scholarship Contest – Vote for Me!

Video Scholarship Contest – Vote for Me!

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I recently applied for the Grand Trunk Study Abroad Scholarship for my spring semester in Alicante, Spain and need your help! Students were asked to submit a video and explain how he or she has a unique and inspired passion for travel, a desire to experience new places with an open mind, to see the delicate interconnections between humankind and nature and have a deep understanding of intercultural relations.

Like Grand Trunk, I share an incredible passion for the outdoors and am adamant about protecting our wild and natural places here on this earth. This reason, along with many other similarities between my lifestyle and values, is why I feel I can add value to the brand as a Grand Trunk Ambassador. Ultimately, I love encountering new experiences, and I define these experiences as travels that stay with you for the rest of your life. I believe travel can add value to our lives like nothing else. Travel teaches compassion, humility and a desire to realize the interconnectedness of our experiences here on this planet. For me, what I enjoy most, is sharing these connections through the images produced from my journeys and documenting their stories on my blog.

Vote at http://studyabroad.grandtrunkgoods.com/project/zak-suhar-the-ultimate-traveler/

There will be a public voting period from December 1 – December 31 to narrow down entries to only six. Then, from January 1 – January 3, Grand Trunk employees and sponsors will determine a total of three winners. There are scholarship rewards for three students along with an awesome prize pack! I really hope you can help me in the voting period by posting my video to Facebook, tweeting and emailing friends who would be willing to support me. Each person can vote up to five times a day throughout the whole month of December, and I hope you can remember to vote as much as possible! You can watch my video at the link above, then select “vote for this video” and login through Facebook to submit your votes.

Thank you for all your support, and I cannot wait to share incredible experiences with you!

“Travel often, getting lost will help you find yourself.”

Study Abroad, Travel Often – Getting Lost Will Help You Find Yourself

Study Abroad, Travel Often – Getting Lost Will Help You Find Yourself

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A study abroad experience is truly an adventure, one where you are exposed to an unknown area but where you can ultimately find yourself. The decision of going abroad is a challenge, but being immersed in a totally different culture is something I could not pass up. Mark Twain said it best. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I hope to not only discover and learn many new things about a foreign place, but also to discover new things about myself and what my true purpose really is. This, along with many other reasons, are why I want to study abroad in Alicante, Spain.

Taking the opportunity to study overseas will definitely help me broaden my horizons. I anticipate meeting many new people and creating relationships that will last for a long time. I also want to explore a language and culture that I have been studying ever since middle school. You can only learn so much by practicing speaking and reading about cultural activities. Being able to put all these things into an actual experience will be second to none. Going abroad will also challenge me to travel on a budget and be able to effectively live on my own. I hope to become even more independent as my spring semester progresses in Spain.

Alicante is a Mediterranean port city in the southeastern part of Spain, which has a sunny climate, beautiful beaches, tall mountains and a rich culture and nightlife. I plan on swimming, surfing, sailing and enjoying the four-mile-long beach of San Juan, which is considered one of the finest in all of Spain. One thing I cannot wait to experience are the many festivals that will be going on in Spain such as Carnaval in Barcelona, Fallas de San Jose in Valencia, La Feria de Abril in Sevilla and Cruces de Mayo in Grenada. This is the one thing I look forward to the most … experiencing the richness and taste of real Spanish culture.

Overall, I have been waiting for a study abroad experience for some time, and I cannot wait to fly into Spain. There are many things I will learn from the experience, and hope to grow personally. I also look forward to taking interesting courses that can apply right to my major. I do not want to be disappointed in the things that I have not done, so it is time to explore. My brother recently shared with me an article with the 50 most inspiring travel quotes of all time. Here are some of my favorite quotes, and I can’t believe that in about only one month I will be in the air flying to Spain!

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” -Lao Tzu

‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” -St. Augustine

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“Less is more: the art of voluntary poverty – an anthology of ancient and modern voices in praise of simplicity. This adventure is truly an exercise in simplifying modern life.”

“I don’t worry so much about the destination, I prefer to enjoy the journey and see what we discover together along the way.”

“Travel is the only investment with guaranteed returns. Count on it.”

“He went into the wilderness not primarily to ponder nature or the world at large but, rather, to explore the inner country of his own soul.”

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” -Mark Jenkins

The Holstee Manifesto

The Holstee Manifesto

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About a year or two ago, I came across a company called Holstee, a curated goods store that originally had only one good to sell – The Holstee Tee. It’s made of 100% recycled material. The shirt featured a unique holster positioned pocket … rethinking the classic t-shirt with focuses on fit, style, sustainability and functionality.

Over the course of the first year of business, the team designed and produced half a dozen new products including the recycled wallet, which is made of newspapers and plastic bags collected off the streets of India; The People Pendant, made of recycled acrylic scraps from a Chicago-area sign maker; and their Upcycled line of t-shirts, which highlight the lasting value of apparel. The reason I am so intrigued by this business model is because they are trying to drive social change, while making a lasting impact, but they are making some profits at the same time.

As the owner’s business starting to grow, they decided to write a manifesto of how their business was going, which became viral across the internet. The other day my brother shared with me a discount to their online store. I ordered a poster of the manifesto, which I will put on my wall so that I can look at it every day. Some of my favorite parts are:

  • If you don’t like something, change it.
  • Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
  • Some opportunities only come once, seize them.

Lastly, my favorite part which inspired the quote I put for the Mount homepage … Live your dream, and wear your passion. Basically, it is important to do something you enjoy, love to do everyday and will make you happy. A lot of the quotes relate to my Spain study abroad experience coming up in less than two months as well. Crazy! I hope this post inspired you to make a change, do something different and out of the ordinary or just help you ponder life.