A through Z Index  | Search  | Campus Directory  | Calendars Log In
About Holy Cross Admissions Academics Student Life Administration Athletics

July 2, 2008

I’m home. A word of comfort to anyone starting to freak out about spending the next ten months abroad: this day will arrive.

I got back last Wednesday night.  After over twenty-four hours of travel, it was a great surprise to see a big group of friends and family waiting for me in the T. F. Green airport with a welcome home sign.  This spectacle was much more pleasant than the one I caused back in August, sobbing by the security checkpoint.  I’m proud to announce that my year has come full circle; tears were shed as I left Coruña as well.

The last few days there were a whirlwind.  After officially passing all of our classes (hooray!) Maggie and I went to Santiago to see Juanes in concert.  It was excellent.  Then on Monday we celebrated the famous San Juan festival.  Just as the coruñeses had boasted, the already majestic city became absolutely enchanting as the beaches lit up with bonfires and everyone stayed out all night long, chowing down on fresh sardines in the streets.  The night wasn’t without its casualties; a ligament in my host mom’s leg is torn (the result of a particularly high jump), my shoes are lost and Maggie’s camera battery is floating somewhere on the far side of the Atlantic ocean.  Even so, San Juan was amazing and was a great way to spend my last night in Coruña.

Saying goodbye to my host family was the hardest part of leaving Coruña.  This year was wonderful in so many ways, but the host family experience stands out as the best part of it.  I can’t think of a better way to get fully immersed in the Spanish culture and really learn the language than to live with a family.  Especially living with two adolescents, someone was always talking in the house, and in order to feel like a true part of the family I had to step it up and talk back.  By the end of the year, an outsider looking in at our chaotic kitchen table would have thought that I was a real family member.  They’d wonder why I was so much larger than everyone else, and why my accent was so strange, but they’d see that I belonged there.

And really, I think that’s what study abroad is all about – learning to belong somewhere you don’t.  This year was a year away from anything and everything I was used to and I’ve become a different person because of it.  I drink coffee now, for example, and enjoy cod.  But there have been deeper changes, too, changes I can’t recognize yet but know are there.  This experience fits in perfectly with the liberal arts education and I am so glad that I took advantage of it.

It’s been a pleasure keeping this blog.  Thanks for reading it!  If you’re about to go abroad, you’re about to have the experience of a lifetime.  Enjoy!  And if you’re considering going abroad, do.  I read somewhere last summer that any reason to go is a good one and after this year, I can say that I agree.  Don’t doubt yourself too much, just do it.  You won’t regret it.


062008_jul_1_004 062008_jul_1_006 062008_jul_1_011 062008_jul_1_015

June 18, 2007

If you’ve been reading Kaitlin’s French study abroad blog, or if you’re an HC student planning, or thinking about going abroad, you already know all about the ICIP.  The Independent Cultural Immersion Project, according to the Study Abroad manual, is designed to “encourage students to develop a personal interest or passion and, in doing so, also to come to a more profound understanding of their host locality.”  The possibilities are really endless as far as the ICIP goes.  Unfortunately, Coruña being a new program, the bus/classes/Internet problems we had at the beginning of the year caused us all to place the ICIP on the back burner.  Which is why it’s now June 18 and I’m still working on it.

Although I put it off significantly (something I’m afraid neither Holy Cross nor Félix will tolerate next year), I am enjoying it.  I just wish I’d started it sooner, to have more to work with.  I’m conducting interviews with people – host parents, siblings, professors and students – about gallego, the Galician language.  Half of the classes in the middle and high schools are taught in gallego, half in Spanish, and that can be pretty controversial.  Some people think that gallego shouldn’t be forced on students, since many of them (especially here in the city) don’t speak it at home.  Others believe, for the same reason, that if the students aren’t exposed to it in the schools, they’ll never use it and the language will die.  I’m still not entirely sure what my opinion is, but I’ll be sure to have it clear by the time I turn my ICIP in on Friday!  Friday is also the day of the Juanes concert in Santiago de Compostela, which Maggie and I just bought tickets for.

My last academic responsibility, an end-of-year concert…yet it gets even better!  Monday brings the reason I booked my plane ticket home so late: el día de San Juan.  The Spanish people rave about this holiday all year long.  In fact, just as I typed that, my host mom’s brother rang the doorbell and told me how impressive it is, no joke.  The beaches fill with hogueras (bonfires) and you jump over them for good luck – three times, I believe.  There’s a whole slew of superstitions involving egg whites, roses, what have you.  I’ll need all the good luck I can get for my 26.5 hour journey back home the next day, so I’ll make sure to try it all.  Stay tuned for pictures, hopefully not of any singed toes!

June 11, 2008

I write to you within the “last two weeks of my year abroad,” and it is weird.  Really weird.  Last August, June 2009 seemed so far away that it felt absurd to even think about it.  Who knew if I’d even make it?  Now two of the HC girls are leaving this weekend, lunchtime conversation is centered around the girl who is going to replace me in September and I have dentist and doctor appointments scheduled back in the States.  It’s hard to believe that I’ll be home two weeks from today.  Just one more final and then I can start enjoying the last few days!  Not that I haven’t been enjoying studying, of course.

Yesterday, at 4:00, the fate of my undergraduate transcript was sealed as I sat down to take my mythology final.  Grades don’t get figured into our GPA during the year abroad, but they do show up on our transcripts, and if you fail a class you get a nice big F slapped on there.  I think I did much better than I did on the midterm, and I think that I passed, but there’s no telling until the professor posts the grades.  In any event, I am now stuffed to the brim with information about the twelve Olympic gods!  This information will be useless to me back home because I only know the names in Spanish, but it feels good nonetheless.

Now just one more final Friday morning and then I can call myself a Holy Cross senior and, more importantly, a La Coruña beach-goer, eleven days in a row.

June 3, 2008

We had a Holy Cross excursion yesterday to Ribeira Sacra, about two and a half hours away, to go hiking.  The area is beautiful and our 11.5-km hike was a great way to see it.  We got off course a few kilometers in and I managed to step on what I’m convinced was some sort of trap – one minute I was upright, enjoying the scenery, and the next I was flat on my back in a huge hole, surrounded by thorny branches.  I have some ugly scratches on my stomach and legs, but I’ve found comfort in the fact that I now have physical Galician souvenirs!  Here are some pictures of Ribeira Sacra, much prettier than my wounds.

062008_jun_03_104 062008_jun_03_114 062008_jun_03_116 062008_jun_03_118

May 24, 2008

Study Abroad wasn’t kidding.  Final exam time really is stressful in Spain.

All of my friends back in the US are either starting summer jobs or summer vacations, relieved to be done with another school year.  I, in turn, have been trudging through the rain and spending far too much time in the filología library for a girl who’s only got thirty-one days left in Spain.  I do get to stay here a week and a half after my last final, so I’m trying not to be too down in the dumps about all this work for now. 
The test I’m most worried about is – big surprise – Greek mythology.  Since I failed the midterm (hey, Mom and Dad), the final is one hundred percent of my grade.  One hundred percent!  I don’t know which ancient Spanish educator ever decided that that would be a good idea, but the country’s faithful universities have been paying homage to him ever since.  I’d like to take a moment to point out that most of the native Spanish students failed the test, too.  I know that’s not an excuse, I’m just saying.

The test is on June tenth, then I have a Golden Age literature exam on the thirteenth.  That’s a Friday, but don’t worry, it’s Tuesday the thirteenth that’s unlucky in Spain.  I believe it, too – the thirteenth of May was a Tuesday and that morning, my bus pulled away from the stop before the disembarking elderly man had gotten his feet on the ground!  The doors having shut on him, he swung from the railing for a few seconds before the bus driver realized what was happening.  Happy ending, though: he walked away unscarred.  Physically, anyway.

All of the Holy Cross study abroad programs are winding down now, and some groups are back in the US already.  We in Coruña still have about a month  left, so it’s hard not to think about leaving.  Good thing I  have two weeks of classes, two papers and three exams to distract me!

Just to close, congratulations to the HC class of 2008 and happy birthday to my mom!

May 12, 2008

In light of a recent Study Abroad-funded trip, in which eight Holy Cross girls and one cultural advisor set out to see Sevilla, Córdoba and Granada all in one long weekend, I thought it fit to present a comprehensive list of…

The Five Things I Liked Most About Andalucía.

1. How traditionally Spanish everything was.  From all those high school Spanish classes with the books with names like “¡Bienvenidos!” I had formed a pretty strong picture of Spain in my mind, only to have it shattered when I found myself facing the miles (I mean kilometers) of green coastline here in Galicia.  Our trip down south restored a little bit of my tenth-grade naïveté.  The roofs were red, the men wore hats with brims, it was scorching hot, and we even saw flamenco.  Spain is only the size of Texas, which is why its abundance of completely distinct cultures seems so shocking sometimes.  La Coruña is nothing like Granada is nothing like Barcelona.  We only traveled one twelve hour bus ride away, but it was like we’d set off to an entirely different country.

2. The sun.  We’ve got sun in America, and it comes out once every five days in Coruña, but it was something else down there.  I even got a hint of a tan, and that’s saying something.  The south of Spain is known for its slow, relaxed, laid-back culture and I think some of that definitely comes from the sun beaming down on the cities all day.  I don’t want to go there in the summer ever, but for the beginning of May, the weather was a very welcome addition to our vacation.

3. The ice cream.  I know that people say the best ice cream comes from Italy, but I have to say, I’m not so sure about that.  Granted, the only Italian city I’ve been to is Rome, and in the cold, rainy Christmas weather, I only had gelato a couple of times.  But the helado in Andalucía was pretty delicious – or, as they say over here, riquísimo.  As the eight of us sat down on a park bench to consume our fourth or fifth ice cream cones of the weekend, Kait laughed, “You’ve got to love our group dynamic.  No matter what time it is, no matter whether we’ve already eaten it that day, we all want ice cream all the time.”  I attribute this constant yearning to the laid-back Andalucian lifestyle and I am proud to have lived it out for a weekend.  I’d also like to give a special shout out to the shop by the cathedral with two scoops in a waffle cone for just two twenty.

4. Being understood.  I know that my Spanish has come a long way since last August, but still, I get asked to repeat myself a lot when I’m in Coruña.  That just didn’t happen down south!  It was fantastic.  It’s interesting, because the Andalucian people actually have a very distinct accent that’s considered, even by Spaniards, to be hard to understand.  I can’t say that I understood all of them, but I wasn’t asked to repeat myself even once.  Maybe it’s because of all of the tourists they get, or maybe they were just humoring me and really had no idea what I was saying, but whatever the reason, I am digging it.

5. La Alhambra.  Situated in the middle of the mountains in Granada, this ancient Moorish temple and fortress is arguably the most beautiful structure in the world.  You have to buy tickets well in advance to be able to visit, and then they assign you a time period during which you can enter.  My time slot was 6 to 6:30, and the bus was picking us up at 8 sharp to drive through the night back north.  Needless to say, I didn’t see everything, but I was in a better place than Mo and Jen, who literally had to run to get through it in time.  I liked the gardens best.  They were filled with flowers of all colors and elegant arcs and walkways looking out over the mountains.  They say that “if you die without seeing la Alhambra, then you haven’t lived” so I’m really glad that we got the opportunity to go.

A big thank you goes out to the Study Abroad office for sending us on this trip!  All of us had a wonderful time and I’m so glad that I was able to experience yet another of Spain’s unique cultures.

052008may6008 052008may6128 052008may6157 052008may6230 052008may6278 052008may6292 Alhambra

April 30, 2008

We’ve had absolutely gorgeous weather around here lately.  Unfortunately, on Sunday, that came to a screeching halt as temperatures dropped and the rain clouds came out once more.  Not wanting to give in to the return of the mal tiempo, I went for a long walk on the Paseo Marítimo, the five or so kilometers that stretch around Coruña’s peninsula, out to the Tower of Hercules and back around.  Here you h ave a (slightly drizzly) photo tour of the paseo.

Apr30005 Apr30008  Apr30013_2 Apr30018_3 Apr30019 Apr30025 Apr30025_2 Apr30029 Apr30032 Apr30040 Apr30036Apr30035

April 24, 2008

I spent the past weekend in Berlin with Jen and Abby.  We had a really amazing trip.  Last year, Lexie and I bought a Learn-German-In-One-Year calendar, and ever since those first few days of January 2007 I’ve wanted to visit Germany.  I can’t say that I got much out of the calendar (except for a killer marble cake recipe), but the trip was still a success.  We started it off with a free walking tour and just happened to run into two Holy Cross students who are studying abroad in Florence!  Now, Holy Cross has under 2,800 students.  Coincidences like this are pretty rare.  We introduced ourselves and set out to see the city, trudging through the sheets of rain – just like in La Coruña!

Over the next couple of days, we rented bikes and rode all around the city, visited Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp just outside Berlin in Oranienberg, ate traditional German fare and traditional German chocolate, and topped it all off with a trip to the zoo.  All in all, it was an incredible trip.  We saw so many historical things, and to be honest, I don’t remember the details about most of them, but one of my favorites was the Bebelplatz where a giant book burning ceremony was held in 1933.  Now, it’s just a big empty plaza with a tiny window in the ground in the middle.  Through the window you can see rows of bookshelves, all empty.  A plaque right by has a quote by Heinrich Heine which translates to “Where they burn books, they will also burn people.”  Mo and Jackie have been trying to make us jealous with tales of their trip to Austria, during which they somehow managed to stay for free in one of the most famous and luxurious hotels in the world, but we’re staying strong.  Our astro-turf, Easter-egg, cheapest-we-could-find hostel tucked away in West Berlin worked just fine for me.

We arrived in Coruña on Monday at 2 pm – in other words, just two and a half short hours before my mythology midterm.  Luckily, I’d studied before the trip, since RyanAir’s circus-style flights (the passengers applaud and stamp their feet every time a plane lands, without fail) are not entirely conducive to any sort of thinking, academic or otherwise.  I think I did all right, but we’ll see about that when the grades are posted.  Mythology is kind of hard in Spanish, especially with the names.  It took me the first two classes to figure out that this “THAY-oos” character was actually Zeus.

Classes at Holy Cross are done next Tuesday, which is mind-boggling to me, since we’re right in the middle of the semester here.  We’ve already got a lot of things set for the fall semester at HC, though.  A few weeks ago, we picked classes.  I managed to get everything I wanted, so I’ll be taking Modern Spanish Drama, Topics in Medieval Spanish Literature: Heroes, Creative Writing, and New Testament.  I’ll also be working on my honors thesis, which I just turned in the prospectus for.  As long as it gets approved, I’ll be writing an analysis and a translation (from English to Spanish) of a selection of Sylvia Plath’s poetry.  The University of La Coruña actually has a huge English-language section and I’ve been able to find a ton of books about both Plath and translation, as well as primary sources.

We also just had housing selection.  Ever since I first set foot in one of the senior apartments freshman year, I have dreamt of the day when I’d live in one myself.  Happy images of my perfect senior year, baking cookies while I whittled my way through the HC workload in my very own living room, got me through the first stressful weeks of living here in Spain.  As you can imagine, I was pretty upset when I got an email from my roommate Delia last Tuesday, announcing that we had one of the latest appointment times for rising seniors.  The last apartment was filled (by Lexie and Sasha’s room, in fact) at 5:30, two hours before my roommates got to pick our room.  So we’re not living in the apartments, but we did get a quad on Alumni 4 with a city view.  Silver lining: now I don’t have to feel silly about getting a meal plan and eating in Upper Kimball every day.  Plus I’ll be able to walk there in less than a minute.

Now I’m off to analyze some of Gerardo Diego’s poetry for tomorrow, but first I just want to say congratulations to any accepted students for the HC class of 2012.  If you are still deciding, good luck, and I hope you pick Holy Cross!

Apr_23_007 Apr23041 Apr23150 Apr23253 Apr23275 Apr23303

April 4, 2008

This year, I was expecting the beach to be a nice backdrop, a little glimmer of hope that we could maybe take advantage of in between studying for finals in June.  This week I have been pleasantly surprised, as Coruña’s temperatures have surged into the 70s and I have found myself living life summer style.  It feels too good to be true, but we’ve had amazing weather for five days straight now so maybe, just maybe, spring is here to stay.

Although I’m not too up to date on Worcester weather, I am very familiar with two other major topics of conversation on the HC campus: housing and class selection.  On Monday, my three roommates for next year, Delia, Erin and Alicia, registered our group in the STAR system for housing selection.  Now we have to sit around until April 17 with our fingers crossed, hoping that we get the senior apartments.  Ever since the four of us decided to live together back in the fall, I’ve been picturing us in our cozy living room, baking cookies in our spacious kitchen and then perhaps utilizing our own personal bathroom and shower.  I’m going to be seriously disappointed if we don’t get an apartment!  We find out about classes sooner – selection is next Thursday, April 10 for rising seniors.  I’ve got my top choices pretty much figured out, and hopefully, since our class chooses courses first, I won’t have too much trouble getting into them.

All this planning for next fall is making June 25 (that’s right, I’ve booked my flight home to the US of A) seem a lot closer.  It’s weird.  I’m so excited to get back and see my family and friends and normal American things, but at the same time, I can’t even bring myself to think about leaving here.  I don’t know how I’m going to say goodbye to my host family, knowing that there’s a chance I might never see them again.  I’ve been trying not to focus on it for now.  I’ve still got almost three months here; once June itself hits, I’ll start bringing myself back into reality.

I hope you’re all enjoying spring, but I have to say, I doubt your weather is as good as this!

March 28, 2008

Happy Easter!  Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is huge in Spain, especially down south in Sevilla.  While the rest of the Holy Cross students went off traveling through Spain and Europe – Jackie even went to Morocco – I stayed here in La Coruña and celebrated Spanish style.  Okay, really what I did was watch Will & Grace DVDs and barely even start reading Don Quijote, but it was a nice break anyway.  On Thursday, since everyone has the week off for vacation, my host family and I went to nearby Ferrol to watch a Semana Santa procession.  They told me over and over again that I wasn’t seeing a very intense one; in the big processions, apparently, the men carry everything on their shoulders without the help of motorized floats and everyone is barefoot, some even with chains around their ankles.  Having nothing to compare it to, however, I still thought this one was impressive.

As far as I could tell, Easter Day is much less celebrated here; on Saturday, the stores all opened up again and there was a general feeling that the holiday week was over.  On Sunday morning I went to mass with Maggie and Abby and then saw 27 Dresses at the movies with my host family.  My parents called at night, so I still sort of got to participate in Easter Sunday at home – and the next day, too, when a big package full of Easter grass, jelly beans, chocolate and of course Peeps arrived!  The holidays are definitely different spent away from home, but now, with a nice, familiar chocolate stomachache, it doesn’t feel all that bad.

Mar29002w Mar29012w Mar29017w Mar29027w

College of the Holy Cross • 1 College Street, Worcester, MA 01610 • (508) 793-2011 • CopyrightPrivacyContact UsDirections