Hope This Helps!

I’ve been in Spain for 21 days and to be honest, I got super comfortable the first week. The people here are so amazing and they definitely know how to fiesta! I’m still getting used to it because leaving your house at 1:20 a.m. is apparently way too early.

Another hard adjustment was dinner time. You know how you normally eat around 5pm? That doesn’t exist here. That’s siesta (nap)time and dinner time is around 9-10pm. It sounds crazy but, now I’ve become so accustomed to it and I’d probably cry if I don’t get my siesta time!

An adjustment that I’ve struggled so hard with since I have arrived in Spain is the fact that tipping is not a thing here. Since I am the type of person who tips a LOT and even over-tips (Does that even exist?) all the time, it has not been easy. I was speaking with my friend from Spain and she said that the maximum that people give is around 10-20¢. Who does that? If you were in New York, people would definitely spit in your food the next time you went. Right? I am constantly tempted to leave at least 1 euro and it is just unheard of. I tried to do this at a bar while it was really busy and the bartender gave me the most confused look EVER. So yeah, don’t tip while you’re in Spain.

Below I am going to put my personal tips on cultural norms in Spain and adjusting to studying abroad:

  1. Don’t tip.
  2. Do not skip siesta.
  3. Do not walk in the biking lane, they will hit you.
  4. It’s okay to talk to a stranger, you might make a friend.
  5. Don’t get freaked out if you see people openly partying in the streets.
  6. It’s okay, you can wear the same outfit… no one cares.
  7. Walk slow, you’re not in the concrete jungle anymore.
  8. I hope you have someone like Alyssa as your partner in crime.
  9. Give your body some time to adjust to the food, I am still trying to.
  10. All you have to say is “I’m from New York.”
  11. Don’t book three trips in one week. You’ll want to die. I almost did.
  12. Ask questions, remember, just like your first-grade teacher told you, “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”
  13. Speak with other internationals, they’re having similar experiences too!
  15. Don’t leave your friends and family at home completely out of the loop, they miss you.
  16. When it comes to ordering food at a restaurant, I am bilingual and I don’t understand half of the food options.
  17. Get Sprint, the international service is beyond amazing. Seriously, I had to ask three times to make sure that there will be no international fees.
  18. Well, this is all I have so far and considering it’s only my third week abroad, I’m sure things will change. However, I will keep you guys updated.

P.S. shout out to Alyssa for helping make this list!

 Ta Luego 




Finding a Second Home

Forget what you’ve heard before: Prague is most definitely the most magical place on Earth. We just passed the one-month point of being in this city and besides the lack of decent peanut butter and sushi; I could not be more content. I’ve been doing a lot of exploring with my new friends, and there is so much to see and so much to do here: it is impossible to get bored of the same old thing or have nothing to do.

And after doing some traveling I’ve come to the conclusion that, in my completely unbiased opinion, that there is no better place in the world. How many other places on Earth can you get a delicious sit down dinner for the equivalent of five (5!) American dollars? In the states I can get on a bus for four hours and still be in the same state, but in the Czech Republic I can fall asleep on a bus for four hours and wake up in Vienna. There are a million art galleries I’ve been checking out so I can pretend I’m cultured, and if I’m really feeling it, I can pay four (4!) American dollars to see the magnificent philharmonic. There are farmers markets with wonderful food I’ve never seen before– apple chips, banana peanut butter balls, mulled wine. And every time I wander, I stumble upon a vast array of talented street performers. Everyday when I’m walking across the bridge to school I can’t help but smile and feel so blessed to be here, I can’t help but to think how happy I am I chose to study here. And as I sit stuck on this bus at the border between Austria and the Czech Republic because one guy doesn’t have his passport, I can’t help but to feel excited to return to the place I can now call home.IMG_1537



Overcoming (or at least trying to) a language barrier

My dad always tells me, “If you’re lost or don’t know what you’re doing, act like you know what you’re doing until you figure it out.”

But even pretending to have a clue is impossible in a foreign country that speaks a language that makes just as much sense to me as physics does (aka, no sense at all).

Czech language is, quite simply, unlike any language I’ve ever heard before. My first few days here, I was like a toddler. I would blindly follow people around, signs made no sense to me, where the tram stopped meant nothing to me, and ordering food became a game of pointing and charades.

And since the program directors know how difficult Slavic languages are, we are required to take a two-week intensive Czech class. Everyday, for five hours, I sit in class with 15 other Americans trying to make sense of Czech to English translations and correctly pronounce Czech words that include no vowels. With a beautiful view of the city from our classroom, we struggle with each other to formulate conversations about what our names are and where we are from. Our professor is just as interested in our culture as we are in hers, as we explain to her why we always greet people with, “how are you?” and she explains to us that Czech people are not accustomed to having college students pet their dogs. Our professors want us to get adjusted to speaking the new language, taking us out to eat and forcing us to order in Czech, or taking us into the metro and having us ask strangers for the time in Czech.

Overall, the class is helping and we are trying. After mimicking our professor in class, studying on the tram and having five year olds laugh at us for reciting the numbers in the Czech language out loud on the tram, I am finally able to make some sense of this language. I can greet cashiers and waiters now, I have a clear sense of what stops will get me home and where I need to go, and I can even (kind of) order food in Czech.

Slowly but surely, I will reach the ultimate goal of not looking like a total American.        view from school

The Time for Adventure Has Come

Lennon wall

Today is my sixth day in the Czech Republic, and it is so weird to not be going home. We are not just here for a short visit– we are here to stay. We are not just cramming all of Prague into a weekend; we are actually learning how to adjust to an entirely new lifestyle.


From the language to the extremely cheap yet delicious beer, everything about this place is exciting, new, and different from what my friends and I have all grown up with. As we all venture out on our tourist sight seeing adventures, all the pictures we saw of Prague are suddenly right in front of us, of all the well preserved buildings, beautiful statues, and delicious goulash. And after climbing up one of the many giant hills that are all over this city, all there is to see are the colorful rooftops and cathedrals for miles and we remember why we chose to come here.


But it is not all butterflies and rainbows; we are definitely not in New York anymore and that is going to take some getting used to. Upon first arriving here after traveling for 13 hours, the water conveniently stopped working. And as more and more students checked in, the groans grew just as prominent as the smell of body odor. Good thing was, everyone smelt just as bad as everyone else. And after about an hour of getting to know my new roommates, all the fuses in our room blew. No water, no electricity. But no big deal, we were in a new place for the first time and so much exploring to be done.


So we went to an amazing restaurant with authentic Czech cuisine, food I’ve never tasted before, and enjoyed it immensely. We walked around through old cobblestone streets in what felt like a story world, and promptly got entirely lost and spent an hour trying to get back.


And we still get lost, and probably will until the day we leave here. But even still, it is always an adventure, I never feel like I am wasting any time with anything I am doing here. Every time I find my way home and every time I am able to communicate with Czech people (basically using charades) I feel so accomplished, like I conquered the world almost. And I know, slowly but surely, I am learning all there is to learn in this city, and using it to grow in a way I would never have been able to grow back at home.