I Took A Trip To Spain And Learned SO Much More Than I Expected To

I Took A Trip To Spain And Learned SO Much More Than I Expected To

Did you know that Spaniards have concerts in the mountains?

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My trip to Spain seems like it was ages ago, but it also feels like I got back yesterday. I have always wanted to travel abroad, but I was never really emotionally ready to leave the country without my parents for a long period of time. However, during the summer of 2017, I got the chance to travel to Madrid, Córdoba, Toledo, Sevilla, and Granada, Spain with people that became my best friends.

Going to Spain was at first a big decision for me because I've never really been one that likes to be away from home. I decided that it would be a good way for me to overcome some of that anxiety since college was in my near future, but I was terrified. Of course though, in order to overcome anxiety, you have to experience it first and then learn how to get through it. That's the unfortunate part.

The trip was amazing and so life-changing. We spent two weeks traveling through different parts of the country, visiting museums, and going to school, all while unknowingly learning more about ourselves. The teachers helped us fully immerse ourselves into the Spanish culture, which, if you didn't know, is very different from American culture in so many ways.

The beginning of the trip was when my anxiety was the worst because not only did I have to spend nine hours on a plane, but as soon as we got there I realized that there were no more burgers or sandwiches. The only thing on the menu was croquetas and tortillas de patatas, and when you're jet-lagged and anxious, that's not really what you want.

As the trip went on, though, I got a lot more adapted and the people who I didn't know on the trip instantly became my best friends. I don't know how they couldn't have, given the fact that we snuck into each other's rooms every night in the hotel to tell stories and bond over how crazy it was that we were actually in Spain.

The second half of the trip, we split up into pairs and got to stay with host families, which honestly is the part of this trip that changed me the most. Every morning we would wake up and our mom would have our breakfast of bread and chocolate spread ready for us while she smoked a cigarette, and her daughters would dance to music while getting ready for school. We then would go to a school of our own, walking through downtown Granada to meet up with our teachers.

Besides learning how to speak better Spanish by taking classes at a local school, this trip taught me a lot. I learned that Spaniards really don't like when you speak English in the streets. I learned that they know a lot more about America than we think, and they definitely have their opinions on us. I learned that Spanish people go to concerts in the mountains and eat dinner at 10 p.m., and they wouldn't have it any other way. I learned that it's really hard to translate names of medicine to Spanish pharmacists.

I learned that Americans value hygiene a little more than the people in Spain, but that they have much more simple and loving way of life than we do. I learned that there is so much to see in this world and that we deserve to see it. I learned that it's not about where you are, it's about the company you have around you. I learned that the places that mean the most to you will always be the hardest to leave, but that they will be waiting for you when you come back.

Traveling to Spain brought me a lot of happiness and my family members would argue a new outlook on life too. Looking back on this trip it is hard for me to choose what the best lesson was that I learned, but I believe that it is this: the only person holding you back from doing anything in this world is yourself. So go do it.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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4 Breakfast Spots Near The University of Kentucky That Will Actually Get You Out Of Bed In The Morning

These places will satisfy all of your breakfast cravings.

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If you're a breakfast foodie like I am, you know that is an absolute priority to find the most popular breakfast spots despite the city you may be in. You don't want to visit the touristy and basic restaurants that everyone else goes to, but instead, you are determined to uncover the locations that are the best of the best. Most foodies will go to great lengths to discover these places. As a University of Kentucky student and major foodie, I have searched all over Lexington to find my favorite places to visit on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This took my entire first semester and many trips to the ATM, but today, I am now blessed to say that I am a regular at all 4 of these incredible breakfast spots.

1. The Great Bagel

The Great Bagel is one of my all-time favorite restaurants to visit on Sunday mornings. The restaurant offers a variety of bagel sandwiches and freshly squeezed orange juice, and it makes for the perfect early morning start to a day filled with homework or relaxation.

2. Chocolate Holler

Though not a true restaurant, Chocolate Holler is one of the most popular coffee shops near the University of Kentucky. Because it is only a 3-minute drive from campus, Chocolate Holler is always buzzing with UK students who come to socialize or study. The coffee shop is most well known for its chocolaty drinks and the music is great there, too!

3. Stir Krazy

Stir Krazy is a local smoothie bar down the street that serves protein shakes, smoothies, and tea. Though It only consists of these three beverages, the shakes at Stir Krazy are enough to fill you up for breakfast or lunch. Each shake or smoothies range from 200 to 250 calories and serves as the perfect energizer before a workout or a filling recovery drink after a workout.

4. La Madeleine

La Madeleine is a French breakfast and lunch cafe conveniently located on campus (and only a 30-second walk from my dorm). Their breakfast is served all day long and their croissants are to die for. I highly recommend building your own omelet for the most fulfilling experience. Not to mention, their iced caramel macchiatos are a great refresher on the side.

No matter which city, state, or country I am currently in, I make it my mission to eat as a local would. In Lexington, Kentucky, these four breakfast spots are guaranteed provide you with a plethora of different types of food to get you through even the worst cases of morning hunger. Though these places are my current favorites, I am now looking forward to containing the search for more breakfast restaurants, cafes, and juice bars throughout my next four years in this city.

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