Here I am! Sitting in Mascarpones which has been the social hub for my friend group for the past few weeks to the point where all the camareras (waitresses) know my name and order! Un café con leche y tostada de jamón. Mascarpones is an ice cream parlor/cafe/bar/bakery… so basically everything you could ever want from a hang out place. It’s been 3 weeks since I arrived in Seville but it feels like years! These have been some of the most busy, memorable and enjoyable weeks of my life and my exchange has only just begun!

After too many hours spent out in the town and not enough in bed we made our way to the bus for our first day trip to Cordoba. ICS arranged a tour of the Mezquita Catedral which is an amazingly epic building with incredibly astonishing decorations built with extraordinarily breathtaking Mudejar architecture – I apologize for the excess in adjectives but I assure you it is not an overstatement. The city of Cordoba (similar to many places in España) has transferred ownership from Christian to Muslim so many times that if you were to dig up some of the cobblestone roads, you would see layers and layers of architecture placed by the previous occupants that were simply built on top of by the current generations. The Mezquita Catedral, however, is a beautiful example of the combinations of christian, muslim and even ancient roman architecture working together as the building transitioned from being a cathedral to a mosque and back to a cathedral. Beautiful Moorish striped pillars built from recycled buildings expand around a central cathedral. Despite the extensive list of adjectives that can apply to the building, I think unique is the truest. The rest of the city visit was equally enjoyable and beautiful. Tight winding streets, a large variety of cultures, beautiful views, great history and of course delicious food! 10/10, would recommend to a friend.

We had our first weekend off with no organized plans in what feels like decades so of course, we organized plans: Our first international trip to Belgium! Why Belgium? you may ask – waffles and chocolate. The first night we spent in the city Brussels which is the capital of the EU and NATO. We took a walking tour where we learned about the historical importance of Brussels due to its ideal location for trade. The city is filled with a combination of old buildings mixed with modern buildings creating a very progressive and preserved city. Our guide described to us how Brussels was historically a city created simply because of its trade route filled with multicultural travelers with the intentions of simply passing through. The result of this is an incredibly diverse and accepting city. Many incredible people passed through Brussels where often times created some of their greatest works in Brussels, to name a few: Karl Marx (who wrote the communist manifesto in what is now a beer museum), Vincent Van Gogh, and Victor Hugo (author of Les Miserables). The city is truly amazing and I think it would be an ideal expat city. I told my brother, John Henry, that he should move to Brussels because of his desire to travel, misfit personality, progressiveness and high level of education.

You can’t go to Belgium if you don’t go to Bruges – or so we were told by nearly everyone we mentioned our travel plans to; so we went to Bruges! Bruges is an amazing city that they advertise as being the Venice of Northern Europe. Nearly every building is made out of little red bricks giving the entire city a beautiful red tint. The city has a very spooky feel to it as well. Much of the architecture is built with a medieval style complete with images of monsters, crosses and spikes I felt as if a werewolf or vampire could have been peering down at me from the spiked rooftops. The city was very daunting in a beautiful and unique way! I’ve never seen a place quite like it!

We have some time this week to get caught up on our classwork before our next endeavors to Gibraltar this weekend! I am feeling significantly more settled in my new home. When we go on day trips or make travel plans to places like Cordoba or Belgium, I feel as if when I return to Sevilla, I am returning home, which is a great feeling. 🙂

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