Semana Santa: Spain’s holy week that extends beyond just the one day off that we’re accustomed to for Easter. Semana Santa was also our spring break: ten days that you needed to leave your housing and go explore the world! I wanted to double back and write a longer entry about my Semana Santa travels because it’s important and very relevant for anyone who is interested in setting abroad, especially in Europe where travel is glamorized as cheap and convenient.
As I've mentioned before, I have a bit of a problem with procrastination, and that definitely showed up for me while planning Semana Santa. Due to the stress of travel planning and the unfortunate coincidence of impending exams, my friends and I got so caught up with housing that we ended up all having to compromise a little more than we wanted. But it was worth it!
Major advice for your spring break: plan for the worst, but expect the best. My friend misread her ticket and showed up five minutes late for the train ticket to the airport...she had to buy an entirely new itinerary to meet me and my other friend in Ireland!
Travel stress aside, Ireland was definitely something different and I had a good time, but while I was there, I realized that, due to the combination of my Mediterranean roots as well as the region I grew up in the United States (the south), I am more strongly drawn to southern European countries where people are always out and about and the sun is always shining. Even though I go to school in the northeast, I'm still not quite used to the lack of sun that I was presented with in Ireland. Ireland was cool though because, for the first time in a long time, we were able to be in a country immersed in English. And the break felt really nice. Plus, since we had a more relaxed itinerary, we were able to rest up after a stressful finals week, as well as tour the Botanical Gardens, Downtown Dublin, and the Guinness Factory!
The other place my friends and I went for Semana Santa was the Netherlands, and that was really cool because I don't know if I would've ever gone there in another context. The Netherlands is a quirky, beautiful country, rich with a collection of canals, bridges, delicate gingerbread-style houses with strong Dutch architecture, and a puzzling mosaic of bicycles, trams, buses and foot traffic that would make any tourist’s head spin.
Spring break was a nice way to explore and travel, but it definitely was also a source of stress. One thing that wasn’t really mentioned in orientation is how detailed you need to be for Semana Santa planning! You have to budget properly to sustain yourself for ten days, and that includes housing, transportation, food and entertainment. Something that I saw across the board was that people tended to split off with friends with similar goals for budgeting or travel speed/destinations. It was very much so about being deliberate and planning, which can definitely be overwhelming when you get to a new country (temporary home base) and then have to plan travel from there. When I came back to Salamanca, it made me appreciate the city I chose even more because sometimes it takes stepping back to realize there’s really no place like home-even a temporary one that I grew to love. That being said, I definitely gained valuable experience and grew up some. It’s a great opportunity to become independent and make the best out of a wonderful opportunity!
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<p>Hi! I’m a junior attending Colgate University. I’m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish – I practice it whenever I can! As a multicultural student (half black and half Italian), I consider myself a city girl and am drawn to vibrant, diverse areas. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, going to the beach, and watching or playing sports. I can’t wait to head to Salamanca, sharpen up my Spanish and share my adventures!</p>