SMU-in-Costa Rica, Summer 2014
SMU-in-Madrid, Fall 2015
EMIS, Economics, Spanish majors and Europeans Studies Minor
Graduating Spring 2017
“One of my favorite memories was when I went to Santorini with a couple of friends over Thanksgiving. We basically had the whole island to ourselves since no one ever visits in November, and we just spent the day exploring and four-wheeling all over the island. At night we were looking out over the water and just thinking about how close we had all gotten as friends over the course of one semester and honestly how amazing it was that we somehow ended up on a Greek island, we all felt so lucky!”
“Another favorite memory was when I was leaving the family that I tutored for the last time. I tutored a 4-year old, a 9- year old, an 11-year old, and a 13-year old in English. As I was leaving, they all told me they loved me and they told me how much they were going to miss me. It was really, really cute.”
Sarah’s first study abroad was to Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica Sarah took Advanced Readings in Spanish, Spanish-American Civilization.
- Bulevar: This is where all of us would meet on random weeknight to hang out! It was super close to school and really, really cheap, and the guys liked watching soccer on the TV’s in there.
- Toucan Rescue Ranch: Oh my gosh please go if you’re ever near Heredia, Costa Rica! It’s a sloth sanctuary with lots of rescued baby animals, like parrots, an otter, tons of slots. Basically any animal you find in Costa Rica. I went with two friends and you can pay to do “Breakfast with the Babies”, where you sit down outside and they serve you breakfast while someone feeds all the baby sloths out of baby bottles at the end of the table, it’s adorable.
- Manuel Antonio: This is a national park, and I think my visit there was one of my favorite days of my life. You walk along a path through some jungle to get to the beach, which is absolutely GORGEOUS. There are sloths and little creatures all along the path, and the beach has beautiful, warm blue water and perfect sand. You have to be careful about leaving your bag to get in the water, though, because the little monkeys will come along and take your bag if there’s food in it! I went parasailing that day too, and I literally felt like I was in a National Geographic video, the scenery was unreal!
- Volcan Arenal: We went to Arenal to go zip-lining by a volcano, which was absolutely incredible. Definitely a must-see while in Costa Rica! There also have a bunch of hot springs in the area, so we spent a whole day hanging out in the hot springs and just enjoying the Pure Vida way of life.
Other fun things she did in Costa Rica:
- white water rafting
- went to the rainforest to see how coffee is made
- a trip to a beach on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica
- day trip into San Jose
Her second study abroad was a semester in Madrid, and while she was in Spain she took Paintings at the Prado, Topics in Spanish Civilization, Spanish Linguistics, Post-Civil War Novels.
These places are her personal must see places while you spend your semester in Madrid:
- Ojala: in Malasaña, my favorite hangout where there’s literally a beach in the basement, like heat lamps and sand covers the floor, and the best part is that it’s in the trendy “hipster” neighborhood of Madrid
- Bicicleta: also in Malasaña, Bicicleta is an excellent coffee shop, ideal for studying or getting a light lunch
- Mercado San Idelfonso: newer and less well-known than the classic Mercado San Miguel, but it has super good food and sangria
- Mercado San Miguel: a tourist must-see! Always crowded, but worth it to get lots of little tastes of Spanish food. I recommend the sea urchin!
- Café Azul: Before class at the Prado museum every Wednesday, my friends and I would get breakfast here. It’s a really cute café and coffee shop, and I still crave their toast with tomato and goat cheese!
- El Tigre: buy a drink and you get a ton of random tapas for your table. Great if you feel like only spending 6 euros for a drink and endless food!
- The Prado museum: I took an art history class here so I may be biased, but it’s an excellent museum, and you won’t find a better place for Spanish art
- Sol: get off the metro in Sol and just stroll the streets, checking out all the shops. I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent shopping in Madrid, they have fantastic stores!
- The Royal Palace: Right next to the Cathedral, the Royal Palace is said to be the third most opulent palace in Europe behind Versailles and Schonbrunn. The palace, as well as the cathedral, are both worth the visit!
- Mercado de Motores: once a month, there’s a flea market/artisanal market in an old train station where you can find all sorts of odds and ends–the best part is that most tourists don’t know about it!
- El Rastro: on Saturdays, be sure to go to El Rastro, Europe’s biggest outdoor flea market. It’s always busy, so be sure to guard your purse against pickpockets, but you can find all sorts of odds and ends there
- Parque Retiro: Retiro is a huge, beautiful park where you can kill hours just walking around under the trees. You can rent boats and paddle around, or visit the crystal palace for some nice pictures. I visited several times during my study abroad and always found something new!
While spending her semester in Spain Sarah traveled around Europe to Munich for Oktoberfest, Vienna, Paris, Athens and Santorini, Braganza to walk part of the El Camino de Santiago, and Lisbon. In Spain, she traveled to Barcelona, Toledo, Sevilla, Córdoba, Ávila, Salamanca, and Sanabria.
Some tips for when you’re abroad from Sarah:
“Everyone should go to Oktoberfest in Munich while in their 20’s!”
“Set up Venmo before going abroad, practically nowhere will split your checks at restaurants.”
“Keep a journal! I wrote in a little journal every day and now its one of my most cherished possessions because I basically relive my semester abroad whenever I read it.”