Now that I’ve wrapped up midterms, I’m noticing some changes within myself and my worldviews. Of course, like any other semester, this first half has not been entirely sunshine and rainbows. However, the moments in which I’ve paused, reflected, and appreciated the world around me have provoked such rewarding feelings that any challenges are outweighed. As I begin the second half of my semester abroad, I am hoping to hold on tight to the lessons I’ve learned thus far and continue to strengthen these newfound values. 

Happy hour appetizers - Vatican City
Happy hour appetizers – Vatican City

Appreciation and reflection

In Rome, my friends and I visited St. Peter’s Basilica. We found ourselves fighting to stay present and not slip into a “pinch me” sensation because the experience was so surreal. Following our visit, we sat in a sweet little outdoor restaurant, huddled up by a heat lamp, with delicious appetizers and reflected on our time in the Basilica. Despite the three of us having varying beliefs, we easily agreed that being in the presence of such faith and devotion was one of the most powerful experiences we’d ever felt. When I wrote my first blog, this is what I was hoping for. I dreamt of getting lost in deep reflection and feeling so in the moment that I had no idea what time it was. This was that kind of moment. 

Silver linings

Something new I have noticed within myself is feeling grateful for simple things. For example, the rain (despite previously being an avid and uncalled for rain-hater). After all, the rain helps Sevilla’s water problem. I even found myself thinking: “Well, now the trees and flowers will be watered for when my family visits this weekend”.

Liberty dei Santi Apostoli, 56-59, 00187 Roma RM, Italy dei Santi Apostoli, 56-59, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

How about… not Yelping the most highly rated restaurant and instead just walking and stopping at whichever looks best. This is how we found the greatest pasta restaurant in Rome (BIBO). The food was 1000x better than the expensive and most popular restaurants that we waited in lines to try. We found ourselves comparing everything to that first restaurant that we stumbled upon.


I once came back to my homestay with relationship gossip to share with my host sister. Her reply was simple: “Son las cosas del amor” (“The things of love”) and she shrugged. I was ready to analyze the situation to bits but she was so unfazed. Everything seems much less complicated after a response like that, doesn’t it?


According to my host sister, being “fake” is one of the worst character traits a person can have. I’ve noticed it when locals describe characters in tv shows and movies. An entire show is completely written off as an awful one if there is a disingenuous character. I wondered why in the US we sometimes put on faces or fake a smile. For example, sometimes waiters in the United States can be overly friendly even when they do not want to be. When I worked at Jamba Juice, I felt drained by the end of the day from the level of energy and friendliness I provided for the customers. When you have an extremely hospitable waiter, it could be because you lucked out with a very kind person, but it could also be because a tip is involved. Here in Sevilla, tips are extremely rare and we actually noticed upon our first visit to a restaurant that the waiters were not as friendly, but maybe it is because they don’t have to be. If you have a kind person serving you in Sevilla, it is completely genuine and intrinsically motivated. I think there’s something so beautiful about that. 

As I start the second half of my semester, I’m excited to see how much more I can grow in these areas. You do not have to be studying abroad to practice these either. If you take a second to pause and enjoy the moment, let me know if you resonate with any of my feelings. Until next time, mantente presente y hasta luego!

Published by isabel.santos

Class of 2023 Psychology and Spanish Double Major CIEE Seville, Spain

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